Rogare longo putidam te saeculo
vires quid enervet meas,
cum sit tibi dens ater et rugis vetus
frontem senectus exaret,
hietque turpis inter aridas nates
podex velut crudae bovis!
sed incitat me pectus et mammae putres,
equina quales ubera,
venterque mollis et femur tumentibus
exile suris additum.
esto beata, funus atque imagines
ducant triumphales tuum,
nec sit marita, quae rotundioribus
onusta bacis ambulet.
quid quod libelli Stoici inter Sericos
iacere pulvillos amant?
illiterati num magis nervi rigent,
minusve languet fascinum?
quod ut superbo provoces ab inguine,
ore allaborandum est tibi.
(Horace, Epod. 8)

To think that you, who have rotted away with the long passage of time, should ask what unstrings my virility, when your teeth are black, and extreme decrepitude ploughs furrows on your forehead, and your disgusting anus gapes between your shrivelled buttocks like that of a cow with diarrhea! I suppose I am excited by your bosom with its withered breasts like the udders of a mare, your flabby belly, and your scrawny thighs perched on top of your swollen ankles! Be as rich as you like. May the masks of triumphal ancestors escort your cortege! Let no wife be weighed down with fatter pearls as she walks proudly by! What of the fact that slim Stoic volumes nestle on your cushions of Chinese silk? Does that make my organ (which can’t read) any stiffer, or my phallic charm less limp? To call it forth from my proud crotch you must go to work with your mouth. (tr. Niall Rudd)



Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter
unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus atque ita porro
pugnabant armis, quae post fabricaverat usus,
donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent,
nominaque invenere; dehinc absistere bello,
oppida coeperunt munire et ponere leges,
ne quis fur esset neu latro neu quis adulter.
nam fuit ante Helenam cunnus taeterrima belli
causa, sed ignotis perierunt mortibus illi,
quos venerem incertam rapientis more ferarum
viribus editior caedebat ut in grege taurus.
iura inventa metu iniusti fateare necesse est,
tempora si fastosque velis evolvere mundi.
nec natura potest iusto secernere iniquum,
dividit ut bona diversis, fugienda petendis,
nec vincet ratio hoc, tantundem ut peccet idemque,
qui teneros caules alieni fregerit horti
et qui nocturnus sacra divum legerit. adsit
regula, peccatis quae poenas irroget aequas,
ne scutica dignum horribili sectere flagello.
(Horace, Serm. 1.3.99-109)

When the first living creatures crawled on primeval Earth,
mute, formless beasts, they fought for their food and shelter
with claws and fists, and then with sticks, and so on up
fighting with the weapons that experience had forged,
until they found words, to give meaning to feelings
and cries, and then names. They began to shun war,
they started to lay out towns and to lay down laws,
by which no man might be thief, brigand, or adulterer.
Even before Helen’’s day cunts were a dire cause for battle,
but those who snatched promiscuous love like beasts
and were killed like a bull in the herd by a stronger bull,
died an unsung death. If you want to study the record
of those past ages of the world, you’’ll be forced to accept
that justice was created out of the fear of injustice.
Nature doesn’’t, can’’t, distinguish between right and wrong,
as she does between sweet and sour, attractive and hostile:
and Reason can never show it’s the same offence
to cull fresh cabbages out of a neighbour’’s garden
as to steal the god’’s sacred emblems by night: let’’s have
rules, to lay down a fair punishment for every crime,
lest we flay with the terrible whip what merits the strap.
(tr. Tony Kline)



Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam
maiorumque fames. iure perhorrui
late conspicuum tollere verticem,
Maecenas, equitum decus.

quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit,
ab dis plura feret; nil cupientium
nudus castra peto et transfuga divitum
partes linquere gestio,

contemptae dominus splendidior rei,
quam si quicquid arat imnpiger Apulus
occultare meis dicerer horreis,
magnas inter opes inops.

purae rivus aquae silvaque iugerum
paucorum et segetis certa fides meae
fulgentem imperio fertilis Africae
fallit sorte beatior.

(Horace, Carm. 3.16.17-32)

Care follows growing wealth and hunger to
have more; rightly I have trembled to
lift up my head too ostentatiously,
Maecénas, honored knight.

