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Satire II.VI

This what I used to pray for: a piece of land, not too big, with a garden, and near to to the house, a constant spring of water and a bit of woodland as well. The gods have granted me these, and more. I am content. I ask for nothing more, Mercury, except that you confirm these gifts as my own.


Dit had ik altijd gewenst: een brokje land, niet al te groot, met daarbij een huisje en een tuintje, en een beekje met wat stromend water, en om te eindigen, nog een beetje bos. De goden hebben me meer dan genoeg gegeven. Meer vraag ik niet, Mercurius, dan dat dit waardevolle geschenk in mijn bezit mag blijven.




After a long cessation, O Venus, again are you stirring up tumults? Spare me, I beseech you, I beseech you. I am not the man I was under the dominion of good-natured Cynara. Forbear, O cruel mother of soft desires, to bend one bordering upon fifty, now too hardened for soft commands: go, whither the soothing prayers of youths, invoke you. More seasonably may you revel in the house of Paulus Maximus, flying thither with your splendid swans, if you seek to inflame a suitable breast. For he is both noble and comely, and by no means silent in the cause of distressed defendants, and a youth of a hundred accomplishments; he shall bear the ensigns of your warfare far and wide; and whenever, more prevailing than the ample presents of a rival, he shall laugh [at his expense], he shall erect thee in marble under a citron dome near the Alban lake. There you shall smell abundant frankincense, and shall be charmed with the mixed music of the lyre and Berecynthian pipe, not without the flageolet. There the youths, together with the tender maidens, twice a day celebrating your divinity, shall, Salian-like, with white foot thrice shake the ground. As for me, neither woman, nor youth, nor the fond hopes of mutual inclination, nor to contend in wine, nor to bind my temples with fresh flowers, delight me [any longer]. But why; ah! why, Ligurinus, does the tear every now and then trickle down my cheeks? Why does my fluent tongue falter between my words with an unseemly silence? Thee in my dreams by night I clasp, caught [in my arms]; thee flying across the turf of the Campus Martius; thee I pursue, O cruel one, through the rolling waters.

Beatus ille qui procul negotiis,
ut prisca gens mortalium,
paterna rura bobus exercet suis
solutus omni faenore
neque excitatur classico miles truci
neque horret iratum mare
forumque vitat et superba civium
potentiorum limina

He is blessed who, away from work,

just as the ancient race of mortals,

cultivates his father's farms with his ox,

free from all debt,

and, a soldier, is not stirred up by the wild trumpet,

and, angry, does not shudder at the sea,

and avoids the forum and arrogant thresholds

of powerful citizens.

Gelukkig is hij die ver van het bedrijfsleven,

Zoals het oeroude geslacht van stervelingen,

Met eigen ossenspan zijn vaderlijke akkers bewerkt,

Vrij van alle schulden;

Die niet als soldaat wordt opgeschrikt door schel hoorngeschal,

Noch bevreesd voor een vertoornde zee,

Het openbare leven vermijdt en de trotse drempels

Van mannen machtiger als hij.

Odes I.5 / Treacherous Girl


Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa

perfusus liquidis urget odoribus

grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?

cui flavam r eligas comam

simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem

mutatosque deos flebit et aspera

nigris aequora ventis

emirabitur insolens!

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,

qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem

sperat, nescius aurae

fallacis. Miseri, quibus

intemptata nites. Me tabula sacer

votiva paries indicat uvida

suspendisse potenti

vestimenta maris deo.


Odes I.9

Vides ut alta stet nive candidum

Soracte nec iam sustineant onus

silvae laborantes geluque

flumina constiterint acuto?

Dissolve frigus ligna super foco

large reponens atque benignius

deprome quadrimum Sabina,

o Thaliarche, merum diota.

Permitte divis cetera, qui simul

strauere ventos aequore fervido

deproeliantis, nec cupressi

nec veteres agitantur orni.

Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quaerere, et

quem fors dierum cumque dabit, lucro

adpone nec dulcis amores

sperne, puer, neque tu choreas,

donec virenti canities abest

morosa. Nunc et Campus et areae

lenesque sub noctem susurri

composita repetantur hora,

nunc et latentis proditor intumo

gratus puellae risus ab angulo

pignusque dereptum lacertis

aut digito male pertinaci.


