ornes, etc: Augustus took it upon himself to reform the
morals of the state. Cf. Suet. Oct. passim., also
Od. IV. 15. 9.
tua tempora, waste your time, though the Latin
has a much more picturesque implication. It represents Augustus' time
as fully employed in the great duties of state, each moment (hence
the plural) devoted to some particular duty from which he would be
detained by the necessity of reading the poet's trivial discourse,
if it should be made too long. The reader will notice that the excuse,
as usual with Horace, is made far more complimentary than any performance
could be. Cf. Sat. II. 1. 12.
etc.: i.e. all the great benefactors of the race before you
have failed of recognition in their lifetime, and only attained divine
honors after their death.
had to mourn. favorem,
etc.: i.e. only by his death did he finally overcome jealousy
and hatred. domari:
as if that too were a monster like the others.
i.e. and so excites the animosity of lesser minds whom his
greatness throws in the shade. artis,
etc., the virtues that lie below him, i.e. inferior
etc.: i.e. as a dead man he ceases to be a rival, and is
among us, i.e. while still alive we give you the
honors for which the others had to wait till their death.
as not too late for you to enjoy.
to witness oaths, used transitively, as often, perhaps following
Greek usage. With this construction, however, is combined the more
common one with per. As to the fact, cf. Claudius
natus est Lugduni eo ipso die (B.C. 10) quo primum ara ibi
Augusto dedicata est (Suet. Claud. 2); and Templa,
quamvis sciret etiam proconsulibus decerni solere, in nulla
tamen provincia nisi communi suo Romaeque nomine recepit, nam in urbe
quidem pertinacissime abstinuit hoc honore (Suet. Octav.
tuus, etc.: in this line begins the neatly wrought joint.
In this one thing the people are sound, but not so in literary matters,
in which they affect to prefer the old to the new.
quae, except those who, applying, in translation,
the statement to the authors instead of their works, as in fact Horace
semota, passed from the earth.
suisque temporibus defuncta,
finished their allotted existence.
fautor, such a partisan. The nouns in -tor
are so adjectival in their nature, that they can take an adverb, as
here. In fact, almost any noun can be restored to its original adjective
meaning, if it has not been specialized too much. Cf. late
regem, Virg. Æn. I. 21. veterum,
of antiquity, neuter. tabulas:
the Twelve Tables, which constituted the oldest collection of laws
with cum, belonging to both nouns. For the allusion,
see Livy I. 54 seq.; Dionys. Hal. IV. 58.
Sabellus I. 16. 49. aequata,
made on equal terms. Sabinis:
cf. Livy I. 13.
libros: books of ritual and religious law kept by the
pontifices from the earliest use of writing. Cf. provocationem
autem etiam a regibus fuisse declarant pontificii libri, significant
nostri etiam augurales, itemque ab omni iudicio poenaque provocari
licere indicant XII tabulae compluribus legibus, Cic. de
Rep. II. 31. 54, where it will be noticed that they are cited
as authority along with the Twelve Tables. volumina
vatum: the most ancient works of this description are
the Sibylline books; but as these were in Greek, Horace could hardly
have referred to them except by a careless use of language. As oracles
and prophecies were kept with great care, we must suppose there were
collections of these preserved, which may be referred to here. Cf.
Religio deinde (B.C. 212) nova obiecta est ex carminibus
Marcianis. Vates hic Marcius illustris fuerat, et cum conquisitio
priore anno ex senatus consulto talium librorum fieret, in M. Aemili
praetoris urbani qui eam rem agebat manus venerant. -- Livy XXV.
in monte: i.e. like another Parnassus, a seat
of the Latin Muses. Musas,
etc.: i.e. that these antiquated writings, without any literary
merit, were uttered directly by the goddesses of song, simply because
they were ancient.
quia Graiorum, etc.: i.e. if, because the Greek
authors are better in proportion to their age, we must hold the same
of the Romans, there is nothing more to be said; it is like applying
the same rule to the olive and the walnut, an extension of an analogy
to a case of exactly the opposite nature, which shows utter folly
intra est, etc.: apparently proverbial for an analogy
between two things utterly unlike, as in the olive the soft part is
outside and in the nut inside.
etc.: i.e. we have conquered the Greeks in arms, therefore
(according to the false analogy) we must be better than they in all
the arts as well.
