Monday, August 09, 2021


The Modernity of Horace

Edward Kennard Rand, A Toast to Horace (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1937), pp. 31-32:
I have called Horace modern. He caught up the wisdom of the past and uttered it again to his times. He can repeat it to us, if we are as modern as he. Some poets today who would cut off the past are cutting off with it their own future, for what they think daring and novel will soon appear funny and quaint.
Where are the imagists of yesteryear?
Horace is the prince of club men, with old and young in his circle. He is a pleasant counsellor, a perfect Freshman adviser, always at home, always at leisure, ever ready to pour out for us a glass of one of the mellower brands and to expound the comfortable doctrine of nil admirari, caught from Socratic irony and handed on to choice souls down the ages.
Id., p. 38:
The quintessence of this moral wisdom of the ancient world has somehow been distilled by Horace, and treasured in a tiny jar. Others can show thought more profound, feeling more intense, art more ambitious, imagination more sublime. But if we had to select one volume of the ancients, just one, to take to a desert island for the comfort of our souls, or to retain in a warring world to arm us for the stress, I doubt if we could find more aspects of antiquity, more suggestions of the diverse things that the great masters of old have thought and wrought, than the little book of Horace.

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