We left Fundi with pleasure, and Aufidius
Luscus its ‘praetor’, mocking that clerk’s mad reward,
Bordered robe, a broad-striped tunic, burning charcoal.
Tired out we halted at the Mamurra’s town next,
Murena offered shelter, Capito the cooking.
The next day’s sunrise brings great joy: since Plotius
Varius, and Virgil, meet us at Sinuessa: no more
Shining spirits did earth ever bear, and no one
Could be more dearly attached to them than I.
O what embraces there were there, and what delight!
In health, nothing compares for me with friendship’s joy.
A small villa by the Campanian Bridge offered us
Shelter, and the officers, as required, salt and fuel.
Then to Capua, where the mules shed their loads early.
Maecenas is off for sport, Virgil and I for sleep:
Those ball-games are bad for sore eyes and stomachs.
Then Cocceius’ well-stocked villa welcomes us,
That overlooks the inns of Caudium. Now, Muse,
Tell briefly of the fight ‘twixt Sarmentus the jester,
And Messius Cicirrus, and who their fathers were
That joined the fray. Messius of famous Oscan stock:
Sarmentus’ owner, she’s still alive: from such ancestry
Did they join battle. Sarmentus first to strike: ‘A horse,
I say, a wild one, is what you resemble.’ We roar,
Messius tosses his head, cries: ‘Yea’. Sarmentus
Says: ‘Oh, if your forehead wasn’t short of a horn
Imagine what you could do, when you threaten us
Mutilated so!’ An ugly scar marred his hairy brow
On the left, you see. Mocking his ‘Campanian’ warts
And joking about his face, he begged him to dance
A dance of the Cyclopean shepherd, while saying
He’d not need a mask or the thick soles of Tragedy.
Cicirrus struck back fiercely: ‘What about that chain
He owed to the Lares? Though a clerk, his lady’s power
Was no less: and finally he asked why he’d run away
Since a bag of meal a day’s enough for the slight and lean.
So we prolonged that supper with all our laughter.