The works of Horace/Second Book of Odes
THE SECOND BOOK
ODES OF HORACE.
TO ASINIUS POLLIO.
TO CRISPUS SALLUSTIUS.
O Crispus Sallustius, thou foe to bullion, unless it derives splendor from a moderate enjoyment, there is no luster in money concealed in the niggard earth. Proculeius shall live an extended age, conspicuous for fatherly affection to brothers; surviving fame shall bear him on an untiring wing. You may possess a more extensive dominion by controlling a craving disposition, than if you could unite Libya to the distant Gades, and the natives of both the Carthages were subject to you alone. The direful dropsy increases by self-indulgence, nor extinguishes its thirst, unless the cause of the disorder has departed from the veins, and the watery languor from the pallid body. Virtue, differing from the vulgar, excepts Phraates though restored to the throne of Cyrus, from the number of the happy; and teaches the populace to disuse false names for things, by conferring the kingdom and a safe diadem and the perpetual laurel upon him alone, who can view large heaps of treasure with undazzled eye.
Not yet is she fit to be broken to the yoke; not yet is she equal to the duties of a partner, nor can she support the weight of the bull impetuously rushing to enjoyment. Your heifer’s sole inclination is about verdant fields, one while in running streams soothing the grievous heat; at another, highly delighted to frisk with the steerlings in the moist willow ground. Suppress your appetite for the immature grape; shortly variegated autumn will tinge for thee the livid clusters with a purple hue. Shortly she shall follow you; for her impetuous time runs on, and shall place to her account those years of which it abridges you; shortly Lalage with a wanton assurance will seek a husband, beloved in a higher degree than the coy Pholoë, or even Chloris; shining as brightly with her fair shoulder, as the spotless moon upon the midnight sea, or even the Gnidian Gyges, whom if you should intermix in a company of girls, the undiscernible difference occasioned by his flowing locks and doubtful countenance would wonderfully impose even on sagacious strangers.
Septimus, who art ready to go with me, even to Gades, and to the Cantabrian, still untaught to bear our yoke, and the inhospitable Syrtes, where the Mauritanian wave perpetually boils. O may Tibur, founded by a Grecian colony, be the habitation of my old age! There let there be an end to my fatigues by sea, and land, and war; whence if the cruel fates debar me, I will seek the river of Galesus, delightful for sheep covered with skins, and the countries reigned over by Lacedæmonian Phalantus. That corner of the world smiles in my eye beyond all others; where the honey yields not to the Hymettian, and the olive rivals the verdant Venafrian: where the temperature of the air produces a long spring and mild winters, and Aulon friendly to the fruitful vine, envies not the Falernian grapes. That place, and those blest heights, solicit you and me; there you shall bedew the glowing ashes of your poet friend with a tear due [to his memory].
O thou, often reduced with me to the last extremity in the war which Brutus carried on, who has restored thee as a Roman citizen, to the gods of thy country and the Italian air, Pompey, thou first of my companions; with whom I have frequently broken the tedious day in drinking, having my hair, shining with the Syrian maiobathrum, crowned [with flowers]! Together with thee did I experience the [battle of] Phillippi and a precipitate flight, having shamefully enough left my shield; when valor was broken, and the most daring smote the squalid earth with their faces. But Mercury swift conveyed me away, terrified as I was, in a thick cloud through the midst of the enemy. Thee the reciprocating sea, with his tempestuous waves, bore back again to war. Wherefore render to Jupiter the offering that is due, and deposit your limbs, wearied with a tedious war, under my laurel, and spare not the casks reserved for you. Fill up the polished bowls with care-dispelling Massic: pour out the perfumed ointments from the capacious shells. Who takes care to quickly weave the chaplets of fresh parsley or myrtle? Whom shall the Venus pronounce to be master of the revel? In wild carouse I will become frantic as the Bacchanalians. ’Tis delightful to me to play the madman, on the reception of my friends.
