Horace: The Epistles
Book I: Epistle V
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2005 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
If you can bear to recline at dinner on a couch
By Archias, and dine off a modest dish of greens,
Torquatus, Iíll expect to see you here at sunset.
Youíll drink wine bottled in Taurusí second term,
Near Sinuessa. If youíve better, have it brought,
Or obey orders! The hearthís bright, the furnitureís
Already been straightened. Forget airy hopes, the fight
Gives us a reason for sleeping late: weíre free to spend
A summerís night in pleasant talk with impunity.
Whatís the use of my fortune if I canít enjoy it?
The man who scrimps and saves on behalf of his heirs,
Too much, is next to mad. Iíll start the drinking, scatter
Flowers, and even allow you to think me
What canít drunkenness do? It unlocks secrets, and makes
Secure our hopes, urges the coward on to battle,
Lifts the weight from anxious hearts, teaches new skills.
Whom has the flowing wine-bowl not made eloquent?
Whom constrained by poverty has it not set free?
Hereís what, willing and able, I commit myself
To provide: no dirty seat-covers, no soiled napkins
To offend your nose, no plate or tankard where you canít
See yourself, no one to carry abroad whatís spoken
Between good friends, so like may meet and be joined
And Sabinus unless heís detained by a prior
Engagement, and a prettier girl. Thereís room too
For your Ďshadowsí: but goatish smells spoil overcrowded
Feasts. You reply with how many you want, then drop
Your affairs: out the back, evade the client in the hall! †
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† End of Book I Epistle V
Previous Epistle Next Epistle