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I 1137 1 ot"'Z ~t"'tIl 0 1 tJ l I o::0 tn IN ST RV ME NT VM 3 LIT TE RA RVM ~tn l i H two books of Epistles, compo sed betwe en 23 and c. 13 orace's S.c.,are the produ ct of the poet's most matur e art. In these poems "e writes to a numbe r of friends, fellow writer s and acquaintances, h -anging from the Empe ror Augus tus to his own bailiff. Thoug tion :hey vary in length and tone, the poems form a cohere nt collec i)ecause all deal in some way with ethica l proble ms. Colin Macle od's to ll1tt roduct ions and notes explain the impor tance of philos ophy r neithe Horace and his contem porari es, and show that the poems are lrivial exercises nor solem n tracts. Horac e comes across as a humor stua r, thinke is also a DUS, sceptical and sympa thetic writer who .aright "live to J ent of the way es more detailinclud also e volum this t11 addition to the translation, d .comm entarie s on four of the poems .and Balliol College, olin Macleod was born in 1943 and educated at Rugby School Literatu re at Christ l Classica in Tutor was he 1981 in death his until Oxford. From 1968 was remarka ble in ions publicat and Church, Oxford. His influence through his teaching ess with which he seriousn and ty sensitivi the on all above 3 scholar of his youth: it rested still learn from could readers qpproac hed literature, and on his convicti on that modern ng and translati In past. the of s teaching s religiou and a.nd be inspired by the moral ce the poet's stylistic !omment ing on Horace, his concern was not simply to reprodu Virtuosi ty, but to convey somethi ng of his wisdom and humanit y. CO LI l'J MA CL EO D HO RACE TH E EP IST LE S TR AN SL AT ED IN TO EN GL IS H VE RS E W IT H BR IE F CO MM EN T IN ST RV ME NT VM 3 LI TT ER ARVM r 2"'i'.P.'I ~1.'I'"l tIJ 1 'O.:i, t J.I I CLASS P I~ 5396 C 1-123 1986 ED IZ IO NI .JL' A TE NE O SPA V COLIN MACLEOD t;rCl (c HORACE/ THE EPISTLES/ Translated into English Verse with Brief Comment V EDIZIONI DELL'ATENEO C/dJJ fJJI 1936 ©Copyright by Edizioni delf' A teneo ,s.p.a. Casella Postale 7 216, 0 0 100 Roma t,(tJ9t TABLE OF CONTENTS Ct. 7;)73 FOREWORD by R. G .M. Nisbet. PREFACE .TEXTUAL NOTE. INTRODUCTION .BOOK ONE .EPISTLE 1 .NOTES. EPISTLE 2 .NOTES .EPISTLE 3 .NOTES. EPISTLE 4 .NOTES. EPISTLE 5 .NOTES .EPISTLE 6 .NOTES. EPISTLE 7 .NOTES. EPISTLE 8 .EPISTLE 9. EPISTLE 10 NOTES .EPISTLE 11 .NOTES .EPISTLE 12 .NOTES .EPISTLE 13 .NOTES .EPISTLE 14 .NOTES .EPISTLE 15 .NOTES .EPISTLE 16 .NOTES .EPISTLE 17 .NOTES .jet" Editorial Note: after the work of translating, which Professor R. G. M .Nisbet's foreword describes, Colin Macleod embarked in the summer of 1981 on a commentary on the Epistles. His draft notes on four poems from the first book, although unrevised, contain much to supplement the translation, and it has seemed appropriate to publish them here as the final "Remarks and Notes."The text was transcribed intO electronic memory under a grant from the Program in Classical Studies of the Graduate School, The City University of New York ,with aid and comfort from the Program in Comparative Literature and the Computer Centers of the Graduate School and Brooklyn College. Transmitted electronically through the BITNET, the text was skillfully readied for printing by Richard A. Damon III, using facilities made available by the Department of Classics and the Computer Center of Brown University. Gold stater of T. Quinctius Flamininus by courtesy of the British Museum Ieq\ _ 1\ 1\ 11 C",VII X 1l1 Xll 1 xv 1 3 .6 .8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 23 24 26 27 29 30 31 32 33 35 36 37 39 40 42 43 45 47 49 VI VII Table of Conten ts EPISTLE 18 .NOTE S .EPISTLE 19 NOTE S .EPISTLE 20 NOTE S. BOOK TWO EPISTLE 1 .NOTE S. EPISTLE 2 .NOTE S. REMARKS AND NOTE S ON EPISTLES i. l, 3, 9, and 14 .REMARKS ON EPISTLE l. 1. NOTE S .REMARKS ON EPISTLE l. 3 .NOTE S .REMARKS ON EPISTLE l.9 .NOTE S .REMARKS ON EPISTLE l. 14 NOTE S .50 53 54 56 57 58 59 61 70 74 81 83 85 86 98 99 105 105 108 109 FORE WORD Colin Macleod died in Decem ber 1981 at the age of 38. He was a Studen t of Christ Churc h, Oxford (what is called a fellow in other colleges),and a Univer sity Lectur er in Greek and Latin literatu re .He had already establi shed himsel f as a classical scholar of uncom mon subtle ty and range .But though his sensiti vity enable d him to help others, he could not save himself, and in a depression he ended his life. He is remem bered by friends in several countr ies with pleasure and gratitu de. Macleod was the favourite pupil of Eduard Fraenkel's old age: the one needed a discipl e, the other an intelle ctual father-fi gure .In some ways they were very different: Fraenkel had his feet firmly plante d in the world, and he was puzzle d by his reticen t compa nion's leanings towards philoso phy and even religio n. But they shared a love of Italy, which they both found less artificial than Oxford ;here they travelled togeth er, and here Colin met his wife Barbara. Both men were exceptional in the breadt h of their schola rship, though their spheres of interes t did not entirel y coincide; while Fraenkel includ ed vases and Roman law, Macleod 's wide readin g in Greek prose gave his work on poetry a distinc tive dimen sion. Above all they both strong ly believed that ancien t literatu re is about life acaand love and sufferi ng, and not simply a game for cle~r demics .Their attitud e was more unusua l twenty years ago than it is today. Macleod 's breadt h and depth appear conspicuously in his posthu mous Collected Essays (Oxford, 198 3).Here he writes on Greek and Latin, poetry and prose, rangin g from Sappho and the Eumenides (a paper highly regard ed by good judges) to Grego ry of N yssa's Life of Moses. He was not the type of scholar who cracks puzzles and pulls rabbits Out of hats ,and he had no special skill in the packag ing of his goods; but nobody can forget his demon stratio n that Catullu s 50 parodies the langua ge of love while talking about poetry ,and that ·116, the last poem in the collect ion, reverses the motifs of a dedica tion (which sugges ts that Catull us himsel f arrang ed at least this part of the book).Macleod may someti mes seem over-s ubtle and over-c ompre ssed, but for him scholarship was a quest rather than a discovery, and even when he fails to convince, he advances the discussion .And someti mes he does Foreword Foreword much more; the six papers on passages in Thucydides draw illumination from rhetoric, tragedy, a close analysis of the structure, and a persistent awareness of the moral issues. In rebutting the strictures of Dionysius, he gives an exemplary exposition of his author's style, which as always with great writers he saw as an integral part of the meaning :he memorably quotes what a contemporary said of Michelangelo: he says things and you say words'.Macleod also left behind him a commentary on the last book of Homer's Iliad (Cambridge, 1982).This is a little masterpiece ,which will be widely read ,and not JUSt for its clear and su<:cinct explanation of the details. Here Homer is restored to his pre-eminence as a poet and a moralist (to use the word in its widest sense) with human characters and a consistent theme. Together with Jasper Griffin's Homer on Life and Death, the commentary has already had an effect in subverting over-mechanical interpretations. progress up to a point, if no farther 'it encourages men to understand themselves and others, and to handle everyday relationships with tolerance, tact, and humour. The emphasis on 'saying the right thing' we also meet in Macleod's criticism of Homer, where he regards such insight as a mark of civilisation. The Epistles will disconcert modern readers if they start with the preconceptions of their own generation: not only will the morality be thought trivial and worldly, but the tone of voice may seem by turns ingratiating and patronising .It takes imagination to reconstruCt a social system where genuine friends might be superiors or inferiors, and what is stranger to us, are candidly acknowledged as such. Decorum required that one should know one's place in the world, and that of others; it was a matter not just of rhetorical theory but of epistolary good manners to relate both content and tone to the expectations of the recipient .Macleod approached such things as a student of ethics rather than a prosopographer, but the personalities of Horace's friends emerge sufficiently: the youthful Lollius 0.2) can be given tactful advice about conduct; the patrician Torquatus (1. 5) is teased with humorous admiration; Vinnius (1. 13) has a lowlier status, so genial condescension is in order. A patron is a special SOrt of superior friend, whose benefactions must be acknowledged without a loss of self-respect: Macleod shows particular appreciation of Horace's delicate managtment of Maecenas 0.7).The panegyric to AugustuSeat the beginning of 2. 1 now tends to be thought insincere flattery: for Horace the well-adjusted man should handle kings with JUSt the right deference, and those who act otherwise simply display their own insincerity. The Epistles have long presented a challenge to the translator: But ask not, to what DoCtors I apply? Sworn to no Master, of no Sect am 1: As drives the storm, at any door I knock: And house with Montagne now, and now with Locke. Ill! Macleod completed his translation of Horace's Epistles in the summer of 1976, though he later made considerable revisions .It was common at that time to look at the work as an experiment in literary form, a typically ingenious attempt to transfer to verse the manner of a Roman gentleman's letters to friends, or of Greek hortatOry epistles to a public audience. But JUSt as in the case of Homer, Macleod followed earlier generations in recognising a deeper element, which is well expounded in his 'Poetry of Ethics: Horace, Epistles 1',by far the most significant of his eight contributions to the study of this poet (jRS 69 ,1979, 16 ff. Collected Essays 280 ff.)Here he underlines how ancient moral philosophy was concerned not just with the analysis of concepts but with actually 'living aright'.He frankly recognises its largely self-centred nature and the comparatively small part it assigns to altruism. In a particularly illuminating passage he explains that the boundary between ethics and etiquette might be less clear-cut than the modern world expects: here Horace follows Cicero's De Officiis, which had been written only twenty years before, when the poet was a young man of twenty and a student of philosophy. His code is less concerned with large questions of principle that with luck may seldom arise than with limited and to some extent achievable aims O. 1. 33 'you can make IX Pope's imitation of 1. 1 is suitably distinguished, but his pointed antitheses do not bring out the variety and informality of the original (deliberately underplaying its strength 'as Horace says of his satires in general).Strident modernity x Foreword would be even more objectionable: in the Epistles Horace captured the urbanity of his new-found social milieu ,with its discreetly raised eyebrows and self-deprecating irony, and that is a difficult quality to imitate in twentieth century verse (wi thout Eliot it would have been even harder).But there is also nowadays a new awareness that the epistles are poems, whose inventive imagery goes far beyond the conventions of prose letters, or even the livel y parables of Greek popular philosophy; in the opening lines of the book Horace compares himself in turn to a retired gladiator, a man with wax in his ears, a worn-out horse, and a wayfarer caught in a stOrm (see David West, Reading Horace, 1967, 22 ff.)There are puns on proper names ,much other word-play, and metaphors that are less dead than they look; these effects are difficult to reproduce, even when noticed, but Macleod had an eye for such things, and is less ready than most translators to normalise and misrepresent. Yet he would have been the first to recog nise that in translation, as in scholarship and 'living aright',nothing is definitive; if students looked for possible improvements, that would be a more instructive exercise than most things they are invited to do. All who care for Latin poetry are indebted to Professor John Van Sickle for making available these thought-provoking experiments. Corpus Christi College R. G. M. Nisbet Oxford To tEDUARD FRAENKEL FRANCIS CAIRNS CARL SCHMIDT Preface Xlll PREFACE It is a pleasure to acknowledge something of what this book owes to others. Robin Nisbet and Hugh Lloyd-Jones read a draft of the whole and saved me from many errors. My debt to Professor Nisbet goe·s further still .He put at my disposal his own