Mont Sudbury, The werewolf howls

‘Cum adhuc servirem, habitabamus in vico angusto; nunc Gavillae domus est. ibi, quomodo dii volunt, amare coepi uxorem Terentii coponis: noveratis Melissam Tarentinam, pulcherrimum bacciballum. sed ego non mehercules corporaliter aut propter res venerias curavi, sed magis quod benemoria fuit. si quid ab illa petii, nunquam mihi negatum; fecit assem, semissem habui; quicquid habui in illius sinum demandavi, nec unquam fefellitus sum. huius contubernalis ad villam supremum diem obiit. itaque per scutum per ocream egi aginavi, quemadmodum ad illam pervenirem: nam, ut aiunt, in angustiis amici apparent. forte dominus Capuae exierat ad scruta scita expedienda. nactus ego occasionem persuadeo hospitem nostrum ut mecum ad quintum miliarium veniat. erat autem miles, fortis tanquam Orcus. apoculamus nos circa gallicinia; luna lucebat tanquam meridie. venimus inter monimenta: homo meus coepit ad stelas facere; sedeo ego cantabundus et stelas numero. deinde ut respexi ad comitem, ille exuit se et omnia vestimenta secundum viam posuit. mihi anima in naso esse; stabam tanquam mortuus. at ille circumminxit vestimenta sua, et subito lupus factus est. nolite me iocari putare; ut mentiar, nullius patrimonium tanti facio. sed, quod coeperam dicere, postquam lupus factus est, ululare coepit et in silvas fugit. ego primitus nesciebam ubi essem; deinde accessi, ut vestimenta eius tollerem: illa autem lapidea facta sunt. qui mori timore nisi ego? gladium tamen strinxi et—matavitatau!—umbras cecidi, donec ad villam amicae meae pervenirem. in larvam intravi, paene animam ebullivi, sudor mihi per bifurcum volabat, oculi mortui; vix unquam refectus sum. Melissa mea mirari coepit, quod tam sero ambularem, et, “si ante,” inquit, “venisses, saltem nobis adiutasses; lupus enim villam intravit et omnia pecora tanquam lanius sanguinem illis misit. nec tamen derisit, etiam si fugit; servus enim noster lancea collum eius traiecit.” haec ut audivi, operire oculos amplius non potui, sed luce clara nostri domum fugi tanquam copo compilatus; et postquam veni in illum locum, in quo lapidea vestimenta erant facta, nihil inveni nisi sanguinem. ut vero domum veni, iacebat miles meus in lecto tanquam bovis, et collum illius medicus curabat. intellexi illum versipellem esse, nec postea cum illo panem gustare potui, non si me occidisses. viderint quid de hoc alii exopinissent; ego si mentior, genios vestros iratos habeam.’
(Petronius, Sat. 61-62)

‘When I was still a slave, we were living down a narrow street – Gavilla owns the house now – and there as heaven would have it, I fell in love with the wife of Terentius the innkeeper. You all used to know Melissa from Tarentum, an absolute peach to look at. But honest to god, it wasn’t her body or just sex that made me care for her, it was more because she had such a nice nature. If I asked her for anything, it was never refused. If I had a penny or halfpenny, I gave it to her to look after and she never let me down. One day her husband died out at the villa. So I did my best by hook or by crook to get to her. After all, you know, a friend in need is a friend indeed. Luckily the master had gone off to Capua to look after some odds and ends. I seized my chance and I talked a guest of ours into walking with me as far as the fifth milestone. He was a soldier as it happened, and as brave as hell. About cock-crow we shag off, and the moon was shining like noontime. We get to where the tombs are and my chap starts making for the grave-stones, while I, singing away, keep going and start counting the stars. Then just as I looked back at my mate, he stripped off and laid all his clothes by the side of the road. My heart was in my mouth, I stood there like a corpse. Anyway, he pissed a ring round his clothes and suddenly turned into a wolf. Don’t think I’m joking, I wouldn’t tell a lie about this for a fortune. However, as I began to say, after he turned into a wolf, he started howling and rushed off into the woods. At first I didn’t know where I was, then I went up to collect his clothes – but they’d turned to stone. If ever a man was dead with fright, it was me. But I pulled out my sword, and I fairly slaughtered the early morning shadows till I arrived at my girl’s villa. I got into the house and I practically gasped my last, the sweat was pouring down my crotch, my eyes were blank and staring—I could hardly get over it. It came as a surprise to my poor Melissa to find I’d walked over so late. “If you’d come a bit earlier,” she said, “at least you could’ve helped us. A wolf got into the grounds and tore into all the livestock—it was like a bloody shambles. But he didn’t have the last laugh, even though he got away. Our slave here put a spear right through his neck.” I couldn’t close my eyes again after I heard this. But when it was broad daylight I rushed off home like the innkeeper after the robbery. And when I came to the spot where his clothes had turned to stone, I found nothing but bloodstains. However, when I got home, my soldier friend was lying in bed like a great ox with the doctor seeing to his neck. I realized he was a werewolf and afterwards I couldn’t have taken a bite of bread in his company, not if you killed me for it. If some people think differently about this, that’s up to them. But me—if I’m telling a lie may all your guardian spirits damn me!’ (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)


