Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Don't Worry About Politics

Horace, Odes 3.8.25-28 (addressed to Maecenas; tr. Niall Rudd):
Don't worry in case the people are in any trouble; you are a private citizen, so try not to be over-anxious; gladly accept the gifts of the present hour, and let serious things go hang.

neglegens ne qua populus laboret
parce privatus nimium cavere,
dona praesentis cape laetus horae et
    linque severa.
R.G.M. Nisbet and Niall Rudd, A Commentary on Horace, Odes, Book III (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; rpt. 2007), pp. 131-132 (on line 26):
it would seem curious to the Romans that a private citizen should worry about political problems; cf. Plaut. Pers. 75f. 'sed sumne ego stultus qui rem curo publicam / ubi sint magistratus quos curare oporteat?', Cic. rep. 2.46.
The quotation from Plautus' Persa means "But am I not crazy, worrying about public affairs, when there are officials whose job it is to worry?" Cicero, On the Commonwealth 2.46, says the opposite, that no one is a private citizen when it comes to the safety of the state (in conservanda civium libertate esse privatum neminem).

Nisbet and Rudd, op. cit., p. 228 (introduction to 3.19):
It was a poetic convention to say that guests should concentrate on enjoyment rather than serious preoccupations. Sometimes these were questions of war and politics; cf. 1.26.3ff., 2.11.1, 3.8.17ff,, Theogn. 763f., Anacr. eleg. 2.1ff., Xenophanes, eleg. 1.21ff.
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