Odes (Book 1), Horace
Odes (Book 1)
Horace
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The Odes (Latin: Carmina) are a collection in four books of Latin lyric poems by Horace. The Horatian ode format and style has been emulated since by other poets. Books 1 to 3 were published in 23 BC. A fourth book, consisting of 15 poems, was published in 13 BC. The Odes cover a range of subjects – Love, Friendship, Wine, Religion, Morality, Patriotism; poems of eulogy addressed to Augustus and his relations; and verses written on a miscellany of subjects and incidents, including the uncertainty of life, the cultivation of tranquility and contentment, and the observance of moderation or the "golden mean."

The Odes

by
Horace

Translated by A. S. Kline


Book I

I. The Dedication: To Maecenas

Maecenas, descendant of royal ancestors,
O my protector, and my sweet glory,
some are delighted by showers of dust,
Olympic dust, over their chariots, they
are raised to the gods, as Earth’s masters, by posts
clipping the red-hot wheels, by noble palms:
this man, if the fickle crowd of Citizens
compete to lift him to triple honours:
that one, if he’s stored away in his granary
whatever he gleaned from the Libyan threshing.
The peasant who loves to break clods in his native
fields, won’t be tempted, by living like Attalus,
to sail the seas, in fear, in a Cyprian boat.
The merchant afraid of the African winds as
they fight the Icarian waves, loves the peace
and the soil near his town, but quickly rebuilds
his shattered ships, unsuited to poverty.
There’s one who won’t scorn cups of old Massic,
nor to lose the best part of a whole day lying
under the greenwood tree, or softly
close to the head of sacred waters.
Many love camp, and the sound of trumpets
mixed with the horns, and the warfare hated
by mothers. The hunter, sweet wife forgotten,
stays out under frozen skies, if his faithful
hounds catch sight of a deer, or a Marsian
wild boar rampages, through his close meshes.
But the ivy, the glory of learned brows,
joins me to the gods on high: cool groves,
and the gathering of light nymphs and satyrs,
draw me from the throng, if Euterpe the Muse
won’t deny me her flute, and Polyhymnia
won’t refuse to exert herself on her Lesbian lyre.
And if you enter me among all the lyric poets,
my head too will be raised to touch the stars.


II. To Augustus

The Father’s sent enough dread hail
and snow to earth already, striking
sacred hills with fiery hand,
to scare the city,

and scare the people, lest again
we know Pyrrha’s age of pain
when Proteus his sea-herds drove
across high mountains,

and fishes lodged in all the elms,
that used to be the haunt of doves,
and the trembling roe-deer swam
the whelming waters.

We saw the yellow Tiber’s waves
hurled backwards from the Tuscan shore,
toppling Numa’s Regia and
the shrine of Vesta,

far too fierce now, the fond river
in his revenge of wronged Ilia,
drowning the whole left bank, deep,
without permission.

Our children, fewer for their father’s
vices, will hear metal sharpened
that’s better destined for the Persians,
and of battles too.

Which gods shall the people call on
when the Empire falls in ruins?
With what prayer shall the virgins
tire heedless Vesta?

Whom will Jupiter assign to
expiate our sins? We pray you,
come, cloud veiling your bright shoulders,
far-sighted Apollo:

or laughing Venus Erycina,
if you will, whom Cupid circles,
or you, if you see your children
neglected, Leader,

you sated from the long campaign,
who love the war-shouts and the helmets,
and the Moor’s cruel face among his
blood-stained enemies.

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