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TO ALBIUS TIBULLUS
ALBIUS TIBULLUS, the elegiac poet, who died the same year as Virgil, 19 B.C., when still quite young, had returned from a campaign in Aquitania in 27 B.C., and then perhaps read for the first time the Satires of Horace. As the first verse of this Epistle refers only to the Satires and not to the Odes, this short letter seems to have been written before 23 B.C., when the Odes (Books i.-iii.) were published.
Tibullus seems to have been of a sensitive and somewhat melancholy disposition, like the English poet, Thomas Gray. Horace here tries to divert him, and concludes with an invitation to visit him, a prosperous Epicurean, at his Sabine farm.
The commonly accepted view that the Albius here addressed by Horace is the poet Tibullus has been rejected by Cruquius, Baehrens and, more recently, by Professor J. P. Postgate (Selections from Tibullus, 1903, p. 179). The identity of Albius and Tibullus is upheld by Professor B. L. Ullman in an article "Horace and Tibullus" in the American Journal of Philology, xxxiii. (1912) pp. 149 ff., to which Professor Postgate replies briefly in the same volume, pp. 450 ff. Ullman also holds that Tibullus is the Albi filius of Sat. i. 4. 109, written when Tibullus was about sixteen years of age.
Albi, nostrorum sermonum candide iudex, quid nunc te dicam facere in regione Pedana ? scribere quod Cassi Parmensis opuscula vincat, an tacitum silvas inter reptare salubris,
curantem quidquid dignum sapiente bonoque1 est? 5 non tu corpus eras sine pectore di tibi formam, di tibi divitias dederunt2 artemque fruendi. quid voveat dulci nutricula maius alumno, qui3 sapere et fari possit quae sentiat, et cui gratia, fama, valetudo contingat abunde, et mundus victus non deficiente crumina?
Inter spem curamque, timores inter et iras5 omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum. grata superveniet, quae non sperabitur hora. me pinguem et nitidum bene curata cute vises, cum ridere voles, Epicuri de grege porcum.
1 bonumque Rπ.
2 dederant EM.
3 qui EV Porph. : quin a, II: qun M.
6 cum E.
a i.e. the Satires. The word Sermones means 66
Albius, impartial critic of my "chats," a what shall I say you now are doing in your country at Pedum? Writing something to outshine the pieces of Cassius of Parma? Or strolling peacefully amid the healthful woods, and musing on all that is worthy of one wise and good? Never were you a body without soul. The gods gave you beauty, the gods gave you wealth, and the art of enjoyment. For what more would a fond nurse pray for her sweet ward, if he could think aright and utter his thoughts-if favour, fame, and health fall to him richly, with a seemly living and a never failing purse?
Amid hopes and cares, amid fears and passions, believe that every day that has dawned is your last. Welcome will steal upon you the hour unhoped for. As for me, when you want a laugh, you will find me in fine fettle, fat and sleek, a hog from Epicurus's herd.
"conversations," and was adopted by Horace for his Satires. See Introduction B, note a.
The scholiasts identify him with Cassius Etruscus of Sat. i. 10. 61. So too Ullman, loc. cit. p. 164.
• If Ullman's view is correct, Horace is here contrasting the son Albius with the father of the same name.
HORACE here invites to a simple dinner, on the eve of the birthday of Augustus, a member of the wealthy family of the Manlii Torquati, probably the same as the one to whom the seventh ode of the Fourth Book is later addressed. Torquatus is asked to bring some guests.
As to the hour set for the dinner Porphyrio explains supremo sole (1. 3) as meaning hora sexta, i.e. midday, and Professor A. J. Bell favours this interpretation. (Classical Review, xxix. (1915) p. 200. But Horace's simple dinner is quite unlike the extravagant one given by Nasidienus, which began de medio die (Sat. ii. 8. 3), and people who have spent a hot September in Rome will not think it likely that the sensitive poet would have invited his guests to come at high noon in that unpleasant month. As to the last two lines Torquatus is presumably a busy lawyer, and some of his clients might have to wait till late in the day in order to consult him. If so, this would be another reason why Horace would not expect his friend to come before evening. Maecenas, also a busy man, dined sub lumina prima (Sat. ii. 7. 33).