Satirical poems of Walter of Chatillon

translated by Robert Levine

(c. 1134 - 1200?) Best know for his epic, the Alexandreis, Walter of Chatillon also composed lyrical, moral, and satirical poems (see the editions by K. Strecker, Berlin 1925, and Heidelberg 1929). The ones translated below were composed in four-line stanzas; the first lines of each stanza are in rhythmic verse and the fourth is usually a line of classic, quantitative verse, taken from Horace, Juvenal, Ovid, or another standard author in the medieval curriculum.

Poem 4

 

Stulti cum prudentibus currunt ad coronam,

Juvenalis autumnant sumere personam;

set cum bene noverim Pallada patronam,

semper ego auditor tantum, nunquamne reponam?

Quando cibus deficit animabus brutis,

mugiendo postulant cibum sue salutis;

set est michi resonans vocibus argutis

fistula disparibus septem compacta cicutis. 8

Festis bacularibus interesse minimus

volo, quia nequeo magnus, maior, maximus;

derogare vitiis omnibus est animus,

et nos ergo manum ferule subduximus.

Cum videam reprobos opibus affluere,

dominari vitia, virtutes succumbere,

vilipendi feminas, viros autem nubere,

difficile nobis est satiram non scribere. 16

Spargat ergo primitus sua Clio jacula

in illos, quos operit pastoralis infula;

nam ab illis omnibus, quid irem per singula? --

defluit in subditos vitiorum macula.

Ecce sponsi comites vendunt sponse dotes,

furantur in cacabo carnem sacerdotes.

Si spectes medullitus, si rem bene notes,

Christum vendunt hodie novi Scariotes. 24

Jam prorsus obsolvit usus largiendi

prebendas, altaria, que non solent vendi;

versa est in habitum, cupido tenendi;

temprore crevit amor, qui nunc est summus, habendi.

Studet presul pretiis et archilevita,

vivens solitarius cenat heremita.

Morerentur utinam hi, qui vivunt ita!

Felices obeunt, quorum sine crimine vita. 32

Vis decanus fieri, presul, patriarcha?

Auri multa tibi sit vel argenti marca.

Tantum habet fidei teste manu parca,

quantum quisque sua nummorum servat in arca.

In quo mundi climate, sub quo celi signo

est abbas vel pontifex pectore benigno,

dignus Christi nuptiis, dignus vite ligno?

Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cigno! 40

Ut Judeis odio sunt carnes suille,

sic in his extincte sunt virtutum scintille:

hic vacat libidini, gule servit ille.

Credite me vobis folium recitare Sibille.

Omnes avaritia mentibus imbutis

in nummo constituunt spem sue salutis;

nolunt dici prodigi rebus dissolutis;

fallit enim vitium specie virtutis. 48

A prelatis defluunt vitiorum rivi,

et tantum pauperibus irascuntur divi;

impletur versiculus illius lascivi:

quidquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.

Vos ergo cum talia, presules, agatis,

de future gaudio vite desperatis

illudque Lucanicum mente pertractatis:

Tolle moras, semper nocuit differre paratis. 56

Parochiam contrahit lege matrimonii

sacerdos a presule, set nummi sunt medii,

nam si nummus deficit et tumor marsupii,

dabit ei pontifex libellum repudii.

Set neque presbiteros decet excusari,

quos cum suis ovibus constat inquinari,

unde quosdam contigit vel ementulari

vel perimi, quotiens voluit fortuna iocari.64

Mundus nummo deditus sequitur hunc morem,

ut tanto quis iudicet quemque digniorem,

illum quanto noverit esse ditiorem:

O nummi, nummi, vobis hunc prestat honorem.

Quanto plura possidet, quanto plus ditescit,

tanto magis locuples, sitit et ardescit;

nam sicut ydropicus, qui semper arescit,

crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crescit.72

Nullis avaritia rebus erubescit,

ex hac vis libidinis derivata crescit,

nam cum semel opibus dives intumescit,

inguinis et capitis que sunt discrimina nescit.

Florebant antiquitus artium doctores,

nunc acquirunt redditus auri possessores,

quia, sicut exprimunt versibus auctores,

in pretio pretium nunc est, dat census honores. 80

Nescit mundus compati, nescit condolere

mendicanti Palladi, que solet vigere,

nam si nummo careas, foras expellere,

ipse licet venias musis comitatus, Homere.

Axis magisterii fractus est et temo,

audiri si cupiam, auditores emo;

hoc est, unde conqueror, hoc est, unde gemmo:

scire volunt omnes, mercedem solvere nemo. 88

Senes avaritie sunt imbuti felle,

odor lucri pueris dulcior est melle;

nolle pudicitiam, nummos autem velle,

hoc omnes discunt ante alpha et beta puelle.

Si recte de vitio vitium derives,

si de gestis consulas Athenarum cives,

inter actus seculi pravos et declives

intolerabilius nichil est quam femina dives. 96

Hoc idcirco dixerim, ne quis sine macula

feminas existimet, quarum lingue iacula,

fascinantes oculi, digita novacula.

Set a diverticulo repetatur fabula.

Filii nobilium dum sunt iuniores,

mittuntur in Franciam fieri doctores,

quos prece vel precio domant corruptores;

sic pretextatos referunt Artaxata mores.104

Mores habet barbaris, Latinus et Grecus,

sic sacerdos ut plebs est, cecum ducit cecus,

se mares effeminant et equa fit equus,

expectes ab homine hoc usque ad pecus.