If any punishment, Barine, for your violated oath had ever been of prejudice to you: if you had become less agreeable by the blackness of a single tooth or nail, I might believe you. But you no sooner have bound your perfidious head with vows, but you shine out more charming by far, and come forth the public care of our youth. It is of advantage to you to deceive the buried ashes of your mother, and the silent constellations of the night, together with all heaven, and the gods free from chill death. Venus herself, I profess, laughs at this; the good-natured nymphs laugh, and cruel Cupid, who is perpetually sharpening his burning darts on a bloody whetstone. Add to this, that all our boys are growing up for you; a new herd of slaves is growing up; nor do the former ones quit the house of their impious mistress, notwithstanding they often have threatened it. The matrons are in dread of you on account of their young ones; the thrifty old men are in dread of you; and the girls but just married are in distress, lest your beauty should slacken [the affections of] their husbands.
Showers do not perpetually pour down upon the rough fields, nor do varying hurricanes forever harass the Caspian Sea; nor, my friend Valgius, does the motionless ice remain fixed throughout all the months, in the regions of Armenia; nor do the Garganian oaks [always] labor under the northerly winds, nor are the ash-trees widowed of their leaves. But thou art continually pursuing Mystes, who is taken from thee, with mournful measures: nor do the effects of thy love for him cease at the rising of Vesper, or when he flies the rapid approach of the sun. But the aged man who lived three generations, did not lament the amiable Antilochus all the years of his life: nor did his parents or his Trojan sisters perpetually bewail the blooming Troilus. At length then desist from thy tender complaints; and rather let us sing the fresh trophies of Augustus Cæsar, and the Frozen Niphates, and the river Medus, added to the vanquished nations, rolls more humble tides, and the Gelonians riding within a prescribed boundary in a narrow tract of land.
O Licinius, you will lead a more correct course of life, by neither always pursuing the main ocean, nor, while you cautiously are in dread of storms, by pressing too much upon the hazardous shore. Whosoever loves the golden mean, is secure from the sordidness of an antiquated cell, and is too prudent to have a palace that might expose him to envy, if the lofty pine is more frequently agitated with winds, and high towers fall down with a heavier ruin, and lightnings strike the summits of the mountains. A well-provided breast hopes in adversity, and fears in prosperity. ’Tis the same Jupiter, that brings the hideous winters back, and that takes them away. If it is ill with us now, it will not be so hereafter. Apollo sometimes rouses the silent lyric muse, neither does he always bend his bow. In narrow circumstances appear in high spirits, and undaunted. In the same manner you will prudently contract your sails, which are apt to be too much swollen in a prosperous gale.
Do not insist that the long wars of fierce Numantia, or the formidable Annibal, or the Sicilian Sea impurpled with Carthaginian blood, should be adapted to the tender lays of the lyre: nor the cruel Lapithæ, nor Hylæus excessive in wine and the earth born youths, subdued by Herculean force, from whom the splendid habitation of old Saturn dreaded danger. And you yourself, Mæcenas, with more propriety shall recount the battles of Cæsar, and the necks of haughty kings led in triumph through the streets in historical prose. It was the muse’s will that I should celebrate the sweet strains of my mistress Lycimnia, that I should celebrate her bright darting eyes, and her breast laudably faithful to mutual love: who can with a grace introduce her foot into the dance, or, sporting, contend in raillery, or join arms with the bright virgins on the celebrated Diana’s festival. Would you, [Mæcenas,] change one of Lycimnia’s tresses for all the rich Achæmenes possessed, or the Mygdonian wealth of fertile Phrygia, or all the dwellings of the Arabians replete with treasures? Especially when she turns her neck to meet your burning kisses, or with a gentle cruelty denies, what she would more delight to have ravished than the petitioner—or sometimes eagerly anticipates to snatch them her self.
