صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

taken by the author of this scroll of Birt's view of the umbilici. Aside from this matter, however, the scroll may well be of interest and help to teachers of Latin.

C. K.

A GLANCE AT THE LYRIC VOCABULARY OF HORACE1

Many lovers of Horace, I am inclined to believe, agree with Mr. Postgate when he says of Professor Shorey's edition of the Odes and Epodes, "If I were limited to three editions of the Odes, this would be one". Yet, with all my gratitude for the suggestive interpretations, with all my pleasure in the wealth of parallel passages, with all my appreciation of the Introduction, which contains phrases well nigh as felicitous and unforgetable as Horace's own, I cannot find myself in complete accord with all Professor Shorey's judgments. Mindful of Professor Gildersleeve's remark that "he who loves Horace needs all his magnanimity when he finds that another understands the poet better than he does", and his suggestion that "many will have to say that of Professor Shorey", I viewed with suspicion my failure to subscribe to Professor Shorey's estimate of the vocabulary of the Odes. But the disagreement survived the suspicion, and persists, even in spite of Professor Gildersleeve's somewhat rueful acceptance of the comment with which I disagree. This comment is, in part, as follows1:

A study of Horace's style must be mainly an analysis of the art by which he compensates for the slenderness of his own inspiration and the relative poverty of the Latin lyric vocabulary.

Again he says (xviii-xix),

In considering the means with which he worked, the first thing that strikes us is the simplicity, not to say poverty, of his poetic vocabulary. In translating Greek lyric the student must ransack his dictionary for terms rich enough to represent the luxuriance of the Greek compound epithets. In rendering Horace the problem is to select from the superior wealth of the English poetic vocabulary synonyms which may be introduced without dissonance to relieve the monotony or vagueness of his epithets, and so reproduce by compensation the total effect of rhythm, emphasis and 'artful juncture' in the original. This parsimony is mainly due, first, to the relative poverty of the Latin vocabulary, and, secondly, to the peculiar difficulty of forcing Latin words into the alien mold of Greek lyric These conditions perhaps made inevitable the frequent use of simple, vague, metrically convenient epithets and phrases. Whatever the explanation, the fact remains.

measures.

[blocks in formation]

venience, this last quality implying, one must infer, a corresponding lack of any other raison d'etre.

Yet this same vocabulary impresses Mr. Mackail3 quite differently. Having likened Horace's process to that of "a gem engraver, working by minute touches on a fragment of translucent stone", he goes on to say:

With very great resources of language at his disposal, he uses them with singular and scrupulous frugality; in his measured epithets, his curious fondness for a number of simple and abstract words, and the studious simplicity of effect in his most elaborately designed lyrics, he reminds one of the method of Greek bas reliefs.

In Sellar's Horace and the Elegiac Poets, also, we discover the same disposition to view as a deliberate achievement that choice of vocabulary which Professor Shorey finds at best a regrettable necessity.

He can convey much feeling and meaning by use of the simplest and commonest words, such as 'brevis', 'vacuus', 'integer', 'improbus', 'vagus'.

Several of these simple and common words are identical with those selected by Professor Shorey wherewith to establish his own judgment, and perhaps we can best further our scrutiny of that judgment by examining these specific instances. If these selected instances fail (as Mr. Sellar's partial duplication of them suggests they might fail) to support the contention based on them, if indeed, impartially considered, they lead to an opposite conclusion, we need scarcely pursue our purpose further.

One of Mr. Sellar's illustrations, it will be noted, is the first word which Professor Shorey chose for comment, as follows (xix):

The wind blown sand, the meandering streams, the far travelled Hercules, the overflowing river, the wandering birds of the air, the straying herd, the wind that bloweth where it listeth, and the nomad Scythians are all alike vagus.

