Basia sive strena ad Iacobum Hayum equitem illustrissimum (1605)
This poem, a 'strena' or 'New Year's gift' given to Sir James Hay (c.1580-1636), was originally published with a dedicatory poem in English, as Basia: sive Strena Cal. Ian. ad Iacobum Hayum, equitem illustrissimum (London, 1605; whether given to mark January 1 1605 or 1606 is unclear). Little is known about Hay's early life and education, save that he was the son of Sir James Hay of Fingask, that he was educated enough to know Latin and French, and that he had spent sufficient time in France to become a client of Charles Cauchon de Maupas, baron du Tour by 1602. It was through du Tour that Hay was introduced to King James as part of an embassy from Henri IV in 1602-03, and in May of the latter year, at du Tour's request, James made Hay a gentleman of the privy chamber. A rapid rise to power followed: Hay was elevated to a position within the bedchamber in October 1603 (this time at the request of Queen Anne); knighted and naturalised as an English citizen in 1604; created Lord Hay on 21 June 1606; and made baron of Sawley in Yorkshire (1615), viscount of Rochester (1618), and ultimately earl of Carlisle (1622). During a long career he served both James and Charles I in domestic capacities, including as master of the robes and of the great wardrobe between 1608 and 1618, and as master of the stool from 1631. He also acted as a negotiator in 1616 on behalf of the king with the disgraced Robert Carr, earl of Somerset (who had been Hay's page), during Carr's trial for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury (see d1_AytR_005, d1_AytR_010). However, Hay's main political significance was as a diplomat to France and the Hapsburg territories. While his embassies were largely unsuccessful (he failed to secure a peace settlement either between the Habsurgs and their Dutch and German subjects following the crisis in Bohemia in 1619, or between Louis XIII and his Huguenot subjects in 1621-2) he did secure the marriage of Henrietta Maria of France to King Charles in 1625 (see Roy E Schreiber, The First Carlisle: Sir James Hay, First Earl of Carlisle as Courtier, Diplomat and Entrepreneur, 1580-1636 (Philadelphia, 1984); ibid., 'Hay, James, first earl of Carlisle (c.1580-1636)', ODNB; Gullans, Ayton, p. 19).
The central conceit of this flattering and amusing piece is the idea of a destitute Ayton providing a 'kiss' (basia) to Hay in the absence of other suitable gifts. As well as exploring kisses in a series of historical and mythological contexts, the poem particularly conflates (at lines 52-107) the themes of Catullus V, where Catullus beseeches Lesbia to give him so many 'thousand kisses' (basia mille) that they 'will lose count' (conturbabimus illa), and XIII, where he invites his friend Fabullus to a dinner at his house, to which Fabullus will bring all the food. The poverty-stricken Catullus will provide him 'unadulterated love' (meros amores) in return, along with some of his lover's perfume (unguentum), which will make him wish he were 'nothing but nose' (totum ut te faciant ... nasum).
Ayton wrote this piece when Hay's star was very much on the ascendant, and knowing when to attach himself to the right figure at court was a pattern he repeated with both Somerset and with George Villiers, the first duke of Buckingham (d1_AytR_015, d1_AytR_023). As an extant series of letters from Ayton to Hay in 1628 shows, where Ayton is seen passing Hay information from court and seeking advice following the murder of Buckingham on 23 August, the two men remained close friends and allies throughout their careers (Gullans, Ayton, pp. 355-360). Metre: hexameter.
Basia sive Strena ad Iacobum Hayum equitem illustrissimum
1Ecce per obliqui duodena habitacula circi
Luciferis qui fertur equis, 1 reducique rotatu
inducit senium mundo Phoebeius axis,
iam subit hospitium Iani, qui clave recludens
5saecula, principium tribuit nascentibus annis. 2
Instauranda pio veniunt solennia ritu,
muneribusque datis anni bona scaeva futuri
captanda est: etenim cedit faelicius annus,
si primum fausta transmittas alite solem.
10Mene igitur festas deceat tempsisse Calendas,
cum passim genus omne virum delubra Patulci
ingreditur, supplexque pias operatur ad aras?
Mene igitur (praelustris Eques) tua tecta subire
immunem et vacuum xenio; cum plurima passim
15strena datur, Charitesque terunt vaga limina, densis
stipantes calathis venturi pignora lucri?