What slender youth, bedew'd with liquid odours,

Courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave,

Pyrrha? For whom bind'st thou

in wreaths thy golden hair,

Plain in thy neatness? O how oft shall he

On faith and changed gods complain, and seas

Rough with black winds, and storms

Unwonted shall admire!

Who now enjoys thee credulous, all gold,

Who, always vacant, always amiable

Hopes thee, of flattering gales

Unmindful. Hapless they

To whom thou untried seem’st fair. Me, in my vow’d

Picture, the sacred wall declares to have hung

My dank and dropping weeds

To the stern god of sea.

Translation: John MILTON

Wie is die ranke knaap, die je op een bed van rozen

druipend-nat van geurig reukwerk

liefkoost in het lommer van een grot, o Pyrrha?

Voor wie bind je zo eenvoudig

je gouden lokken op? Ach, hoe dikwijls zal hij nog

zijn trouw bewenen en goden verwensen

zodra ’t veranderen zal! De woeste zee, zwellend

onder ’t hels geloei der winden

zal spoedig hem verrassen, de dwaas,

die zich baadt in je liefde,

je nooit op iemand anders verliefd waant

en meent je voor eeuwig te bezitten!

De dwaas! Hij kent nog niet ’t bedrog van je gouden glans,

een glans die de sukkelaars verblindt!

Een ex-voto in de tempelmuur van de grote god der zee

getuigt dat ik me wist te redden …

Vertaling : H. VERBRUGGEN

See how Soracte stands glistening with snowfall,

and the labouring woods bend under the weight:

see how the mountain streams are frozen,

cased in the ice by the shuddering cold?

Drive away bitterness, and pile on the logs,

bury the hearthstones, and, with generous heart,

out of the four-year old Sabine jars,

O Thaliarchus, bring on the true wine.

Leave the rest to the gods: when they’ve stilled the winds

that struggle, far away, over raging seas,

you’ll see that neither the cypress trees

nor the old ash will be able to stir.

Don’t ask what tomorrow brings, call them your gain

whatever days Fortune gives, don’t spurn sweet love,

my child, and don’t you be neglectful

of the choir of love, or the dancing feet,

while life is still green, and your white-haired old age

is far away with all its moroseness. Now,

find the Campus again, and the squares,

soft whispers at night, at the hour agreed,

and the pleasing laugh that betrays her, the girl

who’s hiding away in the darkest corner,

and the pledge that’s retrieved from her arm,

or from a lightly resisting finger.

Translation: A.S. KLINE


Zie je hoe hij daar staat, in diepsneeuw schitterend wit,

de Soracte, en de last niet meer draaglijk is

voor de kreunende wouden en door de vorst

bijtend scherp de stroompjes stilstaan.

Jaag de kilte weg met houtblokken op de haard

breed bij te stapelen, en nog royaler:

haal vierjarige uit de Sabina,

wijn, o Thaliarchus: een amfoor.

Geef de rest in handen van de goden. Zodra die

de winden hebben doen liggen op het woeste zeeoppervlak

vechtend op leven en dood, worden de cipressen

noch de oude essen gegeseld.

Wat morgen zal zijn, moet je vermijden uit te vinden en

welke het toeval ook zal geven van de dagen, moet je als winst

boeken en zoete liefdesavontuurtjes

mag je niet laten nu je jong bent, jij, en evenmin reidansen,

zolang je nog groen bent en veraf de grijze

knorrigheid. Nu moeten én het Marsveld én de pleintjes

met het zachte gefluister tegen het vallen van de nacht

opgezocht worden op het afgesproken uur,

nu ook 't signaal vanuit een intiem

hoekje heerlijk gegiechel van een onzichtbaar meisje

en een liefdespand afgepakt van een arm

of een vinger die nauwelijks tegenwerkt.

(NL Vertaling Leopold WINCKELMANS)

Odes I.11 / Carpe diem

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi

finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios

temptaris numeros.  Ut melius, quidquid erit, pati,

seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,

quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare

Tyrrheneum.  Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi

spem longam reseces; dum loquimur, fugerit invida

aetas: carpe diem quam nimium credula postero.

