Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

EPISTLES.-BOOK I.

EPISTLE I.

SOME time after Horace had published his three books of Odes, and had, as it appears, laid aside that sort of writing, it seems that Mæcenas, and probably his other friends, begged him to return to it. That is the obvious meaning of the remonstrance with which the Epistle opens. He expresses an earnest wish to retire into privacy, to abandon poetry, and to devote himself to the study of philosophy and virtue, which he recommends as the only true wisdom.

1. Prima dicte mihi,] This is an affectionate way of speaking. It has no particular reference to anything Horace had written. It is like Virgil's address to Pollio (Ec. viii. 11): A te principium, tibi desinet "; or Nestor's to Agamemnon (Il. ix. 96);

Ατρείδη κύδιστε, ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν ̓Αγάμεμνον,

Εν σοὶ μὲν λήξω, σέο δ' ἄρξομαι.

2. Spectatum satis et donatum jam rude] When gladiators received their discharge, they were presented by the lanista,' or the 'editor spectaculorum,' who owned or hired them, with a 'rudis,' which was a blunt wooden instrument, some say a sword, others a cudgel. The name may have belonged to any weapon used in the 'praelusio,' or sham fight that generally preceded the real battle with sharp swords. The gladiators thus discharged were called 'rudiarii,' and, if they were freemen, 'exauctorati.' 'Spectatum' is a technical term. Tickets, with the letters SP upon them, were given to gladiators who had distinguished themselves. Ludus ' means the place where the training took place, and the gladiators were kept. (See A. P. 32, n.)

[ocr errors]

4. Veianius armis Herculis ad postem] Veianius was a 'rudiarius,' and when he was discharged, he hung up his weapons in the temple of Hercules, just as the man is made to hang up the arms of love in the temple of Venus, when they had ceased to profit him, in C. iii. 26. 3; or as the slave hung up his chain to the Lares (see S. i. 5. 65, n.), to whom also boys dedicated their 'bulla' when they assumed the 'toga virilis'; and, generally, those who gave up any trade or calling dedicated the instruments with which they had followed it to the gods, and to that god, in particular, under whose patronage they had placed themselves. Hercules would naturally be chosen by a gladiator, or by a soldier.

6. Ne populum extrema] The gladiatorial shows at this time were exhibited in the Circus. The arena was separated from the seats, which went round the building, by a wall called the podium,' near which a gladiator would station himself to appeal to the compassion of the people, at whose request it usually was that they got their freedom and the 'rudis.' We learn from Juvenal, that the persons of highest condition sat by the 'podium,' and to their influence the appeal would be more immediately made. Veianius, Horace says, retired into the country to escape the temptation to engage himself again, and to place himself in the position he had so often occupied, of a suppliant for the people's favor. When they liked a man, they were not easily persuaded to ask for his discharge.

7. Est mihi purgatam] He has a voice within him, he says, the office of

ich is to whisper in his attentive ear the precept that follows, the idea of ich is taken from Ennius, who takes it from the Circus. His words in icero de Senect. (c. 5) are:

"Sicut fortis equus spatio qui saepe supremo Vicit Olympia, nunc senio confectu' quiescit." Purgatam aurem means an ear purged from all that could obstruct the trance of the truth.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

9. ilia ducat.] Ilia trahere' and 'ducere' are ordinary expressions for anting; they mean to contract the flanks, as is done in the act of recovering ne breath. The reverse is 'ilia tendere.' See Virg. Georg. iii. 536, imaque longo Ilia singultu tendunt." Ilia ducere' here means to become roken-winded.

10. et versus et cetera ludicra pono,] He did not keep his word, for he wrote auch of the fourth Book of Odes, and the Carmen Saeculare, after this; so at he says of himself (Epp. ii. 1. 111):

"Ipse ego qui nullos me affirmo scribere versus

Invenior Parthis mendacior."

Ludicra' means the follies of light poetry, jokes, amours, &c. See Epp. ii.

. 55.

13. quo lare tuter,] This is equivalent to 'qua in domo,' respecting which ce C. i. 29. 14, n.; and as to jurare in verba,' see note on Epod xv. 4. The metaphor is taken from the oath of the gladiator (auctoramentum'), by which he bound himself to the 'lanista' to whom he hired himself, which vas a very stringent oath indeed.

