Odes III


I abominate the uninitiated vulgar, and keep them at a distance.
Preserve a religious silence: I, the priest of the Muses, sing to
virgins and boys verses not heard before. The dominion of dread
sovereigns is over their own subjects; that of Jupiter, glorious for his
conquest over the giants, who shakes all nature with his nod, is over
sovereigns themselves. It happens that one man, arranges trees, in
regular rows, to a greater extent than another; this man comes down into
the Campus [Martius] as a candidate of a better family; another vies
with him for morals and a better reputation; a third has a superior
number of dependants; but Fate, by the impartial law of nature, is
allotted both to the conspicuous and the obscure; the capacious urn
keeps every name in motion. Sicilian dainties will not force a delicious
relish to that man, over whose impious neck the naked sword hangs: the
songs of birds and the lyre will not restore his sleep. Sleep disdains
not the humble cottages and shady bank of peasants; he disdains not
Tempe, fanned by zephyrs. Him, who desires but a competency, neither the
tempestuous sea renders anxious, nor the malign violence of Arcturus
setting, or of the rising Kid; not his vineyards beaten down with hail,
and a deceitful farm; his plantations at one season blaming the rains,
at another, the influence of the constellations parching the grounds, at
another, the severe winters. The fishes perceive the seas contracted, by
the vast foundations that have been laid in the deep: hither numerous
undertakers with their men, and lords, disdainful of the land, send down
mortar: but anxiety and the threats of conscience ascend by the same way
as the possessor; nor does gloomy care depart from the brazen-beaked
galley, and she mounts behind the horseman. Since then nor Phrygian
marble, nor the use of purple more dazzling than the sun, nor the
Falernian vine, nor the Persian nard, composes a troubled mind, why
should I set about a lofty edifice with columns that excite envy, and in
the modern taste? Why should I exchange my Sabine vale for wealth, which
is attended with more trouble?


Let the robust youth learn patiently to endure pinching want in the
active exercise of arms; and as an expert horseman, dreadful for his
spear, let him harass the fierce Parthians; and let him lead a life
exposed to the open air, and familiar with dangers. Him, the consort and
marriageable virgin-daughter of some warring tyrant, viewing from the
hostile walls, may sigh–- Alas! let not the affianced prince,
inexperienced as he is in arms, provoke by a touch this terrible lion,
whom bloody rage hurries through the midst of slaughter. It is sweet and
glorious to die for one’s country; death even pursues the man that flies
from him; nor does he spare the trembling knees of effeminate youth, nor
the coward back. Virtue, unknowing of base repulse, shines with
immaculate honors; nor does she assume nor lay aside the ensigns of her
dignity, at the veering of the popular air. Virtue, throwing open heaven
to those who deserve not to die, directs her progress through paths of
difficulty, and spurns with a rapid wing grovelling cowards and the
slippery earth. There is likewise a sure reward for faithful silence. I
will prohibit that man, who shall divulge the sacred rites of mysterious
Ceres, from being under the same roof with me, or from setting sail with
me in the same fragile bark: for Jupiter, when slighted, often joins a
good man in the same fate with a bad one. Seldom hath punishment, though
lame, of foot, failed to overtake the wicked.


Not the rage of the people pressing to hurtful measures, not the aspect
of a threatening tyrant can shake from his settled purpose the man who
is just and determined in his resolution; nor can the south wind, that
tumultuous ruler of the restless Adriatic, nor the mighty hand of
thundering Jove; if a crushed world should fall in upon him, the ruins
would strike him undismayed. By this character Pollux, by this the
wandering Hercules, arrived at the starry citadels; among whom Augustus
has now taken his place, and quaffs nectar with empurpled lips. Thee, O
Father Bacchus, meritorious for this virtue, thy tigers carried, drawing
the yoke with intractable neck; by this Romulus escaped Acheron on the
horses of Mars–Juno having spoken what the gods in full conclave
approve: “Troy, Troy, a fatal and lewd judge, and a foreign woman, have
reduced to ashes, condemned, with its inhabitants and fraudulent prince,
to me and the chaste Minerva, ever since Laomedon disappointed the gods
of the stipulated reward. Now neither the infamous guest of the
Lacedaemonian adulteress shines; nor does Priam’s perjured family repel
the warlike Grecians by the aid of Hector, and that war, spun out to
such a length by our factions, has sunk to peace. Henceforth, therefore,
I will give up to Mars both my bitter resentment, and the detested
grandson, whom the Trojan princes bore. Him will I suffer to enter the
bright regions, to drink the juice of nectar, and to be enrolled among
the peaceful order of gods. As long as the extensive sea rages between
Troy and Rome, let them, exiles, reign happy in any other part of the
world: as long as cattle trample upon the tomb of Priam and Paris, and
wild beasts conceal their young ones there with impunity, may the
Capitol remain in splendor, and may brave Rome be able to give laws to
the conquered Medes. Tremendous let her extend her name abroad to the
extremest boundaries of the earth, where the middle ocean separates
Europe from Africa, where the swollen Nile waters the plains; more brave
in despising gold as yet undiscovered, and so best situated while hidden
in the earth, than in forcing it out for the uses of mankind, with a
hand ready to make depredations on everything that is sacred. Whatever
end of the world has made resistance, that let her reach with her arms,
joyfully alert to visit, even that part where fiery heats rage madding;
that where clouds and rains storm with unmoderated fury. But I pronounce
this fate to the warlike Romans, upon this condition; that neither
through an excess of piety, nor of confidence in their power, they
become inclined to rebuild the houses of their ancestors’ Troy. The
fortune of Troy, reviving under unlucky auspices, shall be repeated with
lamentable destruction, I, the wife and sister of Jupiter, leading on
the victorious bands. Thrice, if a brazen wall should arise by means of
its founder Phoebus, thrice should it fall, demolished by my Grecians;
thrice should the captive wife bewail her husband and her children.”
These themes ill suit the merry lyre. Whither, muse, are you
going?–Cease, impertinent, to relate the language of the gods, and to
debase great things by your trifling measures.


