etc.: the first canon is that a work should be consistent with itself.
This point Horace approaches in his usual indirect way. It would seem
that some one had claimed alike freedom of the imagination from the
trammels of realism in poetry as was allowed in pictorial art. Hence
he begins to answer this claim by giving absurd cases of the use of
imagination in painting. Then he introduces the point made by the
unrealist, applying it to both painting and poetry, and then
proceeds to show its limitations. The whole means, "as you say,
a poet is not tied down to absolute facts any more than a painter,
but a painter must not attempt to represent the impossible, no more
must the poet."
i.e. from all sorts of animals. ut:
introducing the result of collatis.
appearance, its proper meaning. Cf. Greek aischrós.
i.e. to correspond.
i.e. alike to both.
see examples in next verse.
united, so as to make one creature.
etc.: an example of the disregard of the canon. The poem starts out
with a lofty design, but it is spoiled by incongruity of details.
opposed to an implied concession, "very fine, but," etc.
imperfect for present time in the contrary-to-fact construction, of
that which is not done. Cf. tempus erat, Od. I.
37. 4; see Grammar §§ 311 c and 308 c.
so, continuing the same principle applied to painting.
etc.: i.e. you may be skilful in painting trees; but if you
want to paint a sea-piece, it would only spoil it to put them in.
etc.: the ancients were accustomed to hang up in temples votive tablets,
representing in a very realistic fashion any narrow escape from death.
Italian churches are full of pictures made in the same spirit. Cf.
Sat. II. 1. 33 and note.
etc.: i.e. why, when you have a purpose, do you change it
on the way, bringing out something else by the use of incongruous
etc.: i.e. this, like many other faults, comes from a desire
for excellence carried too far.
i.e. with an ornament of marvels to make it interesting.
vitium, etc.: the formal statement of the idea in vv.
circa ludum, etc.: another aspect of the same idea. It
is the want of skill in making the whole (implied in arte)
that produces the unfortunate result. The most ordinary worker will
excel in some details but will fail for want of skill in some other
detail which is equally necessary. Aemilium ludum:
doubtless a gladiatorial establishment, but otherwise unknown. The
brass founders must have worked near by.
apparently technical. Cf. Od. IV. 8. 8, and the Greek histánai,
drawn from the sculptor's art.
etc.: cf. ne fueris hic tu, I. 6. 40.
etc.: i.e. with some beauties, marred, however, by flagrant
etc.: the second canon, to choose a suitable subject. This division
loosely corresponds to the rhetorical inventio.
apparently (according to your powers). res:
cf. rem tene, verba sequentur, Cato.
power of expression; technically, elocutio (Greek phrásis).
Cf. elocutio est idoneorum verborum et sententiarum ad inventionem
accommodatio, Cic. de Inv. I. 7. 9.
Cf. dispositio est rerum inventarum in ordinem distributio,
etc.: the excellences of arrangement are so simple that Horace dismisses
the subject with a few words.
amet, etc.: i.e. at any given time, each in
verbis, etc.: a discussion of the elocutio.
Cf. ornatus autem verborum duplex, unus simplicium alter conlocatorum,
Cic. Orator, 24. 80. tenuis,
simple, as opposed to a florid and turgid style. Cf. ac
primum informandus est ille nobis quem solum quidam vocant Atticum;
summissus est et humilis, consuetudinem imitans, ab indisertis re
plus quam opinione differens (Cic. Orator, 23. 75);
ergo ille tenuis [orator] modo sit elegans,
etc. (ibid. 24. 81). So farther on hic subtilis; hic acutus; haec
tenuitas; summissus orator, magnus tamen et germanus Atticus.
This style is opposed to uberius aliud aliquantoque robustius
quam hoc humile; and tertius ille amplus copiosus gravis
ornatus in quo profecto vis maxima est (ibid. 28. 97). The whole
passage is nearly parallel with Horace's canons.
iunctura: a clever combination by which a familiar word
is made to seem new, perhaps such expressions as rubente dextera,
Attalicis condicionibus, pronos annos (v. 60); though Horace
has in mind doubtless a less lofty flight than is generally found
in his odes. Cf. Persius V. 14.
forte, etc.: i.e. though in accordance with
Horace's description, the author will rely upon ordinary words made
fresh by combination, yet if occasion arises, he may coin new ones
monstrare recentibus, etc., reveal by new signs thoughts
hitherto unknown. The figure is from the investigation of crime,
or the like. abdita
rerum: cf. Sat. II. 8. 83.
half naked, or kilted, clad in the cinctus,
a kind of kilt covering the middle of the body, used before the more
civilized tunic. non
exaudita: cf. II. 2. 117. Cethegis:
M. Cornelius Cethegus (consul B.C. 204) was the first Roman orator
(Cic. Brut. 15). A time far back is taken to make plain the
necessity of new words on account of the great development of ideas
since that time. Apparently such words are meant as new formations
in -tas, -alis, or the like.
occasion will arise. sumpta
pudenter: i.e. if so used.
these too as well as new Latin formations. fidem:
i.e. acceptance; properly, the words will gain confidence,
and not be looked upon with suspicion. si
Graeco fonte cadent; apparently new translations from
the Greek like the old mundus, qualitas, exhibere
negotium. Horace's own exclusion of Greek words proper, and his
objection to Lucilius (Sat. I. 10. 20) seem to preclude the
idea of such words as malacissare (Greek malakízein),
taken bodily into the language.