16. Quo me cunque rapit] Horace says he follows no school and knows no naster, but, like a traveller always changing his abode, he follows the breeze hat carries him hither and thither, just as his temper happens to be, or his udgment chances to be influenced; "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine," as St. Paul says, using the same sort of anguage.

16. Nunc agilis fio] That is, he agrees with the Stoics, whose virtue was essentially a Roman virtue (see C. S. 58, n ), and lay in action. With them, the perfection of virtue was the perfection of happiness, utility, wealth, power (see below, v. 106, n.).

18. Nunc in Aristippi] After holding for a time to the rigid school of virtue and the Stoics, he insensibly went over to the lax doctrines of the Cyrenaics, whose founder was Aristippus of Cyrene, one of the least worthy disciples of Socrates. He held that every man should control circumstances, and not be controlled by them. Hence he did not hesitate to expose himself to the greatest temptations. An instance of his indifference in another way is given above (S. ii. 3. 100). See Epp. 17. 23.

19. Et mihi res] 'I try to bend circumstances to myself, not myself to circumstances.' But Aristippus departed from his own theory, when he departed from the rule of his teacher, and took money from his pupils. He was the first of the Socratics that did so, and Xenophon is supposed to refer to him when he says that some of the disciples of Socrates got for nothing a little of his wisdom, and sold it at a high price to others (Mem. i. 2, § 60). Those that took money from their disciples, Socrates said, sold themselves into slavery, and he must therefore have held this opinion of Aristippus (Ib. § 6). His dialogue with Socrates (in Xen. Mem. ii. 1) throws light upon his opinions as here stated by Horace. The word 'subjungere' is taken from putting the neck of beasts of burden under the yoke.

21. ut piger annus Pupillis] Every boy who had lost his father was under a ‘tutor' or guardian in respect of his property, while the care of his person belonged to his mother, or, in the case of her death, to his nearest relation, provided he was not a 'pupillus' himself. This lasted till the age of puber

ty (fourteen). The boy was a 'pupillus,' not in relation to his mother, but to his tutor. Thus tutela' and 'custodia' were different things. "Tutela' was a technical term, 'custodia' was not.

[ocr errors]

25. locupletibus aeque,] Aeque' is repeated, though not wanted, just as 'inter' is repeated in S. i. 7, and elsewhere (see note). The Greek writers used ópoíws in the same way.

27. Restat ut his] Horace says he is impatient, till he shall have reached the perfection of active virtue and wisdom. But as he has not done so, it only remains that he shall regulate and comfort his mind with such elementary knowledge of truth as he possesses, and be content with that; for, if he cannot reach perfection, he may make some steps towards it. 'His' means that which he has at his command.

28. Non possis oculo] The keen sight of Lynceus, one of the Argonauts, who, as the story goes, could from Lilybæum count the number of vessels in a fleet coming out of the harbor of Carthage, has been proverbial in all ages. 30. invicti membra Glyconis,] This person is said to have been an athlete of prodigious strength.

31. Nodosa - prohibere cheragra.] The gout in the hand is called 'nodosa' from its twisting the joints of the fingers (S. ii. 7. 15). As to the construction of prohibere,' see C. i. 27. 4.

32. Est quadam prodire tenus] Horace is probably indulging a little irony at the expense of the philosophers, in the implied comparison of their perceptions and powers with those of Lynceus and Glycon, and in the humble tone he takes towards them. Tenus,' as a general rule, takes the ablative of the singular, and is so used in the compound words 'hactenus,' 'eatenus,' The form quadamtenus' is used occasionally by Pliny; and the feminine gender appears in all the combinations of 'tenus' with pronouns. 34. Sunt verba et voces] Compare Euripides (Hippol. 478):

&c.

εἰσὶν δ ̓ ἐπῳδαὶ καὶ λόγοι θελκτήριοι·

φανήσεταί τι τῆσδε φάρμακον νόσου.