renderings of almost all the Epistles, from which I have helped myself liberally, and he pointed me firmly and continually towards a translation drawn from a lively understanding ,not a mechanical mastication, of the original. However this attempt be rated, iT is far better than it would have been without his help, so unstintingly given. Susan Harrold typed the manuscript (much of it twice) and also found time to make both shrewd and encouraging comments. I have learned much from conversation and correspondence with Edward Burn: and in the final stages I have had helpful criticisms from Nigel Wilson and A.G. Lee. The dedication records my debt to the three friends to whom lowe most of what I understand about poetry, ancient and modern. I must also record gratitude to Horace himself. His subtlety and wisdom gave me constant warmth and illumination as a reader, even while they baffled me as a translator. If this book conveys anything of these qualities to others, I am content .TEXTUAL NOTE I have deleted three lines as interpolated (hence gaps in the numeration):1. 1. 56, with Guyet; l. 18.91-2 (bibztli .oderzmt),with Meineke; 2.2.101, with Schuetz. Christ Church, Oxford C. W. M .September 1978 Introduction xv INTRODUCTION In 23 B.C. Horace's first three books of Odes appeared. In the years which followed, up to the completion of Epistles I, his work tOok a new turn, and the ethical themes which had had some place in his lyric verse became his entire concern. Epistles 2. 1, though probably not 2 .2, belongs to the period after 17 B. C. when Horace had taken up lyric again; but it still regards literature with the moralist's detachment. This changt of direction is announced in Epistles 1. 1 as a total renunciation of poetry .Of course, the Epistles themselves are poetry, and poetry of a high finish; but this declaration is not an absurd irony. What it expresses, as the context makes clear, is that poetry by comparison with philosophy is a iudus -a 'game',or worse, a gladiatorial 'show' or 'school':now Horace wants to learn goodness and wisdom. Thus he refers to the Epistles as mere 'caliJeries' sermones: 1.4 .1; 2.1.4, 250) and regards himself as Out of action for poetry (2.2.49 ff; An Poetica 304 fO. The ambiguity of this position has a distinguished precedent in Plato ,who in the Phaedrus condemns writing and prefers the informal and questioning method of conversation: the purpose of writing dialogues, then, is above all to represent such a method .So tOO Horace 's Epistles ,no less informal and questioning, ask not to be considered as poetry, if poetry is to be a diversion from more serious matters, and represent their author as a seeker, often a failed or fumbling seeker, after wisdom .As still a working poet, he is not a philosopher; yet his work is dedicated to philosophy: he 'lays down 'pono) verse, but he is 'putting down' condo et campana) in verse guidance for living 0.1. 10-12).It goes with this that the language of the Epistles is basically a form, thoug h a subtly stylized and highly pregnant form, of everyday speech; and a grander tOne, though always available, is sparingly used .This is also part of what is implied by the term senna. Needless to say, Horace's art is as fine here as it ever was. His mastery of varying stylistic levels is one example of this ;so also the carefully designed meanderings of his argument, which regularly omits connectives and defies any division into paragraphs, or his use of puns and metaphors which often form a paradox so as to point up an error or an ideal. But this artistry is properly unobtrusive; it Introduction Introduction challenges the reader's thoughtfulness withour advertising the writer's virtuosity. Thus it helps to effect the moral purpose of the poems. And in fact Horace is much less concerned than in the Satires -also sermones -to say that his genre is not a lofty one: in the Epistles such a remark occurs only in 2.1 (250 ff.)where he has to some degree made his peace with poetry again. Elsewhere, the distinguishing feature of the Epistles is their ethical concern. This emerges in l. 20 no less than in 1. l. The fiction of the "escaping book" in that piece occurs also in Arrian's preface to his Discourses of Epictetus (no tes from the words of the great StOic philosopher);bur where Arrian uses it to explain the un-literary style of his work, Horace uses it to make an oblique critism of the au thor's ambition and vanity. The background to Horace's choice of the letter-form is complex; but since it sheds a little light on these unique poems, it may be briefly considered. Two main strands of tradition converge in the Epistles. On the one hand, the letter is a characteristic form for personal poetry on a small scale. Catullus 35 or Propertius 1. 7 (which opens wi th the same formula as Epistles 1. 2 :While you .1.announce themselves clearly as letters; many other ancienr poems could be taken to be letters, simply because private in character and addressed to individuals, outside any particular setting. So for Lucilius, Horace's predecessor in satire, the letter is an offhand example of poetry on a small scale (341);and his own book V contains such a poem. On the other hand, the letter in prose is a medium for popularizing philosophy or simply g iving advice. Thus of Epicutus' surviving letters, the first twO are brief expositions of aspec ts of his teaching and the last an exhortati on to undertake philosophy; and in others (of which only fragments remain) he counselled friends in a more personal fashion. So roo the educator Isocrates writes to Nicocles with advice on how to live and rule, a form (the spewlztm principis) destined to have a long history and copied in anriquity by the pseudo-Isocrates in To Demoniws. It should be added that even private letters in real life could be highly deliberate and self-conscious: Demetrius in his treatise On Style (223 -35) discusses their style and putpose; Cicero in his correspondence often debates overtly what 'type' geml.!of letter he is to wrlte (e .g. Ad Familiares 2.4.1; 4.1 3: 1; 6.10.4),and many ot hiS letters are highly -worked pieces of prose .As in the eighteenth century ,then ,the letter was a na turall y artistic form .Bur the Epistles are also a natural g rowth in Horace's own work .The Odes had done much to give philosophical themes a place in Latin lyric poetry: 2.3 or 