Dii melius, 3 tu jure tuo vel dona neganti
extorquere potes; nam blandi gratia vultus,
accessus facilis, conditae melle loquelae,
20insignisque ardor bene de virtute merendi,
me tibi devotum desponsavere clientem.
Nec mirum si forte meos praedatus amores,
haec spolia e nostro non grandia corde tulisti:
tu potis es Regum tacitas adlanibere fibras,
25virtutis magnete tuae, philtroque potenti
indolis ingenuae augustos inflectere sensus.
Tu rectae invidiam menti plerumque novercam
conciliare vales: tu numina faedere raro
iuncta simul socias, cogis committere dextras
30virtutem et meritum: sub quorum sospite ductu
aulai tumidum spumosis fluctibus aequor
fortiter invectus, non ut pars maxima, in ipso
ludibrium portu ventis undaeque dedisti:
verum evitatis brevibus, scopulisque vadisque
35omnibus, in quae vela solent impingere passim
aulica, spes omnes tuta statione locasti:
unde alios, jam securus, post reddita vota
Neptuno, partim fluitantes cernis in alto
spemque metumque inter, 4 partim inclementibus auris
40disjectos; sic ut nec rasi vertice crines,
nec digitis ungues praefecti flectere divos
evaleant, luges vicina ab littoris acta.
Quando igitur sic cuncta tuo famulantur honori,
quando igitur sic cuncta tuos venantur amores;
45relligio mihi sit non ebservare perenni
obsequio Geniumque tuum, dotesque stupendas,
quarum ope regalis, jubar exorabile, vultus
perpetuo usurpas, terras cum lampade Phoebus
illustrat, 5 lateri comes indivisus adhaerens,
50et cum nox piceis mundum complectitur alis, 6
contiguis recubans stratis, sanctoque cubili.
Praesertim 7 cum prima dies revolubilis anni
cultibus officiisque vacat, cum munere signet
obsequium quicunque tuis succedere tectis
55molitur; peream potius de millibus unus,
millibus e multis quam solus asymbolus adsim.
Sed quid agam heu demens? 8 Aut quo te munere mactem
infaelix? Mittamne Tagus quas volvit arenas? 9
Aut ab Erythraeo collectas littore conchas? 10
60Vasave queis pretium fecit jactura Corinthi?
Non equidem tali vel censu nostra supellex
luxuriat; nec si flueret jam divite gaza,
haec animo sunt apta tuo. Quam vilia semper
duxeris aurivoro quae plebs affectat hiatu,
65scit Tamesis quacunque fluit; scit Sequana; novit
ipse Tagus; flavaque fluit pallentior unda,
despectas dum sentit opes, quas devehit alveo.
Ergo alio juvat ire, tuo quo strena paretur
par animo; sortisque meae non indecor: et jam
70occurrit satis esse mihi, si more clientum
non ullo gravis aere tuo me limine sistam;
et tantum tenerae delibam 11 basia dextrae.
Dic verum, num ingrata jacent, num vilia sordent
quae tibi strigosi tenuis dat trama peculi?
75Non credo: est nostris etiam sua gratia donis,
et proprium quoque pondus habent, quo freta ruborem
deponant, sperentque sinus implere faventes. 12
Non ego plebei condita liquoribus oris
basia promitto, non cuilibet obvia linguae;
80sed non invitae forsan surrepta Minervae, 13
sed non invitae forsan Charitumque Dianaeque,
atque Novensilium labris decerpta Sororum.
Quae magis ut constet quam sint pretiosa, parumper
si vacat, Aonios mecum spatiare per hortos;
85et quo sint censenda loco mea basia, disces
ex ipso, cujus sunt haec oracula, Phoebo.
Fama est intonso dilecti basia Branchi 14
tam placuisse Deo, caput ut puerile corona
ornarit, virgaque manum decoraverit aurea:
90nec satis esse ratus decorasse insignibus artis,
quae populo responsa daret praesaga futuri,
creditur et puero sacras statuisse columnas;
creditur et puero certamina sacra dicasse,
in quibus, ex omni cirrata gente vocaret
95victorem praeco, qui sublabrare valeret
doctius; et tenera melius dare basia lingua.