At first reading one is struck by the contrast between Mr. Shorey's picturesque phrases and the bare little word. But upon second thought the question arises: Where did he get those picturesque phrases? If the stark little epithet is really so poor and inadequate, what right has he to translate it so richly? Examination of the passages cited furnishes the answer. The first is from the plea of the dead sailor washed ashore by the storm, for the ceremony that will enable his shade to cross the Styx (C.1.28.21-25):

Me quoque devexi rapidus comes Orionis
Illyricis Notus obruit undis.

At tú, nauta, vagae ne parce malignus arenae
ossibus et capiti inhumato
particulam dare.

'Wind blown sand'? Yes, surely, for the winds are all about us as we read. 'Tis the wind that has made the hapless corpse its prey and plaything, 'tis protection against the wind that is invoked to reward the bene

[blocks in formation]

factor. The humbly beseeching tone of the appeal subtly colors, also, the interpretation of vagus—it is not permanent and substantial burial that is hoped for, only the symbolic act, the mere handful of unstable sand, that drifts even now about the suppliant, meaningless matter, without the pious will for which he prays.

The second citation is from the familiar 'recantation' of Epicurean philosophy (C.1.34.5-12):

Namque Diespiter,
igni corusco nubila dividens
plerumque, per purum tonantes

egit equos volucremque currum,
quo bruta tellus et vaga flumina,
quo Styx et invisi horrida Taenari
sedes Atlanteusque finis

concutitur.

Here the lump weight of bruta sits over against vaga and throws it into relief. The verse links together the normally solid, immovable thing with the normally unstable, fluid thing, both shaken by the chariot of Jove as if there were no difference in their composition.

Next we turn to the lines in praise of iustum et tenacem propositi virum and his quality, illustrated thus (C.3.3.9-12):

Hac arte Pollux et vagus Hercules
enisus arces attigit igneas,

quos inter Augustus recumbens
purpureo bibet ore nectar.

Here enters, as so often in Horace, the magic of the proper, name. 'Hercules', says the poet, and there flashes before the minds of his audience-that Greeklearned audience for which he wrote-all the power and the pathos, the humor and the tragedy and the triumph of the Hercules legend. But in the next moment this varied connotation is sorted, as it were, and subordinated, the one phase of it selected and emphasized for the poet's present need. It is Hercules vagus, Hercules driven over the face of the world in strange, unfrequented paths, beyond all due and reasonable limits, the sport of hostile caprice, who yet hac arte, that is, by steadfastness in righteous purpose, the essential quality of soul, rises triumphant over environment and accident of circumstance.

We have next the lines describing those portents of the poet's own day which suggest a return of the age of Pyrrha (1.2.13-20):

Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis
litore Etrusco violenter undis
ire deiectum monumenta regis
templaque Vestae,

[blocks in formation]

adding no new idea, still makes the idea already conveyed vastly more emphatic, not merely by the fact of repetition, but by the method of that repetition, the one short word packing the whole mass of detail in small compass and hurling it emphatically and compactly at the reader's consciousness.

In the following citation from the good wishes for Galatea's journey (C.3.27.13-16),

Sis licet felix, ubicumque mavis,
et memor nostri, Galatea, vivas,
teque nec laevus vetet ire picus

nec vaga cornix,

Professor Shorey evidently sees vaga simply as a 'stock epithet' and a handy word for the verse; but may we not find an implication of contempt for that trivial, irresponsible, hap-hazard creature which might chance to intrude and furnish an omen to cloud the journey?8 Again, in the opening stanza of the elaborate laudation of Drusus (C.4.4.2—4),

cui rex deorum regnum in avis vagas
permisit expertus fidelem
Iuppiter in Ganymede flavo,

we get a contrast between regnum, the substance of power and control, and avis vagas, the apparently uncontrollable winged folk.

Contrast, again, attends the use of the word in the Bandusia Ode,

Te flagrantis atrox hora Caniculae
nescit tangere, tu frigus amabile
fessis vomere tauris

praebes et pecori vago,

contrast as vivid as it is beautiful, between the yokewearied oxen, the dutiful beasts, performing their allotted and determined tasks, and the unhampered goats, straying wherever fair pasture and fresh water attract them.

