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common-places, and where the manners are well marked, though of no elegance, without force or art, gives the people much higher delight and more effectually commands their attention, than verse void of matter, and tuneful trifles.
To the Greeks, covetous of nothing but praise, the muse gave genius ; to the Greeks the power of expressing themselves in round periods. The Roman youth learn by long computation to subdivide a pound into an hundred parts. Let the son of Albinus tell me, if from five ounces one be subtracted, what remains ? He would have said the third of a pound.Bravely done! you will be able to take care of your own affairs. An ounce is added : what will that be ?
Half a pound. cause it is the peculiar distinction of this school " ad veritatem vitæ propius accedere." (Cic. de. Or. i. 51.) And the latter as rendering the imitation more universally striking. HURD.
49 Interdum speciosa locis, etc. The poet's science in ethics will principally show itself in these two ways: i. in furnishing proper matter for general reflection on human life and conduct; and, 2, in a due adjustment of the manners. By the former of these two applications of moral knowledge a play becomes, what the poet calls, speciosa locis, i. e. (for the term is borrowed from the rhetoricians) striking in its moral topics: a merit of the highest importance on the ancient stage, and which, if prudently employed in subserviency to the latter more essential requisite of the drama, a just expression of the manners, will deserve to be so reputed at all times, and on every theater. The danger is, lest a studied, declamatory moral, affectedly introduced, or indulged to access, should prejudice the natural exhibition of the characters, and so convert the image of human life into an unaffecting, philosophical dialogue.
Ib. Moratque rect) fabula, etc. This judgment of the poet, in regard of the superior efficacy of manners, is generally thought to be contradicted by Aristotle; who, in treating this subject, observes, “ that let a piece be ever so perfect in the manners, sentiments, and style, it will not so well answer the end and purpose of tragedy, as if defective in these, and finished only in the fable and composition.” M. Dacier thinks to clear this matter by saying, “ that what Aristotle remarks holds true of tragedy, but not of comedy, of which alone Horace is here speaking.” But granting that the artificial contexture of the fable is less necessary to the perfection of comedy than of tragedy, yet, the tenor of this whole division, exhorting to correctness in general, makes it unquestionable that Horace must intend to include both. The case, as it seems to me, is this. The poet is not comparing the respective importance of the fable and manners, but of the manners and diction, under this word including also numbers. He gives them the preference not to a good plot, nor even to fine sentiments, but to versus inopes rerum nugæque canorce. The art he speaks of, is the art of expressing the thoughts properly, gracefully, and harmoniously: the pondus is the force and energy of good versification. Venus is a general term including both kinds of beauty. Fabula does not mean the fablo (in distinction from the rest), but simply a play. HURD.
When this sordid rust and hankering after wealth has once tainted their minds, can we expect that such verses should be made as are worthy of being anointed with the oil of cedar, and kept in the well-polished cypress ?"
Poets wish either to profit or to delight; or to deliver at once both the pleasures and the necessaries of life. Whatever precepts you give, be concise; that docile minds may soon comprehend what is said, and faithfully retain it. fluous instructions flow from the too full memory. Let whatever is imagined for the sake of entertainment, have as much likeness to truth as possible ; let not your play demand belief for whatever [absurdities) it is inclinable [to exhibit]: nor take out of a witch's belly a living child that she had dined upon.
The tribes of the seniors rail against every thing that is void of edification: the exalted knights disregard poems which are austere. He who joins the instructive with the agreeable, carries off every vote, ** by delighting and at the same time admonishing the reader. This book gains money for the Sosii ; this crosses the sea, and continues to its renowned author a lasting duration.
Yet there are faults, which we should be ready to pardon: for neither does the string [always] form the sound which the hand and conception [of the performer] intends, but very often returns a sharp note when he demands a flat; nor will the bow always hit whatever mark it threatens. But when there is a great majority of beauties in a poem, I will not be offended with a few blemishes, which either inattention has dropped, or human nature has not sufficiently provided against. What therefore [is to be determined in this matter] ? As a transcriber, if he still commits the same fault though he has been reproved, is without excuse; and the harper who always blunders on the same string, is sure to be laughed at; so he who is excessively deficient becomes another Cherilus; whom, when I find him tolerable in two or three places, I wonder at with laughter; and at the same time am I grieved whenever honest Homer grows drowsy? But it is allowable, that sleep should steal upon [the progress of ] a long work.
50 Ærugo et cura peculi cùm semel imbuerit, etc. This love of gain, to which Horace imputes the imperfect state of the Roman poetry, hath been uniformly assigned, by the wisdom of ancient times, as the specific bane of arts and letters. Longinus and Quinctilian account, from hence, for the decay of eloquence, Galen of physic, Petronius of painting, and Pliny of the whole circle of the liberal arts. For being, as Longinus calls it, vórnua julkporolòv, a disease which narrows and contracts the soul, it must, of course, restrain the generous efforts and expansions of genius; cramp the free powers and energies of the mind, and render it unapt to open itself to wide views, and to the projection of great, extensive designs. It is so in its consequences. For, as one says elegantly, when the passion of avarice grows general in a country, the temples of honor are soon pulled down, and all men's sacrifices are made to fortune HURD.
51 To preserve their books, the ancients rubbed them with oil of cedar, and kept them in cases of cypress, because these kinds of wood were not liable to corruption. Nan.
