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The fourth Class of Horace's Writings.
Horace. The second book of Epistles, containing the
two to Augustus Cæsar, and to Julius
8 | 57
vto Kalendas Decembres,
of completing his 57th year, Horace dies.
N.B. By the numbers here inserted in brackets as [37, 36] &c., it is intended to show, agreeably to what is already stated in p. 82, that the years left void by Bentley in his Chronology of the works might belong indifferently to the composition of the preceding or the subsequent Book.
HORACE'S FAMILIAR DAY,
AND ROMAN CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH IT.
In the xxvith year of his age, B.c. 39. let us date the 6th Satire of the first book, keeping in mind also, that a summer’s day is the object of description, and that as he begins his story after luncheon, the cibus meridianus (Sueton. August. 78.) or prandium, so he brings us round to the same point again.
I S. VI. 111--129.
quâcunque libido est,
1. Here then vv. 111-114, Horace, after a simple luncheon, instead of sauntering about at home, as at other times he
might do, (v. 128. domesticus otior,) indulges in a walk into the city, careless and unattended ; asks the price of gardenherbs and bread-corn ; rambles about the Circus and the Forum, looking at the amusements and tricks which those places afforded, and especially stopping to observe the fortune-tellers (probably the de “circo astrologi” of Tully, de Divin. i. 58.) in the pursuit of their craft : for it must not be supposed that by the words, assisto divinis, Horace could possibly mean
“I go to church and pray,"
as Creech has most absurdly translated it; raising ideas in the mind of the reader, to which there was nothing correspondent in the religious services of Rome.
2. By this time, the evening hour approaches, (already v. 114. vespertinum,) and sends him home to dinner. That meal, cæna, consists of vegetable dishes and a kind of pancake: the boys who wait at table are three, evidently considered a very small number, (even ten slaves formed but a moderate familia, 1 S. 111. 12). The marble slab holds two goblets for wine and water, with a measuring-cup: by the rinsing-bowl is set an oil-cruet and a patera for libation, plain ware all of them.
3. After the meal thus described, in his earliest and simplest style of living at Rome, he retires to bed, free from all uneasiness as to rising betimes, because under no necessity to visit the statue of Apollo and Marsyas, that is, to attend the Courts of Justice, in the morning.
4. From his couch, after some hours spent as usual in study, (lecto aut scripto quod tacitum juvet,) he does not rise till towards ten : he then strolls into the Campus Martius, and prepares himself (ungor olivo) for exercise, specifically that of the pila velox or the lusus called trigon. As the day becomes too sultry, he withdraws from the Campus to bathe, doubtless in the Tiber hard by. The next and
final stage of the story carries him home to his luncheon ; soon after which it was that this sketch of his familiar day first took him up.
Under these four heads there arise not a few subjects of curious remark.
And first of the luncheon ; for breakfast (jentaculum) usually they had none. With Horace, after such a morning's work as we have seen, agreeably to his own precept, 2 S. II. 14, 15.
Quum labor extuderit fastidia, siccus, inanis,
Sperne cibum vilem—if you can, that meal was quite plain and merely enough for its necessary purpose, to pacify the stomach till the late dinner time.
Pransus non avide quantum interpellet inani
Ventre diem durare..vv. 127, 8. Elsewhere he thus describes such a frugal meal, 2 S. 11. 17.
cum sale panis Latrantem stomachum bene leniet....
which just agrees with Seneca's account, (L. XII. Epist. 84. Ed. 1573.) Panis deinde siccus et sine mensâ prandium ; post quod non sunt lavandæ manus.
For the luxurious palate very different provision was made. Even fish (as from that beautiful Satire, 2 S. II. Que virtus et quanta, boni .. we gather incidentally) was a requisite of the table. vv. 16, 17.
Foris est promus, et atrum
Defendens pisces hiemat mare...... and the choicest wine sweetened with the finest honey formed its accompaniment. vy. 15, 16.
nisi Hymettia mella Falerno Ne biberis diluta,
The learned Professor of Gastronomy (2 S. iv. Unde et
quo Catius?) gravely advises to finish with mulberries
Finiet, ante gravem quæ legerit arbore solem. But instead of so strong a wine mixed with honey, which he very rationally condemns, we have a weaker mixture (mulsum) recommended.
vv. 24–27. Aufidius forti miscebat mella Falerno,
Mendose : quoniam vacuis committere venis
In passing next to the dinner, the time of it deserves our first attention. Horace, who professed (2 S. vii. 23.) to admire the mores antiquæ plebis, agreeably to that profession and to the still general custom, dined at a late hour. So did the lawyers, whether the Consultus juris or the Actor causarum, A. P. 369, 70; whose business either in the courts or at their own houses, kept them engaged till the evening. What says Horace to a supposed aspirant ?
1 E. VI. 20. Gnavus mane forum, et vespertinus pete tectum. and thus in his invitation to Manlius Torquatus :
1 E. v. 3. Supremo te sole domi, Torquate, manebo.
id. 30, 1. Tu quotus esse velis, rescribe : et rebus omissis
Atria servantem postico falle clientem.
Such was the case with all persons, who either would not
Jusserit ad se
are the words of Davus to his master.