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Look again at the poet's lot, with its delightful companionships. I should not be afraid of comparing it with the harassing and anxious life of the orator. Orators, it is true, have been raised to consulships by their contests and perils, but I prefer Virgil's serene, calm, and peaceful retirement, in which after all he was not without the favour of the divine Augustus, and fame among the people of Rome. We have the testimony of the letters of Augustus, the testimony too of the people themselves, who, on hearing in the theatre some of Virgil's verses, rose in a body and did homage to the poet, who happened to be present as a spectator, just as to Augustus himself. Even in our own day, Pomponius Secundus need not yield to Domitius Aper on the score of a
QUIET BEAUTY THE POET'S LOT
dignified life or an enduring reputation. As for your Crispus and Marcellus, whom you hold up to me as examples, what is there in their lot to be coveted? Is it that they are in fear themselves, or are a fear to others? Is it that, while every day something is asked from them, those to whom they grant it feel indignant? Is it that, bound as they are by the chain of flattery, they are never thought servile enough by those who rule, or free enough by us? What is their power at its highest? Why, the freedmen usually have as much. For myself, as Virgil says, let "the sweet muses" lead me to their sacred retreats, and to their fountains far away from anxieties and cares, and the necessity of doing every day something repugnant to my heart. Let me no longer tremblingly experience the madness and perils of the forum, and the pallors of fame. Let me not be aroused by a tumult of morning visitors, or a freedman's panting haste, or, anxious about the future, have to make a will to secure my wealth. Let me not possess more than what I can leave to whom I please, whenever the day appointed by my own fates shall come; and let the statue over my tomb be not gloomy and scowling, but bright and laurel-crowned. As for my memory, let there be no resolutions in the senate, or petitions to the emperor.

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