O lepidum ingenium sacri certaminis, et quod
spectassem potius, quam vel quos Elis agones
alphei exhibuit vitreas prope fluminis undas;
100vel quae Romanus dederat spectacula Praetor;
et nisi decipior, quod tu lascive Poeta,
cui non mille satis, non altera mille fuerunt
basia, non toties rursus superaddita mille, 15
non modo spectasses oculo saliente, relictis
105et circo et scena; sed si licuisset inire
certamen, toto fieri te corpore linguam
optasses, olim ut Nasum tuus ille Fabullus. 16
Nec tantum Phoebo placuerunt basia, si quid
credimus antiquis, totum caelestis Olympi
110consilium tali veneramine delinitum
ilico mitescit. Nam cum Gentilia passim
dogmata suspensos sacro terrore tenerent
mortales, si quis supersum fortasse catervae
extorquere aliquid voluit; non mascula thura
115accendit, 17 non farre pio salienteque mica, 18
aut extis fecit potius, quam basia fixit
postibus; et calidae redimitis cornibus arae.
Adde quod hoc etiam saeclo pars maxima mundi
sic Divos veneratur; amant namque ire per omnes
120sanctorum exuvias, et hianti gutturis haustu
lambere prostantem cineres quae continet urnam,
qui coetus Tiberine tuos, et sacra frequentant
Romulidum, varias terrae jam sparsa per oras.
Iam vero humano generi tam grata feruntur
125basia, deliciis istis ut cassa subinde
langueat, et coetus imitetur vita ferarum.
Verte oculos quocunque lubet, seu te ista morantur
tempora, seu saecli repetes exempla prioris,
invenies celebrem celebrati muneris usum.
130Ille Parens Sophiae, cujus nascentis in ore
Hyblaeas perhibent sedem posuisse volucres,
dum coetum instrueret civilem legibus aequis,
cavit, ut adversos qui se gessisset in hostes
fortiter, invictoque tulisset pectore Martem,
135nil aliud tantae pretium virtutis haberet,
quam bene dilectae paucissima basia formae. 19
Romanos inter veteres, gentemque togatam,
non fora, non circus, non limina priva potentum,
non quae praetextos capiebat Curia Patres,
140tempserat illecebras doctae dare basia linguae: 20
turba salutantum tumidi quae limina Regis
observare toga pluviam stillante solebat.
Non alium magno cultum praestabat amico: 21
cretata ambitio fasces, sellamque curulem
145dum peteret, per vana levis suffragia vulgi,
non aliter tanti redimebat culmen honoris,
quam totas prensando tribus, quam basia dando:
quin etiam quocunque loco, quocunque recessu,
sive palam in triviis, seu clam sub tegmine tigni,
150moris erat notos sic exceptare sodales:
usque adeo, ut quondam per tam promiscua passim
basia, se totam turpis mentagra 22 per urbem
sparserit, et vili foedarit furfure vultus.
Induperatores ipsi (si credere fas est)
155reddere sic soliti sic acceptare salutem:
testis erit magno diductum nomen Iulo, 23
Iulius, ingratam qui tinxit sanguine Romam:
caesus ab his, queis colla, manus, queis crura pedesque
obtulit, expectans soliti veneramina basi.
160Par etiam (si parva licet componere magnis) 24
par etiam casus te nobis abstulit, alma
alma Dei soboles, magnum Patris incrementum,
qui falso obtentu amplexum simulantis Iudae
traditus hostili turbae, crudelibus umbris
165occumbis, clavisque cruci suffixus adhaeres.
Insidum et crudele genus, mansueta sed atrox
bellua, quae falso cultu sic prodis amicos,
dispeream nisi te justis mea pagina diris
hic peteret, patrioque volens demitteret Orco;
170basia si justo sinerent servire dolori.
Verum apage hinc quo tu meruisti, accedite rursus
basia, plena mei vestro sint nectare versus.
Vos sapitis cuneos redolet quod fusa per omnes
Corycii pressura croci, 25 quod veris honore
175dives humus, molli quod sparsa opobalsama collo,
divitibusque comis lapsae inter vina coronae. 26
Sed mihi nescio quis secretam gannit in aurem,
et Baguinarum moroso more susurrat,
'basia turpe nefas, labris non digna pudicis,
180incauto damnosa homini, male grata Tonanti,
ducere lethalis secum contagia culpae;
atque animae aeternam peccati adspergere labem.'
