from "SATIRE 4"from "BIG FISH"
Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenalis)trans. Alistair Elliot
Ecce iterum Crispinus, et est mihi saepe uocandus
ad partes, monstrum nulla uirtute redemptum
a uitiis, aegrae solaque libidine fortes
deliciae, uiduas tantum aspernatus adulter.
quid refert igitur, quantis iumenta fatiget
porticibus, quanta nemorum uectetur in umbra,
iugera quot uicina foro, quas emerit aedes?
nemo malus felix, minime corruptor et idem
incestus, cum quo nuper uittata lacebat
sanguine adhuc uiuo terram subitura sacerdos.
sed nunc de factis leuioribus. et tamen alter
si fecisset idem caderet sub iudice morum;
nam, quod turpe boni Titio Seioque, decebat
Crispinum. quid agas, cum dira et foedior omni
crimine persona est? mullum sex milibus emit,
aequantem sane paribus sestertia libris,
ut perhibent qui de magnis maiora loquuntur.
consilium laudo artificis, si munere tanto
praecipuam in tabulis ceram seni abstulit orbi;
est ratio ulterior, magnae si misit amicae,
quae uehitur clauso latis specularibus antro.
nil tale expectes: emit sibi. multa uidemus
quae miser et frugi non fecit Apicius. hoc tu,
succinctus patria quondam, Crispine, papyro?
hoc pretio squamas? potuit fortasse minoris
piscator quam piscis emi; prouincia tanti
uendit agros, sed maiores Apulia uendit.
qualis tunc epulas ipsum gluttisse putamus
induperatorem, cum tot sestertia, partem
exiguam et modicae sumptam de margine cenae,
purpureus magni ructarit scurra Palati,
iam princeps equitum, magna qui uoce solebat
uendere municipes tracta de merce siluros?
Here's Crispinus again: I can't avoid
Giving him parts, he's such an unalloyed
Monster, with not one virtue to offset
His vices, somebody's unhealthy pet
With vigour only for lust, the sort of dandy
Who seduces anything with a husband handy
But is bored by widows. What does it matter then
How big a portico he can use to train
His chariot-team along, how deep the shade
Of woods he's carried through, what deals he's made
For acres near the Forum, or a palace?
Call no man fortunate who's bad, much less
An adulterer who prefers it sacrilegious -
The Vestal he undid in her religious
Habits and broached hke any other wife
Shall soon lie under earth, buried alive.
But look at his higher exploits. Even here
If anyone else had done it they'd appear
Before the magistrate on a morals rap.
But what disgraces any decent chap
Shines like a good deed in Crispinus. How
Do you deal with a man whose character's so foul
It's worse than any crime? Now he's just paid
Six thousand for a mullet, which had weighed
The same in pounds, one's told - though truth to tell
Such figures in such stories tend to swell.
I'd approve it for a gift - it takes such skill
To reach page one of an old bachelor's will! -
Or if he'd sent it (a still better plan)
To his important mistress with the sedan
Chair, her travelling-cave with mica windows. But
Nothing like that ... You needn't guess: he bought
The fish for himself. You know, these days one sees
Meals that Apicius never envisages
In his abstemious poor-man's recipes.
It's just amazing how Crispinus feeds -
Who once wore breech-clouts of papyrus reeds.
Fish-scales, at such a price! You might have bought
The fisherman cheaper than the fish he caught.
Across the water or the Alps they sell
Whole farms for that - and larger ones as well
In Apulia. So what do we suppose
The feasts are like at the Generalissimo's? -
-What does Himself slurp up? - if so much money
Is belched away with such scant ceremony
On a side-dish at the unassuming table
Of a palace clown, who in imperial purple
Is now a prince among knights but just a while
Ago cried Broken Fish - fish from his native Nile.

Trans. Copyright © Alistair Elliot 1995 - publ. Penguin Classics

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