Don't ask -we're not to know- what end, Cassandra,
the gods intend for you, for me; nor squander
your mind with horoscopes. Do better: let
what will be, be. Jove may grant winters yet
or deem this year's your last that wears the wide
Tyrrhenian sea out on the brawny side
of cliffs. Be wise: have wine and prune the bough
of long hopes to short minutes. Even now
as we speak here, devouring time speeds on.
Harvest this day and take no stock in dawn.

Vraag niet, Leukonoë, wat in de sterren staat

voor mij en voor jezelf – we kunnen ’t toch niet weten

Wat moet zijn, zal zijn.

Of nu de boze winterstorm voor ’t laatst

te pletter slaat tegen de klippen, of niet voor ’t laatst:

wees wijs, schenk nog eens in en bekommer je niet

om een ver verschiet – de jaloerse tijd verglijdt.

Geniet het heden en vertrouw de morgen niet!

Vertaling: H. VERBRUGGEN

Odes I.14/ The Ship of State

O navis, referent in mare te novi

fluctus. o quid agis? fortiter occupa

portum. nonne vides, ut

nudum remigio latus

et malus celeri saucius Africo

antemnaeque gemant ac sine funibus

vix durare carinae

possint imperiosius

aequor? non tibi sunt integra lintea,

non di, quos iterum pressa voces malo.

quamvis Pontica pinus,

silvae filia nobilis,

iactes et genus et nomen inutile:

nil pictis timidus navita puppibus

fidit. tu nisi ventis

debes ludibrium, cave.

nuper sollicitum quae mihi taedium,

nunc desiderium curaque non levis,

interfusa nitentis

vites aequora Cycladas.

O ship the fresh tide carries back to sea again.

Where are you going! Quickly, run for harbour.

Can’t you see how your sides

have been stripped bare of oars,

how your shattered masts and yards are groaning loudly

in the swift south-westerly, and bare of rigging,

your hull can scarce tolerate

the overpowering waters?

You haven’t a single sail that’s still intact now,

no gods, that people call to when they’re in trouble.

Though you’re built of Pontic pine,

a child of those famous forests,

though you can boast of your race, and an idle name:

the fearful sailor puts no faith in gaudy keels.

You must beware of being

merely a plaything of the winds.

You, who not long ago were troubling weariness

to me, and now are my passion and anxious care,

avoid the glistening seas

between the shining Cyclades

Schip, pas op, nieuwe golven zullen je terug naar zee

voeren! Waar wil je heen? Blijf liever vast in de

haven. Kijk toch, de riemen

zijn van je flanken weggerukt.

De mast kraakt door de kracht van een zuidwestenwind,

de scheepsra kreunt en je kiel is niet met kabeltouw

gesjord; zij kan het geweld van

golven amper verduren!

Je zeil is aan flarden, het boegbeeld is niet meer

voor de zoveelste maal door jou te vermurwen.

Hoezeer jij, Pontische pijnboom,

dochter van het vermaarde woud,

pronkt met je afkomst, trots op een naam -vergeefs:

een bange zeeman heeft geen vertrouwen in

scheepslak. Als je niet oppast,

word je een speelbal der winden.

Tot voor kort wekte jij mijn onrust en weerzin op,

nu het pijnlijk gemis van een niet gering zorgenkind:

mijd de zee die zich uitspreidt

om Cycladische schittering.

ODES I.32 To the Lyre

Poscimur. Si quid vacui sub umbra

lusimus tecum, quod et hunc in annum

vivat et pluris, age, dic Latinum,

barbite, carmen,

Lesbio primum modulate civi,

qui, ferox bello, tamen inter arma,

sive iactatam religarat udo

litore navem,

Liberum et Musas Veneremque et illi

semper haerentem puerum canebat

et Lycum nigris oculis nigroque

crine decorum.

O decus Phoebi et dapibus supremi

grata testudo Iovis, o laborum

dulce lenimen, mihi cumque salve

rite vocanti.

I’m called on. O Lyre, if I’ve ever played

idle things with you in the shade, that will live,

for a year or more, come and utter a song

now, of Italy:

you were first tuned by Alcaeus of Lesbos,

a man daring in war, yet still, amongst arms,

or after he’d moored his storm-driven boat

on a watery shore,

he sang of the Muses, Bacchus, and Venus

that boy of hers, Cupid, that hangs around her,

and that beautiful Lycus, with his dark eyes

and lovely dark hair.

