The Shock of the New

Martial 5.10

What should I call this, that fame is denied to the living, and that readers rarely love their own times? Regulus, these are obviously just the ways of jealousy that it always prefers ancient things to new. Thus we ungratefully seek the ancient shade of Pompeius, thus old men praise the cheap temples of Catulus. Rome, you read Ennius while Vergil was alive, and Homer was mocked in his own day. Rarely did the theater applaud for Menander when he was crowned; only Corinna new Ovid. But you, my little books, don’t hurry: if glory comes only after death, I will not rush.

“Esse quid hoc dicam uiuis quod fama negatur

et sua quod rarus tempora lector amat?”

Hi sunt inuidiae nimirum, Regule, mores,

     praeferat antiquos semper ut illa nouis.

Sic ueterem ingrati Pompei quaerimus umbram,              5

     sic laudant Catuli uilia templa senes;

Ennius est lectus saluo tibi, Roma, Marone,

     et sua riserunt saecula Maeoniden;

rara coronato plausere theatra Menandro;

     norat Nasonem sola Corinna suum.              10

Vos tamen o nostri ne festinate libelli;

si post fata uenit gloria, non propero.

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