meliora dies: an example of the argument called Sorites,
which proceeds as by the gradual diminution (or increase) of a pile
of sand, asking how grains one must take away (or add) to make it
case (or begin) to be a pile. So the poet calls upon an admirer of
antiquity to set a limit of age at which an author shall be admirable,
and then proceeds by the method of Sorites to show the impossibility
of setting up age as a criterion of merit.
annus, how many years; properly, which year
in order of succession, first, second, etc.
to be reckoned, a mercantile (book-keeping) word. Cf. referre
classic, originally first class, A1, of wares, cf. proba
etc.: the reply of the opponent.
permisso, I take advantage of the concession.
etc.: a mixed allusion to the old fable of Sertorius (Val. Max. VII.
3. 6) and to the phalakrós, a sophism like the Sorites, cf.
v. 34 note.
fails, loses his case. elusus,
baffled, a fencing word; cf. I. 17. 18.
the argument, i.e. the Sorites.
acervi: a translation
of the Greek sorós, from which the name of the argument is
the calendar, i.e. reckoning the years.
cf. Sat. II. 6. 19.
curare, to heed little, i.e. have no
cause to be anxious, inasmuch as his fame is assured. The allusion
is to his epitaph, ascribed to himself:
Nemo me dacrumis decoret nec funera fletu
Faxit. Cur? Volito vivus per ora virum; --
or some similar expression of the poet. See also Cum
somniavit [Ennius] ita narravit: Visus Homerus adesse poeta.
Cic. Acad. Pr. II. 16. 51.
cadant, what becomes of.
see note v. 51.
the allusion is to the doctrine of Metempsychosis held by Pythagoras,
in accordance with which doctrine Ennius appears to have dreamed
that he was inhabited by the soul of Homer. Cf. Pers. VI. 10, 11.
See also sic enim ait Ennius in Annalium suorum principio ubi
se dicit vidisse in somnis Homerum dicentem fuisse se quondam pavonem
et ex eo translatam esse animam in se. Schol. in Persium.
etc.: another instance to prove the popularity of the ancient poets.
recens: i.e. in spite of his age, he is known
almost as if he had written but yesterday.
etc.: another way of expressing that these authors are held in repute.
skilful [sic]. senis,
old worthy, in reference to their antiquity.
in reference to his lofty style.
an allusion to the fabula togata, or play on a Roman subject,
of which Afranius was a distinguished author.
would have fitted; i.e. his style is such as the Greek
comedian would have written if he had treated Roman subjects.
to bustle, in reference to the rapid and drastic action
of the plays of Plautus.
vulgus, etc.: i.e. in the indiscriminate admiration
for these ancients, the Roman public is in many respects right,
but not so when it praises only these, and sees nothging equal or
superior in modern times.
carelessly, of the cases where the ancient poets disregard
the labored perfection which in Horace's view should be the aim
of art, cf. Sat. I.10. multa:
aequo, with the approval of Jove, as the fountain
of all justice.
evidently Horace's early instructor. Cf. Sat. I. 6. 76,
and Suet. de Gramm. 9. dictare:
apparently the education of Roman youth consisted chiefly in learning
by heart (cf. v. 60) from dictation (cf. Sat. I. 10. 75)
the Greek and Roman poets. sed
emendata, etc.: i.e. while Horace does not
despise the old poets, he wonders that their faults are not seen
by their admirers.
ducit, takes the whole with it, making all
alike seem fine.
etc.: i.e. he finds fault with the fact that excellence
is not made the criterion, but antiquity.
necne, etc.: i.e. when I inquire whether the
old plays ought to keep the stage, they think I have lost all shame
to doubt that what was good enough for the famous old actors must
be the best possible. crocum:
the stage was perfumed with saffrom water. Cf. Et cum scaena
croco Cilici perfusa recens est. -- Lucr. II. 416.
there is no other allusion to flowers on the stage; but as a scenic
representation was always a festival, such a scattering of flowers
is not improbable. Attae:
a writer of plays, T. Quinctius Atta is mentioned by several ancient
authors. He seems to have died B.C. 78.
elders, intimating that their conservatism belongs to their
as especially great in (heavy) tragedy. Aesopus:
a tragic actor, a friend of Cicero, and the father of the spendthrift
mentioned in Sat. II. 3. 329. Cf. Vidi. . .in Aesopo
familiari tuo tantum ardorem voltuum atque motuum ut eum vis quaedam
abstraxisse a sensu mentis videretur. Cic. de Div.
