The subject of this vitriolic and lengthy harangue is the church and university reformer Andrew Melville, who was a leading figure in the presbyterian faction within the kirk and principal of the college of divinity at St Andrews between 1580 and 1606 (although recasting a Horatian literary 'type' - see note below - Rollock's use of the name Theon is also a play on Melville's occupation as master of theology; for more information on Melville, see his collection of poetry elsewhere on the site). Following the Tolbooth Riot of 16 December 1596, where the king had been besieged by a mob in the Edinburgh Tolbooth led by the ministers of the city, Rollock had (according to David Calderwood) been the chief agent in writing versified 'libels' condemning their actions. However, Calderwood notes that 'his verses were answered by others who favoured the truthe' (see Calderwood, History, vol. 5, p. 553; Julian Goodare, 'The Attempted Scottish Coup of 1596', in Goodare and MacDonald (eds), Sixteenth-Century Scotland, pp. 311-336). It seems probable that Rollock's undated 'Praise of Monarchy' ('Laus Monarchiae', d2_RolH_020), with its defence of the supreme and semi-divine power of the king over all matters on earth, was one of these 'libels', and the series of epigrams written by Melville savagely ridiculing Rollock for his love of money and for his poor skills as a teacher (d2_MelA_039, d2_MelA_040) was the response. These verses most likely circulated by hand among the Edinburgh ministers and intelligentsia in early 1597. The first half of the poem (l.1-127) responds directly to Melville's criticisms that Rollock wrote poetry solely for financial gain instead of intellectual pleasure, and that he was both an ineffectual teacher and a loud and ignorant brute who would be well suited to the verbal brawling of the law courts. The second half (l.127-311) is an astonishing attack on Melville's character and his extreme and narrow brand of presbyterianism, beginning with the insinuation (l.154-172) that Melville was well known for frequent bouts of extreme drunkeness where he would viciously harangue anyone who did not readily agree with his views on any subject (there may be some truth to this allegation; see note in the translation to l.156 below). Rollock then argues (l.173-290) that Melville has forced his dogma on an unwilling populace in Scotland, is responsible for religiously-motivated riots in St Andrews and for the attack on the king in the Tolbooth, and has repeatedly harassed the king in the name of the General Assembly of the Church while having no such mandate. Rollock concludes (l.290-311) with an extreme proposition - that death is the only fitting punishment for a 'hydra' like Melville, as only then will the crown and church know peace. The texts by both Rollock and Melville survive uniquely in the DPS, and should be read in conjunction to fully appreciate their interconnectedness, particularly the conscious copying of word choice by Rollock from Melville's pieces. Metre: hexameter.
Apologia contra Theonis cujusdam, nomen suum occulentis, calmunias & contumelias (c.1597)
Apologia contra Theonis 1 cujusdam, nomen suum occulentis, calumunias et contumelias
1Iam decimum aetatis trepidanti claudere lustrum, 2
insonti, illaesoque, prius quis nescio nuper,
Orci intemperiis, animique erroribus actus,
Zoilus 3 impegit saevae mihi verbea linguae?
5Famae ausus princeps niveum temerare pudorem,
nominaque oblimans fœtenti florida cœno?
Scilicet hic Cynicus mordacia certus obesae
indicio naris 4 pinguisque errore Minervae, 5
quatuor in profugos mihi carmina scripta ministros,
10quae certe in triviis vulgus sine vate legebat,
assertorque volens miseris hoc Marte videri,
mendax ore, animi insulsus, crassusque Camœna
tetra venenatae evomuit mihi toxica faucis,
Cerberea de gente canis, veterisque catenae
15nunc memor, et nullis unquam aequior Heraclidis.
Ast ego, securus de ignoti carmine vatis,
[p338] praecones pupugit sacros qui cuspide pennae,
indoctum an doctum fuerit, verine refertum,
criminis an vani (laudes sibi vendicet auctor
20ipse suas, sitque ipse sibi, sua probra ferendo),
de me pauca loquar: testor pia Numina, et omnes
nostra usurparunt oculis qui carmina, nunquam
me genus hoc probris titulum captasse poetae,
neminis et famam infami laesisse libello.
25Ne calami extorres fodiam mucrone ministros
insultemque ferox stratis, fessosque fatigem,
ut qui observarim geminis confligere telis
hanc rabiem vatum, tetro mendacis hiatu
gutturis, et linguae vibrantis probra veruto,
30utrisque invisis caelo cœtuque fideli.
Iamque quod arma armis vindex, vim vique retundam;
invito veniam dabitis (spero) inque solenti
sancta cohors, bellique homines, doctique poetae.
Verum age, latrantis quae tandem ea fulmina linguae
35lividus immeritum quibus hic me incessit Alastor?
Auri prima fames, 6 et amor mihi dirus habendi 7
ducitur in probris. Sed vis mea nulla dolove
proditur improbitas, qua res mihi parta nocendo.
Quod mea mens adeo si fulvum inhiaret in aurum,
40non mihi tot studiis periissent segnibus anni
Phœbi inter colles et conscia tesqua Camœnis?
Quando interfuerit fas emicuisse beatos,
quos vicina fori fovet aurea messis alumnos.
Iamque olim populus numerosae prolis, et uxor
45et domus invito vitae sub vespere suadent,
canities dum fera genas et tempora vestit,
ut steriles Musas et carmina grata sub umbris
posthabeam rebus duroque in luce labori:
quo tolerem instantis curas et amara senectae. 8
50Haec mens, hic sensus tibi, Zoile, vatis avari?
Post auri esuriem mihi vitae arcessitur ordo:
audio grammaticus nuper, nunc assecla Dices.
Nemo bonus, nemo has doctus damnaverit artes,
nemo vices rerum vitio mihi vertet (opinor)
55cui notum quam sit ludi malegrata magistris
[p339] urbica colluvies. Memores vidistis amici,
nuper ut infandi fuerit mihi criminis instar,
plus didicisse magistellis, majoraque natos
moribus et captu rudium docuisse parentum,
60edictoque ingratae urbis (lugete furorem
o seri patrium et diris damnate, nepotes!). 9
Proscriptae ut fuerint Musae Iovis aurea proles,
in ludique lares inscitia jussa reverti,
inque vices anser succedere raucus oloris! 10
65Nempe pecus merito, Cereris dum semina calcat,
vivere damnatur glumis et glande suillum.
Non secus ille sagax, bis sex qui condidit auctor
Romulidum tabulas, Ephesi clarissimus exul 11
immeritas solvit virtutum nomine pœnas,
70laude alios alibi jussus praevertere cives,
cum noxae et noctes nebulonum ferre nequirent
tam rutili lucem solis. Quorum omnia fanxit
nervo Heraclitus fœdissima guttura frangi.
At nos nunquam auro mutasse orichalca pigebit, 12
75vita procul pueris in adultum ut caetera cœtum
transeat, et porro cesset mihi ponere leges
multi animal capitis crassum cassumque cerebro: 13
cui me auctore operam sapiens dehinc nemo locabit
par pretium nostro nolit qui auferre labori.
80Nunc mihi primus honos sanctum observare Senatum,
et gravia edentes legum responsa peritos
audire, ac dubiis magnorum oracula Patrum
scitari in caussis, censeri in gente togata,
mane salutari, reserare occlusa Themistos,
85accingi ad lites, evolvere vincula gryphis,
in comitumque globo ad celsum remeare tribunal,
et legere hic spicas (ut adhuc cui messis in herba est) 14
aureolas. O fidum urge Deus alme laborem!
Indigitor manceps magni quoque regis et aulae:
90nempe meo tanquam sceptri inclementia suasu
ardeat in scelerum tristes cum sanguine pœnas.
Majestas, fateor, semper mihi sancta tiarae
numinis aeterni monitis, ut Numinis icon
aeterni in terris. At nostri encomia regis,
[p340] 95eximiasque animi dotes, et flumina quisquis
fœcundae vocis, imbutaque pectora Musis,
et faciles vultus, et amorem pacis et aequi
mente animi volvet solers, hunc regibus orbi
qui late imperitant componens omnibus unum,
100sectantem ingenuas non me mirabitur artes:
virtutumque via insontis vestigia vitae
ponentem, herois tanto me addicere nutu,
exequar ut promptus monita et mandata capessam.
Bella fori pausam dederint, ubi pace sequestra, 15
105qui se observantem facili me lumine lustret,
aut lateri haerentem affatu compellet amico 16
(nil etenim his majus nostri meruere labores).
Largum operae, famulus, pretium fecisse videbor.
Non mea quod magnis regni sententia rebus
110accedat, veniae, aut pœnis posuisse monendo
ausa modum: augusti prima est ea cura Senatus,
pondera nec nostrae capiunt haec talia vires.
Me sibi nemo Patrum, nedum vox Principis ultro
accersit, quin ora pudor pavitantia mirus
115purpuret, et gelidum stupeat formidine pectus,
linguaque vix constet singultim et pauca loquentis. 17
Tantum inopes magnae monitoribus absumus aulae.
Di patriae servate patrem, defendite tristes
insidias caro capiti, plebisque rebelles:
120sensimus, heu, quales nuper! Contundite fastus.
Caetera quae nostrae improperat convitia famae
latratus bruti ille auctor, nugo ille canorus, 18
ex trivio sumpta, et puerilis pulvere ludi,
nec voce ingenua effari, neque carmine casto
125digna refutari: hic nostris non illino chartis!
Vel scurris fœda et crispas rugantia nares,
moxque adeo cum laude sui peritura poetae!
Nunc tibi me obverto, contorta cuspide teli
qui fugitas, nomenque atra caligine condis,
130ne jugulere tuis si coram et cominus armis. 19
Verum ego vi vincam latebras fumosque facesque
miscentem, 20 elisis in lumina faucibus 21 edam,
quas dedit Alcidae Caci ante amentia pœnas.
[p341] Nec mihi tam effari qui sis, proclive, fatendo,
135quam tibi si negitem, quae sunt aliena, tuaque
te specie nudum sine fuco et faece relinquam.
Non probus esse piusve potes, non pacis alumnus,
non Musis gratus, non juris amicus et aequi,
non animi prudens, non regi fidus et aulae.
140Nec probus esse potest, fœda in convitia lapsu
qui furit infraeni, cum vox vanissima veri est, 22
ducitur in primis cui dira calumnia laudum,
quique instar spumantis apri, frendensque fremensque
dente truci, et pando ruit obvius omnia rostro.
145Os mendax hominum leges divinaque jura
castigant, pœnasque luit vel fœmina linguae
iurgia vibrantis. Vos hunc, ecclesia vindex,
seu doctum seu doctorem, seu forte ministrum,
tanti in supplicium sceleris non truditis ultro?
150Verum ego laudis inops, ego debita vocis et irae
sim seges ut merito: non me iste tenebrio primum
hac thyrsi pupugit, nec punget cuspide summum,
semper amans satyrae et semper liventis iambi:
praesertim ebriolum postquam furiarit Iacchus
155lurconem, et fervet cum vena poetica vino.
Nam parasitus edax, et scurra impune disertus
vini inter cœnam, sortitus regna loquacis 23
quid non designat? Quid non aretalogus audet?
Condita tunc recinit Sanctis mundi omnia solis,
160deberique Dei famulis lautissima rerum:
tunc pretium est operae bacchantem Maenadis instar
audire, in satrapas et rerum culmina reges:
tunc etiam est, lapsis Lapitharum in praelia rixis,
cernere caesa alapis vel amici antistitis ora.
165Conciliante animos vix multo deinde Lyaeo,
in ructus rixae in vomitus ut verbera vertant,
si mihi non vanus temulentae prodidit autor
orgia popinae. Quin, somno sobrius, idem
si quando hesternam decoxit mane saburram,
170non aliunde rapit genuini pabula dentis,
stigmata quam famae si absentis inurat amici,
et probri in populum mendacis semina spargat.
[p342] Hic prurit miser, hic ridet, regnatque cachinno,
et volat immissis hoc aequore pronus habenis:
175tanquam ipsi in titulos aliena opprobria surgant.
