HORACE: "EPODES"

Introduction.

Horace published his "Book of Epodes" in 30 B.C. at about the same time as his Second Book of Satires. These poems were experimental, literary exercises, if you like, and Horace called them his "iambs" or 'insults', since they were based, as he distinctly claims in his "Epistles I.19. ll.23-5, on the iambic metres of the archaic Greek poet Archilochus of Paros, (fl. c. 714-676 B.C.) who wrote short poems often featuring fierce invective. In the first ten of his "Epodes" Horace makes use of the iambic distich (or couplet), in which iambic trimiters (six feet) alternate with iambic dimeters (four feet). [N.B. an iambic metron consists of two feet.] In the next six poems, Horace experiments with a variety of metres, in which various types of dactylic and iambic metres are mixed, but the final poem is written entirely in iambic trimeters. The content of the "Epodes" varies greatly. Some poems are facetious or deeply ironical. Some are almost too coarse in content (notably nos. 8 and 12) to facilitate easy translation. Perhaps the best and the most remarkable is no. 16, beginning "Altera iam teritur," possibly written as early as 41 B.C., the time of the Perusine war, which reflects Horace's despair at the prospect of continuing civil war. Although Horace did not publish any further poems of this type - perhaps they did not suit his philosophical and moderate temperament - they do nevertheless reflect both his extraordinary originality and versatility as a poet.

The text of the "Epodes" used in this translation is the edition of Friedrich Vollmer (1912), available on the Perseus and Latin Library Websites. Use has also been made of the commentaries of Paul Shorey (1910), also available on the Perseus website, and of Charles Anthon and James Boyd in "Q.Horatii Flacci Poemata", (1837),  which can be accessed via the internet.


1.  To Maecenas.  Ibis Liburnis.  (Iambic distichs, i.e. iambic trimeters alternating with iambic dimeters)


Can it be that you, my friend Maecenas, are going in your Liburnian (galleys) among those towering fortresses of ships, ready to undergo all of Caesar's perils at your own (risk)? What (of) me, to whom life is pleasant if you survive, (but) if otherwise, burdensome? Shall I, at your command, pursue my ease, (which is) not sweet, unless (it is shared) together with you, or (shall I pursue) the toils of this (campaign), intending to endure (them) as it becomes not unmanly men to bear (them)? I shall bear (it) and shall follow you with a courageous heart either through the peaks of the Alps and the inhospitable Caucasus or, as far as the furthest bay of the west. You may ask how I, unwarlike and insufficiently strong, can, with my efforts, assist your own? (As) your companion, I shall be in less of the anxiety which takes hold of the absent in greater measure, like the brooding bird with unfledged chicks fears the approaches of snakes more when they are left, although, even if she were present, she would not be able to bring more help to them while they were right before her eyes. Service in this and every (other) war would be willingly performed by me in the hope of your favour, not that more oxen, yoked to my ploughs, may toil (for me), nor that my herds may exchange their Calabrian pastures for Lucanian (ones), before the coming of the burning (Dog-) Star, nor that my glittering villa may touch the Circaean walls of lofty Tusculum. Your generosity has enriched me enough and more (than enough); I shall not amass what I may bury in the earth like the miser Chremes or squander (like) a dissolute descendant.


