Obrazy na stronie

here the places of business, and, in particular, the shops of booksellers. - 2. Sosiorum. These were two brothers, celebrated publishers and booksellers in the time of Horace. The poet alludes to them also in Ars. P. 345.- Pumice. The parchment was smoothed and polished with pumice-stone. 3. Claves. The keys and seals of the scrinia

and capsae; see n. Sat. i., 1, 120, and the cut on p. 204. — 5. Ita; i. e. to be fond of publicity, and of many readers. 5. Descendere; i. e. down into the forum. 7. Laeserit; e. g. by unceremonious, rough handling. So too with the next expression in breve cogi. ———— 9. Quodsi, etc. Non join with desipit. By augur the poet refers to himself. — Peccantis, sc. tui; i. e. in its eager haste to be published. By odio the poet expresses his affected vexation.· 13. Vinctus. Packed; literally tied up. Ilerda was a city in Spain. Books, but chiefly old ones, unsaleable at Rome, were sent to the various provinces, where the language and literature of the Romans were cultivated. See Becker's Gallus, at the end of Excursus on Books. — 14. Monitor; i. e. the poet himself, who is warning the book of its fates. He facetiously says, that he will deride it, just like the man in the fable, who, vexed with the obstinacy of his ass, finally pushed him forward down a precipice. 18. Occupet; shall surprise thee. As an old worn-out volume, it shall be handled and thumbed over by school-boys. At a later day, Juvenal thus humorously describes Horace and Virgil in school-boys' hands:

"Quot stabant pueri, quum totus decolor esset
Flaccus, et haereret nigro fuligo Maroni."

19. Sol tepldas; i. e. in the cool of the day, in the afternoon (after the coena) the poet fancies his newly-published book may find many and attentive readers. So Martial says, 4, 8, 6: Hora libellorum decima est, Eupheme, meorum.· -21. Nido; join with majores; greater than—i. e. -too large for my nest. 23. Belli-domique. These must be taken with me placuisse. The poet pleasantly alludes to his military service under Brutus and Cassius, as well as his literary triumphs in peace, which have won him favor e. g. with Augustus and Maecenas. ———— 28. Duxit Lollius. This was B. c. 21, when Lollius was chosen consul with Augustus; the latter declining, there was a violent contest between Lepidus and Silanus for the office, which resulted in the election of the former. Hence duxit, as Lollius being some time in office before Lepidus, as it were, led him in.

[ocr errors]



The occasion of the composition of this Epistle we learn from the following passage in the Life of Horace, by Suetonius: "Augustus post sermones lectos, nullam sui mentionem habitam ita est questus: Irasci me tibi scito, quod non in plerisque ejus.nodi scriptis mecum potissimum loquaris. An vereris, ne apud posteros tibi infame sit, quod videaris familiaris nobis esse?" expressitque Eclogam, cujus initium est, Cum tot sustineas, etc.

This Epistle is the noble reply of the poet to the complaints of his sovereign. In it he delivers his sentiments on a theme, worthy of himself and the prince who coveted his praises, the condition of Roman poetry, with particular reference to the evils under which it labored, growing out of the prevailing tastes of the people. From a fine panegyric of Augustus, so skilfully woven into the body of the piece, that it can scarcely be called an Introduction (1-17), he passes to a censure of the existing undue admiration of the old poets, and demonstrates the folly of estimating a poem merely by its age (18-49). He then enumerates and criticises some of the early Roman poets, and by comparing together the character and the life of the Greeks and the Romans, he shows how the Greeks were always better qualified and more ready to appreciate and acknowledge the merits of their poets than the Romans (50-107). Then follows, after a satirical touch upon the universal rage in his times for writing verse (108-125), and a noble eulogy of true poetry (126-138), a brief historical sketch of Roman poetry (126–167), and of the present low state of the drama, occasioned chiefly by the passion of the people for the shows of the circus and the amphitheatre (168-213). Finally, he commends other than dramatic poets to the protection of his patron, to the end that both the emperor and his people may find fit heralds of their fame; and then, by a graceful transition, concludes with his favorite plea, that he himself is inadequate to the task of celebrating the exploits of Augustus (214-end).

1. Solus. This Epistle was written B. c. 9. Augustus had now concentrated in himself all the most important powers, which belonged, under the republic, to different magistracies; of Imperator, commander of all the Roman armies, of tribune for life, of censor, of proconsul in

all the provinces, and of pontifex maximus. 2. Armis. Comp. the passage, O. iv., 14, 42 sqq. Moribus. See n. O. iv., 5, 22. - 5.

