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Q. HORATII FLACCI CARMINA.
THIS poem is a dedication of the first three books of Odes, which Horace published together, to his patron Maecenas. It serves at the same time, however, as an introduction to the collected lyrical productions of Horace. The author says (1-28) that the pursuits of men are very various: one strives after honour, another after extensive possessions, another after a peaceful life on his hereditary estate; others after commercial gain, after a life of merriment and debauchery, after the exciting employments of war, or after the pleasures of the chase. He, on the other hand (29-36), busies himself with the cultivation of lyric poetry; and will feel happy if, in the judgment of Maecenas, he is worthy to be considered as a lyric poet.
MAECENAS atavis edite regibus,
O et praesidium et dulce decus meum:
1. C. Cilnius Maecenas was a member of the Cilnian gens, which belonged to the ruling clans in Arretium, an ancient city of Etruria, and was said to have given several kings and military leaders to that country.-3. Sunt quos-juvat. Gram. § 360, 4, and as to the perfect collegisse, Gram. 371, note 2. The allusion is to the Olympic Games, of which chariot-racing (curriculo=curru) constituted a principal part. The great difficulty in this exercise was to turn round the meta (the pillar which marked the end of the course) so closely as not to lose any ground, and at the same time so dexterously as to avoid grazing the post and being overturned. The victor received as his reward a garland made of the leaves of the wild olive.
Evitata rotis palmaque nobilis
Nunquam dimoveas, ut trabe Cypria
Laudat rura sui; mox reficit rates
tree (palma.)-6. That is, makes him as proud and happy as the gods who rule the world.-7. To hunc, and, in line 9, to illum, supply evehit ad deos. As among the Greeks a victory at Olympia conferred the highest honour, so at Rome this resulted from any one's election by his fellow-citizens to the tergemini-that is, triplices honores; namely, the curule edileship, the praetorship, and the consulship.-10. All that is swept together from the Libyan threshing-floors.' Libya is the north of Africa, one of the corngrowing countries which supplied Italy. The poet alludes here to wealthy landed proprietors. At a later period, under Nero, the whole of the Roman province of Africa was in the possession of six persons.11. Gaudentem, 'one who finds his pleasure in, who is satisfied with.'-12. Attalicae condiciones are offers or conditions, such as Attalus III., king of Pergamus, who had been proverbial for wealth, and who bequeathed his kingdom and his treasures to the Roman people, might have made.-13. Trabs=navis, a part by poetical license being put for the whole. The ship is called Cyprian because it was built of cedar, in which the island of Cyprus abounded. The Myrtoan Sea is that between Euboea, Crete, and Peloponnesus.-15. Icariis fluctibus would in prose be cum Icariis fluctibus. The Icarian Sea is that between Samos and the island of Icaria, so called from Icarus, the son of Daedalus. Africus is the south-west by west wind.-17. Rura oppidi sui, 'the country round about his town.' The merchant, whose business consisted in bring. ing the produce of the East from Alexandria to the ports of Italy (for this, in the Roman sense, was a mercator), has a house in the country town to which he belongs, and an estate in the neighbourhood.-18. Pauperiem, a life without gain,' a mere competence, sufficient to give him the necessaries of subsistence: egestas is different, for it means 'absolute want.'-19. Veteris pocula Massici, cups of old wine from Mount Massicus.' This was a nill in Campania, famous for producing excellent wine. A solidus dies is a day which may be wholly and without interruption devoted to business. To take away a part of this—that is, to give one's-self up to pleasure and enjoyment about noon, or any time
Spernit, nunc viridi membra sub arbuto
Me doctarum hederae praemia frontium
Euterpe cohibet nec Polyhymnia
before the principal meal of the day was a sign of a jovial and careless voluptuary.-21. Non spernit =juvat, 'he does not scorn, he finds his pleasure in.' Membra stratus; Gram. § 259, 2.-22. Caput aquae is the fountain from which a rivulet flows, and which in ancient times was usually sacred to a nymph, and adorned with an image.-24. Matribus detestata; Gram. $271. We have another instance of the same construction immediately afterwards (27), visa est catulis fidelibus.-25. Sub Jove; that is, sub dio, in the open air.' Jupiter is the air.-28. The district of the Marsi in Italy is mountainous, and abounds with game. It is therefore a favourite resort for huntsmen.-29. What Horace says of his own pursuits divides itself into three parts. He feels himself borne away into the circle of the gods, when his head is crowned with bay (hedera), which used to be given as a mark of honour to poets (doctae frontes); he seems to himself to be different from other men, when in the summer, in a cool grove, with nymphs and satyrs dancing around him, under the favouring smile of Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry, and of the pensive Polyhymnia, who invented the lyre, he can chant a lay, as erewhile, in the island of Lesbos, Alcaeus, the most distinguished of Greek lyrists, did; and thirdly, if Maecenas will acknowledge that his efforts have been successful, and consider him as a true lyric poet, he will enter on the enjoyment of immortal fame (sublimi feriam sidera vertice.)