Litlets

May 16, 2006

What I’m Reading: Horace

Filed under: Uncategorized — crcb @ 4:19 pm
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The Works of Horace.
In translation, of course, I don't read Latin. It's an old book, a compilation of translations ranging from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth. (Louis Untermeyer is one of the translators. He's better known as an anthologist than as a poet, but he was equally mediocre in both roles. He's the target of a satire by e. e. cummings, "mr u will not be missed. …") It's always risky to judge a poet from translations or from a couple of millenia away. Nevertheless, I'm developing an active dislike of Horace, or at least of his persona. I know better than to judge him by my culture's values — values of which he wasn't aware — but his easy acceptance of slavery and his odes to tyrants leave a bad taste. When he's not hard to take, he's boring. Nevertheless, there are aesthetic thrills here and there, and I'd probably find many more if I could read him in the original.

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