The Third Satire of Juvenal

The Third Satire of Juvenal

Translated into English Verse by Mr. Dryden

Original Text
The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis. Translated into English Verse. By Mr. Dryden, and Several Other Eminent Hands. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1693. E-10 01064 Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto
The Argument
The story of this satire speaks itself. Umbritius, the supposed friend of Juvenal, and himself a poet, is leaving Rome; and retiring to Cumae. Our author accompanies him out of town. Before they take leave of each, Umbritius tells his friend the reasons which oblige him to lead a private life, in an obscure place. He complains that an honest man cannot get his bread at Rome. That none but flatterers make their fortunes there: that Grecians and other foreigners, raise themselves by those sordid arts which describes, and against which he bitterly inveighs. He reckons up the several inconveniencies which arise from a city life; and the many dangers which attend it. Upbraids the noblemen with covertousness, for not rewarding good poets; and arraigns the government for starving them. The great art of this satire is particularly shown, in common places; and drawing in as many vices, as could naturally fall into the compass of it.
2I like the solitary seat he chose:
4Where, far from noisy Rome secure he lives,
5And one more citizen to Sybil gives.
7Which all the gods with all their bounty bless.
9Could live, than in a street of palaces.
10What scene so desert, or so full of fright,
11As tott'ring houses tumbling in the night,
12And Rome on fire beheld by its own blazing light?
13But worse than all the clatt'ring tiles: and worse
16But without mercy read, and make you hear.
17     Now while my friend just ready to depart,
18Was packing all his goods in one poor cart;
22Though now the sacred shades and founts are hir'd
24In a small basket, on a wisp of hay;
25Yet such our avarice is, that every tree
26Pays for his head; not sleep itself is free:
27Nor place, nor persons now are sacred held,
28From their own grove the Muses are expell'd.
29Into this lonely vale our steps we bend,
30I and my sullen discontented friend:
31The marble caves, and aqueducts we view;
32But how adult'rate now, and different from the true!
33How much more beauteous had the fountain been
34Embellish'd with her first created green,
35Where crystal streams through living turf had run,
36Contented with an urn of native stone!
37     Then thus Umbricius (with an angry frown,
38And looking back on this degen'rate town):
39"Since noble arts in Rome have no support,
40And ragged virtue not a friend at Court,
41No profit rises from th' ungrateful stage,
42My poverty increasing with my age,
43'Tis time to give my just disdain a vent,
44And, cursing, leave so base a government.
46To that obscure retreat I choose to fly:
47While yet few furrows on my face are seen,
48While I walk upright, and old age is green,
50Now, now 'tis time to to quit this cursed place;
51And hide from villains my too honest face:
53Such manners will with such a town agree.
54Knaves who in full assemblies have the knack
55Of turning truth to lies, and white to black:
59And teach their eyes dissembled tears to shed.
60All this for gain; for gain they sell their very head.
61These fellows (see what fortune's pow'r can do)
62Were once the minstrels of a country show:
63Follow'd the prizes through each paltry town,
64By trumpet-cheeks, and bloated faces known.
65But now, grown rich, on drunken holy-days,
66At their own costs exhibit public plays:
67Where influenc'd by the rabble's bloody will,
69From thence return'd, their sordid avarice rakes
71Why hire they not the town, not ev'ry thing,
72Since such as they have fortune in a string?
73Who, for her pleasure, can her fools advance;
74And toss 'em topmost on the wheel of chance.
75What's Rome to me, what business have I there,
76I who can neither lie nor falsely swear?
77Nor praise my patron's undeserving rhymes,
78Nor yet comply with him, not with his times;
79Unskill'd in schemes by planets to foreshow,
81I neither will, nor can prognosticate
82To the young gaping heir, his father's fate:
83Nor in the entrails of a toad have pry'd,
84Not carry'd bawdy presents to a bride:
85For want of these town virtues, thus, alone,
86I go conducted on my way by none:
88Maim'd, and unuseful to the government.
