Jonson, Horace and the Classical Tradition


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Jonson, Hor ace a nd t He

cl a ssic a l t r a dit ion

The influence of the roman poet Horace on Ben Jonson has often

been acknowledged, but never fully explored. discussing Jonson’s

Horatianism in detail, this study also places Jonson’s densely inter-

textual relationship with Horace’s latin text within the broader

context of his complex negotiations with a range of other ‘rivals’

to the Horatian model, including Pindar, seneca, Juvenal and

Martial. The new reading of Jonson’s classicism that emerges is one

founded not upon static imitation, but rather upon a lively dialogue

between competing models – an allusive mode that extends into

the seventeenth-century reception of Jonson himself as a latter-day

‘Horace’. in the course of this analysis, the book provides fresh read-

ings of many of Jonson’s best-known poems – including ‘inviting a

Friend to supper’ and ‘to Penshurst’ – as well as a new perspective

on many lesser-known pieces, and a range of unpublished manu-

script material.

v ic tor i a mou l is lecturer in latin literature at the University

of cambridge. she is an active translator of early modern latin,

contributing to several major recent translation projects. in addi-

tion, she has published a range of articles on classical material in

Jonson, donne and Milton, and on the reception of Virgil, Horace

and Pindar.

  Jonson, Hor ace a nd t He cl a ssic a l t r a dit ion

  V ic tor i a MoU l


  Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Dubai, Tokyo Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

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  ISBN-13 978-0-521-11742-5

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Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

eBook (NetLibrary)


  For my parents, with love and gratitude



Acknowledgements page List of abbreviations

  introduction: imitation, allusion, translation: reading Jonson’s Horace


1 Jonson’s Odes: Horatian lyric presence and the dialogue with




  2 Horatian libertas in Jonson’s epigrams and epistles 3 competing voices in Jonson’s verse satire: Horace and Juvenal


  4 Poetaster: classical translation and cultural authority 5 translating Horace, translating Jonson


  conclusion: More remov’ d mysteries: Jonson’s textual ‘occasions’


Appendix: manuscript transcriptions



Index of passages discussed

General index



  i am grateful to the arts and Humanities research council and to st John’s college, cambridge for support during my doctoral work, and to The Queen’s college, oxford for the pleasure and privilege of a Junior research Fellowship which has allowed me to prepare this monograph for publication. i am also grateful to several presses for permission to reproduce mate- rial that appeared in earlier forms in their books and journals. a version of

  was published as ‘Ben Jonson’s Poetaster: classical translation and the location of cultural authority’, in Translation and Literature, 15 ), 21–50. Portions of

chapter 1 are developed from work first pub-

  lished in ‘Versions of Victory: Ben Jonson and the Pindaric ode’, The


International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 14 , 51–73 and ‘The

  Poet’s Voice: allusive dialogue in Ben Jonson’s Horatian Poetry’, in luke Houghton and Maria Wyke (eds.), Perceptions of Horace: a Roman Poet and


His Readers (cambridge University Press ), pp. 219–38. Finally, some

  sections of

chapter 5 are based upon observations i made in ‘translation

  as commentary? The case of Ben Jonson’s Ars Poetica’, Palimpsestes, 20 ), 59–78.

  For encouragement and advice on this material and more widely, thanks are due to charles Martindale, Philip Hardie, raphael lyne and david norbrook; and above all to colin Burrow.

  Many friends and colleagues have been a reliable source of support, advice and welcome distraction; among these, i would like to thank in particular Myles lavan, edward Holberton, Femke Molekamp and John Hyman.

  Finally, i would like to name with lasting gratitude lea chambers, Jonathan Katz and denis Feeney, with whom i first read Horace.




  c. H. Herford, Percy simpson and evelyn simpson (eds.),


Ben Jonson, 11 vols. (oxford University Press, 1925–52)

  oct oxford classical text


  Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edn (oxford: clarendon Press, 1989)


a. W. Pollard and G. r. redgrave, A Short-Title Catalogue of

  Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland; And of English Books Printed Abroad 1475–1640, 2nd edn, 3 vols. (1976–91)

  Jonson’s verse is cited from H&s. titles of collections are abbreviated as follows:

  Forest The Forest (1616 folio)

  UV Ungathered Verse

  UW The Underwood (1640 folio)



Imitation, allusion, translation:

reading Jonson’s Horace

to the admired Ben: Johnson to encourage

him to write after his farewel to the stage. 1631

alludinge to Horace ode 26. lib: 1 Musis amicus &c Ben, thou arte the Muses freinde, greife, and feares, cast to the winde: who winns th’emperour, or sweade sole secure, you noethinge dreade. inhabitante neer Hyppo-crene, plucke sweete roses by that streame, put thy lawrel-crownet on. What is fame, if thou hast none? see apollo with the nine sings: the chorus must be thine.

  Benjamin Jonson, born in 1572, worked under, and latterly for, three successive monarchs before his death in 1637. a close contemporary of shakespeare, he wrote in almost every important literary genre of his age, from the satires and epigrams fashionable in the 1590s to the elaborate court masques of the early seventeenth century. His influence in most of these forms – including lyric, epigram, stage comedy and verse epistle – continued to be felt for several generations. a catholic for a substan- tial portion of his adulthood, his personal life was colourful, including imprisonment, murder, high patronage and poverty. He befriended (or 1 alienated), rivalled and collaborated with many of the great men of his


This touching and typical example of contemporary reception of Jonson’s Horatianism is tran- r

scribed from John Polwhele’s notebook, Bodleian Ms english poet. f. 16, 10 . i have edited it only

lightly. line 3 refers to the invasion of Germany by Gustav adolf of sweden in 1630, which brought

swedish forces into the Thirty Years’ War and led to the first major Protestant victory of the conflict day, both in england and abroad, including shakespeare (who took a

  part in his 1605 play Sejanus), John donne, inigo Jones and the classical scholars Thomas Farnaby and daniel Heinsius. But at almost every turn of this long, varied and highly public career his chief literary model, the man whose memory he honoured and whose achievement he claimed to outdo, was not any one of his talented contemporaries, but a roman poet of the first century bc: Quintus Horatius Flaccus; ‘thy Horace’. That Jonson liked to think of himself as Horace, and that this identification was considered realistic enough to be accepted by many of his followers, has often been acknowledged in passing in the scholarly literature Jonson has, moreover, long been recognised as a poet of clas- sical imitation in general, for whom ‘imitation’ carries a moral as well as aesthetic force. several of these critics have offered helpful and intel- ligent readings of individual ‘Horatian’ poems, but none have developed a sustained account of Jonson’s Horatianism, and no monograph exists devoted to Jonson’s appropriations of Horac This book aims to fill that gap, discussing all of the more signifi- cant instances of Horatian allusion, imitation or translation in Jonson’s verse (and the satirical comedy, Poetaster, which stages Jonson as Horace himself) such a survey demonstrates the extent of Jonson’s Horatianism, 2 Thomas randolph, ‘a Gratulatory to Mr. Ben. Johnson for his adopting of him to be his son’,


line 14. Printed in Poems with the Muses looking-glasse: and Amyntas· By Thomas Randolph Master

of Arts, and late fellow of Trinity Colledge in Cambridge (oxford: printed by leonard lichfield

printer to the Vniversity, for Francis Bowma ), stc (2nd edn)/20694, pp. 22–3. addressing

himself, Jonson refers to ‘thine owne Horace’ in the ode he composed after the hostile critical

reception of The New Inn in 1629 (H&s, vol. x, p. 493, line 43). 3

see for instance richard s. Peterson, Imitation and Praise in the Poems of Ben Jonson (new Haven

and london: Yale University Pressand Burrow’s remarks on Jonson’s Horatian satire (colin

Burrow, ‘roman satire in the sixteenth century’, in Kirk Freudenburg (ed.), The Cambridge

Companion to Roman Satire (cambridge University Press, , pp. 243–60). 4 Jonson’s ‘classicism’ is a critical commonplace, and by ‘classicism’ is meant, among other things,

self-conscious imitation of the style and form of Greek and roman writers, including Juvenal,

seneca, tacitus, Martial and cicero among the romans, and lucian, Homer and Pindar among

the Greeks. a great deal has been written on Jonsonian imitation in its many senses. of particu-

lar importance are: Thomas M. Greene, The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance

Poetry (new Haven: Yale University Press, , pp. 264–93; Peterson, Imitation and Praise;

Katharine eisaman Maus, Ben Jonson and the Roman Frame of Mind (Princeton University

Press, 5 The fullest account is found in Joanna Martindale, ‘The Best Master of Virtue and Wisdom: the

Horace of Ben Jonson and His Heirs’, in charles Martindale (ed.), Horace Made New (cambridge


University Press, 1993), pp. 50–85. see also robert B. Pierce, ‘Ben Jonson’s Horace and Horace’s

Ben Jonson’, Studies in Philology, 78 , 20–31. For a particularly imaginative example of a

reading of an individual Horatian poem, see Bruce Boehrer, ‘Horatian satire in Jonson’s “on the Famous Voyage”’, Criticism, 4, 9–26. 6 but also its importance to Jonson’s literary persona: Jonson used Horace, and his relationship to the roman poet, to model his own self-conscious poetic ‘authority’ (a well-established topos of Jonsonian criticism), to mark his laureate role as a poet of courtly panegyric, and to insist upon his artistic freedom despite the network of patronage and financial depend- ence within which he was compelled to operate. That these functions are sometimes in conflict is testimony to the subtlety and depth that Jonson found in Horace, and to the attention with which he read the latin poet: in several respects Jonson’s response to, and appropriation of Horatian themes anticipates much more recent developments in classical The relationship between Jonson and Horace was widely noted – and in time the association between them, and so between a certain kind of Horatianism and the royalism of Jonson’s stuart career, became central to the reception and perception of Jonson and Horace alike in the troubled years of the mid seventeenth century. This book is focused upon Jonson’s work, not his Nachleben, but i have at several points discussed instances of his own reception among friends and followers (often from unpub- lished manuscript sources). This largely untapped material is important supplementary evidence, shedding light on the various associations and identifications between Horace and Jonson in the minds of his seventeenth- 7 century readers.


several recent studies of the Satires and Epistles, for instance, have focused upon their

nuanced exploration of the balance between freedom and dependency in Horace’s address

to his patrons, superiors, equals and subordinates. Work of this kind is of great help in

reading the ambiguities of Jonson’s poems of praise. i am thinking in particular of Kirk

Freudenburg, The Walking Muse: Horace on the Theory of Satire (Princeton University Press,

; denis Feeney, ‘Vna cum scriptore Meo: Poetry, Principate and the traditions of

literary History in the epistle to augustus’, in denis Feeney and tony Woodman (eds.),

Traditions and Contexts in the Poetry of Horace (cambridge University Press, ), pp.

172–87; r. Hunter, ‘Horace on Friendship and Free speech: Epistles i.18 and Satires i.4’,

Hermes, 113 ( . ellen oliensis’ chapter on the

Ars Poetica makes no reference to Jonson’s translation of the poem but is nevertheless per-

haps the single most suggestive guide to Jonson’s fascination with the Ars (ellen oliensis,

Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority (cambridge University Press, ). Jonson’s translation

8 is discussed in .

  Thomas dekker calls him ‘Horace the second’ in the dedication to Satiro-mastix or The

vntrussing of the humorous poet. As it hath bin presented publikely, by the Right Honorable,

the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants; and priuately, by the Children of Paules. (london: o

edward White, ), 4 , stc (2nd edn)/6521, and the play makes much of this connection s ta rt i ng poi n ts: e a r ly mode r n cl a ssic a l t e x ts When i write of Jonson’s ‘Horatianism’, i do not mean to imply that Jonson’s english poetry regularly sounds like Horace’s latin (whatever that might mean), or that the experience of reading Jonson always or often resembles that of reading Horace’s work. even a very detailed and extended allusive interaction with another text is not the same thing as a reproduction: Virgil alludes constantly to Homer in the Aeneid, and an awareness of that conversation is crucial to the reader’s experience of Virgil, and of his or her pleasure in it. But that is not to say that Virgil is always very much like Homer. on the contrary, the pathos and beauty of Virgil’s text arise in part from the ways in which the reminiscences of Homer draw our attention to the unHomeric features of the Aeneid: we are moved by aeneas’ austere farewell to ascanius, for instance, because of what it lacks in comparison with the scene between Hector, andromache some of the difficulty we find in reading Jonson’s Horace emerges from this distinction between intertextuality and resemblance: to fol- low an intertextual conversation, a reader must know well the text, or texts, that form the ground of the engagement – well enough to note divergences from the model. she must also expect to make such connec- tions and comparisons, and enjoy making them. even the well-educated modern reader does not necessarily find it easy to read in this way. This is partly because modern education, unlike the renaissance schoolroom, does not encourage us to know a narrow range of texts extremely well (to 9 the point of extensive memorisation). But it is also because even if we


Perhaps the single most useful discussion of renaissance modes of imitation is to be found in

George W. Pigman, ‘Versions of imitation in the renaissance’, Renaissance Quarterly, 33 ( ,

1–32. He suggests three primary ‘modes’ of intertextuality, which he terms ‘transformative’,

‘dissimulative’ and ‘eristic’. We can, i think, see traces of all three in Jonson’s appropriation

of Horace, but the most directly relevant is the ‘eristic’ mode, by which a ‘continual insistence

on conflict [in the imitative relationship] suggests that a text may criticize, correct, or revise its

model’ (27). Jonson’s texts very often cite Horace, for instance, only to ‘cap’ the latin text – to go

10 one better.


The best recent overview of early modern education and its effect upon the reading and inter-

pretation of classical texts can be found in the introduction to craig Kallendorf, The Other

Virgil: ‘Pessimistic’ Readings of the Aeneid in Early Modern Culture, classical Presences (oxford

University Press, , pp. 1–16. Kallendorf’s notes are an invaluable guide to further biblio-

graphy on the topic. For more detailed information on the elizabethan schoolroom in particular, have read closely in classical literature, the texts in which we read Virgil or Horace do not generally encourage us to make these sorts of connec- tion or comparison.

  By contrast, the classical editor of the renaissance – such as Thomas Farnaby or daniel Heinsius, with both of whom Jonson corresponded – was naturally concerned to establish the latin or Greek text upon which he was working, but also to point out connections between texts: one aspect of what we would now call ‘intertext’.

  He also, typically, makes judge-


ments about these comparisons – that is, editorial comment not only sets

  up parallels or points out differences between passages but also adjudicates between them, on both moral and aesthetic grounds. early modern editors are not squeamish about stating their preference, or claiming (for instance) that Horace is better than Pindar – to name one example which is, as we t h e Jonson i a n ‘e di t ion’ it is often remarked that Jonson’s printed texts – even, or especially, the texts of the masques, that most ephemeral of genres – closely resemble contemporary editions of the latin and Greek classics, complete, in many cases, with extensive notes upon the classical parallels or sources of his work. in the case of the 1616 folio of Jonson’s Workes, this resem- This quirk of 11 Jonsonian self-presentation, aptly dubbed ‘editorial authorship’ by Joseph


These editorial interventions are also literally ‘paratextual’, surrounding the text densely on three

12 sides in many early modern classical editions.

examples of such debates, with which Jonson would certainly have been familiar, appear in

several contemporary editions or works of criticism. see, for instance, Julius scaliger, Poetices

o libri septem ([lyons]: apud antonium Vincentium,

   ), 2 , Book 5. roger ascham describes

Pindar and Horace as ‘an equall match for all respectes’ (roger ascham, The Scholemaster, ed.


John e. B. Mayor (london: Bell and daldy, , Book 2, p. 155). For further information on

this topic, see: stella P. revard, Pindar and the Renaissance Hymn-Ode: 1450–1700, Medieval

and renaissance texts and studies 221 (tempe: arizona center for Medieval and renaissance

13 studies, , pp. 33–9.

on the bibliographic originality and importance of this folio, see Martin Butler, ‘Ben

Jonson’s Folio and the Politics of Patronage’, Criticism, 35 ( , 377–90; d. Heyward Brock,


‘Ben Jonson’s First Folio and the textuality of His Masques at court’, Ben Jonson Journal, 10

), 43–55; richard c. newton, ‘Jonson and the (re)invention of the Book’, in claude J.

summers and ted-larry Pebworth (eds.), Classic and Cavalier: Essays on Jonson and the Sons of

Ben (University of Pittsburgh Press,

  , pp. 31–55; Jennifer Brady and W. H. Herenden (eds.), Ben Jonson’s 1616 Folio (london and toronto: associated University Presses

  ; Martin Butler

(ed.), Re-Presenting Ben Jonson: Text, Performance, History (new York: Macmillan, ; and loewenstein, has been much discussed in recent years, most richly and convincingly by loewenstein himself. But although loewenstein speaks perceptively of imitatio and its place in Jonson’s poetics, he locates it – and its significance – within the emergent rhetoric of the ‘possession’ of i want to take on board much of loewenstein’s excellent work; but this book is not primarily concerned with Jonsonian ‘possessiveness’. rather i am interested in the way in which Jonsonian intertextuality itself, especially in the juxtaposition of competing clas sical ‘voices’, invites the reader, as surely as Jonson’s sometimes hectoring pref- aces, prologues and dedications, to construct an authorial voice that com- pares, judges and even claims to outdo his classical sources. of course Horace is not the only classical author whom Jonson read with attention. His works are filled with references to, and imitations of, tacitus, Juvenal, Martial, seneca, Pindar and lucian as well as the poets of the Greek anthology and many neo-latin authors. Horace is not a major presence in all of Jonson’s works – he is of less importance, for instance, to his later comedies (which are in any case not the subject of this book) – and the 1605 play Sejanus, which, like Poetaster, is built sub- hat is striking about Jonson’s Horatianism is that even when Jonson uses his poetry to think about and engage with other authors, he so often does so in juxtaposition, contention or conversation with an Horatian voice.


Jonson’s textual originality predates the folio (loewenstein, Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship

14 (cambridge University Press, ), pp. 182–6).

  Joseph loewenstein, Possessive Authorship. He uses the phrase ‘editorial authorship’ i

  Genette notes the complicating effect of editorial notation upon the conventional construction

of the author by the reader (Gérard Genette, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, trans. Jane e.

lewin (cambridge University Press, ), p. 337). Jonson’s ‘authorial’ editorial interventions –

including prefaces, glosses and dedications as well as extensive marginal notation – collapse that

15 distinction between editor and author.


‘Jonson had long since made the ethics of imitation his own proper problematic. His unrivalled

importance for the historiography of intellectual property stems from the centrality of this prob-

lematic not only to his professional and intellectual career, but also, it seems, to his very sense of 16 self’ (loewenstein, Possessive Authorship, p. 111).

even in Sejanus, however, Jonson defends the form of his play in the prefatory letter with a refer-

ence to his forthcoming edition of Horace’s Ars Poetica: the implication is that even if this is not 17

an Horatian play at a textual level, it is the kind of thing a modern Horace might have written.

loewenstein comes close to what i mean when he writes that ‘one way of mapping Jonson’s cre-

ative development would be to follow the process by which other literary models – aristophanes,

lucian, cicero, but above all, Martial – jostle Horace’, although he makes this observation in

passing and does not follow up his own suggestion (loewenstein, Possessive Authorship, p. 120).

The difference between the list of ‘rivals’ to Horace suggested by loewenstein here and those

with which this book is concerned probably stems from the fact that his book is concerned pri-

marily with Jonsonian drama, this one with Jonson’s verse; although loewenstein does in gen- k i n ds of con t e n t ion: r i va l s to hor ac e i n Jonson’s v e r se recent work on classical (especially latin) literature, making use of – if not wholly adopting – post-structuralist theories of the wide-ranging scope of intertextuality, has expanded our sense of the ways in which one text may evoke another (or several others). Focusing in particu- lar upon the poets of augustan rome, these critics have explored the extent to which not only the content but also the context of a source text may be evoked by a range of allusive strategies; and, most significantly, how these activated sub-texts and sub-contexts contribute to the cre- ation of meaning in the literature – of Virgil or Horace, for instance – e subtlety and potential scope of this kind of reading has not been much applied to Jonson. This is the case despite the acknowledged density of classical (especially roman) material in Jonson’s work, the centrality of close textual study of roman authors to renaissance education, and the fact that classical editions of Jonson’s own day were typically concerned to point out instances of ‘imitation’ between one ancient text and another. a broad understanding of inter- textuality – including imitation, allusion and translation – is fundamen- tal to my discussion of Jonson’s Horace. although the specific terms and texts of the allusive ‘dialogue’ with Horace (and, especially, the political and cultural force they bear) varies in the course of Jonson’s career, and between different poetic genres, the relationship itself is a constant feature of his work, and the central topic of this book.

  Both early and late, in poems dating from the 1590s just as in late odes of the 1630s, we find Jonson’s relationship to Horace played out in the negotiations between Horatian and Pindaric lyric models and their associated modes of praise and poetic power. This aspect of Jonson’s Horatianism is discussed in

chapter 2 is concerned with Jonson’s epigrams and epistles and, more widely, the poetics of his address

  to patrons and noble friends. in these poems, an analogous ‘dialogue’ 18 emerges between the ambiguous ‘freedom’ of Horatian hexameter verse


i am thinking in particular of: stephen Hinds, Allusion and Intertext: Dynamics of Appropriation

in Roman Poetry (cambridge University Press,

  ; Gian Biagio conte, The Rhetoric of

Imitation: Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and Other Latin Poets, ed. and trans. charles segal

(ithaca: cornell University Press, 13–34; charles Martindale, Redeeming

the Text: Latin Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Reception (cambridge University Press,

   ) and

  (the Satires and Epistles) and rival models of address found in Martial’s epigrams and seneca’s philosophical letters. in Jonson’s satiric poetry, explored in

chapter 3 , a related kind of ‘freedom’ – to criticise rather

  than to praise – sees both Horatian and Juvenalian models of satiric verse invoked and allowed, as it were, to ‘compete’. in Poetaster – a play very explicitly about imitation, both aesthetically and morally – the Horatian voice contests and finally, in its pervasiveness, triumphs over ovidian, Virgilian and even Homeric models, as well as a wide range of contemporary dramatic material (including references to plays by Marlowe, Marston, dekker, chapman and shakespeare). The bravura demonstration of imitatio in the play ranges from structural resemblance, through extended allusion or imitation, to close translation and even outright borrowing (or ‘plagiary’). Poetaster is the main subject of m a n uscr ip t circu l at ion

  But it is not only the details of printed presentation that invite the Jonsonian reader to enter into an assessment – an editorial ‘adjudica- tion’ – of the competing models (Horace and Pindar, or Horace and Martial, for instance) that stand behind a text. Jonson’s work was circu- lated widely in manuscript, both before and after his death; and contem- porary verse manuscripts and miscellanies are filled, too, with examples of classical imitation and translation – especially of Horace – which are in varying ways and to varying degrees ‘Jonsonian’. The epigraph to this introduction, Polwhele’s consolatory ode on the failure of The New Inn, is an example of just this kind of thing. Polwhele uses a version of Horace to honour and console Jonson: by doing so, he flatters Jonson, but also implies and acknowledges the success of Jonson’s own project of self- presentation as Horace.

  Manuscript evidence of various kinds, including copies of Jonson’s own poetry as well as the translations and imitations of others, reveal a great deal about how Jonson’s ‘Horatianism’ was read by his contem poraries and in manuscript miscellanies, individual choices in the editing, titling and ordering of poems are often suggestive in this respect. in Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31, for instance, Forest 3 (‘to 19 sir robert Wroth’) is titled ‘to sir robte Wroth in / prayse of a countrye


There has been very little work on such material in relation to Jonson’s classicism, though


  lyfe: / epode’The subtitle ‘epode’ invites the reader to associate the poem with Horace, Epodes 2; and that association is further strengthened when we compare the title of Forest 3 with the titling of Jonson’s own translation of Epodes 2, which appears a few pages earlier in the manu- if we read the Wroth poem as primarily a response to, or version of Epodes 2 – that is, if we prioritise the Horatianism of the poem over, say, its models in Martial – our interpretation of the piece may be significantly details of this kind reach behind Jonson’s own powerful, almost obsessive, attempts to control his readers’ responses, and give some indi- cation of the extent to which his Horatianism was noted by his contem- porary readers, and what significance they attached to it. in addition to evidence of this kind, which points to how Jonson was read and his poetry understood by his contemporaries, manuscript mater- ial offers a wealth of information about the broader literary culture to which Jonson responded and which he in turn helped to shape. surviving verse manuscripts testify, for instance, to a culture of classical transla- tion and imitation that extended to the imitation and even the translation (into latin) of Jonson himself. This cultural context, in which the practice of translation, a paradigmatic school exercise, remained a focus of literary energy and creative response in adulthood is essential background for an understanding of, for instance, Jonson’s unfashionably ‘close’ translations of Horace (such as the Ars Poetica) as well as the many explorations of close translation that are embedded in his works. That broader culture is not the main focus of this book, but it informs and supports my read- ings of Jonson’s Horatianism, and i discuss various examples of Jonson’s own reception alongside his close translations in

chapter 5 (‘translating Horace, translating Jonson’). W hose hor ac e?

  if Horace is indeed so important to Jonson, why has the relationship gone relatively unremarked? The answer is in part, i think, to do with the ‘version’ of Horace most alive to Jonson and his contemporaries. For the modern well-educated reader – even the classicist who does not specialise 20 r in Horace – the most familiar features of Horatian style, his ‘signature 21 r Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31, 34 . 22 Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31, 28 .

  elements’, are probably a certain notion of stoic ‘resignation’, a perception of (sometimes discomfiting) political loyalty, and above all a beautifully expressed commitment to ‘wine, women and song’ in the face of time other possible strong associations are his social position as a friend of Virgil, a favourite of Maecenas, and finally also of augustus; and perhaps the peculiar concentration and elusive force of his lyric style. in each of these cases, the perception of Horace is founded upon the Odes.

  With a couple of exceptions – ‘drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes’ (Forest 9); or perhaps ‘My Picture left in Scotland’ (UW 9), with its rueful pose of aging self-deprecation – these are not likely to be the first asso- The so-called ‘cavalier Poets’, the self-consciously imitative ‘sons of Ben’ are by these criteria much more Horatian than Jonson himself, and criticism has to some extent reflected Jonson’s Horatianism, by contrast, has been underno- ticed and inadequately described partly because his version of Horace is quite different to ours: his ‘favourite’ passages – the individual poems and sections of poems to which he returns most frequently over the course of a long career – are drawn largely from the hexameter verse, the Satires and Epistles (currently mainly the preserve of professional classicists) and Jonson took Horace’s moral the unfashionably panegyric Odes iV. authority – like his own – seriously. it is not just a matter of genre. The themes with which ‘Jonson’s Horace’ are most prominently concerned are also unfashionable – of the Odes, for instance, he concentrates upon Horace’s boldest and least ironic declara- tions of the poet’s power to immortalise (Odes i.1, iii.30, iV.8 and iV.9). amongst the hexameter verse, the favoured passages are concerned with male friendship (the Epistles, plus a few epistolary odes), or with the nego- 23 tiation of freedom and power, in politics and art alike (the Satires, Epistles


charles Martindale offers an excellent overview of the various constructions of Horace at differ-

ent periods in his introductory essay to Horace Made New (‘introduction’, in charles Martindale

and david Hopkins (eds.), Horace Made New: Horatian Influences on British Writing from the

Renaissance to the Twentieth Century (cambridge University Press 24 ), pp. 1–26.


The Song. To Celia (‘drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes, / and i will pledge with mine’) is

actually modelled upon sections of the Epistles of Philostratus. ‘My Picture left in Scotland’ does

have many elements of the lyric Horace: an aging authorial voice, an ironic awareness of phys-

ical decline, a sense of real humour as well as convincing pain and desire. it is however unusual

25 among Jonson’s lyric.


Joanna Martindale gives an excellent, albeit brief, account of the relationship between Jonson’s

Horatianism and that of his successors (J. Martindale, ‘The Best Master of Virtue and

26 Wisdom’).

certainly included in this list are: Odes i.1, iii.30, iV.1, iV.8 and iV.9; Satires i.4, ii.1 and ii.7;


Epistles i.5, i.11 and i.18; portions of the Ars Poetica. a list is included in the index of passages


  and Ars Poetica). some passages, such as Odes iV.8, to which Jonson returned almost obsessively, combine these themes: that poem is one of Horace’s boldest statements of the ‘monumentalising’ power of verse, and lies on the margin between lyric and verse letter. to read Jonson’s

  Horatianism well, we must reread Horace. i m pl ic at ions a n d dir e c t ions

  This study will contribute to our understanding of Jonson’s classicism, his poetics and the nature of his authority as it was constructed both by himself and by others during and after his lifetime. But the conclusions presented here are significant, too, for students of the period more gen- erally. it may be true that Jonson’s patterns of thought and connection were more deeply and specifically intertextual than those of many of his contemporaries; but the sophistication of the allusive ‘conversation’ in his work is not unique. other early modern authors benefit from attention of this kind, as does the study of classical reception in the period. donne’s Horatianism has, for instance, been relatively little studied (perhaps because it is most evident in the less popular verse satires and epistles), but exhibits a very similar kind of intertextual sophistication to that we amongst studies of classical reception, the possibility of ‘negative’ or equivocal appropriations of major authors has produced some of the most craig Kallendorf has reminded us that we, in our twentieth- or twenty-first-century sadness or cynicism, are not uniquely sophisticated in our sensitivity and response to the compromis- ing sorrow and ambiguities of the Aeneid. Jonson can easily seem a brash 27 or self-satisfied author to the modern reader, a much less satisfying persona


Jonson was particularly interested in explorations of the inequalities and varieties of power

between the poet and his patron (as in Odes i.1, Epistles i.17 and i.18, for instance), the poet

and his noble friends (many of the Epistles and Ars Poetica), and the poet and his slave (as in

28 Satires ii.7).


Putnam describes the ‘monumentalising’ effect of Odes iV.8 in his analysis of the poem (Michael


c. J. Putnam, Artifices of Eternity: Horace’s Fourth Book of Odes (ithaca and london: cornell

University Press, ), pp. 145–56). references to this poem are found in UV 1, UW 77 and Forest 12, among others. This material is discussed in 29 , pp. 14–24.

see Victoria Moul, ‘donne’s Horatian Means: Horatian Hexameter Verse in donne’s satires

and epistles’, John Donne Journal, 27 ( ), 21–48. Verse by Jonson and donne circulated very

widely in the same manuscript collections in this period, and in some cases attribution remains 30 hard to determine between them and other more minor members of their circle. than that of shakespeare, or donne, or even the bold and troublesome young Marlowe (we might be inclined to like Jonson more if he had died a little earlier). But his urgent reading and rereading of Horace is far from strident or unworried. on the contrary, Jonson’s powerful and sustained response to the com- plexities and compromises of Horatian ‘libertas’, the problem of freedom in a climate of patronage, amounts to a compelling interpretation, espe- cially of the hexameter verse. Jonson, in accord with his time and culture as well as his own personality, takes Horace seriously in all the ways that we, currently, find hardest to appreciate – as a laureate poet of politicised praise, as a literary critic, as a moralist and as a friend. Jonson’s departures from Horace – the determination, for instance, to read and write into Horace a hope for stability that the latin so often denies – are among the most moving and emotionally sophisticated passages in Jonson’s work. There is no doubt that we read Jonson better, and may appreciate him more, if we read Horace – his Horace – with attention and respect. That is the chief aim of this book. But it works the other way too. i have known and loved Horace for more years than i have been reading Ben Jonson; but i read, and will continue to read Horace the better for Jonson’s help.


ch a p t er 1

Jonson’s odes: Horatian lyric presence

and the dialogue with Pindar


Me, in whose breast no flame hath burned

lifelong, save that by Pindar lit … rudyard Kiplin

  Katharine Maus, writing of Jonson’s relationship to Horace, remarks that for the ‘first two-thirds of his career his model is the moral satirist she is right to stress the Horace’, rather than the Horace of the Odes centrality of Horatian satire to Jonson’s project – a role to be explored in chapters 3 and 4 – but i would like to challenge her dismissal of the lyric Horace. Horatian lyric influence is in fact discernible across a very wide range of Jonson’s texts, including epistles, masques, drama, trans- lation and prefatory material. Moreover, this engagement is marked by an almost obsessive return to a handful of key odes (i.1, iii.30, iV.8 and iV.9), all of them powerful statements of the poet’s intention and abil- ity to create work which will prove immortal. The fact of this consistent

  Michèle lowrie traces the ‘personal narrative’ of Horace’s career in early assumption of Horace’s voice at his most politically and poetically established (especially in the odes of Book iV) launches his own poetic trajectory directly into the end of this story: from the earliest texts of his career, Jonsonian authority is figured in Horatian vatic terms. Moreover, each of the Horatian odes to which Jonson most systematically alludes is indebted to a Pindaric model. (such selectivity is noticeable because 1 it is not true of Horace’s lyric in general, which draws its models from a


rudyard Kipling, ‘a translation: Horace, Bk V, ode 3’, Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition

2 (london: Hodder and stoughto, p. 588. 3 Maus, Ben Jonson and the Roman Frame of Mind, p. 17.


The best general overview of Jonson’s Horatianism remains Joanna Martindale, ‘The Best Master wide range of Greek lyric verse, including sappho, alcaeus and anacreon, among others.) although Jonson’s late ode for cary and Morison (UW 70) is widely acknowledged as an imitation of Pindar, there has been lit- tle consideration of the implications of his adoption of a Pindaric mode The second part of this chapter accordingly considers Jonson’s appropriation of – and finally contention with – Pindaric style and tone in the odes composed throughout the course of his writing life. even in the earliest examples (Forest 12, for instance, discussed below),

  Jonson’s work deploys Horatian material to express not only poetry’s last- ing power, but also its ability to immortalise those whom it addresses – a rhetorical turn Horace himself conspicuously avoided in his lyric until his very latest work (Odes iV.8 and iV.9). The obscure Bandusian foun- tain is ironically committed to posterity at iii.13, and many of the erotic lyrics tacitly centre upon the contrast between the swift passing of youth and beauty and its arrest in Horace’s poetry, but even the most straight- forwardly panegyric of the political odes (iV.2, iV.4, iV.5 and iV.15, for example) never entirely escape an edge of recusatio – the poet’s refusal to write political epic – and nor do they promise directly to immortalise the regime of which they speak. This is in contrast to Pindar, almost every one of whose victory odes promises immortality of just this kind; indeed that hope is the central point and purpose of those poems, which empha- sise the necessity of achievement and the memory of that achievement for true glory. in this sense, Jonson’s fixation upon iV.8 and iV.9 is much more Pindaric than it is Horatian.

  Odes iV.8 and 9 feature in Jonson’s work from the earliest years of his

  literary career until late in his life. early examples include line 29 of iV.8, appended as the motto at the end of Ungathered Verse 1, an early poem in praise of Thomas Palmer’s The Sprite of Trees and Herbes (1598–9). similarly, the dedication to camden inserted in the Huntington copy of the quarto of Cynthia’s Revels (1600) takes its pointed epigraph 5


on the reception of Pindar at this period in general see revard, Pindar and the Renaissance Hymn-

Ode. shafer gives a brief but useful overview of the Pindaric and Horatian material in Jonson’s

odes (robert shafer, The English Ode to 1660: an Essay in Literary History (new York: Gordian

Press, ), pp. 97–109). a briefer version of some of the arguments of this chapter can be found

in Victoria Moul, ‘Versions of Victory: Ben Jonson and the Pindaric ode’, International Journal

6 of the Classical Tradition, 1 ), 51–73.

instances of this theme in Pindar are so numerous that an exhaustive list would be extremely

long. examples can be found at: Olympians 4.12, 5.25–7, 10.91–3, Pythian 1.92–6 and 99–100,


Pythian 3.107–15, Isthmian 4.41–7, Nemean 6.26–30 as well as Nemean 7.12–16 (discussed below) from iV.9: ‘non ego te meis / chartis inornatum silebo’ (‘i shall not pass you over in silence / leaving you without lustre in my works’, iV.9.30–1).

  These two late Horatian odes, perhaps more than any other individ- ual texts, are central to Jonson’s negotiation of poetic power and praise, and they demand some attention in their own right. lying at the heart of Horace’s fourth (and last) lyric collection, they are traditionally treated as a pair (or, in conjunction with the seventh ode, on the inevitability and obscurity of death, a trio). Odes iV.8, addressed to censorinus, begins by distinguishing the poet’s art from that of the sculptor or the painter:

  donarem pateras grataque commodus, censorine, meis aera sodalibus, donarem tripodas, praemia fortium Graiorum, neque tu pessima munerum ferres, divite me scilicet artium

  5 quas aut Parrhasius protulit aut scopas, hic saxo, liquidis ille coloribus sollers nunc hominem ponere, nunc deum. sed non haec mihi vis, non tibi talium res est aut animus deliciarum egens.

  10 gaudes carminibus; carmina possumus donare et pretium dicere muneri.

  (Odes iV.8.1–12) I would gladly present bowls and fine bronzes, Censorinus, to my comrades; I would give them tripods, the prizes for brave Greeks – and you would carry off not the least of those rewards, if only I were rich in the arts which Parrhasius or Scopas advanced, the one in stone, the other in liquid colours skilled at presenting now a man, now a god.

  But this is not in my power, and you

have no shortage of such luxuries, either mentally or materially:

poetry is your delight; I can

  Horace names the Greeks ‘Parrhasius … aut scopas’ (6) as examples of a sculptor and a painter, and in the opening lines their work is associated 7 with the description of what the poet will not give (though he claims


The latin text of Horace is taken from the oct edition: edward c. Wickham (ed.), Q. Horatii he would if he could) – that is, bowls, bronzes and tripods, the prizes for athletic victories. Horace’s claim that this is not ‘mihi vis’ (‘not my strength’, or ‘not in my power’, 9) looks in several directions: he cannot do so because he is not wealthy; and also because his society is not that of Pindar, and he is not writing odes for athletic victories. But the connection to – and repudiation of – Pindaric form runs deeper than that. Pindar’s poems repeatedly associate themselves with the image of an object: a cup, Horace reminds us of this Greek tradition, and he claims that he is not part of it. But Pindar too distinguishes his art from the ‘static’ work of a sculptor: ‘i am no sculptor, to work unmoving statues that stand resting upon their base’ (Nemean 5.1–2). Horace’s strikingly confident self-representation, described by Putnam as ‘a speaker who is very much dominant’, both evokes and distances himself from Pindar and his style. The poem’s development of Pindar’s favourite theme – that songs cre- ate glory – is accordingly stark. in Pindar’s odes the achievement of the addressee, his athletic prowess, the nobility and excellence of the aris- tocratic sponsor, the prizes awarded for victory, and the fame-winning ‘prize’ of the poem itself are all closely associated with one another, densely interrelated. Horace’s tone, by contrast, unbinds these associ- ations in bluntly prosaic language: ‘neque / si chartae sileant quod bene feceris, / mercedem tuleris’ (‘and if historical documents make no men- tion of your fine achievements, / you’ll receive no recompense for them’, 20–2). The historical and mythological characters mentioned in the latter half of the poem, both roman and Greek, owe their immortality to the Muse and the Muse alone:

  quid foret iliae Mavortisque puer, si taciturnitas obstaret meritis invida romuli? ereptum stygiis fluctibus aeacum virtus et favor et lingua potentium vatum divitibus consecrat insulis. dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori: 9 caelo Musa beat.


The ode is, for example, imagined as a palace in the opening lines of Olympian 6 and a treasure-

house at Pythian 6.7–9; as a drinking bowl at the beginning of Olympian 7, and a memorial col-

umn at Nemean 4.81. The ode conveys fame like ‘winged wreaths’ in the final lines of Olympian

10 14 (22–4).

  Putnam, Artifices of Eternity, p. 147.

  What would he have been, the child of Ilia and Mars, if grudging silence had hindered the fulfilment of what Romulus deserved? The strength, the approval and the speech of powerful poets save Aeacus, snatched from the Stygian waves, and install him in glory on the isles of the fortunate.

The Muse forbids the death of the man who deserves praise:

the Muse by her blessing raises him to heaven.

  (Odes iV.8.22–9)

  in a line which teases our Pindaric expectations, Horace declares: ‘virtus et favor et lingua potentium / vatum divitibus consecrat insulis’ (‘the strength, the approval and the speech of powerful / poets install [aecaus] in glory on the isles of the fortunate’, 26–7). in the world of the Pindaric victory ode, the abstract nouns of line 26 are divided up amongst the participants – ‘virtus’, strength and excellence (Greek ‘arete’) is the prov- ince of the victorious athletes and princes, as well as of poets, each in their own realm; whereas ‘favor’ (‘approval’) is bestowed by the noble patrons and by the Muse. The ‘lingua’ – the tongue, or speech – sug- gests poetry perhaps, but ‘potentium’ (‘of powerful [people]’) leads us to expect that we are talking here of the patrons, the powerful men whose excellent achievements and approval the poet requires in order to furnish him with commissions and subject matter alike. teasingly delayed until the next line, the noun qualifying ‘potentium’ is revealed instead to be ‘vatum’ – it is the poets, after all, who claim the power. The wealth of the line (‘divitibus’ means literally ‘rich’) turns out to belong not to the patrons or nobles, men who are rich as the poet, as he began the poem by stating, is not; but rather to the ‘isles of the fortunate’, an afterlife of happiness and prosperity only attained, even by the richest of men, with the poet’s help.

  Jonson’s late poem ‘to the right Honourable, the lord treasurer of


England. an epigram’ (UW 77), dating from between 1628 and 1632, is

  based in structure and sentiment upon Horace, Odes iV.8 – censorinus is replaced as addressee by lord Weston, the lord treasurer.

  if to my mind, great lord, i had a state,

i would present you now with curious plate

of Noremberg, or Turkie; hang your roomes not with the arras, but the Persian loomes. i would, if price, or prayer could them get,

  5 send in, what or Romano, Tintoret, Titian, or Raphael, Michael Angelo,


Have left in fame to equall, or out-goe

The old Greek-hands in picture, or in stone. (UW 77.1–9

  The relationship is telling: the Greek artists enumerated by the latin poem (Parrhasius and scopas, 6) are replaced with classics of the italian renaissance (‘Romano, Tintoret, / Titian, or Raphael, Michael Angelo’, 6–7) who are said to ‘equall, or out-goe / The old Greek-hands in picture, or in stone’ (8–9). The Greek artists who have been surpassed by their renaissance successors are now unnamed – and so unknown – just as surely as the heroes or nobles who lack a poet to immortalise them.

  Jonson’s poem uses Horace’s in another way, too. The core compliment to lord Weston is that he, unlike mere artists or sculptors, can perform the actions that earn a statue – provide, as it were, the subject for memorial:


This i would doe [present Weston with paintings or sculptures],

could i thinke Weston one catch’d with these arts, wherein the Judge is wise as farre as sense, and onely by the eyes. But you i know, my lord; and know you can discerne betweene a statue, and a Man;

  15 can doe the things that statues doe deserve, and act the businesse, which they paint, or carve. What you have studied are the arts of life;


  This is a graceful tribute, and the transformation of the latin ‘artium’ (5) into the (better) ‘arts of life’ (17) is particularly fine. But Horace’s poem is also about the inadequacy of painting and sculpture – for all their finery, neither of these arts immortalises as surely as poetry:

  non incisa notis marmora publicis, per quae spiritus et vita redit bonis post mortem ducibus, non celeres fugae reiectaeque retrorsum Hannibalis minae, non incendia carthaginis impiae eius, qui domita nomen ab africa lucratus rediit, clarius indicant laudes quam calabrae Pierides

  (Odes iV.8.13–20)

Neither marbles carved with well-known public deeds,

11 through which breath and life return to fine

  leaders after death, nor the rushed escape

of Hannibal, or his threats now converted into retreat,

nor the blazing of wicked Carthage – none of these make known the name of the man who returned with profit from conquered Africa

more clearly than the praises of the Calabrian Muses.

  This thought is rooted in Pindar, and Jonson signals his recognition of that with his compliment to Weston: ‘But you i know, my lord; and know you can / discerne betweene a statue, and a Man’ (13–14). Pindar’s


Nemean 5 begins with the distinction between the maker of statues (which

  are fixed and immovable) and the mobile, living power of the poet’s song: ‘i am not a sculptor, to work unmoving statues that stay standing upon their base. But on every ship and in every boat, sweet song, go forth from aigina spreading your news …’ (Nemean 5.1–3).

  Jonson flatters Weston by telling him that he is better and worth more than a great sculptor, or a great work of art. But the gap between Jonson’s compliment and Horace’s ode – which tells us that it is poets who are better than artists and sculptors – sets up the close of the poem. typically, Jonson has displaced Horace’s statement about his own pow- ers from the body of the poem (lines 9–12, quoted above) to its close, ensuring that the poem ends not, elliptically, with liber (Bacchus, the god of wine and freedom, as in iV.8), or with the virtue of the addressee (as in iV.9), but rather with Jonson himself, and a glance at Horace,

  Odes iii.30: though i cannot as an architect in glorious Piles, or Pyramids erect

  Unto your honour: i can tune in song

aloud; and (happ’ly) it may last as long.


  Jonson’s ode for lord Weston appears to be uncharacteristically mod- est: in fact, the poem relies upon its relationship with Horace – and the educated reader’s appreciation of it – to communicate its message. 12 The fame even of the Greeks is contingent upon their immortalisation


The man in question is scipio africanus, whom Horace need not name because he has been so

thoroughly immortalised by ennius. in fact, Horace adds to ennius’ power by collapsing scipio

africanus with scipio aemilianus, who razed carthage in 146 bc, two decades after ennius’ 13 death. (see Putnam, Artifices of Eternity, p. 150.) in Horace’s (or Jonson’s) verse; and the same, we deduce, goes for lord Weston, however virtuous he may be. t h e e pis t l e to e l i z a be t h a n d t h e prom ise of O D E S gl ory i n i v.8 a n d i v.9

  The early poem, the ‘Epistle. to elizabeth countesse of rutland’ (Forest 12), engages at length not only with Odes iV.8 and 9, but also with i.1 and iii.30. This choice of models is itself an astute reading of Horace: iV.8 and 9 show Horace at the peak of his career and lyric self-confidence, with what nisbet and Hubbard term a ‘new awareness of his own dis- tinction and his power to confer immortality on others’ characteristic of The impression that in these pieces Horace fulfils the prophecy of his own greatness found in i.1 and iii.30 is reinforced by the metre of iV.8, the central piece of Book iV: the only other poems in this unusual ‘lesser asclepiad’ are Odes i.1 and iii.30, ‘bookend’ proclamations of poetic power and assurance for the unitary first three books.

  Written for new Year’s day 1600, the rutland epistle is a useful start- ing point for considering this particular intertextual conversation in more depth. The central movement of this long poem in praise of elizabeth (written probably in the hope of eliciting patronage) is a dense tapestry of borrowings from Horace:

  Beautie, i know, is good, and bloud is more;

riches thought most: But, Madame, thinke what store

The world hath seene, which all these had in trust, and now lye lost in their forgotten dust.

  40 it is the Muse, alone, can raise to heaven, and, at her strong armes end, hold up, and even, The soules, shee loves. Those other glorious notes, inscrib’d in touch or marble, or the cotes Painted, or carv’d upon great-mens tombs,

  45 or in their windowes; do but prove the wombs, That bred them, graves: when they were borne, they di’d, 14 That had no Muse to make their fame abide.

a similar engagement with this cluster of Odes is found in UW 27 (‘an ode’), which borrows

from Odes iV.9 the structural motif of a catalogue of poets and those they have sung. in the final

lines of the poem Jonson claims that just as successive generations of poets have promoted their

beloved to immortality, so shall he. another late poem is very blunt: ‘For in the Genius of a Poëts

Verse, / The Kings fame lives. Go now, denie his Teirce’ (UW 68.13–14). The warrant for one

15 tierce of wine yearly is dated 26 March 1630; UW 68 presumably postdates this.

  Forest 12 and Horace, odes IV.8 and IV.9

  How many equall with the Argive Queene [Helen], Have beautie knowne, yet none so famous seene? 50 achilles was not first, that valiant was, or, in an armies head, that, lockt in brasse, Gave killing strokes. There were brave men, before aJax, or idomen, or all the store, That Homer brought to Troy; yet none so live:

  55 Because they lack’d the sacred pen, could give like life unto ’hem. Who heav’d Hercules Unto the starres? or the Tyndarides? Who placed Jasons argo in the skie? or set bright ariadnes crowne so high?

  60 Who made a lampe of Berenices hayre? or lifted cassiopea in her chayre? But only Poets, rapt with rage divine? and such, or my hopes faile, shall make you shine.


  The poem’s cast of characters is largely derived from the two central odes of Horace’s fourth book: Helen, the ‘Argive Queene’ (49), ‘idomen’ (54) and ‘Homer’ (55) all appear in iV.9 (lines 16, 20 and 6 respectively); ‘Hercules’ (57) is in heaven in both Odes iV.8 (line 30) and Forest 12; and the ‘Tyndarides’ (58) appear at iV.8.31. The central thought of Jonson’s epistle (‘achilles was not first, that valiant was’, 51) redrafts the latin of Odes iV.9:

  primusve teucer tela cydonio direxit arcu; non semel ilios vexata; non pugnavit ingens idomeneus sthenelusve solus

  20 dicenda Musis proelia; non ferox Hector vel acer deiphobus gravis excepit ictus pro pudicis coniugibus puerisque primus. vixere fortes ante agamemnona

  25 multi; sed omnes illacrimabiles urgentur ignotique longa nocte, carent quia vate sacro.

  (Odes iV.9.17–28) Nor was Teucer the first to aim

arrows from a Cretan bow; Troy was not troubled

just the once; mighty Idomeneus

or Sthenelus were not the only ones to fight

battles worth poetic retelling; ferocious

  bear heavy blows for the sake of their chaste

wives and their children before anyone else.

  Before Agamemnon there lived many brave men; but all are weighed down unwept and unknown by long night, because they lack a sacred bard.

  Finally, lines 41–3 (‘it is the Muse, alone, can raise to heaven … The soules, shee loves’) translate iV.8.28 (‘caelo Musa beat’).

  The comparison of poetry to sculpture and painting in particu- lar (45–6) is similarly indebted to Horace. The phrase ‘because they lack’d the sacred pen’ (56) suggests ‘carent quia vate sacro’ (‘because they lack a sacred bard’, iV.9.28), and both of these elements reach

  ‘καὶ μεγάλαι

  behind Horace to Horace’s model in Pindar, Nemean 7:


γὰρ ἀλκαὶ / σκότον πολὺν ὕμνων ἔχοντι δεόμεναι’ (‘For great deeds of

  courage / remain in deep darkness when they lack songs’, 13–14). like Jonson’s poem (‘That Homer brought to Troy’, 55), Pindar’s ode goes on to mention Homer, and Jonson’s poem, again like Pindar, suggests that the greatness of the hero in question has not only been remembered but actually enhanced by the poet: ‘i believe that odysseus’ story / has become greater than his actual suffering because of Homer’s sweet verse’ (Nemean 7.20–1). apparently wilful obscurities in Jonson’s diction are illuminated by the latin text. The phrase ‘[t]hose other glorious notes, / inscrib’d in touch or marble’ (43–4) is unclear without reference to the latin: ‘non incisa notis marmora publicis’ (‘not marbles carved with public records’, iV.8.13). Knowledge of the latin line clarifies the sense of ‘notes’ to include ‘renowned’ or ‘well-known’ as well as ‘marks’. The whole thing is in fact a dense kind of pun: Horace’s phrase ‘notis … publicis’ does not tell us who or what those ‘well-known public deeds (or men)’ actually are.

  For all their ‘publicness’ they are rendered precisely unknown by Horace’s failure to name them (unlike lollius and censorinus, the dedicatees of iV.8 and 9). These ‘well-known’ deeds are conspicuously obscure, not only because they go unsung, but also because the meaning of the word ‘notes’ is unclear without its own poetic history.

  But these lines are not the limit of the intertextual ‘conversation’. 16 Jonson’s vision of poetic success is also derived from Horace:


compare Forest 12.57–63. see also Pindar Isthmian 4.37–43, which connects ajax and ‘all the sons

  Forest 12 and Horace, odes IV.8 and IV.9

  when time shall bring

  75 to curious light, the notes, i then shall sing, Will prove old orpheus act no tale to be: For i shall move stocks, stones, no lesse than he. Then all, that have but done my Muse least grace, shall thronging come, and boast the happy place

  80 They hold in my strange poems, which, as yet, Had not their forme touch’d by an english wit. There like a rich, and golden pyramede, Borne up by statues, shall i reare your head, above your under-carved ornaments,

  85 and show, how, to the life, my soule presents Your forme imprest there

  The originality of the author’s ‘strange poems’ (81–2) echoes Odes iV.9: ‘non ante vulgatas per artis / verba loquor socianda chordis’ (‘By arts never before revealed / i speak words to accompany the lyre’, iV.9.3–4). This claim to literary innovation is reminiscent, too, of Horace, Odes iii.30.13–14, an echo confirmed by the ‘rich, and golden pyramede’ (83, compare ‘pyramidum altius’, Odes iii.30.2). as noted above, the only other of Horace’s poems to share the metrical scheme of iV.8 are Odes iii.30 and i.1. accordingly, these lines promise to elizabeth to ‘reare your head’ (84); whereas Horace’s opening lyric claims ‘i shall strike the stars with my uplifted head’ (i.1.36), Jonson typically goes one better and offers to knock Elizabeth’s head, rather than his own, upon the stars among which he has the power to number her.

  The virtuous lollius of Odes iV.9 is praised because he has ‘rejected the gifts (presumably bribes) of guilty men with a high-minded expression’ (‘reiecit alto dona nocentium / vultu’, iV.9.42–3). By contrast, the ‘noble ignorants’ of Jonson’s poem are rejecting poetry – unlike, so the poet hopes and suggests, the wise and virtuous elizabeth, the lollius of her age:

  But let this drosse carry what price it will With noble ignorants, and let them still, turne, upon scorned verse, their quarter-face:

With you, i know, my offring will find grace.


  But at least part of the force of the english poem is to establish that those things – bribes and poems – are not so different after all. Jonson claims that his poetry can not only replace, but actually better, a gift of gold; but the offer is still inherently financial: a pleased patron will pay the poet. For all this is alive to the mercenary subtext of the relationship described: although the poet may have real power to immortalise, we are reminded that this immortalisation is also something that the patron can buy.

  This subtext is centred in Forest 12 upon the resonant term ‘grace’: ‘with you, i know, my offring will find grace’ (30). The suggestion that elizabeth, unlike the ‘noble ignorants’, appreciates the value of poetry and will recompense it in kind reflects an undertone of Odes iV.8: ‘gaudes carminibus; carmina possumus / donare et pretium dicere muneri’ (‘We can grant songs / and name the value of such a gift,’ 11–12). Most transla- tions avoid anything so stark (Quinn considers the line ‘hardly serious’), but it is perfectly possible to translate these lines: ‘You enjoy poetry: i can Horace’s poem goes on to modify the position: poems are valuable because they (unlike other art) can confer immortality, but the immediate sense of that line – ‘honestly, a “Horace” is worth something too’ – lingers in the memory. The appar- ently ‘mercenary’ remarks scattered throughout Pindar’s odes are also a much-commented-upon feature of his style, although as Kurke notes they always, like Jonson’s remark here, make it clear that the patron as well as the poet profit from the exchange.

  Thus Forest 12 demonstrates several key aspects of Jonson’s engagement with Horace, and in particular with Horace at his most vatic and Pindaric. But there is in addition a playfulness to this self-conscious compression of so many Horatian topoi in the course of one poem. The climax of the epistle even includes a promise that Jonson will effect all this immortal- This despite the fact that his poem does of course rhyme, and moreover that his Horatian hit-parade, if not quite describable as ‘commonplaces’, include some of the most audacious and most famous portions of Horatian lyric. t h e poe t a n d t h e v ic tor : hor ac e a n d pi n da r i n F O R E S T 10 a n d t h e ode to sir W i l l i a m si dn e y F O R E S T

  ( 1 4) The tenth poem of the Forest, to which i would now like to turn, is another 17 early example of allusive ‘competition’ between Horace and Pindar, held 18 Kenneth Quinn (ed.), Horace: the Odes (Basingstoke: Macmillan, , p. 314.


leslie Kurke, The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy (ithaca and 19 london: cornell University Press, ), pp. 228–39. within Jonson’s own verse. The poem, and that which follows it, was originally composed for robert chester’s Loves martyr (1601), a rather mysterious publication which also includes shakespeare’s strange ‘The in the Forest, however, where it was reprinted, the poem introduces a sequence of pieces – an epode, two epistles, and an ode – the combination of which is specifically Horatian. all the more so, when we note that Forest 10 is itself a version of one of the odes, the ambiguous twelfth ode of Horace’s first book, which begins: ‘What man or hero, will you take up, / clio, to celebrate on the lyre or clear flute? / which god? whose name will the playful / echo resound?’ (1–4). a con- temporary marginal note in the 1616 folio makes the same connection: ‘in imitat: ode 12. lib: 1. Horat: / incipient: Quem virum aut etc.–’. as so often in the portions of Horace that Jonson chooses to imi- tate, these lines are themselves a reminiscence of Pindar, in this case the

  ‘τίνα θεόν, τίν’ ἥρωα, τίνα δ’ ἄνδρα

  familiar opening of Olympian 2:

  Horace has wittily reversed the order of Pindar’s elements, beginning with ‘man’, and adding the ‘quem deum?’ (‘or perhaps a god?’, 3) almost Jonson’s poem has in turn collapsed these three options to ‘what subject?’, focusing instead upon the ‘nomen’, the ‘great name’ of the poet’s chosen dedicatees – although the line typically man- ages to suggest that their very immortality, their ‘heaven’ is a function of their place in art:

  and must i sing? what subject shall i chuse? or whose great name in Poets heaven use?

For the more countenance to my active Muse?



H&s also print the Proludium, a poem identified convincingly as an earlier draft of Forest 10,

sent to sir John salisbury of lleweni and preserved in manuscript. it does not bear the same rela-


tionship to Odes i.12 as the later version, although it does incorporate several Horatian features.

22 riddell, ‘seventeenth-century identifications of Jonson’s sources in the classics’, 217.


The version printed in chester’s Loves martyr has ‘we’ for ‘i’ in both cases in the first line, perhaps

23 an echo of the Greek.


The whole of Odes i.12 is arguably indebted to Olympian 2 (see eduard Fraenkel, Horace

(oxford: clarendon Press, , pp. 291–7). The link between Odes i.12 and Olympians 2 is

pointed out by the earliest of the editions of Horace which Jonson is known to have owned

(and the only one which predates his earliest major odes). The edition in question is Bernadini

Parthenii Spilimbergii in Q. Horatii Flacci Carmina atq. Epodos Commentarii Quibus Poetae arti-

ficium, & uia ad imitationem, atq. ad Poetice scribendum aperitur (Venice: apud dominicum

o r r

nicolinum ), 4 , p. 140 (Mm2 ) (hereafter Spilimbergii). The relevant comment on Odes i.12

r r v v

is found at 29 (H1 )-29 (H1 ). Jonson’s copy is held in cambridge University library (X.9.15).

  But Jonson’s version works a reversal upon Horace just as Horace had upon Pindar. The latin poem offers seven possible divine subjects: Jove (14–16), Pallas athene (20), Bacchus (22), artemis (22), apollo (24), Hercules (25) and the heavenly twins (25). Forest 10 takes four of these (Hercules, Phoebus, Bacchus and Pallas), names them, slyly, in reverse order, and then rejects – rather than includes – them one by one:

  Hercules? alas his bones are yet sore, With his old earthly labours. t<o>’exact more, 5 of his dull god-head, were sinne. ile implore

  Phoebus. no? tend thy cart still. envious day shall not give out, that i have made thee stay, and foundred thy hot teame, to tune my lay. now will i beg of thee, Lord of the vine,

  10 to raise my spirits with thy conjuring wine, in the greene circle of thy ivy twine. Pallas, nor thee i call on, mankinde maid,

That, at thy birth, mad’st the poore smith affraid,

Who, with his axe, thy fathers mid-wife plaid.

  15 (4–15)

  This is imitation of Horace, undoubtedly; it is also imitation of Horace’s own challenging imitation; and finally it is a kind of deflation. We might expect this lively renunciation of the pagan gods of ‘poets’ heaven’ to be followed by a pious shift to Christian devotion, somehow annexed to the royal court, in place of the political pieties of the latter part of Horace’s poem. But that is not the move Jonson makes. instead, he continues to reject further pagan divinities – Mars, Venus, cupid and Hermes – and ends, rather abruptly, with the declaration that


none of these gods could be enough to persuade him to take ‘My Muse up

  by commission: no, i bring / My owne true fire. now my thought takes wing, / and now an Epode to deepe eares i sing’ (28–30, the italics are present in the folio text). This unexpected conclusion pointedly jettisons the whole second half of Horace’s poem – piously devoted to mention- ing virtuous roman heroes, and finally caesar himself – in favour of the poet’s own moral ideals as expounded in Forest 11 (the ‘Epode’ to which More specifically, it subverts the formal model that


For details of Jonson’s library, see: david McPherson, ‘Ben Jonson’s library and Marginalia: an

annotated catalogue’, Studies in Philology, 71 ( ), 1–106 and robert c. evans, Habits of Mind: Evidence and Effects of Ben Jonson’s Reading (lewisburg: Bucknell University Press 24 ). the opening of the poem invokes: namely, that of a victory ode. For all the differences between them, the movement of Horace’s poem shares much in common with Pindar’s: both will climax with the celebration of a named victor (Theron of acragas, in Olympian 2, and augustus, the ‘caesar’ of Odes i.12), and both hymn that victor in terms of the mounting glory of his family line. it is not just that Jonson’s poem jettisons this development, or that it implicitly replaces the expected victor with Jonson himself (‘my owne true fire’, 29; ‘and now an Epode to deepe eares i sing’, 30). it does both of these in language which at once appropriates and rejects the combined Horatian and Pindaric inheritance (in ancient literature, ‘epodes’ are found in Greek tragic choruses, Pindar’s choral odes, and in Horace’s early part-lyrical, part-satirical collection). The phrase ‘now my thought takes wing’ (29) is derived from Pindar; but the final stanza of Jonson’s poem explicitly refuses to endorse a poetic subject determined by another’s request or payment: no ‘beautie’, however great or divine, poem implies, wrote of caesar and of Theron because they were paid to do so. if Forest 10 is still in any sense a victory ode, this victory belongs solely to the poet.

