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IN PRAISE OF AVARICE

TO SIR JOHN MASON blue

spacerAcceot this copy, faithful but defaced by many a blot since I wrote it with my own hand. Who would imagine that? This is not to hire a faithful scrivener? These blots do not worry me as long as I please you.

THE PARADOX

     In our poems we all, both learned and unlearned, deal in falsehoods, blue a traditional right of poets. Nor is it fitting to hold the Muses to any one standard if everything is permitted in this particular form of art. A god inspires us bards, we are heated by an inspiration such as the Pythian god blue sends forth from his shrine, sounding nothing mortal, not wearing his normal sober expression nor keeping his hair in its usual good order, but rather, when he strays from the regular disposition of the gods, from his mouth he pours forth unintelligible sounds. Since something of the kind has already spread abroad, it befalls me to be swept off my feet, I follow where this untrodden path beckons.  Nor am I satisfied by anything taken from the traditional source: Gorgons, Harpies, Centaurs and Chimaeras, Tantalus and whatever ancient myth has to tell. Rightly resounded the bombastic screed of that old-time poet when the Castalian Font flowed more freely with its water.  By now it has been drained so dry by the mouths of all those drinkers that nothing remains to water new ivy.  Nowadays he who wants to please must be on his guard lest he say once more what has already been said so often
     If our times have allowed any novelty, these lines of mine are not out of keeping with our new inventions. If baldness, the quartan fever and inhospitable Busiris have found men to praise them, it will be permissible for my Muse to celebrate something no less paradoxical. This is not just because at first you perk up your ears, reading this merely for its novelty's sake, but rather if you like this discourse and it gradually changes your mind. Possibly the reader will frown and condemn it, wishing to dodge the harsh fate of Lady Lovegold. blue But when this document revives affections with which you are already familiar, things you think blameworthy but which once were sweet in your eyes (no matter how much you are ashamed to admit how much this flame sets you afire) you should not be embarrassed to look favorably on its bard. And when you give the tiniest whisper that this is the truth, he will be well aware that he knows your mind and will readily pardon your embarrassment, saying
     "I am touched by your enthusiasm. I am swimming against the current and my sails are battling headwinds. Forgive me. The greatest victory-palm is awarded to hard work, and it counts for something just to make the effort as long as one has the will. I am praising something which people never call praiseworthy. I am lauding something beset by a long-standing consensus of unpopularity, what with the courtroom casting blame on it and the theater being critical, not to mention (to be candid) what the pulpits thunder or with what hatreds the literature of philosophers has traditionally railed against that hateful word "avarice."  
spacer But if it is one thing to scorn something openly but after your denunciation to welcome it into your hospitable heart, I beg you all not to believe the man who speaks thus speciously in public, as does the common run of humanity. For it is unbecoming to condemn a thing merely because of its name if you do nothing more to reject it, but rather greet it with open arms, your feelings dictated by your nature . If the impulse and power of that nature prevails over persuasive reason, you should forget about this faultiness derived exclusively from a name. Thus I think you will be more open-minded concerning these matters.
spacergreen For even if a miser is sometimes held in reproach, nobody should wittingly criticize avarice, nor should he associate the matter at hand with a vicious, sordid individual any more than one should decline to take an enemy fortress by deception just because a deceitful traitor is hateful. Many things are acceptable at first glance but others do not remain accepted save in the eyes of the experienced. Then too, sometimes fruits are plucked from an unwelcome tree, passed over because of its unlovely name. For we cheerfully take down its berries although their mother is taken down in quite another way. Even if this error does not to cease burdening the ignorant, this fault with all its forms of madness requires atonement. And yet you yourself will not deny that those ignorant folk commit the deeds and wanton faults about which their tongue remains silent. Words have little meaning, the thing speaks for itself. Look here, you can see: do you trust your ears or your eyes? What matters the dubious opinions of the tongue? Morality and the whole manner of life have more weight.
