PART OF A PROLOGUE WRITTEN AND SPOKEN BY THE POET LABERIUS
A ROMAN KNIGHT, WHOM CAESAR FORCED UPON THE STAGE
PRESERVED BY MACROBIUS.
WHAT! no way left to shun th’ inglorious stage,
And save from infamy my sinking age!
Scarce half alive, oppress’d with many a year,
What in the name of dotage drives me here?
A time there was, when glory was my guide,
Nor force nor fraud could turn my steps aside;
Unaw’d by pow’r, and unappall’d by fear,
With honest thrift I held my honour dear;
But this vile hour disperses all my store,
And all my hoard of honour is no more.
For ah! too partial to my life’s decline,
Caesar persuades, submission must be mine;
Him I obey, whom heaven itself obeys,
Hopeless of pleasing, yet inclin’d to please.
Here then at once, I welcome every shame,
And cancel at threescore a life of fame;
No more my titles shall my children tell,
The old buffoon will fit my name as well;
This day beyond its term my fate extends,
For life is ended when our honour ends.
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