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But I said that he flowed muddily, frequently indeed bearing along more things which ought to be taken away than left. Be it so; do you, who are a scholar, find no fault with any thing in mighty Homer, I pray? Does the facetious Lucilius make no alterations in the tragedies of Accius? Does not he ridicule many of Ennius' verses, which are too light for the gravity [of the subject]? When he speaks of himself by no means as superior to what he blames. What should hinder me likewise, when I am reading the works of Lucilius, from inquiring whether it be his [genius], or the difficult nature of his subject, that will not suffer his verses to be more finished, and to run more smoothly than if some one, thinking it sufficient to conclude a something of six feet, be fond of writing two hundred verses before he eats, and as many after supper? Such was the genius of the Tuscan Cassius, more impetuous than a rapid river; who, as it is reported, was burned [at the funeral pile] with his own books1 and papers. Let it be allowed, I say, that Lucilius was a humorous and polite writer; that he was also more correct than [Ennius], the author2 of a kind of poetry [not yet] well cultivated, nor attempted by the Greeks, and [more correct likewise] than the tribe of our old poets: but yet he, if he had been brought down by the Fates to this age of ours, would have retrenched a great deal from his writings: he would have pruned off every thing that transgressed the limits of perfection; and, in the composition of verses, would often have scratched his head, and bit his nails to the quick. You that intend to write what is worthy to be read more than once, blot frequently: and take no pains to make the multitude admire you, content with a few [judicious] readers. What, would you be such a fool as to be ambitious that your verses should be taught in petty schools? That is not my case. It is enough for me, that the knight [Maecenas] applauds: as the courageous actress, Arbuscula, expressed herself, in contempt of the rest of the audience, when she was hissed [by the populace]. What, shall that grubworm Pantilius3 have any effect upon me? Or can it vex me, that Demetrius carps at me behind my back? or because the trifler Fannius, that hanger-on to Hermogenes Tigellius, attempts to hurt me? May Plotius and Varius, Maecenas and Virgil, Valgius and Octavius4 approve these Satires, and the excellent Fuscus likewise; and I could wish that both the Visci would join in their commendations: ambition apart, I may mention you, O Pollio: you also, Messala, together with your brother; and at the same time, you, Bibulus and Servius; and along with these you, candid Furnius; many others whom, though men of learning and my friends, I purposely omit — to whom I could wish these Satires, such as they are, may give satisfaction; and I should be chagrined, if they pleased in a degree below my expectation. You, Demetrius, and you, Tigellius, I bid lament among the forms of your female pupils. Go, boy, and instantly annex this Satire to the end of my book.
2 There is a great variation in the interpretation of this passage. They may be found collected in MCCAUL's notes.
4 Octavius. An excellent poet and historian. The Visci were two brothers, and both senators. Bibulus was the son of him that had been consul in 695, and Servius the son of Servius Sulpicius, who corresponded with Cicero. Furnius was consul in the year 737, and equally master of the pen and the sword.
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