Et quia non metuunt anime discrimen,

principes in habitum verterunt hoc crimen,

virum viro turpiter iungit novus hymen,

exagitata procul non intrat femina limen.112

Unum est pre ceteris, quod cuncti mirantur,

quod vix hi, qui largi sunt, vel numquam ditantur;

si forte divitie largis sociantur,

non bene conveniunt nec in una sede morantur.

Esto fur vel proditor, Verres sive Graccus,

deus reputaberis ut Thebarum Baccus;

esto Cato moribus, scientia Flaccus:

duceris planta velud ictus ab Hercule Cacus.120

Both the wise men and the fool race for the crown, believing that they can play the part of Juvenal, but shall I, whose patron is Pallas, always listen and never reply? When brutebeasts lack food, they ask for food by making noise, hoping to be saved; but I make music on the reed composed of seven pipes of different lengths with its bright voices. (Vergil Ecl 2.36) I have no wish to concern myself with festive sceptres, because I am unable to become big, bigger, biggest; I intend to attack all vices, and submit the hand to the rod. (Juvenal 1.15) When I see criminals flourishing with wealth, vices winning out and virtues losing, women despised and men marrying men, it is difficult not to write satire. (Juv 1.20) Let Clio then fire the darts against those who are covered by the shepherd's fillet, for from them -- why must I give all the details? -- the filthy vices --> -- flow down to those under them. Lo the companions of the bridegroom sell the --> -- dowry of the bride, and the priests steal the meat in the pot. If you look deeply, if you pay close attention, the new Iscariots sell Christ daily. Now the practice of bribery is destroying churches and church revenues, which in the past were not for sale; the desire for property has made this now habitual; love of owning, which is now at its height, has grown with time. (Fasti 1.195) The bishop and the archdeacon are eager for rewards, while the eremite dines alone. May they die who live in such manner! The blessed resist, whose lives are without spot. Do you wish to become a deacon, priest, or patriarch? May you have much gold or many silver marks, since each man's faith is measured by how many coins each keeps in his coffers. (Juvenal 3.143) In what climate of the world, under what celestial sign is there an abbot or archbishop with a gentle soul, worthy to be married to Christ, worthy of the staff of life? A rare bird, like a black swan on earth! (Juvenal 6.165) As pig flesh is hateful to the Jews, so are the sparks of virtue extinguished among these men; one man spends his time in lust, another in gluttony. Believe me, I am reciting to you the Sybiline text. (Juvenal 8.126) All those whose minds are stained with avarice place hope for their salvation in money; they do not wish to be called prodigal by wasting their resources. (Horace Sat 1.2.4) Wearing the shape of virtue, vice is deceptive. Rivers of vices flow from the priests, and the Gods are angry only at poor men; the playful verse is fulfilled, "whatever their kings do, the Greeks suffer for it." (Horace Ep.1.2.14) Therefore you priests, when you do these things, you despair of the joy of the future life, and you should think about this line of Lucan: "Procrastination is always dangerous once a man is ready to act." (Lucan i.281 and 6.14.4) The priest takes the parish, by the law of marriage, from the bishop, but money is the intermediary, for if money and a swelling purse are lacking, the archbishop will issue a bill of divorce. Nor should the priests who are known to have befouled both themselves and their flocks be spared, but they should be castrated or destroyed, whenever Fortune wishes to dispose of them. (Juvenal 3.40) Devoted to money, the world follows this custom: the more a man is known to be wealthy, the more he is judged worthy. O money, money,

it is to thee he pays this honor. (Juvenal 5.136) The more he has, the wealthier he grows, the more he thirsts and burns for opulence. Like an hydroptic, who is always thirsty, the love of money grows as the amount of money possessed grows. Avarice blushes at nothing, but, derived from it, the power of lust grows, for the rich man swells together with his wealth, and cannot tell his loins from his head. Doctors of the arts flourished in ancient times, but now possessors of gold acquire revenue because, as the ancients have put it in verse, "now the prize is in money, and property gives honors." (Fasti 1.217) The world does not know how to pity or to console one who begs for Pallas, who should thrive, for, if you have no money, you will be thrown out, even if you, Homer, arrived, accompanied by the Muses. (Walt 8.16.3) The tutor's axle and pole are broken, and if I wish to be heard, I buy listeners; this is what I am complaining about, this is what I groan about: "everyone wants to know, but no one wants to pay the price." (Juvenal 7.157) Old men are soaked in the poison of avarice, and for boys the smell of money is sweeter than honey; "before they learn their alphabet, all girls learn" to despise modesty and to prefer money. If you correctly derive "defect" from "vice" (de vitio vitium), if you consult the Athenians for examples, among the depraved and disgraceful events in this world, "nothing is more intolerable than a rich woman." (Juvenal 6.460) For this reason I should speak, lest any think that spotless women exist, whose tongues are spears, whose eyes are magical charms, whose fingers are knives. But, after this detour, let us take up the tale again. (Juvenal 15.724) When they are young, the sons of aristocrats are sent to France, to become doctors; there, by prayer or by reward, there are enslaved by corruptors, and they bring back to Armenia Roman behavior. (Juvenal 2.170) Barbarians, Romans and Greeks behaved this way -- you might think that the end has come -- the people imitate the behavior of the priests, the blind lead the blind, men become women, stallions become mares, and women have been thrust out, far from the sacred threshhold (Juvenal 1.14). And because they do not fear the threat to their souls, princes

turn this criminal act into habitual behavior. The latest fashion joins one man foully to another in marriage, and women, driven off, may not enter the home. One thing is more remarkable than all the other: those who are generous are scarcely ever rich; if by chance riches and generosity come together, they don't get along well together, nor do they remain in the same place. (Ovid, Met. 2.846 and Walt 6.13.4) Whether you are a thief or a traitor, a Verres or a Gracchus, you will be considered a God, like Theban Bacchus; if you are a Cato in behavior, a Horace in wisdom, you will be dragged by the heels, as Cacus was by Hercules.

