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And yet if my disposition be culpable for a few faults, and those small ones, otherwise perfect (as if you should condemn moles scattered over a beautiful skin), if no one can justly lay to my charge avarice, nor sordidness, nor impure haunts; if, in fine (to speak in my own praise), I live undefiled, and innocent, and dear to my friends; my father was the cause of all this: who though a poor man on a lean farm, was unwilling to send me to a school under [the pedant] Flavius, where great boys, sprung from great centurions, having their satchels and tablets swung over their left arm, used to go with money in their hands the very day it was due;1 but had the spirit to bring me a child to Rome, to be taught those arts which any Roman knight and senator can teach his own children. So that, if any person had considered my dress, and the slaves who attended me in so populous a city, he would have concluded that those expenses were supplied to me out of some hereditary estate. He himself, of all others the most faithful guardian, was constantly about every one of my prcceptors. Why should I multiply words? He preserved me chaste (which is the first honor of virtue) not only from every actual guilt, but likewise from [every] foul imputation, nor was he afraid lest any should turn it to his reproach, if I should come to follow a business attended with small profits, in capacity of an auctioneer, or (what he was himself) a taxgatherer. Nor [had that been the case] should I have complained. On this account the more praise is due to him, and from me a greater degree of gratitude. As long as I am in my senses, I can never be ashamed of such a father as this, and therefore shall not apologize [for my birth], in the manner that numbers do, by affirming it to be no fault of theirs. My language and way of thinking is far different from such persons. For if nature were to make us from a certain term of years to go over our past time again, and [suffer us] to choose other parents, such as every man for ostentation's sake would wish for himself; I, content with my own, would not assume those that are honored with the ensigns and seats of state; [for which I should seem] a madman in the opinion of the mob, but in yours, I hope a man of sense; because I should be unwilling to sustain a troublesome burden, being by no means used to it. For I must [then] immediately set about acquiring a larger fortune, and more people must be complimented; and this and that companion must be taken along, so that I could neither take a jaunt into the country, or a journey by myself; more attendants and more horses must be fed; coaches must be drawn. Now, if I please, I can go as far as Tarentum on my bob-tailed mule, whose loins the portmanteau galls with his weight, as does the horseman his shoulders. No one will lay to my charge such sordidness as he may, Tullius, to you, when five slaves follow you, a praetor, along the Tiburtian way, carrying a traveling kitchen, and a vessel of wine. Thus I live more comfortably, O illustrious senator, than you, and than thousands of others. Wherever I have a fancy, I walk by myself: I inquire the price of herbs and bread: I traverse the tricking circus,2 and the forum often in the evening: I stand listening among the fortune-tellers: thence I take myself home to a plate of onions, pulse, and pancakes. My supper is served up by three slaves; and a white stone slab supports two cups and a brimmer: near the salt-cellar stands a homely cruet3 with a little bowl, earthen-ware from Campania. Then I go to rest; by no means concerned that I must rise in the morning, and pay a visit to the statue of Marsyas,4 who denies that he is able to bear the look of the younger Novius. I lie a-bed to the fourth hour; after that I take a ramble, or having read or written what may amuse me in my privacy, I am anointed with oil, but not with such as the nasty Nacca, when he robs the lamps. But when the sun, become more violent, has reminded me to go to baths, I avoid the Campus Martius5 and the game of hand-ball. Having dined in a temperate manner, just enough to hinder me from having an empty stomach, during the rest of the day I trifle in my own house. This is the life of those who are free from wretched and burthensome ambition: with such things as these I comfort myself, in a way to live more delightfully than if my grandfather had been a quaestor, and father and uncle too.
1 “Octonis referentes idibus aera.” The Romans had many stated times of paying their schoolmasters. Some imagine it was at the beginning, others at the end of the year, or at the grand festival of Minerva, called quinquatrus, or quinquatria, which began the 19th of March. But the Minerval then given to the master was not a salary, but a voluntary present. This word has no particular force here. It merely means that the Ides were eight days from the Nones. With regard to idibus comp. Sat. i. 3, 87. It appears from a passage of Martial that the Roman youths had full four months' vacation; hence Octonis idibus denote the period of tuition: trans, "bringing the money for eight months' instruction."
3 “Echino vilis.” We can not precisely determine what the guttus and echinus were. Mr. Dacier thinks the first was a little urn, out of which they poured water into a basin, echinus, to wash their hands.
4 Marsyas, a satyr, who, challenging Apollo to a trial of skill in music, was overcome and flayed alive by the god. A statue was erected to him in the forum, opposite to the rostra where the judges determined causes, and the poet pleasantly says, it stood in such an attitude as showed its indignation to behold a man who had been a slave, now sitting among the magistrates of Rome. The satyr forgets, in his resentment of such a sight, the pain of being flayed alive.
5 “Fugio campum, lusumque trigonem.” Campus is the Campus Martius, and lusus trigon was a game played with a ball, otherwise called lusus trigonalis, because the players stood in a triangle. Martial speaks of it in more than one place
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