- 1 Particular thanks to Bob Sharples, Emily Gowers and Kirk Freudenburg for their helpful comments.
- 2 Cf. Brown 1993 : 115.
- 3 Uniformity of behaviour, equity, fairness and equability are listed as definitions of aequabilitas (...)
1The third of Horace’s opening ‘diatribe’ satires is the most systematic in terms of the consequentiality of its argument.2 The argument runs, logically enough, as follows : after an opening section on consistency (aequabilitas)/inconsistency (a theme which runs throughout the satire), Horace turns to consistency in the appraisal of one’s own and one’s friends’ faults : there must be balance (aequabilitas) between the two, and this, practically, amounts to tolerance of friends’ faults (25-95). From 76 tolerance and fairness in appraising friends’ transgressions comes to include the judgment of crimes in society generally, and so introduces the section from 96 which deals with fairness (aequabilitas) in justice.3 The link between friendship and justice in Horace’s argument reflects the pre-existing link between these subjects in Hellenistic thought, both in Stoicism and Epicureanism. And the end of this last section (124-142) also acts as a conclusion to the whole satire, where Horace upholds tolerance and fairness in friendship and justice against Stoic rigidity and extremism.
- 4 Fraenkel 1957 : 86 ; Brown 1993 : 123. At 1.1.14, 120 and 1.2.134 Horace rather incidentally critic (...)
2Although the underlying philosophical concept that runs through Satire 1.3, aequabilitas, is (as we will see) mainly identifiable with the Stoics, in comparison with the other so-called ‘diatribe’ satires,1.3 is notable for its pronounced anti-Stoic stance.4 Horace’s ironic handling of this Stoic tenet, and of philosophical material throughout the satire has, as yet, been somewhat overlooked. This discussion concerns the particular way in which Horace links aequabilitas with moderation, to promote his own, mainly Epicurean view of friendship and tolerance ; the uncovering of irony introduced by the theme of aequabilitas ; and how Horace’s use of philosophical material throughout enhances the sentiment and structure of his argument.
- 5 Rudd 1966 : 1-35 ; Brown 1993 : 89-99 ; Armstrong 1964 : 86-96 ; 1989 ; 26-41.
3In so far as consistency (aequabilitas) is represented in 1.3, it is closely connected to moderation. There are in fact obvious connective similarities with the previous satire – 1.2, which explicitly concerned moderation in the conduct of one’s sex life – in the opening section of 1.3 ; and indeed 1.3 generally has been seen as a continuation of the moderation theme which runs through this first triad of ‘diatribe’ satires.5 For example, in 1.2 (1-4) Horace uses the death of Tigellius Sardus to introduce the theme of moderation ; in 1.3, from 3 to 19 Tigellius is described as someone who exemplified inconsistency. At 1.3.9 Horace defines Tigellius in the statement, nil aequale homini fuit illi, (reminiscent of nil medium est at 1.2.28) and then gives further examples of the man’s absurd inconsistency, which is summed up, or rather parenthesised, by the further statement : nil fuit umquam sic impar sibi (19) ; and this can be compared with the similarly parenthetical 1.2.24/1.2.28, in the opening preamble on moderation/excess in 1.2. The fact that Horace deliberately treats consistency as similar to moderation in this opening section – bearing in mind 1.2 – is significant when we come to view his inter-relation of philosophical ideas as the satire progresses.
- 6 Rudd 1966 : 277-8, n.46. On the Stoic tenor of much of De amicitia, see Powell 1990 : 18-19. As a c (...)
- 7 Dyck 1996 : 281.
4Importantly, and, as we will see, somewhat ironically in a poem which is largely an attack on Stoic extremism, aequabilitas was particularly upheld by the Stoics (e.g. Cicero De officiis 1.90 and 111 ; De amicitia 65 and 92) ;6 its implication not merely being adherence to the same behaviour pattern, but to behaviour that is consistently rational and controlled and therefore reliable, and unaffected by vicissitude. On aequabilitas as a Stoic tenet Dyck remarks, with reference to De officiis (a work which represents, particularly in books 1 and 2, the views of the Stoic Panaetius) : “The Stoics held that all the sage’s individual actions were correct and thus self-consistent (SVF 1. 52.27-29)… the self-consistency that Panaetius [in De officiis] recommends is thus modelled on that of the sage.”7 Also, the original Zenonian definition of the τέλος : ὁμολογουμένως ζῆν (to live in agreement) strongly suggests consistency, as does the later ὁμολογουμένως τῇ φύσει ζῆν – also referring to internal consistency in one’s life, and the Stoic notion of the well-flowing life, εὔροια βίου (LS 63A-B).
- 8 cf. the stately pace of Aristotle’s megalopsuchos (NE 1125a10-17), and Virgil Aeneid 1.46, where in (...)
5This self-consistency is very much a part of – in some respects practically indistinguishable from – moderation as part of temperate living ; and indeed Tigellius’ inconsistencies up to 19 could also be regarded as excesses. For example, his tendency was to walk too quickly or too slowly (9-11)8 or, at 15-17 :
…....... …decies centena dedisses
huic parco, paucis contento, quinque diebus
nil erat in loculis.
