Andrew Lang.

Letters to Dead Authors online

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Online LibraryAndrew LangLetters to Dead Authors → online text (page 9 of 9)
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Your country's heroes are dear to you, Horace, but you did not sing them
better than your country's Gods, the pious protecting spirits of the
hearth, the farm, the field, kindly ghosts, it may be, of Latin fathers
dead or Gods framed in the image of these. What you actually believed
we know not, _you_ knew not. Who knows what he believes? _Parcus Deorum
cultor_ you bowed not often, it may be, in the temples of the state
religion and before the statues of the great Olympians; but the pure and
pious worship of rustic tradition, the faith handed down by the homely
elders, with that you never broke. Clean hands and a pure heart, these,
with a sacred cake and shining grains of salt, you could offer to the
Lares. It was a benignant religion, uniting old times and new, men
living and men long dead and gone, in a kind of service and sacrifice
solemn yet familiar.

Te nihil attinet
Tentare multa caede bidentium
Parvos coronantem marino
Rore deos fragilique myrto.

Immunis aram si tetigit manus,
Non sumptuosa blandior hostia
Mollivit aversos Penates
Farre pio et salienta mica. (1)

(1) Thou, Phidyle, hast no need to besiege the gods with
slaughter so great of sheep, thou who crownest thy tiny
deities with myrtle rare and rosemary. If but the hand be
clean that touches the altar, then richest sacrifice will
not more appease the angered Penates than the duteous cake
and salt that crackles in the blaze.'

Farewell, dear Horace; farewell, thou wise and kindly heathen; of
mortals the most human, the friend of my friends and of so many
generations of men.

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Online LibraryAndrew LangLetters to Dead Authors → online text (page 9 of 9)