The more each one denies himself, the more
he will have from the gods: I naked seek
the camp of those not covetous and
eagerly desert the rich,

of wealth despised more grand as master than
if I were said to hoard within my barns
all that is tilled by brisk Apúlia—
‘mid great means, lacking means.

A limpid stream, a forest of few acres,
and continued trust in my own crops
—this more blessed lot eludes a magnate ruling
fertile Africa.

(tr. Jeffrey H. Kaimowitz)



Si curatus inaequali tonsore capillos
occurri, rides; si forte subucula pexae
trita subest tunicae, vel si toga dissidet impar,
rides: quid, mea cum pugnat sententia secum,
quod petiit spernit, repetit quod nuper omisit,
aestuat et vitae disconvenit ordine toto,
diruit, aedificat, mutat quadrata rotundis?
insanire putas sollemnia me neque rides
nec medici credis nec curatoris egere
a praetore dati, rerum tutela mearum
cum sis et prave sectum stomacheris ob unguem
de te pendentis, te respicientis amici.
ad summam: sapiens uno minor est Iove, dives,
liber, honoratus, pulcher, rex denique regum,
praecipue sanus, nisi cum pituita molesta est.
(Horace, Ep. 1.1.94-108)

If some ham-fisted barber has cropped my hair and I
Meet you, you laugh: if I happen to wear a tired shirt
Under my tunic, or my toga sits poorly, all
Awry, you laugh: yet if my judgement contends
With itself, spurns what it craved, seeks what it just put down,
Wavers, inconsistently, in all of life’’s affairs,
Razing, re-building, and altering round to square:
You consider my madness normal, don’’t laugh at all,
Don’’t think I need the doctor, or a legal guardian
The praetor appoints, given you, in charge of all
My affairs, are annoyed by a badly-trimmed nail
Of this friend who looks to you, hangs on your every word.
In sum: the wise man is second only to Jove,
Rich, free, handsome, honoured, truly a king of kings,
Sane, above all, sound, unless he’’s a cold in the head!
(tr. Tony Kline)



Difficile est proprie communia dicere, tuque
rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus
quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus.
publica materies privati iuris erit, si
non circa vilem patulumque moraberis orbem,
nec verbo verbum curabis reddere fidus
interpres nec desilies imitator in artum,
unde pedem proferre pudor vetet aut operis lex.
nec sic incipies, ut scriptor cyclicus olim:
“fortunam Priami cantabo et nobile bellum”.
quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu?
parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.
quanto rectius hic, qui nil molitur inepte:
“dic mihi, Musa, virum, captae post tempora Troiae
qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes”.
non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat,
Antiphaten Scyllamque et cum Cyclope Charybdim.
nec reditum Diomedis ab interitu Meleagri,
nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ovo;
semper ad eventum festinat et in medias res
non secus ac notas auditorem rapit, et quae
desperat tractata nitescere posse relinquit,
atque ita mentitur, sic veris falsa remiscet,
primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum.
(Horace, Ep. 2.3.128-152)

It is difficult to write with propriety on subjects to which all writers have a common claim; and you with more prudence will reduce the Iliad into acts, than if you first introduce arguments unknown and never treated of before. A public story will become your own property, if you do not dwell upon the whole circle of events, which is paltry and open to every one; nor must you be so faithful a translator, as to take the pains of rendering [the original] word for word; nor by imitating throw yourself into straits, whence either shame or the rules of your work may forbid you to retreat. Nor must you make such an exordium, as the Cyclic writer of old: “I will sing the fate of Priam, and the noble war.” What will this boaster produce worthy of all this gaping? The mountains are in labor, a ridiculous mouse will be brought forth. How much more to the purpose he, who attempts nothing improperly: “Sing for me, my muse, the man who, after the time of the destruction of Troy, surveyed the manners and cities of many men.” He meditates not [to produce] smoke from a flash, but out of smoke to elicit fire, that he may thence bring forth his instances of the marvelous with beauty, [such as] Antiphates, Scylla, the Cyclops, and Charybdis. Nor does he date Diomede’s return from Meleager’s death, nor trace the rise of the Trojan war from [Leda’s] eggs: he always hastens on to the event; and hurries away his reader in the midst of interesting circumstances, no otherwise than as if they were [already] known; and what he despairs of, as to receiving a polish from his touch, he omits; and in such a manner forms his fictions, so intermingles the false with the true, that the middle is not inconsistent with the beginning, nor the end with the middle. (tr. Christopher Smart & Edward Henry Blakeney)