- 9 Translations of Satires 1 are from Brown 1993, with adaptations.
Suppose you’d given a million to this frugal, easily satisfied individual : within five days his pockets were sure to be empty.9
- 10 ... ut pomparum ferculis similes esse videamur, aut in festinationibus suscipiamus nimias celeritat (...)
- 11 See below, p. 16 on De amicitia.
- 12 Horace saw that the Stoics’ extreme position regarding the perfect kind of wisdom required to be a (...)
- 13 Gill 1994 : 4608.
- 14 In books 8 and 9 of the Nicomachean Ethics ; cf. below, notes 20, 22, 34 and 35.
- 15 e.g. Rudd 1966 : 1-35 ; Armstrong 1989 : 26-41, Brown 1993 : 89-90, 98, 101.
6The connection with the Stoics – and in particular Panaetius – as being upholders of consistency is perhaps specifically suggested in Tigellius’ inconsistent walking, since this is advised against in De officiis, at 1.131, where Cicero also refers to an excessively slow walk as looking like walking in a procession.10 Indeed, the references to consistency given above from De officiis and De amicitia uphold this relationship between consistency and moderation : consistency being regarded in a practical – one could feasibly say, Panaetian11 – light, rather than as strict, inflexible adherence to particular modes of thought and behaviour, as would be expected in the Stoic sage,12 even if the Stoic sage is the ideal model for aequabilitas ; indeed it is notable that the Panaetian De officiis 1 is where we find particular emphasis on the qualities of aequabilitas and constantia (consistency – in many contexts practically a synonym of aequabilitas).13 In this more practical context Horace would appear at first (1.3.1-24) to be supporting Panaetian Stoicism, but, as will become apparent, in 1.3 Horace takes on certain Stoic ideas discussed in the first book of De officiis, on consistency, reason (ratio), and the nature of human society and justice, and ironically uses them to attack Stoic extremism ; and in so doing Horace aligns these virtues, in particular that of consistency, with Epicurean moderation. It must also be noted that both moderation – the mean – and philia were central to Aristotelian ethics,14 and indeed the Aristotelian influence in the first three diatribe satires, which all deal with moderation and the mean to some extent, has been extensively covered,15 though here I focus on Horace’s particular concentration on the more recognisably Stoic idea of consistency, and his consequent alignment of it with Epicurean moderation.
7This alignment first becomes apparent when Horace moves on to discuss the subject of friendship at 25-53. In connection with the opening section on consistency, friendship is at first related to the inconsistent way in which men regard their friends’ faults as disproportionately greater than their own. This inconsistency is also immoderate, and in highlighting this point Horace alludes to Lucretius, comparing this tendency with that of lovers who go to the other extreme, by indulging or even praising their beloved’s shortcomings : 1.3.38-40 :
illuc praevertamur, amatorem quod amicae
turpia decipiunt caecum vitia, aut etiam ipsa haec
delectant, veluti Balbinum polypus Hagnae.
Let’s turn our attention to this point, that the unsightly defects of a girlfriend escape her lover, in his blindness, or even actually delight him, as Hagna’s wen did Balbinus.
- 16 In Sat. 1.2 Horace’s common sense advice on sexual behaviour involves a combination of the Aristote (...)
- 17 Ep. Men. 127ff : “One must reckon that of desires some are natural, some groundless ; and of the na (...)
8The allusion is to DRN 4.1153-54, and it is also reminiscent of Sat. 1.2.90ff where Horace says that one should not be too fussy, on the one hand, nor be too blind to a woman’s blemishes, on the other : the context in both involves the common sense of moderate detachment, and (in Sat. 1.2 in particular)16 of being satisfied with what is natural and necessary – according to the Epicurean view of moderation.17 Again, Horace also alludes to Lucretius at 43-49, in describing the indulgent way a father would regard his son’s faults :
at pater ut gnati, sic nos debemus amici
si quod sit vitium non fastidire : strabonem
appellat paetum pater, et pullum, male parvus
si cui filius est, ut abortivus fuit olim
But, supposing a friend has some defect, we ought, just like a father with his son, not to feel disgust at it ; a father talks of a cross-eyed son as ‘having a cast’, and calls him ‘wee chick’ if he’s woefully stunted like the midget Sisyphus…
- 18 Indeed, Horace’s explicit reference to this tendency in lovers, and his own comparison of father to (...)
- 19 cf. Plato, Republic 474d, Theocritus 10. 24-27 : R. Brown 1987 : 129.
- 20 As a factor in friendship and justice specifically, the idea of balance also has philosophical root (...)