  The sequence of explicitly ‘Horatian’ poems in the Forest is concluded by the penultimate poem of the collection, the ‘Ode. to sir William sydney, on his Birth-day’ (Forest 14). The ode has attracted little com- ment, either structurally or in terms of its content. in his perceptive article anthony Miller argues that the ode is indebted both to Pindaric epinicia and the roman ‘genethliacon’, or birthday poem, although he admits that the austerity of the ethical admonition in Forest 14 is rather different from anything found in the roman genre. Horace’s odes for a birthday or other occasion (such as iii.17 or iii.19, as well as iV.11, to which Miller compares this ode), even when they include broadly ‘serious’ material on aging, or the importance of good birth (e.g. iii.17.1–9), typically end by modulating in an ironic and understated fash- ion away from such themes. Odes iV.11, for instance, which opens with the busy preparations for a celebration in a manner reminiscent of Forest 25 14, concludes not with solemn advice, but with the distracting pleasures


For a ‘winged’ song or technique in Pindar, see: Isthmian 5.63 (last line); Nemean 7.22; Pythians

8.34 and 5.114 (note also Horace, Odes ii.20, discussed below). Pindar several times mentions 26 payment for his work. of Phyllis – ‘come now, the last / of my loves’ (31–2) – and her delightful song (34–6). nor is it only tone which distinguishes this poem from Horace’s work: the six stanzas of ten lines each are much longer than anything found in Horace, and the variety of line length is also unHoratian.

  This day sayes, then, the number of glad yeeres are justly summ’d, that make you man; Your vow Must now strive all right wayes it can,

  25 t<o>’out-strip your peeres: since he doth lacke of going backe little, whose will

doth urge him to runne wrong, or to stand still. 30

  (Forest 14.21–30) rather, the poem is in this as in several other formal features, Pindaric.

  in the 1616 folio edition of Jonson’s Workes, the combination of varied line-length and undifferentiated stanzas, as Miller remarks, ‘resembles He cites as Pindaric the use of gnomic wisdom, the comparison of virtue to an athletic contest (‘[t]’out-strip your peeres’; ‘to runne wrong, or to stand still’, 26 and 30), the ‘bold’ introduction of the poet’s own voice, and the connection of an addressee’s virtue and excellence to the virtuous example of his ancestors. Miller also comments upon the surprising combination of these Pindaric features not, apparently, with celebration of achieved virtue, but rather with incitement to virtue. The ‘victor’ of this victory ode hardly emerges as victorious at all.

  William sidney was knighted in 1611 and died in 1612; this poem pre- sumably commemorates the intervening birthday. lisle c. John first con- nected William’s apparent underachievement with the serious tone of this poem, describing it as a ‘courteous but serious admonition to him to make Much of the tension and originality of the piece derives from this juxtaposition of factors: a victory ode which seems to urge triumphant virtue rather than (not in addition to) celebrating a 27 recent achievement. The poet’s role in prompting and then immortalising 28 Miller, ‘These forc’d ioyes’, 47, n. 10.

  such achievement lies just below the surface of the poem: ‘so may you live in honor, as in name, / if with this truth you be inspir’d’ (51–2). if Horace’s odes generally slide away from the exigencies of ‘commissioned’ celebration with the graceful sidesteps of recusatio, or the muted ironies of an oblique lyric conclusion, Jonson’s poem seems to confront the rela- tionship between poet and celebrant by choosing a celebrant – a ‘victor’ – barely worthy of the address. v e r sions of v ic tory: pi n da r a n d hor ac e i n Jonson’s e a r ly ode s

  The scope of this technique is apparent if we compare the ambiguous address of Forest 14 to the very different, but related, effects of UV 48, in which the poet addresses himself. although undated, the connections between this poem and the final lines of the ‘apologetical dialogue’ to


Poetaster (1601) suggests that it belongs to around this time; it is titled

  UV 48 exhibits several of those Pindaric features characteristic of the early Jonsonian ode: we find, once again, verses of longer length than an Horatian stanza, with a wide variety of line length and a complex rhyme scheme. The poem is self-conscious about its own efficacy, as the poet urges himself to further heights: ‘Wee’l rip our richest veynes / and once t more stryke the eare of tyme w h those Fresh straynes’ (31–2). Pindar frequently addresses himself in this way, and it is identified as a distin- guishing feature of his style: ‘at once now, sweet lyre, weave out the tune’ (Nemean 4.44–5). in Nemean 5 the poetic effort is compared to an ath- letic jump (19–21) and then to the hoisting of sails (51–3). The Muse is a speeding chariot at Isthmian 8.67–8; and at Isthmian 4.47 the poet hopes to light a ‘beacon-fire of hymns’. similarly vivid metaphorical examples of poetic action are to be found in almost every ode.

  Moreover, the prayer of the final stanzas incorporates a compressed mythological reference reminiscent of Pindar’s elliptic and allusive mythic material:

  Throwe, Holye Virgin, then Thie chrystall sheild aboute this isle, and charme the rounde, as when Thou mad’st in open Feild

  40 The rebell Gyantes stoope, and Gorgon envye yeild, cause reverence, yf not Feare, Throughout their generall breastes, and by their takeinge, lett it once appeare

Whoe worthie winne, whoe not, to bee wyse Pallas guests.

  45 (37–45)

  an oblique allusion to a myth broadly relevant to the theme of the poem is a Pindaric feature. in this case, the Gorgon is reimagined as ‘envy’, a personification appropriate to the specifically artistic context of the open- ing stanzas, which lament the fate of the unpatronised poet in modern times. it is this modern ‘Gorgon’ whom the speaker hopes athene will defeat – although the provocative juxtaposition of ‘Holye Virgin’ and ‘this isle’ (37, 39) also suggests england’s medieval reputation for Marian devotion.

  Pallas’ intervention in Perseus’ battle with the Gorgon Medusa is rehearsed at some length in Pythian 12. significantly, this poem is the only one of Pindar’s extant epinicia to celebrate a musical victor, Midas of acragas, who won the pipe-playing contest in 490 bc. Pythian 12 is (unusually) monostanzaic, as are Jonson’s early Pindaric odes; and the four Greek stanzas of eight lines each are comparable to the five stanzas of nine lines of UV 48. The athene episode, the structural myth of Pindar’s poem, relates how piping was invented by athene in imitation of the sound of the Gorgons as they lamented for Medusa after Perseus beheaded her (6–11; 18–27). Whereas Pindar’s victory odes usually work to associate athletic (and political) victory with the poetic ‘victory’ which immortalises it, in this poem these two categories are brought uniquely close together.

  But the allusive texture of UV 48 is further complicated by the open- ing three stanzas, which allude not primarily to Horace or Pindar, but rather to Juvenal’s seventh satire, on the deprivation and indignity of the one of Jonson’s favour- ite satiric texts, Satires 7, explicitly compares the status of the poet in Juvenal’s time to the favourable conditions enjoyed by Horace and Virgil under the patronage of Maecenas. Juvenal’s poem systematically invokes the language of Horatian poethood (‘vatem egregium’, 53) and mentions Horace and Maecenas in particular, only to undercut this terminology 30 with an aside that doubts the existence of any such ‘vates’: ‘i can’t come

  related passages in the ‘apologetical dialogue’ to Poetaster are discussed in , pp. 101–6. up with an example of one, though i feel sure such a type exists’ (56). UV 48 imitates this tone of bitter nostalgia for a past age:

  Yff Men, and tymes were nowe of that true Face as when they both were greate, and both knewe howe that Fortune to imbrace, t

By cherissheinge the spirrites y gave their greatnesse grace


  in UV 48 the truest sign of recognising and ‘embracing’ the good fortune of living in a blessed age is for the ‘great’ to cherish those ‘spirits’ (that is, people; but people with a frisson of inspiration about them) who grant the great their ‘grace’. This is a reversal of what we might expect: the first ‘grace’ of the poem is not the ‘thanks’ (that is, recompense) the patronised


poet might hope for, but rather the ‘grace’ (immortality) for which the

   Pindar, puts it: ‘He himself has not the honor of having sung the praises of victors, for it is they who have acquired honor by being made the sub- ject of Pindar’s verse … The fame which his heroes may claim is only an

  The juxtaposition of Juvenalian satiric material with the vatic assurance of lyric is discussed in

chapter 3 . in this poem that transition is marked

  quite clearly at line 28:

  Yett: since the bright, and wyse, Mynerva deignes Uppon soe humbled earth to cast hir eyes: Wee’l rip our richest veynes t

and once more stryke the eare of tyme w h those Fresh straynes


  The curious image, poised between the medical and geological, of ‘rip our richest veynes’ alludes to Horace’s description of the truly great poet: ‘Whether a praiseworthy poem is the result of nature, or of art / is often a topic of debate: personally, i do not see what good is study without a rich vein [divite vena] of talent / nor what the use is of tal- 31 The paradox of the promise ‘once more’ to produce poetic strains which


The ‘grace’ of line 27 refers, by contrast, to what the poet can hope for – in this age, only the

32 ‘ivye, or the Bayes’ (26) rather than, by implication, any actual payment.

G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, trans. t. M. Knox, 2 vols. (oxford: clarendon Press, 1975 ), vol. i, p. 1130.

  are nevertheless ‘fresh’ is, in this context, an acknowledgement of the concomitant power and risk of the allusive complexity of the poem. The literary authority of the lyric form – which also borrowed earlier poets’ declarations of absolute originality to reinforce its own ‘freshness’ – is always in danger of becoming merely ironic. The narrative dynamic introduced by the Juvenalian (satiric) voice, of despair and cynicism overcome by renewed augustan lyric confidence, is at once an acknow- ledgement of this danger, and a response to it. But the Pindaric features of the poem, as described, are significant. The divinely aided outcome for which the poet prays is not only a modulation into lyric, but pre- cisely a victory: a victory of lyric poetry, and of the lyric poet – like that of Midas – over his competitors.

  The odes to sir William sidney (Forest 14) and to the poet himself in UV 48 are poems of combined celebration and exhortation; both are delivered by a poet speaking in a lofty and self-conscious tone, pregnant with its own power; and all juxtapose glory and honour (usually of a kind associated specifically with poetic immortality) with worldly envy, failure or disappointment. in the fantasy ‘victory’ of UV 48, the speaker imagines a divinely sponsored regime in which the poet’s power to confer ‘grace’ is both recognised and appropriately repaid: a movement which at once arouses envy and defeats it, and which secures glory and reverence two further early odes, both of which have attracted very little com- ment, offer the clearest and most fully developed examples that we find in Jonson before UW 70 of this combination of Horatian elements with Pindaric form: UW 25, the ode to desmond, and UV 6, the ‘ode

  . Both poems engage

  allegorike’ prefixed to Holland’s Pancharis with, and rewrite, the definition of ‘victory’ that deserves celebration, and 34 the relationship of this victory to the poet himself.


This powerful fantasy is fulfilled – or at least described as such – in Jonson’s masques. Between

1605 and 1625 he wrote twenty-five masques for the court of James i (a further two were per-

formed for charles i in 1631). Jonson’s detailed directions and descriptions of the action in the

texts he prepared for publication make much of the harmonious unity of song and dance, espe-

cially in the final stages, and the tone of this harmonious achievement typically combines adu-

lation with a didactic edge. Both in tone and in verse form many of the climactic songs strongly

resemble the major odes – particularly compelling examples are found in The Golden Age Restored

(1615 or 1616) which, like UV 48, imagines Pallas athena as the driving force in restoring the

glories of astraea’s rule, assisted by the poets. The Irish Masque at Court (1613/14) similarly con-

cludes with the summoning of an ‘immortal bard’ (137). The influence of Pindar upon Jonson’s

development of the masque form deserves further consideration and i hope to explore this aspect t h e ode to Ja m e s, e a r l of de smon d, a n d t h e de f i n i t ion of gl ory James, earl of desmond died young in 1601, having spent most of his life a prisoner through no fault of his own: born around 1570, he was incar- cerated from childhood, first as a guarantor for his father’s behaviour, and then in exchange for his freedo UW 25 seems to date from the period immediately preceding his eventual release in october 1600, at a point at which his freedom appeared possible, although not yet secured. The imagery of the poem alludes repeatedly to desmond’s imprisonment and implies that the Queen may soon grant him his liberty The fifth and central stanza of the ode focuses upon desmond’s inno- cence and the injustice of his treatment:


nor thinke your selfe unfortunate,

if subject to the jealous errors of politique pretext, that wryes a state,

sinke not beneath these terrors:

  30 But whisper; o glad innocence, Where only a mans birth is his offence, or the dis-favour of such as savour nothing, but practise upon honours thrall.

  35 o vertues fall, When her dead essence (like the anatomie in surgeons hall) is but a statists theame, to read Phlebotomie.

  (27–3 35

anthony M. Mccormack, ‘Fitzgerald, James fitz Gerald, Fifteenth earl of desmond (c. 1570–

1601)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (oxford University Press(www.oxforddnb.

com/view/article/9563). 36 The fourth stanza was printed in Englands Parnassus in october 1600, implying that the poem

was complete by that date. a copy of the poem in Jonson’s hand survives (christ church Ms.


184). Mark Bland’s useful description of the volume in which that copy appears supports a date

of around 1600. (see Mark Bland, ‘“as Far from all reuolt”: sir John salusbury, christ church

Ms. 184 and Jonson’s First ode’, English Manuscript Studies, 8 ), 43–76.) Bland further sug-

gests that the poem may originally have been addressed to the earl of essex, and only later rede-

scribed as a poem for desmond (the christ church holograph does not name an addressee). The

poem’s stress upon the addressee’s innocence, however, fits desmond’s history better than that

of essex. if the christ church Ms dates, as it appears to do, from soon after the poem’s original

composition, we might expect to find in it alternative readings more appropriate to essex. 37

in his transcription of the christ church Ms, Bland reads ‘favour’ in line 34 where H&s print


‘savour’. The handwriting of the Ms is ambiguous, and ‘savour’ seems to me superior. in line 37

the Ms has ‘white essence’, which could suggest ‘drained of blood’ as well as ‘pure’. a ‘statist’ is

  ‘Thrall’ at this period can mean imprisonment as well as enslavement, adding to a series of images of confinement in the poem (‘every chincke’, 16; ‘knit circle of her stonie armes’, 19; ‘her cold embraces’, 22). The final lines of the stanza are difficult. since phlebotomy is, literally, the cut- ting of veins, the sentence seems to refer to the tendency to ignore true virtue while attending instead to a man’s ‘blood’ – that is, his birth, and Jonson is saying that a man should be judged on his own merits – and, unlike desmond, given a chance to dis- play them.

  The opening stanza of UW 25 appropriates echoes from almost the complete set of those Horatian passages which have already emerged as Jonsonian favourites:

  Where art thou, Genius? i should use Thy present aide: arise invention, Wake, and put on the wings of Pindars Muse, to towre with my intention High, as his mind, that doth advance

  5 Her upright head, above the reach of chance, or the times envie: Cynthius, i applie My bolder numbers to thy golden Lyre: o, then inspire

  10 Thy Priest in this strange rapture; heat my braine With Delphick fire:

That i may sing my thoughts, in some unvulgar straine.


  in the ‘advancement’ of this ‘upright head’ we hear, as in Forest 12, the close of Odes i.1: ‘but if you include me among the lyric bards, / i’ll strike the stars with my uplifted head’ (35–6). ‘Bolder numbers’ invokes several of Horace’s declarations of poetic (and especially metric) innovation, but perhaps especially the statement on – significantly – Pindar’s dithyrambic style at Odes iV.2.10–12: ‘per audaces nova dithyrambos / verba devolvit numerisque fertur / lege solutis’ (‘[Pindar] unrolls new words / in bold 38 dithyrambs, and is borne along by metres / freed from convention’)


The theme is a Jonsonian favourite; compare for instance ‘to Kenelm, John, George’ in the

39 eighth part of ‘eupheme’ (UW 84), or Forest 13.48–50.

see also Horace’s statements of technical innovation at Odes iii.30.13–14 (combining Greek song

with italian metres), Epistles i.3.12–13 and Epistles ii.2.143. The christ church holograph (Ms.


184) has ‘flowing’ rather than ‘bolder’. it was probably altered because ‘flowing’ became a central

  ‘Thy Priest’ (11) is also Horatian: throughout the Odes the term ‘vates’ in this opening stanza Jonson has collapsed the hopeful aspiration of Odes i.1 with the declaration of its fulfilment in Odes iV.3, a poem which, like this ode, claims to have passed beyond envy, and which also mentions a golden instrument: ‘now i am less bitten by the tooth of envy’ (16) fol- lowed by ‘o, testudinis aureae’ (‘o, golden tortoise-shell [i.e. lyre]’, 17).

  Whereas at the opening of his first book of odes, Horace hoped to be included in the ranks of the lyric poets, in his final book he proclaims that ambition fulfilled.

  Thus Jonson’s early poem not only appropriates Horace’s confident lyric hope, but collapses the narrative arc of Horatian achievement, promoting this new poet directly to the glorious fulfilment of lyric power. Just as Horace fitted Greek song to italian metres, Jonson is fitting the ‘bolder numbers’ of his innovative english verse to the ‘golden lyre’ that belongs at once to apollo and to Pindar ( ‘Χρυσέα φóρμιγξ’,

  Pythian 1.1). He is doing so, moreover, through a self-conscious opening flurry of Horatian echoes, but in explicit hope of emulating Pindar’s winged muse, the only ancient poet invoked by name: ‘arise invention, / Wake, and put on the wings of Pindars Muse’ (2–3). The opposite fate – of ‘buried virtue’ – is, according to the poem’s description, exactly desmond’s predicament, the predicament that

  Jonson’s verse will overcome:


Then shall my Verses, like strong charmes,

Breake the knit circle of her stonie armes, That hold<s> your spirit: and keepes your merit lock’t in her cold embraces, from the view of eyes more true


  The poem concludes with the same sentiment, hopeful that:


our faire Phoeb<e>’s shine,

shall light those places, With lustrous Graces,

Where darknesse with her gloomie-sceptred hand,

doth now command 40

  (57–62) 41 Odes i.1.35; ii.20.3; iii.1.3 (‘Musarum sacerdos’); iV.3.15; iV.6.44 and iV.9.28.

  This description of the salvation from darkness and death at the hands of the poet and his divinely inspired art remind us inexorably of the pos- sibility of the reverse for those who pass unsung. although the theme is expressed in Odes iV.9, this is a much more characteristically Pindaric sentiment than it is an Horatian one. one of the most familiar formula- tions of it occurs at Nemean 7.12–13: ‘for great deeds of valour remain in darkness if they lack hymns.’ although he considers the poem a failure, Paul Fry acknowledges more clearly than any other critic the fundamentally Pindaric nature of its structure, describing the complex transitions of the imagery of light like UV 48,


Forest 14 and even UW 26 (another, though much slighter, Jonsonian

  ode), the stanza form is once again closer to Pindar than any other model. The gnomic statements are also typically Pindaric: ‘Palme growes straight, though handled ne’re so rude’ (26); in the fourth stanza as it is printed in Englands Parnassus (1600), lines 45–50 are pointed as gnomic. one of the instances of Pindar’s description of poetic skill as ‘winged’ occurs in Nemean 7 (‘winged craft’ (22), on this occasion describing

  Homer’s style rather than his own). like UW 25, Nemean 7 (in common with many of Pindar’s odes) returns repeatedly to images of darkness and 42 light; in particular, it contains one of the starkest of Pindar’s articulations 43 see also Nemean 9.6–7.


Paul H. Fry, The Poet’s Calling in the English Ode (new Haven: Yale University Press,

), p. 29. see also Martin Vöhler, Pindarrezeptionen: Sechs Studien zum Wandel des

Pindarverständnisses von Erasmus bis Herder, Bibliothek der klassischen altertumswissenschaften


117 (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, , pp. 41–2. Fry’s provocative reading is marred

by the omission of lines 3–4 in his quotation on page 28; as a result, he considers the ‘mind’ of

line 5 to be confusingly female (because of the ‘her’ in line 6), and ascribes it to desmond. Fry

is right to note the shifting pronouns of Jonson’s poem – itself, i believe, an attempt to imitate

Pindaric transitions – but the transcription error has confused him. ‘His mind’ refers to Pindar,

and ‘her upright head’ to Pindar’s muse, who is naturally female. it is Pindar’s mind that has

advanced the muse’s head ‘above the reach of chance, / or the times envie’ (6–7). The clauses are

44 still densely packed, but not quite so incomprehensible.

i discuss this poem further in ‘a Mirror for noble deeds: Pindaric Form in Jonson’s odes and

Masques’, in Peter agocs, richard rawles and chris carey (eds.), The Reception of the Victory

45 Ode (london: institute of classical studies, forthcoming).

see H&s, vol. xi, p. 63. For Pindar’s gnomic statements, see M. M. Willcock (ed.), Pindar: Victory

  Odes: Olympians 2, 7, 11; Nemean 4; Isthmians 3, 4, 7 (cambridge University Press, ), pp.


12–15. ‘Pointing’ in this context refers to the insertion of inverted commas at the beginning of a

line or lines (though not at the end), indicating their ‘gnomic’ status. Willcock describes Pindar’s

gnomic statements as ‘moralising or proverbial reflections arising mostly from the consideration of the connection between darkness and the obscurity of the man uncele- brated in verse:

  καὶ μεγάλαι γὰρ ἀλκαὶ σκότον πολὺν ὕμνων ἔχοντι δεόμεναι · ἔργοις δὲ καλοῖς ἔσοπτρον ἴσαμεν ἑνὶ σὺν τρόπῳ, εἰ Μναμυσύνας ἕκατι λιπαράμπυκος εὕρηται ἄποινα μόχθων κλυταῖς ἐπέων ἀοιδαῖς.

  (Nemean 7.12–16) For great deeds of valour remain in deep darkness if they lack hymns.

  We know of a mirror for noble deeds in only one way,

if, by the grace of Mnemosyne [memory] with the shining crown,

one finds a recompense for his labours in poetry’s famous songs.

  The rich metaphorical language of Jonson’s second stanza is similarly concerned with light and dark – specifically, the connection between desmond’s ‘honour’, the poet’s attention through his ‘verses’, and the resultant disruption of the ‘cold embrace’ which keeps desmond’s merit unknown (‘lock’t in her cold embraces, from the view / of eyes more true’, 22–3). This ‘cold embrace’ is, literally, a prison, but it is also both death and obscurity. Moreover, Jonson places at the heart of the complex connections between poet, addressee and the glory of his virtue the image of a reflection:


rich beame of honour, shed your light

on these darke rymes; that my affection

May shine (through every chincke) to every sight Graced by your reflection!


  The syntax and imagery here are very tangled, miming the interdepend- ence of the honour and the verses: without the ‘rich beame’ of desmond’s honour, the verses remain ‘darke’ (that is, obscure; and also, presum- ably, nonsensical: without a subject). But in combination with that hon- our, it is Jonson’s affection – his message – that will ‘shine … to every sight’: that is, achieve true fame. The reflective image is ambiguous: it is not clear whether it is the poet’s ‘affection’ that is to be ‘graced by your [desmond’s] reflection’, and so reach many eyes; or whether it is ‘every 46 sight’ that, in apprehending Jonson’s affection (that is, the verse itself),


similar imagery is found in Forest 13, the epistle to lady aubigny. Her virtuous ‘reflection’, we will find itself so ‘graced’. The whole of the sentence is densely composed so as to entangle most effectively the agency of desmond’s honour and Jonson’s verse: ‘We know of a mirror for noble deeds in only one way’ (14, italics mine). although there is no direct analogue in Nemean 7 for the powerful metaphor of ‘rich beame of honour’, at Isthmian 4.46 we do find a ‘beam of noble deeds, forever unquenched’, which refers specifically to the lasting fame of one whose achievement has been celebrated in song with an ‘immortal voice’ (44). Both ‘beams’ suggest the dependency, even of virtue, upon poetic celebration for the enduring light of glory. in the final stanza, light is once again aligned with virtue but also with fame: desmond’s heart ‘flames clearest’ (54), but for all that he needs and wants the ‘light’ of a grace which is at once, ambiguously, royal favour (and pardon), literal freedom from imprisonment, and the ‘light’ of (poetic) memory:

  But to your selfe, most loyal lord,

(Whose heart in that bright sphere flames clearest,

Though many Gems be in your bosome stor’d,

  55 Unknowne which is the dearest) if i auspitiously divine, (as my hope tells) that our faire Phoeb<e>’s shine, shall light those places With lustrous Graces,

  60 Where darknesse with her gloomie-sceptred hand, doth now command; o then (my best-best lov’d) let me importune, That you will stand as farre from all revolt, as you are now from Fortune.

  65 (53–65)


Nemean 7 likewise returns to an image of darkness, not this time of

  obscurity as such but of ‘blame’, the opposite of true fame: ‘i am a guest friend. Warding off dark blame, / like streams of water i shall bring genu- ine fame / with my praises to the man who is my friend, / for that is the proper reward of good men’ (61–4).

  Jonson’s final stanza is characterised by ambiguous pronouns and an ever-receding conditional. The whole sentence from ‘But to your selfe’ (53) to ‘doth now command’ (62) is syntactically incomplete: the verb which we expect to be governing ‘But to your selfe’ (perhaps ‘i pay tribute’) never appears; we are lost instead in the ever-deferred possibilities of royal grace and favour, pitched in terms which remind us of the conditionality in Pindar, it is the poet, not the monarch or victor, who dispenses grace:

  σὺν Ὀρσέᾳ δέ νιν κωμάξομαι τερπνὰν ἐπιστάζων χάριν.

  (Isthmian 4.71–2, the final lines of the poem) With orseas

i shall celebrate him in song, sprinkling delightful grace.

  in UW 25 Phoebe/cynthia/elizabeth is associated by her name with the god of poetry (Phoebus/cynthius/apollo) and also – through her imagery of light – with the ‘beame of honour’ that is desmond’s own conduct. When the poet claims ‘if i auspitiously divine, / (as my hope tells) that our faire Phoeb<e>’s shine, / shall light those places / With lus- trous Graces’, even the uncertainty of elizabeth’s favour has become syn- tactically subordinate to the poet’s own ‘auspitious divining’ – two words chosen to return us unequivocally to the vatic language with which the poem began.

  Politically, the balance here is a very delicate one: the allusions to the Queen’s uncertain favour – ‘faire Phoeb<e>’s shine’ (58, ‘drad


Cynthia’s’ in the Ms) – are clear enough, and Jonson’s later title (‘writ

  in Queene elizabeth’s time’) draws attention to the fact. But the fem- inine pronoun is powerfully ambiguous throughout the poem. The pronoun of ‘[h]er upright head’ which is ‘advance[d] … above the reach of chance, / or the times envie’ (5–7) presumably refers, as noted above, not to elizabeth but to Pindar’s muse. But the female posses- sive pronoun is, as Fry remarks, initially confusing. similarly striking is the female personification of imprisonment at lines 19–22: ‘the knit circle of her stonie armes, / That hold<s> your spirit: / and keepes your merit / lock’t in her cold embraces’. defeated virtue is apparently female (‘her dead essence’, 37) and so of course is Phoebe (or cynthia) (58), namely the Queen; but ‘darknesse’ (61) is also personified with the feminine pronoun, and moreover with an attribute – ‘her gloomie- sceptred hand’ (61) – which recalls the Queen herself. she – whether ‘drad [dread]’, as in the Ms, or ‘faire’ (58) – is ambiguously associated with both darkness and light; mercy and imprisonment; and in each instance, in both stanzas two and five, her transition from one to the other is mediated by the speaker of the poem, the poet himself: ‘my affection … my Verses’, (15–18); ‘if i auspitiously divine, / (as my hope tells)’, (57–8).

  The impression is of a poem not so much about the relationship of desmond to the Queen as about that of the poet to the monarch and to desmond alike, and the suggestion of the poet’s effective inter- vention. But perhaps the most significant feature of the Pindaric for- mal and allusive structure of the poem is that such an unequivocally victorious form should be used to celebrate something clearly not a vic- tory at all – desmond’s release would be, if anything, only a minor concession. Jonson is claiming, in a kind of defiant reappropriation of his Pindaric models, that desmond’s ‘virtue’ (in the christian sense, without the Pindaric overtones of surpassing achievement) is – or could be – enough to constitute a victory in its own right. But in advising desmond of this possibility, he insists too, and most forcibly, on the impossibility of separating his addressee’s potential glory from the poetic form which that glory must take: a poetic ‘grace’ which merges imper- ceptibly with royal ‘grace’ and the lustrous appeal of virtue itself. to paraphrase Pindar: desmond’s virtue could be as blazing as gold, if it is celebrated in a hymn – a hymn that would make his real Fortune, far from being distant, equal to that of royalty herself: ‘a song of noble deeds, makes a man equal in fortune to kings’ (Nemean 4.83–5). The tension in this poem, noted but not fully analysed by Fry, is rooted in the impossibility of distinguishing the queen’s undoubted power to ‘release’ desmond from obscurity from Jonson’s own equivalent, and more glorious, promise.

  Thus the reader’s identification of the poem as a Pindaric victory ode is central to its effect: by appropriating the genre, Jonson is redefining what may be termed a victory. even an unvictorious (in fact non-existent) pub- lic career becomes glorious in the hands of the poet. The two elements – the glory (of athletic victory) and its immortal memory (conferred by the poet) – held so tightly together in Pindar are provocatively prised apart by Jonson. in his epinicion, the poet’s power to seal glory with memory tips over into the creation of that glory. as we shall see, Jonson continued over the course of his career to work out the implications for the poet of this version of the ‘victory ode’.

  Jonson’s ‘ode a l l e g or ik e’: hor ac e, pi n da r a n d t h e n e W k i ng The ‘ode allegorike’ (or ‘ἀλληγορικὴ’, UV 6) exhibits a similar pattern.

   ), the poem is a commenda-

  Prefixed to Hugh Holland’s Pancharis

   of his epic project.

  Pancharis narrates the courtship of Katherine and owen tudor, glorifying and memorialising the foundation of a dynasty which culminated in Queen elizabeth. The final pages of the volume outline two further forthcoming books which were never produced.

  UV 6 has received even less critical attention than the ode for desmond. shafer, for instance, whose remarks are otherwise useful, notes that ‘Pindar is incidentally mentioned in its third stanza, but there is By contrast, i hope to demonstrate that the Pindaric elements of the ode associate very closely Holland’s achievement, Jonson’s recognition of it, Mountjoy’s military success (introduced in the centre of the poem in imitation of Pindar’s climactic descriptions of the victorious athlete) and finally the king’s overlordship of all these elements: interdependent facets of the majesty of his realm, held together by the poet’s memorialising power. Mountjoy’s spectacular success at Kinsale in 1601, followed by tyrone’s unconditional surrender in december 1602, is here emblematic of the peace-restoring might of the new monarch, just as a victory ode associates an athlete’s success with the wealth and pre-eminence of the sponsoring ruler.

  The extended conceit of the poem imagines Holland, known for his dark colouring, as a black swan, uniquely favoured of apollo. This image is a response to Pancharis itself, the opening lines of which establish both the author’s ‘darkness’ and his taste for an Horatian tone (‘of me thy priest’):


i sing Queene Katharine and my countryman [owen tudor].

o love (if i before thy altare spread, Blacke though i be, have oft lookt pale & wan; and as white turtles there have offered, as are those that thy whiter mother drawe)

  5 draw neere, and with her Myrtle decke the head of me thy priest, that am too rudely rawe, nor once have bin baptized in the spring of Helicon, which yet i never saw. a pinion plucke me out of thine owne wing:

  10 and let they godhead more propitious be Vnto my thoughts while others loves i sing, Then in mine owne it hath beene vnto me. 47 (Pancharis, B1, lines 1–13)


Hugh Holland, Pancharis: The first Booke. Containing The Preparation of Loue betweene Owen

Tvdyr, and the Qveene, Long since intended to her Maiden Maiestie: And now dedicated To The

Invincible Iames, Second and greater Monarch of great Britaine, King of England, Scotland, France,

o and Ireland, with the Islands adiacent (london: by V. simmes for clement Knight), 12

  , stc UV 6 answers this preface at several points. Whereas Holland contrasts his darkness unfavourably with the brightness of Venus’ turtledoves, Jonson makes his ‘blackenesse’ a sign of apollo’s special favour (‘and Phoebus love cause of his blackenesse is’, 16). Holland’s modesty in lines 8–9 alludes to Persius’ Prologue (1–10); UV 6 responds to and counters that engage- ment: Holland, as a black swan, is given a tour by apollo of all the sites of inspiration that Persius claims he has not visited, or dreamed of visiting:


Marke, marke, but when his wing he [Holland, the black swan] takes,

How faire a flight he makes!

  10 How upward, and direct! Whil’st pleas’d Apollo smiles in his sphaere, to see the rest affect, in vaine to follow: This swanne is onely his,

  15 and Phoebus love cause of his blackenesse is. He shew’d him first the hoofe-cleft spring, neere which, the Thespiad’s sing; The cleare Dircaean Fount Where Pindar swamme;

  20 The pale Pyrene, and the forked Mount: and, when they came to brookes, and broader streames, From Zephyr’s rape would close him with his beames.


  Holland’s modest request that he be granted a single ‘pinion’ from cupid’s wing (Pancharis, 10) is answered by his transformation into the swan of Jonson’s poem – and, finally, by the assertion that Holland and ‘cycnus, once high flying / With Cupids wing’ (99–100) are one and the same. Holland’s conventional self-deprecation, modelled upon Persius, is transformed into the much loftier register of an ode: a genre irrevocably associated with impressive mythological and tonal range (for the poet) and lasting fame (for the laudandus).

  But Persius is not the main classical source of the poem. in content and structure, UV 6 is indebted to the final ode of Horace’s second book (Odes ii.20), a poem which Quinn describes as ‘a provisional ironic asser- tion of the poet’s immortality, in anticipation of the definitive statement of the claim … in iii.30’. as such, this poem stands with Odes i.1 and iii.30 as part of the immortalising superstructure of Horace’s three lyric books. Jonson’s own edition of Horace makes the connection between the poet’s ‘divine’ verse and a kind of immortality, and glosses the transform- ation of ii.20 as alluding to both the mental swiftness and the musical The poem engages with Odes ii.20 in several respects. like the speaker of that poem, Holland has become a bird, but this metamorphosis is elided; the opening lines concentrate instead on the swan’s change of plumage. like Horace’s poet, with ‘no weak or borrowed wing’ (1–2), Holland’s originality and inimitability are stressed. transformed into a bird, Horace will travel (that is, his works will reach) to the far corners of the empire: the Bosphorus, syrtes, colchian and dacian tribes, the Geloni and spaniards, the rhone (ii.20.12–20). Jonson’s swan is urged to ‘saile from coast to coast’ (37), and the list of place names marks out the extent not of roman, but rather of emergent British rule: ‘Mône’ (37, anglesey); ‘Cluid’ (39, the vale of clwyd in denbighshire, Holland’s native town); ‘Iërna maine’ (42, the irish sea); ‘Eugenian dale’ (43, refer- ring to the eoghanachts of Munster); ‘Hebrid isles’ (66); ‘Orcades’ (67, the orkneys); to ‘utmost Thule’, ‘Caledon’, ‘Grampius mountaine’, ‘Loumond lake’, ‘Twedes … fountaine’ (69–72), before returning through england (‘Tine’ (73), ‘HumberOwse’ (74), ‘Trent’ (75)). By his eventual return to london (‘Tames’, 81) he reaches peoples from all the nations of europe gathered in the capital. This careful Britishness connects the reach of Holland’s fame with the dedication of the volume: ‘to the invincible iames, second and greater Monarch of great Britaine, King of England,


Scotland, France, and Ireland, with the Islands adiacent’ (Pancharis, title

  Jonson’s potential readers are rather more far-flung than Horace’s: ‘Baphyre’ (57) refers to the Baphyrus in Macedonia, often identified with Helicon, whereas Horace has ‘the drinker of the rhone’ (ii.20.20). But both poets are likewise bound to be inspired – ‘rap’t / With entheate rage, to publish their bright tracts’ (60–1). The ‘tracts’ in ques- tion literally refer, at this point in the poem, not to Holland’s (or Jonson’s) poetry, but to Mountjoy’s military exploits; but the terms ‘publish’ and ‘tracts’ combined with the Horatian allusion suggest literary fame. This 50 r r v v blurring of the distinction between military and poetic excellence is 51 Spilimbergii, 98 (aa4 ) – 98 (aa4 ).

  central to the poem, and, as we shall see, especially associated with its Pindaric features.

  The point of Horace’s metamorphosis is that, as a bird, he will not die: ‘i shall not … die / nor shall i be confined to the stygian wave’ (6–8). Jonson’s swan, too, is made for immortality. although ‘dayly dying’ (101), the swan is destined for the conventional apotheosis of a constellation. The multiple metamorphosis – to swan, to black swan, to constellation – typically ‘outdoes’ Horace’s already ironically overstated original. all this promised glory, however, is evident only to the poetic speaker, who explicitly styles himself a prophet in language which echoes the ‘vates’ (3) of Odes ii.20: ‘But these are Mysteries / conceal’d from all but cleare Propheticke eyes’ (111–12).

  But Odes ii.20 is not the only formative model for the poem. The lyric description of Holland as a swan recalls Horace Odes iV.2, in which Pindar is the ‘dircaean swan’ (iV.2.25). Pindar is the only poet mentioned by name in Jonson’s poem: one of the sites apollo shows Holland is ‘the cleare Dircaean Fount / Where Pindar swamme’ (19–20). (The detail of ‘swamme’ suggests we are meant to imagine Pindar in the form of a swan, since Holland’s black swan is also ‘swimming’ in the first stanza.) Horace


Odes iV.2 is also, as already noted, famous for its statement of the inim-

  itability of Pindar: ‘Whoever strives to emulate Pindar, / iulus, strives with daedalus’ help / on waxen wings only to give / his name to a glassy sea’ (iV.2.1–4). Jonson, too, describes how apollo: ‘smiles in his sphaere, to see the rest [the other swans] affect, / in vaine to follow’ (13–14). Holland’s swift and lofty flight – the exaltation of his verse – is inimitable.

  Both ii.20 and iV.2 engage glancingly with martial themes, and both are a kind of recusatio. in ii.20 the europe-wide range of this Horace-bird echoes the extent of augustus’ emerging empire: it is a statement, albeit a mildly absurd one, about the parity of achievement between the two.


Odes iV.2, by contrast, refers directly to augustus’ achievements abroad

  and indeed anticipates the festivities upon his return in 13 bc. But as a ‘victory ode’ for augustus it is highly ambiguous; Horace defers the task of praise not once but twice. it is deferred first, and most obviously, by claiming that it is iulus antonius, to whom the poem is addressed, who will more suitably celebrate caesar’s triumph (33–6, 41–3). (although, typically, the poem demonstrates Horace’s ability in precisely the task for which he claims inadequacy.)

  The second of the poem’s ‘deferrals’ is more subtle. Odes iV.2 begins by invoking the impossibility of imitating Pindar, the very poet most strongly write a victory song for caesar (although he demonstrates that he could), and he politely passes the job on to iulus, a younger poet – except that he begins his poem by telling him that attempting to rival Pindar (that is, at least possibly, to write a victory ode) is doomed to failure. Both ii.20 and iV.2, then, provocatively associate military dominance and poetic sway, By contrast, military victory lies at the heart of Jonson’s poem, and the triumphant soldier in question is identified by name, like a victorious athlete (or sponsor) in a Pindaric victory ode. in the sixth and seventh stanzas a grammatically and syntactically complex movement slides the focus of the poem from the swan to charles Mountjoy. lord Mountjoy was sent to succeed essex in quelling rebellion in ireland in 1601; he besieged Kinsale in Munster and eventually defeated tyrone when he attempted to relieve the town. The sixth stanza begins by ‘steering’ the swan’s flight from Wales over the irish sea to Munster:

  From thence, display thy wing againe over Iërna maine, to the Eugenian dale; There charme the rout With thy soft notes, and hold them within Pale 45 That late were out. “Musicke hath power to draw,

“Where neither Force can bend, nor Feare can awe.


  in this, the poem echoes the shift in Odes ii.20 from proper names denot- ing simply conventional ‘far-reaches of the world’ (the Bosphorus, syrtes, Gaetulians and Hyberboreans, 13–16) to areas of contemporary roman military engagement (the colchians, dacians, Geloni, spaniards and rhone-drinkers, 16–20). at this point, however, Jonson’s poem moves quite differently from his latin model. Odes ii.20 makes no mention of the power of music to

  ‘charme the rout’; but this connection between music and military victory (which brings peace) is famously made in the opening stanzas of Pindar’s first Pythian:

  You quench even the spearing thunderbolt of everlasting fire … For even mighty ares sets aside the point of his spears, and soothes his heart in sleep …


But those whom Zeus does not love, they are struck with fear at the

sound of the Muses’ song, over the land and over the mighty sea.

  (Pythian 1.5–6, 10–12, 13–14)

Pythian 1 goes on to associate the Muses’ silencing of the enemies of Zeus with

  the conquering of the Phoenicians and etruscans (the enemies of Hieron), and the ‘harmonious peace’ (‘σύμφωνον … ἡσυχίαν’) which results:

  With your help a man who is a ruler,

and instructs his son, by honouring his people may incline them to

harmonious peace. son of Kronos, i beg you, grant

that the Phoenician and etruscan war-cry should remain at home,

now that they have seen how their proud aggression

brought disaster for their fleet before cumae.

  (Pythian 1.69–72)

  similarly, Mountjoy’s ‘command / Hath all beene Harmony’ (50–1), a deliberate blurring of the distinction between the ‘harmony’ of peaceful coexistence and its musical, or poetic, sense. in this way Mountjoy’s success is associated with Hieron, the nominal

  ‘victor’ of the chariot race, but in fact the tyrant of syracuse and founder of aitna (for which he is celebrated in Pythian 1), effectively the sponsor of the winning chariot team. But as we shall see, the final ‘victor’ of the poem is not Mountjoy, but rather Holland’s Pindaric swan, and behind him Jonson himself. similarly, Pythian 1 is one of several Pindaric odes to conclude with a recognition of the dependence of rulers upon poets for lasting fame (92–4; 99–100). nor is this feature the only point of comparison between UV 6 and


Pythian 1. The first Pythian, with its five triads of strophe, antistrophe and

  two of the stanzas are set off by ‘gnomic’ statements, carefully denoted as such by inverted commas at the beginning of the line – lines 47–8 above, and ‘so much doth Virtue hate, / For stile of rarenesse, to degenerate’ (31–2). This incorporation of proverbs or conventional wisdom is also a Pindaric feature. We can notice, too, the poet’s (in this case, significantly, 53 Jonson’s, not Holland’s) addresses to himself: ‘now must we plie our

The lack of a triad pattern of strophe, antistrophe and epode does not detract from this point.


even the more faithful of Pindaric imitations at this period rarely imitated this aspect of Pindaric ayme; our swan’s on wing’ (64). The closest parallel to this in Pindar is at


Olympian 2.89–90: ‘ἔπεχε νῦν σκοπῷ τόξον, ἄγε θυμέ· τίνα βάλλομεν /

ἐκ μαλθακᾶς αὖτε φρενὸς εὐκλέας ὀ-/ ϊστοὺς ἱέντες;’ (‘now aim the

  bow at the mark, come, my heart. at whom / do we shoot, and this time The allusion suggests that even in his praise of another great poet, it is Jonson who commands a Pindaric range of possible topics and themes: ‘Thanks to the gods, i have thousands of paths [for my song] in every direction’ (Isthmian 4.1).

  Moreover, the preceding strophe of Olympian 2 begins by mentioning achilles’ killing of Memnon and, significantly, Kyknos (or cycnus) – the same hero, famous for being turned into a swan, who features in UV 6:

  He [achilles] killed Hektor, troy’s unconquerable and indefatigable pillar, he gave Kyknos to death and dawn’s ethiopian son [Memnon]. Under my arms there are many swift arrows in their quiver

that speak to those who understand; but in general [or: among the

multitude] interpreters are required.

  (Olympian 2.81–6

  The distinction between ‘those who understand’ (the poet and the elite among his audience) and ‘the rest’ figures prominently in UV 6: ‘But these are Mysteries / conceal’d from all but cleare Propheticke eyes’ (111–12). in the highly charged context of Odes iV.2 (‘whoever strives to emulate Pindar’, 1) this pointed imitation of Pindar alongside Horace is a potent claim to authority. Jonson’s poem evokes the Horatian odes, and in doing so flirts with the politics of the recusatio, but chooses not after all to ‘refuse’.

  UV 6 invokes the geographical scope of roman imperial power and connects it with the reach and influence of poetic fame. Holland’s


Pancharis is the first book of a projected three-book epic, recounting the

  romantic and (in a planned second book) martial virtue of the ances- tors of Queen elizabeth. Jonson’s tribute to Holland makes the range of his poetic influence imperial in its scope, and associates that poetic power with the military might of Mountjoy’s triumph. These nuances are flatter- 54 ing both to Holland and to James’ British rule, but they also cast Jonson


There are several other less close parallels, as Pindar very often uses this kind of abrupt break-off, 55 and ‘aiming’ metaphor, to effect a transition (compare Isthmian 5.46–8). himself – not, finally, Holland – as Pindar, the essential celebrant and immortaliser of all this achievement, military and poetic alike.

  This is finally a victory ode, not a poem about the failure or refusal to write a victory ode, but it is a victory ode in which the chief victor cel- ebrated is not (for all his structurally central position and military glory) Mountjoy, nor the king, whose name is never mentioned, but rather a (would-be) epic poet; and, behind him, Jonson himself, with his ‘cleare Propheticke eyes’ (112). From these early odes, all interestingly concerned with redefining the kind of ‘victory’ central to a ‘victory ode’, we can turn to the widely acclaimed cary-Morison ode with a greater understanding of its technique. U W t h e c a ry-mor ison ode ( 70) Jonson’s late Pindaric ode, To the immortall memorie, and friendship


of that noble paire, Sir lucius cary, and Sir H. Morison (UW 70),

  has attracted much more critical attention than any of the other poems discussed in this chapter, although opinion is divided as to its success like the earlier odes, UW 70 is composed of long stanzas of irregular line length, but unlike them it adopts also the Pindaric sequence of strophe, antistrophe and epode (translated by Jonson as ‘turn’, ‘counter-turn’ and ‘stand’). We can note too the presence of gnomic statements (as at lines 73–4, cited below), abrupt transitions and bold use of enjambment across the stanza break (‘Ben // Jonson’, 84–5). The poet addresses his ‘tongue’ (44) in a manner derived from Pindar, who very often speaks of his song, its power and potential, as his ‘tongue’ (Nemean 7.72; Isthmian 5.47; Pythian 1.86). stella revard connects the natural metaphor of the beautiful third ‘turn’ (65–74) 56 with similar Pindaric images, also central to their poemse complex


Wesley trimpi, for instance, thought it too long, and the opening stanzas ill-judged (Wesley

trimpi, Ben Jonson’s Poems: a Study of the Plain Style (stanford University Press, ), p. 199).

recent (and mostly more sympathetic) readings of the poem include: susanne Woods, ‘Ben

Jonson’s cary-Morison ode: some observations on structure and Form’, Studies in English

Literature, 1500–1900, 18 , 57–74; Fry, The Poet’s Calling, pp. 17–26; ian donaldson, ‘Jonson’s

ode to sir lucius cary and sir H. Morison’, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 6 ( , 139–52;

Mary i. oates, ‘Jonson’s “ode Pindarick” and the doctrine of imitation’, Papers in Language

and Literature, 11 ( , 126–48 and stella P. revard, ‘Pindar and Jonson’s cary-Morison ode’,

in claude J. summers and ted-larry Pebworth (eds.), Classic and Cavalier: Essays on Jonson and

the Sons of Ben (University of Pittsburgh Press, ), pp. 17–29. The unity of Pindar’s odes has 57 likewise long been a topic of critical debate. shifting metaphor which refers to the poem itself as first ‘garland’ (77) above all, the poem makes liberal use of structuring myths. at its heart lies a compressed version of the dioscuri myth told, at much greater length, in Nemean 10: The Counter-turne.

  call, noble Lucius, then for Wine,

  75 and let thy lookes with gladnesse shine: accept this garland, plant it on thy head, and thinke, nay know, thy Morison’s not dead. Hee leap’d the present age, Possest with holy rage,

  80 to see that bright eternall day: of which we Priests, and Poëts say such truths, as we expect for happy men, and there he lives with memorie; and Ben The Stand.

  Jonson, who sung this of him, e’re he went

  85 Himselfe to rest, or taste a part of that full joy he meant to have exprest, in this bright Asterisme: Where it were friendships schisme,

  90 (Were not his Lucius long with us to tarry) to separate these twi- lights, the Dioscuri; and keepe the one halfe from his Harry. But fate doth so alternate the designe,

  95 Whilst that in heav’n, this light on earth must shine.


  compare lines 95–6 with Pindar, Nemean 10:

  exchanging places one after another in succession for one day at a time they dwell with their dear father

Zeus, the other in the depths of the earth in the hollows of Therapna

living out an equal fate. 58

  (Nemean 10.55–7

compare the elaborate comparisons of the poet’s song to a garland of gold, white ivory and coral

at Nemean 7.78–9, or ‘honey mixed with white / milk, which the stirred foam tops, / a draught of The correspondence creates a moving association: in Pindar, the brothers’ story is told at length, and Polydeuces’ grief at castor’s death (Nemean 10.73–8) reverberates in Jonson’s poem.

  More controversial is the tale, derived from Pliny, with which the poem begins: the ‘infant of Saguntum’ (1), who retreated back into the womb in horror at the destruction wreaked by Hannibal. Peterson describes this opening as an ‘antic and grotesque foil’, although he does not connect this term, as he might have done, with the ‘foil’ terminology of Pindaric But a myth which apparently bears only vestigial relation to the rest of the poem is a feature of the Pindaric ode, and prodigious or sig- nificant births occur at several points in Pindar’s mythic genealogies: the child aclepius is snatched from the womb as his mother is burned alive at


Pythian 3.38–44, and Olympian 6 is structured around two mythical births

  (of evadne, 31–4 and her son iamos, 39–57). i think donaldson and Fry, among others, are right to read the opening of Jonson’s poem as having an obliquely ironic relationship to the rest of the ode, but it is an irony rooted in our recognition of its Pindaric antecedents. in that, it is a small-scale example of Jonson’s transformative relationship to the genre as a whole. stella revard notes that Jonson’s ode, like those of Pindar, is con- cerned with ‘the role of the poet as the praiser of good men’ as well as More interestingly, she also connects this poem with Nemean 11. The first ground for this association is the central nat- ural metaphors, concerned in both cases with trees and flowers, though to very different effect. Jonson’s stanza, widely excerpted and anthologised, contrasts the long-lived but unimpressive achievement of an ancient tree with the passing glory of a lily:

  it is not growing like a tree

  65 in bulke, doth make man better bee;

or standing long an oake, three hundred yeare,

to fall a logge at last, dry, bald, and seare: a lillie of a day, is fairer farre, in May,

  70 although it fall, and die that night; it was the Plant, and flowre of light. in small proportions, we just beautie see: and in short measures, life may perfect bee. 60


Peterson, Imitation and Praise, p. 205. steiner notes that Pindar characteristically ‘sees victory

both in terms of what it is, and of what it is not, comparing and contrasting it with like and Pindar’s metaphor is concerned with the uncertain waxing and waning of talent and virtue (that difficult term, ἀρετή) even in families of the finest pedigree:

  ancient virtue

produces strength which varies between the generations of men;

even the dark fields do not produce their crop continually, nor do trees desire, in every cycle of the years, to bear sweet-smelling blossom of equal richness, but they vary.

  (Nemean 11.37–42)

  The second ground of revard’s comparison is connected to these meta- phors, and is of especial interest. she compares the two poems on the grounds of their focus upon the limitation of achievement, and upon death: ‘both Jonson and Pindar make the flower or the abundantly flowering tree their symbol for an excellence attained briefly or only several features of Nemean 11 set it apart from other odes by Pindar: it is not long, has no mythological element and commemorates not an athletic victory, but aristagoras’ installation onto the governing council of tenedos. its tone is unusually muted, dwelling insistently on human mortality and constraint. Most strikingly, although it celebrates aristagoras’ athletic ability, at its heart lies an explanation for his failure to fulfil his athletic potential:


The over-cautious expectations of his parents held back their son’s

strength, and prevented him from competing in the games at Pytho and olympia. For, by my oath, i believe that if he had gone to castalia and the well-wooded hill of cronos, he would have returned home with more honour than his opponents.

  (Nemean 11.22–6).

  Mary lefkowitz remarks that, among Pindar’s works, ‘[t]his apology for non-accomplishment of deeds never attempted is unique’. in Nemean 11 this unusual focus upon the limitations of human achievement makes us reluctant to call the poem an epinicion at all. But the cary-Morison ode works quite differently. The vividly Pindaric style unambiguously transforms apparent failure and loss into the ‘victory’ 63 (and immortality) of triumphant virtue: ‘Hee [Morison] leap’d the present age, / Possest with holy rage, / to see that bright eternall day’ (79–81). in


UW 25 Jonson insists on creating victory out of very muted success, and

  in UV 6 the military and imperial victory which we expect to be cen- tral functions as a Pindaric myth or metaphor, highlighting instead the


poet’s triumph. in the cary-Morison ode Jonson similarly creates victory

  from the apparent defeat and disappointment of a young man’s premature death. as in the early odes we have already considered, that victory is associ- ated firmly with the poet: ‘and there he [Morison] lives with memorie; and Ben // Jonson, who sung this of him’ (84–5; Jonson’s name is split Morison’s state as ‘Possest with holy rage’ (80) is an explicit version of poetic inspiration, the ‘furor poeticus’ that features in Poetaster, and the ‘entheate rage’ (61) that seizes even the far-flung Macedonian who encounters Holland’s work (and, by implica- tion, Jonson’s) in UV 6.

  The final lines of the ode movingly end where the structure and tone of the poem invites us to begin – with one of Pindar’s youthful victors and the spreading word of his triumph:

  Λάμπωνος υἱὸς Πυθέας εὐρυσθενὴς νίκη Νεμείοις παγκρατίου στέφανον, οὔπω γένυσι φαίνων τερείνας ματέρ’ οἰνάνθας ὀπώραν,

  (Nemean 5.4–6) [tell that] Pytheas, the mighty son of lampon

has won the crown for the pancratium in the nemean games,

although he is not yet showing on his cheeks the fruiting-season [or: ripeness of life, maturity],

the mother of the soft down upon the vine’s leaf.

  The close of Jonson’s ode echoes the image of the beardless youth, apply- ing it to both cary and Morison at once; but Jonson has appropriated, too, the delicate and almost untranslatable agricultural metaphor of autumn plenty: ‘two so early men, / … / Who, e’re the first downe bloomed on 65 the chin, / Had sow’d these fruits, and got the harvest in’ (125–8)


on this striking fording of the line-break, and its Pindaric connections, see 261–3 of John lemly,

‘Masks and self-portraits in Jonson’s late Poetry’, English Literary History, 44 , 248–66;


oates, ‘Jonson’s “ode Pindarick”’, 133–5; and Woods, ‘Ben Jonson’s cary-Morison ode’, 71–4.

i am indebted to Fitzgerald for the suggested connection between UW 70 and Nemean 5,

although he does not point out the allusion under discussion. (William Fitzgerald, Agonistic


Poetry: the Pindaric Mode in Pindar, Horace, Holderlin, and the English Ode (Berkeley: University oates claims that ‘[b]y choosing Pindar as his model for the “cary- Morison ode” Jonson was aiming at a goal that was among the highest and most difficult a renaissance poet could seek, that of creating not only By new genre, she clarifies, she includes the ‘englishing’ of a classical form, but Jonson’s adoption of the Pindaric victory ode is, as we have seen, generically innovative even in compari- son with Horace and Pindar themselves. claiming, like Pindar, to grant immortality to his addressee; and in so doing setting himself, as poet, in powerful contention even with military and royal power, Jonson is also doing something which Pindar does not do – crafting from worldly defeat and disappointment a celebration of a different kind of ‘victory’.

  The formal originality of the cary-Morison ode deserves continued notice, but the roots of that innovation, as i hope to have demonstrated, lie in the earliest years of Jonson’s career, and in a creative contention between Horatian and Pindaric tone which structures Jonsonian lyric. From the beginning, Jonson constructs his lyric as hyper-Horatian, deter- mined to emulate and out-do Horace at his most vatic – that is, when he is most like Pindar. 67

oates, ‘Jonson’s “ode Pindarick”’, 127–8.


ch a p t er 2

Horatian libertas in Jonson’s epigrams and epistles

no simple word,

That shall be utter’d at our mirthfull boord,

shall make us sad next morning: or affright

The libertie, that wee’ll enjoy to night.

  Epigrams 101, ‘inviting a Friend to supper’, 39–42 (closing lines)

although the commixture of nations, confluence of ambassadors, and the

relation, which the affaires of our Kingdomes have had towards the businesse

and interests of forraine states, have caused, during our regiment, greater open-

nesse, and libertie of discourse, even concerning matters of state, (which are no

Theames, or subjects fit for vulgar persons, or common meetings) then hath been

in former times, used or permitted; and although in our owne nature, and

Judgement, Wee doe well allow of convenient freedome of speech … Yet nev-

erthelesse, forasmuch as it is come to our eares, by common report, That there

is at this time a more licentious passage of lavish discourse, and bold censure

in matters of state, then hath been heretofore, or is fit to be suffered, Wee have

thought it necessary, by the advice of our Privie councell, to give forewarning

unto our loving subjects, of this excesse and resumption …


[a Proclamation against excesse of lavish and licentious speech of matters of

  epigram 101, ‘inviting a Friend to supper’, is one of Jonson’s best-known and most anthologised poems. This lovely invitation piece was – and remains – widely imitated (Thom Gunn’s fine poem, ‘an invitation’, 1 is modelled upon it); and it is of course itself an imitation all the


James F. larkin and Paul l. Hughes (eds.), Stuart Royal Proclamations (oxford: clarendon Press,

2 ), pp. 495–6. a very similar proclamation was issued in the following year, 16 July 1621.


Thom Gunn, Collected Poems (london: Faber and Faber, . The imitation is discussed

by stefan Hawlin, ‘epistemes and imitations: Thom Gunn on Ben Jonson’, Proceedings of the

Modern Languages Association, 122

   ), 1522–4. charles Martindale describes Gunn’s poem as

‘“Horatian” sermo, from 1992’ (Martindale, ‘The Horatian and Juvenalesque in english letters’, commentaries upon the poem note that it is indebted in particular to Jonson’s epi- gram is structured around a ‘menu’, a deftly handled enumeration of vari- ous kinds of food and drink (lines 9–20), and the poem is essentially an artfully varied list. Whereas the latin epigrams on which it is modelled all make a humorous point of the relative simplicity of the proposed meal (which is similar in each case), Jonson’s menu is comically extravagant – and unreal:


and, though fowle, now, be scarce, yet there are clarkes,

The skie not falling, thinke we may have larkes. ile tell you of more, and lye, so you will come: of patrich, pheasant, wood-cock, of which some May yet be there; and godwit, if we can: Knat, raile, and ruffe too.


  This strange evocation of hoped-for plenty – luxuries extravagantly imag- ined, but (we suspect) unlikely to materialise – has attracted a good deal only Thomas Greene, however, confronts the most surprising feature of the poem’s intertextuality: that despite the rec- ognisable patchwork of imitation from which it is composed, the overall effect – the blend of reticence, humour and respect – is not much like Martial in either tone or texture:


[like Martial’s epigram] the body of Jonson’s ostensibly consists of a list of

nouns, related metonymically. But in Jonson the real subject has nothing to do


with the accumulation of dishes; it lies in the spirit of the voice ordering this

There are many attractive and interesting accounts of this widely anthologised poem. see for

instance: Joseph loewenstein, ‘The Jonsonian corpulence; or, the Poet as Mouthpiece’, English

  Literary History, 53 ( , 491–518; Greene, The Light in Troy, pp. 278–84; robert cummings,


‘liberty and History in Jonson’s invitation to supper’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900,

40 ( , 103–22; robert c. evans, ‘ “inviting a Friend to svpper”: Ben Jonson, Friendship,

and the Poetics of Patronage’, in david G. allen and robert a. White (eds.), Traditions and

Innovations: Essays on British Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (newark: University

of delaware Press, , pp. 113–25; Michael c. schoenfeldt, “The Mysteries of Manners, armes,

and arts”: “inviting a Friend to supper” and “to Penshurst”, in claude J. summers and ted-

larry Pebworth (eds.), ‘The Muses Common-weale’: Poetry and Politics in the Seventeenth Century

4 (University of Pittsburgh Press ), pp. 62–79.

in all three latin epigrams the proposed meal begins with lettuce and leeks, followed by tunny

fish served with egg. The meat course features bacon and poultry in each of the poems. Epigrams


11.52 makes no mention of a further course, but the other two epigrams offer fruit and wine, fol-

lowed (in 5.78 only) by olives, chickpeas and beans. Jonson’s poem concentrates at greatest length

upon the various, and increasingly extravagant and unlikely game birds. on the possible histor-

5 ical resonance of this list, see cummings, ‘liberty and History’.


series, subtly modulated from line to line but never crossing the limits of smiling

respect and courteous banter. This spirit has no name in the poem, although

toward the end a few words emerge that help to circumscribe it. it might be

  This is an exceptionally sensitive analysis. Greene pinpoints, too, the moment of the poem’s ‘turn’ to serious ethical content at line 35, and the moral weighting in those final lines of the key terms ‘free, but moder- ately’, ‘innocently’, ‘simple word’ and, finally, ‘libertie’:

  of this we will sup free, but moderately,

  35 and we will have no Pooly’, or Parrot by; nor shall our cups make any guiltie men: But, at our parting, we will be, as when We innocently met. no simple word,

That shall be utter’d at our mirthfull boord,

  40 shall make us sad next morning: or affright The libertie, that wee’ll enjoy to night.

  (Epigrams 101.35–42)

  That ‘libertie’, Greene suggests, ‘will do duty as the culminating thematic term, vitalized, redefined, and expanded by the entire preceding poem … which thus becomes a mistranslation of Martial’s “libertas” (10.48.22), a i think Greene is right to focus upon the key word ‘libertie’, and to describe Jonson’s appropriation of it as an expansion, in his words a ‘thick-

  accedent sine felle ioci nec mane timenda libertas et nil quod tacuisse velis: de prasino conviva meus scorpoque loquatur, nec faciant quemquam pocula nostra reum

  (Epigrams 10.48.21–4 And in addition there’ ll be fun without malice, free conversation

for which no-one need fear the next morning or which you’d wish you

hadn’t said.