Poem 5

Multiformis hominum fraus et iniustitia,

letalis ambitio, furtum, lenocinia

cogunt, ut sic ordiar conversus ad vitia:

quis furor, o cives, que tanta licentia

Luxus, avaritia, gloria macelli,

infamis concubitus patrantris ocelli,

quicquid agunt homines animo rebelli,

gaudia, discursus nostri farrago libelli. 8

Tot sordes luxurie, mundi tot tumultus

tot inmutant species, tot assumunt cultus,

ut iam dicat aliquis animo consultus:

'quo teneam nodo mutantem Prothea vultus?'

Cum mundum intuear sordis fluxu mersum

et nature penitus ordinem perversum

et hunc a principibus in vulgus dispersum:

si natura negat, facit indignatio versum. 16

In primis pontifices et prelatos noto,

nam iste grex hominum canone remoto

totus est in poculis, totus lucri voto

estuat et vite disconvenit ordine toto.

Heu quam nugatorii presules moderni'

dici debent potius pretores Averni

vel spretores melius iudicis eterni.

potores bibuli media de nocte Falerni. 24

Dic papa, dic pontifex, spes sponsi, sponse dos,

cur mores redarguis et sermones fedos,

cum sis peior pessimis, hedus inter hedos,

inter Socraticos notissima fossa cinedos!

Roma datis opibus in tumorem crescit

et, quo plus infuderis, magis intumescit;

nam sicut Oracii versus innotescit,

sincerum nisi vas, quodcumque infundis, acescit. 32

Roma solvit nuptias contra nutum dei,

pervertit iudicium, fovet partem rei.

pretiosa quelibet famulantur ei,

Inida mittit ebur, molles sua thura Sabei.

Roma metit omnia quadam falce manuum,

accipit ab omnibus, nulli reddit mutuum;

de te, Roma, sonuit illud non ambiguum;

alterius siccas pocula, nemo tuum. 40

Eligendi praesulis quotiens fit mentio,

in primis requiritur, cum quanto marsupio

interesse poterit Romano concilio,

et ita de moribus ultima fit questio.

Proh si scires, quanta sit vanitas claustralium,

quam duri, quam dispares vite precedentium!

Ex ipsis coniceres finem rerum omnium,

quoniam iam caritas refrigescit plurium. 48

Cenobita quilibet vivit dissolutus,

effrons, nec iam loquitur signo vel per nutus;

nam in claustris, ubi grex solet esse mutus,

vivitur ex rapto, non hospes ab hospite tutus.

Iam plus equo satagit Martha sive Lia,

minus equo nititur Rachel et Maria;

nulla partem eligit meliorem, quia

ieiune deficiunt pariter in via. 56

Quis nunc imitator est illius Johannis,

cuis erat tegimen cameli pro pannis,

epulum silvestre mel, potus purus amnis?

Laudamus veteres, set nostris utimur annis.

Clerus, qui sors Domini vocati deberet,

hic est, cui precipue sordis fex adheret;

vox ergo prophetica locum nunc haberet;

omnne caput languidum et omne cor meret. 64

Qui sunt, qui ecclesiam vendunt et mercantur?

Qui sunt fornicarii, qui sunt, qui mechantur,

qui naturam transvolant et abhominantur?

Qui sunt hi? Clerici, -- ne longe exempla petantur.

Clamabat decalogus, ne quis peieraret,

ne quis adulterium furtumve patraret,

set Naso prevalet, a quo dictum claret:

Jupiter esse pium statuit, quodcumque iuvaret. 72

Quid mirum, si tendimus homines ad imum?

Humus humum sapere debet, limus limum.

imitemur igitur hec dicentem mimum:

O cives, cives, querenda pecunia primum.

Si vis esse mundo te gratum et benignum

et ferre pre aliis triumphale signum,

si vis esse locuples, opus fac malignum,

aude aliquid brevibus Giaris et carcere dignum. 80

Set ne vos detineam per ambages multas,

fere mentes omnium vitio sepultas

demolitur, allicit, reddit inconsultas

ambitus et luxus et opum metuenda faculatas.

Ab istis excipitur solus hic Fulmarus,

larga manu fulgurat, genere preclarus;

solus inter avidos vivit non avarus,

inde manu fulgens vel avari fulgor amarus. 88

Mos Fulmari precipit locum dare vago,

nam Fulmaro displicet avari vorago;

Fulmarum largificat nobilis propago,

si genus arguitur vultu, nisi fallit ymago.

Ergo manu dapsili fulgurans, Fulmare,

ne permittas peditem me repatriare

...........................

magnus eris, si me bipedem scis quadrupedare. 96

Divites in facinus omnes dissoluti

tanquam idem reputant uti vel abuti;

hii sunt, quorum intima non respondent cuti,

nam semper agitant nunc de virtute locuti.

Cum se locus obtulit, ut ocultis vacent,

tractant de Taydibus, de Sabinis tacent;

cum latenter hic vel hec vel hec et hic iacent,

carnis ad officium carnea membra placent. 104

De futura divitum gloria diffido,

quos ad mortem vulnerat hic et hec cupido;

in secreto lusitant Aeneas et Dido,

irruit in vetitum dampni secura libido.