Next, in that fine address to Maeenas which all but closes Book 3 of the Odes, matching the dedication at the beginning of Book I and leaving the poet free for the real epilogue, one of the loveliest passages is that midsummer pastel (3.29.21-24):

iam pastor umbras cum grege languido
rivumque fessus quaerit et horridi
dumeta Silvani, caretque

ripa vagis taciturna ventis:

Here the contrast, though slight and unemphasizedpurposely so, it would seem, lest the hush of the noontide be broken-is present in the juxtaposition of vagis and taciturna.

Finally, in his praise of the simple and austere life (C.3.24.9-10),

campestres melius Scythae,

quorum plaustra vagas rite trahunt domos, vivunt et rigidi Getae,

Compare Soph. Antigone 342 f. κουφονόων τε φῦλον ὀρνίθων ἀμφιβαλὼν ἄγει, and Theognis 582 σμικρᾶς ὄρνιθος κούφον ἔχουσα νόον.

we have a contrast, sharp enough to be called oxymoron, wonderfully picturesque and effective, which Professor Shorey, in his haste to condemn vagus, seems quite to have missed. It will be remembered that in enumerating the various things and people which are vagus he winds up with "the nomad Scythians". It might be necessary to admit that vagus as an epithet of the Scythians themselves is trite. But look again at the passage. It is not to the Scythae that Horace has actually applied the word, but to domus. There is the contrast, there is the picture. The noun which is a synonym for stability, rest, permanent location, the place to which wanderers return, has coupled with it the adjective which conveys, with all the weight of its varied usage, unstability, unrest, change, and movement. Not merely the people of this vagabond tribe are on the move. Their very homes are dragged on their creaking carts from place to place, and must of necessity, therefore, be plain and primitive, fit to serve as an illustration of the simple life.

Viewed in action, then, the bare little word is clothed upon with power and grace. It is Professor Shorey's translations that fall short now. But, it may be objected, the significance is all in the context-the word is as poor as ever. Very well, take out the word and see what we have left. If it is true that the meaning is all gathered from the context, the verses will not suffer, save in meter, which, for the present, we may disregard. In the first passage cited, if we blot out the presence and the memory of vagus, we miss, it seems to me, the subtle unity of the picture, the affinity with the two lines that go before; we miss the added touch of pathos in the emphasis upon the purely symbolic character of the burial, and the noun arenae fails to fit perfectly into its place in that mosaic to which the work of Horace has been compared. In the second passage, flumina, stripped of its epithet, dwindles into insignificance, while bruta looms up clumsily without purpose or fitness. In the third, the undirected mind of the reader is confused in the comprehensive connotation of the hero's

name.

In the fourth we might spare the word, since its function is merely one of emphasis, but the effect of that emphasis is one I should be loath to lose. In the cornix and the avis passages the loss is obvious. In the Bandusia Ode we miss the lovely, restful contrast, and in the next we find the silence and smoothness too perfect, too unrelieved to be effective, lacking that little suggestion of what has been and what will be again. Finally, in the last example, without the interpretation furnished by vagas, the mind would grope with annoying effort for the significance of plaustra . . . trahunt, a significance grasped so readily and agreeably as the line stands. Perhaps this method of testing the power of the epithet by imagining it withdrawn is not absolutely fair, but at least it enables us to conclude that the word has a power and a significance of its own, and none the less its own because enhanced by and reacting upon the words among which it stands. If Professor Shorey, in the closing words of his paragraph, “are all

alike vagus", had omitted the word "alike", his statement (but for the misapplication to the Scythians) must have been accepted. The sands, the streams, the hero, the birds, the winds and the Scythian dwellings all are vagus, but each in its own way, a way perfectly clear and intelligible to one reading the poem as a whole. Further, not only is the word not weakened by its application to such widely different things; it is even strengthened thereby. Mr. Shorey speaks of "hardworked words", and forgets the wisdom of Humpty Dumpty: "Of course, when I make a word do double work, I give it extra pay". Horace's hard-worked words do in truth get extra pay in added power. Just because vagus has been used to describe the sands and the streams, the birds and the winds, is it significant and strong when applied to domus. From each of the functions it has performed it carries with it some added shade of meaning, and all this accumulated wealth is present in the background of each new task, adding richness and depth, while leaving quite unblurred the specific significance in the given connection.