9Here Horace inverts Lucretius’ list of the unctuous euphemisms which men attribute to their objects of desire at DRN 4.1160-69 (the comparison which Horace himself makes at 38-40)18 so as to support indulgence of faults rather than criticism.19 It may seem, in fact, that in suggesting that men indulge their friends’ faults he is suggesting a somewhat immoderate course of action. However, the point is clearly that such indulgence is necessary to counter the more excessive tendency for men to overlook their own faults and exaggerate those of their friends : indeed in a sense Horace is here advising an application of aequabilitas, as balance, from a detached, moderate Epicurean perspective.20
10Balance is thus apparent in Horace’s view that criticism of oneself should be consistent with criticism of one’s friends : i.e. do not be over-critical of friends and under-critical of oneself. To counteract such a tendency and so restore aequabilitas Horace suggests indulgence of friends’ faults. Horace’s advocacy of balance is in this respect ironically tempered by his use of philosophical material. Horace is using an Epicurean source (Lucretius) to back up the notion of aequabilitas (most identifiable with the Stoics) through the Epicurean view of moderate detachment in order to save oneself from an excessive tendency (one based on false/empty opinion), while in turn implicitly attacking Stoic inflexibility and extremism ; though the fact that the Stoics are the target of attack only becomes explicit from 96 with reference to the Stoic paradox, that all sins are equal.
11The reasoning behind Horace’s views on balance as tolerance can be seen to derive in other ways from Epicurean moderation. Between 68 and 75 he concludes that one should aim at fairness in regarding the faults of one’s friends, which is suggestive of moderation. At 68, nam vitiis nemo sine nascitur ; ‘for no one is born without faults’, seems to complement the Epicurean view expressed at 76-7, that faults cannot be eradicated :
denique, quatenus excidi penitus vitium irae
cetera item nequeunt stultis haerentia…
Again, since the fault of anger, and the others likewise which have a grip on the victims of folly, can’t be completely cut out….
12As Lucretius DRN 3.307-322 : 310 :
nec radicitus evelli mala posse putandumst.21
- 22 One may compare the Peripatetic notion, adopted by the Academics in opposition to the Stoics, that (...)
13The idea that one is born with faults and that they cannot be completely cut out suggests that for Horace one’s own faults can only, realistically, be moderated.22
- 23 Pseudo-acro commented that Horace’s use of the terms ratio and fors at Sat. 1.1.3 were references t (...)
- 24 e.g., De officiis : 1.12, 14, 20, 50, 107. See below : The Link between Friendship and Justice.
14Horace’s personal interpretation of ratio at 78 is another ironic jibe against the Stoics.23 Having made the point that one’s faults cannot be completely removed, Horace suggests that ratio be used in implementing a sense of balance and fairness in judging misdemeanours ; ratio – a quality particularly prized by the Stoics, and indeed by Cicero/ Panaetius in De officiis 124 – is thus brought in to uphold the Epicurean view of moderation and fairness against Stoic extremism, and the view, (irrational, in Horace’s opinion) at 96, that all sins are equal.
15So, in taking on the Stoic theme of consistency Horace aligns this with Epicurean moderation. And, as we will see, the ironic nature of this alignment of philosophical views, as well as his handling of the theme of consistency in other respects – in connection with friendship and tolerance, and in his subsequent use of philosophical sources – enhances this anti-Stoic position.
- 25 e.g., Freudenburg 2001 : 15-23 ; Turpin 1998 : 27-40 ; Dufallo (2000 : 79-90) notes the irony in Ho (...)
- 26 Indeed Dufallo (2000 ; 584) notes that this is itself a satirical allusion to Lucretius – Horace’s (...)
- 27 Fowler (2008 : 101) rightly maintains, in relation to Horace’s changeable philosophical stance in t (...)
16Horace’s use of philosophical material, sometimes tinged with humour, and the unstable, casual nature of the satire form has led some to doubt whether the philosophical content in these satires should be taken seriously at all.25 However, this view could come close to regarding the humour (which still relies on a knowledge of the philosophical material : the satirist as shoddy moralist), and instability of the form as essentially contradicting what Horace regards as a particular characteristic of satire at 1.24-25 (quamquam ridentem dicere verum/ quid vetat) :26 the mixture of the serious and the humorous ; indeed the underlying message, the truth (verum) is the important, moral purpose of Horatian satire.27
- 28 Turpin (1998) thinks we should regard the satirist in 1.1-3 as an incompetent Epicurean moralist, d (...)
- 29 cf. Fowler on Epistles 1 (2008 : 99-102), who argues that Horace as it were tries on different phil (...)
- 30 Whether or not the ‘diatribe’ was recognised as a literary genre at that time is irrelevant here : (...)
- 31 Hunter (1985) notes the ironic way in which Horace blurs friendship and flattery in Ep. 1.18 ; but (...)
17Certainly, to some extent we should be amused at the rather glib use of philosophical ideas to back up arguments involving how to conduct a (reasonably) contented sex life in 1.2, for example, as Turpin notes ;28 but this does not mean that the satirist should be seen wholly as an incompetent moralist, even if Horace does present the satirist persona as at times rather careless in his formulation of argument, and rather easy with certain philosophical dicta.29 As we will see in Satire 1.3, the association of philosophical ideas, Horace’s deliberate manipulation of them – even if sometimes so as to appear casual – in the end serves to put forward an underlying philosophical position ; if anything Horace’s apparently casual use of ethical doctrine, his humour, in fact, demonstrates a satirist who is very much in control of the moral content in his work, and who uses the instability and humour of satire to strengthen particular philosophical arguments and the underlying moral seriousness of the poems. Because of the casual, almost apparently ramshackle nature of the satires, ethics is put in a recognisable, practical context, as it was in the street sermon diatribes, from which Horace draws.30 The irony in the moralising should not be regarded as undermining the moral content or making it practically worthless – if that were the case the irony would lose much of its effect.31
- 32 Brown 1993 : 16. Indeed Shackleton Bailey (1982 : 23) notes that Horace, at 21-25, is criticising M (...)
