Monday, January 31, 2005


  has cum gemina compede dedicat catenas,
  Saturne, tibi Zoilus, anulos priores.

These chains, with their twin shackles, Zoilus dedicates to you, Saturn - his previous rings.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


auriculam Mario grauiter miraris olere.
  tu facis hoc: garris, Nestor, in auriculam.

You're amazed that Marius' ear smells nasty. It's you that make it so: you chatter, Nestor, into his ear.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


numquam me reuocas, uenias cum saepe uocatus:
  ignosco, nullum si modo, Galle, uocas.
inuitas alios: uitium est utriusque. 'quod?' inquis.
  et mihi cor non est et tibi, Galle, pudor.

You never invite me back, although you often come when you've been invited. I forgive you, Gallus, only if you invite nobody. But you do invite others. We both of us have a fault; 'What is it?' you say. I have no judgement and you, Gallus, have no shame.

Friday, January 28, 2005


praedia solus habes et solus, Candide, nummos,
  aurea solus habes, murrina solus habes,
Massica solus habes et Opimi Caecuba solus,
  et cor solus habes, solus et ingenium.
omnia solus habes - hoc me puta uelle negare -
  uxorem sed habes, Candide, cum populo.

Only you have land, Candidus, and only you have cash; only you have gold plate, only you have porcelain, only you have Massic and Caecuban of Opimian vintage, and only you have brains, only you have talent. You have everything - suppose that I don't want to deny it - but you have a wife shared with the public.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


  si temperari balneum cupis feruens,
  Faustine, quod uix Iulianus intraret,
  roga lauetur rhetorem Sabineium.
  Neronianas is refrigerat thermas.

If, Faustinus, you want to cool down a boiling-hot bath that even Julianus could barely get into, ask Sabineius the rhetorician to wash in it. He can chill the warm baths of Nero.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


uite nocens rosa stabat moriturus ad aras
  hircus, Bacche, tuis uictima grata sacris;
quem Tuscus mactare deo cum uellet aruspex,
  dixerat agresti forte rudique uiro
ut cito testiculos peracuta falce secaret,
  taeter ut immundae carnis abiret odor.
ipse super uirides aras luctantia pronus
  dum resecat cultro colla premitque manu,
ingens iratis apparuit hirnea sacris.
  occupat hanc ferro rusticus atque secat,
hoc ratus antiquos sacrorum poscere ritus
  talibus et fibris numina prisca coli.
sic, modo qui Tuscus fueras, nunc Gallus aruspex,
  dum iugulas hircum, factus es ipse caper.

Since he caused injury to a vine, a billy-goat was standing about to die at your altar, Bacchus, a welcome victim at your rites. When the Tuscan soothsayer was intending to sacrifice him to the god, he told a man, who happened to be an unrefined rustic, to cut the testicles quick with a sharpened sickle, so that the noisome odour of unclean flesh might go away. While he himself was stooping over the green altar, cutting the struggling neck with the knife and pressing with his hand, a huge hernea appeared to the angry rites. The rustic seizes upon this and cuts it with the steel, thinking that the ancient rites of sacrifice require this, and that with such organs the deities of old are worshipped. So, you who were just recently a Tuscan soothsayer are now a Gallic one; while you were slaughtering a billy-goat you yourself became a gelding.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


omnia cum retro pueris opsonia tradas,
  cur non mensa tibi ponitur a pedibus?

Since you pass all the side-dishes to the slaves behind you, why is your table not put at your feet?

Monday, January 24, 2005


  dederas, Apici, bis trecenties uentri,
  et adhuc supererat centies tibi laxum.
  hoc tu grauatus ut famem et sitim ferre
  summa uenenum potione perduxti.
  nihil est, Apici, tibi gulosius factum.

You, Apicius, had bestowed sixty million on your belly, and still you had a good ten million left. Weighed down by this as though you were having to bear with hunger and thirst, you took poison with your last drink. Nothing you ever did, Apicius, was more gluttonous.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


proscriptum famulus seruauit fronte notatus.
  non fuit haec domini uita, sed inuidia.

