Once let fly, Horace is irrevocable.

I was in the mood for a new desktop wallpaper. What I was looking for was a scan of an original version of a classical text. I was struck and fascinated by Horace’s Ars Poetica (here’s the Latin text) which I had read for a class. I couldn’t find a version of the original online though. I looked around for copies of Aristotle, Virgil, and Dante but I couldn’t find anything very good. Finally I went for Paradise Lost and found a great online version modeled after the original print edition (http://www.samizdat.qc.ca/arts/lit/paradiselost.pdf). I chose one page, inverted the color scheme, and adjusted the size to roughly 1280×900. I was pleased with the results so I’m posting it here for anyone to use. Why pages four and five? I chose it for the following:

“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost, the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me.”                      (1.105-111)

The sentiment is especially Heroic, Romantic, and Existential. Compare it with Tennyson’s words 166 years later in “Ulysses“:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.    (65-70)

While the heroic carpe diem sentiment is the same, the most distinct difference is the singular “me” versus the first person plural “we.” I think this holds the most dramatic interpretive and philosophical consequence between them. It is why I see the first as particularly existential while the second as collective–in the context of the comitatus. By the way, did you know carpe diem comes from Horace? “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” (Odes 1.11).

About C.P.

Collin is a professional writer and scholar. He holds an MA in Philosophy and a BA in English literature. His philosophical work has appeared in print published by Wiley/Blackwell and Open Court. More of his writings, philosophical, literary, comic, and just plain nonsensical are available online. He currently lives in Seattle where he is writing science fiction, dressing up for Cons, and wreaking havoc on his opponents (npcs and tabletop humans alike).
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Once let fly, Horace is irrevocable.

  1. These are impressive articles. Keep up the sunny handiwork.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *