This poem is about Lydia. Horace interrogates her and asks her to swear by the gods that her answers will be true. Why has she chased Sybaris? Why hasn't he shown himself on the Campus Martius, gone riding with his friends, swum in the yellow Tiber, thrown his javelin? Why has he acted like Achilles, hiding in girl's clothes? The answer, well-known to the Roman world: love.
This theme of a man disinterested in manly pursuits because of love was a favorite among Greek poets; so Horace, hellenophile that he was, tried his hand at the same kind of poetry. In fact, Horace was a great promoter of the Greek art of poetry. His claim to fame, according to him, was that he was able to put Latin words to Greek meter, of which there are a fair number. This one is called the second Sapphic strophe. Horace used this meter only once—in this poem.
If you say the poem over and over, you'll soon feel the "beat." Its dots and dashes, its morse code is:
¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ ¯
diiiic Lydi yaaa per oooomneeees
¯ ˘ ¯ ¯ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ ¯
teeee deoooos ooooroooo Sybariiiin cuuuur propereeees amaaaandoooo
[the final long dash can also be short ˘]
This meter business is a bit intimidating. I am not very comfortable with it yet, but this is what Latin poetry is built upon, this is what turns everyday words into melody-less music.
This is such a different poem. I can't tell whether Horace is serious or whether he is poking fun at a moonstruck lover. He names his imaginary lover Sybaris, calling to mind the word 'sybarite.' Everything about this poem is over the top: the bruise-less arms because the lover no longer spars with his friends, the olive oil used in wrestling worse than snake poison. Horace is making fun. Urbane comedy, a 30's movie with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart as the poet?
As I read this poem, I realized how unlike Hafiz Horace is. Hafiz pokes fun, too, usually at himself, sometimes at the authorities, but always at the hypocrite. In the poem below, Hafiz doesn't want any questions. I amost feel that he's like a New York Jew: "Oi, have I had troubles in love? Don't get me started."
درد عشقی کشیده ام که مپرس زهرهجری چشیده ام که مپرش
گشته ام در جهان و آخر کار دلبری بر گزیده ام که مپرس
آن چنان در هوای خاک درش میرود آب دیده ام که مپرس
من به گوش خود از دهانش دوش سخنانی شنیده ام که مپرس
سوی من لب چه میگزی که مگوی لب لعلی گزیده ام که مپرس
بی تو در کلبه ی گدایی خویش رنج هایی کشیده ام که مپرس
همچو حافظ غریب در ره عشق
به مقامی رسیده ام که مپرس
I've had love troubles — don't ask :: I've tasted every separation — don't ask.
I've been around and in the end :: I've chosen a 'friend' — don't ask.
I so want the dust of her doorway :: my tears are welling up — don't ask.
Last night I heard from her mouth :: words, words, words — don't ask.
Why do you bite my lip with "Don't tell." :: I've bitten that ruby lip — don't ask
Without you in my beggar's hovel :: I've suffered — don't ask.
Like Hafiz, a stranger on the road of love :: I have come to a resting place — don't ask.
On a more serious level, Hafiz is alluding to spiritual love, and the seal it places on the lips of the lover. What happens between spiritual lovers is secret stuff and there is no use asking for more information because you won't get it. You'll have to make your own mystical union.
Is there more to Horace's ode as well? Let me think. Nope. Horace has given us a romantic comedy. Hafiz, on the other hand, has left it up to us how deep into his thoughts we want to go.
The prose rendition of Dic Lydia I:8
Lydia, dic ‹per deos omnes›, te oro:
Cur properes Sybarin amando perdere?
Cur campum apricum oderit, pulveris atque solis patiens?
Cur neque inter aequales militares equitet, nec ora Gallica frenis lupatis temperet?
Cur timet Tiberim flavum tangere?
Cur olivum sanguine viperino cautius vitat, neque iam bracchia livida armis gestat, disco saepe nobilis, iaculo expedito trans finem saepe [nobilis]?
Quid latet, ut dicunt [latuisse] filium Thetidis marinae sub funera lacrimosa Troiae, ne cultus virilis in caedem et catervas Lycias proriperet?
[revised March 26, 2015]
properes: is celeriter
campum apricum: id est Campus Martius
aequalis militaris: amicos militares
equitet: eat in equo
ora Gallica: ora equorum Gallicorum
frenis lupatis: iron-spiked bit
sanguine viperino: plus quam venenum mortiferem
Thetidis: mater Achillis
Lycias: regio, terra in Asia, Troias
cultus virilis: vestimentum virile
Lȳdia, dīc, per omnıs
tē [hōc] deōs ōrō [vērē], Sybarin cūr properēs amandō
perdere, cūr aprīcum
ōderit campum, patiēns pulveris atque sōlis,
cūr neque mīlitārıs
inter aequālıs equitet, Gallica nec lupātīs
temperet ōra frēnīs.
cūr timet flāvum Tiberim tangere? cūr olīvum
cautius vītat neque iam līvida gestat armīs
bracchia, saepe dīscō
saepe trans fīnem iaculō nōbilis expedītō?
quid latet, ut marīnae
fīlium dīcunt Thetidis sub lacrimōsa Trōiae [Troia]
fūnera, nē virīlis
cultus in caedem et Lyciās prōriperet catervās?
English translation: http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_horace_odes1.htm
traduction en français:
(celle-ci est par Victor Hugo, faite en 1820) http://www.espace-horace.org/litt/hugo.htm
tradução em português: http://primeiros-escritos.blogspot.com/2007/12/horcio-ode-i8.html
:: Latin books by James Rumford ::
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