Horace: The Epistles
Book I: Epistle V
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved
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BkIEpV:1-31 An invitation to dinner
If you can bear to recline at dinner on a couch
By Archias, and dine off a modest dish of greens,
Torquatus, I’ll expect to see you here at sunset.
You’ll drink wine bottled in Taurus’ second term,
Near Sinuessa. If you’ve better, have it brought,
Or obey orders! The hearth’s bright, the furniture’s
Already been straightened. Forget airy hopes, the fight
Gives us a reason for sleeping late: we’re free to spend
A summer’s night in pleasant talk with impunity.
What’s the use of my fortune if I can’t enjoy it?
The man who scrimps and saves on behalf of his heirs,
Too much, is next to mad. I’ll start the drinking, scatter
Flowers, and even allow you to think me indiscreet.
What can’t 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?
Here’s 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 can’t
See yourself, no one to carry abroad what’s spoken
Between good friends, so like may meet and be joined
And Sabinus unless he’s detained by a prior
Engagement, and a prettier girl. There’s room too
For your ‘shadows’: 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