Sic illaudati memorantur militis ignes
solivisse in cineres Ephesi ditissima templi,
ut sua victuris aeternet nomina fastis.
Sed vomicam hanc scelerum species pietatis obumbrat,
180sed tantum species: quis enim Dis credat amicum,
qui sic dente refert mendax mordaxque Theonem? 24
Vos igitur populus juvenum, vos inclyta pubes,
hunc sive in sacris pandentem oracula caeli,
sive Sophon veterum, tumidoque sophismata fastu
185urgentem auditis, vera auscultate videnti,
visaque narranti: tantum his diversa sequutos
pugnantesque adytis animi percellite mores.
Nam quod jam afflictis sacrorum autoribus audax
extitit assertor, succo loliginis atrae 25
190nescio quem aspergens nostro sub nomine vatem.
Non pietas illum, aut sanctae (ne credite, vulgus)
relligionis amor sociumque indigna ferentum
perpulit huc labes: sed quae sub pectore fœdo
ebullit sanies, cacoethesque oris in omnes
195vivos, et studium innocuis unde unde nocendi.
En pietas! En sacrorum tutela clientum!
Tot quibus aerumnas inter nil contigit uno
turpius hoc lapsu: infami mandasse patrono
si modo mandarunt sacrae certamina causae.
200Quin magis obrepsit causarum hic subdolus auceps
impostorque sagax: et se nolentibus ultro
tutorem obtrusit (quae durae audacia frontis!)
ne qua deficiant pugnacis praelia pennae.
Nempe viri ad rabiem nati, diversa Deo mens
205ardenti in paces, odiisque hostilibus hosti.
Bella etenim aere truci bella increpat, horrida bella: 26
vicinos in bella ciet, bello implicat urbem
heu, inopem, at famulam Musis. Aulaeque minatur
et regi Furias, totique incendia regno.
210Immo omni (si fas) Timon velut Atticus orbi,
unde illa insanos excivit nupera cives
[p343] seditio in sceptra et satrapas, faciente pavorem
metropoli hospitibus magnis, patriaeque parenti.
Nec secus ipsa sibi dubios Ecclesia sensus
215hinc inde exagitat, tali sartore satore, 27
sementem armorum, et lethalis gramina belli.
Tu tanti immanem, Deus ultor, perde furoris
artificem, et sancto da pacis gaudia cœtu;
da pecori infirmo caelestis pabula fœni;
220da cultum atque artes animis; da mollia Musis
otia, quae caecas te illustrent auspice mentes.
Verum, hos plecte, pater, latices qui fontis equini 28
Cerbereis spumis, Stygiaque uligine fœdant.
Plecte, inquam, audentes cantu Sirenas amico,
225et blandis modulis insontem allidere puppim
infami scopulo; placidas da pectoris artes
caelitus indultas; et magna minantis acumen
mentis in humani generis dispendia torquent.
At vos, o nemorum cives et ruris opaci, 29
230vescentes Musae semper melioribus auris,
propter aquae vitreos sontes, ubi voce canora
et castis animis faelices ducitis annos,
Aoniis hortis procul et Permessidos unda, 30
sive poetastrum sive hunc arcete profanum
235versificem. Nam relligio est mihi dicere vatem,
qui nil habet praeter versus et verba poetae:
fallaci quorum obtentu lethalia condit
toxica, et impuras sordes, succosque veneni.
Tuque, o Phœbe pater, Pallasque, et caetera caelo
240numina, quae studiis hominum mulcetis amœnis
somniferas mentes, doctorum excludite cœtu
inscitum hunc sciolum et jactantem vana sophistam.
Et quoties cultos epulis adhibetis amicos
nectare et ambrosia, procul hunc prohibete salubres
245unguibus Harpyjam praedantem immanibus escas,
proluvieque alvi turpis triclinia purae
debita fœdantem et muco taboque juventae.
Hunc Zethen, Borea, et Calain tua pignora pennis
instrue, qui monstrum infaelix vel in ultima Thules, 31
250immo ultra terraeque plagas pelagique procellas
[p344] Tartara in ima premant. Immane ruentia cœlo
fulmina portentum Ditisque in regna relegent.
Cui fas atque nefas, cui vincula juris et aequi
solvere mirus amor (merces cui prima laborum)
255vatum imposturis eludere sancta sequentum
consilia, et pleno mentiri multa Senatu
absque pudore Patrum. Modo praestigiator amicis
consulat ipse suis, sancti et sibi nomina servet
sarta et tecta viri; simulata in pace sequester.
260Artibus his titulos sibi dum prudentis inanes
captat, et occulto applaudit sibi callidus astu,
prodiit Ardelio in lucem: et se prodidit orbi
polypus, indicio periturus soricis instar 32
ipse suo. Ante viri e specula videre sagaces;
265nunc, hebeti quamvis acie, plebecula cernit.
Elususque diu fallacis imagine frontis,
iam tandem observat sacris qui praesidet ordo
hunc illum esse ducem scelerum, 33 tristisque parentem
dissidii, Arctous quo jam pene arserit orbis,
270regali insurgit dum pars non paucula sceptro.
Sic amplexa Deum ut tumido mortalia fastu
exuat imperia, et sese diadema vicissim
qua vi, qua tabulis Divumque hominumque tuetur.
Unde anceps populi huc illuc sententia nutet,
275vixque sibi infestis pars utraque temperet armis.
Sed tua res agitur, 34 rex magne, potissima et aulae
et procerum. Exitium quibus imminet omnibus unum,
textore hoc uno fraudum bellique celeuste.
Nulla diu e sacris jam in vos contorta cathedris,
280quae non iste suo Cyclops procuderit antro
fulmina. Titanum non ullus laedere nuper
majestatem ausus, tristi nisi talis aliptae
consilio athletas ducente docente rebelles.
Quod regi et famulis aulae sine more minatus
285perniciem populus, scelerata poposcerit arma
(o scelus, o labes etiamnum in sacra redundans
nomina praeconum verbi!), populique furorem
dura coercuerit sceptri sententia, et ipsi
iam bona verba boni jubeantur dicere vates
[p345] 290auctori scelerum. Quo sceptra superstite nunquam
tuta odiis stabunt; quo Ecclesia sospite nunquam
vel regi obsequium solvet, vel fœdera nectet
ipsa sibi concors mansurae conscia pacis.
