The Satires, Epistles & Art of Poetry of Horace/Notes

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Horace Satires etc tr Conington (1874) - headpiece from page 97.jpg


Page 6.

Enough: you'll think I've rifled the scrutore
Of blind Crispinus, if I prose on more.

HOWES has a very similar couplet:—

But hold! you'll think I've pillaged the scrutore
Of blear Crispinus: not one word then more!

I believe it however to be a mere coincidence on my part. The word "scrutore" is an uncommon one; but it was the recollection of an altogether different passage which suggested it to me here. At any rate, Howes is not the first who has used it in translating the present lines.

Now 'tis enough: lest you should think
T've dipt in blear-eyed Crispin's ink,
And stolen my work from his scrutore,
I will not add a sentence more,

Page 9.

Gives Varus' name to knock-kneed boys, and dubs
His club-foot youngster Scaurus, king of clubs.

This is, of course, in no sense a translation: it is simply an attempt (a desperate one, I fear) to give point to a sentence which otherwise to an English reader would have no point at all.

Page 13.

Hail to your majesty! yet, ne'ertheless,
Rude boys are pulling at your beard, I guess.

Those commentators are clearly right who understand "vellunt," not of what the boys are apt to do, but of what they are actually doing, while the Stoic is talking and making himself out to be a king.

Page 17.

Say, you're first cousin to that goodly pair,
Cælius and Birrius, and their foibles share.

Cælius and Birrius were a couple of robbers, a fact distinctly mentioned in the Latin, and, I hope, capable of being inferred from the context of the English.

Page 35.

After life's endless babble they sleep well.

I need hardly refer to the well-known line in Macbeth.

Page 44.

Cassius the rake, and Mænius the buffoon.

This is nearly identical with a line in Howes, of which it may very possibly be an unconscious remembrance. Here and in other places I have called Nomentanus, metri gratia, by his family name Cassius, though it is nowhere, I believe, applied to him by Horace. Pantolabus is supposed to be the same as Mænius, whom Horace mentions elsewhere, and I have been only too glad to take the supposition for granted. Generally, where a Horatian personage is known to have had two names, I have used that one which the exigences of the verse recommended.

Page 61.

O heaven-abandoned wretch! is all this care.
O inconsistent wretch! is all this coil.
Gifford's Juvenal, Sat. xiv.

Page 94.

And each man's lips are at his neighbour's ear.

Perhaps a recollection of Pope's line (Satires of Dr. Donne), "When half his nose is in his prince's ear."

Page 98.

Of studying truths that rick and poor concern,
Which young and old are lost unless they learn.

This may seem borrowed from Cowper's "Tirocinium,"

——truths on which depend our main concern,
That 'tis our shame and misery not to learn;

but I believe the resemblance to be purely accidental. It may serve however to show that the more serious passages in Horace, as well as the lighter ones, are not unlike Cowper.

Page 103.

That makes Atrides and Achilles foes.

Almost verbatim from a line in Pope's "Odyssey," which is itself probably from one in Maynwaring's First Book of the "Iliad."

Page 110.

Not to admire, Numicius, is the best,
The only way, to make and keep men blest.

Slightly altered from the later editions of Francis:

Not to admire is of all means the best,
The only means, to make and keep us blest.

Ten lines lower down I have a couplet nearly coincident with one in Howes, but not intentionally so.

Page 124.

But what are Rhodes and Lesbos, and the rest.

This and the nine following lines are a considerable expansion of the Latin: but I was apprehensive of not bringing out the connexion, if I translated more closely.

Page 126.

Empedocles or the Stertinian school.

As Horace has chosen to take Stertinius here as a type of the Stoics, I thought I might avail myself of a similar licence, and call the Stoics as a school by his name.

Page 129.

The ox, unyoked and resting from the plough,
Wants fodder, stripped from elm or poplar bough.

Horace merely has "strictis frondibus:" but the writers De Re Rustica, quoted by the commentators, tell us what the leaves in use were.

Page 131.

When Mænius, after nobly gobbling down
His fortune, took to living on the town.

"Took to living on the town" is not meant as a version of "urbanus coepit haberi," but rather as an equivalent suggested by the context.

Page 134.

Each law, each right, each statute and each act.

Horace's object is evidently to give an exhaustive notion of the various parts of the law: and I have tried to produce the same impression by accumulating terms, without caring how far they can severally be discriminated.

Page 135.

I've shed no blood. You shall not feed the crow.
I'll have thee hanged to feed the crow.
Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel.

Page 136.

The wise and good, like Bacchus in the play.

Borrowed from Francis, with a slight change in the order of the words.

Page 140.

In sing-song drawl, or Gnatho in the play.

"Partes mimum tractare secundas" seems to mean "to act the stage parasite," who, according to Festus, was the second character in almost every mime. I thought therefore that I might substitute for the general description the name of a particular parasite in Roman comedy.

Page 144.

Let temperate folk write verses in the hall
Where bonds change hands.

Strictly speaking, there does not seem to have been a hall of exchange at the Puteal, which was apparently open to the sky: but the inaccuracy is not a serious one.

Page 151.

While all forlorn the baffled critic stands,
Fumbling a naked stump between his hands.

