Translated by John Svarlien (from Horace Satires, Hackett 2012) with notes by David Mankin.
For David Mankin (1957-2019)
The exotic dancers union, snake-oil men,
Panhandlers, starlets, stand-up comics – this
Whole crowd is dressed in black and all choked up:
Tigellius the pop artiste is dead.
He lavished gifts on everyone. Yet look 5
Across the street. Another man would balk
At chipping in to help a needy friend
Pay the rent or get a meal. He’s worried
People think him prodigal. Ask another
How come he’s gobbled up the fine estate 10
His dad and granddad built, and still must have
(With borrowed money now) fine caviar.
“Let no one say I’m stingy,” he replies.
For this, he’s praised by some, by others blamed.
Now take Fufidius. [The man is rich 15
In real estate and banking.] Still he fears
He’ll get the name of ne’er-do-well or worse,
And so he charges five times normal rates
Of interest, and takes the first month’s payment off
The total loaned. The more you need the cash, 20
The more he hassles you to ante up.
He preys upon the young, the sons of tough,
Uncompromising fathers: boys who’ve donned
The toga virilis. “Dear Lord,” you think,
“With what this guy has made, he must enjoy 25
All that wealth!” That’s where you’re wrong. The fellow
Picks at his feast and tortures himself more
Cruelly than that masochistic father
Who ostracized his son in Terence’s play.
By now you may be wondering where this talk 30
Is leading. Ponder this: your average fool
Attempts avoiding one offense by doing
The opposite. Maltinus walks around,
His tunic wafting like a gown. Another hikes
His tunic halfway up his ass, so hip! 35
Mint is Rufillus’ scent, Gargonius’ goat.
No middle course. Some men won’t touch a woman
If a bit of ankle shows; another
Will only touch the stinking whorehouse type.
“You’re a real man,” said Cato’s god-like wisdom 40
To some somebody leaving such a den.
“You model virtue! When abhorrent lust
Has filled a young man’s veins, he’d better sow
His wild oats here than in another’s wife.”
Cupiennius disdains the praise of prudes. 45
He likes his piece of ass all flounced in white.
O Romans – you who wish disaster on
Adulterers – lend me your ears. Consider
How they toil and suffer lust, their pleasure
Laced with pain, and rarely snatched from peril. 50
One throws himself from someone’s roof. One’s flogged
To death. Another flees but falls among
A savage gang of thieves. One pays to save
His life. The hired help rape another. Some
A knife lops off a lustful cock and balls. 55
“Deserved it,” folks will say, but Galba cavils.
There’s safer sex at bargain rates – I’m talking
About ex-slaves – the sort that Sallust craves
No less insanely than adulterers
Some other fellow’s wife. Now he could pay 60
The market price for sex, in keeping with
His means, and still be thought quite generous,
Fair, and good. He needn’t let libido
Disgrace and bankrupt him. But no, the man
Is full of self-congratulations, preens 65
And smugly counts himself a paragon
Of rectitude: “I never touch a wife.”
So too Marsaeus, famous once for being
Origo’s paramour. That starlet stripped
Him of the family house and farm. He says, 70
“It’d never cross my mind to mess around
With married women.” But you mess around
With actresses and prostitutes, and so
Have harmed your reputation even more
Than pocketbook. Or do you think it quite 75
Enough to shun the name “adulterer,”
But not the very acts that make your life
So stressed out? To wreck a reputation,
To squander one’s inheritance is wrong
In every case. Why bicker over whether 80
It’s prostitutes or Roman wives at issue?
Take Villius. In Fausta he became
The son-in-law of Sulla. Snared by the name,
How dear he paid for that affair: attacked
By fist and sword, the door slammed in his face, 85
While Longarenus had her in the house.
Suppose the fellow’s Dick piped up, “Hey, what’s
With you? I’m hard but not unreasonable.
Have I, when red with lust, insisted on
A well-appareled cunt some consul sired?” 90 “But her father’s prominent,” he’d answer.
