The Works of Horace
Category: Novels
Level 6 7:10 h
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words."

The Works of Horace


Translated Literally into English Prose
C. Smart, A.M.

Horace, as imagined by Anton von WernerHorace, as imagined by Anton von Werner

The Book of the Epodes of Horace

Ode I

To Mæcenas

Thou wilt go, my friend Mæcenas, with Liburian galleys among the towering forts of ships, ready at thine own [hazard] to undergo any of Cæsar’s dangers. What shall I do? To whom life may be agreeable, if you survive; but, if otherwise, burdensome. Whether shall I, at your command, pursue my ease, which can not be pleasing unless in your company? Or shall I endure this toil with such a courage, as becomes effeminate men to bear? I will bear it? and with an intrepid soul follow you, either through the summits of the Alps, and the inhospitable Caucus, or to the furthest western bay. You may ask how I, unwarlike and infirm, can assist your labors by mine? While I am your companion, I shall be in less anxiety, which takes possession of the absent in a greater measure. As the bird, that has unfledged young, is in a greater dread of serpents’ approaches, when they are left; — not that, if she should be present when they came, she could render more help. Not only this, but every other war, shall be cheerfully embraced by me for the hope of your favor; [and this,] not that my plows should labor, yoked to a greater number of mine own oxen; or that my cattle before the scorching dog-star should change the Calabrian for the Lucanian pastures: neither that my white country-box should equal the Circæan walls of lofty Tusculum. Your generosity has enriched me enough, and more than enough: I shall never wish to amass, what either, like the miser Chremes, I may bury in the earth, or luxuriously squander, like a prodigal.

Ode II

The Praises of a Country Life

Happy the man, who, remote from business, after the manner of the ancient race of mortals, cultivates his paternal lands with his own oxen, disengaged from every kind of usury; he is neither alarmed by the horrible trump, as a soldier, nor dreads he the angry sea; he shuns both the bar and the proud portals of citizens in power. Wherefore he either weds the lofty poplars to the mature branches of the vine; and, lopping off the useless boughs with his pruning-knife, he ingrafts more fruitful ones: or he takes a prospect of the herds of his lowing cattle, wandering about in a lonely vale; or stores his honey, pressed [from the combs], in clean vessels; or shears his tender sheep. Or, when autumn has lifted up in the fields his head adorned with mellow fruits, how does he rejoice, while he gathers the grafted pears, and the grape that vies with the purple, with which he may recompense thee, O Priapus, and thee, father Sylvanus, guardian of his boundaries! Sometimes he delights to lie under an aged holm, sometimes on the matted grass: meanwhile the waters glide along in their deep channels; the birds warble in the woods; and the fountains murmur with their purling streams, which invites gentle slumbers. But when the wintery season of the tempestuous air prepares rains and snows, he either drives the fierce boars, with many a dog, into the intercepting toils; or spreads his thin nets with the smooth pole, as a snare for the voracious thrushes; or catches in his gin the timorous hare, or that stranger the crane, pleasing rewards [for his labor]. Among such joys as these, who does not forget those mischievous anxieties, which are the property of love. But if a chaste wife, assisting on her part [in the management] of the house, and beloved children (such as is the Sabine, or the sun-burned spouse of the industrious Apulian), piles up the sacred hearth with old wood, just at the approach of her weary husband; and, shutting up the fruitful cattle in the woven hurdles, milks dry their distended udders: and, drawing this year’s wine out of a well-seasoned cask, prepares the unbought collation: not the Lucrine oysters could delight me more, nor the turbot, nor the scar, should the tempestuous winter drive any from the eastern floods to this sea: not the turkey, nor the Asiatic wild-fowl, can come into my stomach more agreeably, than the olive gathered from the richest branches from the trees, or the sorrel that loves the meadows, or mallows salubrious for a sickly body, or a lamb slain at the feast of Terminus, or a kid rescued from the wolf. Amid these dainties, how it pleases one to see the well-fed sheep hastening home! to see the weary oxen, with drooping neck, dragging the inverted ploughshare! and slaves, the test of a rich family, ranged about the smiling household gods! When Alfius, the usurer, now on the point of turning countryman, had said this, he collected in all his money on the Ides; and endeavors to put it out again at the Calends.