I had originally written

By the old puzzle of the dwindling mound
Bringing at last the critic to the ground,

which of course represents the Latin better: but it occurred to me that the allusion to the sophism of the heap, following immediately on the similar figure of the horse's tail, could only embarrass an English reader, and would therefore be out of place in a passage intended to be idiomatic. Howes has got over the difficulty neatly:—

Till my opponent, by fair logic beat,
Shall find the ground sink fast beneath his feet.

Page 151.

Enjoys his ease, nor cares how he redeems
The gorgeous promise of his peacock dreams.

I suppose the meaning to be this: Ennius, as appears from his own remains and the notices of him in other writers, began his Annals with a dream in which the spirit of Homer appeared to him, and told him that, after passing through various other bodies, including those of Pythagoras and a peacock, it was now animating that of the Roman poet himself. How this was connected with the subject of the Annals we do not know; probably not very artificially: Horace, as I understand him, means to ridicule this want of connexion, while he says that the critics are so indiscriminate in their praises that Ennius may well repose on his laurels, and not trouble himself as to whether there is any real connexion or no.

Page 152.

Just as an unfair sample, set to catch
The heedless customer, will sell the batch.

I believe I have given the exact force of the original, though the metaphor there is from a gang of slaves, where the best-looking is placed in front to carry off the rest. This interpretation, which the phrase "ducere familiam" seems to place beyond doubt, is as old as Torrentius: but the commentators in general reject or ignore it.

Page 157.

For, so he fills his pockets, nought he heeds
Whether the play's a failure or succeeds.

Modern readers may wonder how the poet comes to fill his pockets if the play does not succeed. The answer is that he sold his play to the ædiles before its performance. For the benefit of the same persons it may be mentioned, with reference to a passage a few lines lower down, that in a Roman theatre the curtain was kept down during the representation, raised when the play was over.

Page 166.

New phrases, in the world of books unknown,
So use but father them, he makes his own.

I understand "quæ genitor produxerit usus" not, with Orelli, "which shall be adopted into use at once, so that people shall fancy that they have been in use long before," but, with Ritter, "which shall have been already sanctioned by usage," the distinction being between words not only in common use but used in literature, and words in use, but not yet adopted into literature, and so relatively "nova." "Father" of course I use less strictly than Pope uses it in his well-known imitation of the passage, "For use will father what's begot by sense."

Page 172.

Attempts at ease emasculate my verse.

I find Dean Bagot has a line, "A want of nerve effeminates my speech."

Page 173.

In words again be cautious and select,
And duly pick out this, and that reject.

I have adopted Bentley's transposition, simply because it happened to be convenient in translating.

Page 177.

Than alter facts and characters, and tell
In a strange form the tale men know so well.

Many years ago I proposed this solution of a passage of admitted difficulty in the Classical Museum. I take "Difficile est proprie communia dicere" in its ordinary sense, "It is hard to treat hackneyed subjects with originality." Horace then goes on to say that it is better to give up the attempt altogether and simply copy (say) Homer, than to run the risk of outraging popular feeling by a new treatment of (say) the Trojan story, or a new view of the chief characters: but that if a writer still wishes to make the attempt, he may succeed by attending to certain rules, "si nec circa vilem," &c. &c. Thus I make "publica materies" identical with "communia," and "privati juris" with "proprie," contrary to Orelli's opinion.

Page 179.

Yet haste and chance may blink the obvious truth.

I am not sure whether this was the connecting link in Horace's mind; but I felt that the absence of any link would make the transition between the two sentences intolerably abrupt in English, and go I supplied a link as I best could. Macleane seems right in remarking that the remark "multa ferunt" &c. seems to be drawn forth by the dark picture of old age contained in the preceding verses, and has not much otherwise to do with the subject. Horace doubtless felt that he was passing middle life himself.

Page 182.

Yet so that none should ask it to resign
The sixth, fourth, second places in the line.

Horace does not mention the sixth place: I have introduced it for the benefit of persons who, as actually happened to me when very young, may attempt to write Iambic trimeters with no guide but this passage, and may be in consequence in danger of making them scazons, as I actually did.

Page 188.

Entrust it first to Mæcius' critic ears,
Your sire's, and mine, and keep it back nine years.

Almost a verbal coincidence with Howes, but a coincidence only.

Page 189.

Then blush not for the lyre: Apollo sings
In unison with her who sweeps its strings.

It is difficult to say whether the paragraph of which these lines are the conclusion is a sketch of the history of poetry in general or of lyric poetry in particular. The former would be rather inartistic after the other historical notices of poetry that have occurred in the poem: the latter is not easily reconciled with the mention of Homer. On the other hand, Horace's inexactness elsewhere makes either supposition quite possible. I have translated so as to leave the ground open to either.

Page 191.

A second Aristarch.

Before them marched that awful Aristarch.
Pope, Dunciad, Book iv.

Page 191.

Leave poets free to perish as they will.

Following Mr. Howes and probably others who have written on the Ars Poetica, though apparently not the latest editors, I regard all the words from "Deus immortalis haberi" to the end as part of Horace's speech to the man who thinks of rescuing the mad poet. Much of the humour of what follows, e.g. "Nec semel hoc fecit," "Nec satis apparet," &c. would, it seems to me, be lost on any other supposition.