De puero quodam composuit Horatius Odam,
qui facile bella possit satis esse puella.
undabant illi per eburnea colla capilli,
plus auro flavi, quales ego semper amavi.
candida frons ut nix, et lumina nigra velut pix,
implumesque genae grata dulcedine plenae,
cum in candoris vernabant luce ruboris.
nasus erat iustus, labra flamea, densque venustus.
effigies menti modulo formata decenti.
qui corpus quaeret quod tectum veste lateret,
tale coaptet ei quod conveniat faciei.
haec species oris radians, et plena decoris,
cor spectatoris face succendebat amoris.
sed puerum talem, pulchrum nimis et specialem,
irritamentum quorumlibet aspicientum,
sic natura ferum plasmaverat atque severum,
vellet ut ante mori, quam consentiret amori.
asper et ingratus, tanquam de tigride natus,
ridebat tantum mollissima verba precantum,
ridebat curas effectum non habituras,
et suspirantis lacrimas ridebat amantis.
illos ridebat quos ipse mori faciebat;
impius ille quidem, crudelis et impius idem,
qui vitio morum corpus vetat esse decorum.
bella bonam mentem facies petit, et patientem,
et non inflatam, sed ad haec et ad illa paratam.
flosculus aetatis citus est, nimiae brevitatis.
postquam marcescit, cadit et revirescere nescit
haec caro tam levis, tam lactea, tam sine naevis,
tam bona, tam bella, tam lubrica, tamque tenella.
tempus adhuc veniet, cum turpis et hispida fiet;
cum fiet vilis caro cara, caro puerilis.
ergo dum flores, maturos indue mores.
(Marbod of Rennes, Satyra in amatorem puelli sub assumpta persona, PL 117.1717-1718)

Horace composed an ode about a certain boy
Whose face was so lovely he could easily have been a girl,
Whose hair fell in waves against his ivory neck,
Whose forehead was white as snow and his eyes as black as pitch,
Whose soft cheeks were full of delicious sweetness
When they bloomed in the brightness of a blush of beauty.
His nose was perfect, his lips flame red, lovely his teeth—
An exterior formed in measure to match his mind.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
This vision of a face, radiant and full of beauty,
Kindled with the torch of love the heart of whoever beheld him.
But this boy, so lovely and appealing,
A torment to all who looked upon him,
Was made by nature so cruel and unyielding
That he would die rather than yield to love.
Harsh and ungrateful, as if born of a tiger,
He only laughed at the soft words of admirers,
Laughed at their vain efforts,
Laughed at the tears of a sighing lover.
He laughed at those whom he himself was causing to perish.
Surely he is wicked, cruel and wicked,
Who by the viciousness of his character denies the beauty of his body.
A fair face should have a wholesome mind,
Patient and not proud but yielding in this or that.
The little flower of age is swift, of surpassing brevity;
Soon it wastes away, vanishes, and cannot be revived.
This flesh so fair, so milky, so flawless,
So healthy, so lovely, so glowing, so soft—
The time will come when it is ugly and rough,
When this youthful skin will become repulsive.
So while you bloom, adopt a more becoming demeanor.

* Two lines have been omitted here; they are difficult to render satisfactorily in English and add little to the poem.

(tr. John Boswell, with one of his notes)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: