Horace – Works
Horace Odes Notes
- olympic dust in the chariot race; the ‘glowing wheels’
- hurl thunderbolts with red hot hand.
- ‘radiant shoulders’
- preserve the half of my soul
- oak and three-fold brass
- merciless ocean
- the rolling monsters of the deep
- Jupiter: revengeful thunderbolts
- we aim at heaven ourselves in our folly
- ‘the short sum total of life forbids us to form remote expectations’
- life is a short sum total; let us not form remote expectations into the future. live now.
- blackening storms
- Mars covered with adamantine mail
- tomorrow we will revisit the vast ocean
- golden rod of Hermes; turn everything into gold (all bad situations into gold)
- abridge your hopes to the shortness of your life
- have no far-reaching hopes in life, because life is short!
- while we are conversing, envious age is flying; seize the present day, not giving the least credit to the succeeding one.
- ‘envious age’ is flying— let us seize the bet of today, and not depend or expect tomorrow.
- choicest verses (the best)
- mighty soul
- ‘waxen arms’
- your fair shoulders
- O ship, new waves will bear you back again to sea. O what are you doing? bravely seize the port! (stay retired, don’t move).
- don’t allow myself to be the sport of the winds (destiny throwing me around, like winds)
- ‘ardor of soul’ (burning) of soul
- lascivious ease
- Venus, rushing on me with her whole force
- place me under the chariot of the neighboring sun
- three-fold chimera
- perfection: when nothing left to take away! ***
- dont think about what to add from my life; but what to subtract from my life— until I am left with just working on what is essential to me— blogging? All in IA writer— or just text editor, or just wordpress?
- gloomy death
resigned to gloomy death nothing but his sinews and skin.
the game night awaits all; and the road of death must once be travelled.
the greedy ocean
covet the opulent treasures of the Arabians
Iberian armor; after you had promised better things?
allow me to possess my wealth; enjoy my acquisitions.
‘renew the course that I had deserted.’
Jupiter, who usually cleaves the clouds with his gleaming lightning.
lately drove his thundering horses and rapid chariot through the clear serene; which the sluggish earth, and the wandering rivers.
O Goddess; who presides over beautiful Antium; thou art ready to exalt mortal men from the most abject state; or to convert superb triumphs into funerals!
Thee the poor countryman solicits with his anxious vows; whosoever plows the Carpathian Sea with the Bithynian vessel, importnes thee as mistress of the ocean.
tyrants clad in purple; fear.
those with great wealth tremble in fear.
necessity; thy minister; marches before thee; holding in her brazen hand huge spikes and wedges; nor in the unyielding clamp absent; nor the melted lead.
Thee Hope reverences; and rare Fidelity robed in a white garment
The faithless crowd and the perjured harlot draw back
friends too equally faithless to bear the yoke of adversity; fly off
Alas! I am ashamed of our scars; and out wickenedss, and of our bretheren.
what have we; a hardened age, avoided?
What to avoid in life?
O mayest thou forge anew our blunted swords on a different anvil
IDEA: VIRTUE // virtuous raps?
3-minute slideshows . videos on youtube?
now my companions is the time to carouse; now to beat the ground with a light foot; now is the time to deck the couch of the gods.
‘contaminated gang of creatures’
intoxicated with her prospering fortune.
scarcely a single ship preserved from the flames bated her fury.
inflamed with Egyptian wine; to real fears.
seeking a more generous death; neither had an effeminate dread of the sword; nor repaired with her swift ship to hidden shores.
Strip away the superfluous
she was able to look upon her palace; lying in ruins; with a countenance unmoved, and courageous enough to handle exasperated asps, that she might imbibe in her body the deadly poison; having more resolved by having pre-meditated her death.
it is my particular desire that you make no laborious addition to the plain myrtle
don’t add laborious additions.
you are treading upon fires; hidden under deceitful ashes
avoid treading upon fires; there are hidden fires under deceitful ashes
even now you stun our ears with the threatening murmur of horns
now the glitter of arms affrights the flying steeds; and dazzles the sight of the riders.
i seem to hear the great commanders besmeared with glorious dust; and the whole earth subbed; except the stubborn soul of Cato.
what shore is unstained by our blood?
there is no luster in money concealed in the niggard earth
surviving fame shall bear him on an untiring wing
you may possess a more extensive dominion by controlling a craving disposition.
i have a more extensive dominion by controlling my cravings .
virtue, differing from the vulgar.
i am born to die
too short lived flowers of the grateful rose.
suppress your appetite for the immature grape
shortly variegated autumn will tinge for thee the lurid clusters with a purple hue.
shortly she shall follow you; for her impetuous time runs on, and shall place to her account those years of which it abridges you.
shining as brightly with her fair shoulder, as the spotless moon upon the midnight sea.
untaught to bear our yoke.
let there be an end to my fatigues by sea and land and war.
whence if the cruel fates debar me; i will seek the river.
that corner of the world smiles in my eye beyond all others; where the honey yields not, and the olives rivals the verdant Venafrian; and the temperature of the air produces a long spring and mild winters, and Aulon friendly to the fruitful vine; envies not the Falernian grapes.
that place, and those blest heights; solicit you and me; there you shall bedew the glowing ashes of your poet friend with a tear.
shamefully enough left my shield ; when valor was broken,
Mercury swiftly conveyed me away; in a thick cloud through the midst of the enemy.
Thee the reciprocating sea; with his tempestuous waves, bore again to War.
Fill up the polished bowls with care-dispelling Music; pour of the perfumed ointments from the capacious shells.
showers do not perpetually pour down upon the rough fields; nor do varying hurricane forever harass the Caspian sea
nor does the motionless ice remain fixed throughout all the months; nor to the Gargantuan oaks always labor under the northerly winds; nor are the ash-trees widowed of their leaves
Widowed of their leaves
when he flies the rapid approach of the sun.
the aged man who lives three generations
don’t perpetually bewail.
at length; desist from thy tender complaints; rolls more humble tides, riding within a prescribed boundary in a narrow tract of land.
O friend, you will lead a more correct course of life by neither always pursuing the main ocean, nor while you are cautiously in dread of storms, by pressing too much upon the hazardous shore. Whoever loves the golden mean is secure from the sordidness of an antiquated cell, and is too prudent to have a palace that might expose him to envy; if the lofty pine is more frequently agitated with the winds; and the high towers fall down with a heavier ruin; and lightnings strike the summits of the mountains.
you will live a better course in life by not always pursuing the main ocean; because you will always dread the storms. whoever loves the golden man is safe from a palace that might expose him to envy. if a tree is too agitated with the winds, it will fall with a heavier fall. what is taller will fall harder.
lightnings strike the summits of the mountains
lightning only attacks what is high up on the summit of the mountain
hope in adversity; but fear prosperity
Jupiter: brings thee hideous winters back; and also takes them away.
Apollo sometimes rouses the silent lyric muse; neither does he always bend his bow. In narrow circumstances appear in high spirits and undaunted. in the same manner youw ill prudently contract your sails, which are apt to be too much swollen in a prosperous gale.
neither be fearfully solicitous for the necessaries of a life; which require but a few things.
- don’t be afraid and thinking that i need the necessaries of life; i will have everything…just need a few things.
youth and beauty fly swift away; while sapless old age expels the wanton loves and gentle sleep.
the same glory does not always remain to the vernal flowers
- the glory will not always remain the same.
do you fatigue your mind; unequal to eternal projects?
- why do i fatigue my mind; disregard eternal projects— projects that never end?
our hoary locks made fragrant by roses.
Bacchus dissipates preying cares.
- How to dissipate the preying cares of life?
Sicilian Sea imperiled with Carthaginian blood
subbed by Herculean force
- how can I use my Herculean force in life?
from whom the splendid habitation of old Saturn dreaded danger.
the necks of haughty kings led in triumph through the streets in historical prose.
the will of the muse.
i should celebrate her bright darting eyes, and her breast laudbly faithful to mutual love.
when she turns her neck to meet your burning kisses.
even though i have all the wealth of the fertile lands, or all the dwellings of the Arabians replete with treasures — i still won’t have enough?
what we ought to be aware of; no man is sufficiently cautious at all hours.
the sailor dreads of the Bosphorus; but we don’t fear hidden fates from any other quarters?
we fear the seas; but why don’t we fear the hidden fates from other parts of our life?
the soldier dreads the arrows, chains and Italian prison/
we don’t feel afraid of the unexpected assault of death.
the unexpected assault of death has carried off, and will carry off, the world in general
the ghosts utter strains worthy of a sacred silence.
the crowd multitude; pressing with heir shoulders, imbibes, with a more greedy ear; battles and banished tyrants.
what wonder? since the many headed monster; astonished at those lays, hangs down his sable ears.
‘the fleeting years glide on’
piety will not cause any delay to wrinkles and advancing old age and insuperable (unable to super come) death.
in vain shall we be free from sanguinary (bloody) Mars
in vain shall we be apprehensive for ourselves of the noxious South, int he time of autumn.
the black Cocytus (hades sea) wandering with languid current, and the infamous race of Danaus, and Sisyphus; the son of the Aeolus, doomed to eternal toil.
your land, house, and pleasing wife must be left; and none of the trees i am nursing will follow me.
all the trees will be a master for a brief space.