To Mæcenas

If any person at any time with an impious hand has broken his aged father’s neck, let him eat garlic, more baneful than hemlock. Oh! the hardy bowels of the mowers! What poison is this that rages in my entrails? Has viper’s blood, infused in these herbs, deceived me? Or has Canidia dressed this baleful food? When Medea, beyond all the [other] argonauts, admired their handsome leader, she anointed Jason with this, as he was going to tie the untried yoke on the bulls: and having revenged herself on [Jason’s] mistress, by making her presents besmeared with this, she flew away on her winged dragon. Never did the steaming influence of any constellation so raging as this rest upon the thirsty Appulia: neither did the gift [of Dejanira] burn hotter upon the shoulders of laborious Hercules. But if ever, facetious Mæcenas, you should have a desire for any such stuff again, I wish that your girl may oppose her hand to your kiss, and lie at the furthest part of the bed.

Ode IV

To Menas

As great an enmity as is allotted by nature to wolves and lambs, [so great a one] have I to you, you that are galled at your back with Spanish cords, and on your legs with the hard fetter. Though, purse-proud with your riches, you strut along, yet fortune does not alter your birth. Do you not observe while you are stalking along the sacred way with a robe twice three ells long, how the most open indignation of those that pass and repass turns their looks on thee? This fellow, [say they,] cut with the triumvir’s whips, even till the beadle was sick of his office, plows a thousand acres of Falernian land, and wears out the Appian road with his nags; and, in despite of Otho, sits in the first rows [of the circus] as a knight of distinction. To what purpose is it, that so many brazen-beaked ships of immense bulk should be led out against pirates and a band of slaves, while this fellow, this is a military tribune?

Ode V

The Witches Mangling a Boy

But oh, by all the gods in heaven, who rule the earth and human race, what means this tumult? And what the hideous looks of all these [hags, fixed] upon me alone? I conjure thee by thy children (if invoked Lucina was ever present at any real birth of thine), I [conjure] thee by this empty honor of my purple, by Jupiter, who must disapprove these proceedings, why dost thou look at me as a step-mother, or as a wild beast stricken with a dart? While the boy made these complaints with a faltering voice, he stood with his bandages of distinction taken from him, a tender frame, such as might soften the impious breasts of the cruel Thracians; Canidia, having interwoven her hair and uncombed head with little vipers, orders wild fig-trees torn up from graves, orders funeral cypresses and eggs besmeared with the gore of a loathsome toad, and feathers of the nocturnal screech-owl, and those herbs, which Iölchos, and Spain, fruitful in poisons, transmits, and bones snatched from the mouth of a hungry bitch, to be burned in Colchian flames. But Sagana, tucked up for expedition, sprinkling the waters of Avernus all over the house, bristles up with her rough hair like a sea-urchin, or a boar in the chase. Veia, deterred by no remorse of conscience, groaning with the toil, dug up the ground with the sharp spade; where the boy, fixed in, might long be tormented to death at the sight of food varied two or three times in a day: while he stood out with his face, just as much at bodies suspended by the chin [in swimming] project from the water, that his parched marrow and dried liver might be a charm for love; when once the pupils of his eyes had wasted away, fixed on the forbidden food. Both the idle Naples, and every neighboring town believed, that Folia of Ariminum, [a witch] of masculine lust, was not absent: she, who with her Thessalian incantations forces the charmed stars and the moon from heaven. Here the fell Canidia, gnawing her unpaired thumb with her livid teeth, what said she? or what did she not say? O ye faithful witnesses to my proceedings, Night and Diana, who presidest over silence, when the secret rites are celebrated: now, now be present, now turn your anger and power against the houses of our enemies, while the savage wild beasts lie hid in the woods, dissolved in sweet repose; let the dogs of Suburra (which may be matter of ridicule for every body) bark at the aged profligate, bedaubed with ointment, such as my hands never made any more exquisite. What is the matter? Why are these compositions less efficacious than those of the barbarian Medea? by means of which she made her escape, after having revenged herself on [Jason’s] haughty mistress, the daughter of the mighty Creon; when the garment, a gift that was injected with venom, took off his new bride by its inflammatory power. And yet no herb, nor root hidden in inaccessible places, ever escaped my notice. [Nevertheless,] he sleeps in the perfumed bed of every harlot, from his forgetfulness [of me]. Ah! ah! he walks free [from my power] by the charms of some more knowing witch. Varus, (oh you that will shortly have much to lament!) you shall come back to me by means of unusual spells; nor shall you return to yourself by all the power of Marsian enchantments. I will prepare a stronger philter: I will pour in a stronger philter for you, disdainful as you are; and the heaven shall subside below the sea, with the earth extended over it, sooner than you shall not burn with love for me, in the same manner as this pitch [burns] in the sooty flames. At these words, the boy no longer [attempted], as before, to move the impious hags by soothing expressions; but, doubtful in what manner he should break silence, uttered Thyestean imprecations. Potions [said he] have a great efficacy in confounding right and wrong, but are not able to invert the condition of human nature; I will persecute you with curses; and execrating detestation is not to be expiated by any victim. Moreover, when doomed to death I shall have expired, I will attend you as a nocturnal fury; and, a ghost, I will attack your faces with my hooked talons (for such is the power of those divinities, the Manes), and, brooding upon your restless breasts, I will deprive you of repose by terror. The mob, from village to village, assaulting you on every side with stones, shall demolish you filthy hags. Finally, the wolves and Esquiline vultures shall scatter abroad your unburied limbs. Nor shall this spectacle escape the observation of my parents, who, alas! must survive me.

