Horace: The Odes
Translated by A. S. Kline © 2003 All Rights Reserved
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Horace fully exploited the metrical possibilities offered to him by Greek lyric verse. I have followed the original Latin metre in all cases, giving a reasonably close English version of Horaceís strict forms. Rhythm not rhyme is the essence. Please try reading slowly to identify the rhythm of the first verse of each poem, before reading the whole poem through. Counting syllables, and noting the natural rhythm of individual phrases, may help. Those wishing to understand the precise scansion of Latin lyric verse should consult a specialist text. The Collins Latin Dictionary, for example, includes a good summary. The metres used by Horace in each of the Odes, giving the standard number of syllables per line only, are listed at the end of this text (see the Index below).
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O my protector, and my sweet glory,
some are delighted by showers of dust,
Olympic dust, over their chariots, they
are raised to the gods, as Earthís masters, by posts
clipping the red-hot wheels, by noble palms:
this man, if the fickle crowd of Citizens
compete to lift him to triple honours:
that one, if heís stored away in his granary
whatever he gleaned from the Libyan threshing.
The peasant who loves to break clods in his native
fields, wonít be tempted, by living like Attalus,
to sail the seas, in fear, in a Cyprian boat.
The merchant afraid of the African winds as
they fight the Icarian waves, loves the peace
and the soil near his town, but quickly rebuilds
his shattered ships, unsuited to poverty.
Thereís one who wonít scorn cups of old Massic,
nor to lose the best part of a whole day lying
under the greenwood tree, or softly
close to the head of sacred waters.
Many love camp, and the sound of trumpets
mixed with the horns, and the warfare hated
by mothers. The hunter, sweet wife forgotten,
stays out under frozen skies, if his faithful
hounds catch sight of a deer, or a Marsian
wild boar rampages, through his close meshes.
But the ivy, the glory of learned brows,
joins me to the gods on high: cool groves,
and the gathering of light nymphs and satyrs,
draw me from the throng, if Euterpe the Muse
wonít deny me her flute, and Polyhymnia
wonít refuse to exert herself on her Lesbian lyre.
And if you enter me among all the lyric poets,
my head too will be raised to touch the stars.
and snow to earth already, striking
sacred hills with fiery hand,
to scare the city,
and scare the people, lest again
we know Pyrrhaís age of pain
when Proteus his sea-herds drove
across high mountains,
and fishes lodged in all the elms,
that used to be the haunt of doves,
and the trembling roe-deer swam
the whelming waters.
We saw the yellow Tiberís waves
hurled backwards from the Tuscan shore,
toppling Numaís Regia and
the shrine of Vesta,
far too fierce now, the fond river,
in his revenge of wronged Ilia,
drowning the whole left bank, deep,
Our children, fewer for their fatherís
vices, will hear metal sharpened
thatís better destined for the Persians,
and of battles too.
Which gods shall the people call on
when the Empire falls in ruins?
With what prayer shall the virgins
tire heedless Vesta?
Whom will Jupiter assign to
expiate our sins? We pray you,
come, cloud veiling your bright shoulders,
or laughing Venus Erycina,
if you will, whom Cupid circles,
or you, if you see your children
you sated from the long campaign,
who love the war-shouts and the helmets,
and the Moorís cruel face among his
Or you, winged son of kindly Maia,
changing shape on earth to human
form, and ready to be named as
Donít rush back to the sky, stay long
among the people of Quirinus,
no swifter breeze take you away,
unhappy with our
sins: here to delight in triumphs,
in being called our prince and father,
making sure the Medes are punished,
lead us, O Caesar.
and Helenís brothers, the brightest of stars,
and father of the winds, Aeolus,
confining all except Iapyga, guide you,
ship, that owes us Virgil, given
to your care, guide you to Atticaís shores,
bring him safely there I beg you,
and there watch over half of my spirit.
Triple bronze and oak encircled
the breast of the man who first committed
his fragile bark to the cruel sea,
without fearing the fierce south-westerlies
fighting with the winds from the north,
the sad Hyades, or the raging south,
master of the Adriatic,
whether he stirs or he calms the ocean.
What form of death could he have feared,
who gazed, dry-eyed, on swimming monsters,
saw the waves of the sea boiling,
and Acrocerauniaís infamous cliffs?
Useless for a wise god to part
the lands, with a far-severing Ocean,
if impious ships, in spite of him,
travel the depths he wished inviolable.