Descend from heaven, queen Calliope, and come sing with your pipe a
lengthened strain; or, if you had now rather, with your clear voice, or
on the harp or lute of Phoebus. Do ye hear? or does a pleasing frenzy
delude me? I seem to hear [her], and to wander [with her] along the
hallowed groves, through which pleasant rivulets and gales make their
way. Me, when a child, and fatigued with play, in sleep the woodland
doves, famous in story, covered with green leaves in the Apulian Vultur,
just without the limits of my native Apulia; so that it was matter of
wonder to all that inhabit the nest of lofty Acherontia, the Bantine
Forests, and the rich soil of low Ferentum, how I could sleep with my
body safe from deadly vipers and ravenous bears; how I could be covered
with sacred laurel and myrtle heaped together, though a child, not
animated without the [inspiration of the] gods. Yours, O ye muses, I am
yours, whether I am elevated to the Sabine heights; or whether the cool
Praeneste, or the sloping Tibur, or the watery Baiae have delighted me.
Me, who am attached to your fountains and dances, not the army put to
flight at Philippi, not the execrable tree, nor a Palinurus in the
Sicilian Sea has destroyed. While you shall be with me with pleasure
will I, a sailor, dare the raging Bosphorus; or, a traveler, the burning
sands of the Assyrian shore: I will visit the Britons inhuman to
strangers, and the Concanian delighted [with drinking] the blood of
horses; I will visit the quivered Geloni, and the Scythian river without
hurt. You entertained lofty Caesar, seeking to put an end to his toils,
in the Pierian grotto, as soon as he had distributed in towns his
troops, wearied by campaigning: you administer [to him] moderate
counsel, and graciously rejoice at it when administered. We are aware
how he, who rules the inactive earth and the stormy main, the cities
also, and the dreary realms [of hell], and alone governs with a
righteous sway both gods and the human multitude, how he took off the
impious Titans and the gigantic troop by his falling thunderbolts. That
horrid youth, trusting to the strength of their arms, and the brethren
proceeding to place Pelion upon shady Olympus, had brought great dread
[even] upon Jove. But what could Typhoeus, and the strong Mimas, or what
Porphyrion with his menacing statue; what Rhoetus, and Enceladus, a
fierce darter with trees uptorn, avail, though rushing violently against
the sounding shield of Pallas? At one part stood the eager Vulcan, at
another the matron Juno, and he, who is never desirous to lay aside his
bow from his shoulders, Apollo, the god of Delos and Patara, who bathes
his flowing hair in the pure dew of Castalia, and possesses the groves
of Lycia and his native wood. Force, void of conduct, falls by its own
weight; moreover, the gods promote discreet force to further advantage;
but the same beings detest forces, that meditate every kind of impiety.
The hundred-handed Gyges is an evidence of the sentiments I allege: and
Orion, the tempter of the spotless Diana, destroyed by a virgin dart.
The earth, heaped over her own monsters, grieves and laments her
offspring, sent to murky Hades by a thunderbolt; nor does the active
fire consume Aetna that is placed over it, nor does the vulture desert
the liver of incontinent Tityus, being stationed there as an avenger of
his baseness; and three hundred chains confine the amorous Pirithous.


