251 Corbulo uix ferret tot uasa ingentia, tot res
inpositas capiti, quas recto uertice portat
seruulus infelix et cursu uentilat ignem.
scinduntur tunicae sartae modo, longa coruscat
serraco ueniente abies, atque altera pinum
Huge pans, which Corbulo could scarce uprear,
With steady neck a puny slave must bear,
And, lest amid the way the flames expire,
Glide nimbly on, and gliding, fan the fire;
Through the close press with sinuous efforts wind,
And, piece by piece, leave his botch’d rags behind.
Hark! groaning on, the unwieldy waggon spreads
Its cumbrous load, tremendous! o’er our heads,
Projecting elm or pine, that nods on high,
And threatens death to ever passer by.
Heavens! should the axle crack, which bears a weight
Of huge Ligurian stone, and pour the freight
On the pale crowd beneath, what would remain,
What joint, what bone, what atom of the slain?
The body, with the soul, would vanish quite,
Invisible as air, to mortal sight!—
Meanwhile, unconscious of their fellow’s fate,
At home, they heat the water, scour the plate,
Arrange the strigils, fill the cruise with oil,
And ply their several tasks with fruitless toil:
For he who bore the dole, poor mangled ghost,
Sits pale and trembling on the Stygian coast,
Scared at the horrours of the novel scene,
At Charon’s threatening voice, and scowling mien;
Nor hopes a passage, thus abruptly hurl’d,
Without his farthing, to the nether world.
Pass we these fearful dangers, and survey,
What other evils threat our nightly way.
And first, behold the mansion’s towering size,
Where floors on floors to the tenth story rise;
Whence heedless garretteers their potsherds throw,
And crush the unwary wretch that walks below!
Clattering the storm descends from heights unknown,
Ploughs up the street, and wounds the flinty stone!
’Tis madness, dire improvidence of ill,
To sup abroad, before you sign your Will;
Since fate in ambush lies, and marks his prey
From every wakeful window in the way:
256 plaustra uehunt; nutant alte populoque minantur.
nam si procubuit qui saxa Ligustica portat
axis et euersum fudit super agmina montem,
quid superest de corporibus? quis membra, quis ossa
inuenit? obtritum uolgi perit omne cadauer
261 more animae. domus interea secura patellas
iam lauat et bucca foculum excitat et sonat unctis
striglibus et pleno componit lintea guto.
haec inter pueros uarie properantur, at ille
iam sedet in ripa taetrumque nouicius horret
266 porthmea nec sperat caenosi gurgitis alnum
infelix nec habet quem porrigat ore trientem.
     respice nunc alia ac diuersa pericula noctis:
quod spatium tectis sublimibus unde cerebrum
testa ferit, quotiens rimosa et curta fenestris
271 uasa cadant, quanto percussum pondere signent
et laedant silicem. possis ignauus haberi
et subiti casus inprouidus, ad cenam si
intestatus eas: adeo tot fata, quot illa
nocte patent uigiles te praetereunte fenestrae.
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