The diverse kinds of human fraud, injustice, deadly ambition, theft, flattery, compel me, a monk, to address the vices: what madness, o citizens, what license! (Lucan 1.8) Pomp, avarice, the glory of the meat-market, the infamous intercourse of the lascivious eye (Persius 1.18), whatever pleasures men with rebellious souls pursue make up the mixture which is our book. (Juvenal 1.85) So many foul extravagances, so much disturbance in the world, so many changes of shapes, so many styles, that one might safely say, "in what noose may I hold the changing, Protean shape?" (Horace, Ep.1.1.90) When I see the world submerged in a foul flux, and the natural order profoundly perverted, and I see this condition spread from the leaders to the people, then even if I had no natural ability, anger alone would produce my verse. First I shall describe the bishops and prelates, for this flock of men, having put aside the law, have devoted themselves entirely to drink and money, and lead entirely disorderly lives (Horace Ep 1.1.99). Alas what triflers our modern bishops are! They should rather be called magistrates of hell, or, better still, scorners of eternal judgement, drunk on Phalernian wine in the middle of the night. (Ep 1.18.91) Tell me, Pope, bishop, hope of the bridgegroom, dowry of the bride, why do you attack foul behavior and speech, when you are worse than the worst, a goat among the goats, the best known vagina among the Socratic sodomites? (Juvenal 2.10) Laden with gifts, the Roman tumor swells, and the more is poured into you, the more it swells; as the Horatian verses indicate, "unless the cup is pure, whatever is poured into it becomes sour." (Epist 1.2.54) Rome dissolves marriages against God's assent, perverts justice, takes the side of the guilty, every extravagance is served up to you, India sends ivory, and the soft Sabei send their incense(Georg.1.57). Rome reaps everything with the scythe of its hands, takes from everyone and gives nothing in exchange; this line, Rome, clearly applies to you: "You drink the goblets of othersdry, but no one does the same for yours." (Anthy Lat) When it comes to choosing bishops, the first requirement stipulated by the Roman council is a sizeable purse, while the last question asked is about the man's moral behavior. Oh, if you only knew the vanity of monks, and how harshly different were the lives of those who preceded them! From watching today's monks you would infer that the end of all things has come, since the love of many has grown cold (Mathew 24.12). Monks now live a dissolute life, shameless, nor do they now speak only by sign or gesture; in the cloisters, where the flock used to be silent, each lives by plundering, and no guest is safe from another guest (Met 1.144, part of the description of the age of bronze). Now what Martha or Leah do is more valued, while what Rachel and Maria do is valued less. Neither choosesthe better part, because the hungry faint in the way.(Matthew 15.32) Who now models himself upon that John whose raiment was of camel's hair, whose meat was wild honey, andwhose drink was river water? (Matthew 3.4) Let us praise the ancients, but make use of our years. (Fasti 1.225) The cleric, who should be called the Lord's child, instead is the one to whom the dregs of filth cling; here is the place for the prophetic utterance, "the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint (Isaiah 1.5)." Who are these who are buying and selling the church? Who are the fornicators, who are they who commit adultery, who abominably fly beyond nature? Who are they? Clerics, one need not look very far for examples. (Lucan 1.94) The ten commandments declared that one should not bear false witness, nor commit adultery, nor steal, but Naso was correct, when he explained, "For Jove has allowed as lawful whatever breeds delight." (Heroides 4.133) How then can it be surprising if we men tend towards the depths (Horace AP 378)? Earth must touch earth, clay must touch clay. Let us therefore imitate the poet, who said this: "O citizens, citizens, money must be sought first." (Horace Ep.1.1.53) If you wish to be comfortable and happy in the world, to triumph over others, if you wish tobe wealthy, do something terrible, do something worth being imprisoned for on Giaris. (Juvenal 1.73)But, lest I detain you with my circumlocutions, ambition and pomp and the frightening power of wealth (Lucan 4.817) destroy men's minds, enticing them and making them behave stupidly. Fulmar alone is an exception, shining with generosity, nobly born; alone among the greedy, he lives without avarice, brilliantly generous, a bitter splendor to the miser. Fulmar's behavior teaches one to show courtesy to a vagabond, for the miser's abyss is displeasing to Fulmar; the noble breed makes Fulmar generous (largificat), "if lineage may be inferred from features, unless appearance deceives me." (Fasti 2.397) Therfore, Fulmar, with your generous hand prevent me from returning on foot to my native land.......you will be great if you know me, with my two feet, to travel on four. All wealthy menhave dissolved in crime, as though they thought use and abuse thesame thing; they are people whose insides do not match their outsides, who are always thrusting forward, while speaking of virtue. (Juvenal 2.20, on pederasts) When an opportunity presented itself to pursue secret affairs, they turn to Thais's and are silent about the Sabines; when he or she or she or he lie in hiding, they pleasure their fleshly members in carnal offices. I despair of the future glory of rich men, whom this or that desire has wounded to death; Dido and Aeneas play in secret, "heedless of loss, passion plunges into forbidden joys." (Claudian, Eutrop 2.52)

Poem 6

Missus sum in vineam circa horam nonam,

suam quisque nititur vendere personam;

ergo quia cursitant omnes ad coronam,

semper ego auditor tantum, nunquamne reponam?