Daring enough for anything,
the human race deals in forbidden sin.
That daring son of Iapetus
brought fire, by impious cunning, to men.
When fire was stolen from heaven
its home, wasting disease and a strange crowd
of fevers covered the whole earth,
and deathís powers, that had been slow before
and far away, quickened their step.
Daedalus tried the empty air on wings
that were never granted to men:
Herculesí labours shattered Acheron.
Nothingís too high for mortal men:
like fools, we aim at the heavens themselves,
sinful, we wonít let Jupiter
set aside his lightning bolts of anger.
the ropes are hauling dry hulls towards the shore,
The flock no longer enjoys the fold, or the ploughman the fire,
no more are the meadows white with hoary frost.
Now Cytherean Venus leads out her dancers, under the pendant moon,
and the lovely Graces have joined with the Nymphs,
treading the earth on tripping feet, while Vulcan, all on fire, visits
the tremendous Cyclopean forges.
Now its right to garland our gleaming heads, with green myrtle or flowers,
whatever the unfrozen earth now bears:
now itís right to sacrifice to Faunus, in groves that are filled with shadow,
whether he asks a lamb, or prefers a kid.
Pale death knocks with impartial foot, at the door of the poor manís cottage,
and at the princeís gate. O Sestus, my friend,
the span of brief life prevents us from ever depending on distant hope.
Soon the night will crush you, the fabled spirits,
and Plutoís bodiless halls: where once youíve passed inside youíll no longer
be allotted the lordship of wine by dice,
or marvel at Lycidas, so tender, for whom, already, the boys
are burning, and soon the girls will grow hotter.
urges you on, there, among showers of roses,
deep down in some pleasant cave?
For whom did you tie up your hair,
with simple elegance? How often heíll cry at
the changes of faith and of gods, ah, heíll wonder,
surprised by roughening water,
surprised by the darkening storms,
who enjoys you now and believes youíre golden,
who thinks youíll always be single and lovely,
ignoring the treacherous
breeze. Wretched are those you dazzle
while still untried. As for me the votive tablet
that hangs on the temple wall reveals, suspended,
my dripping clothes, for the god,
who holds power over the sea.
by Varius, winged with his Homeric poetry,
whatever fierce soldiers, with vessels or horses,
have carried out, at your command.
Agrippa, I donít try to speak of such things,
not Achillesí anger, ever unyielding,
nor crafty Ulyssesí long sea-wanderings,
nor the cruel house of Pelops,
Iím too slight for grandeur, since shame and the Muse,
whoís the power of the peaceful lyre, forbids me
to lessen the praise of great Caesar and you,
by my defective artistry.
Who could write worthily of Mars in his armour
Meriones the Cretan, dark with Troyís dust,
or Tydides, who with the help of Athene,
was the equal of all the gods?
I sing of banquets, of girls fierce in battle
with closely-trimmed nails, attacking young men:
idly, as Iím accustomed to do, whether
fancy free or burning with love.
or Ephesus, or Corinth on the Isthmus,
or Thebes thatís known for Bacchus, or Apolloís isle
of Delphi, or Thessalian Tempe.
Thereís some whose only purpose is to celebrate
virgin Atheneís city forever,
and set indiscriminately gathered olive on their heads.
Many a poet in honour of Juno
will speak fittingly of horses, Argos, rich Mycenae.
As for me not even stubborn Sparta
or the fields of lush Larisa are quite as striking,
as Albuneaís echoing cavern,
her headlong Anio, and the groves of Tiburnus,
and Tiburís orchards, white with flowing streams.
Bright Notus from the south often blows away the clouds
from dark skies, without bringing endless rain,
so Plancus, my friend, remember to end a sad life
and your troubles, wisely, with sweet wine,
whether itís the camp, and gleaming standards, that hold you
or the deep shadows of your own Tibur.
They say that Teucer, fleeing from Salamis and his
father, still wreathed the garlands, leaves of poplar,
round his forehead, flushed with wine, and in speech to his friends
said these words to them as they sorrowed:
ĎWherever fortune carries us, kinder than my father,
there, O friends and comrades, weíll adventure!
Never despair, if Teucer leads, of Teucerís omens!
Unerring Apollo surely promised,
in the uncertain future, a second Salamis
on a fresh soil. O you brave heroes, you
who suffered worse with me often, drown your cares with wine:
tomorrow weíll sail the wide seas again.í
say why youíre set on ruining poor Sybaris, with passion:
why he suddenly canít stand
the sunny Campus, he, once tolerant of the dust and sun:
why heís no longer riding
with his soldier friends, nor holds back the Gallic mouth, any longer,
with his sharp restraining bit.
