« PredošláPokračovať »
Non eadem eft ætas, non mens. Veianius, armis
Condo & compono, quæ mox depromere poffim.
5. Armis Herculis ad poftem fixis.] After Hercules had wandered through the World deftroying Monsters, he was received by Greece and Italy among the Gods, who prefided over athletic Exercises. There was generally a Temple of this God near their Amphitheatres, in which the Ceremonies of receiving a new Gladiator into the Company were performed. From hence the Cuftom of confecrating their Arms to Hercules.
6. Extremâ toties exoret arenâ.] Horace would authorise his Refolution of writing no more, by the Example of Vejanius, who having often fought with Succefs, was now retired into the Country, determined never to expofe himself on the Stage again. If a Gladiator, who had obtained his Difchage, ever engaged a fecond Time, he was obliged to have a second Difmiffion, and going to the End of the Stage, extrema arena, implored the People to give him his Freedom.
10. Nunc itaque & verfus.] A prompt and chearful Obedience is an Effect of the purgata auris, an Ear, which hears diftinctly. When the Soul is pure and difengaged from Paffion, it hears with Eafe the Voice of Reason, and with Chearfulness obeys its Commands. DAC.
Yet Mr. Sanadon obferves, that our Poet had more than once made this Refolution, and broken it as often. Almost all Rhimers do the fame, and thefe poetical Oaths are a Kind of Language, which always fuppofes a Right of being perjured.
Secure in his Retreat Vejanius lies,
Hangs up his Arms, nor courts the doubtful Prize;
He drag his jaded Limbs, and burft his Wind.
You afk, perhaps, what Sect, what Chief I own;
For as the Tempeft drives I fhape my Way, Now active plunge into the World's wide Sea:
11. Verum atque decens.] To unite these two Parts is the Perfection of Philofophy. The firft, when alone, fills the Mind with a barren, abftracted Knowledge. The fecond, renders us Men, by teaching us to regulate our Actions, and preserve whatever are call ed Decencies in Life.
14. Nullius addictus, &c.] Addi&i were properly thofe Debtors, whom the Prætor adjudged to their Creditors, who might difpofe of them as they pleased. But here the Poet alludes to Soldiers, who took the military Oath at the Time they were enlifted. We have a pleasant Use of the Word in Shakespeare. Leave off all thin Potations, fays Falstaffe, and addict thyself unto Sack.
15. Tempeftas, deferor bofpes.] A Philofopher is a citizen of the World, and fhould be prepared, like a Mariner in a Tempeft, to live in every Country to which the Storm fhall drive him, as if he were naturalized there. Horace had, perhaps, in his View a Paffage of Cicero, who tells us, the Philofophers ftuck to the Sect into which they were driven, as it were by Violence of a Tempeft, as fhipA 3
Nunc agilis fio, & merfor civilibus undis ;
wrecked Mariners do to a Rock on which they are thrown. But indeed almost all People, who are enlifted in a Profeffion or a Party, are equally tenacious of their Principles. Mr. Sanadon understands by Tempeftas the Opportunities, Hazards, and Confequences of our Actions.
16. Nunc agilis fio, &c.] In the common Arrangement of thefe Lines, the third but ill agrees with the firft, or the fecond with the fourth. How fhall we reconcile that Flexibility of Spirit, neceffary for dexterously managing our Affairs, with the Stiffness of a rude and auftere Virtue? What can be more oppofite to the Character of Ariftippus, pliant and fupple even to Meannefs, than a Stoical Independance of Mind, which mafters and fubdues the Bufinefs of the World? By this new Arrangement the Difficulties, which perplexed the Commentators, difappear: There is no longer any Obfcurity in the Thoughts, or Confufion in the Characters. SAN.
18. Virtutis veræ cuftos.] The Virtue of the Stoics, whom our Author here means, was real; nor did any other School give more excellent Leffons; but, in Practice, they mixed fuch an unreasonable Severity of Manners, as made them unfit for the common Affairs of Life, that frequently require a certain Temper and Addrefs, of which they were incapable. In general, we shall better fucceed by an easy Compliance, with any uncommon Occurrences, than by a rigid Oppofition to them. SAN,
19. Nunc in Ariftippi.] This naturally follows the three preceding Lines. Horace could not long be reconciled to the two former Syftems; one required too much Action; the other too much Severity; and neither of them was agreeable to his Inclination. The
Now Virtue's Precepts rigidly defend,
Nor to the World-the World to me fhall bend:
As Night seems tedious to th' expecting Youth,
Morals of Ariftippus, who founded the Epicurean Sect, were more to his Tafte; but as this Philofophy was very feverely treated by the Stoics, and Cynics, the Poet pleasantly says, he was obliged, with Privacy, furtim, to follow its Doctrines. SAN.
Horace by the Word, furtim, might probably mean, that he did not pass, at once, from the Sentiments of Zeno to those of Ariftippus, as it were from one Extreme to another, but by Degrees, and infenfibly. DAC.
20. Ut nox longa, &c.] Nothing can give us an higher Idea of that Ardour, which our Author felt for Philofophy, than by comparing it to an Impatience, with which a Lover expects his Mistress at her midnight Affignation: An Impatience which he himself had experienced. Befides, the Comparison appears more strong, and is an higher Honour to Philofophy, thus drawn from Vice, and employed in the Caufe of Virtue. DAC.
21. Diefque lenta videtur.] The common Editions, by reading longa, have loft that beautiful Variety of Epithets, with which Horace hath enlivened his Language, Nox longa, dies lenta, annus piger, tarda tempora. Lenta was found in an old Manufcript by Barthius, and has been received into the Text by Dr. Bentley, Mr. Cuningham and Sanadon.
Opus debentibus.] Not only Hirelings, but Perfons, who work for Wages, which they have already received. We call this, in an homely Proverb, working for a dead Horse,
Reftat, ut his ego me ipfe regam folerque elementis.
27. Elementis.] The Remainder of this Epiftle contains what the Poet calls the first Principles and Elements of Wisdom, by which he defigns to regulate his future Life, and comfort himself for not having had Leifure to form a more complete and perfect Syftem of Morality. Such are, You cannot fee like Lynceus : You have not the Limbs of Glycon: Yet every Step to Virtue, &c. DAC.
30. Invicti membra Glyconis.] The Commentators tell us, from Diogenes Laertius, that Glycon was a Philofopher, who had made himself famous by his Dexterity and Skill in Athletic Exercises. But more probably the Poet alluded to a Statue, which is ftill preferved in Rome, and of which Montfaucon speaks thus. Hercules of Farnefe, the finest of all, is a Mafter-piece of Art. It is the Performance of Glycon the Athenian, who hath immortalized his Name, by putting it at the Bottom of this admirable Statue.
33. Fervet avaritiâ.] The Difference between Avarice, and a Defire of increafing our Wealth, is here ftrongly marked. Avaritia, miferoque cupidine. The former dares not enjoy what it poffeffes: the latter ardently wishes for whatever seems to gratify its Defires. SAN.
37. Ter pure lecto.] Although the Numbers ten and seven had a myfterious Reverence paid to them by the Ancients, yet the Number