THE SATYRICON - V7
THE SATYRICON - V7
Complete and unexpurgated translation by W. C. Firebaugh
in which are incorporated the forgeries of Nodot and Marchena
and the readings introduced into the text by De Salas.
SIX NOTES BY MARCHENA.
TO THE ARMY OF THE RHINE.
The conquests of the French have resulted during this war in a boon to
knowledge and to letters. Egypt has furnished us with monuments of its
aboriginal inhabitants which the ignorance and superstition of the Copts
and Mussulmans kept concealed from civilized countries. The libraries of
the convents of the various countries have been ransacked by savants and
precious manuscripts have been brought to light.
By no means the least interesting of the acquisitions is a fragment of
Petronius which we offer to the public taken from an ancient manuscript
which our soldiers in conquering St. Gall have sent to us for
examination. We have made an important discovery in reading a parchment
which contains the work of St. Gennadius on the Duties of Priests and
which judging from the form of the letters employed we should say was
written in the eleventh century. A most careful examination led us to
perceive that the work by this saint had been written on pages containing
written letters which had been almost effaced. We know that in the dark
ages it was customary to write ecclesiastical works on the manuscripts
containing the best authors of Latinity.
At a cost of much labor we have been able to decipher a morsel which we
give to the public: and of the authenticity of which there can be no
doubt. We render homage to the brave French army to which we owe this
It is easy to notice that there is a lacuna in that passage of Petronius
in which Encolpius is left with Quartilla looking through a chink in the
door at the actions of Giton and little Pannychis. A few lines below
it relates in effect that he was fatigued by the voluptuous enjoyment
of Quartilla and in that which remains to us there is no mention of the
preliminaries to this enjoyment. The style of the Latin so closely
resembles the original of Petronius that it is impossible to believe that
the fragment was forged.
For the benefit of those who have not read the author it is well to
state that this Quartilla was a priestess of Priapus at whose house they
celebrated the mysteries of that god. Pannychis is a young girl of seven
years who had been handed over to Giton to be deflowered. This Giton is
the "good friend" of Encolpius who is supposed to relate the scene.
Encolpius who had drunk an aphrodisiacal beverage is occupied with
Quartilla in peeping through the door to see in what manner Giton was
acquitting himself in his role. At that moment a soldier enters the
Finally an old woman about whom there is some question in the fragment
is the same as the one who had unexpectedly conducted Encolpius to the
house of the public women and of whom mention is made in the beginning of
Ipsa Venus magico religatum brachia nodo
Perdocuit multis non sine verberibus.
Tibullus viii 5.
Vous verrez que vous avcz affaire a un homme.
You will learn that you have to deal with a man.
Fighting men have in all times been distinguished on account of the
beauty of their women. The charming fable of the loves of Venus and
Mars described by the most ancient of poets expresses allegorically
this truth. All the demi-gods had their amorous adventures; the most
valiant were always the most passionate and the happiest. Hercules took
the maidenheads of fifty girls in a single night. Thesus loved a
thousand beauties and slept with them. Jason abandoned Hypsipyle for
Medea and her for Creusa. Achilles the swift of foot forgot the
tender Deidamia in the arms of his Briseis.
It has been remarked that the lovers did not have very scrupulous tastes
in their methods of attaining satisfaction from the women they loved.
The most common method was abduction and the women always submitted to
this without a murmur of any sort. Helen was carried off by Theseus
after having also been abducted by Paris. The wife of Atreus was
abducted by Thyestus and from that arose the implacable hatred between
the two families. Rape was no less common. Goddesses themselves and the
favorites of the Gods were at the risk of falling prey to strong mortals.
Pirithous aided by Theseus even attempted to snatch Proserpina from the
God of the under-world. Juno herself was compelled to painful submission
to the pursuit of Ixion and Thetis succumbed despite herself to the
assaults of Peleus. The gift of foretelling the future with which
Apollo endowed Cassandra did not insure her against the brutal caresses
of Ajax son of Oileus.
In the infancy of society there was never known any other distinction
except between the weak and the strong: the strong commanded and the weak
obeyed. For that reason women were regarded in the light of beings
destined by nature to serve the pleasures and even the caprices of men.