spacer For I am moved by my long experience about what goes on worldwide, where the sun shines on the east and upon the west. It is a waste of time for a single man to summarize on the printed page that which all the philosophers have dreamed about the common good. What man has ever treated his wife and children (the dearest things in his life) to all that stuff? Has he not rather turned Plato's teachings to his personal advantage? Everyone who ponders the common weal is of the opinion that what serves the public interest is that which serves himself. Then he plays the fool and with great energy spouts nonsense, overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary. Nobody cares for another man's advantage as much as for his own, as divine Aristotle more rightly observed. Indeed, it subsequently emerges that, thanks his adroitness at the law, what a man is bestowing to his nation he is also contributing to himself. We are employed as your private property so that we are at your disposal in your sluggish old age, and thanks to your canniness you have no need to fear uncertain circumstances, nor dread hunger in the eventide of your life when the blood is flowing ice-cold in your breast, unable to refresh itself.
spacer Fortune does not bless everybody. Rather, you will often see her thankless wheel abandoning well-deserving men. But she favors the industrious if you yourself make the effort, when helped along she offers these things with both hands. Look here, how many men are there nowadays who exist in prosperity by hanging on to wealth inherited from their ancestors? Rarely will you find such a "son of a white chicken," as opposed to the man thriving thanks to his own canny wit.
spacer If effort provokes the otherwise helpless with its goad of acquisition and abundance allows them to sit back at their ease, we must assuredly admit that the material for properly cultivating this is supplied by Holy Avarice, which advises the young to keep in mind their white hair and the wintertime of their lives. Hence these arts (the inventions of the gods) are available for us mortals, constantly flowing from this source as our support. Avarice supplies wit. The belly (a generous helper in a pinch) has begotten orators and Paeon's men , and likewise bearded schoolmasters, hired at a price, no matter how differently they slyly comport themselves. And it would have been unnecessary to recall the lawyers which this same belly has bestowed on the courtroom as a clamorous gang (I forbear to mention that small and untimely sense of shame which besets that crew's sheriveled hearts). No reason is heeded by an honest pauper What if this provokes our Members of Parliament? What about others, famed for their austere way of life yet not altogether forgetful of the belly, who were wholly scornful of wealth but are often able to survive thanks to things once disdained? If in my discourse I were to recall all the things that masterful man used to say, I would be treading on rocky shoals, reciting huge volumes written on Egyptian papyrus, blue albeit it would be difficult to abide by their scribbles, since they are as shifty as a clump of reeds sporting on the wandering, stinking waters of the Thames at low tide.
spacer You're curious? That's how it will happen when we run into shallow waters. No matter how much we ponder pleasantries when our mind is at leisure, as soon as the belly starts barking we are provoked. Now its savage power sweeps away delays and on swift horses we go galloping wherever it commands. For if once there no need existed during hard times (although nowadays our ancient soil produces nothing if not cultivated) humanity would still be burping on indigestible acorns and rest their weary bodies in caves. If these bumpkins' hopes had not been baffled in the matter of acorns, do you imagine they would have given any thought to farming, since we are such lazybones, leisure being such a friendly plague upon idlers? But the gods so decreed it that necessity finally sharpened and educated our dull senses. Just as a spark, hidden within flint, leaps forth when you strike it, feeding on nearby leaves fallen off a tree, and then assaults a nearby forest when its fire is fully grown, so abundance used to stifle the powers of keen intelligence that long lay hidden within us. Ah, see how that simple rustic wit that used to suffice during the Golden Age fails us now that the world has grown greater! For nowadays our reason is compelled to acknowledge these hidden talents and shines thanks to its wits. With the earth opened up, this wit visits places previously unknown, and when the soil has been mastered it searches its opened bowels, compelling it to yield to a countless number of mattocks so that it is split apart and keeps seeds within all its bosom. The earth admires the crops produced by all this wounding and by the fact that now nothing in the world remains untouched. Gradually it ceases being grudging and the hope for producing offspring makes it well-disposed. For effort makes the worked soil productive. But if you are behindhand in insisting on this, it conceals its wealth.
