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ODE VII[edit]

Winter is over, and Spring is returning, but the time passes quickly and the seasons wait for no one. Yet they are renewed again, but man never renews his youth. So be merry while there is time, for we do not know when we die, and once dead, there is no return to life. Not even the gods can retrieve their favourites from death.

Latin English


Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis[1]
Arboribusque comae;
Mutat terra vices [2]et decrescentia ripas
Flumina praetereunt[3]; 4

The snows have fled, already the grass returns to the fields
And leaves return to the trees.
Earth changes seasons, and weakly now between their banks
the rivers flow past.


Gratia cum Nymphis[4] geminisque sororibus audet
Ducere nuda[5] choros.
Immortalia ne speres[6], monet annus et almum
Quae rapit hora[7] diem. 8

Grace along with her Nymphs and twin sisters ventures
naked, leading her dancers.
'Do not hope for immortality', warns the year, and the hour
which steals the kindly day.


Frigora mitescunt zephyris, ver proterit aestas
Interitura, simul[8]
Pomifer[9] autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox
Bruma recurrit iners[10]. 12

The Zephyr lessens the cold, the Summer tramples the Spring
Only to be overturned as soon as
Fruited Autumn has poured forth its crops, and soon
Infertile winter returns again.


Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia[11] lunae;
Nos ubi decidimus
Quo[12] pius Aeneas, quo dives Tullus et Ancus[13],
Pulvis et umbra[14] sumus. 16

Swift moons heal the heavenly damage
But we, when we have gone down
Where good Aeneas, where rich Tullus and Ancus have gone,
We are dust and shade.


Quis scit an adiciant[15] hodiernae crastina summae
Tempora di superi?
Cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico
Quae dederis animo[16]. 20

Who knows if the gods will add tomorrow's time
To our sum?
The only thing that escapes your heir's grasping hands will be
What you've added to your soul.


Cum semel occideris et de te splendida[17] Minos[18]
fecerit arbitria,
Non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
Restituet pietas[19]; 24

When once you've died and Minos has given his
distinguished judgment,
Nothing, Torquatus, not birth nor eloquence nor goodness
Will restore your life.


Infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum
Liberat Hippolytum[20]
Nec Lethaea[21] valet Theseus abrumpere caro
Vincula Perithoo[22].

For Diana can't release from the darkness
chaste Hippolytus,
Nor has Theseus the power to burst the chains
of his dear Perithoös


  1. Dative expressing motion to (poetic)
  2. 'Earth changes her seasons' i.e. passes in regular order from Winter to Spring
  3. 'flow by' (i.e. within) their banks
  4. Nymphae,-arum, f.: minor deities presiding over the streams, trees and groves, the companions of the Graces and Faunus
  5. the Graces were represented as naked, & therefore quite afraid of chilly weather!
  6. the object clause expresses the matter of the warning
  7. attracted into the relative clause
  8. = simul ac
  9. fruited. Pomum is used of any fruit
  10. producing nothing
  11. damna caelesti 'their losses in the sky', i.e. monthly waning
  12. the antecendent eo must be supplied, as also decedit and deciderunt. The place meant is Orcus, i.e. Hades, the place of the dead, to which all must go
  13. Tullus Hostilius, 3rd king of Rome, 673-42 BC, and Ancus, 4th king, named as typical of the mighty in life brought to the same level by death
  14. the dead are reduced to dust (pulvis) and shades or ghosts (umbrae) in Hades
  15. 'whether the gods will add'. An can only introduce the alternatives in double questions. When as here it is used apparently to introduce a simple question, the other alternative has been suppressed
  16. i.e. all that one spends upon oneself, on one's own pleasure
  17. 'majestic', meaning the solemnity of Minos' judgment seat, where with Rhadamanthus and Aeacus he judged all souls coming to Hades
  18. King of Crete. Declines with with stem Mino-, the accusative having a Greek form
  19. 'goodness', including the duty of a man towards his parents, his country and gods
  20. Son of Theseus, and stepson of Phaedra, who tried to win her love. For his chastity, he was a favourite of Diana, who could not, in this case, save him from death
  21. A river in the infernal regions, causing forgetfulness of the past
  22. Friend of Theseus with whom he descended to Hades to carry off its queen, Proserpina. Theseus escaped, but Perithoös was chained there forever, as a punishment for his audacity