Sunday, October 14, 2007


Musings at the Breakfast Table, i.

Auctor: Good Morning! The sun creeps forth, the day is young, and…

Jeeves: …Breakfast is served.

Auctor: Quite.
This morning we will be enjoying a lovely full breakfast, as distinguished from a half-full, quarter-full and/or five-eighths-full breakfast. The table is furnisht with Fried Eggs and Wiltshire Cured Bacon, Sausages, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Tomatoes and Mushrooms. Served with an English Muffin, Black Sumatran Coffee and Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice. All shall conclude with a chilled glass of 1954 Andre Clouet Grand Cru. The air outside is brisk, leaving you with that crisp autumn lucidity. Here in Bradford, Pennsylvania the hills are beginning to show that panoply of autumn colours that so delights the soul, painted by the hand of God.
PHOTO: Allegheny National Forest, within which is my humble abode.

Auctor: Horace. I believe we shall talk of Horace.

Lector: What?

Auctor: Why the Poet!

Lector: You bore me before you have even begun. Don't you think this subject a bit random?

Auctor: Random? — I suppose so, yes, but on the other hand, is it not right to be random while consuming the remains of an English muffin, slathered in butter and dolloped with jam.

Lector: Sir, the worth of this tirade is determined by yours truly, spare me the drivel about your rights. You haven't any rights you are the auctor, when you determined to lift your pen, you forewent any hope of security and exposed yourself to the knife of the critic. Do not speak to me of rights.

Auctor: What rot! You are merely the manifestation of a figment, dare you speak to me in such a manner?

Lector: Your underestimate the power of a figment, and dare I? I do.

Auctor: The tenacity! — O, by the way, please pass the sugar.

Lector: Certainly.

Auctor: Thank you. Now as I was saying, when I was so rudely interrupted, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to those of our noble tongue as Horace. He is generally considered by classicists, of which school yours truly doth subscribe, to be one of the greatest Latin poets. And, if I may suffer you the humble opinion of a daft half-wit, the greatest of the Latin poets.

Lector: You sicken me with your false humility, and as far as I am concerned this entire foray should be stricken from the slate and tossed into the dustbin. There you have it, my most humble opinion.

Auctor: …and…well, there is wisdom abound in Horace, for example…

Lector: Black Pudding?

Auctor: O, yes, quite — ahem, in Horace can be found boundless wisdom, as in that timeless phrase:
Nvnc est bibendvm, nvnc pede libero pvlsanda tellvs
Lector: Ahem, please stop blubbering in a dead tongue, it doesn’t suit you. By the way, you've spilled coffee on your robe.

Auctor: May I continue?

Lector: Certainly.

Auctor: Thank you. Now, that particularly fine bit above — distant, now, though it may be — means in the vulgar tongue
Now is the time for drinking, now is the time to beat the earth with unfettered foot.
And so it is. Wisdom I tell you, wisdom if I ever heard it.

Lector: If Philosophy came to console you, as she did Boethius, you would be suddenly struck, deaf, dumb, blind and mute. Wisdom, if illumined with neon signs, would still allude you.

Auctor: You hurt me, sir.

Lector: Clichés are not always worthless twaddle, for the truth does very frequently hurt.

Auctor: Could you limit yourself for a bit?

Lector: Supposing you increase your capacity for reasoned speech, yes.

Auctor: I shall ignore the venomous barb — This bacon is simply wonderful, my compliments to Cook. — By the way, I wrote a bit about Horace once, back in my school days.

Lector: Attention span of a gnat.

Auctor: Hmm, I wonder where I put it — Jeeves!

Jeeves: Yes, sir.

Auctor: Where is the essay I composed on Horace?

Jeeves: Perhaps, it is in the large filing cabinet, as opposed to the the smaller filing cabinet. I would hazard the guess that it is in the file marked in red ink, Poets, H., sir.

Auctor: Brilliant Jeeves.

Jeeves: Yes, sir.


Auctor: Well, why are you not retrieving it?!

Jeeves: You asked only to know its location, sir.

Auctor: Well, retrieve it, you ninny!

