Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guest Post: Juvenal

As translated by Peter Green:

You get the same stuff from them all, established poet
And raw beginner alike. I too have winced under the cane
And concocted ‘Advice to Sulla’: Let the despot retire
Into private life, take a good long sleep, and so on. When you find
Hordes of poets on each street-corner, it’s misplaced kindness
To refrain from writing. The paper will still be wasted.
Why then have I chosen to drive my team down the track
Which great Lucilius blazed? If you have the leisure to listen
Calmly and reasonably, I will enlighten you.
When a flabby eunuch marries, when well-born girls go crazy
For pig-sticking up-country, bare-breasted, spear in fist;
When the barber who rasped away at my youthful beard has risen
To challenge good society with his millions; when Crispinus -
That Delta-bred house-slave, silt washed down from the Nile -
Now hitches his shoulders under Tyrian purple, airs
A thin gold ring in summer on his sweaty finger
(‘My dear, I couldn’t bear to wear my heavier jewels’) -
Why then, it is harder not to be writing satires.

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