Never did her suitors express a tender thought for Penelope and instead
of making love to her they squandered her property slept with her
slaves and took charge of things in her house.
Circe gave herself to Ulysses who desired to slay her and Calypso full
blown goddess as she was was obliged to make his advances for him. The
fine sentiments that Virgil puts into the mouth of the shade of Creusa
content with having died while serving against the Greeks "she was a
Trojan and she wedded the son of Venus"; the confession with which
Andromache confronted by the murderer of her first husband responds to
the question of AEneas; these ideas I say and these sentiments
appertained to the polished century of Augustus and not to the epoch or
scene of the Trojan War. Virgil in his AEneid had never subscribed to
the precepts of Horace and of common sense:
Aut famam sequere aut sibi convenientia finge
Horace Ars Poet. 119.
From this manner of dealing with women arose another reason for the
possession of beauty by the valiant. One coveted a woman much as one
would covet a fine flock of sheep and in the absence of laws the one
in possession of either the one or the other of these desirable objects
would soon be dispossessed of them if he was not courageous enough to
guard them against theft. Wars were as much enterprises for ravishing
women as they were for taking other property and one should remember
that Agamemnon promised to retire from before Troy if the Trojans would
restore Helen and his riches to Menelaus; things which Paris had
despoiled him of.
Also there was never any of that thing we call "conjugal honor" among
the Greeks; that idea was far too refined; it was a matter too complex
ever to have entered the heads of these semi-barbarous people. This is
exemplified in the fact that after the taking of Troy Helen who had
of her own free will belonged successively to Paris and to Deiphobus
afterwards returned to Menelaus who never offered her any reproach.
That conduct of Menelaus was so natural that Telemachus who in his trip
to Sparta found Helen again with Menelaus just as she was before her
abduction did not show the least astonishment.
The books which bear the most remarkable resemblance to each other are
the Bible and Homer because the people they describe and the men about
whom they speak are forerunners of civilization in pretty much the same
degree. Sarah was twice snatched from the bosom of Abraham and he was
never displeased with his wife and continued to live on good terms with
her. David a newcomer on the throne hastened to have Michol brought to
him although she had already married another man.
The best proof that during the time of the Romans the women preferred
soldiers to other men is in the claims to successful enterprises by the
bragging soldier of Plautus. Pyrgopolinices thought it was only
necessary to pose as a great warrior to have all the women chasing after
him; therefore his parasite and his slave spoke of nothing but the
passions be inspired in women. Tradition has it that among the Samnites
the bravest men had the choice of the fairest women and to this custom
is attributed one of the reasons these people were so warlike.
In the times of chivalry the greatest exploits were achieved for the
pleasure of one's Lady-Love and there were even such valiant knights as
Don Quixote who went about the world proving by force of arms that their
ladies had no peer. The poverty-stricken troubadours singing
harmoniously about their beautiful women found them flying away in the
arms of knights who had broken lances at tournaments or had performed
the greatest feats of arms. In fine all the peoples of the world have
said with Dryden:
"None but the brave deserves the fair."
Ses camarades se saisissent de moi et de Quartilla.
His comrades seized hold of Quartilla and me.
The profession of Quartilla corresponded to that which is followed by
our ladies of the Palace Royal. This Palace Royal is a sort of Babylon
with this difference; that the former prostitute themselves all the year
round and that they are not quite so attractive as the Chaldean
beauties. For the rest one of the incontestable facts of ancient
history is this prostitution of the women of Babylon in honor of Venus
and I cannot understand why Voltaire refused to believe it since
religions have always been responsible for the most abominable actions
and because religious wars the horrors of intolerance the impostures of
priests the despotism of kings the degradation and stupidity of the
people have been the direct fatal effects of religions; and seeing that
the blind fanaticism of martyrs and the brutal cruelty of tyrants is a
hundred times more deplorable than a sacrifice equally agreeable to the
victim and to the one who officiates at the sacrifice; and seeing that
the enjoyment and giving of life is no less holy than the maceration and
caging of innocent animals.
