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Now 7 Silius wants thy counsel, gives advice; Wed Cæsar's wife, or die; the choice is nice. Her comet-eyes she darts on ev'ry grace ; And takes a fatal liking to his face, Adorn'd with bridal pomp she fits in state ; The public notaries and Aruspex wait : The genial bed is in the garden dreft: The portion paid, and ev'ry rite express’d, Which in a Roman marriage is profeft. 'Tis no stol'n wedding, this, rejecting awe, She scorns to marry, but in form of law : In this moot case, your judgment: to refuse Is present death, besides the night you lose : If you consent, 'tis hardly worth your pain ; A day or two of anxious life you gain : Till loud reports thro' all the town have past, And reach the prince : for cuckolds hear the last, Indulge thy pleasure, youth, and take thy swing ; For not to take is but the self-fame thing : Inevitable death before thee lies ; But looks more kindly thro' a lady's eyes.
What then remains ? Are we depriv'd of will, Muft we not wish, for fear of wishing ill ? Receive my counsel, and securely move ; Intrust thy fortune to the Pow'rs above. Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant What their unerring wisdom sees thee want: In goodness as in greatness they excel; Ah that we lov'd ourselves but half so well! We, blindly by our headstrong passions led, Are hot for action, and desire to wed;
7 Mefalina, wife to the emperor Claudius, infamous for her lewda ness. She set her eyes upon C. Silius, a fine youth ; forced him to quit his own wife, and marry her with all the formalities of a wedding, whilft Claudius Cæsar was sacrificing at Hoftia. Upon his return, he put both Silius and her to death,
Then wish for heirs : but to the Gods alone
Yet not to rob the priests of pious gain,
The path to peace is virtue : what I show,
J U V E N A L.
The poet in this satire, proves, that the condition of a soldier
is much better than that of a country-man: first, because a country-man, however affronted, provoked, and struck himJelf, dares not strike a soldier ; who is only to be judged by a court-martial: and by the law of Camillus, which obliges him not to quarrel without the trenches, he is also ajured to bave aspeedy hearing, and quick dispatch: whereas the townsman or peasant is delayed in his suit by frivolous pretences, and not sure of justice when he is heard in the court. The Soldier is also privileged to make a will
, and to give away his estate, which he got in war, to whom he pleases, without consideration of parentage or relations; which is denied to all other Romans. This satire was written by Juvenal, when he was a commander in Ægypt: it is certainly his, though I think it not finished. And if it be well observed, you will find be intended an invective against a standing army.
HAT vast prerogatives, my Gallus, are
For, if into a lucky camp I light,
I Tho’raw in arms, and yet afraid to fight, Befriend me, my good stars, and all goes right: One happy hour is to a soldier better, Than mother 1 Juno's recommending letter, Or Venus, when to Mars she would prefer My suit, and own the kindness done to her. I Juno was mother to Mars the god of war: Venus was his mistress.
See what our common privileges are :
2 Camillus (who being first banished, by his ungrateful countrymen the Romans, afterwards returned, and freed them from the Gauls,) made a law which prohibited the soldiers from quarrelling without the camp, left upon that pretence they might happen to be absent, when they ought to be on duty.
3 This cause is wortby bim, &c. The poet names a Modenese lawyer whom he calls Vagellius : who was so impudent that he would plead any cause, right or wrong, without shame or fear,
4 Hob-rail'd foes. The Roman soldiers wore plates of iron under their snoes, or ituck them with nails; as countrymen do now.
Sure the good-breeding of wise citizens
Besides whom canst thou think fo much thy friend,
More benefits remain, and claim'd as rights, Which are a standing army's perquisites. If any rogue vexatious suits advance Against me for my known inheritance, Enter by violence my fruitful grounds, Or.take the sacred land-mark from my bounds, Those bounds, which with poffeffion and with pray'r, And 5 offer'd cakes, have been my annual care : Or if my debtors do not keep their day, Deny their hands, and then refuse to pay ; I must with patience all the terms attend, Among the common causes that depend, Till mine is call'd; and that long look'd-for day Is ftill encumber'd with fome new delay :
5 Land-marks were used by the Romans almost in the same manner as now: And as we go once a year in proceffion, about the bounds of parishes, and renew them, so they offered cakes upon the stone, or land-mark.