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He sets the conveniences of a country retirement in opposition to the troubles of a life in town.

This was [ever] among the number of my wishes: a portion of ground not over large, in which was a garden, and a founain with a continual stream close to my house, and a little woodland besides.The gods have done more abundantly, and better, for me [than this]. It is well: 0 son of Maia,1 I ask nothing more save that you would render these donations lasting to me. If I have neither made my estate larger by bad means, nor am in a way to make it less by vice or misconduct; if I do not foolishly make any petition of this sort"Oh that that neighboring angle, which now spoils the regularity2 of my field, could be added! Oh that some accident would discover to me an urn [full] of money! as it did to him, who having found a treasure, bought that very ground he before tilled in the capacity of an hired servant, enriched by Hercules' being his friend;" if what I have at present satisfies me grateful, I supplicate you with this prayer: make my cattle fat for the use of their master, and every thing else, except my genius:3 and, as you are wont, be present as my chief guardian. Wherefore, when I have removed myself from the city to the mountains and my castle,4 (what can I polish, preferably to my satires and prosaic muse?5) neither evil ambition destroys me, nor the heavy6 south wind, nor the sickly autumn, the gain of baleful Libitina.

Father of the morning,7 or Janus, if with more pleasure thou hearest thyself [called by that name], from whom men commence the toils of business, and of life (such is the will of the gods), be thou the beginning of my song. At Rome you hurry me away to be bail; "Away, dispatch, [you cry,] lest any one should be beforehand with you in doing that friendly office"8: I must go, at all events, whether the north wind sweep the earth, or winter contracts the snowy day into a arrower circle.9 After this, having uttered in a clear and determinate manner [the legal form], which may be a detriment to me, I must bustle through the crowd; and must disoblige the tardy. "What is your will, madman, and what are you about, impudent fellow?" So one accosts me with his passionate curses. "You jostle every thing that is in your way, if with an appointment full in your mind you are posting away to Maecenas." This pleases me, and is like honey: I will not tell a lie. But by the time I reach the gloomy Esquiliae, a hundred affairs of other people's encompass me on every side: "Roscius begged that you would be with him at the court-house10 to-morrow before the second hour." "The secretaries11 requested you would remember, Quintus, to return to-day about an affair of public concern, and of great consequence." "Get Maecenas to put his signet12 to these tablets." Should one say, "I will endeavor at it:" "If you will, you can," adds he; and is more earnest.

The seventh year approaching to the eighth is now elapsed, from the time that Maecenas began to reckon me in the number of his friends; only thus far, as one he would like to take along with him in his chariot, when he went a journey, and to whom he would trust such kind of trifles as these: "What is the hour?" "Is Gallina, the Thracian, a match for [the gladiator] Syrus?" "The cold morning air begins to pinch those that are ill provided against it;" — and such things as are well enough intrusted to a leaky ear. For all this time, every day and hour, I have been more subjected to envy. Our son of fortune here, says every body, witnessed the shows in company with [Maecenas], and played with him in the Campus Martius. Does any disheartening report spread from the rostrum through the streets, whoever comes in my way cousults me [concerning it]: "Good sir, have you (for you must know, since you approach nearer the gods) heard any thing relating to the Dacians?"13 "Nothing at all for my part," [I reply]. "How you ever are a sneerer!" "But may all the gods torture me, if I know any thing of the matter." "What? will Caesar give the lands14 he promised the soldiers, in Sicily, or in Italy?" As I am swearing I know nothing about it, they wonder at me, [thinking] me, to be sure, a creature of profound and extraordinary secrecy.

Among things of this nature the day is wasted by me, mortified as I am, not without such wishes as these: 0 rural retirement, when shall I behold thee? and when shall it be in my power to pass through the pleasing oblivion of a life full of solicitude, one while with the books of the ancients, another while in sleep and leisure? 0 when shall the bean related to Pythagoras,15 and at the same time herbs well larded with fat bacon, be set before me? O evenings, and suppers fit for gods! with which I and my friends regale ourselves in the presence of my household gods; and feed my saucy slaves with viands, of which libations have been made. The guest, according to every one's inclination, takes off the glasses of different sizes, free from mad laws: whether one of a strong constitution chooses hearty bumpers; or another more joyously gets mellow with moderate ones. Then conversation arises, not concerning other people's villas and houses, nor whether Lepos dances well or not; but we debate on what is more to our purpose, and what it is pernicious not to know-whether men are made happier by riches or by virtue; or what leads us into intimacies, interest or moral rectitude; and what is the nature of good, and what its perfection. Meanwhile, my neighbor Cervius prates away old stories relative to the subject. For, if any one ignorantly commends the troublesome riches of Aurelius, he thus begins: "On a time a countrymouse is reported to have received a city-mouse into his poor cave, an old host, his old acquaintance; a blunt fellow and attentive to his acquisitions, yet so as he could [on occasion] enlarge his narrow soul in acts of hospitality. What need of many words? He neither grudged him the hoarded vetches, nor the long oats; and bringing in his mouth a dry plum, and nibbled scraps of bacon, presented them to him, being desirous by the variety of the supper to get the better of the daintiness of his guest, who hardly touched with his delicate tooth the several things: while the father of the family himself, extended on fresh straw, ate a spelt and darnel, leaving that which was better [for his guest]. At length the citizen addressing him, ‘Friend,’ says he, ‘what delight have you to live laboriously on the ridge of a rugged thicket? Will you not prefer men and the city to the savage woods? Take my advice, and go along with me: since mortal lives are allotted to all terrestrial animals, nor is there any escape from death, either for the great or the small. Wherefore, my good friend, while it is in your power, live happy in joyous circumstances: live mindful of how brief an existence you are.’ Soon as these speeches had wrought upon the peasant, he leaps nimbly from his cave: thence they both pursue their intended journey, being desirous to steal under the city walls by night. And now the night possessed the middle region of the heavens, when each of them set foot in a gorgeous palace, where carpets dyed with crimson grain glittered upon ivory couches, and many baskets of a magnificent entertainment remained, which had yesterday been set by in baskets piled upon one another. After he had placed the peasant then, stretched at ease, upon a splendid carpet; he bustles about like an adroit host, and keeps bringing up one dish close upon another, and with an affected civility performs all the ceremonies, first tasting of every thing he serves up. He, reclined, rejoices in the change of his situation, and acts the part of a boon companion in the good cheer: when on a sudden a prodigious rattling of the folding doors shook them both from their couches. Terrified they began to scamper all about the room, and more and more heartless to be in confusion, while the lofty house resounded with [the barking of] mastiff dogs; upon which, says the country-mouse, ‘I have no desire for a life like this; and so farewell: my wood and cave, secure from surprises, shall with homely tares comfort me.’"

