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Some Good Advice


What cause or what presumption, Sextus, brings you to Rome? What do you expect or seek here? Tell me. "I will plead causes," you say, "more eloquently than Cicero himself, and in the three forums4 there shall be no one to equal me." Atestinus pleaded causes, and Civis; you knew both of them; but neither made enough to pay for his lodging. "If nothing is to be gained from this pursuit, I will write verses: when one has heard them, one will say they are Vergil’s own." You are mad; all that you see here shivering in threadbare cloaks are Vergils. "I will push my way among the great." That trick has found support for but two or three that have attempted it, while all the rest are pale with hunger. "What shall I do? Advise me: for I am determined to live at Rome." If you are a good man, Sextus, you will have to live by chance.1

Schoolmaster, be indulgent to your simple scholars, if you would have many a long-haired youth resort to your lectures, and the class seated round your critical table love you. So may no teacher of arithmetic, or of swift writing, be surrounded by a greater ring of pupils. The days are bright and glow under the flaming constellation of the Lion, and fervid July is ripening the teeming harvest. Let the Scythian scourge with its formidable thongs, such as flogged Marsyas,2 and the terrible cane, the schoolmaster’s scepter, be laid aside, and sleep until the Ides of October.3 In summer, if boys preserve their health, they do enough.

Can you, Tucca, sell these slaves whom you bought for a hundred thousand sesterces apiece? Can you sell the weeping despots of your affection, Tucca? Do neither their caresses nor their words and untutored lamentations move you? If a quantity of hard cash is your object, sell your plate, your tables, your myrrhine vases, your estate, your house. Sell your old slaves, sell even your hereditary lands. Sell everything, wretched man, to avoid selling your young favorites. It was extravagance to buy them; who denies or doubts it? But it is far greater extravagance to sell them.

3 Martial, , iii, 38; x, 62; xi, 70.

4 The old Roman Forum, that of Julius Cæsar, and that of Angustus.

1 Since only the bad man can make sure of a living at Rome.

2 Referring to the legend that Marsyas, the satyr, having challenged Apollo to a musical contest on the flute, and having been defeated, was flayed alive by the god for his presumption. See page 100.

3 Until October 15.


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Chicago: "Some Good Advice," Epigrams in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 256. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9TJMYA1T234ZRQQ.

MLA: . "Some Good Advice." Epigrams, Vol. xi, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 256. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9TJMYA1T234ZRQQ.

Harvard: , 'Some Good Advice' in Epigrams. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.256. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9TJMYA1T234ZRQQ.