89     "Who now is lov'd, but he who loves the times,
90Conscious of close intrigues, and dipp'd in crimes:
91Lab'ring with secrets which his bosom burn,
92Yet never must to public light return;
93They get reward alone who can betray:
94For keeping honest counsels none will pay.
96The purse of Verres may at pleasure use:
98And pays the sea in tributary tides,
99Be bribe sufficient to corrupt thy breast;
100Or violate with dreams thy peaceful rest.
101Great men with jealous eyes the friend behold,
102Whose secrecy they purchase with their gold.
103     "I haste to tell thee, nor shall shame oppose
104What confidants our wealthy Romans chose:
105And whom I most abhor: to speak my mind,
106I hate, in Rome, a Grecian town to find:
107To see the scum of Greece transplanted here,
108Receiv'd like gods, is what I cannot bear.
109Nor Greeks alone, but Syrians here abound,
112And fattens Italy with foreign whores:
113Hither their crooked harps and customs come;
114All find receipt in hospitable Rome.
115The barbarous harlots crowd the public place:
116Go fools, and purchase an unclean embrace;
119Your herdsman primitive, your homely clown
120Is turn'd a beau in a loose tawdry gown.
123Aping the foreigners in ev'ry dress;
124Which, bought at greater cost, becomes him less.
125Meantime they wisely leave their native land,
127And Amydon, to Rome they swarm in shoals:
128So sweet and easy in gain from fools.
131Grow to the great, a flatt'ring servile rout:
132Work themselves inward, and their patrons out.
133Quick-witted, brazen-fac'd, with fluent tongues,
134Patient of labours, and dissembling wrongs.
135Riddle me this, and guess him if you can,
136Who bears a nation in a single man?
137A cook, a conjurer, a rhetorician,
138A painter, pedant, a geometrician,
139A dancer on the ropes, and a physician.
140All things the hungry Greek exactly knows:
141And bid him go to Heav'n, to Heav'n he goes.
142In short, no Scythian, Moor, or Thracian born,
144Shall he be plac'd above me at the board
145In purple cloth'd, and lolling like a lord?
146Shall he before me sign, whom t'other day
147A small-craft vessel hither did convey;
148Where, stow'd with prunes, and rotten figs, he lay?
149How little is the privilege become
150Of being born a citizen of Rome!
151The Greeks get all by fulsome flatteries;
152A most peculiar stroke they have at lies.
153They make a wit of their insipid friend;
154His blobber-lips and beetle-brows commend:
155His long crane-neck, and narrow shoulders praise;
156You'd think they were describing Hercules.
157A croaking voice for a clear treble goes;
159We can as grossly praise; but, to our grief,
160No flatt'ry but from Grecians gains belief.
161Besides these qualities, we must agree
162They mimic better on the stage than we:
164In such a free, and such a graceful way,
165That we believe a very woman shown;
166And fancy something underneath the gown.
168Our ears and ravish'd eyes can only please:
169The nation is compos'd of such as these.
170All Greece is one comedian: laugh, and they
171Return it louder than an ass can bray:
172Grieve, and they grieve; if you weep silently,
173There seems a silent echo in their eye:
174They cannot mourn like you, but they can cry.
175Call for a fire, their winter clothes they take:
176Begin but you to shiver, and they shake:
177In frost and snow, if you complain of heat,
178They rub th' unsweating brow, and swear they sweat.
180Such are our betters who can better please:
181Who day and night are like a looking-glass;
182Still ready to reflect their patron's face.
183The panegyric hand, and lifted eye,
184Prepar'd for some new piece of flattery,
185Ev'n nastiness, occasions will afford;
186They praise a belching, or well-pissing lord.
187Besides, there's nothing sacred, nothing free
188From bold attempts of their rank lechery.
189Through the whole family their labours run;
190The daughter is debauch'd, the wife is won;
191Nor scapes the bridegroom, or the blooming son.
192If none they find for their lewd purpose fit,
193They with the very walls and floors commit.
194They search the secrets of the house, and so
195Are worshipp'd there, and fear'd for what they know.