Ode VI

Against Cassius Severus

O cur, thou coward against wolves, why dost thou persecute innocent strangers? Why do you not, if you can, turn your empty yelpings hither, and attack me, who will bite again? For, like a Molossian, or tawny Laconian dog, that is a friendly assistant to shepherds, I will drive with erected ears through the deep snows every brute that shall go before me. You, when you have filled the grove with your fearful barking, you smell at the food that is thrown to you. Have a care, have a care; for, very bitter against bad men, I exert my ready horns uplift; like him that was rejected as a son-in-law by the perfidious Lycambes, or the sharp enemy of Bupalus. What, if any cur attack me with malignant tooth, shall I, without revenge, blubber like a boy?


To the Roman People

Whither, whither, impious men are you rushing? Or why are the swords drawn, that were [so lately] sheathed? Is there too little of Roman blood spilled upon land and sea? [And this,] not that the Romans might burn the proud towers of envious Carthage, or that the Britons, hitherto unassailed, might go down the sacred way bound in chains: but that, agreeably to the wishes of the Parthians, this city may fall by its own might. This custom [of warfare] never obtained even among either wolves or savage lions, unless against a different species. Does blind phrenzy, or your superior valor, or some crime, hurry you on at this rate? Give answer. They are silent: and wan paleness infects their countenances, and their stricken souls are stupefied. This is the case: a cruel fatality and the crime of fratricide have disquieted the Romans, from that time when the blood of the innocent Remus, to be expiated by his descendants, was spilled upon the earth.


Upon a Wanton Old Woman

Can you, grown rank with lengthened age, ask what unnerves my vigor? When your teeth are black, and old age withers your brow with wrinkles: and your back sinks between your staring hip-bones, like that of an unhealthy cow. But, forsooth! your breast and your fallen chest, full well resembling a broken-backed horse, provoke me; and a body flabby, and feeble knees supported by swollen legs. May you be happy: and may triumphal statues adorn your funeral procession; and may no matron appear in public abounding with richer pearls. What follows, because the Stoic treatises sometimes love to be on silken pillows? Are unlearned constitutions the less robust? Or are their limbs less stout? But for you to raise an appetite, in a stomach that is nice, it is necessary that you exert every art of language.

Ode IX

To Mæcenas

When, O happy Mæcenas, shall I, overjoyed at Cæsar’s being victorious, drink with you under the stately dome (for so it pleases Jove) the Caecuban reserved for festal entertainments, while the lyre plays a tune, accompanied with flutes, that in the Doric, these in the Phrygian measure? As lately, when the Neptunian admiral, driven from the sea, and his navy burned, fled, after having menaced those chains to Rome, which, like a friend, he had taken off from perfidious slaves. The Roman soldiers (alas! ye, our posterity, will deny the fact), enslaved to a woman, carry palisadoes and arms, and can be subservient to haggard eunuchs; and among the military standards, oh shame! the sun beholds an [Egyptian] canopy. Indignant at this the Gauls turned two thousand of their cavalry, proclaiming Cæsar; and the ships of the hostile navy, going off to the left, lie by in port. Hail, god of triumph! Dost thou delay the golden chariots and untouched heifers? Hail, god of triumph! You neither brought back a general equal [to Cæsar] from the Jugurthine war; nor from the African [war, him], whose valor raised him a monument over Carthage. Our enemy, overthrown both by land and sea, has changed his purple vestments for mourning. He either seeks Crete, famous for her hundred cities, ready to sail with unfavorable winds; or the Syrtes, harassed by the south; or else is driven by the uncertain sea. Bring hither, boy, larger bowls, and the Chian or Lesbian wine; or, what may correct this rising qualm of mine, fill me out the Cæcuban. It is my pleasure to dissipate care and anxiety for Cæsar’s danger with delicious wine.

