Odes (Book 4), Horace
Odes (Book 4)
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."

Horace: The Odes

Book IV


Translated by A. S. Kline


I. Venus, Be Merciful

Venus now you’ve returned again
to battles long neglected. Please, oh please, spare me.
I’m not prey to the power of kind
Cinara, as once I was. After fifty years,

cruel mother of sweet Cupids,
leave one now who’s hardened to your soft commands:
take yourself there, where seductive
prayers, from the young men, invite you to return.

It would be better still for you,
lifted by wings of gleaming swans, to adventure
to Paulus Maximus’s house,
if you want a worthy heart to set on fire.

Since he’s noble and he’s handsome,
and he’s not un-eloquent, for anxious clients:
he’s a lad of a hundred skills,
and he’ll carry your army’s standard far and wide:

and he’ll laugh when he’s successful
despite his rival’s expensive gifts, and he’ll raise,
just for you, by the Alban Lake,
a statue in marble, under a wooden roof.

You’ll smell rich incense, and you’ll take
delight in the notes of the lyre, when they’re mingled
with the Berecyntian flute’s,
and the sound of the reed pipes won’t be absent, there:

while sweet, virgin girls celebrate
your power, there, twice every day, see the young boys
beat the ground with their snow-white feet,
in a triple measure, like Salian dancers.

Women and boys can’t please me now,
nor those innocent hopes of mutual feeling,
nor wine-drinking competitions,
nor foreheads circled by freshly-gathered flowers.

But why, ah Ligurinus, why
should tears gather here on my cheeks, from time to time?
Why does my tongue, once eloquent,
fall indecorously silent while I’m speaking?

In dreams, at night, hard-hearted one,
I hold you prisoner, or follow you in flight,
over the grassy Fields of Mars,
or wing with you above the inconstant waters.


II. Augustus’s Return

Iulus , whoever tries to rival Pindar,
flies on waxen wings, with Daedalean art,
and is doomed, like Icarus, to give a name
to glassy waters.

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