Vana superstitio, pietas praepostera, quae sic
deludis trepidas falsa formidine mentes,
185quaere alium cui tu fugitivae gaudia vitae
legitima eripias; caecoque horrore fatiges:
non ego victuris studeo committere chartis
basia de lustris et olentis faece suburrae 27
lecta, columbantis poppismata lubrica linguae;
190tota sui quinto quae tinxit nectaris haustu
diva potens Cypri: sed quae sine crimine nato
det gentior, mater natae, nova nupta marito:
qualia Christiadum primaevi ab origine coetus
dividere inter se soliti, cum cinctus ad aras
195staret, et offerret caelo pia vota Sacerdos:
qualia, mortales olim qui morte redemit,
infantem amplexus balbo superaddidit ori:
qualia constringunt certo sponsalia vinclo,
et prohibent spe conjugii data munera reddi,
200qualia dat prolytae doctor, dum praemia confert
detriti masuri, et vigilatae in Codice 28 noctis:
his ego si coner justas addicere laudes,
esse queat fraudi, sunt omnia criminis umbra
tam procul, ac sacris fidei vicina sigillis.
205Scilicet ut prima spectabis basia fronte,
res nihili naucique putes, et nomina vana; 29
sed simul in tacitas vires descenderis acri
iudicio, effectusque quibus sunt foeta notaris,
egregium invenies vili sub cortice fructum:
210ut roseum Phoebi fusca sub nube nitorem.
Nonne hoc amplexu linguarum alterna meantum
ora per et fauces, nodo constricta tenaci
foedera pangit amor; legemque hanc dicit amori,
ut quoties geminas libuit committere linguas,
215oscula transfundant animas per aperta sequaces, 30
et pariter curent ut amati in corpore totus
vivat amans, atque hic versa vice vivat in illo?
Desine mirari, quisquis legis horrida tabo 31
corpora, et infames leprae livoribus artus
220indeptos priscum per basia sola vigorem:
nec magis obstupeas, quisquis monumenta revolvens
Hebraidum, legis aethereas ad luminis oras
sedibus a Stygiis revocatam corporis umbram, 32
admotis tantum labris ad mortua labra.
225Mystica vis teretis comitatur verbera linguae;
non minus infundens animas, quam inspirat amores,
aeternaeque jugum fidei et pia foedera pacis.
O faelix, nimium faelix, cui fata dederunt,
pallenti livore procul rivalis avari,
230securos agitare dies, ac ore ab amato
fercula praedari (dictum sit pace Deorum)
non minus aeternae convivis prodiga vitae;
quam quae caelestes onerant convivia mensas.
Sed quorsum tam multa (Equitum flos auree) quorsum
235tam plebeja tibi, qui tantum grandia curas?
Sit modus: adveniet tempus, modo coepta secundet
aequus amor, cum tu Dominae de fronte legendo
lilia, vellendo e labris violasque rosasque, 33
experiere meae quam sint veracia Musae
240dogmata, cum dices, (nisi me mens credula fallit)
'dispeream meus ille olim nisi vera canebat 34
Aytonus; justas habeant sua basia laudes.'
Interea dextrae ista tuae ceu supplicis arrham
obsequii Aytonum primis fixisse Calendis
245sit satis, et totum vitae cum sanguine fundum
addixisse tibi parvae sub imagine glebae.
Et quandoque tibi croceo velatus amictu
arridebit Hymen, cum pronuba Iuno favebit,
non sine honore tuas patiar sordescere taedas;
250sed liber, laxisque ruens in carmen habenis,
arcessam summo Phoebum de vertice Pindi;
inque tuas laudes, et charae encomia nuptae,
expromam totas Permessi prodigus undas.
Kisses, or rather a new year's gift, to the most illustrious knight, James Hay
Behold Phoebus' chariot is borne on light-bringing horses across the twelve regions of the ecliptic, and, at its returning orbital point, marks out the span of the year for the world. Now it reaches Janus' residence, who, as he opens the door to each age with his key, marks the beginning of each coming year.
6The festivities are approaching that must be celebrated with dutiful ceremony, and good wishes for the coming year must be received with exchanged gifts. Indeed, the year will unfurl more happily should you pass the first day with a favourable omen. Should it be right for me, therefore, to have scorned the festive first of the year, when every type of person enters Janus Patulcus' sacred precincts, and humbly sacrifices at his sacred altars? Should it be right for me (most illustrious knight), therefore, to enter your halls empty handed and without a gift? Especially when very many a token of good wish is being distributed in all directions, and the Graces wear away at your well-trodden threshold, giving copious promises of your future wealth with many toasts? May the Gods forbid, you can assuredly wrestle gifts from the unwilling by your authority; for the grace of your charming face, of your welcoming manner, of your speech infused with honeyed charm, and your remarkable passion for rewarding virtue, have made me your devoted follower.
