Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus)tr. Niall Rudd
Omnibus hoc vitium est cantoribus, inter amicos
ut numquam inducant animum cantare rogati,
injussi nunquam desistant. Sardus habebat
ille Tigellius hoc. Caesar, qui cogere posset,
si peteret per amicitiam patris atque suam, non
quidquam proficeret ; si collibuisset, ab ovo
usque ad mala citaret, 'io Bacche!' modo summa
voce, modo hac, resonat qua e chordis quattuor ima.
nil aequale homini fuit illi; saepe velut qui
currebat fugiens hostem, persaepe velut qui

Iunonis sacra ferret: habebat saepe ducentos,
saepe decem servos; modo reges atque tetrarchas,
omnia magna, loquens; modo 'sit mihi mensa
tripes et
concha salis puri et toga, quae defendere frigus
quamvis crassa queat.' deciens centena dedisses
huic parco paucis contento, quinque diebus
nil erat in loculis. noctes vigilabat ad ipsum
mane, diem totum stertebat; nil fuit umquam
sic impar sibi. nunc aliquis dicat mihi, 'quid tu?
nullane habes vitia?' immo alia et fortasse minora.

Maenius absentem Novium cum carperet, 'heus tu,'

quidam ait, ' ignoras te? an ut ignotum dare nobis
verba putas?' 'egomet mi ignosco,' Maenius inquit.

stultus et improbus hic amor est dignusque notari.
Singers all have the same fault. When asked to perform
for their friends they never will; when no one asks them they never
stop. Tigellius, that typical Sard, had the same habit.
If Caesar, who could have made it an order, had merely requested
a song on the strength of his father's friendship and of his own,
he'd have wasted his time. Yet when in the mood the fellow would sing
at dinner through every course 'Come ye Bacchanals', ranging
from a high tenor to the lowest note the lyre can produce.
The man was a bundle of inconsistencies. Often he'd run
as if someone were after his blood; more often you'd think he was
the sacred vessels of Juno. Sometimes he'd keep two hundred
servants, sometims ten. After talking in lordly tones
about kings and princes, 'All I ask is a three-legged table,'

he'd say, 'clean salt in a shell, and a coat, however coarse,
to keep out the cold.' If you'd given a thousand pounds to that model
of thrift and simplicity, it would have burnt a hole in his pocket
in less than a week. He never went to bed until dawn,
and then snored all day. He was the most contradictory creature
that ever lived. Now someone may say 'What about you?
Have you no faults?' Oh yes I but they're different and perhaps less
Once when Maenius was bitching about Newman, someone said 'Hey
are you not conscious of what you're like? Or do you think we can fail
to be conscious of it?' 'I'm conscious but without a conscience,' said
That sort of silly brazen egotism ought to be pilloried.

Transl. Copyright © Niall Rudd, 1973, 1979, 1997 - publ. Penguin Classics this book
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