Mala soluta navis exit alite,
ferens olentem Mevium;
ut horridis utrumque verberes latus,
Auster, memento fluctibus;
niger rudentes Eurus inverso mari
fractosque remos differat;
insurgat Aquilo, quantus altis montibus
frangit trementes ilices;
nec sidus atra nocte amicum appareat,
qua tristis Orion cadit;
quietiore nec feratur aequore
quam Graia victorum manus,
cum Pallas usto vertit iram ab Ilio
in impiam Aiacis ratem!
o quantus instat navitis sudor tuis
tibique pallor luteus
et illa non virilis eiulatio
preces et aversum ad Iovem,
Ionius udo cum remugiens sinus
Noto carinam ruperit!
Opima quodsi praeda curvo litore
porrecta mergos iuverit,
libidinosus immolabitur caper
et agna Tempestatibus.
(Horace, Epod. 10)

The ship carrying stinking Mevius has cast off, and sails away under an evil omen. Be sure, South Wind, to buffet it on both sides with rough waves; let the black East Wind churn up the sea, smashing and scattering its ropes and oars; let the North Wind rise as high as when on the lofty mountains it shakes and shatters the holm oaks. Let no friendly star appear on that dark night when grim Orion sets, and may the ship be borne along on no calmer sea than was the band of victorious Greeks when Pallas turned her wrath away fro the smoking ruins of Troy to the impious craft of Ajax. O what sweat awaits your crew, while you yourself will turn a pallid yellow and start to scream in that unmanly way, praying to Jove who has turned his back on you, when the Ionian gulf, bellowing in reply to the drenching wind from the South, breaks the hull apart! If, then, a fat carcase, sprawled on the curving shore, gives pleasure to the gulls, a lecherous goat and a lamb will be slain as a thank offering to the storm gods. (tr. Niall Rudd)



Vilius argentum est auro, virtutibus aurum.
‘o cives, cives, quaerenda pecunia primum est;
virtus post nummos!’ haec Ianus summus ab imo
prodocet, haec recinunt iuvenes dictata senesque
laevo suspensi loculos tabulamque lacerto.
est animus tibi, sunt mores, est lingua fidesque,
sed quadringentis sex septem milia desunt:
plebs eris. at pueri ludentes: ‘rex eris’ aiunt,
‘si recte facies’: hic murus aëneus esto
nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.
Roscia, dic sodes, melior lex an puerorum est
nenia, quae regnum recte facientibus offert,
et maribus Curiis et decantata Camillis?
isne tibi melius suadet, qui ‘rem facias, rem,
si possis, recte, si non, quocumque modo rem,’
ut propius spectes lacrimosa poëmata Pupi,
an qui Fortunae te responsare superbae
liberum et erectum praesens hortatur et aptat?
(Horace, Ep. 1.1.52-69)

Of less worth than gold is silver, than virtue gold. “O citizens, citizens, money you first must seek; virtue after pelf.” This rule the Janus arcade proclaims from top to bottom; this is the lesson the old as well as the young are singing, “with slate and satchel slung over the left arm.” You have sense, you have morals, eloquence and honour, but there are six or seven thousands short of the four hundred*; you will be in the crowd. Yet boys at play cry; “You’ll be king, if you do right.”** Be this our wall of bronze, to have no guilt at heart, no wrongdoing to turn us pale. Tell me, pray, which is better, the Roscian law or the children’s jingle which offers a kingdom to those who “do right” — a jingle once trolled by the manly Curii and Camilli? Does he advise you better, who bids you “make money, money by fair means if you can, if not, by any means money,” and all that you may have a nearer view of the doleful plays of Pupius; or he who, an ever present help, urges and fits you to stand free and erect, and defy scornful Fortune ?

* Enrolment in the equites implied a fortune of 400,000 sesterces.
** The Scholiast gives the verse, which children sang in their game, thus:
réx erit quí recte faciet; quí non faciet, nón erit.
There is a pun in rex and recte.