Rithmis dum lascivio versus dum propino,

rodit forsan aliquis dente me canino,

quia nec afflatus sum pneumate divino

neque labra prolui fonte caballino. 8

Licet autem proferam verba parum culta

et a mente prodeant satis inconsulta.

licet enigmatica non sint vel occulta,

est quodam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra.

Cur sequi vestigia veterum refutem,

adipisci rimulis corporis salutem,

impleri divitiis et curare cutem?

Quod decuit magnos, cur michi turpe putem? 16

Qui virtutes appetit, labitur in imum,

querens sapientiam irruit in limum;

imitemur igitur hec dicentem mimum;

o cives, cives, querenda pecunia primum.

Hec est, que in sinodis confidendo tonat,

in electionibus prima grande sonat;

intronizat presules, dites impersonat:

et genus et formam regina pecunia donat. 24

Adora pecuniam, qui deos adoras:

cur struis armaria, cur libros honoras?

Longas fac Parisius vel Athenis moras:

si nichil attuleris, ibis, Homere foras.

Disputet philosophus vacuo cratere,

sciat, quia minus est scire quam habere;

nam si pauper fueris, foras expellere,

ipse licet venias musis comitatus, Homere. 32

Sciat artes aliquis, sit auctorum plenus,

quid prodest, si vixerit pauper et egenus?

Illinc cogit nuditas vacuumque penus,

hinc usura vorax avidumque in tempore fenus.

Si Joseph in vinculis Christum prefigurat,

so tot plagis Pharao durum cor indurat,

si filiis Israel exitus obturat:

quid valet hec genesis, si paupertas iecur urat? 40

Quid ad rem, si populus sitit ante flumen,

si montis ascenderit Moyses cacumen

et si archam federis obumbravit numen?

Malo saginatas carnes quam triste legumen.

Illud est, cur odiens studium repellam

paupertatem fugiens vitamque misellam;

quis ferret vigilias frigidamque cellam?

Tutius est iacuisse thoro, tenuisse puellam. 48

Quidam de scientia tantum gloriantur

et de pede Socratis semper cornicantur

et dicunt, quod opes his, qui philosophantur,

non bene conveniunt nec in una sede morantur.

Idcirco divitias forsan non amatis,

ut eternam postmodum vitam capiatis.

Heu mentes perdite! numquid ignoratis,

quod semper multum nocuit differre paratis? 58

Si pauper Diogenes fuit huius sortis,

si Socrates legitur sic fuisse fortis.

Juvenalis extitit magister cohortis

marmoreisque satur iacuit Lucanus in hortis.

Heu quid confert pauperi nobilis propago?

Quid Tityrus patula recubans sub fago?

Ego magis approbo rem, de qua nunc ago;

nam sine divitiis vita est quasi mortis imago. 64

Semper habet comitem paupertas merorem,

perdit fructum Veneris et amoris florem,

quia iuxta nobilem versificatorem

non habet unde suum paupertas pascat amorem.

Adde, quod superbia sequitur doctores,

inflati scientia respuunt minores;

ergo sic impletum est, quod dicunt auctores:

inquinat egregios adiuncta superbia mores. 72

Audi, qui de Socrate disputas et scribis,

miser, vaca potius potibus et cibis;

quod si dives fieri noles vel nequibis,

inter utrumque tene, medio tutissimus ibis.

Statim ut inceperit quid philosophari,

inflatur occursibus amat salutari,

letatur ab omnibus locum sibi dari

et cathedras primas, et doctor ubique vocari. 80

Loquitur sublimia, se prebet acerbum,

mox dilatat fimbrias, manifestat limbum

subiectis, set audiat sapientis verbum:

desine grande loqui, frangit deus omne superbum.

Velut alter igitur Censorinus Cato

eructat parabolas sermone cribrato,

de corde sententias nimium elato

eliquat ac tenero subplantat verba palato. 88

Stultus et sceintie cultu destitutus,

quibusdam panniculis verborum indutus

videri pre ceteris conatur astutus,

rancidulum quiddam balba de nare loqutus.

Exultans scematibus diversis ornari

se credit pre omnibus mira cornicari,

set auctorem noverit ista sibi fari:

metiri se quemque decet propriisque iuvari. 96

Quisquis est huismodi, non se diu fraudet,

desistat, qui talibus implicari gaudet,

sua semper negligat, aliena laudet;

quod natura negat, nemo feliciter audet.

Penas et supplicia supreme diei

ad mentes reducite, sancti fratres mei;

