I was walking, by chance, along the Via Sacra, as is my custom,
mulling over some trifles, totally lost in these thoughts:
Some guy came up - known to me by name only -
clutched my hand, and said "how are you, sweetest of things?"
"I'm doing pretty well, at the moment," I said, "and I hope everything is as you wish."
When he kept on following, "Do you want anything else? I'm busy." But
"You know me" he said "I am a man of learning." Here I said "For this,
I will esteem you more," seeking miserably to leave,
now going rather swiftly, sometimes stopping
to whisper something into the boy's ear, while sweat flowed down
to my ankles. "O Bolanus, how blessed in brains you are"
I said quietly, while he kept chattering on about
whatever he wished, praising the the suburbs, the city...
When I made no reply, "you need, sadly," he said, "to get away,
it's been apparent for a while now; but don't worry: I will hold on all the way;
I will pursue you wherever you're going from here." "There is no need for you
to come along: I wish to visit someone you don't know;
he resides far across the Tiber near Caesar's gardens."
"I have nothing to do, and I'm not lazy: I will follow you all the way."
My ears fall, like a grumpy-minded young donkey,
when he gets a very heavy load on his back. That man began:
"As certainly as I know myself, you will not regard Viscus,
nor Varius, as a better friend than me: Who is able to write
many verses more swiftly than me? Who can move their limbs
more elegantly? Even Hermogenes would envy what I sing."
Here was a space to interrupt: "Do you have a mother,
or relatives, who benefit from your health?" "No one at all.
I have buried them all." "Fortunate souls. I still remain.
Finish me, for my sad end approaches, which a Sabine crone
prophesied when I was a boy after shaking the divine urn:
"Neither dire poison nor hostile sword shall carry him off,
not pain in the side or cough nor slowing gout;
A chatterer will consume him at the appointed time: windbags,
if he recognises them, he should shun; then he will reach old age."
We had come to the Temple of Vesta, a fourth part of the day
was gone, and he had to yield this lost cause,
or if not, to end the dispute.
"If you love me," he said, "come a little closer." "I would die,
if I were able to stand this or if I knew civil law;
and I'm in a hurry, as you know." "I don't know what to do," he said,
"Should I abandon you or my goal?" "Me, please." "I will not,"
and he began to lead the way; I (since it is hard to contend
with the victor) follow. "How close is Maecenas with you?"
he returns to this "One of the few men and very sound minded."
No one has used a fortune more skillfully. You would have
a great helper, who would be able to play the supporting role,
if you were willing to introduce me myself: May I be ruined,
if you did not then supplant everyone." "We don't behave
the way you think there at all; there is no house purer than it,
nor more distant from these evils; it never troubles me," I say,
"that someone there is richer or wiser; each person has
his place." "You tell a great story, barely believable" "But
it is so" "With this, you encourage me even more to want
to be close to him." "You need only want: with your virtus
you will overcome - he can be conquered and for that reason
he makes the first approach difficult." "I will not fail:
I will break his servants with gifts! If I am kept out today,
I will not desist! I will seek my moment!
I will bump into him at crossroads! I will seduce him! Life gives
nothing to mortals without great effort!" While he was going on like this, suddenly,
Fuscus Aristius shows up, my friend, who knew this man
very well. We stop. "Where have you been and
Where are you headed?" he asks and he answers. I began to shudder and
to grasp his indifferent arms, signalling him
by moving my eyes about to rescue me. That awful prankster,
feigns innocence; my liver burns with bile.
"I'm sure you said you want to discuss something
with me in private." "I did indeed, but
I will at a better time; today is the thirtieth sabbath:
You wouldn't want to offend the circumcised Jews?" "I have" I said
"no reverence [for that]." "But I do - I am a little weaker,
one of the many. Forgive me, I'll discuss it some other time."
How ill-omened today's sun had risen for me! The reprobate fled
and left me in peril. At this point an opponent and antagonist of his
appeared and yelled "Where are you going, scoundrel?"
in a loud voice and "do you witness this?" I readily
give ear. He arrests him, both shout,
a crowd all about. Thus did Apollo preserve me.
Ībam forte Viā Sacrā, sīcut meus est mōs,
nesciŏ quid meditāns nūgārum, tōtus in illīs:
accurrit quīdam nōtus mihi nōmine tantum
arrēptāque manū 'quid agis, dulcissime rērum?'
'Suāviter, ut nunc est,' inquam 'et cupiō omnia quae vīs.'
