Seize then each happy hour the gods dispense,
Nor fix enjoyment for a twelvemonth hence.
So may you testify with truth, where’er
You’re quartered, ’tis a pleasure to be there:
For if the cure of mental ills is due
To sense and wisdom, not a fine sea-view,
We come to this; when o’er the world we range
’Tis but our climate, not our mind we change.
What active inactivity is this,
To go in ships and cars to search for bliss!
No; what you seek, at Ulubrae you’ll find,
If to the quest you bring a balanced mind.
If, worthy Iccius, properly you use
What you collect, Agrippa’s revenues,
You’re well supplied: and Jove himself could tell
No way to make you better off than well.
A truce to murmuring: with another’s store
To use at pleasure, who shall call you poor?
Sides, stomach, feet, if these are all in health,
What more could man procure with princely wealth?
If, with a well-spread table, when you dine,
To plain green food your eating you confine,
Though some fine day a rich Pactolian rill
Should flood your house, you’d munch your pot-herbs still,
From habit or conviction, which o’er-ride
The power of gold, and league on virtue’s side.
No need to marvel at the stories told
Of simple-sage Democritus of old,
How, while his soul was soaring in the sky,
The sheep got in and nibbled down his rye,
When, spite of lucre’s strong contagion, yet
On lofty problems all your thoughts are set,—
What checks the sea, what heats and cools the year,
If law or impulse guides the starry sphere,
“What power presides o’er lunar wanderings,
What means the jarring harmony of things,
Which after all is wise, and which the fool,
Empedooles or the Stertinian school.
But whether you’re for taking fishes’
Or against leeks and onions whet your knife,
Let Grosphus be your friend, and should he plead
For aught he wants, anticipate his need:
He’ll never outstep reason; and you know,
When good men lack, the price of friends is low.
But what of Rome? Agrippa has increased
Her power in Spain, Tiberius in the East:
Phraates, humbly bending on his knee,
Submits himself to Csesar’s sovereignty:
While golden Plenty from her teeming horn
Pours down on Italy abundant corn.
As I have told you oft, deliver these,
My sealed-up volumes, to Augustus, please,
Friend Vinius, if he’s well and in good trim,
And (one proviso more) if asked by him:
Beware of over-zeal, nor discommend
My works, by playing the impetuous friend.
Suppose my budget, ere you get to town,
Should gall you, better straightway throw it down