detorta: i.e. slightly varied in their use from
their originals. Some editors take this to mean a slight variation
in the inflexions[sic]. quid
autem, etc.: i.e. this was allowed the earlier
poets, and why not to the later as well?
etc.: simply another example of the same kind as the preceding, only
here is considered the effect on the language rather than the right
of the poet.
probably a colloquial use instead of invidetur mihi,
a popular corruption of grammar. Cf. imperor, I. 5. 21.
the figure drawn from money. A new coinage is always in order; as
in coins, so in words. praesente
nota, the modern stamp.
produxerit, II. 2. 119.
silvae, etc.: i.e. for everything early passes
away, words as well as things. in
annos: cf. in dies, in horas (v. 160).
cadunt: a coordinate clause with mutantur,
but containing a subordinate idea, "while, etc."
the aging life.
etc.: the allusion is apparently (a) to the Portus Iulius
made by the union of the Lucrine Lake with the sea (Suet. Oct.
16); (b) the attempted draining of the Pomptine Marshes (Schol.
ad locum); (c) improvements in the course of the Tiber
(Suet. Oct. 30).
etc.: for construction, cf. I. 1. 31 and note.
with short u contrary to the usual prosody.
frugibus: i.e. on account of inundations.
repeating nostra, but with emphasis on works as opposed
to words (sermonum).
dignity, the respect in which they are held.
continues to live.
cf. II. 2. 119.
gestae, etc.: Horace, having finished the matter of diction,
comes to the choice of metre. One can hardly see why this topic was
inserted unless it was intended to be learned by heart by one the
Pisos. Those enumerated are the Hexameter (vv. 73, 74), Elegiac (vv.
75-78), the Iambic metres (vv. 79-82), Lyric metres (vv. 83-85).
only found here. Cf. "unequally yoked together."
etc.: i.e. the elegy was originally the lament of hapless
love, but afterwards used also for other amatory strains.
tamen, etc.: accounts vary between Archilochus, Mimnermus,
and Callinus. exiguos,
light, in matter, as opposed to the heroic strain.
i.e. his own invention, as it was supposed.
etc.: i.e. it was afterwards adopted by the drama, in Comedy
(socci) and Tragedy (cothurni).
etc.: cf. qui [Aristoteles] indicat heroum numerum
grandiorem quam desideret soluta oratio, iambum autem nimis e volgari
esse sermone, Cic. Orator, 57. 192; and at comicorum
senarii propter similitudinem sermonis sic saepe sunt abiecti, ut
non numquam vix in eis numerus et versus intellegi possit, ibid.
agendis: i.e. the imitated actual life of the
i.e. the lyric measures. divos
puerosque, i.e. in hymns.
etc.: i.e. odes such as Pindar's, in honor of victors at
curas: i.e. love-songs.
freeing from cares, as we should say, "the merry bowl."
etc.: the fourth requisite is a style in harmony with the subject.
line, properly the part or function which the work has to
tone, as in vitae color, Sat. II. 1. 60.
i.e. claim the name of, expect to be addressed as such.
nescire, etc.: i.e. one at least ought to admit
the rule, and try to learn, not perversely ignore it.
etc.: just what is meant is seen best in the cases where the rule
may be broken, given in vv. 93 seq. and 95 seq.
i.e. words of ordinary life. socco:
cf. v. 80.
Thyestae: a proverbial expression, but here only used
as an example of a tragic theme.
quaeque, each particular style.
i.e. the place allotted to it.
etc.: cf. Sat. I. 4. 48 and note.
cf. Ter. Heaut. 1035 seq.
et Peleus: examples of heroes in reduced circumstances,
entreating favors, in which case they are made to adopt the simple
language of pathos in order to touch the heart of the spectator.
cf. I. 3. 14, and Greek lákuthos. No doubt the Greek word
became proverbial from the jest in Aristoph. Frogs, 1200
verba: i.e. the sounding style which belongs
to kings and heroes.
not different from the present.
fine, merely commanding admiration for the art.
pathetic, which the language of common life only can be.
agunto: the idea is that it is only by sympathy, which
does not respond to language too far removed from common life, that
the audience can be moved.
of course the feelings are meant under the guise of their expression
in the face.
mandata, words ill-assigned, i.e. language
not adapted to their situation.
again the fact put for the feelings.
etc.: i.e. we are so made as to have a capacity for feeling
every aspect of fortune in actual experience, and afterwards by sympathy
we are brought to the same state of mind through language which is
associated with these experiences. Mimic life produces the same sensations
as real life.
peditesque: i.e. high and low in station.
etc.: besides the difference of situation, there is also the difference
of character to be considered. The drawing of character is one of
the most important parts of the art, and the shades mentioned are
famam, etc.: i.e. in characterization, one must
follow conventional models, or in case one invents a new character
he must make it consistent.
probably only illustrious. reponis:
cf. ponere, v. 34.
etc.: because these are his conventional characteristics, and so with
quid, etc.: a development of sibi convenientia,
with originality, i.e. so as to make them one's
own, as opposed to mere imitation.
etc.: i.e. it is better for you to keep to the conventional
types than attempt anything unheard of. The precept has a personal
air, as if one of the young men had composed plays on Homeric themes.
