More from Horace

The Epistles of Horace
tr. David Ferry

from To Numicius (Book I)

When you have a pain in your belly or in your side,
You work on getting rid of it, don't you? Therefore,
If you want to live right (and who doesn't) and if
You agree that the only way to do it is
To learn to be good, then patiently settle down
To the work of getting rid of the faults you have.
But if you think tht goodness is nothing more
Than a matter of words, no more than that, and if
When you look at a forest, all you see is the wood,
Be very careful lest a competitor
Make it to port before you, taking away
The custom you had hoped for for your lumber.

While this is an interesting excerpt, the more interesting thing (an exercise left for the student) is to see how this passage compares to the whole and on what side Horace emerges at the end of his argument.


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