Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boothby: Cesar to his Valet

There is a busy-body race,
Infesting every public place;
Active in idleness, employ'd
Unask'd, in nothings occupied;
With time not knowing what to do,
Weigh on themselves and others too.
Come, listen to the following fable,
And mend yourselves, if ye are able!
Cesar, to Naples as he went,
A day at his fine villa spent,
Built by Lucullus, whence you see
The Tuscan main and Sicily.
As he the pleasure-grounds went round,
At every turn, in view was found
The same attendant, neatly drest
In pantaloons and snowy vest,
Through all the paths who tript before,
With a small watering-pan he bore,
Sprinkling on either hand the way,
The air to cool and dust to lay;
And such officious haste displays,
As laughter gains instead of praise.
Tiberius, who knew the man,
Perceiv'd at once his foolish plan.
"Halloo!" he says the varlet flies,
Not doubting he had gain'd his prize.
When thus to jest the Emperor deigns:
"You work unbid and lose your pains;
For know my boxes on the ear,
My friend, a higher premium bear."

Source: Boothby - Phaedrus 2.5.
(not in Mille) Perry489

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