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Dî faciles. Nocitura togâ, nocitura petuntur
Militia. Torrens dicendi copia multis,
Confisus periit, admirandisque lacertis.
Sed plures nimiâ congesta pecunia curâ
Strangulat, et cuncta exsuperans patrimonia census,
and wishes of mankind, have often occasioned their ruin, by granting such things, as, in the end, proved hurtful. So that, in truth, men, by wishing for what appeared to them desirable, have, in effect, themselves wished their own destruction.
8. By the gown, &r.] Toga here being opposed to militia, may allude to the gown worn by the senators and magistrates of Rome; and so, by meton. signify their civil offices in the government of the state. q. d. Many have wished for a share in the government and administration of civil affairs, others for high rank and posts of command in the army, each of which have been attended with damage to those who have eagerly sought after them.
9. 1 fluent copiousness, &c.] Many covet a great degree of eloquence; but how fatal has this proved to possessors of it! Witness Demosthenes and Cicero, who both came to violent deaths ;-the former driven, by the malice of his enemies, to poison himself; the latter slain by order of M. Antony. See KEYSLER'S Travels, vol. ii. p. 342, note.
10. To his strength, &c.] Alluding to Milo, the famous wrestler, born at Croton, in Italy, who presuming too much on his great strength, would try whether he could not rend asunder a tree which was cleft as it grew in the forest; it yielded at first to his violence, but it closed presently again, and, catching his hands, held him till the wolves devoured him.
12. Destroys.] Lit. strangles. Met. ruins, destroys.
The poet is here shewing, that of all things which prove ruinous to the possessors, money, and especially an overgrown fortune, is one of the most fatal-and yet, with what care is this heaped together! 13. Exceeding, &c.] i. e. Beyond the rate of a common fortune. 14. A British whale.] A whale found in the British seas. 16. Longinus.] Cassius Longinus, put to death by Nero his : pretended crime was, that he had in his chamber, an image of Cassius, one of Julius Cæsar's murderers; but that which really made him a delinquent, was his great wealth, which the emperor seized.
Wishing it. Things hurtful by the gown, hurtful by warfare,
Trusting, and to his wonderful arms, perished.
But money, heap'd together with too much care, destroys
A whole troop Longinus, and the large gardens of wealthy Seneca, Surrounded, and besieged the stately buildings of the LateraniThe soldier seldom comes into a garret.
Tho' you should carry a few small vessels of pure silver,
Going on a journey by night, you will fear the sword and the pole, 20
16. Seneca, &c.] Tutor to Nero-supposed to be one in Piso's conspiracy, but put to death for his great riches. Sylvanus the tribune, by order of Nero, surrounded Seneca's magnificent villa, near Rome, with a troop of soldiers, and then sent in a centurion to acquaint him with the emperor's orders, that he should put himself to death. On the receipt of this, he opened the veins of his arms and legs, then was put into a hot bath, but this not finishing him, he drank poison.
17. Surrounded.] Beset-encompassed.
Laterani.] Plautius Lateranus had a sumptuous palace, in which he was beset by order of Nero, and killed so suddenly, by Thurius the tribune, that he had not a moment's time allowed him to take leave of his children and family. He had been designed consul.
18. The soldier, &c.] Conaculum signifies a place to sup in-an upper chamber-also a garret, a cockloft in the top of the house, commonly let to poor people, the inhabitants of which were too poor to run any risk of the emperor's sending soldiers, to murder them for what they have,
19. Tho' you should carry, &c.] Though not so rich as to become an object of the emperor's avarice and cruelty, yet you can't travel by night, with the paltry charge of a little silver plate, without fear of your life from robbers, who may either stab you with a sword, or knock you down with a bludgeon, in order to rob you.
20. Pole.] Contus signifies a long pole or staff-also a weapon, wherewith they used to fight beasts upon the stage. It is probable that the robbers about Rome armed themselves with these, as ours, about London, arm themselves with large sticks or bludgeons.
21. Tremble, &c.] They are alarmed at the least appearance of any thing moving near them, even the trembling and nodding of a bulrush, when its shadow appears by moonlight.
22. Empty traveller, &c.] Having nothing to lose, he has nothing to fear, and therefore has nothing to interrupt his jollity as he travels along, though in the presence of a robber.
Prima fere vota, et cunctis notissima templis, Divitiæ ut crescant, ut opes; ut maxima toto Nostra sit arca foro: sed nulla aconita bibuntur Fictilibus tunc illa time, cum pocula sumes Gemmata, et lato Setinum ardebit in auro. Jamne igitur laudas, quod de sapientibus alter Ridebat, quoties a limine moverat unum Protuleratque pedem : flebat contrarius alter? Sed facilis cuivis rigidi censura cachinni : Mirandum est, unde ille oculis suffecerit humor. Perpetuo risu pulmonem agitare solebat Democritus, quanquam non essent urbibus illis Prætexta, et trabeæ, fasces, lectica, tribunal. Quid, si videsset Prætorem in curribus altis
23. Temples, &c.] Where people go to make prayers to the gods, and to implore the fulfilment of their desires and wishes.
