Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Gildersleeve's Sonnet on Horace

B.L. Gildersleeve enclosed a sonnet on Horace in a letter (dated April 28, 1920) to Paul Shorey, who edited Horace's Odes and Epodes (1898; rev. 1910). The sonnet is titled "Ad Leuconoen" and its opening quatrain paraphrases Horace's ode to Leuconoe (1.11):
Pry not into God's secrets, fair Lenore
Nor ask what end He hath decreed for us
Try not the fortune teller's abacus,
But bear whate'er the future hath in store.

This is the substance of Horatian lore,
O'er which the world has made a needless fuss.
For this self-styled vates Horatius
But curled the tails his fellow-porkers bore.

His motto was: I do not care a Damn.
His business was to pilfer from the Greek;
Most of his thefts have 'scaped the eye of day.

But all his loves are a transparent sham.
Mark you, against the bard I have no peak
I've just set down what Tyrrell has to say.
Robert Y. Tyrrell had his say on "Horatiolatry" in his lectures on Latin Poetry (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895), pp. 162-215. The "fellow-porkers" (line 8 of Gildersleeve's sonnet) are followers of Epicurus. Horace famously called himself a pig from Epicurus' sty (Epistles 1.4.16). In the penultimate line, "peak" is an alternate spelling of "pique."

Escutcheon of Laudator Temporis Acti, a "fellow-porker":

Update: Eric Thomson, slightly altering Dante, gives this salutary warning to porkers:
Fatty non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza!

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?