Friday, December 23, 2011

Satires (Excerpt)

What good are family trees? What point is there in being valued
For the length of your pedigree, Ponticus? Where does it get you
Having the painted masks of your ancestors on display,
Or all those statues—an Aemilius in his chariot,
Half of a Curius, a Corvinus lacking one shoulder,
A noseless Galba? What is the object of boasting
About your high ancestry? Why trace back the ramifications
Of your kinship with dusty pontiffs or masters of horse, if your own
Life is a public disgrace? Why have so many portraits
Of generals around, if you spend the whole night gambling
Under their noses, if you're ready for bed
At daybreak—a time when they would be up and striking camp
And moving their forces off? Why on earth should a Fabius,
Though descended from Hercules, be entitled to any respect
For inherited honors—his rights at the Great Altar
Being styled "of the Rhône"—if he's a greedy numbskull
And softer than any lambskin, if his backside
Is pumiced smooth, a caricature of his hairy
Ancestors, if he blots the family scutcheon by traffic
In illegal drugs, and his statue has to be broken up?
You may line your whole hall with waxen busts, but virtue,
And virtue alone, remains the one true nobility.


1 comment:

  1. (Pointedly ignoring the existence of Donald Sterling here, because that motherfucker is flossing some TURPITUDE.)


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