  Let my guest talk about Scorpus and the ‘green’ team; 6 I wouldn’t want my cups to get anyone put on trial 7 Greene, The Light in Troy, pp. 280.


Greene, The Light in Troy, p. 282. references to Martial are to the oct edition, M. Val. Martialis

Epigrammata, edited by W. M. lindsay (oxford: clarendon Press, 8 ; 2nd edn, 1929). 9 Greene, The Light in Troy, p. 282.


The latin text i have given here is not that of the oct, but the text as it appears in shackleton

Bailey’s loeb edition (d. r. shackleton Bailey (ed. and trans.), Martial: Epigrams, loeb classical

  ‘Freedom of speech’ is too wide-ranging and political a phrase for what Martial seems to have in mind – the latin poem expands upon his idea of relaxed ‘libertas’ by suggesting that he and his guests should talk about sport. But ‘freedom of speech’ is close to the gloss offered for the word by Thomas Farnaby:


libertas loquendi, cuius nos non poeniteat proximo mâne, vel propter difficilem

aliquem convivam vel qui dicta foris eliminet, reumque faciat.


Freedom of speech, which will be no source of repentance for us the following morn-

ing, whether on account of some difficult fellow-guest, or because of another who

spreads our conversation abroad, and makes a defendant of us.

  Farnaby’s edition of Martial’s Epigrams was only published in 1615, a year before Jonson’s folio, and possibly several years after the original compos- ition of Epigrams 101. But in his preface Farnaby thanks Jonson for his help with the edition in memorable terms, praising him as a scholar in his own right as well as a poet, a man ‘most highly skilled in all poetic arts, and the most precise investigator of ancient history, customs and rituals’ and particularly expert at extracting the deepest meanings from texts. Greene’s analysis of Jonson’s poem is excellent on what Epigrams 101 does not resemble – that is, surprisingly, Martial; but he does not go so far as to suggest any positive model for its tone of humour and respect. Farnaby’s gloss on the word ‘libertas’, however, tacitly incorporates a quotation, a suggested allusion, that associates Martial’s poem with an important predecessor, an earlier latin poem which Martial himself may have had in mind: Horace, Epistles i.5, the only one of Horace’s verse let- The phrase ‘vel qui dicta foris eliminet’ is a quotation from that poem: ‘ne fidos inter amicos / sit qui dicta foras eliminet’ (Epistles i.5.24–5); ‘that there should be no one who There are several points of connection between Jonson’s epigram and the Horatian epistle. Horace’s poem, like Jonson’s, stresses the simplicity 11 of the host’s home: ‘both my poore house, and i’ (1); ‘if you’re prepared


M. Val. Martialis epigrammaton libri Animaduersi, emendati et commentariolis luculenter explicati

r 12

(londini : excudebat Felix Kingstonius impensis Gulielmi Welby, , stc (2nd edn)/17492, a4 .

13 Farnaby’s preface, like the commentary, is in latin; these translations are my own.

several of Horace’s odes also take the form of invitation poems (for instance, Odes i.20 and iii.8,

14 both addressed to Maecenas).

as is often the case in commentaries of this period, Farnaby does not indicate that he is quoting

here: the cross-reference to Horace is incorporated into the explanatory prose of the note and pre-

sented simply as a gloss. Mayer notes that the use of ‘eliminet’ here to mean ‘broadcast’ is ‘a unique

  to recline as a guest on modest furniture, and if you’re not afraid of a simple dinner of vegetables only, i’ll expect you, torquatus, at my house at sunset’ (Epistles i.5.1–3). The Horatian poem, like Martial 10.48 and Jonson’s epigram, describes relaxed speech. But whereas Martial’s con- versation will be relaxed because confined to unimportant topics (those sports teams), Horace hints that they will speak freely on account of the select company he will provide, composed only of like-minded friends and acquaintances:

  haec ego procurare et idoneus imperor et non invitus, ne turpe toral, ne sordida mappa corruget naris, ne non et cantharus et lanx ostendat tibi te, ne fidos inter amicos sit qui dicta foras eliminet, ut coeat par iungaturque pari.


These are the things I command myself to provide – and I’m able to do so

and not unwilling: that no dirty cloth, no soiled napkin should wrinkle your nose; that the goblet and dish should reveal you to yourself; that, here among loyal friends,

there should be no one present to carry what’s been said beyond the door;

that like may meet like and be joined together.

  The prototypically Horatian tone in his passage is hard to translate; but it amounts to a very different experience from Martial’s sometimes crude irreverence (the laxative effects of lettuce never pass unmentioned in his menus, for instance). in the phrase ‘ne non et cantharus et lanx / osten- dat tibi te’ Horace promises torquatus that the cup (‘cantharus’) and dish (‘lanx’) will be so well polished that he will be able to see his own reflection in them; but the phrase ‘ostendat tibi te’ (24, ‘show you to your- self’) hints at a more serious meaning. The virtues of good hospitality on display merge with the ethical virtues of self-knowledge: Horace offers, with considerable humour and irony, an understated opportunity for self- improvement as well as good company and fine wine.

  The idea that the invited guest will not regret or incur punishment for his conversation is also present in Horace’s poem, as it is in Jonson’s, though in a different form:

  mitte levis spes et certamina divitiarum dat veniam somnumque dies; impune licebit aestivam sermone benigno tendere noctem.

  (8–11) Dismiss insubstantial hopes, the struggle for wealth

and Moschus’ case: tomorrow the day of celebration for the birth of Caesar

gives an excuse for sleeping in; without fear of punishment we shall be

permitted to prolong the summer night with friendly conversation.

  a further glance towards Horace lies at the centre of the poem:

  and ile professe no verses to repeate: to this, if ought appeare, which i not know of,

That will the pastrie, not my paper, show of.

  (Epigrams 101, 24–6)

  Jonson promises not to recite his own verse, and adds a sidelong piece of apparent self-deprecation: if his poetry shows up at all, it will be as words ‘printed’ on the pastry after sheets from his book have been used to wrap the baked goods. The motif is the exact opposite of the menu: most of the food is named only to be dismissed – Jonson would like to promise all these dishes, but we understand that they are largely extravagant fantasy, to be taken as such (‘ile tell you of more, and lye, so you will come’, 17). His poetry, on the other hand, is explicitly ruled out only to be let back Moreover, even the form of his apparent modesty aligns Jonson with both Horace and Martial. Unpopular verse used to wrap food or spices is one of Jonson’s favourite motifs, and typically it combines apparent self- deprecation with an implicitly self-aggrandising poetic pedigree: both Martial and Horace imagine their work meeting this fate. These points of comparison, combined with the association implied by Thomas Farnaby’s edition, suggest that Jonson had Epistles i.5 as well as Martial’s ‘invitation’ epigrams in mind as he worked on ‘inviting a Friend to supper’. This connection is further confirmed by an interest- ing (and, to my knowledge, unpublished) manuscript translation of the 15 Horatian epistle dating from the mid seventeenth century. it is found in


Moschus was a rhetorician convicted of poisoning, despite being defended by both asinius Pollio

and torquatus. augustus’ birthday was 21, 22 or 23 september; september is a warm month in

16 rome. 17 see loewenstein, Possessive Authorship, pp. 113–16.


Martial, 3.2.2–5 and Horace, Epistles ii.1.268–70. Horace’s striking version appears to col-

lapse the poet with the emperor himself (see Feeney, ‘Vna cum scriptore Meo’). compare the a miscellany compiled by Philip Kynder which includes several poems by This translation, signed only ‘J. J.’, is addressed to another anonymous man, ‘s. B.’ (where Horace has torquatus) but also in this way the translation responds to, and recreates, the sense of a close circle of intimate ‘well-matched’ friends that

  Horatius anglicissans to s: B an inuitation to a cupp of ale Hor. epist. 5. l. 1, as Horace did his frend torquatus, i r

on the same terms inuite you company.

  … There will be stout & honest Ben

and robin that has seene manners & men.

and Melborns syren Pask – whose pulpitt art


charmes euery thing y has a head or hart iudicious Kynder –, honest Bradford too Vnless some wench or widdow be to woe

  several features of the translation and of its expansion of or departure from the latin suggest a connection with Jonson’s well-known epi- gram. describing the ‘ale’ he promises to supply (rather than the wine of Horace’s poem), the author has expanded substantially upon lines 3–5 of the latin (‘You will drink wine bottled when taurus was consul for the second time, between marshy Minturnae and Petrinum near sinuessa. if 18 you have anything, send for it, or else do as you’re told’)


spelt ‘Kynder’ at most points in the manuscript, his name is spelt ‘Kinder’ elsewhere. i have used

the former because it appears in this form in the material under discussion. a writer and doctor,

Kynder was born in 1597 and died in or after 1665. His miscellany includes considerable anti-

quarian material in addition to original poetry and prose. see Peter davidson and ian William

Mclellan, ‘Kinder, Phillip’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (oxford University Press,

19 2004) ( 20

earlier in the manuscript a short letter from ‘J.J.’ is glossed by Kynder himself as ‘Mr Joynes’.

other entries in the notebook reinforce this effect. The translation of Epistles i.5 is followed by a

translation of Horace, Odes iV.11 (to Phyllis), dedicated to ‘his much loueing, more beloued most


learned frend. M . P. Kynder’. The affectionate tone is enhanced by the similarity between the

21 r-v names ‘Phyllis’ (spelt as ‘Phillis’ in the poem) and ‘Phillip’.


Bodleian Ms ashmole 788, 152 . These lines correspond to lines 26–8 of the latin poem, though

with substantial expansions. a marginal ‘7’ keys this passage to a transcription of the relevant

latin lines at the foot of the translation. as the translation is to my knowledge unpublished, a

22 complete transcription of the poem can be found in the appendix.


The area referred to is in latium near the border with campania. The author of the translation

has transferred his version of these details to describe the dinner venue rather than the origin of


Then meete vs at the house thou know’st soe well

Where the ould widdow rich ale vs’d to sell c By the parke gate w h peasants woont to pass

From donnington to Bradfords preaching place


ale of fitt age thee waites there, w h was brew’d

When cinthia now in Wane her hornes renew’d

i that haue paide for’t hope it will be ale to French or spanish iuice scorning to vayle if you accept place & condition, say

  Jonson too boasts of the excellence of the ‘Canary-wine’ (29) that he plans to buy, and also mentions a particular inn (‘Which is the Mermaids, now, but shall be mine’, 30). ‘i that haue paide for’t hope it will be ale / to French or spanish iuice scorning to vayle’ is reminiscent of the humorous uncertainty of Jonson’s extravagant proposed menu. ‘stout and honest Ben’ no doubt corresponds to a particular member of Kynder’s circle, but the phrase may be chosen, too, to remind us of Jonson (who was notori- ously both fat and direct).

  The clearest reference to Jonson’s poem, however, is found in the clos- ing couplet of the translation. Horace ends by advising torquatus ‘tu quotus esse velis rescribe, et rebus omissis / atria servantem postico falle clientem’ (30–1), ‘Write back and say how many you’d like to attend; then set your business affairs aside, and use the back door to avoid the notice of the client waiting in the hall.’ The dinner has been designed and pro- posed to torquatus, a busy man, as a chance to forget his cares. The force of this anonymous translation is rather different:

  say if the men & number please, & say Whether wee may expect you on the day. e e

Then stealing by y back wayes cheate y eyes

r of you malicious prying parish spyes. r

  The busy lawyer’s clients are replaced by ‘you malicious prying par- ish spyes’, and the change brings the poem much closer to Epigrams 101, which ends by promising freedom from government informers (‘and we will have no Pooly’, or Parrot by’, 36). This alteration resonates earlier in the translation too. The author of this version has expanded that import- ant clause ‘ne fidos inter amicos / sit qui dicta foras eliminet’ (24–5) which is, as we have already seen, important to Jonson’s epigram, to introduce a suggestion of specifically legal ‘freedom’ and constraint similar in tone to the close of Epigrams 101:


Friends too, that if in freedome you things speake

That the states peace constructiuely may breake shall carrie nothing ore the threshold when Wee part

  ‘J. J.’s translation of Epistles i.5 is evidently the product of a close circle of male friends, modelling themselves upon the milieu of Horace’s Epistles in what we might term an ‘aspirational’ manner. But it is also, i think, con- scious of Jonson’s ‘inviting a Friend to supper’ – Kynder and his friends perceive an Horatian register as aspirational partly because of its connec- tion with Jonson and his circle in the previous generation.

  This combined evidence – Farnaby’s link between Martial 10.48 and Epistles i.5; and the translation of i.5 that seems to associate it with


Epigrams 101 – suggests that we may be right to read Jonson’s epigram

  as modelled partly upon Horace. Jonson has used the pieces of Martial to make a poem not only interestingly unlike Martial but, more specif- ically, like Horace. Epigrams 101 is, as it were, an ‘Horatian’ translation of Martial.

  What difference does this importation of the Epistles make to our read- ing of Jonson’s poem? Most importantly it goes some way towards explain- ing the combined humour and seriousness of Jonson’s tone, as described by Thomas Greene. Much more than Martial’s Epigrams, Horace’s Epistles evoke a circle of ‘amicitia’ of various degrees: the poet addresses men jun- ior or equal to him as well as nobles and patrons. trimpi remarks that


Epigrams 101 is a ‘description of a friend, not of a dinner’; and, as such, it

  is closer to a verse epistle than to the ‘menu epigrams’ from which it takes in fact, ‘inviting a Friend to supper’ is, of all the epigrams, the poem that most closely resembles a verse epistle (albeit to an unnamed guest, unlike Epistles i.5, which names torquatus). it is also, as we have seen, a beautiful evocation of what Greene describes as that ‘refinement of pleasure, that mingling of the senses, the intelligence, and the sociable But i want to consider


Bodleian Ms ashmole 788, 152 . The second line of this extract is difficult, especially the sense

of ‘constructively’. The OED, however, cites a 1678 example of the word used to mean ‘by way

of interpretation; inferentially’ (‘constructively’, adv, 2) and i think this must be the meaning

intended here: the suggestion is that the addressee might say something which could be inter- 25 preted as breaking the ‘state’s peace’. now the significance of this observation for our reading of the Epigrams as a whole. hor ac e a n d m a rt i a l i n t h e E P I G R A M S

  We have seen that the ‘Horatianising’ of Epigrams 101 is built upon elements – of form, theme and detail – taken from Martial; and the same is true of most, if not all, of the Epigrams. For the poet and reader of Jonson’s day, the epigram was associated with Martial more strongly than with any other latin poet, and by the early 1600s Jonson was writing in what was already a fairly well-developed english genre (and by english i mean both english and latin epigrams written in england) His collec- tion has much in common with many of these other examples, and with the model offered by Martial’s fourteen books: short poems, often satiric (especially of social vice and pretension), some of them crude in a sexual or physical way Jonson’s collection balances praise (of named friends and patrons) and blame (of anonymous figures named only by their attributes) almost equally, and in that he departs from Martial, whose work is more dominated by satire and vitriol. But the combination is not itself ori ginal: Martial too has a proportion of poems in praise and hon- our of nobles and patrons, especially in his first book. several of Jonson’s 27 The composition of latin epigrams, and the translation of latin epigrams into english and vice


versa, was a common school exercise. evidence of this pattern of thinking and writing survives

in many miscellanies and commonplace books, in which topical (often scurrilous or obscene)

epigrams frequently circulate in both latin and english. Useful overviews of the develop-

ment of the epigram in english literature include: Mary Thomas crane, ‘Intret Cato: authority

and the epigram in sixteenth-century england’, in Barbara Kiefer lewalski (ed.), Renaissance

Genres: Essays on Theory, History, and Interpretation (cambridge, Ma and london: Harvard

University Press, ), pp. 158–86; Hoyt Hopewell Hudson, The Epigram in the English

Renaissance (Princeton University Press,

   ); t. K. Whipple, Martial and the English Epigram

from Sir Thomas Wyatt to Ben Jonson, University of california Publications in Modern Philology

10 (Berkeley: University of california Press, ; J. P. sullivan, ‘Martial and english Poetry’,

Classical Antiquity, 9 (

  , 149–74; r. V. Young, Jr., ‘Jonson, crashaw and the development

of the english epigram’, Genre 12 ), 137–52. see also chapter 7 of J. P. sullivan, Martial:

the Unexpected Classic. A Literary and Historical Study (cambridge University Press,

   pp. 253–312. 28

‘When we use the term “epigram” today what comes to mind is more or less what Martial made

of the form: closure, pointedness, wit, concision, and satire’ (William Fitzgerald, Martial: the

World of Epigram (University of chicago Press,

   ), p. 25). The tendency to crudity in epi-

grammatic humour is evident, for instance, even in the three invitation epigrams discussed

above: 10.48 and 11.52 both make a point of the laxative effects of certain vegetables; 5.78 is sexu- ally suggestive. 29 The patterned use of real names and satiric pseudonyms (such as ‘lippe, the teacher’, Epigrams

75 and ‘Hornet’, Epigrams 78) is a distinctive feature of Jonson’s collection. see edward Partridge, individual poems are translations or extended imitations of a single Martial epigram (such as Epigrams 42, indebted to Martial 8.35); others (like Epigrams 101) resemble ‘composite’ translations. some of Jonson’s notable ‘subgenres’ – such as his moving epigrams for dead children, his own and others – are also inherited directly from Martial (though

  Finally, Jonson – like several of his contemporaries – makes his debt to Martial evident by a poem naming him (‘to the Ghost of Martial’,


Epigrams 36), and by the opening sequence of his book: Jonson’s first four

  poems address, in order, the reader, the book, his bookseller and King James. The corresponding sequence in Martial addresses the reader first; then the reader, but with reference to the bookseller; third, the book; and fourth, caesar. The correspondence continues, but at this point Jonson begins to work in some variation: his sixth epigram, and the first typically satiric one, is only two lines long:

to alchymists.

  if all you boast of your great art be true;

sure, willing povertie lives most in you.

  This corresponds to Martial’s fifth poem, also a single couplet, also the first satiric (or at least non-panegyric) piece:

  do tibi naumachiam, tu das epigrammata nobis: vis, puto, cum libro, Marce, natare tuo.

  I give you a sea battle, you give me epigrams:

you want, I think, to go for a swim, Marcus, along with your book.

  Martial’s poem is addressed, as it were, to himself – he imagines caesar, the subject of his fourth epigram, replying with humorous scorn: ‘i put on the performance of a sea battle for you [perhaps part of the celebrations for domitian’s triumph over the chatti, held in 83], and all you offer me Jonson’s corresponding poem is not nearly so modest, although like Martial’s it is concerned with the overestimation of skill (‘if all you boast of your great 30 art be true’, 1), and also like Martial it incorporates a reference to the


compare, for instance, Martial 10.53 and Jonson’s touching expansion upon that brief poem

in Epigrams 120 (‘epitaph on s. P. a child of Q. el. chappel’). Martial 11.91 remembers a

slave-girl, canace, who died at seven years old, the same age as Jonson’s son was at his death 31 (Epigrams 45). poet’s own work: Jonson’s dramatic version of the folly of the alchemist

  This is not the only way in which Jonson’s opening sequence outdoes Martial’s: Jonson inserts an additional poem to his king, Epigrams 5, ‘on the Union’ (that is, the union of scotland and england upon the acces- sion of James i in 1603). Jonson’s royal addressee, we are evidently meant to conclude, is both more impressive than caesar and more impressed by these poems addressed to him. Whereas Martial’s fourth poem invites the emperor to be amused by his epigrammatic ‘ioci’ (‘jokes’, 3), and hopes for his tolerance, Jonson’s fourth epigram describes King James not as a good-humoured member of an audience, but rather as himself a poet – indeed the ‘best of Poets’ (2) – and as such the most honourable (and, we might assume, most stringent) judge of the poetry offered to him: ‘Whom should my Muse then flie to, but the best / of Kings for grace; of Poets for my test ?’ (4.9–10). so there is a sense of rivalry here – between Jonson and Martial over the seriousness of the genre, and the kind of readerly attention it might expect even from the most important of men – and, more danger- ously, between Jonson and the king, poet to poet. This rivalrous ver- sion of panegyric (which is unlike anything found in Martial) links the


Epigrams with the tone and technique of the major odes, discussed in

  lyric is not the only other Jonsonian genre the epigrams evoke. The second epigram, ‘to my Booke’, describes the reader’s expectations of Jonson’s work not in terms of lyric or comedy, but as satire. and, like


Epigrams 101, this important programmatic poem makes something

  Horatian out of the pieces of Martial. i give the poem in full:


to my Booke

it will be look’d for, booke, when some but see Thy title, Epigrammes, and nam’d of mee, Thou should’st be bold, licentious, full of gall,

Wormewood, and sulphure, sharpe, and tooth’d withall;

Become a petulant thing, hurle inke, and wit,

  5 as mad-men stones: not caring whom they hit. deceive their malice, who could wish it so. and by thy wiser temper, let men know Thou are not covetous of least selfe-fame, 32 Made from the hazard of anothers shame:

  10 Much lesse with lewd, prophane, and beastly phrase, to catch the worlds loose laughter, or vaine gaze. He that departs with his owne honesty For vulgar praise, doth it too dearely buy.

  Herford and simpson note that lines 9–10 are indebted to Martial, 7.12.3–4 : ‘ut mea nec iuste quos odit pagina laesit / et mihi de nullo fama rubore placet.’ Martial assures the reader that ‘my page has not harmed even those it justly loathes, / and i take no pleasure in fame earned at the expense of another’s blush’. Just as the poem to caesar dismisses his epigrams as ‘jokes’, Martial here claims that his verse amounts to harm- less sport: ‘ludimus innocui: scis hoc bene’, ‘i’m playing harmlessly: as you well know’ (9). The same theme is central to the prose preface to

  The preface asks readers to refrain from malicious interpretation of the poems; Jonson’s poem expects such misinterpretation – and even, argu- ably, suggests it.

  Jonson’s epigram is rhetorically odd. it is taken up almost completely with a detailed evocation of what his work is not (a rather similar rhet- orical technique, though to different effect, to that in the catalogue of extravagant but fictional foodstuffs in Epigrams 101). lines 3–6 describe others’ (satiric) expectations; lines 9–12 the poet’s own description of the character his book does not possess. The satirist the poet claims not, in fact, to be is of a recognisable type: the gall, the teeth, the suggestion of physical attack, the comic exaggeration and the implied moral worry (what if satirists positively enjoy others’ sin and corruption?) are all typ- ical elements of the verse and stage satire of the 1590s, as described by Jonson himself in the ‘apologetical dialogue’ to Poetaster (1601):

  Author : They [whom i attack] know i dare 145 to spare or baffle ’em, or squirt their eyes With ink or urine. or i could do worse, armed with archilochus’ fury write iambics

should make the desperate lashers hang themselves;

rhyme ’em to death, as they do irish rats 150 in drumming tunes. or, living, i could stamp 33 Their foreheads with those deep and public brands


Martial’s preface is concerned only briefly with what his epigrams will not do – that is, name

names in a bold and (he implies) outdated manner: he claims that his poetic games speak always

with ‘reverentia’ (‘reverence’ or ‘respect’, 3), however lowly the target; and he distinguishes his

practice in this regard from ancient writers who ‘made abusive remarks using not only real

  That the whole company of Barber-surgeons

should not take off, with all their art and plasters.

  (Poetaster, ‘apologetical dialogue’, 145–54)

  if the opening lines of Jonson’s second epigram remind us of the aggres- sive poses of the young satirists of the 1590s (of which Jonson himself was one), then the final lines of the poem balance that recent, ‘tooth’d’ trad- ition with a quotation from roman satire. The curious expression ‘catch the worlds loose laughter’ (12, meaning, presumably, to ‘prompt’ it), is a translation from Horace, Satires i.4.82–3: ‘solutos / qui captat risus homi- num famamque dicacis’ (‘he who tries to prompt the loose laughter of men, and earn the reputation of a wit’) it is also one of

  Jonson’s favourite poems, and the source of many of his engagements, both brief and extended, with Horatian satir The context of the phrase under discussion here is worth some attention:

  ‘laedere gaudes’ inquit, ‘et hoc studio pravus facis.’ unde petitum hoc in me iacis? est auctor quis denique eorum

  80 vixi cum quibus? absentem qui rodit amicum, qui non defendit alio culpante, solutos qui captat risus hominum famamque dicacis, fingere qui non visa potest, commissa tacere qui nequit, hic niger est, hunc tu, romane, caveto.

  85 (78–85)

  ‘You enjoy wounding people’ says one, ‘and you do so with spiteful care.’ Where did you find

this accusation that you hurl at me ? Is there anyone at all, among those

I’ve lived with, who’ll claim responsibility for it ? The man who savages an

absent friend, who fails to defend him when someone else blames him, the man who

tries to prompt the loose laughter of men and earn the reputation of a wit,

34 The ‘apologetical dialogue’ itself incorporates an epigram (lines 116–27, reprinted as Epigram

108, ‘to true souldiers’), demonstrating the association for Jonson between epigram and satire.

epigrams also feature in the satiric action of Thomas dekker’s Satiro-mastix, in which Horace

(that is, Jonson) distributes various epigrams attacking tucca (iii.i.237–59). 35

as is often the case, Jonson stretches the meaning of an english word in conversation, as it were,

with the latin. ‘catch’ meaning ‘prompt’ or ‘evoke’ (as opposed to ‘obtain’) is not listed in the

OED. The precise meaning of the line is clear only if the reader has the latin phrase in mind.

36 Freudenburg discusses this feature of Satires i.4 (Freudenburg, The Walking Muse, pp. 33–9 and


86–108). similar programmatic features are found in Satires ii.1 and, to a lesser extent, in i.1

  the man who can invent things he hasn’t seen, and who is unable

to keep a secret entrusted to him: that’s the blackguard, Roman, beware of


  Horace imagines here the kind of charges that might be laid against his verse – that he takes pleasure in harming others – and claims in reply that real wickedness lies in the covert betrayals of the opportunistic social climber. These are social vices; Jonson’s epigram collapses these failings with artistic failures of taste and judgement: ‘He that departs with his owne honesty / For vulgar praise, doth it too dearely buy’ (13–14). The book itself will confound its critics and remain tasteful and honest, even if that means short of admirers Jonson’s second epigram – a generic form undeniably derived from Martial – turns out to voice an extract from

  Horace, and moreover of Horace speaking in propria persona in defence of his own new genre. in fact, that trope – of the unpopular (but good) poetry versus the widely read (but bad) verse of the vain and frivolous poet – is also central to Satires i.4. Just before the section quoted above, Horace expounds pre- cisely this point, and the link between the two passages makes sense, too, of the transition between Epigrams 2 and 3:

  sulcius acer

  65 ambulat et caprius, rauci male cumque libellis, magnus uterque timor latronibus; at bene si quis et vivat puris manibus contemnat utrumque. ut sis tu similis caeli Birrique latronum, non ego sim capri neque sulci; cur metuas me ?

  70 nulla taberna meos habeat neque pila libellos, quis manus insudet vulgi Hermogenisque tigelli. nec recito cuiquam nisi amicis, idque coactus, non ubivis coramve quibuslibet. in medio qui scripta foro recitent sunt multi quique lavantes:

  75 suave locus voci resonat conclusus. inanis hoc iuvat, haud illud quaerentis, num sine sensu, tempore num faciant alieno.

  (65–78) Keen-nosed Sulcius

and Caprius walk about, horribly hoarse and equipped with booklets

38 compare Epigrams 94 ‘to lucy, countesse of Bedford, with M r. . donnes satyres’: ‘But these

[donne’s Satyres], desir’d by you, the makers ends / crowne with their owne. rare poemes aske rare

friends. / Yet, Satyres, since the most of mankind bee / Their un-avoided subject, fewest see’ (5–8).


  both of them a great source of fear for robbers: but if a man lives well and keeps his hands clean, he can scorn them both. Although you may be like Caelius and Birrius the robbers, I need not resemble Caprius or Sulcius: why should you fear me ? No stall or column will display my little pamphlets,

for the hands of the crowd and of Hermogenes Tigellius to sweat over;

I don’t recite to anyone – except to my friends, and then only when forced,

and not just anywhere, or in front of anyone at all. There are some who

recite what they’ve written in the middle of the forum – in fact there are

many – and even at the baths. The enclosed space makes the voice echo agreeably: for the foolish

a source of delight, but not for those who think to ask whether they’re

behaving without taste or at an inappropriate time.

  Jonson’s third epigram is addressed ‘to my Booke-seller’. in it the poet concedes (as Horace does not) that he must entrust his work to the bookseller and allow it to be sold (‘lye upon thy stall’, 5); but he hopes, to humorous effect, that the book might preserve at least some dignity and autonomy. (in contrast, Martial’s second epigram tells us exactly where to He would rather the book not sell at all, and be used instead as wrapping, than lower itself to grubbing for an ignorant readership:

  to lye upon thy stall, till it be sought;

  5 not offer’d, as it made sute to be bought; nor have my title-leafe on posts, or walls, or in cleft-sticks, advanced to make calls For termers, or some clarke-like serving-man,

Who scarse can spell th’hard names: whose knight lesse can.

  10 if, without these vile arts, it will not sell, send it to Bucklers-bury, there ’twill, well.

  as we have already noted, the position of this poem is modelled upon Martial, whose third epigram in his first book also considers his book’s future career – in Martial, the young book is eager to be off, to try his But once again, Jonson has made over Martial’s poem in imitation of Horace. The link to Satires i.4 brings


than pamphlets of verse (Horace’s ‘libellos’ of line 71). The diminuitive (‘libelli’) implies scorn

(for the informers) and routine poetic self-deprecation (by Horace of his own work, ‘my little

40 pamphlets’).


‘in case you’re not aware of where i’m on sale, and go wandering all over the town, you’ll be

sure to find your way with me as your guide: look for secundus, a freedman of learned lucensis, the second and third epigrams together as a programmatic unit, and ‘to my Booke-seller’ ends with a glance at a second major exposition of the purpose of Horatian hexameter in Epistles ii.1. That poem, a long ‘literary critical’ verse letter, ends with an ambiguous moment of self-deprecation, as the poet imagines himself – or rather, the scroll of his book – first as the emperor, and then as wrapping for pepper and spices:

  et una cum scriptore meo, capsa porrectus operta, deferar in vicum vendentem tus et odores et piper et quidquid chartis amicitur ineptis.

  (Epistles ii.1.267–70) and together with my writer, laid out in a covered box,

I’ ll be borne down to the district where they sell incense and perfume

and pepper, and whatever else is wrapped in useless pages.

  The movement of the final verse paragraph of the poem is elliptic, but this idea is associated with the costs of popularity: the successful poet might, like an emperor, find himself burdened by crude images of himself, in flattery and in ‘ill made verses’ (266).

  The closing motif of Epigrams 3 works in the same way: Jonson declares himself uninterested in those ‘vile arts’ of currying unworthy attention – better his book should be sent off to ‘Bucklers-bury’, that is, an area full of grocers’ shops, with plenty of demand for wrapping: the london equiva- lent of Horace’s ‘vicum vendentem’ (‘selling district’).

  Jonson sets up his book of epigrams – both as individual poems, and as a sequence – in such a way that the most alert reader will notice the Horatian reworking of Martialian material. These epigrams, we understand, are sat- ires in the Horatian, not Juvenalian, sense of the term: literature for a par- ticular and educated audience, intended to be morally improving but not senselessly vicious. But this ‘Horatianising’ move is at work in the epigrams of praise and honour as well as in the satiric material. i want to explore this by looking at a few of the epigrams addressed to various members of the roe family, and their context in the collection. a n hor at i a n se qu e nc e: t h e roe e pigr a ms

  Jonson’s Epigrams includes seven poems addressed to members of the roe family – three to sir John roe, his close friend (Epigrams 27, 32 and 33), an Horatian sequence: the Roe epigrams ticularly moving poems to explore Jonson’s ‘Horatianising’ of the serious commendatory epigrams. at the centre of the collection, Epigram 70 encourages William to action:

  to William roe When Nature bids us leave to live, ’tis late Then to begin, my roe: He makes a state in life, that can employ it; and takes hold on the true causes, ere they grow too old. delay is bad, doubt worse, depending worst;

  5 each best day of our life escapes us, first.

Then, since we (more then many) these truths know:

Though life be short, let us not make it so.

  There are various possible classical sources for the sentiment of the poem. The clearest allusion is to Virgil, Georgics iii.66–7: ‘optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi / prima fugit’, ‘for wretched mortals, each best This gloomy prospect is not much relieved by the reference to Martial. Epigrams 5.20, to which Jonson’s poem also alludes, is about the lack of freedom available to men who depend for their livelihood upon others:

  nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque soles effugere atque abire sentit, qui nobis pereunt et imputantur. Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur ?


As things are [given that we are not rich], neither of us lives for himself.

  We feel our good days slip away and leave us; they are wasted, and put to our account. Does any man, knowing the way to live, defer it?

  Jonson’s poem, by contrast, implies that both poet and addressee 42 possess the freedom to behave autonomously, to take charge without


The roe family was wealthy and distinguished. John, probably knighted in 1603, was the eldest

son of William roe of Higham Hill in essex. Upon his death in 1596, John inherited the estate of

Higham-Bensted at Walthamstow. John himself died young, in January 1606, and sir William,

his younger brother, inherited from him. sir Thomas roe, their cousin, was an eminent explorer,

and became ambassador to the Mughal court in india between 1615 and 1619. For further details,

see alvaro ribeiro, ‘sir John roe: Ben Jonson’s Friend’, Review of English Studies, 24 ,

153–64; H&s, vol. i, pp. 223–30 and the entry on sir Thomas roe in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. waiting for ‘leave to live’. Jonson certainly has an eye upon the social restrictions of which Martial complains – that word ‘depending’ (5) is typically slippery: Jonson probably has a passage of seneca in mind, in But the phrase suggests, too, the limitations of social and financial dependence: a key theme, as we have seen, of Horace’s Epistles as of Jonson’s.

  But Jonson’s epigram insists – despite everything – upon the reality of freedom. The poem’s optimism and incentive to action aligns the epigram not with Martial (or Virgil) but with Horace. The closest parallel is prob- ably to Epistles i.2:

  dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude: incipe. qui recte vivendi prorogat horam, rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis: at ille labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.

  (Epistles i.2.40–3) He who has begun a task has half completed it: dare to be wise: begin ! The man who puts off the moment for living well,

he’s just an ignorant country type who waits for the river to flow right out;

  significantly, these lines are addressed to lollius, the same name to which both Epistles i.18 and Odes iV.9 are dedicated – two of Jonson’s favourite poems, and among the passages of Horace to which he most frequently alludes. appropriately enough, Epistles i.2 is addressed explicitly to a


young man. lollius was apparently a student of rhetoric at rome at the

  time of the poem’s composition, and the final lines of the epistle refer to him as a boy:

  nunc adbibe puro pectore verba puer, nunc te melioribus offer. quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem testa diu. 44

  (Epistles i.2.67–70)

seneca, De Brevitate Vitae, ix.1: ‘Maxima porro vitae iactura dilatio est … Maximam vivendi

impedimentum est exspectatio, quae pendet ex crastino, perdit hodiernum’; ‘indeed, delay is the

single greatest threat to life … hopeful expectation, which depends upon the morrow, and wastes

today, is the greatest obstacle to living.’ i am indebted to H&s for this reference, and the allusion

45 to Martial 5.20.


‘Volubilis’ in this position links this rolling river of time as it passes with the elusive ligurinus – an Horatian sequence: the Roe epigrams

  Now, while still a boy, drink in

my words with a pure heart, now entrust yourself to those better than you.


If a jar is steeped in liquid when it is newly made, it will keep the scent

long after.

  William was John roe’s younger brother, and the poem appears to allude to the loss that he and the poet had shared: ‘since we (more than many) these truths know’ (7) – that is, that life is short. in this sense, the poem’s allusive logic tracks its emotional structure: the grief familiar to both poet and addressee, and perhaps the main point of connection between them, is transformed and restructured as an incentive towards active and virtu- ous life; similarly, the gloomy commonplaces drawn from Virgil, Martial and seneca are given new (and affectionate) force by their encounter with Horace and the epistolary form. Jonson’s language of fixity (‘makes a state’, 2 ; ‘takes hold’, 3) responds to, and attempts to stay the river that flows in Horace’s poem. The pathos lies most of all in the admission of the impossibility of that task, and the knowledge of its failure for two men who have lost the friend and brother they loved: ‘Though life be short, let us not make it so’ (8).

  The injunction of Epigrams 70 seems to be related to the congratu- lations offered to William’s distinguished cousin, sir Thomas roe. in

  Epigrams 98 Jonson returns to the Horatian motif:

to sir thomas roe

Thou hast begun well, roe, which stand well too, and i know nothing more thou hast to doo. He that is round within himselfe, and streight, need seeke no other strength, no other height; Fortune upon him breakes her selfe, if ill,

  5 and what would hurt his vertue makes it still. That thou at once, then, nobly maist defend With thine own course the judgement of thy friend, Be always to thy gather’d selfe the same:

and studie conscience, more then thou would’st fame. 10

Though both be good, the latter yet is worst, and ever is ill got without the first.

  This is a more specifically and extensively Horatian poem than Epigrams

  70. Those middle lines, the description of achieved virtue, are a version of one of Jonson’s best-loved passages, the description of the truly ‘free’ man from Satires ii.7:

  quisnam igitur liber? sapiens sibi qui imperiosus, responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores fortis, et in se ipso totus, teres, atque rotundus, externi ne quid valeat per leve morari, in quem manca ruit semper fortuna.

  (Satires ii.7.83–8) Who then is free? The wise man who commands himself, whom neither poverty nor death nor chains terrify, a man strong enough to defy his passions and despise public honours: a brave man, whole in himself, smooth and round,

able to prevent anything outside himself lingering upon his smooth surface:

whenever Fortune attacks such a man she maims only herself.

  elsewhere Jonson makes dramatic use of the ironic context of this speech – Horace’s slave, davus, exploits the temporary freedom of speech granted by the saturnalia to point out to his master that he, Horace himself, prey to his passions just as davus is, is no freer than Here Horace’s ironically distanced vision of moral freedom is delivered seriously: Thomas roe has achieved, and can strive to maintain precisely that state – namely freedom – for which Martial cannot hope in Epigrams 5.20.

  But Jonson’s poem is not without an edge. sir Thomas has apparently achieved (‘Thou hast begun well, roe, which stand well too’, 1) what William was urged to do: ‘He makes a state / in life, that can employ it’ (Epigrams The rhetorical form 70.2–3); ‘dare to be wise – / begin!’ (Epistles i.2.40–1). of this poem to a more senior roe is typically enigmatic. Jonson assures sir Thomas that ‘i know nothing more thou hast to doo’ (2). Beginning well, that is, is enough: ‘dimidium facti qui coepit habet’ (Epistles i.2.40). But perhaps not quite enough: the praise of the subsequent four lines (3–6), which seem to describe roe’s achieved state, modulate in the lat- ter half of the poem into instruction rather than description: ‘Be alwayes to thy gather’d selfe the same: / and studie conscience, more then thou 46 would’st fame’ (9–10) sir Thomas must ensure that his continued good 47 see the discussion of Forest 4 in p. 116–22.

  For Jonson, the etymological connection, via latin (‘sto, stare’, to stand), between ‘stand’ and

‘state’ is always present in both words. like ‘still’, ‘standing’ is a strong term of ethical approba-

tion in Jonson’s verse. as well as ‘situation’ or ‘position’, ‘state’ can mean grandeur and ceremony

at this period, especially of a royal nature, or even the throne itself (OED, state, n., 20). Peterson

is particularly good on the ‘paradoxical combination of motion with fixity’ in Jonson’s poetry of

48 praise (Peterson, Imitation and Praise, p. 25).


For the ‘gather’d selfe’ compare ‘live to that point i will, for which i am man, / and dwell as in

my center, as i can’ (UW 47, ‘an epistle answering to one that asked to be sealed of the tribe behaviour justifies ‘the judgement of thy friend’ (8) – that is, presumably,

  The form of Jonson’s Epigrams is indebted to Martial, as is well known. in reshaping that material, it is not just that Jonson has reintroduced the e presentation of that generic project (especially in the programmatic opening sequence), of the ethical terms of the poet’s judgement, of his friends and enemies and of the poet himself are all modelled upon Horace’s hexameter verse: the social engagement of the Satires and Epistles. in Jonson’s hands, the english epigram becomes a kind of distillation and combination of ese are epigrams by way of Horace. in the examples studied so far – whether of praise or blame – the Horatian content conveys the poet’s moral authority: a moral authority rather dif- ferent from anything found in Martial. The tonal subtlety introduced by the Horatian voice in the Epigrams is not, however, limited to this kind of authorisation; it is also, as we saw in that stirring accretion of the vocabu- lary of political freedom in Epigrams 101, a source of emotional depth. hor at i a n e qua n i m i t y: sir Joh n roe E P I S T L E S a n d i.1 1 i want to end this section with some comments on one of three of Jonson’s epigrams addressed to his close friend, sir John roe, who died, allegedly in it is a short poem, and can be given in full:

  on sir John roe (Epigrams 32) What two brave perills of the private sword could not effect, not all the furies doe,

the versions of this idea in Jonson, see Thomas M. Greene, ‘Ben Jonson and the centered self’,

49 Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, 10 ( , 325–48.


This bold move invites comparison with a similar turn at line 155 of UW 13, Jonson’s verse epis-

tle to sir edward sackville. turning ethical praise to his own vindication is a typical move of

Jonson’s poetry of praise. Epigrams 99, also addressed to sir Thomas, continues the theme: what

50 matters is what roe has done, not his reputation with the masses.


Martial concludes his prose preface to the first of the epigrams: ‘non intret cato theatrum meum,

aut si intraverit, spectet’, ‘let cato not enter my theatre – or, if he does, let him watch.’ Valerius

Maximus records that cato left the theatre during a peformance in 55 bc in order not to inhibit

the actors by his presence. cato’s formidable reputation for unwavering morality makes him here

51 an emblem of moral seriousness – an element Martial claims will be absent from his work.

in Horace’s own work, both satires and verse epistles are described as ‘sermones’ (Satires i.4.48,

i.10.11 and 23, ii.2.2, ii.4.9; Epistles ii.1.4, ii.1.250). The term is borrowed from lucilius. in con-

52 trast, the word ‘satira’ appears only twice (Satires ii.1.1 and ii.6.17).

  That selfe-divided Belgia did afford; What not the envie of the seas reach’d too, The cold of Mosco, and fat Irish ayre,

  5 His often change of clime (though not of mind) What could not worke; at home in his repaire Was his blest fate, but our hard lot to find. Which shewes, where ever death doth please t<o>’appeare, seas, serenes, swords, shot, sicknesse, all are there.


  at the centre of the epigram the line ‘His often change of clime (though not of mind)’ refers us to one of Horace’s best-known formulations: ‘cae- lum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt’ (‘men who rush across the sea change only their weather, not their hearts’, Epistles 1.11.27). in fact, the poem emerges from the correspondence. it is implied that roe, like Bullatius (the addressee of Horace’s verse epistle), has travelled widely – in the low countries (divided along lines of religious faction The reference to an epistle – by defin- ition correspondence between separated, but living, friends or acquaint- ances – itself contributes to the pathos. Jonson’s poem is perforce ‘on’ roe, not ‘to’ his dead friend. ironically, despite his travelling and adven- turing, roe has died ‘in his repaire’ – that is, his ‘habitual abode or retreat’, at home.

  But the associations with Horace’s epistle do not end there. The latin poem sees Horace assuring Bullatius that with a ‘balanced mind’ every- thing one seeks – all the secrets of ‘living well’ – are to be found here where the poet writes from, or indeed anywhere, wherever you happen to be (Epistles i.11.28–30):

  strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque quadrigis petimus bene vivere. quod petis hic est, est Vlubris, animus si te non deficit aequus.

  Energetic inactivity wears us out: in boats and chariots we seek a good life. But what you seek is here

and it’s at Ulubrae, if your balanced mind does not desert you.


Old Editions and Numerous Manuscripts with Introduction and Commentary, 2 vols. (oxford

University Press, repr. 1958), vol. i, pp. 371–86). a version of this discussion of Epigram 32

appears in Victoria Moul, ‘The Poet’s Voice: allusive dialogue in Ben Jonson’s Horatian Poetry’,

in luke Houghton and Maria Wyke (eds.), Perceptions of Horace: a Roman Poet and His Readers 53 (cambridge University Press, ), pp. 219–38.

roe seems to have served in ireland, as his name is included on a list of discharged captains

(ribeiro, ‘sir John roe’, 156–7). ribeiro also discusses the possible dates of his service in the low countries and of a visit to russia. in Jonson’s poem, it is not the ‘balanced mind’ of wise retreat that proves reliable, but death itself, and the final lines of the english epigram play a moving variation upon the structure of the latin ending:


Which shewes, where ever death doth please t<o>’appeare,

seas, serenes, swords, shot, sicknesse, all are there.

  The emphasis upon the location rather than, as we might more intuitively expect, the unanticipated timing of death connects the end of the epi- gram with the unimportance of one’s location in Horace’s poem. But this insignificance that is offered as a source of comfort for Bullatius is the root of Jonson’s sorrow and loss: when death strikes home it makes no difference where we are. in this short poem to a close friend our recognition of a stock figure from Horace’s hexameter verse opens up a deeper emotional register by means of an implied conversation with the latin epistle. Jonson’s poem recognises, according to christian tradition, that for roe himself his death may have proved a blessing (‘his blest fate’, 8); but the contrast with Horace’s poem about living (not dying) well increases the pathos of the speaker’s loss. roe’s death is more upsetting – and, crucially, precisely more unexpected – because the allusion to Horace in line 6 leads us to anticipate that what roe has evaded in travel and adventure but found ‘at home in his repaire’ (7) was his aequus animus, the conventional solace and wisdom of stoic retreat. fr e e dom a n d fr i e n dsh ip: Jonson’s v e r se E P I S T L E S e pis t l e s a n d i.18

  Part of the emotional force of Epigrams 32 lies in the tension between the invoked verse epistle (addressed, by implication, to a living friend) and the epigram as an epitaph. We have in fact several pieces of evidence that Jonson and John roe exchanged verse letters in the early years of the six- Jonson’s verse epistles – of which many are extant, and several others may yet remain to be identified in manuscript – differ from the epi- grams in that they are addressed, at least ostensibly, solely to the vir- 54 tuous: friends, nobles and patrons, or potential patrons. They include


see also roe’s ‘to Ben. Johnson, 6 Jan. 1603’ and ‘to Ben Johnson, 9 novembris, 1603’ (in

H&s, vol. xi, pp. 371–2) and donne, Verse Letters to Several Personages (W. Milgate (ed.), John Donne: the Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters (oxford: clarendon Press, several of the most significant poems of the Forest and Underwood collections, and range in date from 1599 (Forest 12) to the early 1630s of epistles – UV 49 (‘an epistle to a Friend’), for instance, evokes a correspondence in its opening lines, and apparently quotes from the addressee’s own poem:


censure, not sharplye then, but mee advise

before, i wryte more verse, to bee more wyse.

r soe ended yo epistle, myne beginns Hee that soe censureth, or adviseth synns, The emptye carper, scorne, not creditt wynns.

  (UV 49.1–5)

  in one manuscript this epistle is followed immediately by two verse letters addressed to Jonson which are now attributed to sir John roe, suggesting that it may have been considered by the compiler of the Given the Horatianism of the roe poems in the Epigrams, it is worth noting that UV 49 is also indebted to Horace.

  little know they, that proffesse amitye and seeke to scant her comelye libertye, Howe much they lame hir, in hir propertye: and lesse they knowe, that being Free to use c

  15 That Frindship, w h noe chaunce, but love did chuse, Will unto lycence that Free leave abuse: it is an acte of tyranye, not love, in course of Frindshipp, wholie to reprove: t rs and Flatterye, w h Frindes humo : still to move. c

  20 From each of w t


h, i labor to <be> Free,

yett, yf w h eythers vyce, i tainted bee, Forgive it as my Frayltie, and not mee.

  These lines – taken from the shared portion of UV 49/UW 37 – revolve around freedom, and especially the freedom of speech proper to friend- ship: the man who does not speak his mind to his friend ‘lame[s]’ their 55 relationship and deprives it of the ‘comelye libertye’ proper to that state;


There is some variation in the generic descriptions of this material: Forest 12 is, for instance,

56 v v described as an elegy rather than an epistle in several manuscript sources.


Bodleian rawlinson Poetry 31, fols. 23 –25 . UV 49 shares its fifteen final lines with the poem

printed as UW 37 (‘an epistle to a friend’). i suspect several of Jonson’s early poems to unspeci- but the opposite extreme, the abusive ‘licence’, speaking too freely, is equally damaging.

  This idea is derived quite closely from Horace, Epistles i.18, concerned with the poet’s handling of powerful friends. Epistles i.18 is a letter addressed, like Epistles i.2 and Odes iV.9, to lollius, a well-born ‘amicus’ (‘amice’, 106), on how (as a poet) to cultivate and satisfy one’s wealthy patron – all this in a collection which begins by testing the boundaries of Horace’s own duty of obedience towards his wealthy patron, Maecenas (Epistles i.1).

  The closest verbal parallel to i.18 – and the key to the allusion – is the phrase ‘little knowe they, that proffesse amitye’ (UV 49.12). This is also the first line of the section which is replicated in UW 37, implying that these final lines were originally a separate unit. This phrase ‘proffesse amitye’ corresponds closely to the compressed latin phrase ‘professus amicum’, ‘having professed yourself a friend’, from the end of the second line of the latin poe But the associations are not limited to this tag: Horace’s poem, too, advises lollius in terms of that opposition of extremes:

  si bene te novi, metues, liberrime lolli, scurrantis speciem praebere, professus amicum. ut matrona meretrici dispar erit atque discolor, infido scurrae distabit amicus. est huic diversum vitio vitium prope maius,

  5 asperitas agrestis et inconcinna gravisque, quae se commendat tonsa cute, dentibus atris, dum vult libertas dici mera veraque virtus. virtus est medium vitiorum et utrimque reductum.

  (Epistles i.18.1–9) If I know you well, Lollius, frankest of men [‘liberrime’], you dread seeming like a sponger, having declared yourself a friend.


Just as a respectable married woman and a prostitute are unlike one

another and don’t go together, so is a friend far removed from a disloyal parasite.

There is an opposite vice to this one [that is, being a parasite], almost worse:

that is, a boorish rudeness, inappropriate and abrasive, which commends itself with scraped skin and black teeth, while wishing to give an impression of unsullied free speech and true virtue. But virtue is a mid-point between vices, distant from both extremes 57


‘amicus’ is a key word in i.18, as are various terms associated with ‘libertas’ or its loss (‘liberrime’,

1; ‘dum vult libertas dici mera veraque virtus’, 8; ‘lenibus imperiis’, 45). 58

  UV 49 is a minor piece but it is only one of several such ‘friendship’ epistles, most of them probably later works: a cluster of Jonson’s mature verses either name friendship in the title or take the conduct of civilised friendship as their main theme (e.g. UW 37, 45, 69). included under the rubric of ‘friendship’ is a wide variety of apparent equals (the ‘friend’, colby, of UW 15), men obviously junior to the poet (‘an epistle answer- ing to one that asked to be sealed of the tribe of Ben’, UW 47) as well as those with power over him (UW 13, to sir edward sackville). in this range they resemble Horace’s Epistles, likewise concerned with the epis- tolary bridging of real inequalities of status and significance (between Maecenas and Horace, Horace and junior poets, Horace and his stew- ard): inequalities at once obscured and revealed by the rhetoric of interestingly, two contemporary verse miscellanies containing several of Jonson’s poems also include a translation of the latter half of Epistles i.18 (lines 67–112). The manuscripts in question are Bodleian rawlinson Poetry 31 and Bl Harley Ms 4064 – the first of these is also the manu- script in which UV 49 immediately precedes roe’s verse letters to Jonson. Both manuscripts date from between 1620 and 1633 and include poems by Jonson which had not yet been published in printed form; both are The version of Epistles i.18 has not currently been attributed to Jonson, although this close translation, beginning at line 67 of the latin poem, bears many Jonsonian features, especially in comparison with his other verse epistles, and i understand that it is to be included under works pos- sibly ascribed to Jonson in the forthcoming cambridge edition. The poem is discussed in greater depth in

chapter 5 , pp. 193–8; whether by Jonson, roe or another member of their circle, its presence in a collection

  that includes verse epistles by both Jonson and roe is suggestive of the 59 perceived ‘Horatianism’ of that genre.


Jonson is not the only poet to be writing in this way. donne’s verse epistles cover a similar range, 60 and several engage specifically with Horace (see Moul, ‘donne’s Horatian Means’, 21–48).

although neither manuscript is simply a reduced version of the other (since both contain poems

the other does not include), they are clearly closely related. in particular, those poems which they

do share (forty-seven in total, including eight by Jonson) appear, without exception, in the same

order in both manuscripts. The Bodleian manuscript is in the hand of the ‘feathery’ scribe, to

whom Beal devotes a chapter of his book: Peter Beal, In Praise of Scribes: Manuscripts and Their Makers in Seventeenth-century England (oxford: clarendon Press, v r ), pp. 58–108. two pages 61 (fols. 21 –22 ) are reproduced on pages 102–3.

i am grateful to colin Burrow, the editor of the poems for this edition, for initially alerting Jonson uses an Horatian mode, in both epigrams and verse epistles, to explore a theme that resonates throughout his career: how to speak freely in verse, and the ethical implications of not only addressing, but also instructing one’s superiors. The greatest challenge to such freedom – the ‘libertie’ of ‘inviting a Friend to supper’ – is the indebtedness of the recipi ent to his patron (part of the powerful ‘freedom’ of that poem lies in the poet’s imagined extravagance of provision: indebting his noble friend, not himself). Jonson repeatedly uses both epigrams and epistles to test and articulate his indebtedness: to his friends, his patrons, his teacher (Epigram 14, to camden); and also to Martial and (as we shall see) to seneca. The voice of Horace, however – to whom in one sense he owes most – repeatedly marks out not the author’s debt, but his freedom. t h e e pis t l e to e dWa r d s ack v i l l e, a n d t h e poe t a s be n e fac tor

  The most striking example of this feature of Jonson’s Horatianism is found in a long and complex epistle, dating perhaps from around 1611 and addressed to edward sackville, UW 13 (‘an epistle to sir edward sacvile, Herford and simpson describe the poem as ‘mod- elled on the Epistulae Morales of seneca, whose treatise De Beneficiis it utilizes lavishly, assimilating the thought even where it does not directly reproduce the turn of phrase’. The link is further confirmed by the heavy markings in the opening chapters of De Beneficiis in one of Jonson’s edi- 62 tions of seneca, which often correspond closely to the passages used in


as H&s point out, sir edward succeeded as fourth earl of dorset on 28 March 1624, hence

the addendum to the title, ‘now earle of dorset’. UW 13 therefore presumably precedes this

date, but it is otherwise undated. a manuscript copy of this poem is extant among the Portland

papers (Portland Ms Pw V. 37, pp. 232–6). it is titled ‘a Poeme by the way of thankfull


acknowledgement sent and dedicated to s edward sacvile’, and it may preserve a version pre-

dating sackville’s succession. The reference to coriat (Thomas coryate) in line 128 may suggest

a date after the publication of his most notorious book, Coryat’s Crudities, in 1611. edward was

born in 1590. it seems unlikely that Jonson’s poem is addressed to a boy, although certain lines

and tone may imply a young man: following an extended series of metaphors of the smooth

and steady pace of moral growth, if it is not to ‘goe out in nothing’ (153), the poet adds: ‘[y]ou

that see / Their difference, cannot choose which you will be’ (153–4, italics mine). This perhaps

suggests a date around 1611 or 1612, as sackville came of age. i am grateful to colin Burrow

for alerting me to the existence of the Portland manuscript and for permission to consult his

63 transcription.


H&s, vol. xi, p. 55. seneca’s prose was read much more widely in Jonson’s day than our own –

the De Beneficiis alone was translated three times in england between 1569 and 1620, including

versions by arthur Golding ( ) and Thomas lodge (1614). (on these, see Knud soerensen,

Thomas Lodge’s Translation of Seneca’s ‘De Beneficiis’ Compared with Arthur Golding’s Version


  dating from around 60 ad, the De Beneficiis is a lengthy treatise in seven books on the morality of giving and accepting gifts. The treatise is organised notionally as a letter, addressed to the aptly named structurally, however, Jonson’s poem resembles an Horatian verse epis- tle: like those poems, UW 13 moves from personal address and philosoph- ical seriousness in the opening lines, through a central satiric passage, and concludes with a declaration of the poet’s (and addressee’s) thoughtful and virtuous distinction from that satiric world, albeit one leavened with humour and self-deprecation: ‘no more are these of us, let them then goe, / The poem begins by announcing the theme of the De Beneficiis: the importance of an awareness of the proper ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ in granting benefits, and in expressing gratitude for them.

  if, Sackvile, all that have the power to doe Great and good turns, as wel could time them too,

and knew their how, and where: we should have, then,

lesse list of proud, hard, or ingratefull Men.


  seneca’s treatise begins: ‘among the many and various errors of those who live their lives rashly and carelessly, i could hardly mention anything more unworthy, excellent liberalis, than the fact that we do not know either how to grant benefits, nor how to accept them’ (Ben. i.1.1). Jonson’s poem stresses the numbers of the ungrateful, as does seneca (‘turba ingratorum’, ‘the crowd of ungrateful men’, Ben. i.1.9). certain phrases 64 are translated directly; compare, for instance: ‘For benefits are ow’d with


Jonson’s copy is L. Annaei Senecae Philosophi scripta quae extant: … Cum indicibus certissimis

(Paris: apud Marcum orry, Glasgow University library (special collections B ∙ 11-y.1). This

volume, which bears Jonson’s signature (now partly obscured) and motto as well as character-

istic marginalia, is not included in McPherson’s description of Jonson’s library but is described

in evans, Habits of Mind, pp. 57–88. evans includes detailed descriptions, keyed to a modern

edition, of which sections of the text are marked; where appropriate i have given a reference to

evans’ description of the marking. Jonson probably owned more than one edition of seneca’s

prose in his lifetime, but the correspondences suggest that this was the edition he used in pre-

paring UW 13. Maus discusses Jonson’s use of seneca, though she has comparatively little to say

65 about the verse epistles (Maus, Ben Jonson and the Roman Frame of Mind).

see François-regis chaumartin, Le De Beneficiis de Seneque, sa signification philosophique, poli-

tique et sociale (lille and Paris: atelier national de reproduction des Theses, ) and Brad

66 inwood, Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome (oxford: clarendon Press ).


This structure is replicated in several of Jonson’s long poems modelled upon Horatian hexameter,

for instance UW 15 (‘an epistle to a Friend, to perswade him to the Warres’) and UW 47 (‘an the same mind / as they are done,’ (5–6) and ‘eodem animo beneficium debetur, quo datur’ (Ben. i.1.8).

  Herford and simpson’s annotations on these parallels are full and accur- ate, although they do not completely convey the density of correspond- ence between the two texts. seneca’s expansive and sometimes repetitive style in this treatise is efficiently compressed (a similar effect to that seen in the paraphrases of seneca in Discoveries) and individual verse sentences often find parallels in several separate senecan passages. an example of this occurs at lines 25–32:

  can i owe thankes, for curtesies receiv’d


against his will that do’s ’hem? that hath weav’d

excuses, or delayes? or done ’hem scant,

That they have more opprest me, then my want?

or if he did it not to succour me, But by meere chance? for interest? or to free

  30 Himselfe of farther trouble, or the weight of pressure, like one taken in a streight?

  Herford and simpson cite De Beneficiis i.1.6, from which the strait (‘angusto vero’) is certainly taken. But we could also note close parallels at i.7.2–3 (‘on the other hand, benefits are unwelcome … which are either at ii.2.2 seneca claims that even a small gift, given promptly, gains more grati- tude than a more valuable one the conferral of which is ‘laggard and long thought-over’. lines 41–2 of Jonson’s poem reiterate the point in imitation of seneca’s repetitious style: ‘He neither gives, or do’s, that doth delay / a Benefit; or that doth throw ’t away.’

  Jonson has, moreover, deftly and recognisably transformed seneca’s instructions on how to give into a portrait of sackville as the perfect (senecan) giver, fulfilling those very instructions:

  You then, whose will not only, but desire to succour my necessities, tooke fire,

not at my prayers, but your sense; which laid

The way to meet, what others would upbraid;

and in the act did so my blush prevent, as i did feele it done, as soone as meant


  similarly, seneca recommends that benefits should be conferred promptly; Jonson’s conscious blush (11) is also derived from seneca, in the passage quoted below, as i think is the metaphor of ‘coming to meet’ the recipient (‘beneficia … occurrentia’). as so often, the strained english is quickened by comparison with the latin text:


Gratissima sunt beneficia parata, facilia, occurrentia, ubi nulla mora fuit nisi

in accipientis verecundia. optimum est antecedere desiderium cuiusque, proxi-

mum sequi. illud melius, occupare ante quam rogemur, quia, cum homini probo

ad rogandum os concurrat et suffundatur rubor, qui hoc tormentum remittit,


The benefits which are most gratefully received are those which are ready and

easy to obtain, that come to meet us, and where there is no delay except out of

regard for the recipient’s embarrassment. it is best to anticipate each person’s

desire; next best is to follow it. it is better to forestall the request before it is

made, since an upright man finds his lips stuck together when he comes to ask,

and he blushes deeply. The man who spares him this torment multiplies his gift.

  The grateful voice of the poem takes the part of the ‘upright man’ (‘homini probo’) by his appropriation of the senecan blush (‘my blush’, 11), and goes on to fulfil in greater detail the terms of proper senecan gratitude: ‘You cannot doubt, but i, who freely know / This Good from you, as freely will it owe’ (13–14).

  ‘Freely’ renders seneca’s ‘libenter’ (although translated below as ‘gladly’, the word also suggests freedom):


docendi sunt libenter dare, libenter accipere, libenter reddere et magnum ipsis

certamen proponere, eos, quibus obligati sunt, re animoque non tantum aequare

sed vincere … (Ben. i.4.3)

they are to be taught to give gladly, to accept gladly, gladly to return the favour

and to have as their great aim not only to equal but actually to outdo in deed

and spirit alike those to whom they are obliged …

  Jonson’s grateful recipient has learnt his senecan lesson; but the barely muted tension of the oxymoronic ‘freely owe’ is redolent of Horace’s ‘dia- lectic of freedom’, and it is this Horatian paradox that animates the end The final thirty-line movement of the poem is structured around a ser- ies of images of ethical growth: the virtuous man is like a triumphal arch, 68 completed by the final addition of the keystone (131–8) and admired by 69 The earlier part of this passage is marked in Jonson’s copy (evans, Habits of Mind, p. 65). 70 The Portland Ms cited above has ‘truly’ for ‘freely’ here.