196     "And, now we talk of Grecians, cast a view
197On what, in schools, their men of morals do;
199A friend, against a friend of his own cloth,
200Turn'd evidence, and murder'd on his oath.
201What room is left for Romans, in a town
204Look sharply out, our senators to seize:
205Engross 'em wholly, by their native art,
207One drop of poison in my patron's ear,
208One slight suggestion of a senseless fear,
209Infus'd with cunning, serves to ruin me;
210Disgrac'd and banish'd from the family.
211In vain forgotten services I boast;
212My long dependance in an hour is lost:
213Look round the world, what country will appear,
214Where friends are left with greater ease than here?
215In Rome (nor think me partial to the poor)
217An vain we rise, and to the levees run;
218My lord himself is up, before, and gone:
220Lest his colleague outstrip him in the race:
221The childless matrons are, long since, awake;
222And, for affronts, the tardy visits take.
223      " 'Tìs frequent, here, to see a free-born son
224On the left-hand of a rich hireling run:
225Because the wealthy rogue can throw away,
227But you, poor sinner, though you love the vice,
228And, like the whore, demur upon the price:
229And, frighted with the wicked sun, forbear
231     "Produce a witness of unblemish'd life,
234And snatch'd the trembling goddess from the fire:
235The question is not put how far extends
236His piety, but what he yearly spends:
237Quick, to the bus'ness; how he lives and eats;
238How largely gives; how splendidly he treats:
239How many thousand acres feed his sheep,
240What are his rents, what servants does he keep?
241Th' account is soon cast up; the judges rate
242Our credit in the court by our estate.
243Swear by our gods, or those the Greeks adore,
244Thou art as sure forsworn, as thou art poor:
245The poor must gain their bread by perjury;
246And even the gods, that other means deny,
247In conscience must absolve 'em, when they lie.
248    "Add, that the rich have still a gibe in store;
249And will be monstrous witty on the poor:
250For the torn surtout and the tatter'd vest,
251The wretch and all his wardrobe are a jest:
252The greasy gown, sully'd with often turning,
253Gives a good hint, to say, 'The man's in mourning:'
254Or, if the shoe be ripp'd, or patches put,
255'He's wounded! See the plaster on his foot.'
256Want is the scorn of ev'ry wealthy fool;
257And wit in rags is turn'd to ridicule.
258     “'Pack hence, and from the cover'd benches rise,'
259(The master of the ceremonies cries)
260'This is no place for you, whose small estate
261Is not the value of the settled rate:
263Are privileg'd to sit in triumph there.
264To clap the first, and rule the theatre.
265Up to the galleries, for shame, retreat;
267Who ever brought to his rich daughter's bed,
268The man that poll'd but twelve-pence for his head?
269Who ever nam'd a poor man for his heir,
272Withdrew, and sought a sacred place of rest.
273Once they did well, to free themselves from scorn;
274But had done better never to return.
275Rarely they rise by virtue's aid, who lie
276Plung'd in the depth of helpless poverty.
277     "At Rome 'tis worse; where house-rent by the year,
278And servants' bellies cost so dev'lish dear;
279And tavern-bills run high for hungry cheer.
280To drink or eat in earthenware we scorn,
281Which cheaply country cupboards does adorn:
282And coarse blue hoods on holy-days are worn.
283Some distant parts of Italy are known,
285On theatres of turf, in homely state,
286Old plays they act, old feats they celebrate:
287The same rude song returns upon the crowd,
288And, by tradition, is for wit allow'd.
290And in the mother's arms the clownish infant frights.
291Their habits (undistinguish'd by degree)
292Are plain, alike; the same simplicity,
293Both on the stage, and in the pit, you see.
294In his white cloak the magistrate appears;
295The country bumpkin the same liv'ry wears.
296But here, attir'd beyond our purse we go,
297For useless ornament and flaunting show:
298We take on trust, in purple robes to shine;
299And poor, are yet ambitious to be fine.
300This is a common vice; though all things here
301Are sold, and sold unconscionably dear.