A second group of passages, referred to but not cited by Professor Shorey, illustrates the same aspect of Horace's lyric vocabulary, while furnishing also a clue to its critic's point of view. On page xix of his Introduction Professor Shorey says:

Hannibal, the dropsy, hail, necessity, and the curse in the eye of a dying child are all alike 'dire'. Here we have again the "alike" which might be deleted in the interests of accuracy, and we have also an English word, inadequate enough to justify Professor Shorey's strictures. But it must be remembered that these strictures are directed against it not as an English word, but as representing the Latin dirus. In short, Professor Shorey has fallen into the error which teachers of the Classics must so constantly combat in their pupils― that of getting at Latin through the medium of English. One instantly surmises that even while he was translating vagus in those varied, if inadequate, phrases, he was thinking of some single colorless English word, 'wandering', for instance. It may be that Professor Shorey's own marvellous skill in translating, in getting the total effect-as for instance when he so subtly renders the ambiguity of Schroeder's German in equally ambiguous English-has made him less apt to perceive constantly the fundamental inequation in different languages of any words save those of the commonest and most concrete application. Certainly dirus to Horace means more than does 'dire' to Mr. Shorey or to us. It conveys, unmistakably, that implication of the wrath of God which the Romans saw in the word in assigning to it a derivation from deus and ira. No subsequent scientific light on the real derivation can affect Horace's use of the word. Its ability, in his verse, to convey precisely the implication alluded to is attested by the fact that a student who knew nothing of the word's etymology, actual or assumed, discovered by a scrutiny of the passages cited that it was appliedto quote her words—“to each of the things or persons

mentioned as to a fell and ominous calamity, external in origin and unescapable". Another source of Professor Shorey's criticisms is found in his own intimate familiarity with Greek literature and language. This leads him to judge the Horatian passages by the degree of fidelity with which they reproduce the Greek, assuming as an axiom that Horace invariably wished and attempted to perform that feat. Now Horace knew-no man better-the genius of his own language, its possibilities as well as its limitations, and with all his devotion to and familiarity with Greek, he was yet capable of choosing to do with his native tongue something quite different from what he would have done with Greek. Thus, if he calls Hercules vagus, we need not conclude that he wants to call him πολύπλαγκτος, especially as the Greek compound is more emphatic and conspicuous in itself, and a Latin word rendering it exactly would not fitly subordinate itself as an harmonious element in the mosaic. Again, in his note on avis vagas Mr. Shorey gives the Greek nepopolтas. Here, too, the Greek word is more concretely picturesque in itself, and therefore less fit for the subordinate part. In his note on vagas in the passage alluding to the Scythians, Professor Shorey casually recognizes, to be sure, the oxymoron with domus, without, however, commenting on its inconsistency with the treatment of the word in his Introduction.

He adds, "Cf. Pindar fr. 105 ȧμacopoρηтov olкov; . . . Seneca Herc. Fur. 537, intravit (Hercules) Scythiae multivagas domos". But he seems not to see that in the Horatian passage not vagas, but quorum plaustra . . . trahunt is the translation of the Greek words, illustrating Mr.Sellar's statement (194) that Horace "uses. Latin phrases to render the compound <Greek> words". Here we find also, I think, confirmation of what I said regarding vagus as opposed to πολύπλαγτος and ἠεροφοίτους; quorum plaustra . . . trahunt, the real parallel of the Greek adjective, fails, exactly as that adjective would fail, to fit into the picture. It is at once too graphic and too indefinite. It makes a picture by itself, and we do not know what the picture has to do with the main idea-until the interpreter vagas slips in, setting the elements in their proper relation and giving to quorum plaustra . . trahunt its true significance. The citation from Seneca is also interesting as showing that more obvious and less painstaking method of rendering a Greek by a Latin compound which Catullus and Lucretius employed "after the example of the older poets, and of which there are traces in Vergil, and later, in the Metamorphoses of Ovid"10.