2.  The praises of a country life.  Beatus ille.  (Iambic distichs) 

"Happy is that (man) who, far from business dealings, like the ancient race of mortal (men), ploughs his paternal lands with his own oxen, freed from every kind of money transaction. Neither (as) a soldier is he aroused by the harsh (blast of) the trumpet, nor (as a trader) does he dread the angry sea, and he avoids the Forum (i.e. the law-courts) and the splendid thresholds of the more powerful citizens. Therefore, he either weds the lofty poplar-trees to the mature shoots of the vine, or he views his herds of lowing cattle grazing in a secluded valley, and, lopping off the useless boughs with his pruning-hook, he ingrafts more fruitful (ones), or he stores pressed honey in clean jars, or he shears his tender sheep. Or, when Autumn has lifted up in the fields his head, adorned with mellow fruits, how he rejoices, plucking his grafted pears and the grape, vieing (in hue) with the purple, with which he may recompense you, (O) Priapus, and you, father Silvanus, tutelary god of boundaries. He delights (lit. It pleases [him]) to lie, at one time, under an aged holm-oak, (and,) at another time, on matted grass; meanwhile, the waters glide along between their steep banks, the birds warble plaintively in the woods, and the leaves murmur amid the (gently) flowing brooks, such as (to) invite gentle sleep. But, when the wintry season of thundering Jupiter brings in the rain and snow, he either drives the fierce boars hither and thither with many a hound into the intercepting traps, or spreads the fine nets with a smooth pole (as) snares for the voracious thrushes, and catches the timid hare and the migrant crane in his trap, pleasing rewards (for his labour). Among such (employments) as these, who does not forget the mischievous cares which love possesses? But if a chase wife, such as a Sabine (woman) or the spouse of an industrious Apulian, tanned by the sun, plays her part in (the running of) the house and (the rearing) of beloved children, (and) piles up the sacred hearth with well-dried faggots against the approach of her exhausted husband, and, enclosing the fertile cattle in wattled hurdles, she milks their bulging udders dry, and, drawing this year's wine sweet from its jar, she prepares the unpurchased repast, no Lucrine oyster, no turbot or scar, could please me more, if winter thundering upon Eastern waters should drive any of them to this sea, no guinea-fowl, no Ionian heath-cock could descend into my stomach more agreeably than the olive gathered from the richest branches of the trees, or the sorrel-herb that loves the meadows, and mallows, beneficial to a sick body, or a lamb slaughtered at the feast of Terminus, or a kid rescued from the wolf. Amid such feasts as these, how pleasing it is to see well-fed sheep hastening homewards, to see weary oxen, with their drooping necks, dragging the upturned ploughshare, and home-bred slaves, the test of a wealthy household, ranged like a swarm around the gleaming Lares (i.e. the gods of the hearth)." When the money-lender Alfius, right now on the point of becoming a farmer, had said these (things), he called in all his money on the Ides, (but) on the Kalends he seeks to lay it out (again).


3.  To Maecenas.  Parentis olim.  (Iambic distichs)

If anyone has ever broken his father's aged neck, let him eat garlic, more noxious than hemlock. O the iron guts of the reapers! What poison (is) this (which) rages in my stomach? Has viper's blood been cooked with these herbs without my knowledge (lit. Has viper's blood, cooked  with these herbs, deceived me)? Or has Canidia arranged this baneful feast? When Medea admired their handsome leader more than (did) all the Argonauts, she anointed Jason with this (poison) as he was going to fix the untried yoke on the bulls, (and,) having taken vengeance upon her rival through gifts besmeared with it, she fled away on a winged serpent. Never did such heat from the stars settle upon parched Apulia, nor did that (fatal) gift burn with more fury upon the shoulders of the indefatigable Hercules. But, if you should ever long for any such (food as this again), (O) playful Maecenas, may, I pray, your girl oppose her hand to your kiss, and lie on the very edge of the bed.


4.  To Menas.  Lupis et agnis.  (Iambic distichs)

I have towards you as great an enmity (lit. There is to me an enmity with you as great) as has been allotted by nature to wolves and lambs, (O you), who has been scarred on your body by Spanish thongs and on your legs by the hard fetter. Although you strut about, proud of your wealth, fortune does not alter your birth. Do you see, when you are striding along the Sacred Way in that measured manner (of yours), in a toga three yards (lit. twice three ells) (in width), how the most openly (expressed) indignation of those who pass to and fro turns its looks (upon you)? This (wretch), (once) flogged by the triumviral lashes until the crier (grew) weary, (now) ploughs a thousand acres of Falernian farm-land and wears out the Appian (Way) with his cart-horses, and, scorning Otho's (law), sits himself down (as) an eminent knight in the foremost seats (of the theatre). What good is it that so many beaked prows (lit. faces) of ships of great weight are led against pirates and a band of slaves, if this, this (fellow is) a military tribune?