Cf. the contrary-to-fact construction in v. 130.
etc.: here, as elsewhere, the middle course is recommended, not to
be a mere imitator through keeping strictly to the conventional. To
the material, which belongs to all, you will have a right if you do
not servilely follow your models.
best taken as a continuation of the protasis.
i.e. plunge without reflexion into a place where you will
be hampered by your respect for your model, or by the laws of the
in an imperative sense as a recommendation. Here begins a new canon,
namely, that the plan of the work should have a modest beginning,
and rise in interest to the end. cyclicus:
one of the cyle of poets who imitated and tried to complete or englarge
upon the Iliad and Odyssey. Tradition says Antimachus is meant.
of the opening the mouth to speak.
reditum, etc.: i.e. he does not begin his subject
with irrelevant details, so that the hearer would be tired out before
he comes to the important point. Meleagri:
he was the uncle of Diomedes, so that the stories would be remotely
connected, but not forming one whole so as to be treated together.
i.e. from the birth of Helen, though she was the cause of
mentitur: i.e. the fictions which the poet introduces
are so united with the rest, that there is no want of harmony in the
quid ego, etc.: a recommendation to the study of life,
and careful attention to the treatment of character. This is closely
connected with v. 114 seq., but there the poet speaks first
of diction as connected with character, and afterwards of conventional
character, while here he is treating of naturalness as drawn from
the study of real life.
in the manuscripts of the plays, the final words or "tag"
are assigned to a separate character marked with the Greek omega.
Hence it is supposed that the person here referred to was the vocalist
who sang the arias or cantica; but cf. Cic.
pro Sest. 55. 118, and de Sen. 19. 70.
etc.: i.e. the fitting charm must be given to each character
as it changes with changing years, by observing carefully those changes
in real life.
signat: marking the age merely.
etc.: Horace now gives the appropriate conduct for each age.
i.e. he has long been impatient for this moment.
Sat. I. 4. 118, and I. 6. 81.
canibusque: cf. Ter. Andria, 56, 57.
campi: cf. I.
18. 53 and note.
i.e. of what is good for him.
a callida iunctura. Cf. Virg. Ćn. IV. 180. For the
thought, cf. II. 1. 100.
tastes. Cf. Cic. de Am. 20. 74.
ambition, i.e. the pursuit of office.
i.e. unlovely features, désagréments, disagreeable
to other people as well as himself.
etc.: cf. Sat. II. 3. 110.
i.e. without enthusiasm. ministrat:
a livelier term for agit.
longus: i.e. he looks far into the future, as
opposed to the youth, who lives in the present. Cf. avidus
futuri (i.e. eager for a long life in which to realize
the hope whose fulfilment he does not, like the youth, expect at once).
cf. Cic. de Sen. 18. 65.
etc.: cf. II. 1. 84.
the years up to the prime of life, the bona aetas, are regarded
as coming, because there is an increase of pleasing characteristics,
while the later years (mala aetas) are regarding as going
because of a corresponding decrease. Cf. II. 2. 55.
forte, etc.: a summing up of the same general idea.
i.e. the characteristic actions as expressed in a drama.
cf. quidque, Sat. I. 4. 115 and note.
to a hortatory subjunctive.
agitur, etc.: a precept as to what is to be actually
put on the stage, and what merely to be described. Here again a middle
course is recommended.
as the narrator would communicate the action to the persons on the
stage, so here the spectator is said to communicate it to himself,
be his own witness.
i.e. of a person on the stage, as opposed to the action behind
etc.: favorite subjects for dramatic treatment, but in which the action
is too painful or too preposterous to be represented.
merely dislike; the imagination refuses to credit the acts
when brought face to face with them, and so we find them disagreeable.
etc.: a precept as to the received length of a play. The division
of a play into acts seems to have been the work of the Alexandrine
critics. It undoubtedly grew out of the Prologue, three Episodes,
and Exodus of the Greek Play.
in the Greek Tragedy not infrequently supernatural personages were
introduced. We may suppose that this became more common, so that they
were employed to work the dénouement in cases where it was
unnecessary, in order to save working out a plot by natural means.
Hence the dictum of Horace. Cf. Eur. Andromache,
v. 1227 seq.; Soph. Electra, v. 1233.
interference, properly, champion, one to whom a person
has recourse in time of trouble. Here the difficulty in which the
hero is (nodus) must be the one which seems naturally
to require divine interposition. Cf. ut tragici poetae cum explicare
argumenti exitum non potestis (Stoic philosophers) confugitis
ad deum Cic. N. D. I. 20. 53.
etc.: the actors appearing on the Greek stage at one time, originally
only one, were gradully increased to two (Ćschylus) and three (Sophocles).
If a fourth appeared, he was almost always a mere silent person. The
Comedy was a little less strict, but yet this was the rule.
etc.: i.e. the chorus should have a distinct character as
a group of persons with a definite part in the action, and not be
an excrescence coming in to amuse the audience between the acts, with
something unconnected with the plot. Cf. the piper between the first
and second act of the Pseudolus of Plautus.
its independent part (see above). chorus:
for the presence of the chorus on the Latin stage, see Ribbeck, Römische
Tragödie, p. 637.
cf. Sat. I. 10. 12.
bonis, etc.: i.e. let the chorus (as is usual
in the Greek Tragedy) be the spokesman of the moral views and precepts
of the poet.
cf. I. 14. 35.
commissa: as the chorus is present during the action,
it would be the depositary of secrets, and by keeping them faithfully
it should enforce the duty of this form of good faith. Cf. I. 18.