Now Nature, well-endowed to furnish what
One needs, gives better counsel quite opposed
To this misguided tack, if only you
Weigh matters properly and not mix up 95
The things one ought to seek with what should be
Avoided. Do you really think it makes
No difference whether troubles come from your
Mistakes or from the human situation?
Avoid the sort of sex that you’ll regret. 100
I mean adultery. The thrill’s not worth
The hardships. Snow-white pearls and emeralds
Can’t, no matter what you think, Cerinthus,
Make the lady’s thigh more satiny,
Can’t give her lovelier legs. A prostitute’s 105
The better deal. And add to this: she shows
Her goods without deception. What you see
Is what you get. And if she has some charms,
She doesn’t lay them on to mask her flaws.
Rich people, when they bid on thoroughbreds, 110
Have the steeds they’re looking at be covered.
This way the buyer won’t be taken in
By lovely horseflesh, finely tapered head,
And towering neck, and miss the weak, soft hoof.
That’s smart. Don’t be a sharp-eyed Lynceus 115
When looking at the best her body boasts,
But then be blinder than Hypsaea when
It comes to seeing things that mar her looks.
“What lovely legs! What arms!” But don’t omit
To note the runty ass, enormous nose, 120
Truncated torso, those prodigious feet.
With married women, everything is veiled
Other than the face (excepting Catia).
But if you crave forbidden sex, the sort
Surrounded by defensive walls – the harder 125
It is, the crazier you are – so much
Will block your progress: body-guards, her litter,
The stylists curling her hair, the sycophants,
Her ankle-touching dress and heavy cloak.
Countless obstacles block your viewing her. 130
The other route is clear and unobstructed.
Diaphanous chemise of Coan silk
Can’t hide uncomely legs or ugly feet.
Your eye can measure her from top to bottom.
But maybe you enjoy the part of patsy; 135
The sap who pays before inspecting goods.
The lover sings of how the huntsman tracks
A hare through drifts of snow, but will not touch
A rabbit put in front of him. He adds,
“Just so my passion loves the chase and flies 140
Past whatever’s nigh.” You hope a clever
Epigram will somehow cool erotic
Fever, help you staunch the seething wound
Desire has dealt your heart? Would not it serve
You better if you explored these inquiries: 145
What limit Nature sets for passion, what
You wouldn’t miss, and what, if lost, would cost
You dear. You’d then distinguish void from solid.
When you’re parched, you need a golden goblet?
When starving, must it be turbot or peacock? 150
So when a certain body part swells up,
And pretty slaves or houseboys are right at hand,
You would rather burst than pounce? I wouldn’t.
I love an easy Venus, one who comes
At call. A woman stringing you along 155
With “Wait a little” or “I’d like another
Gift” or “Only when my husband’s out” is,
As Philodemus says, fit only for
The Galli. All heasks is that a woman
Not cost a lot or make you wait whenever 160
You order sex. She ought to be good looking
And glamorous, but not made up so much
You think she’s better than she really is.
When such a woman slips her body under
Mine, she’s Ilia or Egeria; 165
I give the tart whatever name I like.
While fucking her, I needn’t fear a husband
Suddenly returning from the country,
The dog barking, the door torn off its hinges,
The house in wild uproar, the woman pale 170
With panic jumping out of bed, her maid
(My accomplice) shrieking – everyone in
Terror: one of being whipped, the other
Of losing dowry, I of losing life.
Barefoot, tunic half on, off I scramble 175
To save my ass, my cash and reputation.
Getting caught is really bad. I’d wager
That even Fabius would second that.
Satire 1.2 Notes by David Mankin, from Horace Satires (Hackett 2012).
1 exotic dancers: Latin mimae, actresses, dancers, and singers in short plays with comic or mythological themes (10.6n.*) and in enactments of literary texts. From the 80s BC on mime was popular at Rome, and a number of performers achieved “celebrity status”; these included Origo (69), Arbuscula (10.77*), and Cytheris, an ex-slave (58n.) notorious as the mistress of Mark Antony and then of the poet Cornelius Gallus, who referred to her in elegies as “Lycoris” (“wolf-girl”).