We believe from his thundering that Jupiter has dominion in the heavens:
Augustus shall be esteemed a present deity the Britons and terrible
Parthians being added to the empire. What! has any soldier of Crassus
lived, a degraded husband with a barbarian wife? And has (O [corrupted]
senate, and degenerate morals!) the Marsian and Apulian, unmindful of
the sacred bucklers, of the [Roman] name and gown, and of eternal Vesta,
grown old in the lands of hostile fathers-in-law, Jupiter and the city
being in safety? The prudent mind of Regulus had provided against this,
dissenting from ignominious terms, and inferring from such a precedent
destruction to the succeeding age, if the captive youth were not to
perish unpitied. I have beheld, said he, the Roman standards affixed to
the Carthaginian temples, and their arms taken away from our soldiers
without bloodshed. I have beheld the arms of our citizens bound behind
their free-born backs, and the gates [of the enemy] unshut, and the
fields, which were depopulated by our battles, cultivated anew. The
soldier, to be sure, ransomed by gold, will return a braver
fellow!–No–you add loss to infamy; [for] neither does the wool once
stained by the dye of the sea-weed ever resume its lost color; nor does
genuine valor, when once it has failed, care to resume its place in
those who have degenerated through cowardice. If the hind, disentangled
from the thickset toils, ever fights, then indeed shall he be valorous,
who has intrusted himself to faithless foes; and he shall trample upon
the Carthaginians in a second war, who dastardly has felt the thongs
with his arms tied behind him, and has been afraid of death. He, knowing
no other way to preserve his life, has confounded peace with war. O
scandal! O mighty Carthage, elevated to a higher pitch by Italy’s
disgraceful downfall! He (Regulus) is reported to have rejected the
embrace of his virtuous wife and his little sons like one degraded; and
to have sternly fixed his manly countenance on the ground, until, as an
adviser, by his counsel he confirmed the wavering senators, and amid his
weeping friends hastened away, a glorious exile. Notwithstanding he knew
what the barbarian executioner was providing for him, yet he pushed from
his opposing kindred and the populace retarding his return, in no other
manner, than if (after he had quitted the tedious business of his
clients, by determining their suit) he was only going to the Venafrian
plains, or the Lacedaemonian Tarentum.


Thou shalt atone, O Roman, for the sins of your ancestors, though
innocent, till you shall have repaired the temples and tottering shrines
of the gods, and their statues, defiled with sooty smoke. Thou boldest
sway, because thou bearest thyself subordinate to the gods; to this
source refer every undertaking; to this, every event. The gods, because
neglected, have inflicted many evils on calamitous Italy. Already has
Monaeses, and the band of Pacorus, twice repelled our inauspicious
attacks, and exults in having added the Roman spoils to their trivial
collars. The Dacian and Ethiopian have almost demolished the city
engaged in civil broils, the one formidable for his fleet, the other
more expert for missile arrows. The times, fertile in wickedness, have
in the first place polluted the marriage state, and [thence] the issue
and families. From this fountain perdition being derived, has
overwhelmed the nation and people. The marriageable virgin delights to
be taught the Ionic dances, and even at this time is trained up in
[seductive] arts, and cherishes unchaste desires from her very infancy.
Soon after she courts younger debauchees when her husband is in his
cups, nor has she any choice, to whom she shall privately grant her
forbidden pleasures when the lights are removed, but at the word of
command, openly, not without the knowledge of her husband, she will come
forth, whether it be a factor that calls for her, or the captain of a
Spanish ship, the extravagant purchaser of her disgrace. It was not a
youth born from parents like these, that stained the sea with
Carthaginian gore, and slew Pyrrhus, and mighty Antiochus, and terrific
Annibal; but a manly progeny of rustic soldiers, instructed to turn the
glebe with Sabine spades, and to carry clubs cut [out of the woods] at
the pleasure of a rigid mother, what time the sun shifted the shadows of
the mountains, and took the yokes from the wearied oxen, bringing on the
pleasant hour with his retreating chariot. What does not wasting time
destroy? The age of our fathers, worse than our grandsires, produced us
still more flagitious, us, who are about to product am offspring more
vicious [even than ourselves].


Why, O Asterie, do you weep for Gyges, a youth of inviolable constancy,
whom the kindly zephyrs will restore to you in the beginning of the
Spring, enriched with a Bithynian cargo? Driven as far as Oricum by the
southern winds, after [the rising] of the Goat’s tempestuous
constellation, he sleepless passes the cold nights in abundant weeping
[for you]; but the agent of his anxious landlady slyly tempts him by a
thousand methods, informing him that [his mistress], Chloe, is sighing
for him, and burns with the same love that thou hast for him. He
remonstrates with him how a perfidious woman urged the credulous
Proetus, by false accusations, to hasten the death of the over-chaste
Bellerophon. He tells how Peleus was like to have been given up to the
infernal regions, while out of temperance he avoided the Magnesian
Hippolyte: and the deceiver quotes histories to him, that are lessons
for sinning. In vain; for, heart-whole as yet, he receives his words
deafer than the Icarian rocks. But with regard to you, have a care lest
your neighbor Enipeus prove too pleasing. Though no other person equally
skillful to guide the steed, is conspicuous in the course, nor does any
one with equal swiftness swim down the Etrurian stream, yet secure your
house at the very approach of night, nor look down into the streets at
the sound of the doleful pipe; and remain inflexible toward him, though
he often upbraid thee with cruelty.