licet enim criminis simus omnes rei,

magna tamen spes est in bonitate dei. 104

I was sent into the vineyard around the ninth hour, Matthew 20.1) and each struggled to sell his own office (personam cf. 4.2); therefore since everyone is racing for the crown, (Corinth 1.9.24)shall I always be only a listener and never reply? (Juvenal 1.1) If I play with rhythmic verse some one may gnaw at me with dog's teeth, because I am not inspired by the divine breath, nor have I purified my lips with the fountain of Hippocrene. The words that I offer shall not be polished, and they proceed from an insufficiently trained mind. Although they are not recondite or difficult to understand, but, "it is worthwhile to take some steps forward, though we may not go still further." (Horace Ep 1.1.32) Why should I refuse to follow in the footsteps of the ancients, to gain the body's health, to become wealthy and look after my own skin. Why should I think vile what great men have thought fitting to do? (Ars AM 2.8.140) He who seeks out virtues slips into the depths, and he who seeks wisdom falls in slime. Therefore let us follow what the poet said: "O citizens, citizens, money is the first thing to be sought!" (Horace Ep. 1.1.53 and Walt 5.19.4) Money it is that makes the best sound in synods and in elections; it places priests on the throne, bestows benefices on rich men, and queen money grants nobility and beauty. (Horace Ep.1.6.37) Worship money, you who worship the gods; why do you build bookcases, why do you honor books? Stay for a long time in Paris or in Athens; if you bring nothing with you, Homer, you will be thrown out. (AA 2.280 and Walt 4.21.4)If the philosopher conducts his discourse with an empty cup, he will come to understand that knowing is less than owning; for should you be a pauper, you will be thrown out, even if you come, Homer, accompanied by the muses themselves. What good does it do a man to know the arts, to be well acquainted with the authorities, if he must live like a poor, needy man? Naked and hungry, he will be driven forth by insistent, devouring usury. If Joseph in chains prefigures Christ, if the Pharaoh's heart, hardened because of the many plagues, if he did not let the sons of Israel go, what is Genesis worth, if poverty burns the bowels? (Horace Sat 1.9.66) What does it matter that the people thirsted at the river, or that Moses climbed to the top of the mountain, or that the ark of the covenant reflects the divine will? I prefer the fattened flesh to the dreary bean. That is, why should I not reject hated study, flee poverty and the wretched life; who can bear remaining awake long hours in a cold cell? "It is far more satisfying to lie in bed, holding a girl." (Ovid Her 3.117) Those who glory only in knowledge, and are always crowing about Socrates' foot, and say that those who philosophize are wealthy, "they don't get along well together, nor do they remain in the same place." (Ovid Met 2.846, where it is maiestas and amor, and W 4.29.4) Perhaps you reject wealth for the sake of eternal life, ah, destroyed minds! Don't you know that, "Procrastination is always dangerous once a man is ready to act?"(Lucan 1.281 and Walt 4.14.4) If Diogenes and Socrates were poor and chose this life, yet a line of Juvenal stands out,let Lucan lie satisfied in his marble gardens (Juvenal 7.79, where Lucan is not satur, but contentus fama). Alas, what does the noble give to the poor man? What does Tityrus, lying under the spreading beech tree, give? I am more enthusiastic about what I am now doing; For without wealth life is like the image of death. (Cato) Poverty's companion is always sad, loses the fruit of Venusand the flower of love, because, according to the noble versifier, "his poverty does not have the means whereby to feed his love." (Ovid Rem 749) In addition, pride accompanies the learned, who, puffed up in their knowledge, despise their lessers; therefore it comes about that, as the authorities say: "The finest behavior is defiled if it is accompanied by pride." If a poor man comes from the noble race of giants, if he can calculate the path of the sun and of Saturn, his praise will be sung only by himself: what is glory worth if is only glory? Listen, you wretch, who argues and writes about Socrates, devote yourself instead to drink and food; if you do not wish or will be unable to become rich, hold to a middle path, where you will move more safely. (Met 2.140) (Six more stanzas printed in smaller type by Strecker): As soon as a man begins to philosophize, he loves to stride boastfully, greeting people in the streets, taking pleasure in the deference shown to him by everyone, in the chair reserved for him in church, and to be called "doctor" everywhere. Speaking of lofty matters, he grows hard, and soon he ostentatiously spreads the edges and fringes of his garments to those beneath him, but he should heed the word of the wise man: "Do not speak grandly, for God smashes all pride." (Prudentius Psych 285) Like another Cato the Censor, he pours forth parables in riddling speech, makes affected judgements, and minces his words on his delicate palate. Stupid and without learning, clothed in swollen words, he strives energetically to seem superior to others, "the stammer speaks stench from his nose." (Persius 1.33) Rejoicing in his ability to decorate with rhetorical schemes, he believes that his miraculous crowing is superior to all others, but he should familiarize himself with what this authority says: "each man should take measure of himself, and enjoy his own abilities." (Avian 5.1) Whoever behaves in this manner does not deceive himself long; he who takes pleasure in getting involved in such things always neglects his own affairs, and praises those of others; What nature denies, no one may dare to do happily. Call to mind, my holy brothers, the punishment and suffering of the Last Day; although we may all be guilty, God's goodness offers us great hope (Ovid Ex Pont 1.6.14)

Poem 7

 

Eliconis rivulo modice respersus vereor, ne pondere sim verborum mersus; set quoniam scriptitat mundus universus,

incipe Menalios mecum, mea tibia, versus.

Accusator criminum iudexque sedebo

omnium, que video fieri sub Phebo;

vitiosus siquidem vitia delebo,

munus et officium nil scribens ipse docebo. 8

Dicta fuit aurea vita proavorum,

quando nec simonia vendicabat chorum

nec regnabant scismata, set vi modernorum

effodiuntur opes irritamenta malorum.

Ecce papas geminos instruxere reges,

set cui adhereas, nescis, vel quem neges;

utrobique pullulat vitiorum seges,

amisse pereunt nullo discrimine leges. 16

Fortassis ecclesia non hunc iure repulit,

non hunc iure cathedra dignitatis extulit,

nam sepe, cum ratio male sibi consulit,

pro vitio virtus crimina sepe tulit.

A Christo neuter est forsitan electus,

neuter michi sufficit, uterque suspectus;

nescio, quis horum sit obliquus vel rectus,

in diversa trahunt unum duo nomina pectus. 24

Suam Christus vineam amodo non fodit,

illam vorat ambitus, illam scisma rodit;

sponsa Christi coniugis iussa non custodit,

sepe etenim mulier, quem coniunx diligit, odit.