A slave with branded forehead saved the proscribed man. This was not [giving him] life, but odium.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


  dic, Musa, quid agat Canius meus Rufus:
  utrumne chartis tradit ille uicturis
  legenda temporum acta Claudianorum?
  an quae Neroni falsus astruit scriptor?
  an aemulatur improbi iocos Phaedri?
  lasciuus elegis an seuerus herois?
  an in cothurnis horridus Sophocleis?
  an otiosus in schola poetarum
  lepore tinctos Attico sales narrat?
  hinc si recessit, porticum terit +templi+
  an spatia carpit lentus Argonautarum?
  an delicatae sole rursus Europae
  inter tepentes post meridiem buxos
  sedet ambulatue liber acribus curis?
  Titine thermis an lauatur Agrippae
  an impudici balneo Tigillini?
  an rure Tulli fruitur atque Lucani?
  An Pollionis dulce currit ad quartum?
  an aestuantis iam profectus ad Baias
  piger Lucrino nauculatur in stagno?
  'uis scire quid agat Canius tuus? ridet.'

Tell, Muse, what my friend Canius Rufus is doing: is he committing to paper the deeds of Claudian times, to be read by men yet to live? Or the things which a deceitful writer attributed to Nero? Or is he emulating the jokes of mischievous Phaedrus? Is he being wanton in elegy or austere in epic? Or grim in Sophoclean boots? Or, at leisure in the poets' school, does he tell witty tales tinged with Attic charm? If he withdraws from there, does he frequent the portico of a temple or slowly amble across the spaces of the Argonauts? Or again, does he sit or walk, free from bitter cares, in the sunshine of tender Europa among the box-trees which are warm after midday? Is he bathing in the warm baths of Titus or of Agrippa, or at the bath-house of shameless Tigillinus? Or is he enjoying the country estate of Tullus and Lucanus? Or is he running to Pollio's pleasant place at the fourth [milestone]? Or, having already left for boiling hot Baiae, is he lazily boating in the Lucrine lagoon? 'You want to know what your friend Canius is doing? He's laughing.'

Friday, January 21, 2005


proxima centenis ostenditur ursa columnis,
  exornant fictae qua platanona ferae.
huius dum patulos alludens temptat hiatus
  pulcher Hylas, teneram mersit in ora manum;
uipera sed caeco scelerata latebat in aere
  uiuebatque anima deteriore fera.
non sensit puer esse dolos, nisi dente recepto
  dum perit. o facinus, falsa quod ursa fuit!

A bear is displayed near to the Hundred Columns, where sculpted beasts decorate the grove of plane-trees. As beautiful Hylas was playing with it and testing its gaping jaws, he sunk his tender hand into the mouth. But a wicked viper was concealed in the dark bronze, and the [sculpted] beast was alive with a soul worse than its own. The boy did not realize there was a trap until he had been bitten and was dying. O what villainy that the bear was deceitful!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


perfrixisse tuas questa est praefatio fauces:
  cum te excusaris, Maxime, quid recitas?

Your introduction complained that you've got a cold in your throat: since you've excused yourself, Maximus, why are you reciting?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


circumlata diu mensis scribilita secundis
  urebat nimio saeua calore manus;
sed magis ardebat Sabidi gula: protinus ergo
  sufflauit buccis terque quaterque suis.
illa quidem tepuit digitosque admittere uisa est,
  sed nemo potuit tangere: merda fuit.

A tart, passed round for quite a while during the second course, kept burning our hands with its excessive heat. But Sabidius' greed was burning even hotter: so at once he blew on it with his cheeks three or four times. Yes, it cooled and seemed ready to let our fingers in - but no one could touch it. It had become a turd.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


das gladiatores, sutorum regule, Cerdo,
  quodque tibi tribuit subula, sica rapit.
ebrius es: neque enim faceres hoc sobrius umquam,
  ut uelles corio ludere, Cerdo, tuo.
lusisti corio: sed te, mihi crede, memento
  nunc in pellicula, Cerdo, tenere tua.

You're putting on a gladiator-show, Cerdo, you prince of shoemakers, and what your awl has granted you, the dagger is snatching away. You're drunk: because if you were sober you would never have done this - wanting to play with your own hide. You have played with your hide, but (trust me) remember to keep yourself, Cerdo, in your own little skin.

Monday, January 17, 2005


plus credit nemo tota quam Cordus in urbe.
  'cum sit tam pauper, quomodo?' caecus amat.

No one in the whole city is more trusting than Cordus. 'How come, if he's so poor?' He's blind in love.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


  Romam petebat esuritor Tuccius
    profectus ex Hispania.
  occurrit illi sportularum fabula:
    a ponte rediit Muluio.