Why does he fear to touch the yellow Tiber? Why does he keep
away from the wrestlerís oil
like the viperís blood: he wonít appear with arms bruised by weapons,
he who was often noted
for hurling the discus, throwing the javelin out of bounds?
Why does he hide, as they say
Achilles, sea-born Thetisí son, hid, before sad Troy was ruined,
lest his male clothing
had him dragged away to the slaughter, among the Lycian† troops?
and the labouring woods bend under the weight:
see how the mountain streams are frozen,
cased in the ice by the shuddering cold?
Drive away bitterness, and pile on the logs,
bury the hearthstones, and, with generous heart,
out of the four-year old Sabine jars,
O Thaliarchus, bring on the true wine.
Leave the rest to the gods: when theyíve stilled the winds
that struggle, far away, over raging seas,
youíll see that neither the cypress trees
nor the old ash will be able to stir.
Donít ask what tomorrow brings, call them your gain
whatever days Fortune gives, donít spurn sweet love,
my child, and donít you be neglectful
of the choir of love, or the dancing feet,
while life is still green, and your white-haired old age
is far away with all its moroseness. Now,
find the Campus again, and the squares,
soft whispers at night, at the hour agreed,
and the pleasing laugh that betrays her, the girl
whoís hiding away in the darkest corner,
and the pledge thatís retrieved from her arm,
or from a lightly resisting finger.
Iíll sing of you, who wise with your training, shaped
the uncivilised ways of our new-born race,
with language, and grace
in the ways of wrestling, you the messenger
of Jove and the gods, and the curved lyreís father,
skilful in hiding whatever pleases you,
with playful deceit.
While he tried to scare you, with his threatening voice,
unless you returned the cattle youíd stolen,
and so craftily, Apollo was laughing
missing his quiver.
And indeed, with your guidance, Priam carrying
rich gifts left Troy, escaped the proud Atridae,
Thessalian fires, and the menacing camp
You bring virtuous souls to the happy shores,
controlling the bodiless crowds with your wand
of gold, pleasing to the gods of the heavens
and the gods below.
whether your fate or mine, donít waste your time on Babylonian,
futile, calculations. How much better to suffer what happens,
whether Jupiter gives us more winters or this is the last one,
one debilitating the Tyrrhenian Sea on opposing cliffs.
Be wise, and mix the wine, since time is short: limit that far-reaching hope.
The envious moment is flying now, now, while weíre speaking:
Seize the day, place in the hours that come as little faith as you can.
on the high pitched flute or the lyre, Clio?
Whose name will it be that joyfully resounds
in playful echoes,
either on shadowed slopes of Mount Helicon,
or on Pindusís crest, or on cool Haemus,
where the trees followed thoughtlessly after
that held back the swift-running streams and the rush
of the breeze, by his mother the Museís art,
and seductively drew the listening oaks
with enchaining song?
Which shall I sing first of the praises reserved
for the Father, who commands mortals and gods,
who controls the seas, and the land, and the worldís
From whom nothingís born thatís greater than he is,
and thereís nothing thatís like him or near him,
though Athene has honour approaching his,
sheís bravest in war:
I wonít be silent about you, O Bacchus,
or you Diana, virgin inimical
to wild creatures, or you Apollo, so feared
for your sure arrows.
Iíll sing Hercules, too, and Ledaís twin boys,
one famed for winning with horses, the other
in boxing. When their clear stars are shining bright
for those on the sea,
the storm-tossed water streams down from the headland,
the high winds die down, and the clouds disappear,
and, because they wish it, the menacing waves
repose in the deep.
I donít know whether to speak next, after those,
of Romulus, or of Numaís peaceful reign,
of Tarquinís proud axes, or of that younger
Catoís noble death.
Gratefully, I speak in distinguished verses
of Regulus: and the Scauri: and Paulus
careless of his life, when Hannibal conquered:
Of him, and of Curius with uncut hair,
and Camillus too, whom their harsh poverty
and their ancestral gods, and their ancient farms,
inured to struggle.
Marcellusí glory grows like a tree, quietly
with time: the Julian constellation shines,
among the other stars, as the Moon among
the lesser fires.
Father, and guardian of the human race,
son of Saturn, the care of mighty Caesar
was given you by fate: may you reign forever
with Caesar below.
