Stupes

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Part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

‘Tu autem tam laboriosus es, ut post te non respicias! in alio peduclum vides, in te ricinum non vides. tibi soli ridiclei videmur; ecce magister tuus, homo maior natus: placemus illi. tu lacticulosus, nec “mu” nec “ma” argutas, vasus fictilis, immo lorus in aqua: lentior, non melior. tu beatior es: bis prande, bis cena. ego fidem meam malo quam thesauros. ad summam, quisquam me bis poposcit? annis quadraginta servivi; nemo tamen scit utrum servus essem an liber. et puer capillatus in hanc coloniam veni; adhuc basilica non erat facta. dedi tamen operam ut domino satis facerem, homini maiesto et dignitosso, cuius pluris erat unguis quam tu totus es. et habebam in domo qui mihi pedem opponerent hac illac; tamen — genio illius gratias! — enatavi. haec sunt vera athla; nam in ingenuum nasci tam facile est quam “accede istoc”. quid nunc stupes tamquam hircus in ervilia?’
(Petronius, Sat. 57.8-10)

‘But you now, you’re such a busybody you don’t look behind you. You see a louse on somebody else, but not the fleas on your own back. You’re the only one who finds us funny. Look at the professor now – he’s an older man than you and we get along with him. But you’re still wet from your mother’s milk and not up to your ABC yet. Just a crackpot – you’re like a piece of wash-leather in soak, softer but no better! You’re grander than us – well, have two dinners and two suppers! I’d rather have my good name than any amount of money. When all’s said and done, who’s ever asked me for money twice? For forty years I slaved but nobody ever knew if I was a slave or a free man. I came to this colony when I was a lad with long hair – the town hall hadn’t been built then. But I worked hard to please my master – there was a real gentleman, with more in his little finger-nail than there is in your whole body. And I had people in the house who tried to trip me up one way or another, but still – thanks be to his guardian spirit! – I kept my head above water. These are the prizes in life: being born free is as easy as all get-out. Now what are you gawping at, like a goat in a vetch-field?’ (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)

 

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