This useful phrase is taken from Johnson’s suggestive book on Epistles i (W. r. Johnson, Horace

and the Dialectic of Freedom: Readings in Epistles I (ithaca and london: cornell University Press, others (139–46). But the closing lines of this long poem come as something of a surprise: the poet returns to the theme of De Beneficiis, exploring the tension between the language of freedom and equality and that of pay- ment and debt – a tension which, as we have seen, is present, although muted, in seneca’s prose, and explored in Horace’s Epistles. at this point the significance of the poem’s ‘voice’ – that it speaks in the persona of the recipient, not dispenser, of gratia – becomes fully apparent.

  The poem ends not just with a reminder that with honour and power comes a responsibility to the less fortunate, but with an unequivocal com- mand – to the patron and benefactor – that he must continue to deserve the love of Jonson himself, the apparently indebted speaker:

  You know (without my flatt’ring you) too much 155 For me to be your indice. Keep you such, That i may love your Person (as i doe) Without your gift, though i can rate that too, By thanking thus the curtesie to life, Which you will bury; but therein, the strife 160 May grow so great to be example, when (as their true rule or lesson) either men, Donnor’s or Donnee’s, to their practise shall Find you to reckon nothing, me owe all.

  (155–64, the end of the poem)

  The daring contradiction of these lines (sackville has no need of Jonson as a guide; but here’s some advice anyway) is amusing, and the implied threat is clear: if he loses Jonson’s love, he might get no more poems. The gesture of defiant independence which lies unstated behind that forceful ‘[w]ithout your gift’ is reminiscent of Epistles i, which flirts throughout, by fable and allusion, with the possibility of rejecting Maecenas’ patron- age in preference for artistic independence: ‘if this story is levelled at me, Jonson goes even further in the involved ambiguities of lines 160–4. The syntax at this point is tortuous, but the penultimate line is itself an Horatian allusion to the end of the Ars Poetica: ‘tu [Piso] seu donaris 71 seu quid donare voles cui, / nolito ad versus tibi factos ducere plenum /


The ‘story’ in question is of the bloated fox in the grain bin, who must starve before he can leave;

but the poem is addressed to Maecenas. The insistence upon social autonomy is connected to the

assertion of philosophical independence with which the Epistles begin: ‘nullius addictus iurare

in verba magistri’, Epistles i.1.14. The importance of this gesture, its resonance throughout the

Epistles, and the pervasive language of freedom and entrapment is well described by oliensis,

Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority, pp. 154–97. she herself interestingly employs the metaphor laetitiae’ (‘Whether you’ve given someone a gift, or want to do so, / don’t invite him to hear your verses when he’s full / of gladness’, 426–8). The lines are mistranslated by Jonson in his translation of the Ars Poetica as ‘whether yo’ are given to, or giver are’, the same meaning as they bear here. in the Ars Poetica they are also a warning, in that case of the dangers of indebtedness clouding poetic judgement; and the reference draws our attention to the presentation to a patron of, specifically, a poem (poten- tially, in fact, this poem: the potent unstated beneficium of Jonson’s version of seneca):

  But you, my Piso, carefully beware, (Whether yo’are given to, or giver are)

You doe not bring, to judge your Verses, one,

With joy of what is given him, over-gone.

  (607–10, corresponding to 426–8 of the latin text)

  Jonson’s translation makes the implied caution of the latin verse much more emphatic, labouring the warning in particular (there is no proper name or ‘carefully beware’ in the latin text) and unpacking the com- pressed phrase ‘plenum / laetitiae’: in Horace, the exact cause of that These features are shared by the sackville poem, and the sense of indebt- edness in particular is picked up by the ambiguous conclusion. The syn- tax of these final nine lines is very difficult. The phrase ‘to life’ is probably adverbial (i am indebted to colin Burrow for this suggestion), dependent upon ‘thanking’, and where the ‘curtesie’ refers back to the (mysterious) gift for which the speaker is thanking sackville himself. The overlap of the two terms perhaps alludes to Jonson’s habitual fascination with the latin term ‘gratia’ and its variety of meanings (including both ‘thanks’ The resultant ‘strife’ (160) is between Jonson’s insistent gratitude and sackville’s determination not to allow him to feel indebted. The construction after ‘shall / Find … ’ (of which ‘either men’ is presum- ably the subject) suggests that ‘me’ like ‘you’ is a direct object of ‘find’, in which case we must supply a further ‘to’ (‘to reckon nothing … to owe all’) to make the constructions equal (or, possibly, the ‘me’ is in imitation of a latin accusative and infinitive construction). in that case, the sense 72 is: ‘They shall find [that] you reckon nothing [to their practice], [and] 73 For further discussion of Jonson’s Ars Poetica, se , pp. 175–93.

  The Ars Poetica includes the phrase ‘nedum sermonum stet honos et gratia vivax’ (69, italics

mine). De Beneficiis includes an extended digression on the ‘Graces’, and their relationship to the that i owe all’. it is this distinction – that sackville attributes (‘reckons’) nothing to their giving and receiving (that odd ‘practise’) while Jonson owes everything to it – which becomes the donors’ and donees’ ‘true rule if this is indeed the sense of these lines, then their underlying mes- sage is rather abrupt. For all the talk of mutual ‘freedom’ in the giving and receiving (13–14), and the hint that Jonson’s ‘grace’ (his thanks, 24) lies in the poem’s naming of his donor (18–24), the close of the poem makes the difference in their situations quite stark. The whole network of gift and favour is ultimately insignificant to sackville, central to Jonson – and the starkness of that message is highlighted by the blunt language of financial dependence: ‘donor’, ‘donee’, ‘reckon’. We are returned at once to the guiding metaphor both employed and rejected by seneca, and which animates, too, the tense negotiations of patron and poet in Horace’s Epistles.

  But there is, typically, a further ambiguity in those final words: the dis- tance of the verb and subject of the subordinate clause (‘me owe all’) from their object (‘to their practise’), and the emphatic verbal phrase (‘owe all’) following the accusative ‘me’ also suggests, to the ear, precisely the oppos- ite: that it is the speaker (‘me’) to whom ‘all’ is owed. if we have read the movement of the preceding thirty lines with attention, we recognise that this is Jonson’s point: however generous and noble he might be, without this poem sackville too will ‘goe out in nothing’ (153), and indeed the speaker’s insistence in that passage that sackville ‘cannot choose which [he] will be’ suddenly reads quite differently. it is not only that the choice (between ‘going out in nothing’ and the immortality of the triumphal arch) is obvious; it is also out of his hands. in this poem Horatian form and tone structure a meditation on indebt- edness and freedom the terms of which are drawn from seneca. seneca’s ethics of gracious and finely judged reciprocity carve a version of stoic freedom out of the realities of social relations and commitments. in her discussion of the connections between roman amicitia and beneficium, Miriam Griffin claims that the giving and receiving of benefits are not purely secondary to existing friendship relations, but rather that ‘acts in of beneficence are presented as creating a relationship of amicitia 74 Jonson’s poem the ‘senecan’ speaking voice is transferred, in a manner


The OED lists this meaning of ‘attribute’ as the only sense of the verb which can be followed by

‘to’ in this way and at this period. Jonson’s use presumably also glances towards the common, unparalleled in seneca’s own works, to a socially inferior, and ostensibly ‘indebted’ party; and the poem – the translation, the paraphrase, the demonstration of scholarship as well as of friendship – is the gratia that This piece is at once a translation of a treatise on giving and receiving benefits and a demonstration of that art; and just as the Epigrams transformed Martial, so this is an ‘Horatian’ translation of seneca, sealed as such by that slippery final sentence.


UW 13 is not the only one of Jonson’s epistles to demonstrate this com-

  bination. The slippage between ‘freely’ and ‘gladly’ (between, as it were, ‘libenter’ and ‘libertas’) is as central to Jonson’s conception of good art as it is to virtuous friendship. His poetry as a whole forms an extended dem- onstration of, and meditation upon, the possible ways in which one can act and respond ‘freely’ to social constraint – and, repeatedly, relates that stoically inflected search for meaningful freedom to the poet’s language and function: his particular libertas. U W ch a r ac t e r a n d s t y l e: e t h ic a l poe t ic s a n d 1 4


UW 14, ‘an epistle to Master John selden’, is the most straightforwardly

  panegyric of Jonson’s epistles, and it is one of Jonson’s boldest statements n com- mon with Jonson’s other verse epistles (and in imitation of Horace’s), the poem begins by announcing its theme: in this case, the discernment of poetic (and, by association, ethical) good style. selden’s various forms of exemplary virtue (in teaching, generosity, seeking the truth) are described in artistic, and indeed markedly literary terms (citing workmanship, style and judgement). appropriately enough, the poem begins with a reference to Horace’s Ars Poetica:

  i know to whom i write. Here, i am sure, Though i am short, i cannot be obscure: lesse shall i for the art or dressing care, 76 truth, and the Graces best, when naked are.


For other examples of financial imagery applied to friendship see: UW 56 (also an epistle, includ-

ing the very senecan paradox that the poet will gain by giving); UW 54 (another epistle); the

closing lines of UW 45 are a kind of compressed version of UW 17; UW 14 envisages the benefits

of friendship as income (79–86); Jonson’s letter to drayton describes its own tribute as the pay-

ment of a ‘reck’ning’ (UV 30.9). in a more light-hearted tone, Epigram 73 (‘to Fine Grand’), in

the form of a versified invoice, imagines the addressee dreading the poem ‘as’t were … a borrow-

77 ers letter’ (3).

  Your Booke, my Selden, i have read, and much

  5 Was trusted, that you thought my judgement such to aske it: though in most of workes it be a pennance, where a man may not be free, rather than office, when it doth or may chance that the Friends affection proves allay

  10 Unto the censure. Yours all need doth flie of this so vitious Humanitie.

  (UW 14.1–12)

  The first couplet recasts (and rejects) Horace, Ars Poetica 25–6: ‘brevis esse laboro, / obscurus fio’ (‘when i strive to be brief, i become obscure’). in his translation of the Ars Poetica, Jonson uses almost the same terms: ‘My selfe for shortnesse labour; and i grow / obscure’ (35–6).

  But if the relationship to selden is straightforward in its praise, the rela- tionship between the poem and the Horatian epistle it begins by invoking is more contentious. Horace, at the beginning of his longest poem (the


Ars Poetica is also an epistle), says: ‘when i strive to be brief, i become

  obscure’. Jonson, under the influence of the virtue (and impeccable style) of his addressee, is stating the opposite: that he can be both clear and concise. indeed, the engagement with, and inversion of, the Horatian text goes further than this; compare: ‘maxima pars vatum … / decipimur spe- cie recti’ (‘in general, we poets … are taken in by an outward appearance of what’s right’, 24–5) with Jonson’s ‘lesse shall i for the art or dressing once more, the Jonsonian text corrects the Horatian one: this (selden-esque) Jonson will not fall into the trap to which Horatian poets – perhaps himself included – are usually susceptible.

  Whereas selden’s style has an achieved perfection, Jonson’s poem relates the process of his own authorial improvement:

  Though i confesse (as every Muse hath err’d, and mine not least) i have too oft preferr’d

  20 Men past their termes, and prais’d some names too much, But ’twas with purpose to have made them such. since, being deceiv’d, i turne a sharper eye Upon my selfe, and aske to whom? and why? and what i write? and vexe it many dayes

  25 Before men get a verse: much lesse a Praise; so that my reader is assur’d, i now 78 Meane what i speake: and still will keepe that Vow.

  The description of careful authorial revision in lines 24–6 is also derived from Horace. at lines 67–74 of Satires i.10, a poem concerned explicitly with defending his poetic practice, Horace compares lucilius’ rambling mode to the concise and revised style appropriate to his own day, spe- cifically advocating careful correction (‘saepe stilum vertas’, ‘turn your pen round often [i.e. to erase]’, 72), and connecting that precision with a withdrawal from mass adulation: the good poet should be content with a small but select group of readers. once again, the distinction between ethical and aesthetic advice is blurred: the Horatian material guarantees not (as we might expect) the excellence of Jonson’s style, or its enduring literary worth, but rather his sincerity: ‘so that my reader is assur’d, i now / Meane what i speake: and still will keepe that Vow’ (27–8). Writing well (that is, like Horace) and meaning what he writes amount to the same thing.


UW 14 conflates, from the beginning, literary and ethical commenda-

  tion: ‘[Your affection] all need doth flie / of this so vitious Humanitie’ (11–12). selden’s (literary) virtue is so great that he will not lead any friend into the (literary and ethical) ‘vice’ of dissembling true judgement. The image is carefully reused several lines later: ‘But i on [your books] farre otherwise shall doe, / not flie the crime, but the suspition too’ (17–18).

  Jonson’s poem begins by invoking the Ars Poetica, and the latin verse paragraph to which we are pointed concludes: ‘in vitium ducit culpae fuga, si caret arte’ (‘avoiding a fault will lead to error, if one lacks art’, Ars


P. 31). in literary terms, Horace states that avoiding one kind of error (too

  dull a theme) soon leads to a fatal flaw (incongruous decoration) unless one is very skilful. Jonson has tacitly equated this with a different, albeit still Horatian, syllogism: as Horace points out in Epistles i.18, in a passage which we have already looked at in connection with UV 49, attempting to avoid unfriendly offence may lead to dishonesty of judgement:


if i know you well, lollius, frankest of men [‘liberrime’], you dread seeming like a sponger, having declared yourself a friend.

Just as a respectable married woman and a prostitute are unlike one another and

don’t go together, so is a friend far removed from an untrustworthy parasite. … [This kind of man] is excessively obsequious and

an entertainer on the lowest couch; he so dreads the rich man’s nod,

so carefully repeats his speeches and picks up his words even while they’re falling from his lips

that you would think he was a boy repeating his lessons to a ferocious or a mime-actor playing the second part. (Epistles i.18.1–4 and 10–14)

  selden’s influence apparently allows Jonson to avoid both sets of vices, the stylistic and the social alike. it allows him, in short, to be ‘free’ (8) with- out fear of offence:

  though in most of workes it be a pennance, where a man may not be free, rather than office, when it doth or may chance that the Friends affection proves allay

  10 Unto the censure. Yours all need doth flie of this so vitious Humanitie.


  appropriately enough, the poet goes on to admit previous errors of judge- ment – now overcome – in terms which engage directly with Horace’s declaration that ‘decipimur specie recti’, ‘we [poets] are taken in by the appearance of what’s right’. Both the admission of error (‘i have too oft preferr’d / Men past their termes’, 20–1) and the resultant attentive care (‘i turne a sharper eye / Upon my selfe, and aske to whom? and why? / and what i write?’ 23–5) recast in terms of literary composition advice on managing social relations also borrowed from Horace’s eighteenth epistle (Epistles i.18.67–8 and 76–81):

  protinus ut moneam, si quid monitoris eges tu, quid, de quoque viro, et cui dicas saepe videto. (Epistles i.18.67–8)

  To continue my advice – if indeed you have any need of an advisor –

pay frequent attention to what you say, and of whom and to whom you

say it. qualem commendes, etiam atque etiam aspice, ne mox incutiant aliena tibi peccata pudorem. fallimur et quondam non dignum tradimus: ergo quem sua culpa premet, deceptus omitte tueri, ut penitus notum, si temptent crimina, serves

  80 tuterisque tuo fidentem praesidio 79 (Epistles i.18.76–81)


The lowest couch is the senior one, where the host sat – accompanied by his parasitical hanger-on

nasidienus in Satires ii.8.40, whose role was partly to amuse the other guests. The second actor

80 in a mime often merely echoed or imitated the actions of the first player.


Check again and again what type of person you’re backing, to make sure

other men’s failings don’t shortly cause you embarrassment.

Sometimes we make a mistake and recommend someone unsuitable: so

if you’ve been deceived, don’t protect a man who has only himself to blame

for his suffering;

save yourself so that if charges are brought against a man you know really

well, you may help and defend him when he’s relying upon your protection.

  Horace makes it clear that one aspect of true friendship – and a reason to be sure of a friend’s real worth – is to defend him against unfair attack. This idea of defence also recurs in Jonson’s poem, as he commends selden for dedicating the Titles of honor to his friend edward Hayward:

  He [Hayward] will not only love, embrace, and cherish; but he can approve and estimate thy Paines; as having wrought


in the same Mines of knowledge; and thence brought

Humanitie enough to be a friend, and strength to be a champion, and defend Thy gift ’gainst envie.

  (UW 14.73–9)

  once again – as in UW 13 and Epigrams 98 (‘to sir Thomas roe’) – Jonson has rewritten Horatian advice as achieved fact. selden is a good scholar because he is a good man; and his written style is excellent, because, again, his mastery of social virtue (especially friendship) is so complete. The implication is that this fulfilment of Horatian ideals is actually made possible by the virtue of the addressee. even in this most directly pan- egyric of epistles, the structuring classical material is both flattering (to the addressee) and aggrandizing (to the speaking poetic voice): selden’s associ- ated ethical and literary excellence is recognised by, and sealed with, the poet’s acknowledgement of it, and that acknowledgement at once invokes, and outdoes, the Horatian paradigm of good taste. typically, Jonson ends the poem not with selden’s virtue, or that of his friends, but with his own poetic ‘wealth’ and virtue in having such a subject to extol:

  o how i doe count among my commmings in, and see it mount,

  80 The Gaine of your two friendships! Hayward and 81 Selden! two names that so much understand!

compare Epigrams 65 (‘to my Muse’), ‘away, and leave me, thou thing most abhord, / That hast

  on whom i could take up, and ne’re abuse The credit, what would furnish a tenth Muse!

But here’s no time, nor place, my wealth to tell,

  85 You both are modest. so am i. Farewell.

  (UW 14.79–86)

  conclusion For the poet to be able to ‘guarantee’ the validity of his language, in a society in which, as he himself repeatedly proclaims, language itself is subject to corruption, he must be able to demonstrate, at the very least, the independence of his poetic voice. in particular, he must distance him- self from the charge of flattery or subservience, a task made harder by the realities of his financial dependence upon benefaction. The framework of civilised friendship, or ‘amicitia’, for which frank free speech and judge- ment, in ethical and aesthetic matters alike, is essential, is one way that Jonson tackles this problem. Jonson’s epigrams and verse epistles both enact and create this world in which taste, judgement and honesty are bound up together – and in which poetry and the poet act as guarantors of a form of speech that negotiates these conflicting demands without being itself corrupted.

  The ideal ‘liber amicus’ is both ‘free’ himself (that is, free from slavish dependence of any kind) but also ‘free-speaking’; free to speak the truth with moderation but accuracy: ‘sonne, and my Friend, … i know / What, by that name, wee each to other owe, / Freedome, and truth’ (UW 69.1–5). accordingly, the greatest threat to this equilibrium, and to the poet’s role in society as Jonson seeks to define it, is the perversion, misrepresentation or neglect of the proper balance between ‘licence’ and ‘liberty’. as the dis- missive noble asks in UW 44 (‘a speach according to Horace’):

  Who’ll informe Us, in our bearing, that are thus, and thus,

Borne, bred, allied? what’s he dare tutor us?

are we by Booke-wormes to be awde? must we

live by their scale, that dare doe nothing free?

Why are we rich, or great, except to show all licence in our lives?

  (UW 44.64–70)

  This disruptive claim to ‘licence’ is the stuff of satire, and the subject of my next chapter.


ch a p t er 3

Competing voices in Jonson’s verse satire:

Horace and Juvenal

have been concerned primarily with poetic praise,

  albeit often praise of a rather didactic or self-aggrandising kind. But both the Epigrams, with their alternating patterns of commenda- tion and reproof, and the verse epistles, most of which are marked by extended satiric passages, demonstrate Jonson’s abiding interest in the poet’s power to blame as well as to praise. Horace, too, is a poet both of praise (in the Odes and Epistles) and of blame (in the Satires and Epodes); and Horace’s satire acts for Jonson as a foil and an answer to the artistic and ethical problems raised by Juvenalian anger. in this chapter i want to trace the development of this satiric texture in the course of Jonson’s work, beginning with its roots in the carefully positioned classicism of the ‘comical satires’.

  Jonson i a n s at ir e: probl e ms a n d de f i n i t ions as with verse epistles, there are generic problems raised by any dis- cussion of ‘satire’. in the critical literature, a distinction is often made between the modern sense of satire as a ‘mode’ of writing, applicable across genres, and a more clearly defined generic ‘identity’ for satire in the elizabethan period. This generic ‘identity’ should not, however, be overstated. The generic affiliations of many individual poems are still the subject of debate, despite several attempts to itemise what constitutes an 1 elizabethan satire.


The clearest overview is probably angela J. Wheeler, English Verse Satire from Donne to

Dryden: Imitation of Classical Models (Heidelberg: carl Winter-Universitätsverlag, 1992), pp. 34–153;

see also a. l. Prescott, ‘The evolution of tudor Verse satire’, in arthur F. Kinney (ed.), The Cambridge

Companion to English Literature, 1500–1600 (cambridge University Press ), pp. 220–40. Kernan nevertheless, the various manifestations of the satiric trend in the 1590s are unified, as has been widely noted, by the adoption of classical models (especially Juvenal), a pose of scathing social critique, and a disdain in par- But even the most archetypally ‘satiric’ collections typically also included epistolary poetry, Grandsen notes that ‘some of the liveliest elizabethan satire is to be found in prose … and in the drama’; neither of these are fully developed aspects of the classical genre, though Horace’s nor is the use of classical models lim- ited to Juvenal, but includes Horace, Persius and Martial as well as satiric Bruce Boehrer’s ingenious suggestion that Jonson’s unusual poem ‘The Famous Voyage’ (Epigrams 133) may itself be meant in homage to Horace’s equally problematic Satires i.5 demonstrates the range of models – and therefore the range of responses –

  The satire of Epigrams 133 emerges from the broader generic tradition of Horace’s Satires – poems marked by their variety of form, tone and content.

  The extent to which Jonson himself is a ‘satiric’ poet is a subject of con- siderable debate. The broadly satiric bent of his work is widely acknowl- edged, especially a preoccupation with the description and identification of social vice and folly, and an interest in the role of the poet to point out and potentially to remedy these failings. some critics make much of the fact that Jonson did not entitle any of his poems ‘satires’ (with the excep- tion of UW 20, ‘a satyricall shrub’), although the title of UW 44 (‘a speach according to Horace’) refers to the latin word ‘sermones’ (literally, 2 ‘speeches’), a term Horace used of both his Satires and Epistles


For the prominence of social critique see: K. W. Grandsen (ed.), Tudor Verse Satire

(london: athlone Press, , pp. 4–5; Wheeler, English Verse Satire, pp. 102–12. For the impor-

tance of Juvenal, see for example: Kathryn a. Mceuen, ‘Jonson and Juvenal’, Review of English

3 Studies, 21 ( ), 92–104 (91); Kernan, The Cankered Muse, pp. 64–6.


Thomas lodge, A fig for Momus: containing pleasant varietie, including in Satyres, Eclogues, and

Epistles (london: clement Knight, 4°, stc (2nd edn)/16658), for instance, includes both

‘satires’ and ‘epistles’; everard Guilpin’s collection Skialethia or, A shadowe of truth, in certaine

epigrams and satyres (london: nicholas ling, 1598, 80°, stc (2nd edn)/12504) both satires and

4 epigrams. 5 Grandsen, Tudor Verse Satire, p. 2.


Braund emphasises the importance of Persius to the development of sixteenth- and seventeenth-

century satire (susanna Morton Braund (ed.), Juvenal: Satires Book I (cambridge University

6 Press, ), p. 15).


Boehrer, ‘Horatian satire in Jonson’s “on the Famous Voyage”’. Grandsen’s excellent introduc-

7 tion also makes this connection (Grandsen, Tudor Verse Satire, p. 1).

  The majority of the ‘satiric’ passages in Jonson’s longer verse occur in poems which are either explicitly or implicitly epistolary. although many critics have noted that Jonson’s satiric persona is broadly Horatian, they have not connected this feature with the blurred distinction in his work between satire and epistle, despite the fact that this ambiguity is itself Horatian. similarly, commentators regularly remark upon Jonson’s use of material drawn from Juvenal and Horace, but there has been little attempt to discuss the overall significance or effect of this combination, or of the intertextual conversation between the two. The most thoughtful work on Jonson as a satirist is largely confined to the early ‘comical satires’ and the later stage comedies. criticism and commentary of Jonson’s own day drew a sharp dis- tinction between Juvenalian and Horatian satire (and usually expressed a preference for one or the other). scaliger’s well-known description in the Poetices (which Jonson owned) captures the traditional characterisa- tion: ‘iuvenalis ardet, instat aperte, iugulat. Persius insultat. Horatius irri- det’, ‘Juvenal burns, he threatens openly, he goes for the throat. Persius This description reverberates in later critical dis- cussion and is reflected in the elizabethan satirists themselves: Wheeler notes, for instance, that Hall’s six books of satires are half ‘Horatian’

  (‘tooth-lesse’) and half ‘Juvenalian’ (‘byting’) The critical afterlife of this memorable distinction has sometimes been distorting – upon readings of Horace and Juvenal themselves as much as on those of their renaissance imitators. The relationship between Horace and Juvenal, moreover, is not sim- ply one of difference and distinction. The satires of both Juvenal and

  Horace ultimately withdraw from the furious and personal denunciation which the genre seems to promise. as Freudenburg and ruffell, among others, have pointed out, Horace’s first explicitly programmatic satire (Satires i.4) at once proclaims his inheritance of ‘libertas’ (‘free-speech’) from the old comedy, and also narrows the meaning of that term away


Jonson’s term ‘speach’ is no doubt intended to highlight this feature of the piece. For Horace’s

own use of the term ‘sermo’ see, among others, Satires i.4.48, i.10.11 and 23, ii.2.2, ii.4.11; Epistles

ii.1.4, ii.1.250. The word is borrowed from lucilius. in contrast, the word ‘satira’ appears only

  8 twice (Satires ii.1.1 and ii.6.17). 9 scaliger, Poetices, p. 149. 10 Wheeler, English Verse Satire, p. 36.


Juvenal’s characterisation as the ‘indignant’ satirist is, for instance, too often repeated without

question or nuance. While his earlier satires (Books 1–3, satires 1–9) are marked by a ‘saeva indig- from its powerful political and philosophical implications, confining it The promised personal invective aimed at prominent and named individuals never materialises. despite his similar endorsement of the ‘lucilian model’ Juvenal concludes his very first poem by abandoning the living entirely in preference for the dead (‘i’ll see what i can make of those / whose ashes are buried by the Via Flaminia and the Via latina’, Satires 1.170–1). (Famous men, including domitian, were buried in tombs along these roads.) Throughout the col- lection that follows, identifiable victims belong to the previous gener- ation: Juvenal writes, as Henderson puts it, ‘in the previous generation’s For all the ‘indignation’ and urgency of Juvenal’s satiric


personae, this is an even more radical retreat from free invective than the

Horatian compromise.

  Moreover, Juvenal’s work (like that of Persius) is itself an engagement with, and response to, Horatian satire; much of the force of Juvenal’s ‘indignatio’ is derived from the implied contrast with Horace’s text and society alike. colin Burrow summarises this aspect of Juvenal well:


Juvenalian satire is not just not Horatian satire. it is satire in which Juvenal

has blasted the shaping nodes of Horatian satire out of form, and in which he

blames history for having done so … The relationship of the satirist to consti-

tuted authority also, and consequentially, becomes far more uneasy than that

represented by Horace … Juvenalian satire also defines the primary impulses of

Horatian satire by ruthlessly departing from them.

  it is my contention in this chapter that in his career-long engagement with roman satire, Jonson uses and responds to Juvenal in just this way: as a creative counterpoint to the Horatian tenor he seeks to restore. The implied redemptive progression from Juvenalian author (and Juvenalian 11 society) back to Horace animates Jonsonian satire from the late 1590s to


see i. a. ruffell, ‘Beyond satire: Horace, Popular invective and the segregation of literature’,

Journal of Roman Studies, 93

   ), 35–65 (especially 35–8); Freudenburg, The Walking Muse,

especially pp. 96–102. see also: niall rudd, The Satires of Horace, 2nd edn (cambridge University

12 Press, , pp. 86–131; Hunter, ‘Horace on Friendship and Free speech’.


John Henderson, Writing Down Rome: Satire, Comedy, and Other Offences in Latin Poetry

(oxford: clarendon Press, 1999), p. 250. For Juvenal’s evocation of past literature and society,

see: G. B. townend, ‘The literary substrata to Juvenal’s satires’, Journal of Roman Studies, 63

), 148–60; shadi Bartsch, Actors in the Audience: Theatricality and Doublespeak from Nero to

Hadrian (cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press,

   ), especially

chapter 4 ; J. G. Griffith,


‘The ending of Juvenal’s First satire and lucilius, Book 30’, Hermes, 98 ( , 56–72. of the

elizabethan satirists, Prescott similarly notes: ‘Their taste for whips, growls, filth, teeth, venom,

vomit, quills, caustics, scalpels, and the sour yet heady wine of diogenes’ barrel, is largely bra-


  the end of his life. This productive ‘dialogue’ has implications not only for the authorial persona these works imply, but also for the relationship to patrons and other figures of authority they construct – whether in criti cism, praise, or a combination of the two. For that reason, Jonson’s negotiations of praise and of satire are closely associated; sometimes – as in ‘to Penshurst’ – in surprising ways. t h e ‘com ic a l s at ir e s’: t e s t i ng s at ir ic mode l s early in his career, Jonson tackled satire in a succession of ‘comical sat- ires’ composed between 1599 and 1601: Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), Cynthia’s Revels (1600) and Poetaster (1601). Generically original, these plays are also concerned to define their relationship to both clas- sical and elizabethan antecedents. They explore the possibilities and dis- tinctions of the Juvenalian and Horatian satirist in the figures of asper, Macilente, cordatus, crites, tucca and Horace. Kernan describes Every


Man Out of His Humour as ‘practically a dramatic diagram of formal

satire as the elizabethans understood it’.

  although only Every Man Out


of His Humour, the first of these plays, was termed a ‘comicall satyre’

  on initial publication – the latter two received this title only in the 1616 folio – there are clear points of unity between the three: each includes the self-conscious representation on stage of a ‘critic’ or ‘poet’ figure who lays claim to the power of the satirist, even if he prefers not to use it. The importance of the connection between satire and praise is also evident in the ‘comical satires’: the suppressed ending of Every Man Out of His


Humour brought Queen elizabeth herself on stage; Cynthia’s Revels ends

  with cynthia, an idealised version of the Queen; and Poetaster’s final act is presided over by augustus.

  The induction of Every Man Out of His Humour is one of the clearest examples in elizabethan literature of the explicit programmatic adoption of a genre: as pointed as, and much more extended than, Guilpin’s bold appropriation of the opening of Juvenal Satire 1 in his own first poem. even the composite Horatian motto to the play advertises Jonson’s generic 14 innovation: it begins with the phrase ‘non aliena meo pressi pede’ (‘i have


There is evidence of a similar dynamic in other poets of the time. richard Middleton’s long

satire, Time’s Metamorphosis, ends with a rejection of Juvenalian satire in favour of an Horatian

mode (richard Middleton, Epigrams and satyres (london: nicholas okes for Joseph Harison, o 15 , 4 , stc (2nd edn)/17874). not placed my foot in others’ footsteps’). one of Horace’s several versions of the callimachean motif of poetic originality, this line is drawn from a passage which establishes the author as a literary ‘princeps’ or leader, and which refers directly to Horace’s own most ‘aggressive’ verse form, the

  Epodes: libera per vacuum posui vestigia princeps, non aliena meo pressi pede. qui sibi fidet dux reget examen. Parios ego primus iambos ostendi latio, numeros animosque secutus archilochi, non res et agentia verba lycamben.

  (Epistles i.19.21–5) I was a leader, the first to plant free footsteps on virgin soil,

I placed my feet where none had gone before. He who trusts in himself

will rule the swarm. I was the first to show Parian iambics [i.e. the Epodes] to Latium, following the rhythms and tone of Archilochus, but not the themes or the words that bothered Lycambes [one of archilochus’ victims].

  This quotation has Jonson, at the start of his stage career, assume the role of the mature Horace, looking back on the earlier achievements from a position of assured laureateship.

  Moreover, as angus Fletcher points out, the ambition and originality of the ‘comical satires’ lies also in their engagement with – and attempts to combine – Horatian and Juvenalian voices: ‘By attempting to “mixe” Juvenal’s justification for satire with Horace’s poetic edict, asper is struggling with an issue that the majority of elizabethan writers simply Fletcher’s term ‘mixing’ refers to asper’s combination of allusions to Juvenal followed, after some persuasion, by Horace in the induction to


Every Man Out of His Humour. The first three hundred lines of the play

  are a veritable miscellany of programmatic statements, both of the satirist’s motive and intent, and also of the obstacles he is likely to face, drawn from Juvenal and Persius as well as Horace. asper begins as Juvenal does:

  Who is so patient of this impious world,

That he can checke his spirit, or reine his tongue? … Who can behold such prodigies as these, and have his lips seal’d up? not i … 17 (asper, induction, 4–5; 12–13) difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se (Juvenal, Satires 1.30–1)

  It’s hard not to write satire. For who is so

tolerant [‘patiens’] of this wicked city, so iron-like, that he can restrain


  There are further allusions to Juvenal, noted by H&s at lines 39 (Juvenal 2.19–21) and 43–4 (Juvenal 2.14–15) and to Persius’ prologue at line 71 (Persius, Prologue, 3). Horace, Satires ii.2.38 is also quoted verbatim (in latin) at line 170. cordatus and Mitis in turn offer two traditional objections to satire: the ultimate futility of the satiric pro- ject (cordatus, lines 48–50): ‘Unlesse your breath had power / to melt the world, and mould it new againe, / it is in vaine, to spend it in these moods’, and the danger of recriminations (Mitis, 123–5): ‘asper, (i urge it as your friend) take heed, / The dayes are dangerous, full of excep- tion, / and men are growne impatient of reproofe.’ We are reminded of the slave davus’ deflating interjections (Horace, Satires ii.7), and trebatius’ warnings of political and legal danger (Horace, Satires ii.1, dramatised by Jonson in Poetaster, iii. 5): ‘Horace; i fear thou draw’st no lasting breath, / and that some great man’s friend will be thy death’ (Poetaster, iii.5.101–2). it is characteristic of the ironic tone of the induction that asper takes aim at unworthy imitators (a commonplace of roman satire) with lines themselves drawn from Horace and Persius:

  o, how i hate the monstrousness of time, Where every servile imitating spirit, (Plagu’d with an itching leprosie of wit) in a meere halting fury, strives to fling His ulc’rous body in the Thespian spring,

and streight leap’s forth a Poet! but as lame

as Vulcan, or the founder of Cripple-gate.

  (induction, 66–72)

  The combination of ‘servile’ and ‘imitating’ alludes to Horace’s exclam- ation ‘o imitatores, servum pecus’, ‘o you imitators, you slavish herd’ (Epistles i.19.19). lines 71–2 engage with the opening lines of Persius’


Prologue to his Satires in which the poet mocks conventional poetic pre-

  tensions – drinking from Hippocrene on Helicon, or dreaming of an encounter with the Muses, as described by Hesiod, callimachus, ennius i have not rinsed my lips in the nag’s fountain

nor do i remember dreaming upon double-peaked Parnassus,

in order to emerge in this way, all of a sudden, a poet!

  (Persius, Prologue, 1–3)

  The ‘itching leprosie of wit’ is also perhaps indebted to Horace; the mad poet of the closing lines of the Ars Poetica is suffering from ‘mala … scabies aut morbus regius’ (453), translated by Jonson in his version of the poem as ‘the yellow Jaundies’ or ‘the leprosie’ (645–6). asper’s initial ‘fearless’ persona, however, owes more to Juvenal’s characterisation of lucilius (Juvenal, Satires i.153–4) than to Juvenal himself:

  i feare no mood stampt in a private brow,

When i am pleas’d t’unmaske a publicke vice.

i feare no strumpets drugs, nor ruffians stab,

should i detect their hatefull luxuries:

  25 no brokers, usurers, or lawyers gripe, Were i dispos’d to say, they’re all corrupt.

i feare no courtiers frowne, should i applaud

The easie flexure of his supple hammes.

  (Every Man Out of His Humour, ‘after the second sounding’, Grex, 22–9)

  Both Horace and Juvenal proclaim, but do not fulfil, their freedom to attack named individuals: the reader well-versed in classical satire is not surprised that, for all his bluster, asper is quickly persuaded to modify his position. He leaves to don his costume with an Horatian promise of satiric laughter as well as fury:


now gentlemen, i goe

to turne an actor, and a Humorist,

Where (ere i doe resume my present person)

We hope to make the circles of your eyes Flow with distilled laughter: if we faile, We must impute it to this onely chance, “Arte hath an enemy cal’d Ignorance.

  (Every Man Out of His Humour, induction, 213–19).

  closing Jonson’s career as ‘comical satirist’, the ‘apologetical dialogue’ appended to Poetaster (and probably performed only once) makes an instructive comparison to the induction. Jonson ends his experiment with ‘comical satire’ by renouncing it, apparently for tragedy:

  But i leave the monsters

  Hath proved so ominous to me, i will try if tragedy have a more kind aspect.

  (Poetaster, ‘apologetical dialogue’, 208–11)

  Both Kaplan and Fletcher read the ‘apologetical dialogue’ as a retreat from satire, an admission of failure of a kind. Kaplan thinks that the failure of the project lies largely with the dialogue itself and the contra- dictions between its definitions and defence of satire and that of the rest of the play. she points out that the author claims to be beyond anger (15–35), but that at certain points in the dialogue he is ‘clearly enough (at least potentially) angry’.


or i could do worse [than physical attack with ink or urine],

armed with archilochus’ fury write iambics should make the desperate lashers hang themselves

  (‘apologetical dialogue’, 147–9)

  These lines allude to the tradition of archilochean (and Hipponactean) iambics that lies behind Horace’s Epodes. More specifically, they refer to Horace’s self-conscious retrospective of his life’s work at Epistles i.19:

  i was the first to show the iambics of Paros to latium, keeping the rhythms and spirit of archilochus, but not his themes or the words which hunted lycambes … [alcaeus, unlike archilochus] doesn’t look for a father-in-law to smear with invective, or make a noose for his bride out of his notorious poetry. (Epistles i.19.23–5; 30–1).

  Within its allusive context, the author’s speech in the ‘apologetical dialogue’ is less a threat than a declaration of poetic originality: like Horace, the author could replicate earlier invective but chooses not to. Moreover, the reference to Horace is drawn from that same passage of 18 Epistles i.19 to which the induction of Every Man Out of His Humour


M. lindsay Kaplan, The Culture of Slander in Early Modern England, cambridge studies in

renaissance literature and culture 19 (cambridge University Press, ), pp. 85–91. Fletcher,

19 ‘Jonson’s satiric-comedy’, p. 248.


Kaplan, The Culture of Slander, p. 89. Kaplan’s argument is marred by her curious misreading

of ‘coursest’ (10) as a positive attribute of the ‘thread’ spun by the Fates, apparently making the

author contradict himself. ‘coursest’ here is a negative term. The spinning of thread as a meta-

phor for writing poetry appears in Horace (Satires ii.1.4), and Horace uses the phrase ‘poems

drawn out to a fine thread’ (i.e. highly refined, callimachean) in his pastiche of fruitless poetic

labours at Epistles ii.1.225. The context is appropriate to this scene and is perhaps the source for 20 Jonson’s phrase. alludes. The author’s recusatio here is meant to alert us at once both to the (renounced) possibility of Juvenalian fury and venom (those ‘mon- sters’ which the author chooses to ‘leave’), and also – behind it, framing it, as it were – to the Horatian mode of originality to which that gesture refers.

  Kaplan has read a statement of literary choice as one of character or mood. The author is presenting his stoic and self-righteous quietism not as a failure of nerve but as an aesthetic option (like Horace’s move away from invective or the promise of invective in the Epistles). The allusion to archilochus is a recusatio of a kind: the author is clear that he could write like archilochus if he so desired; as such, he is already (in 1601) claiming to be the artistic equivalent of Horace at the height of his career – a move very similar to the aggrandising appropriation in Jonson’s earliest lyric of

  Odes iV.8 and 9, as discussed i

chapter 1 . Both the unfulfilled threat of

  violent naming and shaming and the literary posturing of that recusatio nor is that the only part of this speech which is drawn from Horace.

  The author ends with a comforting vision of his own ‘prints’ (upon his opponents heads) lasting while their inferior work:

  shall, like a figure drawn in water, fleet,

and the poor wretched papers be employed

to clothe tobacco, or some cheaper drug.

  (‘apologetical dialogue’, 157–9)

  This image is derived from one of the most memorable evocations of the poet’s status in the whole of Horace’s work, the same passage that stands at the end of Epistles ii.1

  Horace is addressing augustus on the excellence of his taste in poets, especially Virgil and Varius (245–7); he moves from this into a recusa-


tio, a refusal to write epic verse on the grounds of his inadequate poetic

  ability, much as he would (he says) like to do so (250–9). Horace’s poem then performs its extraordinary shift in which the poet imagines himself as the (dead?) emperor, the recipient of gifts and the patroniser of poets (‘cum scriptore meo’, ‘along with my writer’, 268) but also as the book itself (‘capsa porrectus operta’, ‘laid out in a sealed chest’, 268). Moreover, 21 that blend of emperor, poet and book is envisaged carried aloft past the 22 on Jonsonian appropriations of Horatian recusatio, see als , pp. 147–58.

  The image of poetic oblivion when parchment is consigned to wrap foodstuffs is a commonplace street-sellers who wrap their goods in ‘useless pages’ – that is, lesser poets, whose work will not endure:

  nec prave factis decorari versibus opto, ne rubeam pingui donatus munere, et una cum scriptore meo, capsa porrectus operta, deferar in vicum vendentem tus et odores et piper et quidquid chartis amicitur ineptis.

  (Epistles ii.1.266–70 I have no desire to be extravagantly praised in ill-made verses, only to blush when presented with a crude gift, and, together with my writer, laid out in a closed chest, be carried down the street where they sell incense and perfumes

and pepper, and anything else which is wrapped in useless papers.

  We may be unconvinced by the author’s implied account, in the ‘apologetical dialogue’, of his literary success in a new genre; but the Horatian audacity of that claim is central to its forc The ‘apologetical dialogue’ ends, perhaps surprisingly, not with

  Horace, but with Juvenal: a series of Juvenalian references structure and animate the final forty-five lines (183–227). The author complains:

  o this would make a learn’d and liberal soul to rive his stainèd quill up to the back, and damn his long-watched labours to the fire –

Things that were born when none but the still night

and his dumb candle saw his pinching throes –

  (‘apologetical dialogue’, 196–200)

  This corresponds to lines in Juvenal’s seventh satire on the failures of patronage:

  But if you had any idea that you might hope for some kind of protection for your work from some other benefactor, and this is why the sheets of yellow parchment continue to be filled, you’ d better call quickly for firewood and offer what you’ve written as a gift to Vulcan, Venus’ husband, the god of fire, or else shut your pamphlets away and let the bookworms drill them through. 23 For my reading of this passage and my understanding of its importance, i am indebted to denis Feeney – both to his article, ‘Vna cum scriptore Meo’, and to his excellent teaching. 24 The collapse of poet and royal patron is a theme which recurs in Jonson’s work: se

chapter 1 on Jonson’s odes, and compare Horace’s acclamation of Virgil in Poetaster: ‘see here comes Virgil;


Break your pen, poor wretch, and destroy the battle-scenes you’ve stayed

awake over.

  (Satires 7.22–7)

  But Jonson’s ‘author’ is in contention with Juvenal, not in agreement with him. These lines are followed by the author’s rejection of what in Juvenal is presented unequivocally (if paradoxically, given that Juvenal apparently continues to write) as despairing advice. This lack of patronage ‘would make’ the learned poet despair and destroy his work (196–200, cited above) ‘Were not his own free merit a more crown / Unto his travails than their reeling claps’ (201–2). it is this realisation of the true ‘crown’ of ‘free merit’ – not despair – that prompts the author into lofty silence and (he implies) a new genre: ‘This ’tis, that strikes me silent, seals my lips, / and apts me rather to sleep out my time’ (203–4).

  The penultimate image of the ‘dialogue’ is also drawn from Juvenal’s seventh satire:

  once, i’ll say [assay; attempt] 215 to strike the ear of time, in those fresh strains as shall, beside the cunning of their ground, Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,

and unto more, despair to imitate their sound.

i that spend half my nights and all my days, 220 Here in a cell, to get a dark, pale face, to come forth worth the ivy or the bays, and in this age can hope no other grace – leave me. There’s something come into my thought That must and shall be sung, high and aloof, 225

safe from the wolf’s black jaw and the dull ass’s hoof.

  (‘apologetical dialogue’, 215–26) qui facis in parua sublimia carmina cella, ut dignus uenias hederis et imagine macra. spes nulla ulterior

  (Satires 7.28–30) You who craft lofty poetry in a narrow room, hoping to emerge worthy of an ivy-garland, and with a thin face.

  You can’t hope for anything better.

  But although Jonson’s lines include a recognisably close translation of Juvenal, their use here transforms the force of the latin. in Juvenal’s poem the satirist is addressing poets writing epic (‘vigilata proelia, that is, ‘battle- scenes you have stayed awake over’, 27) in the hope of reward. as part of them that they cannot expect to grow rich in this way (22–3). He contrasts this situation explicitly with that of augustan rome – the rome of Horace (62), Virgil (69) and Maecenas (94); the rome, in fact, of Poetaster.

  The presence of these lines at this point in the ‘apologetical dialogue’, when we have, as it were, stepped back with the author into contempo- rary elizabethan england, establishes a similar dynamic between roman and elizabethan times as, in Juvenal, pertains between augustan rome and the rome of his own day. But this point, which is itself satiric, is not the limit of their force. The author/satirist is not speaking, as Juvenal at least pretends he is, to a hapless and hopeless poet of unfashionable verse, but as the poet. The puny statue (‘imagine macra’, in which ‘macra’ (‘skinny’, 29) hints at the poet’s own penury and artistic insignificance) has been suppressed; the ivy (‘hederis’, 29) of which he hopes to be worthy has been expanded to include the more unequivocally triumphant laurel (‘bays’, 222) of the poet laureate. This version frames the poet’s labour in terms of his ‘fresh [that is, original] strains’, which will – rather, in fact, like the renounced power of invective – cause others to ‘wonder’, ‘despair’ and ‘imitate’ (216–19).

  Finally, whereas Juvenal’s epigrammatic ‘spes nulla ulterior’ (‘there’s no further hope’, 30) highlights both the poet’s ultimately mercenary motives (the ‘hope’ is for real financial support) and their inevitable disappoint- ment, Jonson’s expanded version creates quite a different effect: ‘and in this age can hope no other grace’ (223). The cynicism and the expectation of being under-appreciated remains, but that word ‘grace’, as so often in Jonson’s work, alters the force of the lines. suggesting ‘thanks’ (and so by extension the reciprocity of patronage), it also implies that the very fact of being worthy of ivy and bays – that is, of being a true poet – is a sign of that divine favour and acclaim that Pindar would call ‘grace’. it may be that the poet can hope for no other grace – but he retains the considerable blessing of his poethood itself. This is a note that Juvenal never strikes, and it is alien, too, to Horace’s Satires. it is, however, conson ant with the mature Horace of the Odes, and indeed Jonson reused these lines in an ode of his own. as in the induction to Every Man Out


of His Humour, the ‘dialogue’ between Juvenalian and Horatian material

  at the close of Poetaster models Jonson not only as Horace, but specific- ally as a version of Horace which incorporates, in satiric form (the mark of his early career), the vatic confidence and achievement of his ultimate laureateship. hor ac e a n d J u v e na l: s at ir ic t e x t u r e i n t h e v e r se e pis t l e s in Forest 12, the ‘Epistle. to elizabeth countesse of rutland’, written for new Year 1600, we find replicated exactly this nexus of associations: Juvenal’s denial of the possibility of effective patronage, answered by a vatic (that is, lyric) Horatian assurance of its possibility, which is struc- tured, once more, around that resonant term ‘grace’. Forest 12, however, although an epistle (a genre related to satire, as described above), is clearly a poem of praise rather than blame, and i have already discussed it as such in

chapter 1 , pp. 20–4. Throughout his career, Jonson would continue

  to explore the relationship of satire to praise (especially of the monarch), and the poet’s connecting role between these two poles of artistic expres- sion. in so doing, he continued, too, to probe the generic resources of the roman satirists, and especially of the lively and contentious conversation between Horatian and Juvenalian satiric models.

  The Horatian fabric of Forest 12 has already been examined. But the poem begins with an impressive opening sentence, nineteen lines long, of unmistakably satiric tenor:

  Whil’st that, for which, all vertue now is sold, and almost every vice, almightie gold, That which, to boote with hell, is thought worth heaven, and, for it, life, conscience, yea, soules are given, toyles, by grave custome, up and downe the court,

  5 to every squire, or groome, that will report Well, or ill, onely, all the following yeere, Just to the waight their this dayes-presents beare; While it makes huishers serviceable men, and some one apteth to be trusted, then,

  10 Though never after; whiles it gaynes the voyce of some grand peere, whose ayre doth make rejoyce The foole that gave it; who will want, and weepe, When his proud patrons favours are asleepe; While thus it buyes great grace, and hunts poore fame;


runs betweene man, and man; ’tweene dame, and dame;

solders crackt friendship; makes love last a day; or perhaps lesse: whil’st gold beares all this sway, i, that have none (to send you) send you verse.

  (Forest 12.1–19)

  The striking and faintly blasphemous image of ‘almightie gold’ (2) is prob- poem enumerates the many ways in which money reigns supreme – including, for instance, the elevation of wealth over birth (105–11, compare ‘give pride fame, and peasants birth’, Forest 12.26) and the ceaseless round of pandering and flattery which characterise the corrupt society: exactly the topic of Jonson’s opening lines. in a poem like the epistle to elizabeth, which requires a concise sketch of the depth of artistic and social corruption, the Juvenalian tone is an effect- ive shorthand for a whole series of stock tropes and complaints. The greater the bankruptcy of meaning to which these opening lines can allude, the more dramatic the poet’s eventual redemption of it, and the more power- ful is his grateful trust in elizabeth’s contrasting judgement and generos- ity: ‘With you, i know, my offring will find grace’ (30). once again, ‘grace’ stands variously for appreciation, proper payment, and the quasi-divine gift of literary immortality. The first of Jonson’s masques to develop fully the satiric/panegyric alternation of anti-masque and masque uses a related passage to signal the redemption of corruption by (royal) grace:


tis that imposter Plutus, the god of money, who ha’s stolne love’s ensignes; and

in his belyed figure raignes <i’> the world, making friendships, contracts, mar-

riages and almost religion; begetting, breeding, and holding the neerest respects

of mankind, and usurping all those offices in this age of gold, which love him-

selfe perform’d in the golden age. ’tis he, that pretends to tie kingdomes, main-

taine commerce, dispose of honours, make all places and dignities arbitrarie

from him: even to the verie countrey, where love’s name cannot be ras’d out …

’tis you, mortalls, that are fooles; and worthie to be such, that worship him: for

Love Restored, 173–91)


Forest 12 in fact goes on to recreate precisely the milieu – that of ideal-

  ised augustan patronage, created by allusions to Horace’s most confident odes – which Juvenal so vociferously claims has ceased to exist. Moreover, it attributes that triumphant redirection, a literal reversal of literary his- tory, to elizabeth herself (as well, of course, as the poet’s own genius). another piece in praise of a wealthy noblewoman, Forest 13 (‘Epistle. to

  Katherine, lady aubigny’), similarly associates the turn towards her and her virtue with a move into Horatian language, and specifically that of the assured laureateship of the Odes:


Grow, grow, faire tree [Katherine’s family], and as thy branches shoote,

Heare, what the Muses sing about thy roote, 26 By me, their priest (if they can ought divine) …

  it shall a ripe and timely issue fall, t<o>’expect the honors of great ’aubigny: and greater rites, yet writ in mysterie, But which the Fates forbid me to reveale.

  (Forest 13.99–101; 104–7)

  The movement of the first fifteen lines of the poem, however, is satiric, condemning the folly of the times but asserting the satirist’s personal commitment to praise virtue and attack vice. in doing so, the poet even claims to be putting himself at personal risk:

  as i am at fewd

With sinne and vice, though with a throne endew’d;

and, in this name, am given out dangerous By arts, and practise of the vicious, such as suspect them-selves, and thinke it fit For their owne cap’tall crimes, t<o>’indite my wit

  (Forest 13.9–14)

  such warnings are, as we have already seen, a commonplace of roman satire.

  But this is not just a generalised satiric position (though it is that). Jonson’s epistle opens with an echo of Juvenal’s curious poem to calvinus (also the thirteenth in its collection): ‘’tis growne almost a danger to speake true / of any good minde, now: There are so few’ (Forest 13.1–2); ‘Good men are rare indeed: count, there are scarcely as many / as there are gates to Thebes, or mouths of the wealthy nile’ (Juvenal, Satires 13.26–7). Those around Jonson and lady aubigny, just like the people Juvenal describes, go so far as to ridicule the virtuous: ‘The bad, by number, are so fortified, / as what th’have lost t<o>’expect, they dare deride’ (Forest 13.3–4); ‘don’t you know / the laugh your naivety raises in the crowd?’ (Juvenal, 13.34–5).

  Jonson’s concise satiric sketch is much briefer than Juvenal’s, and the tone is different – Juvenal is resigned to the state of affairs, Jonson’s satir- ist is not. But the same key complaint can be identified in both. Jonson’s poem claims that: ‘Men are not just, or keepe no holy lawes / of nature, and societie’ (18–19) and Juvenal’s lament similarly focuses upon the fail- ure of religious and social codes since the ‘golden age’ (Juvenal, Satires 13.31–59). Juvenal’s sinners, like Jonson’s, are oblivious to their own fate until it catches up with them. above all, this most resigned and most nearly Horatian of Juvenal’s sat- ires conceals a literary as well as an ethical message. The language in which

  Juvenal describes the predictability of calvinus’ plight is the (inverted) poets, calvinus’ complaint is worn out and common to all: ‘casus multis hic cognitus ac iam / tritus et e medio fortunae ductus acervo’ (‘Many others are acquainted with this kind of bad luck, and by now / it’s some- thing of a cliché, a standard kind of ill-fortune’, 9–10). The terms ‘tritus’ (‘well-worn’) and ‘acervus’ (‘the crowd’) are associated in augustan litera-

  The poet, in his now anti-satiric role as the mir- ror to Katherine’s virtue, presents her life in terms which engage, under the guise of moral comment, with exactly this vocabulary of artistic identity:

  Wherewith, then, Madame, can you better pay

This blessing of your starres, then by that way

of vertue, which you tread? what if alone?

  55 Without companions? ’tis safe to have none. in single paths, dangers with ease are watch’d: contagion in the prease is soonest catch’d. This makes, that wisely you decline your life,

Farre from the maze of custome, error, strife,

  60 and keepe an even, and unalter’d gaite (Forest 13.53–61)

  The virtues of Jonsonian style, as well as its originality, are by implication associated with, and derived from, Katherine’s goodness, her rarity: ‘My mirror [the poetry] is more subtile, cleere, refin’d, / and takes, and gives the beauties of the mind’ (43–4). once again, then, a virtuous addressee, to be immortalised by Jonson in his most Horatian vein, is set against an explicitly Juvenalian satiric background. Jonson’s Horatian move into panegyric exposes the defeatism at the heart of Juvenal’s position. it is not just that Jonson, like Juvenal, acknowledges the corruption of the world and the pointlessness of artis- tic endeavour (albeit an acknowledgement made from inside the poetic form). Jonson’s ‘satirist’ is lifted out of his despondency by the twin – and associated – pressures of Horatianism and the power of his addressees’ virtue. Jonson is interested in addressing one of the central dilemmas of the satiric voice: namely, how satiric poetry might be both true (society is that bad) and efficacious (rather than merely pointless). We are reminded of cordatus: ‘Unlesse your breath had power / to melt the world, and mould it new againe, / it is in vaine, to spend it in these moods’ (Every


Man Out of His Humour, induction, 48–50). in his reversal of literary

  history away from Juvenal’s despair and back to Horatian laureateship Jonson is modelling this kind of redemption, and, by implication, just such a powerful ‘breath’ (poetic voice/song/spirit).

  Underwood 15: satire or epistle? This manner of using Juvenal amounts to a reading of him. in Jonson’s work, satiric meaning emerges from the possibility of redemption from the reality that satire describes: the relentless negativity of Juvenalian rhetoric, for all its stylistic verve, does not stand uncontested. repeatedly, the challenge to it is a literary challenge, and specifically an Horatian one: the possibility of immortality, or at the least, survival, which the lyric poet offers both himself and his subject. Jonson, like so many of his contemporaries, was powerfully attracted by Juvenal – but he wanted to argue with him too, and the voice of his contention is Horatian. U N D E R W O O D

  15: s at ir e or e pis t l e? like UW 13 to sackville, discussed in the previous chapter, UW 15 (‘an epistle to a Friend, to perswade him to the Warres’), probably dating from around 1620, displays several structural features indebted to Horace’s Epistles: namely, an epistolary form, an exhortatory opening on the theme of virtue (confined to the first 10 lines in UW 15), a satiric central movement (the large majority of Jonson’s poem), followed by a self-conscious turning away from

  UW 15 contains probably the highest density of allusions to Juvenal’s

Satires of any of Jonson’s poems. it is not hard to draw up a list of general

  correspondences of theme and tone: the widespread corruption, focused upon money, luxury and sex, combined with the indignant exclama- tory tone of the verse: ‘o, these so ignorant Monsters!’ (59). The double standard which makes adultery acceptable – even expected – among the rich and fashionable (UW 15.83–100) is a Juvenalian theme; compare for instance lines 177–8 of Juvenal’s eleventh satire: ‘adultery is a disgrace among the middle classes: but the same behaviour / is considered chic and amusing when it’s the rich doing it.’ Jonson’s epistle goes on to describe husbands who pimp out their own wives in their very presence:

  He that will follow but anothers wife, is lov’d, though he let out his owne for life:

The Husband now’s call’d churlish, or a poore

nature, that will not let his Wife be a whore;

or use all arts, or haunt all companies That may corrupt her, even in his eyes. 29


The exact date of this poem is a matter of some debate. The most thorough discussion is by

Butler (281–4), who makes a convincing case for placing it in 1620 or 1621, at the very beginning This passage, too, has its origins in Juvenal, this time in the first satire, lines 55–7. casual abortion (‘kild like her embrions’, UW 15.96) is mentioned three times in Juvenal’s Satires, at 6.368, 592–7 and (in a particularly The physical and financial degradation of the unfashionable poet (UW 15.155–9) also has Juvenalian parallels: compare, for instance, Satires 1.95–6, the whole of the seventh satire, and the humiliation of the client in the fifth. This is a long way from Horace’s depiction of the client–patron relationship, even at his most The most striking of these correspondences, however, is the direct quot- ation from Juvenal at lines 61–2: ‘if nature could / not make a verse; anger; or laughter would’. The lines are close to a translation of Juvenal


Satires 1.79 (‘si natura negat, facit indignatio versum’, ‘if nature refuses

  to do so, anger makes a verse’). But the mention of laughter – very much not in Juvenal’s original – is an Horatian touch. We might think of Horace Satires i.10.14–15: ‘a joke very often cuts through difficult issues more forcefully and effectively than seriousness.’ at the end of his first book of epistles Horace links anger and laughter when he describes how often he has been moved either to fury or to amusement by the ‘servum pecus’, the ‘slavish herd’ of his imitators (Epistles i.19.19–20, a favourite Jonsonian passage). Horace refers in these lines explicitly to literary imi- tators of an inferior kind, whereas Jonson’s ‘ignorant Monsters’ (59) are thoughtless fashion victims at court; but Jonson’s poem, like Horace’s, insists throughout on the analogy between morality and aesthetic value, social and literary good taste. as Kirk Freudenburg remarks – of Horace, but the point is just as accurate for Jonson – ‘life-style and [poetic] style in fact, these lines are a miniature interwoven compendium of pro- grammatic statements from the classical satirists, comparable to the

  ‘apologetical dialogue’ appended to Poetaster and discussed above. as well as the echo of Horace’s ‘o imitatores, servum pecus’ at line 59, Jonson’s question, ‘Who can behold their Manners, and not clowd- / like upon them lighten?’ (60–1), for all its unusual imagery, is a version of 30 Juvenal’s famous lines, already used by Jonson in the induction of Every 31 Satire 6.592–7 in particular bears comparison with Epigrams 62 (‘to Fine lady Would-be’).


The depiction of patronage in Horace’s Satires is broadly positive; the edginess to the client–

patron relationship which pervades the Epistles (cf. for instance the pointed Philippus and Mena

  Underwood 15: satire or epistle?


Man Out of His Humour: ‘it is hard not to write satires: for who could

  endure / this terrible city, however iron-hearted, and restrain himself [from satire]’ (Satires 1.30–1). The ‘set’ of satirical allusions is completed by Jonson’s description of these ‘monsters’’ obsession with determining ‘[h]ow they may make some one that day an asse’ (64). Persius’ first satire promises a scandalous revelation, which it finally imparts: ‘But i’ll bury it [the revelation] here. i’ve seen it, i’ve seen it myself: / Who is there who

  Jonson’s depiction of moral and social degradation in UW 15 focuses upon the corruption of language: the ambitious man nurses ‘praises begg’d, or (worse) / Bought Flatteries’ (12–13), which become ‘his owne curse’ (14); objects and values are called by the wrong names: ‘what we call / Friendship is now mask’d Hatred’ (38–9); ‘to do’t with cloth, or stuffes, lusts name might merit; / With Velvet, Plush, and tissues, it is spirit’ (57–8). indeed, this first half of the poem is neatly concluded (and summed up): ‘Thus they doe talke’ (101). The persistent punning (‘fame- vaynes’ (vain/vein, 166); ‘Baud’ (board/bawd, 158), ‘Masters both of arts and lies’, 164) is an aspect of this corruption: a kind of in-poem demon- stration of Jonson’s point about the slipperiness of meaning in the hands of the corrupt. at the heart of the poem is the ‘poore single flatterer, without Baud’ (158) – by implication, the poet, compromised by poverty and neglect. This ‘single’ figure, for all his feeble pathos, is the still point at the centre of the verse paragraph (lines 141–74), a final crescendo of satire before the change of tone at line 175. The focus is upon the collapse of language into flattery and subservience: a failure of independence as well as of meaning. towards the end of the poem this loss is equated with the loss of even the ‘formes’ of men, a term suggestive of a metaphysical (as well as physical) collapse:

  Yet this is better, then to lose the formes, and dignities of men,

to flatter my good lord, and cry his Bowle

runs sweetly, as it had his lordships soule.