Whether its the conquered Persians, menacing
Latium, that he leads, in well-earned triumph,
or the Seres and the Indians who lie
beneath Eastern skies,
under you, heíll rule the wide earth with justice:
youíll shake Olympus with your heavy chariot,
youíll send your hostile lightning down to shatter
once-pure sacred groves.
Telephusí rosy neck, Telephusí waxen arms,
alas, my burning passion starts
to mount deep inside me, with troubling anger.
Neither my feelings, nor my hue
stay as they were before, and on my cheek a tear
slides down, secretly, proving how
Iím consumed inwardly with lingering fires.
I burn, whether itís madhouse
quarrels that have, drunkenly, marked your gleaming
shoulders, or whether the crazed boy
has placed a love-bite, in memory, on your lips.
If youíd just listen to me now,
youíd not bother to hope for constancy from him
who wounds that sweet mouth, savagely,
that Venus has imbued with her own pure nectar.
Three times happy are they, and more,
held by unbroken pledge, one which no destruction
of love, by evil quarrels,
will ever dissolve, before lifeís final day.
Where are you going! Quickly, run for harbour.
Canít you see how your sides
have been stripped bare of oars,
how your shattered masts and yards are groaning loudly
in the swift south-westerly, and bare of rigging,
your hull can scarce tolerate
the overpowering waters?
You havenít a single sail thatís still intact now,
no gods, that people call to when theyíre in trouble.
Though youíre built of Pontic pine,
a child of those famous forests,
though you can boast of your race, and an idle name:
the fearful sailor puts no faith in gaudy keels.
You must beware of being
merely a plaything of the winds.
You, who not long ago were troubling weariness
to me, and now are my passion and anxious care,
avoid the glistening seas
between the shining Cyclades.
bore Helen over the waves, in a ship from Troy,
Nereus, the sea-god, checked the swift breeze
with an unwelcome calm, to tell
their harsh fate: ĎYouíre taking a bird of ill-omen,
back home, whom the Greeks, new armed, will look for again,
having sworn to destroy the marriage your planning
and the empire of old Priam.
Ah, what sweated labour for men and for horses
draws near! What disaster you bring for the Trojan
people! Atheneís already prepared her helm,
breastplate, chariot, and fury.
Uselessly daring, through Venusí protection,
youíll comb your hair and pluck at the peace-loving lyre,
make the music for songs that please girls: uselessly
youíll hide, in the depths of your room,
from the heavy spears, from the arrows of Cretan
reeds, and the noise of the battle, and swift-footed
Ajax quick to follow: yet, ah too late, youíll bathe
your adulterous hair in the dust!
Have you thought of Ulysses, the bane of your race,
have you even considered Pylian Nestor?
Teucer of Salamis presses you fearlessly,
Sthenelus, skilful in warfare,
and if itís a question of handling the horses
heís no mean charioteer. And Meriones
youíll know him too. See fierce Tydides, his fatherís
braver, heís raging to find you.
As the deer sees the wolf there, over the valley,
and forgets its pastures, a coward, youíll flee him,
breathing hard, as you run, with your head thrown high,
not as you promised your mistress.
The anger of Achillesí armies may delay
the day of destruction for Troy and its women:
but after so many winters the fires of Greece
will burn the Dardanian houses.í
end as you will, then, my guilty iambics
whether in flames or whether instead
deep down in the Adriaticís waters.
Neither Cybele, nor Apollo, who troubles
the priestessís mind in the Pythian shrine,
nor Bacchus, nor the Corybants who
clash their shrill, ringing cymbals together,
pain us like anger, thatís undefeated by
swords out of Noricum, or sea, the wrecker,
or cruel fire, or mighty Jupiter
when he sweeps down in terrible fury.
They say when Prometheus was forced to add
something from every creature to our first clay
he chose to set in each of our hearts
the violence of the irascible lion.
Anger brought Thyestes down, to utter ruin,
and itís the prime reason powerful cities
vanished in their utter destruction,
and armies, in scorn, sent the hostile plough
over the levelled spoil of their shattered walls.
Calm your mind: the passions of the heart have made
their attempt on me, in my sweet youth,
and drove me, maddened, as well, to swift verse:
I wish to change the bitter lines to sweet, now,
since Iíve charmed away all of my hostile words,
if you might become my friend, again,
and if you, again, might give me your heart.
Arcady for my sweet Mount Lucretilis,
and while he stays he protects my goats
from the midday heat and the driving rain.
