Monday, February 28, 2005


callidus imposuit nuper mihi copo Rauennae:
  cum peterem mixtum, uendidit ille merum.

A sly innkeeper put one over on me the other day in Ravenna. When I asked for diluted wine, he sold it to me neat.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


sit cisterna mihi quam uinea malo Rauennae,
  cum possim multo uendere pluris aquam.

I'd prefer to have a cistern at Ravenna rather than a vineyard, since I'd be able to sell water for a much better price.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


quod quacumque uenis Cosmum migrare putamus
  et fluere excusso cinnama fusa uitro,
nolo peregrinis placeas tibi, Gellia, nugis.
  scis, puto, posse meum sic bene olere canem.

Wherever you turn up we think that Cosmus is moving and that a stream of cinnamon has been poured out from a jolted phial. But I don't want you to be contented with foreign stuff, Gellia. You know, I suppose, that my dog can smell good in just the same way.

Friday, February 25, 2005


cum dare non possim quod poscis, Galla, rogantem,
  multo simplicius, Galla, negare potes.

Since I can't give you the amount you demand when I ask you, Galla, it would be much simpler, Galla, if you could just say no.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


  et uultu poteram tuo carere
  et collo manibusque cruribusque
  et mammis natibusque clunibusque,
  et - ne singula persequi laborem,
  tota te poteram, Chloe, carere.

I could do without your face and neck and hands and legs and breasts and buttocks and haunches and - so as not to trouble myself with going right through the details, I could do without the whole of you, Chloe.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


empta domus fuerat tibi, Tongiliane, ducentis:
  abstulit hanc nimium casus in urbe frequens.
collatum est deciens. rogo, non potes ipse uideri
  incendisse tuam, Tongiliane, domum?

You'd bought a house, Tongilianus, for two hundred thousand. An accident - all too common in the city - stole it from you. A million was contributed. I ask you, might it not look as though you, Tongilianus, set fire to your own house?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


cum faciem laudo, cum miror crura manusque,
  dicere, Galla, soles 'nuda placebo magis',
et semper uitas communia balnea nobis.
  numquid, Galla, times ne tibi non placeam?

When I praise your face, when I admire your legs and hands, Galla, it's your habit to say, 'I'll please you more in the nude'; and yet you always avoid having a bath together with me. Are you afraid, Galla, that I might not please you?

Monday, February 21, 2005


haec tibi, non alia, est ad cenam causa uocandi,
  uersiculos recites ut, Ligurine, tuos.
deposui soleas, affertur protinus ingens
  inter lactucas oxygarumque liber:
alter perlegitur, dum fercula prima morantur:
  tertius est, nec adhuc mensa secunda uenit:
et quartum recitas et quintum denique librum.
  putidus est, totiens si mihi ponis aprum.
quod si non scombris scelerata poemata donas,
  cenabis solus iam, Ligurine, domi.

This is your reason - no other - for inviting me to dinner: so that you can recite your little verses, Ligurinus. I've taken off my sandals; at once a huge book is brought forward, amid the lettuces and sharp fish-sauce. Another is read through while the first course is loitering. There's a third, and the second course hasn't come yet. And you recite a fourth, and finally a fifth book. It stinks if you serve me boar this often. If you don't give your wretched poems to the mackerel, you will soon be dining alone, Ligurinus, at home.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


Veientana mihi misces, ubi Massica potas:
  olfacere haec malo pocula quam bibere.

You mix Veientan for me, while you drink Massic. I prefer to smell these latter cups rather than drink.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


pauperis extruxit cellam, sed uendidit Olus
  praedia: nunc cellam pauperis Olus habet.

Olus built a 'pauper's cell', but sold his estate. Now Olus has a 'pauper's cell'.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Capena grandi porta qua pluit gutta
Phrygiumque Matris Almo qua lauat ferrum,
Horatiorum qua uiret sacer campus
qua pusilli feruet Herculis fanum,
Faustine, plena Bassus ibat in raeda,
omnis beati copias trahens ruris.
illic uideres frutice nobili caules
et utrumque porrum sessilesque lactucas
pigroque uentri non inutiles betas;
illic coronam pinguibus grauem turdis
leporemque laesum Gallici canis dente
nondumque uicta lacteum faba porcum.
nec feriatus ibat ante carrucam,
sed tuta faeno cursor oua portabat.
urbem petebat Bassus? immo rus ibat.

Where the Capena gate rains with large drops, and where the Almo washes the Mother's Phrygian iron, where the sacred field of the Horatii is green and where, Faustinus, the temple of the puny Hercules seethes, Bassus was coming in his full carriage, bringing along all the abundance of a prosperous country estate. There you might see fine leafy cabbages, and both sorts of leek, and dwarf lettuces, and beets that are not useless for a sluggish belly; there you might see a hoop heavy with fat thrushes, and a hare wounded by the tooth of a Gallic dog, and a sucking pig which had not yet eaten a bean. Nor was the runner on holiday who was going along in front of the carriage, but he was carrying eggs safe in hay. Was Bassus making for the city? No, he was going to the country.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


exigis a nobis operam sine fine togatam:
  non eo, libertum sed tibi mitto meum.
'non est' inquis 'idem.' multo plus esse probabo:
  uix ego lecticam subsequar, ille feret.
in turbam incideris, cunctos umbone repellet:
  inualidum est nobis ingenuumque latus.
quidlibet in causa narraueris, ipse tacebo:
  at tibi tergeminum mugiet ille sophos.
lis erit, ingenti faciet conuicia uoce:
  esse pudor uetuit fortia uerba mihi.
'ergo nihil nobis' inquis 'praestabis amicus?'
  quidquid libertus, Candide, non poterit.

