Hoc erat in votis: modus agri non ita magnus,
hortus ubi et tecto vicinus iugis aquae fons
et paulum silvae super his foret. auctius atque
di melius fecere. bene est. nil amplius oro,
Maia nate, nisi ut propria haec mihi munera faxis.
si neque maiorem feci ratione mala rem
nec sum facturus vitio culpave minorem,
si veneror stultus nihil horum: "o si angulus ille
proximus accedat, qui nunc denormat agellum!
o si urnam argenti fors quae mihi monstret, ut illi,
thesauro invento qui mercennarius agrum
illum ipsum mercatus aravit, dives amico
Hercule!" si quod adest gratum iuvat, hac prece te oro:
pingue pecus domino facias et cetera praeter
ingenium, utque soles, custos mihi maximus adsis!
Ergo ubi me in montes et in arcem ex urbe removi,
quid prius inlustrem saturis Musaque pedestri?
nec mala me ambitio perdit nec plumbeus Auster
autumnusque gravis, Libitinae quaestus acerbae.
Matutine pater, seu "Iane" libentius audis,
unde homines operum primos vitaeque labores
instituunt (sic dis placitum), tu carminis esto
principium. Romae sponsorem me rapis: "heia,
ne prior officio quisquam respondeat, urge."
sive Aquilo radit terras seu bruma nivalem
interiore diem gyro trahit, ire necesse est.
postmodo, quod mi obsit, clare certumque locuto
luctandum in turba et facienda iniuria tardis.
"quid tibi vis, insane, et quam rem agis?" improbus urget
iratis precibus: "tu pulses omne quod obstat,
ad Maecenatem memori si mente recurras."
Hoc iuvat et melli est, non mentiar. at simul atras
ventum est Esquilias, aliena negotia centum
per caput et circa saliunt latus. "ante secundam
Roscius orabat sibi adesses ad Puteal cras."
"de re communi scribae magna atque nova te
orabant hodie meminisses, Quinte, reverti."
"imprimat his, cura, Maecenas signa tabellis."
dixeris: "experiar": "si vis, potes," addit et instat.
Septimus octavo propior iam fugerit annus,
ex quo Maecenas me coepit habere suorum
in numero, dumtaxat ad hoc, quem tollere raeda
vellet iter faciens, et cui concredere nugas
hoc genus: "hora quota est?" "Thraex est Gallina Syro par?"
"matutina parum cautos iam frigora mordent;"
et quae rimosa bene deponuntur in aure.
per totum hoc tempus subiectior in diem et horam
invidiae noster. ludos spectaverat una,
luserat in Campo: "Fortunae filius" omnes.
frigidus a rostris manat per compita rumor:
quicumque obvius est, me consulit: "o bone nam te
scire, deos quoniam propius contingis, oportet,
numquid de Dacis audisti?" "nil equidem." "ut tu
semper eris derisor!" "at omnes di exagitent me,
si quicquam." "quid? militibus promissa Triquetra
praedia Caesar an est Itala tellure daturus?"
iurantem me scire nihil mirantur ut unum
scilicet egregii mortalem altique silenti.
Perditur haec inter misero lux non sine votis:
o rus, quando ego te aspiciam! quandoque licebit
nunc veterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis,
ducere sollicitae iucunda oblivia vitae!
o quando faba Pythagorae cognata simulque
uncta satis pingui ponentur holuscula lardo!
o noctes cenaeque deum! quibus ipse meique
ante Larem proprium vescor vernasque procaces
pasco libatis dapibus. prout cuique libido est,
siccat inaequalis calices conviva, solutus
legibus insanis, seu quis capit acria fortis
pocula, seu modicis uvescit laetius. ergo
sermo oritur, non de villis domibusve alienis,
nec male necne Lepos saltet; sed quod magis ad nos
pertinet et nescire malum est, agitamus: utrumne
divitiis homines an sint virtute beati;
quidve ad amicitias, usus rectumne, trahat nos;
et quae sit natura boni summumque quid eius.