The origin of courtesans is lost in the deepest antiquity. It appears
that it was one of the patriarchal customs to enjoy them for Judah slept
with Thamar widow of his two sons and who to seduce him disguised
herself as a courtesan. Another courtesan Rahab played a great role in
the first wars of the people of the Lord: it was this same Rahab who
married Solomon father of Boaz fourth forefather of David and thirty-
second forefather of Jesus Christ our divine Savior. Yet the eternal
sagacity of man has failed to take notice of this profession and to
resent the injustice done it by the scorn of men. The elected kings of
the people the man who adopts the word father according to the flesh
are descendants of a courtesan.
For the rest it must be admitted that many who follow this noble
profession are unworthy of it and only too well justify the ignominy
which is levelled against the entire class. You see these miserable
creatures with livid complexions and haggard eyes with voices of
Stentor breathing out at the same time the poisons which circulate in
their veins and the liquors with which they are intoxicated; you see on
their blemished and emaciated bodies the marks of beings more hideous
than they (twenty come to satisfy their brutal passions for every one of
them); you listen to their vile language you hear their oaths and
revolting expressions: to go to these Megeres is often to encounter
brigands and assassins: what a spectacle! It is the deformity of vice
in the rags of indigence.
Ah! But these are not courtesans they are the dregs of cities. A
courtesan worthy of the name is a beautiful woman gracious and amiable
at whose home gather men of letters and men of the world; the first
magistrates the greatest captains: and who keeps men of all professions
in a happy state of mind because she is pleasing to them she inspires in
them a desire for reciprocal pleasure: such an one was Aspasia who after
having charmed the cultured people of Athens was for a long time the good
companion of Pericles and contributed much perhaps towards making his
century what it was the age of taste in arts and letters. Such an
one also was Phryne Lais Glycera and their names will always be
celebrated; such also was Ninon d'Enclos one of the ornaments of
the century of Louis XIV and Clairon the first who realized all the
grandeur of her art; such an one art thou C----- French Thalia who
commands attentions I do not say this by way of apology but to share the
opinion of Alceste.
A courtesan such as I have in mind may have all the public and private
virtues. One knows the severe probity of Ninon her generosity her
taste for the arts her attachment to her friends. Epicharis the soul
of the conspiracy of Piso against the execrable Nero was a courtesan
and the severe Tacitus who cannot be taxed with a partiality for
gallantry has borne witness to the constancy with which she resisted the
most seductive promises and endured the most terrible tortures without
revealing any of the details of the conspiracy or any of the names of the
These facts should be recognized above that ascetic moral idea which
consists of the sovereign virtue of abstinence in defiance of nature's
commands and which places weakness in these matters along with the most
odious crimes. Can one see without indignation Suetonius' reproach of
Caesar for his gallantries with Servilia with Tertia and other Roman
ladies as a thing equal to his extortions and his measureless ambitions
and praising his warlike ardor against peoples who had never furnished
room for complaint to Rome? The source of these errors was the theory of
emanations. The first dreamers who were called philosophers imagined
that matter and light were co-eternal; they supposed that was all one
unformed and tenebrous mass; and from the former they established the
principle of evil and of all imperfection while they regarded the latter
as sovereign perfection. Creation or one might better say co-
ordination was only the emanation of light which penetrated chaos but
the mixture of light and matter was the cause of all the inevitable
imperfections of the universe. The soul of man was part and parcel of
divinity or of increased light; it would never attain happiness until it
was re-united to the source of all light; but for it we would be free
from all things we call gross and material and we would be taken into
the ethereal regions by contemplation and by abstinence from the
pleasures of the flesh. When these absurdities were adopted for the
regulation of conduct they necessarily resulted in a fierce morality
inimical to all the pleasures of life such in a word as that of the
Gymnosophists or in a lesser measure of the Trappists.
But despite the gloomy nonsense of certain atrabilious dreamers the
wonderful era of the Greeks was that of the reign of the courtesans.
It was about the houses of these that revolved the sands of Pactolus
their fame exceeded that of the first men of Greece. The rich offerings
that decorated the temples of the Gods were the gifts of these women
and it must be remembered that most of them were foreigners originating
for the most part in Asia Minor. It happened that an Athenian
financier who resembled the rest of his tribe as much as two drops of
water proposed once to levy an impost upon the courtesans. As he spoke
eloquently of the incalculable advantages which would accrue to the
Government by this tax a certain person asked him by whom the courtesans
were paid. "By the Athenians" replied our orator after deliberation.
