Verse 1. prima,
etc.: a form of expression first found in Homer, Il. IX.
97, and imitated with variations by many writers after him. Cf. Virg.
Ecl. VIII. 11, and Hor. Od. III. 6. 6.
proper Latin name of the goddesses of inspired song, the Greek Moûsai.
The construction is a loose one of means.
etc.: as is often done in Latin and Greek, instead of using a figure
or simile, the poet identifies with the real object as that to which
it is compared. Here Horace compares himself to a gladiator of approved
(spectatum) valor who, by the favor of the people,
has been relieved from the necessity of appearing again. To force
such a one into the arena anew would be rather unjust.
sword. With this emblem, as a symbol of bloodless exercise, the
gladiator was presented when discharged.
quarters, the ludus gladiatorius, but with
a play, no doubt, on the word, referring to the lighter and more frivolous
poetry of his youth.
a retired gladiator of the kind mentioned.
the patron god of athletes and gladiators. ad
postem, etc: the arms had been dedicated to the god upon
the abandonment of the profession, as was customary with the ancients.
Cf. Od. III. 26. 4. latet,
buries himself, i.e. retires to a country life.
. .exoret, that he may not have to appeal, etc.,
as he would, if he voluntarily continued to fight (cf. Quint. Decl.
302). This, no doubt, many did to win glory and the favor of the people.
. .harena: i.e. near the spectators.
many times again, i.e. as he had before, in order to
win the privilege of retirement.
. .qui, there is a voice which.
lit. freed from all impediments to hearing, such as in a figurative
sense ambition and vanity would be.
turn out, lit. unharness (from the racing chariot).
ducat, pant with broken wind. Cf. illa tendunt,
Virg. Georg. III. 507; ilia pulsare, Æn.
IX. 413; anhelitum ducere, Ovid. Met. VII. 555;
and the common spiritum ducere.
i.e. in consequence of the voice of wisdom just referred
youthful follies, among which Horace includes poetry.
i.e. sound in philosophy, true as a guide of life. Cf. II.
2. 144. decens,
honestum: tò prépon, the Stoic equivalent for
study (by himself). rogo,
inquire (of philosophers in their writings or discourses).
cf. Sat. I. 9. 2.
of storing up. compono:
of arranging so as to have no difficulty in finding by and by.
regular word for taking out of the storehouse for use. Cf. condus
promus, a steward, Plaut. Pseud. II. 2.
etc.: the purpose not of anything which is said, but of saying it
(as of a "let me tell you," or the like implied), a common
form of speech in many languages. Cf. "to be brief," "to
say no more," and the like. The connection is, as you might naturally
inquire when I say I am devoted to philosophy, to what school I belong,
I forestall the inquiry by saying "to none."
to what family I belong. Cf. familia Peripateticorum, Cic.
Div. II. 1.
properly of a debtor assigned to his creditor as a slave (the ancient
form of imprisonment for debt), but here in a mixed metaphor transferred
to the relation of the gladiator or soldier who swears an oath dictated
by his master or commander.
the weather, i.e. he drifts without any definite
aim, making himself a guest or sojourner, not a permanent citizen,
in whatever school he happens to find himself (Cic. Tusc.
IV. 47). deferor:
the technical word for being driven to port or to land. Cf. Cic. Acad.
II. 3. 8.
etc.: in the regular Horatian manner he gives an example of his course
of conduct. agilis:
it was a special principle of the Stoics, in opposition to the Epicureans,
to engage in active civil life as members of the body politic. Cf.
Cic. de. Off. I. 7. 22, and de Fin. III. 20. 67.
undis, the tide of civil life.
as the only true guide of life, the highest and only good.
strict, in accordance with the unbending character of the
Stoic doctrines. The whole means, "now I become a conscientious
Stoic," and sacrifice myself to my public duties.
i.e. now I fall into the opposite extreme of self-indulgence,
and endeavor to harmonize philosophy and inclination. Aristippus of
Cyrene (380 B.C.) was the most worldly of the followers of Socrates,
and originated the Hedonic school, whose ethical principles were afterwards
adopted by the Epicureans. He is put here as the opposite extreme
from the Stoics, inasmuch as he made the enjoyment of the senses the
summum bonum or ultimate motive to action ("the chief end of
the passage from the altruism of the Stoics to the egotism of Aristippus
is regarded as a falling back.
mihi res, etc.: this is opposed directly to agilis,
etc., in so far as the conscientious citizen is hampered by his duties
(me rebus subiungere) as much as the thoughtless
man by his desires. But the verse contains also a summary of the doctrine
of Aristippus, whose principle was to enjoy everything in life without
becoming a slave to any desire or duty. Thus the poet represents himself
(probably with truth) as insensibly relaxing his zeal in the performance
of civil duties, and giving himself up to enjoyment and self-culture.
