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2 E. 11. 49-51.
Unde simul primum me dimisere Philippi,
while in respect of his escape afterwards from ill fortune, (besides his general language of thankfulness,
2 C. vii. 13, 14. Sed me per hostes Mercurius celer
we may without much hesitation assume, that when returning home by sea, in the winter B. c. 42 | 41. he encountered that peculiar danger off Cape Palinurus, which he so gratefully classes with his other deliverances.
3 C. IV. 25-28. Vestris amicum fontibus et choris,
Nec Sicula Palinurus undâ.
The old commentator in Cruquius speaks without scruple, indeed, of that promontory as the scene of danger "ubi Horatius se redeuntem ex bello Philippensi periclitatum fuisse dicit:" and it was thus the Poet acquired that vivid knowledge of the tempestuous sea, which enabled him to aggravate the picture of Hannibal as a mighty agent devastating the cities of Italy.
4 C. IV. 42-44. Dirus per urbes Afer ut Italas,
Ceu flamma per tædas, vel Eurus
In the spring then B. c. 41. Horace is once more at Rome. Out of the scattered hints which remain, the following brief narrative may with a fair claim to credibility be drawn up. The words victis partibus veniâ impetrata of Suetonius in Vita Horatii express no more than what Horace's actual return to Rome would in itself imply. But as the estate in the neighbourhood of Venusia was certainly gone, the next
fact asserted, Scriptum quæstorium comparavit, may require some ingenuity to conjecture, how he could buy for himself a patent place as clerk in the Treasury; which of course must have been the lower way of getting admission into that respectable office. That such purchases were made, and as early as B. c. 70, appears to be an unquestionable fact, from Cicero, In Verrem. L. 111. §§ 78, 9, &c. Of so much as is quoted of that Oration by the acute and diligent Ernesti, in his Clavis Ciceroniana, under the word Scriba, the following extract may suffice.
Scribæ, qui digni sunt illo ordine, patres familias, viri boni atque honesti-ad eos me revoca. Noli hos colligere, qui nummulis corrogatis de nepotum donis, ac de scenicorum corollariis, cum decuriam emerunt, ex primo ordine explosorum, in secundum ordinem civitatis se venisse dicunt. Mirabimur turpes aliquos ibi esse, quo cuivis licet pretio pervenire ?
The whole passage in the original is singularly curious, especially under the head of collybus and cerarium; as showing the extent of knavery which then could be practised in the provincial governments of Rome.
But in the apparent wreck of all his fortunes, it may be asked, how was Horace enabled to buy this Munus Scribæ, this decuriam? nummulis corrogatis, it may be answered: but from whence the corrogatio? Perhaps, from goodnatured friends still at Rome, even in those days of confusion perhaps, it has sometimes struck my mind, from persons in the neighbourhood of Venusia, where on old accounts in his long absence unsettled, money might yet be due to him for arrears of rent.
At all events, however, one can hardly resist the conclu sion, that Horace did buy a kind of patent place as clerk in the Treasury. The words of Suetonius, scriptum quæstorium comparavit, are quite express and distinct. The
allusion in the well known passage, where his presence was required, as customary, at a general meeting,
2 S. vi. 36, 7. De re communi scriba magnâ atque novâ te Orabant hodie meminisses, Quinte, reverti :
is inexplicable on any other hypothesis: the old commentator in Cruquius asserts it without scruple. And if one may suppose, that the duties of the place could be performed by deputy with occasional attendance of the principal, nothing can be more natural than so, in part, to interpret two lines in the Epistle (XIV) to his Villicus,
vv. 16, 17. Me constare mihi scis, et discedere tristem,
Nor is it impertinent to remark, that if the profits of the situation bore any proportion to the increase of the public revenue after the year B. c. 41. Horace must have found his original purchase a very lucky one, in the twenty years or more, during which he seems to have retained it.
Whatever were Horace's means of living during the period which elapsed before he was enriched by Mæcenas with the Şabine estate; from his own description of the style in which he lived at Rome,
inde domum me
Ad porri et ciceris refero laganique catinum.
1 S. VI. 114-118.`
we may well believe, that a very narrow income was adequate to so frugal an expenditure with so humble an establishment. His usual diet, indeed, was little altered by his increase of fortune, itself not very large in those times.
When he had got the Sabine estate, the value of which we are partly enabled to estimate by the eight slaves upon it, implied in the threat to Davus ;
2 S. vii. 117, 118.
ibid. 29, 30.
ocius hinc te
Ni rapis, accedes opera agro nona Sabino.
he is thus addressed on his style of living by that clever rogue, (during the Saturnalia, and at Rome, be it remembered,)
si nusquam es forte vocatus Ad cœnam, laudas securum olus.
The very dinner which Lucilius shared with Lælius and the younger Scipio;
2 S. 1. 71-74. Quin ubi se a vulgo et scena in secreta remôrant
And such also in Horace's day was the ordinary fare ;
2 E. 11. 167, 8.
Emtor Aricini quondam Veientis et arvi
Some fifteen years afterwards, in the Epistle to Torquatus, 1 E. v. 1, 2. his invitation very candidly promises the plainest entertainment;
Si potes Archiacis conviva recumbere lectis,
Nec modicâ cœnare times olus omne patellâ, &c.
though, as we are told at the conclusion, there would be a small party to meet him, with room for a few friends (locus est et pluribus umbris) if he chose to bring them. Nor did he hold other language at any period between that of the Satire here first adduced, 1 S. vI. 115. and that of the Epistle just quoted. Of the homely fare on which from choice he actually lived,
1 C. xxxi. 16, 7.
me pascunt olivæ,
Me cichorea levesque malvæ.
he only prays to have the enjoyment continued: “ Frui paratis," with the superadded blessing of health and the use of his faculties during the remainder of life,
et valido mihi,
Latoë, dones, et, precor, integrâ
Morally speaking, Horace could hardly ever want the means to maintain a style of living like this. With his own Ofellus, he could truly say,
2 S. 11. 126, 7. Sæviat, atque novos moveat Fortuna tumultus,
So that even if the storm of adversity were once more to befall him, he feels certain that his light boat will weather the gale; while the heavy-laden ship with its votaries of wealth might go to wreck.
3 C. XXIX. 62. Tunc me biremis præsidio scaphæ
Tutum per Ægæos tumultus
Aura feret, geminusque Pollux.
The first introduction of Horace to the acquaintance and favour of Mæcenas, that most memorable of all events in his life, may be placed in B. c. 41.
1 S. vi. 54, 5.
Virgilius, post hunc Varius, dixere, quid essem.
and perhaps rather late in that year. for some time must be allowed to elapse after his return from Philippi, before Virgil and Varius could well acquire a sufficient knowledge of his genius and his worth, to which they were strangers before.
But for his second visit to Maecenas, with the latitude of a round number (v. 61. revocas nono post mense) we may assign an earlier date to it in B. c. 40. than a strict computation would admit.
From the year в. c. 40. when Horace could for the first