5.  The witches mangling a boy.  At, o deorum.  (Iambic distichs)

"But, oh, by whatever gods in heaven rule the earth and the human race, what does this commotion mean, and why (are) the grim looks of all (these hags fixed) upon me alone? I beseech you, by your children, if Lucina, having been invoked, was present at any real births (of yours), (I beseech you) by this vain distinction of my purple (robe), (and) by Jupiter, who must be disapproving these (proceedings), why are you staring at me like a step-mother, or like a wild beast assailed by a steel (dart)?" When the boy, having uttered these complaints with trembling lips, stood (among them), having been stripped of his ornaments, a youthful body, such as could soften the wicked hearts of the Thracians: (then) Canidia, having entangled her locks and her dishevelled head with small vipers, orders wild fig-trees (to be) torn from graves, orders funereal cypresses, and eggs besmeared with the blood of a loathsome toad, and the plumage of a nocturnal screech-owl, and those herbs which Iolcos and Hiberia, fruitful in poisons, transmit, and bones, snatched from the mouth of a hungry bitch, to be burned in Colchian flames. But Sagana, with (her dress) tucked up, bristles with her rough hair like a sea-urchin or a Laurentian boar, as she sprinkles the waters of (Lake) Avernus through the whole house. Deterred by no remorse at all, Veia, groaning over her labours, began to dig out the earth with a sharp spade, so that the boy, having been buried in (the ground), might pine away with the sight of food being changed two or three times during the long day, while he stuck out (of the earth) by his face, just as (when swimming) bodies stand out of the water, suspended by the chin, so that his parched marrow and dried liver might be (the ingredients) for a love-potion. when once the pupils (of his eyes), fixed (steadily) on forbidden food, had wasted away. Both idle Naples and the neighbouring towns believed that Folia of Ariminum, (a witch) of manly lust, had not been absent, (she) who tears from the sky the stars and the moon, charmed from (their places) by a Thessalian (i.e. magic) spell. Then what did the fearsome Canidia, gnawing at her uncut finger-nail with livid teeth, say, or what did she keep quiet about? "O Night and Diana, (you) not unfaithful witnesses, who preside over silence, when the secret rites are celebrated, now, now be present, now turn your wrath and divine power against our enemies' homes. While the wild beasts lie hidden in the terrible forests, sluggish in their sweet repose, let the dogs of the Subura bark at the profligate old man - something which everyone may laugh at - (with him) smeared all over with ointment, such as not even my hands have toiled over with greater perfection. What has happened? Why are my dread poisons less powerful (than those) of the barbarian Medea, with which having taken her revenge on her haughty rival, the daughter of the mighty Creon, she fled away, when the garment, a gift injected with venom, took off (Jason's) new wife by burning? And yet, no herb, no root hidden in inaccessible places, has escaped my notice. (Yet) in oblivion (of me), he sleeps, (does he not,) in the perfumed bed of every harlot? Ah, ah, he walks around, set free (of me) by the charm of some more knowing sorceress. By means of no familiar potions, Varus, shall you return to me, O creature destined for much grieving, nor shall your inclination, although invoked by Marsian enchantments, return (to someone else). I shall prepare a more (potent), I shall mix for you, while you are scorning (me), a more (potent) draught, and the sky will sink lower than the sea, with the earth being spread above, sooner than you will not burn with love for me in the same manner as this pitch (is burning) in the sooty fires." At these (words), the boy, no longer attempted, as before, to move the impious (hags) with soothing expressions, but, uncertain by what words he should break the silence, he issued Thyestean imprecations: "Magic philtres are not able, in any way, to turn back the (laws of) right and wrong in relation to the changing circumstances of human (life). I shall pursue you with dreadful (imprecations): my solemn curse is not to be expiated by any victim. Nay, when, ordered to die, I shall have expired, I shall haunt (you as) a nocturnal Fury, and (as ) a ghost I shall attack your faces with my hooked talons, (for) such is the power of those divinities, the Manes, and, hovering over your restless breasts, I shall deprive (you) of sleep through terror. From street to street the mob attacking you with stones from this side and that, will destroy (you), (you) filthy hags; after (that) wolves and Esquiline birds (of prey) will scatter abroad your unburied limbs, nor will this spectacle escape the notice of my parents, (who must), alas, survive me."