Cf. Ep. I. 16 and 17.
. .videtur sic. . .fluunt: i.e. as philosophy
is my chief concern, I am impatient of everything that hinders me
in the pursuit of it. This is at the same time an expression of unwillingness
to be diverted by poetry, and of discontent at the obstacles to becoming
a real philosopher. opus
debentibus: i.e. the hireling by the day.
because he is in haste to become of age, and be free from restraint.
indicating that they are orphans and under age.
not as wards, but merely under control on account of their age.
i.e. the fulfilment of his hope. consilium:
i.e. the accomplishment of his purpose.
i.e. not being able to become a real philosopher (cf. v.
20 seq.), the poet can only do the best he can with the slight
acquisitions that he can make (cf. v. 12). his:
i.e. these few that I can get. me
regam, direct my life. soler,
solace its ills, the main object of philosophy since the
third century B.C.
possis, though you may not be able, concessive
(or possibly conditional). quantum
contendere, see as far as, lit. reach, with
the accusative of extent of space. Lynceus:
cf. Sat. I. 2. 90.
for weak eyes, lit. having weak eyes.
a subjunctive of condition, such as is usual with the indefinite second
person, the whole being a supposed case. Glyconis:
evidently an athlete.
prohibere cheragra (cf. Sat. II. 7. 15): with
verbs of repelling, removing, and the like, either the thing kept
off or that from which it is kept may take the prominent position
and be in the accusative, with the other in the ablative (cf. I. 8.
quadam, etc.: i.e. improvement to a certain
extent is possible, even if perfection as a sage is unattainable.
is in a fever, an instance of the preceding; a condition
without the conditional form, as in English. cupidine,
magic words, alluding to formulae used for medical purposes
in ancient times (cf. Odys. XIX. 457, and Cato R.R.
160), but referring to the precepts of philosophy.
alluding to the tones and manner in which such magical formulae were
recited, but not different in real meaning from verba.
vices are here, as usual, regarded as diseases.
amore: i.e. ambition. piacula:
as philosophy is before compared to the healing art, so it is here
compared to the expiations through which disease, especially madness,
as proceeding from divine displeasure could be cured. Cf. the example
the element of magic (in the number three) was present even in religion
(cf. Tib. I. 2. 54). pure:
alluding to the religious cleansing necessary in ancient observances,
but referring, of course, to moral purpose, the cleansing of the soul.
indicating a religious ritual, to which the moral precepts are compared.
etc.: in a kind of partitive apposition with nemo.
etc.: the figure here varies between a wild animal and a rough farm,
though both figures are so common as hardly to be considered as figures
est, etc.: a continuation of the same general argument
that a beginning in the practice of philosophy is worth an effort
even though one may not be a finished philosopher. This is, of course,
contrary to the Stoic dogmas, but fits well with less strict doctrines.
the perfect is probably chosen for the metre, but it differs from
the present, meaning to have refrained from some act of folly by some
special effort such as is referred to in the following.
cf. Sat. II. 1. 75. repulsam,
rejection by the citizens at the polls, of course the greatest
misfortune to the ambitious Roman, whose success in life depended
upon the cursus honorum.
i.e. anxiety of mind. capitis:
i.e. peril of life. Cf. v. 45.
tireless, an example of activity in the race for wealth.
really pursuing wealth, but made more vivid by being put in the form
of a flight from poverty. per
saxa, etc.: proverbial expressions for danger, as we
say, "through fire and water."
cures, etc.: if you are willing to undergo such trials
in the pursuit of wealth, how much rather should you be willing to
take a little trouble in gaining the same end by extinguishing desire.