O Maecenas, learned in both languages, you wonder what I, a single man,
have to do on the calends of March; what these flowers mean, and the
censer replete with frankincense, and the coals laid upon the live turf.
I made a vow of a joyous banquet, and a white goat to Bacchus, after
having been at the point of death by a blow from a tree. This day,
sacred in the revolving year, shall remove the cork fastened with pitch
from that jar, which was set to inhale the smoke in the consulship of
Tullus. Take, my Maecenas, a hundred cups on account of the safety of
your friend, and continue the wakeful lamps even to day-light: all
clamor and passion be far away. Postpone your political cares with
regard to the state: the army of the Dacian Cotison is defeated; the
troublesome Mede is quarreling with himself in a horrible [civil] war:
the Cantabrian, our old enemy on the Spanish coast, is subject to us,
though conquered by a long-disputed victory: now, too, the Scythians are
preparing to quit the field with their imbent bows. Neglectful, as a
private person, forbear to be too solicitous lest the community in any
wise suffer, and joyfully seize the boons of the present hour, and quit
serious affairs.


HORACE. As long as I was agreeable to thee, and no other youth more
favored was wont to fold his arms around thy snowy neck, I lived happier
than the Persian monarch.

LYDIA. As long as thou hadst not a greater flame for any other, nor was
Lydia below Chloe [in thine affections], I Lydia, of distinguished fame,
flourished more eminent than the Roman Ilia.

HOR. The Thracian Chloe now commands me, skillful in sweet modulations,
and a mistress of the lyre; for whom I would not dread to die, if the
fates would spare her, my surviving soul.

LYD. Calais, the son of the Thurian Ornitus, inflames me with a mutual
fire; for whom I would twice endure to die, if the fates would spare my
surviving youth.

HOR. What! if our former love returns, and unites by a brazen yoke us
once parted? What if Chloe with her golden locks be shaken off, and the
door again open to slighted Lydia.

LYD. Though he is fairer than a star, thou of more levity than a cork,
and more passionate than the blustering Adriatic; with thee I should
love to live, with thee I would cheerfully die.


O Lyce, had you drunk from the remote Tanais, in a state of marriage
with tome barbarian, yet you might be sorry to expose me, prostrate
before your obdurate doors, to the north winds that have made those
places their abode. Do you hear with what a noise your gate, with what
[a noise] the grove, planted about your elegant buildings, rebellows to
the winds? And how Jupiter glazes the settled snow with his bright
influence? Lay aside disdain, offensive to Venus, lest your rope should
run backward, while the wheel is revolving. Your Tyrrhenian father did
not beget you to be as inaccessible as Penelope to your wooers. O though
neither presents, nor prayers, nor the violet-tinctured paleness of your
lovers, nor your husband smitten with a musical courtezan, bend you to
pity; yet [at length] spare your suppliants, you that are not softer
than the sturdy oak, nor of a gentler disposition than the African
serpents. This side [of mine] will not always be able to endure your
threshold, and the rain.


O Mercury, for under thy instruction the ingenious Amphion moved rocks
by his voice, you being his tutor; and though my harp, skilled in
sounding, with seven strings, formerly neither vocal nor pleasing, but
now agreeable both to the tables of the wealthy and the temples [of the
gods]; dictate measures to which Lyde may incline her obstinate ears,
who, like a filly of three years old, plays and frisks about in the
spacious fields, inexperienced in nuptial loves, and hitherto unripe for
a brisk husband. You are able to draw after your tigers and attendant
woods, and to retard rapid rivers. To your blandishments the enormous
porter of the [infernal] palace yielded, though a hundred serpents
fortify his head, and a pestilential steam and an infectious poison
issue from his triple-tongued mouth. Moreover, Ixion and Tityus smiled
with a reluctant aspect: while you soothe the daughters of Danaus with
your delightful harmony, their vessel for some time remained dry. Let
Lyde hear of the crime, and the well-known punishment of the virgins,
and the cask emptied by the water streaming through the bottom, and what
lasting fates await their misdeeds even beyond the grave. Impious! (for
what greater impiety could they have committed?) Impious! who could
destroy their bridegrooms with the cruel sword! One out of the many,
worthy of the nuptial torch, was nobly false to her perjured parent, and
a maiden illustrious to all posterity; she, who said to her youthful
husband, “Arise! arise! lest an eternal sleep be given to you from a
hand you have no suspicion of; disappoint your father-in-law and my
wicked sisters, who, like lionesses having possessed themselves of
calves (alas)! tear each of them to pieces; I, of softer mold than they,
will neither strike thee, nor detain thee in my custody. Let my father
load me with cruel chains, because out of mercy I spared my unhappy
spouse; let him transport me even to the extreme Numidian plains.
Depart, whither your feet and the winds carry you, while the night and
Venus are favorable: depart with happy omen; yet, not forgetful of me,
engrave my mournful story on my tomb.”