38; Sat. I. 3. 95; Od. III. 2. 25.
etc.: the poet in his rambling way proceeds to give an account of
the development of the musical part of the drama.
the wood of the tibia was reinforced with metal to
increase its resonance, but Horace here evidently is thinking of the
double pipe and possibly only the binding of the two reeds. The particular
metal only indicates luxury.
i.e. of feeble tone. simplex:
i.e. not blown in pairs, as it was later.
three or four holes only, from which the ancient scales were made
out by the use of harmonics.
etc., accompany and support. utilis,
suitable, impliedly for the purpose mentioned, and no other.
spissa nimis: of the small audience, the smallness of
which is explained by the next line.
this word in such connections gives a light tone, like our rather,
pretty, not very (with haud), and
the like. numerabilis:
Ritter compares Greek euaríthmatos, making this an example
of the choice of words mentioned in v. 53. parvus:
indicating the reason for numerabilis.
etc.: the reason why the people were contented with the simple music;
they were not prone to luxurious gratification of the senses.
etc.: i.e. when the population became greater, and at the
same time luxury and wantonness increased, the taste for more complicated
virtuoso music grew, and instead of being merely a support for the
chorus, the music became a pleasure in itself.
cf. solido de die, Od. I. 1. 20. The whole gives
a picture of license and festivity as opposed to the (supposed) earlier
religious simplicity of the Greek Tragedy.
cf. II. 1. 144. impune:
i.e. without restraint.
modisque: cf. II. 2. 144.
i.e. have just ideas and good taste to hold in check the
extravagant growth of sensuous music. liber
laborum: the recoil from hard work would increase the
wildness of dissipation.
the mingling of country and city would increase the evil tendencies;
so also would the confusion of classes (turpis honesto).
i.e. from these causes. motum,
etc.: i.e. to the stately measures of the old music greater
liveliness and more florid ornament were added.
alluding to the long tunic which the piper wore on the stage.
he had full possession of the stage, instead of being merely a supporter
of the voices.
i.e. the lyre also went through the same development.
alluding to the gradual increase of the number of strings of the lyre,
but expressing also the more free development of the music.
or serious in the simplicity of its strains.
tulit, etc.: i.e. the same change took place
in the style of the choral song. This forms in a manner the connection
of v. 202 seq. with v. 93 seq. tulit,
brought in. facundia
praeceps, fervid eloquence, as a quality of
the writer, while eloquium refers to the result produced.
rerum: i.e. moral precepts and wise saws, such
as abound in Euripedes.
discrepuit, etc.: i.e. it did not differ much
from the style of the inspired oracles, doubtless in obscurity as
well as wildness.
etc.: i.e. the earliest tragedian. Cf. II. 1. 163.
the commonly received derivation of Greek pragoidós, from
prágos, considered as the prize of the rivalry in song. This
view assumes that there were contests in the earlier times, as there
etiam: i.e. the Satyr drama followed very early
the invention of Tragedy. agrestis
Satyros: it would appear from the directions given that
the Satyric drama was also cultivated at Rome, at least by authors.
Whether such plays were ever acted is uncertain.
Satyrs as wild creatures naturally appeared with the upper and lower
part of their bodies really or apparently naked.
rude and simple in art.
i.e. the dignity of the occasion as one of worship, and one
in which gods and heroes appeared.
i.e. after the tragedies and the completion of the serious
part of the festival.
the festival of Dionysus, in whose honor the tragedy was performed.
freed from restraint by the festival character of the day. The picture
does not differ much from that in v. 210, though Horace assigns the
two to different times. It would seem that Horace conceived the Satyric
drama as an outlet for the merriment of the spectator, designed to
keep him out of mischief in his riotous condition.
etc.: but even in this riotous performance a middle course is recommended
as the law of the work, so that the dignity of the higher characters
should still be preserved, though the humorous aspects of the situation
are to be brought out. risores:
in accordance with their nature the Satyrs were a merry crew.
making sport of the humors of the situation, sarcastic and abusive.
the Satyr drama was far removed from Comedy. In the only one preserved,
the Cyclops of Euripedes, the characters are Ulysses, Silenus,
the Cyclops, and a Chorus of Satyrs. The plot is treated as seriously
as in a tragedy, only a comic myth is used instead of a tragic one,
and the humorous aspects of the situation are brought out.
nuper: i.e. in the tragedy which had preceded.
etc.: i.e. the style should not, on the other hand, be too
grandiloquent for the situation.
etc.: the caution against too undignified a style is further developed
as far as v. 239. indigna,
not deigning, too dignified for such dialogue.
i.e. as a respectable matron, though dancing at a festival,
will still preserve a proper decorum.
with modesty, so as not to drop to a level with the Satyric
literal, a translation (probably in a wrong sense) of Greek
kúrios, opposed to figurative expressions.
cf. Sat. I. 3. 103.
i.e. in order to avoid the majestic style of Tragedy, one
must not descend to the level of Comedy.
etc.: three characters of Comedy.
a word borrowed from Comedy.
cf. note to v. 226.
i.e. familiar words. quivis:
cf. quotations from Cicero under v.
is gained by; i.e. comes from the appropriate use.
triviis, etc.: like the sharp fellows of the city.
almost like the rude gamins of the street.
effeminate, dissolute, as opposed to the healthy
vigor of the rustic. Though these are merry rioters, yet they are
to have the unspoiled virility of the country. They should be coarse,
but not vicious. Cf. teneri saltatores, Cic. in Pis.