spacer Therefore there is always a desire involved in effort, so that it may care for the day of need before it actually comes. For when worked the earth yields its wealth, but if you idly wait upon it, it keeps its riches concealed. Therefore desire is always a hidden component of effort, concerned for that day of need beforehand, and it sows that which may reap when your old age is hobbling on shaky feet. Is this anything other than foresight plain and simple, most desirable in human affairs? Who can doubt that a benevolent Jupiter has bestowed this on Man as a small part of his divine favor? There is nothing which a man can more avoid for the moment but will come to regret. So can you praise this concern for the future and yet denounce its results? Looking ahead you reject future injuries, and are always anxiously concerned about your life, and yet you continue to rail against the power of this cautious way of thinking, so that at the same time you are careful and dislike your care? Who can imagine this? You try to avoid that heavy weight overhanging your head, but quickly come to be displeased by your fear? Is it permissible to be afraid? It certainly is, so is it forbidden to shun the danger?
spacer Why not? Why is the approach harmful? Rather (if you consider every detail in its proper light), the mistake lies in the use of ambiguous words. I'll get to these soon. Now we hope that the things that move human hearts (hatred, hope, love, and anxiety) will come to us at full sail when they are good, but when they are bad we shun them with all our strength, struggling might and main to avoid bad things. In your opinion, if your passion is low you deem this to be reason, and this strong feeling is a disease according to the dictates of your damaged wit. You command moderation, rejecting excess, and you only want to procede by taking baby steps. I hear you, but care for ones's welfare in his personal affairs is something to be managed advantageously by an anxious mind hovering between hope and fear, and the joys of receiving the good are welcome. No wonder, since this nothing is more convenient for our life, and the lack of which makes it the worst.
spacer Nature has endowed us with the powerful instincts to obtain these things by all means possible. Don't you see how, in order to make good a shortage in humankind it entices us to couple in delightful bedrooms? Don't you see how at that moment our passion grows stronger? If this is not a form of madness, by Venus is it not undoubtedly something similar when great pleasure befalls us? How a man cherishes her his darling and she does him! Take away a bit of these violent urges embedded deep within our marrow and the entire benefit of procreation comes to naught, and at reason's behest all our posterity will be forfeit. For what man is wise when he employs his privy parts? Will a wise man not mostly engender fools? And yet what does he accomplish by failing to do this?
spacer For if we do not heed our innermost passions an unfortunate body is wont to be the result, no less than when meals are foolishly skipped and the stomach neglects to do its duty and, fearing to bear such a burden of guilt, ceases to be the half of what it ought to be. What will happen? Straightway your limbs weaken, and your withered muscles look stringy. Was it not better to indulge your natural appetite and deal more liberally with full platters? If the commendable pleasure of satisfying your appetite does harm, it is a wonder that people aren't saying that good health itself is harmful. Once you take away hunger at the dinner-table lest it lead to anything bad, I warrant you are also be rejecting its beneficial influences. If fasting is beneficial but you are damaging your diet by this regimen (I mean when a physician doesn't want you to put indigestible food in your mouth), you rascal, why are you sweepingly assaulting the gifts of Ceres, growing so heated? Is this wise? Are you moved by deep feeling, or perhaps by a nature which heaps these barbs on these extremely good things, barbs not trfling nor the products of an idle mind or moderate, but rather strong and marching forth at quick-step? Rather, whoever wants to keep on breathing and likes this life of ours must always partake of these pleasant supports of a healthy existence.