3.29, for example, which take the common lyric form of an invitation to drink ,are also far from superficial meditations on Epicurean themes. In the Satires Horace ,in a plainer and blunter manner ,uses philosophy to criticize his own and other men 's follies ;and the Epistles share with the Scttires not only a low style overall, but also particular features of that g enre :the telling of fables and an ecdotes ro point a moral, and the use of dialogue ,where the imaginary interlocutor tends to represent the unregenerate human being. In fact, it is not easy to define neatly the difference between th e Satires and Epistles, if we leave aside the consistent use of the letter-form in the later book and its absence from the earlier one .It is, indeed, a matter of deg ree .The Epistles concentrate entirely on ethical themes, abandoning reminiscence, scandal or obscenity; and there is no claim to attack individuals there. Nor do they ever use, like Satire.!2 .2, 3 or 7 ,other characters than the poet himself as an ironic mouthpiece for moral teaching. Again the declaration of Epistle 1. 1 turns out to be true: their .character as personal ethics is the distinguishing mark of these poems .What, then, was the place of ethics in Horace's world ,and what did it mean to him? Although in his time it was a subject for philosophical schools, it was by no means confined to their walls. Philosophers were heard with familiarity and respect at widely differing levels of society. Some Hellenistic kings, and later some highly-placed Romans ,kept philosophers in their houses as advisers or tutOrs. At the other end of the scale, philosophy was diffused by itinerant preachers :Diogenes the Cynic, like the Cynics in general, was a genuinely popular figure. Horace himself, a person of humble origins, went to study philosophy in Athens as a young man, as we learn from Epistles 2.2.43-5. As that passage makes clear, these studies were meant to impart truth and goodness, to offer an aspiration and a guide for everyone .And that moral philosophy was part of an educated man's daily life and thinking emerges from the correspondence of Cicero (a less X V] XVII XVlll In trod union subtle and thoughtful person than Horace):not only because medication and writing on ethics was a com fore ro him when he was unable ro take pare in politics, but also because the teachings of philosophers could serve, say, ro calm a friend's and his own wounded pride, or to help face a bereavement (Ad Faill. 3.7.5 ;4. 5; 5. 13 .1) Accordingly, philosophers were concerned not least with questions posed by the society they and their public moved in. The Epistles are as good an illustration as any of this. How a dependant should behave with his patron (1.7, 17, 18) how ro take worldly success (l.8, 16),how ro use infl uence (l .9) or leisure (1.4),even how ro drink 0.5) all these matters fall within the scope of ethics. So roo the pranice of poetry. In the Epistles that deal with that ropic 0.3, 19; 2.1 -2) Horace channels, fruitfully and refreshingly, a tendency of ancient literary criticism, which both discusses the moral usefulness of poetry or worth of poetic inspiration ,and characterizes writers and their style in moral terms .Of course, Greek ethics was not entirely homogenous, and Horace himself in Epistles 1. 1 indicates that he is continually moving from one school of thought ro another. Some of their differences are briefly indicated in the introductions and notes to individual poems; and the reader can pursue them in translations and in helpful modern studies. But far more important here is what they have in common, which derives in the main from the greatest of all ancient thinkers, Socrates and Plato .Ethics is the art of living -living in the world with For the Sroics, see above all Epinetus and Marcus Aurelius; for the Epicureans, see C. Bailey, Epimrtts (1926),Diogenes Laertius X and Lucretius. Cicero's philosophical works give a conspectus of current teachings. Modern studies: e.g. A.A. Long, Hellenistic Philosophy (1974);F.J. Sandbach, The Stoics (1975);J.M. Rist, Epiamts (1972);A. J. Festugiere, Epicurus and his Gods (Eng. tr. 1955).A.D. Nock, Conversion (1928: reprinted paperback 1961) ch. 11, is a masterly acCount of the spiritual significance of philosophy in antiquity .Introduction XIX oneself, with others and with circumstances, and an art ,because it requires an understanding, won through continuous experience and dedication, of those things. And they are closely linked. A Stoic sees the world as permeated by a spirit which is God and reason at once; for him, understanding is ro take his place in this rational universe, whatever sufferings and humiliations t hat may entail, and ro sever those purely individual passions which tear him apart from it. It follows that he is committed to social and family life; for those affections, like the elementary instinct of self-love they grow out of, are no less rational. For an Epicurean understanding is to accept that the gods have no influence on the world and t hat death is final and inevitable; when false terrors are banished, and when he has learned to cultivate natural pleasures and friendships, he can gain a happy and unshakeable detachment. Horace, like Socrates ,is not concerned with the more technicalor scientific aspen of these or any other philosophies; but his ethics no less embraces all his experience, activities and relationships .A modern reader might wish ro criticize ancient ethics as self-centered. A Christian could say that it lacks a sense of sin and of the need for divine grace; and Horace has no ideal of surrender ro ·g od through faith and love, though that could not be said of all the thinkers of his time (e.g. contrast Epistles l. 18 .III ff. with Epictetus l. 16. 