O tortoiseshell, Phoebus’s glory, welcome

at the feasts of Jupiter, the almighty,

O sweet comfort and balm of our troubles, heal,

if I call you true!

Odes II.10

Licinius, trust a seaman's lore:

Steer not too boldly to the deep,

Nor, fearing storms, by treacherous shore

Too closely creep.

Who makes the golden mean his guide,

Shuns miser's cabin, foul and dark,

Shuns gilded roofs, where pomp and pride

Are envy's mark.

With fiercer blasts the pine's dim height

Is rock'd; proud towers with heavier fall

Crash to the ground; and thunders smite

The mountains tall.

In sadness hope, in gladness fear

'Gainst coming change will fortify

Your breast. The storms that Jupiter

Sweeps o'er the sky

He chases. Why should rain today

Bring rain tomorrow? Python's foe

Is pleased sometimes his lyre to play,

Nor bends his bow.

Be brave in trouble; meet distress

With dauntless front; but when the gale

Too prosperous blows, be wise no less,

And shorten sail.

(translation: John CONINGTON)

Odes II.14

Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,

labuntur anni, nec pietas moram

rugis et instanti senectae

adferet indomitaeque morti;

non, si trecenis, quotquot eunt dies,

amice, places illacrimabilem

Plutona tauris, qui ter amplum

Geryonen Tityonque tristi

compescit unda - scilicet omnibus,

quicumque terrae munere vescimur,

enaviganda, sive reges

sive inopes erimus coloni.

Frustra cruento Marte carebimus

fractisque rauci fluctibus Hadriae,

frustra per autumnos nocentem

corporibus metuemus Austrum.

Visendus ater flumine languido

Cocytos errans et Danai genus

infame damnatusque longi

Sisyphus Aeolides laboris.

LInquenda tellus et domus et placens

uxor, neque harum quas colis arborum

te praeter invisas cupressos

ulla brevem dominum sequetur.

Absumet heres Caecuba dignior

servata centum clavibus et mero

tinguet pavimentum superbo

pontificum potiore cenis.

Alas! Postumus, Postumus the swift years

slip away, nor does piety bring delay for

wrinkles and looming old age

and fierce death;

not even if, however many days go by, my friend,

you may appease pitiless Pluto with three hundred

bulls at a time, he who restrains triply large

Geryon and Tityos with the gloomy

water - which surely must be sailed by all,

whoever of us enjoys a gift of earth,

whether we will be kings

or poor farmers.

In vain, we will abstain from bloody Mars

and the broken waves of the raucous Adriatic sea,

in vain through autumn we will fear the

south wind harmful to our bodies.

The dark Cocytos river wandering with a sluggish

stream must be visited and the notorious family

of Danaus and Sisyphus Aeolides

condemned to a long labor.

Your land and your home and your pleasing

wife must be abandoned, and nor will any of

the these trees which you maintain follow you,

a short-lived master, except the hated cypresses.

Your more worthy heir will waste your Caecuban wine

guarded by a hundred keys and he will stain

the pavement with arrogant wine, better

than the dinner of the high priests.

Het leven is een droom

Snel vliegt de tijd, ach Postumus, Postumus!

En vroomheid baat u, noch om de ouderdom

die brede rimpels groeft in ’t voorhoofd,

noch om de sombere dood te weren!

Al offert gij ook iedere dag van ’t jaar

driehonderd stieren Pluto, de harde god

die Tituos en Geruones’ drie-

koppige monstergestalte temt in

de nare stroom, waarover wij allen die

ons voeden met de vruchten des bodems, eens

ter helle varen – allen, of we

koningen zijn of gemene landliên.

Het bloedige krijgsspel, Adria’s golven, wild

de oever beukend, mijden we nutteloos;

vergeefs beschutten we ons in ’t najaar

tegen de schaadlijke zuidenwinden:

wij zullen ’t zwarte water van de kronkelende

Kokutos zien, Danaös’ vervloekt geslacht

en ook de onder eeuwgen arbeid

Hijgende Sisufos, Aiolos’ zoon.

Van huis en stof en tedere gade zult

Gij moeten afscheid nemen. En van ’t geboomt

door u gekweekt, o korte meester,

volgt u maar de haatlijke grafcipres.

Een erfgenaam drinkt, wijzer, uw Caecuber,

Thans achter honderd sloten bewaard, en kleurt

de weidse marmervloer met beetre

wijn dan er komt op der priesters feestdis.