Cervius haec inter vicinus garrit anilis
ex re fabellas. si quis nam laudat Arelli
sollicitas ignarus opes, sic incipit: "olim
rusticus urbanum murem mus paupere fertur
accepisse cavo, veterem vetus hospes amicum,
asper et attentus quaesitis, ut tamen artum
solveret hospitiis animum. quid multa? neque ille
sepositi ciceris nec longae invidit avenae,
aridum et ore ferens acinum semesaque lardi
frusta dedit, cupiens varia fastidia cena
vincere tangentis male singula dente superbo;
cum pater ipse domus palea porrectus in horna
esset ador loliumque, dapis meliora relinquens.
tandem urbanus ad hunc, "quid te iuvat," inquit, "amice,
praerupti nemoris patientem vivere dorso?
vis tu homines urbemque feris praeponere silvis?
carpe viam, mihi crede, comes. terrestria quando
mortalis animas vivunt sortita, neque ulla est
aut magno aut parvo leti fuga, quo, bone, circa,
dum licet, in rebus iucundis vive beatus;
vive memor, quam sis aevi brevis." haec ubi dicta
agrestem pepulere, domo levis exsilit; inde
ambo propositum peragunt iter, urbis aventes
moenia nocturni subrepere.
nox medium caeli spatium, cum ponit uterque
in locuplete domo vestigia, rubro ubi cocco
tincta super lectos canderet vestis eburnos,
multaque de magna superessent fercula cena,
quae procul exstructis inerant hesterna canistris.
ergo ubi purpurea porrectum in veste locavit
agrestem, veluti succinctus cursitat hospes
continuatque dapes, nec non verniliter ipsis
fungitur officiis, praelambens omne quod adfert.
ille cubans gaudet mutata sorte bonisque
rebus agit laetum convivam, cum subito ingens
valvarum strepitus lectis excussit utrumque.
currere per totum pavidi conclave, magisque
exanimes trepidare, simul domus alta Molossis
personuit canibus. tum rusticus, "haud mihi vita
est opus hac," ait "et valeas: me silva cavusque
tutus ab insidiis tenui solabitur ervo."
This is what I prayed for ! -- a piece of land not
so very large, where there would be a garden, and
near the house a spring of ever-flowing water, and
up above these a bit of woodland. More and better
than this have the gods done for me. I am content.
Nothing more do I ask, O son of Maia, save that
thou make these blessings last my life long. If I
have neither made my substance larger by evil
ways, nor mean to make it smaller by excesses or
neglect; if I offer up no such foolish prayers as
these: "O if there could be added that near
corner, which now spoils the shape of my little
farm! O that some lucky strike would disclose to
me a pot of money, like the man who, having found
a treasure-trove, bought and ploughed the
self-same ground he used to work on hire, enriched
by favour of Hercules!" -- if what I have gives me
comfort and content, then thus I pray to thee:
make fat the flocks I own, and all else save my
wit, and, as thou art wont, still be my chief
So, now that from the city I have taken myself off
to my castle in the hills, to what should I sooner
give renown in the Satires of my prosaic Muse?
Here no wretched place-hunting worries me to
death, nor the leaden scirocco, nor sickly autumn,
that brings gain to hateful Libitina.
Father of the dawn, or Janus, if so thou hearest
rather, from whom men take the beginnings of the
work and toil of life -- such is Heaven's will -- be thou
the prelude of my song! At Rome thou hurriest me
off to be surety: "Come! bestir yourself, lest
someone answer duty's call before you." Whether
the North-wind sweeps the earth, or winter drags
on the snowy day in narrower circle, go I must.
Later, when I have said in clear and certain tones
what may work me harm, I must battle in the crowd
and do damage to the slow of pace." What do you
mean, madman? What are you driving at?" So some
ruffian assails me with angry curses: "You would
jostle everything in your way, should you be
posting back to Maecenas, thinking only of him."
That gives pleasure and is like honey, I'll not
deny. But as soon as come to the gloomy
Esquiline, a hundred concerns of others dance
through my head and all about me: "Roscius begs
you to meet him to-morrow at Libo's Wall, before
seven o'clock." "The clerks beg you, Quintus, to
be sure to return to-day on some fresh and
important business of common interest." "Have
Maecenas put his seal to these papers." If you
say, "I'll try," "You can, if you will," he adds
The seventh year -- nay, nearer the eighth -- will
soon have sped, since Maecenas began to count me
among his friends -- merely thus far, as one he would
like to take in his carriage when on a journey,
and confide to his ears trifles like this:
"What's the time?" "Is the Thracian Chicken a
match for Syrus?" "The morning frosts are
nipping now, if people are careless," and such
chat as is safely dropped into a leaky ear. For
all these years, every day and hour, our friend
has been more and more the butt of envy. Has he
viewed the games, or played ball in the Campus
with Maecenas? "Fortune's favourite!" all cry.
Does a chilly rumour run from the Rostra through
the streets? Whoever comes my way asks my
opinion: "My good sir, you must know -- you come so
much closer to the gods: you haven't heard any
news about the Dacians, have you?" "None
whatever." "How you will always mock at us!"
But heaven confound me, if I have heard a word!
"Well, is it in the three-cornered isle, or on
Italian soil, that Caesar means to give the
soldiers their promised lands?" When I swear I
know nothing, they marvel at me as, forsooth, the
man of all men remarkably and profoundly reticent.
Amid such trifling, alas! I waste my day, praying
the while: O rural home: when shall I behold you!
When shall I be able, now with books of the
ancients, now with sleep and idle hours, to quaff
sweet forgetfulness of life's cares! O when shall
beans, brethren of Pythagoras, be served me, and
with them greens well larded with fat bacon ! O
nights and feasts divine! When before my own Lar
we dine, my friends and I, and feed the saucy
slaves from the barely tasted dishes. Each guest,
as is his fancy, drains cups big or small, not
bound by crazy laws, whether one can stand strong
bumpers in gallant style, or with mild cups
mellows more to his liking. And so begins a chat,
not about other men's homes and estates, nor
whether Lepos dances well or ill; but we discuss
matters which concern us more, and of which it is
harmful to be in ignorance -- whether wealth or virtue
makes men happy, whether self-interest or
uprightness leads us to friendship, what is the
nature of the good and what is its highest form.
Now and then our neighbour Cervius rattles off old
wives' tales that fit the case. Thus, if anyone,
blind to its anxieties, praises the wealth of
Arellius, he thus begins: "Once on a time -- such is
the tale -- a country mouse welcomed a city mouse in
his poor hole, host and guest old friends both.
Roughly he fared, frugal of his store, yet could
open his thrifty soul in acts of hospitality. In
short, he grudged not his hoard of vetch or long
oats, but bringing in his mouth a dried raisin and
nibbled bits of bacon he served them, being eager
by varying the fare to overcome the daintiness of
a guest, who, with squeamish tooth, would barely
touch each morsel. Meanwhile, outstretched on
fresh straw, the master of the house himself ate
spelt and darner, leaving the titbits to his
friend. At last the city mouse cries to him:
"What pleasure can you have, my friend,
in living so hard a life on the ridge of a steep
wood? Wouldn't you put people and the city above
these wild woods? Take my advice: set out with
me. Inasmuch as all creatures that live on earth
have mortal souls, and for neither great nor small
is there escape from death, therefore, good sir,
while you may, live happy amid joys; live mindful
ever of how brief your time is!" These words
struck home with the rustic, who lightly leaped
forth from his house. Then both pursue the
journey as planned, eager to creep under the city
walls by night.
And now night was holding the mid space of heaven,
when the two set foot in a wealthy palace, where
covers dyed in scarlet glittered on ivory couches,
and many courses remained over from a great dinner
of the evening before, in baskets piled up hard
by. So when the town mouse has the rustic
stretched out on purple covers, he himself bustles
about in waiter-style, serving course after
course, and doing all the duties of the home-bred
slave, first tasting everything he serves. The
other, lying at ease, enjoys his changed lot, and
amid the good cheer is playing the happy guest,
when of a sudden a terrible banging of the doors
tumbled them both from their couches. In panic
they run the length of the hall, and still more
terror-stricken were they, as the lofty palace
rang with the barking of Molossian hounds. Then
says the rustic: "No use have I for such a life,
and so farewell: my wood and hole, secure from
alarms, will solace me with homely vetch."