15 -21).A Marxist could say that in the philosophies of Horace's time, ro achieve the good does not entail reshaping society, and that their ethics is qui te unconcerned with social justice and equality :it is not enough that Horace (see Epistles l. 14 or Satires 2.7) can see himself as no better, or even worse ,than his slaves and treat wi t h severity the practices and values of Roman upper- class life (see Epistles l. 16- 18).Neither critic would be wrong. Ancient ethics is dominated by the ques tion which inspires Plaro's Republic or Gorgias: how can one live best? But this is a question which, if we accept that all men c,a nnot but be individuals, and cannot but seek a place in the world as they find it at any moment, is unavoidable. And Horace, again like Socrates, truly responds ro the Delphic command "Know yourself."His insight, unsparingly critical, keenly humorous, warmly understanding, into his own failings and needs extends naturally ro others and ro the society in which he moved; and it gives xx Introduction him the right to be read with attention as a moralist and psychologist no less than as a poet: Listen to your old friend, who is still a learner, as if a blind man were showing you the way; but see if some of even my thoughts might be worth your taking over. EPISTLES BOOK ONE xx Introduction him the right to be read with attention as a moralist and psychologist no less than as a poet: Listen to your old friend, who is still a learner, as if a blind man were showing you the way; but see if some of even my thoughts might be worth your taking over. EPISTLES BOOK ONE Epistles 1. 1 3 EPISTLE 1 Horace's first letter is addressed to his patron. He begins by refusing Maecenas 'request that he take up poetry again. Such refusals are common in the Augus tan poets, who in this way often contrive to praise public figures or discuss political questions while maintaining the attitude of an uncommitted artist. But Horace is committed, and not like a practitioner of lyric or pastoral or elegiac to lighter themes, but to wisdom. The poem thus develops into a protreptic (exhortation to philosophy),which is unusual, and saved from the tone of a sermon, by being directed at the poet himself. It thus also states a programme for the whole book. Horace is concerned "to ask what is right and fitting":that explains the ethical character of the Epistles. Horace is still in search of wisdom, trying out one philosophy after another: that explains his restless diversity of views and his frequent back-sliding in the rest of the volume. The imagery of lines 13 -22, moreover, stresses that the writer's philosophic aspirations and experiments are those of a confused, indecisive and impatient human being .The poem's themes are typical of the protreptic. Philosophy is good for all ages and conditions of men, so that to delay taking it up -as Horace is doing in spite of himself -is folly (cf. Epicurus, Lettel" to Menoecef.tS 122);it is worth making a little progress even if we shall never reach the goal (cf. Epictetus l. 2.37);the efforts which go towards inferior ends should be spent on the search for wisdom, which is far less burdensome (cf. Aristotle in Iamblichus, ProMptriws 6);to see our own weakness, or the discrepancies between men at large and within ourselves, is the beginning of philosophy (cf. Epictetus 2.l.1, 13; 2.17.1, 14).Horace concludes by putting this last point so as to touch not only himself bur his addressee: Maecenas, whose own weakness is vanity, fails to see the real discrepancies in Horace. But the poet qualifies any excess or harshness there might be in his new attitude: partly by what he ·also began with, a warm profession of his grateful dependence on Maecenas, partly by recalling that even the perfect sage is human .Horace's 'sickness' or 'madness 'is something he shares, and always will, with other men. If he is still a beginner (lines 20-27),so are we all; and philosophy is a help, not a panacea (lines 33-37).4 EpistleJ 1. 1 Epistles 1. 1 EPISTLE 1 10 20 30 40 My Muse's first and final theme, Maecenas, I've been on show enough, obtained my discharge, yet you try to squeeze me back into those old games. I' m not th e same age or th e same man .The fighter has hung up his arms and is lying low in the country: no more beggi ng the public for his life. A voice keeps ringing now in m y uncl ogged ears ;Be sensible: quick ,loose the ageing horse ,or they' ll laug h when his flanks heave and he falls at the finish .So now I lay down verse and all those games ;m y whole concern is to ask what is rig ht and fi tting .I am putting down what I can bring Out later. And to save yo u asking in whose camp I lodge, I'm not bound to swear allegiance to a trainer; wherever th e stOrm drives me I stOp for a while. I actively dtOwn in th e surge of public life ,true vi rtue's keeper and unbending lackey ,and then slide back into Aristippus 'teachings, and try to rid e, not be ridden by my fortunes. As a ni g ht seems long to a lover tricked by his mistress, a day to a hired labourer ,or a year sluggish to boys oppressed by their mothers 'love, so slow and tiresome to me is the tim e that shelves my hopes and plans of doing whole-heartedly the thing which is good for rich and poor alike and bad for both old and young to disregard. I get by, till th en ,with these elementary maxims. If your sight was no match for Lynceus 'that would never make yo u refuse an ointment for sore eyes; or if you despaired of a champion's phys ique ,you wo uld not let arthritis g narl yo ur fingers. You can make prog ress up to a point ,if no further. Does your heart burn with g reed or ache with lust! There are saws and spells which can relieve yo ur passion and rid yo u of the worst of your disease. Are yo u swollen with ambition ?There are remedies: cull thri ce, with a clean mind ,the words of wisdom. Envy, bad temper, idleness, drink, promiscuity no-one's vice is tOO savage to become tamer ,if he only lends a patient ear to instruction. 