1Maia nate. He addresses his prayer to Mercury, not only because this god was a patron of poets in general, and that our poet, as we find in his Odes, was particularly obliged to his protection, but because he presided over industry and merchandise, as Hercules did over any sudden, accidental increase of riches. Besides, he was a rural deity, from whence, as Dacier observes, the poet recommends the preservation of his cattle to him, in the fourteenth verse.

2Denormat. We do not find this word in any other author.

3Et caetera praeter ingenium. The Latins, in speaking of style, have expressions not unlike this, “pingue et adipatum dicendi genus; poetae pinguae quiddam sonantes.” This playing on the double meaning of the word is much in our author's manner. Besides, Mercury was a good humored god, who understood raillery, “de Dis non tristibus.” Yet, for fear the deity should understand the word caetera in its full extent, and without any exception, the petitioner pleasantly guards against the fatness of his understanding.

4In arcem. He considers his country-house as a citadel inaccessible to the cares that besieged him at Rome.

5Musaque pedestri. The muse of satire, if such an expression may be allowed, is a muse on foot. She borrowed nothing from poetry but the measures of her verses, tho, only particular in which she differs from prose.

6Plumbeus. This epithet very well expresses the weight of air in autumn, when the south wind was usually attended at Rome with pestilential disorders. Our poet's country-house was covered by mountains, in such a manner, that he had nothing to fear from its bad effects.

7Matutine pater. The satire properly begins here, and all before this line is a kind of preface. Janus presided over time, and therefore Horace calls him god of the morning, as if time seemed to be renewed every morning.

8 To show that all his distresses begin with the morning, the poet introduces Janus, the god of the morning, pressing them upon him, “Urge sive Aquilo”, etc.

9Interiore diem. The northern part of the circle which the sun describes in summer is more distant from our earth than the southern part, which he describes in winter. From hence our days are shorter in winter than in summer, and he may therefore be poetically said to drive the day in a smaller course. Horace calls this circle “interiorem gyrum”, by a figure taken from chariot races, in which the driver who turned nearest the goal marked a narrower circle, and was therefore called “interior quadriga”, with regard to those who were obliged to take a larger compass, “exteriores.

10Ad Puteal. He describes a part of the forum by a monument erected there to show that the place had been struck with thunder. Some of the proctors held a kind of sessions there to decide private causes.

11 Horace had purchased an employment of register or secretary to the treasury; from whence he is desired to return early from Maecenas to consult about some important affair that concerned the whole body.

12Imprimat his, cura. Dion informs us, that Maecenas was intrusted with the great seal of the Roman Empire, and was a kind of Lord High Chancellor to Augustus.

13 The Dacians had engaged in Antony's army at the battle of Actium, in 723, and Octavius had disobliged them by refusing some favors which they demanded by their embassadors. He was obliged to send Marcus Crassus against them the year following. SAN.

14 Octavius promised the soldiers who had served under him in reducing Sicily, that he would divide some of the conquered lands among them. But the war in which he was engaged against Antony obliged him to defer the division, and immediately after the battle of Actium, the troops, which he had sent to Brundusium, mutinied on this occasion.

He went himself to stop the beginning of a revolt, which might have been attended with most dangerous consequences. This affair was all the news at Rome when our poet wrote the present Satire.

Sicily was called Triquetra from its triangular figure, and in some ancient coins it is represented under the figure of a woman with three legs.

15 It was one of Pythagoras' precepts, that beans should not be used as food by any of his disciples, lest in the course of transformation the soul of some relative should be placed therein, and thus the impiety (as Lucian, Micyll., represents it) be as great as that of eating human flesh. Hence Horace humorously calls the bean “Pythagorae cognata. There are various reasons assigned for the origin of this precept.

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