  The relevance of this particular concern (the rise of flattery) to the poet’s own position emerges in the lines which follow. in the climac- 33 tic final third of the poem the poet is threatened with the loss of his


on the contemporary significance of this ‘revelation’, see J. P. sullivan, ‘ass’s ears and own (poetic) voice, subsumed by the flattery and insincerity which surrounds him:


will he [the lord in question],

When i am hoarse, with praising his each cast, Give me but that againe, that i must wast in sugar candide, or in butter’d beere, For the recovery of my voyce?


  The dense and tumbling syntax of these lines – the almost overwhelming verbal noise of insincerity – literally seems to ‘overcome’ the key state- ment: ‘Flattry’s growne so cheape / With him’ (155–6).

  But buried in these lines is an uncomfortable vision of the ‘poore single flatterer’, so lacking in patronage that he becomes ‘nothing’: ‘as a poore single flatterer, without Baud, / is nothing, such scarce meat and drinke he’le give’ (158–9, the ‘he’ here is the patron). The economic realities of the poor poet’s position are bluntly revealed: for lack of ‘Baud’ and not being a ‘slave to boote’ (160) he will starve, and this is not presented (as we might have expected) as a choice between virtuous non-flattery and descent into insincerity. The flattery is taken for granted: the choice is whether or not to extend the moral compromise which already, inescap- ably, exists into sinful action: even the rejected poet, who balks at behav- ing slavishly, flatters his would-be patron as a matter of course.

  The way out of this nightmare vision, and the mark of a transition from satiric material to ethical injunction, is the verse letter itself: ‘Friend, flie from hence; and let these kindled rimes / light thee from hell on earth’ (162–3, italics mine). similarly, this long poem ends by reminding colby (and us) that the poem and the advice it offers go together: ‘These [verses] take, and now goe seeke thy peace in Warre, / Who falls for love of God, shall rise a starre’ (195–6, the final lines of the poem). The closing move- ment of the epistle (lines 175–96), much shorter than the satiric vision which precedes it, outlines what colby should do:

  Goe, quit ’hem all. and take along with thee, 175 Thy true friends wishes, Colby, which shall be, That thine be just, and honest; that thy deeds

not wound thy conscience, when thy body bleeds;

That thou dost all things more for truth, then glory, and never but for doing wrong be sory; 180 That by commanding first thy selfe, thou mak’st Thy person fit for any charge thou tak’st; But what she gives, thou dar’st give her againe; That whatsoever face thy fate puts on, 185 Thou shrinke or start not, but be alwayes one;

That thou thinke nothing great, but what is good,

and from that thought strive to be understood.

  (UW 15, 175–88)

  The content of these lines – the message of stoic self-mastery – is rooted in the Horatian hexameter, and so too is the form of the transition; as we saw in the previous chapter, Horace’s verse epistles often make a move into philosophical distance and self-control in their final section. in the earlier examples of Forest 12 and 13, the Horatian ‘voice’ which finally answered Juvenalian corruption was indebted primarily to the Odes; here it is the Horatian epistolary form which works to guarantee the virtue and objectivity of the authorial voice. Whereas the Juvenalian satirist is trapped by the paradox that his subject – the stuff of his poetry – is the very corruption he claims to attack, the Horatian epistolary turn of the close of UW 15 creates an authorial space which engages with, but steps beyond, the satiric. s at ir ic i n t rusion: s at ir e a n d pr a ise F O R E S T i n t h e ope n i ng of t h e in the range of material so far discussed, satiric material of a Juvenalian kind is contrasted with – and answered by – an Horatian assurance (whether derived from the lyric or hexameter poetry), which works to guarantee the poet’s ability to speak reliably even in a society spoilt by falsehood and deceit. The creative dynamic between satire and praise is a recurring pattern – noticeably present, for instance, in the contrast of anti-masque and masque developed by Jonson for performance at court. in the final sections of this chapter i would like to turn to a sequence of poems, generally read and received as straightforwardly panegyric, in which the presence of satiric material ironises or disturbs, to varying degrees, our reception of that praise.

  The Forest collection of 1616, after an initial short verse (‘Why i write not of love’) proceeds with a series of three long poems of 102, 106 and 68 lines respectively, all three of which present allied ideals: of noble country life in ‘to Penshurst’ (Forest 2) and ‘to sir robert Wroth’ (Forest 3), and of a ‘gentlewoman’s’ retreat from the ‘world’ in Forest 4. none of them is entitled a satire, and they have not been commented upon as a series,


  nevertheless, each of these poems features concludes with Forest 2 and 3 what we might term satiric ‘intrusion’ – an adjunct to, and arguably in contention with, the central matter of praise. F O R E S T 4 , ‘to t h e Wor l d’ in a transition very similar to that discussed in UW 15, the conclud- ing movement of Forest 4 (‘to the World’) turns for comfort and reso- lution to stoically inflected commonplaces. subtitled ‘a farewell for a Gentle-woman, vertuous and noble’, it is spoken in propria persona by a female protagonist who finally (and conventionally) resolves to seek peace in herself, to rise above the fear of death and to despise the vagaries of fortune:

  no, i doe know, that i was borne

to age, misfortune, sicknesse, griefe:

But i will beare these, with that scorne, as shall not need thy false reliefe. nor for my peace will i goe farre,


as wandrers doe, that still doe rome,

But make my strengths, such as they are, Here in my bosome, and at home.

  (61–8, the final lines of the poem)

  We recognise here, once again, the echo of a favourite Horatian passage, those final lines from Epistles i.11 that Jonson reworked so movingly in

chapter 2 , pp. 75–7):

  the epigram to roe (Epigrams 32, discussed in caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.

  strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque quadrigis petimus bene vivere. quod petis hic est, est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus.

  (Epistles i.11.27–30)

Those who rush overseas change the weather, not their hearts.

  Energetic inactivity wears us out: in boats and chariots we seek a good life. But what you seek is here

and it’s at Ulubrae, if your balanced mind does not desert you.

  similar concluding statements of virtuous self-sufficiency and calm, as, for example, in Horace Satires ii.7 (davus’ speech to Horace) and the end of Juvenal Satires 10, are, for all their compelling power, nuanced by the sheer volume of satiric material that surrounds them. Juvenal’s

  Forest 4, ‘To the World’ tenth satire, for instance (much like UW 15), devotes almost the whole of its enormous length (366 lines) to describing the stupidity and vice of


actual human wishes. only the final ten lines of the poem set out what

  men ought to hope for, and, in context, those lines seem more wistful than realistic. even the much-cited expression of stoic commonplaces in Horace, Odes iii.3.1–8 is oddly nuanced by its context: apparently an introductory passage to a lyric on roman virtue and heroism, the poem is in fact dominated by Juno’s speech of abiding hatred and enmity towards in each of these cases then – all poems to which

  Jonson alludes more than once – the motif of the ‘good life’ or the ‘free man’ is held within a satiric or aggressive context that threatens to under- mine, or at least complicate, the moral message: we may still accept this vision as an ideal, but it is hard, reading these poems, to believe that it is wholly attainable.

  Forest 4, unlike several other poems from the collection, has not been

  widely anthologised, and has attracted little critical attentionBut here i want to consider some of the ways in which Jonson’s poem is, surprisingly, operating in a similar way to these classical models; and how, despite its carapace of apparently conventional poise, the gendered voice of the poem points towards how we really are as much as how we ought to be – how it works, that is, satirically.

  The body of the poem – a fairly long one, at sixty-eight lines – is taken up with a description of the corrupt and deceiving ‘world’, addressed in the second person (‘False world, good-night’, 1). as, for instance, in donne’s ‘satyre i’, that world is increasingly strongly personified as the poem progresses. at first a ‘stage’ (line 4) (such as life at court or in the public eye), this corrupting world then becomes an active agent, addressed directly as ‘thou’: ‘doe not once hope, that thou canst tempt / a spirit so resolv’d to tread / Upon thy throate’ (5–7). as an agent, this world is equipped not only with ‘nets’ and ‘formes’ (8–9) but also ‘gifts’ and 35 UW 47 (‘an epistle answering to one that asked to be sealed of the tribe of Ben’) begins with


a version of the opening of iii.3, but almost the entire (78-line) poem is taken up with satiric

36 material.

arthur Quiller-couch included the poem in his Oxford Book of English Verse (oxford: clarendon

Press, ), no. 190 (‘a Farewell to the World’), but he prints lines 1–4 followed by lines 37–end

without comment or any indication that this is an emended version. The substantial cuts effec-

tively make the poem conform to the popular lyric of ‘stoic commonplaces’, examples of which

(such as sir Henry Wooton’s ‘The character of a Happy life’ and Thomas campion’s ‘The Man

of life Upright’) were circulating extremely widely in the period. Quiller-couch’s radical emen-


  ‘curtesie’ (11–12). Finally, the renounced world itself is held responsible for the female speaker’s abuse and betrayal:

  My tender, first, and simple yeeres

Thou did’st abuse, and then betray;

since stird’st up jealousies and feares, When all the causes were away.


  The tone is one of a discarded lover, and specifically a female one, subject by virtue of her sex to reputation-damaging seduction and betrayal. The sug- gestion of a youth wasted by corruption and seduction combines ironically with the ‘vertuous’ detail of the title. oddly, this suggestion of specifically


sexual sin and regret becomes a feature of the speaker’s characterisation of

  the ‘world’ itself. at lines 13–16 the sinful world is described in the termi- nology of insult aimed traditionally at the aged courtesan or prostitute:

  i know too, though thou strut, and paint,

Yet art thou both shrunke up, and old,

That onely fooles make thee a saint,

  The poem seems, in fact, for all that the speaker is supposedly ‘vertuous and noble’, to be soaked in the awareness of a very highly gendered kind of sexual sin: of having been seduced and betrayed, and also of being old, ‘shrunke up’, no longer even worth seducing – a description transferred in that latter case to the world, but vividly revealing of the speaker’s thoughts and associations. The world becomes both the, presumably male, agent of her destruction, and the alarming vision of her possible female future. it is significant, then, that at the heart of the poem lies a passage on the fear of returning, despite one’s best intentions, to sinfulness:

  or, having scap’d, shall i returne,

  25 and thrust my necke into the noose, From whence, so lately, i did burne, With all my powers, my selfe to loose? What bird, or beast, is knowne so dull,

That fled his cage, or broke his chaine,

  30 and tasting ayre, and freedome, wull render his head in there againe? 37


i think ‘form’ here alludes to the latin sense of ‘forma’ meaning ‘beauty’ as well as more gener-

ally ‘shape’ or ‘appearance’. as a form is also a hare or deer’s lair or hide, it also contributes to the Forest 4, ‘To the World’ The centre of this image is in fact quite a close translation of a passage from Horace, Satires ii.7:

  ibis sub furcam prudens, dominoque furenti committes rem omnem et vitam et cum corpore famam. evasti: credo, metues doctusque cavebis: quaeres quando iterum paveas iterumque perire possis, o totiens servus ! quae belua ruptis, cum semel effugit, reddit se prava catenis?

  (Satires ii.7.66–71) You know what you’re doing when you submit to the yoke, and when

to a master who rages in madness you entrust all your fortune, your life,

and your reputation along with your body. Suppose you have escaped: then, I imagine, you’ ll have learnt your lesson – you’ ll be fearful and cautious.


But no – you’ ll actually look for the opportunity to be terrified again,

to face disaster,

O you are a slave many times over! What beast, who’s burst its chains and escaped once, perversely returns to them again?

  in this latin passage davus, Horace’s slave, liberated by the conventional freedoms of the saturnalia to speak his mind, addresses his master and points out that Horace is no more free than he; specifically, in the lines that surround this passage, that they are both sexually obsessed by an unsuitable woman, despite the dangers of such behaviour (‘someone else’s wife has you in thrall; a prostitute has captured davus,’ 46). The poem is both subtle and funny on degrees of slavery (we are reminded of the ‘poore single flatterer’ who refuses to be a ‘slave to boote’).

  Forest 4 ends, as we have seen, with the ‘gentlewoman’ of the title

  declaring her true freedom in her resolution to accept life calmly, bear the ills that come to her and find her strength and peace in herself. Satires ii.7 has a similar evocation of real freedom – a popular passage, to which

  But in Satires ii.7 those lines are heavily ironic. in them, the slave davus claims mockingly that Horace (like himself, he admits), for all his good resolutions, precisely will put his head back in the (sexual) noose. in its original context, that description of virtuous self-sufficiency is presented to his master, Horace, as a descrip- tion of exactly what he, that is Horace, has failed to be:

  tu mihi qui imperitas alii servis miser atque 39 duceris ut nervis alienis mobile lignum. quisnam igitur liber? sapiens sibi qui imperiosus, quem neque pauperies neque mors neque vincula terrent, responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores fortis, et in se ipso totus, teres, atque rotundus, externi ne quid valeat per leve morari, in quem manca ruit semper fortuna. potesne ex his ut proprium quid noscere? … eripe turpi colla iugo; ‘liber, liber sum’ dic age. non quis; urget enim dominus mentem non lenis et acris subiectat lasso stimulos versatque negantem.

  (Satires ii.7.81–9 and 91–4)

As for you – you order me around but you’re the base servant of another

master and like a wooden puppet you’re moved by somebody else’s strings.

  Who then is free? The wise man who commands himself, whom neither poverty nor death nor chains terrify, a man strong enough to defy his passions and despise public honours: a brave man, whole in himself, smooth and round,

able to prevent anything outside himself lingering upon his smooth surface:

whenever Fortune attacks such a man she maims only herself. Can you

recognise any one of these attributes as your own? … Snatch your neck from the vile yoke; come on, say ‘I’m free, I’m free’ – but you can’t.

  For a master – and not a gentle one – is plaguing your mind,

he stabs at your weary body with his spurs and forces you round if you shy.

  davus, Horace’s slave, points out that for all his ‘free speech’ – that is, his writing of satire – Horace the poet is no freer than his slave, and it is in this context that davus claims that Horace is even more servile than creatures who do at least learn from their earlier entrapments: the passage translated in Forest 4.25–32. once we hear davus the slave speaking in this ‘gentlewoman’s’ lament, her closing resolution – her declaration, in effect, ‘i’m free, i’m free’ – is disturbed and undermined. We know that in Horace, davus describes freedom only to demonstrate the extent to which both he and his master are enslaved.

  But it is not just that Horace, like davus, behaves slavishly: the vice neither Horace nor davus can free himself from, the ‘vile yoke’ (ii.7.91–2) they cannot tear off is specifically one of sexual enslavement. as davus describes, in lines that precede and follow this passage, they are both, master and slave, in comic sexual thrall to an unsuitable woman, des- pite the dangers of such behaviour (in davus’ case a prostitute, in Horace

  Forest 4, ‘To the World’ disguise). davus even claims that he, a slave seeing a prostitute, is in a better position than his master, in a passage notoriously expurgated until very recently and still regularly toned down in translation:

  te coniunx aliena capit, meretricula davum: peccat uter nostrum cruce dignius? acris ubi me natura intendit, sub clara nude lucerna quaecumque excepit turgentis verbera caudae, clunibus aut agitavit equum lasciva supinum,

  50 dimittit neque famosum neque sollicitum ne ditior aut formae melioris meiat eodem. tu cum proiectis insignibus, anulo equestri romanoque habitu, prodis ex iudice dama turpis, odoratum caput obscurante lacerna,

  55 non es quod simulas? metuens induceris atque altercante libidinibus tremis ossa pavore.

  (Satires ii.7.46–57) Another man’s wife has you enslaved, a whore has Davus. When nature in all her ferocity drives me on, naked, in bright lamp-light, some girl welcomes the strokes of my great swollen tail,

  And when she sends me off I’m not hungry or panicking

that some richer man of more impressive shape will piss in the same place.

You, on the other hand, throw off the marks of your rank, your equestrian


and your Roman clothes [i.e. white toga], and you betray your standing

as a juror

preferring to be base Dama [a typical slave’s name], hiding your scented

head with a dark hood.

So aren’t you then exactly what you’re pretending to be? Fearfully you make

your way in and your very bones shake with terror as fear struggles with lust.

  The ‘vertuous and noble’ woman of Forest 4, as the subheading describes her, thus addresses the world she renounces in terms which suggest a his- tory of sexual shame; moreover she does so in the voice of an impudent slave, reproaching his master for his sexual slavishness. once we have 40 noted and activated the allusion, this becomes a much funnier – and 41 in ancient rome crucifixion was a punishment restricted to slaves. 42 The verb ‘drives on’ (‘intendit’) could be used of an erection.


The implied sexual position here – with the woman on top – was considered perverse and much more discomfiting – poem on the impossibilities of freedom than the ‘stoic liberty’ lyrics which at first glance it appears to resemble. We may suspect that this woman, for all her apparent resolution, is unlikely to bid farewell to the world – or the world’s men – quite as categorically as she hopes; and we hear instead, perhaps, a hint of pique, of one step or sally in the cycle of attraction and rejection.

  Jonson in ‘False world, good-night’ ventriloquises a woman who turns out to be quoting – and in some respects enacting – Horace; but she plays not only Horace, but Horace addressing himself, with scorn and humour, in the voice of his own slave – his own ultim- ate and inescapable slavishness. Beneath the surface of Jonson’s poised classicism lurks satire of the most troubling kind, and this is not the only poem in the opening sequence to incorporate satiric material in a surprising way. F O R E S T

  3, ‘to sir robe rt W ro t h’ a similar subtlety of allusive texture characterises Forest 3 (‘to sir robert Wroth’). The vision of the golden age of fertility and effortless abundance, as described in that poem, is indebted, as has been often pointed out, to a range of classical models: primarily, the second of Horace’s Epodes; Martial 1.49 (itself an imitation of Epodes 2); the description of the Golden age in Virgil, Georgics ii.493–540; and Horace, Odes ii.18.

  Formally, the poem most closely resembles the second epode, both in length (106 lines to the epode’s 70) and in metre (the iambic metre of the epode is formed of couplets of twelve and eight syllables; ‘to sir robert Wroth’ alternates between lines of ten and eight). They are structurally related, too: in both poems the extensive description of a rural idyll, deliv- ered in very similar terms, takes up almost the whole of the poem. Jonson’s engagement with the second epode is demonstrated by his close transla- tion of it (UW 85, ‘The praises of a countrie life’), which employs the same certain phrases of the epistle to Wroth are metrical pattern as Forest 3. borrowed directly from the latin poem: ‘un-bought provision’ at line 14 translates ‘dapes inemptas’ (Epodes 2.48, ‘unbought viands’ (48) in Jonson’s translation), and the ‘greedie thrush’ shot at line 34 renders ‘turdis edaci- 43 bus’ (Epodes 2.34, ‘th’eating Thrush’ (34) in Jonson’s translation).


Pierce describes Forest 3 as a ‘better version of Epode 2 than Jonson’s translation’ (Pierce, ‘Ben

Jonson’s Horace’, 22).

  Forest 3, ‘To Sir Robert Wroth’ The beginning of Forest 3, ‘[h]ow blest art thou’, reminds us of the famous opening line of the epode:

  ‘Beatus ille qui procul negotiis, ut prisca gens mortalium, paterna rura bubus exercet suis, solutus omni faenore,

neque excitatur classico miles truci,

  5 neque horret iratum mare, forumque vitat et superba civium potentiorum limina.

  (Epodes 2.1–8) Happie is he, that from all Businesse cleere, as the old race of Mankind were, With his owne oxen tills his sires left lands, and is not in the Usurers bands: nor souldier-like started with rough alarmes,

  5 nor dreads the seas inraged harmes:

But flees the Barre and courts, with the proud bords,

and waiting chambers of great lords.

  (Jonson’s translation, UW 85.1–8)

  The latin poem enumerates various undesirable forms of city life from which the country-dweller is freed: namely, business affairs (‘negotiis’, 1), owing money (‘omni faenore’, 4), the harsh life of a soldier or sailor (lines 5–6), the demands of the forum (7) and the necessity to call upon poten- tial patrons or powerful supporters (7–8). The first twelve lines of Forest 3 follow a similar pattern, emphasising Wroth’s freedom from obligations to social superiors (5–6) and from the culture of extravagance and debt (11–12):


How blest art thou, canst love the countrey, Wroth,

Whether by choice, or fate, or both; and, though so neere the citie, and the court, art tane with neithers vice, nor sport: That at great times, art no ambitious guest

  5 of sheriffes dinner, or Maiors feast. nor com’st to view the better cloth of state; The richer hangings, or crowne-plate; nor throng’st (when masquing is) to have a sight of the short braverie of the night;

  10 to view the jewells, stuffes, the paines, the wit There wasted, some not paid for yet!

  (1–12) The poem returns to this set of themes in the extended priamel of lines 67–90, in which Jonson urges Wroth to avoid the strain and moral dan- gers of a list of professions: as a soldier (67–72), a barrister or avaricious merchant (73–84), and finally a corrupt courtier (85–90).

  But Horace’s epode has a well-known sting in its tail: in the final four lines, the whole poem is belatedly revealed to be the speech of alfius, a self-deceiving moneylender who, for all his talk, will return almost at once to usury:


These thoughts when Usurer Alphius, now about

to turne mere farmer, had spoke out,

’Gainst th’ides, his moneys he gets in with paine,

at th’calends, puts all out againe.

  (Jonson’s translation, UW 85.67–70)

Forest 3 (unlike UW 85) is not a translation, and it closes, in a pattern with

  which we are now familiar, with a description of – and encouragement towards – virtuous attitude and behaviour (93–106): Wroth is already well set up; he should rest content with and be grateful for what he has, unafraid of poverty or death:

  and, howsoever we may thinke things sweet,

He [God] alwayes gives what he knowes meet;

Which who can use is happy: such be thou. Thy morning’s, and thy evening’s vow 100 Be thankes to him, and earnest prayer, to finde a body sound, with sounder minde; to doe thy countrey service, thy selfe right; That neither want doe thee affright, nor death; but when thy latest sand is spent, 105 Thou maist thinke life, a thing but lent.

  (Forest 3.97–106)

  details of this description (including ‘a body sound, with sounder minde’) are indebted to the final lines of Juvenal’s tenth satire, and the connec- tion is a fertile one. Juvenal’s evocative (and much-reproduced) sketch of a kind of desire congruent with calm virtue is destabilised by the unwieldy bulk (all 345 lines) which precedes it, devoted to describing the capacity for corrupt human longing. alfius’ stirring, and not dissimilar, vision of a rural idyll is revealed, finally, not as reality or resolution, but a meaning- less ‘wish’, instantly to be set aside. in this double context there is a final delicate irony in the closing lines of ‘to sir robert Wroth’: ‘That neither want doe thee affright, / nor

  Forest 3, ‘To Sir Robert Wroth’ but lent’ (104–6). The financial language of the rhyme – ‘spent’, ‘lent’ – draws attention to the reversal of priorities in the man of upright heart, who will finally be able to view with equanimity the impermanence not only of the ‘short braverie of the night’ (10), but of life itself. But by shad- owing the vocabulary of debt from the close of Horace’s epode we are also brought back, in a cynical rush, to the moneylender, who, it is now revealed, has been speaking all along.

  Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31 interestingly includes a copy both of this poem to Wroth and also of Jonson’s own close translation of Epodes 2, the only translation of an epode by him that we have. That this combin- ation is not accidental, at least for the compiler of the manuscript or of the manuscript from which it derives, is suggested by the titling of the Wroth although it has no such heading in the 1616 folio, the Wroth poem is identified as an ‘epode’, and the phrasing of the title is very similar to the heading the manuscript gives to Jonson’s translation of the second epode a few pages earlier: ‘an ode in Horace in Prayse of a countrye clearly the compiler of this manuscript has made the connection between Epodes 2 and the Wroth poem, whether of his own accord or by taking his cue from the source of his copies.

  But if we are persuaded by these factors to feel that the tone of the poem, the exhortation to Wroth to retired country virtue, is somehow destabilised, what are we to make of that? it is i think interesting, at the least, to know that on his death in 1614 Wroth left his wife, lady Mary Wroth, an estate burdened with £23,000 of debt, a vast sum, and one which consumed much of her widowhood in repeated legal cases to protect herself from prosecution. if we hear Horace in this poem, if we gather that it takes its shape and its tone from the second epode, then we hear, too, an irony, obviously, but also a speaking voice – of the poet, of Jonson, of Horace, ultimately of alfius. The voice of the poem ceases to be transparent, and the taste and shape of its authority shifts from the generalising, patchwork of allusions 44 r style of grand classicism to which it is usually ascribed to something more 45 r Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31, 34 .


Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31, 28 . This translation was not printed until the 1640 folio, in

which it appears in parallel text, although it was composed in or before 1618, when Jonson read it

46 to drummond. The Ms may in fact predate the 1616 folio.


Wroth’s widow, lady Mary Wroth, subsequently sued for protection against debt collection in

1623, 1624, 1627 and 1628. For details of the Wroths’ marriage and financial situation, see Mary personal, more interesting, more amusing, rather more cynical and imme- diate: a deliverer of truths with an agenda, and moral absolutes laced with social realism.


Forest 3 and 4 thus emerge as poems of praise, and specifically of eth-

  ical praise, which are destabilised by the presence of competing satirical voices. These overtones suggest that the ethical ideals which the poems expound may be (at least for some speakers, some of the time) self-delu- sory, or primarily performative. in both cases, the satiric material chal- lenges our reception of the speaking voice of the poem. This dynamic is even more a feature of Forest 2, ‘to Penshurst’, to which i now turn. F O R E S T

  2, ‘to pe nsh u r s t’ Herford and simpson note that fish and eels that generously offer themselves to the fisherman in lines 29–38 of ‘to Penshurst’, Jonson’s famously consummate and classicising country-house poem in honour of the sidney estate, are suggested by the mock-epic turbot in Juvenal,


Satires 4.68–9: ‘[the fisherman is addressing domitian] et tua seruatum

  consume in saecula rhombum. / ipse capi uoluit’, ‘devour a turbot saved especially for the days of your rule. / He wanted to be caught.’ Jonson’s version of this conceit rather labours the point: the partridge, too, is ‘willing to be kill’d’ (30), and carp, pike and eels all prove themselves keen to be eaten:

  The painted partrich lyes in every field, and, for thy messe, is willing to be kill’d.

  30 and if the high-swolne Medway faile thy dish,

Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,

Fat, aged carps, that runne into thy net.

and pikes, now weary their owne kinde to eat,

as loth, the second draught, or cast to stay,

  35 officiously, at first, themselves betray.

Bright eeles, that emulate them, and leape on land,

Before the fisher, or into his hand. 47


Hardman suggests that oppian may also lie behind this image (c. B. Hardman, ‘Penshurst’s

co-operative Fish’, Notes and Queries, 244 ( ), 250–1). H&s, among many others, rightly note

the influence of Martial 3.58 upon the whole first half of Jonson’s poem. details such as the ‘painted

partrich’ (‘picta perdix’, 15) and the passage concerned with the un-empty-handed rustics (‘nec

venit inanis rusticus salutator’, 33) are derived directly from Martial’s latin. But the overtones

detected by cain – the implications of tribute and predation, and the literary resonances of flattery Forest 2, ‘To Penshurst’ But what are we to make of the inclusion of this farcical scene from domitian’s reign of terror, now transposed to the apparent idyll that is Penshurst? This is not simply an example of satiric allusions reinforcing and deepening satiric scene-setting (as, broadly, in Forest 12 and 13). The reference becomes still more unsettling when we consider its context in the latin poem. Juvenal’s line continues:

  ‘ipse capi voluit’. quid apertius? et tamen illi surgebant cristae. nihil est quod credere de se non possit cum laudatur dis aequa potestas.

  (Satires 4.69–71) ‘It wanted to be caught.’ What could be more blatant? But still his [Domitian’s] comb rose with pleasure. There is nothing at all

that godlike power won’t believe of itself when it comes to being praised.

  This is perhaps the most explicit denunciation of flattery in Juvenal. an elliptic aside in the Conversations with drummond seems to allude to Jonson’s particular interest in this passage: ‘He made Much of that epistle of Plinius, wher ad prandium non ad notam is & yt other of Marcellinus critics have, however, been reluctant to connect this anecdote with ‘to Penshurst’. Wheeler is typical in her conclusion that ‘Jonson … presum- ably did not wish the element of insincere flattery to enter his compli- mentary poem’, but i want to press this conclusion: the ‘gross turbot’ is not the only discomfiting element lurking in the shadows of Penshurst’s Most readers of this poem have taken it very much at face value, and

  ‘to Penshurst’ is often cited as an example of Jonson’s most accomplished and classicising panegyric: ‘Jonson is not only describing a manor but But a few critics have pointed out destabilising elements concealed in the rhetorical movement of the poem, and particu- larly in the repeated negations – the speaker’s apparent need to describe This technique 48 precisely what (for the poet-retainer) Penshurst is not 49 Conversations with William Drummond, 624–6. 50 Wheeler, English Verse Satire, pp. 182–3.


Philip Hobsbaum, ‘Ben Jonson in the seventeenth century’, Michigan Quarterly Review, 16

51 ), 405–23 (420).

cubeta is rare in his honest admission of the problems that the appropriation of Juvenal causes

an attentive reader of the poem (Paul M. cubeta, ‘a Jonsonian ideal: to Penshurst’, Philological

  Quarterly, 42 ), 14–24). Katharine Maus expresses slight unease at the climactic image of

the poet feasting at sidney’s table, but claims that: ‘Jonson phrases his displacement of his host inevitably suggests that other places (and times, and poems) are like that, but it also brings to mind exactly those negative features the absence of which the poet is so careful to proclaim. William cain’s article presents an excellent concise articulation of this feature of the poem. on the uncom- fortable evocation of tribute, predation and even cannibalism within the animal kingdom in lines 29–44, he comments: ‘it is hard not to feel some anxiety in these lines from the poem, as the poet introduces potentially disturbing details about life at Penshurst only to displace them away from the sidney family’, and he goes on to make a similar point about lines The poem takes pains not only to praise the hospitality of the sidney household, but specifically to deny that particular corruptions take place:

  and though thy walls be of the countrey stone,

They’are rear’d with no mans ruine, no mans grone,

There’s none, that dwell about them, wish them downe; But all come in, the farmer, and the clowne: and no one empty-handed, to salute Thy lord, and lady, though they have no sute.


  The penultimate of these lines is derived from Martial 3.58, line 33: ‘nec venit inanis rusticus salutator’, ‘nor does a countryman come empty- handed to pay his respects’; just as in Martial, Jonson’s version of the vis- itor brings rural gifts (a capon, ‘rurall cake’, nuts, apples, cheese, 51–2). in the latin poem, that list concludes with farmers’ daughters bringing gifts from their mothers in woven baskets (39–40); Jonson’s version of that detail is rather different – in ‘to Penshurst’, the daughters, like the country foodstuffs, are by degrees cast as the offerings themselves:

  and no one empty-handed, to salute Thy lord, and lady, though they have no sute.

  50 some bring a capon, some a rurall cake,

some nuts, some apples; some that thinke they make

The better cheeses, bring ’hem; or else send

By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend

This way to husbands; and whose baskets beare

  55 an embleme of themselves, in plum, or peare. 52 (Forest 2.49–56)


W. cain, ‘The Place of the Poet’, 35. on this ‘negative’ tendency in Jonson’s poems of praise,

see also richard newton, ‘ “Ben. / Jonson”: the Poet in the Poems’, in alvin Kernan (ed.), Two

Renaissance Mythmakers: Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson (Baltimore and london: Johns

  Forest 2, ‘To Penshurst’ Jonson’s ‘to salute’ (49) renders Martial’s ‘salutator’ (33), and it is worth attending to the force of the latin term. in its context in Martial the word is a slightly incongruous interpolation, intentionally reminiscent not of the country but of the city life to which the poet is comparing his rural idyll. The verb ‘salutare’, ‘to greet’, is the term used for the early morn- ing attendance of the client upon his patron and superior. its use here, combined with ‘nec … inanis’ (‘not empty-handed’), is ironic: Martial is emphasising the extent to which ‘morning-callers’ in the countryside are free from the kind of mercenary relationships of city life. The term is, moreover, associated in the ‘sportula-’ (dole-out) dominated world of Juvenal’s Satires with the dependency and penury of inferior ‘friends’.

  The ironic edge of the word in the latin poem prepares us for the hint of a double meaning that persists in Jonson’s line: ‘and no one empty- handed, to salute / Thy lord, and lady, though they have no sute’ (49–50). are we meant to understand that the people are glad to come and share their produce, even though they have nothing in particular to ask for: that is, like Martial’s country-dwellers, they live outside the mercenary param- eters of city life? or is it rather that even if you don’t have something for which to press your ‘suit’, you still don’t dare come empty-handed? The shadowy presence of that second reading (augmented by the vivid denial of ‘ruine’ and ‘grone’ in line 46), is perhaps strengthened by the departure from the model. Martial’s ‘salutator’ is not directly greeting anyone in particular, and there is no mention of a possible ‘suit’, absent or otherwise. The suggestion of attendance upon the ‘lord and lady’ however, combined with the (denied) possibility of some kind of request reactivates the satiric overtones of the term.

  Moreover, the particular kinds of corruption and inequality which the poem is at such pains to deny follow the contours of satire on court life in general, and several Juvenalian passages in their detail. The image of the poet-guest at ‘liberall boord’ (59) is indebted – negatively, as it were – to Juvenal’s fifth satire, in which the satirist complains of the poet’s unequal treatment in terms very reminiscent of these lines. The rhetorical ques- tion: ‘But what can this (more than expresse their love) / adde to thy free provisions, farre above / The neede of such? whose liberall boord doth flow, / With all, that hospitalitie doth know!’ (57–60) echoes Juvenal’s ironic description of the long-suffering client’s eventual summons: ‘Your greatest wish. What more could you want?’ (Satires 5.18–19). servants hover offensively behind Juvenal’s guest: ‘You’re not entrusted with any of the gold – or, if you are, a waiter is stationed there like a guard to count in direct contrast, maintains: ‘Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by, / a waiter, doth my gluttony envy’ (67–8). in fact, the allusion, once activated, helps to make sense of Jonson’s line: by ‘telling’ the cups, he means counting them (‘numeret’ in the latin), checking that none of the Jonson’s assertion of the waiter’s attentiveness (‘but gives me what i call’,

  69) and his denial that he is envious of the guest he waits upon (‘nor … doth my gluttony envy’, 67–8) are both equally pointed. at line 62 Juvenal’s guest has trouble attracting the attention of his waiter (unlike the host and more privileged guests), and the long-suffering speaker puts it down to resentment: ‘it makes him angry, to wait upon an ancient dependent; your every request annoys him, and even the fact that you’re reclining while he’s on his feet’ (64–5). When he is finally served, it is ‘murmure’ (67) – with a grumble. at lines 61–4 ‘to Penshurst’ calls attention to the wholly equal sharing of meat, beer, bread and wine between guests and host:

  Where comes no guest, but is allow’d to eate,

Without his feare, and of thy lords owne meate:

Where the same beere, and bread, and selfe-same wine,

That is his lordships, shall be also mine.


  This too contrasts with, but reminds us of, Juvenal’s poem, which dwells at length upon the differences between guest and host in the quality of the wine (Satires 5.24–5; 30–7), the bread (67–71) and the various other in conversation with drummond, Jonson apparently told an anecdote based upon this passage: ‘being at ye end of my lord salisburie’s table with inigo Jones & demanded by my lord, why he was not glad My lord said he yow promised i should dine with yow, bot i doe not, for he had none of his meate, he esteamed only yt his meate which was of his owne dish’ (Conversations with William Drummond 317–21).

  Finally, very late in the poem, Jonson’s approbation of the chastity of Penshurst’s mistress (as opposed to widespread sexual infidelity) returns us discomfortingly to the commonplace complaints of Juvenalian sat- ire: ‘His children thy great lord may call his owne: / a fortune, in this age, 53 but rarely knowne’ (91–2). once again, the form of the praise reminds


The latin lines quoted refer to the ‘jewels’ (‘gemmas’) rather than the cups themselves, but the 54

latin terms ‘phialas’ (39) and ‘pocula’ (43) both make it clear that cups or goblets are meant. us – almost to the point of scepticism – of the everyday (satirical) reality of avarice and dishonesty.

  But this pattern of allusive interaction begins not with the general ‘cor- rections’ to Juvenal’s satiric description, but with a specific allusion to the possibility of flattery (that silent ‘quid apertius?’). Without the prompting of the explicit Juvenalian reminiscence of the ‘co-operative fishes’, and its associations with outright flattery, none of these surrounding associ- ations would be activated, or less clearly so. The passage discussed above ends with the striking line: ‘as if thou, then, wert mine, or i raign’d here’ (74). although it is an effective statement of the equality with which he is treated, the use of ‘raign’d’ is provocative. The speaker is flirting with the implications of his nod to Juvenal: namely, that all he says could be dismissed as flattery of the grossest kind. But he escapes from this accus- ation by his careful reversal of the tropes of satire in the second half of his poem. it is precisely because he, the poet, is treated so well – is deemed equal and well provided for – that this poem cannot, within the trad- itions of Juvenalian satire, be satiric at all.

  Whereas in other examples of Jonson’s deployment of satiric allusion a Juvenalian vision of corruption is set up in opposition to, and ultimately to be redeemed by, an Horatian poetics of ennobling linguistic glory and power, the satiric intrusion in this poem is more destabilising. The insist- ent refraction of an augustan-styled idyll of virtue and, above all, free- dom through the ‘fallen’ lens of Juvenalian allusion works at the very least to highlight the fragility of the vision the poem offers. But the deepening effect of that ambiguity at the heart of the poem is also enriching: itself a freedom of speech. if Penshurst is not quite as perfect as the opening movement of the poem might suggest – if even the sidneys are not averse to a hint of flattery – it is much more attractive than the ostentatious buildings to which it is compared; not only because her ‘lord’ dwells in safety, but because at its heart reigns the poet himself, and a poet left free to claim (or to convince us) that his tolerated presence is indeed a kind of R E P R I S E U N D E R W O O D s at ir e a n d ly r ic : 4 2 twenty-five years after Jonson first tackled the relationship between 55 Horatian and Juvenalian satire in the ‘comical satires’, we find an


This kind of exploration of the limits of the poetic autonomy bears comparison, in particular, unremarked poem, UW 42 (‘an elegie’), dealing with an assured lightness of touch with these same themes. Herford and simpson date ‘an elegie’ to around 1624. in common with several of Jonson’s long poems of this period (including UW 15 and 44, mentioned above) the bulk of the poem is satiric in a broadly Juvenalian manner, with its satire focused upon lechery and vulgar ostentation in manners and dress – and, forcibly, the combination of the two:

  it is not likely i should now looke downe Upon a Velvet Petticote, or a Gowne,

Whose like i have knowne the taylors Wife put on

to doe her Husbands rites in, e’re ’twere gone

Home to the customer: his letcherie

Being, the best clothes still to praeoccupie.


  The conceit of this combination is extended to the point at which clothing itself – the mere trappings of wealth – becomes the object of lust:


an officer there, did make most solemne love,

to ev’ry Petticote he brush’d, and Glove

He did lay up, and would adore the shooe, or slipper he left off, and kisse it too, court every hanging Gowne, and after that,

lift up some one, and doe, i tell not what.


  The theme of lines 21–6, that in a decadent society parents are made anx- ious by their children’s beauty, out of fear of sexual corruption, is derived directly from Juvenal’s tenth satire, lines 289–309. (in Juvenal’s version, it is beautiful sons who should cause the most anxiety, whereas UW 42 focuses upon girls.) But the predatory corrupters of youth in UW 42 are, in an amusing variation upon the expected theme, poets; and, by pointed implication, this aged but amorous poet himself:

  But then consent, your daughters and your Wives, (if they be faire and worth it) have their lives Made longer by our praises. or, if not, Wish, you had fowle ones, and deformed got; curst in their cradles, or there chang’d by elves, so to be sure you doe injoy your selves. Yet keepe those up in sackcloth too, or lether,

For silke will draw some sneaking songster thither.


  65) for an inspiring theme: ‘There is not worne that lace, purle, knot or pin, / But is the Poëts matter’ (16–17); ‘witnesse he / That chanc’d the

  The variation is amusing, but it is also a perceptive response to one of the structural paradoxes of roman satire: that the poet-satirist is impli- cated in the corruption he condemns because it is his theme – without it there is nothing of which he can speak. Throughout his career, as we have seen, Jonson’s satire confronts this problem of the implication of the satirist in the world he condemns by creating an Horatian counterpoint to the satiric perspective: a counterbalance, structured around praise and virtue, which seeks to guarantee the virtue and reliability of the poet’s voice.

  Here, in UW 42, Jonson evokes, and destabilises, exactly this tech- nique. The poem begins with a tongue-in-cheek parade of the speaker’s laureate credentials:

  let me be what i am, as Virgil cold; as Horace fat; or as Anacreon old; no Poets verses yet did ever move,

Whose readers did not thinke he was in love.

Who shall forbid me then in rithme to bee

  5 as light, and active as the youngest hee That from the Muses fountaines doth indorse His lynes, and hourely sits the Poets horse? Put on my ivy Garland, let me see

Who frownes, who jealous is, who taxeth me.

  10 (1–10)

  The association of laureateship (‘my ivy Garland’) and the inevitability of jealousy (‘Who frownes, who jealous is, who taxeth me’) is a prominent another of Jonson’s favourite asser- theme, for instance, of Poetaster tions – of the poet’s power to immortalise – is similarly subject to erotic pastiche: ‘But then consent, your daughters and your Wives, / (if they be faire and worth it) have their lives / Made longer by our praises’ (19–21; note the matter-of-fact and deflating parenthesis).

  The poem is animated by a self-puncturing humour at the expense of 56 the distinctive and aggrandising allusive patterns of the poet’s younger


The massed hordes of inferior poets (‘it is a ryming age’, 27) are themselves a satiric common-

place. see Persius, Satires 1.13–14; Juvenal, Satires 1.17–18; Horace, Satires i.4.23 and 73; Epistles 57 ii.1.108–10.

lines 6–8 probably allude to Persius’ Prologue, 1–6, another favourite text. The allusion itself self: patterns which set Juvenalian satire up against the vatic promise of Horatian laureateship. But in Jonson’s poetry, as we have seen, satiric material is not reduced merely to an enhancing backdrop, a kind of foil to real praise and virtue. The ‘reality’ of those virtues, and the noble milieu in which they are repeatedly located, is itself open, as in ‘to Penshurst’, to intrusion and subversion by satiric texts and a satiric perspective. The power and pathos of the redemptive dynamic leading us from Juvenal to Horace, and from Jonson’s corrupt and flattering contemporaries to (he implies) the virtuous poet (Jonson himself), lie in the fragility of this dynamic, and the possibility of its reverse. i will turn now to a dramatic – and satiric – staging of that Horatian redemption in Jonson’s early play Poetaster.


ch a p t er 4

Poetaster: classical translation and

cultural authority

  in previous chapters we have seen how Jonson employed allusion to appropriate a range of classical genres, including odes, epigrams, epis- tles and verse satires. in each case, the potency of these adaptions and redeployments resides in their intertextual ‘dialogue’: the way in which the Horatianism of these pieces is set up against, and in contested con- versation with, alternative models of tone and genre (Pindar’s epinicia, Martial’s epigrams, Juvenalian satire). Furthermore, in each case these ‘conversations’ are as politically as they are culturally significant, dealing provocatively with the exigencies and possibilities of the poet’s relation- ship with the great. Whereas those earlier chapters considered a range of Jonsonian examples in each mode, in this chapter i want to look closely at just one work, the early comical satire Poetaster. tom cain concludes his essay on the satiric force of Poetaster by remarking that it: ‘emerges as a play that demands a more prominent place in the Jonson canon than it is normally given’. This chapter is in part an attempt to attend to Poetaster as he suggests, and this attention takes two forms. Firstly, i think it is worth focusing upon the play as a work both composed of and, in some sense, about the act of translation; a work in which translations, as well as the translator, continually chal- 1 Poetaster is,


tom cain, ‘ “satyres, That Girde and Fart at the time”: Poetaster and the essex rebellion’ in Julie

sanders, Kate chedgzoy and susan Wiseman (eds.), Refashioning Ben Jonson: Gender, Politics and

the Jonsonian Canon (Basingstoke: Macmillan, , pp. 48–70 (p. 66). in preparing this chapter

i am very much indebted to cain’s excellent edition of the play (Ben Jonson, Poetaster, revels

Plays (Manchester University Press, ). a version of this chapter was published in Translation

2 and Literature, 15 (2006), 21–50.

on this topic see: Margaret tudeau-clayton, ‘scenes of translation in Jonson and

shakespeare: Poetaster, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Translation and Literature, 11


, 1–23 and Jonson, Shakespeare and Early Modern Virgil (cambridge University Press, 1998).

in the course of this chapter i wish to take issue with her conclusions about the perception and quite explicitly, about the negotiation of the social and aesthetic distinc- tions between ‘poet’ and ‘poetaster’, but it frames this debate within the broader allusive context of the similar negotiation in Horace’s Satires. as an authorial strategy, this is both aggressively self-confident (because it associates Jonson with Horace himself) and strikingly submissive (where is Jonson if so much of this is Horace?). secondly, i want to use a fuller understanding of the allusive fabric of the play to put some pressure upon the critical consensus that pertains regarding its close. although several critics have stressed the powerful role of the poets themselves in magnifying and shaping augustus’ author- ity, the view that the final scenes present an idyllic and equally balanced in this chapter i argue that the many ‘translations’ and allusions of the play help to place augustus’ taste and judgement in question and finally sub- ordinate even his majesty to the organising – and immortalising – power of Horatian verse.

  The real cultural authority of the play is invested not in the emperor, nor even in Virgil, but rather in Horace, whose Satires structure the play as a whole, and inside whose authorial framework even act V’s fragment of the Aeneid is held. For all Virgil’s acknowledged virtue and excellence, it is the adaptive and absorbent satiric mode, incorporating epic and lyric, roman and elizabethan material alike, which allows us to ‘see’ most clearly the dangers of absolute power, and the proper role of the poet as counsellor to the great. These political implications are, moreover, rooted in the details of the textual transactions around and through which the play is carried out, and which have been under-read by critics – both in terms of the depth and detail to which Poetaster is indebted to other texts, and the extent to which these debts and borrowings structure the action. P O E T A S T E R

  : a t r a nsl at e d pl ay Virgil’s eventual resounding endorsement of Horace’s art and life alike refers 3 specifically to his ‘translating’, which he defends strongly against criticism:


‘[Virgil] stands at the absolute centre (with augustus) of a circle of being/truth’ (tudeau-

clayton, Jonson, Shakespeare and Early Modern Virgil, p. 158). Kaplan refers to ‘Poetaster’s attempt

to realign early modern perceptions of the relations of poet to state along the lines of the idealized

augustan model’ (Kaplan, The Culture of Slander, p. 72). see also norbert H. Platz, ‘Jonson’s ars

Poetica: an interpretation of Poetaster in its Historical context’, Elizabethan Studies, 12 ,

1–42. alan sinfield’s article is an instructive exception to this consensus: alan sinfield, ‘Poetaster,

  Poetaster: a translated play

  and for his true use of translating men, it still hath been a work of as much palm

in clearest judgements, as t’ invent or make.


  Virgil is answering one after another the terms of the accusations against Horace, and he begins with that of ‘translation’. The phrase ‘translat- ing men’ is grammatically elusive; these ‘men who translate’ could refer to the characters of Horace’s Satires, although it is Jonson’s versions of these characters in Poetaster who are noticeable for their ‘translation’ of material. We might also read ‘men’ as the object of ‘translating’, perhaps referring to the wealth of imported material and characters in the play. although Horace does allude on several occasions to the sources of his work in Greek models (archilochus at Epistles i.19.24–5; the lesbian poets (sappho and alcaeus) at Odes i.1.34), this imitation is nowhere cited as grounds for criticism. The accusation of ad hominem invective, by con- trast, does have a textual basis in one of the most programmatic of the in this way Poetaster’s vision of a Horace besieged by his critics is a dramatisation of the satiric persona of the Satires – that is, of Horace’s early career – transferred to the political scenery of his later laureateship, in Jonson’s epigrams and longer verse we have already seen several examples of this ‘collapse’ of the Horatian career, by which Jonson recasts Horace’s earliest works with the laureate assurance of his later years. But the attack upon and even- tual defence of Horace’s ‘translating’ practice speak much more directly to the reader of Poetaster than of the Satires. The terms of demetrius’ comically bad invective against Horace, read aloud by tibullus in act V, scene three, targets for attack Horace’s verse (both satiric and lyric), his arrogance, his translations (by which he means plagiarisms) and his social climbing:

  t i bu l lus. [Reads.] Our Muse is in mind for th’ untrussing a poet; I slip by his name, for most men do know it: A critic that all the world bescumbers 4 With satirical humours and lyrical numbers.

since i have so often referred to the notes in tom cain’s excellent edition, the text of Poetaster is

5 also cited from cain.

  The force of this criticism of satire and its importance for Jonson are discussed in

  6 pp. 98–106.


This is not the only historical inaccuracy: the banishment of ovid, which is dramatised in the


t uc c a . [Aside] art thou there, boy? 300

And for the most part himself doth advance With much self-love, and more arrogance. t uc c a . [Aside] Good again! And, but that I would not be thought a prater,

I could tell you he were a translator. 305

I know the authors from whence he has stole,

And could trace him too, but that I understand ’em not full and

whole. t uc c a . [Aside] That line is broke loose from all his fellows: chain him up shorter, do.

The best note I can give you to know him by 310

Is that he keeps gallants company: Whom I would wish in time should him fear, Lest after they buy repentance too dear. subscribed demetrius Fannius.


  This set of charges make as plausible an attack upon Jonson as they do upon Horace; but i want to focus here upon Jonson/Horace as a ‘trans- lator’. ‘translating’ recurs as a term of attack at iV.3.122, and the final indictment in act V, by which both demetrius and crispinus are con- demned, again refers to this accusation (‘filching by translation’, The centrality of ‘translation’ both to the attack upon Horace and to Virgil’s vindication of him highlights the importance of the term to the play as a whole: by the closing scenes ‘translation’ has been firmly defined not as plagiary but as art – and one at which Horace/Jonson most loewenstein notes perceptively that Virgil’s peculiar phrase, ‘translating men’ ‘not only keeps alive the ambiguity of “transla- tion,” retaining inter-linguistic translation as a kind of leading case for a whole range of imitative practices, but … also specifies the object of imi- ‘translation’ in the play applies, too, to the surprising and multiple correspondences between characters 7 (ovid, Marlowe and aeneas; Julia and dido; even, as we shall see, ovid


The title of the play as it appears in the first edition – Poetaster or The Arraignment – invites us to

read this scene as climactic. The alternative heading, The Arraignment, is also the title cited by

8 envy in the induction (line 3).

some years later, drummond records in his Conversations: ‘his inventions are smooth and easie,

but above all he excelleth in a translation’ (Conversations with William Drummond, 693–4).


The Virgil of Poetaster, speaking of Horace, anticipates this assessment of Jonson’s own poetic

strengths. ‘Plagiarism’ is also a term under contention in the play. The final indictment refers to

both crispinus and demetrius as a ‘plagiary’ (V.3.211–12), presumably a reference to their appar-

  Poetaster: a translated play and caesar himself) and the pervasive presence of appropriation in all its forms. at iV.3.120–2 demetrius frames his grudge against Horace in terms which are very close to those of the final scene, and curiously paradox- ical: ‘ay, and tickle him i’ faith for his arrogancy and his impudence in commending his own things, and for his translating. i can trace him Horace’s ‘translating’ is apparently so obvious that he can be

  ‘traced’ – tracked or scented out, as in hunting – with ease. But he is also guilty of commending his ‘own things’: poems, presumably, which despite their ‘translation’ are his own. if we read Horace as Jonson him- self, then demetrius’ critique is in fact rather accurate: large sections of the play are made up from fragments of another author’s work, whether strictly translated (that is, between languages) or directly ‘carried across’ from one author to another, as in the quotations and misquotations from contemporary dramatists that litter the play. But Jonson also returns time and again to the creative utilisation of Jonson/Horace’s ‘own things’ – that is, the Satires themselves.

  The play makes memorable use of passages of ovid and Virgil read aloud – and, on both occasions, rudely interrupted; and these passages are, as every commentator concedes, extremely literal renderings of their But that ‘literal’ quality (to which i shall return) only serves to emphasise, by their very recognisability, that they are translations. nor are these the only examples: the first three scenes of the third act of


Poetaster derive both plot and (more loosely; but still quite closely) their

  dialogue from the ninth poem of Horace’s first book of Satires, and the fifth scene of this act is (another) very ‘literal’ translation of Horace’s pro- Herford and simpson also grammatic defence of his genre in Satires ii.1. ovid’s burlesque farewell scene draws upon (the historical) ovid’s own Tristia as well as echoing Romeo and Juliet. Many of the details of the divine banquet of iV.5 are drawn from no less a source than the first book

  ‘filching’ of a ‘translation’: it varies only slightly from Marlowe’s version of 10 11 a similar charge is levelled against crites (Cynthia’s Revels iii.2.60–2). 12 Poetaster i.1.43–84 (ovid, Amores i.15) and V.2.56–97 (Virgil, Aeneid iV.160–88). 13 This scene probably postdates the production of the play and may never have been performed. 14 see H&s, vol. ix, p. 548; also t. cain (ed.), Poetaster, p. 119. these lines in his edition of the Elegies – one form of ‘translation’ nested within another.

  Moving from interlingual ‘translation’ or imitation to the ‘carrying across’ of literary material, the second half of Poetaster iii.4 is a patch- work of borrowings from other contemporary plays, as the actors appear to offer a medley of their repertoire. identified sources include Kyd’s


Spanish Tragedy, chapman’s Blind Beggar of Alexandria and The Battle

of Alcazar, although the precise references of several other passages are

  now obscure. The dress and demeanour of the actors would certainly have helped the audience to recognise the sources in question. Finally, and most memorably, in V.3 Horace ‘purges’ crispinus and demetrius of vocabulary derived from Marston and dekker respectively (with traces of shakespeare and Hall).

  Thus demetrius himself is hardly exempt from the ‘translation’ of which he accuses Horace; his own literary style is in some sense ‘trans- lated’. More significantly, his complaint in iV.3 (cited above) forms part of a network of ironies in the surrounding lines which turn upon the issues of translation and plagiary – and specifically ‘translation’ (in various forms) from Horace himself. ironically, his own song at iV.3.68–79 is ‘borrowed’ (as tibullus notes, 96) from Horace; its dedication to ‘canidia’ is also an (inappropriate) adoption – canidia is, as Gallus points out, ‘Horace his witch’ (95) in the Satires and Epodes. The irony of ‘borrowing’ continues: tucca, appalled at the suggestion that crispinus has used Horace in this way, suggests a competition between crispinus and Horace: ‘He shall write with Horace for a talent, and let Maecenas and his whole college of critics take his part’ (100–2). The idea comes, inevitably, from the (his- torical) Horace, in Satires i.4, where the poet reports that crispinus him- self makes just such a suggestion: ‘see, / crispinus challenges me at long odds: “take up your writing tablet, if you please, / and i’ll take mine: let’s fix a place, a time / and judges; let’s see which one of us can write more.”’ (Satires i.4.13–16). in his next intervention (108–18) tucca attacks Horace as a ‘satirical rascal’ in a speech much of which is lifted directly from the 16 Satires – tucca is here playing the part of the satirist’s critic from Satires


The edition in question, published with John davies’ Epigrams, was one of those proscribed

and burnt following the ‘Bishops’ Ban’ of 1599. For a fuller discussion, see t. cain (ed.),

17 Poetaster, p. 53, n. 41.

iii.4.218–25 comes from Balthazar’s speech in Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy ii.1.9–10, 25–6, 21–2, 27–8;

lines 251–8 are also drawn from that play (ii.1.67–75). tom cain points out that Jonson slightly

misquotes as well as reorders the lines. lines iii.4.245–6 are from chapman’s Blind Beggar of

Alexandria; iii.4.345–51 come from The Battle of Alcazar ii.3.468–78. cain notes lines 227–9 and

  Poetaster: a translated play i.4.34–8, a critic in this case who uses Horace’s own portrait of a critic, and indeed his own words, to attack Horace for, among other things, copying others. ironically, the only moment at which the characters themselves identify a song as plagiarism (‘Why! The ditty’s all borrowed! ’tis Horace’s; hang him, plagiary!’, iV.3.96–7) refers to perhaps the only lyric passage in the play that appears to have no direct model: crispinus cain marks tucca’s imitation of Satires i.4 as extending from lines 109

  (‘fly him; he carries hay in his horn’) to 115 (‘not a bawd or a boy that comes from the bake-house but shall point at him’) of Poetaster iV.3:

  de m e t r i us. alas sir, Horace! He is a mere sponge, nothing but

humours and observation; he goes up and down sucking 105

from every society, and when he comes home squeezes himself dry again. i know him, i. t uc c a . Thou sayest true, my poor poetical Fury, he will pen all he knows. a sharp, thorny-toothed satirical rascal, fly

him; he carries hay in his horn. He will sooner lose his 110

best friend than his least jest. What he once drops upon paper against a man lives eternally to upbraid him in the mouth of every slave tankard-bearer or water-man; not a bawd or a boy that comes from the bake-house but shall

point at him. ’tis all dog and scorpion: he carries poison 115

in his teeth and a sting in his tail. Fough! Body of Jove! i’ll have the slave whipped one of these days for his satires and his humours, by one cashiered clerk or another.


  in fact, Horace’s carping critic of the Satires claims not that every slave- boy or old woman (‘et pueros et anus’, 38) will ‘point at’ the poet, but rather that the poet longs for them all to know of his work: that is, his attacks upon others. The sense of that clause is translated by tucca’s previ- ous remark: ‘What he once drops upon paper against a man lives eternally to upbraid him in the mouth of every slave tankard-bearer or water-man’ (111–13). tucca has in fact conflated Satires i.4.34–8 with another passage of Horace of very different tenor. at Odes iV.3.21–3, at the height of his fame, Horace addresses Melpomene: ‘totum muneris hoc tui est, / quod monstror digito praetereuntium / romanae fidicen lyrae’ (‘it is entirely by 18 your grace / that i am pointed out by passers-by / as rome’s lyric poet’).


tudeau-clayton claims this to be the first instance of the term ‘plagiary’ in english (Jonson,

Shakespeare and Early Modern Virgil, p. 157), but Burrow corrects her in his review of her book

  This last is a declaration not of the poet’s unpopularity, but rather of the opposite. tucca’s confused conflation of Horace’s own words writes into the scene Horace’s eventual lyric supremacy. in fact, the extent of the play’s dependence upon Horace’s ‘own things’ is more substantial than has been noted. The scene mentioned above is embedded in the developing plot by a series of references to the Satires which pervades Poetaster, and which reaches beyond the obvious, close and extended versions of Satires i.9 and ii.1. it is this sustained engage- ment to which i now turn. P O E T A S T E R S A T I R E S a n d t h e of hor ac e in Poetaster iV.3, as we have seen, tucca is cast as an anonymous critic from Horace’s own fourth satire, one instance of a consistent pattern that identi- fies the ‘poetasters’ of the play with objects of derision or criticism in the


Satires. similarly, Hermogenes tigellius derives his name from Horace, and

  the running joke of ii.2 – that Hermogenes refuses to sing when asked, but once begun, refuses to stop – is a dramatisation of the opening lines of Satires i.3, in which tigellius is named (lines 3–4) as an example of this tendency:

  omnibus hoc vitium est cantoribus, inter amicos ut numquam inducant animum cantare rogati, iniussi nunquam desistant. sardus habebat ille tigellius hoc.

  (Satires i.3.1–4) Singers all share this vice. Among friends, when they’re asked to sing, they never agree.


When no one suggests it, they won’t stop. That Sardinian,

Tigellius, he was like that.

  accordingly Hermogenes repeatedly refuses to sing between lines 107 and 122 of Poetaster ii.2 (‘’cannot sing’ (107, 109 and 116); ‘Thank you Madam, but ’will not sing’ (122)), and tibullus articulates Horace’s point: ‘tut, the only way to win him, is to abstain from entreating him’ (123–4). But once goaded into it by crispinus he refuses to stop: ‘You shall hear me sing another; now will i begin’ (181); ‘Why ’tis but a short air, ’twill be done presently, pray’ stay; strike music’ (185–6). Just in case we have missed the 19 allusion, Julia reiterates the point, translating the first line of the latin


Hermogenes is named at Satires i.3.129 (identified as a ‘cantor’), i.9.25 and i.10.18; tigellius at

Satires i.2.3, i.3.4 and i.10.90. The names are brought together at i.4.72 and i.10.80. classical

  Poetaster and the satires of Horace cited above: ‘’tis the common disease of all your musicians that they know no mean to be entreated, either to begin or end’ (188–9). Jonson has taken the name

  (and perhaps the suggestive ‘ineptus’, meaning ‘foolish’ or ‘unskilled’, with which it is associated in the latin text) and conflated him with the unnamed ‘pest’ of Satires i.9, who also claims to be a poet. This confla- tion is foreshadowed, for the alert reader, in the second act. Hermogenes’ ungenerous response to crispinus’ poetic performance is to remark: ‘sir, all this doth not yet make me envy you, for i know i sing better then you’ (ii.2.166–7). at line 25 of Satires i.9, the unnamed ‘pest’ claims: ‘What i sing, even Hermogenes might envy.’ The remark characterises the perva- sive envy of the circles in which Hermogenes and crispinus move (in con- trast to Horace and Virgil’s generous mutual praise), but it also affirms the connection between Horace’s ‘pest’ and the crispinus of Poetaster. establishing this connection early in the play adds to the irony at the beginning of act iii, scene 1, when crispinus, newly decided to become a poet, catches sight of Horace with the words:

  cr ispi n us. [Aside] ’slid, yonder’s Horace! They say he’s an excellent poet. Maecenas loves him. i’ll fall into his ac- quaintance if i can; i think he be composing as he goes i’ the street. Ha! tis a good humour, and he be: i’ll com- pose too.


  scripted by the Satires, crispinus is, as it were, already speaking from inside Horace’s own poem: he is himself the composition he hears ‘Horace’ singing. a similar extended engagement with the Satires occurs in V.3 – the scene, with which we began, which (appropriately enough) includes caesar’s defence of Horace’s ‘translating men’. lines 447–54, in which Horace is generously quick to forgive demetrius, are a version of Satires i.10.81–90, in which the poet name-drops a string of roman worthies, as well as ‘several others, learned types and friends / whom i carefully pass over’ (87–8). The latin passage is one of the funnier examples of Horace puncturing his own self-importance. Jonson’s version runs as follows:

  hor ac e. if this be all, faith i forgive thee freely. envy me still, so long as Virgil loves me, 20 Gallus, tibullus, and the best-best caesar;


My dear Maecenas. While these, with many more, 450

Whose names i wisely slip, shall think me worthy Their honoured and adored society, and read and love, prove and applaud my poems, i would not wish but such as you should spite them.


