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This webpage reproduces an article in the
of the American Philological Association

Vol. 43 (1912), pp67‑72

The text is in the public domain.

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 p67  The Ferentinum of Horace
By Professor Walton Brooks McDaniel
University of Pennsylvania

A little note on a few lines of Horace, filling one of the interstices between more important papers, may tempt a sarcastic layman to remark that Philology, like her patron saint, always finds some work for idle hands to do. But possibly the hands that wrote this minusculum opusculum were anything but idle, and there is always the excuse that small things will occasionally settle big ones. The form of a single letter scratched on the toe of a statue determines its date; the gender of a single mutilated participle in a Sapphic stanza may take away the last remnant of character from the tenth muse. Moreover, if there is any one author whose text and interpretation we would have just right, it is Horace, and so, if the traditional view of his Epistles, I.17.6‑8 is wrong, as I believe it is, it will be well to correct it.

In these lines the poet says to Scaeva: "If you are pleased with grateful quiet and with sleep to the first hour of the day," Si te grata quies et primam somnus in horam Delectat, "if the dust and rumble of wheels and a tavern offend you," si te pulvis strepitusque rotarum, Si laedit​1 caupona, "I shall bid you go to Ferentinum," Ferentinum ire iubebo. He then says, no doubt with reference to his Ferentinum, that joys are not the good fortune of the rich alone, nor has he had a bad life whose death and birth have been unnoticed.

There is general agreement that the first condition, Si te grata quies et primam somnus in horam Delectat, refers to the social duties of city life, which allowed a man no quiet, and cut short his sleep. It is needless to cite passages to prove the well-known fact that morning callers were already  p68 on the street long before the first hour of the day,​2 which with the second Martial assigns to the salutatio:

IV.8.1 prima salutantes atque altera conterit (continet) hora.

It is in the following words that our first difficulty arises. Ancient scholiasts​3 seem to have been in doubt and modern editors dispute with feeling whether we are to consider pulvis strepitusque rotarum and the caupona, "the dust and din of the wheels" and "the tavern," as ordinary afflictions of urban life, or rather as discomforts that one endured when he journeyed into the country, as the comes of his patronus. Should we wish to reckon them annoyances of city life, we can adduce passages to prove the dirtiness​4 of Roman pavements, the heavy wagoning​5 through the streets, even under the limitations of restrictive legislation, and the noisy, disorderly character​6 of the ordinary caupona. But while dirty, noisy streets would still affect the dweller in a quiet quarter, where there was no teaming, if he made the rounds of his social duties, surely there was no officium to compel him either to enter a caupona in the city, or to take up his residence near one. The caupona, therefore, that Horace had in mind must have been one of those deversoria, as he elsewhere​7 calls them, that a traveller outside of Rome was sometimes forced to visit, and the din and dust of wheels are discomforts of the highroad that one could not avoid when journeying in the retinue of a great man. How inevitable such trips were for the client the experience of Philippus proves, who, as Horace puts it:

Ep. I.7.75 mane cliens et iam certus conviva, iubetur

rura suburbana indictis comes ire Latinis.

 p69  The reader will remember, too, that our poet's intimacy with Maecenas was such as to make him one quem tollere raeda vellet iter faciens,​8 but however flattered he may have felt when his patron invited him to share his carriage, the joys of the journey itself were few indeed. In fact, his poem​9 on the trip to Brundisium reads like a diary of travel in the wildest sections of Sicily to‑day; there is no mention of exquisite scenery, much less of a Bertolini hotel, but such expressions as hospitio modico, cauponibus malignis, gravis Appia, milia tria repimus, the veterem culinam at Beneventum, the montes, quos nunquam erepsemus, nisi, etc., Rubros fessi pervenimus, and the reason for the weariness, followed by the statement that the next day they had a via peior, a still worse road. As he informs us in one of his epistles,​10 a country inn or road-house was a place that one might welcome as a refuge, when drenched with rain and bespattered with mud, imbre lutoque aspersus, but never as a permanent residence. Moreover, in the very poem of our discussion, verses 52 ff. tell us of the curse of travel; for we have characterized for us a type of man that, when taken as a comes to Brundisium or lovely Surrentum, complains of the salebrae on the road, that is to say, of the "thank‑ye-marms,"º as they call them in the White Mountains of New Hampshire; and in the Pseudo-Ovidian Nux, verses 87 ff., we find the good fortune of the tree that grows in the country, secreto in arvo,​11 remote from a highway, described in words: Non hominum strepitus audit non illa rotarum, Non a vicina pulverulenta via est, which so closely resemble those of Horace as to lead us to interpret our pulvis strepitusque rotarum also as a reference to the great roads outside of Rome, and not to the city streets. To me personally, therefore, the second interpretation seems almost certain, even though Müller​12 would term it "sehr irrig," and Obbarius​13 reckons it a case of "improba subtilitas."

