The Art of Poetry: The Poetical Treatises of Horace, Vida, and Boileau, with the Translations by Howes, Pitt, and Soame

The Art of Poetry: The Poetical Treatises of Horace, Vida, and Boileau, with the Translations by Howes, Pitt, and Soame

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The Art of Poetry: The Poetical Treatises of Horace, Vida, and Boileau, with the Translations by Howes, Pitt, and Soame

The Art of Poetry: The Poetical Treatises of Horace, Vida, and Boileau, with the Translations by Howes, Pitt, and Soame

Read FREE!

Excerpt

There can be no doubt that after Roman authors had been schooled by Grecian art, they forfeited in large measure so much of instinctive sublimity as was theirs by birthright. Had it ever been at their command--and such writers as Lucretius, nay, even Catullus, show that the assumption is not an idle one --the `large utterance of the early gods' was gone with the coming of the foreign Olympians and of all that the latter represented. Henceforth, save for the frigid mouthings of imperfectly naturalized Spaniards, the ideal of the poet was grace, moderation, fine workmanship.

But not only did the Romans lose with their political and literary independence a large share of their ancient earnestness and fervor, but they failed to acquire some of the most important qualities in which their Greek masters excelled. It would be too much to say that they were cheated, or that they cheated themselves, in their appropriation of Hellenic spoils, but it cannot be gainsaid that, in their quest for beauty, proportion, and delicacy in style and composition, they omitted certain of the weightier matters which they might have found in their models, the simplicity, rapidity, and sustained nobleness of the Greek epic, the opulence, elevation, strength, and swiftness of the Greek triumphal ode.

In a certain sense, then, the Hellenic discipline made the Romans un-Hellenic. Nor is the explanation far to seek. The imitable and compassable qualities of a work of art are always . . .

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