50 60 70 80 5 Goodness begi ns with shunning evil, wisdom with dropping fo lly. To avo id what yo u think worst, tOO small an income or failure at the eleCtions, yo u're ready to risk your peace of mind ,yo ur life :yo u sc urry across the wo rld in search of imports ,fl ee poverty through sea and rocks and Barnes; to free yourself of your foolish asp irations ,why not listen and learn and tnist yo ur betters I What boxer that goes the rounds of small-tOwn contes ts would spurn an Olympic crown, if he had hopes and promi ses of winning it painlessly! Silver's worth less than gold ,and gold than goodness. Romans ,co untrym en, look for money fi rst ,and after cash ,goodness" thus di ctates the templ e of the exchange, and yo ung and old repeat it. You've charaCter ,yo u can speak, and with authority, but you r wealth is JUSt tOo small to raise your status: yo u're in the ruck .And ye t ,Do the right thing,"say boys at play, and yo u shall be king, our stronghold's a co nscience with no g uilt to turn us pale. Which is better, Roscius 'bill or the nursery rhyme that g ives kings hip to the people who do rig ht ,that the heroes of old Rome kep t reciting! Whom should you listen to, one who says, Get ri ch, hones tly if yo u can, if not, JUSt rich ,to give you a close-up seat at weepy p lays, or one who stands by yo u and enables yo u to res ist th e pride of Fortune head unbowed) But if th e Roman people as ked me why I walk where they do, but do not think like them ,and do not share th eir tas tes or their ave rsi ons ,I should reply like the canny fox in the fable to th e sick lion: Those foot-prints frighten me; all of them point towards yo u ,and none back .You beast with many heads, which should I follow )Some hanker after public contraCts ;others go hunting wealth y widows with cakes and fruit or try to trap old men for th ei r reserves ;many tend th e dark grow th of interes t. But still ,g ranted th at eve ryo ne's aims and business di ffe r: can anyo ne man accep t one thing for long l 6 90 100 Epistles 1. 1 There's not a beach in the world to outshine Baiae,"says the rich man, and its waters feel the lust of the impatient magnate; but if some morbid whim has lent its sanction, it's "Off with yOut tools tomorrow "If he owns a double bed, to Teanum ,workmen~ nothing, he claims, can beat the single life; if not, he swears you're only happy married. However can I pinion such a Proteus? Whatalaugh! He changes garrets, beds, And the poor ma~?baths ,barbers; he's sick in his hired boat as the rich man who has bought the yacht that sails him. If I meet you, and my hair-cut is uneven, you laugh; if I have a threadbare shirt on under a thick coat ,or my toga is askew, you laugh; but if my mind 's at odds with itself, rejects what it wanted, wants what it juSt gave up, fluctuates, clashes with my whole way of life, pulls down, constructs, replaces square with round? I have the normal madness; you neither laugh nor think I need a doctor or a guardian from the court, although it's you who uphold my fortunes and grumble if you notice an ill-cut nail in the friend who looks to you, depends on you. In short, the wise man's next to god :rich, free ,honoured, handsome, a king of kings, and sound in mind and body -unless his nose is streaming. NOTES 6. A defeated gladiator could be killed by his opponent or spared at the public's whim. 14. Gladiators swore an oath to their trainers which virtually enslaved them to him. 16-19. Lines 16-17 allude to the Stoics 'rigorous pursuit of virtue and their belief that the wise man should take a part in civic life. Aristippus was a pupil of Socrates: anecdotes about him are recorded in Diogenes Laertius 2.65 -83 ,and used by Horace in Epistles 1.17. Unlike the Stoics, he was a hedonist, an opportunist and an individualist: his behaviour is thus contrasted here Epistles 1. 1 7 with their ideal of submission to the rational proVIdence which ordains things as they are. 34-6. To compare philosophy with a magical cure is ironic, but also represents its power to change a man, through reason, at a deeper level than the merely rational. The metaphor comes from Plato (especially the Charmides).48- 5 2. At smaller contests an athlete could earn prizes worth money; but the prize for the highest achievement, an Olympic victory, was only a laurel wreath. As boxers would prefer an Olympic crown, says Horace, although it brings no material gain, so men would prefer goodness -if they had confidence in their power to attain it. But in fact the rewards of philosophy are won with less pain and effort than those of commerce. 62. The lex Roscia (77 B.C.)reserved the first fourteen rows in the theatre for those who were worth 400,000 sesterces or more. 83 -87. Baiae was a fashionable resort in the bay of Naples; Teanum was inland in Campania. 106-8. The Stoics, to indicate the perfect unity and adequacy of virtue, said that the wise man possessed every skill and every gift of fortune. 8 Epistles 1. 2 Epistles 1. 2 EPISTLE 2 Like the previous poem, this is a protreptic, but a subtly contrasting one, because addressed to a young man. Lollius has been praCtising rhetoric as part of his education: Horace has been studying Homer for his ethical teaching. This reinforces the renunciation of poetry for philosophy in Epistle 1: for Homer is treated as simply the philosopher par excellence .At line 27 Horace rounds on himself and his addressee with criticism and exhortation: his forceful abruptness here is strikingly different from the quiet ruefulness of Epistle 1 (lines 20-6) in expressing a similar thought. The series of clipped maxims which follows is a typical feature of protreptics: compare Isocrates, To Nicocles ,pseudo-Isocrates, To DemoniCtts or Iamblichus, ProtrepticttS 2 .But here this has a more distinctive purpose, to reinforce the sense of urgency which pervades the poem. The last words, however ,as in Epistle 1, introduce a qualification: Horace is not dawdling on the search for goodness, but neither is he hurrying. The sharp and insistent tone was adopted for the age of his addressee; it is saved from being offensive by Horace's sobriety in the pursuit of virtue (cf Epistles 1. 6 .15 ff.)and his consciousness of his own failings. 20 30 EPISTLE 2 10 Troy's poet, Lollius ,while you declaim at Rome, has been my reading at Praeneste. He shows what's right or wrong, helps or harms, with more clarity and force than the philosophers. Let me explain why I think so, if you've time. The tale of how Paris's infatuation dashed Greece and Asia together in lingering confliCt contains both kings' and peoples' seething folly .Antenor proposes to sever the cause of the war. And Paris ?I can't be forced, he says, to live and reign in peace. Nestor tries busily to end the dispute of Peleus 'with Atreus' son. Lust burns in the one, and rage in bOth. When kings rave ,the people take the rap .Sedi tion, trickery ,crime, desire, anger, lead men astray both in and outside Troy .40 9 By contrast, the value of true manhood and of wisdom is helpfully embodied in his Ulysses, who put down Troy, who saw into cities and the ways of the world, who suffered over the ocean to bring himself and his men safe home again ,but never drowned in the hostile surge of troubles. You recall the Sirens' song and the cup of Circe: if, like