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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [X7v p334]

In nostrates mulieres.

On our fellow-countrywomen.

Auri sacra fames.[1]

The accursed [lit. sacred] hunger for gold.

Quae sacras variis implet suffitibus aras,
Et solitas fundit nocte dieque preces.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [X8r p335]Commutatque frequens rectae ieiunia coenae,
Et corpus miseris conficit illa modis:
Haec nunc ad noctem media sedet anxia mensa,
Et numerat solidos, vile numisma suos.[2]
Gaudet & eiusdem numeros adducere summae,
Ut viso toties expleat aere sitim.
Quām vis magna auri est, ut quos nec cursus honorum
Detinet attonitos, comprimat aeris amor.

The woman who fills the holy altars with all sorts of smoke, and pours out her habitual prayers night and day: And often goes hungry in place of a proper dinner, and wears out her body in suchlike miserable fashion: Now this same woman is sitting by night at the middle of her table and counts her shillings and piddling coppers. She is happy too, when she adds coins to the same pile, that she can so often slake her thirst by ogling her treasure. How great is the power of gold, that those whom not even the race for glory* can hold spell-bound, the love of money will captivate.
* Cursus honorum: strictly, the political rat-race in Ancient Rome, marked by successive election to increasingly senior magistracies (e.g. quaestorship, praetorship, consulship).

Notes:

1.  Vergil, Aeneid, 3.57, later turned into a proverb by Seneca.

2.  Solidus (the ‘s’ in Ģ.s.d.): originally an imperial gold coin, though subject to much devaluation. Vile numisma: ‘common, base, worthless coinage’. It is unclear whether we are to regard vile numisma as a description of solidos, in apposition to it, or, (as translated here) as a separate object of numerat.


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