Vertaling: Frans DE CORT

Odes II.18

Not ivory or gilded panel gleams in my

home, nor do beams of Hymettian marble

rest on pillars quarried in farthest Africa, nor

have I, as heir of Attalus, become

unwittingly the owner of a palace, nor for me

do high-born dames trail robes of Laconian


But I have loyalty and a kindly vein of

genius, and me, though poor, the rich man

courts. I importune the gods for nothing

more, and of my friend in power

I crave no larger boon, happy enough in my

cherished Sabine farm. Day treads upon the

heel of day, and new moons hasten to wane;

yet thou on the grave's verge dost contract for

the cutting of marble slabs, and, forgetful of

the tomb, dost rear a palace, eager to build out

the coast of the sea that thunders by Baiae,

not rich enough in the mainland shore. What,

that thou tearest down each neighbouring

post that marks thy farm, and in thy greed

dost overleap the boundaries of thy tenants!

Man and wife are driven forth bearing in their

arms their household gods and ragged


And yet no hall more certainly

awaits the wealthy lord than greedy Orcus'

destined bourne. Why strive for more and


For all alike doth Earth unlock her

bosom--for the poor man and for princes'

sons. Nor could Orcus' minion be bribed by

gold to ferry back Prometheus, the crafty.

Proud Tantalus and the son of Tantalus he

holdeth fast, and, summoned or

unsummoned, lends an ear to free the poor

man when his toils are o'er.


lle potens sui
laetusque deget, cui licet in diem
  dixisse "vixi:  cras vel atra
    nube polum Pater occupato

vel sole puro;  non tamen irritum,
quodcumque retro est, efficiet neque
  diffinget infectumque reddet,
    quod fugiens semel hora vexit ."

Happy the man, and happy he alone,

He, who can call today his own:

He, secure within, can say

Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair, or foul, or rain, or shine,

The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.

Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;

But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

Edited by John DRYDEN

Odes III.30

Exegi monumentum aere perennius

reglalique situ pyramidum altius,

quod non imber edax, non aquilo impotens

possit diruere aut innumerabilis

annorum series et fuga tempoum.

Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei

vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera

crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium

scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.

Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus

et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium

regnavit poplulorum, ex humili potens,

princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos

deduxisse modos.  Sume superbiam

quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica

lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.

I have created a monument more lasting than bronze

and loftier than the royal structure of the pyramids,

that which neither devouring rain, nor the unrestrained North Wind

may be able to destroy nor the immeasurable

succession of years and the flight of time.

I shall not wholly die and a greater part of me

will evade Libitina; continually I,

newly arisen, may be strengthened with ensuing praise so long

as the high priest climbs the Capitoline with the silent maiden.

It may be said that where the raging Aufidus roars

and where, short of water, Daunus ruled his rustic people,

powerful from a humble birth, I first brought Aeolian verse

to Italian measures.  Assume the arrogance

sought for by those who have a claim to recognition,

and with the Delphian laurel,

Melpomene, willingly crown my head.

Odes IV.1

Yet again thou wak'st the flame

That long had slumber'd! Spare me, Venus, spare!

Trust me, I am not the same

As in the reign of Cinara, kind and fair.

Cease thy softening spells to prove

On this old heart, by fifty years made hard,

Cruel Mother of sweet Love!

Haste, where gay youth solicits thy regard.

With thy purple cygnets fly

To Paullus' door, a seasonable guest;

There within hold revelry,

There light thy flame in that congenial breast.

He, with birth and beauty graced,

The trembling client's champion, ne'er tongue-tied,

Master of each manly taste,

Shall bear thy conquering banners far and wide.

Let him smile in triumph gay,

True heart, victorious over lavish hand,

By the Alban lake that day

'Neath citron roof all marble shalt thou stand:

Incense there and fragrant spice

With odorous fumes thy nostrils shall salute;

Blended notes thine ear entice,

The lyre, the pipe, the Berecyntine flute:

Graceful youths and maidens bright

Shall twice a day thy tuneful praise resound,

While their feet, so fair and white,

In Salian measure three times beat the ground.

I can relish love no more,

Nor flattering hopes that tell me hearts are true,

Nor the revel's loud uproar,

Nor fresh-wreathed flowerets, bathed in vernal dew.