One more example of Professor Shorey's criticism is all we have room for here. On page xx he says: "Aquosus must serve for dropsical, many fountained and rainbringing", and in his note on Odes 2.2.15-16,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

the passage containing the metaphor which likens the affliction of the miser to the dropsy, he says:

A Greek poet would have had his choice between ὑδατώδης, υδερής, υδατόχροος, λευκόχροος, and a dozen other convenient derivations in this connection. The poorer Latin has only the vague aquosus for all these, for buẞpopópos, Epode 16.54, and Homer's πoλuñîdağ as well. It is the contemplation, no doubt, of such passages as these that leads Professor Gildersleeve to exclaim "It is pitiful to read how many debts one poor Latin word must pay"". But our scrutiny of vagus suggests that the resources of the Latin word may be greater than its critic admits, and-in the last passage examined—that the debts he charges against it were never after all incurred, that Horace, in short, neither tried nor wished to translate picturesque Greek compounds by simple Latin epithets, but employed for such translation, when he did wish it, the Latin phrase or clause. Perhaps we may find aquosus equally solvent. In the passage cited, aquosus is not a translation of some possible Greek epithet of the disease, but, taken with languor, of the name of the disease itself, of the noun which Horace has used in conformity with his habit (noted by Sellar, 194 and C. L. Smith, in his edition of the Odes, xxxix), of confining his employment of Greek words to the designation of Greek things. To be sure, the disease could hardly lay claim to an exclusive nationality, but the scientific knowledge of it might. The physicians of Rome were Greek, and so was much of their professional vocabulary, dating back, oftentimes, like this word, to Hippocrates. Thus Horace uses first the technical Greek word, and follows it in his next allusion with the Latin translation.

Again, I cannot feel that Epodes 16.54 aquosus Euros arva radat imbribus proves aquosus to be in any degree lacking as compared with όμβροφόρος. If Horace had wanted to reproduce as exactly as possible the effect of the Greek compound, he could have used, as did Vergil, imbrifer. If he had wished to convey the same idea, while avoiding even such a mild compound as imbrifer, he could have used a phrase or a clause. That he did neither of these things seems to me fairly good evidence that he didn't want to. And, when I read again the lines that put me at my farmhouse window, watching in impotent anxiety the work of an easterly storm, I cannot avoid the conviction that both poet and poet's medium were equal to their task.

Mr. Shorey's last presentation of a Greek epithet in this note seems to refer to Odes 3.20.15-16 qualis aut Nireus fuit aut aquosa raptus ab Ida. Once more the Homeric epithet is, in itself, undeniably more beautiful and picturesque than the Latin. But before passing judgment on the latter we should ask two questions: first, would the Greek word subordinate itself correctly? second, would not Horace's phrase, to Horace's audience, that "class of cultivated men and women, to whom Greek life and Greek art are thoroughly familiar",

"American Journal of Philology 31.486.

suggest, without actually rendering, the Homeric "Iôŋv TOλUTidakа and give it just as much prominence as Horace wished?

Much more might be said in analysis and examination of Professor Shorey's criticism of Horace's vocabulary, but it would be along the lines already indicated. While it is, of course, obviously unjust to arrive at a conclusion from such a superficial and incomplete process as that embodied in the foregoing pages, I cannot, even while recognizing that reservation, escape a personal belief that competent examination of Professor Shorey's evidence would result in proving only that Latin is not Greek, that one star differeth from another star in glory, and that, even if Professor Shorey's totem has never come down from the ridge pole to tell him so, There are nine and sixty ways

[blocks in formation]

The Letters of Sidonius. Translated by O. M. Dalton. Oxford: at the Clarendon Press (1915). Volume I, pp. clxxxiii + 86; Volume 2, pp. 268. 3sh. 6d. each.