XXXVI. 89, and the use of mollis, fluens, fluxus.
cf. Greek neanieúomai, frolic, wanton.
roll out. ignominiosa,
shameful (to the speaker, or possibly to the person addressed,
the allusion is to the equus publicus originally assigned
to the equites.
nucis: the food of the poorer classes; cf. Sat.
II. 3. 182. These viands were sold in booths around the theatre; hence
animis, with favor, or approval.
idea is derived from Greek contests, and is here only figuratively
etc.: apparently an unnecessary explanation. But as Horace is going
to discuss the strict metre of the Greeks as opposed to the license
of the early Roman dramatists, it is not so unnatural for him to begin
with a definition, especially as it is precisely the syllaba
brevis that makes the difference.
citus: the same general idea is expressed in, Sed
sunt insignes percussiones eorum numerorum (Iambic and Trochaic)
et minuti pedes, Cic. de Orat. III. 47. 182.
from the rapidity of the feet, and frequent occurrence of the ictus
(cf. percussiones, above). trimetris:
cf. nomen mihi Mercuriost. accrescere:
become attached. iussit:
i.e. pes citus.
as a noun, after accrescere.
six feet with only three principal ictus, like music in 6/8 time as
opposed to 3/8 time.
etc.: i.e. pure iambs, as in the alternate lines of Epode
ita pridem, etc.: Horace conceives the pure iambic as
the original form of the verse, made more sonorous by the occasional
spondee (so called) after the time of Archilochus; cf. v. 80.
ut, but not so as to.
only here, and of uncertain meaning; (probably), as full allies,
in equal partnership, inasmuch as spondees are not socii
aequo iure, but are excluded from certain places.
hic: the iambus.
cf. Accius isdem aedilibus (B.C. 140) ait se et Pacuvium
docuisse fabulam cum ille octoginta, ipse triginta annos natus esset,
Cic. Brut. LXIV. 229. Horace probably refers to him as the
most learned of the early dramatists.
etc.: i.e. his powerful lines are marred by carelessness
or want of knowledge of art.
magno pondere: cf. sine pondere, II.
i.e. the iambus, from its omission.
quivis, etc.: i.e. but the Romans are not good
judges of rhythm, and so the metrical faults of these early poets
undeserved, that ought not to have been granted.
i.e. because others have been pardoned.
or rather, the second alternative being preferred as usual.
etc.: i.e. if I do exercise this care, I have after all deserved
no credit, but only avoided blame, implying that it would a disgrace
to him not to do so.
etc.: i.e. I recommend you to study the true models, and
aim at something higher than merely escaping censure.
vestri, etc.: a loose chapter in which the poet, being
reminded by the mention of careless metre of the faults of Plautus
in that regard, criticises the taste of the ancients on account of
their admiration of the careless writing of Plautus. This admiration
extended both to the verse and the wit of Plautus, and on both these
points Horace finds him unworthy as a model. Giving a brief account
of the rise of the drama, Horace comes to his ever-present idea that
careful composition is the one indispensable virtue.
i.e. coarse, unpolished, the characteristic of Plautus.
cf. II. 1. 163. plaustris:
apparently an erroneous notion, to which Horace's words here have
etc.: doubtless for the same purpose as the later masks, to prevent
the recognition of the identity of the actor from destroying the illusion.
etc.: Ćschylus was supposed to be the inventor of the mask and other
theatrical paraphernalia. The earlier performance was doubtless a
mere merry-making, without special costume. Cf. Athenaeus I. 21.
as in a small theatre. pulpita:
i.e. the raised stage, as opposed to the earlier Greek thuméla,
or table of the single reciter. tignis:
i.e. the first stage was a temporary structure of wood. Cf.
Müller, Bühnenalterthümer, p. 128 seq.
etc.: i.e. he introduced the dignity and solemnity of Tragedy.
cf. Sat. I. 4. 1.
cf. Sat. I. 4. 5; 3. 52, note.
etc.: i.e. the law was passed and obeyed.
etc.: a brief statement, of the adoption of the Greek drama by the
Romans, and its attempted development.
facta: i.e. the choice of Roman subjects.
i.e. plays answering to Tragedy, as representing the acts
of consuls and the like, clothed in the toga praetexta. Titles
preserved are Romulus (Naevius), Sabinae (Ennius),
Aeneadae (Accius), and others. docuere:
the regular word for producing a play. togatas:
plays on themes from common life (of persons clad in the ordinary
toga). They correspond to the Greek Comedy as represented in the palliatae
of Plautus and Terence, but there are traces of a chorus, or at least
of a number of persons speaking in concert. Titles are Augur,
Libertus, Psaltria, Simulans, Brundisinae.
non offenderet, etc.: this brings Horace to the kernel
of the whole, the want of care in writing which has prevented the
Romans from excelling in art.
cf. limatior, Sat. I. 10. 65.
castigavit: the figure is from pruning.
unguem: cf. Sat. I. 5. 32.
v. 346. A reading praesectum has some authority,
but seems to be ingeniously made out of unguem.
misera, etc.: a humorous development of v. 290. ingenium,
genius, as inborn and not cultivable by art.
more successful, as succeeding in literature better than
etc.: cf. Plato, Phaedr. p. 245, and saepe enim audivi
poetam bonum neminem, id quod a Democrito et Platone in scriptis relictum
esse dicunt, sine inflammatione animorum existere posse et sine quodam
adflatu quasi furoris. Cic. de Or. 46. 194; de Div.