O tree, he planted thee on an unlucky day whoever did it first, and with an impious hand raised thee for the destruction of posterity, and the scandal of the village. I could believe that he had broken his own father’s neck, and stained his most secret apartments with the midnight blood of his guest. He was wont to handle Colchian poisons, and whatever wickedness is anywhere conceived, who planted in my field thee, a sorry log; thee, ready to fall on the head of thy inoffensive master. What we ought to be aware of, no man is sufficiently cautious at all hours. The Carthaginian sailor thoroughly dreads the Bosphorus; nor, beyond that, does he fear a hidden fate from any other quarter. The soldier dreads the arrows and the fleet retreat of the Parthian; the Parthian, chains and an Italian prison; but the unexpected assault of death has carried off, and will carry off, the world in general. How near was I seeing the dominions of black Proserpine, and Æacus sitting in judgment; the separate abodes also of the pious, and Sappho complaining in her Æohan lyre of her own country damsels; aud thee, O Alcæus, sounding in fuller strains on thy golden harp the distresses of exile, and the distresses of war. The ghosts admire them both, while they utter strains worthy of a sacred silence; but the crowded multitude, pressing with their shoulders, imbibes, with a more greedy ear, battles and banished tyrants. What wonder? Since the many headed monster, astonished at those lays, hangs down his sable ears; and the snakes, entwined in the hair of the furies, are soothed. Moreover, Prometheus and the sire of Pelops are deluded into an insensibility of their torments, by the melodious sound: nor is Orion any longer solicitous to harass the lions, or the fearful lynxes.
Alas! my Postumus, my Postumus, the fleeting years glide on; nor will piety cause any delay to wrinkles, and advancing old age, and insuperable death. You could not, if you were to sacrifice every passing day three hundred bulls, render propitious pitiless Pluto, who confines the thrice-monstrous Geryon and Tityus with the dismal Stygian stream, namely, that stream which is to be passed over by all who are fed by the bounty of the earth, whether we be kings or poor hinds. In vain shall we be free from sanguinary Mars, and the broken billows of the hoarse Adriatic; in vain shall we be apprehensive for ourselves of the noxious South, in the time of autumn. The black Cocytus wandering with languid current, and the infamous race of Danaus, and Sisyphus, the son of the Æolus, doomed to eternal toil, must be visited; your land and house and pleasing wife must be left, nor shall any of those trees, which you are nursing, follow you, their master for a brief space, except the hated cypresses; a worthier heir shall consume your Cæcuban wines now guarded with a hundred keys, and shall wet the pavement with the haughty wine, more exquisite than what graces pontifical entertainment.
Why dost thou kill me with thy complaints? ’Tis neither agreeable to the gods, nor to me, that thou shouldest depart first, O Mæcenas, thou grand ornament and pillar of my affairs. Alas! if an untimely blow hurry away thee, a part of my soul, why do I the other moiety remain, my value lost, nor any longer whole? That [fatal] day shall bring destruction upon us both. I have by no means taken a false oath: we will go, we will go, whenever thou shalt lead the way, prepared to be fellow-travelers in the last journey. Me nor the breath of the fiery Chimæra, nor hundred-handed Gyges, were he to rise again, shall ever tear from thee: such is the will of powerful Justice, and of the Fates. Whether Libra or malignant Scorpio had the ascendant at my natal hour, or Capricon the ruler of the western wave, our horoscopes agree in a wonderful manner. Thee the benign protection of Jupiter, shining with friendly aspect, rescued from the baleful influence of impious Saturn, and retarded the wings of precipitate destiny, at the time the crowded people with resounding applauses thrice hailed you in the theatre: me the trunk of a tree, falling upon my skull, would have dispatched, had not Faunus, the protector of men of genius, with his right hand warded off the blow. Be thou mindful to pay the victims and the votive temple; I will sacrifice an humble lamb.
Nor ivory, nor a fretted ceiling adorned with gold, glitters in my house: no Hymettian beams rest upon pillars cut out of the extreme parts of Africa; nor, a pretended heir, have I possessed myself of the palace of Attalus, nor do ladies, my dependants, spin Laconian purple for my use. But integrity, and a liberal vein of genius, are mine: and the man of fortune makes his court to me, who am but poor. I importune the gods no further, nor do I require of my friend in power any larger enjoyments, sufficiently happy with my Sabine farm alone. Day is driven on by day, and the new moons hasten to their wane. You put out marble to be hewn, though with one foot in the grave; and, unmindful of a sepulcher, are building houses; and are busy to extend the shore of the sea, that beats with violence at Baiæ, not rich enough with the shore of the mainland. Why is it, that through avarice you even pluck up the landmarks of your neighbor’s ground, and trespass beyond the bounds of your clients; and wife and husband are turned out, bearing in their bosom their household gods and their destitute children? Nevertheless, no court more certainly awaits its wealthy lord, than the destined limit of rapacious Pluto. Why do you go on? The impartial earth is opened equally to the poor and to the sons of kings; nor has the life-guard ferryman of hell, bribed with gold, re-conducted the artful Prometheus. He confines proud Tantalus; and the race of Tantalus, he condescends, whether invoked or not, to relieve the poor freed from their labors.