Against the luxury of the Romans
all palaces, homes, architecture will eventually crumble. consider all these roman and greek villas— where are they now? just dust.
ancient custom: their private income was contracted, while that of the community was great (Romulus and Cato).
Contract my own private income; and help give more to the community.
wide Aegean Sea
when a black tempest has obscured the moon
star appears with steady light for the mariners; supplicates the gods for repose.
- repose (to pause) — we cannot purchase repose, peace, or tranquility with jewels, purple, or gold.
neither regal treasures nor the consul’s officer can remove the wretched tumults of the mind; nor the cares that hover about splendid ceilings.
great riches cannot remove the wretched tumults of my mind; nor eradicate my cares.
‘that man lives happily on a little; who can view with pleasure the old-fashioned on the frugal board; neither anxiety nor sordid avarice robs him of gentle sleep.’
‘why do we, brave for a short season, aim at many things?’
In life— aim for fewer things. why do we change our own for climates heated by another sun? why seek other climates?
consuming care boards even brazen-beaked ships.
‘a mind that is cheerful in its present state, will disdain to be solicitous any further, and can correct the bitters of life with a placid (pleasing) smile.’
let my mind be cheerful in my present state; disdain or hate to want anything more. look with a pleasing smile on life.
‘nothing is on all hands completely blessed.’
a premature death carried off the celebrated Achilles;
Tithonus; Trojan prince, eternal life, now grasshopper— chirps endlessly.
‘wool doubly dipped in the African purple-dye’
on me undeceitful fate has bestowed a small country estate
slight inspiration of the Grecian muse, and a contempt for the malignity of the vulgar.
if an untimely blow hurry away thee; a part of my soul
that fatal day shall bring destruction upon us both.
i have by no means taken a false oath: we will go, whenever thou shalt lead the way, prepared to be fellow-travelers in the last journey.
thee the benign (well born; gentle) protection of jupiter; shining with friendly aspect (to look at).
rescued from the baleful influence of impious Saturn
‘retarded the wings of precipitate (headlong; before the head/swift) destiny’
- turn back the wings of swift destiny
at the time the crowded people with resounding applauses thrice hailed you in the theatre
Against avarice and luxury
Luxury; ‘luxus’ (excess)
luxury: is excess— avoid excess in life!
day is driven on by day; and the new moons hasten to their wane (vain).
‘you put out marble to be hewn; though with one foot in the grave.’
**don’t work, when i have one foot in the grave! **
unmindful of stone prison cave; am building houses.
don’t be busy to extend the shore of the sea
what is the destined limit of rapacious (rapacious; snatch) Pluto (Hades)?
the impartial earth is opened equally to the poor and to the sons of kings.
nor has the life-guard ferryman of hell; bribed with gold, re-conducted the artful Prometheus.
my soul, replete with Bacchus
rivers flowing with milk
tell again of the honeys distilling from the hollow trunks.
you command the rivers and the barbarian sea.
you, moist with wine.
knot of vipers without hurt.
ornamented with your golden horn.
i, a two-formed poet, will be conveyed through the liquid air with no vulgar or humble wing; nor will i loiter upon earth any longer; and superior to envy, i will quit cities.
quit the city?
Stygian wave. Dark wave. black wave.
at this instant a rough skin settles upon my ankles; and all upwards i am transformed into a white bird, and the downy plumage arises over my fingers and shoulders.
no unmanly lamentations nor bewailing at my imaginary funeral.
keep the uninitiated vulgar at a distance
‘preserve a religious silence’
i, the priest of the muses, sing to virgins and boys — verses not heard before.
how can i sing verses not heard before? how can i write things not written before?
- how can i make photos never made before?
how to be sovereign over myself
sovereign (super, above, beyond)
Above and beyond.
how to become a super man
an above and beyond person?
why vie for better reputation?
virtuous classic writers
VIRTUS: Moral perfection (Vertu) // vir: man
the capacious urn keeps every name in motion — all names will disappear.
over those whose impious neck the naked sword hangs; sword of Damocles
how can i restore my sleep?
’nor does gloomy care depart from the bronze-beaked ship’
the use of purple more dazzling than the sun will compose a mind.
don’t create a lofty edifice with columns that excite envy, in the ‘modern taste’
avoid the ‘modern taste’
avoid wealth that comes with more trouble! avoid trouble.
Don’t be a degenerate
de-generate (no longer human)
let the robust youth learn patiently to endure pinching want in the active exercise of arms
let him lead a life exposed to the open air and familiar with dangers.
Virtue shines with immaculate honors
Virtue, throwing open heaven to those who deserve not to die, depicts her progress through paths of difficulty
paths of difficulty: reveal your progress
lay aside the popular, gyrating, air.
spurn with a rapid wing; groveling cowards and the slippery earth
there is a sure reward for faithful silence
prohibit men from being under the same roof with me; or from setting sail with me in the same fragile bark.
Jupiter, when slighted, often joins a good man in the same fate with a bad one.
simple: medicine from one plant // simples
Simple solution: a medicine only made from one plant — only 1?
On steadiness and integrity
don’t allow the rage of the masses nor tyrants to shake my settled purpose in my resolution.
‘if a crushed world shall fall in upon him; the ruins would strike him undismayed’
quaffs nectar with empurpled lips.
give up to Mars both my bitter resentment
drink the juice of nectar; to be enrolled among the peaceful order of gods.
cattle trample upon the tomb of Priam and Paris
more brave in despising gold as yet undiscovered.
does a pleasing frenzy delude me?
o ye muses, i am yours.
while you shall be with me with pleasure i, a sailor, dare the raging Bosphorus
as a traveler; i will dare the burning sands of the Assyrian shore.
Vulcan: god of fire.
Apollo who bathes his flowing hair in the pure dew of Castalia
muses (daughter of Zeus) — Clio (history)
the soldier, ransomed by gold, will return a braver fellow!
you add loss to infamy; neither does the wool once stained by the dye of the sea-weed ever resume tis lost color.
if I’m valorous soldier; i will never change my crimson red.
genuine valor; when it has failed, care to resume its place in those who have denigrated through cowardice.
don’t be a coward
their statues, defiled with sooty smoke.
don’t add spoils to my trivial collars.
take away the yokes from the wearied oxen (how can i make life easier for people who are weary?)
what does not the wasting time destroy?
bring on the hour with his retreating chariot.
if i don’t waste time; what will i destroy?
‘joyfully seize the boons of the present hour, and quit serious affairs.’
‘skillful in sweet modulations’
‘my surviving soul’
‘retard rapid rivers’ — slow down rapid rivers.
though a hundred serpents fortify his head
their vessel for some time remained dry (daughters of Danaus)
‘let my father load me with cruel chains’
wash away cares with delicious wine
the winged boy of Venus
bathed his anointed shoulders in the waters of the Tiber
o thou fountain; clearer than glass, worthy of delicious wine, not unadorned by flowers;
celebrate the oak that covers the hollow rock
today, a real festival, shall expel gloomy cares.
today is a festival; will expel away all my gloomy cares.
a brazen tower and doors of oak.
Care, and a thirst for greater things, is the consequence of increasing wealth.
The more wealth i have; the more cares; and the more i thirst for greater things!
having more wealth won’t quench my thirst — it will make me more thirsty?
naked as i am; i seek the camps of those who covet nothing.
even though I’m naked; all i seek is to covet nothing (to desire nothing)
i just need a very small stream of clear water; some wood, and good crops— and then i have enough circumstances.
i don’t need honey, or fancy clothes— don’t desire more.
extend my small revenues by contracting my desires.
don’t seek to have more money; seek to have fewer desires
‘much is wanting to those who covet much.’
pile up the dry wood while you may; tomorrow you shall indulge your genius with wine.
how to indulge my genius?
the wolf wanders among the fearless lambs
give me midnight.
scatter roses freely.
Wine; you reveal the cares and secret designs of the wise; by the assistance of merry Bacchus
you restore hope and spirit to anxious minds; and give horns to the poor man.
meditating his oblique attack.
though, more wealthy than the unrifled treasures of the Arabians and rich India; you should possess yourself by your edifices— yet, if cruel fate fixes its adamantine grapples upon the topmost roofs; you shall not disengage your mind from dread, nor your life from the snares of death.
uncircumscribed acres produce fruits and corn free to all.
we detest virtue while living; yet we invidiously (enviously) seek for her after she is taken out of our view.
of what efficacy are empty laws; without morals.
how can i build my own morals to help me live a better life for myself and others?
let us cast away our gems and precious stones and useless gold
erase my depraved lust.
study virtue, stoicism; to create a solid mold— avoid mind that is of a soft mold.
fortune will always be wanting; it will always be incomplete.
whither, o bacchus, art thou hurrying me; replete with your influence? into what groves; into what recesses am i driven; actuated with uncommon spirit? in what caverns; meditating the immortal honor of illustrious caesar
’i will utter something extraordinary; new; hitherto unsung by any other voice’
i want to write something extraordinary; new; and has been written by no other human.
thus the sleepless bacchanal is struck with enthusiasm.
may i be happy wherever i choose to live.
the roaring of the blackened sea; the shores trembling with its lash.
