Thursday, July 27, 2017
For honest men are scarce; hardly so numerous as the gates of Thebes, or the mouths of the enriching Nile. We are living in a ninth age; an age more evil than that of iron—one for whose wickedness Nature herself can find no name, no metal from which to call it.Housman's apparatus:
rari quippe boni: numera, vix sunt totidem quot
Thebarum portae vel divitis ostia Nili.
nona aetas agitur peioraque saecula ferri
temporibus, quorum sceleri non invenit ipsa
nomen et a nullo posuit natura metallo.
Besides the commentaries, see M.J. McGann, "Juvenal's Ninth Age (13, 28ff.)," Hermes 96.3 (1968) 509-514.
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 42.1 (tr. Richard M. Gummere):
Has that friend of yours already made you believe that he is a good man? And yet it is impossible in so short a time for one either to become good or be known as such. Do you know what kind of man I now mean when I speak of "a good man"? I mean one of the second grade, like your friend. For one of the first class perhaps springs into existence, like the phoenix, only once in five hundred years.Cf. Genesis 18.20-32, where God promises Abraham he will spare Sodom and Gomorrah if 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, even 10 righteous men be found therein.
iam tibi iste persuasit virum se bonum esse? atqui vir bonus tam cito nec fieri potest nec intellegi. scis quem nunc virum bonum dicam? huius secundae notae. nam ille alter fortasse tamquam phoenix semel anno quingentesimo nascitur.