Disticha Catonis, Book III

The Latin text is also available.

III. Preface a: Any reader who wishes to know this poem
Since it brings precepts which are most applicable to life,
1. Instruct your mind with preceptss, nor cease to learn;
For a life without principle is like an image of death.

Preface b: You carry many useful things, but if you scorn it,
You are not neglecting me, the teacher, but you yourself.

2. If you live rightly, do not worry about the words of bad people;
It is not our call as to what each person says.

3. When called as a witness, except (Fr. sauf) in cases of shame,
As much as you can, hide the fault of a friend.

4. Remember to watch out for smooth and lisping words;
Simplicity is the mark of the true, deceit that of telling stories.

5. Flee from torpor, which means lassitude of life;
For when the mind is lazy, inertia consumes the body.

6. Intersperse now and again your cares with joy,
That you may be able to bear in your mind any kind of travail.

7. Do not criticize the saying or deed of another,
Lest another deride you in similar fashion.

8. That which fate gives you, write in your book as most important,
Keep it, increasing it, so that you won't be what public opinion says.

9. When riches are overabundant for you at the end of old age,
Make sure to live as generous man, not chintsy with your friends.

10. As a lord do not despise the counsel of your servant;
Never spurn anyone's advice, if it useful.

11. If in goods and income things are not what they were,
See that you live happy with that which the times offer.

12. Flee from taking a wife for the sake of dowry,
Nor wish to keep her if she begins to be burdensome.

13. Learn from the examples of many what deeds you should emulate
And which to avoid; the life of others is a mistress (teacher) to us.

14. Whatever you can, try, lest under the weight of the burden of the
task Work collapses and you give up that tried in vain.

15. That which you know to be wrongly done, do not conceal,
Lest by keeping silence you seem to be willing to imitate wrongdoers.

16. Beg for the aid of the judge under a bad law;
For the very laws themselves desire to be sued properly.

17. That which you bear by right, remember to bear patiently,
And when you stand guilty before yourself, judge yourself strictly.

18. See to it that you read much, having read forget much;
For poets write a lot of miraculous, but not believable, things.

19. At feasts make sure to be modest in speech,
So that you won't be called loud-mouth when you want to be considered urbane.

20. Do not fear the words of an angry wife;
For when a woman weeps, she fills the tears with ambush.

21. Make use of your wealth, but do not seem to waste it;
Those who use up their own goods, when they are gone, follow others.

22. Make sure to say to yourself that death is not to be feared;
For even if it is not good, it is the end of evils.

23. Remember to bear the tongue of your wife, if it is useful,
For it is bad to not be willing to suffer and not be able to keep silent.

24. Love and do not bug your parents, dear in familial love,
Nor offend your mother when you want to be nice to your father.