You demand of us a toga-wearing service without end. I don't go, but I send you my freedman. 'It's not the same,' you say. I shall prove that it is much more: I'll only just keep up with your litter; he'll carry it. You've run into a crowd, he'll push them all back with his elbows: my flank is weak and well-born. You tell some story while pleading a case, I'll keep quiet; but he will bellow a threefold bravo. You'll have a lawsuit, he'll shout insults in a huge voice: modesty forbids me strong words. 'And so,' you say, 'will you provide me with nothing as a friend?' Whatever, Candidus, a freedman cannot.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


fugerit an Phoebus mensas cenamque Thyestae
  ignoro: fugimus nos, Ligurine, tuam.
illa quidem lauta est dapibusque instructa superbis,
  sed nihil omnino te recitante placet.
nolo mihi ponas rhombos mullumue bilibrem
  nec uolo boletos, ostrea nolo: tace.

Whether Phoebus fled Thyestes' tables and dinner, I know not: but we flee yours, Ligurinus. Indeed it is refined, furnished with splendid feasts, but nothing at all gives pleasure while you're reciting. I don't want you to serve me turbot or a two-pound mullet, nor do I want mushrooms, I don't want oysters: shut up.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


  occurrit tibi nemo quod libenter
  quod, quacumque uenis, fuga est et ingens
  circa te, Ligurine, solitudo,
  quid sit, scire cupis? nimis poeta es.
  hoc ualde uitium periculosum est.
  non tigris catulis citata raptis,
  non dipsas medio perusta sole,
  nec sic scorpios improbus timetur.
  nam tantos, rogo, quis ferat labores?
  et stanti legis et legis sedenti,
  currenti legis et legis cacanti.
  in thermas fugio: sonas ad aurem.
  piscinam peto: non licet natare.
  ad cenam propero: tenes euntem.
  ad cenam uenio: fugas edentem.
  lassus dormio: suscitas iacentem.
  uis, quantum facias mali, uidere?
  uir iustus, probus, innocens timeris.

Do you want to know why it is that no one meets you gladly, that wherever you go there is a running-away and around you, Ligurinus, an enormous solitude? You're too much of a poet. This is a very dangerous blemish. Not a tigress who's been roused by the theft of her cubs, not a thirsty-snake burnt up by the midday sun, nor a nasty scorpion, is feared as much as this. For who, I ask you, would bear such great hardships? You read to me as I stand, and you read as I sit, you read as I run and you read as I shit. I flee into the baths: you sound in my ear. I make for the swimming-pool: I'm not allowed to swim. I hurry to dinner: you detain me as I go. I arrive at dinner: you put me to flight as I eat. Tired out, I sleep: you rouse me as I lie. Do you want to see how much mischief you make? A just man, honourable, innocent - you are feared.

Monday, February 14, 2005


mentiris iuuenem tinctis, Laetine, capillis,
  tam subito coruus, qui modo cycnus eras!
non omnes fallis; scit te Proserpina canum:
  personam capiti detrahet illa tuo.

You make a pretence that you're a youth, Laetinus, with your dyed hair; so suddenly a raven, you who were only just now a swan! You're not fooling everyone; Proserpina knows you're white-haired. She will take away the mask from your head.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


lomento rugas uteri quod condere temptas,
  Polla, tibi uentrem, non mihi labra linis.
simpliciter pateat uitium fortasse pusillum:
  quod tegitur, maius creditur esse malum.

You try to cover up your belly's wrinkles with bean-meal cream, Polla; but it's your stomach, not my lips, which you smear. Frankly, the blemish, perhaps a tiny one, should be revealed. A fault that's concealed is believed to be all the greater.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


mutua quod nobis ter quinquagena dedisti
  ex opibus tantis, quas grauis arca premit,
esse tibi magnus, Telesine, uideris amicus.
  tu magnus, quod das? immo ego, quod recipis.

Because you've given me three times fifty thousand as a loan, out of riches so vast as your heavy strongbox conceals, Telesinus, you consider yourself to be a great friend. You're great because you give it? I'm great, more like - because you get it back again.

Friday, February 11, 2005


  inserta phialae Mentoris manu ducta
  lacerta uiuit et timetur argentum.

Set into the bowl lives a lizard, fashioned by the hand of Mentor - and the silver is feared.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Iliaco similem puerum, Faustine, ministro
  lusca Lycoris amat. quam bene lusca uidet!

