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coin. But, as ink when touched leaves behind it a mark and a blot, so writers as it were stain shining actions with foul poetry. That same king, who prodigally bought so dear so ridiculous a poem, by an edict forbade that any one beside Apelles should paint him, or that any other than Lysippus should mold brass for the likeness of the valiant Alexander. But should you call that faculty of his, so delicate in discerning other arts, to (judge of] books and of these gifts of the muses, you would swear he had been born in the gross air of the Boeotians. Yet neither do Virgil and Varius, your beloved poets, disgrace your judgment of them, and the presents which they have received with great honor to the donor; nor do the features of illustrious men appear more lively when expressed by statues of brass, than their manners and minds expressed by the works of a poet. Nor would I rather compose such tracts as these creeping on the ground, than record deeds of arms, and the situations of countries, and rivers, and forts reared upon mountains, and barbarous kingdoms, and wars brought to a conclusion through the whole world under your auspices, and the barriers that confine Janus the guardian of peace,
and Rome dreaded by the Parthians under your government, if I were but able to do as much as I could wish. But neither does your majestys admit of humble poetry, nor dares my modesty attempt a subject which my strength is unable to support. Vet víciousness foolishly disgusts the person whom it loves; especially when it recommends itself by numbers, and the art [of writing.] For one learns sooner, and more willingly remembers, that which a man derides, than that which he approves and venerates. I value not the real that gives me uneasiness; nor do I wish to be set out any where in
35 The wars being ended through the Roman empire under the auspicia of Augustus, that is, by his lieutenants, he shut the temple of Janus. But the two first times that he had shut this temple, in 725 and 730, he had commanded in person. Historians inform us, that it was open from 732 to 744, when it was shut on occasion of the victories of Tiberius and Drusus; and that it was again opened at the end of the same year, and never shut during the life of Augustus. In this year we may date the present epistle. San.
36 Majestas. In the time of the republic, this title was given to the body of the people and the principal magistrates; but when the sovereign power was placed in a single person, the title of majesty was given to him and to his house, “Majestas Augusti; majestas divina domûs." DAQ
wax" with a face formed for the worse, nor to be celebrated in ill-composed verses ; lest I blush, when presented with the gross gift; and, exposed in an open box along with my author, be conveyed into the street that sells frankincense, and spices, and pepper, and whatever is wrapped up in impertinent writings.
TO JULIUS FLORUS.
In apologizing for not having written to him, he shows that the well-ordering
of life is of more importance than the composition of verses.
O Florus, faithful friend to the good and illustrious Nero, if by chance any one should offer to sell you a boy born at Tibur and Gabii, and should treat with you in this manner; “This boy who is both good-natured and well-favored from head to foot, shall become and be yours for eight thousand sesterces; a domestic slave, ready in his attendance at his master's nod; initiated in the Greek language, of a capacity for any art; you may shape out any thing with (such] moist clay ; besides, he will sing in an artless manner, but yet entertaining to one drinking. Lavish promises lessen credit, when any one cries up extravagantly the wares he has for sale, which he wants to put off. No emergency obliges me [to dispose of him]: though poor, I am in nobody's debt. None of the chapmen would do this for you ; nor should every body readily receive the same favor from me. Once, [in deed,] he (loitered” on an errand] ; and (as it happens)
37 Horace, with much solemn pleasantry, talks as if he were a man who deserved a statue to be erected to his honor, or was to be made the hero of an epic poem. In the next line he seems determined to refuse any honors that might be paid him by a fulsome poetical flatterer, and is justly apprehensive of being carried with his author to wrap up frankincense and spices in vico thuario. FRAN.
38 Cessavit. This word, which properly signifies to loiter, remissè et oscitanter agers, gives only a general idea of a trivial fault, but this idea is determined by fuga in the second line following. The lad is found to be a common fugitive, a fault so considerable, that a merchant was obliged to mention it particularly, or the sale was void. FRAN.
absconded, being afraid of the lash that hangs in the staircase.SGive me your money, if this runaway trick, which I have expected, does not offend you.” In my opinion, the man may take his price, and be secure from any punishment : you wittingly purchased a good-for-nothing boy: the condition of the contract was told you. Novertheless you prosecute this man, and detain him in an unjust suit.
I told you, at your setting out, that I was indolent:" I told you I was almost incapable of such offices : that you might not chide me in angry mood, because no letter (from me) came to hard. What then have I profited, if you nevertheless arraign the conditions that make for me? On the same score too you complain, that, being worse than my word, I do not send you
the verses you expected. A soldier of Lucullus, [having run through] a great many hardships, was robbed of his collected stock to a penny, as he lay snoring in the night quite fatigued : after this, like a ravenous wolf, equally exasperated at himself and the enemy, eager, with his hungry fangs, he beat off a royal guard from a post (as they report) very strongly fortified, and well supplied with stores. Famous on account of this exploit, he is adorned with honorable rewards, and receives twenty thousand sesterces into the bargain. It happened about this time that his officer being inclined to batter down a certain fort, began to encourage the same man, with words that might even have given courage to a coward : “Go, my brave fellow, whither your valor calls you : go with prosperous step, certain to receive ample rewards of your merit. Why do you hesitate ? Upon this, he arch, though a rustic: “He who has lost his
he. 39 The construction is, latuit metuens habence pendentis in scalis. That their slaves might have the punishment always before their eyes, the whip was hung on the staircase. TORR. DAC.