Europa trusted her fair side to the deceitful bull; and bold as she was; turned pale at the sea abounding with monsters, and the cheat now become manifest.
one death is too little for virgins’ crime
watch out for my vain phantoms.
was it better to travel over the tedious waves, or to gather the fresh flowers?
- don’t travel over the tedious waves; stay at shore and gather the fresh flowers.
if anyone would now deliver up to me in my anger this infamous bull; i would do my utmost to tear him to pieces with steel; and break off the horns of the monster.
abandoned i procrastinate my doom.
i wander naked among lions.
before foul decay seizes my comely cheeks and moisture leaves this tender prey.
a division of the world shall bear your name.
you perceive the noontide is on its decline.
the fleeting day stood still; don’t delay to bring out the finest wine.
disengage yourself from anything that may retard you
leave abundance; which is the source of daintiness.
leave the pile of buildings approaching near the lofty clouds
cease to admire the smoke and opulence and the noise of flourishing rome.
that man is master of himself and shall live happy; who has it in his power to say; i have lived today; tomorrow let fortune does as she will with her cruel office; i no longer want to persistent to play her insolent (arrogant) game.
dont praise fortune; i praise her while she abides by me; but if she moves her fleet wings, i am dismayed.
i can wrap myself up in my diamond studded virtue
i have completed a monument more lasting than brass.
my words, ideas and philosophy will be more lasting than brass and sublime than the regal elevation of pyramids
i shall not wholly die; a great part of me shall continue to exist.
i shall continually be renewed in the praises of posterity
o cruel mother of soft desires
whoever endeavors to rival pindar makes an effort on wings fastened with wax
don’t communicate to the glassy sea.
you; a poet of sublimer style.
winged insider of thunder
vernal (spring) winds
produce a greater prodigy. / portent (omen; token)
restore the light to thy country
the sun has a superior lustre. (illuminate)
the sailors skim through the calm oceans
warring with his dreadful spear
the snows are fled; the herbage now returns to the fields.
the hour that hurries away the agreeable day; shortly to die itself.
the quick revolving moons repair their waning in the skies
we will all become dust.
who knows whether God will add to todays reckoning in the space of tomorrow
beautiful verses of brass.
you delight in verses.
don’t write blogs; write poems//verses?
breezes now fills the sails
lay aside delay; and the desire of gain.
stop delaying; and stop desiring to have more.
be mindful of the gloomy funeral flames— always think of death.
praise of country life.
happy is the man far from business; who cultivates his own land (own spirit)
don’t dread the angry sea
disconnect from internet.
lopping off the superfluous with my pruning-knife.
graft more fruitful things
delight to take a nap.
thou coward against wolves.
avoid blind frenzy
Stoic: don’t show negative emotions or take out on others.
dissipate care and anxiety.
let a friendly star appear through the murky night.
which the baleful orison sets
lyric poetry (from the lyre)
by the glowing wine had removed; i grew warm.
to a friend
O genial sun
we always wish the lives of others.
we already have the best life.
even though i have a thousand bushels of corn; i cannot load up my stomach.
no sum is enough.
the thirsty tantalus catches at the streams which elude his lips.
we have money; but I’m obliged to obtain from them.
what can money afford? bread, herbs, coffee — necessities of life (rent, etc).
prefer my own station in life over others.
the charioteer presses upon those horses which outstrip his own; despising him that is left behind coming on the last.
we rarely find a man who can say he has lived happy and content with his past life; can retire from the world like a satisfied guest.
avoid tasteless gluttony.
expend less than my gain.
Desire cheap things (ricoh gr ii; laptop; (no smartphone); no car— just uber). prefereable not to have a car, less stress in life (like vietnam!)
avoid the silken vail.
pleasures is interrupted with a great deal of pain — pleasures bring on pain.
‘don’t meddle with other women.’
watch out for hidden pain with pleasure (having expensive car, stress of attention, stress of maintenance, stress of insurance, registration, scratch, etc).
avoid any acquiring which will add grief; uneasiness and bitter anxieties.
a lot of things we own will add anxiety to our lives.
is it not more profitable to inquire what boundary nature has affixed to the appetites?
nature has given my appetites (for eating; should be for money too) to have a fixed boundary.
what can i patiently do without?
dont lament deprivation.
when I’m thirsty; i don’t desire golden cups.
when I’m hungry; i eat whatever.
‘his wide shoe hardly sticks to his foot’ — wealth not too much; or else won’t stick to us.
don’t invert the virtues
anger is a vice
When discord dreadful bursts the brazen bars,
And shatters iron locks to thunder forth her wars.
don’t have sinister ambitious views.
don’t condemn moles scattered over a beautiful skin.
i live undefiled and innocent and dear to my friends.
live on a lean farm.
learn to live lean — live on little.
my language and way of thinking is far different from other persons
how do i see and talk differently than others?
i live more comfortably than you, O illustrious senator; and more comfortably than billions of others.
dine in a temperate manner; enough to hinder me from having an empty stomach.
life free of wretched and burdensome ambition.
live more delightfully.
only the final destruction of my body will determine.
if discord sets two cowards to work
don’t be a coward.
formerly i was the true of a wild fig-tree
there is need of conciseness that the sentence may run.
need for conciseness!
don’t embarrass myself with verbiage//dont overload the sated ear.
sometimes be funny; jocose (joke).
intermix greek words with latin
intermix english words with latin?
when i was about making greek verses; romulus appeared to me in a dream and forbid me to write in greek saying:
you could not be guilty of more madness by carrying timber into a wood, than by desiring to throng in among the great crowds of Grecian writers.
you could not be more guilty of madness by trying to bring stones to a granary; than desiring to be great in a crowd of great already — how can i pave my own path?
amuse myself with my own work.
delicate and elegant
too light for the gravity of the subject?
more impetuous (thoughtless/to attack) as a rapid river
Prune off what transgresses the limits of perfection
Prune off, edit what isn’t perfect.
he would have pruned off everything that transgressed the limits of perfection; and in the composition of verses.
you intend to write what is worthy to be read more than once.
content with a few judicious (judge) readers.
don’t be a fool to be so ambitious that my verses be taught in petty schools!
avoid teaching what will be taught in a petty school!
‘it is enough for me, that the knight Maecenas applauds’
as the courageous actress, Arbuscula, expressed herself, in contempt of the rest of the audience, when she was hissed by the populace.
‘Go, boy, and instantly annex this Satire to the end of my book.’
a thousand verses like mine may be spun out in a day.
have their clay well moistened with wine over-night.
it delights me to combine words in meter.
his example i follow.
this pen of mine shall not willfully attack any man breathing
this pen shall defend me like a sword that is sheathed in the scabbard which why should i attempt to draw from hostile villains
O Jupiter, father and sovereign, may my weapon laid aside wear away with rust, and may no one injure me, who am delirious of peace.
my pen is my sword.
death now hovers about me with his sable wings.
death now hovers about me with his black wings.
whatever be the complexion of my life, I will write.
some creature of the great ones will strike you with the cold of death.
have the courage to be the first to compose verses in a new manner.
he spared none but virtue and her friends.
i love lady virtue and her friends!
whatever rank i am, though below the estate and wit, yet envy must be obliged to own that i have lived well with great men.
even though I’m a low rank, and even though I’m below the estate and wit of others— know that i have lived with great men. don’t be envious.
don’t let envy fasten her tooth upon my weak part.
great is the virtue to live on a little
don’t let the eye be dazzled with the vain glare.
the mind; intent upon false appearance.
admit better things into my life.
seek the sauce for my food by sweating
VICTUS: FOOD – to live!
a hungry stomach seldom loathes common victuals
great benefits from a temperate diet.
detrimental a diversity of things is to any man.
simplicity of food
don’t mix too much food.
body overloaded; depresses the mind.
don’t dash to the earth with my divine spirit.
have you any regard for reputation, which affects the human ear more agreeably than music?
i already possess an ample revenue and wealth sufficient
why then have you no better method of expending your superfluities?
bestow something on my dear country!
i never ventured to late anything on a workday except pot herbs; with a hock of smoke-dried bacon.
nature has appointed to be lord of this earthly property!
dictate something worthy of your promises; begin!
the pens are found fault with to no purpose.
that guilty Siren; Sloth must be avoided.
take care; how do anything unworthy of yourself
i will not add a single word to prevent you form dying rarely.
Stoics: see all other men as mad; ignorance of truth drives them blindly forward.
we are wandering in the dark woods. illusions.
we are all mad!
generality of all mankind are mad!
were mad for purchasing antique statues.
i should say to you: receive this; which you can never repay— wouldn’t you be a madman?
“add a thousand obligations”
more money; more obligations.