I. 37. Also Sat. I. 4. 34.
pars, etc.: i.e. poets put on the outward signs
of madness, such as the neglect of their personal appearance, and
the avoidance of society.
etc.: as the poets think. pretium:
i.e. the honor.
cf. Sat. II. 3. 83.
ego, etc.: the poet jocosely shows the folly of the idea
in words which give an easy transition to his proposed theme, the
requirements of poetry.
see Grammar § 240 c, note; cf. II. 2. 137.
verni: cf. Cels.
i.e. if I omitted to take the anti-bilious treatment.
i.e. but there is nothing I think so much of as guarding
fungar, etc.: i.e. being obliged by this prejudice
to forego being a poet, I will content myself with showing others
how to write.
function, what is necessary to give satisfaction to the hearer.
profession, what the work itself demands, emphasizing the
responsibility of the author. These ideas are not different, but,
as often, the two phases of the same idea.
parentur, etc.: cf. vv. 309-322.
quid alat, etc.:
cf. vv. 323-332.
deceat, etc.: cf. vv. 333-365. quo
virtus, etc.: cf. vv. 366-452. quo
error: cf. vv. 453-476.
with reference to v. 296.
material, such as is described in v. 312 seq.
i.e. philosophic, but chiefly with reference to
Ethics (cf. v. 312 seq.); see Od. I. 29 14; III.
etc.: cf. Cato's rem tene, verba sequentur.
cf. I. 18. 14.
assign. The reference here, as for the most part throughout
the epistle, is to dramatic poetry, in which characterization is of
course the most important thing.
etc.: in addition to philosophy the poet should study real life.
delineator; i.e. imitator of real life.
locis: i.e. with noble and pleasing sentiments
(communes loci). morata
recte: i.e. with sound moral precepts suited
to each character.
pondere, without power; i.e. to move the feelings,
tame in the action, dull.
i.e. sententiarum, the same as the loci
above, thoughts, sentiments, moral truths. nugae:
i.e. in so far as they have no moral purpose.
etc.: the mention of sententiae leads Horace to account
for the superiority of the Greeks in genius. For it is their devotion
to liberal arts, more especially philosophy, as opposed to the more
commercial education of the Romans, that has caused this difference.
an anticipation of what Horace has in his mind from the first, that
is, the sordid character he is going to assign to the Romans in the
next verse. Of this the Greeks had nothing, except in regard to fame.
etc.: i.e. what we call Vulgar Fractions, which would be
learned at a very early age; hence the simplicity of the example.
etc.: an example of the principal teaching at Rome.
as the name is not a common one, it is probably that of a usurer,
as Acron says. quincunce:
the calculation is in the complicated duodecimal system of the Romans.
dixisse, come; you can tell. The teacher encourages
the pupil who hesitates for a moment. This hesitation accounts for
the use of the imperfect poteras, you could
tell (if you chose, or the like). Cf. tempus erat, Od.
I. 37. 4. dixisse: the perfect only for metrical
one third, i.e. four-twelfths. eu!
rem, etc.: the approval of the teacher, induced by the
correct answer of the pupil. But there is also a moral approval; for
if the boy understands fully that taking away a twelfth actually reduces
the sum to a third, he is likely to look sharply after his fractional
is added, a kind of passive of reddo. Cf.
for red, also redigo, used of moneys.
gangrene, properly rust; cf. Sat. I. 4.
cedro: i.e. to be preserved. The oil of cedar
was used to keep off moths. cupresso:
the elegant bookcase suggests the value of the work.
prodesse, etc.: the beginning of the topic quid
deceat (v. 308). This Horace treats under two heads, as to
instruction and as to amusement.
etc.: in reference to the prodesse and idonea.
supervacuum, etc.: i.e. as everything additional
overflows after a vessel is full, so if precepts are too long, they
"go in at one ear and out at the other."
etc.: in reference to the delectare and iucunda.
veris: an exhortation to realism in art.
quodcumque, etc.: i.e. too wild an imagination
must not be indulged. fabula,
a play, which Horace has always in mind throughout, though
an ogress, a monster of Libya supposed to feed on children,
and used as a bugbear. She was probably introduced on the stage in
the Atellane farces, and perhaps in this very situation. Cf. Aristoph.
Wasps, 1177. See Diod. Sic. XX. 41.
seniorum, etc.: a reason for combining the profitable
and pleasing. seniorum, veterans, in allusion
to the divisions of the Servian constitution, cf. II. 1. 81, 85.
reject, cf. 456. expertia
frugis: i.e. a play that has no edification
high-spirited, as disdaining instruction with the arrogant
spirit of youth. austera:
i.e. containing only instruction. Ramnes,
young nobles, as bent on pleasure only. The word is used
in allusion to the earliest equites, who consisted of the
juniors of the first families. One branch of these equites
were Rhamnes. See Lange, Röm. Alterth. I. 353. Also Livy,
etc.: i.e. by combining the two excellences, an author carries
all the votes of both the parties mentioned. tulit:
see Harpers' Dictionary, s.v. II. A. 4.
II. 2. 99 and note.
etc.: i.e. it sells well. Sosiis:
cf. I. 20 2 and note. mare
transit: cf. I. 20. 13, but here the same idea has a
delicta, etc.: as in Horace's mind every rule of conduct
has its opposite phase, so here he warns against drawing the line
of propriety too closely. Vitiis nemo sine nascitur, either
in conduct or in art. Cf. Sat. I. 3. 68.
etc.: a figure drawn from the lyre.
etc.: cf. si modo plura mihi bona sunt, Sat. I.
with emphasis; the necessary failings of human nature.
quid ergo est:
what shall we say then? (cf. Romans VI. 1), a correction
of the inference which might be drawn from the above leniency.
cessat: i.e. is ever negligent.