Ode X

Against Mævius

The vessel that carries the loathsome Mævius, makes her departure under an unlucky omen. Be mindful, O south wind, that you buffet it about with horrible billows. May the gloomy east, turning up the sea, disperse its cables and broken oars. Let the north arise as mighty as when be rives the quivering oaks on the lofty mountains; nor let a friendly star appear through the murky night, in which the baleful Orion sets: nor let him be conveyed in a calmer sea, than was the Grecian band of conquerors, when Pallas turned her rage from burned Troy to the ship of impious Ajax. Oh what a sweat is coming upon your sailors, and what a sallow paleness upon you, and that effeminate wailing, and those prayers to unregarding Jupiter; when the Ionian bay, roaring with the tempestuous south-west, shall break your keel. But if, extended along the winding shore, you shall delight the cormorants as a dainty prey, a lascivious he-goat and an ewe-lamb shall be sacrificed to the Tempests.

Ode XI

To Pectius

It by no means, O Pectius, delights me as heretofore to write Lyric verses, being smitten with cruel love: with love, who takes pleasure to inflame me beyond others, either youths or maidens. This is the third December that has shaken the [leafy] honors from the woods, since I ceased to be mad for Inachia. Ah me! (for I am ashamed of so great a misfortune) what a subject of talk was I throughout the city! I repent too of the entertainments, at which both a languishing and silence and sighs, heaved from the bottom of my breast, discovered the lover. As soon as the indelicate god [Bacchus] by the glowing wine had removed, as I grew warm, the secrets of [my heart] from their repository, I made my complaints, lamenting to you, “Has the fairest genius of a poor man no weight against wealthy lucre? Wherefore, if a generous indignation boil in my breast, insomuch as to disperse to the winds these disagreeable applications, that give no ease to the desperate wound; the shame [of being overcome] ending, shall cease to contest with rivals of such a sort.” When I, with great gravity, had applauded these resolutions in your presence, being ordered to go home, I was carried with a wandering foot to posts, alas! to me not friendly, and alas! obdurate gates, against which I bruised my loins and side. Now my affections for the delicate Lyciscus engross all my time; from them neither the unreserved admonitions, nor the serious reprehensions of other friends can recall me [to my former taste for poetry]; but, perhaps, either a new flame for some fair damsel, or for some graceful youth who binds his long hair in a knot, [may do so].


To a Woman Whose Charms Were Over

What would you be at, you woman fitter for the swarthy monsters? Why do you send tokens, why billet-doux to me, and not to some vigorous youth, and of a taste not nice? For I am one who discerns a polypus, or fetid ramminess, however concealed, more quickly than the keenest dog the covert of the boar. What sweatiness, and how rank an odor every where rises from her withered limbs! when she strives to lay her furious rage with impossibilities; now she has no longer the advantage of moist cosmetics, and her color appears as if stained with crocodile’s ordure; and now, in wild impetuosity, she tears her bed, bedding, and all she has. She attacks even my loathings in the most angry terms: — “You are always less dull with Inachia than me: in her company you are threefold complaisance; but you are ever unprepared to oblige me in a single instance. Lesbia, who first recommended you — so unfit a help in time of need — may she come to an ill end! when Coan Amyntas paid me his addresses; who is ever as constant in his fair one’s service, as the young tree to the hill it grows on. For whom were labored the fleeces of the richest Tyrian dye? For you? Even so that there was not one in company, among gentlemen of your own rank, whom his own wife admired preferably to you: oh, unhappy me, whom you fly, as the lamb dreads the fierce wolves, or the she-goats the lions!”


To a Friend

A horrible tempest has condensed the sky, and showers and snows bring down the atmosphere: now the sea, now the woods bellow with the Thracian North wind. Let us, my friends, take occasion from the day; and while our knees are vigorous, and it becomes us, let old age with his contracted forehead become smooth. Do you produce the wine, that was pressed in the consulship of my Torquatus. Forbear to talk of any other matters. The deity, perhaps, will reduce these [present evils], to your former [happy] state by a propitious change. Now it is fitting both to be bedewed with Persian perfume, and to relieve our breasts of dire vexations by the lyre, sacred to Mercury. Like as the noble Centaur, [Chiron,] sung to his mighty pupil: “Invincible mortal, son of the goddess Thetis, the land of Assaracus awaits you, which the cold currents of little Scamander and swift-gliding Simois divide: whence the fatal sisters have broken off your return, by a thread that cannot be altered: nor shall your azure mother convey you back to your home. There [then] by wine and music, sweet consolations, drive away every symptom of hideous melancholy.”


To Mæcenas

WholeReader. Empty coverWholeReader. Book is closedWholeReader. FilterWholeReader. Compilation cover