Starving Tuccius was on his way to Rome, having set out from Spain. The story about the dole met him: he went back from the Mulvian Bridge.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


dum non uis pisces, dum non uis carpere pullos
  et plus quam patri, Naeuia, parcis apro,
accusas rumpisque cocum, tamquam omnia cruda
  attulerit. numquam sic ego crudus ero.

When you don't want to serve up the fish, when you don't want to serve up the chicken, and when you're being more careful with the boar, Naevia, than you would be with your father, you blame the cook and lay into him, as if everything he'd brought in was uneatable. I'm never going to suffer indigestion this way.

Friday, January 14, 2005


  unguentum, fateor, bonum dedisti
  conuiuis here, sed nihil scidisti.
  res salsa est bene olere et esurire.
  qui non cenat et unguitur, Fabulle,
  hic uere mihi mortuus uidetur.

You gave (I admit) a good unguent to your guests yesterday, but you carved nothing. It's a witty thing to smell nice and be hungry. A man who has not dined but has been anointed, Fabullus, seems to me to be truly dead.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


si tua nec Thais nec lusca est, Quinte, puella,
  cur in te factum distichon esse putas?
sed simile est aliquid: pro Laide Thaida dixi.
  dic mihi: quid simile est Thais et Hermione?
tu tamen es Quintus; mutemus nomen amantis.
  si non uult Quintus, Thaida Sextus amet.

If your girlfriend isn't Thais and isn't one-eyed, Quintus, why do you think the couplet was directed at you? But there is some similarity: I said 'Thais' in place of 'Lais'. Tell me: 'Thais' and 'Hermione', what's similar there? But you are Quintus; let's change the lover's name. If Quintus doesn't want to, let Sextus love Thais.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


constituit, Philomuse, pater tibi milia bina
  menstrua perque omnis praestitit illa dies,
luxuriam premeret cum crastina semper egestas
  et uitiis essent danda diurna tuis.
idem te moriens heredem ex asse reliquit.
  exheredauit te, Philomuse, pater.

Your father, Philomusus, fixed a monthly two thousand for you, and through all his days he kept his word, when tomorrow's poverty was always pressing on your extravagance and daily gifts had to be given for your vices. As he was dying he left you as sole heir. Philomusus, your father has disinherited you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


uersiculos in me narratur scribere Cinna.
  non scribit, cuius carmina nemo legit.

The story goes that Cinna's writing little verses attacking me. A man doesn't 'write' if nobody reads his poems.

Monday, January 10, 2005


'Thaida Quintus amat.' 'quam Thaida?' 'Thaida luscam.'
  'unum oculum Thais non habet, ille duos.'

'Quintus loves Thais.' 'Which Thais?' 'The one-eyed Thais.' 'Thais is missing one eye - he's missing two!'

Sunday, January 09, 2005


  centum miselli iam ualete quadrantes,
  anteambulonis congiarium lassi,
  quos diuidebat balneator elixus.
  quid cogitatis, o fames amicorum?
  regis superbi sportulae recesserunt.
  'nihil stropharum est: iam salarium dandum est.'

Goodbye now, miserable little hundred quadrantes, dole for the weary forerunner, you who the boiled bath-house keeper used to split up. What do you think, my famished friends? The puffed-up patron's handouts have disappeared. 'It's no trick: now he must give a salary.'

Saturday, January 08, 2005


lux tibi post Idus numeratur tertia Maias,
  Marcelline, tuis bis celebranda sacris.
imputat aetherios ortus haec prima parenti,
  libat florentes haec tibi prima genas.
magna licet dederit iucundae munera uitae,
  plus numquam patri praestitit ille dies.

The third day after the Ides of May is reckoned to you, Marcellinus, as a day to be celebrated twice over with your sacrifices. This day first reckons to your father his heavenly birth, this day first takes from your flowering cheeks. Although it gave him the great gifts of a pleasant life, never did that day provide your father with more.

