Juvenal, Satires 1 and 5, selections

translation by Colette Creamer and Janis Lee

Satire 1 lines 132-146:
(132) The weary veteran clients depart from the vestibules, and they put down their wishes, although the longest hope of man is for dinner; a vegetable stalk and fire is to be bought by the wretched men. (135) Meanwhile, the king of these things will devour the best things of the forest and  sea; also, that man himself will recline so greatly on empty couches. For they devour from so many beautiful and wide tables and so ancient, whole inheritances at one meal. Soon there will be no such thing as a parasite. But who could bear that filthy excess? (140) How big is the appetite which places whole boars for itself, an animal born for dinner-parties? However there is a punishment at hand; when you, swollen, take off your clothes, and bring an undigested peacock into the open baths. From there come sudden deaths and old age without having made a will. (145) A new and not sad story goes through all dinners; the funeral, which is to be applauded, is led by irate friends.

Satire 5 lines 1-75:
If the proposed way of life does not yet shame you, and your mind is the same, that you think the highest goods to live at a stranger’s square dining table, if you are able to endure those things which neither Sarmentus at the unequal tables of Caesar nor cheap Gabba had borne, (5) I should fear to believe you although you have sworn as a witness. I know nothing more frugal than the stomach; even this itself however, think (how) it has failed, that which suffices for the empty stomach: Is there no vacant pedestal? Is there nowhere a bridge, and no part of a shorter-by-half rug of reeds? (10) Is the injury of the dinner of such value, the hunger so great, when in that place more honestly one could both tremble and bite the filthy scraps of bread fit only for dogs?

Fix (imagine) in the first place, that you, having been ordered to recline, take the whole old wage of your old duties. The fruit of great friendship is the food: the king counts this, and (15) although rare, still he counts it. Therefore if after two months it is pleasing to invite a neglected client, so that a third pillow on an empty couch is not inactive, he says ‘let us be together’; the highest of desires. What more do you seek? Trebius has something on account of which he ought to break sleep (20) and leave his shoe straps scattered, worried lest that whole morning-greeting crowd has already made its round, with doubtful stars, or at that time when the cold wagons of lazy Bootes (a constellation) turn themselves around.

What a dinner yet! Wine which oily wool wouldn’t suffer: (25) you will see a Corybant in place of a dinner guest. Quarrels are the prelude, but soon you, drunk, hurl the drinking cups and clean your wounds with a blood-stained napkin, whenever a fight inflames between you and a cohort of freedmen, the fight having been begun with a Saguntian wine jug. (30) That man drinks wine diffused when the consul wore long hair, and has grapes that were trampled during the Social Wars. He would never give away a spoonful to a dyspeptic friend; tomorrow he will drink something from the Alban Mountains or from the Setian hills, of which the fatherland and title (35) old age erased by much soot of an aged jar, such as Thrasea and Heluidius, used to drink while wearing crowns on the birthdays of Brutus and Cassius. That man Virro has wide cups overlaid with amber and drinking bowls rough with emerald. A gold cup is not committed to you, (40) or, if it is given, a guard is affixed there, who counts the gems, and observes your sharp fingernails. Give a pardon: to that man a brilliant jasper is praised. For Virro, like many, transfers gems to the cup from the fingers, gems which (45) the youth preferred to jealous Iarbus was accustomed to place on the front of his scabbard. You will drain the chalice of four spouts having the name of a Beneventanian shoemaker and now broken,  demanding sulphur for the shattered glass. If the stomach of the master burns with food and wine, (45) boiled-down water is sought, cooler than Getic frosts. Was I complaining just now that not the same wines were put to you all? You are all drinking different water. To you either a Gaetulan slave will give small cups, or a bony hand of a black Moor whom you would not want to run into in the middle of the night, (55) when you are carried through the monuments of the hilly Latin way. The flower of Asia is before him, which cost a bigger price than was the revenue of both fighting Tullus and Ancus, in short, and all the trifles of Roman kings. Which since this is so, you look back at Gaetulan Ganymede, (60) when you will want some drink: the boy having been bought with so many thousands (of coins) knows not to mingle with poor people, but his form, but his age, justify the disdain. When does he come to you? When, having been called, does the minister of warm and cold drinks attend? Of course he considers it improper to obey the old client; (65) both because you demand something, and because you recline while he is standing. [Every very great house is full of proud slaves.] Look, with what murmuring another has extended bread scarcely broken, already moldy scraps of a solid dough, which agitate the jaws, not admitting a bite. (70) But tender and snowy, and fashioned with soft flour, is served to the master. Remember to restrain the right hand; let there be a healthy reverence of the bread pan. However imagine yourself, slightly impudent, there remains one who may compel (you) to put (it down): ‘Would you please, daring dinner guest, (75) be filled from the reed baskets, and know the color of your bread?”