It is for unhappy maidens neither to give indulgence to love, nor to
wash away cares with delicious wine; or to be dispirited out of dread of
the lashes of an uncle’s tongue. The winged boy of Venus, O Neobule, has
deprived you of your spindle and your webs, and the beauty of Hebrus
from Lipara of inclination for the labors of industrious Minerva, after
he has bathed his anointed shoulders in the waters of the Tiber; a
better horseman than Bellerophon himself, neither conquered at boxing,
nor by want of swiftness in the race: he is also skilled to strike with
his javelin the stags, flying through the open plains in frightened
herd, and active to surprise the wild boar lurking in the deep thicket.


O thou fountain of Bandusia, clearer than glass, worthy of delicious
wine, not unadorned by flowers; to-morrow thou shalt be presented with a
kid, whose forehead, pouting with new horns, determines upon both love
and war in vain; for this offspring of the wanton flock shall tinge thy
cooling streams with scarlet blood. The severe season of the burning
dog-star cannot reach thee; thou affordest a refreshing coolness to the
oxen fatigued with the plough-share, and to the ranging flock. Thou also
shalt become one of the famous fountains, through my celebrating the oak
that covers the hollow rock, whence thy prattling rills descend with a


Augustus Caesar, O ye people, who was lately said, like another
Hercules, to have sought for the laurel to be purchased only by death,
revisits his domestic gods, victorious from the Spanish shore. Let the
matron (_Livia_), to whom her husband alone is dear, come forth in
public procession, having first performed her duty to the just gods; and
(_Octavia_), the sister of our glorious general; the mothers also of the
maidens and of the youths just preserved from danger, becomingly adorned
with supplicatory fillets. Ye, O young men, and young women lately
married, abstain from ill-omened words. This day, to me a real festival,
shall expel gloomy cares: I will neither dread commotions, nor violent
death, while Caesar is in possession of the earth. Go, slave, and seek
for perfume and chaplets, and a cask that remembers the Marsian war, if
any vessel could elude the vagabond Spartacus. And bid the tuneful
Neaera make haste to collect into a knot her auburn hair; but if any
delay should happen from the surly porter, come away. Hoary hair
mollifies minds that are fond of strife and petulant wrangling. I would
not have endured this treatment, warm with youth in the consulship of


You wife of the indigent Ibycus, at length put an end to your
wickedness, and your infamous practices. Cease to sport among the
damsels, and to diffuse a cloud among bright constellations, now on the
verge of a timely death. If any thing will become Pholoe, it does not
you Chloris, likewise. Your daughter with more propriety attacks the
young men’s apartments, like a Bacchanalian roused up by the rattling
timbrel. The love of Nothus makes her frisk about like a wanton
she-goat. The wool shorn near the famous Luceria becomes you now
antiquated: not musical instruments, or the damask flower of the rose,
or hogsheads drunk down to the lees.


A brazen tower, and doors of oak, and the melancholy watch of wakeful
dogs, had sufficiently defended the imprisoned Danae from midnight
gallants, had not Jupiter and Venus laughed at Acrisius, the anxious
keeper of the immured maiden: [for they well knew] that the way would be
safe and open, after the god had transformed himself into a bribe. Gold
delights to penetrate through the midst of guards, and to break through
stone-walls, more potent than the thunderbolt. The family of the Grecian
augur perished, immersed in destruction on account of lucre. The man of
Macedon cleft the gates of the cities and subverted rival monarchs by
bribery. Bribes enthrall fierce captains of ships. Care, and a thirst
for greater things, is the consequence of increasing wealth. Therefore,
Maecenas, thou glory of the [Roman] knights, I have justly dreaded to
raise the far-conspicuous head. As much more as any man shall deny
himself, so much more shall he receive from the gods. Naked as I am, I
seek the camps of those who covet nothing; and as a deserter, rejoice to
quit the side of the wealthy: a more illustrious possessor of a
contemptible fortune, than if I could be said to treasure up in my
granaries all that the industrious Apulian cultivates, poor amid
abundance of wealth. A rivulet of clear water, and a wood of a few
acres, and a certain prospect of my good crop, are blessings unknown to
him who glitters in the proconsulship of fertile Africa: I am more
happily circumstanced. Though neither the Calabrian bees produce honey,
nor wine ripens to age for me in a Formian cask, nor rich fleeces
increase in Gallic pastures; yet distressful poverty is remote; nor, if
I desired more, would you refuse to grant it me. I shall be better able
to extend my small revenues, by contracting my desires, than if I could
join the kingdom of Alyattes to the Phrygian plains. Much is wanting to
those who covet much. ’Tis well with him to whom God has given what is
necessary with a sparing hand.