Roberto Bompiania, Il triclinio, ca. 1887 (detail 2)
Roberto Bompiania, Il triclinio (ca. 1887; detail)

Respiciens deinde Habinnam: “quid dicis,” inquit, “amice carissime? aedificas monumentum meum quemadmodum te iussi? valde te rogo, ut secundum pedes statuae meae catellam pingas et coronas et unguenta et Petraitis omnes pugnas, ut mihi contingat tuo beneficio post mortem vivere; praeterea ut sint in fronte pedes centum, in agrum pedes ducenti. omne genus enim poma volo sint circa cineres meos, et vinearum largiter. valde enim falsum est vivo quidem domos cultas esse, non curari eas, ubi diutius nobis habitandum est. et ideo ante omnia adici volo: “hoc monumentum heredem non sequitur”. ceterum erit mihi curae, ut testamento caveam ne mortuus iniuriam accipiam. praeponam enim unum ex libertis sepulcro meo custodiae causa, ne in monumentum meum populus cacatum currat. te rogo, ut naves etiam facias plenis velis euntes, et me in tribunali sedentem praetextatum cum anulis aureis quinque et nummos in publico de sacculo effundentem; scis enim, quod epulum dedi binos denarios. faciatur, si tibi videtur, et triclinia. facies et totum populum sibi suaviter facientem. ad dexteram meam pones statuam Fortunatae meae columbam tenentem; et catellam cingulo alligatam ducat; et cicaronem meum, et amphoras copiosas gypsatas, ne effluant vinum. et urnam licet fractam sculpas, et super eam puerum plorantem. horologium in medio, ut quisquis horas inspiciet, velit nolit, nomen meum legat. inscriptio quoque vide diligenter si haec satis idonea tibi videtur: “C. Pompeius Trimalchio Maecenatianus hic requescit. huic seviratus absenti decretus est. cum posset in omnibus decuriis Romae esse, tamen noluit. pius, fortis, fidelis, ex parvo crevit, sestertium reliquit trecenties, nec unquam philosophum audivit. vale: et tu.” haec ut dixit Trimalchio, flere coepit ubertim. flebat et Fortunata, flebat et Habinnas, tota denique familia, tanquam in funus rogata, lamentatione triclinium implevit. immo iam coeperam etiam ego plorare, cum Trimalchio: “ergo”, inquit, “cum sciamus nos morituros esse, quare non vivamus? sic nos felices videam, coniciamus nos in balneum, meo periculo, non paenitebit. sic calet tanquam furnus.” —”vero, vero,” inquit Habinnas, “de una die duas facere, nihil malo” nudisque consurrexit pedibus et Trimalchionem gaudentem subsequi <coepit>.
(Petronius, Sat. 71.5-72.4)

Then looking at Habinnas, he said: “What have you to say, my dear old friend? Are you building my monument the way I told you? I particularly want you to keep a place at the foot of my statue and put a picture of my pup there, as well as paintings of wreaths, scent-bottles, and all the contests of Petraites, and thanks to you I’ll be able to live on after I’m dead. And another thing! See that it’s a hundred feet facing the road and two hundred back into the field. I want all the various sorts of fruit round my ashes and lots and lots of vines. After all, it’s a big mistake to have nice houses just for when you’re alive and not worry about the one we have to live in for much longer. And that’s why I want this written up before anything else:
But I’ll make sure in my will that I don’t get done down once I’m dead. I’ll put one of my freedmen in charge of my tomb to look after it and not let people run up and shit on my monument. I’d like you to put some ships there too, sailing under full canvas, and me sitting on a high platform in my robes of office, wearing five gold rings and pouring out a bagful of money for the people. You know I gave them all a dinner and two denarii apiece. Let’s have in a banqueting hall as well, if you think it’s a good idea, and show the whole town having a good time. Put up a statue of Fortunata on my right, holding a dove, and have her leading her little dog tied to her belt—and my little lad as well, and big wine-jars tightly sealed up so the wine won’t spill. And perhaps you could carve me a broken one and a boy crying over it. A clock in the middle, so that anybody who looks at the time, like it or not, has got to read my name. As for the inscription now, take a good look and see if this seems suitable enough:
As he finished Trimalchio burst into tears. Fortunata was in tears, Habinnas was in tears, in the end the whole household filled the dining-room with their wailing, like people at a funeral. In fact, I’d even begun crying myself, when Trimalchio said: “Well, since we know we’ve got to die, why don’t we live a little. I want to see you enjoying yourselves. Let’s jump into a bath—you won’t be sorry, damn me! It’s as hot as a furnace.” “Hear! Hear!” said Habinnas. “Turning one day into two – nothing I like better.” He got up in his bare feet and began to follow Trimalchio on his merry way. (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)



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)