  Jonson has rewritten Horace’s cast of friends to include Gallus, tibullus Jonson’s abbreviated introduction (‘envy me still’, 448) replaces the list in Horace’s poem of the unworthy to whom the poet claims to be immune (Satires i.10.78–80). That list includes a cast of names (demetrius, Hermogenes, tigellius) familiar from Poetaster:

  men moveat cimex Pantilius, aut cruciet quod vellicet absentem demetrius, aut quod ineptus Fannius Hermogenis laedat conviva tigelli?

  (Satires i.10.78–80) Is that louse Pantilius going to bother me? or will Demetrius

torment me, because he gets at me when I’m not there? or because foolish

Fannius, Hermogenes Tigellius’ sponging guest, attacks me?

  The significance of this scene is reinforced by demetrius’ admission, immediately beforehand, that it was Horace’s social as well as poetic supe- riority that roused his envy:


de m e t r i us. in troth, no great cause [for maligning Horace], not i, i must

confess, but that he kept better company for the most part than i, and that

better men loved him than loved me, and that his writings thrived better then

mine and were better liked and graced. nothing else. (V.3.441–5)

  The correspondences between the two ‘casts’ extend beyond mere names. in Horace Satires i.4, the poet describes all the kinds of men who, prey to a range of vices and hence vulnerable to satiric attack, ‘fear verses, it is in this passage, too, that albius is men- hate poets’ (Satires i.4.33).

  The vices listed in Satires i.4 include: avarice (26), 22 wretched ambition (26), lust for both married women and boys (27), 23 in Horace, it is Fuscus who is ‘optimus’ at line 82; Virgil is so termed at Satires i.6.54–5.


This line immediately precedes the imaginary critic’s attack, lines 34–8, a version of which tucca

24 repeats at iV.3.108–18.

albius is mentioned in Horace for his greed for bronze collecting (Satires i.4.28) – note his

admiration of ‘great gilt andirons’ at Poetaster ii.1.132. Both of demetrius Fannius’ names are

also derived from the Satires (i.4.21, i.10.18, i.10.78–80), where he is associated with Hermogenes

  Poetaster and the satires of Horace infatuation with silver and bronze (28) and relentless preoccupation with business (29–30). it is noticeable that the villains of the play between them demonstrate all of these faults: tucca is preoccupied with money owed to him (for example at i.2.180–4), albius with enhancing his social standing (throughout ii.1), and albius’ undiscerning greed for gain is accentuated with an allusion to Juvenal (ii.1.52–6; Juvenal, Satires 14.203–5). crispinus takes tucca to meet chloe, a married woman (iii.4.373–4) and tucca, speaking in the presence of chloe’s husband, uses mythological refer- ences to imply either her adultery or rape: ‘Which of these is thy wedlock, Menelaus [he is addressing albius], thy Helen, thy lucrece, that we may chloe herself desires crispinus: at iV.3.149–50 she checks that Mercury (the part played by crispinus) ‘has to do’ with her own character, Venus. tucca at iii.4.277–8 presumes that Histrio will prostitute the child actors (‘You’ll sell ’em for engles, you’). even ovid, acting Jupiter, refers to a child as Ganymede (iV.5.59) and flirts with chloe (as Venus) in front of his wife (iV.5.88–91).

  The final poem of Horace’s first book of satires ends by turning from a discussion of poetic style to a delineation of possible readers into two groups. Gallus and tibullus move in the course of Jonson’s play from the dubious margins of ovid’s circle – which crispinus, Hermogenes, albius and tucca were allowed to enter in the banquet scene – to Horace’s in act V (and, as it were, Satires i.10). in the course of Poetaster, a play plot- ted and structured by the Satires, we discover who are the poets and who the poetasters, but also the extent to which this aesthetic failure is associ- ated with ethical vice.

  We are left in no doubt that the work as a whole – rather than just ‘Horace’ himself – is Horatian, and this impression is confirmed when we notice that Virgil has already in Poetaster V.3 spoken ‘Horace’s lines’:

  v i rgi l . Before you go together, worthy romans, We are to tender our opinion, and give you those instructions that may add

Unto your even judgement in the cause, 340

Which thus we do commence: first you must know That where there is a true and perfect merit There can be no dejection; and the scorn of humble baseness oftentimes so works

in a high soul upon the grosser spirit, 345

That to his blearèd and offended sense 25

  There seems a hideous fault blazed in the object, When only the disease is in his eyes. Here-hence it comes our Horace now stands taxed

of impudence, self-love and arrogance 350

By these who share no merit in themselves, and therefore think his portion is as small. For they from their own guilt assure their souls if they should confidently praise their works,

in them it would appear inflation; 355

Which in a full and well-digested man cannot receive that foul abusive name, But the fair title of erection. and for his true use of translating men,

it still hath been a work of as much palm 360

in clearest judgements, as t’ invent or make.


  although not exactly equivalent, lines 343–8 are a version of Satires i.3.25–7 on the double standard friends employ in assessing others’ faults as opposed to their own: ‘since you scrutinise your own sins through bleared eyes, covered in ointment, / Why in examining friends’ faults are you as keen-eyed / as an eagle or an epidaurian snake?’ Being ‘blear-eyed’ (‘lippus’) is associated specifically with crispinus at the close of the first satire (Satires i.1.120–1).

  Virgil, in his defence of Horace, speaks in Horace’s words. The meta- phor of the bleared eyes, the imperfect vision (both moral and aesthetic) of Horace’s critics, is given as an explanation of why Horace comes to be so unfairly charged; but it is also, in Virgil’s mouth, an instance of the tendency to translate others’ words for which Horace is reproached by those same critics (‘and for his true use of translating men’, 359). That same tendency, Virgil claims, is just as worthy of adulation as ‘t’ invent, or make’ if viewed with ‘clearest judgements’ (361, italics mine) – an appropriate echo of the visual metaphor. Virgil’s endorsement is an important moment of justification (much more significant, as we shall see, than caesar’s approval); but it is also, we are meant to notice, scripted by Horace himself. i shall return to further examples of this Horatian ‘scripting’, even of Virgil, in the latter part of this chapter.

  The cumulative force of translation in the play is not, however, lim- ited to Jonson’s insistent self-fashioning as Horace, the repeated tumbling of the other characters into unwitting Horatianism, mouthing Horace’s words even as they attempt to decry Horace for his readiness to mouth destabilise the figure of caesar, and the apparently ‘ideal’ relationship of shared and mutually assured authority between caesar and the poets at the end of the play – a relationship which has been received largely at face value by critics.

  Margaret tudeau-clayton, in the most extended attempt to link the translation practice of the play with its depiction of the relationship between poetry and power in the (nascent) imperial court, compares the scene in which Virgil reads from his Aeneid to shakespearian transla- tion scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. she claims that while the shakespearian scenes are ‘expanding the sense of the english tongue … in contrast, Jonson’s scene of translation in Poetaster projects (in the sense of working for as well as imagining/seeing) the naturalization of a bounded, single, stable, and transcendent authorial identity as well as a stable, “puri- fied”, and bounded vernacular – a vernacular “owned” by a socio-political elite (Virgil’s stage audience) and regulated by the linguistic practices of There is certainly something impressively controlling and pointed about the wealth of importing going on in this play, the confidence involved in staging oneself not only as Horace, but a version of Horace who gets every one else’s lines too. But in the context of the insistent appropriation of others’ work, in so many different forms throughout the play, combined with the centrality of ‘translation’ and ‘filching’ to the charge levelled against the character Horace, this appropriation hardly seems to be ‘stable’ The self-conscious exuberance of this varied ‘translating’ chal- lenges tudeau-clayton’s sense that the play presents a ‘naturalization’ of a controlled authorial persona, in which the act of translation itself has become somehow ‘transparent’. not only is translation in the play highly self-conscious, it is also repeatedly directed towards the destabilisation of caesar’s authority in the final scenes. it is this aspect to which i now turn. S A T I R E S hor ac e, i i.1 a n d c a e s a r’s ‘at t e n t i v e e a r’ The most extended scene of literal, interlingual translation which is ‘internal’ to the play – that is, not presented dramatically as translation, 27 unlike the passages of Virgil and ovid read aloud – is undoubtedly 28 tudeau-clayton, ‘scenes of translation’, p. 4.


Poetaster act iii, scene five, the dramatisation of Horace, Satires ii.1.

  although often remarked upon, it has generally been condemned dra- But this strikingly close translation, in a play riven with trans- lation and adaption, is very far from being ‘transparent’. several critics have noted the expansion of line 100, where Jonson glosses the latin ‘scribam’ (‘i shall write’, Satires ii.1.60) as ‘i will write satires still, in spite of fear’; but this is in fact just one of a collection of alterations or expansions of the latin text which here, as so often, serves to intensify in Jonson’s version the threat in trebatius’ words.

  Satires ii.1 is a programmatic poem that sets out many of the themes

  to unfold in Horace’s second book of satires. its theme of the conflict between the ‘laws’ invoked by trebatius, the establishment lawyer, and the poetic ‘laws’ cited by Horace reflects the legal and poetic themes of


Poetaster. Frances Muecke describes how Horace’s poem ‘dramatises the

  independence of literature and the law as ‘genres’ or ‘verbal systems’ in

Poetaster, Jonson stages a fantasy of the poet’s attainment of legal power.


Satires ii.1 is also, and significantly, a key text for Horace’s (and, by adop-

  tion, Jonson’s) recusatio, and Jonson’s version does not tone down this in fact, cain reads the translations of Virgilian epic and ovidian elegy incorporated in the play


as a form of (Horatian) recusatio although he does not go on to follow

  up this perceptive remark, and nor does he relate this ‘large-scale’ recusatio to the inclusion of iii.5 itself, his comment points the way to much of what i hope to draw out.

  The conventional recusatio of Satires ii.1 is set up in lines 10–12 by trebatius’ suggestion: ‘aude / caesaris invicti res dicere, multa labo- 29 rum / praemia laturus’ (‘dare / to tell the deeds of unconquered caesar;


‘as a contribution to literature, as an excursus on the theory of satire, as an exercise in transla-

tion, the scene possesses distinct interest. But coming as part of the dramatic continuum of

Poetaster it forms a most ill-fitting and unwelcome intrusion’ (Jonas a. Barish, ‘Jonson and the

loathèd stage’, in William Blissett, Julian Patrick and r. W. van Fossen (eds.), A Celebration of

Ben Jonson: Papers Presented at the University of Toronto in October 1972 (University of toronto

30 Press, , pp. 27–53 (p. 34)). 31 Frances Muecke (ed.), Horace: Satires II (Warminster: aris and Phillips ), p. 100.

on the recusatio of lines 10–20 see Muecke, Satires II, pp. 99–104. Muecke points out that this

early example of an augustan recusatio incorporates all the stock features of the topos (p. 103).


This trope of self-deprecating refusal lies at the heart of the delicate negotiations between poet

32 and patron in augustan verse.


‘Jonson offers an example of Virgilian epic in Poetaster, as he does an ovidian love scene: in both

cases, though, he is continuing to imitate Horace, who developed the recusatio, the poem which

in refusing to adopt a certain style actually exemplifies that style, as a way of coming to terms you’ll carry off / many prizes for your labours’). lines 16–36 of Jonson’s version – Horace’s reply and the ensuing exchange – are at several points substantially expanded versions of the latin text, although critics have not remarked upon this. Here Jonson translates ten lines of latin hexameter in twenty lines of english verse. That portion of the scene runs as follows:

  [t r e b at i us.] or, if such love of writing ravish thee, Then dare to sing unconquered caesar’s deeds, Who cheers such actions with abundant meeds. hor ac e. That, father, i desire; but when i try i feel defects in every faculty;

  20 nor is’t a labour fit for every pen to paint the horrid troops of armèd men, The lances burst in Gallia’s slaughtered forces, or wounded Parthians tumbled from their horses: Great caesar’s wars cannot be fought with words.

  25 t r e b at i us. Yet what his virtue in his peace affords, His fortitude and justice, thou canst show, as wise lucilius honoured scipio. hor ac e. of that my powers shall suffer no neglect, When such slight labours may aspire respect;

  30 But if i watch not a most chosen time, The humble words of Flaccus cannot climb Th’ attentive ear of caesar. nor must i With less observance shun gross flattery, For he, reposèd safe in his own merit,

  35 spurns back the glozes of a fawning spirit.

  (iii.5.16–36) [t r e b at i us] aut si tantus amor scribendi te rapit, aude

  10 caesaris invicti res dicere, multa laborum praemia laturus. hor ac e: cupidum, pater optime, vires deficiunt: neque enim quivis horrentia pilis agmina nec fracta pereuntis cuspide Gallos aut labentis equo describat vulnera Parthi.

  15 t r e b at i us: attamen et iustum poteras et scribere fortem, scipiadam ut sapiens lucilius. hor ac e: haud mihi deero, cum res ipsa feret: nisi dextro tempore, Flacci verba per attentam non ibunt caesaris aurem, cui male si palpere recalcitrat undique tutus.

  20 (Satires ii.1.10–20) The first of these additions comes at line 25 of the english text. after the conventional brief demonstration of the epic skill the poet claims not to possess, Jonson’s Horace adds: ‘Great caesar’s wars cannot be fought with words.’ The line bears no relation to any part of the latin text. Moreover, it adds a surprising edge to the standard recusatio-formula, which depends upon claiming, rather, that caesar’s wars cannot be fought with my words (although actually, it is implied, i could if i wanted to). Jonson here is typically deft and sure-footed in his negotiation of the classical trope, but cannot resist going one (blunter) stage further. in the weakest sense, the additional line facilely claims that words cannot fight a war for us. But there remains, beneath the surface, the suggestion of another mean- ing: that words – poetry – cannot be used to do this specific thing; that is, fight Caesar’s wars: write imperial epic.

  The sense of confrontation between the poet’s literary power and the emperor’s demands is heightened by the tendency of Jonson’s translation to limit the dissonance between legal and literary vocabulary which is a feature of the latin poem. conversely, it writes into the text an insistence on the poet’s power and authority more pointed than the latin original. in the opening lines of the scene, the latin term ‘legem’ has an ambigu- ous force, oscillating between legal and aesthetic ‘law’:

  sunt quibus in satira videar nimis acer et ultra legem tendere opus; sine nervis altera quidquid composui pars esse putat, similisque meorum mille die versus deduci posse. trebati, quid faciam praescribe.

  (Satires ii.1.1–5)

[horace:] There are some who think that I am too savage in my satire

and strain the work beyond lawful limits. The other party hold that



I’ve composed is cowardly, lacks nerve, and that verses similar to mine

could be churned out at a thousand a day. Trebatius, what am I to do? Give me your professional advice. hor ac e. There are, to whom i seem excessive sour, and past a satire’s law t’ extend my power: others that think whatever i have writ Wants pith and matter to eternise it, and that they could in one day’s light disclose a thousand verses such as i compose.

  (iii.5.1–6) other hand, his translation of ‘opus’ (the standard word for a literary work) as ‘power’ suggests that the poet has failed to limit his ‘power’ as is proper in a lowly genre. The following two lines (3–4) present the opposite literary vice – poetry that lacks nerve and ambition. Jonson translates that latter weakness as poetry which fails to ‘eternise’ itself. There is no term corresponding to ‘eternise’ in the latin text. Just as in the original, Jonson’s Horace is incap- able of winning the argument – because either raising or lowering his tone will be criticised – but the terms in which his ‘not winning’ are framed have been crucially altered. rather than a quibble between literary and legal ‘law’, the reader is encouraged to think in terms of the poet’s capacity (‘power’) to immortalise, and his proper deployment of that potential. something rather similar is in operation at the end of the scene. The scale of Jonson’s expansion of the latin is greater here than at any other point in the poem: the last four lines of Horace’s poem become ten (130–40). The expansion has accordingly been noted by various commen- as well as being expanded, the momentum of the final lines is slightly altered in the english version: the suggestion of complete pardon is transferred from the poet and onto the lawyer trebatius, increasing its authority. in Horace’s poem, the speaker ‘Horace’ suggests two possible and distinct ways out, after conceding that the author of ‘mala … carmina’ (‘wicked verses’, 82) would be rightfully persecuted:

  t r e b at i us: si mala condiderit in quem quis carmina, ius est iudiciumque. hor ac e: esto, si quis mala; sed bona si quis iudice condiderit laudatus caesare? si quis opprobriis dignum latraverit, integer ipse? t r e b at i us: solventur risu tabulae, tu missus abibis.

  (Satires ii.1.82–6)

t r e b at i us: If a man writes bad [of poor quality; or libellous] verses against another, he is liable to law and prosecution. horace: Certainly, if they’re bad verses; but what if he’s made good ones, and been praised for them in Caesar’s judgement? If he’s

barked at someone who’s deserving of blame, while he himself is innocent?

t r e b at i us: Then the case will be dismissed with a laugh, and you’ll 34 get away with it and be sent on your way.

tom cain notes the expansion and remarks that it emphasises ‘the probity and privilege of the

Horatian satirist’ ((ed.), Poetaster, p. 163). Burrow reads it as part of a wider pattern demonstrat-

ing that ‘Jonson wants to tap the security offered by Horace and Horatian satire, but his imita- Horace’s first suggestion is that he might rather be a good poet and (crucially) be praised as such by caesar (83–4); secondarily, and sep arately, he might indeed ‘bark’ (‘latraverit’) – that is, indulge in the harsh criticism appropriate to a satirist – but might do so justly at one deserving reproof, when he himself is free from blame (‘integer ipse’, 85). Jonson’s version transfers the detail of ‘opprobriis dignum’ (‘deserving of reproach’, 85) to trebatius’ speech, but essentially has trebatius reiterate and affirm what Horace has already suggested:

  [t r e b at i us.] There’s justice, and great action may be sued ’Gainst such as wrong men’s fames with verses lewd.

hor ac e. ay, with lewd verses, such as libels be, 130

and aimed at persons of good quality. i reverence and adore that just decree; But if they shall be sharp yet modest rhymes, That spare men’s persons and but tax their crimes,

such shall in open court find current pass, 135

Were caesar judge, and with the maker’s grace. t r e b at i us. nay, i’ll add more: if thou thyself, being clear, shalt tax in person a man fit to bear shame and reproach, his suit shall quickly be

dissolved in laughter, and thou thence set free. [Exeunt] 140

  (Poetaster, iii.5.128–40)

  in fact, throughout Horace’s speech (130–6) Jonson’s language interprets the latin in a very particular way. The joke with which the latin poem concludes turns upon the reading of ‘mala … carmina’ and ‘bona [car- mina]’, and is once again – as in the opening lines – dependent upon the comical overlap between two professional vocabularies. a ‘malum carmen’ in this context is legal jargon for libel, whereas Horace’s term, by contrast, is an aesthetic judgement. Jonson’s version avoids translat- ing ‘bona’ entirely, replacing it with the adaption of Martial noted above. He has elided too the changing force of Horace’s ‘caesare’ (84): a caesar who acts as judge (‘iudice’, 84, suggesting a courtroom setting), but who is apparently judge of an author he has already praised (‘laudatus’, 84), a rather unlikely legal scenario. in the latin, ‘laudatus caesare’ undoes in a single word the menace that trebatius has not quite articulated: Horace 35 can voice the threat (that the judge we mean, the one we fear, is actually


These lines also include an imported fragment translated from Martial. Horace’s phrase ‘sed

bona’ (83) becomes ‘But if they shall be sharp yet modest rhymes, / That spare men’s persons and


Caesar (‘iudice … caesare’)) only because it is neutralised even as it is

voiced, by that assured and assuring ‘laudatus’.

  Jonson’s reading of this crucial line is perhaps the most enigmatic of the whole scene. in his re-division of the latin material between Horace and trebatius, the translation of this line becomes Horace’s final com- ment: ‘such shall in open court find current pass, / Were caesar judge, and with the maker’s grace’ (135–6). That adjectival ‘laudatus’, so care- fully placed and reassuring in the latin, has been transmuted into the strange phrase ‘and with the maker’s grace’ with which this Horace ends his speech. Both ‘maker’ and ‘grace’ are resonant words in Jonson’s pri- vate lexicon. on several occasions he plays upon the etymological origin of ‘poetry’ (‘poiesis’) in the Greek verb for ‘make’, and his use of the term ‘grace’ typically responds to the range of meaning incorporated in the latin term ‘gratia’ (thanks, blessing and payment, with a further hint of its theological connotations). ‘Maker’ suggests the poet himself, but, espe- cially in combination with the term ‘grace’, it carries too a religious over- tone: in this version of the poem, the last word on the decision goes not to caesar, but, depending on our reading, either to the poet himself, with the help of ‘grace’ (‘integer’, perhaps?) or even to the ultimate Maker, the only power greater even than caesar’s. on one level, this shift in tone and emphasis away from the legalism of

  Horace’s satire serves a simple dramatic purpose: the legalistic word-play of the latin version is less relevant to the narrative, while the double affirm- ation, by poet and lawyer alike, of the justice of deserved reproach is an appropriate preparation for the denouement of the play. The important distinction between crispinus’ charges against Horace, and Horace and Virgil’s denunciation of crispinus, is the moral status of the characters involved. crispinus is envious; Horace and Virgil paradigmatically virtu- ous. The importance of this moral distinction is cast into greater relief by the unsettling similarity between the content of crispinus’ envious accus- ations – that ‘Horace’ is guilty of translating – and the actual experience of the play as a work which is, as we have seen, charged with, and struc- tured around, translated material. But the role played by this scene – and in particular by its divergence from its model – is not limited to this kind of structural and thematic endorsement. The other major locus of dis- junction between Jonson’s text and Horace’s importantly centres around caesar, and the poet’s relationship to him. at line 16 of Satires ii.1 trebatius responds to Horace’s refusal to write military epic with a straight-faced suggestion that he could still praise you could write of [caesar] himself, both just and courageous, as wise lucilius wrote of scipio’ (16–17). Jonson’s version expands the line to emphasise more clearly the distinction between the options; they have become specifically peace-time virtues in contrast to the martial themes of epic: ‘Yet what his virtue in his peace affords, / His fortitude and justice, thou canst show, / as wise lucilius honoured scipio’ (Poetaster iii.5.26–8, italics mine). Horace’s reply to this suggestion is, in the latin, a dextrous sidestep: ‘indeed i shall not fail myself, / When the material is available’ (17–18). apparently a form of courteous agreement, it is, how- ever, not clear what ‘not failing oneself’ might amount to; nor indeed can we be sure that such material will ever present itself. Jonson’s Horace replies: ‘of that my powers shall suffer no neglect, / When such slight labours may aspire respect’ (29–30). ‘slight labours’ has no correspond- ence in the latin. on the one hand, the poet celebrates the thought that such a pleasant and therefore un-arduous (‘slight’) task might be enough to gain him high favour. But there is more than a hint here that any attempt to write about caesar’s peaceful virtue might find itself rather short of material. caesar’s greatness at iii.5.25 (‘Great caesar’s wars’) is moreover echoed ominously at line 102 where, although not a complete interpolation,

  Jonson again expands upon the latin. Satires ii.1.57–62 forms the climax of the satire: the point at which Horace declares most clearly that he will continue to write (57–60) and trebatius makes the threat to the head- strong poet most explicit (60–2):

  [hor ac e:] dives, inops, romae seu fors ita iusserit exsul, quisquis erit vitae scribam color. t r e b at i us: o puer, ut sis vitalis metuo, et maiorum ne quis amicus frigore te feriat.

  (Satires ii.1.59–62)

[hor ac e:] Whether rich, poor, at Rome or, if chance commands, as

an exile – whatever the colour of my life shall be, I will write.

t r e b at i us: Child, I’m afraid

that your life will be short, and that some friend of the powerful

will strike you with a chill.

  in the lines that follow, trebatius’ threat is progressively obscured by Horace’s rehearsal of constructive satire, of which the powerful scipio and laelius actually approved, followed by trebatius’ final amused conces- vague: ‘maiorum ne quis amicus’ (‘some friend of the powerful’, 61) and Jonson’s version is equally non-specific: ‘and that some great man’s friend will be thy death’ (iii.5.102). nevertheless, the replacement of the plural (‘maiorum’ – a friend of those more important than you) with the sin- gular ‘some great man’s friend’, and the echo of the earlier phrase ‘great caesar’ adds a threatening edge: there is a suggestion that the ‘great man’ in question may be caesar himself. alan sinfield, writing of Virgil’s defence of Horace in act V, comments that that speech ‘effaces what actually makes malicious interpretations so crucial: the regime of state terror that depends upon a system of inform- The shadow of that threat – the non-specific

  ‘frigor’ the satiric poet risks at the hands of ‘some great man’s friend’ – is visible in Horace’s encounter with trebatius in iii.5. sinfield is right to point out that the same looming presence is discernible, too, in the terms of Horace’s response at Poetaster V.3.57–63:


a just man cannot fear, thou foolish tribune,

not though the malice of traducing tongues,

The open vastness of a tyrant’s ear, The senseless rigour of the wrested laws,

  60 or the red eyes of strained authority, should, in a point, meet all to take his life. His innocence is armour ’gainst all these.

  But the link is more than just thematic. connecting these sections is a powerful allusive association, traceable, too, elsewhere in the play. The lines cited above are identified by Herford and simpson as alluding to Horace, Odes iii.3.1–8, and the parallel structure (although not the The mention of ‘traducing tongues’ (one thinks of lupus) and of the ‘senseless rigour of the wrested laws’ (trebatius comes to mind) are appropriate to the plot as it has so far unfolded. But the ‘open vastness of a tyrant’s ear’ is reminiscent, too, of caesar’s ‘attentam … aurem’, his ‘pricked’ or ‘alert’ ear at Satires ii.1.19. The combination of this image of caesar’s expectant attention with examples of verbal dishonesty – whether malice or flattery – is one which 36 recurs uncomfortably throughout the play. 37 sinfield, ‘Perils of cultural Production’, 9.


Odes iii.3.1–8: ‘neither the passion of a populace clamouring for wicked deeds, nor the expres-

sion of a threatening tyrant, can shake a man who is just and tenacious of his purpose, whose

resolve is firm – nor even the south wind, the stormy general of the restless adriatic, nor the

mighty hand of Jove the thunderer. if the world cracks and collapses, the ruins will fall down in this regard, it is worth returning to Poetaster iii.5, and to Jonson’s version of the latin lines in question, which once again offer a substantial expansion upon the original:

  But if i watch not a most chosen time, The humble words of Flaccus cannot climb Th’ attentive ear of caesar. nor must i With less observance shun gross flattery, For he, reposèd safe in his own merit, spurns back the glozes of a fawning spirit.

  (iii.5.31–6) nisi dextro tempore, Flacci verba per attentam non ibunt caesaris aurem, cui male si palpere recalcitrat undique tutus.

  (Satires ii.1.18–20) Unless it’s the right moment, Flaccus’ words won’t reach Caesar’s pricked ear,

and if you stroke him clumsily, he’ll kick out all around to keep himself safe

[or: even though he’s already safe].

  The simple ‘tutus’ of the latin (20) has been expanded into: ‘reposèd safe in his own merit’ (35). Both versions carry an ironic force, though the irony is working differently. The final word of line 20, Horace’s ‘tutus’ fatally undermines the already uncomfortably irreverent image of caesar built up in the preceding line – a caesar who must be properly ‘stroked’ (‘palpere’, 20), since the wrong handling will cause him to ‘kick out all around’ (‘recalcitret undique’, 20). The wary language of horse-breaking – and the implied necessity of flattery (‘stroking’) under the guise of careful handling – is surprising; but that final ‘tutus’ reveals caesar’s swiftness to The ambiguous heart of the passage comes at lines 33–4 of the english, in which the double negatives and tortuous circumlocution leave Jonson’s meaning poised uncertainly between opposite extremes. ‘With less obser- vance’ is an adverbial clause meant to be taken with ‘shun’: Jonson’s Horace is saying ‘i must not shun gross flattery with any less care than i give to waiting for the best time’, that is, i must be very careful to avoid gross flat- tery. But the sentence teeters upon the verge of saying: ‘i must not (‘nor must i’) be so careless as to shun gross flattery’ – that is, i must assiduously 38 continue to flatter. With that hidden meaning present, if just out of sight, the flattery of ‘reposèd safe in his own merit’, and the explicit mention of the ‘fawning spirit’ in the final lines acquire an added ironic edge. a similar juxtaposition of the prince’s ‘safety’ and the receptivity of his

  ‘ear’ is found in act iV. Maecenas caps Horace’s condemnation of lupus with a pronouncement (pointed as gnomic in the folio text) which uneas- ily suggests that his own trust in caesar’s judgement is not absolute – note the ‘i hope’ (27):


m a ecenas. caesar doth know it [Horace’s condemnation of lupus],

wolf, and to his knowledge, He will, i hope, reward your base endeavours. Princes that will but hear, or give access to such officious spies, can ne’er be safe: They take in poison with an open ear, and, free from danger, become slaves to fear.


  Maecenas makes clear that the ‘safety’ of the over-suspicious prince is no real security, and the acuity of his remark is revealed in the final engage- ment with this topos towards the end of the play. at the climactic moment of betrayal in act V caesar’s response to lupus’ interruption similarly engages with this latin passage:

  c a e s a r . What noise is there? Who’s that names caesar?

  10 lu pus. a friend to caesar. one that for caesar’s good would speak with caesar. c a e s a r . [To Gallus] Who is’t? look, cornelius. i e qu e s. [To Caesar] asinius lupus. c a e s a r . o, bid the turbulent informer hence.

  15 We have no vacant ear now to receive The unseasoned fruits of his officious tongue. m a e c e n a s. [To I Eques] You must avoid him there. lu pus. i conjure thee, as thou art caesar, or respect’st thine own safety, or the safety of the state, caesar, hear me,

  20 speak with me, caesar; ’tis no common business i come about, but such as being neglected may concern the life of caesar. c a e s a r . The life of caesar? let him enter. Virgil, keep thy seat. 39


in the lines preceding this, Horace accuses lupus of ‘pretending / to be the props and columns

of his [caesar’s] safety, / The guards unto his person and his peace’ (iV.8.21–3). The power of this

accusation is enhanced by its allusion to several instances of the historical Horace’s tribute to

Maecenas, as protector both of himself (Odes ii.17.3–4, ‘columen’; Odes i.1.2, ‘praesidium’) and, tellingly, it is lupus’ appeal to caesar’s life and safety (‘thine own safety’, 19–20) which makes caesar change his mind (‘The life of caesar? let him enter’, 24). For all his apparently enthralled attention to the descrip- tion of the wicked ‘fama’ (rumour), in the reading of Virgil, Aeneid iV that immediately precedes this scene, caesar is slow to recognise the per- sonification of that monster when it intrudes into his own court. caesar’s failure here is one of judgement, but it is also specifically (and ominously) a failure of that particular kind of combined aesthetic and moral discern- ment which would allow him to see the connection between the literature he admires and the political realities of the court. in this network of parallels, the play connects caesar’s susceptibility to flattery – one kind of verbal deceit, hung upon caesar’s ear at Satires ii.1 – with an equally dangerous readiness to listen to malicious lies. although caesar does finally dismiss and condemn lupus, and clear Horace, this pattern of doubts about the possible dangers of (epic) flattery as well as the base malice of the inept poetaster continue to speak throughout the final scenes. We can never quite trust caesar, because he remains this caesar, the caesar of the ‘attentam … aurem’, the pricked ear, ready for all his safety to ‘kick out all around’ if not handled quite carefully enough.

  We have seen, then, the extent to which Poetaster is structured around ‘translation’ understood in its broadest sense: not only the most explicit passages taken from ovid and Virgil, but rather a myriad details of plot, dialogue or song, as well as whole scenes, are defined by their relation- ship to other texts. repeatedly, the most structurally significant texts – the ones from which the action takes its lead – are Horace’s Satires; as has been shown, the characters ‘participate in’, in some sense act out, the content of these poems throughout the play. ironically, it is the character ‘Horace’ who is accused – and acquitted – of ‘translation’ which amounts to stealing. The overall impression of ‘Horace’ as guiding author is power- ful; an author, moreover, authoritative enough to incorporate examples of genres outside his own (Virgil and his epic; ovid’s elegy).

  The fact of this structural primacy, once its extent is realised, sets even the final scenes of caesar’s (and the other poets’) endorsement of Virgil within an overarching Horatianism. But if our confidence in caesar’s ability to distinguish between flattery and sincerity, malicious inform- ing and real loyalty, is thereby impaired, the final scenes do still seem to express caesar’s respect for, and excellent taste in, poetry and the power of the poet – especially the epic poet Virgil. Given Jonson’s consistent tendency to associate ethical goodness with aesthetic excellence or good

  A E N E I D

  v irgi l’s a n d m a r l oW e’s D I D O Q U E E N O F C A R T H A G E


  Helgerson remarks of Virgil in Poetaster that ‘[his] very perfection put him out of reach. He is in his way as distant from Horace, and thus from i want to put some pressure upon this assump- tion and consider the ways in which Virgil is in fact caught up in the structures, both textual and political, that pervade the play, overlaying his apparent ‘perfection’ with associations borrowed both (surprisingly) from the ovid/Marlowe figure of Poetaster, and from Horace himself.

  Virgil’s much-anticipated entrance in act V, together with his recitation from the fourth book of the Aeneid, is heralded by caesar as climactic: here, at last, is true poetry; the moral and artistic version of the perfection ovid claimed that Julia represented, but with the crucial distinction that the virtue of Virgil, and of his poetry, is in some sense real. This expectation weighs upon Virgil’s eventual appearance, and especially upon the passage of the Aeneid which Jonson has him recite – a close translation which in its position towards the end of the play echoes, and invites comparison with, The story of dido and aeneas’ doomed and destructive love, rendered disastrous by the interference of rumour, has obvious similarities to the story of ovid and Julia. The divisive and dangerous role of ‘fama’ – who exaggerates the sin in reporting it to iarbas – has equally evident relevance to this play in which Horace himself will shortly be denounced unfairly. Virgil pointedly breaks off with ‘this monster’ as lupus bursts onto the stage, although caesar, as noted above, fails to make the connection. The erotic threat to epic purpose as well as the associative link between the newly banished ovid and aeneas, the founder of rome, make a tempting case for reading Jonson’s selection of this passage as another kind of buried recusatio within the broader Horatian framework: a refusal to write epic or fully condone it, even when dramatising Virgil. 40 Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton and the Literary System (Berkeley: 41 University of california Press, 1984), p. 113.


note that within the play the choice of a passage is determined by a version of the sortes Virgilianae

(V.2.46–7), a kind of prophetic game in which Virgil’s latin text, opened at random after posing

an important question, was understood to offer an answer. This invites us to view the passage

chosen as significant to the action. The selection of a passage from Aeneid Book iV also accords

with donatus’ report that Virgil’s eventual agreement to show caesar his work extended only to

42 books ii, iV and Vi.

see t. cain (ed.), Poetaster, p. 12. as Watkins demonstrates, there was a strong renaissance

  But this straightforward interpretation of the choice of passage to accord with a broader reading of recusatio in the play is problematised by the great popularity of the dido books throughout the Middle ages and renaissance, and their position at the heart of renaissance debates about the meaning and role of poetry itself – in general, as Watkins outlines, a writer who believed that poetry’s prime purpose is not to edify would a moralised read- ing of the Aeneid, which viewed Book iV as central both poetically and didactically, was commonplace in Jonson’s own day. The folio edition of Virgil’s Works owned by Jonson introduces Book iV in just these terms:


of them all, this book is considered by everyone, even by the ancients, the most

elegant … in it [Book iV] Virgil most greatly displayed his genius … and he did

this, so that minds desirous and intent upon honesty might shrink from it [the

content of the plot] with even greater care.

  to this extent, then, Jonson’s deployment of the passage can be taken at face value, as an example of Virgil at his (widely acknowledged) best: most affecting, and therefore most effective, offering an excellent lesson in moral restraint and purpose – a perfect balance to ovid’s demonstration of debased, albeit eloquent, sensuality.

  But as well as editions and commentaries, a further index of contem- porary reception of the dido story is its incorporation or development in original literature. in this respect, Marlowe’s play Dido, Queen of Carthage comes to mind, and doubly so when we remember that the topos of a misguided but irresistible love affair is constructed to echo the subplot concerning ovid and Julia – ovid who begins the play by reciting ‘his’ verse in a translation recognisably derived from Marlowe’s versions of the ovid’s exuberant language in the scenes of parting from Julia is frequently Marlovian, and tom cain also characterises ovid’s closing

  of Dido: Spenser and Virgilian Epic (new Haven and london: Yale University Press, ), 43 pp. 2–6). 44 Watkins, Specter of Dido, p. 4.


Jacob Pontanus (ed.), Symbolarum Libri XVII quibus P. Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis,

ex probatissimis auctoribus declarantur, comparantur, illustrantur, 3 vols. (augsburg: Praetorius,

45 acsimile repr. new York: Garland, 1976), columns 1105–8. translation mine.


Dido was published in quarto in 1594. The title page mentions Thomas nashe as well as Marlowe

as author, but the play is now considered to be very largely, if not wholly, Marlowe’s work.

described by loewenstein as ‘Marlowe’s pioneering attempt to find a popular theatrical idiom

for neo-classical imitation’, it is an important precedent to Poetaster (Possessive Authorship, p. 87).

references are to Gill’s text (roma Gill (ed.), The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 5 vols. The divine banquet scene of Poetaster (iV.5), in which ovid, Julia, Gallus, tibullus and the rest dress up as divinities resembles both in structure and tone the opening scene of Dido, Queen of Carthage. in Jonson’s version ovid plays Jupiter; Julia is Juno; Gallus, apollo; cytheris, Pallas athene; tibullus, Bacchus; Plautia, ceres; albius, Vulcan; and chloe, Venus. Finally, tucca is offered the part of Mars and crispinus that of Mercury.


Dido, Queen of Carthage begins with a scene set in the heavenly court, dur-

  ing which Venus approaches Jupiter to request his protection for aeneas against Juno’s determined opposition. But Jupiter, the king of heaven, is ‘discovered … dandling Ganymede upon his knee’ and he opens the play with the words: ‘come, gentle Ganymede, and play with me. / i love thee well, say Juno what she will’ (i.1.1–2). as in Poetaster, the olympians are imagined in terms of comically erotic jealousy and intrigue.

  Both plays were written for, and performed by, the children’s company Marlowe’s arresting divine ‘framework’ for his version of the Aeneid is ostensibly justified by Virgil’s passing allusion to the source of Juno’s hostility towards the trojans (and especially aeneas) in Jupiter’s habit- ual infidelity: ‘deep in [Juno’s] mind there remained lodged / the judgement of Paris and the injustice of the insult to her beauty, / her hatred for that whole race [of trojans] and the honours granted to snatched Ganymede’ (Aeneid i.26–8). Both versions of classical divinity are irreverent and anthro- pomorphic; both focus upon Jupiter’s infidelity and Juno’s jealousy, although in Marlowe’s version Juno is not on stage – her jealousy only reported – and Jupiter’s lasciviousness is aimed solely at the boy Ganymede.

  The ‘divine’ scenes in both plays share a common source in Iliad, Book

  XV. irritated with his wife for her interference on the Greeks’ behalf at troy, Zeus threatens Hera and reminds her of how he bound her and sus- pended her among the clouds. Marlowe’s Jupiter promises to punish Juno for striking Ganymede in much the same terms. in Jonson’s Poetaster, ovid, playing Jupiter, also threatens Julia (as Juno/Hera) with violence

  (iV.5.104–5; 114–16; 122–4), but the specifically Homeric threat belongs to Julia, not ovid, laced provocatively with the suggestion that poets (Homer, ovid, Jonson himself) are fallen gods:

  Julia [as Juno]. i will find fault with thee, King cuckold-Maker! What, 47 shall the king of gods turn the king of good fellows, and

For the impact of this fact upon the erotic content and agency of Marlowe’s play see clare r.


Kinney, ‘epic transgression and the Framing of agency in Dido Queen of Carthage’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, 4 have no fellow in wickedness? This makes our poets, that know our profaneness, live as profane as we. By my godhead, Jupiter, i will join with all the other gods here, 100

bind thee hand and foot, throw thee down into earth, and

make a poor poet of thee, if thou abuse me thus.

  (Poetaster iV.5.96–102)

  This is not the only point of comparison between the two scenes. in Marlowe’s version the excess of Jupiter’s language, together with his doting attendance upon Ganymede with promised and immediate gifts, reflects and prefigures dido’s erotic obsession with aeneas in the body of the play. Ganymede makes an appearance in Jonson’s scene, too, and although Jupiter’s immediate interest is apparently in Venus (chloe), it is made clear that Juno also suspects Ganymede: ‘Pyrgus [playing Ganymede]. nay, today she [Juno] had me in inquisition too’ (Poetaster, iV.5.106).

  The network of associations this sets up is provocative. in Dido, Jupiter and Ganymede prefigure Marlowe’s version of dido and aeneas; Jonson’s Jupiter and Juno are played (within the play) by ovid and Julia, who are then connected, by Virgil’s recitation, to dido and aeneas. These cor- respondences are further tightened if we remember that in his second book of the Tristia, as part of an ongoing (and vain) attempt to persuade augustus to mercy, ovid cites the popularity of exactly this section of the Aeneid as evidence that even the loftiest poetry is at some level about The scenes of farewell between ovid and Julia in act iV are more- over reminiscent of Marlowe in their verbal excess and also allude, in Julia’s repeated returns, to ovid’s leave-taking of his wife in Tristia iii (as well as Romeo and Juliet). Perhaps most strikingly of all, the disrespectful banquet Jonson attributes to ovid is a version of Augustus’ ‘dinner of the twelve gods’ which, as cain remarks, ‘features prominently in suetonius’ This reassignment of well-known historical material intensifies ovid’s debauchery, perhaps, but in so doing reminds us of the ambiguities in augustus’ own reputation.

  For all that caesar sets up a pointed contrast between ovid and Virgil, the correspondences continue to accumulate. The apparent contrast – but also the parallel – is marked out by caesar’s use of the same term (‘abstract’) in his lyrical vision of perfect poetry (‘The most abstract 49 and perfect’, Poetaster V.1.19) as ovid had used of Julia (‘The court’s the


Tristia ii.533–6. The last two of these lines are quoted in the latin commentary upon Book iV in

the edition cited in note 41. ovid makes the same point about the Iliad (Tristia ii.371–4), among abstract of all rome’s desert, / and my dear Julia th’ abstract of the court’, iV.9.18–19). in a phrase reminiscent of ovid’s diction in that speech, caesar in the next scene goes on to describe Virgil himself as ‘rome’s honour’ (emphatically twice, V.1.69 and 71) and finally, more uncomfort- ably, identifies Virgil with himself: c a e s a r . see, here comes Virgil; we will rise and greet him.

  Welcome to caesar, Virgil. caesar and Virgil shall differ but in sound; to caesar, Virgil of his expressed greatness shall be made a second surname, and to Virgil, caesar.


  We can of course read this series of connections as evidence of caesar’s virtuous adoption of the kind of language which ovid, in his elegiac fer- vour, has abused. But there is a further set of correspondences between caesar and Marlowe – already associated with ovid by the translation of the first scene – which may add to our unease. in Poetaster V.2 caesar is finally goaded – by Virgil’s decorous refusal of the proffered chair – to a passionate denial not only of custom but of heaven and even of fate, ‘fatum’, that ruling power of the Aeneid: ‘The course of heaven and fate itself in this [i.e. in raising Virgil over caesar] / Will caesar cross, much more all worldly custom’ (V.2.35–6). Horace is then quick to limit caesar’s statement to ‘custom’ alone – ‘custom in course of honour ever errs, / and they are best whom fortune least prefers’ (37–8) – and caesar duly adopts Horace’s interpretation (39–47), but the boldness of the initial statement persists. Just for a moment, caesar, who will not forgive ovid for his misplaced passion or for his impersonation of the gods, sounds like ovid himself (‘o mighty ovid! What the sway of heaven / could not retire, my breath hath turnèd back’, iV.10.90–1), but also like the ovidian Marlowe’s Jupiter or dido, as they promise their lovers the power to: ‘controule proud Fate, and cut the thred of time’ (Dido i.1.29).

  But the comparison is perhaps not as fleeting as all that. in Virgil’s humble but reluctant acquiescence to caesar’s request (Poetaster V.2.11–13) we might hear an echo of aeneas’ unwilling but gracious opening to Book ii of the Aeneid:

  v i rgi l . and could great caesar’s expectation Be satisfied with any other service i would not show them [his verses of the Aeneid] But within this already ‘Virgilian’ framework, the resemblances between this scene and aeneas’ reception by dido echo not so much (the histor- ical) Virgil’s text, as Marlowe’s uncanonical rewriting of it. despite sub- stantial portions of direct translation, or close paraphrase, the complete effect of Marlowe’s work is very different from its Virgilian prototype. in particular, the balance of material (as opposed to emotional) power between dido and aeneas – as between the child Ganymede and Jupiter Where Virgil’s aeneas is able to present dido with a royal sceptre, crown and necklace, Marlowe’s dido insists that aeneas, impoverished as he is, should sit in her seat, leading to an almost comic wrangle about the propriety of her suggestion:

  di d o: sit in this chaire and banquet with a Queene, Aeneas is Aeneas, were he clad in weedes as bad as ever Irus ware.

  85 a e n e a s: This is no seate for one thats comfortles, May it please your grace to let Aeneas waite; For though my birth be great, my fortunes meane, too meane to be companion to a Queene. di d o: Thy fortune may be greater than thy birth,

  90 sit downe Aeneas, sit in Didos place … a e n e a s: This place beseemes me not, o pardon me. di d o: ile have it so, Aeneas be content … a e n e a s: in all humilitie i thanke your grace.


  in Poetaster caesar’s insistence, as soon as Virgil’s arrival is announced, that a chair should be set for him at his right hand, ‘where ’tis fit, / rome’s honour, and our own, should ever sit’ (V.1.70–1) leads to a very similar dispute which verges upon the absurd. in the next scene caesar announces: ‘see then this chair, of purpose set for thee / to read thy poem in: refuse it not’ (V.2.24–5). Virgil articulates his unworthiness, with great self-consciousness, using the same categories – of birth and wealth – as does Marlowe’s aeneas, although by these criteria he is even less deserving than the hero he has created:

  v i rgi l . it will be thought a thing ridiculous to present eyes, and to all future times 51 a gross untruth that any poet, void

in a pointed reversal of Virgil’s account, dido brings gifts to aeneas, who is unable to recip- of birth or wealth or temporal dignity, should with decorum transcend caesar’s chair.

  (Poetaster V.2.28–32)

  This version of aeneas’ reception scene, in which Virgil is, appropri- ately enough, ‘playing’ aeneas, casts augustus as dido, hardly a flatter- ing comparison; but even less so when the dido in question is not so much Virgil’s noble but suffering queen as Marlowe’s rapacious one – a dido framed by and reflected in a lustful Jupiter in thrall to a boy. We should remember once again that both Jonson’s play and Marlowe’s were produced by the children’s company: a cast composed entirely of pre- or The association between Jonson and Marlowe’s scenes unsettles our reception of both Virgil and augustus.

  W hose v irgi l ? v irgi l a n d hor ac e i n t h e f i na l sc e n e s despite the effusive tribute to him in Poetaster V.1, Virgil’s ‘distance’ from both Horace and from ovid/Marlowe is not as complete as Helgerson

  There is certainly a kind of blandness to Virgil in Poetaster, an absence of character, both dramatically and allusively: apart from the translated portion of Aeneid iV, i cannot trace any of Virgil’s lines to a source in the extant works of the historical Virgil. But Virgil’s speaking ‘voice’ in the play is actively blurred beyond this kind of ‘absence’. We have already seen how Virgil speaks ‘Horace’s’ lines in act V, scene three, and just as the Virgil of V.2 seems to enter into a rather un-epic version of his own epic poem, so his artistic identity is again confused in the final scene. after crispinus has vomited up all his curious vocabulary, Virgil pre- scribes for him a course of reading, a ‘strict and wholesome diet’ (Poetaster

  V.3.524), consisting of cato, terence and (though only with the assistance of a tutor) orpheus, Musaeus, Pindar, Hesiod, callimachus, Theocritus and Homer. He follows this prescription with instructions on written style, designed to prevent crispinus from lapsing back into artistic fail- ure (V.3.537–53). This concise tutorial bears no relation to any of Virgil’s 52 extant works, but it does resemble quite closely certain sections of Horace’s 53 Kinney, ‘epic transgression’, 270.

  advice to poets in the Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica. as well as several specific correspondences, the tone of advice from an elder poet to a more junior one is reminiscent of the epistles to Florus (Epistles i.3 and ii.2) and Both cato and terence are mentioned by Horace at various points; and Jonson’s ‘old cato’ (Poetaster V.3.525) corresponds to ‘priscus’, the adjective by which he is twice described in Horace (Epistles ii.2.117 and of the Greek names that Virgil invokes, four (orpheus,

  Pindar, callimachus and Homer) are mentioned by Horace in a literary More significantly, the rhetorical move which rejects Plautus and ennius in favour of Greek texts (‘shun Plautus and old ennius’, V.3.530) echoes the Ars Poetica, where Horace urges the study of Greek models (Ars Poetica 268–9) and claims in the same passage that it is not only Virgil’s advice on the literary canon that echoes Horace.

  The second half of his speech (537–53) is concerned with good literary style, and this too bears comparison with similar passages in the literary critical epistles. Virgil’s advice centres upon judicious language, advising crispinus to consider his ‘matter’ before individual ‘words’. The advice is obviously relevant to crispinus’ demonstrated fondness for recondite vocabulary. But at Epistles ii.2.143 Horace too advises against seeking words (‘verba’) without proper attention to the subject; similarly, towards the beginning of the Ars Poetica he stresses that a well-chosen topic will naturally bring ‘facundia’ (‘eloquence’) and ‘lucidus ordo’ (‘clear arrange- The necessity of careful editing – ‘But let it pass, and do not think yourself / Much damnified if you do leave it out’ (V.3.543–4) – in Epistles ii.2 Horace claims that careful choice of words will allow the poet’s verse to flow ‘vehemens et liquidus’ (120), a similar claim to Virgil’s assurance to crispinus: ‘This fair abstinence / in time will render you more sound and clear’ (Poetaster 54 V.3.546–7). 55 Jonson’s own translation of the Ars Poetica is discussed in p. 175–93.


cato is also mentioned at Epistles i.19.12–14 and Ars Poetica 56; terence at Satires i.2.20 and

56 Epistles ii.1.59.

orpheus at Ars Poetica 392, Pindar at Epistles i.3.10 (as well of course as many allusions in the

57 Odes), callimachus at Epistles ii.2.100 and Homer at Satires i.10.52.


Plautus is similarly criticised at Epistles ii.1.170–1; ennius, mentioned at Epistles ii.1.50, heads the

list of early roman poets whom Horace considers often overestimated, and his failings are also 58 mentioned at Satires i.10.54 – a particularly resonant poem for Poetaster. Thus Virgil, the acknowledged master-poet, whom caesar associates so strongly with his own power, reminds us of a Marlovian version of his own aeneas upon his entrance, and then, in the closing scene of the play, sets crispinus on the road to redemption with literary advice derived not from his own work, but from Horace’s. c a e s a r, hor ac e a n d poe t ic i m morta l i t y at the disruption of the mock-divine banquet, caesar’s fury is in contrast to Horace and Maecenas’ appeals for mercy (‘o, good my lord, forgive: be like the gods’, iV.6.59), and their tolerant response to the scene is confirmed by Horace’s description of ‘innocent mirth / and harmless pleasures, bred of noble wit’ (iV.8.12–13). norbert Platz accounts for the discrepancy between this and the apparently ‘ideal’ caesar of the final scenes by confronting the possibility of inconsistency directly: ‘Whereas in the earlier part of the play the Prince is the type of monarch whom Jonson as a poet actually had to cope with, at the end he becomes the ideal centre of a utopian realm, a kind of wishful projection into the

  But we have already seen how the imagery of the emperor’s ‘open ear’ places caesar’s judgement in doubt throughout the play; and in the final act, despite the apparent clarity of the distinction between ovid/ Marlowe’s sensuous abandon and the virtuous excellence of caesar and Virgil, their interaction seems for a few minutes to be scripted by Marlowe himself. nor is this the only doubtful moment in the final scenes. as late as V.1 caesar makes exactly the error of judgement that we know from the Satires Maecenas did not make when he first met Horace. seeking opinions of Virgil, caesar asks Horace: ‘Horace, what sayest thou, that are the poorest, / and likeliest to envy or to detract?’ (Poetaster V.1.77–8). at Satires i.6.62–4 Horace recalls of Maecenas: ‘i consider it a great achievement / that i pleased a man like you – a man who can tell the difference between the honourable and the base – / not because of an eminent father, but by the integrity of a man’s life and character.’

  Yet act V begins with the beautiful verse of the first scene, a veritable concord of praise – of poetry, from augustus; of augustus, from the poets. Whatever doubts we harbour elsewhere, here caesar’s taste and judgement seem unimpeachable. But in a play so insistently in conver- sation with classical models, it is no surprise that the fluent poetry of this scene is also indebted to earlier texts; moreover, despite the great difference in tone between the mutual panegyric of V.1 and the satiric tenor of much of the rest of the play, several passages in this scene also have their origins in Horace, and in particular in the more mature Horace of the Odes. caesar begins the scene with a grandiloquent description of roman triumph:

  c a e s a r . We that have conquered still to save the conquered, and loved to make inflictions feared, not felt, Grieved to reprove, and joyful to reward, More proud of reconcilement than revenge, resume into the late state of our love

  5 Worthy cornelius Gallus and tibullus. You both are knights; and you, cornelius, a soldier of renown, and the first provost That ever let our roman eagles fly on swarthy egypt, quarried with her spoils.

  10 (V.1.1–10)

  cain usefully keys caesar’s opening lines to the final sentence of anchises’ advice to aeneas in the underworld in Aeneid Vi:

  tu regere imperio populos, romane memento (hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem, parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.

  (Aeneid Vi.851–3) You, Roman, must remember to rule over the nations

(for these will be your arts), to teach your ways when you enforce peace,

to show mercy to the conquered and to crush the proud in war.

  These lines bear an obvious relevance to the augustan age of expand- ing empire in which Virgil wrote, and in the Carmen Saeculare Horace attributes a very similar kind of courtesy to the defeated to augustus himself:

  quaeque vos bubus veneratur albis clarus anchisae Venerisque sanguis, impetret, bellante prior, iacentem lenis in hostem.

  (Carmen Saeculare 49–52) 61 The description of augustus in terms of anchises perhaps indicates that Horace himself had the passage of Aeneid Vi in mind.


Those things which the glorious blood of Anchises and of Venus [i.e. aeneas]

asks of you as he honours you with white oxen,

may he be granted them: to be first victorious in battle, and then gentle

to his enemy when he lies before him.

  secondly, augustus’ description of the victory over egypt in terms of eagles and their prey (eagles suggest the roman standards) engages with two famous passages from the Odes. at Odes i.37, describing the defeat of cleopatra, caesar is compared to a hawk in pursuit of gentle doves: ‘accipi ter velut / mollis columbas’ (17–18), and the triumphal pan- egyric of Odes iV.4, celebrating the youthful victories of the nerones, begins with an extended Pindaric comparison of drusus to a young eagle learning to hunt his prey. as cain notes, Jonson’s term ‘quarried’ (V.1.10) similarly describes a hawk learning to hunt.

  The praise of caesar which follows also includes Horatian elements:

  m a e c e n a s. Your majesty’s high grace to poesy shall stand ’gainst all the dull detractions of leaden souls, who, for the vain assumings

  35 of some, quite worthless of her sovereign wreaths, contain her worthiest prophets in contempt. g a l lus. Happy is rome of all earth’s other states to have so true and great a president For her inferior spirits to imitate

  40 as caesar is, who addeth to the sun influence and lustre, in increasing thus His inspirations, kindling fire in us. hor ac e. Phoebus himself shall kneel at caesar’s shrine and deck it with bay garlands dewed with wine

  45 to quit the worship caesar does to him, Where other princes, hoisted to their thrones By fortune’s passionate and disordered power, sit in their height like clouds before the sun, Hind’ring his comforts, and by their excess

  50 of cold in virtue, and cross heat in vice, Thunder and tempest on those learned heads Whom caeasar with such honour doth advance.

  (Poetaster V.1.33–53)

  Maecenas’ ‘worthiest prophets’ (V.1.37), meaning poets, glosses the Horatian ‘vates’, a term found in several of the odes (ii.20.3; iV.6.44). The extravagance of Gallus’ and Horace’s description of caesar echoes the solar imagery of augustus which pervades Odes iV. The closest parallel is found at iV.5.6–8: ‘When your face shines down like the spring / upon your people, the day goes by more happily / and the sun The deification of caesar – implied by Horace’s mention of ‘caesar’s shrine’ (44) – finds many parallels in the Odes, although the suggestion that Phoebus himself might worship there is

  The latter part of this extract is hard to follow, but the key is in those ‘learned heads’ of line 52. like the ‘worthiest prophets’ mentioned by Maecenas (37), the term means ‘poets’. The difference between caesar and other monarchs, according to all three characters here, is not finally in his political success or military glory, but in his patronage, his ‘high grace to poesy’ (33). He may, remarkably, appear to add ‘influence and lustre’ even to the sun (41–2) – but a close reading of Gallus’ speech reveals that he does so not on his own account, but ‘in increasing thus / His inspirations [that is, his inspiration of us, his poets], kindling fire in us’ (42–3). caesar expresses such reverence to Phoebus – so much so that Phoebus himself is compelled to requite it – because he nurtures and protects apollo’s favourites, the poets, unlike other (lesser) monarchs, who are not so discerning. This sequence of extravagant panegyric is in fact a powerful redefinition of augustus’ unparalleled fame and power as


dependent upon his patronage, created and sustained by the poetry that

preserves his name.

  Most surprisingly of all, perhaps the most beautiful of caesar’s verse paragraphs conceals a reference to Horace so close to the original latin that it is nearer a translation than an allusion:


she [Poesy] can so mould rome and her monuments

Within the liquid marble of her lines That they shall stand fresh and miraculous, even when they mix with innovating dust.

in her sweet streams shall our brave roman spirits


chase and swim after death with their choice deeds

shining on their white shoulders; and therein shall tiber and our famous rivers fall With such attraction, that th’ ambitious line of the round world shall to her centre shrink

  30 to hear their music. and for these high parts caesar shall reverence the Pierian arts. 62 (Poetaster V.1.21–32) see also Odes iV.2.46–7. For all the imperial grandeur of this vision, line 27 is in fact a direct translation, not (as we might expect) of Virgil at his most high-flown, but rather of a phrase from one of Horace’s most explicit and sexualised odes, Odes ii.5, describing not a manly roman youth but a Greek-named girl: ‘non chloris albo sic umero nitens / ut pura nocturno renidet / luna mari’, ‘nor chloris, her white shoulder shining / as the clear moon gleams reflected in / the sea at night’ (18–20). caesar’s deft annexation of the language of poetic and political immortality preserves at its heart not an epic, but a lyric demonstration of that immortality, and the boldness of the transformation alerts us to the Horatian material in the surround- ing lines. caesar is unwittingly proving his point, if not quite how he means it: this eroticised Horatian image will indeed survive, but the type of ‘brave roman’ that it will preserve is as much Horatian as it is augustan – indeed it is Horace’s texts that will shape and mediate what ‘augustan’ comes to mean.

  The structural force of ‘translation’ in this play is central and pervasive. it is not just that the deployment of ‘translated’ texts – understood in its broadest sense – is much more extensive than previously noted; nor that this whole network of adaption and adoption is insistently placed within an Horatian framework, although both of these observations are true of


Poetaster. The play’s concern with the connections between ethical and

  aesthetic excellence – and even the details of the kind of vice most to be avoided – is also derived from Horace’s Satires.

  More than this, the apparent ‘idealism’ of the depiction of Virgil and caesar in the closing scenes is attenuated by the competing echoes in which it is communicated. The allusive dynamic of the play cuts both ways: caesar’s authority is undermined by the Horatian, satiric ‘voice’, and even Virgil is given Horace’s lines rather than his own, but it is Horace’s voice too – the panegyric mode of the last book of the Odes in particular – which is heard in caesar’s eulogy of poetry, and the poets’ of caesar. it is Horace who questions caesar’s glory, but it is also Horace who creates it. sinfield remarks, regarding the use of classical models in the play, that they challenge Jonson and his audience ‘to make sense of their own developing reality in newly emergent material conditions. Poetaster is not i began this chapter by noting that Jonson’s strategies of translation in Poetaster, like Horace’s Satires themselves, are at once aggressive and submissive, and this alternation is reflected in the work they are doing in the play. it is the multiple ‘translations’ of Poetaster – which at once subvert and cre- ate augustan political and artistic power – that Virgil calls ‘true’, and it is translation in the stricter sense to which i now turn.


ch a p t er 5

Translating Horace, translating Jonson

   But above all he excelleth in a translation …

  This book began with John Polwhele’s touching, if slightly incoherent, version of Horace, Odes i.26 reframed and retranslated so as to comfort Jonson for the failure of The New Inn. Polwhele’s poem lies somewhere between a translation and an imitation – Polwhele himself describes it as ‘alludinge to’ Horace’s ode. The ode is in fact one of two pieces of Horatian translation, both entered by Polwhele on the same page of his notebook, and both addressed to Jonson. The second is very short:

  Horace de arte poet.

Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere, cadentque,

quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet vsus.

