“Mens bona, fama, fides,” haec clare et ut audiat hospes;
illa sibi introrsum et sub lingua murmurat: “o si
ebulliat patruus, praeclarum funus!” et “o si
sub rastro crepet argenti mihi seria dextro
Hercule! pupillumve utinam, quem proximus heres
impello, expungam! nam et est scabiosus et acri
bile tumet. Nerio iam tertia conditur uxor.”
haec sancte ut poscas, Tiberino in gurgite mergis
mane caput bis terque et noctem flumine purgas.
heus age, responde (minimum est quod scire laboro)
de Iove quid sentis?
(Persius, Sat. 2.8-17)

“Good sense, reputation, credit” – that’s what he says out loud, even for strangers to hear, but this is what he mutters to himself under his tongue: “Oh, if only uncle would pop off, I’d give him a splendid funeral!” and “If only Hercules would favour me and make a pot of silver chink beneath my hoe!”* Or “I wish I could wipe out my ward – I’m right behind him, the next to inherit. After all, he suffers from eczema and is swollen with jaundice. Nerius is already burying his third wife.” To make these requests piously, you plunge your head twice and three times in the morning in Tiber’s flow and clean away the night’s thoughts in river water. Hey then, tell me (it’s a tiny thing I strive to know), what is your view of God?”

* Hercules was the god associated with hidden treasure.

(tr. Susanna Morton Braund, with her note)

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