I. 37. 80. Roscius:
cf. Cic. pro Arch. VIII. 17. Both these actors had for
some time been dead, but could be remembered by the old men.
rectum, etc.: i.e. because they are so opinionated
that they make their own taste the criterion.
putant, etc.: i.e. because they are too proud
to admit that their juniors can be wiser than they, or that anything
new has been learned since they were young.
Saliare, etc.: a still more emphatic statement of the
same general idea. Such admirers of antiquity wish to be thought
the only critics of sound taste, and praise the ancients not from
real admiration for them, but from envious hatred of the moderns.
iam, now (the fact is). Saliare:
cf. Salios item Marti Gradivo (Numa) legit.
. .et per urbem ire canentes carmina cum tripudiis sollemnique saltatu
iussit, Livy I. 20; and Saliorum carmina vix sacerdotibus
satis intellecta, Quint. I. 6. 40. The hymns are here mentioned
as a type of the antiquity referred to. The words must not be taken
literally, but only as a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the principle
of these critics.
etc., for the universal public to read and wear out by indiscriminate
used of anything which is done to or by every man indiscrimately.
properly belonging only to tereret, but by a fusion
of ideas put for the people themselves.
primum, etc.: the poet here describes the rise of art
in Greece and Rome, showing that it was the passion for novelty,
and the recognition of new artists, which made the Greeks superior
in their works of art. With this is coupled a statement of the practical
spirit of the earlier Romans which prevented them from attaining
the excellence that among the Greeks bloomed of a sudden on account
of the leisure afforded by prosperity. nugari,
to divert itself, as compared with the serious business
of the earlier wars.
in the true Roman spirit, Horace calls all such frivolities faulty,
and so impliedly puts the Roman practical serious pursuits above
the Greek trifling, while at the same time he asserts the Greek
superiority in these trifles.
workers in, etc.
nutrice, etc.: i.e. they were like children
in their inconstancy, captivated by one object and, soon satiated,
leaving it for another. All this refers to the novitas
of v. 90.
placet, etc.: i.e. and naturally, for that
is the law of taste, that variety should be attractive.
times of peace; see Grammar A. & G. 75, 3 c.
etc.: i.e. at Rome, on the other hand, the people were
devoted to political and economic pursuits and moral culture (cf.
II. 3. 323 seq.); hence they could not be expected to practise
the frivolous arts; but cf. v. 108 for the change which took place
under Augustus. reclusa,
with open doors, expecting a throng of clients, who came
to make the morning call and get advice (cf. promere iura).
This receiving of visits was a necessary duty of a politician.
cf. Sat. I. 1. 10; Ep. I. 7. 75.
be up early.
good, in a commercial sense.
etc.: to listen to, and in turn to dispense, worldly wisdom. Upon
receiving the toga virilis, the young Roman was
put in charge of some statesman or warrior, to learn his duties
as a citizen and a politician. Cf. Cic. de Am. I. 1.
etc.: cf. the elder Horace's instructions to his son, Sat.
I. 4. 105.
etc.: i.e. but now we have changed all that, and have suddenly
become frivolous like the Greeks, and the natural consequence is
that everybody writes, whether well or ill. This is apparently inserted
to account for the poor quality of much that is written. The mistake
made by the critics is in classing all alike, --a side glance at
the main theme again. calet,
i.e. who should be devoted to more serious pursuits.
etc.: i.e. as devotees of the Muses.
dictating them on the spot to a slave to take down.
ego: Horace, with his usual humor, includes himself
among the objects of his satire.
proverbial; cf. perfide Albion, and the British idea of
cf. vigilare, v. 104. scrinia,
books; the article itself is not distinguishable
from the capsa or book-holder; it evidently contained
rolls, intended here perhaps to be translated or imitated, as that
was the way in which the poetry he is speaking of was written.
etc.: i.e. all other professions are recognized as requiring
preparation, but anybody can write, they think.
a bitter herb, used a remedy for several diseases. Cf. Pliny, H.
