A poet remembered

Today is the anniversary of the death  8 B.C. of the ancient Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus – Horace.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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12 Responses to A poet remembered

  1. bearitone says:

    Nunc est bibendum! is a phrase I believe to be appropriate to this occasion.

  2. Andreas says:

    Fr. Z:

    Interesting that you should mention this: I was just reading some of his poems. This one specifically struck me as particularly appropriate for our times: (taken from Book I, number 34):

    Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens
    insanientis dum sapientiae
    consultus erro, nunc retrorsum
    vela dare atque iterare cursus

    cogor relictos …

    If I was to reorder it for those who might have difficulty understanding I would put it this way:

    Insanientis sapientiae parcus et infrequens deorum cultor dum consultus erro, nunc retrorsum cogor dare vela atque cursus iterare relictos.

    More or less meaning: “A man of insane wisdom, sparingly devoted to religion, I allowed myself to be deliberately misled, and now I’ve got to turn my sail around and retrace my steps.”

    This is said because of some imminent danger showing the horrific divine power in nature which convinces the poet to return to his senses.

    How appropriate. I love the phrase “insanis sapientia”. Reminds me of St. Paul teaching about how God used the foolishness of this world to confound the wise. At times these ancients strike me as more christian than ourselves. They had a clearer world view, it would seem.

  3. Andreas: Yes… Horace has had a kind of “conversion” due to a thunderclap in the middle of a clear day.  Or so he says.  He is being ironic.  The midday thunder which so surprised and converted him probably has something to do with suviving intact the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC and obtained the patronage of Octavian’s friend Maecenas, who gave him the Sabine Farm. 

    The “crazy philosophy” he is talking about is probably Epicureanism.  Horace would become of polticial necessity and personal gratitude, an apologist for Augustus and the Roman ways.

    I love the oxymorons: “nutty wisdom” and “deliberately err”.

  4. athanasius says:

    Non usitata, nec tenui ferar
    Penna biformis per liquidum aethera
    Vates; neque in terris morabor
    Longius; invidiaque maior
    Urbes relinquam: non ego pauperum
    Sanguis parentum, non ego, uem vocas,
    Dilecte Maecenas, obibo,

    Nec Stygia cohibebor unda.
    Iam iam refidunt cruribus asperae
    Pelles et album mutor in alitem
    Superne; nascunturque leves

    Per digitos, humerosque plumae.
    Iam Daedalco tutior Icaro
    Visam gementis littor Bospori
    Syrtesque Gaetulas canorus
    Ales, Hyperboreosque campos.
    Lib. I, Ode 9

  5. John P says:

    Sorry, but the translation doesn’t follow the syntax.
    Even in Horace, the word order is important.
    “Insanis sapientiae” goes with consultus. “Consultus,”
    as in “iuris consultus”, so, “an expert in unwise wisdom”.
    “Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens — “parcus”, he
    doesn’t spend much money on sacrifice, and “infrequens”
    he doesn’t do it often.

    John P

  6. Postumus says:

    Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,
    labuntur anni, nec pietas moram
    rugis et instanti senectae
    adferet indomitaeque morti

  7. John P says:

    Someone has to quote it:

    Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei
    Vitabit Libitinam: usque ego postera
    crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
    scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.

    Et requiescat in pace magnus poeta atque amabilis.

  8. My dissertation director, the late Professor Robert Carrubba, consummate gentleman and scholar, was a Horace expert (the Epodes). Although I specialized more in Virgil, it remains my fondest accomplishment to have co-authored my first article with him, on the Leuconoe ode 1.11.

  9. jarhead462 says:

    See, now I don’t know what any of this means. I wish that I did. It’s times like these that makes me think of how much I do not know, and how thankful that I am for Fr. Z and this blog. It also reminds me of how irritated I get when I think of how much I was NOT taught regarding the Faith, and myriad other things that are discussed here.(thank you 70’s “Catholic” school education)grrrr!

    Semper Fi!

  10. matteo says:

    hmm… crazy philosopher… Epicureanism… Fr. Z and his culinary passion?? connection?? [Epicureanism, a challenge to Platonism based on the teachings of Epicurus (+270 BC), is fundamentally atomic materialism. This lead to the conclusion that the gods were physical beings composed of atoms and that they were entirely detached from human affairs and had nothing to do with creation. Later this would be Epicureanism’s deepest point of conflict with Christianity, since in the Christian way of seeing things God created the cosmos from nothing and is directly involved with human affairs. But because Epicureanism is materialist, there was an emphasis on pleasure being a good, in fact, one of the only goods. Therefore Epicureans stressed moderate pleasure which allows a person to attain the free state where a person isn’t burdened with fear. In this state a person would be free to pursue knowledge, friendship, and the virtues. However, since your comment was meant to be a nasty jab, I have already removed your ability to read this together with your ability to respond. If you come back via some other IP address and post similar comments, I will take moderate pleasure from doing the same. o{]:¬) ]

  11. Postumus says:

    Sed non iam Capitolium scandit cum tacita virgine pontifex :-(

  12. John P says:

    non scandit Capitolium pontifex, sed ipse Horatius
    nunc etiam crescit laude recens.