4 Tigellius: mentioned again in the past tense, at 3.4-30. Although a native of Sardinia (3.4n.), the form of his name indicates that he was a Roman citizen. He was friendly with Julius Caesar and, later, Octavian (3.5-10), but was disliked by Cicero (Fam. 7.24-5, Att. 13.49-51), and the poet Calvus (10.19*n.); cf. fr. 3 FLP“the stinking head of Sardinian Tigellius is for sale.” He is not to be confused with another singer, Tigellius Hermogenes (4.72*, 10.80*), also referred to as Tigellius (10.90*) or as Hermogenes (9.25*, 10.18*, 90*), who was still living at the time of Satires 1.
9 people think him prodigal: this miser, the spendthrift mentioned next, and Fufidius (12) are all driven by concern for public opinion (see 1.65-6), but with very different results.
ask another: the imperative is the first indication of an addressee, who remains unidentified. H. interrupts their “conversation” with exclamations by various characters (40-4, 45-6, 67, 135-41), apostrophes (47-56, 103-4), and imagined dialogues (68-81, 82-91).
14 praised by some, by others blamed: depending on whether they are themselves misers or spendthrifts.
15 Fufidius: a rapacious banker / usurer, possibly the same man mentioned at Cic. Pis. 86 and Q.Fr. 3.1.3. H. targets other usurers at 3.122-6, 6.166-8, and, possibly, 7.5-6 (see n.); see also Epd. 2.67-70, Ep. 1.1.80.
15-16 [The man … banking]: the brackets indicate that the phrase, which occurs with more point at A.P. 421, was probably not put here by H., but by someone copying the text at a later time.
17 ne’er-do-well or worse: see 1.110n.
18-19 five times normal rates … first month’s payment: the legal rate had been fixed in 51 BC at 1% per month. By taking the first 5% from the principal, Fufidius gets away with advancing less money.
23 uncompromising fathers: tightwads, as so often in Roman comedy.
24 toga virilis: a male citizen was recognized as a legal adult when he exchanged his child’s cloths and regalia for a “grown man’s toga”. See 1.105n.
27 tortures himself: metaphors involving torture and other corporeal punishment (the Lat. term here is crucio, “crucify”) were probably more vivid to the Romans than they are (or ought to be) to Americans because real torture, especially of slaves, was not uncommon at Rome. See 3.113n.
29 Terence’s play: Heauton Timorumenos(“The Self-Avenger”). The father could not forgive himself because he ran off his son Clinia when the young man fell in love with a pauper girl.
32-3 one offense … the opposite: this philosophical-sounding adage is a kind of red herring, as H.’s focus will be not be on (moral) “offenses” (Lat.vitia), but on avoiding pain and humiliation.
33 Maltinus: the name is probably meant to suggest Greek malthakos, “soft,” “effeminate.” See Lucil. fr. 744 ROL, “They call him insane whom they see is spoken of as a softy-girl [maltha, a variant of the Greek term] and a woman.” According to Porph., some early interpreters thought Maltinus here was a teasing pseudonym for Maecenas, “who always strutted into Town with his tunics hanging low” (Sen.Ep. 114.6). For men not on active military service, the tunic, the basic all-purpose garment and undergarment of the ancient world, was supposed to hang to the knee: “below that suits married women [see 122-3], above that, centurions” (Quint. 11.3.138).
36 Rufillus’ … goat: quoted by H. himself at 4.92* and by Sen. Ep. 86.13, where instead of Rufillus the MSS give Bucculus. The former, “little redhead”, could be a nickname for someone with the surname Rufus, such as the poet Ser. Sulpicius (10.86*) or the unlucky host Nasidienus (2.8.58*); the latter means “big cheeks”.
Gargonius’ … goat: Cicero (Brut. 180) mentions a C. Gargonius as an inept orator of Sulla’s time, Seneca the Elder (Con. 1.7.18 etc.), a like-named teacher of rhetoric in H.’s generation with a famously raucous voice.
goat: a euphemism for body odor at least as early as Old Comedy (4.2n.*), also in H. at Epd. 12.4-6 and Ep. 1.5.29. Cf. Catul. 69.5-6 (Rufus can’t get a girl because) “it is alleged that / a nasty goat dwells in the valley of your armpits.”
