Sunday, June 17, 2012


Horace and His Father

Horace, Satires 1.4.105-131 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
'Tis a habit the best of fathers taught me, for, to enable me to steer clear of follies, he would brand them, one by one, by his examples. Whenever he would encourage me to live thriftily, frugally, and content with what he had saved for me, "Do you not see," he would say, "how badly fares young Albius, and how poor is Baius? A striking lesson not to waste one's patrimony!" When he would deter me from a vulgar amour, "Don't be like Scetanus." And to prevent me from courting another's wife, when I might enjoy a love not forbidden, "Not pretty," he would say, "is the repute of Trebonius, caught in the act. Your philosopher will give you theories for shunning or seeking this or that: enough for me, if I can uphold the rule our fathers have handed down, and if, so long as you need a guardian, I can keep your health and name from harm. When years have brought strength to body and mind, you will swim without the cork." With words like these would he mould my boyhood; and whether he were advising me to do something, "You have an example for so doing," he would say, and point to one of the special judges; or were forbidding me, "Can you doubt whether this is dishonourable and disadvantageous or not, when so and so stands in the blaze of ill repute?" As a neighbour's funeral scares gluttons when sick, and makes them, through fear of death, careful of themselves, so the tender mind is oft deterred from vice by another's shame. Thanks to this training I am free from vices which bring disaster, though subject to lesser frailties such as you would excuse.
Id., Satires 1.6.71-91:
I owe this to my father, who, though poor with a starveling farm, would not send me to the school of Flavius, to which grand boys used to go, sons of grand centurions, with slate and satchel slung over the left arm, each carrying his eightpence on the Ides—nay, he boldly took his boy off to Rome, to be taught those studies that any knight or senator would have his own offspring taught. Anyone who saw my clothes and attendant slaves—as is the way in a great city—would have thought that such expense was met from ancestral wealth. He himself, a guardian true and tried, went with me among all my teachers. Need I say more? He kept me chaste—and that is virtue's first grace—free not only from every deed of shame, but from all scandal. He had no fear that some day, if I should follow a small trade as crier or like himself as tax-collector, somebody would count this to his discredit. Nor should I have made complaint, but, as it is, for this I owe him praise and thanks the more. Never while in my senses could I be ashamed of such a father.

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