And rob a shrine at midnight’s solemn hour.
A rule is needed, to apportion pain,
Nor let you scourge when you should only cane.
For that you’re likely to be overmild,
And treat a ruffian like a naughty child,
Of this there seems small danger, when you say
That theft’s as bad as robbery in its way,
And vow all villains, great and small, shall swing
From the same tree, if men will make you king.
But tell me, Stoic, if the wise, you teach,
Is king, Adonis, cobbler, all and each,
Why wish for what you’ve got? “Tou fail to see
What great Chrysippus means by that,” says he.
“What though the wise ne’er shoe nor slipper made,
The wise is still a brother of the trade.
Just as Hennogenes, when silent, still
Remains a singer of consummate skill,
As sly Alfenius, when he had let drop
His implements of art and shut up shop,
Was still a barber, so the wise is best
In every craft, a king’s among the rest.”
Hail to your majesty! yet, ne’ertheless,
Rude boys are pulling at your beard, I guess;
And now, unless your cudgel keeps them off,
The mob begins to hustle, push, and scoff;
You, all forlorn, attempt to stand at bay,
And roar till your imperial lungs give way.
Well, so we part: each takes his separate path:
You make your progress to your farthing bath,
A king, with ne’er a follower in your train,
Except Crispinus, that distempered brain;
While I find pleasant friends to screen me, when
I chance to err, like other foolish men;
Bearing and borne with, so the change we ring,
More blest as private folks than you as king.
EUPOLIS ATQUE Cratinus.
Cratinus, Aristophanes, and all
The elder comic poets, great and small,
If e’er a worthy in those ancient times
Deserved peculiar notice for his crimes,
Adulterer, cut-throat, ne’er-do-well, or thief,
Portrayed him without fear in strong relief.
From these, as lineal heir, Lucilius springs,
The same in all points save the tune he sings,
A shrewd keen satirist, yet somewhat hard
And rugged, if you view him as a bard.
For this was his mistake: he liked to stand,
One leg before him, leaning on one hand,
Pour forth two hundred verses in an hour,
And think such readiness a proof of power.
When like a torrent he bore down, you’d find
He left a load of refuse still behind:
Fluent, yet indolent, he would rebel
Against the toil of writing, writing well,
Not writing much; for that I grant you. See,
Here comes Crispinus, wants to bet with me,
And offers odds: “A meeting, if you please:
Take we our tablets each, you those, I these:
Name place, and time, and umpires: let us try
Who can compose the faster, you or I.”
Thank Heaven, that formed me of unfertile mind,
My speech not copious, and my thoughts confined!
But you, be like the bellows, if you choose,
Still puffing, puffing, till the metal fuse,
And vent your windy nothings with a sound
That makes the depth they come from seem profound.