Sponsa dicit aput se: 'Heu, quam diu teror!

quo me rapit impetus scismatis, quo feror?

Sponsum, per quem meus hic relevetur meror,

ultra promissum tempus abesse queror. 32

Hinc me Rheus opprimit, hinc Francorum chori,

dubito, cui debeam cedere favori;

veniat mors, veniat terminus merori:

impia quid dubitas Deianira mori?

Non erat a cesare papa statuendus,

set secundum canones erat eligendus,

hic tibi precipue sit pura mente colendus. 40

Illi, per quos hereses scismataque vici

quondam, michi facti sunt nuper inimici;

que cecidi, stabilis non debebam dici:

quid me felicem totiens iactastis, amici?

Mea gens antiquitus dici Nazarea,

id est sancta, potuit, set nunc Pharisea;

unam duas faciunt, et cum non sim rea,

prelati partiti sunt vestimenta mea. 48

Iam casura videor, quia tota nuto,

mea propugnacula muri carent scuto;

aurum meum scoria, vilius est luto,

et princeps provincie facta sub tributo.

Set ne vos detineam turbine sermonum:

caput mundi corruit, non habet patronum;

ubinam est hodie virtus Scipionum

Marcellusque loquax et nomina vana Catonum? 56

Veni, coniunx optime, nam hinc turba Rheni,

illinc me cum Glalicis lacerant Rutheni;

veni, ne tardaveris, et lugentes leni,

nil michi rescribas, attamen ipse veni.

Me desertam creditis forsitan ex toto,

set sponsum ad nuptias hoste iam remoto

aspiciens a longe venientem noto'.

Sic ait et longo consumit gaudia voto. 64

 

Sprinkled by some of the Heliconian stream, I fear lest I be drowned by the weight of words, but since the entire world is scribbling, o my flute, accompany my Maenalian (Arcadian) verses. I shall sit in judgement, an accuser of all crimes that I see take place under the sun; though defective myself, I shall destroy the vices, and though I myself write nothing, I shall teach the poet's office and duty. The writing of the ancients was golden, since simonists did not then sell the church, schismatics did not rule; but by the power of modern men, wealth, the provoker of evils, is dug up. (Met 1.140, on the age of bronze). Lo, kings have set up twin popes, but you do not know whom to obey and whom to reject. A crop of vices springs up on both sides, "when the constitution was lost and destroyed, it made no difference." (Lucan 3.119) Perhaps the church has not rightly rejected him, and has not rightly removed his authority, for often, when reason goes awry, virtue has been perceived as vice. Perhaps neither has been chosen by Christ, neither is enough for me, and both are suspect; I don't know which of them is wrong and which is right -- my heart moves in two directions at once (Met 8.464 Althae about to throw the firebrand into the flames, killing Meleager for his having killed her brothers). Christ does not now dig in his vineyard, but ambition devours it and heresy eats away at it; the bride of Christ does not keep the bridegroom's commands, and the woman often hates the loving spouse. (Cato 1.82) The wife says to herself: "Alas, how long have I been beaten! Where I am being carried so brutally by the force of heresy? I lament the fact that the bridegroom who may relieve my suffering has remained absent beyond the date of his promised return. (Ovid Heroides 2.2) One one side the Germans oppress me, on the other hords of French. I don't know to whom I should yield; let me die, let my suffering end: 'impious Deinara, why do you hesitate to die?'" (Ovid Her 9.146) To see things as they are, the authority and freedom of the cleric has failed; Rome has fallen in an eclipse of the truth, and, if it has not fallen, it seems to have fallen. (Met 2.322, Phaeton compared to a fallen star). The Pope was not established by Caesar (the emperor), but was chosen by canon law, and whoever is so elected should be revered, and he should be especially honored by your best efforts. Those through whose efforts I once conquered heresies and schisms have recently become my enemies; I who have fallen should not be called stable: "why, friends, do you so often say that I am happy?" (Boeth Cons 1.21 ff.) My ancestry may be called Nazarene, that is, sacred, but now it is Pharisaical; they have made two out of one, although I myself am not guilty, the bishops share my garments. Now I seem to have fallen, because I tremble from head to foot, my ramparts lack protection, my gold is dross, worth less than mud, and the prince of the province is laid under tribute. (Lament 1.1 Thren). But, lest I detain you with windy speech: the head of the world has fallen and has no patron; where now is the virtue of the Scipios, eloquent Marcellus, and the empty names of the Catos? (Lucan 1.313) Come, oh my finest husband, for the Rhenish tribe, as well as the Rutheni, together with the French, wound me; come, do not be late, and comfort those that mourn, do not write to me, but come in person. Perhaps you think that everyone has abandoned me, but I see the bridegroom a long way off, approaching for the marriage, with the enemy driven off." Thus she spoke, and "consumed joys in a long prayer." (Theb 1.332 and Alananus 2, p. 492)

Poem 7A

Inter curas hominum curis depravata

iam virtutum probitas iacet improbata;

viatores devii via non curata

nitimur in vetitum cupimus semperque negata.

Nescimus vestigia veterum moderni

regni nos eternitas non trahit superni,

ardentis set nitimur per viam inferni,

cum sit tamen facilis descensus Averni. 8

Cur per carnis vitium peccant sic moderni?

Fert malus iudicium iudicis eterni.

Quidquid talis turpiter, debet prorsus sperni,

instabile est etenim, facilis descensus Averni.