18In Satire 1.3 Horace’s position with regard to aequabilitas is ironic, and this is first implied in the introductory section : Horace’s criticisms of the singer Tigellius (for his inconsistency) seem somewhat hypocritical set against his main argument from 25, which is tolerance of faults.32 More specifically, at 19-20 Horace imagines someone taking him to task about his criticisms of Tigellius :
….......................... nunc aliquis dicat mihi “quid tu ?
nullane habes vitia ? “immo alia et fortasse minora.
At this point someone may say to me “What about you ? Haven’t you any faults ?’ Yes, but others, and perhaps they’re smaller.
19The irony here is that, after having said this Horace actually goes on to criticise men who regard their own faults as less serious than those of the friends they criticise (25-37). Indirectly Horace is thus criticising himself : Horace himself, it seems, is being somewhat inconsistent. Also, a source of irony lies in the subject matter – criticism of intolerance of others’ faults (coupled with a disregard for one’s own faults) – since this would appear to be an odd subject for a satirist to attack : a primary function of the satirist being to be critical of others’ faults. In deftly, and ironically, showing how easy it is to fall prey to inconsistency, Horace actually exemplifies the seriousness – the truth – of the philosophical subject that runs through the poem : a good example of quamquam ridentem dicere verum/ quid vetat.
20It may also be noted that Horace’s satire is not particularly severe, and perhaps this pro-tolerance argument in 1.3 further suggests this. In Sat.1.4 too Horace maintains that his criticisms are reasonable : he is not writing satire simply to get cheap laughs (34-5), and will only criticise those who deserve it (65-70) – and this is further qualified by the fact that Horace rarely criticises contemporary individuals anyway. Indeed Horace’s argument for tolerance – however touched by irony – taken together with his proclaimed stance as a satirist in 1.4 suggests that he intends his satire to be regarded not so much as aggressive, outspoken (and funny) criticism, but as something gentler – his methods of persuasion, indeed, his irony, as more subtle. But Horace still sees himself as outspoken critic to some extent, as is shown by his wish to be seen in the literary tradition of Lucilius going back to Old Greek comedy.
21In any case, Horace’s stance in 1.3 in particular seems, ironically, somewhat inconsistent ; and this is very much dependent on his use of philosophical dogma : he apparently recommends Stoic aequabilitas, while subtly presenting himself as a poor practitioner of this virtue, and this is largely why he goes on to recommend tolerance of faults (which, as we will see, can be regarded as essentially anti-Stoic) : human beings are not perfect : nam vitiis nemo sine nascitur…68. Or, to put it another way, Horace’s interpretation of aequabilitas leads him towards Epicurean moderation and tolerance, rather than to Stoic extremism and inflexibility. The irony in Horace’s position as tolerant satirist, his inconsistency, and his general non-seriousness seem to act as a foil against the inflexible seriousness of the Stoic ideal of consistency, referred to explicitly from 96 to the end. So Horace’s irony in fact serves to strengthen a philosophical position.
22The thrust of the argument in favour of tolerance in friendship, indirectly introduced through the theme of aequabilitas, can be regarded as Epicurean. To begin with, it could be that such tolerance would in practice not be too demanding anyway, since perhaps for Horace friendships should only be formed with people of good character, as is suggested at Sat.1.6. 69-70 :
….............................. purus et insons
(ut me collaudem) si et vivo carus amicis…
If (to sing my own praises) I live a life which is pure and innocent and endears me to my friends…
- 33 Sent. Vat. 28 : ‘One must not approve of those who are excessively eager for friendship, nor those (...)
- 34 cf. Theophrastus : ‘judge before making friends, not make friends before judging them’ as quoted by (...)
23This would in fact be in line with the view that one should choose one’s friends after consideration, recommended by Epicurus (Sent. Vat. 28),33 as well as Laelius in Cicero’s De amicitia (78).34 However, although this idea would also find favour with the Stoics, the Stoic view that only the wise can have friendships (Diog. Laert. 7.124, LS 67B= Diog. Laert. 7.32-3) would be too extreme :
Friendship, they declare, exists only between the wise and good, by reason of their likeness to one another… (Diog. Laert. 7.124).
- 35 Although Aristotle (NE 1165b23-36) and Cicero (Amic. 77) both state that if the corresponding level (...)
- 36 That Panaetius was a source for De amicitia is based on the grounds that there are similarities bet (...)
- 37 The fact that for the Stoics the achievement of wisdom was a process (Sen. Ep. 72.6) meant that the (...)
- 38 Konstan 1997 : 113-114.