O Aelius, who art nobly descended from the ancient Lamus (forasmuch as
they report, that both the first of the Lamian family had their name
hence, and all the race of the descendants through faithful records
derives its origin from that founder, who is said to have possessed, as
prince, the Formian walls, and Liris gliding on the shores of Marica–an
extensive potentate). To-morrow a tempest sent from the east shall strew
the grove with many leaves, and the shore with useless sea-weed, unless
that old prophetess of rain, the raven, deceives me. Pile up the dry
wood, while you may; to-morrow you shall indulge your genius with wine,
and with a pig of two months old, with your slaves dismissed from their


O Faunus, thou lover of the flying nymphs, benignly traverse my borders
and sunny fields, and depart propitious to the young offspring of my
flocks; if a tender kid fall [a victim] to thee at the completion of the
year, and plenty of wines be not wanting to the goblet, the companion of
Venus, and the ancient altar smoke with liberal perfume. All the cattle
sport in the grassy plain, when the nones of December return to thee;
the village keeping holiday enjoys leisure in the fields, together with
the oxen free from toil. The wolf wanders among the fearless lambs; the
wood scatters its rural leaves for thee, and the laborer rejoices to
have beaten the hated ground in triple dance.


How far Codrus, who was not afraid to die for his country, is removed
from Inachus, and the race of Aeacus, and the battles also that were
fought at sacred Troy–[these subjects] you descant upon; but at what
price we may purchase a hogshead of Chian; who shall warm the water [for
bathing]; who finds a house: and at what hour I am to get rid of these
Pelignian colds, you are silent. Give me, boy, [a bumper] for the new
moon in an instant, give me one for midnight, and one for Murena the
augur. Let our goblets be mixed up with three or nine cups, according to
every one’s disposition. The enraptured bard, who delights in the
odd-numbered muses, shall call for brimmers thrice three. Each of the
Graces, in conjunction with the naked sisters, fearful of broils,
prohibits upward of three. It is my pleasure to rave; why cease the
breathings of the Phrygian flute? Why is the pipe hung up with the
silent lyre? I hate your niggardly handfuls: strew roses freely. Let the
envious Lycus hear the jovial noise; and let our fair neighbor,
ill-suited to the old Lycus, [hear it.] The ripe Rhode aims at thee,
Telephus, smart with thy bushy locks; at thee, bright as the clear
evening star; the love of my Glycera slowly consumes me.


Do you not perceive, O Pyrrhus, at what hazard yon are taking away the
whelps from a Gutulian lioness? In a little while you, a timorous
ravisher, shall fly from the severe engagement, when she shall march
through the opposing band of youths, re-demanding her beauteous
Nearchus; a grand contest, whether a greater share of booty shall fall
to thee or to her! In the mean time, while you produce your swift
arrows, she whets her terrific teeth; while the umpire of the combat is
reported to have placed the palm under his naked foot, and refreshed his
shoulder, overspread with his perfumed locks, with the gentle breeze:
just such another was Nireus, or he that was ravished from the watery


O thou goodly cask, that wast brought to light at the same time with me
in the consulship of Manlius, whether thou containest the occasion of
complaint, or jest, or broils and maddening amours, or gentle sleep;
under whatever title thou preservest the choice Massic, worthy to be
removed on an auspicious day; descend, Corvinus bids me draw the
mellowest wine. He, though he is imbued in the Socratic lectures, will
not morosely reject thee. The virtue even of old Cato is recorded to
have been frequently warmed with wine. Thou appliest a gentle violence
to that disposition, which is in general of the rougher cast: Thou
revealest the cares and secret designs of the wise, by the assistance of
merry Bacchus. You restore hope and spirit to anxious minds, and give
horns to the poor man, who after [tasting] you neither dreads the
diadems of enraged monarchs, nor the weapons of the soldiers. Thee
Bacchus, and Venus, if she comes in good-humor, and the Graces loth to
dissolve the knot [of their union], and living lights shall prolong,
till returning Phoebus puts the stars to flight.


O virgin, protectress of the mountains and the groves, thou three-formed
goddess, who thrice invoked, hearest young women in labor, and savest
them from death; sacred to thee be this pine that overshadows my villa,
which I, at the completion of every year, joyful will present with the
blood of a boar-pig, just meditating his oblique attack.


My rustic Phidyle, if you raise your suppliant hands to heaven at the
new moon, and appease the household gods with frankincense, and this
year’s fruits, and a ravening swine; the fertile vine shall neither
feel the pestilential south-west, nor the corn the barren blight, or
your dear brood the sickly season in the fruit-bearing autumn. For the
destined victim, which is pastured in the snowy Algidus among the oaks
and holm trees, or thrives in the Albanian meadows, with its throat
shall stain the axes of the priests. It is not required of you, who are
crowning our little gods with rosemary and the brittle myrtle, to
propitiate them with a great slaughter of sheep. If an innocent hand
touches a clear, a magnificent victim does not pacify the offended
Penates more acceptably, than a consecrated cake and crackling salt.


