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exquisite felicity and delicate lightness of phrase, so difficult to handle without spoiling, which characterise the Odes of Horace above all other poems.
The space given to the Notes has necessarily been somewhat limited but it is hoped that difficulties of construction have not been passed over, and that the illustrations and references explain sufficiently the very numerous and various allusions which are found in the writings of Horace.
THOSE to whom he writings of Horace have given delight (and a great company they are, readers of various ages, countries, tastes, dispositions,) owe a debt of gratitude first of all to Horace's good father, then to the poets Virgil and Varius, and then to his friend and patron Mæcenas; for without all of them the life of Horace had been quite different, and literature had been without one of its most charming authors. No doubt even the childhood of Horace had influence upon his future life. He was born near the source of one of the southern tributaries of the impetuous Aufidus, now called Ofanto, the river of Apulia, often mentioned by him, and so dear to his early recollections, that he exalts it to be a representative stream, as had been used the harmonious names of Mæander and Eurotas, and the other rivers of the poetry of Greece. Venusia, now Venosa, his birth-place, is situate in a beautiful country on the side of the Apennines towards the Adriatic. In this romantic region he wandered as a child near the pointed peaks of the mountain Vultur, or under Acherontia, built like a nest on a steep hill, or amid the woods and glens of Bantia, or by the lowly village of Forentum. The Apennines with their sombre forests of pine, and summits rising over each other, described so well in the Mysteries of Udolpho, had charms for Goethe, though a foreigner; and a poetic child born amongst them would find them a meet nurse. In the poetry of the ancients there are none of those elaborate and idealized descriptions of scenery found so often in modern writers; yet Horace, like Virgil, often gives a picture of places by epithets carefully chosen. When his fame as a poet was established, he would look back with a natural gratitude to the scenery of his childhood, and fancy that the gods protected the spirited boy from bears and serpents in his roamings among the hills, and that doves, the birds of Venus, like the robin redbreasts of later stories, threw on the sleeping child leaves of sacred myrtle and holy bay. Venusia had been an important Roman colony for upwards of 300 years, ever since the days of the Samnite Hither fled some of the Roman troops after the defeat at Cannæ. Nature never intended Horace for a soldier: but he, who
was born in a military town, became for a short time a tribune or colonel in the Roman army, and often expresses an admiration for Roman courage in war.
Horace nowhere makes mention of his mother, and we do not know whether she was a freed-woman, or free-born; he only says in one place that he was the child of lowly parents. It is likely enough that she died when he was young; else Horace, whose character is marked by affectionate gratitude, would probably have mentioned her. There is hardly anything more beautiful in the writings of antiquity than the way in which he speaks of that good father, whom he says he would not change for any parent who had held high office in the state. His father spared no expense and pains in his education. By him was the boy guarded from every taint of evil. None of the other Roman poets (except Terence, who was a slave, but born at Carthage, and of what rank there we do not know,) sprang from so humble an origin. His father had been a slave. The man who enfranchised the father little thought what would be the consequence of that enfranchisement. No wonder, as Horace himself tells us, and as Suetonius in his Life of Horace observes, that his father's low estate and calling were made a reproach to the prosperous friend of Augustus and Mæcenas. How bravely Horace answered this taunt, every reader of the poet knows. Indeed, he owed all to his father. If he had not given his son such a liberal education, Horace would probably have passed his days in the obscure town of Venusia, engaged there in some petty trade, and been an entertaining companion at the suppers of the centurions and their families. A more striking example cannot be given of what may depend on some humble instrument, who at a certain time behaves with spirit and generosity. Horace must have profited much by the lessons which he had in Livius Andronicus, and the other early poets of Rome, though he did not, when a man, highly esteem those authors who had cost him many a flogging, even as he has caused many a flogging to schoolboys since. His teacher Orbilius was like many a teacher, sour-tempered, free-spoken, given to whipping, one who earned more fame than money, and had reason to complain of the interference of parents. But if Horace, when delivered from the rod of Orbilius the grammarian, had received no more education, he had never been the Lyric poet of Rome. To a school was to be added a University, and kindly Athens, the only city in the world that could do it, was to finish what Rome had begun,