Lintea ferret Apro vatius cum vernula nuper
et supra togulam lusca sederet anus
atque olei stillam daret enterocelicus unctor,
udorum tetricus censor et asper erat:
frangendos calices effundendumque Falernum
clamabat biberet quod modo lotus eques.
a sene sed postquam patruo venere trecenta,
sobrius a thermis nescit abire domum.
o quantum diatreta valent et quinque comati!
tunc, cum pauper erat, non sitiebat Aper.
(Martial 12.70)

Not long ago, when a bow-legged, home-bred slave carried Aper’s towels and a one-eyed old woman sat watching over his little gown and a ruptured masseur handed him his drop of oil, he was a stern, harsh censor of boozers. He would shout that the cups should be smashed and the Falernian poured away which a knight, fresh from his bath, was imbibing. But now that three hundred thousand has come his way from an aged uncle, he doesn’t know how to go home from the baths sober. Oh, what a difference open-work goblets and five long-haired boys can make! When Aper was poor, he wasn’t thirsty. (tr. David Roy Shackleton-Bailey)



Invisus natalis adest, qui rure molesto
et sine Cerintho tristis agendus erit.
dulcius urbe quid est? an villa sit apta puellae
atque Arrentino frigidus amnis agro?
iam, nimium Messalla mei studiose, quiescas,
non tempestivae saepe, propinque, viae.
hic animum sensusque meos abducta relinquo,
arbitrio quam vis non sinit esse meo.
(Sulpicia, Corpus Tibullianum 3.14)

My hated birthday is at hand, to be kept all joylessly in the odious country and without Cerinthus. What is more pleasant than the town? Would a grange be fit place for a girl, or the chill river of Arretium and its fields? Rest now, Messalla, from thy excessive zeal for me. Journeys, my kinsman, are oft ill-timed. They take me away, but here I leave my soul and heart, since force forbids my living mistress of myself. (tr. John Percival Postgate)


Invisus natalis adest, qui rure molesto
et sine Cerintho tristis agendus erit.
dulcius urbe quid est? an villa sit apta puellae
atque Arretino frigidus amnis agro?
iam nimium Messalla mei studiose, quiescas.
non tempestivae, saepe propinque, viae.
hic animum sensusque meos abducta relinquo,
arbitrio quamvis non sinis esse meo.
(Sulpicia, Corpus Tibullianum 3.14)

My hated birthday is near and I must spend it without Cerinthus but in tears out in the boring countryside. What is sweeter than the city? How can a country house and a freezing river in Arretine country be right for a girl? Now Messalla, you worry about me too much. Relax. Sometimes journeys are ill-timed, my dear. Kidnapped, I leave my heart and mind behind, even though you won’t allow me to be my own boss. (tr. Genevieve Liveley)



Ὅ τί ποτε τοῦτό εἰμι, σαρκία ἐστὶ καὶ πνευμάτιον καὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ἄφες τὰ βιβλία· μηκέτι σπῶ· οὐ δέδοται. ἀλλ’ ὡς ἤδη ἀποθνήσκων τῶν μὲν σαρκίων καταφρόνησον· λύθρος καὶ ὀστάρια καὶ κροκύφαντος, ἐκ νεύρων, φλεβίων, ἀρτηριῶν πλεγμάτιον. θέασαι δὲ καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα, ὁποῖόν τί ἐστιν· ἄνεμος· οὐδὲ ἀεὶ τὸ αὐτό,ἀλλὰ πάσης ὥρας ἐξεμούμενον καὶ πάλιν ῥοφούμενον. τρίτον οὖν ἐστὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ὧδε ἐπινοήθητι· γέρων εἶ· μηκέτι τοῦτο ἐάσῃς δουλεῦσαι, μηκέτι καθ’ ὁρμὴν ἀκοινώτητον νευροσπαστηθῆναι, μηκέτι τὸ εἱμαρμένον ἢ παρὸν δυσχερᾶναι ἢ μέλλον ἀποδύρεσθαι.
(Marcus Aurelius, Ta eis heauton 2.2)

What makes up this being of mine is flesh, and a bit of breath and the ruling centre. Put down your books—do not distract yourself with them any more; that is not granted to you. As if you were on the point of death, despise the flesh—just blood, bones, and the network of nerves, veins, and arteries. Consider what sort of thing breath is: a stream of air, and not always the same, but at each moment belched out and drawn in again. The third part of you is the ruling centre. Look at it this way: you are an old man; no longer allow this part of you to be enslaved any more; no longer allow it to be tugged this way and that like a puppet by each unsociable motive; no longer allow it to be discontented with its present fate or to flinch from its future one. (tr. Christopher Gill)


Τό τ’ ἔπειτα καὶ τὸ μέλλον
καὶ τὸ πρὶν ἐπαρκέσει
νόμος ὅδ’· οὐδέν’ ἕρπει
θνατῶν βίοτος πάμπολυς ἐκτὸς ἄτας.
(Sophocles, Ant. 611-614)

For present, future and past this law shall suffice: to none among mortals shall great wealth come without disaster. (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)