22It is no wonder, then, if by chance in capturing my love, you have removed from my heart these not-so-mighty spoils: for you can penetrate the secret core of kings [p55]with the magnetism of your virtue, and with your potent lure bend the august affections of their noble genius. You are often able to win over hostile antipathy to the correct way of thinking: as you unite and join them in a rare compact, you also demand that this compact adheres to virtue and merit - under whose happy leadership you were borne into the sea of court, which swells with frothing convulsions; and in the harbour itself, you mocked its winds and waves. Indeed after avoiding the narrows, and all the rocks and shallows towards which a courtier's sails often heedlessly drives, you anchored your every hope in a safe haven. Here, now secure, you saw others who, after calling out prayers to Neptune, on one side were flailing in the ocean between hope and fear, and on the other had been dashed by severe winds. Then, since neither hair shaved from the head, nor nails cut from the toes a could turn the Gods, you lament from the neighbouring coast's shoreline.
43Therefore when everything thus waits upon your honour, and when everything thus covets your love, it becomes my duty to respect your genius and your amazing talents with a perennial offering. With their aid, you behold the captivating splendour of the royal face: an inseparable companion attached to his side when Phoebus illuminates the earth with his light; and even as night envelops the world with its pitch-black wings, you recline on a nearby couch, and on the sacred bed.
52Especially when the first day of the turning year finds me without any honour-bringing or dutiful gift - since each person who wants to enter your house shows their deference to you with a gift - I, the only one from the thousands, should prefer to die than be the only one of so many thousands here without a present! But what should I do, ah, foolish man that I am? With what gift should I honour you in my present state? Should I give you the golden sands which the Tagus flushes forth? Or the pearls collected from the Erythraean shore? Or a vase, whose value equates to the cost of a Corinthian vessel? b Indeed not even my store abounds with such wealth; and even if it should not now flow with rich treasure, [p56]these things do not suit your tastes. In whichever direction it flows the Thames knows how base you estimate those things the plebs strive after with their voracious gold-lust, so too the Seine, and the Tagus itself understands it; and it flows so yellow with its golden ripples, while it sees that its riches, which it bears in its bosom, have been scorned by you. Therefore, I am happy to go somewhere else, where a present matching your taste is at hand, and which is not ill-suited to my fortune. And it seems satisfactory to me that I may come to your door in the manner of a client, unburdened by money, and simply brushing kisses upon your soft right hand.
73Tell the truth: surely my kisses do not come to you unwelcome? Surely these things that the paltry morsel of my meagre wealth gives you do not seem despicable and base? I do not believe that. Our gifts have their own rewards, and they also have their own value, and supported by it may they cast aside any embarrassment, and hope to satisfy your well-disposed heart.
78I do promise that my kisses have not been mixed with the fluidity of a plebeian mouth, nor that they have welcomed every tongue they've met: never, I think, have they been stolen from an unwilling Minerva; never, I think, have they been plucked from the unwilling lips of the Graces, or Diana, and also the New Sisters. c So that you may come to fully understand how precious they are, walk with me through the Aonian gardens - if you have a little spare time. Then you will learn from Phoebus himself, whose pronouncements these are, the high order in which my kisses must be ranked.
87There is a story that the kisses of delightful Branchus so pleased the unshaven God that, after he adorned his boyish head with a crown, and decorated his hand with a golden sceptre, he did not think it enough to have rewarded him with just remarkable decorations, and he gave him oracles predicting the future for the people. d And it is also believed that he instituted a sacred colonnaded temple to the boy; and it is also believed that he consecrated sacred games for the boy, in which the herald would declare the victor from the surrounding people who was able to work their tongue in another's mouth the more skillfully, and to give kisses with a soft tongue the best.
