Wednesday, June 03, 2015


Reading Horace in Bed

Michael Monahan (1865-1933), An Attic Dreamer (New York: Michael Kennerley, 1922), pp. 192-193:
In the most intimate sense Horace is (of course) without a rival as a companion and comforter of the nightly pillow. This charming Pagan has confessed and will always confess the best minds of the literate Christian world. I know one person who owes his dearest mental joys, his best nocturnal consolations, and the very spring of hope itself to the little great man of Rome. But he must be read in the original—a condition which unfortunately disqualifies too many readers. The songs of Horace, written in the immortal tongue of Rome, can never become antiquated. Though the Pontifex and the Virgin ceased hundreds of years ago to climb the Capitolian hill, though the name of Aufidus is lost where its brawling current hurries down, still that treasure of genius endures, more lasting than brazen column, a joy and a refreshment ever to the jaded souls of men.

Horace has the supreme and almost unique fortune to appear always modern, his genius being of the finest quality ever known and happily preserved in an unchanging tongue. He is, for instance, far more modern than Dante and distinctly nearer to us than the Elizabethans. Alone, he constitutes a sufficient reason for the admirable, though sometimes foolishly censured, practice of reading abed.

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