spacer Every living creature needs to protect itself and its own security. Safety first. Whoever reflects on these things grasps this by observing that such is the foremost concern of brute beasts. Let me not get started on insects and hold up the ant with its great efforts as an example for industrious men, nor discourse on the industry of the thrifty bees or the concern which motivates dusky crows and other animals possessed of a mentality closer to mankind's, which store away food for tomorrow's meal. I merely mention this to show how it is not in vain that nature has expended such great effort in the least significant of creatures, and that the more these senses of the future are visible in an animal, the more they are not lacking from human rationality. For if one chances to wonder what differentiates one man from another, he is closest to God who better foresees the future. We observe that ancient greybeards surpass smooth-faced boys in their good judgment. Youth is spendthrift, but old age is frugal. The one fritters away his money, the other is canny. Which should we trust the more? Even if a miser spends just one percent of the fruits of effort. he afterwards recoups a hundred percent. If during his lifetime this greedy fellow depends a trifle on usury, after his death he blesses countless others with a share of his estate and his hoarded wealth will be preserved for his people. The one fritters away his money, the other is cunning. Which should we trust the more? The one only spends a hundredfold effort on squandering what the other must spend a a hundred times that effort to regain. Even if in his life this greedy fellow depends on a little bit usury, after his death he blesses countless others with a share of his estate and  his hoarded wealth will be preserved for his kinfolk.
spacer At this point somebody (always concerned about the welfare of someone else) will disapprove of the intent of this demented miser, but thus sheep bear wool to be sheared by others, nor do oxen pull plows for their own benefit. I do not know what moves me more about the miser's example than that in this way his industry is helpful for us. He accumulates and he dies. What then? The estate he has amassed lives, and it cannot be shared with others by any other means. Many men who eagerly spout many words about public advantages don't concede a tiny little bit when it comes to riches. Just as this man spends nothing, so he has a concern for his posterity. He is mistaken who fancies that ordinary people share any concern for this common welfare. At the moment nothing of the kind remains, or at most very little, and every man observes his own rule about what is good.
spacer If nothing more of our pious concern for the gods remains nowadays than that one man ought to have a concern for another, I have no idea whether human learning or our carefulness can compensate for the frequent slaughters we commit. Impious weaponry dashes the vain hopes of the farmer, and the ravaging horseman tramples his grain. From his lofty citadel our father that son of Saturn hurls down hailstorms, from there he casts thunderbolts, the crops suffer both ruinations. The vintner deplores the destruction of his grapes when ruined by frost's sharp tooth, and flood so overwhelms both cows and cowherds. On the other hand, a blazing sun scorches the cracked soil, taking away the support of dew and rain. When the wrath of the gods roars such great menaces from heaven and the destruction of war exists, what are we to do? Is it enough for the silly common folk to trust its shopworn supports. if no man as any the wiser? What if no intellect shines forth to combat these harsh misfortunes but the avaricious man supplies his unexpected help? We foolishly cast the blame on the gods if things turn out less well than we hope when the workings of our affairs become unhinged and do not bring us everything at every time and place.
spacerspacer Jupiter is the same sovereign for everybody. and capable of favoring the Getes and the Assyrians. The wisdom of his godhead is immense: now your horn of plenty overflows, now your field is parched. Store up what remains against the future, lest next year's baleful star ruins your abundance. He who excessively preens himself about his present possessions will deservedly grumble at any form of hunger. And yet we are fools: oh those of us with hearts always unconcerned about the future, a deep slumber possesses us mortals! We are trusting, and we hope for happiness with a supine spirit, nor are we able to dread the bad if the bad is not ready at hand. Having pity on the dire absent-mindedness of those who are snoring, Jupiter has ordained that a few remain wakeful. He has bidden them look to the future with keen wits lest a single day destroy both themselves and everyone else, and he arranged it so that this wholesome misers barns will be full, so that someday the hungry multitude might rely on their bounty. If the number of those deserving to be accounted among the gods has once been small but in this way has grown to be as plentiful as the stars, why do you deem its first inventors worthy of Olympus yet consign their successors to Hades? What's the point in discovering something outstanding but soon leaving it unprotected and foregoing its benefit?
