Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus [Suetonius]
Latin (Imperial Era)
C. SVETONI TRANQVILLVI DE POETIS
I. PUBLIUS TERENTIUS AFER, Carthagine natus, serviit Romae Terentio Lucano senatori,
[Publius Terentius Afer, born in Carthage, was a slave in Rome for Terentius Lucanus the senator,]
a quo ob ingenium et formam non institutus modo liberaliter sed et mature manumissus est.
[from whom, on account of his intelligence and good looks, was not only educated generously but was very early on granted his freedom.]
Quidam captum esse existimant, quod fieri nullo modo potuisse Fenestella docet,
[Certain people think that he was captured, something which Fenestella teaches was no way possible,]
cum inter finem secundi Punici belli et initium tertii natus sit et mortuus;
[since he was born and died between the end of the second Punic war and beginning of the third;]
nec si a Numidis et Gaetulis captus sit, ad ducem Romanum pervenire potuisse, nullo commercio inter Italicos et Afros nisi post deletam Carthaginem coepto.
[nor, if he was captured by Numidians and Gaetulians, could he have made it into the hands of a Roman general, since there was no trade between Italians and Africans except when it began after Carthage was destroyed.]
Hic cum multis nobilibus familiariter vixit, sed maxime cum Scipione Africano et C. Laelio.
[Here in Rome, he not only lived in familiarity with many noblemen, but most of all in the presence of Scipio Africanus and Gaius Laelius.]
Quibus etiam corporis gratia conciliatus existimatur, quod et ipsum Fenestella arguit, contendens utroque maiorem natu fuisse,
[One even thinks that he was welcomed into their circle because his athleticism impressed them, something which even Fenestella argues, as he contends that he would not have been much older than either one of these men,]
quamvis et Nepos aequales omnes fuisse tradat et Porcius suspicionem de consuetudine per haec faciat:
[although Nepos says that they were all the same age, and Porcius draws suspicion about this line of think for the following reasons:]
"Dum lasciviam nobilium et laudes fucosas petit,
["Meanwhile he seeks the lust and swarthy praises of noblemen,]
Dum Africani vocem divinam inhiat avidis auribus,
[Meanhile he breathes a divine voice into the eager ears of the African,]
Dum ad Philum se cenitare et Laelium pulchrum putat,
[Meanwhile he imagines himself dining alongside Philus and handsome Laelius,]
Dum in Albanum crebro rapitur ob florem aetatis suae:
[Meanwhile he was repeatedly snatched to the Alban fellow, because he is in the prime of his youth:]
Post sublatis rebus ad summam inopiam redactus est.
[And after all these affairs are laid aside, he fell into the greatest poverty one can imagine.]
Itaque e conspectu omnium abit Graeciam in terram ultimam.
[And so, he left from the sight of all for the farthest land in Greece.]
Mortuust Stymphali, Arcadiae in oppido.
[He died in Stymphalis, in an Arcadian town.]
Scipio profuit, nil illi Laelius, nil Furius,
Tres per id tempus qui agitabant nobiles facillime.
[In no way did Publius Scipio, did Laelius, did Furius help him, and these three fellows used to play the roles of nobles most easily of all, in that period of time.]
Eorum ille opera ne domum quidem habuit conducticiam,
[Indeed, he did not own a house, but a temporary residence as a result of these men]
Saltem ut esset quo referret obitum domini servulus."
[And pray tell, what was the result? That a "little slave boy" brought back the news of his master.]
II. Scripsit comoedias sex, ex quibus primam "Andriam" cum aedilibus daret,
iussus ante Caecilio recitare, ad cenantem cum venisset, dictus est initium quidem fabulae,
[He wrote six comedies, the first of which, Andria, he give at the side of aediles, since he was ordered beforehand to recite it to Caecilius, and when he came to him dining, so indeed is it said to be the beginning of the story.]
quod erat contemptiore vestitu, subsellio iuxta lectulum residens legisse, post paucos vero versus invitatus
[Because he was dressed in less distinguished clothing, he read it on a stool next to a small litter, but after only a few lines he was given an invitation]
ut accumberet cenasse una,
[and where? To sit beside there to dine together with him]
dein cetera percucurrisse non sine magna Caecilii admiratione.
[and thenafter his other works never ran their course without Caecilius expressing his great admiration.]
Et hanc autem et quinque reliquas aequaliter populo probavit, quamvis Vulcatius dinumeratione omnium ita scribat:
[In any event, he approved the play I mentioned and five others, with equal discrimination, although Vulcatius writes about the numbering of all his works: ]
"Sumetur Hecyra sexta ex his fabula."
["Hecyra was undertaken folowing his sixth play."]
"Eunuchus" quidem bis die acta est meruitque pretium quantum nulla antea cuiusquam comoedia, id est octo milia nummorum;
[In truth, Eunuch was put on on the 2nd day, and won more prize money than any comedy before, 8000 pieces of money;]
propterea summa quoque titulo ascribitur.
[Wherefore top prize was also granted to its title.]
Nam "Adelphorum" principium Varro etiam praefert principio Menandri.
[To be specific, Varro also preferred his very beginning to the Adelphoi to Menander's beginning.]
III. Non obscura fama est adiutum Terentium in scriptis a Laelio et Scipione,
[Terence's fame in writing was aided by Laelius and Scipio,]
eamque ipse auxit numquam nisi leviter refutare conatus,
[and he himself never added increased this, ever, except when he, in jest, tried to make a refutation]
ut in prologo "Adelphorum":
[as in the prologue of the Adelphoi:]
"Nam quod isti dicunt malevoli,
["You see, whatever ill-wishing fellows like these say.]
Hunc adiutare assidueque una scribere;
[men of noble rank support this man and write in unanimity, and with enthusiasm;]
Quod illi maledictum vehemens esse existumant,
[which is something those fools think is a violent insult,]
Eam laudem hic ducit maxumam,
[but this man takes this as the greatest praise of all,]
quom illis placet
Qui vobis univorsis et populo placent,
[who takes pleasure in that fact that his works delight all of you in the audience, and the populace,]
Quorum opera in bello, in otio, in negotio
Suo quisque tempore usus est sine superbia."
[who has enjoyed making his pieces of art in times of war, on break, and during work, without a jot of arrogance."]
Videtur autem se levius defendisse,
[And yet, he seems to have defended himself less seriously,]
quia sciebat et Laelio et Scipioni non ingratam esse hanc opinionem;
[because he knew that this mindset was no a matter of delight to both Laelius and Scipio;]
quae tamen magis et usque ad posteriora tempora valuit.
[still, he enjoyed success even more, despite these things, even up to the later generations.]
C. Memmius in oratione pro se ait:
[Gaius Memmius says in a speech on his behalf:]
"P. Africanus, qui a Terentio personam mutuatus, quae domi luserat ipse,
["Publius Africanus, since the time his mind had been influenced by Terence, whatever that very man had previously played in his home,]
nomine illius in scenam detulit."
[he brought the same to the stage under the name of that other fellow."]
Nepos auctore certo comperisse se ait,
[Nepos says that he had discovered himself in the acquaintance of a true author,]