II. 1. 233.
terve bonum: i.e. it is a matter of proportion.
i.e. I marvel that he should happen to succeed once or twice,
and laugh at the odd accident.
feel pained, because I should have expected better of him.
The two feelings thus contrasted show Horace's general estimate of
the two poets; a good thing in Choerilus makes him laugh, it is so
unexpected, and for the same reason a bad thing in Homer makes him
operi longo: i.e. there is an excuse for Homer
in the length of his work. somnum,
a sleepy moment.
pictura, etc.: i.e. a work of art should be
judged like a picture, not by an immutable criterion, but in reference
to its character and scope. Tintoretto and Holbein are not expected
to have the same touch. All this applies also to poetry.
obscurum: i.e. needs a dim light.
deciens: i.e. a picture, for instance, to be
seen once at some festival would need a different treatment from a
permanent work of art.
maior iuvenum, etc.: a development of quo
virtus, quo ferat error (308). First, a natural gift
is necessary. We know too little of the persons addressed to say why
the elder son is selected here, but one might almost suppose that
Horace thought his vocation doubtful. It is possible, however, that
the boy had only come to the age when it was necessary to determine
his ability. This last supposition would account for quamvis
et voce, etc., as well as for v. 385.
rebus: i.e. such as he enumerates in the next
three verses. Cf. Cic. de Orat. I. 26. 118.
i.e. may be, etc., a simple statement, as often in suppositions.
cf. Sat. i. 10. 29; Od. III. 21.
as a lawyer. Cascellius:
a famous jurisconsult; cf. Val. Max. VI. 2. 12.
cf. tribuno. Sat. I. 6. 25.
cf. dis hominibusque invitis, Cic. ad
Q. Frat. III.
2, evidently a proverbial expression. columnae:
i.e. the booksellers, whose wares were exposed for sale
on pillars in front of their booths. Cf. pila, Sat.
I. 4. 71.
music, not a necessity, but a luxury.
coarse, and so not well prepared. Sardo:
the honey of Sardinia was said to be bitter: cf. melle Corsico
quod asperrimum habetur, Plin. H. N. XXX. 28. (10).
cf. (Papaveris) semen tostum in secunda mensa cum melle
apud antiquos dabatur, Plin. H. N. XIX. 168. (53).
cf. producimus, Sat. I. 5. 70.
cf. I. 18. 54.
cf. Sat. I. 5. 48 seq. disci,
etc.: cf. Sat. II. 2. 13. trochi:
cf. Od. III. 24. 57.
cf. v. 205. and I. 19. 41. impune,
without restraint, which nobody would have a right to hinder.
cf. I. 18. 53.
etc.: an ironical suggestion that any free citizen with a competence
and a good moral character can write.
a gentleman; i.e. not only a free citizen, but the son of
a free father. census,
with a fortune of, or assessed for.
I. 1. 58 and note.
governed by census, used after the analogy of verbs
taking a double accusative.
cf. di, v. 373,
and quia nihil decet invita (ut aiunt) Minerva,
id est adversante et repugnante natura, Cic. Off. I.
cf. v. 367. mens,
purpose; i.e. you have the good judgment and (at present)
a fixed purpose, etc.
cf. Sat. I. 10. 38. in
aures, etc.: i.e. seek the most rigid criticism.
not to be taken too literally, but there is perhaps an allusion to
the Smyrna of Helvius Cinna, which was nine years in the
making. See Catull. 95. 1. Wieland takes the words as intended to
dissuade the young man from publishing. But this Horace would be likely
to do privately, rather than in an open letter.
etc.: a defence of the dignity of poetry. It must be remembered that
the practical Roman regarded everything but war, statesmanship, and
money-making as idle and unmanly employments, and hence even Cicero
has to defend his interest in these leviores artes (as in
pro Arch. 12 seq.). sacer:
the early poets were regarded as inspired (cf. Virg. Ćn.
VI. 662 and 645), and had in all literature a kind of superhuman character;
cf. vate sacro, Od. IV. 9. 28.
foedo: i.e. the rude subsistence consisting
of the natural growth of trees. Cf. Sat. I. 3. 100.
Virg. Ćn. VI. 645; Aristoph. Frogs, 1032.
hoc, etc.: i.e. Horace explains the myths about
Orpheus as referring to his taming the savage hearts of men.
cf. I. 18. 41.
cf. Od. I. 32. 14. prece
blanda: i.e. the persuasive accents of his song;
cf. Od. I. 24. 13.
haec sapientia: i.e. such acts as those of Orpheus
and Amphion were regarded as wisdom, inasmuch as they gave civilization
to mankind. Cf. Cic. de Am. 2. 6 and 7.
etc.: cf. Horace's account of the origin of society. Sat.