37 middle course: see 1.111n.
38 if any ankle shows: i.e. is not a married woman (matrona). In public, a “matron” was expected to wear a white (46) floor-length outer garment called a stola(“dress” at 90, “outfit” at 129; see also 122).
40 Cato’s god-like wisdom: M. Porcius Cato (234-149 BC), sometimes known as “the Censor” not just because he held that office (184-183 BC) but because he was regarded in his own time and persisted in collective memory as a paragon and guardian of old-fashioned Roman virtue. See C. 2.15.11-12, 3.21.11-12, Ep.1.19.13-14. His relaxed attitude about bordellos was shared by many other Romans, including H.’s father (4.113-15*); cf. Pl. Curc. 33-8, Cic. Cael. 48. “if there is anyone who thinks even affairs with prostitutes are forbidden to young men, he is stern indeed – I cannot deny it – but he is at odds not only with the license of this time but even from the custom and allowances of our ancestors.”
45 Cupiennius: the name, although attested (Porph. identifies this bearer of it as friend of Augustus), sounds like a compound of cupio (“I desire”) and Ennius, the poet whose verses are about to be parodied (47-8), something like “Skirtchaucer” might be in English.
47-8 O Romans … lend me your ears: the translation echoes Antonius’ funeral oration in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesaras H.’s Latin parodies two verses by the great epic poet Q. Ennius (10.54n.), Ann. 471-2 ROL, “Now hear this, you who wish god speed / to the Roman state and increase to Latium.” The second verse is also parodied in one of Varro’s Menippean satires (fr. 542 Astbury).
48 adulterers: according to H.’s slave Davus, this would include H. himself (2.7.46-72*).
49-50 pleasure / laced with pain: H. adopts an Epicurean argument against illicit sex (HP 21 G3, 22 Q4; cf. 21 B3, D1, 3).
51-5 There are serious accounts of the punishment of adulterers (e.g. Val. Max. 6.1.13), but more often they are “played for laughs” as at 168-76 below, in Roman comedy (e.g. Plaut. Mil. 1395-1426), satire (Juv. 10.310-23), epigram (Mart. 2.47, 60, 83), and, it would seem, mime (1n.).
51-2 flogged / to death: the Latin could also mean “almost to death”, which would make more sense if Porph. is right in identifying this man as the historian Sallust (ca. 86-35 BC), since he managed to pay off and outlive his flogger, T. Annius Milo, who had caught Sallust with his wife Fausta (82n.), by some 13 years ( see Aul. Gel. 17.18). In 50 BC he was expelled from the senate by the censors after admitting to adultery ([Cic.] Sal. 16), but it is not clear if the two incidents were related. See also 58n.
56 “Deserved it,” folks will say: in Republican Rome there seem to have been no laws concerned specifically with adultery (Sallust [above] was expelled from the senate on moral, not legal grounds), but under the principle of “self-help” there were few limits to what a citizen could do in cases of invasion of his space and property. Octavian late in life was concerned enough about adultery, especially in his own family, to enact a Lex Iuliade adulteriis (18 BC) prescribing but also limiting the violence of punishments.
Galba: presumably a member of the Sulpicii Galbae, a distinguished patrician clan, and either a jurist or an experienced adulterer or both.
57 at bargain rates: this and the phrase “market price” would seem to refer, not to the cost of a bordello, since that has already been mentioned as an alternative, but of gifts and other favors for unmarried “mistresses” of a higher status than common prostitutes.
58 ex-slaves: Lat. libertinae, although the word did not have the associations that “libertine” has in English. Slaves emancipated by their owners automatically attained full citizen status at Rome in and much of Italy at all periods, but in the Republic relatively few attained high rank and many worked in what we would call “entertainment and service industries” that were traditionally considered beneath Roman dignity. There was no stigma attached to consorting with such people, only with being too obsessed with them, as H. admits of himself in Epd. 14 and Odes 1.33.
