Friday, July 16, 2010


Sint Maecenates

James Henry, Poematia (Dresden: C.C. Meinhold & Sons, 1866), p. 58:
"Pshaw! the poetic breed's extinct," said once
A starred and gartered courtier to a poet;
"We have no Horaces or Virgils now."
"True, may it please your lordship," said the poet,
"The race died out with the Mecenases."
Martial 1.107 (tr. Walter Ker):
Oft you say to me, dearest Lucius Julius: "Write something great! You are a lazy man." Give me leisure, and leisure such as once Maecenas provided for Flaccus and his own Virgil; then would I essay to build up works that should live throughout ages, and to rescue my name from the fire. Into unfruitful fields steers care not to bear the yoke; a fat soil wearies, but the very labour delights.

Saepe mihi dicis, Luci carissime Iuli,
  'Scribe aliquid magnum: desidiosus homo es.'
Otia da nobis, sed qualia fecerat olim
  Maecenas Flacco Vergilioque suo:
condere victuras temptem per saecula curas
  et nomen flammis eripuisse meum.
in steriles nolunt campos iuga ferre iuvenci:
  pingue solum lassat, sed iuvat ipse labor.
Martial 8.55.1-6 (tr. Walter Ker):
Although our grandsires' age yields to our own times, and Rome has waxed greater in company with her chief, you wonder divine Maro's genius is seen no more, and that no man with such a trump as his blows loud of war. Let there be many a Maecenas, many a Maro, Flaccus, will not fail, and even your fields will give you a Virgil.

Temporibus nostris aetas cum cedat avorum
  creverit et maior cum duce Roma suo,
ingenium sacri miraris desse Maronis
  nec quemquam tanta bella sonare tuba.
sint Maecenates, non derunt, Flacce, Marones
  Vergiliumque tibi vel tua rura dabunt.
Where are our modern Maecenases? How many poets do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett support? Not one, so far as I know.

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