Wednesday, January 28, 2015


A Frugal Life Is Best

Claudian, Against Rufinus 1.200-219 (tr. Maurice Platnauer):
The greedy man is always poor. Fabricius, happy in his honourable poverty, despised the gifts of monarchs; the consul Serranus sweated at his heavy plough and a small cottage gave shelter to the warlike Curii. To my mind such poverty as this is richer than thy wealth, such a home greater than thy palaces. There pernicious luxury seeks for the food that satisfieth not; here the earth provides a banquet for which is nought to pay. With thee wool absorbs the dyes of Tyre; thy patterned clothes are stained with purple; here are bright flowers and the meadow's breathing charm which owes its varied hues but to itself. There are beds piled on glittering bedsteads; here stretches the soft grass, that breaks not sleep with anxious cares. There a crowd of clients dins through the spacious halls, here is song of birds and the murmur of the gliding stream. A frugal life is best. Nature has given the opportunity of happiness to all, knew they but how to use it. Had we realized this we should now have been enjoying a simple life, no trumpets would be sounding, no whistling spear would speed, no ship be buffeted by the wind, no siege-engine overthrow battlements.

semper inops quicumque cupit. contentus honesto        200
Fabricius parvo spernebat munera regum
sudabatque gravi consul Serranus aratro
et casa pugnaces Curios angusta tegebat.
haec mihi paupertas opulentior, haec mihi tecta
culminibus maiora tuis. ibi quaerit inanes        205
luxuries nocitura cibos; hic donat inemptas
terra dapes. rapiunt Tyrios ibi vellera sucos
et picturatae saturantur murice vestes;
hic radiant flores et prati viva voluptas
ingenio variata suo. fulgentibus illic        210
surgunt strata toris; hic mollis panditur herba
sollicitum curis non abruptura soporem.
turba salutantum latas ibi perstrepit aedes;
hic avium cantus, labentis murmura rivi.
vivitur exiguo melius; natura beatis        215
omnibus esse dedit, si quis cognoverit uti.
haec si nota forent, frueremur simplice cultu,
classica non gemerent, non stridula fraxinus iret,
nec ventus quateret puppes nec machina muros.
Here is a snapshot of some of these lines from the new digital Loeb Classical Library:

Note that line 201 is wrongly numbered 121. In the actual hard-copy book (1922; rpt. 1990) the numbering is correct.

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