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(4.) Horace had a way of his own, an oblique way of mentioning sources of anxiety or objects of ambitious desire in other men, from which he considered himself fortunately free.
Thus in a passage of the 1st Epode, to Mæcenas, Ibis Liburnis inter alta navium, &c. in which he so tenderly begs as his companion to share the dangers of the ensuing war (called Actian from its issue); he declares his heart to be influenced by honest affection alone, by no speculation of splendid reward.
vv. 23-30. Libenter hoc et omne militabitur
Bellum in tuæ spem gratiæ ;
Non ut juvencis illigata pluribus
Aratra nitantur meis,
Pecusve Calabris ante sidus fervidum
Lucana mutet pascua;
Nec ut superni villa candens Tusculi
It will hardly be believed, that instead of seeing in these lines a disavowal of any wish for wealth and splendor, some critics have found in the two last the fancied enlargement of a magnificent villa at Tusculum which Horace already possessed there! Chaupy, Vol. 11. pp. 262, 3. with great acuteness sets this matter in its true light.
Let us take another instance.
Horace in a moody and wayward humour, real or affected, 1 E. VIII. Celso gaudere, &c. instructs the Muse thus to answer if Celsus Albinovanus should inquire about him:
-dic, multa et pulchra minantem,
That is, denying olive yards and vineyards to be the cause of his fretfulness, he in fact disclaims the ownership of either and he disclaims also any possession of what even in the privileged hour of dedication he had declined to ask from Apollo Palatinus
Non æstuosæ grata Calabria
The vale of Licenza, let it be remarked, appears at that time to have grown neither vines nor olives. Even now, though the difference of culture, as Mr. Bradstreet assures us (pp. 25, 27.) has introduced a great number of olives, &c. the grapes do not succeed so kindly, as the hardier fruit trees, and still produce but a rough kind of wine.
After this indirect determination of the extent of Horace's wealth, it may not be amiss to render the statement in some measure complete by noticing the lines, ambiguous certainly, which commence the Epistle (xvi) to Quinctius Hirpinus.
Ne perconteris, fundus meus, optime Quinti,
From this passage, M. Chaupy, (Vol. 1. p. 335,) in defiance of Sanadon and the common interpreters, avowedly so, maintains that Horace's estate was richly productive of olives, grapes, and other fine fruits also. Now, in good truth, if from these lines (liable enough, perhaps, if taken alone, to be misunderstood) we had to gain our only intelligence on the subject, the continui montes with the opacá
valle in that high elevation might indeed be pleaded against the probable culture of the vine: and still it could not palpably be made out, that the cornfield, the meadow, and the wood with its wild fruits, really constituted the whole income of our Poet's estate. But from the definite object on which the great pains were taken, the improvement and extension of his arable land,
1 E. XIV. 3, 4. Certemus, spinas animone ego fortius, an tu
Evellas agro: &c.
Rident vicini glebas et saxa moventem.
et tamen urgues
Jampridem non tacta ligonibus arva, bovemque
And here may we not remark, that the ilex of 1 E. xvi. 9. and the bovem disjunctum of 1 E. XIV. 27, 8, both clearly in the Sabine valley, and answering to the fessis romere tauris and ilicem of the ode to Bandusia, 3 C. XIII. 11, 14. incidentally corroborate the truth of the locality assigned in these pages to that fountain?
From a detail of facts like these, we may well conclude, that the Poet's answer to Quintius might have briefly stood thus.
ARVO pascit herum.
For though it is true, that the meadow would on all accounts possess its natural value,
29, 30. Addit opus pigro rivus, si decidit imber,
unquestionably, however, the ground in tillage formed the most profitable source of revenue and nearly the whole of it.
3 C. XVI. 29-32. Puræ rivus aquæ, silvaque jugerum
Paucorum, et SEGETIS certa fides meæ,
Fallit sorte beatior.
Let thus much then suffice to show the clear and indisputable connexion betwixt the localities of Horace and the right understanding of many other most important points in his writings or in his character.
LIFE AND CHARACTER.
A SKETCH of the principal facts and circumstances in the early life of Horace, especially where that tends to illustrate the formation of his character as afterwards seen in his writings, shall next be attempted.
The father of Horace, after having gained his freedom in the family from which that distinguished name was derived to his son, was doubtless for many years afterwards in the laborious and profitable office (1 S. vI. 86.) of a Coactor at sales by auction; and had gathered together a considerable property by success in that employment.
At this period of the Roman Commonwealth, the condition of the Libertini was fast rising to that importance on account of its wealth, which afterwards excited so much indignation in the Ingenui, whose poverty was embittered by their pride: an indignation, be it observed, neither merited nor reasonable. Whoever now reads in Tully (Offices. L. 1. C. 42.) Jam de artificiis et quæstibus qui liberales habendi, qui sordidi sint, &c., will in a moment discern, that so many lucrative and not necessarily disgraceful employments, given up entirely to men of servile origin, must have lowered and lessened the class of old citizens without raising a class of new to occupy their rank and their influence in the state: the vacuum in fact was very imperfectly and very unhappily filled up.
The topic here started is full of matter for curious and interesting investigation: whether on the one hand we suppose that several ingenious arts, being already introduced into Rome in the persons of slaves, would only very slowly be admitted as objects of liberal pursuit; or reflect, on the other hand, that the system of clientela, however well it might work in an earlier stage of the commonwealth, at a later period could only tend to keep the clientes too proud to gain what we should call an honest and reputable livelihood, so long as they were able barely to live on the allowance made by the patroni. Hence the pride of caste was maintained, but at the cost of all manly independence: and in the client whom Juvenal describes thus subsisting as the poor gentleman of his day, we see the miserable wreck of Roman freedom, and of all the higher virtues by which it was once adorned.
Sat. 1. 117-120. Sed cum summus honor finito computet anno,
Sportula quid referat, quantum rationibus addat,
Quid facient comites, quibus hinc toga, calceus hinc est,
Among the Libertini upon record it might be difficult to point out any one person entitled to a higher degree of respect than Horace the elder. And in the year в. c. 66, (when the Mithridatic war was committed to Pompey by the Manilian law,) we may probably enough fix that worthy man's marriage and establishment in the neighbourhood of Venusia upon the Lar et Fundus (2 E. 11. 52.), in which he had invested the whole of his honest acquisitions.
On that estate then, not far from the town of Venusia, apparently very near to the river Aufidus,
4 C. IX. 2. Longe sonantem natus ad Aufidum,
Vito Idus Decembres. Dec. 8. B. c. 65, the great Roman Poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, was born; who more than once in his writings, while he distinctly marks the place of his birth, records it as inauspicious for any chance of poetic fame to the native of a spot so rude and obscure.