Horace Sermones 1.1.5

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porphyrios
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Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by porphyrios »

In Sermones 1.1.4–5, Horace writes

“O fortunati mercatores” gravis annis
miles ait, multo iam fractus membra labore

Gowers, in her 2012 CGLC, makes the following comment on l. 5: "Heavy spondees in the first four feet suggest the soldier’s weary plod." If the first foot is a spondee, both syllable of miles must be heavy. Yet lexicographers are universally agreed that the second vowel is short (cf. hospes). If Gowers is right, then Horace must either be lengthening the second vowel (mīlēs) or adopting the Plautine scansion mīless (Sihler 237.8). But Horace elsewhere treats ait as a dibrach:

Gallis, hanc Philodemus ait sibi, quae neque magno (Serm. 1.2.121)
mater ait pueri mensis iam quinque cubantis (Serm. 2.3.289)
vester ait, seu conservus, tibi quid sum ego? nempe (Serm. 2.7.80)
'qui possum tot?' ait; 'tamen et quaeram et quot habebo (Ep. 1.6.42)

For what it's worth, Sihler 490.1 notes "Later ais, ait sometimes in two syllables but usually in one."

It would seem, then, that Gowers is incorrect and that the first foot of Serm. 1.1.5 is a dactyl. But I may be missing something. I'd be grateful for confirmation or correction.

Sihler = New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (Oxford 1995)

mwh
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by mwh »

Was the comment perhaps meant to apply to the previous verse, the notably heavy "O fortunati mercatores!"? I find it hard to think that |miles ait in Horace is spondaic, and almost as hard to think that Emily Gowers thought it was.

porphyrios
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by porphyrios »

The comment applies to verse 5; I doubt it's a case of the compositor's accidentally transposing a comment on l. 4 to l. 5, since Gowers says that the "deliberately ungainly" phrase fractus membra matches the "heavy spondees."

Image

mwh
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by mwh »

Well all I can say is the comment would be much more aptly applied to verse 4, which is so much more striking; and I still suspect that’s what she meant. (The disruption could be due to the fact that fractus membra is in verse 5.) You might put this to her?

cb
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by cb »

Hi, I agree that the comment must be referring to v. 4. If you look at the previous page of the commentary (p. 63), you'll see that Gowers is discussing here more broadly vv. 4–14:
4–14 Once launched, H.’s loosely philosophical sermo mutates into a recognizable popular offshoot: aggressive, colourfully illustrated diatribe. Two pairs of ordinary people – soldier and merchant, farmer and jurisconsult – illustrate the contention that everyone envies another’s way of life ...
And so I think the reference to 'the first four feet' may be referring to the start of this section. The end of the comment that you snip above makes this clear:
A clapped-out example, or one that reinforces a mood-swing towards peace after the civil wars?
This reference to peace must be to o fortunati mercatores, rather than miles ait, multo iam fractus which would be a strange grouping to pick out.

Why 'clapped out'? Gowers discusses that a bit earlier (p. 64):
H. knows that his examples are hackneyed (13n.), and they may have been part of the Roman schoolboy’s repertoire ... All four types live passively, buffeted by fate (cf. fractus, iactantibus, pulsat, extractus); each one fails to see that his rival’s life is not much different from his own. Thus the soldier envies the good fortune of the merchant, archetypal pawn of chance, who in turn envies the snap decisions of the soldier’s life;
If the commentary suggests that the comment refers to v. 5, my guess is that it's just a printer's error.

PS when Gowers says that the spondees bring out the weary "grass is greener" complaint of the soldier, for some reason it made me think of this Monty Python scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXcsDMwiEtA

Cheers, Chad

porphyrios
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by porphyrios »

Thanks, mwh and Chad. The comment certainly does make better sense with v. 4, but that would make for a rather egregious error by the compositor. I've asked Prof. Gowers and will report back if I get an answer.

porphyrios
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Re: Horace Sermones 1.1.5

Post by porphyrios »

Prof. Gowers has very kindly replied to my note. mwh and Chad are right: the comment about "heavy spondees" was intended for v. 4.

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