Philosophy, Horace says, has remedies for every disease of the mind. The remedies he means are the precepts of the wise, to be derived from books (37). He also calls them 'piacula' (36), which is equivalent to 'medicamenta,' because, disease being attributed to the wrath of the gods, that which should remove their wrath ('piaculum') was the means of removing disease. 'Ter' is used by way of keeping up the religious notion (that number being common in all religious ceremonies, see C. i. 28. 36, n.): 'pure' is used in the same connection. The book must be read with a pure mind, as the body must be washed before sacrifice or libation can be offered. By 'libello' I understand Horace to mean any book that instructs the mind in virtue. 41. Virtus est vitium fugere] If you cannot all at once attain perfection, you may at least begin to learn, and the first step towards virtue is to put away vice. What follows is an illustration of this. You see what trouble you take to escape from poverty, which you count the worst of all evils; but if you will only give heed to instruction, you shall learn well to care about it. This is the sense. As to 'repulsa,' see C. iii. 2. 17. He who would secure an election, must have a command of money.

[ocr errors]

44. capitisque labore.] Caput' is here put for the whole body. We do not use it so, but for the seat of intelligence, which the Romans placed in the heart, not in the brain. On 'per saxa, per ignes,' see C. iv. 14. 24; S. ii.

3.56.

47. Ne cures ea] 'In order that you may cease to care for those things which you now so foolishly admire and long for, will you not learn and listen, and trust the experience of a better man than yourself?' As to this position of 'ne,' see C. iv. 9. 1.

19. Quis circum pagos] These were boxers, who went about the streets 1 the country villages, and fought for the amusement of the inhabitants, d for what they could pick up. 'Coronari Olympia' is a Greek way of eaking. Horace says, What boxer who goes about the country towns exiting, would despise the Olympic prizes, if he had a hope, still more a omise, that he should be crowned without a struggle? By this he means, en strive after happiness in the shape of riches, &c.; but if they will learn sdom, that shall give them all they can desire, without trouble or pain. he world may judge otherwise, he proceeds to say, and make wealth the andard of worth; but the world is not to be listened to, it is foolish d inconsistent. 'Sine pulvere' seems to be taken from the Greek ȧkovití, id means without a struggle.

54. Janus summus ab imo] See S. ii. 3. 18. 'Perdocet' means it persists teaching, it enforces. Horace breaks out into the praises of virtue, and ys, that, as gold is more precious than silver, virtue is more precious than old; whereas, from one end of the Forum to the other, the opposite doctrine insisted upon, and old and young go there to learn it, as boys go to school, nd repeat it as schoolboys repeat their tasks dictated to them by the maser. Verse 56 is repeated from S. i. 6. 74. As to 'dictata,' sec S. i. 10. 5, n.

58. Sed quadringentis sex septem] Suppose you lack six or seven thousand ut of 400,000 sesterces (which make an equestrian property), whatever your enius, character, eloquence, and uprightness may be, you are put down for ne of the common sort, and will not be allowed, under Otho's law, to sit in he front rows.' (See Epod. iv. 15, n.) 'Plebs' is not used in its regular ense, but contemptuously, a common fellow.' The equestrian order consisted of all citizens who had the above income and were not senators; for when a man became a senator, he ceased to be an 'eques.'

[ocr errors]

59. At pueri ludentes, Rex eris, aiunt,] See note on C. i. 36. 8. At Athens, Et appears, the boys had a game, at which they who threw or caught the ball best were called kings, while they who were beaten were called asses. Some such game must have been in use among the Roman boys, and their kingmaking had become a proverb. The world may despise you, he says, because you are poor, but, according to the boys' rule, which makes the best man king, you shall be a king if you do well. As to 'murus aeneus,' see C. iii. 3. 65, n. For the different senses in which Horace uses 'nenia,' see Epod. xvii. 29, n. Here it signifies a sort of song of triumph.

64. Et maribus Curiis et decantata Camillis?] On this plural, see S. i. 7. 8. The persons referred to are M. Curius Dentatus, the conqueror of Pyrrhus, and M. Furius Camillus, the man who saved Rome from the Gauls. The contempt of money displayed by Curius is especially related by Cicero (De Senect. c. 16), in terms which account for Horace's selecting him for an illustration here. The boys' strain was ever in the mouths of these noble soldiers, giving honor to none but the worthy. Mares' is used in this sense in A. P. 402. We use masculine' in the same way.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

67. lacrimosa poëmata Pupi,] Pupius appears to have been a writer of tragedies, which Horace says were pathetic, but he says it with some contempt. We know nothing more of him than this. Lacrimosa' is used ironically. As to 'responsare,' see S. ii. 7. 85. 'Praesens' means stands by you and urges you on, and teaches you to meet the insults of fortune with an independent heart and erect bearing. 'Aptat' is explained by "pectus praeceptis format amicis" (Epp. ii. 1. 128), which province belongs, Horace says, to the poet.