N. XXI. 92 (160). It is doubtless chosen here as a common and
error, etc.: the poet jocosely enumerates the advantages
that after all flow from this craze.
collige: cf. Sat. II. 1. 51.
etc.: i.e. this passion keeps the poet from covetousness.
etc.: i.e. in consequence of his freedom from greed of
gain, the poet is undisturbed by losses, and does not commit crime
siliquis, etc.: i.e. he is free from luxury.
siliquis: properly pods, but put here for all kinds
of leguminous vegetables, as cheap food. secundo:
i.e. of the poorer quality.
may be construed either as dative or locative.
though he is of no use in war, he does perform a useful function
as a teacher of morals.
das, etc.: i.e. if you admit that even the
great object of the well-being of the state is aided also by slight
influences in favor of good morals. Of course the condition is really
an implied assurance of the fact.
etc.: i.e. by familiarizing the youth with elegant diction
from his earliest age, the poet keeps him pure and clean in language.
nunc, even then; i.e. from his infancy, before
his mind and heart can yet be affected.
etiam, etc.: i.e. later the moral precepts
can take effect.
facta, virtuous deeds; in the past to serve
as examples for the future. tempora,
famous, i.e. he gives currency among the next
generation to the well-known examples of virtue.
i.e. by the examples and precepts which he presents.
puella: cf. Carmen Saeculare, esp. v. 6; also
Decrevere pontifices ut virgines ter novenae per urbem euntes
carmen canerent. Id cum in Iovis Statoris aede discerent conditum
ab Livio poeta carmen, etc.; the narrative continues in reference
to another rite: Tum septem et viginti virgines longam indutae
vestem carmen in Iunonem reginam canentes ibant, Livy, XXVII.
37. Similar rites must have been very ancient in Italy. Cf. Dionys.
Hal. I. 21.
i.e. Di Manes, the gods below.
prisci, etc.: the mention of the employment of poetry
in sacred rituals affords a natural transition to a description
of the rise of literature from festal rites in Rome independent
of Greek influence, and the later fuller development of literary
taste and activity under that influence, and further to a statement
of the present hindrances and discouragements with which the poet
has to contend. agricolae, etc.: Horace refers,
no doubt correctly, the origin of Latin poetry, especially dramatic
poetry, to primitive harvest festivals, at which songs were sung
of a merry kind, accompanied with good-natured chaffing and raillery.
finis, etc.: i.e. as the festivity marks the
end of the year's labor, so its expectation, confirmed by the recurring
festival, has sustained the laborer through the year.
sociis operum: the numerous allusions to the union
of slaves and freemen in these festivals, make it almost necessary
to take sociis as referring to slaves, the two
groups being put together without a connective; cf. Od.
III. 17. 16; Epod. 2. 65, and Marquardt, Privatleben,
p. 172. Probably Horace's picture does not go very far back.
porco, etc.: in the general inosculation of all Roman
cults with each other, there is no known festival that exactly corresponds
to this description. After harvest, on the 25th of August, a sacrifice
called Opeconsiva was made, and Ops can hardly be distinguished
from Tellus, but details of this sacrifice are wanting. Later in
the year, about Dec. 15, after the sowing of the new crop, there
was a festival, the Feriae Sementivae; later still came the Saturnalia,
and in January the Paganalia, a rustic festival to Tellus and Ceres
(hardly distinguishable divinities); cf. Ov. Fast. I. 663
seq. Horace may refer to any of these, or his words may
be a confused allusion to all of them. porco: for
some reason or other the pig was the special sacrifice to Ceres,
and all other Chthonic deities. Cf.
Placentur matres frugum, Tellusque Ceresque
Farre suo gravidae visceribusque suis. -- Ov. Fast.
It is to be noticed that this animal especially belongs
to settled life, and so to the life of husbandry, as opposed to
a nomadic life, in which the herds accompanied their owners in their
wanderings. It formed also the special food of the countryman throughout
Italy, the only animal that was not too valuable to kill.
here as the god of pasturage, which was one of his provinces, as
opposed to agriculture represented in Tellus.
silvicolam tepido lacte precare Palen (another pastoral
divinity), Ov. Fast. IV. 476. piabant,
appeased, lit. made pius, a word which
is applied to gods in their relation to men, as well as vice
versa; cf. pia mater, Ep. I. 18. 26 and note.
this word, from the same root as gigno, expressed
to the Romans a very vague and ill-defined conception, as were all
their religious conceptions. It evidently at first meant a divinity
that presided over the birth of the individual. Cf. lectus genialis,
Ep. I. 1. 87, and Genium appellant Deum, qui vim obtineret
rerum omnium generandarum, Paul. Diac. p. 71. This divinity
would seem to have been supposed to be an attendant spirit, and
to fix in some manner the person's destiny through life. (Cf. Ep.
