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FROM

PERSIUS.

THE

FIRST SATIRE

OP

PERSIUS.

ARGUMENT OF THE PROLOGUE

TO THE FIRST SATIRE.

The design of the author was to conceal his name and quality. He

lived in the dangerous times of the tyrant Nero, and aims particularly at him in most of his Satires. For which reason, though he was a Roman knight, and of a plentiful fortune, he would appear in this Prologue but a beggarly poet, who writes for bread. After this, he breaks into the business of the First Satire; which is chiefly to decry the poetry then in fashion, and the impudence of those who were endeavouring to pass their stuff upon the world.

PROLOGUE

то

THE FIRST SATIRE.

I NEVER did on cleft Parnassus dream,
Nor taste the sacred Heliconian stream;
Nor can remember when my brain, inspired,
Was by the Muses into madness fired.
My share in pale Pyrene f I resign,
And claim no part in all the mighty Nine.
Statues, with winding ivy crowned, † belong
To nobler poets, for a nobler song;
Heedless of verse, and hopeless of the crown,
Scarce half a wit, and more than half a clown,
Before the shrine I lay my rugged numbers down.
Who taught the parrot human notes to try,
Or with a voice endued the chattering pye?
'Twas witty Want, fierce hunger to appease;
Want taught their masters, and their masters these.
Let gain, that gilded bait, be hung on high,
The hungry witlings have it in their eye;
Pyes, crows, and daws, poetic presents bring;
You say they squeak, but they will swear they sing.

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* Parnassus and Helicon were hills consecrated to the Muses, and the supposed place of their abode. Parnassus was forked or the top; and from Helicon ran a stream, the spring of which was called the Muses' well.

+ Pyrene, a fountain in Corinth, consecrated also to the Muses.

I The statues of the poets were crowned with ivy about their brows.

$ Before the shrine; that is, before the shrine of Apollo, in his temple at Rome, called the Palatine.

THE

FIRST SATIRE.

IN DIALOGUE BETWIXT

TIIE POET AND HIS FRIEND, OR MONITOR.

ARGUMENT.

I need not repeat, that the chief aim of the author is against bad poets in this Satire.

But I must add, that he includes also bad orators, who began at that time (as Petronius in the beginning of his book tells us) to enervate manly eloquence by tropes and figures, ill placed, and worse applied. Amongst the poets, Persius covertly strikes at Nero; some of whose verses he recites with scorn and indignation. He also takes notice of the noblemen, and their abominuble poetry, who, in the luxury of their fortunes, set up for wits and judges. The Satire is in diulogue betwirt the author, and his friend, or monitor ; who dissuades him from this dangerous attempt of erposing great men. But Persius, who is of a free spirit, and has not forgotten that Rome was once a commonwealth, breaks through all those difficulties, and boldly arraigns the false judgment of the age in which he lives. The reuder may observe, that our poet was a Stoic philosopher; and that all his moral sentences, both here and in all the rest of his Satires, are drawn from the dogmas of that sect.

PERSIUS,

How anxious are our cares, and yet how vain
The bent of our desires !

FRIEND.
Thy spleen contain;
For none will read thy satires.

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