And about Horace. It is amazing to read some of his lines and relate to them so deeply that, all these centuries and cultures apart, one wishes to have written them oneself. In I. xxxiii, he writes that he hopes to write sweet calming work that will endure: "We are now called upon. If in idle amusement in the shade with you, we have placyed any thing that may live for this year and many, come on, assist me with alyric ode in Latin, my dear lyre, - first tuned in Greek by the Lesbian citizen Alcaeus … O thou ornament of Apollo, charming shell, agreeable even at the banquets of supreme Jupiter! O thou sweet alleviator of anxious toils, be propitious to me, whenever I duly invoke thee."
Similarly, in I. xxvi, which translator C. Smart introduces as, "That free from all care and anxiety, he celebrates the praise of Lamia", Horace writes: "O sweet Muse, who art delighted with pure-fountains, weave together the sunny flowers, weave a chaplet for my Lamia. Without thee my praises profit nothing." Note the flattery involved in his invocation! In IV.ii, he writes: "With lavish labor hiving thrifty sweets; Lowly, by Tibur's grove and dewy banks, I seek the honey that I store in song, Kneaded with labour."
Despite such depth of meaning in imagery, he also writes of food like a true gourmand, but in multiple registers. In satire II.iv, a man struggles to remember the lessons he got from a professor about food - containing such detail of how to dine well! Our sweetness here comes from the section of the professor's counsel that reads: "Some there are whose talent lies only in finding new sweets; 'tis by no means enough to spend all one's care on a single point — just as if someone were anxious only that his wines be good, but cared not what oil he poured upon his fish."
Though displaying knowledge of a good spread, Horace writes in favour of a more modest lifestyle, like in II.xvi, in which he writes of a nobelman who lives simply. I will be generous with how much I quote because I particularly like these lines about the needlessness of pursuing other shores when one has (sweets) enough before one: "Why crave new suns? What exile from his country Flies himself also? Diseased Care ascends the brazen galley, And rides amidst the armed men to the battle, Fleeter than stag, and fleeter than, when driving Rain-clouds, the east wind. The mind, which now is glad, should hate to carry Its care beyond the Present; what is bitter With easy smile should sweeten: nought was ever Happy on all sides."
In those last few lines, he resolves the eternally-relevant philosophical problem of how to find happiness in difficulty, his words acting as the balsam he wrote of aspiring towards in I.xxxiii. We shall conclude on this soothing note with two more excerpts.
The beautifully sentimental "To Virgil" (IV.xii), which translators cannot agree upon (compare this translation), is a call to a feast (to a living/departed the/another Virgil). Let us imagine ourselves as Virgil invited in this way: "These, O my Virgil, are the days of thirst; But if, O client of illustrious youths, Calenian juices tempt, bring thou the nard, And with it earn my wine;...— Cask large enough to hold a world of hope, And drown a world of care. Quick! if such merriments delight thee, come With thine own contributions to the feast; Not like rich host in prodigal halls — my cups Thou shalt not tinge scot-free. But put aside delays and care of gain, Wamed, while yet time, by the dark death-fires; mix With thought brief thoughtlessness; to be unwise In time and place is sweet."
Reading those lines, one becomes imbibed by his song, it is so potent, affording the same effect as wine. In epode xiii he writes, "From thy bosom be lifled by wine and by song; Soothers they of a converse so sweet, it can charm All the cares which deform our existence away."
That is my definition, in response to today's prompt in the August Break, of sweet delight, particularly the part about song. But to emulate Horace's breadth and end this post on literal sweetness is the photo, depicting blender ice-cream of frozen banana and berries, sweetened with vanilla and honey. Perhaps I am that very 'professor' cited in the satire.
Brush: pfefferminzchen at DeviantART