And this is effected by philosophy, whereby a far nobler prize is
a wiser teacher (than yourself), i.e. the philosopher.
pagos, etc.: the person indicated is some local champion,
who fights at the insignificant festivals in the country. Such a one
would of course wish to gain the prize at the great Olympic games
as champion of the world if he could do so without the trouble of
working for it. In the same measure is freedom from desire superior
to worldly success (cf. v. 53), and this freedom can be got without
the toil of worldly ambition.
etc.: i.e. as gold is more precious than silver, so is virtue
cives, etc.: i.e. but the world thinks differently,
and is bent on securing money first, wherein it shows its folly, as
the poet proceeds to demonstrate.
etc.: there seem to have been three arches in the Forum, around which
the most important money affairs were transacted, so that the expression
is equivalent to the whole Stock Exchange, or all Wall Street in modern
times. We may translate "the whole Forum from the upper to
the lower Ianus."
preaches, i.e. propagates the doctrine.
given them as a lesson which they thus learn and repeat, a method
of instruction very common, as it would seem, in ancient times. Cf.
Sat. I. 10. 75. senesque:
i.e. young and old go alike to that school.
etc.: this line is doubtful, and seems to have crept in from the margin,
where some scholar had put it as a parallel passage from Sat.
I. 6. 74. Still it is possible that Horace meant to emphasize the
idea that all ages are scholars alike to learn this all-important
animus, etc.: an illustration of the degree to which
the supremacy of wealth is recognized, being embodied even in the
constitution of the state. tibi:
a supposed case. mores,
character, for good character, just as we use that word.
eloquence, one of the highest recommendations among the Romans.
the 400,000 sesterces ($20,000) required for the equestrian census.
i.e. not an eques. ludentes,
at their play. rex
eris, etc.: the rest of the trochaic verse here quoted
is given by Isidore (Origg. IX. 3, 4), si non faciet
non erit. The whole may have had originally a serious meaning,
though fallen in time to a mere singsong of children at play. The
precise game in which it was used is not certain, but see Plato Theaet.
murus, etc.: the tone of this sentiment is so different
from the preceding, that many editors have rejected it as an interpolation;
and, in fact, it is almost impossible to justify the connection. Still
the two parts may have belonged to the same song in Horace's time,
though originating at different times. It is also difficult to reconstruct
v. 60 without the suspected words. Perhaps Horace gives the words
as his own interpretation of the supposed deeper meaning of the song.
The whole of the last part belongs among the commonplaces of philosophy.
Cf. Sen. Ep. IX. 3. 19; Cic. Parad. IV. 1.
cf. Sat. I. 6. 40. melior:
i.e. sounder, for the law has a lower standard than the song,
as making precedence depend on wealth.
old song, a word used of any often-repeated or rude song,
perhaps originally spinning song(?), as it was especially sung by
sturdy, free from the effeminating influences of later times.
etc.: i.e. such as the old worthies used to repeat, implying
that the heroes were brought up on it and acted accordingly.
see v. 62. lacrimosa:
used disparagingly of tragedy, as we might say, "the mournful
play of Kotzebue," or "the tearful Stranger."
Pupi: a tragedian,
(perhaps undeservedly) unknown.
cf. Sat. II. 7. 88. responsare:
cf. Sat. II. 7. 85 and 103. superbae,
arrogant, as lording it over mankind, and expecting them
to yield to her power. Hence the resistance of the wise man is more
by his precepts. aptat:
by the strength gained by following the precepts.
si, etc.: an answer to an imaginary objector who asks
the poet why he does not follow the principles of his neighbors and
countrymen among whom he lives. As he does not withdraw himself from
their society, why should he refuse to agree with them? The answer
is contained in allegorical form in v. 74 seq., and continued
in v. 76 seq.
the common lounging-places of the Romans, and the most frequent place
for meeting one's friends and acquaintances.
et fugiam: almost technical words in regard to the objects
of desire and avoidance.
cf. Lucilius (Müller) XXX. 84 seq.:
Deducta tunc voce leo, cur tu ipsa venire
Non vis huc. . .?
Quid sibi volt, quare fit, ut introvorsus et ad te
Spectent atque ferant vestigia se omnia prosus?