II. 2. 187.) Either originally or later it was identified with the
soul of the person. (Cf. genio indulgere, genium curare,
placare, and Od. III. 17. 14.) Slaves were wont
to entreat their master by this genius, and it was especially worshipped
on birthdays. Here it is identified with the worshippers (hence
etc.: the allusion is to the Fescennine verses, so called from their
origin in Fescennium, a town of Etruria. The fullest description
of them is found here. But there are many allusions to them in other
authors. Cf. Livy, VII. 2; Sen. Medea, 107 and 112. They
were in the chaffing, abusive tone that the Italians seem to have
loved. They survived chiefly in wedding ceremonies.
etc.: cf. Sat. II. 1. 23.
in the Twelve Tables. This provision has not been preserved, except
as quoted by St. Augustine, but the verb used was occentassit.
Cf. Sat. II. 1. 82. Another provision which has been partially
preserved, qui malum carmen incantassit, refers
bene dicendum, etc.: i.e. poetry was improved,
and made to praise and please. Horace may have in his mind here
the songs sung in the triumphal processions, which were a curious
mixture of mocking and eulogy.
etc.: Livius Andronicus, the earliest poet of Rome, in so far as
he produced a continuous work, was a native of Tarentum, and was
brought to Rome as a slave by M. Livius Salinator. All his works
were translations from the Greek. His first play was presented B.C.
240. Cf. Livy VII. 2; Cic. Brut. 72; de Sen. 50.
Naevius (B.C. 235) was a citizen of Campania, but mostly followed
Greek originals. Plautus (born B.C. 254) was an Umbrian, but only
adapted Greek plays. Ennius (born B.C. 239) was a Calabrian, and
followed Greek models with close imitation. Cf. Antiquissimi
doctorum, qui idem et poetae et semigraeci erant, Livium et Ennium
dico, quos ultraque lingua domi forisque docuisse adnotatum est,
nihil amplius quam Graecos interpretabantur aut si quid ipsi Latine
composuissent praelegebant, Suet. de Gramm. I.
Saturnius: the old Roman metre, which was supplanted
by the hexameter. It was a rude kind of iambic catalectic septenarius,
with occasional omission of the arsis (which along to Horace's ear
would make it horridus), and occasional accented short
theses. Cf. Naevius' epitaph attributed to himself: Immortales
mortales si foret fas flere, etc.; and his epigram on
the Metelli: Fato Metelli romai fiunt consules; also;
Terra pestem teneto salus hic maneto. --Varro, R.
R. I. 2. 27. and others in Allen's Remnants of
Early Latin, p. 95. virus:
i.e. the venom of the old rustic poetry.
decency, improvement in elegant manners.
only late (its usual meaning), agreeing with a Romanus
implied in victorem.
Punica, etc.: i.e. not till them. cf. the
dates given above. quietus:
i.e. it was at the close of the Punic wars that he found
the repose necessary for study.
loosely used of the supposed earliest playwright.
etc.: i.e. he began to study (v. 161) and then tried also
to imitate. rem,
the matter, i.e. disregarding the style; another
reason for v. 160. vertere,
reproduce, a little more than translate.
sibi: i.e. he was satisfied with his efforts,
and did well enough, saving the exception in v. 167.
i.e. the Roman, from his serious nature, was well fitted
for forms of composition requiring strength and intensity.
tragicum (cognate accusative), he breathes the
tragic style. Cf. spirantes bellum, Lucr. V. 392;
i.e. the same idea as sublimis, etc.,
but here applied to the stage as the preceding refers to character
i.e. is successful in these higher flights.
etc.: i.e. but he thinks it a shame to correct his first
rough inspired effort, and hence his work lacks elegance.