24Given that the Stoic qualification for wisdom was, practically speaking, unattainable, there would be no room for tolerance, as is implied in the polemical stance of Horace’s argument from 96.35 However, Fraisse (1974 : 348-373) has looked at the Stoic view of friendship in detail, making the point that the position that friendship only existed between the wise was an ideal and that moral progress towards such an ideal was also important. Also, it has been argued by Steinmetz (1967 : 191, 199) that the Stoic Panaetius was a source for Cicero’s De amicitia.36 Whether this is so or not, it seems likely that friendship could well have been treated in a more practical context by Panaetius, given his more practical approach to ethics generally (see note 12).37 But for Horace the extreme nature of the Stoic position that only the wise can enjoy friendship clearly calls for satirical criticism, and, indeed, the question of the possible Panaetian approach would still only be a later interpretation ; the extreme nature of the Stoic position, as it stands, is unequivocal.38
- 39 ‘All friendship is an intrinsic virtue, but it originates from benefiting.’ (tr. LS).
- 40 i.e., that what promotes safety is a natural good : RS 6, 7.
- 41 Rist (1980 : 28) argues this point from Sent. Vat. 15 – following Bailey’s text – where Epicurus sa (...)
- 42 Sent. Vat. 34 : ‘We do not need utility from our friends so much as we need confidence concerning t (...)
25But how Horace’s views on tolerance in friendship can be regarded as specifically Epicurean needs further explanation ; indeed it requires some discussion of the Epicurean view of friendship. For the Epicureans, friendship was an intrinsic virtue (Sent. Vat. 23)39 and living without friends a source of pain. This seems to originate in the idea that friendship promotes security (and a sense of security)40 through the mutual benefit of the parties involved : indeed it is said to originate from benefiting (Sent. Vat. 23). Thus one had to choose friendship to avoid a source of pain (and to avoid pain is to achieve pleasure). Such pain could, indeed, come both from the possible poverty, or injury (or fear of such), which could result from friendlessness, as well as from the lack of friendship as companionship, which is also a human need. Also, the Epicureans were aware that friendship can carry risks (Sent. Vat. 28). Clearly, if a friend were to meet with serious misfortune one should not abandon him (Diog. Laert. 10.120), but one should also remain in the friendship if the friend were committing some kind of injustice, provided the friend still behaved decently to oneself.41 Rist emphasises the Epicureans’ regard for pistis, trust, in friendship (Sent. Vat. 34),42 and that this was one of friendship’s particularly pleasurable qualities : the existence of this trust, in spite of the risks, is what makes the friendship genuine and, indeed, pleasurable.
- 43 Mitsis 1987 : 78-128 ; Annas 1993 : 43-4.
- 44 Cicero was critical of the Epicurean view of friendship as derived from utility and the enhancement (...)
- 45 This would be indicated by Sent. Vat. 23 (above) : δι’ ἑαυτήν αἱρετή ; friendship is ‘choiceworthy (...)
26However, Mitsis and Annas43 regard the Epicurean position on friendship as incompatible with Epicurean hedonism.44 For Annas the risks of friendship (in essence, the threat of pain) are at odds with the goal of pleasure. Mitsis is of the view that Epicurus in fact recognises an end in friendship completely separate from pleasure.45
27In response to Mitsis, and largely compatible with Rist, O’Connor claims that Epicurean friendship is in accordance with a hedonistic ethical system. By O’Connor’s reckoning, the kinds of risks in friendship that trouble Annas would barely exist in genuine Epicurean friendship (as Epicurus envisaged it). Epicurean friendship should be regarded rather as “friendly fellowship,”46 based on a mutual understanding of shared philosophical values : values which denounce greed, ambition, the fear of death, and even physical pain.
28Horace’s view of friendship is probably not quite the purist Epicurean kind described by O’Connor, although in the perhaps less ideal Epicurean friendship practised in 1st Century B.C. Rome, a sort of fellowship of the wise is implied in the idea of there being an agreement – foedus – as mentioned by Torquatus in Cicero, Fin. 1.66ff : the friendship is on Epicurean terms. This idea of such an agreement – for which Epicurus felt no need because within an Epicurean community the implications of such a contract would already be understood – is also in keeping with the importance of pistis (trust), emphasised by Rist. This trust would be strengthened by such an agreement, and in turn strengthen the friendship against risks. This sense of loyalty, of pistis,seems also to be at the heart of Horace’s views on the importance of tolerance in friendship in Satire 1.3, particularly in its diametric opposition to Stoic perfectionism and intolerance. It is certainly in keeping with Horace’s readiness to forgive minor misdemeanours (83-95), and to indulge friends’ faults on the basis that one is a friend, and that one is obliged to such loyalty, as at 33-35 :
….......at est bonus, ut melior vir
non alius quisquam, at tibi amicus…
But he’s a good man – there’s none better – he’s your friend…
29Indeed, in effect the only instances where one would question the nature of a friendship are when this trust, this agreement in friendship, is brought into question :
….....quid faciam si furtum fecerit, aut si
prodiderit commissa fide sponsumve negarii ? (94-95)
What am I to do if he commits theft, or betrays a trust or disowns his pledge ?