303Your face, and in the crowd distinguish you;
304May take your incense like a gracious god,
305And answer only with a civil nod?
306To please our patrons, in this vicious age,
307We make our entrance by the fav'rite page:
308Shave his first down, and when he polls his hair,
309The consecrated locks to temples bear;
311And, with our off'rings, help to raise his vails.
312     "Who fears, in country-towns, a house's fall,
313Or to be caught betwixt a riven wall?
314But we inhabit a weak city, here;
315Which buttresses and props but scarcely bear:
316And 'tis the village-mason's daily calling,
317To keep the world's metropolis from falling,
318To cleanse the gutters, and the chinks to close;
319And, for one night, secure his lord's repose.
320At Cumae we can sleep, quite round the year;
321Nor falls, nor fires, nor nightly dangers fear,
322While rolling flames from Roman turrets fly,
323And the pale citizens for buckets cry.
324Thy neighbour has remov'd his wretched store
326Thy own third story smokes, while thou, supine,
327Are drench'd in fumes of undigested wine.
328For if the lowest floors already burn,
331Which in their nests unsafe, are timely fled.
333That his short wife's short legs hung dangling out;
334His cupboard's head, six earthen pitchers grac'd,
335Beneath 'em was his trusty tankard plac'd:
338His few Greek books a rotten chest contain'd;
339Whose covers much of mouldiness complain'd;
340Where mice and rats devour'd poetic bread;
341And with heroic verse luxuriously were fed.
342'Tis true, poor Codrus nothing had to boast,
343And yet poor Codrus all that nothing lost.
344Begg'd naked though the streets of wealthy Rome;
345And found not one to feed, or take him home.
347The nobles change their cloths, the matrons mourn;
348The City-Praetor will no pleadings hear;
349The very name of fire we hate and fear:
350And look aghast, as if the Gauls were here.
351While yet it burns, th' officious nation flies,
352Some to condole, and some to bring supplies:
353One sends him marble to rebuild, and one
356While others, images for altars give;
358Another bags of gold, and he gives best.
359Childless Arturius, vastly rich before,
360Thus by his losses multiplies his store:
361Suspected for accomplice to the fire,
362That burnt his palace but to build it higher.
363     "But, could you be content to bid adieu
365Sweet country seats are purchas'd ev'ry where,
366With lands and gardens, at less price than here
367You hire a darksome dog-hole by the year.
368A small convenience, decently prepar'd,
369A shallow well, that rises in your yard,
370That spreads his easy crystal streams around,
371And waters all the pretty spot of ground.
372There, love the fork, thy garden cultivate,
374'Tis somewhat to be lord of some small ground;
375In which a lizard may, at least, turn round.
376     "'Tis frequent, here, for want of sleep to die;
377Which fumes of undigested feasts deny;
378And, with imperfect heat, in languid stomachs fry.
379What house secure from noise the poor can keep,
380When ev'n the rich can scarce afford to sleep?
381So dear it costs to purchase rest in Rome;
382And hence the sources of diseases come.
383The drover who his fellow-drover meets
384In narrow passages of winding streets;
385The waggoners that curse their standing teams,
387And yet the wealthy will not brook delay,
388But sweep above our heads, and make their way;
389In lofty litters borne, and read, and write,
390Or sleep at ease: the shutters make it night.
391Yet still he reaches, first, the public place:
393The crowd that follows, crush his panting sides:
394And trip his heels; he walks not, but he rides.
397Stocking'd with loads of fat town-dirt he goes;
398And some rogue-soldier, with his hobnail'd shoes,
399Indents his legs behind in bloody rows.
401A hundred guests, invited, walk in state:
403Huge pans the wretches on their heads must bear,
405Yet they must walk upright beneath the load;
406Nay run, and running blow the sparkling flames abroad.
408Unwieldy timber-trees in wagons borne,
409Stretch'd at their length, beyond their carriage lie:
410That nod, and threaten ruin from on high.