Regia carnificem cohibet clementia, sanctae
295vili in vappa umbram verita et venerata cathedrae.
Sed nos, 35 o mites tamen etsi caetera, mystae,
si verbi et vestri miseret vos, protinus ipsi
perdite vindicibus tam tetrum hunc viribus hostem
(fidite prodenti socio jam sultis) opertum.
300Mutua vos inter vestra indulgentia laesit,
dumque aliis alii donatis crimina, ponunt
iusque jugumque sacris, ita re cogente, profani.
Nempe haec illa, ferax capitum et fœcunda venenis, 36
Hydra est; quam excidat penitus nisi lamina ferri,
305Herculeusque rogus sub Lernae exusserit unda.
Finibus his opera porro nitemur inani
exigere, aut solitae septo cohibere paludis.
Tanta est vis tetro sentinae in faucis hiatu,
vis tanta in catulis, quos nunc jam enixa per orbem
310dispulit, inque dies eniti ac didere perget.
311Di pestem Arctois hanc talem avertite regnis.
A defence against the insults and falsehoods of a certain Theon, who conceals his own name
1 Which Zoilus, driven by Hell's madness and an unhinged mind, has directed the blows of a savage tongue toward me, I who was recently unknown, harmless, guiltless, and now am staggering towards the close of the tenth lustrum of my age? a Which author dared to dishonour the spotless propriety of my reputation, and smears my flourishing name with stinking filth?
7 This Cynic, clearly relying on the evidence from his dull nose and the wanderings of his thick wits, has spewed forth the vile poisons of his toxic mouth that poems were written by me against the four exiled ministers, which the mob were undoubtedly already reading in the streets without me as author, b for he wishes to be seen a champion to those wretched in this battle, while lying through his teeth, being dull of mind, and coarse in verse, the dog from Cerberus' breed, now recalling its ancient bond, and never very friendly to any son of Hercules. c
16 But I, untroubled by the poetry of this unknown poet, [p338] who has stung the sacred heralds with the point of his pen, whether it is learned or unlearned, whether full of truth, or of groundless slander (let the author himself claim his deserts for himself by supporting his own insults), I shall speak a little about myself: I call upon the good gods as witness, and all those who have apprehended my poems with their eyes, that never have I in the guise of poet pursued this type of thing through insults, nor have I offended the reputation of anyone with a disreputable little work. Do not let me stab the exiled ministers with the point of my pen and scoff meanly at those prostrate men, and vex those who are worn-out, since I am one who has observed that this madman among prophets fights his battles with two weapons: the poisonous hole of a lying mouth, and the spear-point of a tongue spitting out insults, both detested by heaven and by the faithful. And now as avenger I shall repress arms with arms, force with force; and you will indulge (I hope) a man who is unwilling and reluctant, o holy troop, o beautiful men, and learned poets. But come now, what are those thunderbolts from his barking mouth with which this envious Alastor d has attacked me, undeserving as I am? My overriding hunger for gold, and an ill-fated love for gain e are wheeled out amid the insults. But my strength is not something I have created though any sort of harming, nor through deceit do I instigate wickedness. Supposing that my mind were to have lusted after yellow gold, would I then have not wasted so many years in idle study amid Apollo's hills and wild lands known to the Muses? For divine law has deemed it important that they are well-off whom the golden bounty of the forum nurtures as sons. And already when my brood of numerous children, and both wife f and home drives me on during the unwelcome twilight of my life, while slow grey old-age covers my cheeks and temples, to neglect the vain Muses, and poems pleasing in the shade, and prefer business and work in the harsh light of day: where I may better bear the pressing cares and the bitterness of old age. You think this the mind, this the mindset, Zoilus, of a greedy poet? And after my hunger for gold my station in life is summoned as evidence: I was lately a grammarian, and am now a slavish follower of Justice. g No one good, or learned will disapprove of these professions, no one will think ill of this change of profession for me (I think) who knows how disagreeable the urban mob h is to teachers. Mindful [p339] friends, you have seen that, although recently there was the spectre of an unspeakable sin attributed to me, i my pupils learned more than their little teachers, and they taught greater things than the manners and wits of their boorish parents, even though, by an edict of an ungrateful city (lament the anger of our country, O future generations, and condemn it with curses!), the golden offspring of Jove, the Muses, were outlawed, and ignorance has been ordered to return to the classroom's hearths, and a squawking goose to succeed in the place of a swan! j Deservedly indeed are pigs, while they tread upon seeds of grain, condemned to live amid husks and acorns. Just like that wise man, who authored the twelve tables of the Romans, k and who, most outstanding Ephesian exile, l suffered undeserved punishments in virtues' name, and was ordered on account of his merit to turn his attentions towards other citizens in another place, since the crimes and dark deeds of the wicked could not tolerate the light of so bright a Sun. Heraclitus m decreed that their every shameful throat be throttled by force. But I will never be ashamed to have turned brass into gold, in order that the remainder of my life may pass off far from boys amid the company of adults, and moreover that the brute with many a head and empty-headed n may stop making laws for me: whom, under my direction, no sensible man will henceforth employ who would not wish to get a return equal to my efforts. Now my foremost duty is to watch the sacred Senate, o and listen to experts dispensing the grave judgement of the law, and to come to understand the decrees of the great Senators in difficult court cases, to be assessed amid the toga-ed tribe, and to be greeted as such, to unlock the secrets of Justice, to be ready for trial, to undo the fetters of riddles, and to come back to the Judge's bench in the company of my peers, and also here to collect golden grains of law (as if one who still has his harvest in the meadow). O nourishing God drive on my faithful work! I am also proclaimed the right-hand man of the great king and court: indeed royal authority's unsentimental judgement demands grim retribution with the blood of the wicked when I advise it. Always, I confess that to me the majesty of the crown is sacred through the precepts of the eternal diety, as it is an image of the eternal deity on earth. p But whoever attentively considers the praises [p340] of our king, both the outstanding gift of his mind, and his rivers of rich speech, his soul immersed in the muses, his affable countenance, and his love of peace and justice, and compares this one king with all the kings who rule the earth far and wide, he will not be amazed that I follow the noble arts: may I continue to devote myself to following in the footsteps of a guiltless life on the path of virtue, at the great pleasure of this hero, so that I may be ready to undertake his commands and advice. Let the court's battles end, and peace follow, so that he may observe me with his gentle gaze as I look upon him, or address me at his side with a friendly word (for truly have our efforts deserved nothing more than these things). q Then I, his servant, will be seen to have attained a generous price for my labour: not because my opinions engage with the great matters of state, or because my advice has dared to place a limit upon mercy or retribution: this is the foremost responsibility of the august Senate, and my energies do not take in hand such weighty matters. r None of the Senators summon me to them, much less the voice of the prince as well, without wondrous shame flushing red my trembling face, and my frozen heart being stupified by fear, and my tongue scarcely carry a few blubbering words. I am destitute and so far removed from the counsellors at the great court. O Gods, protect the father of our fatherland, ward off grim treacheries from our dear chief, and ward off the rebellious commoners too: so many of them, alas, we have recently endured! Shatter their arrogance.