- 47 Adopting a position of tolerance in line with Epicureanism, and setting this against Stoic extremis (...)
30Clearly, this is why it is important to judge wisely before entering a friendship : that such an outcome does not arise. If one has trust based on an agreement between like-minded people, the risks of friendship are worth taking.47
31However, Horace’s essentially unequivocal position of favouring tolerance, which is most compatible with Epicureanism, is also not entirely without irony. At 63-67, when referring to his friendship with Maecenas, he depicts himself as being potentially subject to criticism :
simplicior quis et est, qualem me saepe libenter
obtulerim tibi, Maecenas, ut forte legentem
aut tacitum impellat quovis sermone molestus :
‘communi sensu plane caret’ inquimus. eheu,
quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam !
Or someone’s rather direct, which is how I may have often blithely shown myself to you, Maecenas – so as to interrupt a person who is reading or quietly reflecting, and to pester him with some chatter or other : ‘he’s quite devoid of consideration’ we pronounce. How blindly, alas, are we sanctioning an unkind precedent against ourselves !
32Even here there is a sense in which although harsh criticism of such behaviour might be excessive, Horace still recognises that this behaviour is irritating. Certainly we can agree with Horace that there is nothing wrong with being rather direct (simplicior), but his explanation of what this entails perhaps leaves us less sure. In fact, the pest, or ‘bore’ in 1.9 is momentarily brought to mind ; clearly Horace does not want to represent himself in that bad a light, but it would seem that his position is again tinged with irony. In fact sermone molestus may be a subtle, self-deprecating reference to the irritating nature of his own satire.48
- 49 Although the general and important point is that one should not over-react to minor transgressions, (...)
33Again, at 80ff Horace compares the possible extreme reaction of a master to a slave’s minor transgression of helping himself to left-overs (which is to have him crucified), with someone over-reacting to the minor offence of a friend by hating and avoiding him ;49 at 90ff Horace gives a few examples of the kinds of trivial offences he means :
comminxit lectum potus mensave catillum
Evandri manibus tritum deiecit ; ob hanc rem,
aut positum ante mea quia pullum in parte catini
sustulit esuriens, minus hoc iucundus amicus
sit mihi ?
He’s wet the couch while drunk, or knocked a bowl worn thin by the hands of Evander off the table : is this, or his having, in his hunger, helped himself to a chicken served up on my side of the dish, any reason why I should find him a less agreeable friend ?
- 50 cf. Turpin 1998 : 134.
34Although we should take Horace’s point at face value in the run of the argument – that one should forgive trivial faults, indeed overlook them (85) – there is again some irony here in that the misdemeanours mentioned would certainly cause most hosts considerable annoyance : esuriens can certainly be seen as somewhat tongue-in-cheek.50 Indeed, the behaviour here described takes place within the setting of the convivium, which is where we find uncouth behaviour elsewhere in the Satires (at 1.4.86ff and 2.8), and in these instances it is clearly presented as being objectionable. That said, the misdemeanours Horace describes in this passage (90ff) are presented either as accidental or at least not deliberately offensive, which is not the case in the behaviour of the boor-cum-satirist in 1.4 or Nasidienus in 2.8.
35Horace’s advocacy of tolerance of friends’ faults, couched within the Stoic notion of aequabilitas, would surely oppose the Stoic view that only the virtuous can have friends which to all intents and purposes means no one at all, given that the truly wise or virtuous man for the Stoics is as rare as the Phoenix.51 As we have seen, Horace presents his position somewhat ironically, and this is reflected in his use of philosophical material. The use of a Lucretian rhetorical device at 1.3.44-54 does not of itself indicate that Horace is promoting an Epicurean view, but the explicitly anti-Stoic stance which follows from 96, the importance of trust, and thus tolerance, in Epicurean friendship – even though even here there is a dash of irony – as well as these Lucretian echoes and the Epicurean enthusiasm for friendship generally, show that the preceding argument on tolerance of friends’ faults is Epicurean in spirit.
- 52 Cf. Satire 1.1 where the connection between mempsimoiria (unhappiness with one’s own lot, and envy (...)
- 53 Zeno, fr. 224, SVF i.54 ; Diog. Laert. 7.120. Ruch 1970 : 518-521, compartmentalises Horace’s argum (...)
36An important aspect of the satire’s progression is the link in Hellenistic thought between friendship and justice, and in the context of 1.3 one can perhaps regard Horace’s awareness and use of this link as somewhat ironic – though its aim is unambiguous enough : to enhance an anti-Stoic position.52 The satire’s argument, after the introductory preamble, consists of three sections – on tolerance in friendship (25-95), fairness in justice (96-123), and a final section in which Horace concludes his views on tolerance and fairness in friendship and justice against Stoic inflexibility and intolerance. The discussion of tolerance of friends’ faults effectively turns to one of justice at 96 and in so doing becomes explicitly anti-Stoic. This change is marked by the introduction of and consequent attack against the Stoic tenet that all transgressions are equal : quis paria esse fere placuit peccata (96).53 The progression from friendship to justice reflects the inter-relationship between these sociological subjects in Hellenistic thought, particularly in Stoicism, a point which has been overlooked by commentators.