The wandering wives of the rank he-goats search,
with impunity, through the safe woodland groves,
for the hidden arbutus, and thyme,
and their kids donít fear green poisonous snakes,
or the wolf of Mars, my lovely Tyndaris,
once my Mount Usticaís long sloping valleys,
and its smooth worn rocks, have re-echoed
to the music of sweet divine piping.
The gods protect me: my love and devotion,
and my Muse, are dear to the gods. Here the rich
wealth of the countrysideís beauties will
flow for you, now, from the horn of plenty.
Here youíll escape from the heat of the dog-star,
in secluded valleys, sing of bright Circe,
labouring over the Teian lyre,
and of Penelope: both loved one man.
Here youíll bring cups of innocent Lesbian
wine, under the shade, nor will Semeleís son,
that Bacchus, battle it out with Mars,
nor shall you fear the intemperate hands
of insolent Cyrus, jealously watching,
to possess you, girl, unequal to evil,
to tear off the garland that clings to
your hair, or tear off your innocent clothes.
set in Tiburís gentle soil, and by the walls Catilus founded:
because the god decreed all things are hard for those who never drink,
and he gave us no better way to lessen our anxieties.
Deep in wine, who rattles on, about harsh campaigns or poverty?
Who doesnít rather speak of you, Bacchus, and you, lovely Venus?
And lest the gifts of Liber pass the bounds of moderation set,
weíve the battle over wine, between the Lapiths and the Centaurs,
as a warning to us all, and the frenzied Thracians, whom Bacchus
hates, when they split right from wrong, by too fine a line of passion.
Lovely Bacchus, Iíll not be the one to stir you, against your will,
nor bring to open light of day whatís hidden under all those leaves.
Hold back the savagery of drums, and the Berecyntian horns,
and those deeds that, afterwards, are followed by a blind self-love,
by pride that lifts its empty head too high, above itself, once more,
and wasted faith in mysteries much more transparent than the glass.
Bacchus, too, commands me, Theban Semeleís son,
and you, lustful Licentiousness,
to recall to mind that love I thought long-finished.
I burn for Glyceraís beauty,
who gleams much more brightly than Parian marble:
I burn for her lovely boldness
and her face too dangerous to ever behold.
Venus bears down on me, wholly,
deserting her Cyprus, not letting me sing of
the Scythians, or Parthians
eager at wheeling their horses, nor anything else.
Here set up the green turf altar,
boys, and the sacred boughs of vervain, and incense,
place here a bowl of last yearís wine:
if a victimís sacrificed, sheíll come more gently.
yet wine that I sealed myself, and laid up
in a Grecian jar, when you dear Maecenas,
flower of knighthood,
received the theatreís applause, so your native
river-banks, and, also, the Vatican Hill,
together returned that praise again, to you,
in playful echoes.
Then, drink Caecubum, and the juice of the grape
crushed in Campaniaís presses, my cups are
unmixed with what grows on Falernian vines,
or Formian hills.
and, you boys, sing in praise, of long-haired Apollo,
and of Latona, deeply
loved by all-conquering Jove.
You girls, she who enjoys the streams and the green leaves
of the groves that clothe the cool slopes of Algidus,
or dark Erymanthian
trees, or the woods of green Cragus.
You boys, sounding as many praises, of Tempe
and Apolloís native isle Delos, his shoulder
distinguished by his quiver,
and his brother Mercuryís lyre.
Heíll drive away sad war, and miserable famine,
the plague too, from our people and Caesar our prince,
and, moved by all your prayers,
send them to Persians and Britons.
has no need, dear Fuscus, for Moorish javelins,
nor a bow and a quiver, fully loaded
with poisoned arrows,
whether his pathís through the sweltering Syrtes,
or through the inhospitable Caucasus,
or makes its way through those fabulous regions
While I was wandering, beyond the boundaries
of my farm, in the Sabine woods, and singing
free from care, lightly-defended, of my Lalage,
a wolf fled from me:
a monster not even warlike Apulia
nourishes deep in its far-flung oak forests,
or that Jubaís parched Numidian land breeds,
nursery of lions.
Set me down on the lifeless plains, where no trees
spring to life in the burning midsummer wind,
that wide stretch of the world thatís burdened by mists
and a gloomy sky:
set me down in a land denied habitation,
where the sunís chariot rumbles too near the earth:
Iíll still be in love with my sweetly laughing,
sweet talking Lalage.
searching the trackless hills for its frightened mother,
not without aimless terror
of the pathless winds, and the woods.