spacer "I like the thing itself," you say, "but I dislike the greedy miser's character, his hand, always tight-fisted." What? If he were not otherwise and possessed by his accursed yearning for possession, would you be enjoying such great good things? The son is hot and you dislike its excessive heat, but do you imagine you can get by without it? The sluggish chill of winter nips at our bodies, but winter is no less necessary for the land. Not otherwise is Euclio blue is blamed for that excessive enthusiasm of his, nevertheless this enthusiasm works to your advantage. If you pity the fellow because his sordid mania for possession is always cheating him out of his proper nature, you'll be a fool. This stingy fellow is suffused with the pleasure of living thriftily and fixing his mind on the resulting good outcome. You desire things in the present, you use what's now at hand, but he follows a different strategy of postponement. Your single consideration is for your body, but, only attending to his his now and then, he is forever brooding on prolonged delays and forever nursing his hopes, which even in their absence are his delight. He is cheerful while people hiss at him, both pleased with himself and preserving his wealth for their profitr.
spacer If he is disposed to live his life in this manner, clearly nobody can call this contented fellow unhappy. Indeed, since he is doing nothing against his will and in his mind is looking forward to future good, is he not blessed? Is he not happy? Handsome? Wise? In sum, he's a king of kings, living contentedly on all the gods grant him. Does this continue to bother you, and you say that nothing can be enjoyed save in the moment and that hope for things to come serves only a kind of half-pleasure, or a planting of the seeds of delight? What if a miser is already savoring a full taste of pleasure no less than he who enjoys any kind of delight you care to name? A lover gathers his lusty darling into his his breast in an embrace and readies himself to engage in love's first battles. If the lad rejoices, not frustrated in possessing his longed-for darling, what is our miser to do when Venus herself appears bringing the old man heaps of gold rather than milk-white arms, if Venus is not called golden in vain?
spacer For it not without point that she is called golden by Homer, blue and one can imagine that the goddess herself provides the gold. Her homage by that man born at Smyrna blue is approved, and the entire crew of philosophers reveres her as well as that gang of poets who preceded them. And here in the present those who wear garlands on their heads will give her no less accord. So, unless you are to claim that blind poet saw nothing at all, then Venus is golden, and greedily chases after gold. So when Euclio sleeps on his gold-filled coffers is he not possessing his Venus? And when he wallows in his tawny gold can anyone say that his Venus is not present? He passionately showers kisses on his golden goddess Money more lavishly than does any lover. He often embraces his darling with both arms, speaking words of delight and committing naughty deeds, more so than Ovid did with his tender Corinna, blue or you with your mistress, Catullus.
spacer If each man enjoys his own kind of pleasure, does the form in which fostering Venus gives pleasure matter, whether she entices a boy with her ivory face or an old man with her gleaming golden cheeks? Of course you admire a snow-wite complexion, but he is moved by another appearance, That fair color is thought to captivate with its yellow, its golden chains bind its quarry, and the gleam which she sees on gold coins hypnotizes the eyes of a greedy mistress. Putting on an amazed expression, the naughty girl exclaims "I'm yours, I'm yours." No girl refuses to be captured by gifts. Rome's Tarpeia blue attests to this, bribed by bracelets and with the rewards of her homeland disdained. Greek Eriphyle will attest to this, blue who, seduced by a necklace, betrayed her absent husband. Procris will attest to it (who was more chaste until that moment?), blue but a pair of gifts made her questionable. Atalanta will attest to it, blue swifter than the wind until that apple was thrown, and even if you, you trio of goddesses baring your bodies in the leafy vales of it. Mt. Ida, blue have not served as a warning to maidens what happens if bashful modesty fails to scorn gifts. Even if it is contended that her beauty excuses a woman's misdeeds, the stain of wickedness still remains on her secret heart. Trust me, Golden Discord provokes the senses: without it beauty would amount to nothing. Pluto being what he is, whether golden Venus is sold or is up for sale while still unsullied, surely we must admit that in both cases it is up to Pluto blue to decide what she wants and what she is pleased to let a man enjoy.
