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Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

"1.4.4."

When there’s a party of four and only three couches,
Often there’s one guest who likes to besprinkle the rest
Excluding his host who supplies the water: his host too
Though later when, drunk, truthful Liber unlocks the heart.
Yet you, hating blackguards, consider him charming,
Direct, and urbane. Did I seem then spiteful or vicious,
If I laughed because stupid Rufillus smells of pastils,
Gargonius of goat? If someone while you were there
Gave a hint of Petillius Capitolinus’ thefts,
You’d be sure to defend him as is your habit:
‘Capitolinus has been a dear friend and companion
Since childhood: he’s done me many a favour when asked,
I’m delighted he’s living freely here in the City:
But I’m still amazed at how he escaped that trial.’
That’s the black ink a cuttlefish squirts, now, that’s
Pure venom. Let such nastiness be far from my work,
And well before that from my heart: if there’s anything
I can truly promise, I’ll promise you that. If I
Speak too freely, too lightly perhaps, you’ll allow me
That liberty, please. The best of fathers formed me:
So I’d flee from vice, he’d point it out by example.

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