"Then it would be the Athenians who would pay the impost" replied the
questioner and the people of Athens who had a little more sense than
certain legislative assemblies hooted the orator down and there was
never any more question about a tax upon courtesans.
Corinth was famous for the number and beauty of its courtesans from
which comes the proverb: "It is not given to every man to go to Corinth";
there they ran the risk of losing their money and ruining their health.
The cause of this great vogue of courtesans in Greece was not the
supposed ugliness of the sex as the savant Paw imagined and
contradicted by the unanimous evidence of ancient authors and of modern
travellers; but rather the retired and solitary life which the women of
the country led. They lived in separate apartments and never had any
communication with the streets or with the residences of men "the inner
part of the house which was called the women's apartments" said
Cornelius Nepos (preface). Strangers never visited them; they rarely
visited their nearest relations. This was why marriage between brothers
and sisters was authorized by law and encouraged by usage; the sisters
were exposed to the attacks of their brothers because they lived
separated from them.
With the Romans as with us the virtuous women corrupted somewhat the
profession of the courtesans. The absolute seclusion of women was never
the fashion at Rome and the stories we have on the authority of Valerius
Maximus on the chastity and modesty of the first Roman matrons merit the
same degree of belief as the legend of Romulus and Remus being brought up
by a wolf the rape of Lucretia or the tragic death of Virginia. On the
contrary in Livy a great admirer of the customs of the early days of
Rome we find that in those times a great number of Roman women of the
noblest families were convicted of having poisoned their husbands and
condemned to death for this hideous crime: that by no means shows a very
exquisite and tender conjugal sentiment. During the period of the second
Punic War with what energy they went about the city seeking the repeal of
the law which took out of their hands the custody of jewels and precious
stones! A repeal which they obtained despite the opposition of Cato the
Censor. It appears that the profession of the courtesan was generally
practised by the freed-women; their manner necessarily showed the results
of their education. But the young sparks of Rome never paid much
attention to them they preferred to have love affairs with the wives of
their friends. For one Sallust who ruined himself with freedwomen there
were five Cupienniuses; "Cupiennius that admirer of the pudenda garbed
in white" Hor. Sat. I ii 36. Delia Lesbia Ipsythillia Corinna
Nemesis Neeria Cynthia Sulpitia Lycimnia and almost all the women to
whom under real or assumed names Catullus Tibullus Propertius Ovid
Horace and others addressed their erotic compositions were Roman
married women. Horace is the only one who celebrated a freedwoman in
some of his odes. This is due however to his taste for variety and
perhaps also to his birth for he himself was the son of a freedwoman.
Ovid's Art of Love and the Satires of Juvenal reveal the extent to which
gallantry was the fashion at Rome and Cato would never have praised the
conduct of that young man who had recourse to a public house if that had
been an ordinary course of procedure.
In Europe of the middle ages the priests and abbots helped to some
extent in reviving the profession of the courtesans. Long before Saint
Paul had stated in his Epistles that it was permitted to the apostles
of the Lord to take with them everywhere a sister for charity. The
deaconesses date from the first century of the church. But the celibacy
of the clergy was not universally and solidly established until about the
eleventh century under the pontificate of Gregory VII. During the
preceding century the celebrated Marozie and Theodore had put their
lovers successively upon the chair of St. Peter and their sons and
grandsons as well. But after the priests had submitted to celibacy they
ostensibly took the concubines of which alas! our housekeepers of today
are but feeble vestiges. The Spanish codes of the middle ages were often
concerned with the rights of the concubines of priests (mancebas de los
clerigos) and these chosen ones of the chosen ones of the Lord invariably
appeared worthy of envy. Finally the courtesans appeared in all their
magnificence in the Holy City and modern Rome atoned for the rebuffs and
indignities these women had been compelled to endure in ancient Rome.