6.  Against Cassius Severus.  Quid immerentis hospites.  (Iambic distichs)

(You) cur, why, (being) cowardly in the face of wolves, do you harass inoffensive passers by? Why not turn, if you can, your empty threats in this direction, and attack me, (who is) ready to bite (you) back? For, like a Molossian or a tawny Laconian (hound), a welcome aid to shepherds, I shall pursue, with pricked up ears, whatever wild beast shall go before (me) through the deep snow; you, when you have filled the the grove with your fearful barking, sniff at the food (which is) thrown (to you). Look out! look out! for (being) very bitter against bad (men), I raise my ready horns, like (he who was) scorned as a son-in-law by the faithless Lycambes (i.e. Archilochus), or (like) the fierce enemy of Bupalus (i.e. Hipponax). If any (cur) attacks me with malignant teeth, shall I weep unavenged like a boy?


7.  To the Roman people.  Quo, quo, scelesti ruitis?  (Iambic distichs)

Whither, whither are you rushing, (you who are) stained with guilt? Or why are your swords, (so lately) sheathed, being taken in your hands (from their scabbards)? Has not enough Latin blood been spilled on land and at sea, not so that Romans might burn the haughty towers of Carthage, or that the Britons, (still) unsubdued, might go down the Sacred Way in chains, but that, in furtherance to the wishes of the Parthians, this city might perish by its own hand? This custom (of fighting) is never found among wolves or lions, fierce (as they are), except against a different (species). Does blind fury or some superior power spur (you) on, or the guilt (of your forefathers)? Do give an answer! (But) they are silent, and a deathly-white pallor dyes their cheeks, and their conscience-stricken minds are stupefied. So it is (then): the harsh Fates and the crime of a brother's murder dog the Romans, since the blood of the innocent Remus flowed upon the earth, a curse to his descendants.


8.  To a wanton old woman.  Rogare longo.  (Iambic distichs)

That you, rank with your protracted life, should ask what deprives me of my virility, when you have (lit. there are to you) black teeth, and old age furrows your forehead with wrinkles, and your repulsive arsehole gapes between your shrivelled buttocks like (that) of a dripping cow. But your chest and your pendulous breasts, like a mare's udders, and your flaccid belly, and your lank thighs on top of those swollen shanks, do (indeed) arouse me. May you be blessed, and may triumphal images attend your funeral procession, and may there be no wife who goes around laden with rounder pearls. Why? Because Stoic treatises love to lie between silken pillows, do untutored pricks stiffen any the less? Or does a cock droop any the less? But for you to arouse (me) to an erection, you will have to work very hard with your mouth.


9.  To Maecenas.  Quando repostum Caecubam.  (Iambic distichs)

When (O) happy Maecenas, shall I, overjoyed at Caesar (i.e. Octavian) (being) victorious, drink with you in your lofty palace (lit. abode) - (for) so (it is) pleasing to Jupiter - drink the Caecuban (wine) reserved for festal banquets, while the lyre plays a tune, accompanied by (lit. intermingled with [the music of] flutes, with this (one playing) a Dorian (measure), (and) those (playing) exotic (i.e. Phrygian) (ones)? As Neptune's admiral (i.e. Sextus Pompeius) has lately fled, when driven from the (Sicilian) straits, (and) with his ships having been burned, (after) having threatened the City with the fetters which he, (as) their friend, had struck off from (the ankles of) treacherous slaves. Romans, alas, the bond-slaves of a woman (i.e. Cleopatra) - (O you, our) posterity will deny (this) - bear stakes and arms (as) soldiers and can (even) be subservient to shrivelled eunuchs, and, among their military standards, the sun beholds a shameful mosquito-net. . Indignant at this (sight), two thousand Gallic horsemen have turned (their steeds around), proclaiming Caesar, and the sterns of hostile warships, impelled towards the left, lie concealed in the harbour. Hail, (God of) Triumph! do you delay the golden chariots and oxen untouched (by the yoke)? Hail, (God of) Triumph! you neither brought back a leader equal (to Caesar) from the Jugurthine War (i.e. Marius), nor (was) Africanus (i.e. the Younger Scipio), whose valour established a sepulchre over Carthage. Our enemy (i.e. Mark Antony), conquered on land and sea, has exchanged a mourning robe for his purple (one). Ready to sail with unpropitious winds, he either makes for Crete, famous for her hundred cities, or the Syrtes, agitated by (the blast of) the South Wind, or (else) is driven by the uncertain sea. Bring hither, boy, larger wine-cups and Chian or Lesbian wine, or (rather), to check this rising sickness, measure out for me this Caecuban. It delights (me) to release concern and anxiety for Caesar's interests by means of this delicious wine.


