Sapienter

20120227-Mosaic Pompeii Vagrant_musicians_MAN_Napoli_Inv9985

Tertii verso quater orbe lustri,
quid theatrales tibi, Crispe, pompae?
quam decet canos male literatos
sera voluptas!

tene mulceri fidibus canoris?
tene cantorum modulis stupere?
tene per pictas oculo elegante
currere formas?

inter aequales, sine felle liber,
codices, veri studiosus, inter
rectius vives, sua quisque carpat
gaudia gratus.

lusibus gaudet puer otiosis,
luxus oblectat iuvenem theatri,
at seni fluxo sapienter uti
tempore restat.

(Samuel Johnson, In Theatro)

Now that the circle of your third half-decade has turned four times, what are theatrical extravaganzas to you, Crisp? How unseemly for well-read grey hairs is such a pleasure so late in life! You, beguiled by tuneful strings! You, entranced by the ditties of singers! You, running a discriminating eye over painted figures! Much better for you to live among men of your own age, detached and without rancor, searching for the truth in ancient volumes. Everyone should gratefully seize the pleasures that are proper for him. A boy enjoys carefree games, a young man is charmed by the lavishness of the theater; but it remains for an old man to use his time wisely as it passes. (tr. Niall Rudd)

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