The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 3/Part 6

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VI.

Delicta majorum.

YOUR fathers' guilt you still must pay,
Till, Roman, you restore each shrine,
Each temple, mouldering in decay,
And smoke-grimed statue, scarce divine.
Revering Heaven, you rule below;
Be that your base, your coping still;
'Tis Heaven neglected bids o'erflow
The measure of Italian ill.
How Pacorus and Monæses twice
Have given our unblest arms the foil;
Their necklaces, of mean device,
Smiling they deck with Roman spoil.
Our city, torn by faction's throes,
Dacian and Ethiop well-nigh razed,
These with their dreadful navy, those
For archer-prowess rather praised.
An evil age erewhile debased
The marriage-bed, the race, the home;
Thence rose the flood whose waters waste
The nation and the name of Rome.

Not such their birth, who stain'd for us
The sea with Punic carnage red,
Smote Pyrrhus, smote Antiochus,
And Hannibal, the Roman's dread.
Theirs was a hardy soldier-brood,
Inured all day the land to till
With Sabine spade, then shoulder wood
Hewn at a stern old mother's will.
When sunset lengthen'd from each height
The shadows, and unyoked the steer,
Restoring in its westward flight
The hour to toilworn travail dear.
What has not cankering Time made worse?
Viler than grandsires, sires beget
Ourselves, yet baser, soon to curse
The world with offspring baser yet.