La Bruyère could have been a “lyric” poet—the Horatian kind, if we are allowed to include satires and epistles under the term lyric (I already hear the classical philologists objecting). If eloquence is the measure of excellence in discourse, as it was for La Bruyère, then poetry and prose differ mostly by the kinds of formal constraints they employ, but not in their essence. Granted, La Bruyère only rarely praises or celebrates, but Horace’s Odes contain many ironic, satirical portraits. The two of them are working from a common fund of topics. They are re-working the same material. Reading La Bruyère's aphorisms, I often have the impression that I am reading a prose translation of a classical poem. Is there perhaps a submerged model or set of models working in conjunction with La Bruyère's Theophrastus? Has La Bruyère, unwittingly, invented something like classical prose poetry?