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Greek poetry, Homeric, lyric, and dramatic. In the
region of his birth Greek was spoken almost as com-
monly as Latin; (") and Horace had already, at Rome,
been instructed in the poetry of Homer. In Athens
he studied, particularly, the comic writers; the great
models of that kind of poetry which consists in shrewd
and acute observation on actual human life, on society,
manners, and morals, expressed in terse, perspicuous,
and animated verse; which he was destined, in another
form, to carry to such unrivalled perfection in his own
language. But he incurred a great danger,- that of
sinking into a third or fourth rate Greek poet; if, in a
foreign language, he could have obtained even that
humble eminence. He represents the genius of his
country under the form of Romulus, remonstrating
against this misdirection of his talents. Romulus, or
rather the strong sense of Horace himself, gave good
reason for his advice. (1) The mine of Grecian poetry
was exhausted; every place of honour was occupied ;
a new poet, particularly a stranger, could only be lost
in the inglorious crowd. But this is not all. It is a
law of human genius, without exception, that no
man can be a great poet, except in his native speech.
Inspiration seems impatient of the slower process of
translating our thoughts into a second language. The

(14) "Canusini more bilinguis."-Sat. 1. x. 30.
(15) "Atque ego cum Græcos facerem, natus mare citra,
Versiculos; vetuit me tali voce Quirinus,

Post mediam noctem visus, cum somnia vera:
In silvam non ligna feras insanius, ac si
Magnas Gracorum malis implere catervas."

Sat. 1. x. 31-35.


still farther in his assertion of the poet's valour: "Horace could not have called up the remembrance of the hero (Brutus), by whom he was beloved, without reproaching himself for having yielded to the instinct of personal safety, instead of dying with him; and, according to my feeling, the non bene is a sigh of regret, which he offers to the memory of that great. man, and an expression of that shame, of which a noble spirit alone is capable."(") The foolish and fatal precipitancy with which Brutus and Cassius, upon the first news of defeat, instead of attempting to rally their broken troops, and to maintain the conflict for liberty, took refuge in suicide, might appear to the shrewd good sense of Horace, very different from the death of Cato, of which he has expressed his admiration. And Wieland had forgotten that Horace fairly confesses his fears, and attributes his escape to Mercury, the god of letters.(2) Lessing is no doubt right, that the playful allusion of the poet to his throwing away his shield, has been taken much more in earnest than was intended; and the passage, after all, is an imitation, if not a translation, from Alcæus. In its most literal sense, it amounts to no more than that Horace fled with the rest of the defeated army, not that he showed any want of valour during the battle. He abandoned the cause of Brutus, when it was not merely desperate but extinct. Messala had refused to take the command of the broken troops, and had

(21) Wieland, Horazens Briefe, t. ii. p. 161.

(22) Sed me per hostes Mercurius celer,

Denso paventem sustulit aëre."—C. 11. vii. 13.

passed over to the other side; a few only, among whom was the friend of Horace, Pompeius Varus, threw themselves into the fleet of Sex. Pompeius, a pirate rather than a political leader. (2) Liberty may be said to have deserted Horace, rather than Horace liberty; and, happily for mankind, he felt that his calling was to more peaceful pursuits.

Horace found his way back, it is uncertain in what manner, to Rome. (3) But his estate was confiscated; some new coactor was collecting the price of his native fields, which his father had, perhaps, acquired through former confiscations; for Venusia was one of the eighteen cities assigned by the victorious Triumvirate to their soldiers.(2) On his return to Rome, nothing can have been well more dark or hopeless than the condition of our poet. He was too obscure to be marked by proscription, or may have found security in some general act of amnesty to the inferior followers of Brutus. But the friends which he had already made

(23) “Necdum finis erat, restabant Actia bella






Foemineum sortita jugum cum pompa pependit,
Atque ipsa Isiaco certarunt fulmina sistro.

Restabant profugo servilia milite bella,
Cum, patrios armis imitatus filius hostes,
Equora Pompeius cepit defensa parenti.

Manilius, i., 859, et seqq.

(2) It is difficult to place the peril of shipwreck off Cape Palinurus, on the western coast of Lucania, Carm. I. iv. 28, in any part of the poet's life. It is not impossible that, by the accident of finding a more ready passage that way, or even for concealment, he may have made the more circuitous voyage towards Rome, and so encountered this danger.

(2) Appian. B. C. iv. 3.

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