Lycoris the one-eyed loves a boy like the Trojan servant. How well the one-eyed lady sees!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


quae te causa trahit uel quae fiducia Romam,
  Sexte? quid aut speras aut petis inde? refer.
'causas' inquis 'agam Cicerone disertior ipso
  atque erit in triplici par mihi nemo foro.'
egit Atestinus causas et Ciuis - utrumque
  noras - sed neutri pensio tota fuit.
'si nihil hinc ueniet, pangentur carmina nobis:
  audieris, dices esse Maronis opus."
insanis: omnes gelidis quicumque lacernis
  sunt ibi, Nasones Vergiliosque uides.
'atria magna colam.' uix tres aut quattuor ista
  res aluit; pallet cetera turba fame.
'quid faciam suade: nam certum est uiuere Romae.'
  si bonus es, casu uiuere, Sexte, potes.

What inducement, or what confidence, drags you to Rome, Sextus? What do you hope for or look for from there? Do tell. 'I shall plead cases,' you say, 'more eloquently than Cicero himself, and there will be no one to equal me in the three forums.' Atestinus and Civis pleaded cases - you knew both of them - but neither earned his full rent. 'If nothing comes of this, I'll compose poetry: hear it, and you'll say it's Maro's work.' You're mad: you see all the people who are here in their frosty cloaks; they're Nasos and Virgils. 'I'll pay my respects at great halls.' That ruse has barely supported three or four; the rest of the crowd is pale with hunger. 'Advise me what I should do: for I'm resolved to live in Rome.' If you're an honest man, Sextus, you can live at random.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


irasci tantum felices nostis amici.
  non belle facitis, sed iuuat hoc facere.

You rich friends know only how to get angry. You're not acting in a very pleasant way, but it gratifies you to act like this.

Monday, February 07, 2005


quod nouus et nuper factus tibi praestat amicus,
  hoc praestare iubes me, Fabiane, tibi:
horridus ut primo semper te mane salutem
  per mediumque trahat me tua sella lutum,
lassus ut in thermas decima uel serius hora
  te sequar Agrippae, cum lauer ipse Titi.
hoc per triginta merui, Fabiane, Decembres,
  ut sim tiro tuae semper amicitiae?
hoc merui, Fabiane, toga tritaque meaque,
  ut nondum credas me meruisse rudem?

You tell me, Fabianus, to provide you with what a recently made new friend gives you: that, shivering, I must greet you always first thing in the morning, and your chair must drag me right through the mud, and that when I'm worn out, at the tenth hour or later, I must follow you to the Baths of Agrippa, although I myself bathe at the Baths of Titus. Have I deserved this, Fabianus, through thirty Decembers - that I am always a raw recruit to your friendship? Have I deserved this, Fabianus, with my threadbare toga that I had to get myself - that you don't yet think I've earned my wooden sword?

Sunday, February 06, 2005


  artis Phidiacae toreuma clarum
  pisces aspicis: adde aquam, natabunt.

You look at the fishes, famous embossed work of Phidias' skill. Add water and they'll swim!

Saturday, February 05, 2005


digna tuo cur sis indignaque nomine, dicam.
  frigida es et nigra es: non es et es Chione.

I'll tell you why you're suited and not suited to your name. You are cold, and you are dusky: you are, and are not, Chione.

Friday, February 04, 2005


ingenuam malo, sed si tamen illa negetur,
  libertina mihi proxima condicio est.
extremo est ancilla loco; sed uincet utramque
  si facie, nobis haec erit ingenua.

I prefer a freeborn girl; if she is denied me, however, my next requirement is a freedwoman. In last place is a slave-girl; but if she beats them both in good looks, in my eyes she will be free.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


non possum uetulam: quereris, Matrinia? possum
  et uetulam - sed tu mortua, non uetula es.
possum Hecubam, possum Niobam, Matrinia, sed si
  nondum erit illa canis, nondum erit illa lapis.

I can't do a little old woman. Are you complaining, Matrinia? In fact I can do an old woman - but you're not old, you're dead! I can do a Hecuba, I can do a Niobe, Matrinia, but only if the former is not yet a dog, the latter not yet a stone.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


sunt tibi, confiteor, diffusi iugera campi,
  urbanique tenent praedia multa lares,
et seruit dominae numerosus debitor arcae,
  sustentatque tuas aurea massa dapes.
fastidire tamen noli, Rufine, minores:
  plus habuit Didymus, plus Philomelus habet.

You have (I admit) acres of wide open plains, and your household gods in town occupy many estates, and your numerous debtors serve their mistress the strong-box, and a mass of gold supports your banquets. However, Rufus, do not disdain lesser people: Didymus had more, Philomelus has more.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


sportula nulla datur; gratis conuiua recumbis:
  dic mihi, quid Romae, Gargiliane, facis?
unde tibi togula est et fuscae pensio cellae?
  unde datur quadrans? unde uir es Chiones?
cum ratione licet dicas te uiuere summa,
  quod uiuis, nulla cum ratione facis.

No dole is being provided; you recline as a guest free of charge. Tell me: what, Gargilianus, are you doing in Rome? Where does your little toga come from, and the rent for your dingy bedsit? Where does your farthing come from? How are you Chione's man? Although you say that you live with the most reasonable frugality, in the very fact that you are alive you defy reason.