Though, more wealthy than the unrifled treasures of the Arabians and
rich India, you should possess yourself by your edifices of the whole
Tyrrhenian and Apulian seas; yet, if cruel fate fixes its adamantine
grapples upon the topmost roofs, you shall not disengage your mind from
dread, nor your life from the snares of death. The Scythians that dwell
in the plains, whose carts, according to their custom, draw their
vagrant habitations, live in a better manner; and [so do] the rough
Getae, whose uncircumscribed acres produce fruits and corn free to all,
nor is a longer than annual tillage agreeable, and a successor leaves
him who has accomplished his labor by an equal right. There the
guiltless wife spares her motherless step-children, nor does the
portioned spouse govern her husband, nor put any confidence in a sleek
adulterer. Their dower is the high virtue of their parents, and a
chastity reserved from any other man by a steadfast security; and it, is
forbidden to sin, or the reward is death. O if there be any one willing
to remove our impious slaughters, and civil rage; if he be desirous to
be written FATHER OF THE STATE, on statues [erected to him], let him
dare to curb insuperable licentiousness, and be eminent to posterity;
since we (O injustice!) detest virtue while living, but invidiously seek
for her after she is taken out of our view. To what purpose are our
woeful complaints, if sin is not cut off with punishment? Of what
efficacy are empty laws, without morals; if neither that part of the
world which is shut in by fervent heats, nor that side which borders
upon Boreas, and snows hardened upon the ground, keep off the merchant;
[and] the expert sailors get the better of the horrible seas? Poverty, a
great reproach, impels us both to do and to suffer any thing, and
deserts the path of difficult virtue. Let us, then, cast our gems and
precious stones and useless gold, the cause of extreme evil, either into
the Capitol, whither the acclamations and crowd of applauding [citizens]
call us, or into the adjoining ocean. If we are truly penitent for our
enormities, the very elements of depraved lust are to be erased, and the
minds of too soft a mold should be formed by severer studies. The noble
youth knows not how to keep his seat on horseback and is afraid to go a
hunting, more skilled to play (if you choose it) with the Grecian
trochus, or dice, prohibited by law; while the father’s perjured faith
can deceive his partner and friend, and he hastens to get money for an
unworthy heir. In a word, iniquitous wealth increases, yet something is
ever wanting to the incomplete fortune.


Whither, O Bacchus, art thou hurrying me, replete with your influence?
Into what groves, into what recesses am I driven, actuated with uncommon
spirit? In what caverns, meditating the immortal honor of illustrious
Caesar, shall I be heard enrolling him among the stars and the council
of Jove? I will utter something extraordinary, new, hitherto unsung by
any other voice. Thus the sleepless Bacchanal is struck with enthusiasm,
casting her eyes upon Hebrus, and Thrace bleached with snow, and Rhodope
traversed by the feet of barbarians. How am I delighted in my rambles,
to admire the rocks and the desert grove! O lord of the Naiads and the
Bacchanalian women, who are able with their hands to overthrow lofty
ash-trees; nothing little, nothing low, nothing mortal will I sing.
Charming is the hazard, O Bacchus, to accompany the god, who binds his
temples with the verdant vine-leaf.


I lately lived a proper person for girls, and campaigned it not without
honor; but now this wall, which guards the left side of [the statue] of
sea-born Venus, shall have my arms and my lyre discharged from warfare.
Here, here, deposit the shining flambeaux, and the wrenching irons, and
the bows, that threatened the resisting doors. O thou goddess, who
possessest the blissful Cyprus, and Memphis free from Sithonian snow, O
queen, give the haughty Chloe one cut with your high-raised lash.


Let the omen of the noisy screech-owl and a pregnant bitch, or a tawny
wolf running down from the Lanuvian fields, or a fox with whelp conduct
the impious [on their way]; may the serpent also break their undertaken
journey, if, like an arrow athwart the road, it has frightened the
horses. What shall I, a provident augur, fear? I will invoke from the
east, with my prayers, the raven forboding by his croaking, before the
bird which presages impending showers, revisits the stagnant pools.
Mayest thou be happy, O Galatea, wheresoever thou choosest to reside,
and live mindful of me and neither the unlucky pye nor the vagrant crow
forbids your going on. But you see, with what an uproar the prone Orion
hastens on: I know what the dark bay of the Adriatic is, and in what
manner Iapyx, [seemingly] serene, is guilty. Let the wives and children
of our enemies feel the blind tumults of the rising south, and the
roaring of the blackened sea, and the shores trembling with its lash.
Thus too Europa trusted her fair side to the deceitful bull, and bold as
she was, turned pale at the sea abounding with monsters, and the cheat
now become manifest. She, who lately in the meadows was busied about
flowers, and a composer of the chaplet meet for nymphs, saw nothing in
the dusky night put stars and water. Who as soon as she arrived at
Crete, powerful with its hundred cities, cried out, overcome with rage,
“O father, name abandoned by thy daughter! O my duty! Whence, whither am
I come? One death is too little for virgins’ crime. Am I awake, while I
deplore my base offense; or does some vain phantom, which, escaping from
the ivory gate, brings on a dream, impose upon me, still free from
guilt. Was it better to travel over the tedious waves, or to gather the
fresh flowers? If any one now would deliver up to me in my anger this
infamous bull, I would do my utmost to tear him to pieces with steel,
and break off the horns of the monster, lately so much beloved.
Abandoned I have left my father’s house, abandoned I procrastinate my
doom. O if any of the gods hear this, I wish I may wander naked among
lions: before foul decay seizes my comely cheeks, and moisture leaves
this tender prey, I desire, in all my beauty, to be the food of tigers.”
“Base Europa,” thy absent father urges, “why do you hesitate to die? you
may strangle your neck suspended from this ash, with your girdle that
has commodiously attended you. Or if a precipice, and the rocks that are
edged with death, please you, come on, commit yourself to the rapid
storm; unless you, that are of blood-royal, had rather card your
mistress’s wool, and be given up as a concubine to some barbarian dame.”
As she complained, the treacherously-smiling Venus, and her son, with
his bow relaxed, drew near. Presently, when she had sufficiently rallied
her, “Refrain (she cried) from your rage and passionate chidings, since
this detested bull shall surrender his horns to be torn in pieces by
you. Are you ignorant, that you are the wife of the invincible Jove?
Cease your sobbing; learn duly to support your distinguished good
fortune. A division of the world shall bear your name.”