For if the coming of spring begins to rustle
among the trembling leaves, or if a green lizard
pushes the brambles aside,
then it trembles in heart and limb.
And yet Iím not chasing after you to crush you
like a fierce tiger, or a Gaetulian lion:
stop following your mother,
now, youíre prepared for a mate.
of so dear a life? Melpomene, teach me, Muse,
a song of mourning, you, whom the Father granted
a clear voice, the sound of the lyre.
Does endless sleep lie heavy on Quintilius,
now? When will Honour, and unswerving Loyalty,
that is sister to Justice, and our naked Truth,
ever discover his equal?
Many are the good men who weep for his dying,
none of them, Virgil, weep more profusely than you.
Piously, you ask the gods for him, alas, in vain:
not so was he given to us.
Even if you played on the Thracian lyre, listened
to by the trees, more sweetly than Orpheus could,
would life then return, to that empty phantom,
once Mercury, with fearsome wand,
who wonít simply re-open the gates of Fate
at our bidding, has gathered him to the dark throng?
It is hard: but patience makes more tolerable
whatever wrongís to be righted.
beating your shutters, with blow after blow, or
stealing away your sleep, while the door sits tight,
hugging the threshold,
yet was once known to move its hinges, more than
readily. Youíll hear, less and less often now:
ĎAre you sleeping, Lydia, while your lover
dies in the long night?í
Old, in your turn, youíll bemoan coarse adulterers,
as you tremble in some deserted alley,
while the Thracian wind rages, furiously,
through the moonless nights,
while flagrant desire, libidinous passion,
those powers that will spur on a mare in heat,
will storm all around your corrupted heart, ah,
and youíll complain,
that the youths, filled with laughter, take more delight
in the green ivy, the dark of the myrtle,
leaving the withering leaves to this East wind,
to the winds, to blow over the Cretan Sea,
untroubled by whoever he is, that king
of the icy Arctic shores weíre afraid of,
or whatever might terrify the Armenians.
O Sweet Muse, that joys in fresh fountains,
weave them together all the bright flowers,
weave me a garland for my Lamia.
Without you thereís no worth in my tributes:
itís fitting that you, that all of your sisters,
should immortalise him with new strains
of the lyre, with the Lesbian plectrum.
only suits Thracians: forget those barbarous
games, and keep modest Bacchus away
from all those bloodthirsty quarrels of yours.
The Persian scimitarís quite out of keeping
with the wine and the lamplight: my friends restrain
all that impious clamour, and rest
on the couches, lean back on your elbows.
So you want me to drink up my share, as well,
of the heavy Falernian? Then letís hear
Opuntian Megyllaís brother tell
by what wound, and what arrow, blessed, he dies.
Does your will waver? Iíll drink on no other
terms. Whatever the passion rules over you,
itís not with a shameful fire it burns,
and you always sin with the noblest
of lovers. Whoever it is, ah, come now,
let it be heard by faithful ears Ė oh, you wretch!
What a Charybdis youíre swimming in,
my boy, you deserve a far better flame!
What magician, with Thessalian potions,
what enchantress, or what god could release you?
Caught by the triple-formed Chimaera,
even Pegasus could barely free you.
in a small mound of meagre earth near the Matinian shore,
and itís of no use to you in the least,
that you, born to die, have explored the celestial houses
crossed, in spirit, the rounds of the sky.
Tantalus, Pelopís father, died too, a guest of the gods,
and Tithonus took off to the heavens,
Minos gained entry to great Jupiterís secrets, Tartarus
holds Euphorbus, twice sent to Orcus,
though he bore witness, carrying his shield there, to Trojan times,
and left nothing more behind, for black Death,
but his skin and his bones, and that certainly made him, Archytas,
to your mind, no trivial example
of Nature and truth. But thereís still one night that awaits us all,
and each, in turn, makes the journey of death.
The Furies deliver some as a spectacle for cruel Mars,
the greedy seaís the sailorís ruin:
the funerals of the old, and the young, close ranks together,
and no oneís spared by cruel Proserpine.
Me too, the south wind, Notus, swift friend of setting Orion,
drowned deep in Illyrian waters.
O, sailor, donít hesitate, from spite, to grant a little treacherous
sand, to my unburied bones and skull.
