Homeri opera

Utque parens rerum fontes et flumina magnae
suggerit Oceanus terrae, sic omnis ab istis
docta per ora virum decurrit gratia chartis;
hinc fusa innumeris felix opulentia saeclis
ditavit mentes, tacitoque infloruit aevo.
omnia ab his et in his sunt omnia, sive beati
te decor eloquii seu rerum pondera tangunt.
nam quae tam varium Memphitis stamen harundo
separat, aut quae sic Babylonos texta potentis
sollicita pinguntur acu, quae tanta colorum
gloria, cum pinnis zephyri rorantibus adsunt!
quantus honor vocum, quam multis dives abundat
floribus, et claris augescit lingua figuris!
sive libet tenui versum deducere filo,
seu medium confine tenet, seu robore toto
fortior assurgit; seu vena paupere fertur
aridius, celeri seu se brevis incitat alveo,
gurgite seu pleno densisque opulentior undat
vorticibus, sive humentes laeto ubere ripas
daedala germinibus variat: maiore nec umquam
sermo potens meminit se maiestate loquentem.
quod si facta virum victuris condere chartis.
flectere si mavis orando et fingere mentes,
hunc optato ducem. Non causas doctius alter
personamque locumque modosque et tempus et arma
remque ipsam expediat, dum nunc iactantior exit
nunc contorta ruit nunc se facundia profert
simplicior, varia nunc floret imagine rerum:
dulcius eloquium nulli nec apertior umquam
vis fandi fuit aut quae mentibus acrior instet;
indole quemque sua pingit, sua cuique decenter
attribuit verba et mores unumque tenorem
semper amat, meminitque sui; scit et unde moveri
et quo sit prodire tenus fusumque gubernat
arte opus, et mediis prima ac postrema revincit.
nunc teneras vocat ad lacrimas, nunc igneus iram
suscitat; interdum retrahit, probat, arguit, urget;
nunc nova suspendunt avidas miracula mentes,
feta bonis, ipsum utiliter celantia verum.
(Angelus Politianus, Ambra 476-514)

And as Ocean, the parent of the elements, supplies the springs and rivers of the great earth, so from these pages every grace flowed down through the learned mouths of men; from them a fecund opulence, diffused through countless ages, has enriched minds and flowered in the silent course of history. All things derive from them and in them are all things, whether you are touched by the beauty of his rich eloquence or the gravity of the subject. For what a vari-colored warp the weaver’s reed separates at Memphis, what fabrics are embroidered by the painstaking needle of mighty Babylon, what a great riot of colors along with the zephyrs, their wings dripping with dew, are present in him! What beauty of words, what rich abundance of colors and what elegant figures adorn his style! Whether he wishes to spin his verse with a slender thread or holds to a middle style or rises more forcefully with full strength; whether he is borne along more unadorned with thinner vein, or more compressed, rushes forward in swift course, or ripples more sumptuously at full flood and in swirling eddies, or whether with Daedalian artistry and rich abundance he variegates the moist banks with flowering buds, powerful Eloquence never remembers speaking with greater majesty. But if you prefer to record the mighty feats of heroes in immortal pages or to direct and mould men’s minds by your oratory, choose him as your gide. No other can expound more learnedly the causes, the personalities, the place and the circumstances, the time, the arms and the action itself, while at one time his eloquence bursts forth more exultantly, now it rushes along with twists and turns, now it moves forward more simply, now richly ornamented, it bursts into flower with a multiplicity of images. No one possessed a sweeter eloquence; to none was ever given a more lucid power of expression; none could touch the spirit more poignantly; he depicts each one according to his true character, he attributes words and conduct proper to each, he loves to maintain an even tenor, true to himself, and he knows both from whence to begin the narrative and how far to proceed, and he controls the wide scope of his work artistically and binds the middle together with the beginning and the end. Now he incites to tender tears, now with passion he rouses to anger; at different times he holds back, approves, rebukes, urges forward; now unheard of marvels, abounding with good things hold avid minds in suspense, usefully concealing the inner truth. (tr. Charles Fantazzi)



Felix ille animi divisque simillimus ipsis,
quem non mendaci resplendens gloria fuco
sollicitat, non fastosi mala gaudia luxus,
sed tacitos sinit ire dies et paupere cultu
exigit innocuae tranquilla silentia vitae,
urbe procul, voti exiguus; sortemque benignus
ipse suam fovet ac modico contentus acervo
non spes corde avidas, non curam pascit inanem;
securus quo sceptra cadant, cui dira minentur
astra et sanguinei iubar exitiale cometae.
non illum fragilis favor indocilisque potenti
plebs servare fidem, evectum popularibus auris,
casuro imponit solio, nec ducit hiantem
huc illuc vanos ostentans purpura fasces.
non mentem pavet ipse suam nec conscius omnes
exhorret strepitus nec edaci pectora culpa
carpitur occulte; non opportunus iniqui
iudicio vulgi aut celsa conspectus in arce
degeneri patet invidiae; non ipse vicissim
obliquo livore macet fetusque veneno
aestuat atque aliena oculis bona limat acutis.
(Angelus Politianus, Rusticus 17-37)

Happy in spirit and comparable to the gods themselves is the man who is not attracted by the lure of glory with its false splendors or by the evil pleasures of haughty luxury, but allows the days to go by quietly and in his modest way of life spends his days in the silent tranquility of a blameless life, far from the city, with few desires. He accepts his lot resignedly and is happy with his modest possessions; he does not nurture avid hopes or empty cares in his heart; he is unconcerned with the fall of kingdoms or with those who are threatened by dreadful signs in the skies and the fatal glare of a blood-red comet. Not carried away by the uncertain breezes of popular favor, he will not be placed upon a throne, destined to fall, by the common herd, who have not learned to keep faith with the powerful, nor does he allow himself to be dragged hither and yon, his mouth agape, by the purple garb which promises empty symbols of power. He is not frightened at his own thoughts, nor does his guilty conscience make him terrified at every sound, nor does gnawing guilt eat secretly away at his heart. He is not subject to the judgment of the prejudiced crowd nor is he, descried in his lofty citadel, exposed to ignoble jealousy. He in turn is not consumed by malicious envy nor does he seethe, swollen with envy’s venom, nor does he detract from another’s blessings with sharp-eyed looks. (tr. Charles Fantazzi)