his men, he had drunk it Out of greed and folly ,he'd have been unmanned by a mistress, lived like a filthy dog or a pig in its muck .We are statistics, consumers of the field, playboys like the suitors of Penelope or A1cinous' young men, toO busy softening their skins, proud to sleep till noon, and then induce the slumbers they delayed with the strumming lyre. Robbers, to cut throats, rise before daybreak :will you not wake to save yourself? And yet if you will not run when sound, you will with dropsy ;if you do not ask for a book and lamp by dawn, if you do not turn your thoughts to the search for goodness ,you'll toSS and turn on the rack of lust and envy. You waste no time in taking a speck from your eye, but put off for a year treating what eats your heart. To begin is half the battle. Dare be wise now. To postpone the moment for ri g ht living is to wait like an oaf for the river to pass, when It flows down, flows on ,keeps rolling for all tim e. People seek money and a wealthy wife to bear their sons, tame forests with the ploug h: if fortune has given enough you should want no m ore. It 's nOt his house o( land, his heaps of cash and bullion that deduct the fever from the sick owner's body or the worries from his heart ;he must have health if he's minded to use well what he amassed .Where greed or fear is, possessions are as good as paintings to the bleary-eyed, wraps to the gOut y, music to ears that ache wi th gathered filth. If the jar's not clean, whatever you put in it sours .Spurn self-indulgence: pain, its price ,does harm .The miser's always in need: limit your wishes .Envy grows thin at other men's fat profits :10 50 60 Epistles 1. 2 the cruellest tyrant could not invent a torture wo us Musa (cf. 15.3 ;Suet. Aug. 81).For the double meani ng of CZt1'arzmz, cf. e.g .Ov. T r. l. 11. 12 omnis ab hac cura CZtra levata mea est. Man's proper activit y (cf. l. 11) and his true medici ne (cf. 1. 28-40 )is philos ophy. heavenly wisdom "is compa red to a general leadires: 27. ing his trOOps intO action: cf. 2.2.37 (a praetor addressin g one of his soldiers) i bone quo virtus ttta te vocat ,i pede famto. Marc hing" behind wisdom is in contra st with the "flittin g about" of line 21, and also, by implicati on, with the literal campa ign Florus is on. The philos ophic life is often compa red to soldier ing :e.g. Arr .Epict. 3.24.3 1-6; Sen .De vit.beat. 15.5 ;and for simila r phrasi ng in this metap hor see Sen. De otio 1.5 .opus .studium: this is the true "work" or "conce rn".28. parvi .et ampli: cf. l. 25 -6 n .Philos ophy is useful to the state, because it makes the 29. citizen s better: cf. Arr. Epict. 4 .5.3 5; so tOO for Aristotle (Pol. 1252b 30) the aim of the city is the same as that of philos ophy, living well".And because he achieves inner harmo ny and becomes good, the true philos opher is "dear to himse lf':cf. 18.101 ;PI. Rep. 621c (a major theme in the whole work);Arist. E.N. 1166b 25 -9; Sen .Ep .6.7. ionate) 30-1. sit .Munatius "wheth er you have as much (affect ht be mig ius Munat "concer n as is proper for Munat ius 7. 1. ad. of see a son of L. Munat ius Plancu s, addres 31-2 .The metap hor is of a wound :cf. Petron .113.8 veritm ne inter initia coettntis gratiae cicatricem rescinderet .Clearly the two young hot-he ads had been recently ,and precariously, reconciled after a quarre l. rerum inscitia "inexperience "immaturity" 33. indomita cervice feros: the metap hor recalls 1.39 and 34 .2.64-5 .foedus: indigni is vocative (0 you who .indigni .35 rather than nomin ative. For the personal constr uction with this adjecti ve, cf.,e.g.,A.P. 23 1: transla te "of whom it would be unwor thy to break .Foedus "treaty "is anothe r metap hor proper to m en on cam- 104 36 .Remar ks &Notes: l. 3 paign (cf. 6 n.)for its use of private individ uals cf.,e.g, Cat. 109.6. vestrum is a fine touch: Horace stresses to Florus, who may be estrang ed from Munat ius ,that he, Horace ,is a friend to both of them. votiva because Horace will sacrifice the heifer if and when the two return safely: cf. Nisbet -Hubb ard on Od .1.36.2 .Remar ks &Notes: l. 3 105 REMA RKS ON EPISTLE l.9 His friend Septim ius -no doubt the addressee of Od. 2.6 (see Nisbe t-Hub bard, p.93) and the man mentio ned in a letter of Augus tuS 'to Horace -has asked the poet to draw him to the attenti on of Tib. Claudi us Nero, Augus tus' stepson, later to become the emper or Tiberi us .So this is a letter of comm endati on (seventy-nin e such letters are assembled in Book 13 of Cicero, Ad /amiliares) It has a place in this volume because Septim ius has posed Horace a small, bur acure moral proble m: is he to recom mend his friend to the great man and risk defeat ing his purpos e by presum ing tOO far? Or is he, for fear of that, to do nothin g and risk cuttin g the figure of a selfish hypocr ite? He judges the latter course to be the greate r evil; hence the letter. Thus we see Horace 's ethics in action: friends hip and self-awareness -always major themes in his poetry -prevail over bashfulness. The poem is also a masterly examp le of its genre. Tiberi us was reserved and touchy: he could hardly be annoye d by so unassu ming a letter. At the same time, its very modes ty makes it more effective. If Horace has dared after 'all to write for his friend, and if he need say no more in his favour than he does (13 n.)then Septim ius must clearly be "worth y of the charac ter /judgem ent and the househ old of Tiberi us, who chooses what is right and good "4).NOTE S 1-3. nimirzmz.scilicet. evide ntly .needless to say .both particl es, in differe nt ways, bring our Horace's embar rassme nt. Nimiru m is evasive and mildly ironical :Horace is acting on his friend's belief that Tiberi us holds him in high esteem ,bur he declines to assert it on his own accoun t. Scilicet invites Tiberi us not to be shocked or surpris ed at the reques t, by implyi ng that he must already have unders tood what Horace is working up to say .For scilicet with Zit, cf. 20 .2 (if the book is lookin g toward s the shops, there can be no doubt of its intenti ons);2.2.44 (if Horace further ed his education at Athen s, it was natura lly, since the city "as fa- 106 3. 4. 5. 6. 