(tr. Henry Rushton Fairclough, with some of his notes)




Accipe nunc, victus tenuis quae quantaque secum
adferat. in primis valeas bene; nam variae res
ut noceant homini credas, memor illius escae,
quae simplex olim tibi sederit: at simul assis
miscueris elixa, simul conchylia turdis,
dulcia se in bilem vertent stomachoque tumultum
lenta feret pituita. vides, ut pallidus omnis
cena desurgat dubia? quin corpus onustum
hesternis vitiis animum quoque praegravat una
atque adfigit humo divinae particulam aurae.
alter ubi dicto citius curata sopori
membra dedit, vegetus praescripta ad munia surgit.
hic tamen ad melius poterit transcurrere quondam,
sive diem festum rediens advexerit annus,
seu recreare volet tenuatum corpus, ubique
accedent anni, tractari mollius aetas
imbecilla volet: tibi quidnam accedet ad istam
quam puer et validus praesumis mollitiem, seu
dura valetudo inciderit seu tarda senectus?
(Horace, Serm. 2.2.70-88)

Now listen to how simple eating brings
us all so many and such wondrous things!
First is good health because it’s manifest—
as you recall plain fare you could digest—
that it’s quite dangerous when foods collide.
Whenever you combine the boiled with fried,
or shellfish with a thrush, the sweet will turn
to bile, and clogging phlegm makes stomachs churn.
Don’t people at a ‘dinner served with doubt’
appear quite pale as they are coming out?
Moreover, overkill of yesterday
that drags a body down will also weigh
upon a soul and bury what’s divine
within the ground. If someone can combine
nursing his limbs and falling off to sleep
without delay, he’ll rise alert and keep
up with his obligations, even though
occasionally he may try to go
for something better if the passing year
brings feasting, or his wasting’s so severe
that he intends to fix his malnutrition,
or, as time flies by, his frail condition
in old age requires gentler care.
But as for you, if you are forced to bear
enfeeblement from aging and disease,
how will you bolster your infirmities
once you have blown your youthful, healthy days?
(tr. A.M. Juster)


salviati parcae
Francesco Salviati, Tre Parche

Laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est
oderit curare et amara lento
temperet risu; nihil est ab omni
parte beatum.

abstulit clarum cita mors Achillem,
longa Tithonum minuit senectus,
et mihi forsan, tibi quod negarit,
porriget hora.

te greges centum Siculaeque circum
mugiunt vaccae, tibi tollit hinnitum
apta quadrigis equa, te bis Afro
murice tinctae

vestiunt lanae: mihi parva rura et
spiritum Graiae tenuem Camenae
Parca non mendax dedit et malignum
spernere vulgus.

(Horace, Carm. 2.16.25-40)

The mind that is happy for the present should refuse to worry about what is further ahead; it should dilute bitter things with a mild smile. Nothing is happy in every respect. An early death overtook the famous Achilles; a protracted old age wasted Tithonus away; it may be that time will offer me what it has denied to you. All around you a hundred herds of Sicilian cattle low; you have a whinnying mare just right for the four-horse chariot; you wear woollen clothes dyed twice over in African crimson. To me the Thrifty One* that does not belie her name has given a small estate, a slight puff of inspiration from the Graeco-Roman Muse, and a scorn for the resentful mob.

* One of the Parcae, or Fates.

(tr. Niall Rudd)




Filius Aesopi detractam ex aure Metellae,
scilicet ut deciens solidum absorberet, aceto
diluit insignem bacam: qui sanior ac si
illud idem in rapidum flumen iaceretve cloacam?
Quinti progenies Arri, par nobile fratrum
nequitia et nugis pravorum et amore gemellum
luscinias soliti inpenso prandere coëmptas,
quorsum abeant? sani ut creta, an carbone notati?
(Horace, Serm. 2.3.239-246)

Aesopus’’ son took a splendid pearl from Metella’’s
Ear-lobe, and dissolved it in vinegar, clearly
Intending to swallow a million straight: was that
Saner than hurling it into the flood, or the sewer?
Quintus Arrius’’ sons, equally famous brothers,
Twins in waste and wickedness, loving depravity,
Used to eat highly-priced nightingales for lunch:
How should we list them? With chalk, sane, or with charcoal?”
(tr. Tony Kline)