Jeeves: Yes, sir. Very good, sir.

Auctor: That's a good man. Well, regardless, you know how I am always concocting innovative words and resurrecting archaisms?

Lector: Unfortunately. Though, innovative might be going too far.

Auctor: As a matter of fact, the Oxford English Dictionary has thrice ignored my petitions to list the word, ––––. I shall have to strongly castigate those rummy buggers, when I get the first opportunity.

Lector: Your point, please.

Auctor: Well, it is from Horace that justified me in this my practise.
Ahem, In words again be cautious and select,
And duly pick out this, and that reject.
High praise and honour to the bard is due
Whose dexterous setting makes an old word new.
Nay more, should some recondite subject need
Fresh signs to make it clear to those who read,
A power of issuing terms till now unused,
If claimed with modesty, is ne'er refused.
New words will find acceptance, if they flow
Forth from the Greek, with just a twist or so.
But why should Rome capriciously forbid
Our bards from doing what their fathers did?
Or why should Plautus and Caecilius gain
What Vergil or what Varius asks in vain?
Nay, I myself, if with my scanty wit
I coin a word or two, why grudge me it,
When Ennius and old Cato boldly flung
Their terms broadcast, and amplified our tongue?
To utter words stamped current by the mill
Has always been thought right and always will.
Jeeves: Sir, the article you requested:

Auctor: O, goody! Thank you, Jeeves.

Jeeves: Your welcome, sir.

Auctor: Some of my crummiest and driest work, but despite, let us exercise the vocal cords:
In Greece at the time of the assassination of Julius Caesar, Horace will be enrolled in the republican army under the generalship of Brutus, one of the assassins of the emperor. He will fight as a staff officer (tribunus militum) in the battle of Philippi, in 42 A.C. (Ante Christum), during which Mark Antony and Octavian (Caesar Augustus) will severely defeat the Republicans.

Horace will settle in Rome being granted amnesty, though he will be dispossessed of the lands inherited with the death his father. Those lands will be distributed to the veterans of the army of Antony and Octavian. He will be reduced to poverty, though with his remaining means he which purchase a profitable life-time appointment as a scriba quaestorius, an official of the Treasury. He will devote his leisure time to the drafting of his Satires, the first book will be published in 35 A.C.

Vergil, then an eminent poet, will appreciate the poems of Horace. He will present them to Maecenas, Octavian’s capable agent d’affaires, who will offer to him an estate in the hills of the Sabine in 33 A.C.

Horace will publish the second book of his Satires three years later, known more for its plethora of subjects than its poetry. Horace will target the defects of his contemporaries, and will will refute the stoic extremists and the rigour of stoicism will be thus turned to derision. Horace will also contemplate the range of satire and a literary form freed from strict rules. Horace will often employ the term of sermonum (i.e. conversations or talks) on the lintel of his work. The first two books of the Satires, respectively composed of ten and eight satires, will be thus marked by a spirit of tolerance and a freedom of tone.

The Carmina, or Odes, will constitute the major poetic work of Horace. The author will refuse the post of Secretary of Augustus in Spain in order to devote himself to their composition. The first three books will be published in 23 A.C.

The eighty eight poems, which will testify to his great knowledge of Greek lyric poetry, will celebrate peace, the fatherland, love, friendship, wine, pleasure, and country life. They will also testify to some episodes of the life of the author and will refer to many elements drawn from mythologies Greek and Roman.

Horace will then further elaborate upon the the subjects of love, friendship and nature, and will develop the idea of the ‘escape of the years’ and the need to enjoy the present moment, a philosophy inherited from Epicureanism.

One of Horaces phrases that remains in use is illustrative of this atomic materialism, carpe diem — seize the day — will brand the spirit of many authors throughout the centuries. Influenced by Pindarus, the Odes will be imitated by English poets of the 18th and 19th century, such as Pope and Milton.

Certain Odes will also address national and religious subjects, or will laud and praise the victories of Caesar Augustus.