What can I do better on the festal day of Neptune? Quickly produce,
Lyde, the hoarded Caecuban, and make an attack upon wisdom, ever on her
guard. You perceive the noontide is on its decline; and yet, as if the
fleeting day stood still, you delay to bring out of the store-house the
loitering cask, [that bears its date] from the consul Bibulus. We will
sing by turns, Neptune, and the green locks of the Nereids; you, shall
chant, on your wreathed lyre, Latona and the darts of the nimble
Cynthia; at the conclusion of your song, she also [shall be celebrated],
who with her yoked swans visits Gnidos, and the shining Cyclades, and
Paphos: the night also shall be celebrated in a suitable lay.


O Maecenas, thou progeny of Tuscan kings, there has been a long while
for you in my house some mellow wine in an unbroached hogshead, with
rose-flowers and expressed essence for your hair. Disengage yourself
from anything that may retard you, nor contemplate the ever marshy
Tibur, and the sloping fields of Aesula, and the hills of Telegonus the
parricide. Leave abundance, which is the source of daintiness, and yon
pile of buildings approaching near the lofty clouds: cease to admire the
smoke, and opulence, and noise of flourishing Rome. A change is
frequently agreeable to the rich, and a cleanly meal in the little
cottage of the poor has smoothed an anxious brow without carpets or
purple. Now the bright father of Andromeda displays his hidden fire; now
Procyon rages, and the constellation of the ravening Lion, as the sun
brings round the thirsty season. Now the weary shepherd with his languid
flock seeks the shade, and the river, and the thickets of rough
Sylvanus; and the silent bank is free from the wandering winds. You
regard what constitution may suit the state, and are in an anxious dread
for Rome, what preparations the Seres and the Bactrians subject to
Cyrus, and the factious Tanais are making. A wise deity shrouds in
obscure darkness the events of the time to come, and smiles if a mortal
is solicitous beyond the law of nature. Be mindful to manage duly that
which is present. What remains goes on in the manner of the river, at
one time calmly gliding in the middle of its channel to the Tuscan Sea,
at another, rolling along corroded stones, and stumps of trees, forced
away, and cattle, and houses, not without the noise of mountains and
neighboring woods, when the merciless deluge enrages the peaceful
waters. That man is master of himself and shall live happy, who has it
in his power to say, “I have lived to-day: to-morrow let the Sire invest
the heaven, either with a black cloud, or with clear sunshine;
nevertheless, he shall not render ineffectual what is past, nor undo or
annihilate what the fleeting hour has once carried off. Fortune, happy
in the execution of her cruel office, and persisting to play her
insolent game, changes uncertain honors, indulgent now to me, by and by
to another. I praise her, while she abides by me. If she moves her fleet
wings, I resign what she has bestowed, and wrap myself up in my virtue,
and court honest poverty without a portion. It is no business of mine,
if the mast groan with the African storms, to have recourse to piteous
prayers, and to make a bargain with my vows, that my Cyprian and Syrian
merchandize may not add to the wealth of the insatiable sea. Then the
gale and the twin Pollux will carry me safe in the protection of a skiff
with two oars, through the tumultuous Aegean Sea.”


I have completed a monument more lasting than brass, and more sublime
than the regal elevation of pyramids, which neither the wasting shower,
the unavailing north wind, nor an innumerable succession of years, and
the flight of seasons, shall be able to demolish. I shall not wholly
die; but a great part of me shall escape Libitina. I shall continualy be
renewed in the praises of posterity, as long as the priest shall ascend
the Capitol with the silent [vestal] virgin. Where the rapid Aufidus
shall murmur, and where Daunus, poorly supplied with water, ruled over a
rustic people, I, exalted from a low degree, shall be acknowledged as
having originally adapted the Aeolic verse to Italian measures.
Melpomene, assume that pride which your merits have acquired, and
willingly crown my hair with the Delphic laurel.