10.  Against Maevius: a propemticon to an enemy.  Mala soluta navis.  (Iambic distichs)

The ship, loosened (from her moorings), sets sail under an evil omen, carrying (as she does) that stinking Maevius. Remember, (O) South-East Wind, to lash each side (of her) with fearsome waves; may the black South-East Wind scatter its rigging and splintered oars in the somersaulting sea; may the North Wind arise with as great a fury as it rends the quivering holm-oaks on the lofty mountains; may no star, friendly (to mariners) appear on a dark night, when baleful Orion sets; not let him be conveyed on a calmer sea than (was) that Greek band of conquerors, when Pallas turned her rage from burned Troy to the impious Ajax's craft. O what a sweat awaits your sailors and (what) a yellow pallor (awaits) you, as well as that unmanly wailing and those prayers to unpropitious Jupiter, when the Ionian gulf, roaring with (the blast of) the South-West Wind, shall shatter your keel. But if a dainty prey, spread out (as a corpse) along the winding shore, shall delight the cormorants, a lascivious billy-goat and a ewe-lamb will be sacrificed to the Storm (Gods).


11.  To Pettius.  Petti, nihil me.  (Iambic trimeters alternating with dactylico-iambic verses, i.e. lines composed of  a dactylic trimeter catalectic, or a hemiepes colon, followed by an iambic dimeter)

(O) Pettius, it does not delight me at all, as (it did) previously, to write my little verses, as I have been smitten with a cruel love, with a love which seeks to inflame me, beyond all (others in my desire for) tender boys and girls. This is the third December that shakes its (leafy) honours since I ceased to burn with desire for Inachia. Ah me! what a subject of conversation I have been throughout the City (for I am ashamed of so much slander) (and) I repent too of the dinners, during which  my dejection and silence and the sighs fetched up from the bottom of my lungs betrayed that (I) was in love. As soon as the uninhibited god had removed from their place the secrets (of my heart) glowing under the influence of warming wine, I used to complain as I lamented to you, "An honest heart in one of modest means avails nothing then against the love of gain." But if unrestrained indignation rages in my breast, so as to scatter to the winds those useless remedies which in no way alleviate my cruel wounds, my shame, having been removed, shall cease to vie with unequal (rivals) ." When, full of firm resolve, I had made these declarations in your presence, having been told (by you) to go home, I made my way by faltering steps to door-posts, which, alas, were not welcoming to me, and, alas, to stony thresholds, on which I bruised my loins and side. Now love of Lyciscus holds me, (he) who prides himself that he surpasses any girl in tenderness; from this neither the unreserved counsels nor the serious criticisms of my friends can free (me), but (only) another blaze (of desire) for some girl or some shapely boy who binds his long hair in a knot.


12.  To a woman whose charms were over.  Quid tibi vis.  (Dactylic hexameters alternating with dactylic tetrameters a posteriore, i.e. the last four feet of a dactylic hexameter)

What do you want for yourself, (you) woman most suited to elephantine niggers (lit. black elephants)? Why do you send me presents and billet-doux, when I am neither a strapping youth nor do I have a nose that is not delicate. For I, individually, sniff out (where) the polyp or smelly goat beds in your hairy arm-pits more keenly than an eager hound (sniffs out) where the boar lies hidden. What a sweat you go about (with), and how rank (is) the smell (which) arises everywhere from your limbs, when she strives to allay her uncontrollable frenzy with a wilting penis, and the moist chalk (powder) no longer adheres to her, and her complexion (is) stained with crocodile's dung, and now, aroused by lust, she tears her bedding and its canopy. Or else she ridicules my disgust with these savage jibes: "You droop less with Inachia than with me; you can do Inachia three times a night; in my case, your job is always slack on every occasion. May Lesbia perish in an evil manner, (she) who pointed you out (to me), impotent (as you are), although Amyntas of Cos was there for me, (a man) in whose invincible groin is stuck a cock more resolute than a young tree on the hill-side. For whom were these woollen fleeces (dyed) so hurriedly in Tyrian purples again and again? For you. of course, so that there should be no guest among your contemporaries, whom his own mistress admires more than you. O unhappy me, from whom you fly, as the lamb dreads the fierce wolves and the she-goat the lions!"


