Saturday, 6 June 2015

Martial's Juggler

Marital was a Roman author of the first through to second century AD. He wrote  a considerable number of epigrams, covering a wide range of subjects. In this epigram he describes a young juggler juggling a small shield. While I have never seen anyone juggling a shield, I have seen a juggler juggle a tea tray in the way described. Unfortunately, YouTube does not have an example specifically of that so I chose an example of non-ball type juggling by Mat Ricardo, juggling a cane and then a hat. 

From the Loeb edition of 1920.
Martial, volume II
Book 9, epigram 38.

Summa licet velox, Agathine, pericula ludus,
non tamen efficies ut tibi parma cadat.
nolentem sequitur tenuisque reversa per auras
vel pede vel tergo, crine vel ungue sedet;
lubrica Corycio quamvis sint pulpita nimbo
et rapiant celeres vela negata Noti,
secures pueri neglecta perambulat artus,
et nocet artifici ventus et unda nihil.
ut peccare velis, cum feceris omnia, falli
non potes: arte opus est ut tibi parma cadat.

Although, Agathinus, you deftly play a game of highest risk, yet you will not achieve the falling of your shield. Though you avoid it, it follows you, and, returning through the yielding air, settles on foot or back, on hair or finger-tip. However slippery is the stage with a Corycian saffron-shower, and although rushing winds tear at the awning that cannot be spread, the shield though disregarded, pervades the boy's careless limbs, and wind and shower baffle the artist no whit. Although you try to miss, do what you will, you cannot be foiled: art is needed to make your shield fall.