coram pluribus numquam verbum faciet. nam ex quo in senatu iuravit se Drusillam vidisse caelum ascendentem et illi pro tam bono nuntio nemo credidit quod1 viderit, verbis conceptis affirmavit se non indicaturum etiam si in medio foro hominem occisum vidisset. ab hoc ego quae tum audivi, certa clara affero, ita illum salvum et felicem habeam.
2. Iam Phoebus breviore via contraxerat actum2 lucis et obscuri crescebant tempora Somni, iamque suum victrix augebat Cynthia regnum, et deformis Hiems gratos carpebat honores divitis Autumni iussoque senescere Baccho carpebat raras serus vindemitor uvas. |
2puto magis intellegi si dixero: mensis erat October, dies III idus Octobris. horam non possum certam tibi dicere | (facilius inter philosophos quam inter horologia conveniet) tamen inter sextam et septimam erat. | 3“nimis rustice. <adeo his>3 adquiescunt omnes poetae, non contenti ortus et occasus describere, ut etiam medium diem inquietent: tu sic transibis horam tam bonam?” |
4iam medium curru Phoebus diviserat orbem
alone: in front of many people he will never say a word.6 For ever since he swore in the senate that he had seen Druscilla go up to heaven, and, for reporting such good news, no one has believed what he says he saw, he has solemnly sworn that he will never again reveal what he has seen, even if he had seen a man murdered in the middle of the Forum. What I then heard7 from him I here report plain and clear, as I hope for his health and happiness.
2. Phoebus had already made short the arc of his light on a briefer path, and the periods of shady sleep were growing, and victorious Cynthia8 was already increasing her kingdom, and grim Winter was grabbing for the pleasing splendors of rich Autumn, and with Bacchus ordered to mature, the tardy vintner was plucking the scattered grapes. I think that it will be understood better if I say: it was the month of October, the day the thirteenth of October. I cannot tell you the exact hour—it will be easier to get philosophers to agree than clocks. Anyway it was between twelve noon and one o’clock. “Far too crude!” you say. “Not content to describe sunrises and sunsets, all poets find so much pleasure in these habits that they now disturb even the midday siesta: will you pass over such a good hour like this?”9 Phoebus in his chariot had passed
- 6In modern parlance, an “Oxford secret”: a secret told to only one person at a time.
- 7Reports of things heard are not reliable, while eyewitnesses carry more weight. Cf. Plaut. Truc. 489: pluris est oculatus testis unus quam aurati decem (“one witness with eyes is worth more than ten with big ears.”)
- 8The moon.
- 9Poets disturb people at all hours of the day. In the Satyrica a poet is stoned by men in public places, such as baths (Petron. Sat. 91.3, 92.6), theaters (90.5, 92.6), porticoes (90.1). Martial claims he cannot get away from poets (Mart. 3.44.12) even when he is sitting on the toilet.