spacer And yet, even if there is no delight greater than the pleasures Venus has to offer, I am of the opinion that there is nobody whom a girl can please and delight forever. This is no small point: if you continue enjoying your snow-white beauty over-long your passion gradually fades, your ardor cools, and now you become disinterested in Venus, a worn-out lover turning an exhausted back on her. But since my lover is perpetually enamored with his darling gold while suffering constant ups and downs over the days and the years, he clings to it all the more tightly, seeking its embrace and persisting in his effort.
spacer Come now, let every man discourse on the joys of his life and tell us what his hour brought forth on its happy feet. Whether this was because an overly generous Ceres and the waiter who pours his wine have led him astray with questionable gluttony, blue or on his triumphal car he has ascended the ancient Capitoline, or has triumphed in the noisy circus, wreathed his head with a victor's olive, amazed the rounded theaters blue with his lines, imbibed with his ears the poetry of Phoebus himself, or sees that his canvases are painted with the hand of an Apelles. Who would fancy that?
spacer Either pleasure is short-lived and false or a man quickly grows tired of it. Tediums creep in concerning the joys of things long-possessed, but he fails to attribute his nausea to his own nature. Uniquely the miser's consummate happiness remains unsullied unto the grave, that fellow is insatiable. He does not disdain what he has acquired, having lost his taste, nor does he covet any the less just because he owns much. Therefore, jealous critic, you should be more reasonable concerning such important matters, or keep your hands off the things against which you snarl. Nor should you blame him for his steadfastness if he patiently displays such persistent love. Corinthian Lais blue did not grant her nights to any old suitor, but who did not seek after her? A scorned lover could have called her stubborn, and yet no man was critical of that stubborn woman's appearance. You are willing and furtively crave and yet condemn your joys, like that fox which cannot get at the grapes. blue
spacer If you're thinking I'm wrong, now I understand your insight. Use your pens to keep on writing six hundred verses if you can, and when you have hurled your iambs worthy of an Arcilochus blue scarce three will hit the mark. You should be asking why this scourge is applied to undeserving gold. Ask why the common herd should begrudge that which it lacks. Would it come as a surprise if many should speak ill of the wealthy but few of paupers? A bankrupt retains the ability to speak and in his need he consoles himself with that. He despises the fortune denied to himself and holds in contempt men like Croesus and Midas (can you believe it?), but if he stumbled across a treasure buried in a ditch can you imagine he would go on consigning them to eternal damnation (can you believe it?) rather than shift it into his own coffers? Doesn't barking Cerberus cease his yapping if you toss him some bones, and forgive you, having grown more tame thanks to these acquisitions? Now he does not hide the fact that he is driven by his passionate concerns. Every lover is passionate, and likewise our old man.
spacer A lover jealously clings to his mistress, and this fellow is jealous for his. He lives in dread, frightened by a nearby shadow created by winds, and he does not want even atoms to pass through his door. Hence Venus, admiring the fervor of this perpetual miser and overcome by the careful old boy's watchfulness, devotes herself to him alone, saying "since this man is worshiping me so so well, let him worship me forever." Meanwhile, while as his act of loyal service he secretes her in his money-chest, the greedy throng of mankind searches for their absent mistress. If you command it, in its hunger it will travel through the waves of the ocean or even down to Avernus if only it will grant prosperity thanks to these novel methods. Nor will this throng fear to invade the sacred bedchamber of Dis if she is willing to be fetched from those Stygian climes, or fear fire-snorting bulls. It will not dread provoking the wrath of a vigilant dragon as long as it shoots forth its fire from golden jaws. For the sake of its mistress it will willingly submit to anything, undaunted even by the thunderbolts of Jupiter on high.