No better illustration of a literary monumentum aere perennius can be cited than the letters and poems of Apollinaris Sidonius. Not that according to modern taste they have great intrinsic literary value or charm. But in those last decades of a merely nominal Roman Empire, when the so-called Emperors were neither really Roman nor Emperors, and lived not at Rome, but at Ravenna, Sidonius stands out as practically the only landmark in the world of letters, giving us almost the only glimpses of the life of his day, and curiously representing his times in that he too is not a Roman, but a Gaul, and dotes on the form rather than on the substance of what he writes. Thus, as little was left to the Emperor but the meretricious emblems of power, so the inheritance of Sidonius, by which he came honestly enough, was the empty and overloaded rhetorical finery covered with the purple patches and superincumbent layers of verbal embroidery handed down by successive generations of decadent thinking.

Sidonius, therefore, is a chief relic of the fifth century, when to Gaul or to Roman the world must have seemed as much out of joint as to-day it does to Belgian or to Pole. The Goths, the Vandals, the Huns, the Franks, the Burgundians, beset the dying empire, and the civilization of Europe was rudely turned upside down. Already the valley of the Rhone was more Roman than Rome itself, and even the Rhone valley was now doomed to be overrun by the barbarian hordes. Sidonius, as a representative of the best Gallo-Roman stock, enjoyed unusual honors in Church and State. As son-in-law of the Emperor Avitus, as Prefect and Patrician of Rome, and as Bishop of Clermont, he was on terms of more or less intimacy with most of the great men of his time in Rome and Gaul. A collection of letters from his pen

ought to be remarkably rich in the description and incident that would picture for us the persons, places, and life of that day, and would help us understand better the intricate political, and complex racial movements that made history so rapidly in the fifth century.

That the letters disappoint us grievously is due to the rhetorical tastes and the non-historical temper of Sidonius. Though besought to write the history of his own times, he declined, explaining thus to Bishop Prosper (8.15):

You exacted a promise from me at the same time that I would hand down for the benefit of those who come after us the history of the war with Attila, with the whole tale of the siege and assault of Orleans when the city was attacked and breached, but never laid in ruins, and the bishop's celebrated prophecy was divinely answered from above. I actually set to work upon the book; but when I grasped the extent of my undertaking I repented of ever having begun; I therefore suffered no one else to hear a work which my own judgment already condemned.

What, however, he really wished to achieve in the eyes of the public is betrayed in a short letter to Felix (4.10):

As soon as I had finished my volume of Letters, which, though I say it, was a careful piece of work, I reverted to the every-day style in everything else. And my fine style itself is much on the same level; for what is the use of giving finish to phrases which will never see the light?

Such a writer is of course constantly posing in various attitudes. In letters like the first three of Book 3 he states, ostensibly for the benefit of the recipient, facts so well known to the recipient in each case that one is reminded of the clumsy prologue accounts of the persons and situations in classical comedy. Sidonius is continually sending a copy of some new poem to somebody with such profuse apologies for its wretched character as to create the unavoidable impression that he is fishing for compliments on his newest effusion. His practice of writing poetical panegyrics upon worthless Emperors had evidently produced in him a past grand master of adulation, which is in evidence on every page. Such habits of style tend to discount the value of his modesty in the opening letter of the collection (1.1):

I am to set presumptuous foot where Symmachus of the ample manner, and Pliny of the perfected art have gone before. Of Cicero as letter-writer I had best be dumb.

One is tempted to wonder whether Sidonius ever did actually compare his own description of the loss of an epistle by a careless slave (4.12) with Cicero's terse account of a similar event (Ad Att. 2.8). Another illuminating comparison would be Cicero's narration of the Damocles incident (Tusc. 5.61) with the exotic appearance of the same story in Sidonius (2.13). Examples of the elaborate imagery, the ever-insistent antithesis, and the continual affectations of the Epistles need not be quoted; would you discover them, open either volume at random.

But our disappointment at the failings of Sidonius must not prevent us from frank recognition of the great

« السابقةمتابعة »