96O the sweet genius of that sacred contest! And I would rather have seen that than either have witnessed the Olympic games that Elis held beside the glassy waters of the River Alpheus, or the shows that a Roman praetor had delivered. e [p57]And, unless I am deceived, had you seen that not just with your acute eye in either the circus or the theatre, my roguish poet (for whom a thousand kisses had not been enough, nor another thousand, nor so many other thousands again!), but if you had been allowed to enter the contest, you would have wished that your entire body would have turned into one big tongue, in the same way that that Fabullus of yours would have wanted to become one big nose! f
108Kisses have not just been pleasing to Phoebus. For if we trust in the ancients, the whole assembly of heavenly Olympus immediately softens at being captivated by such a veneration. For since Gentile dogmas used to constrain and hold mortals with its holy terror, if anyone perhaps wished to wrestle something from the troop of gods, they did not light up male frankincense, nor did he do it with dutiful corn and shining salt, and entrails; g but rather he planted kisses upon temple doors, and upon the apotropaic h horns of a fiery altar.
118In addition, at this time even the greatest part of the world worshipped the gods in this way. They loved to go through the relics of the saints, and with the gaping hole of their mouth lick the purchased urn that contained their ashes, and they frequented your confluences, Tiber, and the temples of the Romans that were scattered across the various regions of the world.
124Indeed kisses are thought so pleasing to the human race, that without their delights life is dull, and resembles the crowd of wild beasts.Turn your eyes in which ever direction you want: whether these current times of ours delight you, or whether you look to the precepts of a by-gone age, you will find the repeated performance of its celebrated act.
130That father of wisdom, in whose mouth at birth they say that Hyblaean honey-bees i made their home, while devising just laws for the citizenry, stipulated that those who had bore themselves bravely against the hostile enemy, and had endured war with an unconquered spirit, should have no other reward for such great virtue than a few little kisses from a choice beauty.
137Among the ancient Romans, and the race in togas, neither the forums, nor the circus, not the private dwellings of the powerful nobles, nor the senate house, which the fathers in purple-trimmed togas j used to occupy, [p58]resisted the charms of giving kisses to a learned tongue - so too the crowd of well-wishers in their rain-soaked togas who were wont to pay their respects at the door of a proud king. Even for a great patron the same practice applies: while their marked ambition used to chase the rods of office, and the curule chair, k through the votes of the fickle mob, they would obtain the pinnacle of such honour in no other way than through canvassing all the Roman tribes, and giving them kisses. Indeed, it used to be the custom to greet good friends this way in every place and in every spot, whether openly at the crossroads, or secretly under the cover of a branch - to such an extent that a horrid chin contagion was spread through such widespread kissing, and it scarred each face with disgusting scabs. Leaders themselves (if we may believe it) used to distribute and receive salutations in this way: Julius, l whose name was derived from great Iulus, and in whose blood ungrateful Rome was spattered, will provide proof: while he was awaiting their customary kiss, he was cut down by those men to whom he exposed his neck, and hands, and legs, and feet. Just so (if one can compare lesser examples with great ones), a matching end took you from us, great child of our Father, who was handed over to the hostile mob by the deceiving pretence of Judas as he feigned an embrace, and you sank into the cruel shades, and pierced by nails you were stuck on a cross. You faithless and unfeeling race, you meek but savage beast, who thus betrays your friends with false worship, I should die were this page of mine not to attack you with justified curses, and happily to send you to your home in Hell - and also were kisses not permitted to assuage my justified grief. Begone from hence, kisses of my poem, to the place you have merited, and come back again full of your nectar! You are like the flavour that Corycian saffron juice m produces when it is sprayed over all the theatre; you are like the smell that the ground rich in Spring's glory produces; you are like the smell that balm sprinkled upon a soft neck, and upon the thick leaves of a laurel crown that's fallen amid the wine, produces.
177Yet someone unknown mumbles discreetly in my ear, and in the fastidious fashion of the Beguines n whispered, [p59]'It is a wicked crime that kisses, which are unfit for chaste lips, which bring destruction to the unsuspecting man, which are hated by the Thunderer, spread with themselves the infection of deadly sin!' You empty superstition, you perverse piety, who deceives frightened minds with false fear in this way: find someone else whom you may deprive of the reasonable joys of this fleeting life, and whom you may torment with your baseless terror. For I do not yearn to place upon my winning pages kisses plucked from the brothels and the night-lights of the foul Subura o - the wet lip-smacking of a warbling tongue; all of which the divine power of the Cyprian p has imbued with the quintessence of her nectar. But rather I place upon my pages those types of kisses which a father would give his son, a mother her daughter, a newly-wed her husband; the type which, at their foundation, the congregation of the early Christians were accustomed to distribute among themselves, while the priest was standing ready at the altar, and was offering pious prayers to heaven; the type which he, who once redeemed mortals with his death, gave to a baby's mouth after embracing the child; the type which a betrothal brings together in a fixed bond, and they prevent the gifts given by the promise of the marriage being returned; of the type which the professor gives to the law student, when he earns the reward for well-thumbing his Masurius, and for nights spent amid the codex of laws. q If with these kisses I should attempt to deliver justified praises, may it not be capable of injuring you: they are all so very far from the taint of sin, and stand close to the sacred banners of the faith.