Ah! but why, my Ligurine,

Steal trickling tear-drops down my wasted cheek?

Wherefore halts this tongue of mine,

So eloquent once, so faltering now and weak?

Now I hold you in my chain,

And clasp you close, all in a nightly dream;

Now, still dreaming, o'er the plain

I chase you; now, ah cruel! down the stream.

Odes IV.7

Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis

arboribusque comae;

mutat terra vices et decrescentia ripas

flumina praetereunt;

Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet

ducere nuda choros.

immortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum

quae rapit hora diem.

frigora mitescunt zephyris, ver proterit aestas

interitura simul

pomifer autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox

bruma recurrit iners.

damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunae;

nos ubi decidimus,

quo pius Aeneas, quo Tullus dives et Ancus, pulvis et umbra sumus.

quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae

tempora di superi?

cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico

quae dederis animo.

cum semel occideris et de te splendida Minos

fecerit arbitria,

non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te

restituet pietas;

infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum

liberat Hippolytum,

nec Lethaea valet Theseus abrumpere caro

vincula Pirithoo.

Permanence and Change

The snows are fled away, leaves on the shaws

    And grasses in the mead renew their birth,

The river to the river-bed withdraws,

    And altered is the fashion of the earth.

The Nymphs and Graces three put off their fear

    And unapparelled in the woodland play.

The swift hour and the brief prime of the year

    Say to the soul, Thou wast not born for aye.

Thaw follows frost; hard on the heel of spring

    Treads summer sure to die, for hard on hers

Comes autumn, with his apples scattering;

    Then back to wintertide, when nothing stirs.

But oh, whate'er the sky-led seasons mar,

    Moon upon moon rebuilds it with her beams:

Come we where Tullus and where Ancus are,

    And good Aeneas, we are dust and dreams.

Torquatus, if the gods in heaven shall add

    The morrow to the day, what tongue has told?

Feast then thy heart, for what thy heart has had

    The fingers of no heir will ever hold.

When thou descendest once the shades among,

    The stern assize and equal judgment o'er,

Not thy long lineage nor thy golden tongue,

    No, nor thy righteousness, shall friend thee more.

Night holds Hippolytus the pure of stain,

    Diana steads him nothing, he must stay;

And Theseus leaves Pirithöus in the chain

    The love of comrades cannot take away.

Transl. Alfred HOUSMAN


Nec Coae referunt iam tibi purpurae,

Nec clari lapides tempora, quae semel

Notis condita fastis,

Inclusit uolucris dies.

Quo fugit Venus heu ? quoue color decens,

Quo motus ? quid habes illius, illius ?

Quae spirabat amores.

Quae me surpuerat mihi.

Felix post Cynaram, notaque & artium

Gratarum facies : sed Cynarae breues

Annos fata dederunt :

Seruatura diu parem.

Cornicis uetulae temporibus Lycen,

Possent ut iuuenes uisere feruidi

Multo non sine risu,

Delapsam in cineres facem.

In short: whether a peaceful old age waits for me

or death circles with black wings,

rich, poor, at Rome, or if thus chance bids, an exile,

whatever the complexion of my life, I will write.


Carmen Saeculare

O Phoebus, Diana queen of the woodlands,

Bright heavenly glories, both worshipped forever

And cherished forever, now grant what we pray for

At this sacred time,

When Sybilline verses have issued their warning

To innocent boys, and the virgins we’ve chosen,

To sing out their song to the gods, who have shown their

Love for the Seven Hills.

O kindly Sun, in your shining chariot, who

Herald the day, then hide it, to be born again

New yet the same, you will never know anything

Mightier than Rome!

O gentle Ilithyia, duly revealing

The child at full term, now protect gentle mothers,

Whether you’d rather be known as Lucina,

Or Genitalis.

Goddess, nurture our offspring, bring to fruition

The Senate’s decrees concerning the wedlock

Of women who’ll bear us more of our children, 

The laws of marriage,

So the fixed cycle of years, ten times eleven,

Will bring back the singing again, bring back the games

We crowd to three times by daylight, as often,

By beautiful night.

And you, the Fates, who are truthful in prophecy,

Link happy destinies, as has once been ordained

And let the certain course of events confirm it,

To those that are past.

