BOOK IV, ODE 9.
’Twixt worth and baseness,
lapp’d in death,
I believe I have expressed Horace’s meaning, though he has chosen to express himself as if the two things compared were dead worthlessness and uncelebrated worth. By fixing the epithet sepultae to inertiae he doubtless meant to express that the natural and appropriate fate of worthlessness was to be dead, buried, and forgotten. But the context shows that he was thinking of the effect of death and its consequent oblivion on worth and worthlessness alike, and contending that the poet alone could remedy the undiscriminating and unjust award of destiny. Throughout the first half of the Ode, however, Horace has rather failed to mark the transitions of thought. He begins by assuring himself and, by implication, those whom he celebrates, of immortality, on the ground that the greatest poets are not the only poets; he then exchanges this thought for another, doubtless suggested by it, that the heroes of poetry are not the only heroes, though the very fact that there have been uncelebrated heroes is used to show that celebration by a poet is everything.
Or bear your banners
through the fight,
Scattering the Joemari’s firm array.
It seems, on the whole, simpler to understand this of actual victories obtained by Lollius as a commander, than of moral victories obtained by him as a judge. There is harshness in passing abruptly from the judgment-seat to the battle-field; but to speak of the judgment-seat as itself the battle-field would, I think, be harsher still.
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