Sallust: not the adulterer historian (51-2n.), but probably his great-nephew and heir of the same name, who died in AD 20. This would make him quite but not impossibly young in the mid-30s BC. He grew up to become an important advisor to Octavian and Octavian’s successor Tiberius. Odes 2.2 is addressed to him.
61-2 in keeping with / his means: and thus likely to be thought neither a miser nor a spendthrift (14, 37).
67 “I never touch a wife”: spoken by Sallust.
68 Marsaeus: otherwise unknown.
69 Origo: 1n.
72-81 A kind of extended apostrophe to Marsaeus.
82 Fausta: the daughter of (in)famous L. Cornelius Sulla, who set a kind of precedent for Julius and Octavian Caesar by twice turning his armies against the Republic (88 and 82 BC), eliminating his enemies through judicial murder (“proscription”; see 7.1n.), and seizing dictatorial power to “restore the state”. His successes led him to call himself Felix, “lucky,” and his children Fausta and Faustus, “fortunate”.
83 son-in-law: ironic; Fausta’s real husband was T. Annius Milo (51-2n.).
the name: both for its pedigree and for its literal meaning (82n.).
86 Longarenus: otherwise unknown. The name is attested, but it might be meant here to evoke the Latin words longauo, “sausage”, and longao, “rectum”.
87 Dick piped up: H. echoes a famous passage in Lucretius (3.931-51), where personified “Nature” lectures a man on the silliness of his fear of death. The word for“dick” here, mutto, is very rare and probably borrowed from Lucil. fr. 335 ROL, “but with her left hand the girlfriend rubbed [its? her?] tears off of the dick”.
90 well-appareled: 38, 83nn; cunt: H.’s term, cunnus, is as obscene in Latin as this is in English.
92 Nature: 1.52n.
96-7 things one ought to seek … what should be avoided: alternatives often mentioned in Greek philosophy, including Epicureanism (e.g. HP 21B2); cf. 3.159-60.
103 no matter what you think: apostrophe. If Cerinthus is a Roman adulterer, the Greek name, which means “honeycomb,” would seem to be a suggestive pseudonym, as it probably is for the lover in the elegies by and about the woman poet Sulpicia ([Tib.] 3.8-20). But H.’s text can also be translated “no matter if it [the thigh] is yours”, in which case Cerinthus could be a handsome male mime (1n.) or “boy-toy” (so Porph.). See 152n.
110-14 A somewhat complicated analogy, but the idea seems to be that, while a woman might parade her “endowment” to distract scrutiny of other parts just as or even more important for sexual pleasure, “rich men” men buying horses avoid such distraction by covering the superficial features of the animals and focusing on those essential for utility. The comparison of women with beasts is not unusual for satire and other “low” genres; see Epd.8 and 12, but it also occurs in the more elevated Odes 1.23 and 2.5.
115 Lynceus: a hero in Greek myth proverbial for his keen eyesight; seeEp. 1.1.28, Cic. Fam. 9.2.2.
117 blinder than Hypsaea: the “blindness” of lovers and of love itself is proverbial (e.g. 3.39, 58), but for Lucretius also the first “symptom” of a bad case of “lovesickness” (4.1149-70). Hypsaea (a real surname) is otherwise unknown.
119 “What … legs … what arms”: a parody of Greek poems such as Philodemus (158n.), AP 5.132.1-2, “O foot, o shin, o thighs at the sight of which I rightly / perish!”
122 everything is veiled: with the stola(38n.).
123 Catia: according to Porph., a matron “who because of the beauty of her legs wore a short dress in defiance of modesty. Moreover she was so degraded that she committed adultery with Valerius Acisculus, a tribune of the plebs, behind a curtain in the shrine of Venus at the Theater of Pompey.” An L. Valerius Acisculus was an overseer of the Roman mint in 45 BC, but there is no record of him attaining the tribunate of the plebs.
127 litter: the rich and indolent in Rome often moved about the city in enclosed litters (lecticae); see 2.3.214*, Catul. 10.