spacer Hence (unless every lover is demented) we must admit that she cannot be appeased in any old way. She for whom all the world is constantly competing has her love-potions and never goes without her little chest of philtres. Look here, if the pretty Trojan face of that girl kidnapped from Sparta compelled all those Greek warlords to take up arms, what can be achieved by this single goddess, whose face (uniquely) inspires warfare in the hearts of kings lustful for her? So often she is the reason for a begarlanded triumphs, remaining the single prize to be sought in battle. Fame's glory is held up as a shadow of a pretext, but in their inward hearts princes hanker after her. Whether love of praise or piety towards the goddess is offered as a false pretext, she is the darling of her devotees.
spacerShe is that which has carried us to unknown shores, and has now opened up the antipodes, places no longer doubtful. You ask why nowadays we travel to the gold-bearing Indies? The goddess is said to dwell in those climes. Why should someone endure the parching climate of the sun unless he has an even hotter fire burning in his heart? If the sailor had not set sail on his daring ship, the greater part of the world would still be lying stagnant. This is what has disclosed new stars in the sky risng up to great our ships, where you are revealed, you southern polestar blue and Canope. This is what first called us forth from the forest and taught us the ways of agriculture, when the uncouth land was tamed by our hand and when barb arianism was conquered Man exchanged it for a civic-minded heart and hence cultivated both the lands and the gods.
spacer If Father Liber blue had not found his way to the East blue and the club-bearer had come to the straits of Cadiz, and if Roman power had not subdued the wild tribes and submitted their necks to its yoke, assuredly that countryside simplicity would have endured through uncouth centuries down to these very days. In these matters the barbarian deferred to his master as well as paying his taxes, adopting his overlord's comfort, his rites and his laws. If he is added to his conqueror's city as a citizen, on this term he would want to be conquered again. No wonder: perched high on his horse and well-fed at court, now that he is enriched why should he want to return to his hovel? He's smart, he's learned to adopt great geometers, the painter and the wrestling-coach as his gods, and he acts with patience to acquire a world previously dead to him until his sought-for quarry falls into his nets.
spacer Then indeed when he has acquired every penny he sees that he's grown another name. blue Then he happily appreciates that Fortune has smoothed her face and ordained everything with her cheeks puffed up. He's obeyed, and the man who his drinking-companion just yesterday now abjectly wags his tail. The virtue of this goddess is a rare one, but she has her own charm: the man whom this divinity visits is not without his Graces. For of a sudden he will become handsome, born of an ancient bloodline, and endowed with cultivated eloquence. His every action will become praiseworthy: fawn on him, you goodly throng, let your flattering words with their sweet sound not fall still. Let swarming throngs of the common folk thrust themselves forward when he opens his bedroom door. Let people urge him to seek the fasces and the curile chair. Why should he hesitate to don a candidate's white gown, blue , ,MThen he happily appreciates that Fortune has smoothed her face and ordained everything with her cheeks puffed up. He's obeyed, and the man who his drinking-companion just yesterday now abjectly wags his tail. The virtue of this goddess is a rare one, but she has her own charm: the man whom this divinity visits is not without his Graces. For of a sudden he will become handsome, born of an ancient bloodline, and endowed with cultivated eloquence. His every action will become praiseworthy: fawn on him, you goodly throng, let your flattering words with their sweet sound not fall still. Let swarming throngs of the common folk thrust themselves forward when he opens his bedroom door. Let people urge him to seek the fasces and the curile chair. Why should he hesitate to don a candidate's white gown?