40 Lex does not here signify law, but the form, the condition of the bargain when the sale was made, des nummos, excepta nihil te si fugu lædat, without which, the merchant was liable to an action, actionem redhibitoriam during six months. ED. DUBL.
41 The first of seven reasons, which Horace gives for not writing, is his natural indolence. The second is an allusion to the story of Lucullus his soldier; that a poet of an easy fortune should write verses only for his amusement. San.
42 The ancients carried their money in a purse tied to their girdles, from whence we find in Plautus,“ sector zonarius," a cut-purse. Alex. 43 Horace went to Rome in 696, when he was about seventeen or eighteen years of age, and read humanity under Orbilius Pupillus. SAN.
It was my lot to have Rome for my nurse," and to be instructed from the Iliad] how much the exasperated Achilles prejudiced the Greeks. Good Athens“ give me some additional learning: that is to say, to be able to distinguish a right line from a curve, and seek after truth in the groves of Academus. But the troublesome times removed me from that plesant spot; and the tide of a civil war carried me away, unexperienced as I was, into arms, [into arms] not likely to be a match for the sinews of Agustus Cæsar. Whence, asl soon as [the battle of] Philippi dismissed me in an abject con lition, with my wings clipped, and destitute both of house and land, daring poverty urged me on to the composition of verses: but now, having more than is wanted, what medicines would be efficacious enough to cure my madness, if I did not think it better to rest than to write verses.
The advancing years rob us of every thing: they have taken away my mirth, my gallantry, my revelings, and play: they are now proceeding to force poetry from me. What would
have me do? In short, all persons do not love and admire the same things. ander Severus, used to say, a soldier is never afraid but when he is well armed, well clothed, well fed, and has money in his purse. When he is poor and hungry, he is fit for any desperate action. FRAN.
44 He went to Athens in 709, when he was nineteen years old, to study philosophy. His reading Homer, and his father's instructions, had already much improved him, but at Athens he acquired something more; for he not only studied other parts of philosophy there, but learned morality by reasoning and principles. Sin.
45 The name of Academus is one of those which the sciences have consecrated to immortality with the greatest justice. He was a rich Athenian, who in his regard for philosophy, left to the philosophers, for holding their assemblies, a fino house at Athens, adorned with a magnificent gallery, a number of statues, and a park, planted with trees. Plato had his school there, from whom the philosophers of his sect were called Academicians. Horace characterizes this school by what distinguished it from all others; its not boasting that it had found truth, but only professin; to search for it, “quærere verum.” TORR.
46 We must not understand these words literally, as if Horace never wrote verses before the battle of Philippi, but that he did not apply his genius to poetry, as to a profession, before that time. The satire “ Proscripti Rugis Rupili,” was apparently written while he was in Brutus's army. This frank confession of his misfortunes has much sincerity, and he makes it more willingly, since it turns to the glory of Augustus. Dac.
Ye delight in the ode: one man is pleased with iambics; another with satires written in the manner of Bion, and virulent wit. Three guests scarcely can be found to agree, craving very different dishes with various palate. What shall I give? What shall I not give! You forbid, what another
? demands : what you desire, that truly is sour and disgustful to the [other] two.
Beside other [difficulties], do you think it practicable for me to write poems at Rome, amid so many solicitudes and so many fatigues? One calls me as his security, another to hear his works, all business else apart; one lives on the mount of Quirinus, the other in the extremity of the Aventine; both must be waited on. The distances between them, you see, are charmingly commodious."? “But the streets are clear, so that there can be no obstacle to the thoughtful.”—A builder in heat hurries along with his mules and porters : the crane whirls aloft at one time a stone, at another a great piece of timber: the dismal funerals dispute the way with the unwieldy carriages: here runs a mad dog, there rushes a sow begrimed with mire. Go now, and meditate with yourself your harmonious verses. All the whole choir of poets love the grove,
and avoid cities, due votaries to Bacchus delighting in repose and shade. Would you have me, amid so great noise both by night and day, [attempt] to sing, and trace the difficult footsteps of the poets? A genius who has chosen quiet Athens for his residence, and has devoted seven years to study, and has grown old in books and study, frequently walks forth more dumb than a statue, and shakes the people's sides with laughter: here, in the midst of the billows and tempests of the city, can I be thought capable of connecting words likely to wake the sound of the lyre ?
At Rome there was a rhetorician, brother to a lawyer; [so fond of each other were they,] that they would hear nothing but the mere praises of each other : insomuch, that the latter appeared a Gracchus to the former, the former a Muciuso to
47 These hills were at the extremities of Rome north and south, from whence the poet ironically says “humanè commoda, no unreasonable distance.” ED. DUBL.
43 The poets sacrificed to Bacchus every year in the month of March. His festival was called Liberalia, and Ovid tells us he had frequently assisted at them. The summits of Parnassus were consecrated to that god.
49 Commentators have caused some confusion here by not perceiving