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Personat aurata cithara crinitus Iopas.[1]
Cum risu spectans sexus uterque sedet.
Simius at media saltat vestitus in aula.
Sic hominem simulans, ut videatur homo.
Támque sibi ipse placet saltans, homo credat ut esse,
Ridiculus cunctis Simius attamen est.
Dedecorosa haec est hominis saltantis imago,
Clunes sub crotalo dum movet, atque pedes,
Dat motus incompositos: numero meditatur
Respondere pari, conveniente pede,
Dum studet ac uni stultae placuisse puellae:
Ridendum se aliis omnibus exhibuit.
Si quis ut ignarus sit consuetudinis huius:
Insanire putet quem videt hoc agere.

Iopas with his big hair makes the golden lyre sing, and both sexes sit by, smiling and watching. But a monkey in a suit dances in the middle of the hall, imitating a man so as to seem a man. He pleases himself so much as he dances that he thinks he’s a man, but still he’s a monkey, ridiculous to all. This is a picture of a man’s disgraceful dance: he wiggles his bum and feet to the castanets and makes improvised motions, and he strives to answer measure with equal measure as his feet allow. As he tries to please a single stupid girl, he makes himself a horrible sight to all the others. If someone should be ignorant of this custom, he’d think anyone he saw doing such a thing was insane.


1.  The singer at the court of Carthage in Vergil’s Aeneid, 1.740ff. The line is a combination of two half-lines from this context.

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