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Commonly the first things prayed for, and most known at all temples,
Are, that riches may increase, and wealth; that our chest may be
29. As oft as, &c.] Whenever he went out of his house-as oft as he stepped over his threshold.
30. The other.] Heraclitus. See note on line 28.
31. The censure, &c.] It is easy enough to find matter for severe laughter. Rigidi here, as an epithet to laughter, seems to denote that sort of censorious sneer which condemns and censures, at the same time that it derides the follies of mankind.
32. The wonder is, &c.] How Heraclitus could find tears enough to express his grief at human wretchedness, guilt, and woe, the occasions of it are so frequent.
34. In those cities.] As there is at Rome. The poet here satirizes the ridiculous appendages and ensigns of office, which were so coveted and esteemed by the Romans, as if they could convey happiness to the wearers. He would also insinuate, that these things were made ridiculous by the conduct of the possessors of them.
35. Senatorial gowns.] Prætexta-so called because they were faced and bordered with purple-worn by the patricians and se
Robes.] Trabea-robes worn by kings, consuls, and au
Rods.] Fasces-bundles of birchen rods carried before the Roman magistrates, with an axe bound up in the middle of them, so as to appear at the top. These were ensigns of their official power to punish crimes, either by scourging or death.
A litter.] Lectica.-See sat. i. 32, note.
Tribunal.] A seat in the forum, built by Romulus, in the form of an half-moon, where the judges sat, who had jurisdiction over the highest offences: at the upper part was placed the sella curulis, in which the pretor sat.
36. The pretor, &c.] He describes and derides the figure which the pretor made, when presiding at the Circensian games.
-In high chariots.] In a triumphal car, which was gilt, and
Extantem, et medio sublimem in pulvere circi,
drawn by four white horses-perhaps, by the plur. curribus, we may understand that he had several for different occasions.
47. Dust of the circus.] He stood, by the height and sublimity of his situation, fully exposed to the dust, which the chariots and horses of the racers raised.
38. Coat of Jove.] In a triumphal habit; for those who triumphed wore a tunic, or garment, which, at other times, was kept in the temple of Jupiter.
38-9. The Tyrian tapestry, &c.] Sarra, (from Heb.,) a name of Tyre, where hangings and tapestry were made, as also where the fish was caught, from whence the purple was taken with which they were dyed. This must be a very heavy material for a gown, especially as it was also embroidered with divers colours; and such a garment must be very cumbersome to the wearer, as it hung from his shoulders. 1
40. So large an orb, &c.] Add to this, a great heavy crown, the circumference of which was so large and thick, that no neck could be strong enough to avoid bending under it.
41. A sweating officer.] Publicus signifies some official servant, in some public office about the prætor on these occasions, who sat by him in the chariot, in order to assist in bearing up the crown, the weight of which made him sweat with holding it up. Lest the consul, &c.] The ancients had an institution, that a slave should ride in the same chariot when a consul triumphed, and should admonish him to know himself, lest he should be too vain.
This was done with regard to the pretor at the Circensian games, who, as we have seen above, appeared like a victorious consul, with the habit and equipage of triumph-Juvenal seems to use the word consul, here, on that account.
43. Add the bird, &c.] Among other ensigns of triumph, the prætor, on the above occasion, held an ivory rod, or sceptre, in his hand, with the figure of an eagle, with wings expanded, as if rising for flight, on the top of it,
Standing forth, and sublime in the midst of the dust of the circus,
For a sweating officer holds this, and lest the consul should
That great men, and those about to give great examples, [50 May be born in the country of blockheads, and under thick air.
44. The trumpeters.] Or blowers of the horn, or cornet.. These, with the tubicines, which latter seem included here under the general name of cornicines, always attended the camp, and, on the return of the conqueror, preceded the triumphal chariot, sounding their instruments.
The preceding offices, &c.] Officium signifies, sometimes, a solemn attendance on some public occasion, as on marriages, fune rals, triumphs, &c. (see sat. ii. 1. 132.) Here it denotes, that the pretor was attended, on this occasion, by a long train of his friends and dependents, who came to grace the solemnity, by marching in procession before his chariot.
45. Snowy citizens, &c.] Many of the citizens, as was usual at triumphs, dressed in white robes, walking by the side of the horses, and holding the bridles.
46. The sportula.] The dole-basket. See sat. i. l. 95.
Buried in his coffers.] The meaning of this passage seems to be, that these citizens appeared, and gave their attendance, not from any real value for him, but for what they could get.