411For, should their axle break, its overthrow
412Would crush, and pound to dust, the crowd below:
413Nor friends their friends, nor sires their sons could know:
414Nor limbs, nor bones, nor carcase would remain:
415But a mash'd heap, a hotchpotch of the slain.
416One vast destruction; not the soul alone,
417But bodies, like the soul, invisible are flown.
418Meantime, unknowing of their fellows' fate,
419The servants with the platter, scour the plate,
420Then blow the fire, with puffing cheeks, and lay
422And oil them first; and each is handy in his way.
423But he, for whom this busy care they take,
424Poor ghost, is wand'ring by the Stygian lake:
426New to the horrors of that uncouth place:
427His passage begs with unregarded pray'r:
428And wants two farthings to discharge his fare.
429     "Return we to the dangers of the night;
430And, first, behold our houses' dreadful height:
433Well may they break our heads, that mark the flinty stone.
434'Tis want of sense to sup abroad too late;
435Unless thou first hast settled thy estate.
436As many fates attend, thy steps to meet,
437As there are waking windows in the street.
438Bless the good gods, and think thy chance is rare
439To have a piss-pot only for thy share.
441Before his bedtime, takes no rest that night.
442Passing the tedious hours in greater pain
444'Tis so ridiculous, but so true withal,
445A bully cannot sleep without a brawl.
446Yet though his youthful blood be fir'd with wine,
447He wants not wit the danger to decline:
448Is cautious to avoid the coach and six,
449And on the lackeys will no quarrel fix.
450His train of flambeaux, and embroider'd coat,
451May privilege my lord to walk secure on foot.
452But me, who must by moonlight homeward bend,
453Or lighted only with a candle's end,
454Poor me he fights, if that be fighting, where
455He only cudgels, and I only bear.
456He stands, and bids me stand: I must abide;
457For he's the stronger, and is drunk beside.
458    “'Where did you whet your knife tonight,' he cries,
459'And shred the leeks that in your stomach rise?
460Whose windy beans have stuff'd your guts, and where
461Have your black thumbs been dipp'd in vinegar?
462With what companion cobbler have you fed,
463On old ox-cheeks, or the he-goat's tougher head?
464What, are you dumb? Quick, with your answer, quick;
465Before my foot salutes you with a kick.
466Say, in what musty cellar, under ground,
467Or what church-porch your rogueship may be found?'
468Answer, or answer not, 'tis all the same:
471This is a poor man's liberty in Rome.
472You beg his pardon; happy to retreat
473With some remaining teeth, to chew your meat.
474     "Nor is this all; for, when retir'd, you think
475To sleep securely, when the candles wink;
476When ev'ry door with iron chains is barr'd,
477And roaring taverns are no longer heard;
478The ruffian robbers, by no justice aw'd,
479And unpaid cut-throat soldiers are abroad.
480Those venal souls, who harden'd in each ill
481To save complaints and persecution, kill.
482Chas'd from their woods and bogs the padders come
483To this vast city, as their native home;
484To live at ease, and safely skulk in Rome.
485     "The forge in fetters only is employ'd;
486Our iron mines exhausted and destroy'd
487In shackles; for these villains scarce allow
488Goads for the teams, and ploughshares for the plough.
489Oh happy ages of our ancestors,
491One jail did all their criminals restrain;
492Which, now, the walls of Rome can scarce contain.
493     "More I could say, more causes I could show
494For my departure; but the sun is low:
495The wagoner grows weary of my stay;
496And whips his horses forwards on their way.
497     "Farewell; and when, like me, o'erwhelm'd with care
499To take a mouthful of sweet country air,
500Be mindful of your friend; and send me word,
501What joys your fountains and cool shades afford:
502Then, to assist your satires, I will come;
503And add new venom, when you write of Rome."


