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the first men in the state, both in war and peace; of a short stature, gray before my time, calculated for sustaining of heat, prone to passion, but so as to be soon appeased. If any one should chance to inquire my age, let him know that I had completed four times eleven Decembers,* in the year that Lollius took in Lepidus as his colleague in the consulate.

*Horace was born on the 8th of December, an. ab. urb. cond. 689, and consequently his forty-fourth year ended 733. -SANADON.

THE

EPISTLES OF HORACE.

BOOK II.

EPISTLE I.

TO AUGUSTUS.*

He honours him with the highest compliments; then treats copiously of poetry, its origin, character, and excellence.

SINCE you alone support the burden of so many and such weighty concerns, defend Italy with your arms, adorn it by your virtues, reform it by your laws, I should offend, O Cæsar, against the interests of my country, did I trespass upon your time with a long discourse.

*This epistle is supposed to have been occasioned by a kind reproach from Augustus for our author's neglect or bashfulness, in acknowledging him in his works: Know, says he, I am angry with you. What, are you apprehensive it will injure your reputation with posterity, that you have been one of my friends?" This is deservedly ranked amongst our author's best performances; and proves at once the most perfect delicacy of taste and manners, a masculine superiority of genius, a correct judgment, and an extraordinary compass of erudition. The length of it seems also to have been occasioned by the emperor's raillery, where he bantered him with being afraid of making his poems disproportioned to his stature.

Romulus, and father Bacchus, and Castor and Pollux, after great achievements, received into the temples of the Gods while they were improv ing the world and human nature, composing fierce dissensions, settling property, building cities, lamented that the esteem they might have expected was not paid in proportion to their merits. He who crushed the dire hydra, and subdued the renowned monsters by his fore-fated labour, found envy was to be tamed by death alone. For he burns by his own splendour, whose superiority is oppressive to the arts beneath him: after his decease, he shall be had in honour. On you, while present amongst us, we confer mature honours, and rear altars, where your name is to be sworn by, confessing, that nothing equal to you has hitherto risen, or will hereafter rise. But here your people, wise and just in this one point, for preferring you to our own, you to the Grecian heroes, by no means estimate other things with like proportion and measure; and disdain and detest every thing but what they see removed from earth, and already past; such favourers are they of antiquity, as to assert that the muses themselves, upon mount Albanus, dictated the twelve tables, forbidding to transgress, which the Decemviri ratified the leagues of our kings concluded with the Gabii, or the rigid Sabines; the records of the Pontifices, and the ancient volumes of the Augurs.

If, because the most ancient writings of the Greeks are also the best, Roman authors are to be weighed in the same scale; there is no need, we should say much there is nothing hard in the inside of an olive, nothing hard in the outside of a

nut.

We are arrived at the highest pitch of success in arts; we paint, and sing, and wrestle more skilfully than the anointed Greeks. If length of time makes poems better, as it does wine, I would fain know how many years would stamp a value on writings. A writer who died a hundred years ago, is he to be reckoned among the perfect and ancient, or among the mean and modern authors? Let some fixed period exclude all dispute. He is an old and good writer who completes a hun dred years. What, one that died a month, or a year later; among which is he to be ranked? among the old poets, or among those whom both the present age and posterity will disdainfully reject? He may fairly be placed among the ancients, who is younger either by a short month only, or even by a whole year. I take the advantage of this concession, and pull away by little and little, as if they were the hairs of a horse's tail; and I take away one, and then again another single one; till, like a tumbling heap, my adversary, who has recourse to annals, and estimates excellency by the year, and admires nothing but what Libitina has made sacred, falls to the ground.

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Ennius the wise, the nervous, and, as our critics say, a second Homer, seems slightly to regard what becomes of his promises and Pythagorean dreams. Nævius is not in people's hands, but still sticks almost fresh in their memory: so sacred is every ancient poem. As oft as a debate arises whether this poet, or the other, is preferable, Pacuvius bears away the character of a learned, Accius of a lofty writer; Afranius's gown is said to have fitted Menander; Plautus is said to hurry after the pattern of the Sicilian Epicharmus;

Cæcilius to excel in gravity, Terence in contrivance. These mighty Rome learns by heart, and these she views crowded in her too narrow theatre; these she esteems and accounts her poets, from Livy* the writer's age down to our time. Sometimes the populace see right: they are sometimes wrong if they admire and extol the ancient poets, so as to prefer nothing before, to compare nothing with them, they err: if they think and allow that they express some things in an obsolete, most in a stiff, many in a careless manner, they both think sensibly, and agree with me, and determine with the assent of Jove himself. Not that I bear an ill-will against Livy's epics, and would doom them to destruction, which I remember the severe Orbilius taught me when a boy; but that they should seem correct, beautiful, and very little short of being perfect, this is what I wonder at: Among which, if by chance a bright expression shines forth, and if one line or two happen to be somewhat terse and musical, this unreasonably carries off and sells the whole poem. I am disgusted that any thing should be found fault with, not because it is a lumpish composition, or inelegant, but because it is modern: and that, not a favourable allowance, but honour and rewards are demanded for the old writers. Should I scruple whether or no Atta's drama trod the saffrons and flowerst in a proper manner, almost

*Livius Andronicus, the oldest of the Latin poets, and the first of them who composed a play in form.

† Perfumed waters were sprinkled through the Roman theatres, and the stage was covered with flowers. Titus Quintius had the surname of Atta given him, which signifies a man who walks on tip-toe. His singular gate is here alluded to.

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