Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rectius Vives II:10

Today I will continue talking about Rectius Vives: live right, live happy, live pragmatically, and live humbly and safely within the golden mean.
In 1903, the scholar Clement Lawrence Smith wrote that this ode "is the most finished of Horace's poems, and consists, like much of his best work, of a chain of pithy epigrammatic sententiae on the conduct of life, presenting in various forms and under various figures his favorite doctrine of the golden mean . . . ." [pg. 123]
So, it seems that there is a moral angle to Horace's poems. Perhaps he is more like Saadi than I had thought. Perhaps, his racy poems, his descriptions of boys and courtesans, springs and lazy cows, are only a small part of what his four books are about. We shall see.
The epigrammatic nature of his work is also like Saadi's. Both poets are quoted often. There was a time when being educated meant that you could quote a line or two of Horace. Maybe reciting Horace might bring back horrible memories of dark classrooms and the glowering eyes of an old professor,but they might also recall a moment when truth was exposed and a new world revealed. These truths school boys and school girls carried with them throughout their lives. I once read about a British p.o.w. and his German captor who quoted Horace to each other as they tried to come to terms with the madness surrounding them.
I don't know what Smith means by "most finished of Horace's poems" and "his best work." Smith sounds so final, so authorative, so imperious. What does he know that I don't? What standards is he applying? I suspect, as I have come to understand with critics of my own books, that all criticism is subjective and tied to the times. Of course, when I finish reading all of Horace's poetry, I'll find that I like some odes better than others, just as I might like some of Monet's paintings better than others. Still where would I find the arrogance to say what Smith said? The only person's judgment I would believe would be Horace's. He is the only one to say, "This is my best work. This is my most finished poem." He is the genius. Not me, not Smith. He is the one with the vision and the ability to reveal it.
Here is my prose rendition of Rectius Vives, II:10: 

italics: short vowels indicated when necessary
[ ] added words
ıs: indicates alternate ending: fortıs for fortes
circumflex: long vowels indicated when necessary

Licini, rectius vives, neque altum semper urgendo, neque litus iniquum nimium premendo, dum [tu] cautus procellas horrescis. 
Quisquis mediocritatem auream diligit, tutus sordibus tecti obsoleti caret; sobrius aula invidenda caret. Saepius pinus ingens ventis agitatur et turres celsae casu gravior decidunt fulguraque summos montes feriunt. 
Pectus bene praeparatum [rebus] infestis sperat, [rebus] secundis, alteram sortem metuit.
Iuppiter hiemes informes reducit, idem summovet. Si male nunc, et olim sic non erit.
Apollo quondam musam tacentem cithara suscitat, neque arcum semper tendit. 
Rebus angustis, animosus atque fortis appare; sapienter idem vento nimium secundo vela turgida contrahes. 

[revised March 27, 2015]
rectius: felix,
altum: mare profundum
procellas:  tempestates
horrescis: es timidus
iniquum: asperum, periculosum
sordibus: tristitiis, miseriis
obsoleti: squalidi
sobrius: sapiens
caret: est sine, vitat
invidenda: to be envied
feriunt: percutant
infestis: fortuna adversa
informis: mala
summovet: expellit
quondam: interdum, non numquam
appare: esto, es, fi
vento secundo: vento bono
Latin commentaries:

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $11.50 at 

For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here: 

To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015; 
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.

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