Horace: The Epistles

Book I: Epistle XI

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved

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BkIEpXI:1-30 Be happy wherever you are

What did you think of Chios, dear Bullatius,

Or the famous Lesbos? What of beautiful Samos?

What of Croesus’ royal SardisSmyrna and Colophon?

Better or worse than claimed, are they all worthless, beside

The Campus and Tiber’s stream? Or are you set on one

Of Attalus’ cities, or weary of roads and seas praise

Lebedus ? You know Lebedus: even more empty

Than Gabii or Fidenae! Still I’d choose to live there,

Forgetting all my friends, and forgotten by them,

Gazing from the shore at distant Neptune’s fury!

Yet a man heading for Rome from Capua, soaked

With mud and rain, wouldn’t choose to live in an inn:

Nor does one who catches a chill praise stove and bath

As the total answer to living a happy life:

Nor will you, tossed by a southerly gale on the deep,

Across the Aegean, sell your ship because of it!

To a healthy man, Rhodes and beautiful Mytilene

Are a heavy cloak in summer, a loincloth worn in

A snowstorm, the wintry Tiber, or an August fire.

While Fate proves benign, and while you can, from Rome,

Praise the far-distant, Samos, and Chios, and Rhodes .

And whatever the hour heaven has blessed you with

Accept it gratefully, don’t put off what’s sweet to some

Other year: then wherever you’ve lived, you can say

You were happy. It’s wisdom, it’s reason, not some place

Overlooking a breadth of water, that drives out care:

Those who rush to sea gain a change of sky not themselves.

Restless idleness occupies us: in yachts and chariots

We seek the good life. But what you’re seeking is here:

If your mind’s not lacking in calm, it’s at Ulubrae!

End of Book I Epistle XI