‘whoever grows pale with evil ambition or the love of money; or heated with luxury or gloomy superstition or any other disease of the mind’
don’t be covetous
we want to engrave our names into the sun?
warm the sharp steel to his mother’s throat?
what is the covetous man? a fool and a madman.
why does ajax; the second hero after achilles; rot?
ajax was renowned for saving the Grecians
i, out of prudence; appeased the gods with blood
is ajax delirious while he kills the harmless 100 lambs?
is your heart pure; while it is swollen with the vice?
if an aged person with a long beard take delight to build baby-houses?
doesn’t make sense if you play same games in the dust as when I’m 3 years old; or when I’m 90 years old?
sell all your merchandise for the better.
cabbage that grows in dry lands is sweeter than in town
nothing is more insipid than a garden much watered.
tough shell has a good yolk.
oblong eggs are sweeter and more nutritive than round ones.
wine mixed with water.
don’t drink on empty veins
complacent: to please.
puff up the swelling bladder with tumid (swelling) speeches
O rural retirement
the books of the ancients
carpets dyed with crimson grain glittered upon ivory couches
too loose; or too tight a rein (retain)?
who is free? Only the wise man is free— who has dominion (Lord/master) over himself.
neither poverty nor death nor chains frighten me; brave in checking my appetites and contemning (despising) honors.
perfect in myself; polished and round as a globe.
an implacable master oppresses your mind and claps the sharp spurs to your jaded appetite and forces you on though reluctant.
‘if we do not drink to his cost we shall die in his debt.’
in the mean time the suspended tapestry made a heavy downfall
this is the condition of human life and therefore a suitable glory will never answer your labor.
divided whispers buzzing in each secret ear.
i would not choose to have seen any theatrical entertainments sooner than these things.
the poet renounced all verses of a ludicrous turn and resolves to apply himself wholly to the study of philosophy ; which teaches to bridle the desires and to postpone everything to virtue.
the poet: disregard superfluous verses; focus on studying philosophy. bridle my desires and postpone everything to virtue.
someone seems frequently to ring in my purified ear
my study and inquiry is after what is true and fitting; and i am wholly engaged in this: i lay up, and collect rules which i may be able hereafter to bring into use.
study philosophy; collect rules to help myself!
follow wherever the weather takes me; i have no particular master.
endeavor to adapt circumstances to myself; and not myself to circumstnaces
does your heart burn with avarice and a wretched desire of more?
do you swell with the love of praise?
purity of mind.
it is virtue to fly vice; and the highest wisdom to have lived free from folly.
an active merchant will run to the remotest indies; fleeing poverty through sea; through rocks; through flames.
will you not learn and hear; that you may no longer regard those things which you foolishly admire and wish for?
same to acquire something and to not desire something
gold is less valuable than virtue.
thou art a monster with many heads
nothing is preferable and better to than a single life
laugh at the rich and poor; they are forever changing their rooms, remodeling, beds, baths, barbers, clothes, cars, etc!
the wise man is inferior to God alone
the wise man: rich, free, honorable, handsome, king of kings, and sound!
Avoid Circe’s cups— turn men into wild animals // avoid ills that will poison us?
Avoid the Sounds of the Sirens
hasten to remove things that hurt my eyes!
what hurts my eyes; what deceives or tempts my eyes?
if i start, half the deed is done
remove things that gnaws at my mind; cure myself!
boldly undertake the study of true wisdom!
don’t postpone the hour of living well.
dont be a slave to desire or fear!
a fancy house will do as much good as paintings to someone who is blind
As good to music to deaf people.
having a fancy car — like having a fancy car, but to a blind person?
unless the vessel be sweet; whatever you pour into it turns sour.
despise pleasures; pleasure bought with pain is hurtful.
the covetous man is ever in want; set a certain limit to your wishes — what is the limit to my wishes?
the envious person wastes at the thriving condition of another!
Sicilian tyrant never invented a greater torment than envy!
he who will not curb his passion will wish that undone which his grief and resentment suggested; while he violently plies his revenge with undated rancor.
rage is a short madness
apply myself to the best masters of morality
a cask will long preserve the flavor which when new it was once impregnated; don’t lag behind! keep vigorously pushing on before!
bound with icy chains
success vs failure?
Aiming at high enterprises? failing at a high enterprise?
‘your genius is not small, is not uncultivated nor inelegantly rough.’
bear off the first prize of the victorious ivy
if you could quit the cold fomentations of care
whithersoever heavenly wisdom would lead you; you would go.
let us ; both small and great; push forward in this work; in this pursuit — if to our country, if to ourselves we would live dear.
how do i have a faculty of enjoying things?
greater blessing for a nurse to solicit for her beloved child; that he might be wise; express his sentiments! decent living; with a never-failing purse (not too much money; but enough)
in the midst of hope and care; in the midst of fears and disquietudes; think every day that shines upon you is the last. trust he hour, which shall not be expected; will come upon you in an agreeable addition.
make a whole meal of all sorts of herbs from a moderate dish.
dismiss airy hopes and contests about riches.
we shall have free liberty to prolong the summer evening with friendly conversation.
to what purpose have i fortune; if i may not use it?
i will begin to drink and scatter flowers; and i will endure even to be accounted foolish.
wise man is only in love with virtue — nothing else
to make and keep a man happy; to admire nothing. (except wisdom; virtue; myself)
brazen statues (Bronze)
look with transport upon silver and antique marble; and bronze statues and the arts; admire gems and Thyrian dyes; rejoice that a thousand eyes are fixed upon you while you speak
reaping grain as contest?
whatever is in the earth; time will bring forth into open day light; time will bury and hide things; now shine brightest.
let the round sum of a thousand talents be completed; as many more; further; let a third thousand succeed, and the part which may square the heap.
popularity; purchase a slave to dictate to us the names of the citizens that like us; and our success?
Live: be happy.
Liberty is preferable to all other blessings
- small things best suit the small.
grow old through passionate desire of possessing.
i desire plain bread; which is more agreeable now than honied cakes.
fugitive slave; i reject luscious wafers.
live suitably to nature; to have a suitable plot of ground for a simple house.
do you know any place preferable to the blissful country?
agreeable breeze moderates the rage.
is there a place where envious care less disturbs our slumbers?
not he who is unable to compare the fleeces that drink up the dye with purple.
avoid great things; under a mean roof one may outstrip kings.
the stag (deer) is superior to flight from the horse.
don’t be afraid of poverty ; don’t forfeit my liberty.
my liberty is more valuable than mines!
if i love avarice; i will be a slave for eternity; not knowing how to use a little.
make money my slave— how?
form my mind into the right disposition.
furnishing a happy life.
will you sell your ship on the other side of the Aegean sea?
a busy idleness harasses us.
by ships and chariots (cars) we seek to live happily
what you seek is here (at home) already .
it is not possible that greater affluence can be given to you by Jove.
that man is not poor who has the use of everything he wants.
if all is well with my belly; back and feet— regal wealth can add nothing more.
abstemious (abstain form wine)
profusion (pouring forth)
live upon salad and shellfish;
whether you murder fishes; or onions and garlic…
‘each of us is a fool for unjustly blaming the innocent place’
the mind is at fault; which never escapes from itself.
how can i stay consistent with myself?
there is no-one who reduces my possessions with envious eye
don’t own anything that others will envy.
moral goodness: consciousness of good works; liberty!
for me to be morally good, do good works, and promote freedom?
don’t be covetous; don’t stoop down for the sake of a penny ($50,000).
covetousness leads to anxiousness.
if i live in state of anxiety; i will never be free.
‘he who is always in a hurry and immersed in the study of augmenting his fortune; has lost the arms; and deserted the post of virtue.’
if i love virtue; don’t think of how i can augment my personal fortune.
I WILL DIE // death is the ultimate boundary of human matters.
be of service to my friends; society; and humanity.
aspiring to greater things
claim the honor and reward of virtue.
we all complain that my estate is not sufficient to support me.
‘if the crow could have fed in silence; he would have had better fare; and much less of quarreling and of envy.’
dont weep for my necklace.
what is my real grief and loss?
cultivation of virtue
how to achieve peace of mind
unshaven face and black teeth.
don’t revere the rich man’s nod!
don’t wrangle about a goats hair (trivial shit)
don’t engage any trifles ***
ruin death; pernicious lust
insatiable hunger and thirst (for money)
wise and virtuous is to be taught.
when we have costly garments; we are happy in fine clothes; but we will always assume new schemes and hopes
we will run into debt
the lyre; disliked by the auster brother; was silent.
avoid an inquisitive impertinent; for one is also a tattler — words flies irrevocably.
don’t be nosy.
don’t let others inflame my heart.
don’t torment myself with refusal.
don’t let the faults of others strike me with anger
don’t let flames of anger gain strength.
vivacious (to live)
quaffer of pure Falerian wine.
dispel gloominess from your forehead.
don’t let insatiable desire agitate or torment me.
render my temper calm
don’t let lucre (money) tempt me.
love the path of an unnoticed life.
what do i pray for?
- goodstore of books
- corn for the year
what do i pray for?
‘i was the original; who set my free footsteps upon the vacant sod; i trod not in the steps of others. he who depends upon himself as leader commands the swarm.’
the manly Sappho governs her muse by the measures of Archilochus
the ungrateful reader extols
i hunt not after the applause of the inconstant vulgar
i am not an auditor (listener) of noble writers; nor a vindictive (revengeful) reciter.
disregard the grammarians.
grammar — the art of letters.
you alone that can distill the poetic honey; beautiful in your own eyes.
what will be said about me in posterity?
crush the dire Hydra
envy is to be tamed by death alone.
if length of time makes poems better; as it does wine; i would fain know how many years will stamp a value upon writings.