 p70  But in whatever way we may define Horace's picture of the client's social miseries, we have still to determine what sort of place he would name as an asylum from them. If, in spite of the arguments just presented, the view of many editors is still to be maintained that the dust and noise are of city streets, then poet's choice of Ferentinum will be absurd, unless that place is no bigger than a hamlet. If, on the other hand, Horace is merely mentioning extra-mural trips with a patron as a vexation added to that of the morning call, we must again find in Ferentinum some tiny place where such social life would be inconceivable, but neither the Etruscan nor the Hernican town, which are the alternatives suggested by our editors, really fills the requirements at all. Quiet could not have made her home in those communities, nor could Horace's nec vixit male qui natus moriensque fefellit have its full significance, if either of such important localities was intended.

To speak first of the Etruscan town, now termed, in its ruined state, Ferento, can anybody stand, as the writer did recently, on one of its fine basaltic pavements, meditate on the deafening racket that vehicles must have made in passing over them, and gaze on the proofs of the town's importance, the theatre, baths, and other buildings without wondering why Dennis, in his still useful and admirable guidebook, The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, heads his chapter​14 on the place with the lines of Horace? Surely many of the Horatian scholars who have made the same identification,​15 and perhaps even Forbiger, the author of our three-volume Handbuch der alten Geographie,​16 never saw with their own eyes the ruins of that civitas splendidissima, as it is termed in an inscription.​17 It is there, too, that Suetonius​18 and Tacitus​19 locate the highly distinguished ancestry of the emperor Otho, and a just-discovered inscription supports their statement.​20 But  p71 in addition to the size and social distinction of the town, there is something still more adverse to making it the Ferentinum of Horace. Hülsen has shown​21 pretty conclusively that this Etruscan place throughout all its history was properly called Ferentis or Ferentium, and not Ferentinum.22

If, then, the Ferentinum of Horace cannot be the Etruscan town, are we to choose Hernican Ferentinum with Hülsen,​23 Nissen,​24 Gemoll,​25 Bunbury,​26 Mommsen​27 and more than a score of editors?​28 Both the size and importance​29 of the place throughout the republican period and well into the empire would make this an unreasonable assumption, even had we no knowledge of a third Ferentinum, which, because of its greater familiarity to Horace's Roman readers and its minute size, is precisely the place that he would mention as a refuge from the sleeplessness, noise, and social exactions of a town or city. This is the hamlet mentioned by Dionysius of Halicarnassus​30 as Φερεντῖνον, near the Aqua Ferentina​31 and Lucus Ferentinae,​32 where the cities of the Latin league used to hold their general assemblies. This spring and grove were in the Alban region, but probably not where the earliest topographers put them, near Marino.​33 The Aqua Ferentina seems rather to have been the outlet of the Lake of Nemi, which flows in the valley of Aricia towards Ardea.34

After arriving at this identification of Ferentinum,​35 I hunted  p72 diligently through scores of commentaries to see if anybody had forestalled me, — a common discovery in Horatian criticism, if one only makes a thorough search, — but only in the rare work by Capmartin de Chaupy, La Découverte de la Maison de Campagne d'Horace,​36 do I find the same opinion. He merely states it in a topographical review of various Latin towns, without discussing the Horatian problems at all, and only Obbarius​37 of all the editors seems to be acquainted with the passage in the French work, and he accepts the suggestion without argument. So far, therefore, as numbers as concerned I can rally no army from the past to the support of my view. Possibly, too, the correct identification of Ferentinum, or even its proper placing on the map of Italy, will not greatly enhance the sum of human felicity. But in the settlement of the question it is apparent that there is a much more important problem involved that has not yet been adequately treated, and that is the determination of the extent to which the social life of the capital was reproduced in miniature even in insignificant communities. Upon this I have already done some work.​38 In the meantime, there is perhaps in another world some ghostly fellow who, having once lived by the Ferentine waters, will thank me for my plea in behalf of the little place where he natus moriensque fefellit, and certain others who will be no less grateful for this attempt to relieve the Etruscan and the Hernican towns from the age-long reproach of having died before their time.