Romulus, etc. Comp. O. iii., 3, 9–16. — - 10. Hydram. See n. O. iv.,

4, 61. - 13. Urit-suo; burns by his own brightness; i. e. by the brilliancy of his fame hurts and fills with envy. The object of urit is the same as that of praegravat.· - Artes — positas. Artes = ingenii facultates, talents, by metonymy, for men of talents; men of inferior talents. Comp. O. iii., 24, 31. - - 15. Praesenti. In contrast with the heroes just mentioned, who were not deified till after death, the poet addresses Augustus as already in his lifetime invested with divine honors. See n. O. iii., 3, 11e18. Sed populus. Here the poet

slides gracefully into his subject; but (he says) this estimate of the present, by which the Romans exalt you above all the heroes of the past, is quite reversed in their judgments of literature and of poets. See Introd. - In uno; i. e. in hac una re. Uno is opposed to cetera just below. -23. Veterum; neuter gender.-Ut, with preceding sic, and the verb dictitet, expresses result, so that. Tabulas. The laws of the Twelve Tables, made by the Decemvirs. - 25. Gabiis; sc. cum; so the preposition is omitted in O. iii., 25, 2. The treaty with Gabii Livy mentions B. I., 53 seqq., and with the Sabines, ib. 13; ib. 17.26. Libros. The Annals of the Pontiffs. See Dict. Antiqq., under Annales. Volumina; old books of prophecies. All these were among the oldest literary monuments, written in language well nigh obsolete. 27. Albano; said in jest; as if these adorers of the poet believed that the Muses ever lived on the Alban Mount, not Helicon and Parnassus. -31. Nil intra, etc.; i. e. if we may argue from the superiority of the old Greek poets to that of the old Roman poets, we may maintain any absurdity whatever; e. g. an olive has no stone inside of it, or a nut has no shell outside.—Intra is here a preposition, and extra an adverb. Hand, Turs. ii., 681, and iii., 440, has other examples of this construction. -45. Caudae-equino. The commentators adduce here the story told by Plutarch of Sertorius. To animate his soldiers to persevering effort, Sertorius set a soldier of great strength to pulling out the tail of a weak horse by a single exertion, and on the other hand a very feeble man to pulling out the tail of a noble vigorous horse, by plucking out a single hair at a time. ——————47. Ratione - acervi. Horace alludes to the Stoic method of arguing, called owpeirns, fr. σwpós, acervus, by which an opponent was silenced through his own repeated concessions. Hence the logical sorites, or cumulative argument, consisting of a series of syllogisms, in which the conclusion of each makes the premise for the next.-Thus Horace here, by taking away months and years, finally reduces to nothing his opponent's century. 48. Fastos; sc. consulares. See n. O. iii., 17, 4. – 52. Promissa. See

-50. Ennius. See notes, O. iv., 8, 17 and 23. the quotation from Ennius, at the end of Notes on B. ii. of the Odes. Somnia refers to the dream of Ennius, with which he opened his Annales, in which he was told, that the soul of Homer had, according to the doctrine of Metempsychosis, passed into his body. –53. Naevius. A dramatic and epic poet, still older than Ennius; and yet, as Horace says, having still a fame as fresh as if he were a modern writer. 56. Pacuvius was born at Tarentum, B. c. 221; he was a nephew of Ennius, and lived on terms of intimacy with his rival Accius, who however was many years younger. · 57. Afranius, a comic poet, who flourished about 100 B. C., and resembled, in his plays, the Greek Menander. — 58. Plautus was a native of Sarsina, in Umbria, and flourished about

[ocr errors]

200 B. C.; earlier than Terence, who was ten years old when Plautus died. Properare refers to the rapid movement of incidents in his plays. Terence, who was a native of Carthage, whence he was brought as a slave, and where he was afterwards favorably known, and befriended by Laelius and the younger Scipio, excelled Plautus both in the construction of his plots, arte, and in the elegance and purity of his diction. 59. Statius Caecilius was a dramatic poet, who flourished just before Terence. He died B. c. 168, a year after Ennius. 62. Livi; Livius Andronicus, the earliest Roman dramatist, who flourished B. C. 240.. 63. Peccat. See n. on juvat O. i., 1, 4. -71. Orbilium. Orbilius Pupillus, who, after serving as a soldier, taught school at Rome; where it appears Horace was his pupil. 75. Vendit; sells, i. e. gains (it) favor. The subject of vendit is the two preceding lines. -79. Crocum. The stage was wont to be strewed with saffron and flowers. Quintius Atta was a Roman dramatic writer, who died B. c. 78. 81. Patres; i. e. seniors, like senes below, 85. the celebrated tragic orator, who lived in Cicero's time. equally celebrated in the acting of comedy, and was also rary of Cicero, and a personal friend of the orator. 86. Saliare. Sung by the Salii, in honor of Mars. See n. O. iii., 26, 12. Quintilian says of these songs (so antiquated had their language become): Saliorum carmina vix sacerdotibus suis satis intellecta, i., 6. - -93. Bellis; the Persian wars. — - 93. Nugari; i. e. to give itself to poetry and the fine arts, which, compared with war, may be called nugae. 94. Vitium; i. e. a life of luxurious indulgence. So Tacitus, speaking of the Britons, in Agric. xxi., says: discessum ad delenimenta vitiorum. Horace refers to the decline of the public morals, which began in the time of Pericles. - 102. Paces; times of peace.· 103. Romae, etc.

