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1 Octavius and Antony, both aspiring to the sovereign power, must necessarily have had frequent quarrels and dissensions. Their reconciliations were of short continuance, because they were insincere. Among many negotiations, undertaken by their common friends to reconcile them, history mentions two more particularly. The first in the year 714, the other in 717, which was concluded by the mediation of Octavia, and to which our poet was carried by Maecenas.
2 “Praecinctis.” Prepared for traveling, i. e. altius praecincis, "to those who were better travelers than we were." Praecinctus means having the dress tucked up, that it may not prevent exertion. Hence used for "diligent," "active." Compare Sat. ii. 8, 10.
3 “Quarta hora.” The Romans during more than four hundred and fifty years never had names for the hours of the day. The twelve tables divided it into three parts; the rising sun, the setting sun, and mid-day. The hours of night and day were equal in number through the year; but from spring to autumn, those of the day were longer than those of the night, and from September to March the hours of night were longest.
4 Three particulars demonstrate that this journey was to the second conference at Brundusium. Fonteius is here joined with Maecenas and Cocceius, but was not engaged in the first. The poet says, that Maecenas and Cocceius had been before employed to reconcile Octavius and Antony, soliti, which must necessarily suppose the first congress in 714, when Horace had not been introduced to Macenas.
5 Fonteius Capito. Probably the father of him who was consul two years before the death of Augustus. he was here of the party of Antony, and Maecenas on the side of Augustus. Cocceius was by way of an arbitrator between them, to settle their differences. “Homo factus ad unguem,” a complete man, every way accomplished.
7 “Praetore.” The colonies and municipal towns had the same dignities and magistracies as the city of Rome; senators, praetors, quaestors, and aediles. It is difficult to know whether Fundi had a praetor chosen out of her own citizens, or whether he was sent from Rome.
8 “Praemia scribe.” Horace calls these robes “praemia scribae”, because the secretaries in colonies and municipal towns were frequently raised to the dignity of the praetorship. The toga praetexta was a robe bordered with purple. Tunica clavata was a vest with two borders of purple laid like a lace upon the middle or opening of it, down to the bottom; in such a manner as that when the vest was drawn close or buttoned, the two purple borders joined and seemed to be but one. If these borders were large, the vest was called latus clavus, or tunica laticlavia; if they were narrow, then it was named angustus clavus, tunica angusticlavia. These two sorts of tunics were worn to distinguish the magistrates in their employments, and were very different from those worn by the common people, tunicato popello, which were closed before, and without any purple border. They were called tunicae rectae.
10 The stroke of satire here is of a delicate and almost imperceptible malignity. Formiae, the city which Horace means, belonged to the Lamian family, whose antiquity was a great honor to it. But our poet paraphrases it by the name of a person, who was born there, and who has made his country famous in a very different manner. Mamurra was a Roman knight, who was infamous for his rapine, luxury and debauchcry. Catullus calls him Decoctor Formianus.
11 Murena was brother of Licymnia, married afterward to Maecenas. He was condemned to death for conspiring against Augustus. Varius and Plotius Tucca were the persons to whom Augustus intrusted the correction of the Aeneid, after Virgil's death, but with an order not to make any additions to it.
12 “Parochi” . Before the consulship of Lucius Posthumius, the magistrates of Rome traveled at the public charge, without being burthensome to the provinces. Afterward commissaries were appointed in all the great roads to defray all expenses of those who were employed in the business of the state. They were obliged, by the Lex Julia de provinciis, to provide lodging, fire, salt, hay, straw, etc.
13 “Osci” is a nominative case, and we must construe it, Osci sunt clarum genus Messii. The Oscans gave to Messius his illustrious birth, a sufficient proof that he was an infamous scoundrel. The people who inhabited this part of Campania were guilty of execrable debaucheries.
14 “Saltaret uti Cyclopa. ” The raillery is founded on his gigantic size, and the villainous gash that Messius had on his forehead, which made him look so like a Polyphemus, that he might dance the part without buskins or a mask. To dance a Cyclops, a Glaucus, a Ganymede, a Leda, was an expression for representing their story by dancing.
15 “Donasset iamne catenam.” Only the vilest slaves, or those who worked in the country, were chained. It appears by an epigram of Martial, that when they were set at liberty, they consecrated their chains to Saturn, because slavery was unknown under his reign. But when Messius asks Sarmentus whether he had dedicated his chain to the “Dii Lares”, he would reproach him with being a fugitive. These gods were invoked by travelers, because they presided over highways, from whence they were called “viales”. They themselves were always represented like travelers, as if they were ready to leave the house; “succincti”. Or Sarmentus was a slave so vile that he knew no other gods, but those who stood on the hearth, and which it was his employment to keep clean.
17 This (as the Schol. informs us) was Equotuticum. The reason that it can not occur in dactylics is, that the first is short, and the next two syllables long, while the penultimate is short. Were the first long, thero could be no difficulty about introducing it. MCCAUL.
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