He is an old and good writer who completes a hundred years.
old and good writers: from 100 years ago.
sacred is every ancient poem.
sometime the populace see right; sometimes they are wrong.
prosperity glides into folly.
i awake before the sun is risen; i call for my pen and papers and desk!
as a writer; poet: i record virtuous actions, and instruct the rising age with approved examples, and comforts the indigent and the sick (mind sick?) /// be a doctor, physician. cure the sick
I’m stout and happy with a little!
the genius that reminds us of our short life.
they; who suffered from its bloody tooth smarted with the pain.
he breathes a spirit brave enough; and dares successfully. don’t fear a blot.
fetch my subjects to write about based on common life?
voracious (devour) parasites.
him; whom glory in her airy care has brought upon the stage.
don’t let applause distract me.
don’t let my adventurous poet inside be driven away; because i crave applause?
don’t seek the delight of the mob.
avoid vain amusements.
avoid the violet dye // just the blood of mollusks.
how to write things that soothe the mind?
don’t bear the disdain of a haughty (high; altar) spectator.
Helicon: mountain of the muses.
we often mischief ourselves. we are pained if my friend dares to find fault with one line.
don’t write foul poetry.
statues of brass.
impossible takes a week
neither does your majesty (majus/major) admit of humble poetry.
nor dares my modesty attempt a subject which my strength is unable to support.
what can my strength support?
avoid official; obligations in life!
gross (large//gross profit?)
the well ordering of life is more important than the composition of verses.
the well-ordering of life is more important than the well-ordering of verses!
the making of life is more important than making photos
‘though poor; i am in nobody debt.’
indolent; i don’t suffer pain; I’m lazy.
go my brave fellow; whither your valor calls you; go with prosperous step; certain to receive ample rewards for your merit.
Why do you hesitate?
valere (vale, be strong)
It was my lot to have Rome for my nurse, and to be instructed [from the Iliad] how much the exasperated Achilles prejudiced the Greeks. Good Athens give me some additional learning: that is to say, to be able to distinguish a right line from a curve, and seek after truth in the groves of Academus. But the troublesome times removed me from that pleasant spot; and the tide of a civil war carried me away, unexperienced as I was, into arms, [into arms] not likely to be a match for the sinews of Augustus Caesar. Whence, as soon as [the battle of] Philippi dismissed me in an abject condition, with my wings clipped, and destitute both of house and land, daring poverty urged me on to the composition of verses: but now, having more than is wanted, what medicines would be efficacious enough to cure my madness, if I did not think it better to rest than to write verses.
The advancing years rob us of every thing: they have taken away my mirth, my gallantry, my revelings, and play: they are now proceeding to force poetry from me. What would you have me do?
In short, all persons do not love and admire the same things. Ye delight in the ode: one man is pleased with iambics; another with satires written in the manner of Bion, and virulent wit. Three guests scarcely can be found to agree, craving very different dishes with various palate. What shall I give? What shall I not give? You forbid, what another demands: what you desire, that truly is sour and disgustful to the [other] two.
Beside other [difficulties], do you think it practicable for me to write poems at Rome, amid so many solicitudes and so many fatigues? One calls me as his security, another to hear his works, all business else apart; one lives on the mount of Quirinus, the other in the extremity of the Aventine; both must be waited on. The distances between them, you see, are charmingly commodious. “But the streets are clear, so that there can be no obstacle to the thoughtful.”–A builder in heat hurries along with his mules and porters: the crane whirls aloft at one time a stone, at another a great piece of timber: the dismal funerals dispute the way with the unwieldy carriages: here runs a mad dog, there rushes a sow begrimed with mire. Go now, and meditate with yourself your harmonious verses. All the whole choir of poets love the grove, and avoid cities, due votaries to Bacchus delighting in repose and shade. Would you have me, amid so great noise both by night and day, [attempt] to sing, and trace the difficult footsteps of the poets? A genius who has chosen quiet Athens for his residence, and has devoted seven years to study, and has grown old in books and study, frequently walks forth more dumb than a statue, and shakes the people’s sides with laughter: here, in the midst of the billows and tempests of the city, can I be thought capable of connecting words likely to wake the sound of the lyre?
At Rome there was a rhetorician, brother to a lawyer: [so fond of each other were they,] that they would hear nothing but the mere praises of each other: insomuch, that the latter appeared a Gracchus to the former, the former a Mucius to the latter. Why should this frenzy affect the obstreperous poets in a less degree? I write odes, another elegies: a work wonderful to behold, and burnished by the nine muses! Observe first, with what a fastidious air, with what importance we survey the temple [of Apollo] vacant for the Roman poets. In the next place you may follow (if you are at leisure) and hear what each produces, and wherefore each weaves for himself the crown. Like Samnite gladiators in slow duel, till candle-light, we are beaten and waste out the enemy with equal blows: I came off Alcaeus, in his suffrage; he is mine, who? Why who but Callimachus? Or, if he seems to make a greater demand, he becomes Mimnermus, and grows in fame by the chosen appellation. Much do I endure in order to pacify this passionate race of poets, when I am writing; and submissive court the applause of the people; [but,] having finished my studies and recovered my senses, I the same man can now boldly stop my open ears against reciters.
Those who make bad verses are laughed at: but they are pleased in writing, and reverence themselves; and if you are silent, they, happy, fall to praising of their own accord whatever they have written. But he who desires to execute a genuine poem, will with his papers assume the spirit of an honest critic: whatever words shall have but little clearness and elegance, or shall be without weight and held unworthy of estimation, he will dare to displace: though they may recede with reluctance, and still remain in the sanctuary of Vesta: those that have been long hidden from the people he kindly will drag forth, and bring to light those expressive denominations of things that were used by the Catos and Cethegi of ancient times, though now deformed dust and neglected age presses upon them: he will adopt new words, which use, the parent [of language], shall produce: forcible and perspicuous, and bearing the utmost similitude to a limpid stream, he will pour out his treasures, and enrich Latium with a comprehensive language. The luxuriant he will lop, the too harsh he will soften with a sensible cultivation: those void of expression he will discard: he will exhibit the appearance of one at play; and will be [in his invention] on the rack, like [a dancer on the stage], who one while affects the motions of a satyr, at another of a clumsy cyclops.
I had rather be esteemed a foolish and dull writer, while my faults please myself, or at least escape my notice, than be wise and smart for it. There lived at Argos a man of no mean rank, who imagined that he was hearing some admirable tragedians, a joyful sitter and applauder in an empty theater: who [nevertheless] could support the other duties of life in a just manner; a truly honest neighbor, an amiable host, kind toward his wife, one who could pardon his slaves, nor would rave at the breaking of a bottle-seal: one who [had sense enough] to avoid a precipice, or an open well. This man, being cured at the expense and by the care of his relations, when he had expelled by the means of pure hellebore the disorder and melancholy humor, and returned to himself; “By Pollux, my friends (said he), you have destroyed, not saved me; from whom my pleasure is thus taken away, and a most agreeable delusion of mind removed by force.”
In a word, it is of the first consequence to be wise in the rejection of trifles, and leave childish play to boys for whom it is in season, and not to scan words to be set to music for the Roman harps, but [rather] to be perfectly an adept in the numbers and proportions of real life. Thus therefore I commune with myself, and ponder these things in silence: “If no quantity of water would put an end to your thirst, you would tell it to your physicians. And is there none to whom you dare confess, that the more you get the more you crave? If you had a wound which was not relieved by a plant or root prescribed to you, you would refuse being doctored with a root or plant that did no good. You have heard that vicious folly left the man, on whom the gods conferred wealth; and though you are nothing wiser, since you become richer, will you nevertheless use the same monitors as before? But could riches make you wise, could they make you less covetous and mean-spirited, you well might blush, if there lived on earth one more avaricious than yourself.”
If that be any man’s property, which he has bought by the pound and penny, [and] there be some things to which (if you give credit to the lawyers) possession gives a claim, [then] the field that feeds you is your own; and Orbius’ steward, when he harrows the corn which is soon to give you flour, finds you are [in effect] the proper master. You give your money; you receive grapes, pullets, eggs, a hogshead of strong wine: certainly in this manner you by little and little purchase that farm, for which perhaps the owner paid three hundred thousand sesterces, or more. What does it signify, whether you live on what was paid for the other day, or a long while ago? He who purchased the Aricinian and Veientine fields some time since, sups on bought vegetables, however he may think otherwise; boils his pot with bought wood at the approach of the chill evening. But he calls all that his own, as far as where the planted poplar prevents quarrels among neighbors by a determinate limitation: as if anything were a man’s property, which in a moment of the fleeting hour, now by solicitations, now by sale, now by violence, and now by the supreme lot [of all men], may change masters and come into another’s jurisdiction. Thus since the perpetual possession is given to none, and one man’s heir urges on another’s, as wave impels wave, of what importance are houses, or granaries; or what the Lucanian pastures joined to the Calabrian; if Hades, inexorable to gold, mows down the great together with the small?