-82. Aesopus, Roscius was a contempo

The poet now turns to the prevailing tastes of the ancient Romans, which were averse to literature, and inclined only to the business of practical life. He has a similar passage in Ars. P. 323 seqq. 110. Fronde. Comp. O. i., 1, 29. 110. Dietant; i. e. recitant; recite in a loud and pompous tene, as if they were dictating them to their guests. This is Orelli's explanation of the word, and is better than that which makes dictant: = componunt. -112. Parthis. Comp. O. iv., 15, 23. 113. Calamum, etc. See cut on p. 204. Comp. the parallel passage in Ars. P. 379. facile, as above, Sat. ii., 2, 116.. 124. Militiae. Dative, for ad militiam. -126. Poeta ; i. e. the true poet, in distinction from the crowd, whom he has just been satirically describing. Comp. Introd.

[ocr errors]

114. Navim, etc. 120. Non temere ;

= non

Figurat. Refers to the effects of reading the poets in the schools. Com. Sat. i., 10, 75; and above 1. 71.— 130. Orientia tempora ;=adolescentes; the rising generation.. -131. Aegram; sc. animi.. -132. Castis, etc. The poet describes the sacred uses of poetry. The Car

men Saeculare of Horace illustrates these words. See Introd. to that hymn.-135. Coelestes-aquas; rain from heaven. Comp. O. iii., 10, 19; Carm. Saec. 31.. - 139. Agricolae, etc. The poet has here in mind the origin of the ancient drama, which, among the Greeks and the Romans, first sprung up at the rural festivals of the people. Similar allusions occur in Ars. P., e. g. 1. 405. - 143. Silvanum. See n. O. iii., 29, 23.- -144. Genium. See n. O. iii., 17, 14. — 145. Fescennina; i. e. of the Fescennine verses; which formed "one of the earliest kinds of Italian poetry, consisting of dialogues (versibus alternis) of extempore verses, with which the merry country folks ridiculed one another." See Dict. Antiqq., and comp. Introd. to Notes on the Satires. 152. Lex. The Twelve Tables made slander a capital offence. See Cic. de Rep. iv., 10; and comp. Sat. ii., 1, 82. This statute Horace connects, by poetical conjecture, rather than on historical grounds, with the prohibition of slanderous verses. 154. Fustis; fustuarii, or beating to death with clubs, a mode of capital punishment practised by the ancient Romans. See Livy, v., 6. 156. Graecia capta, etc. Here, too, the view of Horace is poetical rather than strictly historical. Greece became a Roman province at the time of the capture of Corinth, B. c. 146; but long before this period, and even before the capture of Syracuse, B. C. 212, to which event Livy, B. xxv., 40, dates “the commencement of the admiration among the Romans of Greek literature"-inde primum initium mirandi Graecarum artium-from the time of Ennius and Pacuvius, the influence of the Grecian muse had become predominant in Roman literature. Thus early did Greece take captive by her arts, the people destined to be her conqueror in arms.-Comp. Cato's characteristic words, Livy, xxxiv., 4; and Ovid, Fast. iii., 101. Saturnius; the name of the ancient and genuine Roman poetry. Livius Andronicus and Naevius wrote in it. See Macaulay's discussion of this measure, in his Preface to Lays of Ancient Rome. - 161. Serus; sc. Romanus. 163. Thespis et. See notes, Ars. P. 276, and 279. 164. Vertere. In allusion to the versions and imitations by Roman poets of Greek tragedies and comedies.- –167. Lituram. Comp. Ars. P. 290; also Sat. i., 10, 72. — 170. Veniae minus. For the very reason, that comedy is drawn from every-day life, any reader sees and condemns in the writer all offences against probability. 170. Partes. Horace seems here to be ironical, really intending to criticise Plautus as inferior to his Greek models in the delineation of his characters. ———— 173. Dossennas. Probably the name of some dramatic writer. Nothing certain is known of him. Some Edd., following the opinion of K. O. Müller, take the word for the name of a standing comic character, but this view rests on insufficient evidence. 174. Socco. The soccus was a low shoe, worn by comic actors. With non adstricto, it here marks the loose style of Dossennus. Palpita See n. Ars. P. 215.


« PoprzedniaDalej »