121 The other abuses of our name s which that progenitor of stupid barking hurls forth, that melodious buffoon, have been gleaned from the mob, t and from the children's playground, neither fit to utter from a respectable mouth, or to be rebutted in a virtuous poem: I do not smear them on my pages! They are even shameful for vulgarian, and convulse wrinkled noses, and soon they will perish with their author's reputation!
128 I now turn to you, u you who flees from the well-aimed barbs of my spear, and hides your name in gloomy mist, lest you be fatally wounded by your own weapons when face-to-face and at close quarters. Yet I shall bring low by force this man obscuring light with darkness and smoke, and with his throat forced open into the light, I will reward him with the penalties of Cacus which Hercules' blind rage previously bestowed. v [p341]There is no better way to describe who you are than for me to deny those things that are not yours, and without artifice or greasepaint abandon you stripped of your disguise.
137 You are not capable of being honest or dutiful, nor a child of peace, nor agreeable to the Muses, nor a friend of justice and equity, nor judicious of mind, nor faithful to king and court. For no one is capable of being honest, who rages in an unrestrained free fall into vile insults, while their voice is devoid of truth, and in their front ranks the detestable pretence of virtue is deployed, and who is like the frothing boar, gnashing and raging with its fierce teeth, and charging against everything with its hooked tusks. The laws of men and divine justice punish a lying mouth, and a tongue spitting out womanish insults also pays its penalty. Do you not, avenging assembly, w drive out such a man, whether learned, or a doctor, or a minister, in punishment for such a crime? But I without merit, let me be the due fertile plane for abuse and fury as I deserve: he stung me not first with this point of his Bacchic spear, nor will he sting me last, that constant lover of satire and constant lover of the angry iamb: x especially after Bacchus fires up the bibulous gourmand, and when his poetic limbs warm up with wine. y For what does the voracious parasite, and the eloquent jester not speak out about with impunity over dinner, having gained by chance the power of prattling drink? What does the babbling philosopher not attempt? Now he thunders forth that everything on earth has been preserved only for the holy, and the most sumptuous things are due to the servants of God: z then it is a salutary lesson to hear him ranting like a Bacchante against the leaders of the world, the kings and the governors: and also, with his brawling having degenerated into the battle of the Lapiths, aa to witness the speech of some friendly minister cut off by his blows. Then with much wine scarcely softening his spirits, his blows and bickering would have turned to belching and vomiting, had not the hypocritical author given up the crazed feasts of the drunken taverns for me. But this man, sober after his slumber, whenever he has re-cooked yesterday's porridge in the morning, ab derives the sustenance for his native bitterness in no other way than when he brands a mark of shame on the reputation of an absent friend, and spits forth the seeds of lying abuse against the people. [p342] Here the wretch strains at the leash, now he sneers, and domineers with derision, and head down and with free rein he glides over this plane: just as if the abuse of others gives rise to his reputation. In this way the torch of some unknown soldier is said to have dissolved the great riches of the temple of Ephesus ac into ashes, so that he would immortalize his own name on posterity's records.
179 Yet his cloak of piety conceals a pustulant ball of wickedness, but it is only a disguise: for who would believe him a friend to the Gods who reproduces Theon with his teeth while lying and snarling? You nation of youth, you celebrated men, ad whether you hear this man amid the devoted explaining the oracles of heaven, or the wisdom of the ancients, or plying sophistry with puffed-up pride, listen to me who sees the truth, and who is telling you what he has seen: and strike down the whims of pride warring within this church which have followed the hostile path. For since the leaders of the church are now dejected, he has boldly presented himself as liberator, and under my name smears a certain master ae with the ink of the dark squid. Piety has not constrained him, nor so far has a love of holy religion (don't believe him, people) tempered his slurs upon his associates who bear undeserved grief: but what venom simmers within his black heart, a disease frothing forth from his mouth against all living men, and a zeal for harming the harmless wherever they may be. Behold his piety! Behold his protection for his sacred companions! Amid their many hardships nothing more disgraceful has befallen them than this one failing: that they ordered that their holy cause's battles entrust themselves to a disreputable patron. Indeed very cunningly does this trapper and wily deceiver lurk in the shadows: and uninvited does he force himself as guardian upon the unwilling (the audacity of his insensible presumption!) so that in no way may battles for his pugilistic pen run out.
204 Clearly it is the mind of a man born to hate, a mind turned from the God who yearns for peace, and filled with an inimicable aversion for his enemies. For truly does he signal war, horrible war, with his pitiless trumpet; af he rouses his neighbours to war, and brings war to the city ag which, alas, is helpless, but a servant to the Muses. He also threatens the king and court with the Furies, and the whole kingdom with conflagration. Rather he is just like a Timon of Athens (if the comparison is just) ah for the whole world, since he was responsible for that recent insurrection which fired up [p343] the demented citizens against their king and rulers, when the capital was generating anxiety amid its great guests, and the father of the fatherland. ai So the church itself starts up dangerous opinions internally, and with him as tiller and sower, it starts sowing discord, and the pastures of deadly war.
