The Influence of Horace on the Chief English Poets of the Nineteenth Century

By Mary Rebecca Thayer | Go to book overview

LORD BYRON

I. Unquestionable traces of Horace
1. Foremost in importance among the portions of Byron's writings that show a Horatian influence stands, of course, the Hints from Horace, which is, as the poet himself puts it, 'an allusion in English verse to the Epistle Ad Pisones, De Arte Poetica.' As we might expect, the first motto of the work is from the original:

Ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quae ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi
.

( Ars Poet. 304-305.)

It would not be to the purpose to transcribe here either the entire Ars Poetica or the whole of Hints from Horace. I shall therefore content myself with recording what seem to be the salient features of Byron's paraphrase. We have already remarked (see Introduction, p. 35) on the difference in tone between his version and the original; we may now take up more technical matters.

a. Frequently Byron's renderings are so close as to deserve the name of translations; and sometimes they combine with this accuracy a surprising and delightful felicity. Take, for instance, ll. 99-100 of the Latin:

Non satis est pulchra esse poemata; dulcia sunto
Et, quocumque volent, animum auditoris agunto
,

which reappears thus:

'Tis not enough, ye Bards, with all your art
To polish poems;--they must touch the heart:
Where'er the scene be laid, whate'er the song,
Still let it bear the hearer's soul along.

( Ll. 137-140.)

b. Nearly always Byron substitutes English persons and places for the Greek and Latin examples of Horace; as ll. 52-57:

Et nova fictaque nuper habebunt verba fidem, si
Gmeco fonte cadent parce detorta. Quid autem
Caecilio Plautoque dabit Romanus ademptum
Vergillo Varioque? Ego cur, adquirere pauca
Si possum, invideor, cum lingua Catonis et Enni
Sermonem patrium ditaverit
,

-69-

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The Influence of Horace on the Chief English Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Table of Contents 9
  • Introduction 11
  • William Wordsworth 53
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge 65
  • Lord Byron 69
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley 85
  • John Keats 93
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson 94
  • Robert Browning 102
  • Index of Passages from Horace 115
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