« PreviousContinue »
The text of Orelli is (with a few exceptions, noticed as they occur) followed in this edition. The references to the Greek dramatists are according to the numbers in Dindorf's “ Poetæ Scenici.” Those to the Lyric poets follow Bergk's arrangement.
For a detailed account of Horace, and the many questions that connect themselves with it, the student is referred to the copious sources of information in such works as Smith's “ Dictionary of Biography," or the splendid edition of Dean Milman. It is not designed in this edition to supply information which is both abundant and accessible elsewhere, or to attempt to redo that: which has been sufficiently and admirably done ; but a few words may be expected upon the character and variety of Horace's writings, and a sufficient personal notice to introduce the extracts which are subjoined in a chronological arrangement.
The order in which the works of Horace are usually printed, viz., Odes, Epodes, Satires, Epistles, is apparently different from that of their composition. Their dates, as conjecturally assigned by Bentley, are given below; and in spite of the difficulty of reconciling them to particular passages in the several books, their principle seems to be acquiesced in. The question has this principal point of interest about it, that it bears upon Horace's character as a man and a poet, since we find, in passing from the Epodes and Satires to the Odes and Epistles, a higher
refinement of feeling and power of poetry: the harsh and objectionable passages of the first works find no place in the later; and while the gracefulness of his lyrics justify all the claims he makes as “Romanæ fidicen lyræ,” there is no less a grace in the soft and mellowed ease of the Epistles of his declining age. Moreover (as is shown in G. Stallbaum's preface to his edition) it may be found that the historical events of the different periods account for the bitternesses and asperities of the earlier books, composed while he was struggling with adversity and pining under a neglect from which his genius soon raised him, but to which, for the time, it must have made him the more sensitive. And the recollection of the miseries arising out of the anarchy and violence of the Civil War
“quæque ipse miserrima vidit, et quorum pars magna fuit”— might well suggest to him the admiration for the Emperor expressed in the joyful and adulatory language which, however excessive to our ears, did not sound so to his cotemporaries.
The Epodes are alluded to (Ep. 1. xix. 23.) as “Parii iambi.” The name was applied to poems in which each second verse was shorter than the first (as in elegiac poetry), e.g. the 1st Epode,– -or in which one of the verses was made up of two metres of distinct character, as in Epode 13.
The Satires are the “Græcis intactum carmen” (Sat. 1. X. 66.), according to the Roman boast of Quintilian : “Satira tota nostra est” (x. i.93.); a kind of poetry first struck out by Ennius (“ Ennius noster,” Cic. pro Arch. viii. 10.), followed, at some interval, and with a difference in the treatment of the subject, by Lucilius. The name is derived from “satur," the miscellaneous character of the subjects being compared to the "satura lanx," i.e. the dish of various fruits offered as a sacrifice of firstfruits, and then coming to signify any "hash" or "olio."
Juvenal describes his work as a “farrago,” and “quicquid agunt homines” as its legitimate materials to work up.
The Odes, on the contrary, are formed on the Greek type, and some, no doubt, directly adapted from Greek originals, keeping even the Greek names. From them it is we derive our chief knowledge of the Alcaic and Sapphic metres, for we have but disjointed fragments of their first authors; but as far as we can compare them, Horace seems to have improved upon his models, in point of metrical* harmony as well as precision,-a merit in which he may be contrasted with Ovid, who, however remarkable for the variety of cadence and rhythm in his verse, is far inferior to the Greek elegiasts. The restriction, no doubt suited to the genius of the Latin language, hampers it nevertheless in his poems, and loses all the flexibility and ease, and much of the grace, of his models. We have a few lyric odes from Catullus; but whether they had less circulation, or were less formally published in books, they are not considered to interfere by their simple priority of time with Horace's claim of being the first introducer into Italy of the Æolian strains.
The Epistles are probably, of all Horace's works, the most admired ; and they are those which eem to place us most at home with the author, and to give the most pleasing reflex of his character.
Otherwise they may be classed generally with his Satires, as a sort of continuation of them, but with the softened and easy style betokening inward satisfaction, prosperity, and content. What Niebuhr says of Cicero's “ Pro Murenâ” might perhaps be nearly as applicable to their character. (Lect. 42.)
Of his personal history and fortunes he has left us
* Numerosus Horatius.- Ov. Trist. iv. 10.