Last night I was drinking wine with a befriended couple in their garden. It was still above 20 degrees and a pleasant breeze did its best to drive the heat of the day away. It had been well over 30 degrees and no, I am not somewhere in Southern Europe, but at home in Netherlands. We had a nice conversation under the stars and a frog was now and then jumping in the small pond at a corner of the garden. Yes, the joy of a garden.
A friend of Juvenal is completely fed up with life at Rome and is about to depart. Juvenal is meeting him at a gate and this friend is dreaming of his life at some country village, where he will have a small garden. It doesn’t matter how small the garden is: even if it is so small that only one lizard lives there, he can call it his own.
May be that with the climate change lizards instead of frogs will become inhabitants of Dutch gardens too.
Juvenal, Satire 3: 226-231
hortulus hic puteusque brevis nec reste movendus
in tenuis plantas facili diffunditur haustu.
vive bidentis amans et culti vilicus horti
unde epulum possis centum dare Pythagoreis.
est aliquid, quocumque loco, quocumque recessu,
unius sese dominum fecisse lacertae.
hic: in a county town
restis restis (f.): rope (nec reste movendus i.e. the water is near ground level, so you don’t need a bucket with a rope.)
tenuis plantas: tender plants
diffundo diffudi diffusum: to pour out (subject is puteus)
haustus haustus (m.): drawing (of water)
bidens bidentis (m.): a mattock with two iron teeth (bidentis is an objective genitive.)
vilicus: an overseer of an estate (`as a king of your own cultivated garden’)
epulum: meal, banquet
Pythagoreis: Pythagoreans were vegetarians
est aliquid; it is something (with the notion of something special)
(in) locu, (in) recessu
recessus recessus (m.): retreat, hidden spot
Translation by G. G. Ramsay (1918)
And you will there have a little garden, with a shallow well from which you can easily draw water, without need of a rope, to bedew your weakly plants. There make your abode, a friend of the mattock, tending a trim garden fit to feast a hundred Pythagoreans. It is something, in whatever spot, however remote, to have become the possessor of a single lizard!