Gems, marble, ivory, Tuscan statues, pictures, silver-plate, robes dyed with Getulian purple, there are who can not acquire; and there are others, who are not solicitous of acquiring. Of two brothers, why one prefers lounging, play, and perfume, to Herod’s rich palm-tree groves; why the other, rich and uneasy, from the rising of the light to the evening shade, subdues his woodland with fire and steel: our attendant genius knows, who governs the planet of our nativity, the divinity [that presides] over human nature, who dies with each individual, of various complexion, white and black.
I will use, and take out from my moderate stock, as much as my exigence demands: nor will I be under any apprehensions what opinion my heir shall hold concerning me, when he shall, find [I have left him] no more than I had given me. And yet I, the same man, shall be inclined to know how far an open and cheerful person differs from a debauchee, and how greatly the economist differs from the miser. For there is some distinction whether you throw away your money in a prodigal manner, or make an entertainment without grudging, nor toil to accumulate more; or rather, as formerly in Minerva’s holidays, when a school-boy, enjoys by starts the short and pleasant vacation.
Let sordid poverty be far away. I, whether borne in a large or small vessel, let me be borne uniform and the same. I am not wafted with swelling sail before the north wind blowing fair: yet I do not bear my course of life against the adverse south. In force, genius, figure, virtue, station, estate, the last of the first-rate, [yet] still before those of the last.
You are not covetous, [you say]:–go to.–What then? Have the rest of your vices fled from you, together with this? Is your breast free from vain ambition? Is it free from the fear of death and from anger? Can you laugh at dreams, magic terrors, wonders, witches, nocturnal goblins, and Thessalian prodigies? Do you number your birth-days with a grateful mind? Are you forgiving to your friends? Do you grow milder and better as old age approaches? What profits you only one thorn eradicated out of many? If you do not know how to live in a right manner, make way for those that do. You have played enough, eaten and drunk enough, it is time for you to walk off: lest having tippled too plentifully, that age which plays the wanton with more propriety, and drive you [off the stage].
HORACE’S BOOK UPON THE ART OF POETRY.
TO THE PISOS.
If a painter should wish to unite a horse’s neck to a human head, and spread a variety of plumage over limbs [of different animals] taken from every part [of nature], so that what is a beautiful woman in the upper part terminates unsightly in an ugly fish below; could you, my friends, refrain from laughter, were you admitted to such a sight? Believe, ye Pisos, the book will be perfectly like such a picture, the ideas of which, like a sick man’s dreams, are all vain and fictitious: so that neither head nor foot can correspond to any one form. “Poets and painters [you will say] have ever had equal authority for attempting any thing.” We are conscious of this, and this privilege we demand and allow in turn: but not to such a degree, that the tame should associate with the savage; nor that serpents should be coupled with birds, lambs with tigers.
In pompous introductions, and such as promise a great deal, it generally happens that one or two verses of purple patch-work, that may make a great show, are tagged on; as when the grove and the altar of Diana and the meandering of a current hastening through pleasant fields, or the river Rhine, or the rainbow is described. But here there was no room for these [fine things]: perhaps, too, you know how to draw a cypress: but what is that to the purpose, if he, whe is painted for the given price, is [to be represented as] swimming hopeless out of a shipwreck? A large vase at first was designed: why, as the wheel revolves, turns out a little pitcher? In a word, be your subject what it will, let it be merely simple and uniform.
The great majority of us poets, father, and youths worthy such a father, are misled by the appearance of right. I labor to be concise, I become obscure: nerves and spirit fail him, that aims at the easy: one, that pretends to be sublime, proves bombastical: he who is too cautious and fearful of the storm, crawls along the ground: he who wants to vary his subject in a marvelous manner, paints the dolphin in the woods, the boar in the sea. The avoiding of an error leads to a fault, if it lack skill.
A statuary about the Aemilian school shall of himself, with singular skill, both express the nails, and imitate in brass the flexible hair; unhappy yet in the main, because he knows not how to finish a complete piece. I would no more choose to be such a one as this, had I a mind to compose any thing, than to live with a distorted nose, [though] remarkable for black eyes and jetty hair.
Ye who write, make choice of a subject suitable to your abilities; and revolve in your thoughts a considerable time what your strength declines, and what it is able to support. Neither elegance of style, nor a perspicuous disposition, shall desert the man, by whom the subject matter is chosen judiciously.
This, or I am mistaken, will constitute the merit and beauty of arrangement, that the poet just now say what ought just now to be said, put off most of his thoughts, and waive them for the present.
In the choice of his words, too, the author of the projected poem must be delicate and cautious, he must embrace one and reject another: you will express yourself eminently well, if a dexterous combination should give an air of novelty to a well-known word. If it happen to be necessary to explain some abstruse subjects by new invented terms; it will follow that you must frame words never heard of by the old-fashioned Cethegi: and the license will be granted, if modestly used: and the new and lately-formed words will have authority, if they descend from a Greek source, with a slight deviation. But why should the Romans grant to Plutus and Caecilius a privilege denied to Virgil and Varius? Why should I be envied, if I have it in my power to acquire a few words, when the language of Cato and Ennius has enriched our native tongue, and produced new names of things? It has been, and ever will be, allowable to coin a word marked with the stamp in present request. As leaves in the woods are changed with the fleeting years; the earliest fall off first: in this manner words perish with old age, and those lately invented nourish and thrive, like men in the time of youth. We, and our works, are doomed to death: Whether Neptune, admitted into the continent, defends our fleet from the north winds, a kingly work; or the lake, for a long time unfertile and fit for oars, now maintains its neighboring cities and feels the heavy plow; or the river, taught to run in a more convenient channel, has changed its course which was so destructive to the fruits. Mortal works must perish: much less can the honor and elegance of language be long-lived. Many words shall revive, which now have fallen off; and many which are now in esteem shall fall off, if it be the will of custom, in whose power is the decision and right and standard of language.
Homer has instructed us in what measure the achievements of kings, and chiefs, and direful war might be written.
Plaintive strains originally were appropriated to the unequal numbers [of the elegiac]: afterward [love and] successful desires were included. Yet what author first published humble elegies, the critics dispute, and the controversy still waits the determination of a judge.
Rage armed Archilochus with the iambic of his own invention. The sock and the majestic buskin assumed this measure as adapted for dialogue, and to silence the noise of the populace, and calculated for action.
To celebrate gods, and the sons of gods, and the victorious wrestler, and the steed foremost in the race, and the inclination of youths, and the free joys of wine, the muse has alotted to the lyre.
If I am incapable and unskilful to observe the distinction described, and the complexions of works [of genius], why am I accosted by the name of “Poet?” Why, out of false modesty, do I prefer being ignorant to being learned?
A comic subject will not be handled in tragic verse: in like manner the banquet of Thyestes will not bear to be held in familiar verses, and such as almost suit the sock. Let each peculiar species [of writing] fill with decorum its proper place. Nevertheless sometimes even comedy exalts her voice, and passionate Chremes rails in a tumid strain: and a tragic writer generally expresses grief in a prosaic style. Telephus and Peleus, when they are both in poverty and exile, throw aside their rants and gigantic expressions if they have a mind to move the heart of the spectator with their complaint.
It is not enough that poems be beautiful; let them be tender and affecting, and bear away the soul of the auditor whithersoever they please. As the human countenance smiles on those that smile, so does it sympathize with those that weep. If you would have me weep you must first express the passion of grief yourself; then, Telephus or Peleus, your misfortunes hurt me: if you pronounce the parts assigned you ill, I shall either fall asleep or laugh.
Pathetic accents suit a melancholy countenance; words full of menace, an angry one; wanton expressions, a sportive look; and serious matter, an austere one. For nature forms us first within to every modification of circumstances; she delights or impels us to anger, or depresses us to the earth and afflicts us with heavy sorrow: then expresses those emotions of the mind by the tongue, its interpreter. If the words be discordant to the station of the speaker, the Roman knights and plebians will raise an immoderate laugh. It will make a wide difference, whether it be Davus that speaks, or a hero; a man well-stricken in years, or a hot young fellow in his bloom; and a matron of distinction, or an officious nurse; a roaming merchant, or the cultivator of a verdant little farm; a Colchian, or an Assyrian; one educated at Thebes, or one at Argos.
You, that write, either follow tradition, or invent such fables as are congruous to themselves. If as poet you have to represent the renowned Achilles; let him be indefatigable, wrathful, inexorable, courageous, let him deny that laws were made for him, let him arrogate every thing to force of arms. Let Medea be fierce and untractable, Ino an object of pity, Ixion perfidious, Io wandering, Orestes in distress.
If you offer to the stage any thing unattempted, and venture to form a new character; let it be preserved to the last such as it set out at the beginning, and be consistent with itself. It is difficult to write with propriety on subjects to which all writers have a common claim; and you with more prudence will reduce the Iliad into acts, than if you first introduce arguments unknown and never treated of before. A public story will become your own property, if you do not dwell upon the whole circle of events, which is paltry and open to every one; nor must you be so faithful a translator, as to take the pains of rendering [the original] word for word; nor by imitating throw yourself into straits, whence either shame or the rules of your work may forbid you to retreat.
