Friday, January 19, 2018


A Plump Little Man

Gilbert Highet (1906-1978), Poets in a Landscape (1957; rpt. New York: New York Review Books, 2010), p. 120:
Nowadays Rome is not so crowded, nor so rich and splendid, as it was in Horace's time. Yet it is often recognizably the same city. As one wanders through its busy streets, one occasionally sees a plump little man strolling vaguely along, eyeing the shop windows, glancing at the pretty girls, pausing to buy a lottery ticket, reading the headlines in a newspaper-office window, and at last sitting down to drink a glass of bitter Campari and to watch, with apparent complacency, the noisy traffic swirling past. One puts him down as—well, what? A Milanese business-man, who has just concluded a successful transaction, and is enjoying Rome before returning to his desk and his wife? Or a small landowner from central Italy, on his annual visit to the capital? He may be either of these, the plump little man with the watchful eyes; he may be a metropolitan lawyer, taking the air after a difficult day in court. But it is still possible that he may be an artist, a philosopher, or a poet.

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