More on "Terence"

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Here, to give you some more concrete direction in your comments, are the last three questions that accompany the poem in Sound and Sense. They zero in the significance of the poem's structure and Terence's philosophy, which as Evan suggests reflects Housman's own.


Mithridates (76) was a king of Pontus and a contemporary of Julius Caesar; his “tale” is told in Pliny’s Natural History. The poem is structured by its line spacing into four verse paragraphs. What is the connection of this last verse paragraph with the rest of the poem? What is the function of the other three?

Essentially, Terence assesses the value of three possible aids for worthwhile living. What are they? Which does Terence consider the best? What six lines of the poem best sum up his philosophy?

Many people like reading material that is cheerful and optimistic; they argue that “there’s enough suffering and unhappiness in the world already.” What, for Housman, is the value of pessimistic and tragic literature?

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