I. 3. 99.
alluding to the Greek ázones, the wooden tablets of the laws
at Athens. Cf. Plut. Solon, 25.
etc.: i.e. imasmuch as the poets performed these services,
they were regarded with reverence.
hos, etc.: i.e. the next service to mankind
was that of Homer and Tyrtaeus in inspiring men to warlike deeds by
i.e. oracles were in poetical form.
via, etc.: referring to the didactic and gnomic poets,
Hesiod and the like. gratia
regum: alluding to lyric poets, who flourished at the
courts of monarchs.
cf. Od. IV. 3. 18. ludus:
i.e. dramatic poetry; cf. II. 1. 140.
cf. II. 1. 141. ne
forte: cf. I. 1. 13, note.
etc.: cf. v. 295.
studium, etc.: cf. Cicero's view, in pro Archia,
15, so also Od. IV. 4. 33. vena:
cf. Od. II. 18. 10.
studet, etc.: a confirmatory parallel from gymnastic
. .cantat, etc.: another parallel from music.
to the musical contests at the Greek games; cf. Olympia,
I. 1. 50.
etc.: i.e. but now we have changed all that, and everybody
enters the race and is ashamed to be left behind.
ego mira, etc.:
i.e. go to, I'll rhyme it with the best, and the Devil take
etc.: evidently a children's challenge in a game: cf. "Last in
bed put out the light."
at all, cf. I. 7. 61. The whole is a repetition of the theme
in v. 382 seq.
praeco, etc.: a warning against flattery; cf. v. 387
lucrum ire: i.e. the auctioneer bids the people
come and make their fortune by great bargains, and so the rich author
tacitly says to his flattering hearers that it will be their gain.
agris, etc.: repeated from Sat. I. 2. 13.
vero est: opposed to tu, etc.; i.e.
such a man can hardly tell the difference between the true friend
and the flatterer, so it isn't much use to warn him; but you
must be on your guard. Cf. Cicero's picture of the assentator,
de Am. 25. 94 seq. unctum:
cf. Sat. II. 6. 64, and Ep. I. 14. 21, I. 15. 44.
in style. ponere:
cf. Sat. II. 2. 23. possit:
it is implied also that he can descend to such means.
i.e. become his security on one of the numerous occasions
where that service was required; cf. II. 2. 67.
humble, irresponsible; cf. gravis auctor and the like.
dismal; i.e. harassing, worrying; cf. atra cura.
tickled with men's praise, but cf. II. 2. 108.
(fut. perf.): i.e. if you have already a protégé.
etc.: i.e. amid the pleasures of the table, when the poet
is made happy by your entertainment.
i.e. with interest in the poem. super
his, besides; see Sat. II. 6. 3 (but
cf. II. 1. 152).
etc.: of the guest's extreme enthusiasm over the work.
cf. the flattery of Balatro, Sat. II. 8. 65 seq.
etc.: i.e. instead of using your wines and dainties to extract
insincere praise, do as kings are wont, use the bowl to discover whether
admirers are honest; cf. laetitiae, v. 428.
cf. I. 18 38; Sat. I. 4. 89. laborant:
cf. I. 3. 2.
Quintilius Varus (cf. Od. I. 24. 5), an example of a sincere
friend and critic, such as one ought to choose.
condition in the second person singular, thrown into past time.
hortatory subjunctive used as a condition, thrown into past time.
terque, etc.: i.e. after trying several times.
reddere: i.e. to forge them all over anew.
cf. note to negares.
on account of the idea of hindrance in the preceding verse.
i.e. as Cicero says of Pompey, "in love with himself
without a rival," ad Q. Frat. III. 8. 4.
bonus et prudens: i.e. a friend who is both
honest and wise when applied to as a critic.
i.e. crossing out. calamo:
the reference here is to writing with a pen, as above in delere
to writing with a stilus. ambitiosa:
not merely ambitious in our sense, but with the figure still
alive, courting admiration by the use of forced expressions, ostentatious.
the great Alexandrine critic of Homer, whose name had become proverbial.
Cf. Cic. ad Att. I. 14. 3.
i.e. slight faults.
semel, etc.: i.e. in his public appearance,
inasmuch as these faults will hazard the poet's reputation.
mala, etc.: i.e. the faults will make men avoid
the poet as if he had a contagious disease or a frenzy.
i.e. the jaundice, regarded as contagious.
the Thracian Brauronia, identified with Artemis, and so with Diana,
was supposed to cause madness in those who offended her; cf. Soph.
etc.: cf. Sat. II. 3. 130, and I. 3. 134. The worrying of
a crazy man by the street Arabs seems to have been a common joke in
i.e. so as to be heard afar. Cf. the Scotch "a far cry."
cf. I. 17. 60. non
sit: amounting to an imperative, whether it is directly
hortatory (as in I. 18. 72) or in the "potential" construction
in accordance with timent, v. 455, implying "no
wise man," etc.
curet, etc.: i.e. the fellow is so foolish,
the presumption is that he wished to destroy himself like Empedocles.
scis an, how do you know but? with the affirmative
idea contained in nescio an, etc.
poetae: Empedocles who, according to the story which
Horace gives, threw himself into the crater of Ćtna in order to disappear
cupit, etc.: cf. I. 2. 21 and note.
grim joke. Empedocles is called cold as opposed to the fire of Ćtna,
implying that his act was done without excitement, in cold blood;
cf. the uses of calidus.
i.e. just as much, an equal outrage.
by idem, in imitation of a Greek construction. This
is the only spondaic verse in Horace.
semel, etc.: i.e. this isn't the first time,
and in a confirmed case there is no hope of his recovery; 'he is joined
to his idols, let him alone.'
satis, etc.: i.e. we cannot account for his
madness, it is true, but he is certainly raving, and is avoided by
everybody just as if he were a wild animal. If, however, he catches
anybody, he sticks to him like a leech. So with this jocose view of
the poetic craze Horace closes the epistle.