The fable is a famous one of Æsop. Of course the poet means that
all are swallowed up by this greed of gain, and no one is ever found
to return to a natural life.
etc.: i.e. and then again, you are so diverse and inconsistent
with yourselves. This seems really only a quibble, for he might
easily follow the principles of the crowd, and select his own method
of carrying them out. But the moral lesson loses nothing by that.
The figure in multorum capitum is an old and familiar
one. Cf. Plato Rep. IX. 12.
etc.: examples of the ruling passion of different men in the pursuit
of wealth. publica:
the most extensive use of money in Rome, analogous to our great
railroad enterprises, was in the purchase of government contracts,
either for the collection of the revenue, or for jobs of various
kinds for the state.
etc.: cf. Sat. II. 5. 12. vivaria:
cf. Sat. II. 5. 44.
because usury was prohibited at Rome.
etc.: i.e. to waive that point, allow different persons
to adopt different means of making a fortune, if you will.
eadem: i.e. they have no fixed purposes that
can last an hour at a time; they are too vacillating to follow as
this was the favorite watering-place of Rome, and filled with fine
villas of the nabobs of the time.
et mare: the edifices were built far out into the Lucrine
Lake and the sea. Cf. Od. II. 15. 3.
morbid, as having no sound reason.
auspicium, give the word, as if the dictates
of a morbid fancy were a divine command. Teanum:
another favorite place for villas, an island city of Campania, whither
in his caprice the nabob suddenly changes the site of his proposed
genialis, the symbolic marriage couch, retained in
the atrium long after the private apartments had been withdrawn
to the back of the house.
etc.: nor is this indulgence of whims confined to the rich; the
poor man also changes his lodgings, furniture, and barber, and,
if yachting is in fashion, hires a craft, and can be as seasick
as ever a lord is in his sea-going yacht. cenacula:
from meaning dining-rooms, this word came to be used of all the
upper parts of a house, which were usually let for lodgings.
properly a war-galley, but used here of the rich man's yacht on
account of its size (three-decker?).
curatus, etc.: to show the universality of this want
of settled purpose, the poet says that the indications of it excite
no remark even from your friends who are interested in your welfare,
whereas the slightest disorder in your apparel would raise a laugh
at once. inaequali:
i.e. irregularly, the description being transferred to
the barber himself. tonsore:
treated as a kind of means, not as an agent with ab.
an under-tunic, worn next the skin.
uneven on the two sides. The toga, though a loose robe,
was put on with the greatest care.
etc.: i.e. moral incongruity does not excite even a laugh.
vacillates, like the ebb and flow of the tide.
the ablative of respect.
etc.: i.e. in his buildings he substitutes round for square
cf. Olympia, v. 50.
medici, etc.: still less do you (as you ought, if you
had the true view of wisdom) regard all this caprice as an evidence
of madness. medici: see A. & G. Grammar § 243
as is done in modern times, insane persons had a guardian appointed
by the court. Cf. Sat. II. 3. 218.
equivalent to tutor, the abstract for the concrete.
sectum, etc.: these words repeat in a brief and pungent
form the same idea which is expressed in v. 84.
i.e. looking to you for counsel and direction. Thus it
would be the duty of Maecenas, if he were wise, to warn Horace,
a thing he would not fail to do in case of any error in apparel.
summam, etc.: the poet sums up the advantages of philosophy
half jestingly in Stoic phrase (cf. Sat. I. 3. 125). Cf.
Cic. de Fin. III. 22. 76: Quod si ita est
ut neque quisquam nisi bonus vir et omnes boni beati sint quid philosophia
magis colendum aut quid est virtute divinius?
cum pituita, etc.: Horace cannot forbear deriding the
Stoic dogma even while using it, and so he closes in his customary
manner with a jest, a play upon sanus. This is
naturally to be taken in a moral sense, but it is followed by an
exception of a mere physical annoyance, just as we might speak of
the toothache. It is as if he said, a philosopher is superior to
all the ills of life, unless he happens to have the hay fever (the
kind of malady to which pituita refers). We have
in one of the graffiti at Pompeii a complaint
of such a sufferer: pituita me tenet, a cry of the heart
preserved for all time in a scratch on plaster.