Hic potus, hic vitio Veneris laborat,

hic fraudis, hic ambitus nodos non ignorat,

hunc future glorie vanitas colorat,

per diversa tamen exitus acta probat. 16

Vide mestos exitus magnis in personis,

vide durum publicae ius conditionis.

O Circee fugias virus potionis!

Est virtus placidis abstinuisse bonis.

Omnis inest vanitas mundi speciebus,

est Phebo mobilius, quidquid lustrat Phebus,

alternantur singula singulis diebus,

ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus. 24

Mors inexorabilis secum trahit optima,

set nec parcit pessimis, fert cum parvis maxima,

infimis sublimia, summis equat infima,

tendimus huc omnes, domus est hec ultima.

Cum ubique seviat error inconsultus,

cum passim preveniat sapientem stultus,

cum rotundent quadrata insani tumultus,

quo teneam nodo mutantem Prothea vultus? 32

Igitur consilio si velimus uti,

rebus vitam dubiis emendemus uti,

sola virtus hominis consulit saluti,

nulla via creditur invia virtuti.

Ut virtus inhabitet me constanter, precor,

nam si pono vitium, si virtutem sequor,

quocumque diverterim, me sequetur decor,

omne solum forti patria est ut piscibus equor. 40

Virtus prodest, si potest ad finem teneri;

quid enim ciconias credimus mereri,

hodie si perdimus acquisitum heri?

Non minor est virtus quam querer parta tueri.

Quid dixisse proderit de virtute multa?

An mirabor pecora vitiis sepulta,

pecora volentia semper esse stulta?

Est quodam pridire tenus, si non datur ultra. 48

Hiis opponet aliquis: 'Turpiter nos mordes,

cum sis eger medicus, cum plus cunctis sordes.'

Set hic nostras audiat qui defendit partes:

'Non prosunt domino, que prosunt omnibus, artes.

O quicumque niteris, ut stes in virtute,

gemme non sis immemor quamvis obvolute;

a quocumque recipe verbum de salute,

mel quia sugit apis etiam de flore cicute. 56

Prudenti, si stultus es, non exemplum fies,

sis me fuge, melior aliis tu si es,

corrigi non differas, hinc sit procul quies,

optima vindicte proxima queque dies.

Stultus quid inducias corrigendi querit?

Quid sequatur, videat, si pollutus perit;

mors incerto gladio, etsi certa, ferit:

qui non est hodie, cras minus aptus erit. 64

Among the troubles of men, disfigured with care, correct behavior lies rejected; lost travelers on a careless path,we seek what is forbidden and always desire what is denied.(Ovid Am 3.4.17) We moderns are ignorant of the footsteps of the ancients, the eternal realm does not attract us, but we eagerly strive to follow the path to hell, since it is "easy to descend to Avernus" (Aen 6.126). Why do modern men commit sins of the flesh, bringing upon themselves the condemnation of the eternal judge? Whatever is evil should be spurned, for it does not last, and "easy is the descent to Avernus" (Aen 6.126). One man drinks, another labors under the venereal vice, another is familiar with the trap of fraud, another with the trap of ambition, the empty hope of future glory "colors" another, in various ways the results indicate the value of the acts.(Ovid Her 2.85) See how great people end up tragically, see how harsh is the law of public life. O, you should flee thepoison of the Circaean drink! It is correct for good men to refrain (Heroides 16.98 Helen's advice) Worldly things contain every kind of vanity, wherever Phoebus goes is more variable than Phoebus himself; things change every day, divine power plays in human affairs. Inexorable death takes the best with him, but he does not spare the worst, but the great leveler carries off the greatest together with the least, the loftiest with the lowest; we are all headed thither, to our last home. Since ignorant error rages everywhere, and fools stand in the way of wise men everywhere, and the mad rabble are busy turning the circle into a square, with what knot can I hold this face-changing Proteus? (Horace Ep 1.1.90,100)Therefore, if we wish to make use of wise counsel let us mend our ways in these troubled times, no path is too difficult for the virtuous man. (ovid Met 14.113 Sybil's words to Vergil-variation of earlier eschatological allusions see also Corinth 2.12.9; annominatio) I pray that virtue inhabit me constantly, for if I lay aside vice and follow virtue, surely goodness will follow me wherever I may wander, "for the brave man, every soil is his native land, as the ocean is for fish." (Fasti 1.493 Evander's mother to Evander) Virtus wins out, if it is maintained to the end; why should we believe that storks mourn, (Jeremiah 8.78)if we lose today what we gained yesterday? "Nor is there less prowess in guarding what is won than in seeking." (Ars Am 2.13) What good would it do to speak of great virtue? Shall I marvel that beasts, willing but stupid, are buried in sin? "It is worthwhile to take some steps forward, though we may not go still further." (Horace Ep.1.1.32) Someone might offer this opposing argument: "you attack us in a foul manner, since you are a sick doctor, despised more than all others."But let that man listen to our defense: "The arts which serve everyone are not for the master." Oh you who strive to be virtuous, remember the diamond in the rough, and accept the word about salvation from anyone, for the bee sucks honey even from the hemlock's flower. (Ovid Am 1.12.9 ff.)You cannot be an example for a wise man if you are stupid, if you wish, dismiss me, and, if you are better than the others, do not wait to be corrected, "next day is ever the best for your deliverance." (Ovid Rem 93,96) Why does the fool look for ways to avoid being corrected? If he dies still polluted, he may see what follows; death's sword certainly strikes without warning: "who is not prepared today will be less prepared tomorrow." (Ovid Rem 94)

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