So that, however the east wind might threaten the Italian
waves, thrashing the Venusian woods,
youíll be safe, yourself, and rich rewards will flow from the source,
from even-handed Jupiter, and from
Neptune, who is the protector of holy Tarentum. Are you
indifferent to committing a wrong
that will harm your innocent children hereafter? Perhaps
a need for justice, and arrogant
disdain, await you, too: donít let me be abandoned here
my prayers unanswered: no offering
will absolve you. Though you hurry away, itís a brief delay:
three scattered handfuls of earth will free you.
at Arabian riches, and preparing
for bitter war on unbeaten kings
of Saba, weaving bonds for those dreadful
Medes? What barbaric virgin
will be your slave, when youíve murdered her lover?
What boy, from the palace, with scented
hair, will handle your wine-cups, one taught
by his fatherís bow how to manage eastern
arrows? Whoíll deny, now, that rivers can flow
backwards, to the summits of mountains,
and Tiber reverse the course of his streams,
when you, who gave promise of much better things,
are intent on changing Panaetiusís
noble books, the school of Socrates,
for a suit of Iberian armour?
spurn your beloved Cyprus, and summoned
by copious incense, come to the lovely shrine
of my Glycera.
And let that passionate boy of yours, Cupid,
and the Graces with loosened zones, and the Nymphs,
and Youth, less lovely without you, hasten here,
and Mercury too.
What does he pray for as he pours out the wine
from the bowl? Not for the rich harvests
of fertile Sardinia, nor the herds,
(theyíre delightful), of sunlit Calabria,
not for Indiaís gold or its ivory,
nor fields our silent Lirisís stream
carries away in the calm of its flow.
Let those that Fortune allows prune the vines,
with a Calenian knife, so rich merchants
can drink their wine from a golden cup,
wine theyíve purchased with Syrian goods,
who, dear to the gods, three or four times yearly,
revisit the briny Atlantic, unscathed.
I browse on olives, and chicory
and simple mallow. Apollo, the son
of Latona, let me enjoy what I have,
and, healthy in body and mind, as I ask,
live an old age not without honour,
and one not lacking the art of the lyre.
idle things with you in the shade, that will live,
for a year or more, come and utter a song
now, of Italy:
you were first tuned by Alcaeus of Lesbos,
a man daring in war, yet still, amongst arms,
or after heíd moored his storm-driven boat
on a watery shore,
he sang of the Muses, Bacchus, and Venus
that boy of hers, Cupid, that hangs around her,
and that beautiful Lycus, with his dark eyes
and lovely dark hair.
O tortoiseshell, Phoebusís glory, welcome
at the feasts of Jupiter, the almighty,
O sweet comfort and balm of our troubles, heal,
if I call you true!
your cruel Glycera, and donít keep on singing
those wretched elegies, or ask why, trust broken,
youíre outshone by a younger man.
Lovely Lycoris, the narrow-browed one, is on fire
with love for Cyrus, Cyrus leans towards bitter
PholoŽ, but does in the wood are more likely
to mate with Apulian wolves,
than PholoŽ to sin with some low-down lover.
So Venus has it, who delights in the cruel
game of mating unsuitable bodies and minds,
under her heavy yoke of bronze.
I, myself, when a nobler passion was called for,
was held in the charming bonds of Myrtale,
that freed slave, more bitter than Hadriaís waves
that break in Calabriaís bay.
a scant and infrequent adorer of gods,
now Iím forced to set sail and return,
to go back to the paths I abandoned.
For Jupiter, Father of all of the gods,
who generally splits the clouds with his lightning,
flashing away, drove thundering horses,
and his swift chariot, through the clear sky,
till the dull earth, and the wandering rivers,
and Styx, and dread Taenarusí hateful headland,
and Atlasís mountain-summits shook.
The god has the power to replace the highest
with the lowest, bring down the famous, and raise
the obscure to the heights. And greedy Fortune
with her shrill whirring, carries away
the crown and delights in setting it, there.
always ready to lift up our mortal selves,
from humble position, or alter
proud triumphs to funeral processions,
the poor farmer, in the fields, courts your favour
with anxious prayers: you, mistress of ocean,
the sailor who cuts the Carpathian
Sea, in a Bithynian sailing boat:
you, the fierce Dacian, wandering Scythian,
cities, and peoples, and warlike Latium,
mothers of barbarous kings, tyrants,
clothed in their royal purple, all fear you,
in case you demolish the standing pillar
with a careless foot, or the tumultuous crowd
incite the peaceful: ĎTo arms, to armsí,
and shatter the supreme authority.
