« PoprzedniaDalej »
The emperor even
his villa at Tibur, and to his intercession with Augustus, for a grant of land in the Sabine district. offered him the appointment of private secretary to himself, but he declined this honour, as it would have separated him from the frequent society of Mecenas. Augustus bore this refusal in good part, and even personally encouraged our poet to further literary exertions.
Alternating between his dwelling on the then healthy Esquiline hill at Rome, and the quieter and more congenial retirement of his villa at Præneste, Horace lived a life of Epicurean enjoyment, not wholly untainted with the vices of the times, but yielding to them rather with the carelessness of a wit, than with the wantonness of a voluptuary. His mode of living at home was simple and unostentatious, but he was by no means insensible to the pleasures of the table, especially in society. He was a kind and indulgent master, and a faithful friend. In fact, an unruffled amiability, relieved by a keen and well-expressed perception of other men's follies, seems to have been the leading feature in our author's conduct, and the guiding principle of his writings. The beautiful compliment paid to the memory of his father,2 is unsurpassed either as a description of what education ought to be, or as a grateful tribute of filial affection.
At the age of fifty-seven, in the year 8, B. C., Horace died suddenly at Rome, having nominated Augustus as his heir. Mæcenas died about the same time, almost fulfilling the melancholy prediction of his poet friend, though it is uncertain which first departed from life. In death they were scarcely separated, the remains of Horace being deposited near those of Mæcenas, on the Esquiline hill.
The popularity of Horace, as a writer, is, perhaps, unexampled. Read, recited, and quoted in his own time by all classes, throughout the cheerless period of superstition and
2 Satire i. 6.
analytical dulness which oppressed the middle ages, he was one of the few bright spirits, in whose jokes and geniality the Schoolman might forget even his Latin Aristotle. His works became a constant source of delight and imitation to almost all subsequent poets, especially those of Italy, while commentary upon commentary began to point out beauties, and clear away difficulties. His manifold imitations of the Greeks, especially in the lyrical portion of his works, his pungent and well-defined sketches of society and manners, his nice perception of the refinements of archæology and criticism, all in turn began to call forth illustration. Yet much still remains unexplained. As with Aristophanes, so with Horace, we continually lack knowledge of the running current of fashionable foibles and conventionalities, the happy delineation of which constitute the essence of comedy and satire. Nevertheless, imitations in every language, in none more abundantly than our own, attest the masterly power of Horace to interest all mankind, and show the connexion that, despite accidental variations, one age has with the development, one race with the sympathies, of another.
THE FIRST BOOK
ODES OF HORACE.
MECENAS,1 descended from royal ancestors, O both my protection and my darling honour! There are those, whom it delights to have collected Olympic dust in the chariot race; and [whom] the goal nicely avoided by the glowing wheels, and the noble palm, exalts, lords of the earth, to the gods.
This man, if a crowd of the capricious Quirites strive to raise him to the highest dignities; another, if he has stored up in his own granary whatsoever is swept from the Libyan threshing-floors: him who delights2 to cut with the hoe3 his patrimonial fields, you could never tempt, for all the wealth of Attalus, [to become] a timorous sailor and cross the Myrtoan sea in a Cyprian bark. The merchant, dreading the south
1 Caius Cilnius Maecenas, who shared with Agrippa the favour and confidence of Augustus, and distinguished himself by his patronage of literary men, is said to have been descended from Elbius Volterenus, one of the Lucumones of Etruria, who fell in the battle at the lake Vadimona, A. U. c. 445. The Cilnian family were from a very early period attached to the interest of Rome, when devoted alliance was of value. ANTHON. 2 Gaudentem. This word is used to denote a separate character, him who delights: thus, DESIDERANTEM quod satis est. 3 Carm. i. 25: him who bounds his desire by a competency. Fulgentem imperio, 3 C. xvi. 31, &c. ANTHON.
Because most of the commentators take sarculum for the plough, I have followed them. But Torrentius says, that the Romans used two kinds of weeding-hooks; one, when the corn was young like grass, with which they cleft the earth, and took up the young weeds by the root; the other, when the corn was grown up, with which they cut out the strong weeds as they thought proper; for the weeds do not grow up all at the same time, and the sarculum being no part of the plough, it cannot be taken for it by synecdoche. Watson
west wind contending with the Icarian waves, commends tranquillity and the rural retirement of his village; but soon after, incapable of being taught to bear poverty, he refits his shattered vessel. There is another, who despises not cups of old Massic, taking a part from the entire day, one while stretched under the green arbute, another at the placid head of some sacred stream.
