Albi, nostrorum sermonum candide iudex,
quid nunc te dicam facere in regione Pedana?
scribere quod Cassi Parmensis opuscula vincat,
an tacitum silvas inter reptare salubres,
curantem quicquid dignum sapiente bonoque est?
non tu corpus eras sine pectore: di tibi formam,
di tibi divitias dederunt artemque fruendi.
Quid voveat dulci nutricula maius alumno,
qui sapere et fari possit quae sentiat et cui
gratia, fama, ualetudo contingat abunde,
et mundus victus non deficiente crumina?
Inter spem curamque, timores inter et iras
omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum:
grata superveniet quae non sperabitur hora.
me pinguem et nitidum bene curata cute vises,
cum ridere voles Epicuri de grege porcum.
(Horace, Ep. 1.4)
Albius, good-natured critic of my ‘Conversations’,
out there in the Pedana what shall I say you’re doing?
Outdoing Cassius of Parma and his little books?
or strolling silently around those healthy woods,
concerned with what befits a man who’s wise and good?
No, you were never body without mind. The gods
gave you looks, wealth and skill to make the best of them.
What better could a little nursemaid pray for,
whose charge had sense, could speak his mind, who had
good name, good friends, good health in plenty too,
and lived with style and with a purse that’s deep enough?
Amid anxiety and hope, anger and fear,
think of each day that dawns as if it were your last.
Each unexpected hour will be a gift of joy.
I shall be plump, kempt, glossy when you visit
to laugh at one from Epicurus’ herd: a pig. (tr. Keith Maclennan)
Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
regumque turres. o beate Sesti,
vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.
iam te premet nox fabulaeque Manes
et domus exilis Plutonia; quo simul mearis,
nec regna vini sortiere talis,
nec tenerum Lycidan mirabere, quo calet iuventus
nunc omnis et mox virgines tepebunt.
(Horace, Carm. 1.4.13-20)
Pale Death knocks with impartial foot on the poor man’s cottage and the rich man’s castle. Sestius, well-off as you are, the brief span of life forbids us to embark on far-reaching hopes. Soon night will close round you, and the storied Ghosts and the meagre house of Pluto. Once you reach there, you will not throw dice to decide who directs the party, nor will you gaze in admiration at the boyish Lycidas, who now makes all the young men burn with passion and before long will kindle the desires of the girls. (tr. Niall Rudd)
Brundisium comes aut Surrentum ductus amoenum
qui queritur salebras et acerbum frigus et imbres
aut cistam effractam et subducta viatica plorat,
nota refert meretricis acumina, saepe catellam,
saepe periscelidem raptam sibi flentis, uti mox
nulla fides damnis verisque doloribus adsit.
nec semel irrisus triviis attollere curat
fracto crure planum. licet illi plurima manet
lacrima, per sanctum iuratus dicat Osirim
‘credite, non ludo; crudeles, tollite claudum’,
‘quaere peregrinum’ vicinia rauca reclamat.
(Horace, Ep. 1.17.52-62)
When a companion travelling to Brundisium
Or sweet Surrentum moans about the ruts, the bitter
Cold, the rain, his trunk broken open, his money gone,
It’s like a girl’s cute tricks, always weeping to herself
About a stolen chain, or an anklet, so later
Her genuine losses and grief wont be believed.
He who’s been fooled before won’t bother to help
That joker, with a broken leg, at the crossroads,
Who in floods of tears swears by sacred Osiris:
’It’s no jest, believe me: don’t be cruel, help the lame!’
‘Go ask a stranger,’ the raucous neighbours shout. (tr. Tony Kline)
Sperat infestis, metuit secundis
alteram sortem bene praeparatum
pectus. informis hiemes reducit
submovet. non, si male nunc, et olim
sic erit: quondam cithara tacentem
suscitat Musam neque semper arcum
rebus angustis animosus atque
fortis appare; sapienter idem
contrahes vento nimium secundo
(Horace, Carm. 2.10.13-24)
In adversity the well-prepared mind hopes for the opposite situation, is on guard against it in prosperity. Jupiter brings round the ugly winters; he also removes them. If things are bad now, they will not always be so: at times Apollo wakens the slumbering Muse with his lyre; he does not always keep his bow taut. In dire straits show yourself spirited and brave; you will also be wise to shorten your sail when it swells before too favourable a breeze. (tr. Niall Rudd)
Concines laetosque dies et Urbis
publicum ludum super impetrato
fortis Augusti reditu forumque
tum meae, si quid loquar audiendum,
vocis accedet bona pars, et, “o Sol
pulcher! o laudande!” canam, recepto
tuque dum procedis, “io Triumphe!”
non semel dicemus, “io Triumphe!”
civitas omnis, dabimusque divis
(Horace, Carm. 4.2.41-52)
You will celebrate the days of joy, the capital’s public holiday, and the Forum bereft of lawsuits in honour of the valiant Augustus’ return which has been granted to our prayers. Then, if I have anything to say that is worth hearing, I shall join in to the best of my ability, singing “O glorious day, o worthy of all praise!” in my joy at Caesars’ return. And while you take the lead, we shall cry more than once “Io Triumphe!” The whole city will cry “Io Triumphe” and we shall offer incense to the kindly gods. (tr. Niall Rudd)
Quid immerentis hospites vexas canis
ignavus adversum lupos?
quin huc inanis, si potes, vertis minas,
et me remorsurum petis?
nam qualis aut Molossus aut fulvus Lacon,
amica vis pastoribus,
agam per altas aure sublata nives,
quaecumque praecedet fera:
tu cum timenda voce complesti nemus,
proiectum odoraris cibum.
cave, cave: namque in malos asperrimus
parata tollo cornua,
qualis Lycambae spretus infido gener
aut acer hostis Bupalo.
an si quis atro dente me petiverit,
inultus ut flebo puer?
(Horace, Epodes 6)
How dare you go for unoffending guests, you who are a cowardly cur when confronted with wolves? Why not turn your empty threats in this direction, if you have the guts, and attack someone who will bite back? Like a Molossian or tawny Spartan, the shepherd’s sturdy friend, I shall prick up my ears and hunt down through the deep snow any animal that runs away from me, whereas you fill the woods with ferocious barking and then sniff at food thrown at your feet. Take care now, take care! For I am utterly ruthless against villains, and now toss my horns in readiness, like the son-in-law rejected by the treacherous Lycambes*, or the fierce enemy of Bupalus**. Well, if someone attacks me with the tooth of malice, am I expected to weep like a child, without retaliating?
* Archilochus. Lycambes promised his daughter, Neobule, to Archilochus and then reneged, whereupon he was hounded to death by the poet’s invective.
** Bupalus was a Greek sculptor who antagonised the iambic writer Hipponax (late 6th cent. B.C.).
Non est meum, si mugiat Africis
malus procellis, ad miseras preces
decurrere et votis pacisci
ne Cypriae Tyriaeque merces
addant avaro divitias mari.
tunc me biremis praesidio scaphae
tutum per Aegaeos tumultus
aura feret geminusque Pollux.
(Horace, Carm. 3.29.57-64)
It is not my way, if the mast creaks in an African gale, to resort to piteous prayers, and, by making promises, to strike a bargain that will save my Cyprian and Tyrian goods from increasing the wealth of the greedy sea. In that situation, the breeze along with Pollux and his twin will carry me serenely though the Aegean’s storm in my two-oared dinghy. (tr. Niall Rudd)