Grim Necessity always treads before you,
and sheís carrying the spikes and the wedges
in her bronze hand, and the harsh irons
and the molten lead arenít absent either.
Hope cultivates you, and rarest Loyalty,
her hands bound in sacred white, will not refuse
her friendship when you, their enemy,
desert the great houses plunged in mourning.
But the disloyal mob, and the perjured whores
vanish, and friends scatter when theyíve drunk our wine
to the lees, unequal to bearing
the heavy yoke of all our misfortunes.
Guard our Caesar whoís soon setting off again
against the earthís far-off Britons, and guard
the fresh young levies, whoíll scare the East
in those regions along the Red Seaís shores.
Alas, the shame of our scars and wickedness,
and our dead brothers. What has our harsh age spared?
What sinfulness have we left untried?
What have the young men held their hands back from,
in fear of the gods? Where are the altars theyíve left
alone? O may you remake our blunt weapons
on fresh anvils so we can turn them
against the Scythians and the Arabs.
With music, and incense, and blood
of a bullock, delight in placating the gods
that guarded our Numida well,
whoís returned safe and sound, from the farthest West, now,
showering a host of kisses
on every dear friend, but on none of us more than
lovely Lamia, remembering
their boyhood spent under the self-same master,
their togas exchanged together.
Donít allow this sweet day to lack a white marker,
no end to the wine jars at hand,
no rest for our feet in the Salian fashion,
Donít let wine-heavy Damalis
conquer our Bassus in downing the Thracian draughts.
Donít let our feast lack for roses,
or the long-lasting parsley, or the brief lilies:
weíll all cast our decadent eyes
on Damalis, but Damalis wonít be parted
from that new lover of hers sheís
clasping, more tightly than the wandering ivy.
to beat the earth with unfettered feet, the time
to set out the godsí sacred couches,
my friends, and prepare a Salian feast.
It would have been wrong, before today, to broach
the Caecuban wines from out the ancient bins,
while a maddened queen was still plotting
the Capitolís and the empireís ruin,
with her crowd of deeply-corrupted creatures
sick with turpitude, she, violent with hope
of all kinds, and intoxicated
by Fortuneís favour. But it calmed her frenzy
that scarcely a single ship escaped the flames,
and Caesar reduced the distracted thoughts, bred
by Mareotic wine, to true fear,
pursuing her close as she fled from Rome,
out to capture that deadly monster, bind her,
as the sparrow-hawk follows the gentle dove
or the swift hunter chases the hare,
over the snowy plains of Thessaly.
But she, intending to perish more nobly,
showed no sign of womanish fear at the sword,
nor did she even attempt to win
with her speedy ships to some hidden shore.
And she dared to gaze at her fallen kingdom
with a calm face, and touch the poisonous asps
with courage, so that she might drink down
their dark venom, to the depths of her heart,
growing fiercer still, and resolving to die:
scorning to be taken by hostile galleys,
and, no ordinary woman, yet queen
no longer, be led along in proud triumph.
garlands twined around lime-tree bark displease me:
forget your chasing, to find all the places
where late roses fade.
Youíre eager, take care, that nothing enhances
the simple myrtle: itís not only you that
it graces, the servant, but me as I drink,
beneath the dark vine.
The number of syllables most commonly employed in each standard line of the verse is given. This may vary slightly for effect (two beats substituted for three etc.) in a given line.
Alcaic Strophe: 11 (5+6) twice, 9, 10††††
used in Odes: 9,16,17,26,27,29,31,34,35,37
Sapphic and Adonic: 11(5+6) three times, 5
First Asclepiadean: 12 (6+6) all lines
Second Asclepiadean: 8, 12 (6+6), alternating
Third Asclepiadean: 12 (6+6) three times, 8
Fourth Asclepiadean: 12 (6+6) twice, 7, 8
Fifth Asclepiadean: 16 (6+4+6) all lines
Ode: 11, 18
Alcmanic Strophe: 17 (7+10) or less, 11 or less, alternating
First Archilochian: 17 (7+10) or less, 7 alternating
Odes: None in Book I
Fourth Archilochian Strophe: 18 (7+11) or less, 11 (5+6) alternating
Second Sapphic Strophe: 7, 15 (5+10) alternating
Trochaic Strophe: 7,11 alternating
Odes: None in Book I
Ionic a Minore: 16 twice, 8
Odes: None in Book I