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Note XIV. King Midas has a snout, and asses ears.---P. 215. The story is vulgar, that Midas, king of Phrygia, was made judge betwixt Apollo and Pan, who was the best musician: he gave the prize to Pan; and Apollo, in revenge, gave him asses
He wore his hair long to hide them ; but his barber discovering them, and not daring to divulge the secret, dug a hole in the ground, and whispered into it: the place was marshy; and, when the reeds grew up, they repeated the words which were spoken by the barber. By Midas, the poet meant Nero.
Who dares, with angry Eupolis, to frown ;
He who, with bold Cratinus, is inspired
With zeal. -P. 215. Eupolis and Cratinus, as also Aristophanes, mentioned afterwards, were all Athenian poets; who wrote that sort of comedy which was called the Old Comedy, where the people were named who were satirized by those authors.
Note XVI. Who fortune's fault upon the poor can throw.---P. 216. The people of Rome, in the time of Persius, were apt to scorn the Grecian philosophers, particularly the Cynics and Stoics, who were the poorest of them.
Who counts geometry, and numbers toys,
And with his foot the sacred dust destroys.---P. 216. Arithmetic and geometry were taught on floors, which were strewed with dust, or sand; in which the numbers and diagrams were made and drawn, which they might strike out at pleasure.
This Satire contains a most grade and philosophical argument, concerning prayers and wishes
. Undoubtedly it gave occasion to Juvenal's tenth sutire; and both of them had their original from one of Plato's dialogues, called the “ Second Alcibiades.” Our author has induced it with great mystery of art, by taking his rise from the birth-day of his friend ; on which occasions, prayers were made, and sacrifices offered by the native. Persius, commending, first, the purity of his friend's vows, descends to the impious and immoral requests of others. The satire is divided into three parts. The first is the exordium to Macrinus, which the poet confines within the compass of four verses : the second relates to the matter of the prayers and vows, and an enumeration of those things, wherein men commonly șinned against right reason, and offended in their requests : the
third part consists in showing the repugnances of those prayers and wishes, to those of other men, and inconsistencies with themselves. He shows the original of these vows, and sharply inveighs against them; and, lastly, not only corrects the false opinion of mankind concerning them, but gives the true doctrine of all addresses made to heaven, and how they may be made acceptable to the powers above, in excellent precepts, and more worthy of a Christian thun a Heathen.
Let this auspicious morning be exprest
With a white stone, * distinguished from the rest,
White as thy fame, and as thy honour clear,
And let new joys attend on thy new added year.
Indulge thy genius, and o’erflow thy soul,
Till thy wit sparkle, like the cheerful bowl.
Pray; for thy prayers the test of heaven will bear,
Nor need'st thou take the gods aside to hear ;
While others, even the mighty men of Rome,
Big swelled with mischief, to the temples come,
And in low murmurs, and with costly smoke,
Heaven's help to prosper their black vows, invoke :
So boldly to the gods mankind reveal
What from each other they, for shame, conceal.
Give me good fame, ye powers, and make me just;
Thus much the rogue to public ears will trust:
In private then,- When wilt thou, mighty Jove,
My wealthy uncle from this world remove?
Oi, o thou Thunderer's son, great Hercules,
That once thy bounteous deity would please
To guide my rake upon the chinking sound
Of some vast treasure, hidden under ground!
O were my pupil fairly knocked o' the head,
I should possess the estate if he were dead!
He's so far gone with rickets, and with the evil,
That one small dose would send him to the devil.
This is my neighbour Nerius his third spouse, , Of whom in happy time he rids his house; But my eternal wife!-Grant, heaven, I may Survive to see the fellow of this day!
Thus, that thou may'st the better bring about
Thy wishes, thou art wickedly devout;
In Tyber ducking thrice, by break of day,
To wash the obscenities of night away.
But, pr’ythee, tell me, ('tis a small request)
With what ill thoughts of Jove art thou possest?
Wouldst thou prefer him to some man? Suppose
I dipped among the worst, and Staius chose?
Which of the two would thy wise head declare
The trustier tutor to an orphan heir?
Or, put it thus :-Unfold to Staius, straight,
What to Jove's ear thou didst impart of late:
He'll stare, and O, good Jupiter! will cry,
Canst thou indulge him in this villainy?
And think'st thou Jove himself with patience then
Can hear a prayer condemned by wicked men ?
That, void of care, he lolls supine in state,
And leaves his business to be done by fate,
Because his thunder splits some burly tree,
And is not darted at thy house and thee;
Or that his vengeance falls not at the time,
Just at the perpetration of thy crime,
And makes thee a sad object of our eyes,
Fit for Ergenna's prayer and sacrificet
What well-fed offering to appease the God,
What powerful present to procure a nod,
Hast thou in store? What bribe hast thou prepared,
To pull him, thus unpunished, by the beard?
Our superstitious with our life begin;
The obscene old grandam, or the next of kin,
The new-born infant from the cradle takes,
And, first, of spittlé a lustration makes;
Then in the spawl her middle-finger dips,
Anoints the temples, forehead, and the lips,
Pretending force of magic to prevent,
By virtue of her nasty excrement;
Then dandles him with many a muttered prayer,
That heaven would make him some rich miscr's heir,
Lucky to ladies, and in time a king;
Which to ensure, she adds a length of navel-string.
But no fond nurse is fit to make a prayer,
And Jove, if Jove be wise, will never hear;
Not though she prays in white, with lifted hands.
A body made of brass the crone demands
For her loved nursling, strung with nerves of wire,
Tough to the last, and with no toil to tire;
Unconscionable vows, which, when we use,
We teach the gods, in reason, to refuse.
Suppose they were indulgent to thy wish,
Yet the fat entrails in the spacious dish.
Would stop the grant; the very over-care
And nauseous pomp, would hinder half the prayer.
Thou hop'st with sacrifice of oxen slain
To compass wealth, and bribe the god of gain
To give thee flocks and herds, with large increase;
Fool! to expect them from a bullock's grease!
And think'st that when the fattened flames aspire,
Thou see'st the accomplishment of thy desire !
Now, now, my bearded harvest gilds the plain,
The scanty folds can scarce my sheep contain,
And showers of gold come pouring in amain!
Thus dreams the wretch, and vainly thus dreams on,
Till his lank purse declares his money gone.
Should I present them with rare figured plate,
Or gold as rich in workmanship as weight;
O how thy rising heart would throb and beat,
And thy left side, with trembling pleasure, sweat ! !