Well, in the days when Brutus held command,
With praetor’s rank, o’er Asia’s wealthy land,
Persius and King engage, a goodly pair,
Like Bithus matched with Bacchius to a hair.
Keen as sharp steel, before the court they go,
Bach in himself as good as a whole show.
Persius begins: amid the general laugh
He praises Brutus, praises Brutus’ staff,
Brutus, the healthful sun of Asia’s sphere,
His staff, the minor stars that bless the year,
All, save poor King; a dog-star he, the sign
To farmers inauspicious and malign:
So roaring on he went, like wintry flood,
Where axes seldom come to thin the wood.
Then, as he thundered, King, Praeneste-bred,
Hurled vineyard slang in handfuls at his head,
A tough grape-gatherer, whom the passer-by
Could ne’er put down, with all his cuckoo cry.
Sluiced with Italian vinegar, the Greek
At length vociferates, “Brutus, let me speak!
You are our great king-killer: why delay
To kill this King? I vow ’tis in your way.”
IBAM forte Via sacra.
Long the Sacred Road I strolled one day,
Deep in some bagatelle (you know my way),
When up comes one whose name I scarcely knew—
“The dearest of dear fellows! how d’ye do?”
He grasped my hand—“Well, thanks: the same to you.”
Then, as he still kept walking by my side,
To cut things short, “You’ve no commands?” I cried.
“Nay, you should know me: I’m a man of lore.”
“Sir, I’m your humble servant all the more.”
All in a fret to make him let me go,
I now walk fast, now loiter and walk slow,
Now whisper to my servant, while the sweat
Ran down so fast, my very feet were wet.
“O had I but a temper worth the name,
Like yours, Bolanus!” inly I exclaim,
While he keeps running on at a hand-trot,
About the town, the streets, I know not what.
Finding I made no answer, “Ah! I see,
Tou ’re at a strait to rid yourself of me;
But ’tis no use: I’m a tenacious friend,
And mean to hold you till your journey’s end,”
“No need to take you such a round: I go
To visit an acquaintance you don’t know:
Poor man! he’s ailing at his lodging, far
Beyond the bridge, where Caesar’s gardens are.”
“O, never mind: I’ve nothing else to do,
And want a walk, so I’ll step on with you.”
Down go my ears, in donkey-fashion, straight;
You’ve seen them do it, when their load’s too great.
“If I mistake not,” he begins, “you’ll find
Viscus not more, nor Varius, to yoar mind:
There’s not a man can turn a verse so soon,
Or dance so nimbly when he hears a tune:
While, as for singing—ah! my forte is there:
Tigellius’ self might envy me, I’ll swear.”