Ysengrimus erat frater, dudumque sepulti
sumere presbiteri poscitur ipse locum.
ille rogat, quod opus soleat patrare sacerdos?
pascere berbices anne parare dapes?
at typice fratres ovibus dixere tuendis
praefore presbiterum; paruit ille libens.
continuo “Dominus vobiscum!” dicere iussus,
Ysengrimus ovans “cominus,” inquit, “ovis!”
et “cúm!” teutonice accentu succlamat acuto,
nolens grammatica dicere voce “veni!”
(compererat crebro Scaldaeas ille bidentes
non nisi Teutonicos edidicisse modos;
quas ad concilium mandatas voce latina
convicit simili non bene nosse loqui,
duraque nullorsum iactans in vincula, donec
grammaticam scissent, pertulit ire reas.
claustricola hic ideoque pius, qua noverat illas
fungi, Teutonica voce venire iubet.)
dumque docent “Amén” quasi Graecum, accentuat “ágne.”
pars illum melius dicere nosse negant,
pars ultro dixisse ferunt; strepit undique murmur:
“verba, quid hic monachus cogitet, ante notant.
hic tondere gregem studet intra vellera; frater
tollere, quod lanam non sapit, iste parat!
dissimulat fraudem, non alterat, altera vestis;
non habet, ut spondet, nigra cuculla fidem.”
(Nivardus(?), Ysengrimus 5.541-566)

Ysengrimus, now a monk, was asked to take the place of a priest who had just been buried. He asked what task a priest customarily performed. Pasturing sheep or preparing food? The monks said, speaking figuratively, that the priest was in charge of looking after the sheep; so he willingly obeyed. Promptly instructed to say “Dominus vobiscum!” Ysengrimus cheerfully repeated “Lambus-here-come!” interpreting “cum” as the vernacular word, with a sharp accent, in preference to the Latin word “veni.” (He often found that the sheep of the Schelde had learned no speech but the vernacular; when he called them to a council in the Latin tongue, he had clear proof from them that they didn’t know how to speak in a similar way so he threw them into cruel bondage, and refused to allow the criminals to go anywhere before they had learned Latin. This was why this kind monk ordered them to come in the vernacular tongue he knew them to use.) When they taught him to say “Amén” in the Greek fashion, he stressed it “Lámb-en.” Some said that he was incapable of saying it any better, others that he had said it intentionally. On all sides buzzed the comment: “This monk’s words give prior warning of his intentions. He is plotting to shear the sheep of more than their fleece; this monk is preparing to take away something that doesn’t taste like wool! A new set of clothes disguises treachery, but it doesn’t change its nature. The black cowl doesn’t carry with it the trustworthiness it leads one to expect.” (tr. Jill Mann)




Nunc tibi quo pacto ferri natura reperta
sit facilest ipsi per te cognoscere, Memmi.
arma antiqua manus ungues dentesque fuerunt
et lapides et item silvarum fragmina rami
et flamma atque ignes, post quam sunt cognita primum.
posterius ferri vis est aerisque reperta.
et prior aeris erat quam ferri cognitus usus,
quo facilis magis est natura et copia maior.
aere solum terrae tractabant, aereque belli
miscebant fluctus et vulnera vasta serebant
et pecus atque agros adimebant; nam facile ollis
omnia cedebant armatis nuda et inerma.
inde minutatim processit ferreus ensis
versaque in opprobrium species est falcis ahenae,
et ferro coepere solum proscindere terrae
exaequataque sunt creperi certamina belli.
(Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 5.1281-1296)

Now, how the nature of iron was discovered,
you may learn easily, Memmius, for yourself.
In ancient times, weapons were teeth and nails
and stones and branches broken from the trees,
flame, too, and fire, once men had come to know them.
Later, men learned the power of iron and bronze.
And bronze they learned to use sooner than iron,
for bronze is simpler to work and more abundant.
With bronze they tilled the soil, with bronze they roiled
the waters of war, and harrowed a waste of wounds,
and seized both herds and lands: no task for them,
thus armed, to conquer the naked and unarmed.
Then little by little the iron sword came in,
and brazen tools became a mockery;
with iron alone men started to plow the soil
and balance the ever uncertain clash of battle.
(tr. Frank O. Copley)


hermes 2

Dixerat. ille patris magni parere parabat
imperio; et primum pedibus talaria nectit
aurea, quae sublimem alis sive aequora supra
seu terram rapido pariter cum flamine portant.
tum virgam capit: hac animas ille evocat Orco
pallentis, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,
dat somnos adimitque et lumina morte resignat.
illa fretus agit ventos et turbida tranat
nubila. iamque volans apicem et latera ardua cernit
Atlantis duri caelum qui vertice fulcit,
Atlantis, cinctum adsidue cui nubibus atris
piniferum caput et vento pulsatur et imbri;
nix umeros infusa tegit, tum flumina mento
praecipitant senis, et glacie riget horrida barba.
hic primum paribus nitens Cyllenius alis
constitit; hinc toto praeceps se corpore ad undas
misit avi similis, quae circum litora, circum
piscosos scopulos humilis volat aequora iuxta.
(Vergil, Aen. 4.238-255)

So he spoke. And the other prepared to obey these parental
Orders. He first straps boots to his feet. They are ankle-high, golden,
And, having wings, take him upwards in flight over seas, over dry land,
Swift as a rising current of air. Next he picks up his special
Wand, which he uses to call up the pale, wan spirits from Orcus,
Or to dispatch others down below earth, into Tartarus’ grimness.
With it, he gives or takes sleep, makes eyes remain open on deathbeds,
And, with its help, he can navigate winds, weather turbulent cloudbanks.
Now, as he swoops, he discerns both the summit and steep flanks of rugged
Atlas, who levers aloft, on his peak, all the weight of the heavens,
Atlas, whose pine-covered head is eternally banded with storm clouds,
Battered by wind and by rain. Round his shoulders is strewn a mantle
Thickened with snowfall; and down from the chin of this elderly being
Cataracts plunge, and his beard-bristle freezes to icicled stiffness.
Here Mount Cyllene’s god, powered in on his glistening paired wings,
First touched down. From there, powered out by the weight of his body,
Seaward he dived like a tern, who’s been circling shorelines and cliff pools
Teeming with fish, skimming wave-tops.
(tr. Frederick Ahl)