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

‘Ridet! quid habet quod rideat? numquid pater fetum emit lamna? eques Romanus es? et ego regis filius. “quare ergo servivisti?” quia ipse me dedi in servitutem et malui civis Romanus esse quam tributarius. et nunc spero me sic vivere, ut nemini iocus sim. homo inter homines sum, capite aperto ambulo; assem aerarium nemini debeo; constitutum habui nunquam; nemo mihi in foro dixit: “redde quod debes”. glebulas emi, lamellulas paravi; viginti ventres pasco et canem; contubernalem meam redemi, ne qui in capillis illius manus tergeret; mille denarios pro capite solvi; sevir gratis factus sum; spero, sic moriar, ut mortuus non erubescam.’
(Petronius, Sat. 57.4-7)

‘Look at him laughing! What’s he got to laugh at? Did his father pay cash for him? You’re a Roman knight, are you? Well, my father was a king. “Why are you only a freedman?” did you say? Because I put myself into slavery. I wanted to be a Roman citizen, not a subject with taxes to pay. And today, I hope no one can laugh at the way I live. I’m a man among men, and I walk with my head up. I don’t owe anybody a penny – there’s never been a court-order out for me. No one’s said “Pay up” to me in the street. I’ve bought a bit of land and some tiny pieces of plate. I’ve twenty bellies to feed, as well as a dog. I bought my old woman’s freedom so nobody could wipe his dirty hands on her hair. Four thousand I paid for myself. I was elected to the Augustan College and it cost me nothing. I hope when I die I won’t have to blush in my coffin.’ (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)



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

Ceterum Ascyltos, intemperantis licentiae, cum omnia sublatis manibus eluderet et usque ad lacrimas rideret, unus ex conlibertis Trimalchionis excanduit, is ipse qui supra me discumbebat, et: ‘quid rides,’ inquit, ‘berbex? an tibi non placent lautitiae domini mei? tu enim beatior es et convivare melius soles. ita tutelam huius loci habeam propitiam, ut ego si secundum illum discumberem, iam illi balatum clusissem. bellum pomum, qui rideatur alios; larifuga nescio quis, nocturnus, qui non valet lotium suum. ad summam, si circumminxero illum, nesciet qua fugiat. non mehercules soleo cito fervere, sed in molle carne vermes nascuntur.’
(Petronius, Sat. 57.1-3)

Ascyltus, with his usual lack of restraint, found everything extremely funny, lifting up his hands and laughing till the tears came. Eventually one of Trimalchio’s freedman friends flared up at him. ‘You with the sheep’s eyes,’ he said, ‘what’s so funny? Isn’t our host elegant enough for you? You’re better off, I suppose, and used to a bigger dinner. Holy guardian here preserve me! If I was sitting by him, I’d stop his bleating! A fine pippin he is to be laughing at other people! Some fly-by-night from god knows where – not worth his own piss. In fact, if I pissed round him, he wouldn’t know where to turn. By god, it takes a lot to make me boil, but if you’re too soft, worms like this only come to the top.’ (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)


Et quis hanc mihi solitudinem imposuit? adulescens omni libidine impurus et sua quoque confessione dignus exilio, stupro liber, stupro ingenuus, cuius anni ad tesseram venierunt, quem tamquam puellam conduxit etiam etiam qui virum putavit. quid ille alter? qui die togae virilis stolam sumpsit, qui ne vir esset a matre persuasus est, qui opus muliebre in ergastulo fecit, qui postquam conturbavit et libidinis suae solum vertit, reliquit veteris amicitiae nomen et, pro pudor, tamquam mulier secutuleia unius noctis tactu omnia vendidit. iacent nunc amatores adligati noctibus totis, et forsitan mutuis libidinibus attriti derident solitudinem meam.
(Petronius, Sat. 81.3-6)

And who put this loneliness on me? A guy who’s filthy with every form of lust, who’s worthy of exile by his own confession; free by means of sex crime, freeborn by means of sex crime; whose youth was sold by a roll of the dice; people rented him as a girl even when they knew he was a man. And what about the other one? On the day he was supposed to put on the man’s toga, he put on a woman’s dress; he was talked out of becoming a man by his own mother; he did woman’s work in the slave prison; and after he went broke and lit out for a new territory of lust, he abandoned the name of his old friendship and, for shame, sold everything for the touch of a single night, like some groupie. And now they lie, the lovers, entwined all night, and maybe when they’re worn out by their mutual lusts they laugh at my loneliness. (tr. Amy Richlin)



Tam magnus ex Asia veni, quam hic candelabrus est. ad summam, quotidie me solebam ad illum metiri, et ut celerius rostrum barbatum haberem, labra de lucerna ungebam. tamen ad delicias ipsimi annos quattuordecim fui. nec turpe est quod dominus iubet. ego tamen et ipsimae satis faciebam. scitis, quid dicam.
(Petronius, Sat. 75.10-11)

When I came from Asia I was the size of this here lampstand. In fact, every day I used to measure myself next to it, and so I’d get a beard on my beak faster, I smeared my lips with lamp oil. Still I was the toyboy of the Mister for 14 years. It’s not disgusting, what your owner orders. But me, I was satisfying the Mrs, too. You all know what I mean. (tr. Amy Richlin)