The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Mark Liberman at the Language Log has been analyzing the influence of Persia on the Hebrews, the Romans, jazz, Romani. A neat piece, from which the following extract works quite foodily.
There's a famous poem by Horace (Carmina I XXXVIII) indicating the cachet of Persian culture even in classical Rome:

Persicos odi, puer, apparatus;
displicent nexae philyra coronae;
mitte sectari rosa quo locorum
sera moretur.

Simplici myrto nihil allabores
sedulus curo: neque te ministrum
dedecet myrtus neque me sub arta
vite bibentem. 
A fairly literal translation by Owen Lee:

My lad, I hate Persian pomp,
Garlands woven on linden bark offend me.
Stop searching through all the places where
The late rose may linger.

My special care is that you add nothing,
In your labor, to simple myrtle. Myrtle disgraces
Neither you as you serve, nor me as I
Drink beneath the trellised vine. 
W.M. Thakeray rendered it this way in Punch, making the obvious analogy between the classical Roman view of Persia and the 19th-century British view of France:

Dear Lucy, you know what my wish is,–
I hate all your Frenchified fuss:
Your silly entrées and made dishes
Were never intended for us.
No footman in lace and in ruffles
Need dangle behind my arm-chair;
And never mind seeking for truffles,
Although they be ever so rare.

But a plain leg of mutton, my Lucy,
I pr'ythee get ready at three:
Have it smoking, and tender, and juicy,
And what better meat can there be?
And when it has feasted the master,
'Twill amply suffice for the maid;
Meanwhile I will smoke my canaster,
And tipple my ale in the shade.


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