13.  To his friends.  Horrida tempestas.  (A metre in which dactylic hexameters alternate with iambico-dactylic verses, i.e. lines composed of an iambic dimeter followed by a dactylic trimeter catalectic, or a hemiepes colon. N.B. Such lines are the direct reverse of the dactylic-iambic verses featured in carmen 11 above)

A fearful storm has brought the sky closer (to earth), and rain and snow bring down the upper air (lit. Jupiter, i.e. the Sky God), now the sea, now the forests resound with the Thracian North Wind. Let us, my friends, seize the opportunity, which the day presents, and, while our limbs (lit. knees) are flourishing and it suits (us), let the (moroseness of) age, with its furrowed brow, dissolve. Do you produce the wine, which was pressed when my Torquatus was consul (i.e. Lucius Manlius Torquatus was consul in 65 B.C., the year of Horace's birth). Cease to speak of other (things): perhaps the deity (i.e. Bacchus) will restore these (things which now concern you) to their former state (lit. their abode) by generous compensation. Now it is pleasing both to be besprinkled by Persian (lit. Achaemenian) perfume and to relieve one's breast of dire anxieties through the lyre of Mercury (lit. of Cyllene), as the noble Centaur (i.e. Chiron) sung to his heroic pupil (i.e. Achilles): "O invincible mortal, child, born to the goddess Thetis, the land of Troy (lit. of Assaracus), which the cold currents of the little Scamander and the smooth-gliding Simois divide, awaits you, (a land) from which the Fates have debarred (lit. broken off) your return by a fatal thread, nor shall your azure mother convey you back to your home. There, relieve every evil by wine and song, those sweet soothing remedies for disfiguring melancholy.


14.  To Maecenas.  Mollis inertia.  (A metre in which dactylic hexameters alternate with iambic dimeters)

You are killing me, my candid Maecenas, by asking (me) so frequently why a feeble apathy has diffused such a great degree of forgetfulness within my inmost senses. as if I had drunk, with a parched throat, the cups which bring on Lethaean slumbers. For the god, the god (i.e. the god of love) forbids me from bringing to an end the poem (I) once promised (you), (namely) those iambics which I had begun. In the same manner (lit. Not otherwise) they say that Anacreon of Teios burned for Bathyllus of Samos, (that Anacreon) who so often lamented his love in a careless measure (lit. without an elaborate metre) on a hollow lyre. You burn (with love) yourself, poor (fellow), but since no fairer flame burned besieged Troy (lit. Ilion), rejoice in your lot; Phryne, a freedwoman, and not content with a single (admirer), is tearing me apart.


15.  To Neaera.  Nox erat et caelo.  (A meter in which dactylic hexameters alternate with iambic dimeters)

It was night and the moon was shining among the lesser stars in a clear sky, when you, so soon to violate the divinity of the great gods, swore in accordance with words which I (had dictated), as you embraced (me) with your pliant arms more closely than the lofty holm-oak is clasped by the ivy: that, while the wolf (should be) an enemy to the flock, and Orion, (hostile) to sailors, should disturb the wintry sea, and, (while) the breeze should ruffle Apollo's unshorn locks, this love of ours should be mutual, O Neaera, (you who are) destined to grieve more deeply at my resolve. For, if there is anything of a man in Flaccus (i.e. Horace), he will not endure that you should give your nights continually to (someone you) prefer, and, in his anger, he will seek one who will return his love, nor will my resolution yield to your beauty once (it has become) odious (to me). and a fixed resentment has entered in, and you, whoever you are, (who is) luckier than me, (who) is now strutting about, exulting in my misfortune, although you may be rich in flocks and in abundance of land, and the Pactolus may flow for you, and the mysteries of Pythagoras, born again, may not escape your notice, and you may excel Nireus in beauty, alas, alas, you will lament her affections, (when they have been) transferred to someone else, but I, in my turn, shall laugh.


