Horace, Epistles

LCL 194: 258-259

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Horace

fecerit auspicium, “cras ferramenta Teanum tolletis, fabri!” lectus genialis in aula est: nil ait esse prius, melius nil caelibe vita; si non est, iurat bene solis esse maritis. 90quo teneam voltus mutantem Protea nodo? quid pauper? ride: mutat cenacula, lectos, balnea, tonsores, conducto navigio aeque nauseat ac locuples, quem ducit priva triremis. Si curatus inaequali tonsore capillos 95occurri,1 rides; si forte subucula pexae trita subest tunicae, vel si toga dissidet impar, rides: quid, mea cum pugnat sententia secum,2 quod petiit spernit, repetit quod nuper omisit, aestuat et vitae disconvenit ordine toto, 100diruit, aedificat, mutat quadrata rotundis? insanire putas3 sollemnia me neque rides, nec medici credis nec curatoris egere a praetore dati, rerum tutela mearum cum sis et prave sectum stomacheris ob unguem 105de te pendentis, te respicientis amici. Ad summam: sapiens uno minor est Iove, dives, liber, honoratus, pulcher, rex denique regum, praecipue sanus, nisi cum pituita molesta est.

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Epistles I

omen,a “My lads,” he cries, “to-morrow you’ll carry your tools to Teanum.” Is the bed of his Geniusb in his hall? “Nothing,” he says, “is finer or better than a single life.” If it is not, he swears that only the married are well off. With what knot can I hold this face-changing Proteus? What of the poor man? Have your laugh! He changes his garret, his bed, his baths, his barber. He hires a boat and gets just as sick as the rich man who sails in his private yacht.

94 If, when some uneven barber has cropped my hair, I come your way, you laugh; if haply I have a tattered shirt beneath a new tunic, or if my gown sits badly and askew, you laugh. What, when my judgement is at strife with itself, scorns what it craved, asks again for what it lately cast aside; when it shifts like a tide, and in the whole system of life is out of joint, pulling down, building up, and changing square to round? You think my madness is the usual thing, and neither laugh at me nor deem that I need a physician or a guardian assigned by the court,c though you are keeper of my fortunes, and flare up at an ill-pared nail of the friend who hangs upon you and looks to you in all.

106 To sum upd: the wise man is less than Jove alone. He is rich, free, honoured, beautiful, nay a king of kings; above all, sounde—save when troubled by the “flu”!

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.horace-epistles.1926