Friday, January 07, 2005


uis commendari sine me cursurus in urbem,
  parue liber, multis, an satis unus erit?
unus erit, mihi crede, satis, cui non eris hospes,
  Iulius, assiduum nomen in ore meo.
protinus hunc primae quaeres in limine Tectae:
  quos tenuit Daphnis, nunc tenet ille lares.
est illi coniunx, quae te manibusque sinuque
  excipiet, tu uel puluerulentus eas.
hos tu seu pariter siue hanc illumue priorem
  uideris, hoc dices 'Marcus hauere iubet'
et satis est. alios commendet epistula: peccat
  qui commendandum se putat esse suis.

You're about to run without me to the city, little book: do you want to be recommended to many people, or will one be enough? One will be enough, believe me, a man to whom you won't be a stranger - Julius, a name that's continually on my lips. Look for him immediately at the very threshold of the Covered Way: he occupies the house which Daphnis once occupied. He has a wife, who will receive you in her hands and bosom, even though you come covered in dust. Whether you see them together or you see her or him first, say this: 'Marcus sends his regards,' and that is enough. Let a letter recommend others: anyone who thinks he needs to be recommended to his own is in error.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Romam uade, liber: si ueneris unde requiret,
  Aemiliae dices de regione uiae;
si, quibus in terris, qua simus in urbe rogabit,
  Corneli referas me licet esse Foro.
cur absim quaeret, breuiter tu multa fatere:
  'non poterat uanae taedia ferre togae.'
'quando uenit?' dicet, tu respondeto: 'poeta
  exierat: ueniet, cum citharoedus erit.'

Go to Rome, book: if she enquires where you have come from, say from the direction of the Aemilian Way. If she asks what land, what city I am in, you can reply that I am in Forum Cornelii. If she seeks to know why I'm away, make a long story short: 'He couldn't bear the tedium of the fruitless toga.' If she says, 'When's he coming back?' you reply, 'It was as a poet that he left: he will come back when he is a lyre-singer.'

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


formosam faciem nigro medicamine celas,
  sed non formoso corpore laedis aquas.
ipsam crede deam uerbis tibi dicere nostris:
  'aut aperi faciem, aut tunicata laua.'

You conceal a beautiful face with black ointment, but you offend the water with a body that is not beautiful. Believe that the goddess herself is saying to you through my words: 'Either uncover your face or bathe with your tunic on.'

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


  cuius uis fieri, libelle, munus?
  festina tibi uindicem parare,
  ne nigram cito raptus in culinam
  cordylas madida tegas papyro
  uel turis piperisue sis cucullus.
  Faustini fugis in sinum? sapisti.
  cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus
  et frontis gemino decens honore
  pictis luxurieris umbilicis,
  et te purpura delicata uelet,
  et cocco rubeat superbus index.
  illo uindice nec Probum timeto.

Whose gift do you want to be, little book? Hurry to ready a protector for yourself, lest, swiftly snatched away into a blackened kitchen, you wrap tunny-fry with your sodden papyrus, or you be a hood for incense or pepper. You fly into the bosom of Faustinus? You have shown good sense. Now you may walk anointed all over with cedar, and, handsome with the double decoration of your brow, you may luxuriate in your painted rolling-sticks, and a delicate purple may clothe you, and your proud title may blush with its scarlet dye. With him as your protector, have no fear of Probus.

Monday, January 03, 2005


hoc tibi, quidquid id est, longinquis mittit ab oris
  Gallia Romanae nomine dicta togae.
hunc legis et laudas librum fortasse priorem:
  illa uel haec mea sunt, quae meliora putas.
plus sane placeat domina qui natus in urbe est:
  debet enim Gallum uincere uerna liber.

This - such as it is - the Gaul which is called by the name of the Roman toga sends to you from far-off regions. You read this book and perhaps you praise the previous one: that one or this one is mine, whichever you think the better. Surely the one which was born in the imperial city should please more, for a home-born book ought to conquer a Gaul.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


'primus ubi est' inquis 'cum sit liber iste secundus?'
  quid faciam, si plus ille pudoris habet?
tu tamen hunc fieri si mauis, Regule, primum,
  unum de titulo tollere iota potes.

'Where is Book I,' you say, 'if this is Book II?' What can I do if that one has more modesty? However, if you prefer this one to become Book I, Regulus, you can take one I from the title.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


  natorum mihi ius trium roganti
  Musarum pretium dedit mearum
  solus qui poterat. ualebis, uxor:
  non debet domini perire munus.

When I asked for the Right of Three Children, he who alone has the power gave me the reward for my Muses. Goodbye, wife! Our lord's gift should not go to waste.