52 Omne tulit punctum. Alluding to the manner of voting at the comitia by putting a point over the name of a candidate.
As is painting, so is poetry : some pieces will strike you more if you stand near, and some,
you are at a greater distance: one loves the dark; another, which is not afi aid of the critic's subtle judgment, chooses to be seen in the light; the one has pleased once, the other will give pleasure if ten times repeated. O ye elder of the youths, though you are framed to a right
O judgment by your father's instructions, and are wise in yourself, yet take this truth along with you, [and] remember it; that in certain things a medium and tolerable degree of eminence may be admitted : a counselor and pleader at the bar of the middle rate is far removed from the merit of eloquent Messala, nor has so much knowledge of the law as Casselius Aulus, but yet he is in request ; [but) a mediocrity in poets neither gods, nor men, nor [event the booksellers' shops have endured. As at an agreeable entertainment discordant music, and muddy perfume, and poppies mixed with Sardinian“ honey give offense, because the supper might have passed without them; so poetry, created and invented for the delight of our souls, if it comes short ever so little of the summit, sinks to the bottom.
53 This judgment, however severe it may seem, is according to the practice of the best critics. We have a remarkable instance in the case of Apollonius Rhodius, who though, in the judgment of Quinctilian, the author of no contemptible poem, yet on account of that equal mediocrity which every where prevails in him, was struck out of the list of good writers by such sovereign judges of poetical merit as Aristophanes and Aristarchus. (Quinct. L. x. c. 1.) HURD.
54 Sardinia was full of bitter herbs, from whence the honey was bitter. White poppy seed, roasted, was mingled with honey by the ancients. Nan.
He who does not understand the game, abstains from the weapons of the Campus Martius : and the unskill.ul in the tennis-ball, the quoit, and the troques keeps himself quiet; lest the crowded ring should raise a laugh at his expense : notwithstanding this, he who knows nothing of verses presumes to compose. Why not! He is free-born, and of a good family; above all, he is registered at an equestrian sum of moneys, and clear from every vice. You, [I am persuaded,] will neither say nor do any thing in opposition to Minerva :* such is your judgment, such your disposition. But if ever you shall write any thing, let it be submitted to the ears of Metius [Tarpa], who is a judge, and your father's, and mine ; and let it be suppressed till the ninth year, your papers being laid up within your own custody. You will have it in your power to blot out what you have not made public: a word once sent abroal can never return.
Orpheus, the priest and interpreter of the gods, deterred the savage race of men from slaughters and inhuman diet; hence said to tame tigers and furious lions: Amphion too, the builder of the Thebaa wall, was said to give the stones motion with the sound of his lyre, and to lead them whithersoever he would, by engaging persuasion. This was deemed wisdom of yore, to distinguish the public from private weal; things sacred from things profane; to prohibit a promiscuous commerce between the sexes; to give laws to married people; to plan out cities; to engrave laws on [tables of wood.
] Thus honor accrued to divine poets, and their
After these, excellent Homer and Tyrtæus animated the manly mind to martial achievements with their verses. Oracles were delivered in poetry, and the economy of life pointed out, and the favor of sovereign princes was solicited by Pierian
55 Invitá-Minerva. Cicero, de Off. i. 31, explains this phrase; “adversante et repugnante naturâ.” And yet the meaning here is not very evident. Does Horace say that young Piso will neither do nor say any thing contrary to his natural endowments; implying that he will not attempt poetry, as his abilities are inadequate ? Or does be mean to compliment him on his capabilities, by saying that there is nothing which he will attempt, in which genius will not favor and assist him? The latter appears to be the correct interpretation. Thus the obvious meaning of invità Minervâ is-Minerva refusing her assistance, or discountenancing the attempt; and the interpretation-natural endowments refusing their assistance, or marring the effort.
56 ¿. e. strains of the muses, surnamed Pierides
strains, games were instituted, and a [cheerful] period put to the tedious labors of the day ; [this I remind you of,] iest haply you should be ashamed of the lyric muse, and Apollo the god of song.
It has been made a question, whether good poetry be derived from nature or from art. For my part, I can neither conceive what study can do without a rich (natural] vein, nor what rude genius can avail of itself: so much does the one require the assistance of the other, and so amicably do they conspire [to produce the same effect]. He who is industrious to reach the wished-for goal, has done and suffered much when a boy; he has sweated and shivered with cold; he has abstained from love and wine; he who sings the Pythian strains,was first a learner, and in awe of a master. But [in poetry] it is now enough for a man to say of himself: “I make admirable verses : a murrain seize the hindmost: it is scandalous for me to be outstripped, and fairly to acknowledge that I am ignorant of that which I never learned.”
As a crier who collects the crowd together to buy his goods, so a poet rich in land, rich in money put out at interest, invites flatterers to come [and praise his works] for a reward. But if he be one who is well able to set out an elegant table, and give security for a poor man, and relieve him when entangled in gloomy law-suits; I shall wonder if with his wealth he can distinguish a true friend from a false one. You, whether you have made, or intend to make, a present to any one, do not bring him full of joy directly to your
finished verses : for then he will cry out, “ Charming, excellent, judicious,” he will turn pale ; at some parts he will even distill the dew from his friendly eyes; he will jump about ; he will beat the ground (with ecstasy]. As those who mourn at funerals for pay, do and say more than those
57 Pythia cantica, songs like the hymns which were sung in honor of Apollo, by the chorus in some comedies. A player, called Pythaules, played during the intervals when the chorus left off singing.
53 But compare M'Caul's note: “ Unctum. A savory dish, a delicacy. Comp. note, Epist. i. 15, 44, and 17, 12. Thus Pers. Sat. i. 50: Cali. dum scis ponere sumen, Scis comitem horridulum tritâ donare lacernâ,' etc., where scis is a kind of comment on possit here as calidum sumen on unctum. Comp. also Sat. vi. 15: 'aut cænare sine uncto. Gesner and Doëring, however, explain unctum as used for convivam (note, Epist. i. 17, 12), and ponere for collocare to place at table on a couch.”