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And, with a fly infinuating grace,
Laugh'd at his friend, and look'd him in the face:
Which thou think'ft nothing, friend, thou shalt not buy, Nor will I change for all the flashy wit,
That flatt'ring Labeo in his Iliads writ.
7 Thou, if there be a thou in this base town,
On this my honeft work, tho' writ in homely stile:
Appear lefs droffy, read those lines again.
6 King Midas, &c. The ftory is vulgar, that Midas king of Phrygia was made judge betwixt Apollo and Pan, who was the beft mufician: He gave the prize to Pan; and Apollo in revenge gave him afs's ears. He wore his hair long to hide them; but his barber difcovering them, and not daring to divulge the fecret, dug a hole in the ground, and whifpered into it: The place was maríhy; and when the reeds grew up, they repeated the words which were spoken by the barber. By Midas the poet meant Nero.
7 Eupolis and Cratinus, as alfo Ariftophanes mentioned afterwards, were all Athenian poets; who wrote that fort of comedy, which was called the old comedy, where the people were named, who were fatirized by thofe authors.
May they perform their author's juft intent,
Who 8 fortune's fault upon the poor can throw ;
Who thinks all fcience, as all virtue vain ;
On dice, and drink, and drabs, they spend their after
8 Who fortune's faults, &c. The people of Rome in the time of Perfius, were apt to fcorn the Grecian philofophers, particularly the cynics and ftoics, who were the poorest of them.
9 And with his foot, &c. Arithmetick and geometry were taught on floors, which were ftrewed with duft or fand; in which the numbers and diagrams were made and drawn, which they might frike out again.
This fatire contains a moft grave and philofophical argument, concerning prayers and wishes. Undoubtedly it gave occafion to Juvenal's tenth fatire; and both of them had their original from one of Plato's dialogues, called the Second Alcibiades. Our author has induced it with great mystery of art, by taking his rife from the birth-day of his friend; on which occafions, prayers were made, and facrifices offered by the native. Perfius commending the purity of his friend's vows, defcends to the impious and immoral requests of others. The fatire is divided into three parts: the firft is the exordium to Macrinus, which the poet confines within the compafs of four verfes. The fecond relates to the matter of the prayers and vows, and an enumeration of those things, wherein men commonly finned against right reason, and offended in their requests. The third part confifts in fhewing the repugnances of thofe prayers and wifkes, to thofe of other men, and inconfiftencies with themselves. He fhews the original of thefe vows, and fharply inveighs against them and lastly, not only corrects the falje opinion of mankind concerning them, but gives the true doctrine of all addreffes made to heaven, and how they may be made acceptable to the Powers above, in excellent precepts, and more worthy of a Chriftian than a Heathen.
Dedicated to his friend PLOTIUS MACRINUS, on his birth-day.
ET this aufpicious morning be exprest
With a white ftone, diftinguifh'd from the reft:
What from each other they, for fhame, conceal.
O were my pupil fairly knock'd o' th' head;
1 White flone. The Romans were fed to mark their fortunate days, or any thing that luckily befel 'em, with a white stone which they had from the island Creta; and their unfortunate with a coal. 2 Hercules was thought to have the key and power of bestowing all hidden treasure.
He's fo far gone with rickets, and with th' evil,
And think'ft thou, Jove himself, with patience then
3 The ancients thought themselves tainted and polluted by night itself, as well as bad dreams in the night, and therefore purified themfelves by washing their heads and hands every morning; which custom the Turks obferve to this day.
4 When any one was thunderstruck; the foothfayer (who is here called Ergenna) immediately repaired to the place, to expiate the difpleasure of the gods, by facrificing two sheep.