1] Dryden was an accomplished and prolific translator of classical texts, especially of the major Latin poets; his translation of Virgil (1697) is well-known. In the years after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when he lost his official posts of Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal because of his continued loyalty to the ousted James II, translations were a significant source of income for him. That they were so marks a development of the book market: the presence of "mere English readers," many of them women, who knew no Latin and Greek, but who wished to become acquainted with the acknowledged masterpieces of the past. In 1693 Dryden published a new translation of the poems of Juvenal and Persius, prefaced by an extensive and influential "Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire." His translation of Juvenal's third satire is vigorous and idiomatic. He had clearly read the Imitation of this satire by John Oldham, published ten years earlier, and he borrows phrases from it here and there. Comparison of these two poems makes clear what Dryden meant by his distinction between "paraphrase" and "imitation." The former renders the original as faithfully as the requirements of verse and English idiom permit, the latter updates the original by applying its topics to modern life. Dryden's Juvenal was an important item in the small personal library of the young Samuel Johnson, whose London is another imitation of Juvenal's third satire. One of the features of Dryden's Juvenal is the addition of explanatory notes for the benefit of readers who had not had a classical education. Dryden's notes to Juvenal III are given here, identified by the initial "D." Parallel texts (Latin and English translation) of Juvenal's poem (with notes) are available on-line at In book form, the new edition in parallel Latin and English texts in the Loeb Classical Library, Juvenal and Persius, edited and translated by Susanna Morton Braund (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2004) is recommended.The standard edition of Dryden is the California edition of The Works of John Dryden, ed. H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., et al; the Juvenal appears in volume 4, Poems 1693-1696, ed. A. B. Chambers, William Frost, and Vinton A. Dearing. Back to Line
3] Cumae: "a small city in Campania, near Puteoli, or Puzzolo, as it is called. The habitation of the Cumaean Sybil." (D.) Campania is the district around Naples in southern Italy. The Cumaean Sibyl (the accepted modern spelling) was a prophetess inspired by the god Apollo, famous for her great age. Back to Line
6] Baiae: "another little town in Campania, near the sea: a pleasant place." (D.) Back to Line
8] Prochyta: "a small barren island belonging to the kingdom of Naples." (D.) Back to Line
14] padders: street robbers, muggers. Back to Line
15] in dog-days: "the poets in Juvenal's time used to rehearse their poetry in August." (D.) Back to Line
19] Conduit Gate: the scene is set outside the gate known as the Porta Capena, which opened onto the Appian Way, the main road to southern Italy; an aqueduct ran above it. Back to Line
20] Numa: "the second king of Rome [715-672 BCE]; who made their laws, and instituted their religion." (D.) Back to Line
21] nymph: "Aegeria, a nymph, or goddess, with whom Numa feigned to converse by night; and to be instructed by her in modelling his superstitions." (D.) Back to Line
23] Jews: banished from the city of Rome by the emperor Domitian. Back to Line
45] Dedalus: "meaning, at Cumae." (D.) When the famous inventor and his son Icarus flew away from Crete on wings on which feathers were attached by wax, Icarus flew too close to the sun, causing the wax on his wings to melt, with fatal effect, but his father landed successfully near Cumae. Back to Line
49] Lachesis: "one of the three Destinies, whose office was to spin the life of every man; as it was of Clotho to hold the distaff, and Atropos to cut the thread." (D.) Back to Line
52] Arturius: "any debauched and wicked fellow who gains by the times." (D.) Back to Line
56] oppress the poor/ By farm'd excise: Dryden here inserts a reference to contemporary England; a contractor would buy for cash from the government the right to collect excise taxes, keeping the difference between the amount paid and the amount raised by tax collection, an obvious invitation to oppress taxpayers. Back to Line
57] common-shore: open sewer. Back to Line