etc.: i.e. the common idea is that comedy is easier, as
not requiring the higher flights on account of the everyday nature
of the subject; but what he has said of tragedy is even more true
etc.: i.e. see how carelessly Plautus, for instance, sustains
the parts which he attempts. The form is ironical.
regularly in the plural of a single character.
defendente, Sat. I. 10. 12.
the stock characters of the comedy.
cf. note to aspice, v. 168.
a regular character in the Atellane farces, and put for a rude clown
such as are found in those farces. The name is also said to be that
of a writer of Mimes; at any rate he must be an example of careless
writing: cf. v. 174.
adstricto, down at the heel; the carelessness
of the writer is transferred to the character on the stage.
etc.: i.e. he does not care for art, but only for money.
hoc: i.e. having got that.
i.e. fails. recto
talo, square on its feet.
tulit, etc.: i.e. if a poet, as nowadays is
the case, is led to write comedies for glory instead of for money,
he is easily affected by the attitude of the spectator. It is implied
that the uncertainty of pleasing keeps men from writing for the
stage; cf. v. 180. ventoso,
wind-wafted, as uncertain and changeable on account of
the inconstancy of the popular taste.
etc.: i.e. I am sure that would be my case; I bid good
by[sic] to the comic stage if my happiness depends on the uncertain
favor of the spectator.
etiam, etc.: another reason why men do not write for
the stage. audacem,
the boldest; i.e. one who ventures to try it once, as it
were, and meets with this discouragement.
i.e. the plebecula of v. 186.
etc.: i.e. they are unwilling to yield to the better taste
of the higher class (eques), but are ready to fight
it out and have their way by main force.
i.e. the verses of the play.
i.e. a bear-baiting.
equitis, etc.: i.e. but the fact is, that
the taste of the higher classes, too, has deteriorated, and even
they take more pleasure in spectacular plays with "live horses"
and "real water" than in the true dramatic art.
restless; i.e. the various spectacle draws their eyes now
this way and now that, while they do not look upon any one thing
long enough to take any thought of the meaning of the whole (hence
idle, mere pleasures of sense which have no thought or
even emotion behind them.
etc.: i.e. a real battle is presented (cf. the modern realistic
drama), lasting four or five hours. premuntur:
it must be remembered that the ancient curtain rolled down, instead
of up, as with us.
trahitur, etc.: i.e. after the battle, the
triumph is represented. Cf. Sat. I. 6. 23, and note.
a common poetical figure by which the fortunes of the kings are
put for the kings themselves. Translate, kings of fallen fortune.
The case of Perseus is perhaps the most pathetic.
the war chariot of the Gauls. pilenta:
a covered two-wheeled carriage, the regular conveyance of matrons,
and also of vestal virgins and priestesses; as these latter accompanied
the triumphal procession, the reference here may be to them.
a covered carriage differing from the pilentum in having
four wheels (whence its name). It hardly appears who rode in it
in a triumph. naves:
all sorts of representations of towns, rivers, and the like, were
borne in procession, and it may be that models of ships were also
cf. tulit (L. Scipio) in triumpho eburneos
dentes mille ducentos triginta unum. Liv. XXXVII. 59.
all the spoils of Corinth, i.e. as much Corinthian
bronze as ever came from Corinth, when captured by Mummius.
Democritus: there was a popular notion that this philosopher
was constantly laughing at the vicissitudes as well as follies of
mankind, to such a degree that his fellow-citizens thought him crazy.
The origin of this notion is impossible to trace, but there is found
among the writings of Hippocrates a spurious letter to Damagetus
(No. 17), written probably as early as the first century B.C., describing
this condition of the philosopher. This must have been founded on
some previous existing notion of the kind, and probably served to
crystallize[sic] it. Cf. Juv. X. 28-53. See also Burton's Anatomy
of Melancholy, Introduction.
etc., the hybrid creature panther confused with camel, i.e.
the camelopard, or giraffe, brought to Rome by Julius Caesar, B.C.