spacer For even if its feeble breeze was unfavorable to stern Cato blue the dissenting votes of the commoners are useful. Queen Money supplies all to the wealthy man and he himself becomes gentler when bribed. As long as his wrath was a-boil that man, the chief glory of the Phthian land, behaved cruelly towards the corpse of Hector, but as soon as he had met Priam bearing the treasure of Troy his heated threats quickly subsided, blue and henceforth that descendent of Aeacus was gentler in his treatment of Patrocles. So what should you do? Trust me, gifts appease the great gods, they bind men together in associations, no matter how just the quarrel that arises from offenses. Even if the unavenged shade of your father hovers before your eyes, let his murderer bring you gifts (but not in moderation), and as soon as the beauty of glittering gold has shined, your concern for your reputation and your wrath will become mired in the mud. You will disdain that as unbecoming, you will love profits as being most worthy. So much for your reputation, so much for revenge and your father's murder.
spacer There's need for money, who won't turn up his nose at sweet gold? Being capable of bending things, it has bent the flinty Caucasus mountains, the monstrous Getes and the Cyclopes with their hearts of iron, and you doubt what it can achieve in these civilized climes? "What mortal hearts does that accursed hunger for Gold not inspire?" blue What liberty does not perish when it permits? Once upon a time that corrupting Julius bought its citizens when venal Rome was up for sale. Now is a different time but the ancient habit still persists that golden Venus should rule in Aeneas' city. blue Tell me where she shouldn't reign? Nowadays on every shore there's a Paphus and a Gnidus where cinnamon and incense are burning in honor of such a great goddess. You seek her temples? Look into mortal hearts, and there you will find many temples set up.
spacer And don't be at all bothered by the wonderful presence of this goddess, she fosters both men and gods. Adopting many guises, Jupiter tempted Danae, and what's greater than Jove in the universe? Did he not fail to win her over and be gathered into her loving embrace until he adopted the guise of our goddess? He who had been fended off by her father, her guardian, and the hard-hearted maiden was helped by becoming a gilt-edged seducer. Girls are blamed for having round heels when captivated by gold. Be forgiving: did that tower of brass withstand it? But since at that time Jupiter deceived her by adopting a golden guise, should he not suffer the same injury he inflicted? Tell me, you papists, why should secular hearts scorn the laws you allow in sacred matters? Should we be surprised that, if that golden magnet pulls popes, kings, satraps, and elected senates to and fro, it is so easily obeyed by all willing men? By its powerful will it opens up realms, cities, and the temples of the gods, and no doubt Hell as well, if a goddess gave someone a golden bough blue so that a ferryman lent him an obliging raft. The gradual effect of seductive gold gradually works its way through the impassable, this is more genuine than Jove's enchainment. Have faith, you mortals, hold this mistress in reverence, She is the greatest of your powers. Be patient, your unhoped-for hour will come, hope supported by gold always delivers something new.
spacer And you too should keep up your hopes, you poets, that some Maecenas will exist in our times. By Hercules, if none exists it will be to your advantage to rely on magical arts. By them Daphnis was brought home from the city, blue Once upon a time it as a small thing to bring down the moon from the sky and retrieve shades from the Styx. blue Today do poets have no power in their singing to retrieve Maecenases from their graves? blue Invoke three hundred gods, deep Erebus, shapeless chaos and three-headed Hecate,blue heap spells upon spells, add threatening words, and let your poems be full of imprecations. Thus, I imagine, Maecenas, returned from the bewitched shades, will undo the damage created by his ungrateful posterity.
spacer If there are no powers in song, I don't know what remains unless, with the Muses and all Helicon abandoned, men must forget the arts of the cultivated mind. Today those who wish to be pleasing when admitted into the corridors of power and win the favor of their Joves must assume any guise you care to name as long as they shed themselves of their sense of shame and learn how to abandon candid good faith. Today's royal palaces with their donkey's ears would rather eat herring than listen to you, Horace. To be honest, Venus herself does not give a friendly reception to those gold-lovers approved by Pallas. Come now: so as to acquire a well-disposed mistress, you must not be very wise or a very good man. In short (to put it in a nutshell, act in your own interest. ACT IN YOUR OWN INTEREST.

Finis