Horace, Epistles 2.1.1-3
I have on my shelves a fascinating little book: H.E.P. Platt, Byways in the Classics, Oxford 1905, a collection of interesting little nuggets from classical authors. Platt begins his discussion of ‘cacophonous passages’ with this one, from the beginning of Horace’s epistle to Augustus. ‘Horace, in some lines written doubtless with peculiar care, falls into a sigmatism as unpleasant as that which deforms our own language,’ he writes. Are there too many s-sounds for comfort? Well, decide for yourself:
cum tot sustineas et tanta negotia solus,
res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes,
Since you alone support so many great matters,
defend Italy’s interests with your weapons, adorn it with your good character,
reform it with your laws.