Nor must you make such an exordium, as the Cyclic writer of old: “I will sing the fate of Priam, and the noble war.” What will this boaster produce worthy of all this gaping? The mountains are in labor, a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth. How much more to the purpose he, who attempts nothing improperly? “Sing for me, my muse, the man who, after the time of the destruction of Troy, surveyed the manners and cities of many men.” He meditates not [to produce] smoke from a flash, but out of smoke to elicit fire, that he may thence bring forth his instances of the marvelous with beauty, [such as] Antiphates, Scylla, the Cyclops, and Charybdis. Nor does he date Diomede’s return from Meleager’s death, nor trace the rise of the Trojan war from [Leda’s] eggs: he always hastens on to the event; and hurries away his reader in the midst of interesting circumstances, no otherwise than as if they were [already] known; and what he despairs of, as to receiving a polish from his touch, he omits; and in such a manner forms his fictions, so intermingles the false with the true, that the middle is not inconsistent with the beginning, nor the end with the middle.
Do you attend to what I, and the public in my opinion, expect from you [as a dramatic writer]. If you are desirous of an applauding spectator, who will wait for [the falling of] the curtain, and till the chorus calls out “your plaudits;” the manners of every age must be marked by you, and a proper decorum assigned to men’s varying dispositions and years. The boy, who is just able to pronounce his words, and prints the ground with a firm tread, delights to play with his fellows, and contracts and lays aside anger without reason, and is subject to change every hour. The beardless youth, his guardian being at length discharged, joys in horses, and dogs, and the verdure of the sunny Campus Martius; pliable as wax to the bent of vice, rough to advisers, a slow provider of useful things, prodigal of his money, high-spirited, and amorous, and hasty in deserting the objects of his passion. [After this,] our inclinations being changed, the age and spirit of manhood seeks after wealth, and [high] connections, is subservient to points of honor; and is cautious of committing any action, which he would subsequently be industrious to correct. Many inconviences encompass a man in years; either because he seeks [eagerly] for gain, and abstains from what he has gotten, and is afraid to make use of it; or because he transacts every thing in a timorous and dispassionate manner, dilatory, slow in hope, remiss, and greedy of futurity. Peevish, querulous, a panegyrist of former times when he was a boy, a chastiser and censurer of his juniors. Our advancing years bring many advantages along with them. Many our declining ones take away. That the parts [therefore] belonging to age may not be given to youth, and those of a man to a boy, we must dwell upon those qualities which are joined and adapted to each person’s age.
An action is either represented on the stage, or being done elsewhere is there related. The things which enter by the ear affect the mind more languidly, than such as are submitted to the faithful eyes, and what a spectator presents to himself. You must not, however, bring upon the stage things fit only to be acted behind the scenes: and you must take away from view many actions, which elegant description may soon after deliver in presence [of the spectators]. Let not Medea murder her sons before the people; nor the execrable Atreus openly dress human entrails: nor let Progue be metamorphosed into a bird, Cadmus into a serpent. Whatever you show to me in this manner, not able to give credit to, I detest.
Let a play which would be inquired after, and though seen, represented anew, be neither shorter nor longer than the fifth act. Neither let a god interfere, unless a difficulty worthy a god’s unraveling should happen; nor let a fourth person be officious to speak.
Let the chorus sustain the part and manly character of an actor: nor let them sing any thing between the acts which is not conducive to, and fitly coherent with, the main design. Let them both patronize the good, and give them friendly advice, and regulate the passionate, and love to appease those who swell [with rage]: let them praise the repast of a short meal, and salutary effects of justice, laws, and peace with her open gates; let them conceal what is told to them in confidence, and supplicate and implore the gods that prosperity may return to the wretched, and abandon the haughty. The flute, (not as now, begirt with brass and emulous of the trumpet, but) slender and of simple form, with few stops, was of service to accompany and assist the chorus, and with its tone was sufficient to fill the rows that were not as yet too crowded, where an audience, easily numbered, as being small and sober, chaste and modest, met together. But when the victorious Romans began to extend their territories, and an ampler wall encompassed the city, and their genius was indulged on festivals by drinking wine in the day-time without censure; a greater freedom arose both, to the numbers [of poetry], and the measure [of music]. For what taste could an unlettered clown and one just dismissed from labors have, when in company with the polite; the base, with the man of honor? Thus the musician added now movements and a luxuriance to the ancient art, and strutting backward and forward, drew a length of train over the stage; thus likewise new notes were added to the severity of the lyre, and precipitate eloquence produced an unusual language [in the theater]: and the sentiments [of the chorus, then] expert in teaching useful things and prescient of futurity, differ hardly from the oracular Delphi.
The poet, who first tried his skill in tragic verse for the paltry [prize of a] goat, soon after exposed to view wild satyrs naked, and attempted raillery with severity, still preserving the gravity [of tragedy]: because the spectator on festivals, when heated with wine and disorderly, was to be amused with captivating shows and agreeable novelty. But it will be expedient so to recommend the bantering, so the rallying satyrs, so to turn earnest into jest; that none who shall be exhibited as a god, none who is introduced as a hero lately conspicuous in regal purple and gold, may deviate into the low style of obscure, mechanical shops; or, [on the contrary,] while he avoids the ground, effect cloudy mist and empty jargon. Tragedy disdaining to prate forth trivial verses, like a matron commanded to dance on the festival days, will assume an air of modesty, even in the midst of wanton satyrs. As a writer of satire, ye Pisos, I shall never be fond of unornamented and reigning terms: nor shall I labor to differ so widely from the complexion of tragedy, as to make no distinction, whether Davus be the speaker. And the bold Pythias, who gained a talent by gulling Simo; or Silenus, the guardian and attendant of his pupil-god [Bacchus]. I would so execute a fiction taken from a well-known story, that any body might entertain hopes of doing the same thing; but, on trial, should sweat and labor in vain. Such power has a just arrangement and connection of the parts: such grace may be added to subjects merely common. In my judgment the Fauns, that are brought out of the woods, should not be too gamesome with their tender strains, as if they were educated in the city, and almost at the bar; nor, on the other hand; should blunder out their obscene and scandalous speeches. For [at such stuff] all are offended, who have a horse, a father, or an estate: nor will they receive with approbation, nor give the laurel crown, as the purchasers of parched peas and nuts are delighted with.
A long syllable put after a short one is termed an iambus, a lively measure, whence also it commanded the name of trimeters to be added to iambics, though it yielded six beats of time, being similar to itself from first to last. Not long ago, that it might come somewhat slower and with more majesty to the ear, it obligingly and contentedly admitted into its paternal heritage the steadfast spondees; agreeing however, by social league, that it was not to depart from the second and fourth place. But this [kind of measure] rarely makes its appearance in the notable trimeters of Accius, and brands the verse of Ennius brought upon the stage with a clumsy weight of spondees, with the imputation of being too precipitate and careless, or disgracefully accuses him of ignorance in his art.
It is not every judge that discerns inharmonious verses, and an undeserved indulgence is [in this case] granted to the Roman poets. But shall I on this account run riot and write licentiously? Or should not I rather suppose, that all the world are to see my faults; secure, and cautious [never to err] but with hope of being pardoned? Though, perhaps, I have merited no praise, I have escaped censure.
Ye [who are desirous to excel,] turn over the Grecian models by night, turn them by day. But our ancestors commended both the numbers of Plautus, and his strokes of pleasantry; too tamely, I will not say foolishly, admiring each of them; if you and I but know how to distinguish a coarse joke from a smart repartee, and understand the proper cadence, by [using] our fingers and ears.
Thespis is said to have invented a new kind of tragedy, and to have carried his pieces about in carts, which [certain strollers], who had their faces besmeared with lees of wine, sang and acted. After him Aeschylus, the inventor of the vizard mask and decent robe, laid the stage over with boards of a tolerable size, and taught to speak in lofty tone, and strut in the buskin. To these succeeded the old comedy, not without considerable praise: but its personal freedom degenerated into excess and violence, worthy to be regulated by law; a law was made accordingly, and the chorus, the right of abusing being taken away, disgracefully became silent.
Our poets have left no species [of the art] unattempted; nor have those of them merited the least honor, who dared to forsake the footsteps of the Greeks, and celebrate domestic facts; whether they have instructed us in tragedy, of comedy. Nor would Italy be raised higher by valor and feats of arms, than by its language, did not the fatigue and tediousness of using the file disgust every one of our poets. Do you, the decendants of Pompilius, reject that poem, which many days and many a blot have not ten times subdued to the most perfect accuracy. Because Democritus believes that genius is more successful than wretched art, and excludes from Helicon all poets who are in their senses, a great number do not care to part with their nails or beard, frequent places of solitude, shun the baths. For he will acquire, [he thinks,] the esteem and title of a poet, if he neither submits his head, which is not to be cured by even three Anticyras, to Licinius the barber. What an unlucky fellow am I, who am purged for the bile in spring-time! Else nobody would compose better poems; but the purchase is not worth the expense. Therefore I will serve instead of a whetstone, which though not able of itself to cut, can make steel sharp: so I, who can write no poetry myself, will teach the duty and business [of an author]; whence he may be stocked with rich materials; what nourishes and forms the poet; what gives grace, what not; what is the tendency of excellence, what that of error.
