A Dative or an Ablative

“In 1741 Sir Robert Walpole, defending himself in Parliament against an impeachment proceeding brought by William Pulteney, concluded with the pious hope, drawn from Horace, that he had been guilty of nothing, and need grow pale at no wrongdoing: ‘Nil conscire sibi nulli pallescere culpae.’ Pulteney leapt at once — but to correct the grammar of the Horatian tag: ‘Your Latin is as bad as your logic: nullA pallescere culpA!’ So delicate a textual point — whether Horace had written a dative or an ablative — could not be left unresolved. A guinea was wagered upon it, and the matter was appealed to the clerk of Parliament, who quickly rejected Walpole’s reading in favor of Pulteney’s. Such widely shared learning is hard to imagine now, but it would be even harder had it been displayed over the body of any poet other than Horace. The friend of Virgil, Maecenas, and the emperor Augustus, he has commended himself with equal address to generations of Europeans, and to the English in particular. One of Thackeray’s characters was quite content with an education that enabled one to ‘quote Horace respectably through life.’ Nor is it Horace’s words alone that we cherish. We peep and botanize upon his grave, investing him with a kind of posthumous personality. ‘Fat, beery, beefy Horace’ was the image purveyed to schoolchildren, who were encouraged to view him as a kind of superior scout-master, or freshman adviser. His followers seem to agree, archly, even upon the glint in his eye and the likelihood that, given the opportunity, he would have smoked a pipe or a good cigar.” (Steele Commager, Honest Eggs?)