217 You, avenger God, destroy the monstrous creator of such madness, and provide the joys of peace in your holy assembly; provide the nourishment of a heavenly harvest to a sick flock; provide refinement and knowledge for our spirits; provide gentle repose for the Muses, so that under your direction they may illuminate dull minds. Yes, punish those men, Father, who defile the waters of Hippocrene with Cerberean filth, and with the Stygian mud. Punish, I say, the Sirens daring to smash the innocent ship on the notorious rocks with their friendly song; provide the soul's gentle arts sent from heaven; and torture the cunning of a mind threatening great things to the detriment of the human race. But you, o citizens of the groves and of the dark countryside, you Muses who breathe in the ever fresher air, which comes from those shining springs of water, where you pass the blessed years in sweet song and with chaste spirits, far away at the spring of Permessus and the gardens of Aonia, keep at a distance this man, be he poetaster or ignorant versifer. For it is my duty to describe this poet, who has nothing more than the form and words of a poet, and who conceals his deadly poison, his filthy sordidness and evil potions under their deceiving cover. O you, Father Apollo, and Minerva, and all the other gods in heaven, who soothe soporific minds with the pleasant study of the Humanities, remove from the assembly of the learned this ignorant pseudo-intellectual and sophist uttering his vacuous drivel. And whenever you invite elegant friends to your banquets with nectar and ambrosia, keep at a safe distance this harpy who robs the nourishing food with his huge claws, and with an eruption of his disgusting bowels, defiles dinner tables reserved for chaste youth with his bile and pus. Fit out your sons Zetes and Calais with wings, Boreas, so that they may drive this unhappy beast either towards Farthest Thule, or better beyond the zones of the earth and the storms of the seas [p344] towards deepest Hell. Let thunderbolts falling from heaven take back this monstrous portent to the kingdom of Dis. He has an astonishing desire to destroy right and wrong, and the chains of justice and fairness (this is the foremost reward for his pains), to mock with false testimony the counsel of poets paying heed to holy matters, and, lacking the modesty of the Fathers, to lie with gusto in front of the whole assembly. Then let the trickster himself come to the aid of his friends, and keep the name for himself of holy man safe and sound; the 'intermediary' of a contrived peace. aj
260 While he grasps after the honorific title of wise man for himself with these skills, and slyly with concealed cunning applauds himself, Ardalion has brought himself into the light: ak the octopus has revealed himself to the world, and just like a shrew he will perish through his own squeaks. al Wise men have already seen it from their lofty towers; now the rabble understand it, though with dullish wit. am Also fooled by the mask of a lying face for a long time, finally now the order which oversees the church observe that this man is that conductor of the wickedness, the author of the unhappy discord, because of whom the Northern World an will all but be consumed by flames, as quite a few rise up against the royal sceptre. Thus has the crown embraced God in order to strip worldly power from the hands of puffed-up arrogance, and in turn defends itself as much by force as by the laws of Gods and men. ao From this source the uncertain opinion of the people would stagger to and fro, and scarely would either side restrain themselves from hostile battle.
276 However, it is your own interests at danger, great king, and most especially those of the court and nobles. For one destruction threatens all, while this one man weaves his deceits and conducts the war drum. For a long time now there were no thunderbolts hurled against you from the holy churches, which that Cyclops did not fashion in his own cave. Till now none of the Titans have dared to harm your majesty, unless the counsel of such a severe instructor leads and trains the rebel fighters. Since the people have lawlessly threatened king and servants of court with destruction, and have sought wicked war (o wickedness, o disgrace even now rising against the holy authority of the messengers of the Word!) and the stern judgement of the crown has contained the wrath of the people, now let good prophets themselves be directed to pronounce the good words to [p345] the author of the wickedness. With him still alive never will the crown stand free from hatred; with him unharmed never will the church pay allegiance to the king, nor join itself harmoniously in a pact as participant in an enduring peace. Royal clemency restrains the tormenter, having respected and honoured the holy church's protection of the base scoundrel. But you yourselves, ministers, though in all other respects mild, if you have compassion for yourselves and the word, immediately give up this enemy so foul now hidden safe under your protecting strength (if you would please now put your trust in a ready friend). Your reciprocal favour has caused you harm, and while some of you accuse others, the wicked impose law and subjection on the church, as the matter dictates. Clearly this thing is the Hydra itself, abounding in heads and bursting with venom; and if my blade of steel should not completely cut it down, then Hercules' funeral pyre will burn beneath the Lerna's waters. ap Through my own meagre endeavours I shall strive to expel it far off from these borders, or contain it within the enclosure of its accustomed swamp. Very great is the vigour in the vile gaping mouth of its foul friends, and amid its pups, whom even now it has begot and dispersed throughout the world, and it will continue to produce and distribute every day. O Gods cast out such a plague as this from our Northern realms.
1: A Horatian literary type, noted for his evil tongue. See Horace, Epistles, I.18.82
2: Horace, Odes, II.4.24
3: Zoilus was a literary critic of Homer. According to Vitruvius (7.pr.8) he was known as 'Homeromastix'. However Rollock is clearly using Ovid as his inspiration here. Ovid takes the specific person and turns him into a type, specifically the sort of individual who is filled with envy and prone to criticise the better works of others: Ovid, Remedia Amoris, 366
4: Cf. Horace, Epodes, XII.3
5: For the idiom and its classical origins see Erasmus, Adages, I.1-37
6: Virgil, Aeneid, III.57
7: Ovid, Metamorphoses, I.131
8: Ovid, Metamorphoses, IX.437
9: For the use of 'seri...nepotes', see Ovid, Ex Ponto, III.2.35; and Virgil, Georgics, II.58
10: Virgil, Eclogues, IX.36
11: Hermodorus. For his historical significance as the inspiration for Roman Law, and for his exile and its general circumstances (including his relationship with Heraclitus) see: Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XXXIV.21; and Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, V.104-5
12: For the saying see Suetonius, Vitellius, V
13: The reference to the hydra suggests Melville. See explicit identification of the Theon of the poem with the Hydra in the final paragraph. The final two words of this line are a pointed response to Melville's criticisms of Rollock which appear at d2_MelA_040: 'vacuo vecors fundit maledicta cerebro'.
