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EPISTOLA AD PISONES,
DE ARTE POETICA LIBE R.
The title, ART OF POETRY, is of very early date, but creates a somewhat improper distinction between this Poem and those which immediately precede it. All three may be classed together as kindred in style and character, and having a common subject. The first epistle contains a review of the earlier and later schools of Roman poetry, and a comparison of Roman and Grecian studies in literature. The second dwells upon Horace's own personal tastes and experience, and upon the foibles and fashion prevailing with the poetasters of the day. The epistle to the Pisos contains rules of composition. These rules are so far from exhausting the general subject, that they do not touch upon any kind of poetry except the Dramatic. And the supposition has been favourably received, that, as far as they go, they are not so much didactic as dissuasive, and that, whatever hints they might supply to the public, they were primarily intended, by a timely raillery and a remonstrance intelligible to those to whom it was addressed, to check their poetic vanity, and to divert them from attempts in which they had not genius to succeed. Hurd divides the Poem into three parts. The first, (vv. 1–89.) is preparatory to the main subject, containing general reflections and rules.
The main body of the epistje (vv. 90—295.) is taken up with regulations for the Roman stage, and especially for tragedy ; both as the higher species of poetry, and, as it should seem, the less cultivated and understood. The third part (vv. 2964476.) insists upon the necessity of correctness in language and style.
It may be thought convenient to add an enumeration of the several rules laid down.
The first and opening precept (down to v. 23.) regards uniformity of design in the composition of a poem. The next relates to beauties or faults of style (vv. 25–37.).
v. 38. sqq. to the author's own capacity.
v. 73. proceeds to classify the various styles of poetry, the discrimination between which is essential to correctness, and also to the power of awakening interest and sympathy (vv. 92–118.).
v. 119. gives a rule for the conception and portraiture of characters, which may be either original or traditionary.
v. 136. begins rules for the plan and the embellishment of a poem.
v. 154. for the correct marking of natural varieties of age and temper.
v. 179. speaks of scenic representation and the subjects fit or unfit for it.
v. 189. of the length of a drama.
v. 193. of the chorus, with its musical accompaniments.
v. 220. of the Satyric drama.
v. 251. of metre. v. 275. of the invention and improvements of tragedy. v. 281. of comedy, and its changes. v. 285. of the Roman drama. v. 309. of the elements and basis of success in poetry.
v. 323. of the contrast between the Greek and Roman character.
v. 335. of didactic or instructive passages.
v. 347. of venial mistakes as distinguished from inexcusable carelessness.
v. 366. of aiming at perfection.
HUMANO capiti cervicem pictor equinam
3. Undique collatis. Cp., for 8. uni formæ. i. e. the ideal of phrase, 'undique desectam,' Carm. the poet. All that harmonises with 1. xvi. 14.; for description, Virgil's that conception must be (unius forScylla, En. ii. 426.
| mæ) uniform.