He is supposed to have great wealth hidden, or buried, in his eoffers, which this piece of attention was calculated to fetch out, in charity to his poor fellow-citizens that attended him on this occasion.-q. d. All this formed a scene which would have made Democritus shake his sides with laughing. Comp. 1. 3, 34.
47. Then also he.] Democritus in his time.
47-8. At all meetings of men.] Every time he met people as he walked about or, in every company he met with.
48. Whose prudence.] Wisdom, discernment of right and
50. Of blockheads.] Vervex-literally signifies a wether-sheep, but was proverbially used for a stupid person: as we use the word sheepish, and sheepishness, in something like the same sense, to denote an awkward, stupid shyness.
The poet therefore means, a country of stupid fellows. Plaut. Pers. act II. has-Ain' vero vervecum caput?
Ridebat curas, necnon et gaudia vulgi,
Quosdam præcipitat subjecta potentia magnæ
50. Thick air.] Democritus was born at Abdera, a city of Thrace, where the air, which was foggy and thick, was supposed to make the inhabitants dull and stupid.
So Horace, speaking of Alexander the Great, as a critic of little or no discernment in literature, says-Bœotum in crasso jurares aere natum. Epist. i. lib. ii. 1. 244. By which, as by many other testimonies, we find that the inhabitants of Boeotia were stigmatized also in the same manner. Hence Boeoticum ingenium was a phrase for dulness and stupidity.
52. Present a halter, &c.] Mandare laqueum alicui, was a phrase made use of to signify the utmost contempt and indifference, like sending a halter to a person, as if to bid him hang himself. Democritus is here represented in this light, as continually laughing at the cares and joys of the general herd, and as himself treating with scorn the frowns of adverse fortune.
53. His middle nail.] i. e. His middle finger, and point at her in derision. To hold out the middle finger, the rest being contracted, and bent downwards, was an act of great contempt; like pointing at a person among us. This mark of contempt is very ancient. See
Is. lviii. 9.
54. Therefore, &c.] It follows, therefore, from the example of Democritus, who was happy without the things which people so anxiously seek after, and petition the gods for, that they are superfluous and unnecessary. It likewise follows, that they are injurious, because they expose people to the fears and dangers of adverse fortune; whereas Democritus, who had them not, could set the frowns of fortune at defiance, possessing a mind which carried him above worldly cares or fears.
55. Lawful.] Fas signifies that which is permitted, therefore lawful to do.
To cover with wax, &c.] It was the manner of the ancients, when they made their vows to the gods, to write them on paper, (or waxen tables,) seal them up, and, with wax, fasten them to the knees of the images of the gods, or to the thighs, that being supposed the seat of mercy. When their desires were
He derided the cares, and also the joys of the vulgar,
Then, the driven axe, the very wheels of two-horse cars
granted, they took away the paper, tore it, and offered to the gods what they had promised. See sat. ix. I. 139. The gods permit us to ask, but the consequences of having our petitions answered are often fatal. Comp. 1. 7, 8.
56. Precipitates some.] viz. Into ruin and destruction.
57. Catalogue, &c.] Pagina, in its proper and literal sense, signifies a page of a book, but here alludes to a plate, or table of brass, fixed before the statues of eminent persons, and containing all the titles and honours of him whose statue it was.
Overwhelms.] With ruin, by exposing them to the envy and malice of those, in whose power and inclination it may be to disgrace and destroy them.
58. Statues descend.] Are pulled down.
Follow the rope.] With which the populace (set on work by a notion of doing what would please the emperor, who had disgraced his prime-minister Sejanus) first pulled down all the statues of Sejanus, of which there were many set up in Rome, and then dragged them with ropes about the streets.
59. The driven axe.] Impacta-driven-forced against.-There were some statues of Sejanus, by which he was represented on horseback; others in a triumphal car, drawn by two horses (comp, sat. viii. 1. 3.); all which were broken to pieces, the very chariots and horses demolished, and, if made of brass, carried to the fire and melted.
60. Undeserving horses, &c.] Their spite against Sejanus, who could alone deserve their indignation, carried them to such fury, as to demolish even the most innocent appendages to his state and dignity.
61. The fires roar, &c.] From the force of the bellows, in the forges prepared for melting the brass of the statues.
Stoves.] Or furnaces.
62. The head adored, &c.] Of Sejanus, once the darling of the people, who once worshipped him as a god.
63. Cracks.] By the violence of the flames.
Second face, &c.] Sejanus was so favoured by Tiberius, that he raised him to the highest dignity next to himself.