The princes of the church showered them with gifts they threw at their
feet the price of redemption from sin paid by the faithful and the age
of Leo X was for Rome a wonderful epoch of fine arts belles lettres and
beautiful women. But a fanatical monk from Lower Germany fell upon this
calm of the church and this happy era of the harlots; since then the
revenues of the sacred college have continued to decrease the beautiful
courtesans have abandoned the capital of the Christian world and their
pleasures have fled with them. And can anyone longer believe in the
perfection of the human race since the best the most holy of human
institutions has so visibly degenerated!
Le Soldat ordonne a embasicetas de m'accabler de ses impurs baisers.
The soldier ordered the catamite to beslaver me with his stinking
One of the reasons which caused the learned and paradoxical Hardouin to
assert that all the works which have been attributed to the ancients
with the exception of the Georgics and the Natural History of Pliny were
the compositions of monks was doubtless the very frequent repetition of
scenes of love for boys which one notices in most of these writings:
this savant was a Jesuit. But this taste is not peculiar to convents; it
is to be found among all peoples and in all climates; its origin is lost
in the night of the centuries; it is common in the most polished nations
and it is common among savage tribes. Profound philosophers have argued
in favor of it; poets have sung the objects of this sort of love in their
tender and passionate compositions and these compositions have always
been the delight of posterity. What stupid or unfeeling reader can read
without emotion that beautiful eclogue of Virgil where Corydon sighs his
hopeless love for the beautiful Alexis? The most passionate ode of
Horace is that one in which he complains of the harshness of Ligurinus.
The tender Tibullus deceived by his Marathus brings tears to all who
have hearts. The delicate Anacreon praising his Bathylle and the
valiant Alceus giving himself up after his labors in war to sing of the
dark eyes and black hair of Lycus . . . "with dark eyes and black hair
beautiful." It is not to over-civilized refinements of society which
according to certain misanthropists degrade nature and corrupt it that
this taste is due; it is found among the south sea islanders and the
evidence of the first Spaniards attests that it was common among the
hordes of American Indians before the discovery of the new world. Paw
had attempted to explain this as resulting from defects in the formation
of the organs of pleasure among the natives; but a peculiar cause is not
sufficient explanation for a universal effect.
At the time of the Patriarchs Greek love was so general that in the four
cities Sodom Gomorrah Adama and Seboim it was impossible to find ten
men exempt from the contagion; that number would have sufficed said the
Lord to withhold the punishment which he inflicted upon those cities.
It should be noted here that most of the assertions about the morals of
the Israelites which are to be found in the Erotica Biblon of Mirabeau
are either false or pure guesswork. It is a bizarre method of judging
the morals of a people that of taking their legal code and inferring
that the people were accustomed to break all the laws which are forbidden
by that code. Nevertheless that is the method which the author of the
Erotica Biblon adopts for portraying the morals of the Jewish people.
Again he has not even understood this code; he has believed that the law
against giving one's seed to the idol Moloch meant giving the human
semen; and he is ignorant of the fact that this seed as spoken of in the
Bible means the children and descendants. Thus it is that the land of
Canaan is promised to the seed of Abraham and the perpetuity of the
reign on Sion to that of David. Moloch was a Phoenician deity the same
one to which in Carthage they sacrificed children; the Romans believed
him to be a reincarnation of their Saturn but Saturn was an Etruscan
divinity who could never have had any connection with the Gods of
Phoenicia. He (Mirabeau) has translated "those who polluted the temple"
as meaning those who were guilty of some obscenity in the temple; and he
does not know that the temple was "polluted" by a thousand acts declared
impure by law and which were not obscene. The entrance of a woman into
a sacred place less than forty days after her accouchement or the
entrance of a man who had touched an impure animal constituted a
pollution of the House of the Lord. When one wishes to make a parade of
erudition he should make some attempt to understand the things which he
pretends to make clear to others. Or is it that this Mirabeau was merely
The love of boys was so thoroughly the fashion in Greece that we have
today given it the name "Greek Love." Orestes was regarded as the "good
friend" of Pylades and Patroclus as the lover of Achilles. In this
taste the Gods set the example for mortals and the abduction of
Ganymede for the service of the master of thunder was not the least
cause for annoyance given the chaste but over-prudish Juno. Lastly