I saw Bacchus (believe it, posterity) dictating strains among the remote rocks, and the nymphs learning them, and the ears of the goat-footed satyrs all attentive. Evœ! my mind trembles with recent dread, and my soul, replete with Bacchus, has a tumultuous joy, Evœ! spare me, Bacchus; spare me, thou who art formidable for thy dreadful thyrsus. It is granted me to sing the wanton Bacchanalian priestess, and the fountain of wine, and rivulets flowing with milk, and to tell again of the honeys distilling from the hollow trunks. It is granted me likewise to celebrate the honor added to the constellations by your happy spouse, and the palace of Pentheus demolished with no light ruin, and the perdition of Thracian. Lycurgus. You command the rivers, you the barbarian sea. You, moist with wine, on lonely mountain-tops bind the hair of your Thracian priestesses with a knot of vipers without hurt. You, when the impious band of giants scaled the realms of father Jupiter through the sky, repelled Rhœtus, with the paws and horrible jaw of the lion-shape [you had assumed]. Thou, reported to be better fitted for dances, and jokes and play, you were accounted insufficient for fight; yet it then appeared, you, the same deity, was the mediator of peace and war. Upon you, ornamented with your golden horn, Orberus innocently gazed, gently wagging his tail; and with his triple tongue licked your feet and legs, as you returned.
I, a two-formed poet, will be conveyed through the liquid air with no vulgar or humble wing; nor will I loiter upon earth any longer; and superior to envy, I will quit cities. Not I, even I, the blood of low parents, my dear Mæcenas, shall die; nor shall I be restrained by the Stygian wave. At this instant a rough skin settles upon my ankles, and all upwards I am transformed into a white bird, and the downy plumage arises over my fingers and shoulders. Now, a melodious bird, more expeditious than the Dæpalean Icarus, I will visit the shores of the murmuring Bosphorus, and the Gætulean Syrtes, and the Hyperborean plains. Me the Colchian and the Dacian, who hides his fear of the Marsian cohort, land the remotest Gelonians, shall know: me the learned Spaniard shall study, and he that drinks of the Rhone. Let there be no dirges, nor unmanly lamentations, nor bewailings at my imaginary funeral; suppress your crying, and forbear the superfluous honors of a sepulcher.
- Caius Asiniua Pollio was a person who made a very considerable figure in the court of Augustus. As he was distinguished by his valor and conduct, he had frequently the command of the armies given him. He vanquished the Dalmatians, and triumphed over them. He was no less eminent for his learning, than for his warlike accomplishments.
- "From the consulship of Metellus." The narrative of Pollio, consequently, began with the formation of the government denominated (although erroneously, since it was no magistrates) the first triumvirate, by Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus, A. u. c. 694, in the consulship of Q. Cæcilius Metellus Celer, and L. Afranius. This may well be considered as the germ of the civil wars that ensued, and which blazed forth with fury ten years later. The Romans marked the year by the names of the consuls, and he who has most suffrages, etc., was placed first. Anthon.
- Causas, i. e. the death of Crassus, the death of Julia, and the ambition and rivalry of Cæsar and Pompey. Orell. The term vitia has here a particular reference to the rash and unwise plans of Pompey and his followers, and, also, to the mismanagement of Crassus in his expedition against the Parthians. McCaul.
- Cruoribus, i. e. "blood shed often and in many places:" thus αἵματα is used by the Tragedians, as Æsch. Suppl. 262:
Παλαιῶν αἱμάτων μιάσμασιν. McCaul.
- The cothurnus (κοθόρνος) is here put figuratively for tragedy. 12 Cecropio. Equivalent to Attico, and alluding to Cecrops as the founder of Athens. Anthon.
- On this zeugma see my notes on Æsc. Prom. 22, ed. Bohn.