8-9. Remar ks &Notes: 1.3 Remar ks &Notes: 1.3 mous for its philos ophica l schools, by studyi ng philos ophy);Virgo Aen. 6.750 (the answe r to Aeneas 'question and thus also the natura l conclu sion of Anchises 'discourse).In genera l, cf. Madvi g on Cic. Fin .5.3. unus: again, mildly ironical. If "only" Septim ius knows that Tiberi us thinks so well of Horace ,then we may doubt wheth er he is right: contra st Cic. Ad. lam. 13.10. 4 (cf. 5.1) si me tanti /acis quanti et Varro existimet et ipse sentio .Horace also implie s that no one else will be beggin g him to approa ch Tiberi us, so the great man need nOt fear any furthe r letters .quanti me facias: the writer of a letter of comm endati on the addressee may natura lly refer to the .esteem ~hic with more so does lly norma has for him; bur he igitur feceris 2 13.67. confidence. Contra st Cic. Ad /am. 10.4 cf. facias; me quanti mihi gratissimum si ei dec/arm-is 61. 16.3, quote d in the previous note),laudare et tradere coner "try to recom mend and introduce".Coner meticu lously spells our that the decisio n can only be Tiberi us'.dignum: a standa rd term in letters of comm endati on: Cic. Ad/am .13.3 (cf. 6.4, 7.5, 14 .2 etc.)tua amicitia dignissimum. in thinki ng fit that I should perfor m the duty of a quite close friend".The cum-clause here runs paralle l to that of line 2. The accum ulation of subord inate clau~es brings Out Horace 's embar rassme nt again: it is hard for him to come to the point. He sees (in this case) and knows (in genera l) what I can achieve better than I do mysel f'.Thus the point is not, as usual in comm endato ry letters ,I know him well /he is an old friend of mine, accept him into your friends hip" cf. Cic. Ad lam .13 .2, 3, 5. 2, 77.2 etc.)but "he knows me well in that he assures me to be (already) a friend of yours" By modify ing the conventional phrase ology Horace points to the delicacy of his posi tion. What Horace feared to be is the eiron, of whom Aristotle says (E.N. 1127a2 2-3):dokei arneisthai ta huparchonta e elatto poiein (he seems to deny his own capaci -11. 12. 13. 107 ties, or to play them down" This type was on the whole less admire d in ancien t Greece and Rome than in moder n Englan d (see furthe r Theop hr. Char. 1);and here such behavi our could well be no more than selfishness (mihi commodus uni).rontis .urbanae .praemia: the rewards which the selfassurance of a man-o f-the-w orld brings "by contra st with pudor subrusticus (Cic. Ad lam. 5. 12.1; cf. Ov .Her. 19.59; Sen. Ben. 2.3.2) clumsy embar rassme nt. descendi is wittily ambig uous. More obviously, it means "I have lowered myself, resorte d to" OLD S. v.,8a-b);that sense goes natura lly with /ugiens, but gives a lively oxymo ron with praemia; one does not usually stOOp to "rewards" But the sense "I have entere d",sc. a fight or battle (OLD S .V. 3c),is also presen t: that sense goes natura lly with praemia (cf. e.g.,2.2.38 ;Od. 4.8.3) and stands in lively contra st to /ugiens. The wry humour of all this makes it imposs ible for the addressee to be indign ant. ob amici imsa: this is well within the class of things a man should nOt shrink from doing for a friend: for this as a topic of philos ophy, cf. Cic. Off. 3.43; Lael. 36-40. scribe tui gregis hzmc "enrol l him (as one) of your entourage" ortem .bonumque: cf. Cic. Ad lam. 13.77. 2 (simila r, 25, 28.8) M. Bolanum, virum bonum et /ortem .tibi magno opere commendo. Septim ius' merits occupy half a line; Horace 's proble ms have taken twelve .108 109 Remarks &Notes: 1. 14 Remarks &Notes: 1.14 REMARKS ON EPISTLE l. 14 The poem happily blends sternness with kindness, humour and self-awareness. Horace is leCturing his slave and like the ancients in general, he does not question the social system that allows him a life of leisure which the slave works to finance; but he can understand the slave's discontent and criticize his own. The poem is a comparison and contrast, a "contest" 4 certemus),between Horace and the slave who works his Sabine farm. Both have a job to do: the bailiff looking after Horace's property, and Horace attending to himself. The poet is in town, but panting and straining to get back to the country (6-9),whereas the bailiff longs to get back to town. Both are mistaken in blaming their "innocent surroundings" for their discontent :the fault is really in themselves 02-13).Horace is one up on the bailiff in so far as he is consistent: he always wants to be in the country, whereas the slave, when he worked in town, was eager to be sent to the country 04-16).But the slave's discontent is understandable since his life on the farm is one of hard manual labour, with no sources of pleasure like wine or women 09-30).Horace, on the other hand, has deliberately put wine and women behind him, he enjoys leisure and freedom from envy in the country (31-8),and if he does any work on the farm, it is an unusual and laughable occurrence (39),nOt in keeping with his main task, philosophy. The bailiff, though unhappy with his lot, is (unlike Horace) the object of envy: the man who is now doing his old job in town would gladly Opt for the perquisites of his colleague's. The conclusion is that both the town and the country slave -and both the country slave and Horace should cheerfully get on with their own business. The thought of the poem is subtly set in relief by the use of personal pronouns. Most obviously, there is a contrast between "me" and "you",Horace and the bailiff (2, 4, 10, 14, 16, 19 etc.)who are ,however, also "we" in that they have some faults in common 02, 18, 31).Over against this is set the use of the reflexive pronouns, introduced in the very first line (mihi me cf. 13, 16; similar in effect is mens animusque in 8) It is nOt really a question of Horace 's winning the "contest" with the bailiff, any more than in Epistle 10 it is a question of his winning the "argument" with Fuscus; what COuntS is to establish harmony between us and ourselves, and that means nOt just wanting one thing constantly, but being content to be where we are and do what we have to do. NOTES 1. 2-3. 4. 5. vilice "bailiff',but he is a slave, and his job includes manual labour (cf. 26-30).On the duties of a vilicus, see Cato, R.R. 142. mihi me reddentis "which gives me back myself again";i.e. when he returns there, Horace is his own master, as he is not in town: cf. 18.107 mihi vivam. Reddere also means "yield" in the agricultural sense (see OLD, s.v.,15);that meaning is present here toO: the farm's mater
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