To have good sense, is the first principle and fountain of writing well. The Socratic papers will direct you in the choice of your subjects; and words will spontaneously accompany the subject, when it is well conceived. He who has learned what he owes to his country, and what to his friends; with what affection a parent, a brother, and a stranger, are to be loved; what is the duty of a senator, what of a judge; what the duties of a general sent out to war; he, [I say,] certainly knows how to give suitable attributes to every character. I should direct the learned imitator to have a regard to the mode of nature and manners, and thence draw his expressions to the life. Sometimes a play, that is showy with common-places, and where the manners are well marked, though of no elegance, without force or art, gives the people much higher delight and more effectually commands their attention, than verse void of matter, and tuneful trifles.
To the Greeks, covetous of nothing but praise, the muse gave genius; to the Greeks the power of expressing themselves in round periods. The Roman youth learn by long computation to subdivide a pound into an hundred parts. Let the son of Albinus tell me, if from five ounces one be subtracted, what remains? He would have said the third of a pound.–Bravely done! you will be able to take care of your own affairs. An ounce is added: what will that be? Half a pound. When this sordid rust and hankering after wealth has once tainted their minds, can we expect that such verses should be made as are worthy of being anointed with the oil of cedar, and kept in the well-polished cypress?
Poets wish either to profit or to delight; or to deliver at once both the pleasures and the necessaries of life. Whatever precepts you give, be concise; that docile minds may soon comprehend what is said, and faithfully retain it. All superfluous instructions flow from the too full memory. Let what ever is imagined for the sake of entertainment, have as much likeness to truth as possible; let not your play demand belief for whatever [absurdities] it is inclinable [to exhibit]: nor take out of a witch’s belly a living child that she had dined upon. The tribes of the seniors rail against every thing that is void of edification: the exalted knights disregard poems which are austere. He who joins the instructive with the agreeable, carries off every vote, by delighting and at the same time admonishing the reader. This book gains money for the Sosii; this crosses the sea, and continues to its renowned author a lasting duration.
Yet there are faults, which we should be ready to pardon: for neither does the string [always] form the sound which the hand and conception [of the performer] intends, but very often returns a sharp note when he demands a flat; nor will the bow always hit whatever mark it threatens. But when there is a great majority of beauties in a poem, I will not be offended with a few blemishes, which either inattention has dropped, or human nature has not sufficiently provided against. What therefore [is to be determined in this matter]? As a transcriber, if he still commits the same fault though he has been reproved, is without excuse; and the harper who always blunders on the same string, is sure to be laughed at; so he who is excessively deficient becomes another Choerilus; whom, when I find him tolerable in two or three places, I wonder at with laughter; and at the same time am I grieved whenever honest Homer grows drowsy? But it is allowable, that sleep should steal upon [the progress of] a king work.
As is painting, so is poetry: some pieces will strike you more if you stand near, and some, if you are at a greater distance: one loves the dark; another, which is not afraid of the critic’s subtle judgment, chooses to be seen in the light; the one has pleased once, the other will give pleasure if ten times repeated.
O ye elder of the youths, though you are framed to a right judgment by your father’s instructions, and are wise in yourself, yet take this truth along with you, [and] remember it; that in certain things a medium and tolerable degree of eminence may be admitted: a counselor and pleader at the bar of the middle rate is far removed from the merit of eloquent Messala, nor has so much knowledge of the law as Casselius Aulus, but yet he is in request; [but] a mediocrity in poets neither gods, nor men, nor [even] the booksellers’ shops have endured. As at an agreeable entertainment discordant music, and muddy perfume, and poppies mixed with Sardinian honey give offense, because the supper might have passed without them; so poetry, created and invented for the delight of our souls, if it comes short ever so little of the summit, sinks to the bottom.
He who does not understand the game, abstains from the weapons of the Campus Martius: and the unskillful in the tennis-ball, the quoit, and the troques keeps himself quiet; lest the crowded ring should raise a laugh at his expense: notwithstanding this, he who knows nothing of verses presumes to compose. Why not! He is free-born, and of a good family; above all, he is registered at an equestrian sum of moneys, and clear from every vice. You, [I am persuaded,] will neither say nor do any thing in opposition to Minerva: such is your judgment, such your disposition. But if ever you shall write anything, let it be submitted to the ears of Metius [Tarpa], who is a judge, and your father’s, and mine; and let it be suppressed till the ninth year, your papers being held up within your own custody. You will have it in your power to blot out what you have not made public: a word ice sent abroad can never return.
Orpheus, the priest and Interpreter of the gods, deterred the savage race of men from slaughters and inhuman diet; once said to tame tigers and furious lions: Amphion too, the builder of the Theban wall, was said to give the stones moon with the sound of his lyre, and to lead them whithersover he would, by engaging persuasion. This was deemed wisdom of yore, to distinguish the public from private weal; things sacred from things profane; to prohibit a promiscuous commerce between the sexes; to give laws to married people; to plan out cities; to engrave laws on [tables of] wood. Thus honor accrued to divine poets, and their songs. After these, excellent Homer and Tyrtaeus animated the manly mind to martial achievements with their verses. Oracles were delivered in poetry, and the economy of life pointed out, and the favor of sovereign princes was solicited by Pierian drains, games were instituted, and a [cheerful] period put to the tedious labors of the day; [this I remind you of,] lest haply you should be ashamed of the lyric muse, and Apollo the god of song.
It has been made a question, whether good poetry be derived from nature or from art. For my part, I can neither conceive what study can do without a rich [natural] vein, nor what rude genius can avail of itself: so much does the one require the assistance of the other, and so amicably do they conspire [to produce the same effect]. He who is industrious to reach the wished-for goal, has done and suffered much when a boy; he has sweated and shivered with cold; he has abstained from love and wine; he who sings the Pythian strains, was a learner first, and in awe of a master. But [in poetry] it is now enough for a man to say of himself: “I make admirable verses: a murrain seize the hindmost: it is scandalous for me to be outstripped, and fairly to Acknowledge that I am ignorant of that which I never learned.”
As a crier who collects the crowd together to buy his goods, so a poet rich in land, rich in money put out at interest, invites flatterers to come [and praise his works] for a reward. But if he be one who is well able to set out an elegant table, and give security for a poor man, and relieve when entangled in glaomy law-suits; I shall wonder if with his wealth he can distinguish a true friend from false one. You, whether you have made, or intend to make, a present to any one, do not bring him full of joy directly to your finished verses: for then he will cry out, “Charming, excellent, judicious,” he will turn pale; at some parts he will even distill the dew from his friendly eyes; he will jump about; he will beat the ground [with ecstasy]. As those who mourn at funerals for pay, do and say more than those that are afflicted from their hearts; so the sham admirer is more moved than he that praises with sincerity. Certain kings are said to ply with frequent bumpers, and by wine make trial of a man whom they are sedulous to know whether he be worthy of their friendship or not. Thus, if you compose verses, let not the fox’s concealed intentions impose upon you.
If you had recited any thing to Quintilius, he would say, “Alter, I pray, this and this:” if you replied, you could do it no better, having made the experiment twice or thrice in vain; he would order you to blot out, and once more apply to the anvil your ill-formed verses: if you choose rather to defend than correct a fault, he spent not a word more nor fruitless labor, but you alone might be fond of yourself and your own works, without a rival. A good and sensible man will censure spiritless verses, he will condemn the rugged, on the incorrect he will draw across a black stroke with his pen; he will lop off ambitious [and redundant] ornaments; he will make him throw light on the parts that are not perspicuous; he will arraign what is expressed ambiguously; he will mark what should be altered; [in short,] he will be an Aristarchus: he will not say, “Why should I give my friend offense about mere trifles?” These trifles will lead into mischiefs of serious consequence, when once made an object of ridicule, and used in a sinister manner.
Like one whom an odious plague or jaundice, fanatic phrensy or lunacy, distresses; those who are wise avoid a mad poet, and are afraid to touch him; the boys jostle him, and the incautious pursue him. If, like a fowler intent upon his game, he should fall into a well or a ditch while he belches out his fustian verses and roams about, though he should cry out for a long time, “Come to my assistance, O my countrymen;” not one would give himself the trouble of taking him up. Were any one to take pains to give him aid, and let down a rope; “How do you know, but he threw himself in hither on purpose?” I shall say: and will relate the death of the Sicilian poet. Empedocles, while he was ambitious of being esteemed an immortal god, in cold blood leaped into burning Aetna. Let poets have the privilege and license to die [as they please]. He who saves a man against his will, does the same with him who kills him [against his will]. Neither is it the first time that he has behaved in this manner; nor, were he to be forced from his purposes, would he now become a man, and lay aside his desire of such a famous death. Neither does it appear sufficiently, why he makes verses: whether he has defiled his father’s ashes, or sacrilegiously removed the sad enclosure of the vindictive thunder: it is evident that he is mad, and like a bear that has burst through the gates closing his den, this unmerciful rehearser chases the learned and unlearned. And whomsoever he seizes, he fastens on and assassinates with recitation: a leech that will not quit the skin, till satiated with blood.