Obrázky na stránke

discrepet et quantum discordet parcus avaro. 194 distat enim, spargas tua prodigus, an neque sumptum invitus facias neque plura parare labores, ac potius, puer ut festis Quinquatribus olim, exiguo gratoque fruaris tempore raptim. pauperies immunda domusprocul absit?: ego, utrum nave ferar magna an parva, ferar unus et idem. 200 non agimur tumidis velis Aquilone secundo : non tamen adversis aetatem ducimus Austris, viribus, ingenio, specie, virtute, loco, re2 extremi primorum, extremis usque priores. 204

Non es avarus : abi. quid ? cetera iam simul isto cum vitio fugere3 ? caret tibi pectus inani ambitione ? caret mortis formidine et ira ? somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas, nocturnos lemures portentaque Thessala rides ? natalis grate numeras ? ignoscis amicis ?

210 lenior et melior fis4 accedente senecta ? quid te exempta iuvat5 spinis de pluribus una ? vivere si recte nescis, decede peritis. lusisti satis, edisti satis atque bibisti : tempus abire tibi est, ne potum largius aequo 215 rideat et pulset lasciva decentius& aetas.

1 domus and absit omitted, II (only absit omitted in R). Hence procul procul absit Bentley.

2 loco re, I, R: colore, II.
3 fugere D, II: fuge rite aEM.
5 iuvit D: levat.

6 licentius .

4 sis E.

a The Quinquatrus, or festival of Minerva, was a schoolvacation of five days, from March 19 to March 23.

• For Thessalian witchcraft cf. Epod. v. 45 ; Odes, i. 27.21. is at variance with the miserly. For it does differ whether you scatter your money lavishly, or whether, while neither reluctant to spend, nor eager to add to your store, you snatch enjoyment of the brief and pleasant hour, like a schoolboy in the spring holidays.a Far from me be squalid want at home : yet, be my vessel large or small, I, the passenger aboard, shall remain one and the same. Not with swelling sails are we borne before a favouring north wind, yet we drag not out our life struggling with southern gales ; in strength, in wit, in person, in virtue, in station, in fortune, behind the foremost, ever before the last.

205 You are no miser. Good! What then? Have all the other vices taken to flight with that? Is your

heart free from vain ambition ? Is it free from alarm and anger at death ? Dreams, terrors of magic, marvels, witches, ghosts of night, Thessalian portents —do you laugh at these ? Do you count your birthdays thankfully? Do you forgive your friends ? Do you grow gentler and better, as old

? age draws near ? What good does it do you to pluck out a single one of many thorns ? If you know not how to live aright, make way for those who do. You have played enough, have eaten and drunk enough. 'Tis time to quit the feast, lest, when you have drunk too freely, youth mock and jostle you, playing the wanton with better grace.

Cf. Sat. i. 1. 118, where, as here, Horace has in mind the famous passage in Lucretius, De rerum nat. iii. 938, ARS POETICA

cur non ut plenus vitae conviva recedis ?


This, the longest of Horace's poems, is found in nearly all mss. under the title Ārs Poetica, which is also the name assigned to it by Quintilian and used by the commentator Porphyrio. Yet the composition is a letter rather than a formal treatise, and it is hard to believe that Horace himself is responsible for the conventional title. It has the discursive and occasionally personal tone of an Epistle, whereas it lacks the completeness, precision, and logical order of a well-constructed treatise. It must therefore be judged by the same standards as the other Epistles and Sermones, and must be regarded as an expression of more or less random reflections, suggested by special circumstances, upon an art which peculiarly concerned one or more of the persons addressed. These are a father and two sons of the Piso family, but nobody knows with certainty what particular Pisos—and there are many on record—they are.

Though the writer touches upon various kinds of poetry, yet as fully one-third of the whole poem is concerned with the drama, it is a plausible inference that one at least of the Pisos - presumably the elder son (1. 366)—was about to write a play, perhaps one with an Homeric background (ll. 128, 129), and


possibly one conforming to the rules of the Greek satyric drama (11. 220 ff.). Thus the special interests of the Pisos may have determined Horace's choice of topics.

The following is a brief outline of the main subjects handled in the letter :

(a) A poem demands unity, to be secured by harmony and proportion, as well as a wise choice of subject and good diction. Metre and style must be appropriate to theme and to character. A good model will always be found in Homer (11. 1-152).

(6) Dramatic poetry calls for special care—as to character drawing, propriety of representation, length of a play, number of actors, use of the chorus and its music, special features for the satyric type, verseforms, and employment of Greek models (11. 153294).

(c) A poet's qualifications include common sense, knowledge of character, adherence to high ideals, combination of the dulce with the utile, intellectual superiority, appreciation of the noble history and lofty mission of poetry, and above all a willingness to listen to and profit by impartial criticism (11. 295-476).

The following is a more detailed analysis :

In poetry as in painting there must be unity and simplicity (1-23). We poets must guard againstextremes, and while avoiding one error must not fall into its opposite (24-31). A good sculptor pays careful attention to details, but at the same time makes sure that his work as a whole is successful. (32-37).

A writer should confine himself to subjects within his power. He will then be at no loss for words and will follow a correct order, which will enable him to



say the right thing at the right moment (38-45). As to diction, he must be careful in his choice of language. He can, by means of a skilful combination, give a fresh tone to familiar terms, and he may even coin words in moderation as the old poets used to do. Like all other mortal things, words change and pass out of existence, for they are subject to the caprice of fashion (46-72).

The metres most fitting for the several types of verse were established by the great Greek poets, and we must follow them (73-85). So with the tone and style of the various kinds. In the drama, for example, the tragic and the comic are distinct, though occasionally they will overlap (86-98), for above all things a play must appeal to the feelings of an audience, and the language must be adapted to the characters impersonated. Where there is lack of such agreement, everybody will laugh in scorn (99-118).

Either follow tradition or invent a consistent story. Achilles, Medea, Orestes, and so on must be portrayed as they are known to us in Greek literature, while new characters must be handled with a consistency of their own (119-127). It is hard to deal with general notions, such as anger, greed, and cowardice, so as to individualize them for yourself and you, my friend Piso, are quite right to dramatize some Homeric theme, where the characters introduced have wellknown traits, rather than attempt something distinctly original. And yet, even in such public property as the Homeric epics you may win private rights by handling your material in an original fashion. Make a simple beginning, like that of the Odyssey, where the sequel becomes clearer and

« PredošláPokračovať »