16.  To the Roman people.  Altera iam teritur.  (A metre in which dactylic hexameters alternate with iambic trimeters)

Now another age is being ground down by civil wars, and Rome herself comes to ruin through her own strength. (Her), whom neither the neighbouring Marsi or the band of threatening Porsena, nor the emulous courage of Capua nor brave Spartacus and the  Allobroges, faithless during revolutionary times, could destroy, and (whom) fierce Germany with her blue-eyed youth and Hannibal, detested by parents, did not subdue, we, an impious generation of accursed blood shall destroy; and this land will again be occupied by wild beasts. Alas, the  barbarian conqueror will tread on her ashes and the horseman will lash the City with resounding hooves, and - (it is) a sin to see (it) - he will insolently scatter the bones of Quirinus (i.e. Romulus), which (now) are free from wind and sun. Perhaps you ask, jointly or the better part (of you), what is to be done to be rid of these dreadful hardships; there can be no decision better than this, (namely) to go wherever our feet will carry (us), wherever the South Wind or the boisterous South-West Wind will summon (us) through the waves, as the community of the Phocaeans, having bound themselves by imprecations, fled their fields and their native dwellings, and left their temples to be inhabited by boars and ravenous wolves. So, is it agreeable? Or does anyone have (something) better to urge (upon us)? Why, do we delay to go on board ship with an (auspicious) omen? But (first) let us swear to these (conditions): "As soon as these stones, raised from the depths of the sea, shall float, (then) let it be no sin to return, nor let us be ashamed to set our sails in the direction of home, when the Po shall wash the peaks of (Mount) Matinus (i.e. a mountain in Calabria), or the lofty Appennine shall jut out into the sea, and a miraculous love shall form unnatural unions (lit. shall unite monsters) in a new kind of passion, so that it may delight tigers to couple with hinds, and the dove may mate with the kite, and the trusting herds may not fear the lions, and the goat, (grown) smooth, may love the salty sea." Having sworn these (imprecations), and whatever (else) can cut off (the hope of) sweet return, let us go, the whole community, or (at least) the part (of it that is) better than the unteachable flock; let the faint-hearted and the despairing lie upon their inauspicious beds. You, who have courage (lit. to whom there is courage), cast off womanly grief, and fly beyond the Etruscan shore. The encircling Ocean awaits us: let us seek the fields, the blessed fields and the rich isles, where the land, (though) untilled, returns a crop each year, and the vines, (though) unpruned, continually flourish. and the branch of the never-failing olive sprouts forth, and the ripe fig adorns its own tree, the honey distills from the hollow holm-oak, (and) the light water jumps down from the high mountains with a chattering step. Thither the she-goats come to the milking-pails unbidden, and the friendly flock brings back distended udders, and the bear does not growl around the sheep-fold in the evening, nor does the soil swell and heave (lit. swell upwards) with snakes; and we shall happily admire more (things), so that neither does the rainy East Wind lay waste the corn-fields with heavy rain-showers nor are the rich seeds scorched in dried-out clods of earth, with the king of the gods moderating both (extremes). The pine-tree did not venture hither with its Argoan oarsmen, neither did the lascivious (queen of) Colchis (i.e. Medea) set her foot (here), nor did Sidonian sailors or Ulysses' weary crew turn their sail-yard ends in this direction. No infections harm the cattle, nor does the fiery violence of any constellation scorch the flock. Jupiter set apart these shores for a pious people, when he debased the golden age with bronze: with bronze, then with iron he hardened the ages, from which an auspicious escape is granted to the pious, with me (as) their prophet.


