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1 “Maia nate.” He addresses his prayer to Mercury, not only because this god was a patron of poets in general, and that our poet, as we find in his Odes, was particularly obliged to his protection, but because he presided over industry and merchandise, as Hercules did over any sudden, accidental increase of riches. Besides, he was a rural deity, from whence, as Dacier observes, the poet recommends the preservation of his cattle to him, in the fourteenth verse.
3 “Et caetera praeter ingenium.” The Latins, in speaking of style, have expressions not unlike this, “pingue et adipatum dicendi genus; poetae pinguae quiddam sonantes.” This playing on the double meaning of the word is much in our author's manner. Besides, Mercury was a good humored god, who understood raillery, “de Dis non tristibus.” Yet, for fear the deity should understand the word caetera in its full extent, and without any exception, the petitioner pleasantly guards against the fatness of his understanding.
5 “Musaque pedestri.” The muse of satire, if such an expression may be allowed, is a muse on foot. She borrowed nothing from poetry but the measures of her verses, tho, only particular in which she differs from prose.
6 “Plumbeus.” This epithet very well expresses the weight of air in autumn, when the south wind was usually attended at Rome with pestilential disorders. Our poet's country-house was covered by mountains, in such a manner, that he had nothing to fear from its bad effects.
7 “Matutine pater.” The satire properly begins here, and all before this line is a kind of preface. Janus presided over time, and therefore Horace calls him god of the morning, as if time seemed to be renewed every morning.
9 “Interiore diem.” The northern part of the circle which the sun describes in summer is more distant from our earth than the southern part, which he describes in winter. From hence our days are shorter in winter than in summer, and he may therefore be poetically said to drive the day in a smaller course. Horace calls this circle “interiorem gyrum”, by a figure taken from chariot races, in which the driver who turned nearest the goal marked a narrower circle, and was therefore called “interior quadriga”, with regard to those who were obliged to take a larger compass, “exteriores.”
10 “Ad Puteal.” He describes a part of the forum by a monument erected there to show that the place had been struck with thunder. Some of the proctors held a kind of sessions there to decide private causes.
11 Horace had purchased an employment of register or secretary to the treasury; from whence he is desired to return early from Maecenas to consult about some important affair that concerned the whole body.
13 The Dacians had engaged in Antony's army at the battle of Actium, in 723, and Octavius had disobliged them by refusing some favors which they demanded by their embassadors. He was obliged to send Marcus Crassus against them the year following. SAN.
14 Octavius promised the soldiers who had served under him in reducing Sicily, that he would divide some of the conquered lands among them. But the war in which he was engaged against Antony obliged him to defer the division, and immediately after the battle of Actium, the troops, which he had sent to Brundusium, mutinied on this occasion.He went himself to stop the beginning of a revolt, which might have been attended with most dangerous consequences. This affair was all the news at Rome when our poet wrote the present Satire. Sicily was called Triquetra from its triangular figure, and in some ancient coins it is represented under the figure of a woman with three legs.
15 It was one of Pythagoras' precepts, that beans should not be used as food by any of his disciples, lest in the course of transformation the soul of some relative should be placed therein, and thus the impiety (as Lucian, Micyll., represents it) be as great as that of eating human flesh. Hence Horace humorously calls the bean “Pythagorae cognata.” There are various reasons assigned for the origin of this precept.
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