Cum adsectārētur, 'numquid vīs? occupō.' At ille
'nōris nōs' inquit; 'doctī sumus.' Hīc ego 'plūris
hōc' inquam 'mihi eris.' Miserē discēdere quaerēns
īre modo ōcius, interdum cōnsistere, in aurem
dīcere nesciŏ quid puerō, cum sūdor ad īmōs
mānāret tālōs. 'Ō tē, Bōlāne, cerebrī
fēlīcem' aiēbam tacitus, cum quidlibet ille
garrīret, vīcōs, urbem laudāret. Ut illī
nīl respondēbam, 'miserē cupis' inquit 'abīre:
iamdūdum videō; sed nīl agis: ūsque tenēbō;
persequar hinc quō nunc iter est tibi.' 'Nīl opus est tē
circumagī: quendam volŏ vīsere nōn tibi nōtum;
trāns Tiberim longē cubat is prope Caesaris hortōs.'
'Nīl habeō quod agam et nōn sum piger: ūsque sequar tē.'
Dēmittō auriculās, ut inīquae mentis asellus,
cum gravius dorsō subiit onus. Incipit ille:
'Sī bene mē nōvī, nōn Viscum plūris amīcum,
nōn Varium faciēs; nam quis mē scrībere plūris
aut citius possit versūs? quis membra movēre
mollius? invideat quod et Hermogenēs, ego cantō.'
Interpellandī locus hīc erat: 'est tibi māter,
cognātī, quis tē salvō est opus?' 'Haud mihi quisquam.
Omnīs conposuī.' 'Fēlīcēs. Nunc ego restō.
Cōnfice; namque īnstat fātum mihi trīste, Sabella
quod puerō cecinit dīvīnā mōtā anus ūrnā:
"hunc neque dīra venēna nec hosticus auferet ēnsis
nec laterum dolor aut tussis nec tarda podagra:
garrulus hunc quandō cōnsūmet cumque: loquācēs,
sī sapiat, vītet, simul atque adolēverit aetās."'
Ventum erat ad Vestae, quārtā iam parte diēī
praeteritā, et cāsū tum respondēre vadātō
dēbēbat, quod nī fēcisset, perdere lītem.
'Sī mē amăs,' inquit 'paulum hīc ades.' 'Inteream, sī
aut valeō stāre aut nōvī cīvīlia iūra;
et properō quō scīs.' 'Dubius sum, quid faciam', inquit,
'tēne relinquam an rem.' 'Mē, sōdēs.' 'Nōn faciam' ille,
et praecēdere coepit; ego, ut contendere dūrum
cum victōre, sequor. 'Maecēnās quōmodo tēcum?'
hinc repetit. 'Paucōrum hominum et mentis bene sānae.
Nēmō dexterius fortūnā est ūsus. Habērēs
magnum adiūtōrem, posset quī ferre secundās,
hunc hominem vellēs sī trādere: dispeream, nī
summōssēs omnīs.' 'Nōn istō vīvimus illīc,
quō tū rēre, modō; domus hāc nec pūrior ūlla est
nec magis hīs aliēna malīs; nīl mī officit, inquam,
dītior hīc aut est quia doctior; est locus ūnī
cuique suus.' 'Magnum nārrās, vix crēdibile.' 'Atquī
sīc habet.' 'Accendis quārē cupiam magis illī
proximus esse.' 'Velīs tantummodo: quae tua virtūs,
expugnābis: et est quī vincī possit eōque
difficilīs aditūs prīmōs habet.' 'Haud mihi dērō:
mūneribus servōs corrumpam; nōn, hodiē sī
exclūsus fuerō, dēsistam; tempora quaeram,
occurram in triviīs, dēdūcam. Nīl sine magnō
vīta labōre dedit mortālibus.' Haec dum agit, ecce
Fuscus Aristius occurrit, mihi cārus et illum
quī pulchrē nōsset. Cōnsistimus. 'Unde venīs et
quō tendis?' rogat et respondet. Vellere coepī
et pressāre manū lentissima bracchia, nūtāns,
distorquēns oculōs, ut mē ēriperet. Malĕ salsus
rīdēns dissimulāre; meum iecur ūrere bīlīs.
'Certē nesciŏ quid sēcrētō velle loquī tē
aiēbās mēcum.' 'Meminī bene, sed meliōre
tempore dīcam; hodiē trīcēnsima sabbata: vīn tū
curtīs Iudaeīs oppēdere?' 'Nūlla mihi' inquam
'relligiō est.' 'at mī: sum paulō īnfirmior, ūnus
multōrum. Ignōscēs; aliās loquar.' Huncine sōlem
tam nigrum surrēxe mihī! fugit inprobus ac mē
sub cultrō linquit. Cāsū venit obvius illī
adversārius et 'quō tū, turpissime?' magnā
inclāmat vōce, et 'licet antestārī?' ego vērō
oppōnō auriculam. rapit in iūs; clāmor utrimque,
undique concursus. Sīc mē servāvit Apollō.