- 54 The concept that one’s natural concern for oneself spreads outwards, by degrees, to include (ultima (...)
- 55 Ibid. : Cicero De finibus 3.63. De officiis 1.55-6.
- 56 Schofield 1995 : 191-212.
- 57 As at Off. 3.27, which is likely to represent the view of the second century BC Stoic, Antipater : (...)
37For the Stoics friendship and justice were connected through oikeiosis :54 the natural impulse of human beings to identify with other human beings.55 But perhaps more relevant to Horace’s discussion of friendship and justice – particularly in connection with aequabilitas – is what Cicero/Panaetius says about justice and oikeiosis in De officiis 1. Panaetius, as Schofield notes, takes a somewhat different approach from the traditional orthodox Stoic view.56 Rather than justice being a result of oikeiosis, due to altruism – people’s natural concern for others57 – Panaetius sees justice rather as a practical means by which one should protect the bonds in society which oikeiosis encourages, rather than as being a natural consequence of oikeiosis, as at Off.1.20 :
sed iustitiae primum munus est, ut ne cui quis noceat nisi lacessitus iniuria.
Of Justice, the first office is that no man should harm another unless he has been provoked by injustice. (tr. Atkins, Griffin 1991)
- 58 De tribus autem reliquis latissime patet ea ratio, qua societas hominum inter ipsos et vitae quasi (...)
- 59 Panaetius stresses that reason (ratio) is what is distinctive about human society (Off. 1.11-12) : (...)
38And this comes directly after the statement that kindness and generosity (clearly associated with friendship) are very much connected with justice :58 thus the link between friendship and justice through oikeiosis is also clear in this Panaetian context. In fact, at Off. 1.12, 1.14, Cicero/Panaetius remarks that the important factor in arriving at justice in order to protect human society is ratio, which, as we have seen, is the very notion which Horace himself uses to oppose the Stoic view (connected with justice) that all faults are equal. Indeed Panaetius’ stress on ratio in this respect is notable given Horace’s use of the term at 78,59 as is the fact that the quality of constantia is also referred to in this section (Off. 1.11-20,) i.e. at 1.12, 1.14, 1.17 : it seems likely that Horace had this discussion in De Officiis in mind when he came to write Sat. 1.3.
39In fact, Panaetius’ view of oikeiosis and its connection with justice – justice as a practical means to protect human society – is not dissimilar to Lucretius’ sentiments on the practical reason for justice60 at DRN 5.1019 :
tunc et amicitiem coeperunt iungere aventes
finitimi inter se nec laedere nec violari.
Then also neighbours began to join friendship amongst themselves in their eagerness to neither harm nor suffer violence.
40Or again for Epicurus (cf. RS 31) : the agreement between people not to harm each other – though the connection with friendship is also clear ; indeed Long regards the above passage as describing the “imagined origins” of friendship.61
- 62 Brown 1993 : 121.
- 63 More purely stylistic similarities include Horace’s use at 1.3.111 (fateare necessest) of a subjunc (...)
- 64 Brown 1993 : 124.
- 65 Ibid.
- 66 e.g., Mayer 2005 : 249. Though in fact the obscenity cunnus itself is not found in satire anywhere (...)
- 67 On this passage as an analogy of the history of Satire – the progression from physical confrontatio (...)
41It would seem, in fact, that Horace has Lucretius, and in particular the passage quoted above (5. 926ff) in mind in the narrative from 96-124, in its didactic style, language and imagery. Denique (76), used as in Lucretius to begin a new section in the argument,62 foreshadows the Lucretian-style polemic to come from 96, as does the aforementioned Lucretian idea that faults cannot be completely eradicated (76-77). At 109-111 the depiction of human beings, pre-justice, as snatching random love (Venerem incertam) echoes DRN 5.962 ; more ferarum (109) directly echoes Lucretius 5.932.63 Horace’s description of the arrival of language as being the starting point for civilised society (104-6) may also derive from what Lucretius says at greater length at 5.1011-91.64 At 107, the mention of Helen’s adultery with Paris, which is linked with Horace’s view of the possible violent repercussions from Venerem incertam, before the introduction of conventional law, may also be connected with Lucretius’ depiction of Paris’ love for Helen (which led to the Trojan War) at DRN 1.473-477.65 Although the use of the obscenity cunnus is clearly an obscene, satirical touch,66 it is also possible that cunnus is a pun on kunos (bitch) as rendered twice in the Iliad 6.344/356, where Helen is describing herself in such pejorative terms, as being the cause of war. Thus, this obscenity itself is linked to Homer, and in turn Lucretius.67
42But the fact that Horace is also likely to be aware of the connection between friendship and justice in Stoic, and more particularly Panaetian (as dictated by ratio) oikeiosis here is perhaps partly indicated by the fact that he begins this passage as an explicit attack against a Stoic position, as well as by the way in which Horace himself ironically uses ratio – as if from an Epicurean perspective – to make this attack. Horace’s critical response to the Stoic tenet that all sins are equal is that common sense is the best guide to justice, at 97-98 :
….. ....... sensus moresque repugnant
atque ipsa utilitas, iusti prope mater et aequi.