- Cato of Utica, so remarkable for his virtue, and the strenuous opposition he made to tyranny. After the defeat of Pomep, he was shut up by Cæsar in Utica, where, rather than fall into the hands of the conqueror, and survive the ruin of his country, he slew himself. Watson.
- Rettulit inferias. The word rettulit is here taken in the same sense as in the proverb par pari referre, and inferias alludes to a custom of the ancients, who sacrificed a number of prisoners upon the tombs of their generals. Tor.
- Jugurtha, a king of Numidia, who being engaged in war with the Romans, was taken by Sylla, and led in triumph by Marius. Watson.
- i.e. Roman. cf. Od. i. 22, 13.
- Ceæ retractes munera nœniae. Nœnia is a word properly signifying the song which was sung at funerals by the mourners. But by Nœnia, in this passage, the poet intends the goddess Nænia, who presided over tears, lamentations, and funerals. Dac.
- Ovid, Met. 10, 150, "Cecini plectro graviore Gigantas-Nunc opus est leviore lyra." Orelli.
- Dionœo sub antro. Although Dione was the mother of Venus, yet Venus herself is called by that name. The poet therefore invites his muse into the cave of Venus, there to sing of love and gallantry in a tone less elevated, leviore plectro, and forbids her to imitate the plaintive strains of Simonides. Lamb.
- Tacitus, in the third book of his Annals, hath given us a very finished picture of this Sallust. He was grand-nephew to the excellent author of the Roman History, who adopted him, and left him his name and fortune.
- The construction is: "inimice, lamnæ, nisi [lamna] splendeat."
- Proculeius. He had two brothers, Terentius and Licinius, Terentius was made consul elect in the year seven hundred and thirty, but died before he could enter upon his office. Licinius unfortunately engaged himself in a conspiracy against Augustus, nor could all the interest of Proculeius and Mæcaenas, who had married their sister Terentia, preserve him from banishment. An old commentator relates a particular story, which greatly enlightens this passage: he says, that Proculeius divided his patrimony with his brothers, whose fortunes were ruined in the civil wars. Dac. San.
- For this periphrasis cf. Od. 3, 11, 10: "metuitque tangi," Virg. Orelli.
- Phraates, a king of the Parthians, who slew his own father Orodes, thirty brothers, and his eldest son. He was expelled the kingdom by his subjects, and afterward re-established by the Scythians in the year of Rome 728. Watson.
- So "propria munera," Sat. ii. 2, 5; "da propriam domum." Virg. Æ iii. 85. Orelli.
- Dellius was a true picture of inconstancy. After Cæsar's death he changed his party four times in the space of twelve years, from when Messale used pleasantly to call him desultorem bellorum civilium, in allusion to a custom of the ancient cavalry, who had two horses, and vaulted from one to the other, as they were tired. The peace that succeeded the civil wars, gave him an opportunity of establishing his affairs, which naturally must have been greatly disordered by so many changes. At this time Horace wrote this ode, in which he instructs him in the purest maxims of Epicurean philosophy. San.
- "With the old Falernian," i.e. the choicest wine, which was placed in the furthest part of the vault or crypt, marked with its date and growth. Nota. Thus Catullus, lxviii. 28. "de meliore nota;" and Curius, ap. Cic. vii. 29, "Sulpicii successori, nos de meliore nota commenda." Some insert only a comma after Falerni, and thus join the succeeding strophe to this, "Sed propter meliorem totius periodi constructionem præstare videtur distinctio nostra." Orell. McCaul.
- "Bought up on all sides." Anthon.
- Or rather, "yoke-fellow."
- Septimius, a Roman knight, and lyric and tragic poet: he was one of Horace's school companions, and had been a fellow-soldier with him in the army of Brutus and Cassius, and had the good fortune also to be received into the favor of Augustus. Watson.
- Galesus, a river of Calabria, that runs into the bay of Tarentum, about five miles from the city: its waters are beautiful, and current slow; whence Horace says it is agreeable to the sheep. Watson.
- Pellitis ovibus. The sheep of Tarentum and Attica had a wool so fine, that they were covered with skins to preserve it from the inclemency of the weather, Pliny says, these covertures were brought from Arabia. Cruq.