  Much is reuiu’de was dead, not vnderstood,

that may bee’ excellent, if the Whimme be good.

Jo: Polw:

  Polwhele’s fragment of translation is not very literal – it elides completely, for instance, the point that this passage of Horace is concerned with the life and status of words in a language (and, by association, with the poet’s choice of diction). Polwhele’s version of the lines makes them, instead, about Jonson’s own literary reputation: he implies that it is Jonson’s own work (and perhaps specifically The New Inn) that has died for lack of understanding, but will be revived when public opinion is once more 1 2 r Conversations with William Drummond, 693–4.


Bodleian Ms eng. poet. f. 16, 10 ; the cited lines are Ars Poetica 70–1. a more literal translation

would be: ‘Many words that have now fallen out of use shall be reborn, and those that are now

held in high esteem will die, if popular usage so wills it.’ Jonson’s own translation of this passage

3 is discussed below.


Polwhele’s ‘not understood’ has no analogue in the latin at all; though it is rather well chosen.

chapter 4 , how We have already seen, in the study of Poetaster in

  closely and thoughtfully Jonson engaged with extended translation (above all of Horace) in addition to the range of intertextual and allusive strat-

  G. a. e. Parfitt remarks that ‘such formal translations as [Jonson] produced represent only one extreme of a habit of Jonson’s extant works include several translations, including the major translation of the whole of the Ars Poetica, which was revised at least once; but he must certainly have completed more close translations, and not only of Horace, which do not survive. it is possible that a few such pieces remain to be identified in manuscript collections. despite the obvious importance of translation to Jonson’s mode of composition, his close translations of Horace have attracted little crit- ical attention. This is partly evidence of a much more general neglect But for students of the early seventeenth cen- tury, the omission is particularly distorting: manuscript miscellanies and commonplace books testify to the enormous popularity of certain translations and imitations, but also to the natural ease with which even very modest poets turned to classical translation to express themselves.

  While minor lyrics of this period are frequently conventional to the point of anonymity, the classical translations found in commonplace books and miscellanies are often, as in Polwhele’s notebook, surprisingly personal.

  This chapter is concerned, broadly, with Jonson as a translator of Horace: broadly, because i discuss here not only his own translations of Horace, but also those of others, made in conscious imitation or emu- lation of Jonson, and even translations of Jonson’s own work (a move which, like Polwhele’s poem, accords him Horatian status). This material helps to confirm and define contemporary understandings of Jonson’s ‘Horatianism’ and its place in the culture of translation in which it arose. 4 The other most sustained example of close translation reframed in dramatic form is Jonson’s

Sejanus, in large part a translation (and ultimately a completion) of portions of tacitus’ Annals.


The dramatic conversation that play creates between the latin and english text, between tacitus

5 (the author) and tiberius (the emperor) is sadly beyond the scope of this book.


G. a. e. Parfitt, ‘The nature of translation in Ben Jonson’s Poetry’, Studies in English Literature,

6 1500–1900 ), 344–59 (344).

charles tomlinson writes eloquently of ‘what we still choose to forget, namely the centrality

of poetic translation to the whole history of english poetry. That history has to be rewritten,

because the presence of translation in it changes the balance of conventional assessment that

  A R S P O E T I C A

  Jonson’s as we have seen, Jonson uses Horace – even meticulously close and textually attentive imitations of Horace’s latin – to express his own authorial freedom and autonomy, even, or especially, when he speaks as a court poet or dependent. it is unsurprising, then, that his close transla- tions of Horace should also be marked by this motif, and in particular by an obsessive interest in the poet’s status and his liberty. The most sub- stantial translation of this kind, and the most important, is his version of Horace’s Ars Poetica.

  Horace’s longest work, routinely (if misleadingly) described as a versi- fied treatise on poetic technique, is unfashionable today: unfashionable even amongst classicists, and certainly so amongst non-specialists. its enormous influence and importance to the understanding of literary art throughout the renaissance and early modern period is a commonplace of criticism; but the poem itself – what it was for, or how it is meant to be The same is very much true of Jonson’s Jonson’s interest in the poem is evident from several sources, not only his translation: in one of Jonson’s copies of Horace, the Ars is heavily marked; he alludes to the poem repeatedly in Discoveries; and UW 14 (‘an epistle to Master John selden’) emerges, as we saw in

  from a kind of ‘correction’ of the opening of the latin poe This is an import ant detail: UW 14 is concerned to define (and associate) both lit- 7 erary and ethical virtue, and it is also a peculiarly Jonsonian mix of the


Jonson himself was no doubt partly responsible for raising the profile of the Ars Poetica, as


c. H. sisson points out: ‘[despite weaknesses in the translation] Ben Jonson did bring the Ars

before the english literary public in such a way that it could not thereafter be ignored, and he

may be said thereby to have opened a literary epoch … it is in his sympathy with the Horatian

literary temper, and its singular combination of the inventive and the critical that the real reach

of Jonson’s literary influence is felt. For a whole generation, and perhaps more, Jonson exercised

in the seventeenth century something like the decisive influence of ezra Pound in the twentieth.

For this reason alone, his tips as to what was worth reading, especially something so immediately

relevant to the poet’s task as the Ars, were not likely to be thrown away’ (c. H. sisson, In Two

8 Minds: Guesses at Other Writers (Manchester: carcanet, ), pp. 16–17).


H&s consider the translation ‘wooden’ (H&s, vol. xi, p. 110) and charles Martindale, in his

defence of that which, borrowing from dryden, he terms ‘metaphrase’, remarks that this par-

ticular work ‘it may be conceded, is rather dogged’ (Martindale, ‘Unlocking the Word-hoad: in

9 Praise of Metaphrase’, Comparative Criticism, 6 (1984), 54).

see, for instance, Discoveries 196, 937, 1570–1, 2129 and 2475. UW 14 is discussed at length in

chapter 2 , pp. 88–93. The heavily marked edition of Horace is Spilimbergii; Jonson’s copy is


cambridge University library X.9.15. Jonson also owned a separate edition of the Ars Poetica with purest panegyric and the most extravagant authorial confidence. With selden as his subject, Jonson implies, he will outdo Horace with ease. its form is significant too: UW 14 is an Horatian verse epistle, with all that that entails – philosophical seriousness; a public statement about a par- ticular relationship; and an interest in the artistic possibilities as well as the constraints imposed by social relations.

  The Ars Poetica is also an epistle – albeit a very long one, addressed to the young Piso brothers – and those features of Horatian epistolary verse are found in the Ars too. in addition, it presents a remarkable and very hard to define blend of theory and practice. every attempt to summarise, subdivide or rationalise the content of the poem as a systematic ‘treatise’ of definable rules or principles has proved to be unsatisfactory. as Brink demonstrates, the poem is neither a versified treatise with ‘separate chap- ters’, nor a work whose subject matter is largely incidental. sisson offers perhaps the best summary of this:


The contribution of Horace was neither to lay down a set of absolute prescrip-

tions nor to upset the course of latin literature. indeed that literature went

into decline not long after his day, apparently without benefiting from his



The valuable thing about the Ars is the presence of a mind immensely accom-

plished in the practice of literature, and with a just appreciation of the point

it occupied among the performances of the time. Horace’s mind was not only

equally but – a much rarer thing – simultaneously critical and creative … it is

from a very ripe and wary mind that we have the Ars Poetica.

  i think sisson (whose own translation of the Ars Poetica is impressive) is right to stress that the significance of this now little-read work does not lie in any particular prescriptions, but rather in the reader’s experience of a mind which is, as he puts it, ‘simultaneously critical and creative’. For Jonson, who consistently represented himself as both artist and critic – and indeed insisted upon the necessary union of these functions in the laure- ate poet – this aspect of the poem must have been particularly attract- ive, especially in combination with the social significance of the poem’s 10 form and address. The Piso brothers are younger than Horace – and only,


i summarise here the argument found in c. o. Brink, Prolegomena to the Literary Epistles

(cambridge University Press ) and Horace on Poetry: The ‘Ars Poetica’ (cambridge University

11 Press,

sisson, In Two Minds, p. 15. Brink’s conclusion is not dissimilar: ‘[the AP] represents imagina-

tively, in a way no conceptual prose could, not only views on poetry but the ancient feeling for

  we deduce, very beginner poets – but they are of noble status and he is not. The Ars offers a discussion of literary art, written by a practising poet at the height of his powers, and delivered in a form which not only acknowledges but actually enacts the embeddedness of the poet within his society.

  By far the best exposition of the social and political interest of the Ars


Poetica – for readers of Jonson and Horace alike – is by ellen oliensis,

  whose portrait of Horace is at almost every turn strongly reminiscent of Jonson himself:


on the one hand, the Ars is a profoundly normative text-book that not only

describes but helps enforce the rules of the game the Piso brothers are about to

enter. This game, like the ludus Horace declines to reenter at the start of Epistles

i, involves social as well as poetic performance; Horace is teaching the Piso

brothers how to fashion their selves as well as their poems … What Horace

teaches the Piso brothers is finally not what to do or not to do but what he

can do and they cannot. Horace’s disquisition on the art which is the source of

his authority (social and poetic) is addressed to an audience that boasts conven-

tional social advantages Horace cannot claim, and this conjunction of subject

matter and audience produces an extremely volatile blend of authority and def-

erence: a “masterwork” which is also a study in self-defacement, an educational

essay which is also an exercise in antididaxis.

  Jonson’s version of Horace’s Ars Poetica is the product of at least two dis- tinct periods of translation and revision. although both versions of his translation were finally published in 1640 (one in the duodecimo edition of the Poems, the other in the folio), the former of these dates from 1604, while the latter certainly postdates daniel Heinsius’ critical reorganisa- There is also evidence of a lost ‘preface’ to the work, tantalisingly in the form of a dia- logue with John donne, and apparently read to drummond in 1619, but 12 lost in the fire of 1623

  oliensis, Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority, pp. 198–9.

chapter 5 (pp. 198–223) deals with the

13 Ars Poetica.


Jonson’s translation is quoted from the folio version, unless noted otherwise. The latin is quoted

from the text printed on the facing page in the 1640 folio (although, since the volume was pre-

pared posthumously, this was not necessarily the edition of the text that Jonson himself was

using). Where there is a discrepancy, a second reference is to the relevant line numbers in the

14 oct edition of Horace’s works.


‘[t]o me he read the Preface of his arte of Poesie, upon Horace arte of poesie’ (Conversations with

William Drummond 82–3). see also the epistle To the Readers prefaced to Sejanus (1605): ‘But of this

[that a playwright need not adhere to ancient laws of drama] i shall take more seasonable cause

  Jonson’s engagement with Horace is evidently very deep; furthermore, this poem seems for him to have been central to that engagement. stanley stewart writes: ‘We must conclude that, for Jonson … translation of the


Ars Poetica, more than a labour of love, amounts to a statement of his crit-

  ical manifesto. it must therefore have especial importance for any study of Jonson’s Horatianism: such a major project of translation is not only an act of homage; it is also, in the most literal sense, an opportunity to speak for – and as – Horace himself. if new readers who want to refer to an english version read the Ars with Jonson’s english alongside the latin (as it was published in the 1640 folio), then for these readers Horace is Jonson.

  Jonson i a n m e ta ph r a se: A R S P O E T I C A t h e t e ch n iqu e s of t h e Jonson’s translation of the Ars is notoriously ‘literal’ – that is, it attempts to follow Horace’s text minutely, and to preserve where possible even the details of latin word order, sometimes to the extent of obscuring the meaning or movement of the english line. Modernisations or incorpo- rated ‘glosses’ on roman cultural terms are kept to a minimum, and most proper names are retained (the Pisos are actually named more often in Jonson’s version). But this close translation is not without its idiosyn- crasies and expansions. if there is one consistent tendency, it is to clarify

  (even blunten) Horatian ambiguity in order to align the latin poem more closely with Jonson’s characteristic preoccupations. even, or perhaps espe- cially in this extremely close interaction, we can see Jonson translating – and creating – a ‘Jonsonian’ Horace. Moments of this kind often have their origin in glosses or expansions upon obscure or difficult sections of the latin. an example of this ten- dency is found at lines 617–22:

  rich men are said with many cups to plie,

and rack, with Wine, the man whom they would try,

15 if of their friendship he be worthy, or no:

stanley stewart, ‘Jonson’s criticism’, in richard Harp and stanley stewart (ed.), The Cambridge

  Companion to Ben Jonson (cambridge University Press 16 ), pp. 175–87 (p. 178).


The emphasis upon the Pisos’ names perhaps reflects the importance of naming in Jonson’s verse

more generally. Minor alterations include translating the goddess Minerva as ‘nature’ at line 574

(latin 402, oct 385) and the occasional rephrasing of specifically roman social vocabulary

17 (such as ‘our grave men’ (511) for ‘centuriae seniorum’ (latin 358, oct 341)).

  When you write Verses, with your judge do so: 620

looke through him, and be sure, you take not mocks

reges dicuntur multis urgere culullis, et torquere mero, quem perspexisse laborant, 435 an sit amicitiâ dignus. si carmina condes, nunquam te fallant animi sub vulpe latentes.


  These lines are part of a longer passage (latin 419–52) discussing the importance of honest criticism to the poet: a section likely to be of par- ticular interest to Jonson, given his lasting preoccupation with honesty and flattery as they apply both to social relationships and to art. several lines in this passage, including these four, are underlined in his copy of line 621–2, ‘you take mocks / For praises’, is an interpolation, evidently intended to clarify the meaning of a difficult latin phrase: ‘si carmina condes, / nunquam te fallant animi sub vulpe latentes’ (‘if you’re going to construct verses, / never allow the thoughts lurking inside the fox to trap you’, 436–7). The line probably alludes to the fable (found in Phaedrus and aesop) in which a crow, persuaded by a fox’s flattery to sing, drops the cheese he was carrying in his mouth. What ‘lurks within’ a fox is his wicked intention; what traps the unwary is the fox’s flattery.

  Jonson’s ‘mocks’ and ‘praises’ clarify the meaning of the line; but they are not a neutral addition. The expansion stresses the comparison between the rich man testing his friends and the poet testing his ‘judge’ – that is, the one who passes judgement upon his work (quite often, one imagines, a rich patron or potential patron). The link between rich man, potential prey to flatterers, and the successful poet ties the lines more closely to the 18 preceding verse paragraph on the same topic (lines 597–606, discussed


compare UW 45 (‘an epistle to Master Arth: Squib’): ‘so must we doe, / First weigh a friend,

then touch, and trie him too:’ (15–16); ‘turne him, and see his Threds: looke, if he be / Friend to

himselfe, that would be friend to thee. / For that is first requir’d, a man be his owne. / But he

that’s too-much that, is friend of none’ (21–4). This is one of many articulations found in Jonson’s 19 Horatian verse epistles of the ‘freedom’ proper to friendship (and, according to Jonson, to art). 20 Modern texts read ‘laborent’ (subjunctive) and ‘fallent’ (future indicative).

cambridge University library, X.9.15. in addition to the Ars Poetica, Satires i.1, i.2 and (espe-

cially) i.3 are also heavily marked. There is no evidence that the underlinings are Jonson’s – they

are not accompanied by his characteristic marginal signs – but the correspondence between the

underlined sections and the passages to which he most often alludes, or which are expanded

in his translation, suggests that they probably are. Jonson must have owned several editions of below), and to Jonson’s favourite theme: the difficulty (and necessity) of maintaining social and artistic integrity despite the need to gain and retain favour. The suggestion, more laboured than in the latin, is of the potential moral equality between a poet and the kind of man who might be his patron That link is further stressed by the translation of ‘reges’

  (‘kings’ or ‘princes’ – with a hint, perhaps, of the exotic east to roman readers) simply as ‘rich men’ (617), a much more everyday (and directly relevant) phenomenon.

  The suggestion of possible insincerity, which remains latent here, is explicit in the preceding passage:

  Just as a crier That to the sale of Wares calls every Buyer; so doth the Poet, who is rich in land, or great in money’s out at use, command 600 His flatterers to their gaine. But say, he can Make a great supper; or for some poore man Will be a suretie; or can helpe him out of an entangling suit; and bring ’t about: i wonder how this happie man should know, 605 Whether his soothing friend speake truth, or no.


Ut praeco ad merces turbam qui cogit emendas,

assentatores iubet ad lucrum ire Poëta 420 dives agris, dives positis in foenore nummis. si verò est, unctum qui rectè ponere possit, et spondere levi pro paupere, & eripere atris litibus implicitum; mirabor, si sciet inter- noscere mendacem verumque beatus amicum 425


  These lines are rich in ironic resonance with Jonson’s own poetic occa- sions: not least the generous host, like sir robert Wroth (Forest 3), the sidneys at Penshurst (Forest 2), or even – in his fantasy version of com- pelling generosity – the poet himself in Epigrams 101, all defined partly by their ability to ‘make a great supper’ (602). For the poet, an insincere appraisal of his work is as damaging as flattery to the great statesman; for the Pisos, the young poet-aristocrats to whom the Ars is addressed, the two may of course overlap, just as they do here (this rich man is also a 21

  compare the material on debt and gift between poet and patron in

chapter 2 , pp. 81–8. as a


topos, this theme is itself Horatian, and a feature of the Satires and Epistles in general; but here, as poet). Jonson translates ‘beatus’ (425), which very often means ‘rich’, as ‘happie’ (605); but that apparently ‘happie’ man may find himself caught in a web of duplicitous speech (‘calls’, ‘crier’, ‘flatterers’). What such a man needs, of course, is an honest critic, a straight-talking fellow-poet, Jonson/Horace himself.

  The following passage includes a surprising (and much noted) mis- translation, repeated in an allusion to these lines at the close of UW 13 (‘an epistle to sir edward sacvile, now earle of dorset’):

  But you, my Piso, carefully beware, (Whether yo’are given to, or giver are)

You doe not bring, to judge your Verses, one,

With joy of what is given him, over-gone:

  (607–10) tu seu donaris, seu quid donare voles cui, nolito ad versus tibi factos ducere plenum laetitiae.


  The phrase ‘tu seu donaris, seu quid donare voles cui’ (426) means ‘whether you have given, or plan to give, anything to anyone’. Jonson has apparently misread ‘donaris’ as the present indicative passive rather than (an abbreviated form of) the future perfect active ( = ‘donaveris’). The mistake is revealing: Horace, addressing the young noble, assumes that his addressee’s role is always to be a generous donor; Jonson, however, is keen to stress the reciprocity of patronage on both sides, and in UW 13 he uses a version of these lines to surprise us, at the close of that most ‘indebted’ poem, with an insistence upon what the patron owes to the


poetThe latin here has a light touch – the phrase ‘plenum / laetitiae’

  (427–8) leaves unspecified what, exactly, has caused such joy, whereas Jonson’s lines, adding ‘what is given him’, leave us in no doubt. His ver- sion sounds less like a suggestion that we should bear the praiser’s circum- stances in mind, and more like a warning against outright bribery.

  Throughout this sequence Jonson’s version has insisted upon the potential corruption of speech, especially in flattery, and the dangers this presents to literary judgement and true friendship alike: a danger, more- over, which helps to associate – as, in some sense, equals – the power- ful nobleman (as the Pisos will be and Horace/Jonson will not) and the laureate poet (as Horace certainly is; as Jonson would like to be; and as the Pisos may hope to become). We are reminded of ellen oliensis’ point: ‘What Horace teaches the Piso brothers is finally not what to do The poet, according to Jonson’s version of Horace, must be especially on guard against the corruption of language and base insincerity; but this is because the real power to immortalise – indeed, to immortalise and rejuvenate language itself – is also properly his. at another well-known passage of the Ars we find a similar kind of systematic expansion:

  Ficta, voluptatis causâ, sint proxima veris. 355 nec quodcunque volet, poscat sibi fabula credi: neu pransae Lamiae vivum puerum extrahat alvo. centuriae seniorum agitant expertia frugis: celsi praetereunt austera poëmata Rhamnes. omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci, 360 lectorem delectando, pariterque monendo. Hic meret aera liber Sosiis: hic & mare transit, et longum noto scriptori prorogat aevum.

  (355–63; oct 338–46) let what thou fain’st for pleasures sake, be neere The truth; nor let thy Fable thinke, what e’re it would, must be: lest it alive would draw The child, when Lamia’has din’d, out of her maw. 510 The Poêms void of profit, our grave men cast out by voyces; want they pleasure, then our Gallants give them none, but passe them by: But he hath every suffrage, can apply sweet mix’d with sowre, to his reader, so 515 as doctrine, and delight together go.

  This booke will get the Sosii money; This Will passe the seas, and long as nature is, With honour make the farre-knowne author live.


  This is a version of one of Jonson’s favourite Horatian maxims, the poetic His interest in this idea is reflected in 24 the translation: the lines possess a tighter consistency and focus than the 25 oliensis, Horace and the Rhetoric of Authority, p. 198. 26 lines 360–1 are underlined in cambridge University library X.9.15.


That combination is invoked, for instance, in the epilogue to The Staple of Newes (‘Thus have you

seene the Makers double scope, / to profit, and delight’, 1–2) and the Prologue to Every Man Out

of His Humour (‘to please, but whom? attentive auditors, / such as will joyne their profit with

their pleasure, / and come to feed the understanding parts: / For these, ile prodigally spend my latin, and the importance of the dichotomy is increased by the repeated echoing of the opposing terms followed by a firmer insistence upon the artistic power of their successful resolution.

  By contrast, the thought of the latin lines, while clearly discernible, is more loosely and tangentially connected. Horace employs a cluster of different terms, associated in context by the parallel thoughts, but rhetoric ally distinct: ‘voluptatis causâ’ (355), ‘proxima veris’ (355), ‘expertia frugis’ (358), ‘austera’ (359), ‘utile’ and ‘dulci’ (360), ‘delectando’ and ‘mon- endo’ (361). Meaning something like ‘pleasure’, ‘near to the truth’, ‘devoid of fruit[fullness]’, ‘harsh’, ‘useful’, ‘sweet’, ‘by pleasing/giving enjoyment’ and ‘by warning’, these terms become in Jonson’s text: ‘for pleasures sake’ (507), ‘neere / The truth’ (507–8), ‘void of profit’ (511), ‘want they pleasure’ (512), ‘sweet mix’d with sowre’ (515) applied to the reader ‘so / as doctrine, and delight together go’ (515–16). The collection of abstract nouns is starker and more uniform than the latin modulation between nouns, adjectives and gerunds (the adjectives ‘sweet’ and ‘sowre’ in line 515 are likewise acting as, or very close to nouns), and this uniformity in parts of speech helps to connect the series of contrasts as parallel to one another. Jonson’s repeated term ‘pleasure’ (tacitly implied a third time by the phrase ‘our Gallants give them none’, 513) contributes to this effect. similarly, the terms ‘truth’ and ‘doctrine’ are much closer to one another in register than the latin ‘proxima veris’ and ‘monendo’, and the convergence heightens the solemnity of both. The general raising of the tone shifts, too, the implication even of the closest translations: whereas Horace’s phrase ‘proxima veris’ suggests, sensibly but slightly prosaically, that the reader’s credulity should not be stretched too far, Jonson’s ‘truth’, in the proximity of ‘doctrine’, ‘command’ and ‘precepts’ (lines 503–4) becomes a more seriously ethical injunction. This is an example of what Greene calls the ‘quiet, progressive enrichment of nouns … a multiplica- tion of referential direction that is not quite metaphor, not quite pun, not quite etymological throwback (though all these may be suggested) but rather a kind of gradually heightened verbal luminosity of exfoliation … This means for the imitative relationship the emergence of mistransla- tions that become so densely charged as to overpower the original latin 27 expression without ever parodying it.


Greene, The Light in Troy, p. 289. Greene is here writing of the cary-Morison ode (UW 70),

not the close translations, but his remarks seem to me to be a peculiarly accurate description of

  We see the same ‘abstracting’ power at work in the lines that introduce this theme:

  o, when once the canker’d rust,

and care of getting, thus, our minds hath stain’d,

Thinke wee, or hope, there can be Verses fain’d in juyce of Cedar worthy to be steep’d, 475 and in smooth Cypresse boxes to be keep’d? Poëts would either profit, or delight, or mixing sweet, and fit, teach life the right.

  (472–8 ad haec animos aerugo, & cura peculi, cum semel imbuerit, speramus carmina fingi Posse linenda cedro, & levi servanda cupresso ? aut prodesse volunt, aut delectare Poëtae, aut simul & iucunda, & idonea dicere vitae.

  (330–4) The translation of both ‘frugis’ (358, oct 341) and ‘prodesse’ (333) as

  ‘profit’, and of both ‘iucunda’ (334) and ‘dulci’ (360; oct 343) as ‘sweet’ establishes a strong link between the two passages, and the relatively high-flown tone of the abstractions sets up the surprising transition of the closing lines of the paragraph:

  This booke will get the Sosii money; This Will passe the seas, and long as nature is,

With honour make the farre-knowne author live.

  (517–19; the latin text is cited above)

  Jonson captures here the humorously matter-of-fact transition to purely financial concerns (‘get the Sosii money’) but his version of the second ‘hic’ clause is rather different from its source. in latin, the hope of lasting fame is handled lightly (‘hic & mare transit, / et longum noto scriptori prorogat aevum’, ‘this book crosses the sea / and procures a long 28 These are lines 330–4 in modern editions of the latin text. Both in modern editions, and in


the edition from which Jonson would first have worked (which may have been the copy of

Spilimbergii in cambridge University library, X.9.15), these lines appear in latin shortly before

the passage (341–6) discussed above and introduce its theme. The translation printed in the duo-

decimo edition accords with this conventional arrangement. in his revisions of the translation,

however, Jonson followed the rearrangements of the latin text suggested by daniel Heinsius,

and as a result in the folio text these lines appear instead at 472–8. lines 333–4 are underlined in cambridge University library X.9.15. 29

‘When this rusty canker, this concern for gain / has once stained the mind, can we hope that life for the well-known writer’) and the juxtaposition of the booksellers’ financial success with ‘success’ (that is, fame) for the poet is amusing. of line 345, Brink remarks: ‘This is humorous in style, but in fact the prom- ise of wide and lasting fame in the next verse means what it says. The apparently flat “mixture” of utile and dulce reveals what elsewhere in this of the lines has lost some of the deadpan ‘flatness’ of the expression, and with it the wit, but instead presses it much closer to what Brink terms ‘glory’, and in particular to that preoccupation with immortality which animates Jonson’s favourite portions of Horatian lyric, such as Odes iV.8 and iV.9.

  The result is a shift in tone between latin and english. Jonson’s ver- sion has added the detail ‘honour’, of which there is no mention in the latin (Horace’s successful writer might equally be infamous). But most The latin has nothing corresponding to the forceful ‘live’ at the end of the sentence, and Jonson’s translation differs in its sense. Horace’s text claims that the book itself will grant the well-known author a long life, or an old age – that is, of renown for his work. The phrase ‘long as nature is’, ambiguously adverbial (with ‘make’) or adjectival (significantly, with either the book or the ‘author’), is a substantial expansion of ‘longum … aevum’. Jonson’s addition of ‘nature’ extends the comparison of the author’s immortality not to the empire (the terms of the extent of ovid’s fame at Metamorphoses, XV.871–9), or even to roman culture (as in Horace, Odes iii.30) – both of which will finally fade and which, for Jonson and his readers, have already done so – but rather to ‘nature’ herself.

  The laureate poet speaks here, in ‘Jonson’s Horace’, more clearly and with less doubt or irony than he does in the latin text: Jonson’s transla- tion of Horace reveals the terms of Jonson’s identification with the latin poet, and the ways in which he reads him. This sense of almost moral importance – the same tone as we find, for instance, in the adapted 30 Horatian material in Forest 12 (‘Epistle. to elizabeth countesse of 31 Brink, Horace on Poetry, p. 358.


Jonson’s ‘live’ echoes several other famous Horatian lines. compare for instance: Epistles

i.18.107–8 (‘et mihi vivam / quod superest aevi’), Satires ii.6.97 (‘vive memor, quam sis aevi

brevis’) and Epistles i.19.2 (‘nulla placere diu nec vivere carmina possunt’). The final lines of rutland’) – seeps, too, into Jonson’s version of the details of the poet’s art, the specific choices of subject and diction:


take, therefore, you that write, still, matter fit

Unto your strength, and long examine it, Upon your shoulders. Prove what they will beare,


and what they will not. Him, whose choice doth reare

His matter to his power, in all he makes, nor language, nor cleere order ere forsakes. The vertue of which order, and true grace, or i am much deceiv’d, shall be to place

  60 invention. now, to speake; and then differ Much, that mought now be spoke: omitted here till fitter season. now, to like of this,

  (53–64) sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, aequam Viribus, & versate diù, quid ferre recusent, Quid valeant humeri. cui lecta potenter erit res,

  40 nec facundia deserit hunc, nec lucidus ordo. ordinis haec virtus erit, & venus, aut ego fallor, Ut iam nunc dicat, iam nunc debentia dici, Pleraque differat, & praesens in tempus omittat. Hoc amet, hoc spernat promissi carminis autor.

  45 (38–45)

  Jonson’s translation of lines 40–1 of the latin is a substantial expansion; a literal translation might read: ‘as for him, whose subject matter is suit- The conversion of the adverb (‘potenter’, 40) to an abstract noun (‘his power’, 57) balancing the noun ‘res’ (‘his matter’, 57) is much more force- ful than the latin. The past participle ‘lecta’ has also become an abstract noun, ‘choice’ (56), and combined with the addition of the verb ‘reare’ (which has no analogue in the latin) transforms Horace’s more muted 32 and eminently reasonable suggestion into something grander. ‘lecta’


lines 55–64 in the duodecimo edition, the text of which is as follows: ‘take therefore, you that

write, a subject fit / Unto your strength, and long be turning it: / Prove what your shoulders will,

or will not beare. / His choise, who’s matter to his power doth reare, / nor language nor cleare

order will forsake: / The vertue and grace of which, or i mistake, / is now to speak, and even now

to differ / Much that mought now be spoke, omitted here / till fitter season; now to like to this,

33 / lay that aside, the epicks office is.’

The translation of ‘potenter’ is tricky: rudd suggests ‘within his capabilities’, but admits that

this meaning has no exact parallel in Thesaurus Linguae Latinae; he offers ‘effectively’ as a more

  (‘picked out, chosen’) anticipates the judiciousness with which the fine poet of the following lines will choose his words and topics (43–4 of the latin). Jonson’s sentence suggests less a humble limiting of scope to that of which he is capable (albeit a trope which is always a double-edged sug- gestion in Horace, that lover of recusatio), but rather a raising of subject matter – almost an education or inculcation of it – in view of the poet’s ‘rear’ is moreover a resonant term in Jonson’s Horatian verse. Forest 12, as we have seen, alludes to Horatian aspirations and in doing so uses this verb to echo the combination of ‘feriam’ and ‘sublimi’ in Odes i.1.35:

  There like a rich, and golden pyramede,

Borne up by statues, shall i reare your head,

above your under-carved ornaments,

and show, how, to the life, my soule presents

Your forme imprest there

  (Forest 12.83–7)

  Those lines are also concerned with ‘rearing’ (that is, raising) the subject matter to the poet’s power, but in the most exalted fashion: so great is the poet’s reach, we are meant to understand (as great, after all, as Horace’s), We hear in these lines the self-confident tones of the (Jonsonian) Horatian lyricist.

  This intensification of the sense of the latin continues. Jonson trans- lates ‘facundia’ (41, ‘ease of speech’ or ‘eloquence’) as ‘language’ (58), a much stronger and more widely applicable term than ‘facundia’. in doing so, he broadens the application of the line from stylistics (this is how to write smoothly and clearly) to something closer to metaphys- ics: what would it mean to ‘forsake language’? Further heightening is at work in Jonson’s handling of the ‘clere order’. The latin here (lines 42–4) is nuanced; a literal translation might run: ‘This is the strength of that order, and its charm – or else i am mistaken – / namely, that it says what should be said at any given moment, / and it sets aside or omits many things for the time being.’ The balance of the male quality (‘virtus’, 34 ‘strength’) against the female (‘venus’, perhaps ‘charm’) is, as rudd points


This expansion of the meaning is similar to the effect created by Jonson’s version of the opening

35 lines of Satires ii.1, translated as Poetaster iii.5, and discussed in , pp. 147–58.

compare the use of ‘rears’ in a suggestively similar context in UW 24 (‘The mind of the

Frontispiece to a Booke’), which combines many of the tropes familiar from Jonson’s more major


  out, almost untranslatablJonson’s version has: ‘[t]he vertue of which order, and true grace’ (59) – a line which fails to capture the delicate and almost gendered balance of the latin, but imports something else in its place. retaining ‘vertue’ for ‘virtus’, and combining it with the weighted phrase ‘true grace’ (the adjective is without analogue in the latin) adds a trace of theology. a passage which in Horace describes the importance of the careful and elegant, but ultimately solely aesthetic, positioning of individual words for maximum effect, is elevated by Jonson’s diction into a mastery of language and form which hints at divine inspiration, and in line with this persistent intensification, the verse paragraph con- cludes with one of the most explicit alterations. at line 64 the phrase

  ‘promissi carminis autor’ (45, Horace means the author of a comissioned work) is translated with the striking phrase ‘the Epicks office’. There is no term for ‘office’ (cf. latin ‘officium’, ‘duty’) in the latin verse; the idea of duty and obligation is an expansion of the subjunctive verbs in the latin (‘amet’, ‘spernat’; ‘should love’, ‘should reject’). But the key term is ‘Epick’: used only here, the noun means ‘epic poet’ but conflates, in yet These lines noticeably jettison the subtext of ‘promissi carminis’, which implies that the poet is composing to order. Given Jonson’s evident inter- est in the challenges and dilemmas of patronage, and his appropriation of Horace’s Epistles to explore that theme, that omission is at first surpris- ing. But in the context of the adaptions over the previous ten lines, the change of emphasis makes sense: the translation of this passage carefully suppresses any hint of craftsmanlike attention to detail, the day to day demands of composition, or the realities of payment, and replaces them with diction redolent of the vatic poet. The ‘Epick’ of these lines owes a sacred duty to the state – perhaps even to humanity, or art in general – rather than any one patron, however noble.

  Moreover, the subtle but sustained pattern of alterations in this passage is an introduction to the important lines (65–104 in Jonson’s translation) in which Horace discusses the poet’s right to verbal innovation (of which ‘Epick’ is itself apparently an example) – and in particular, the poetic pre- 36 rogative to restore lost words to the language. in this remarkable passage 37 rudd (ed.), Epistles II, p. 156.


compare this expansive and almost theological translation of ‘facundia’ with that of Jonson’s

translation of Odes iV.1 (UW 86), discussed below. in that poem, Horace’s ‘facunda … verba’ Jonson’s loving and meticulous translation of the latin challenges Horace from within his own text: he refuses to allow Horace himself to say what his text appears to mean.

  it hath beene ever free, and ever will, to utter termes that bee

stamp’d to the time. as woods whose change appeares

  85 still in their leaves, throughout the sliding yeares, The first-borne dying; so the aged state of words decay, and phrases borne but late like tender buds shoot up, and freshly grow. our selves, and all that’s ours, to death we owe:

  90 Whether the sea receiv’d into the shore, That from the north, the navie safe doth store, a kingly worke; or that long barren fen once rowable, but now doth nourish men in neighbour-townes, and feeles the weightie plough;

  95 or the wilde river, who hath changed now His course so hurtfull both to graine, and seedes, Being taught a better way. all mortall deeds shall perish: so farre off it is, the state, or grace of speech, should hope a lasting date. 100 Much phrase that now is dead, shall be reviv’d; and much shall dye, that now is nobly liv’d, if custome please; at whose disposing will The power, and rule of speaking resteth still.

  (83–104) licuit, semperque licebit, signatum praesente notâ producere nomen.

  Ut silvae foliis pronos mutantur in annos,

  60 Prima cadunt; ità verborum vetus interit aetas, et iuvenum ritu florent modò nata, vigentque. debemur morti nos, nostraque: sive receptus terrâ Neptunus, classes Aquilonibus arcet, regis opus, sterilisve diù palus, aptaque remis,

  65 Vicinas urbes alit, & grave sentit aratrum: seu cursum mutavit iniquum frugibus amnis, doctus iter melius. Mortalia facta peribunt: nedum sermonum stet honos, & gratia vivax. Multa renascentur, quae iam cecidêre, cadentque,

  70 Quae nunc sunt in honore, vocabula, si volet usus;

  (58–72) The beautiful simile comparing words to budding and falling leaves in a forest (60–2) is based upon Homer, Iliad Vi.145–9, as Glaukos, meeting diomedes on the battlefield, describes the ultimate insignificance even in

  Homer the comparison links not leaves and words, but leaves and men themselves. Horace’s poem responds and adds to its model, creating what Brink describes as a ‘three-sided’ simile: the forest leaves; our words; and Horace surprises us by stressing the impermanence not only of our mortal selves (which we expect by analogy with Homer) but also of our language. in the lines that end this passage, Horace defines language and its reference in terms of ‘use’:

  Mortal deeds shall perish, and no more shall the glory and charm of speech remain alive.

  Many words which have now fallen away will be reborn, and many which are now held in high esteem shall fall away, if common usage desires it; to it belongs the judgement, and the force and norm of speaking.


  everything that is of man, Horace argues, is by definition mortal (the allusion to the Iliad has reminded us of that); and what is more ‘of man’ than speech itself? although language will continue, individual words will always fall in and out of use.

  But Jonson’s translation, while faithful to the individual words, man- ages to create a different impression: ‘all mortall deeds / shall perish: so farre off it is, the state, / or grace of speech, should hope a lasting date’ (98–100). That ‘state’ is a particularly clear example of Jonson’s interest in stability. in its sense of ‘stateliness’ it is a possible, if oblique, translation of ‘honos’, but the word is chosen to catch at ‘stet’ too. ‘The state’ renders ‘stet honos’; by collapsing a verb and noun phrase into a single noun it 40 amounts to a miniature demonstration of its own fiercely stabilising point.


‘Great-hearted son of tydeus, why do you ask of my birth? / The generation of men is just like

that of leaves. / The wind scatters one year’s leaves on the ground, but the forest / burgeons and

puts out others, as the season of spring comes round. / so it is with men: one generation grows 41 on, and another is passing away.’

Brink remarks: ‘The Horatian simile is (to my knowledge) unique in that it transfers from

humanity to speech the comparison with leaves falling and growing, without abandoning the

human aspect’ (Brink, Horace on Poetry, p. 147). Greene offers a persuasive interpretation of this

passage, though he does not discuss the transformation of Homer (Greene, The Light in Troy, 42 pp. 6–7). Jonson then, rather typically, translates ‘gratia’ – here something like ‘charm’ – as ‘grace’, a word dense with theological implications including, of course, the promise of eternal life. above all, the phrasing of these lines points us away from their literal meaning. There is not one explicitly negative word in the english to cor- respond to the latin ‘nedum’ (69), and the logical connection (everything mortal perishes; therefore so must speech itself) is obscured. on the con- trary, the ‘state, / or grace of speech’ seems almost to be held up in contrast to the perishing of all that is mortal – something which is undoubtedly remote (‘so farre off’, 99) but nevertheless in existence (‘so farre off it is’). reading this line, we may conclude that the ‘state, / or grace’ of language is the one thing that does endure.

  The end of the sentence does not do much to clarify matters: ‘so farre off it is, the state, / or grace of speech, should hope a lasting date’ (99–100). as a translation of the latin, the final clause must mean some- thing like: ‘so unlikely is it that the glory and charm of speech could hope to last’. But in the english the logical connection is elided almost beyond perception.

  There is a similar tension in the translation of the final lines of this section:

  if custome please; at whose disposing will

The power, and rule of speaking resteth still.

  (103–4; latin 71–2)

  once more, the syntax is characteristically opaque. Without close refer- ence to the latin, the link between ‘custom’ and ‘whose’ is not obvious. Jonson’s translation captures well the striking personification in the latin of ‘usus’ (71) as a lawgiver, but the suppression of ‘norma’ (included under ‘rule’) throws the emphasis further upon this personification. The cluster ‘disposing will … power … rule’ adds a theological tenor to this language of kingship. Moreover, the arrangement of the end of Jonson’s line, like those examined above, works against its own ostensible meaning: ‘resteth still’ adds to the latin, and according to the logic of the translation must mean that the power of speech ‘resides now and always’ in the disposing will of custom. But the combination of two so deeply Jonsonian words (‘rest’ and ‘still’) suggests exactly the opposite: that the ‘rule of speak- ing’ is in some – possibly religious or divine – sense in fact profoundly 43 stable. in his version of this numinous passage, Jonson’s Horace holds out a vision of the possible constancy of language, and the potential for poetic power that this entails. He does so between the lines, as it were, of Horace’s declaration of the opposite; and he signposts this departure, characteristically, with abstract nouns of mounting resonance: ‘free’ (83, a very strong translation of ‘licuit’), ‘state’ (87 and 99), ‘grace’ (100), ‘power’ (104) and ‘rule’ (104). Jonson’s translation speaks more clearly than the latin itself of those Horatian themes with which Jonson is most consist- ently concerned: the poet’s freedom, his power and his grace.

  Jonson’s translation of the Ars Poetica is consistent not only with his enduring interest in (almost obsession with) Horace, but also with the


kind of ‘Horace’ that his work typically constructs. a difficult, and rebar-

  batively latinate translation of a long, subtle and unfashionable latin poem is unlikely to attract great critical attention. But Jonson’s Ars Poetica deserves more than it has received, both as a translation and as a (hugely influential) interpretation of Horace.

  This book has been concerned throughout with Jonson’s modelling of Horace as much as with Horace’s influence upon Jonson. We have already noted the extent to which the literary society of which Jonson was such a prominent part was a culture of translation, both into and out of latin. in the following section of this chapter i want to turn from Jonson’s own translation to his influential place in this culture of translation, and espe- cially of Horace and of Horatianism. to what extent did Jonson’s insist- ent, and insistently Horatian articulation of the poet’s virtuous strength, his freedom and his autonomy – even within a network of dependence, and even when he speaks to the king – come to be associated not only with Jonson but also specifically with ‘Jonson’s Horace’?

  This is a large and challenging question, not least because we have no complete list, or even partial account of, for instance, verse translations in manuscript of the period; translations of Horace in particular (whether printed or in manuscript); neo-latin Horatian or Pindaric odes; or col- lections which associate a Jonsonian style – or Jonson’s own works – with Horace, or with particular political or social positions or assumptions. i cannot hope to answer these questions fully; but i do want to discuss


ontological realm’ (Barish, ‘Jonson and the loathèd stage’, p. 30). oliensis notes that Horace’s

simile already works against itself to some degree: ‘in effect not elegiac but assertive, moving

from death to life and from age … to youth. Moreover, the simile does not, as we might have

expected, signal the senior poet’s recognition that a fresh generation … is arising to take his a handful of suggestive examples drawn from unpublished manuscript material. t r a nsl at i ng hor ac e for Jonson

  John Polwhele was far from unusual in recording in his commonplace book or miscellany a strong response to Jonson’s ode on The New Inn. copies of the ode are almost ubiquitous in university or inns of court manuscripts of the 1630s. one particularly clear example of a ‘Jonsonian’ manuscript of this type is st John’s college (cambridge) Ms 23. This anonymous manuscript, filled with poems by carew, corbet, randolph, and strode as well as Jonson and donne, begins with Jonson’s ode and almost concludes with a response to him – a poem ‘Upon Ben Johnsons v

  Magnetique lady’ appears on 81 , only four pages from the end. That play was performed at Blackfriars in october 1632, and the entire note- book seems to have been compiled within only a few years. although this temporal concentration means it lacks the political range of Polwhele’s compositions, this too is a deeply Jonsonian collection, and it connects Jonson and his milieu with Horace at several points – it includes, for instance, several responses to ‘come leave the loathed stage’, a transcrip- tion of Jonson’s ‘Pindarique ode’ (that is, UW 70), a copy of UW 77 (‘to the right Honourable, the lord treasurer of England. an epigram’, an imitation of Horace Odes iV.8) and Herrick’s very extended imitation of


Odes ii.14 (‘Mr Herick to his friend Mr Weeks’). The collection contains,

  too, a copy of Francis Beaumont’s verse epistle to Jonson, beginning ‘The r sunne which doth the greatest comfort bringe’ (48 ). Written, like sev- eral of the Epistles, from the country to Jonson in town, this attractive poem is itself an imitation of Horace.

  The link between Jonson’s circle and Horatian verse epistles is particu- larly strong. it is evident too, for instance, in a manuscript miscellany i have already mentioned, Bodleian Ms rawlinson Poetry 31. The collec- tion, in a fine scribal hand, shows evidence of careful organisation, includ- ing clusters and sequences of poems related by theme, author or both (although very few author names are given in the manuscript, it is domi- 44 nated by the work of Jonson, donne, edward Herbert, John Harington


on this poem see Mark Bland, ‘Francis Beaumont’s Verse letters to Ben Jonson and “The

Mermaid club”’, English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, 12, 139–79 (142 and 145–7). st John’s

college maintains an excellent website detailing their manuscript collections, which includes a

list of the contents of Ms s.23 (


  and members of their circle)it includes one of only two copies of the poem printed by Herford and simpson as UV 49 (‘an epistle to a Friend’), discussed in

chapter 2 . That poem is concerned with main-

  taining the challenging balance between sincerity and tact, and, like sev- eral of the passages of the Ars Poetica discussed above, it links the social and the literary critical offices of the ideal friend. The poem commends its anonymous addressee – who may have been John roe – and much like Horace’s verse epistles, combines ethical instruction with authorial t self-deprecation (‘yett, yf w h eythers vyce, i tainted bee, / Forgive it as my Frayltie, and not mee’, 22–3). in fact, the poem is structured around a reference to Epistles i.18, on the delicate mid-point between honesty and reverence to be maintained by the poet towards his patron. i have already discussed, in

chapter 2 , several instances of Jonson’s engagement with that poem.

  it is interesting, then, that this manuscript also includes, alongside UV 49, several other pieces of Jonson, John roe’s two verse epistles addressed to Jonson and a translation of the latter half of Epistles i.18 (lines 67–112).

  The version of Epistles i.18 has not currently been attributed to Jonson, although the close translation, beginning at line 67 of the latin poem, bears many Jonsonian features, especially in comparison with his other verse epistles, and i understand that it is to be included under works pos- as it is currently unpublished, a complete transcription is to be found in the appendix. The section translated (lines 67–end) forms a coherent ‘epis- tle’ of its own, and one which resembles the characteristic structure of Jonson’s verse letters: a self-deprecating opening which quickly moves to establish the question of ethical or social conduct under debate (compare for instance the opening lines of UW 13, 14 and 15, all of which set out the 45 ‘issue’ concisely in the opening lines):


The manuscript is in the hand of the ‘feathery’ scribe, to whom Beal devotes a chapter of his

v r 46 v-r

book: Beal, In Praise of Scribes, pp. 58–108. two pages (fols. 21 -22 ) are reproduced on pages 102–3.


Bodleian Ms rawlinson poet. 31, 23 . The poem is also found at Bodleian Ms english poet.

47 f. 9, p.12.


The translation is, to my knowledge, found in only one other manuscript collection, British

library Harley Ms 4064. Both date from between 1620 and 1633 and include poems by Jonson

which had not yet been published in printed form; both are anonymously compiled by profes-

sional scribes. although neither manuscript is simply a reduced version of the other (since both

contain poems the other does not include), they are clearly closely related. in particular, those

poems which they do share (forty-seven in total, including eight by Jonson) appear, without

48 exception, in the same order in both manuscripts.

  But, that i forth advice, (if any need of my aduise thou hast) take often heed

What, and of whom, and vnto whom thou speake;

shun an inquirer, for his tounge will breake The seale of silence; and an open eare neuer retaynes, what trust reposeth there: Besydes, words, once lett forth, fly unrecall’d.


  The poem moves through a series of examples of how one should not behave with a powerful friend (72–95 of the latin; 8–48 of the transla- tion), and concludes with a philosophical ‘retreat’, an insistence on the primary significance of virtue and self-possession. Jonson’s tendency to conclude poems of praise or address with ethical advice is derived from Horace, and this passage has much in common with, for instance, the closing lines of UW 15 (‘an epistle to a Friend, to perswade him to the Warres’), the end of Forest 4 and the most explicitly philosophical pas- sages of UW 47 (‘an epistle answering to one that asked to be sealed of the tribe of Ben’). The translation concludes:

  what then thinckes My frind, i meditate, or most doe crave? that i maie but possesse what now i haue or, yf the gods will, lesse: That i may liue vnto my selfe, the remnant doth surviue

  70 of my short age: if ought surviving be, through their benevolence, that i maie see plenty of bookes about mee, and fitt store for my provision yearelie, and no more:

least elce, with doubtfull hopes, i wavering sway

  75 but it sufficient is, i only pray to ioue, who giues, and takes, for lief and welth My constant mynde, i will prepare my selfe.


quid credis, amice, precari?

sit mihi quod nunc est, etiam minus, et mihi vivam

quod superest aevi, si quid superesse volunt di; sit bona librorum et provisae frugis in annum copia, neu fluitem dubiae spe pendulus horae. sed satis est orare iovem qui ponit et aufert,

det vitam, det opes: aequum mi animum ipse parabo.


  (Epistles i.18.106–12) despite its fidelity to the latin text, the shorter poem created by this abbreviated translation produces some different effects to the complete epistle on which it is based. The first half of the latin poem, of rather more robust and satiric tone than the second, gives, overall, a more dis- tanced impression of the relationship between the speaker and lollius than is the case in this english extract. The translator has also, by small degrees, enhanced the prominence of ‘friendship’ as a theme (adding the word ‘friend’ at lines 21 and 44 (compare lines 80 and 93 of the latin) and ‘of thy frindes’ (26), where there is no such word in the latin; similarly, ‘venerandi … amici’ (‘a revered friend’, 73) has become the rather more intimate ‘adored frend’ (10)). at lines 86–7 of the latin poem, Horace claims that the cultivation (‘cultura’) of a powerful friend seems ‘sweet’ (‘dulcis’) – but only to those who lack experience (‘inexpertis’): ‘dul- cis inexpertis cultura potentis amici: / expertus metuit’. The man with more knowledge of the world (the ‘expertus’) is afraid of such cultivation (‘metuit’). The translation makes ‘great frindships’ (31) – not that slippery ‘cultura’, ‘cultivation’ – the subject of the sentence: ‘now for great frind- ships, they are sweet and deare / to men untraded; such as know them, feare’ (31–2). The english lines focus upon the fact of friendship rather than of its (artificial?) ‘cultivation’; and the phrase ‘great frindships’, rather than ‘the cultivation of a powerful friend’, obscures the social inequality and peformative effort marked by the latin. in addition to the coincidences of text, theme and structure, all of which reflect Jonson’s preoccupations and the format of his verse epis- tles, several specific phrases also suggest a link to Jonson or his circle. two lines of the translation are closely paralleled in UW 14 (the epis- tle to selden, the most straightforwardly commendatory of all Jonson’s epistles). compare lines 17–18 of this translation (‘it is our fate, to erre / sometymes, and worthlesse men to grace prefer’) with UW 14.19–21: ‘Though i confesse (as every Muse hath err’d, / and mine not least) i have too oft preferr’d / Men past their termes.’ The same rhyme pair, with similar sense, occurs in roe’s epistle to sir nicholas smyth, lines 109–10: ‘and by their [Kings’] Place more noted, if they erre; / How lines 2–3 of the translation

  (‘take often heed / What, and of whom, and vnto whom thou speake’) 50 resemble UW 14.23–5: ‘since, being deceiv’d, i turne a sharper eye /


The epistle to smyth is not found in this manuscript (though roe’s two verse epistles to Jonson

are). it is printed along with eight other poems attributed to roe, four of them verse epistles, Upon my selfe, and aske to whom? and why? / and what i write?’, which

  The possibility of dating this poem to the period of the friendship between Jonson and roe is circumstantially augmented by the reference in line 25 to ‘chester’s tooth’: ‘For when thou seest a chesters tooth to drawe / Blood of thy frindes’ (25–6). The phrase ‘chesters tooth’ trans- lates the Horatian phrase ‘dente Theonino’ (82). The exact reference of ‘Theonino’ is unknown, but it is clear that the ‘tooth’ in question is a ver- sion of the common metaphor of biting to denote envy, malice or satiric attack. charles chester appears as a byword for satiric vitriol in several late elizabethan works, including Jonson’s own Every Man Out of His


Humour (1599), in which the character of carlo Buffone was (according

  to raleigh) based upon chester chester died in london in 1604, and the datable references to him are largely confined to the 1590s and early 1600ssir John roe himself died around 1606, and the main period of his friendship with Jonson was probably the years he spent in london between 1603 and 1605. The reference to chester is consistent both with those dates, and with the possible connection between Jonson and roe.

  Finally, the place names ‘digentia’ (104) and ‘Mandela’ (105), references to the countryside around Horace’s country estate, are translated, in a rather charming section, as ‘hackney brooke’ (63) and ‘low-layton’ (65):

  me quotiens reficit gelidus digentia rivus, quem Mandela bibit, rugosus frigore pagus, quid sentire putas? quid credis, amice, precari?

  (Epistles i.18.104–6) When i am downe at hackney brooke and tast of the cold ryvolett; of whose free wast

all the poore clownage of low-layton drinckes;

that curld and frozen village: what then thinckes

My frind, i meditate, or most doe crave?


  Hackney Brook ran through the parishes of Hackney, leyton and Walthamstow, now areas of east london, and roe’s family owned several 51 properties in the area. William roe, John’s father, owned the Manor of 52 The links between UW 14 and Epistles i.18 are discussed in p. 88–93.


on chester see: Matthew steggle, ‘charles chester and Ben Jonson’, Studies in English Literature,

1500–1900, 39 (

   ), 313–26. i have also consulted steggle’s article: ‘chester, charles (c.1554–1604)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (oxford University Press,

   ) ( 53 view/article/74218). Higham Bensted in Walthamstow. These were left to John’s mother on John’s uncle, robert roe, the father of Thomas roe, the ambassador, and also a Modern leyton, Walthamstow and Highams Park are within a mile or so of one another, and i think it likely that this rather touching localising translation confirms the associ- ation with sir John roe.

  The authorship of this accomplished translation, a poem in its own right, cannot, i think, be finally determined; but this collection of details – the documented closeness of the friendship between Jonson and the younger roe, the circumstantial details, and the proximity of style and content to their extant epistles – strongly suggests either Jonson himself, or (perhaps more likely) roe, his style influenced by Jonson, as the author. in this connection, it is of further interest that John Polwhele and translations composed between the 1620s and 1660s is modelled closely upon Jonson’s work in style, form and theme, and especially in its appropriation of Horatian material. among versions of several odes and epodes (including Odes iV.9, of especial importance to Jonson, as we have seen), Epistles i.18 is the only piece of hexameter verse Polwhele chooses to translate. Moreover, although he translates the whole of this long poem, he sets it up in terms of that same opposition between flat- tery and excessive frankness which animates several of Jonson’s poems, including UV 49 (‘censure, not sharplye then’) and UW 45 (‘an epistle to Master Arth: Squib’): o Horace lib: 1 epist 18th to lollius. r Horace p scribs lollius how to get great friends, & keepe

  them, first he inveighs against those who either flatter, or ch are too seuere (w they falsely call a friendly liberty) lastly c

  like the translation of Epistles i.18 in rawlinson 31 or the verse epistles of John roe, Polwhele’s ‘Jonsonian’ translations and imitations of Horace are evidence of a habit of Horatian imitation associated with Jonson 54 and his circle. But whereas John roe and John donne were friends of 55 ribeiro, ‘sir John roe’, 155–6.


Thomas roe was a lifelong friend of donne’s, and evidently known to Jonson also, who addressed 56 two epigrams to him (Epigrams 98 and 99, the first of which is discussed in , pp. 73–5). v r Jonson, there is no evidence that this is true of Polwhele: although he entered lincoln’s inn in 1623, and was very likely a member of exeter college, oxford before that, the many named friends and acquaintances in Polwhele’s notebook are all linked with either oxford or the West Polwhele’s self-conscious Jonsonian Horatianism, then, is of a differ- ent order from that of roe: a more distanced, perhaps more aspirational, more readerly mode of emulation. it is also, interestingly, increasingly political. in the early pages it is clear that Jonson’s attraction for Polwhele resides partly in his association with the court – an early entry is a version of a widely circulated song, ‘The Five senses’, from Jonson’s masque of 1621, The Gypsies Metamorphosed; though Polwhele titles it ‘Ben : Johnsons Polwhele’s royalist sympathies are evident, too, in the first complete translation of the notebook: immediately after the imitation of Odes i.26 and the fragment of the Ars Poetica – both, as we have seen, addressed to Jonson and casting him as Horace – we find a translation of Odes i.1, Horace’s declaration of lyric ambition addressed to Maecenas. Given its position, it is hard not to connect this poem also with Jonson – a further, if more elliptic, assurance of the validity and importance of his lyric voca- tion. But the first line (which, unlike the latin, does not name Maecenas) makes more of his addressee’s ‘royalty’ than its latin equivalent, which begins ‘Maecenas atavis edite regibus, / o et praesidium et dulce decus meum’ (‘Maecenas, born of a line of kings, / and o my bulwark and my sweet glory’, Odes i.1.1–2). Just as Polwhele’s transcription of Jonson’s masquing song is described as a ‘prayer for King James’, so this implicitly Jonsonian translation of Horace appears to address the king directly:


Horace ode 1 lib: 1 Maecenas atauis &c

r oyal s , my life, my crowne: R some in charriotts seeke renowne: soe swifte-gotten victorie wherls man to a deitie. 58 some a popular vote doth raise:


although there is no record of this John Polwhele at oxford, many other members of the

family attended exeter college (including John’s father, Thomas Polwhele, who matriculated

in 1600), as did a considerable proportion of the individuals named in Polwhele’s notebook

(such as sir Bevill Grenville, sir John eliott, and a close contemporary, sir John Maynard,

the friend from whom Polwhele received his notebook). Maynard matriculated in april 1621, others by ful Barnes gett praise, and the happie churle (is wise)

loues the vales, that made him rise.

timerous mariners (for pay) praise their homes, yet saile away.


quaffe grape-nectar when you dine.

Hyppocren’s my cup, and wine.

some warre-trumpetts loue, i none,

(but what fame doth sounde alone)

he that leads a hunters life

  15 pricks awaye forgetts his wife

if hee boares, and staggs doe rouse.

i chace daphne for my browes. i wth nymphs, and satyres dance


in coole groues, by witt, not chance.

warble Phoebus on thy strings, while the quier of muses sings. if wth lyricks i be read, starrs shal lawreate my head

  25 Jonson’s ‘Farewell to the stage’, written, like Polwhele’s Odes i.26, on the

  failure of The New Inn, announces his return to lyric poetry, and casts that decision both as a bold return to his proper calling, and as a move closely linked to his glorious service of the king. in fact, the final stanza of Jonson’s ode itself contains an allusion to Odes i.1:

  leave things so prostitute, and take the Alcaick lute; or thine own Horace, or Anacreons lyre; Warme thee, by Pindares fire:

and though thy nerves be shrunke, and blood be cold,

  45 ere yeares have made thee old; strike that disdaine-full heate Throughout, to their defeate: as curious fooles, and envious of thy straine, May, blushing, sweare no palsey’s in thy braine.

  50 But, when they heare thee sing The glories of thy King, His zeale to God, and his just awe o’re men; They may, blood-shaken, then, Feele such a flesh-quake to possesse their powers:

  55 as they shall cry, like ours 60 v in sound of peace, or warres, no Harpe ere hit the starres; in tuning forth the acts of his sweet raigne: and raysing Charles his chariot, ’bove his Waine.

  60 Horace’s first ode ends by declaring: ‘quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres, /

  sublimi feriam sidera vertice’ (‘but if you include me in the ranks of the lyric bards, / i will strike the stars with my uplifted head’, Odes i.1.35–6). lines 56–8 of Jonson’s poem invoke that passage, but at the same time imply its negation: ‘as they shall cry, like ours … no Harpe ere hit the stars’. Jonson’s future verse for the king may be similar to Horace’s in its reach and majesty, but nothing – not even an Horatian ode – will have been quite ‘like’ it. it is i think probable that Polwhele’s translation of Odes i.1 is, therefore, one element of his support and vindication of Jonson’s vatic role as the king’s Perhaps on account of this connection between Jonson, Horace and royalist poetics, Polwhele turns to translations of Horace, too, to express his pain and horror at the regicide in 1649. These ‘polit ical’ translations are among the most powerful entries in the notebook, and their force is aug- mented by the earlier ‘Jonsonian-Horatian’ material: by turning, at the loss of that court culture, back to the latin author who was most closely iden- tified with its chief protagonist – ‘thine own Horace’ – Polwhele expresses both his nostalgia for the courtly literary life represented by Jonson and

  The best of these is Polwhele’s version of Odes i.14; apparently dating, like very many of the entries, from 1649 or 1650:

  Horace lib: 1. ode 14 an allegory to the

people of rome repayring the breaches of ciuell war,

wth newe auxilliaryes. poore Hulk wilt launch in a new storm, o stay! careene & calk thy leaks in a safe bay look on thy naked banks no oare 61 where sun=burnt rowers tug’d before!

as noted above, the notebook also includes translations of two more of Jonson’s undoubtedly

‘favourite’ parts of Horace, Odes iV.9 and Epistles i.18. interestingly, there is also an ode rather in


Jonson’s style, dated april 1649, ‘Upon Van Helmonts ternarye of paradoxes … transalted [sic]

r- r by dr charleton Phisitian to the late Kinge charles the Martyr’ (50 51 ). Jan van Helmont (1580–

1644) was an early chemist and physician. see Walter Pagel, Joan Baptista van Helmont: Reformer

of Science and Medicine (cambridge University Press, 62 ).


From 1649 onwards, Polwhele turns also to Boethius, translating a very large number of the

verses from the Consolation of Philosophy. i have noticed this combination of translations from


neere treacherous aegypt thy mayne mast did wrack

  5 hark how the Helm, misne, Prowe in tyber crack! thy cabell spent, the giddy keele drunck wth impetuous waues doth reele strik thy top=gallant, & the tatterd sayle to thy deafe sea=Gods, who thee nought avayle

  10 though built of Pontick pyne, w ch stood the tallest ofspring in the wood.