46, to grace the Ludi Circenses held at his triumph.
but cf. suspensi loculos, Sat. I. 6. 74.
albus: then as now a rarity.
sibi, etc.: i.e. he, in accordance with his
reputed habit, would be more amused by the folly of the spectators
than by the player.
etc.: the statement of the point he is aiming at, that authors have
little encouragement to write for such a public.
a curious combination of two proverbs, surdo narrare fabulam
and ónoi tis élege mûthon, ho dè tà ôta ekínei. Zenobius,
cf. the gnomic perfect.
cf. Od. II. 9. 7.
works of art (as often), such as statues and vases, which
were carried in the triumphal processions referred to in v. 191
etc.: i.e. the magnificent dress of the actor. The same
effect is often produced by the modern actress' wardrobe.
cf. Nepos Cornelius qui divi Augusti principatu obiit: Me, inquit,
invene violacea purpura vigebat, cuius libra denariis centum venibat,
nec multo post rubra Tarentina. Huic successit dibapha Tyria, quae
in libras denariis mille non poterat emi. Plin. Nat. Hist.
IX. 39 (63). The ancient purpura, made from the shellfish
of the Mediterranean, had a very wide range, including reds (on
the crimson side) almost to black, browns, oranges, lilacs, mauves,
as well as what we should now call purple, all the colors seen in
the modern pansy. veneno,
drug, perhaps a translation of phármakon.
ne forte, etc.: i.e. for fear you should think
I damn with faint praise the works of poets in a line which I do
not attempt myself, and so you should distrust my opinion on the
state of the art, I assure you that I think the dramatic art is
the most difficult, and merits the highest praise when it is well
done, in that its effect is so powerful upon the spectator.
grudgingly, meagrely, the opposite of benigne,
generously; cf. Od. I. 9. 6.
extentum, etc.: apparently proverbial for difficulty.
etc.: by the vividness of dramatic presentation.
Athenis: the usual scenes of the heroic tragedy.
age, etc.: the poet now turns from the stage to published
works. This is a branch worthy of consideration if Augustus wishes
to encourage literature, so as to fill the Palatine library with
the Palatine library was attached to the temple of Apollo, dedicated
to him as the leader of the Muses. Cf. I. 3. 17 and note.
calcar, to apply an additional spur.
etc.: i.e. as the seat of the Muses, to which their votaries
quidem, etc.: i.e. we ourselves are partly
to blame in several respects, first, when we are not cautious in
presenting our productions to you at proper times. We thereby produce
an unfavorable impression. Cf. the tone of I. 13, and Sat.
II. 1. 18. quidem: concessive, opposed to sed
tamen, v. 229. mala,
etc.: proverbial, like "cut one's own nose off," of doing
one's self an injury. It is implied that Horace himself had thus
offended. Cf. citations under v. 219, as well as Sat. I.
3. 63. caedam,
cut down, not merely prune.
laedimur, etc.: i.e. or second, when we are
too sensitive to criticism, and are offended by it.
loca, etc.: or third, when in our conceit we repeat,
without being asked, what we consider a fine passage.
of course in this case the poem is supposed to be presented by the
author in person, and read to the patron, as was done by Virgil
in the case of the Marcellus passage, Æn. VI. 860 seq.
notice the form of the ancient book, a roll unwound on one side,
and rewound after being read on the other. irrevocati:
the regular word for recall, ask to repeat, is revocare,
derived from the stage; cf. Cic. pro Arch. 18.
lamentamur: i.e. or fourth, when we complain
that our work is not appreciated in proportion to the labor we expend
on it, and the subtlety (tenui) of the art which
is in it.
a regular word for poetical effort, derived from spinning. Cf. Sat.
II. 1. 4; I. 10. 44 note. filo:
also a common word in reference to style. Cf. Cic. de Am.
speramus, etc.: or when we hope for an instantaneous
result in patronage even before we have accomplished anything.
eo rem venturam,
that the result will be, i.e. that we shall have the good
luck to get a commission at once to write. These things, he would
say, are to be earned by worthy production, not voluntarily given
i.e. are engaged in composition. commodus:
i.e. obligingly. ultro:
i.e. going out of your way to invite us in.
vetes: i.e. put us out of danger of want by
presents. The erroneous idea in these cases is that poems are to
be paid for in advance.
tamen, etc.: i.e. though we often injure our
prospects by the faults enumerated, still it is well worth while
for the patron to take an active part in looking out for a worthy
herald of his praises. cognoscere,
to consider well, examine into the case and determine;
an almost judicial word in this sense.
