Horace, Epistles

LCL 194: 388-389

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Vertumnum Ianumque, liber, spectare videris, scilicet ut1 prostes Sosiorum pumice mundus.2 odisti clavis et grata sigilla pudico; paucis ostendi gemis et communia laudas, 5non ita nutritus. fuge quo descendere gestis. non erit emisso reditus tibi. “quid miser egi? quid volui?” dices, ubi quis3 te laeserit, et scis in breve te cogi, cum plenus languet amator. Quod si non odio peccantis desipit augur, 10carus eris Romae, donec te deserat4 aetas; contrectatus ubi manibus sordescere volgi coeperis, aut tineas pasces taciturnus inertis aut fugies Uticam aut vinctus mitteris Ilerdam. ridebit monitor non exauditus, ut ille 15qui male parentem in rupes protrusit5 asellum iratus: quis enim invitum servare laboret? hoc quoque te manet, ut pueros elementa docentem occupet extremis in vicis balba6 senectus.

  • 1ut omitted by E.
  • 2nudus θψλl.
  • 3quid mss.
  • 4deseret.
  • 5protrudit E.
  • 6bella E.

Epistles I.XX

Epistle XX

You seem, my book, to be looking wistfully toward Vertumnus and Janus,a in order, forsooth, that you may go on sale, neatly polished with the pumiceb of the Sosii. You hate the keys and seals,c so dear to the modest; you grieve at being shown to few, and praise a life in public, though I did not rear you thus. Off with you, down to where you itch to go. When you are once let out, there will be no coming back. “What, alas! have I done? What did I want?” you will say, when someone hurts you, and you find yourself packed into a corner,d whenever your sated lover grows languid.

9 But unless hatred of your error makes the prophet lose his cunning, you will be loved in Rome till your youth leave you; when you’ve been well thumbed by vulgar hands and begin to grow soiled, you will either in silence be food for vandal moths, or will run away to Utica, or be sent in bonds to Ilerda.e Your monitor, from whom you turned away your ear, will then have his laugh, like the man who in anger pushed his stubborn ass over the cliff: for who would care to save an ass against his will? This fate, too, awaits you, that stammering age will come upon you as you teach boys their A B C in the city’s outskirts.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.horace-epistles.1926