The camp, and the sound of the trumpet mingled with that of the clarion, and wars detested by mothers, rejoice many.
The huntsman, unmindful of his tender spouse, remains in the cold air, whether a hart is held in view by his faithful hounds, or a Marsian boar has broken the fine-wrought toils.
Ivy, the reward of learned brows, equals me with the gods above: the cool grove, and the light dances of nymphs and satyrs, distinguish me from the crowd; if neither Euterpe withholds her pipe, nor Polyhymnia disdains to tune the Lesbian lyre. But, if you rank me among the lyric poets, I shall tower to the stars with my exalted head.
TO AUGUSTUS CÆSAR.5
ENOUGH of snow 6 and dreadful" hail has the Sire now sent
Demere partem de solido die, "sine ulla dubitatione est meridiari, i. e. ipso meridie horam unam aut alteram dormire; quod qui faciunt, diem quodammodo frangunt et dividunt, neque eum solidum et ỏλókλŋpov esse patiuntur. Varro alicubi (de R. R. 1, 2, 5) vocat diem diffindere institicio somno." MUREtus.
5 Octavianus assumed his new title of Augustus, conferred upon him at the suggestion of Munatius Plancus, on the 17th of January, (XVIII. Cal. Febr.) A. U.. 727; the following night Rome was visited by a severe tempest, and an inundation of the Tiber. The present ode was written in allusion to that event. ANTHON.
• Of snow and dreadful hail. Turnebus, lib. vi. cap. 8, Appianus, lib. iv., and Dion, lib. xlvii., give an account of the dreadful thunder and lightning, snow and rain, that followed the murder of Julius Cæsar; that many temples were so struck down or very much damaged, which was looked upon as a presage of the horrible civil war that soon after followed. WATSON.
▾ Diræ, an epithet applied to any thing fearful and portentous, as “diri cometa," Virg. Georg. i. 488. ORELLI.
nds upon the earth, and having hurled [his thunderbolts] with his red right hand9 against the sacred towers, he has terrified the city he has terrified the nations, lest the grievous age of Pyrrha,10 complaining of prodigies till then unheard of, should ups hile return, when Proteus drove all his [marine] herd to visit the ead lofty mountains; and the fishy race were entangled in the elmtop, which before was the frequented seat of doves; and the timorous deer swam in the overwhelming flood. We have seen the yellow Tiber, with his waves forced back with violence from the Tuscan shore, proceed to demolish the ful monuments of king [Numa], and the temples of Vesta; while he vaunts himself the avenger of the too disconsolate ds Ilia, and the uxorious river, leaving his channel, overflows nd his left bank, notwithstanding the disapprobation of Jupiter. Our youth, less numerous by the vices of their fathers, shall pe hear of the citizens having whetted that sword [against themI selves], with which it had been better that the formidable Persians had fallen; they shall hear of [actual] engagements. Whom of the gods shall the people invoke to the affairs of the sinking empire? With what prayer shall the sacred virgins importune Vesta, who is now inattentive to their hymns? To whom shall Jupiter assign the task of expiating our wickedness? Do thou at length, prophetic Apollo, (we
8 "Terris is a Grecism for "in terras." See on Virg. Ecl. viii. 101.
• Horace alludes to a superstitious opinion of the ancients, who believed that thunders which portended any revolution in a state were more inflamed than any other; as they fancied that the lightnings of Jupiter were red and fiery; those of the other gods, pale and dark. CRUQ.
10 Wife of Deucalion, king of Thessaly: in his time came the deluge or universal flood, which drowned all the world; only he and his wife got into a little shallop, which was carried to Mount Parnassus, and there stayed, the dry land first appearing there. When the flood was dried up, he consulted with the oracle of Themis, how mankind might be repaired; e and was answered, If he cast his great mother's bones behind his back whereupon he and Pyrrha his wife took stones, and cast them over their shoulders, and they became men and women. WATSON.
"The Tiber discharges itself into the Tuscan Sea, which being swollen by tempests, and a prodigious fall of snow and hail, (the wind at the same time blowing up the channel,) made the river flow backward (retorquere) against its natural course. The Littus Etruscum means the shores of the Tuscan Sea, into which the Tiber should naturally flow, and from whence it turned upward to its fountain-head. CRUQ.