Later, Horace will publish the first book of his Epistles, twenty short letters addressed to various recipients, whom he will denounce, in 20 A.C. He will take again the topics developed in his Satires by adopting the more measured positions of an aging man. He will succeed Vergil, who died in 19 A.C. Augustus will ask him to return to lyric poetry and Horace will publish the second book of the Epistles, the fourth book of the Odes and the Ars Poetica. He will die in Rome on 21 November 8 A.C., not but a little time after his friend Maecena near whom he will be buried on the Esquiline hill.
Lector: That was a ream of rubbish read by a real rotter.

Auctor: You alliterating blackguard! Do you entertain the notion that my oration is similar to listening to a glass-shattering, Wagnerian Brynhildr.

Lector: Now that you mention it.

Auctor: You, sir, do not appreciate eloquence of speech! — Mmm, this coffee is divine — O, well…

Lector: Mind like a black-hole.

Auctor: …since Musings at the Breakfast Table is intended to become a staple (Heh, I punned) of The Daily Post perhaps I should bring something pertinent into this discussion of Horace.

I think he may be used to illustrate our ideological bent in the art of composition. Now, Horace CAN be quoted within a Catholic context, regardless of his obvious Epicurean creed. I shall excerpt him at length and explain our position.

First, it is a very large leap to begin something of this nature, i.e. a journal.

Lector: That is why every Tom, Dick, and Harry have one.

Auctor: LET ME SPEAK! Theology is not a topic that one should commit to, without some previous knowledge. It is always dangerous to seek to understand God — I do not imply that we CAN understand God — and to express that understanding. To err would be grave…

Lector: Oh, yes, very very grave.
A brief scuffle occurs and our dear friend the Lector, finds himself bound and gagged and tossed head first into the potting shed.
Auctor: There! Now, as I was saying, to err would be grave, for as the poet said ‘faults are soon copied,’ and so it is for this reason that we adhere so rigidly to the Church’s definitions.

However, I digress, Horace wrote the famous line, Dimidivm facti qvi coepit habet; sapere avde; incipe!, which translates as, ‘He who has begun has half done. Dare to be wise; begin’! And so we dared to be wise and began this venture without a sure notion of where and how we were to proceed, but just beginning allowed us to take an opportunity to write and now the ideas and words flow from our fingers like the waters of the Tiber. ‘He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses’. We must cross, though it be perilous.

It, however, became necessary to determine a style, a method of presentation. Should we speak casually, comically, or technically? Should we attempt brevity of suffer our readers length. The good poet, Horace, resolved these concerns with his ever witty verse and prose: ‘Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It’s good to be silly at the right moment.’ And so while at times we will address subjects of a serious nature, we will always have a light-hearted tone when appropriate. Concerning brevity, we took him at face value, ‘It is when I struggle to be brief that I become obscure’. And so, if we elaborate at length it is because we wish to be precise, for in such matters we must clearly present a topic.

The other Horatian wisdom, regardless of its original context, spoke volumes about the immediacy of our call to evangelise. For, we are instructed to ‘think … that every day is [our] last; the hour to which you do not look forward will come as a welcome surprise’. We intend to focus on the present, for ‘as we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow’! We began this project, because if we had not, who can affirm that we would have another like opportunity. We are not concerned with how we will be received by our bacchanalian brethren, for ‘the man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from his firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant’s threatening countenance’.

As for the content of these pages, ‘of writing well the source and fountainhead is wise thinking’. And so we pray that the Holy Ghost grant us the gift of wisdom, that we may be prudent in our work. It is necessary that we ‘remember when life’s path is steep to keep [our] mind[s] even,’ for ‘force without wisdom falls of its own weight’. While we pursue our cause, if we do not act with prudence the very force of our execution will land us in a guillotine (pun most certainly intended). ‘He who feared that he would not succeed sat still’ and did nothing.

We propose to do something, something grand, something as mighty as Augustinian Rome, we propose to accept the call of the Lord and do His will. We do not intend to submit to ungodliness, for (to weasel in a Chinese proverb) no matter how hard the wind blows, the mountain will not bow to it. That mountain is the Church, built upon the rock of Peter.

We will not falter. — Mmm, I love muffins. — With that, ‘I will not add another word’.