15: Virgil, Aeneid, XI.133
16: Virgil, Aeneid, II.372
17: For the phrase see Horace, Satires, I.VI.56-7; and I.IV.19
18: Horace, Ars Poetica, 322
20: Virgil, Aeneid, VIII.255-261
21: Ovid, Metamorphoses, XII.142
22: Virgil, Aeneid, X.630-1
23: Horace, Odes, I.4.18
24: The use of 'dente' here explicitly links the 'Theon' of this poem with that of Horace's. Horace, Epistles, I.18.82
25: Horace, Satires, I.4.100
26: Virgil, Aeneid, VI.86
27: Cf. Plautus, Captivi, III.5.3
28: Hippocrene. Cf. Sidonius Apollinaris, Epistula ad Faustum, XVI.2: 'et laticem simulatum fontis equini'; and Virgil, Aeneid IV.512
29: Virgil, Georgics, I.176
30: Virgil, Eclogues, VI.64-65
31: Virgil, Georgics, I.30
32: Terence, Eunuchus 1024
33: Cf. Virgil, Aeneid, VII.255
34: Further confirmation that Horace's Theon is the primary inspiration for Rollock's. Horace, Epistles, I.18.84
35: 'nos' should read 'vos'.
36: Explicit identification of Rollock with Hercules and Theon with the Lernian Hydra. This passage seems to owe much to Statius, Thebaid, IX.340-341
a: A 'lustrum' is a period of five years. Rollock was born c.1546 and was thus around 50 when the Tolbooth Riot occurred, which accords with this statement and further confirms the context and dating of the poem. Stuart Handley, 'Rollock, Hercules (c.1546-1599)', ODNB.
b: See introduction above for the background to this accusation, but note also Rollock's disdain for the common people of Edinburgh, a theme picked up at l. 54-61 below and which mirrors his comments on lower social classes and alcohol in d2_RolH_001.
c: The twelfth labour set for Hercules was to travel to the underworld and kidnap Cerberus, the multi-headed beast that guarded its gates. Rollock is punning on the fact that his name indicates he should be seen as descended from the hero, while Melville is clearly sprung from one of the most terrifying denizens of hell.
d: A term originally used to denote an aspect of Zeus as the avenger of wrongs, and also as an aspect of the Furies. By the fourth century BC it had come to be used as a general insult, and in later Christian mythology it denoted a type of demon.
f: This is the only reference Rollock makes to his family in his poetry. It is unknown when he married or what his wife's name was, or how many children he had. The only other mention of his family is found in a minute in the Edinburgh Town Council records of 20 February 1600, where the council agreed to pay 500 merks as a token of their goodwill to 'the relict and bairnis of umquhile M. Hercules Rollok sometyme Maister of the grammer scole' to provide them with land or an annuity. For the full text of the minute, see William Steven, The History of the High School of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1839), appendix, pp. 27-8.
g: Melville's two epigrams 'against the Lice-Covered Grammarian' ('in pediculosum Grammatistam', d2_MelA_040) paint Rollock as filthy and boorish. The first attacks his teaching as being devoid of true learning and relying heavily on corporal punishment to keep the students in line. The second suggests he is only fit for shouting out curses which, Melville argues, makes his decision to change career and become a lawyer an apt one.
h: See note to l. 7-14 above.
i: Rollock is suggesting that he has been unfairly blamed for the shooting of the bailie John McMorane by one of his pupils, William Sinclair of Caithness, during the student 'boarding out' riot of 16 September 1595. See introduction to d2_RolH_003 for more details. Note again the contempt with which Rollock describes the citizens of Edinburgh for their ignorance and lack of gratitude, as seen in l. 7-14 and 54-61, and further below.
j: Rollock was replaced on 23 April 1596 by Alexander Hume, who had graduated BA from St Andrews in 1574 and then spent the subsequent sixteen years as a tutor in England. He was possibly related to the Alexander Hume of North Berwick who served as provost of Edinburgh in the mid-1590s (Steven, p. 29). Calling someone a 'goose' for their lack of finesse in declaiming appears to have been a common insult hurled at teachers in sixteenth-century Scotland: the same term was also used in a poem directed against the principal of St Salvator's College, John Rutherford, in 1572. See Steven J. Reid, Humanism and Calvinism: Andrew Melville and the Universities of Scotland, 1560-1625 (Farnham, 2012), pp. 45-6.
k: We now have an extended interaction with the story of Hermodorus and Heraclitus. Hermodorus was reputedly expelled by the Ephesians because his excellence was too outstanding (they reasoned that no one man should be so esteemed). Hermodorus then went to Rome and helped the Decemvirs to frame the Twelve tables (the basis and foundation of Roman Law). Heraclitus attacked the citizens for their stupidity in banishing him. Rollock wishes the reader to see him as a modern day Hermodorus. See: Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XXXIV.21; and Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, V.104-5
m: Pre-Socratic philosopher who lived on Ephesus, c. 480BC-540BC. See above for his role in the Hermodorus affair.
n: Melville. He is elsewhere described as the many-headed hydra, and an octopus, with a hand in everything. This passage is also a response to the attacks Melville makes upon Rollock at d2_MelA_040, where he refers to him as 'empty-headed' ('vacuo...cerebro'). Rollock's refers to Melville here as 'empty in the head' ('cassum cerebro').
o: After Rollock was removed from his post as grammar school master, he resumed his career as a lawyer, and is found as a procurator in the records of the Privy Council on 24 March and 10 September 1597, 20 April 1598, and 17 April 1599. See David Masson (ed.), Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. 5 (1592-1599), pp. 452-3, 678, 686-7, 721.
q: In addition to the epithalamium Rollock wrote for James VI's marriage to Anna (d2_RolH_001), he also wrote a Latin prefatory epigram for James VI's The Essays of a Prentise, in the Divine Art of Poesie (Edinburgh, 1584) (see f. *iiii, verso).