58] rent the fishery: another reference to contemporary England; Juvenal lists various more or less unsavoury types of public works contracts that might be exploited for gain, some without equivalents in Dryden's England. bear the dead: i.e., to the place of burial. Back to Line
68] thumbs bent back: "in a prize of sword-players, when one of the fencers had the other at his mercy, the vanquished party implored the clemency of the spectators. If they thought he deserved it not, they held up their thumbs and bent them backwards, in sign of death." (D.) Back to Line
70] jakes: a privy (and what is deposited there). Back to Line
80] canting: exploiting a particular jargon, here, that of astrology. Back to Line
87] member: limb. Back to Line
95] Verres: "praetor in Sicily, contemporary with Cicero; by whom accused of oppressing the province, he was condemned. His name is used here for any rich vicious man." (D.) Back to Line
97] Tagus: "a famous river in Spain, which discharges itself into the ocean near Lisbon in Portugal. It was held of old, to be full of golden sands." (D.) Back to Line
110] Orontes: "the greatest river of Syria; the poet here puts the river for the inhabitants of Syria." (D.) Back to Line
111] Tiber: the river on which Rome stands. Back to Line
117] mitre: "an Asian headdress, the wearing of which by men was regarded by the Greeks and Romans as a mark of effeminacy" (Oxford English Dictionary). Back to Line
118] Romulus: "first king of Rome; son of Mars, as the poets feign; the first Romans were originally herdsmen." (D.) Back to Line
121] horrid: standing on end. Back to Line
122] Stilling: exuding. Back to Line
126] A representative selection of place names from the Greek world (Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor). Back to Line
129] purchase: buy landed estates, the hallmark of the gentry in Dryden's England. Back to Line
130] denizen'd: naturalized. Back to Line
143] that town: "he means Athens; of which, Pallas the goddess of arts and arms was patroness." (D.) Back to Line
158] treads: mates with the hens. Back to Line
163] All female parts were played by male actors in the Roman theatre. Back to Line
167] Antiochus, Stratocles: "two famous Grecian mimics, or actors, in the poet's time." (D.) Back to Line
179] on the square: on equal terms. Back to Line
198] A rigid Stoic: "Publius Ignatius, a Stoic, falsely accused Bareas Soranus, as Tacitus tells us." (D.) Bareas was the patron and pupil in philosophy of his accuser; see Tacitus, Annals, 16: 21-33. Back to Line
202] the gown: the toga, formal dress of the Roman governing class, who are said to be in thrall to the immigrant Greeks in humbler dress, who have no official status. Back to Line
203] Diphilus, Protogenes: "were Grecians living in Rome." (D.) These are representative Greek names. Back to Line
206] bubble: dupe. Back to Line
216] That is, all the officials who ought to be transacting business indoors at their morning levees are racing through the streets in order to compete against other in paying social visits to wealthy childless women. Back to Line
219] praetor: a senior magistrate, preceded through the streets of Rome by two lictors, officers carrying the fasces, symbolic of the praetor's authority. Back to Line
226] half a brace: just one. tribune: Juvenal's Latin indicates that a military tribune is meant; a senior officer in a Roman legion, usually a person of established social position. bouts: sexual encounters. Back to Line
230] the chair: in which she sat to attract customers, and from which she stepped down only when a satisfactory price for her services had been offered. Back to Line
232] Numa: see above, l. 20 note. Numa's wife: Dryden's addition, perhaps on the analogy of Caesar's wife; she is not mentioned by Juvenal. Back to Line
233] him: "Lucius Metellus, the high priest; who when the temple of Vesta was on fire, saved the Palladium [statue of Pallas Athene]." (D.) Back to Line
262] happy punks: fortunate prostitutes. Back to Line
266] Roscian Law: "Roscius a tribune, who ordered the distinction of places in public shows, betwixt the noblemen of Rome and the plebeians." (D.) Not to be confused with the famous actor named Roscius. Back to Line
270] the judging chair: Roman magistrates were officially seated in curule chairs made of ivory. Back to Line
271] Juvenal says simply that the poor would be wise to leave Rome; Dryden, following the standard commentaries on Juvenal, elaborates this into a reference to the events of 496 BCE, when the plebeians, enraged by their treatment at the hands of the patricians, left Rome and set up camp on the nearby Mons Sacer. They returned when the patricians agreed to the institution of the two tribunes of the people. Back to Line
