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MISCELLANEOUS PASSAGES FROM HORACE.
Ut pictura, poesis; erit quæ, si propius stes,
De Arte Poetica.
Tuis analogy between poetry and painting is just, and judiciously stated. Effects in either can only be produced by a just distribution of light and shade. A painter who shall paint in a strong light what is only adapted to a faint one, will be unable to place the spectator at any point of view, at which either the proportions of symmetry or the gradations of perspective will meet the eye aright. So is it with a poem; some parts of which are designed for a full light, others to fall into a graduated obscurity. The principle applies to the finishing of figures, as well as to perspective and chiaro scuro. A judicious painter will execute the principal and the subordinate parts with different degrees of care: the former will be given in full and exact proportion, with all the mastery of drawing; the most remote and least important among the latter will rather be indicated than made out. In like manner, the poet will sketch minor objects slightly, and leave them in a subdued tone of colouring, that the reader may relax from the earnestness of his gaze, and recruit his attention for the more prominent features of the work. Uniform grace in a picture, or unrelenting brilliancy of thoughts and expressions in a poem, will in the end reduce the too highly stimulated admirer to a condition little short of a critical gutta serena. Cicero has applied the same principle of gradation to oratóry:“Quamquam illa ipsa exclamatio, Non potest melius, sit velim crebra ; sed habeat tamen illa in dicendo admiratio ac summa laus umbram aliquam et recessum, quo magis id, quod erit illuminatum, extare atque eminere videatur.”—De Oratore, lib. iii.
Sic Jovis interest
Carmin. lib. iv. od. 8.
The life of the gods, denominated apotheosis, when conferred on mortals, was distinguished by two especial privileges : the one, that of sitting at the table of Jupiter; the other, the marriage of some goddess. Horace was indebted to Homer, in the eleventh book of the Odyssey, for the hint of Hercules enjoying the former privilege of divinity; and being a notoriously huge feeder, he of course made the most of his free quarters: but he does not notice his investment with the latter on the part of Homer, who gives him Hebe, the goddess of youth, for a wife: neither does he touch upon that curious opinion of the ancients, respecting the threefold partition of man after death : the body of Hercules was consumed
in the flames ; his image conversed with Ulysses in the shades below; while his soul was domesticated in the heavenly mansions and society.
There is much humour, both in the ideas and the expression of the following passages :
Aurem substringe loquaci.
The bustling incidents of a journey, the confusion and clamour of going by water, are no where more pleasantly described than in the narrative of the poet's peregrination to Brundisium. The boatmen required payment from the passengers on entrance:
Huc appelle : trecentos inseris : che ! Jam satis est. Dum æs exigitur, dum mula ligatur, Tota abit hora.
Satir. lib. i. sat. 5.
Sanadon instances the following passage as an example of modesty unusual among poets; any man but a Frenchman would consider it to be an ebullition of vanity. Si placeo, on which he lays stress, is but the “butter-woman's rank to market” of humility :
O testudinis aureæ
Dulcem quæ strepitum, Pieri, temperas;
Donatura cycni, si libeat, sonum :
Quod monstror digito prætereuntium
Carmin. lib. iv. od. 3.
He speaks of himself more pleasingly in the fourth ode of the third book, where he acknowledges that he owes his life to the muses, and alludes to his own unmilitary flight from battle :
Vestris amicum fontibus, et choris
Nec Sicula Palinurus unda.
Although the slipshod style be the characteristic of Horace's hexameters, he occasionly shows by a line of much rythm and beauty, that his will, and not his poverty, consents to ramble abroad in an undress. Take as an example of this the last line of the following passage from the second epistle of the first book :
Nos numerus sumus, et fruges consumere nati,
Nothing can be more unhappy than Dr. Bentley's reading for cessatum ducere curam, of cessantem ducere somnum : nor more tasteless and injudicious than Sanadon's admission of it into the text.
The island of Corfu, in the mouth of the gulf of Venice, constituted the kingdom of Alcinous. This account of the sloth and effeminacy in which the youth of that coast were sunk is taken from the eighth book of the Odyssey. Alcinous himself gives them the following character :
Αιεί δ' ημίν δαίς τε φίλη, κιθαρίς τε, χοροί τε,
A passage in Horace's fourteenth epistle approaches in some degree to the caustic severity of Juvenal, in describing the distaste a debauched town life engenders for the simple and moral pleasures of the country :
Fornix tibi et uncta popina
The following passage aptly illustrates the necessity of congenial genius, or at all events of refined taste, to render imitation respectable. The common herd of imitators are incapable of appreciating the real merits of their models, and therefore generally run foul of every fault and every defect, but steer clear of the beauty and excellence. —
Quid ? si quis vultu torvo ferus, et pede nudo,
The sixteenth ode of the third book opens with a moral satire against avarice, holding out riches as the greatest evil, and an honest and contented mediocrity as the greatest good. But this is not, as has been stated, the whole design. By a delicate transition from generalities to personal application, he instances himself as an example of moderation, and his patron of generosity. Mæcenas had presented him with a small country seat; and he professes to be as much gratified as if he had been made governor of a province.