25. The greatest, &c.] The forum, or market-place, at Rome, was the place where much money-business was transacted, and where money-lenders and borrowers met together; and he that was richest, and had most to lend, was sure to make the greatest sums by interest on his money, and perhaps was most respected. Hence the poet may be understood to mean, that it was the chief wish of most people to be richer than others.-Or, he may here allude to the chests of money belonging to the senators, and other rich men, which were laid up for safety in some of the buildings about the forum, as the temple of Castor, and others. Comp. sat. xiv. 1. 258, 9.
No poisons, &c.] The poorer sort of people might drink out of their coarse cups of earthen ware, without any fear of being poisoned for what they had.
26. Them.] Poisons.
27. Set with gems.] See sat. v. l. 37-45. This was a mark of great riches.
Setine wine.] So called from Setia, a city of Campania. was a most delicious wine, preferred by Augustus, and the succeeding emperors, to all other. Glows with a fine red colour, and sparkles in the cup.
-Wide gold.] Large golden cups.
Those who were rich enough to afford these things, might indeed reasonably fear being poisoned by somebody, in order to get their
28. Do you approve.] Laudas-praise or commend his conduct for while these philosophers lived, many accounted them mad.
One of the wise men, &c.] Meaning Democritus of Abdera, who always laughed, because he believed our actions to be folly : whereas Heraclitus of Ephesus, the other of the wise men here alluded to, always wept, because he thought them to be misery.
Commonly the first things prayed for, and most known at all temples, Are, that riches may increase, and wealth; that our chest may be The greatest in the whole forum: but no poisons are drunk From earthen ware: then fear them, when you take cups Set with gems, and Setine wine shall sparkle in wide gold. Now therefore do you approve, that one of the wise men Laugh'd, as oft as from the threshold he had moved, and Brought forward one foot; the other contrary, wept ? But the censure of a severe laugh is easy to any one, The wonder is whence that moisture could suffice for his eyes. With perpetual laughter, Democritus used to agitate His lungs, tho' there were not, in those cities, Senatorial gowns, robes, rods, a litter, a tribunal. What, if he had seen the pretor, in high chariots
29. As oft as, Sc.] Whenever he went out of his house-as oft as he stepped over his threshold.
30. The other.] Heraclitus. See note on line 28.
31. The censure, &c.] It is easy enough to find matter for severe laughter. Rigidi here, as an epithet to laughter, seems to denote that sort of censorious sneer which condemns and censures, at the same time that it derides the follies of mankind.
32. The wonder is, &c.] How Heraclitus could find tears enough to express his grief at human wretchedness, guilt, and woe, the occasions of it are so frequent.
34. In those cities.] As there is at Rome. The poet here satirizes the ridiculous appendages and ensigns of office, which were so coveted and esteemed by the Romans, as if they could convey happiness to the wearers. He would also insinuate, that these things were made ridiculous by the conduct of the possessors of them.
35. Senatorial gowns.] Pratexta-so called because they were faced and bordered with purple-worn by the patricians and senators. Robes.] Trabex-robes worn by kings, consuls, and au
gurs. Rods.] Fasces-bundles of birchen rods carried before the Roman magistrates, with an axe bound up in the middle of them, so as to appear at the top. These were ensigns of their official power to punish crimes, either by scourging or death.
A litter.] Lectica.-See sat. i. 32, note.
Tribunal. A seat in the forum, built by Romulus, in the form of a half-moon, where the judges sat, who had jurisdiction over the highest offences at the upper part was placed the sella curulis, in which the pretor sat.
36. The pretor, &c.] He describes and derides the figure which the pretor made, when presiding at the Circensian games.
In high chariots. In a triumphal car, which was gilt, and
Extantem, et medio sublimem in pulvere circi,
drawn by four white horses-perhaps, by the plur. curribus, we may understand that he had several for different occasions.
37. Dust of the circus.] He stood, by the height and sublimity of his situation, fully exposed to the dust, which the chariots and horses of the racers raised.
38. Coat of Jove.] In a triumphal habit; for those who triumphed wore a tunic, or garment, which, at other times, was kept in the temple of Jupiter.
38-9. The Tyrian tapestry, &c.] Sarra, (from Heb. 1,) a name of Tyre, where hangings and tapestry were made, as also where the fish was caught, from whence the purple was taken with which they were dyed. This must be a very heavy material for a gown, especially as it was also embroidered with divers colours; and such a garment must be very cumbersome to the wearer, as it hung from his shoulders.
40. So large an orb, &c.] Add to this, a great heavy crown, the circumference of which was so large and thick, that no neck could be strong enough to avoid bending under it.
41. A sweating officer.] Publicus signifies some official servant, some public office about the prætor on these occasions, who sat by him in the chariot, in order to assist in bearing up the crown, the weight of which made him sweat with holding it up.
Lest the consul, &c.] The ancients had an institution, that a slave should ride in the same chariot when a consul triumphed, and should admonish him to know himself, lest he should be too vain.
This was done with regard to the pretor at the Circensian games, who, as we have seen above, appeared like a victorious consul, with the habit and equipage of triumph-Juvenal seems to use the word consul, here, on that account.
43. Add the bird, &c.] Among other ensigns of triumph, the prætor, on the above occasion, held an ivory rod, or sceptre, in his hand, with the figure of an eagle, with wings expanded, as if rising for flight, on the top of it,