Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Links for Horace

Horace didn't call his poem about poetry "Ars Poetica" - that title was conferred only later. It was known in his day as the third poem of his second book of Epistles. It was also known as the Epistula ad Pisones (Letters to the Pisos, a prominent plebeian Roman family).

It's worth noting that the second book of Epistles, published in 14 B.C., contains only three fairly long poems. The first of these mature works, Epistles II.i, is addressed to Emperor Augustus, and is a wide ranging summation of the poet's thoughts about Roman culture, its relation to the Greeks, the place of the arts and of poetry in the larger cultural matrix. Epistles II.ii, To Florus, is a witty tour de force about why he never answers letters and dislikes writing poetry. It deepens into a meditation on time, its passing, and on the relation of poetry to philosophy.

Epistles II.iii, Ad Pisos, is Horace's best known, most widely quoted poem. Here are a few links:

The Perseus site offers the Latin text - click on almost any word, and it will open a new page where you can get brief or detailed dictionary entries for the word. A few nouns are not defined because they are "obscene," by the standards of Classical Lit editors and professors.

Perseus also allows you to open an English prose translation on the same page. Go to the right, and click where it says "load," and this will open the English next to the Latin, with footnotes below the English. If you click on "focus," the English text will open on the left, and the Latin will disappear (but can be opened by clicking on "load," on the right. It's rather arcane.)

For those who wish to refer to the Perseus English without bothering with the Latin, the full English prose translation is here,.with line numbers and notes. This has the advantage of having the English all on one page.

Another translation we'll be using is A. S. Kline's free verse version, with a few notes, here.

So, for now, three ways to access Horace's Ad Pisos:

Perseus Site (Hyperlinked Latin + English Prose with notes)

Perseus English on one page


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