Instinct and tradition are ranged against them [i.e. the Stoics], and so is expediency, which is in essence the mother of justice and fairness.
- 68 For the Epicurean view of justice as conventional : RS 31, 32, 33 ; Lucretius DRN 5.1019-1027, 1143 (...)
- 69 LS 67R, 67S.
- 70 cf. Sat. 1.2.75-6, ac non fugienda petendis/ immiscere, (Brown 1993 : 12). cf. also Sat.1.4.115-6 : (...)
43Indeed the Epicurean view is that it is natural for justice (essentially an agreement not to harm or be harmed : RS 31) to develop in order to meet the needs of a given society.68 The Stoics, on the other hand, regarded law as divine reason,69 and thus inflexible. Thismakes what Horace says at 113-114 appear to be a reaction against Stoicism, and an affirmation of Epicureanism :70
nec natura potest iusto secernere iniquum
dividit ut bona diversis, fugienda petendis ;
nature cannot tell the unjust from the just as she marks off good things from bad, what is to be sought and what avoided.
44And this also lends weight to the thrust of Horace’s anti-Stoic, anti-inflexibility argument throughout the poem. That his position on friendship is anti-Stoic (i.e. before 96) is also suggested by the way in which the Stoic view that all faults are equal is initially brought in to conflict with his view on friendship : indeed this is effectively how Horace introduces the theme of justice. At any rate it would seem that a Stoic should regard a minor misdemeanour of a friend as tantamount to a serious offence, which is in keeping with the view that only the wise can enjoy true friendship and thus would not need to concern themselves with the business of forgiving or condemning a friend’s misdemeanours anyway. Thus, given the demonstrably anti-Stoic stance of his argument, it seems likely that Horace’s progression from friendship to justice shows an ironic awareness of the connection between friendship and justice found in Panaetius, through oikeiosis and the implementation of ratio, as rendered in Off. 1.11-20.
45The connection between friendship and justice through the common theme of tolerance is made explicit in the poem’s conclusion (124b-142). In fact, the link between this last section and the preceding polemic is incidentally made at 123-4a (si tibi regnum/ permittant homines ; ‘if men were to grant you regal power’). This is then picked up by an attack on the Stoic paradoxes that the wise man alone is rich, handsome and king. Then, at 137-142, Horace asserts that the Stoic wise man, because of his inflexible views on justice (and therefore friendship), and indeed his views of himself (as at 124b-133), will in fact be quite friendless, whereas Horace, in his relative Epicurean tolerance, will never be short of friends :
ne longum faciam : dum tu quadrante lavatum
rex ibis neque te quisquam stipator ineptum
praeter Crispinum sectabitur, et mihi dulces
ignoscent, si quid peccaro stultus, amici,
inque vicem illorum patiar delicta libenter,
privatusque magis vivam te rege beatus. (137-142)
To put it briefly : while you, king that you are, go to bathe for your farthing with no escort to attend you save the absurd Crispinus, my kindly friends will pardon me if I, in my folly, commit some transgression, and I in turn will gladly put up with their offences, and in my private station I shall live a happier life than Your Royal Highness.
46Horace’s ironic use of philosophical material – his interpretation of a Stoic tenet, which he apparently upholds from an Epicurean perspective in order to attack Stoic inflexibility – detracts from any sense of the poet taking himself too seriously, in antithesis to the Stoic sage ; and supports a pro-tolerance, pro-moderation Epicurean view. This Epicurean interpretation of aequabilitas is at odds with the extreme Stoic view : to the Stoics, Horace’s application of aequabilitas would be illogical, since to them aequabilitas would in fact be compatible with intolerance : there is no room for human fallibility, for inconsistent behaviour.
47But Horace wants to champion aequabilitas – as consistency, balance, moderation and tolerance – and in so doing he takes an aspect of Stoic doctrine to enrich his own essentially Epicurean views of moderation, tolerance and trust. Although this position would seem illogical to a Stoic, Horace shows how this Stoic view of aequabilitas is itself extreme and absurd. Through the marriage of Stoic aequabilitas and Epicurean tolerance and pistis, Horace steers a path which is most sympathetic to the Epicureans. In his discussion of tolerance there is still a touch of irony, though this does not detract from the unequivocal, Epicurean thrust of his argument. The explicit attack against Stoicism from 96 suggests that at a re-reading of the satire, his apparent upholding of the Stoic tenet of aequabilitas at the outset ought to be taken with a pinch of salt. And this anti-Stoicism, from 96 to the end, also suggests an ironic awareness of the Panaetian link between friendship and justice through oikeiosis, as dictated by ratio : again, in his argument, Horace sides with the link between friendship and justice as indicated in Lucretian, Epicurean terms, and ratio is used by Horace to undermine the unreasonable Stoic position that all sins are equal. Horace’s anti-Stoic agenda is founded on an ironic awareness – and use – of Stoic thought, which is in turn interpreted from an Epicurean perspective. He uses the tenet of aequabilitas to lend irony to his own position, but also to define it as a distinctly personal, anti-Stoic one.