The Author's Notes:

1 The laedet of some MSS. is easily accounted for on the theory of assimilation to the future iubebo in the same line.

2 E.g., Mart. X.70.5, non resalutantis video nocturnus amicos.

3 Acro on vss. 1 and 7‑8, including the passage on vs. 1 omitted by γ.

4 Horace's Ep. II.2.75; Martial, III.36.4; X.10.8.

5 In Horace's Odes, III.29.12, strepitumque Romae. For the wagons, cf. e.g. Horace, Ep. II.2.73‑74; Tibullus, II.3.43 f.; Juv. III.236 ff. and 254; Mart. V.22.7.

6 Marquardt-Mau, Das Privatleben d. Röm. 470. Of course, good inns were occasionally to be found, Friedländer, Sittengesch.7 I.313‑314.

7 Epist. I.15.10.

8 Sat. II.6.40. Cf. also Sat. I.6.101, atque salutandi plures, ducendus et unus | et comes alter, uti ne solus rusve peregreve | exirem.

9 Sat. I.5.

10 I.11.11.

11 Compare vss. 124 and 127.

12 L. Müller, Ed. of 1893.

13 Hor. Epist. II2, p364.

14 Vol. I3, p156.º

15 E.g. Ritter, p349; Walckenaer, Histoire de la Vie et des Poésies d'Horace, II2.164, note 1.

16 III, 434.

17 Found at Viterbo, Orelli, 3507 = CIL XI, 3007.

18 Oth. 1.

19 Hist. II.50.1.

20 B. Com. Roma, XXXIX (1911), 283‑285.

21 Pauly's Real. Encyclopädie d. Class. Altertumsw. VI2, 2209.

22 The evidence given by Bunbury in Smith's Dict. of Geogr. in favor of the form Ferentinum depends on incorrect readings.

23 Loc. cit.

24 Italische Landeskunde, II, 653, note 7.

25 Die Realien bei Horaz, Heft 3, p144.

26 Loc. cit.

27 CIL X, p572.

28 E.g. Dacier, Doering,º Dillenberger, Kiessling, Krüger, Müller, Orelli.

29 Strabo, V.3.9 (= 237), knows it in his time as one of the ἐπίσημοι κατοικίαι καὶ πόλεις on the Via Latina. Compare Gellius, X.3.3; CIL X, 5837‑5840. CIL X.1.5853, which Nissen, p653, uses as evidence that it had a few thousand inhabitants, belongs to a much later time than Horace.

30 III.34 and 51; IV.45; V.61.

31 Livy, I.51; VII.25, but caput Ferentinum, Liv. II.38; cf. Festus, 241.8 ; I suspect that Jul. Obs. 86 may refer to it.

32 Livy, 1.50 and 52.

33 E.g. Gell, Top. of Rome and Its Vicinity, I, 230.

34 Nissen, Ital. Landeskunde, II, 558, followed by Hülsen, l.c.

35 Livy's accounts, X.17 and 34, make it likely that still another Ferentinum, that in Samnium, did not survive the Samnite Wars.

36 Vol. II, 30.

37 Hor. Epist. II2, p366: "in promptu enim est poetam, quum Ferentini mentionem faceret, id egisse ut locum quietum et vacuum ut 7.45; 11.7; 8.30 ob oculos poneret. quapropter mihi quidem magnopere probatur Capmartinii opinio."

38 In the works of Horace's contemporary Cicero alone there are several passages that show the prevalence of the salutatio at places outside of Rome, e.g. de Finibus, I.14; Philip. II.105, and everybody will recall Martial's lines on clientage at fashionable Baiae, I.59, and his disappointment in finding that even Bilbilis, the tiny mountain-village in Spain, reproduced the life of the capital; XII.68.1, matutine cliens, urbis mihi causa relictae | atria, si sapias, ambitiosa colas. There is considerable evidence on clientage at Pompeii; cf. CIL IV.593, 822, 933, 1011, 1016, 1124, 2925, 3366. For Formiae cf. Mommsen on CIL X.6094.

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