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Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

"2.3.12."

Dear Stoic, who I pray given all your losses might
Always trade profitably, in what foolish way, since
There’s more than one, am I mad? I seem sane to myself.
‘So what? When Agave, plucks at her luckless son’s head,
And carries it off, does she even then think herself mad?’
I own to my folly (let me acknowledge the truth)
And my madness too: but tell me this, from what defect
Of mind do you think I suffer? ‘Well, listen, firstly
You’re building things, that is, imitating great men,
Though tip to toe you’re but two foot tall: and you laugh
At Turbo the gladiator’s spirit and swagger
In armour too big for his body: who’s more foolish?
Or is whatever Maecenas does right for you,
Unlike him as you are, and unfit to compete?
When the frog was away from home, then the calf trod
On her young, only one surviving to tell mum the tale
Of the huge beast that killed his kin: ‘how big’, she asked
Puffing herself up: ‘big as this?’ ‘Oh, half as big again!’
‘How about this?’ And she puffed herself up more and more.
‘Not if you were to burst,’ said he, ‘could you be as a big!’
That description is not too unlike yourself, then add
Your poetry too, that is, pour some more oil on the fire,
Verse that if ever a sane man wrote, you were sane when
You wrote yours too. And your vile temper,’ Now wait!
‘Your living beyond your means,’ Damasippus, mind your
Own business! ‘Your passion for girls, and boys, in thousands.’
O greater madman, have mercy, now, on this lesser!

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