205No doubt as you first give a cursory consideration to my kisses, you may think them stuff of little or no consequence, perhaps even think them a poet's empty words. Yet as soon as your stern judgement gives way to internal contemplation, and you become aware of the meanings which they bear, you will discover a beautiful fruit beneath an ugly shell - just like the rosy splendour of Phoebus behind a black cloud. Surely in this entwining embrace of our tongues as they wander through each other's mouths and throats, love composes a pact that is bound by a tenacious knot; and it declares this law for our love: as often as it has pleased us to unite our twin tongues, may our tongues pour forth our souls as they follow them through our open mouths, and equally may they see to it that the lover lives completely in the body of their beloved, and in turn the latter live in the former?
218 [p60]Stop your amazement, whoever of you read about bodies dripping with gore, and limbs degraded by the blemishes of leprosy, which ancient potency they've acquired through kisses alone; may you be astonished no more: while reading the testaments of the Hebrews, r you read about the shade of a body recalled from the Stygian lands to the ethereal regions of light, by the simple movement of lips upon dead lips. A mystical force accompanies the flick of a smooth tongue; no less while imparting a soul, than it inspires love, and an eternal faith's bond, and also the dutiful pact of peace.
228O happy soul, so happy, whom the fates have allowed to pass its days safely, far from the deathly envy of competitive greed, and also to steal from a beloved mouth a dish (may it have been blessed with the grace of the gods!) that is no less full of eternal life for the diners than the banquets which are heaped upon celestial tables!
234Yet why so many, golden flower of the knights, why so many common ones for you who only attend to lofty affairs? Let there be an end to it: for there will come a time, provided that a friendly love favour the enterprise, when you will come to know how correct my Muse's philosophy is, as you pluck lilies from the forehead of your Lady, and snatch violets and roses from her lips. Then you will say (unless I am deceived in my confidence): 'May I be damned if that man of mine Atyon was not singing the truth! May his kisses have justified praise!' Meanwhile, may it be sufficient that Ayton has fixed those kisses upon your right hand on the first day of the year, as if the token of a dutiful obedience, and he has devoted to you his entire estate, along with his life's blood, in the form of this little levy.
246And whenever Hymen, cloaked in her saffron vestment, will smile upon you (when the patron of marriage, Juno, will favour it), I shall not allow your wedding torches to burn uncared for. Rather, without restraint, and rushing to song with free rein, I shall summon up Phoebus from Pindar's highest peak, and lavishly I shall draw out all the waves of Permessus to honour you and praise your bride.
1: In relation to Diana: Ovid, Heroides XI.46
2: Cf. Manilius, Astronomica IV.100
3: Common poetic expression. See Ovid, Metamorphoses VII.37; and Lucan, Bellum Civile II.537
4: Virgil, Aeneid I.218
5: Virgil, Aeneid IV.7
6: Cf. Virgil, Aeneid XII.433
7: Ayton now begins an extended series of literary games using two of Catullus' poems: Catullus, Carmina XIII and V.
8: Cf. Virgil, Eclogues II.60
9: Commonplace trope: Ovid, Metamorphoses II.251; Juvenal, Satires XIV.299
10: Tibullus, Carmina III.3.17; Martial, Epigrams IX.2
11: Textual issue: must be either 'delibans' (cf. Virgil, Aeneid XII.434) or 'delibem'
12: Virgil, Aeneid III.455
13: 'invita Minerva': Horace, Ars Poetica 385; Cicero, De Officiis I.31.10
14: Statius, Thebaid VIII.198: Ayton is clearly following the scholia to Statius here which quotes Varro's understanding of the cult. Varro's comment on the so-called 'Philesia', games devoted to Branchus/Apollo, is the only evidence we have for these curious 'certamina'. According to Varro, Apollo impregnated a woman through her throat (Gr. 'branchos'; Lat. 'fauces') and the son of this union was called 'Branchus'. Many years after his birth Apollo saw the boy in the woods and kissed him, whereupon he recognised that this was his son. As a result, Apollo gave him a crown and a staff. Branchus then began to prophesy and suddenly disappeared. Thereupon a temple, the Branchiadon, was dedicated to him, and games were instituted to honour the kiss (the Philesia) that Apollo had bestowed upon him. The actual description of the games that follow in this poem, with Ayton suggesting that victory was bestowed to the youth who proved to be the best kisser, is entirely his own invention.