71. Non ut porticibus sic judiciis] As to 'porticus,' sce S. i. 4. 134. He has said that the world are not fit guides, and he goes on to prove this by the inconsistencies of men, both rich and poor (71-93). He says, if people ask

him why he mixes with them in the ordinary way of society, in the promenades, etc., but does not form his judgment of things as they do, he answers them as the fox answered the lion in Esop's fable; and the meaning of the answer here is, that he found that, of all those who joined the world and made money their chief pursuit, none had survived or recovered their right judg

ment.

76. Bellua multorum es capitum.] The avarice of the world is like the hydra with many heads; if you check it in one form, it springs up in another; whom, then, or what, is one to take for one's guide?' On the use of 'nam in this verse, see S. ii. 3. 41, n. As to 'conducere,' see C. ii. 18. 17, n. On the subject of will-hunting, see S. ii. 5, and compare with 'quos in vivaria mittant' v. 44 of that Satire: "Plures adnabunt thunni et vivaria crescent." There the 'captator' appears as a catcher of fish; here as a hunter of game. 'Vivaria' are preserves. 'Excipere' is the word used for catching the wild boar in C. iii. 12. 12. Occulto fenore' means interest which was greater than the law allowed (see S. i. 2. 14, n.), and therefore privately agreed upon. Of all the classes of money-seekers in Rome, Horace fixes as the most prominent upon three, the 'publicani,' those who ingratiate themselves with old people in the hope of becoming their heirs, and extortionate usurers. 'Publica' may refer to public buildings and works.

80. Verum Esto aliis alios] But allow different men their different tastes, yet even this is of no use; for the same men, when they get rich, get capricious, and are always changing their minds.

83. Nullus in orbe sinus] If the rich man has set his heart upon building a house at Baiæ, he does not brook a moment's delay; the waters of the Lacus Lucrinus on one side, and the sea on the other, are disturbed with the eager preparations with which he begins to satisfy his desire. The allusion is the same as in C. ii. 18. 19, sqq., and iii. 1. 33, sqq., 24. 3, where see notes. Baix was for several generations a favorite resort of the wealthy Romans. Julius Cæsar had a house there, and also Cn. Pompeius.

84. lacus et mare] The Lucrinus lacus was an arm of the sea. Its basin was filled up by the rising of the volcanic hill called Monte Nuovo, in the middle of the sixteenth century.

85. vitiosa libido] This means a corrupt, capricious will, which is said 'facere auspicium,' to stand in the place of birds and other omens usually consulted before new enterprises were undertaken.

86. Cras ferramenta Teanum] Teanum (now Teano) was a town belonging to the Sidicini, an ancient people of Campania. It was situated on the Via Latina, and about thirty miles from Baiæ. The whim for the coast having vanished, and a desire to live inland, in a country town, having seized upon the man of money, he sends off the workmen with their tools to Teanum, at a day's notice.

87 Lectus genialis in aula est,] 'Aula' means the atrium,' the entranceroom; and 'lectus genialis,' also called 'adversus,' because it was opposite the door, was the marriage-bed which was dedicated to the genii of the bride and bridegroom. The bed was a symbol of domestic love and peace, and was placed at the entrance of the house for a good omen. Respecting the genii, see below, Epp. i. 7. 94; ii. 2. 187.

90. Protea] See S. ii. 3. 71.

91. coenacula,] All the rooms above the ground floor were called 'coenacula.' While the rich lived in their own houses, poorer persons (and it must be remembered that 'paupertas' is comparative poverty, not want) took single rooms in the upper story of houses which went by the name of 'insulae,' the inhabitants of which were called 'coenacularii,' and they who kept them were said 'coenaculariam exercere.' Horace speaks of persons changing from caprice and aping the ways of the rich.

« PoprzedniaDalej »