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Phaedrus To the Cavillers

Thou that against my tales inveigh'st,
As much too pleasant for thy taste;
Egregious critic, cease to scoff
While for a time I play you off,
And strive to soothe your puny rage.
As Esop comes upon the stage,
And dress'd entirely new in Rome,
Thus enters with the tragic plume.-
" O that the fair Thessalian pine
Had never felt the wrath divine,
And fearless of the axe's wound,
Had still the Pelian mountain crown'd!
That Argus by Palladian aid
Had ne'er the adventurous vessel made;
In which at first, without dismay,
Death's bold professors won their way,
In which th' inhospitable main
Was first laid open for the bane
Of Grecians and barbarians too.
Which made the proud AEetas rue,
And whence Medea's crimes to nought
The house and reign of Pelias brought.
She-while in various forms she tries
Her furious spirit to disguise,
At one place in her flight bestow'd
Her brother's limbs upon the road;
And at another could betray
The daughters their own sire to slay.
How think you now ?-What arrant trash
And our assertions much too rash!-
Since prior to th' AEgean fleet
Did Minos piracy defeat,
And made adventures on the sea.
How then shall you and I agree ?
Since, stern as Cato's self, you hate
All tales alike, both small and great.
Plague not too much the man of parts;
For he that does it surely smarts.-
This threat is to the fools, that squeam
At every thing of good esteem;
And that they may to taste pretend,
Ev'n heaven itself will discommend.

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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
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