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Juvenal on Grenfell Tower

Satire III : 190 - 231, from The Satires, written in the early second century AD.

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis
27 June 2017
lead

Grenfell Tower, June 16, 2017. Rick Findler/Press Association. All rights reseved.

 

The very houses are unsafe

Who fears, or ever feared, that their house might collapse,

In cool Praeneste, or in Volsinii among the wooded hills,

Or at unpretentious Gabii, or the sloping hills of Tibur?

We inhabit a Rome held up for the most part by slender

Props; since that’s the way management stop the buildings

Falling down; once they’ve covered some ancient yawning

Crack, they’ll tell us to sleep soundly at the edge of ruin.

The place to live is far from all these fires, and all these

Panics in the night. Ucalegon is already summoning a hose,

Moving his things, and your third floor’s already smoking:

You’re unaware; since if the alarm was raised downstairs,

The last to burn will be the one a bare tile protects from

The rain, up there where gentle doves coo over their eggs.

Cordus had a bed, too small for Procula, and six little jugs

Of earthenware to adorn his sideboard and, underneath it,

A little Chiron, a Centaur made of that very same ‘marble’

And a box somewhat aged now, to hold his Greek library,

So the barbarous mice gnawed away at immortal verse.

Cordus had nothing, who could demur? Yet, poor man,

He lost the whole of that nothing. And the ultimate peak

Of his misery, is that naked and begging for scraps, no one

Will give him a crust, or a hand, or a roof over his head.

If Assaracus’s great mansion is lost, his mother’s in mourning,

The nobles wear black, and the praetor adjourns his hearing.

Then we bewail the state of Rome, then we despair of its fires.

While it’s still burning, they’re rushing to offer marble, already,

Collect donations; one man contributes nude gleaming statues,

Another Euphranor’s master-works, or bronzes by Polyclitus,

Or antique ornaments that once belonged to some Asian god,

Here books and bookcases, a Minerva to set in their midst,

There a heap of silver. Persicus, wealthiest of the childless,

Is there to replace what’s lost with more, and better things.

He’s suspected, and rightly so, of setting fire to his house.

If you could tear yourself from the Games, you could buy

A most excellent place, at Sora, at Fabrateria or Frusino,

For the annual rent you pay now, for a tenement in Rome.

There you’d have a garden, and a well not deep enough

To demand a rope, so easy watering of your tender plants.

Live as a lover of the hoe, and the master of a vegetable bed,

From which a hundred vegetarian Pythagoreans could be fed.

You’d be somebody, whatever the place, however remote,

If only because you’d be the master of a solitary lizard.

 

translated by A.S.Kline

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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