r: Rollock is suggesting that he is a friend of the king's, but not a close political adviser.
s: Rollock may be referring to the comments on his personal hygiene in the epigrams comprising d2_MelA_040 here, but equally there may have been further poetic jabs by Melville that have not survived.
t: See notes on the 'mob' above.
u: The second half of the poem (l. 128-311), turns to a savage condemnation of Melville - see comments in introduction above.
v: i.e., Rollock will be wringing his neck.
w: The General Assembly of the kirk of Scotland, the national meeting of the church where major decisions on polity and the relationship with the royal goverment were discussed. Melville was an active participant in the assembly from his return to Scotland in 1574 until he was banned by the king from attending in early 1597, in large part due to James' belief that Melville had been involved in the Tolbooth Riot. However, Melville's attentions were often unlooked for by James VI and unwelcome, most notably in the famous conference at Falkland in September 1596 where he burst in on the king and denounced him as 'God's sillie vassall', before launching into a diatribe defending the doctrine of the 'two kingdoms' (JMAD, p. 370; see also Reid, Humanism and Calvinism, pp. 164-5; Ernest R. Holloway III, Andrew Melville and Humanism in Renaissance Scotland 1545-1622 (Leiden, 2012), pp. 205-209.). In the final section of the poem, Rollock is articulating a view which was probably prevalent among more moderate members of the kirk in the late 1590s: that Melville did not speak for the majority of the kirk, and his presumption in doing so was both arrogant and highly detrimental to crown-church relations.
x: Despite the bulk of Melville's poetic work not being published until well into the seventeenth century, his talent for savage epigrams was clearly already well known to Rollock, presumably from publications like the Carmen Mosis (first published in 1573/4; d2_MelA_005) and from circulating manuscripts.
y: According to his nephew James, Melville was known for supplementing his teaching at Glasgow (1574-80) and St Andrews with 'an ordinar conference with sic as war present efter denner and supper', where matters of philosophy and theology would be debated. Melville's disposition at these meetings is captured precisely by James: 'Being sure of a truethe in reasoning, he wald be extream hat, and suffer na man to bear away the contrar; bot with reasone, words, and gesture, he wald carrie it away, caring for na persone, whow grait soever they war, namlie, in maters of relligion. And in all companies, at table or utherwayes, he wald frilie and bauldlie hauld thair eares fow of the treuthe; and tak it as they would, he wald nocht ceas nor keipe sylence' (JMAD, pp. 49, 67). Melville's boisterous temper is painted by Rollock in altogether more negative terms, who suggests that Melville has a reputation as a bad-tempered, mean-spirited drunk.
z: A caricature of Melville's belief in the 'two kingdoms' theory, where the temporal magistate governs all civil affairs and the church governs all spiritual ones, but where ultimate moral oversight resides with the church.
aa: The Lapiths were an ancient Greek mythological tribe, most famous for their battle with the Centaurs at the wedding feast of Pirithous (a battle known as the Centauromachy), where the centaurs attempted to rape and abduct Hippodamia and other guests.
ab: To cure his hangover.
ac: The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
ad: The students of the University of St Andrews, and particularly the College of St Mary's, where Melville was principal from 1580-1606. Melville was also rector of the whole university from 1590-1597.
af: Melville referred to himself as a prophetic 'trumpet' in a poem found only in David Calderwood's History, entitled 'Melviniana tuba casus Cassandra canebat'. See Calderwood, History, vol. 6, pp. 656-657.
ag: At the annual election of the provost in St Andrews in 1593, Melville had used his influence in the town to ensure the ousting of the incumbent provost, Learmonth of Dairsie, in favour of Captain William Murray, who was a supporter of presbyterianism. Dairsie sanctioned a series of night-raids on several families in St Andrews in retaliation for this outrage, and then brought an armed band against the town. Melville took to arms with several of the townspeople to defend the attack, and Murray's election was ultimately upheld. Rollock clearly views this episode as another example of Melville's arrogance and mania for enforcing presbyterian worship at the cost of civic order and peace. Reid, Humanism and Calvinism, p. 153.
ah: A 5th century B.C. Athenian with a reputation for extreme misanthropy.
ai: A direct reference to the Tolbooth Riot. See introduction above.
aj: See note above.
ak: A jester, actor and burlesque player who converted to Christianity and professed Christ on stage (d. 300AD).
al: Terence, The Eunuch, line 1024. A reference to the scheming slave Parmeno and his failed attempts at Macchiavellian intrigue. Like Parmeno, Rollock suggests Melville's own words and plots will ultimately lead to his undoing - hence the rat/mouse betrays its position through its own noises.
am: See note above.
an: A reference to both Scotland as the northern part of the British Isles, and to northern Europe and its high concentration of Protestant kingdoms (and, in Rollock's mind, home to correspondingly high levels of narrowly Protestant zealots) in opposition to the Catholic south.
ao: In the aftermath of the Tolbooth Riot James took drastic steps to seize control of the church. On 6 January 1597 James VI banned all ecclesiastical courts, other than the kirk session, from meeting in Edinburgh. This was followed in February by a series of articles curbing the jurisdiction of the kirk over secular authority and reaffirming the king's right (as established by the so-called 'Golden Act' of 1592, to dictate when and where the General Assembly should meet. James called an assembly at Perth in May which set up a regulated 'judicial committee' of ministers to run assembly affairs, who would liase with the crown at all times. In July, a royal visitation to the University of St Andrews banned Melville and his colleagues in St Andrews from attending any church assemblies on the grounds that they were not parish ministers. Reid, Humanism and Calvinism, pp. 160-165.
ap: Having been poisoned accidentally by his second wide Deianira, Hercules built a pyre for himself on the top of Mount Oeta where his mortal body was burnt away, leaving his immortal essence to be carried to Olympus by Hera. Lerna was the swampy site of Hercules' battle with the Hydra. Thus Rollock is suggesting that his 'Herculean' remains will endure above and beyond Melville's hydra-like wickedness.