- Alluding to the story of Phalantus and the Parthenii. Phalantus was expelled from Lacedæmon (B.C. 700) under the following circumstances: While the Spartans were absent during the Messenian wars, their ladies, either ordered, as some traditions have it, or of their own free will, elevated their slaves to the rank of temporary husbands. The offspring of these connections, denominated the Parthenii, were expelled by the Spartans on their return, and under Phalantus, their leader, they colonized Tarentum, so called from Taras, a reputed son of Neptune. Anthon.
- Cf. Virg. G. iv. 461. "Rhodopeiæ arces"="the heights of Rhodope."
- Debitâ sparges. These words, cum lacrymis posuit, are frequently found in ancient epitaphs, and in the urn a little bottle filled with tears. Torr.
- The name Quiritem here implies a full return to all the rights and privileges of citizenship, which had been forfeited by his bearing arms against the established authority of the triumvirate. Anthon.
- Vespero. This star was called Lucifer in the morning, and Vesper in the evening. Fran.
- This expedition of Augustus was the most glorious of his whole life. He not only made the Roman name to be revered to the utmost bounds of Asia and Africa, in imposing conditions of peace upon the Indians and Æthiopians: he not only confirmed the repose of the empire, by establishing in Greece, Sicily, and Asia Minor a stable and uniform government, and ordering Armenia, Cilicia, and Arabia in favor of princes attached to the interest of the republic; but humbled the pride of the Parthians by obliging Phraates to restore the Roman eagles and prisoners, which were taken thirty years before, and to pull down the trophies that Orodes had erected for the defeat of Crassus. To perpetuate the memory of this success, he struck a medal with this inscription, pro signis receptis. San.
- By the river Medus, Horace means the Parthians, as he would distinguish the Armenians by Niphates. Euphrates dictus est primùm Medus. And probably the Tirgris is here called Niphates, as it rises out of a mountain of that name. San.
- This Licinius, according to Dacier, is the same with Licinius Varro Murena, the brother of Proculeius, and Terentia, the wife of Mæcenas. He entered into a conspiracy against Augustus, with Flavius Cepio, in the year of the city 731.
- There is much doubt about the reading and interpretation of this passage. See Orelli.
- Numantia, a city in Spain, now called Garray: with a garrison of 4000 men, it held out fourteen years against a Roman army of 40,000 men; at last, being sore pressed by Scipio, and like to perish by famine, they gathered all their goods together, and setting them on fire, they threw themselves afterward into the flames. Watson.
- Terentia, the passionately-loved wife of the jealous Mæcenas, is, doubtless, intended. When the poets wished to avoid the direct nomination of an individual, they generally coined some word corresponding in meter and number of syllables with the proper name of the person, as here Lycimnia=Terentia. Thus also Persius, "Auriculas asini Midas rex habet," where Midas is=Nero, as Plania is=Delia, in Tibullus, etc.; Malthinus in Serm. i. 8, is for Mæcenas, etc. A freed-woman could not be intended, from the expression "nec ferre pedem dedecuit choris," for none but females of the highest rank took part in these sacred dances. Wheeler. "Neque enim periculum erat, ne inter virgines lectas saltaro cuivis fœminæ dedecori esset, excepta forte Livia Augusti vel Terentia Mæcenatis, vel Octavia aliave ex nobilissimis quarum infra dignitatem id esse severioribus videri potest." Orelli.
- By the word certare, the poet alludes to a custom among the Greeks and Romans of disputing the prize of raillery on their festival days. It appears by a passage in Aristophanes, that the victors in these disputes were publicly crowned by the Greeks. Dac.
- Geloni, a people of Scythia, otherwise called Getæ. They used to paint themselves, to become more terrible to their enemies; whence Virgil calls them "pictos Gelonos." Geor. ii. 115. They are thought to be now the Lithuanians. Watson.
- In the time of Augustus learning and the sciences flourished in Spain, whither they were carried from Asia, and where the Roman colonies contributed greatly to their encouragement. Dac.
- An imitation of Ennius' epitaph, p. 161, ed. Hessel:
"Nemo me lacrameis decoret, nec funera fletu
Pac sit, quur? volito, vivo, per ora virûm."