129 ankle-touching dress: 38n. The “heavy cloak” (Lat. palla) was a large, usually woolen cloak worn in bad weather by both women and men.
132 Coan silk: a cloth woven on the Greek island of Cos from the cocoons of wild silkworms. It was highly prized but considered inferior to the product brought to the Mediterranean region from China (see Epd. 8.15) on the famous Silk Road.
137 the lover sings: his song is based on and quotes an epigram by the 3rdcent. BC Hellenistic Greek poet Callimachus of Cyrene (epigram 31 Pfeiffer = AP 12.102), “The hunter, Epicydes, in the mountains searches for / every hare and for the tracks of every doe-antelope, / enduring frost and snow. But if someone should say /
‘Look, this beast has been wounded’, he does not bag it. / Such is my love. It knows how to pursue what flees, but flies by what is lying at hand.”
142-43 erotic fever … seething wound: traditional metaphors for infatuation; cf. Epd. 11.13-16, Odes 1.27.12, 20, and Lucr. 4.1048-90.
146 what limit Nature sets: 1.52n.
148 void from solid: “the words are playfully transferred to morality from Epicurean physics, which made matter … and void … the two ultimate constituents of the universe” (Brown). See Lucr. 1.419-44.
149 goblet: see 1.57-9.
150 turbot … peacock: prized delicacies at Rome; see 2.2.23, 42, 48-9, 95*, 8.30*, Epd. 2.50.
152 pretty slaves or house boys: Roman law protected slaves (as property) from sexual abuse by strangers but not by their owners. H., like many in his time, was casually what would now be called “bisexual”; see 4.27*, 2.3.325*, Epd. 11, Odes 4.1.
154 Venus: metonymy for “mistress”, “squeeze”; cf. Odes 1.27.14, 33.13, Lucr. 4.1185. But H.’s audience would be aware that both Julius and Octavian Caesar made much of their supposed descent, through her son Aeneas and grandson Iulus, from the real Venus.
158 Philodemus: an Epicurean philosopher from Gadara in Syria who in the mid 1stcent. BC lived at Rome and Herculaneum, where fragments of his books have been discovered under the volcanic ash of Mt Vesuvius’ eruption in AD 79. A number of his poems also survive in the Greek Anthology (119n.), but not the one cited here.
159 the Galli: two meanings are possible: “Gauls”, as typical barbarians, or “Galli”, the term for the men who castrated themselves in order to become priests of the Asian goddess Cybele; see Catul. 63.
165 she’s Ilia or Egeria: Ilia, a Vestal Virgin (!), was a descendant of Aeneas, and thus a relative of the Julian clan (153n.) as well as the mother of Rome’s founder, Romulus (see Odes 3.9.7-8); Egeria, a Latin nymph or goddess, was said to be a counselor and mistress of the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius (Enn. Ann. 113 Skutsch, Liv. 1.21.3, Juv. 3.12). H. may owe something here to the Cynic poet Cercidas (fl. 225 BCE) of Megalopolis in central Greece (Meliambi 3.27-32): “The Aphrodite [= Venus] from the market place / and attached to no one in particular, / whenever you wish and however you desire her, / there is no fear or aggravation; / bedding her for a small fee, / you seem to be the son-in-law of Tyndareus [the stepfather of Helen of Troy; see 3.107n.].”
167-76 See 51-5n.
167 fucking: H.’s word, futuo, is just as obscene in Latin.
172 my accomplice: as in Davus’ complaint (48n.) about H.’s supposed adulteries (2.7.60*) and often in love poetry (e.g. Ovid, Am. 1.11).
174 losing dowry: it is not clear how much she could forfeit during the Republic (cf. Val. Max. 8.2.3), but the Lex Iulia of 18 BC (56n.) set the amount at one half of the total value.
175 tunic: 33n.
178 even Fabius: i.e. even a Stoic philosopher (1.1.18n.), who might be expected to insist that the wise man is immune to pain and suffering. The humor would be more pointed if this Fabius was himself an adulterer (so Porph.).