Let Earth that is fruitful in crops, and in cattle,

Adorn our Ceres with garlands of wheat-ears:

And may Jupiter’s life-giving rain and breezes

Ripen the harvest.

Gentle and peaceful Apollo, lay down your arms,

And listen now to the young lads’ supplications:

Luna, crescent-horned queen of the constellations,

Give ear to the girls.

If Rome is your doing, and if from far Ilium

Came that band of people who reached the Tuscan shore,

Those commanded to change their home and their city,

On a lucky course,

Those for whom pious Aeneas, the survivor,

Who passed without injury through the flames of Troy,

Prepared a path to freedom, destined to grant him

Much more than he’d lost:

Then, you divinities, show our receptive youth

Virtue, grant peace and quiet to the old, and give

Children and wealth to the people of Romulus,

And every glory.

Whatever a noble descendant of Venus

And Anchises, asks, with a white steer’s sacrifice,

Let him obtain: a winner in war, merciful

To our fallen foe.

Now the Parthians fear our forces, powerful

On land, and on sea: they fear the Alban axes,

Now the once proud Indians, now the Scythians

Beg for an answer. 

Now Faith and Peace, Honour, and ancient Modesty,

Dare to return once more, with neglected Virtue,

And blessed Plenty dares to appear again, now,

With her flowing horn.

May Phoebus, the augur, decked with the shining bow,

Phoebus who’s dear to the Nine Muses, that Phoebus

Who can offer relief to a weary body

With his healing art,

May he, if he favours the Palatine altars,

Extend Rome’s power, and Latium’s good-fortune,

Through the fresh ages, show, always, improvement,

Lustra  ever new.

And may Diana, to whom is the Aventine,

And Mount Algidus, accept the entreaties

Of the Fifteen, and attend, and lend a fond ear,

To these children’s prayers.

We bear to our home the fine hope, and certain,

That such is Jupiter’s, and all the gods’ purpose:

We’re taught, we, the chorus, to sing praise of Phoebus,

Praise of Diana.

Nunc est Bibendum

Nunc est bibendum , nunc pede libero
pulsanda tellus ; nunc Saliaribus
ornare pulvinar deorum
tempus erat dapibus , sodales .

antehac nefas depromere Caecubum
cellis avitis , dum Capitolio
regina dementis ruinas ,
funus et imperio parabat

contaminato cum grege turpium
morbo virorum quidlibet inpotens
sperare fortunaque dulci
ebria . sed minuit furorem

vix una sospes navis ab ignibus
mentemque lymphatam Mareotico
redegit in veros timores
Caesar ab Italia volantem

remis adurgens , accipiter velut
mollis columbas aut leporem citus
venator in campis nivalis
Haemoniae , daret ut catenis

fatale monstrum . quae generosius
perire quaerens nec muliebriter
expavit ensem nec latentis
classe cita reparavit oras .

ausa et iacentem visere regiam
voltu sereno , fortis et asperas
tractare serpentes , ut atrum
corpore conbiberet venenum ,

deliberata morte ferocior ;
saevis Liburnis scilicet invidens
privata deduci superbo ,
non humilis mulier , triumpho .

Now drink we deep, now featly tread

A measure; now before each shrine

With Salian feasts the table spread;

The time invites us, comrades mine.

'Twas shame to broach, before today,

The Caecuban, while Egypt's dame

Threaten'd our power in dust to lay

And wrap the Capitol in flame,

Girt with her foul emasculate throng,

By Fortune's sweet new wine befool'd,

In hope's ungovern'd weakness strong

To hope for all; but soon she cool'd,

To see one ship from burning 'scape;

Great Caesar taught her dizzy brain,

Made mad by Mareotic grape,

To feel the sobering truth of pain,

And gave her chase from Italy,

As after doves fierce falcons speed,

As hunters 'neath Haemonia's sky

Chase the tired hare, so might he lead

The fiend enchain'd; she sought to die

More nobly, nor with woman's dread

Quail'd at the steel, nor timorously

In her fleet ships to covert fled.

Amid her ruin'd halls she stood

Unblench'd, and fearless to the end

Grasp'd the fell snakes, that all her blood

Might with the cold black venom blend,

Death's purpose flushing in her face;

Nor to our ships the glory gave,

That she, no vulgar dame, should grace

A triumph, crownless, and a slave.

transl. John CONINGTON