"The three Literary Epistles which
remain are often classed together as the three Epistles of Book II., but the MSS.
and Scholia recognize only two Epistles in that Book, giving the third an
independent position and a special name as Ars Poetica. . .
In the MSS. the Ars Poetica appears after either the Carmen Saeculare or Odes IV. Its present position is due to sixteenth-century editors, and Cruquius (1578) first called it the Third Epistle of Book II. It was perhaps published by Horace independently, while Augustus was absent in Gaul, 16-13 B.C., but the fact that it reflects so much of the influence of Lucilius would indicate a still earlier date of composition. [See Fiske, Lucilius and Horace, pp. 446-475. According to Professor A. Y. Campbell, "the Ars Poetica was written at some time between 23-20 B.C. inclusive" (Horace, p. 235).] It is not certain who the Pisones (a father and two sons) addressed in it are. According to Porphyrio, the father was L. Calpurnius Piso, praefectus urbi in A.D. 14. He was born in 49 B.C. and became consul 15 B.C., but could hardly have had grown-up sons several years before Horace's death. It is more likely that Piso pater was Cn. Calpurnius Piso, who, like Horace, fought under Brutus at Philippi and was afterwards consul in 23 B.C. He had a son, Gnaeus, who was consul 7 B.C., and another, Lucius, who was consul 1 B.C. . . .
As to the puzzling Ars Poetica, it is evident from the researches of Cichorius [Untersuchungen zu Lucilius, pp. 109-127] and Fiske that it is quite largely indebted to Lucilius, who had a theory of literary criticism "formulated according to the same rhetorical schémata, and under substantially the same rhetorical influences. . .as Horace's Ars Poetica."[Fiske, p. 468.] Moreover, a detailed comparison of the fragments of Lucilius with the Ars Poetica show numerous and striking similarities. To the present writer it would seem to be an obvious inference from these facts that the Ars Poetica was largely composed some years before it was published. It may have been written originally in the regular satiric form, and afterwards adjusted, for publication, to the epistolary mould."
-- Excerpts from "Introduction", Horace: Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica, Loeb Classical Library vol. 194, Harvard UP: Cambridge, MA, 1929.
"This, the longest of Horace's poems, is found in nearly all MSS. under the title Ars Poetica, which is also the name assigned to it by Quintilian and used by the commentator Porphyrio. Yet the composition is a letter rather than a formal treatise, and it is hard to believe that Horace himself is responsible for the conventional title. It has the discursive and occasionally personal tone of an Epistle, whereas it lacks the completeness, precision, and logical order of a well-constructed treatise. It must therefore be judged by the same standards as the other Epistles and Sermones, and must be regarded as an expression of more or less random reflections, suggested by special circumstances, upon an art which peculiarly concerned one or more of the persons addressed. These are a father and two sons of the Piso family, but nobody knows with certainty what particular Pisos--and there are many on record--they are."
-- Excerpts from "Introduction to Ars Poetica", Horace: Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica, Loeb Classical Library vol. 194, Harvard UP: Cambridge, MA, 1929.
NOTE: Since the source book whence the Latin text comes from labels this text as Epistle II. 3, this webmaster has kept that label and placed it at the end of the Epistulae Liber Secundus, however visitors are forewarned that any modern commentary and/or translation will in all probability be found using its commonly accepted title Ars Poetica.
|Ars Poetica:||Latin Text||The source of the Latin Text and Commentary(soon to come) is Horace: Satires and Epistles, ed. J.B. Greenough, Ginn and Company: Boston, 1888.|
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