si credis, etc.: with the same humorous turn as in Sat.
I.3.1-19, Horace begins his attack on the imitators by dwelling upon
an accidential peculiarity of many men of genius, as if he were discussing
the character of genius in sober earnest. Nor does he make clear what
use he intends to make of his text until v. 17. prisco:
probably with reference to the Old Comedy to the writers
of which Cratinus belonged. Cf. Sat. I.4.1.
that, therefore, he is a judge of literature, and will understand
the scope of the epistle. Cratino:
no extant fragment of his contains the sentiment here expressed, but
he seems to have had a notoriety as a wine-bibber, and an epigram
has been preserved alluding to this failing. (Anthol. Palat.
XIII.29). Cf. Also Aristoph. Pax. 701 seq. The idea
was very familiar to the ancients and became almost a proverb. Cf.
Dem. de Fals. 46.
ever since. male
sanos: alluding to the inspired bard (vates),
supposed to be filled with a frenzy which raised him above ordinary
mortals in intellectual power. But the source of Horace's statement
enrolled, as his regular followers. The idea is, ever since
the remotest antiquity, the voraties of the Muses have been drinkers
of wine. Satyris
Faunisqus: these deities are really the same, the latter
being the less gross Italian representatives of the former. The latter
also had a prophetic power which makes them still more appropriate
here. Cf. Ennius, V.221.
mane: cf. putere diurno, v. 11.
character of the poets is ascribed to the Muses themselves.
cf., among other passages, Il. VI.260.
wine-drinker, producing his poetry under that stimulus.
etc.: the chief evidence of the statement is the fact that Ennius
suffered from the gout.
as if he himself were the warrior he describes.
i.e. the sober business of life to the exclusion of poetry.
a famous locality in the Forum, frequented by the money-lenders. Cf.
simul edixi, as soon as I have laid down this law,
like a praetor administering justice. non
cessavere: the poet gradually approaches the turn which
he means to make. (As soon as I have thus maintained that poets are
given to wine-drinking, all those who desire to be poets adopt the
practice of wine-bibbing.)
si quis, etc.: i.e. but is it sufficient to
copy external habits or garb in order to reproduce an inward nature?
Obviously not, and this brings the poet to the point he is aiming
at. This point he brings out by an example where an unknown Iarbitas
was ruined by imitating the caustic wit of a man of genius, thinking
thereby to be like his model. ferus,
rough, as not polished by culture. pede
nudo: i.e. in the old rough style of early republican
the early republican Romans wore the toga in scanty folds and close
bound around the body (cf. I.18.30), while the imperial style became
more and more flowing. textore:
an ablative of means in the same construction as vultu.
The weaver is treated as one of the means. Catonem:
probably the Elder.
(genitive with aemula): a historian from Alexandria
who acted as a teacher in the house of Augustus. He was famous for
his unbridled tongue. Cf. Sen. de Ira, III.23.
a wit; cf. Sat. I.10.65. disertus,
a master of style.
i.e. in that we mistake the faults of a great man for the
real causes of his greatness, and so proceed to imitate them.
etc.: i.e. this tendency proceeds so far that men will imitate
the accidents of the moment (cf. casu).
producing that effect.
19. O imitatores,
etc.: here the poet fully unmasks his battery, and tells plainly what
he has been driving at.
worrying and fussing, as opposed to the steady pursuit of
some definite object.
opposed to servum. Horace here begins to distinguish
his own action from that of the imitators, in that he has followed
worthy examples, to be sure, but in an independent spirit, and with
such changes as, confident in his own powers, he had thought best
to make, acting therein in the same manner as his predecessors.
per vacuum, through
an unoccupied field, as the Epodes certainly were.
I have traced a course. princeps,
aliena, etc., I have not placed my feet in another's
reget examen, will be the queen of the hive.
i.e. of Archilochus of Paros. iambos:
referring to the Epodes, which are modelled after the caustic productions
of Archilochus. Cf. Od. I.16.24.
res: i.e. his subjects and his terms of expression
are his own, and not borrowed from the original.
one of the objects of the elder poet's satire. This person, having
refused Archilochus as a son-in-law, was attacked by him with such
virulence that he is said to have hanged himself along with his daughter
ne me, etc.: he here justifies the imitation that he
has allowed himself, by the examples of Sappho and Alcaeus, who did
the same. foliis
brevioribus, scantier laurels.
have not ventured. modos,
the measures, i.e. the metre.
the structure of the song, i.e. the form of the
models, lit. regulates. Archilochi:
depending on pede. pede,
on the measure, following his metre. Examples of Archilochian
metres are Od. I.4, IV.7; Epod. 11.13.
manner, properly, arrangement of ideas, but apparently including
course of treatment, so that his poetry is not satirical.
socerum, etc.: i.e. his poetry is not abusive
like that of Archilochus. Cf. v. 25 and note. atris:
as blackening the character.
abusive, as making the person attacked famosus.
Cf. v. 25 and note.
as opposed to the Greek Alcaeus. Cf. Od. IV.3.23.
i.e. I am proud to do so. immemorata,
words before unheard. Cf. II.2.117.
alluding to the class of readers for whom he writes. Cf. v. 37, and
also Sat. I.10.81-87.
velis, etc.: i.e. that being the case, if you
are surprised that I am disparaged by the critics in public, I will
say it is precisely for the reason that I do not toady to the crowd,
nor to the pedantic critics.
fickle, in matters of art, just as in politics, from which
last sphere the whole figure is drawn.
etc.: not literally, but continuing the figure of political canvassing.
These are the means used by the political aspirant to whom Horace
scriptorum, etc.: i.e. Horace does not seek
the favor of the lower orders of literary workers, but hears only
the works of the great, and defends their genius. He consorts only
with the choice spirits of the Augustan circle.
of the critics. ambire
tribus: continuing the figure. pulpita:
the readers' desk, which Horace does not frequent, as do others, to
recite his works. Cf. Sat. I.4.73.
illae lacrimae: a proverbial expression derived from
Ter. And. 126, for "there's where the trouble is."
He means, it is because I refuse to recite my works, and submit them
to the approval of the crowd, that they disparage me.
etc.: the excuse of Horace for not reciting. spissis,
not necessarily the theatre proper, though such recitations may have
taken place in these, but public halls. Cf. Sat.
pondus: i.e. by giving them such publicity,
and making so much of them.
ait, etc.: i.e. when I excuse myself thus, these
men won't believe me, but ascribe it to arrogance, and to scorn of
other literary men.
in a rare active sense.
uti, turn up my nose.
i.e. he is afraid of offending them on account of their slanderous
tongues, and so he simply refers his disinclination to the place of
recitation, and refuses to argue the case further.
a truce in the contest; the allusion is to the off-days or
intervals between gladiatorial fights (ludi), to
which he compares his argument with his opponent.
such sport, properly the fighting of gladiators, but with
a side reference to the original meaning of the word, sport.
gnomic perfect. trepidum
certamen, hot rivalry.
bellum, bloody warfare, as the climax of the
contest of words between Horace and the critics.