17.  Dialogue between Horace and Canidia.  Iam iam efficaci.  (Iambic trimeters)

Horace:

"Now, now I yield to your powerful knowledge, and, (as) a suppliant, I beseech (you), by the dominions of Proserpine and the inviolable divine power of Diana, and by your books of enchantments, able to unfasten and call down the stars (lit. able to call down the stars displaced) from the heavens, Canidia, pray refrain from your magic spells, and turn, turn backward your swiftly revolving wheel. Telephus moved (with compassion) the grandson of Nereus (i.e. Achilles), against whom, he had, in his arrogance, arrayed his columns of Mysians, and against whom he had hurled his sharp javelins. Trojan (lit. Ilian) matrons had anointed (the body of) man-slaying Hector, after their king, leaving his city-walls behind (him), had, alas, fallen prostrate at the feet of the obstinate Achilles. The oarsmen of the much-enduring Ulysses divested their bristly limbs of the hard skins (of swine) at the wish of Circe; then reason and speech flowed back as well as the familiar look to their countenances. I have suffered enough, and more than enough, punishment on your account, (O you) beloved of sailors and hucksters. My youth has fled and my ruddy complexion has left behind (only) bones covered over with a sallow skin; my hair is white through your perfumed ointments, (and) no ease relieves me from my suffering. Night presses hard upon day, and day upon night, nor is it permitted (to me) to relieve my strained lungs by taking breath. Therefore, I am forced to accept what I (once) denied, (namely) that Sabellian incantations shake the heart, and a Marsian song splits the head asunder. What more do you want? O sea and earth, I do not burn as much as Hercules (when) smeared with the black gore of Nessus or the red-hot flame burning in Sicanian (i.e. Sicilian) Etna; you glow (like) a factory of Colchian poison, until I shall be blown away by the injurious winds (like) a dry ember. What outcome or what tributary payment awaits me? Speak out! I will pay the demanded penalty in good faith, whether you should require a hecatomb of bullocks or you wish to celebrate with a mendacious lyre: 'You, a chaste (woman), you an honest (woman), will walk among the stars (as) a golden constellation.' Castor, and the brother of the mighty Castor (i.e. Pollux), incensed on account of the slandered Helen, (yet) overcome by entreaty, restored to the poet (i.e. Stesichorus) the sight which had been taken from (him): and do you - for you have the power - deliver me from this madness, O (you, who are) neither defiled by family squalor, nor skilled (as) a sorceress in scattering ninth-day ashes amid the tombs of the poor. You have (lit. [There is] to you) a compassionate bosom and hands unstained with guilt, and Pactumeius (was) your child, and the mid-wife washed cloths (which were) red with your blood, (and,) whenever giving birth, you spring up strongly."

Canidia:

"Why do you pour your entreaties into ears that are covered up? The rocks (that) the wintry sea (lit. wintry Neptune) pounds with swelling brine (are) not more deaf to (the cries of) naked mariners (than I am to yours). What, (do) you (think) to deride unpunished the (rites) of Cotytto, the rites of unbridled love (lit. Cupid), after you have divulged (them), and, (as) the high-priest of Esquiline sorcery, to fill the City with my name with impunity? What has it availed (me) to have enriched the Paelignian sorceresses, or to have mixed a speedier potion? But a more lingering fate than what you have been praying for awaits you: a thankless life is to be led (by you), wretch (that you are), for this (purpose), so that you may continually endure new sufferings. Tantalus, the father of treacherous Pelops, always in need of an abundant feast, longs for rest, Prometheus, chained to an eagle. longs for (rest), (and) Sisyphus longs to place the boulder on the top of the mountain; but the laws of Jupiter forbid (them). You will wish, at one moment, to jump down from a high tower, and, at another, to lay open your breast with a sword of Noricum, and, saddened by a loathsome melancholy, you will tie nooses around your neck in vain, Then, I shall  ride (lit, shall be conveyed) (like) a knight on your unwelcoming shoulders, and the earth shall yield to my insolence. Shall I, who can animate waxen images, as you yourself are aware, inquisitive (as you are), and snatch the moon from heaven by my incantations, I (who) can raise the dead after they have been cremated, and mix in due proportion the draught of love, bewail the result of my art having no effect on you?"
Last modified onWednesday, 24 August 2016 16:06
Tagged under :

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.