15: More from Catullus: Carmina V.7-10.
16: More from Catullus: Carmina XIII.14.
17: Attempt to alter nature: Virgil, Eclogue VIII.65.
18: Sentiment found in both Horace: Odes III.23.20; and Tibullus, Carmina III.4.10. Tibullus is clearly the model for Ayton's diction and poetic idea.
19: Lines 130-136: taken from the dialogue of Socrates and Glaucon: Plato, Republic 468b-c.
20: Cf. Martial, Epigrams XI.98.14-16
21: 'magnus amicus': Juvenal: Satires III.57; VI.313
22: The only extant example of this word found in Latin literature is in Pliny, Natural History 26.2; however, given Ayton's use of Martial, Epigrams XI.98 above, it is safe to assume that the 'triste menta' of Martial's poem is also an inspiration.
23: Virgil, Aeneid I.288
24: Virgil, Eclogues I.23
25: Saffron juice, which would spout from statues in ancient theatres, was used as a perfume for the audience: Lucan, Bellum Civile IX.809.
26: Ovid, Amores I.6.37-8
27: Surely 'Subura' (cf. Propertius, Elegies IV.7.15, and Martial, Epigrams XI.61), the red-light district in Rome well-known for its association with prostitution and dissolution, and where the ancestral house of the Julii was situated.
28: 'Masuri...Codice' refering to, respectively: Masurius Sabinus (a key legal authority in the reign of Tiberius) and his (now lost) three-volume commentary on ius civile; and the Corpus Civile itself - here both are metonymy for legal studies.
29: Ovid's 'empty words', the stories of the poets that have no truth: Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.154, and Heroides IV.130.
30: A pointed rejection of Lucretius, De Rerum Natura IV.1079-84. A similar rejection of Lucretius' sentiment, using similar terminology, is found at Claudian, Epithalamium Palladio 132.
31: Virgil, Georgics III.557
32: Unsurprisingly in a passage about contagions, Ayton turns again to Virgil, Georgics III, this time line 551-2.
33: Taken from the marriage ceremony at Statius, Silvae I.2.22-3.
34: A playful allusion to truth in poetry; again Ovid provides the allusive foil: Amores I.30; cf. line 206 above.
a: Presumably in the sense that they could be offered as a form of propitiatory sacrifice.
b: The Tagus (Rio Tajo, or Tejo), was famed in antiquity for carrying high levels of gold (see also d1_AytR_001, l.20; as the notes to the Latin text point out, Erythraean pearls and Corinthian bronzes were used as standard tropes to denote objects of exceptional value.
c: Deae Novensilae were goddesses imported from abroad and not part of the domestic pantheon (ie, the Egyptian cult of Isis into Rome) - see also d1_AytR_002, l.22.
d: See note to Latin text for the story of Branchus.
e: Elis: city on the north-west Peloponnese, famed for its horsebreeding, whose citizens presided over the Olympic Games; Alpheus: modern-day Alfeios River; shows: gladiatorial games.
f: See introduction.
g: All forms of offering.
h: Denoting it possesses powers capable of warding off evil spirits.
i: Hybla: town in Sicily famous for its honey, which was produced on the hills nearby; see Virgil, Eclogues, I.55, VII.142.
j: Roman senators were awarded the unique privilege of adding the broad purple stripe (the clavus latus) to their togas.
k: Lictors carried bundles of rods (fasces), often with an embedded axe blade, to denote the legal power of their magistrate; the curule chair (sella curulis) was used in ancient Egypt and Rome (for example in the senate) for magistrates holding the right of imperium.
l: Caesar, and what follows refers to his assassination in the senate on 15 March 44BC.
m: See note to Latin text.
n: Unclear reference.
o: See note to Latin text.
q: See note to Latin text.
r: If by 'monumenta Hebraidum' Ayton means either the Old Testament or the Jewish-Christian Gospel of the Hebrews, then this is incorrect, as neither text features a resurrection via kiss.