(mustagogoí), temple guides, ciceroni,
the guardians of a temple who, like the sacristan in modern times,
showed visitors about, and dilated upon the beauties of statues
and pictures. Cf. Cic. in Verr. II. iv. 59. 132. The figure
has too much local color to be at once appreciated in English. The
virtue is set up in a temple as an object of veneration, and the
poet is the cicerone who points out its beauty or sanctity,
or what not. Only a great poet is worthy to perform such service.
etc.: i.e. to be sure, Alexander allowed Choerilus with
his wretched verses to win solid coin, but this is only an exception,
and usually a poor writer dims the praises of the hero he sings.
a wretched poet who was in favor with Alexander, and wrote his exploits.
natis, ill-fated, i.e. doomed to
failure from their birth, the opposite of felix.
for, etc., but in the Latin, dative (to their credit).
acceptos, pocketed, a mercantile term, meaning
to put to the credit side of an account. The poems are the nomen
to which the credit is made. regale
nomisma, good royal coin, implying that it
was a regal reward.
notam, etc.: cf. the English proverb of touching pitch.
leave, properly give off.
almost like the British "nasty," but with the figure sustained
as in splendida, linunt (besmirch,
and so dim the brightness).
rex ille, etc.: i.e. that was the only case
in which he was so unwise.
Lysippo: cf. I. 16. 20 and note.
Plin. H. N. VII. 37 (125).
works of art (abl. of respect), alluding to Alexander's
taste in selecting these great artists, as opposed to his foolish
approval of Choerilus.
i.e. if you had called in his judgment to decide on books,
etc., you would have sworm he was a dull Boeotian, if we are to
judge by the choice he made of a poet. As to the tense, cf. Sat.
I. 3. 4. The nature of the use of tenses is best seen by supposing
Horace to speak, say, of Maecenas, in which case he would say voces
etc.: cf. Cic. de Fato, 4, Athenis tenue caelum, ex
quo acutiores etiam putantur Attici, crassum Thebis, itaque pingues
Thebani. This estimate of the Boeotians was proverbial in antiquity.
It no doubt began at Athens.
neque, etc.: i.e. but in your case your poets
justify your choice, nor is there less expressiveness in the poet's
art than in the sculptors to whom Alexander gave so much praise.
The implication is that Augustus is superior to Alexander in this
sermones, etc.: the poet, from the mention of Varius
and Virgil, naturally comes to say why he himself is not to be reckoned
with them, and so he gracefully ends his epistle with a compliment.
sermones: cf. Sat. I. 1. 1 and note; Ep.
II. 3. 95; Sat. II. 6. 17.
etc.: as opposed to the flight of poetry. res
gestas: cf. I. 17. 33.
etc.: i.e. the description of the countries conquered.
etc.: alluding to the closing of the temple of Janus by Augustus
in B.C. 29, B.C. 25, and again, perhaps, B.C. 10.
cf. I. 12. 27; Sat. II. 5. 62. Doubtless the reason why
these are so often mentioned is to be found in the fact that they
had been so long the most dreaded enemies of Rome, though the actual
events of their subjection were not very memorable.
admit, i.e. is too great for, so that you would not be
justified in receiving it; and, on the other hand, my modesty is
too great to allow me to try.
officious devotion. stulte:
with emphasis, i.e. it is foolish for one to do so.
as a man of inferior talent would do in attempting to exalt the
object of his praise.
etc.: i.e. especially in an ambitious work like poetry,
in which art and grace count for so much. For the good is forgotten,
but the faults are remembered.
dutiful service, i.e. a tribute of respect such
as a poem would be. gravat,
lowers my dignity. ac,
and consequently. neque:
i.e. neither to be represented in portraiture (a truism,
with which the other is compared), nor to be praised in ill-wrought
verse (any more than the first). Cf. Od. I. 6. 5.
cf. Cic. de Fato, cited under v. 244, and Sat.
II. 6. 14. munere,
tribute, the poem referred to.
scriptore, etc.: i.e. that we should both
be consigned to oblivion. The figure treats only of the poem, which
is supposed to be carried off packed up in a wastepaper basket,
to be used for wrapping-paper. Into this oblivion (regardless of
the figure, except in porrectus, stretched out
as on a bier), the eulogized is to accompany his eulogist.
i.e. the Vicus Tuscus. With this jest the letter closes
in Horace's usual manner.