  That ancient stock, & empty name n’er bost pylotts in storms trust not a gilded post cast anchor (if thou canst) beware

  15 the scornfull Hurrycanes to dare. distressed Gallye thou wert late my feare but now my Joyfull Hope, & tender care veere o veere ho, the straights, & seas betweene aspiring cyclades


  t r a nsl at i ng Jonson Most of this chapter has been concerned with Jonson’s own translations of Horace; in Polwhele’s notebook, as in the anonymous translation of

  Epistles i.18 or the translation of Epistles i.5 discussed in

chapter 2 , we find

  translations of Horace which are also interpretations of Jonson and of the values and practices of his literary and social milieu. even within his life- time, however, the ‘Horatianising’ of Jonson went beyond those imitative examples. Jonson’s ode on the failure of The New Inn in 1629 is found repeatedly in manuscript collections of the 1630s; very often it is accom- panied by Thomas randolph’s ‘reply’, which answers the ode stanza for stanza and was often transcribed interpolated verse by verse with Jonson’s poem. Jonson’s ode, like many of the odes discussed i

chapter 1 (and also

  many of the triumphal masque songs), is composed of long Pindaric stanzas, with ten lines of varying line length (see extract cited above). again in common with many of Jonson’s other odes, the poem draws attention to its classically lyric features: ‘take the Alcaick lute ; / or thine owne Horace, or Anacreons lyre ; / Warme thee, by Pindares fire’ (42–4) 63 Bodleian english poet. f. 16, 51 v . This translation is followed immediately by a related poem, ‘The scope of the allegory’ (52 r ), which makes it clear that the poem is to be read as an indictment of the roman civil war and, by extension, of contemporary english politics too. 64

  remarkably, no fewer than three of Jonson’s contemporaries and admir- ers translated this ode into latin: one (John earles) into alcaic stanzas, the metre used by Horace for his grandest and most ‘public’ poetry (such as the roman odes, Odes iii.1–6); the other two (William strode and Thomas randolph himself) into latin pindarics modelled very closely responding to the vatic seriousness of Jonson’s claim, these authors have used translation into (or almost, ‘back’ into) latin to endorse his classical status in the Moreoever, although the translations vary in their fidelity to Jonson’s english (strode’s is the closest), all three make some attempt, in their latin versions, to augment the association between Jonson and Horace. William strode’s translation, by some margin the most closely faithful to Jonson’s english, nevertheless finds room for some additional Horatian touches. The most significant is at line 49. Jonson’s poem imagines the defeat of ‘curious fooles, and envious of thy straine’ (49), who will be forced to concede, upon his return to lyric, that his verse is after all great. strode translates them as ‘stolidè percontatrix ac invida turba’ (49), the ‘stupidly inquisitive and envious mob’. ‘turba’ is often the word Horace uses to denote the ‘mass’ readership that he rejects in favour of a select ‘Percontatrix’, a word i have not found else- where, must be a feminine formation from ‘percontator, -oris, m.’ mean- ing ‘one who presses questions as an interrogator’. This very rare noun is in classical latin found only in a play of Plautus, and in Horace, Epistles 65 i.18, where it refers to the avid questioner (and therefore probable gossip)

The latin translations by earles, strode and randolph are printed in H&s, vol. x, pp. 333–8.


earles’ translation is found in British library additional Ms 15227, ff. 44–5. William strode’s

version is in Bodleian Ms Montagu d. 1. ff. 30–1 (the copy is in the hand of sir Kenelm digby).

randolph’s translation was printed in 1633, but is also found in manuscript (Bodleian Ms

rawlinson poetry 62, ff. 71–2 and rawlinson poetry 209, f. 22). Pindaric odes in latin are an

exclusively post-classical genre, but they are found very commonly in neo-latin verse. The form

may have been influenced by parallel text editions of Pindar himself, with the Greek translated

66 into latin on one side.


They may also have been motivated by hopes of reaching a broader audience. latin writing in

this period had a much wider potential readership than work composed in english. James Binns,

for instance, cites the translation of Francis Bacon and of chaucer into latin at this period.

sir Francis Kynaston’s latin translation of chaucer, he remarks, was intended ‘to preserve a

great literary work from neglect, and to make it available both to a european audience, and to

Kynaston’s own english contemporaries … [and] to transplant [chaucer] in latin format into

the still thriving latinate culture of the day’ (J.W. Binns, Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and

Jacobean England: the Latin Writings of the Age, arca: classical and Medieval texts, Papers and

67 Monographs 24 (leeds: Francis cairns, , p. 257).

  whom the wise poet would do best to avoid: ‘percontatorem fugito’ (69, ‘shun an inquirer’, in the rawlinson 31 translation). By choosing – and possibly coining – this unusual word, strode reinforces the connection between Horace and Jonson, and stresses both Jonson’s popularity and his wisdom. randolph’s ‘Horatianising’ of Jonson’s ode is more direct. He has chosen to make explicit the implied reference to – and outdoing of – Odes i.1 in the final stanza. Whereas Jonson partially conceals the full force of his claim in slippery word order (‘like ours … no Harpe ere hit the starres’, 56–8), randolph’s latin version appropriates Horace’s vocabulary directly. The original latin phrase, ‘sublimi feriam sidera vertice’, ‘i shall strike the stars with my uplifted head’, with the comic touch of ‘feriam’ (‘strike’) silenced, has become ‘alto vertice praeteribit astra’, ‘he will go beyond the stars with his lofty head’ – ‘go beyond’, that is, Horace too.

  John earles’ translation – which, composed in four-line alcaic stanzas rather than the longer pindaric strophes, is already the most clearly Horatian – strengthens the link to Horace and introduces an associ ation between Jonson’s address to himself in the ode, and his inspired lyric address to the king in the masques. This is clear from earles’ translation of lines 41–4 of Jonson’s poem:

  leave things so prostitute, and take the Alcaick lute; or thine own Horace, or Anacreons lyre; Warme thee, by Pindares fire:

  (Jonson, 41–4) tu iam prophanatam Minervam sperne potens meliore pennâ; Magnique Flacci dum legis aemulus, doctus vetustam restituas chelyn; teioque inundatus liquore, Pindarico fovearis igni:

  (earles, 55–60)

reject now the prophane Minerva [i.e. the lesser art of the stage]

Powerful as you are with your better wing; While you follow the rule of mighty Horace, a learned poet, you restore ancient lyric style; and soaked in teian liquor, 68 You are warmed by Pindar’s fire

  earles’ translation has omitted the ‘Alcaick lute’ (42) and stressed both the importance of Horace (here ‘Magni Flacci’) and the extent to which Jonson’s imitation of Horace amounts to a ‘restoration’ of a venerable lyric style (‘chelyn’ means a tortoise-shell, that is, the lyre itself). This is a version of Horace’s own description of the innovations of his work in Epistles i.19: ‘hunc ego, non alio dictum prius ore, latinus / volgavi fidicen’ (‘i, a latin poet, have made known this lyre [i.e. the lyric style of alcaeus], which has never been sung by another before’, 32–3). in earles’ lines this Horatian restoration of Greek forms is associated with Jonson’s ‘meliore pennâ’, his ‘better wing’. This odd latin phrase, which does not correspond to any phrase in Jonson’s ode, is reminiscent of Odes ii.20, in which Horace describes his own magical transformation into a bird: ‘non usitata nec tenui ferar / penna biformis per liquidum aethera / vates’ (‘i shall be borne on no common or feeble wing, a poet in double form, through the liquid air’, 1–3). The ‘winged poet’ is also a Pindaric commonplace of which Jonson is particularly fond (‘now my thought takes wing’ (Forest 10.29)). Finally, earles’ use of the phrase ‘better wing’ may in fact be a (translated) quotation from Jonson himself – appropri- ately enough, given the powerful royalism of the ode, from one of the climactic songs in his court masque of 1621, News from the New World

  Discover’ d in the Moone: looke, looke alreadie where i am, 365

bright Fame,

Got up unto the skie,

thus high,

Upon my better wing, to sing 370 The knowing King, and make the musicke here, With yours on earth the same.

  (Fourth (and final) song, 365–73)

  in the masque Jonson’s ‘better wing’ is the wing of fame, conferred by the poet upon the king, and upon which the king’s own renown depends: ‘Fame, that doth nourish the renowne of Kings, / and keepes that fayre, which envie would blot out’ (381–2).

  Jonson’s readers, then, appreciated the classicising force of the close of his ode, and responded to it by making it a latin poem, one not only more Horatian than Jonson’s original, but also more than Horatian: an acute reading of the rhetorical force of Jonson’s typical – and, in this poem, slightly desperate – combined appropriation and bettering.

  The existence of these translations, and especially the evidence they offer of the attempt to endorse Jonson’s laureate claim by literally ‘making it latin’, is of great interest. But Jonson’s ode itself is a sad and rather off- putting poem, shrill in its defiance, and without the grace and poise of the songs from the masques to which it is clearly related. i want to conclude this chapter by returning to Jonson at his Horatian best, in the undated, U W t h e mov i ng s tat u e: t r a nsl at i ng ly r ic a n d

  86 i will give this very beautiful poem in full:

  Ode the first. The fourth Booke.

  To Venus.

  Venus, againe thou mov’st a warre long intermitted, pray thee, pray thee spare: i am not such, as in the reigne of the good Cynara i was: refraine, sower Mother of sweet loves, forbeare

  5 to bend a man, now at his fiftieth yeare too stubborne for commands so slack: Goe where Youths soft intreaties call thee back. More timely hie thee to the house, With thy bright swans, of Paulus Maximus:

  10 There jest, and feast, make him thine host, if a fit livor thou dost seeke to toast; For he’s both noble, lovely, young, and for the troubled clyent fyl’s his tongue, child of a hundred arts, and farre

  15 Will he display the ensignes of thy warre. and when he smiling finds his Grace With thee ’bove all his rivals gifts take place, He’ll thee a Marble statue make Beneath a sweet-wood roofe, neere Alba Lake:

  20 There shall thy dainty nostrill take 70 in many a Gumme, and for thy soft eares sake

There is no evidence of the date of the poem. H&s, however, point out the parallel between line

6 (‘a man, now at his fiftieth yeare’) and lines 3–4 of UW 2, ‘a celebration of charis in ten

lyrick Peeces: i. His excuse for loving’: ‘Though i now write fiftie yeares, / i have had, and have shall Verse be set to Harpe and lute, and Phyrgian Hau’boy, not without the Flute. There twice a day in sacred laies,

  25 The Youths and tender Maids shall sing thy praise: and in the Salian manner meet Thrice ’bout thy altar with their ivory feet. Me now, nor Wench, nor wanton Boy, delights, nor credulous hope of mutuall Joy,

  30 nor care i now healths to propound; or with fresh flowers to girt my temple round. But, why, oh why, my Ligurine,

Flow my thin teares, downe these pale cheeks of mine?

or why, my well-grac’d words among,

  35 With an uncomely silence failes my tongue? Hard-hearted, i dreame every night i hold thee fast! but fled hence, with the light, Whether in Mars his field thou bee, or Tybers winding streames, i follow thee.


  although the poet claims to be reconciled to the loss of the passing joys of youth (love, and garlands of flowers, 29–32), he ends by articulating his failure to accept that loss (‘But, why, oh why …’, 33). That failure is associ- ated (paradoxically, in beautiful verse) with the loss of poetic ‘speech’: ‘cur facunda parum decoro / inter verba cadit lingua silentio?’ (‘or why, my well-grac’d words among, / With an uncomely silence failes my tongue?’, 35–6). The poet’s ‘silence’ contrasts with the grace and eloquence of the lawyer Paulus Maximus, the younger man whom Horace suggests Venus should pursue instead of him: ‘For he’s both noble, lovely, young, / and for the troubled clyent fyl’s his tongue’ (13–14).

  The generic significance of the poem, opening Horace’s last and late collection of Odes and heralding a return to lyric as much as to love, has often been stressed in criticism. Philip Hardie, for instance, notes the way in which the ode establishes imagery that persists throughout Odes iV:


transience and fixity are juxtaposed, and a possible resolution of the contrast

between the two terms is offered by rephrasing them as life (likeness) and monu-

mentality. as poetry performed to musical time and sung from the position of

a first person singular, lyric is fleeting and ephemeral; and yet Horace seeks to

make of it a monument, but of a kind immune to the obsolescence of the head-

stone of a forgotten dead man. The central image of the sentient statue of Venus

is a symbol of what such poetry might be like 71 Philip Hardie, ‘Vt Pictura Poesis? Horace and the Visual arts’, in niall rudd (ed.), Horace 2000: a

  terms of profound stability – ‘state’, ‘standing’ and ‘still’ – are, as we have seen, key markers in Jonson’s verse of ethical approbation and (quite often) of longing. This poem, in contrast, is filled with movement; it even, in a punningly literal translation of the latin, begins with it (‘Venus, againe thou mov’st a warre’, 1). The statue of Venus is as Hardie points out an ambiguous emblem – of memorial, of art that comes alive, of both stability (the still point in the dance) and of flux (the disturbance of love); and she is herself half alive, capable of smelling (21–2) and hearing (22–4), and surrounded by sound and movement. even Jonson’s insistence upon a stable centre, a ‘gathered self’, breaks down before the onslaught of the lyric Venus, the powerful charm of this beautiful poem; in fact, Jonson’s fine translation adds to Venus’ victory. The translation of ‘dure’ as ‘hard-hearted’, and its displacement from the end to the beginning of the final stanza loses the almost abstract juxta- position of ‘dure, volubilis’ with which Horace’s poem concludes:

  But, why, oh why, my Ligurine,

Flow my thin teares, downe these pale cheeks of mine?

or why, my well-grac’d words among, With an uncomely silence failes my tongue? Hard-hearted, i dreame every night i hold thee fast! but fled hence, with the light, Whether in Mars his field though bee, or Tybers winding streames, i follow thee.

  (33–40) sed cur heu, ligurine, cur manat rara meas lacrima per genas? cur facunda parum decoro inter verba cadit lingua silentio ? nocturnis ego somniis iam captum teneo, iam volucrem sequor te per gramina Martii campi, te per aquas, dure, volubilis.

  (Odes iV.1.33–40) The latin ode concludes with a series of contrasts, held in balance by the

  structure of the lines: ‘captum’ (‘caught’) and ‘volucrem’ (‘swift’) in line 38; ‘per gramina’ (‘through the grasses’) and ‘per aquas’ (‘through the waters’) 72


‘But alas, why, ligurinus, why / do occasional tears drip over my cheeks? / Why does my elo-

quent tongue slip / in the midst of its words into a silence which lacks honour? / at night, in in lines 39–40; ‘dure’ (‘hard’) and ‘volubilis’ (‘flowing’) in line 40. Jonson’s version silences these pairs: there is no set of adjectives for ‘captum … volucrem’, and the english poem omits the ‘grasses’ (‘gramina’) of the campus Martius, which in the latin balance the ‘aquas’ and add to the effect of dreamlike and liquid movement. Jonson’s poem ends instead with the act of pursuit itself: ‘i follow thee’.

  The loss or failure of the final lines is more explicit in Jonson’s trans- lation than in Horace’s poem. in the latin, the poet alternates between grasping and losing ligurinus, and both alterations are part of the dream: ‘nocturnis ego somniis / iam captum teneo, iam volucrem sequor’ (37–8, italics mine); ‘in dreams at night / now i hold you caught / now i follow as you fly’. Jonson’s version creates instead a temporal sequence – the poet first grasps his object, then loses it: ‘i hold thee fast! but fled hence’ (38). He reinforces this shift with the addition of the phrase ‘with the light’ (38). in Jonson’s poem the speaker’s nightly possession of ligurinus is illusory (‘i dreame every night’, 37), but his ongoing pursuit is brought into the waking, roman world.

  Jonson’s version of Horace’s dream-scape has moreover been care- fully romanised. Where the latin has only ‘gramina Martii / campi’, ‘the grasses of the campus Martius’ and then unnamed, generalised ‘waters’, UW 86 has ‘Mars his field’ and specifies the ‘streames’ as ‘Tybers’ (40). Jonson’s version of Horace’s disappearing ligurinus (a Greek name) recedes continually into insistently roman venues (ones proper, moreover, to a roman youth as he exercises); the emphasis stresses the distance between the world of Horace’s poem and Jonson’s version, but also the great ‘romanness’ of that which the poet, and the poem, pursues.

  Hardie describes the marble (but sentient) statue of Venus in iV.1 as ‘a symbol of what such poetry might be like’ – that is, poetry which is at That achievement is also, according to the terms of the poem, what Horace at first wants to defer to Paulus Maximus in a kind of recusatio. Forced by Venus to re-enter this poetic fray, the moving juxtapositions of the close of the poem are themselves an achieve- ment of that ideal, both ‘dure’ and ‘volubilis’.

  The concluding lines of the english poem are, by contrast, doubly removed from the hoped-for reconciliation of stability and flux – firstly by the loss of that evocative combination (‘dure, volubilis’) and secondly by the altered temporal progression of the whole stanza. The reconcili- ation of which the poet speaks – the breathing marble, the hope of a perfect lyric – is lost more surely in Jonson’s poem than in Horace’s; but it is also found, in the very act of translation: that confrontation with the lyric and specifically latin past which is in Jonson’s work a continual pursuit.



More remov’d mysteries: Jonson’s

textual ‘occasions’

  in the introduction to his selection of Jonson’s poems, Thom Gunn remarks of UW 12 (‘an epitaph on Master Vincent corbet’): ‘Whatever its source (and ‘sources’ are sometimes a bit like ‘occasions’) it emerges as a kind of discovery, the product of an exploration performed with a quiet- if this book has been concerned with the range of textual interactions and strategies that can be encompassed by Gunn’s term ‘sources’, it has also dealt with the wide variety of ‘occasions’ to which odes, epigrams, epistles, dedicatory poems, plays, masques and translations respond. all of these genres are concerned with an encounter or an address, but in each case that is accompanied by the further ‘occasion’ of an encounter between the contemporary world and the ancient: above all, an encounter with Horace. What Gunn terms a ‘source’ itself creates an ‘occasion’.

  Jonson himself wrote of the role of ‘occasions’ in his art in the well- known preface to Hymenaei (1606):


This it is hath made the most royall Princes, and greatest persons (who are

commonly the personaters of these actions) not onely studious of riches, and

magnificence in the outward celebration, or shew; (which rightly becomes them)

but curious after the most high, and heartie inventions, to furnish the inward

parts: (and those grounded upon antiquitie, and solide learnings) which, though

their voyce be taught to sound to present occasions, their sense, or doth, or should

alwayes lay hold on more remov’d mysteries.

  This passage insists that the ‘occasion’ of the performance is second- ary to its ability to convey deeper and more mysterious truths, and the relationship between ‘occasion’ and ‘mystery’ is related syntactically to that between ‘riches … or shew’ and the ‘inward parts’, grounded upon 1 ‘antiquitie’. That which is serious is, almost by definition, classical.

  Gunn’s remark on ‘sources’ and ‘occasions’ collapses the distinction maintained in the preface to Hymenaei between ‘occasion’ and ‘antiq-


uitie, and solide learnings’ – that is, Jonson’s classical sources. While

  ‘sources’ themselves may not necessarily be ‘occasional’ (though some, such as Pindar’s odes, obviously are), any given encounter with a clas- sical text – reading, reproducing, translating, answering – certainly is. Jonsonian literature must, as the preface itself acknowledges, ‘sound to present occasions’. But Gunn’s passing insight reflects a central theme of this book: the social or political ‘occasion’ (at once incident and cause) which stands behind a Jonsonian poem – the hope for patron- age, the dedication of a book, a death or (perhaps most likely) a com- bination of several such motivations – is not simply accompanied by the ‘more remov’d mystery’ of the encounter between classical texts. ‘to Penshurst’ both commemorates a social relationship and creates a textual one (in this case, between Jonson, Horace and Juvenal). But that is not all; the textual ‘encounter’ staged in these works – between Horatian and Pindaric modes of triumph, for instance; or between senecan social entitlement, and the precarious self-positioning of the Horatian epistle – enacts the social or political encounter to which they are related.

  Jonson’s ‘Horatianism’ has been much acknowledged, but surpris- ingly little analysed. over the course of this book, the ‘Horatianism’ that emerges is one shaped by this repeated social and intertextual jostling: if Jonson’s work can usefully be defined by its relationship to Horace, that relationship is an active one, of conversation, appropriation and rivalry rather than mere resemblance. What it is to be a Jonsonian Horace is, as we have seen, defined through the pressure exerted by rival allusive ‘sources’, but also by significant altercation with Horace himself: ‘Jonson’s Horace’ sets out to claim, and to achieve, laureate status – both poet- ically and politically – even in his earliest texts, a provocative ‘collapse’ of the staged Horatian career into a single bold declaration. That declar- ation – of lyric power in satiric contexts; of moral authority in lyric verse; of satiric insight even in the poetry of praise – is repeated throughout Jonson’s career and in every genre.

  But Jonson’s encounter with Horace is not the only means by which this ‘Jonsonian Horatianism’ is constructed. Jonson’s insistent identifica- tion with Horace only ‘works’ if we notice and accept it as such; and this book has been concerned, too, with some of the kinds of evidence avail- able to us of Jonson’s own contemporary or near-contemporary recep- translation or imitation – that marks his self-definition as successful. Jonson’s Horatianism lays the foundations for the royalist Horatianism of the cavalier poets and their successors; and, ultimately, for the great age of translation in the latter seventeenth century. Jonson’s engagement with Horace pervades his work so deeply that it is almost transparent to us; and the same is often true of Jonson’s influence upon the poets who came after him.

  Thom Gunn, an admirer of Jonson’s, is a late example of just such a poet. His own most explicitly Jonsonian poem, ‘an invitation’, is itself structured around both ‘source’ (in this case ‘to Penshurst’, ‘to sir robert Wroth’ and Epigrams 101, ‘inviting a Friend to supper’) and ‘occasion’ (an invitation to the poet’s brother). all three of Jonson’s poems upon which ‘an invitation’ is modelled are, as we have seen, indebted to Horace, both in detail and (more importantly) in tone: all three are poems of char- acteristically Horatian ‘retreat’ (to the country, to the pleasures of food, wine and company), and all three exhibit that peculiarly Horatian blend of carefully judged praise, realistic wisdom and social satire. in this respect Gunn’s poem, too, emerges from that tradition of ‘Jonsonian Horatianism’.

  ‘an invitation’ ends:

  so come home to dinner With my whole household, where they all excel: 50

each cooks one night, and each cooks well.

and while food lasts, and after it is gone, We’ll talk, without a tV on, We’ll talk of all our luck and lack of luck, of the foul job in which you’re stuck,

  55 of friends, of the estranged and of the dead or living relatives instead,

of what we’ve done and seen and thought and read,

Until we talk ourselves to bed.


  These are the simple pleasures of ‘to Penshurst’ and ‘inviting a Friend to supper’. But as we have seen, satire, with its suggestions of penury and corruption, intrudes upon ‘to Penshurst’; and the political and 2 social exigencies of tudor life are present in Epigrams 101: ‘and we


cited from Thom Gunn, Collected Poems, p. 412. some notes on the poem are found in Hawlin, will have no Pooly’, or Parrot by’ (36). Gunn’s poem works in a similar manner:


By then you will have noticed those

  30 Who make up reagan’s proletariat: The hungry in their long lines that Gangling around two sides of city block are fully formed by ten o’clock For meals the good Franciscan fathers feed

  35 Without demur to all who need.


  The hungry queuing for food parallel the ‘rout of rurall folke’ (53) liberally accommodated in ‘to sir robert Wroth’, and the unstinting generosity of Penshurst ‘whose liberall boord doth flow, / With all, that hospitalitie doth know! / Where comes no guest, but is allow’d to eate’ (59–61), an invitation which extends even to ‘the farmer, and the clowne’ (48). The description of charity, as in those poems, inevitably brings in its train an awareness of poverty, and of the poet’s own privileged position, by turns complacent and uneasy with that complacency. Political realities intrude, only to be acknowledged and set aside for the evening (‘Well, i think / after all that, we’ll need a drink’, 46–7); and just as Jonson’s ‘talk’ is to be unhampered by government spies (Pooly and Parrot), so is Gunn’s pro- posed evening to consist of luxuriously unhindered conversation: ‘We’ll talk, without a tV on’ (53). Where Jonson names Virgil, tacitus, livy, or ‘some better booke … of which wee’ll speake our minds, amidst our meate’ (Epigrams 101.22–3), Gunn too promises conversation ‘[o]f what we’ve done and seen and thought and read’ (58). structurally, the poem’s alternating lines of ten and eight syllables reproduce the scheme of Forest 3 (‘to sir robert Wroth’), and the delicate ironies of tone are also indebted to Jonson. Gunn offers his brother ‘my room, sunk far from light, / Where cars will not drive through your night’ (3–4). combined with the mock-pastoral details of the suburban wildlife (foxglove, mint, fern, ivy) ‘[b]eyond the fence’ (8), these lines evoke the pastoral pleasures Jonson describes in his praise of Wroth’s country life, and ‘some coole, courteous shade, which … makes sleepe softer than it is!’ (Forest 3.19–20). Gunn’s praise for the life he describes, like Jonson’s for the country estates of his own day, seems at once both sincere and ironic: a speaking voice of marked attachment, affection and self-knowledge that goes back to Horace’s Epistles.

  The three Jonson poems are, as described in

chapter 3 , enlivened (and

  arguably ironised) by the classical material (Horace, Martial and Juvenal) which they incorporate. Jonson’s own poems have a similar role in Gunn’s ‘invitation’. The mock pastoral of the view from the bedroom window is sharpened by comparison with ‘to sir robert Wroth’ and ‘to Penshurst’, with their full evocations of country peace: the disturbances of the city (prominent in the centre of Gunn’s poem) are ironically distanced not, as we might expect, by an invitation to the countryside itself, but simply by the offer of his own (quieter) room. in ‘to sir robert Wroth’ the cor- ruption and decadence of the city intrude upon the country retreat, and Gunn’s pastoral landscape is in fact the heart of san Francisco, complete with the poor and the mad.

  The virtuous ‘whole household’ at prayer at the close of ‘to Penshurst’ (96) has become the ‘whole household’, each equally gifted at cooking (a kind of secular piety) in Gunn’s poem (‘so come home to dinner / With my whole household, where they all excel: / each cooks one night, and each cooks well’, 49–51). Gunn’s aside about the fingers of ivy on the window – ‘(Perhaps before you come i’ll snip them off.)’ (11) – echoes similar remarks in ‘inviting a Friend to supper’: ‘with a short-leg’d hen, / if we can get her’ (11–12); ‘ile tell you of more, and lye, so you will come’ (17). in both cases, the transparency of the ploy contributes to the speak- er’s charm.

  But that self-indulgent charm is also part of the poem’s bite. Both dis- tasteful political reality (the ‘jobless’, ‘whores’ and ‘crazies’ on the street, 37–9) and virtuous charity (the ‘good Franciscan fathers’, 35) are equally distanced from the speaker and his brother whom he addresses. What has been lost personally – the brothers’ own childhood (‘We’ll bolt our porridge down before it’s cool / as if about to go to school. / But we are grown-up now’, 13–15); and ‘the estranged and … the dead’ (56) – is marked and suggested by what has been lost in the space between Jonson’s poems and Gunn’s: the possibility of pastoral virtue and of household prayer. ‘an invitation’ invites and receives Jonson as much as his brother; the pathos of the hopeful future intimacy of the poem is emphasised by the brothers’ current distance, and that pathos extends to the distance, both temporal and political, between Gunn’s poem and Jonson’s. in Gunn’s most Jonsonian poem the encounter with the ‘source’ has become an element of the ‘occasion’, and the same is true of Jonson. in the space between remote ‘antiquity’ and the ‘present occasion’, his poetry – acting as classical imitation, allusion, translation and commentary – claims for itself a paradoxical resolution of stability and flux, the power both to invigorate, and to quell, the rising swell of lan- guage itself:

  it hath beene ever free, and ever will, to utter termes that bee stamp’d to the time. as woods whose change appeares still in their leaves, throughout the sliding yeares

  (Ars Poetica, 83–6) licuit semperque licebit signatum praesente nota producere nomen. ut silvae foliis pronos mutantur in annos

  (Horace, Ars Poetica, 58–60)

  in these characteristic and lovely lines, Jonson’s translation elicits from Horace two things the latin lines do not contain: the poetic counterpoise between mutability (‘change’, ‘sliding’) and endurance (‘still’, ‘through- out’), and a description of that linguistic and artistic achievement as a kind of freedom: ‘it hath beene ever free’ (the latin verb ‘licet’ means merely ‘permissible’). as i hope to have shown, Jonson’s repeated encoun- ter with the Horatian ‘source’ is also his single most significant ‘occasion’: the occasion of freedom and of poetry; and, for the poet, the hope and chance of libertas.


Appendix: manuscript transcriptions

I. a transcription of the translation of Horace, Epistles i.18.67–112, as

r r

  found in Mss Bodleian rawlinson Poetry 31, ff. 242 –243 and British v r library Harley 4064, ff. 16 –18 .

  The complete text of the Harley Ms is given; the rawlinson Ms read- ing is noted where it differs from, or clarifies the Harley text. Unclear letters or words are placed within {…}. deleted material is placed between <…>. Where i have expanded contractions, the supplied letters are marked in italics.

  Harley  Bod. Rawl. Poet.  Parte of the xviijth epistle of Horace lib:1 Parte Off’ the: : Epistle

translated into english. ad lollium of Horace, lib: 1: translated,

into englishe, ad lolleum./

  B ut, that i forth advice, (if any need Butt, of my aduise thou hast) take often heed take ‘ What, and of whom, and vnto whom thou speake; ‘ shun an inquirer, for his tounge will breake ‘ The seale of silence; and an open eare ‘ neuer retaynes, what trust reposeth there: ‘ Besydes, words, once lett forth, fly unrecall’d.


‘ looke, that thy amorous liuer be not gull’d gald,

‘ With sight of Boy, or Wench, that shall attend ‘ in the fayre howse, of thy adored frend; ‘ For feare the Master of that beautious boy

‘ or the deare maid, in suffering the enioy, to’enioye,

‘ soe smale a guift, should there his bount’ expire bount’ exp<resse>ire

‘ or rath the with denying thy desire or racke the ‘ Be throughly skild in him, thou wouldst commend ‘ least, afterward, anothers crime doe tend afterwardes ‘ Vnto thy shame. it is our fate, to erre ‘ sometymes, and worthlesse men to grace prefer.

  ‘ and hath deceau’d the once, cease to protect. ‘ as thou would doe a frind intirely knowne; ‘ But, if these crimes chaunce not to be his owne, ‘ But {footn} ed on him falsely; then, ‘tis iust But, ffastned ‘ Thou keepe him safe, that in thy guard doth trust ‘ For when thou seest a {chest}ers tooth to drawe chesters

‘ Blood of thy frindes, dost thou not feel that iawe iawe,

‘ Within a litle space approaching thee ‘ When the next wall’s on fyer, thyne is not free ‘ What now this neighbour frights maie thee at length and flames neglected swiftlie gather strength v now for

   “ now for great frindships, they are sweet and deare “ to men {untraded}; such as know them, feare, to men untraded, “ Then lollius whilst thy barke is vnder sayle Then lollyus, Mynde this “ The wynd may either change or fayle “ and thou be forced back to thine owne port

“ Mens moods are str{a}ng, sad humors hate consort moodes are strange,

sadd humors hate comfforte,

“ with light, light, like with sa{der}, striving with slowe light, lyke, with sad,

stirringe with slowe

“ and tardye shun such as with arrow flowe/ with action fflowe

  Your deepe canary knights your midnight men your everlasting drinckers, hate you, when you but deny a helth, albeit you sweare tis for your health, and that, indeed you feare, the c{ }dy vapours, that by night ascend The crudye vapors vp from the stomack to the brayne, then freind, strive to be sociable, cleare thie browe from signe of cloud. “Thee modest person, now, “is thought a close observer, darke, austere “and he that little speaks, sower and severe/ But amongest all i wish that thou shouldst read the learned; and of them aske how to lead an easie age: that thou be not disturb’d with euer=wanting avarice; or curb’d with feare, or hope of things but meanlie good; t’enquire, if vertue take her better bloud <good>, t’enquyre from learning purchast, or from natures gift; ffrom learninges what will extenuate care, and what true shrift will render thee vnto thie selfe a freind

  { } partly cut/worn off r  B{yn} honor, stile, and offices of state Byn, or in a gaine, thats sweet, and moderate; or close retirement; that beguileing path. wich scarce the print of anie lyving hath. When i am downe at hackney brooke and tast hacknye of the cold ryvolett; of whose free wast all the poore clownage of low=layton drinckes; that curld and frozen village: what then thinckes My frind, i meditate, or most doe crave? My ffrind imediate, that i maie but possesse what now i haue

or, <a> at the gods will, lesse; That i may liue or yf the gods will lesse, that i

maye lyve vnto my selfe, the remnant doth surviue of my short age: if ought surviving be, through their benevolence, that i maie see plenty of bookes about mee, and fitt store for my provision yearelie, and no more: least elce, with doubtfull hopes, i wavering sway but it sufficient is, i only pray to ioue, who giues, and takes, for lief and welth My constant mynde, i will prepare my selfe./ II.

  a translation of Horace, Epistles i.5, found in Philip Kynder’s book r-v (Bodleian Ms ashmole 788), 152 . The marginal numbers key the transla- tion to a transcription of the latin text found before and after the english poem. r

   Horatius anglicissans to s: B an inuitation to a cupp of ale Hor. epist. 5. l. 1, as Horace did his frend torquatus, i


on the same terms inuite you company. if thou canst brooke poor stooles a homely roome

  1 and table wheron carpett neere did come Then meete vs at the house thou know’st soe well Where the ould widdow rich ale vs’d to sell c By the parke gate w h peasants woont to pass

  From donnington to Bradfords preaching place

c i that haue paide for’t hope it will be ale to French or spanish iuice scorning to vayle if you accept place & condition, say to Morrow after dinner is the day. Think not of beeing rich too soone; This age

  3 Few preists will purchase on a parsonage nor vex thy troubled thoughts for what to say on the next fasting or thanksgiuing day ”Plaine truthe or sense to speake is noe safe case to betray both to humor tyme’s as base defraud not then thy Genius: the vse

  4 of natures gifts, or fortunes to refuse is folly. Madness too spare to th’end When wee are dead posteritie may spend ’Fore i’le be accessarie to the bane of my contentment let churles think me vaine Then a free cup theres nothing ha’s vpon

  5 nature a nobler operation to burd’nous secretts it a portall opes and into high assurance strikes faint hopes disburdens soules from greefe & does dispense Both valour, riches, art, & eloquence./ For other circumstances these beside r

  6 i am you carefully seruant to prouide That all be clanely, nothing of offence to nose or eye or other tender sense roome sweep’t cleane napkin, cup, & to conuay r You indian smoake tonnells of purest clay. v Freinds

   Friends too, that if in freedome you things speake

  7 That the states peace constructiuely may breake shall carrie nothing ore the threshold when Wee part; There <be> will be stout & honest Ben and robin that has seene manners & men. and Melborns syren Pas[k] - whose pulpitt art t charmes euery thing y has a head or hart iudicious Kynder -, honest Bradford too Vnless some wench or widdow be to woe There will be place & drinke for more. all these


  8 May bring theine shaddowes w h them if they please But crowdes are hatefull; if too many come Whether wee may expect you on the day.

e e

Then stealing by y back wayes cheate y eyes r of you malicious prying parish spyes.

  Finis J: J.

  selected Horatian translations and imitations from John Polwhele’s III. notebook (Bodleian Ms english Poetry f.16) r

   to the admired Ben: Johnson to encourage

him to write after his farewel to the stage. 1631

alludinge to Horace ode 26. lib: 1 Musis amicus &c Ben, thou arte the Muses freinde, greife, and feares, cast <giue> to the winde: who winns th’emperour, or sweade sole secure, you noethinge dreade. inhabitante neer Hyppo-crene, sweete plucke ^ <the> roses by that streame, put thy lawrel-crownet on. What is fame, if thou hast none. th see apollo w the nine sings, the chorus must be thine. Jo: Polw: Horace de arte poet. iam

Multa renascentur quae ^ cecidere, cadentque,

quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet vsus.


Much is reuiu’de was ^ <lost>, not vnderstood,

that may bee’ excellent, if the Whimme be good.

v Jo: Polw:

   Horace ode 1 lib: 1 Maecenas atauis &c r R oyal s , my life, my crowne: some in charriotts seeke renowne: soe swifte-gotten victorie wherls man to a deitie. some a popular vote doth raise: others by ful Barnes gett praise, and the happie churle (is wise) loues the vales, that made him rise. timerous mariners (for pay)

  Hyppocren’s my cup, and wine. some warre-trumpetts loue, i none, (but what fame doth sounde alone) he that leads a h[unt]ers life pricks awaye forgetts his wife <Him[ ]> corrected to if hee boares, and staggs doe rouse.

  [chace daphne] i seek lawrel for my browes. i wth nymphs, and satyres dance in coole groues, by witt, not chance. warble Phoebus on thy strings, while the quier of muses sings. if wth lyricks i be read, starrs shal lawreate my head. v Jo: Polw:

   Horace lib: 1. ode 14 an allegory to the people of rome repayring the breaches of ciuell war, wth newe auxilliaryes. poore Hulk wilt launch in a new storm, o stay ! careene & calk thy leaks in a safe bay look on thy naked banks no oare

where sun=burnt rowers tug’d before !

neere treacherous aegypt thy mayne mast did wrack hark how the Helm, misne, Prowe in tyber crack ! thy cabell spent, the giddy keele drunck wth impetuous waues doth reele strik thy top=gallant, & the tatterd sayle to thy deafe sea=Gods, who thee nought avayle ch though built of Pontick pyne, w stood the tallest ofspring in the wood.

That ancient stock, & empty name n’er bost

pylotts in storms trust not a gilded post ca[ ]le thine anchor and

cast anchor (if thou canst) beware

the scornfull Hurrycanes to dare.

distressed Gallye thou wert late my feare

but now my Joyfull Hope, & tender care

veere o veere ho, the straights, & seas

betweene aspiring cyclades.

  What do’st thou frantick rome? thy tempest sounds yet th new wars, <when> gasping w old mortall wounds sweare a firm peace: for canst thou haue auxiliaryes from the graue? caesar, & Pompey fought to graspe the state the quarrell of our newe trium=Virate th’impouerish’d giddy vulgar thronge not to the best syde, but a stronge. r abate y cruell pride least angry Gods lighteninge

brandish quick <thunder> ^ & whiske scorpion=rods

r y purple is too pale, they’l staine it deeper yet wth blood in grayne.

triumphant <most ancient> statu[e]’s, & vayne nam’s n’er bost

pylotts in storms trust not a gilded post what must we trust too then, dispense th w life, to keepe good, conscience.

  Most miserable romans late my feare, but now my Joyfull hope, & tender care, auoyde great factions, boldly saye v this is my path, the good leige waye.

   Translation of Horace, Epistles I.

  as this text is very heavily revised and corrected in the manuscript, with many deletions, interlinear additions and some passages which are impos- sible to read, i have given here an edited version. Where possible, i have retained the readings that seem to be the latest revisions; very mangled words or lines are marked with {…}.

  Polwhele has translated the entire poem; i have transcribed here the opening lines, and the latter portion (corresponding to the passage found translated in rawlinson 31 and Bl 4064), as these are the sections most relevant to my argument. o Horace lib: 1 epist 18th to lollius. r Horace p scribs lollius how to get great friends, & keepe

  them, first he inveighs against those who either flatter, or ch are too seuere (w they falsely call a friendly liberty) lastly c

he exhorts him to striue for those things, w h conduce to a quiet life.

i well know noble lollius you detest

  {so else is a contrary vice worse}

a churlish rusticke grauetye morose

biting with black=mouthd truth yet doth p r tend true virtue, & meere freedom of a freind. but noble Virtue keeps the golden meane

The Buffone fills a Parysitick sceane

geeres all belowe the salt w th a bold check, himselfe, yet trembling att his patrons beck soe doubles euery word, that accents fall like frightned pupells, who do whyning ball

before a testy pedant, acts in feare

as young tragedians when the Poets there.

   r nowe (if thou canst want i will giue counsell) what, & to whome thou speakest, consider well. busie inquisiters abominate

all curious impertinents will prate.

slye euesdroppers, that sulke vnder walls theire open eares will take, toungs giue what falls:

   v

The word once out neuer retourns agayne.

next do not ma[c]erate thy selfe invayne for a fine catamites, or ffayre maydens guyle though both ar darlings in the marble pyle

of thy great freind, oh let him not bestowe

such triuiall gifts, or vex thee wth a noe. look whome thou dost commend least that the blame

to others due be ransom’d wth thy shame. s’ar cheated sometimes by a man not good defend him not, his vices vnderstood least that recriminated innocence

to be protected, want thy confidence. dost thou not knowe detractors haue the face to traduce noble spirits, t’may be thy case ? when thou dost see thy neighbours howse on fire look to thine owne too much neglected spire. those who want mighty freinds thinck that no th ease such may be kept: but ’tis great art to please. now thy top=gallants vp, feare, least a crack do split the ship, & thy great ffortuns wrack. vpon the sanguine, they laugh att the sowre. a sedentary cynick neuer can endure the actiue, he that lazy man.

wth midnight drunkards if thou healthes put by

swearing thine head will ake, they’l sta{b} they lye.

r frowne not, nor be too modest in the towne

   for that hath something in it of a clowne. reformed silence is too stoicall. converse wth schollers, read them aboue all, X they haue apolloes beames, wch still inspires X thy rationalls wth moderate desires,

soothinge thy fears, and wants, with a large scope

freely to vse a profitable hope. ask whether learning, or good nature giue

the meanes to lessen cares, that thou mayst liue

in quiet peace wth a well chosen freind. ask whether wealth or Honour that way tend, or that ambitions high mightye strife excells the recluse humble life. Burning wth thirst i to coole digent goe, whereof Mendelians drink in a deepe snowe X finely refresh’d i cast a smacking looke X to tantalize a kisse in the swifte brook

what thinck you think i then ? what word i crave ?

let mee not liue had i lesse then i haue for all my time to come, if there be more wth the propitious Gods for me in store,

Good books, and spryghtly wine in a cleare cask

choyce daynties till next yeare, no more ile ask thus fix’d indulge my Genius all the daye assur’d the donor will not take awaye, let Joue giue life, & health my selfe will find better then riches, a contented minde.





e a r lY Mode r n Pr i n t e d BooK s (i nclU di nG e a r lY

Mode r n e di t ions oF cl a ssic a l t e X ts a n d

coM M e n ta r i e s)

caesar, Obseruations vpon the five first Bookes of Caesars Commentaries, setting

fourth the practise of the art military, in the time of the Roman Empire. Wherein are handled all the chiefest points of their discipline, with the true rea- sons of euery part, together with such instructions as may be drawn from their proceedings, for the better direction of our moderne warres, trans. clement o edmonds (london: Peter short, 1600), 2 , stc (2nd edn)/7488

Obseruations vpon Caesars Commentaries: setting forth the practise of ye art

militarie in the time of the Romaine Empire for the better direction of our mod- o erne warrs, trans. clement edmonds (london: Matthew lownes, 1604), 2 , stc (2nd edn)/7490.3

Obseruations vpon the five first Bookes of Caesars Commentaries, setting fourth

the practise of the art militarie, in the time of the Roman Empire. Wherein are handled all the chiefest points of their discipline, with the true reasons, of euery part, together with such instructions as may be drawn from their proceed- ings, for the better direction of our moderne warres, trans. clement edmonds o

  (london: Matthew lownes, 1609), 2 , stc (2nd edn)/7490.5

chester, robert, Loves martyr: or, Rosalins complaint. Allegorically shadowing the

truth of loue, in the constant fate of the phoenix and turtle. A poeme enterlaced with much varietie and raritie; now first translated out of the venerable Italian Torquato Caeliano, by Robert Chester. With the true legend of famous King Arthur, the last of the nine worthies, being the first essay of a new Brytish poet: collected out of diuerse authenticall records. To these are added some new compo- sitions, of seuerall moderne writers whose names are subscribed to their seuerall workes, vpon the first subiect: viz. the phoenix and turtle (london: imprinted [by r. Field] for e. B[lount], 1601), stc (2nd edn)/5119


Chorus poetarum classicorum duplex: sacrorum et profanorum: lustrus illustratus

o (lyons: Muguet, 1616), 8

coryate, Thomas, Coryats Crudities; hastily gobled vp in five moneths trauells in

France, Sauoy, Italy, Rhetia comonly called the Grisons country, Heluetia aliàs

  in the hungry aire of Odcombe in the county of Somerset, & now dispersed to the nourishment of the trauelling members of this kingdome (london: William o stansby, 1611), 4 , stc (2nd end)/5808

daniel, samuel, A panegyrike congratulatory deliuered to the Kings most excellent

majesty at Burleigh Harrington in Rutlandshire. By Samuel Daniel. Also cer- taine epistles. With a defence of ryme, heeretofore written, and now published o

by the author (london: edward Blount, 1603), 2 , stc (2nd edn)/6259

dekker, Thomas, Satiro-mastix. Or The vntrussing of the humorous poet. As it

hath bin presented publikely, by the Right Honorable, the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants; and priuately, by the Children of Paules. By Thomas Dekker


  (london: edward White, 1602), 4 , stc (2nd edn)/6521

donne, John, Iuuenilia: or Certaine paradoxes and problemes, written by I. Donne

(london: Henry seyle, 1633), stc (2nd edn)/7044

Guilpin, everard, Skialethia. Or, A shadowe of truth, in certaine epigrams and

o satyres (london: nicholas ling, 1598), 8 , stc (2nd edn)/12504


Hesiod, The Georgicks of Hesiod, by George Chapman; translated elaborately out

of the Greek: containing doctrine of husbandrie, moralitie, and pietie; with a perpetuall calendar of good and bad daies; not superstitious, but necessarie (as farre as naturall causes compell) for all men to obserue, and difference in fol- lowing their affaires, trans. George chapman (london: Miles Patrich, 1618), o

  4 , stc (2nd edn)/13249

Holland, Hugh, Pancharis: The first Booke. Containing The Preparation of Loue

betweene Owen Tvdyr, and the Qveene, Long since intended to her Maiden Maiestie: And now dedicated To The Invincible Iames, Second and greater Monarch of great Britaine, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, o with the Islands adiacent (london: clement Knight, 1603), 12 , stc (2nd edn)/13592

Horace, Q. Bernadini Parthenii Spilimbergii in Q. Horatii Flacci Carmina atq.

  Epodos Commentarii Quibus Poetae artificium, & uia ad imitationem, atq. ad Poetice scribendum aperitur, ed. Bernardinus Parthenius (Venice: apud o dominicum nicolinum, 1584), 4

In Q. Horatii Flacci … librum de Arte Poetica … commentarius, ed. aldus

o Manutius (Venice: apud aldum, 1576), 4


Horatii Flacci Opera Omnia, cum notis D. Heinsii. Accedit Horatii ad Pisones

epistola, Aristotelis de poetica libellus, ed. daniel Heinsius (antwerp: Plantin o Press, 1610), 8

Jonson, Ben, The characters of two royall masques The one of blacknesse, the other of

beautie. personated by the most magnificent of queenes Anne Queene of great Britaine, &c. With her honorable ladyes, 1605. and 1608. at White-hall: and inuented by Ben: Ionson. (london: [By G. eld] for Thomas Thorpe, 1608), stc (2nd edn)/14761

The comicall satyre of euery man out of his humor. As it was first composed by the

author B.I. Containing more than hath been publickely spoken or acted. VVith the seuerall character of euery person (london: Printed [by adam islip] for


The fountaine of selfe-loue. Or Cynthias reuels As it hath beene sundry times pri-

uately acted in the Black-Friers by the Children of her Maiesties Chappell.

  Written by Ben: Iohnson (london: [By r. read] for Walter Burre, 1601), stc (2nd edn)/14773

Hymenaei: or The solemnities of masque, and barriers magnificently performed on

the eleventh, and twelfth nights, from Christmas; at court: to the auspicious cel- ebrating of the marriage-vnion, betweene Robert, Earle of Essex, and the Lady Frances, second daughter to the most noble Earle of Suffolke. By Ben: Ionson (london: Printed by Valentine sims for Thomas Thorp, 1606), stc (2nd edn)/14774


The masque of queenes celebrated from the house of fame: by the most abso-

lute in all state, and titles. Anne Queene of Great Britaine, &c. With her honourable ladies. At VVhite Hall, Febr. 2. 1609. Written by Ben: Ionson (london: By n. okes. for r. Bonian and H. Wally, 1609), stc (2nd edn)/14778


The nevv inne. Or, The light heart A comoedy. As it was neuer acted, but most

negligently play’ d, by some, the Kings Seruants. And more squeamishly beheld, and censured by others, the Kings subiects. 1629. Now, at last, set at liberty to the readers, his Maties seruants, and subiects, to be iudg’ d. 1631. By the author,

B. Ionson (london: Printed by Thomas Harper, for Thomas alchorne, 1631),

  stc (2nd edn)/14780

Poetaster or The arraignment as it hath beene sundry times priuately acted in the

Blacke Friers, by the children of her Maiesties Chappell. Composed, by Ben. Iohnson. (london: Printed [by r. Bradock] for M. l[ownes], 1602), stc (2nd edn)/14781

Q. Horatius Flaccus: his Art of poetry. Englished by Ben: Jonson. With other

workes of the author, never printed before (london: i. okes, for John Benson, 1640), stc (2nd edn)/13798

The workes of Beniamin Ionson (london: William stansby, 1616), stc (2nd


The workes of Benjamin Ionson (london: richard Bishop, 1640), stc (2nd


lodge, Thomas, A fig for Momus: containing pleasant varietie, included in Satyres,


  Eclogues, and Epistles (london: clement Knight, 1595), 4 , stc (2nd edn)/ 16658

Martial, M. Val. Martialis epigrammaton libri Animaduersi, emendati et commen-

tariolis luculenter explicati (londoni: excudebat Felix Kingstonius impensis Guilielmi Welby, 1615), stc (2nd edn)/17492


Martini Antonii Delrii ex Societate Iesu syntagma tragoediae Latinae in tres partes

o distinctum (antwerp: Plantin Press, 1593), 4

Middleton, richard, Epigrams and satyres (london: nicholas okes for Joseph

o Harison, 1608), 4 , stc (2nd edn)/17874

Pindar, Pindari Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia, ed. aemilius Portus ([Heidelberg]:

o apud Hieronymum commelinum, 1598), 8

  (oxford: printed by leonard lichfield printer to the Vniversity, for Francis Bowman, 1638), stc (2nd edn)/20694

scaliger, Julius caesar, Poetices libri septem ([lyons]: apud antonium Vincentium,

1561), 2 o

selden, John, Titles of honor (london: William stansby for John Helme, 1614),

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simis (Paris: apud Marcum orry, 1599)


The line of liberalitie dulie directinge the wel bestowing of benefites and repre-

hending the comonly vsed vice of ingratitude, trans. nicolas Haward (london: Thomas Marshe, 1569), 8 o

, stc (2nd edn)/12939

Lucii Annaei Senecae […] lucubrationes omnes: additis etiam nonnullis Erasmi

Roterodami cura (Basel: ioannes Frobenius, 1515)


The worke of the excellent philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca concerning ben-

efyting, that is too say the dooing, receyuing, and requyting of good turnes, trans. arthur Golding (london: John day, 1578), 4 o , stc (2nd edn)/ 22215


The workes of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, both morall and naturall, trans. Thomas

lodge (london: William stansby, 1614), 2 o , stc (2nd edn)/22214

tacitus, The ende of Nero and beginning of Galba. Fower bookes of the Histories of

Cornelius Tacitus. The life of Agricola, trans. sir Henry savile (oxford: Joseph Barnes, 1591), 2 o , stc (2nd edn)/23642

Virgil, Symbolarum Libri XVII quibus P. Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis,

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M a n Uscr i P ts

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Index of passages discussed

Specific portions of longer poems are indexed separately only where there is a substantial discussion of

the lines in question.

2 Horace

   iii.21 iii.30

  Epodes 1

  2 Odes i.1 i.



   i.1 i.2 ii. ii.1 ii.20 iii.



   iV. iV.4 iV.6

   iV.1 –











  Gunn, Thom, ‘an invitation’ –

   426–8 –


  Ars Poetica


   58–6 –





  Epistles i.1








   i.18.76–81 –

   i.1 i.19.21–5

ii.2. 34, 166

  Horace (cont.) i. i.

   4 (‘to the World’)

   99 (‘to the same’


   108 (‘to true souldiers’

   128 (‘to William roe’)

   133 (‘on the Famous Voyage’)

   ‘Farewell to the stage’ (ode on the failure of The New Inn

   Forest 1 (‘Why i write not of love’



   2.57–68 –

   3 (‘to sir robert Wroth’)




   70 (‘to William roe’


   9 (‘Song. to celia’)


  10 11 (‘epode’)

   12 (‘Epistle. to elizabeth countesse of rutland’

   12.37–6 –


   12.83– 13 (‘Epistle. to Katherine, lady aubginy’)



  14 (‘Ode. to sir William sydney, on his Birth-day’


   News from the New World Poetaster ‘apologetical dialogue


   98 (‘to sir Thomas roe’

   62 (‘to Fine lady Would-bee’) 65 (‘to my Muse’)


   42 (‘on Giles and Jone’)


   i.4.78–85 –


   i. i.1






   ii. ii.7





20 Homer

   53–6 –


   472–8 –

   517–19 –



   Cynthia’s Revels Epigrams 2 (‘to my Booke’)

   3 (‘to my Booke-seller’)

   4 (‘to King James’)

   5 (‘on the Union’)

   6 (‘to alchymists’)

   14 (‘to William camden’)

   27 (‘on sir John roe’

   32 (‘on sir John roe 36 (‘to the Ghost of Martial’)

  Iliad 1 Jonson Ars Poetica i.

ii.2 139, 142 –

   iii.1 iii.1.3– iii.


   27 (‘an ode’

   26 (‘an ode’)

iii.5.16–36 149 –


  71 (‘to the right Honourable, the lord high treasurer of England. an epistle Mendicant’

   45 (‘an epistle to Master Arth: Squib’)

   47 (‘an epistle answering to one that asked to be sealed of the tribe of Ben’

   54 (‘epistle to Mr. arthur squib’)

   56 (‘epistle. to my lady covell’)

   68 (‘an epigram, to the House-hold’

   69 (‘epigram. to a Friend, and sonne’)


   70 (‘to the immortall memorie, and friendship of that noble paire, sir lucius cary, and sir H. Morison’)

   77 (‘to the right Honourable, the lord treasurer of England. an epigram’)

  42 (‘an elegie’)

   84 (‘eupheme’ 86 (‘ode the first. The fourth Booke. to


   Juvenal Satires 1 2 5


  7 28–30

   10 13

   14 Marlowe, christopher Dido, Queen of Carthage


   iV.3 –

   44 (‘a speach according to Horace’)

   37 (‘an epistle to a Friend’ see also: UV 49


   6 (‘ode allegorike’) 30 (‘The Vision of Ben. Jonson, on the



   V.2.11–13 –






   Ungathered Verse 1

  Muses of his Friend M. drayton’)


   48 (‘ode’

   49 (‘an epistle to a Friend’)

  see also: UW 37 Underwood 2 (‘a celebration of charis in ten lyrick Peeces’) 9 (‘My Picture left in Scotland’)

   12 (‘an epitaph on Master Vincent corbet’) 13 (‘an epistle to sir edWard sackvile, now earle of Dorset’)

   14 (‘an epistle to Master John selden’)

   15 (‘an epistle to a Friend, to perswade him to the Warres’

   17 (‘epistle. to a Friend’) Martial prefac

   iV.6 iV.8.26–3 iV.10


   24 (‘The mind of the Frontispiece to a Booke’) 25 (‘an ode to James earle of Desmond, writ in Queene elizabeths time, since lost, and recovered’)




   Virgil Georgics ii



  10 –



   Olympian Odes



   Pythian Odes 1






  De Beneficiis


55 Persius


   Aeneid i V





















  Prologue satire 1 Pindar Isthmiam Odes




29 Nemean Odes






General index

allott, robert see Englands Parnassus allusion see intertextuality ascham, roge

   freedom of speech see libertas Freudenburg, Kir Fry, Paul. H.

   epistles, verse, in Jonson’s circl

   see also sir John roe

  Farnaby, Thomas

   edition of Martial’s epigrams by,


   Fletcher, angus

   Genette, Gerard

   epinicion, redefinition of, in Jonson’s odes Henderson, John

   gnomic statements in Jonson’s poetry

   grace, the significance of, in Jonson’s verse


   Greene, Thomas M



   ‘an invitation


   in Every Man Out of His Humour

   augustus, caesar see Jonson, Poetaster, presentation of augustus authority, poeti

   classical scholarship, early modern

  Blackfriars, children’s company at

   Boehrer, Bruce

   Burrow, colin cain, Willia camden, William

   see Jonson, Epigrams 14 campion, Thomas ‘The Man of life Upright’ chapman, George

  Blind Beggar of Alexandria carew, Thoma chester, robert

  Loves martyr

   see also Farnaby, Thomas; Heinsius, daniel comical satire see also Cynthia’s Revels, Every Man Out of His Humour and Poetaster corbet, Vincent dekker, Thomas satirised in Poetaster

   in Cynthia’s Revels


   desmond, James, earl of –

   see also Jonson, UW 25 drummond, William, of Hawthornde see also Jonson, Conversations with Drummond earles, Joh

   education, early modern


   elizabeth i addressed by Jonson in UW 2


   Harington, John

  Herrick, robert Holland, Hugh and Pancharis

  ‘Farewell to the stage’ (ode on the failure of The New Inn translation into latin of

  s distinct from epigrams relationship to satire of varieties of friendship in

   verse satire relationship to epistles of he ‘Horatianising’ of Juvenal in


   Jonson, works see also index of passages discussed 1616 foli



   general relationship to Martial of pening sequence of

   Horatian and Juvenalian models in

   and passim verse epistles by

8 Horace

  Ars Poetica, as an epistle –

  promise of immortality in i.1, iii.30, iV.8 and iV.9 translations of, in response to the regicid


   modern and early modern interpretations

   ‘libertas’ in

   imitation of Pindar i


   imitations of, in Jonson’s circl translation of i.5 in Philip Kynder’s notebook

   and Virgil in Poetaster

2 Satires: ii.1 and legal language 150 – 5; ii.1


   of seneca’s De Beneficiis

  and recusatioompared to Juvenal in early modern criticism

   see also index of passages discussed

   compared to Horace in Jonson’s verse epistles

   compared to Horace in Jonson’s comical satire

   compared to Horace in early modern criticis


  The Staple of News Juvenal allusion to Horace in

  The Gypsies Metamorphosed

   Horace’s Epistles in Horace’s Odes iorace’s Satires in arlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage ioetic immortality in role of the poet in the historical Horace i Virgil’s defence of Horace i

   Forest: satiric intrusion in the opening sequence of poems i

   see also index of passages discussed

  Horatianising of Juvenal –

   of Martia


   and Martial

   in recent classical scholarship

   see also under named authors

  James i, King, addressed in Jonson’s Epigrams

   John, lisle c.

   Jones, inigo

   imitation of, in the later seventeenth patronage see patronage self-presentation of, as Horace

   control of printed texts b –

   as editor of his own wor –


   and the role of the poet Kaplan, M. lindsa Kynder, Philip translation of Epistles

   Jonson and freedom of speech see libertas and Juvena

   and senec

   and Pindar

   and the culture of translation

   in the notebook –

  Mountjoy, charle

   oliensis, elle as a character in Poetaster

   oates, Mary i.

62 Kurke, leslie

   and the limits of free speech in classical satire

   in Jonson’s ode

   Pindar and the promise of immortality

   compared to Horace in early modern scholarship


   imitated by Horac

   imitated by Jonson

   see also index of passages discussed

  Platz, norber imitation of Odes i.26 by –

   translation of Odes i.1 by


   combined with satire in Jonson’s Epigrams


   in the roe epigrams


   Putnam, Michael c. J.


   randolph, Thomas recusatio

   revard, stell

   rivalry between Jonson and Martia

   between Jonson and the monarc

   see also intertextuality; Jonson roe, family epigrams addressed to the


   roe, sir John –

   translation of Epistles i.18 possibly to be attributed to ro

   roe, sir Thoma

   Pigman, George W.

   see also grace


   st John’s college (cambridge) Ms s. 23

   loewenstein, Joseph


   see also Horace, Odes iV.9 Epistles i.2 and Epistles i.18 lowrie, Michele

   manuscript circulation and publication in

   verse epistles in –

   manuscripts Bodleian Ms ashmole 788

  Bodleian Ms english poetry f. 1

  Bodleian Ms Montagu d Bodleian Ms rawlinson poetry 31

  Bodleian Ms rawlinson poetry 209 British library Ms Harley 4064 christ church college (oxford) Ms 184


   nottingham University Portland Ms Pw V. 37



   Marston, John, satirised in Poetaster Martindale, Joann


   combined with Horace in Jonson’s Epigrams


   edited by Thomas Farnaby

   opening sequence of the Epigrams

   preface to Epigrams

   and the ethics of address in Jonson’s epigrams and verse epistles

   and friendshi

   libertas (freedom of speech)

   lefkowitz, Mary

  Pancharis see Holland, Hugh Parfitt, G. a. e.

   see also Marlowe, Dido, Queen of Carthage; index of passages discussed

  royalism, in imitations of Jonson, rutland, elizabeth, countess of Jonson, Forest 12 satire and praise in Jonson’s Epigrams


   of the 1590

   intrusion of, in the Forest collectio

   relationship of Jonson’s verse satire and epistles

   satire, classical Juvenal as a response to Horace in Jonson’s poetry

   in early modern manuscripts

   in early modern culture

   as response to the regicide

   translation as a school exercise

   style, literary, discussed in UW 14

15 Juvenal vs. Horace in early modern criticism

   shafer, robert

   of Jonson into latin

  Virgil; index of passages discussed Weston, lord see Jonson, UW 77 Wooton, sir Henry, ‘The character of a Happy life’ Wroth, sir robert see Jonson, Forest 3

   early modern reception of the Aeneid see also Jonson, Poetaster, translation of

   and Horace in Poetaster


   virtue, identity of ethical and aestheti

   tudeau-clayton, Margare victory, redefinition of, in Jonson’s Pindaric odes

   see also Persius sackville, sir edward, earl of dorset see Jonson, UW 13 scaliger, Julius

   shakespeare, Willia

   selden, John

  Titles of Honor

   see Jonson, UW 14 seneca

  De Beneficiis and UW

   see Jonson, Forest 14 sinfield, ala strode, William


  compared to Jonso

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