284] "The meaning is, that men in some parts of Italy never wore a gown (the usual habit of the Romans) till they were buried in one." (D.) By "gown" Dryden means the toga. Back to Line
289] mimic: actor, performer. Back to Line
302] Cossus: "here taken for any great man." (D.) Back to Line
310] cracknels: hard biscuits, usually dish-like in shape (since the page-boy is young, this sweetmeat makes a suitable bribe). But as the next line indicates, the boy does not eat them, but sells them; what he gets in this way, added to "offerings" (tips), increases the "vails" (income from gratuities) that he makes from his position in the great man's household. Back to Line
325] lumber: old furniture. The poor have so little that little labour is needed to remove it. Back to Line
329] A garret was the uppermost level of a house reached by a staircase; the cock-loft above was reached by a ladder. Back to Line
330] "The Romans used to breed their tame pigeons in their garrets." (D.) Back to Line
332] Codrus: "a learned man, very poor; by his books supposed to be a poet. For, in all probability, the heroic verses here mentioned which rats and mice devoured, were Homer's works." (D.) Back to Line
336] plate: ironic, since all the listed items are made of clay, not of silver or pewter, the usual materials of tableware referred to collectively as "plate." Back to Line
337] Chiron: a centaur famous for his learning and skill in instruction, accidentally but fatally wounded by Hercules. Back to Line
346] Arturius: another imagined representative of the arrogance of wealth. Back to Line
354] Parian stone: marble. Back to Line
355] Polyclete: Polycleitus, a famous Greek sculptor of the third century BCE, whose work is now known only through many copies made by the Romans. Back to Line
357] Pallas to the breast: i.e., a bust of Pallas. Back to Line
364] play-house: in Juvenal, the chariot races. Back to Line
373] a Pythagorean treat: "he means herbs, roots, fruits, and salads" (D.), the diet recommended by the philosopher Pythagoras. Back to Line
386] Drusus: probably a reference to the emperor Claudius (41-54), one of whose names was Drusus, and who was notoriously somnolent. Back to Line
392] press: crowd. Back to Line
395] shoal: crowd. Back to Line
396] chairman's pole: one of the two long poles by which a sedan chair was carried by two men. Dryden substitutes a modern sedan chair for the litter (portable couch) of the ancient world. Back to Line
400] doles: meals served out of doors by Roman social organizations to their members. Back to Line
402] Dutch kitchens: Dutch ovens, metal pots for roasting meat. Back to Line
404] Corbulo: "a famous general in Nero's time, who conquered Armenia, and was afterwards put to death by that tyrant, when he was in Greece, in reward of his great services. His stature was not only tall, above the ordinary size; but he was also proportionably strong." (D.) Back to Line
407] botching: careless mending (which makes them more liable to tear again). Back to Line
421] rubbers: towels. Back to Line
425] ferryman: "Charon the ferry-man of Hell, whose fare was a half-penny [two farthings] for every soul." (D.) Charon ferried the souls of the dead across the river Styx, which encircled Hades nine times around. Souls who arrived without an obol, the small coin Dryden equates to a halfpenny, could not be transported across the river for 100 years. Back to Line
431] potsherds: bits of broken pottery. Back to Line
432] ware: clay pots. Back to Line
440] scouring: moving through the streets looking for trouble. Back to Line
443] friend: "the friend of Achilles was Patroclus, who was slain by Hector." (D.) See Homer, Iliad, Book XVI. Back to Line
469] lays me on: attacks me with blows. Back to Line
470] Before the bar: into court (having beaten you, the assailant sues you for assault). Back to Line
490] "Rome was originally ruled by kings; till for the rape of Lucretia, Tarquin the proud was expelled. After which it was governed by two consuls, yearly chosen: but they oppressing the people, the commoners mutinied, and procured tribunes to be created, who defended their privileges, and often opposed the consular authority, and the Senate." (D.) See above, lines 271-4, note. Back to Line
498] Aquinum: "the birthplace of Juvenal, in the country not far from Rome." (D.) Back to Line
Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
John D. Baird
RPO Edition
Special Copyright

Original text copyright©2009, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto
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