Enough! We’ll ask some other time if it’s poetry.
The only question for now is whether you’re right
To view such things with suspicion. Sulcius
And Caprius prowl about zealously armed with writs:
And, terribly hoarse, are a terror to thieves: but a man
With clean hands who lives decently, scorns them both.
Even if you’re a Caelius or Birrius, a thief,
I’m not Caprius or Sulcius: so why fear me?
No stall or pillar will offer up my little books
To the sweaty hands of the mob, and Hermogenes:
I only recite them to friends, and only when pressed,
Not anywhere, not to anyone. There are plenty
Who read out their works in the Forum, or baths:
(How nicely the vaulted space resonates to the voice!)
It delights the inane, who never consider, whether
Time and taste are right. ‘But you take delight in wounding
And you work your evil zealously.’ Where did you find
That spear to throw? Is anyone I know the author
Of that? The man who will slander an absent friend,
And fails to defend him from others’ attacks,
Who’s after others’ laughter, and the name of a wit,
And invents things he’s never seen, and can’t keep
A secret: beware of him, Rome, he’s a blackguard.