In 1903, to introduce this poem, Clement Lawrence Smith painted a winter scene in the Appenine district of Paeligni with a cozy fire and warm wine to toast perhaps a friend named Murena, who has just been elected to the Augurate. Ninety years later, Daniel H. Garrison, decided to entice his readers with what was to come: hard drinking and "hot sex," as he put it. Somewhere in between, I suppose, lies the real point of this ode.
What that point is has eluded scholars for centuries. The poem seems to be disjointed. Horace first chides someone, perhaps Telephus, for being a bore and not getting the drinking started. Then Horace talks about the right proportion of water to wine and how the Graces won't abide by too much drinking. By this time Horace is too drunk to care. "Hey, who stopped the music?" he yells. "What about the flowers? Who gives a damn if the neighbors hear? You know, Telephus, you're so damn handsome. Rhode has a thing for you, and me, well, I'm so in love with...."
What a change from the last few poems! And it is perhaps this change that makes me think something very odd: What if this poem is Horace talking about himself? What if he thinks of himself sometimes as a bore who can go on about ancient things like Inachus [the first king of Argos] and Codrus [the last king of Athens] and the Aeci [a clan of heros of the Trojan War], sometimes a connoisseur who likes a good jar of wine from Chios, sometimes a loud-mouthed drunk with a thing for the ladies? If so, this poem makes perfect sense to me only beause it seems so honest, so like the talk of a drunk.
Then again, as scholars today like to point out, you can't infer too much from his poetry. Horace wrote in imitation of Greek poetry. He made up things just to fill out the meter. He played around with verity, moulding and shaping it as a sculptor would clay. Horace then is a mystery. Maybe it is for this reason that I will keep reading.
You do go on about how much before
Inachus is King Codrus, unafraid
to die for country, about the Aeci
and the warring in sacred Ilium.
About the price we're to pay for a jar
of Chian, who's to warm up the water,
who'll offer his house, what time I'll be shed
of this Paelignian cold, you are mute.
A toast! The new moon! Quick! A toast! Midnight!
A toast, boy, to the Augur Murena!
At three or nine cyathi let the cups
be mixed to your liking. The drunk poet
who loves the odd-numbered Muses will ask
for three times three cyathi. Above three
one of the Graces, fearing a quarrel,
will say no—along with her nude sisters.
It's crazy being drunk. Why have the notes
from the Berecyntine flute stopped? Why is
the syrinx hanging silent with the lyre?
I hate stingy right hands. Scatter roses.
So. Jealous Lycus hears the crazy yelling,
along with the neighbor lady—no match
for old Lycus. Gorgeous with your thick hair,
Telephus, like the pure evening star,
you luscious ripe Rhodé is asking for;
me, my hidden love burns for Glycera.
translation © 2009 James Rumford
My Prose Rendition:
[O] Telephe, narras quantum ab Inacho distet Codrus, ‹non timidus pro patria mori›, et genus Aeaci et bella sub Ilio sacro pugnata.
Taces quo pretio cadum Chium mercemur, quis aquam ignibus temperet, quo praebente domum et quota frigoribus Paelignis caream.
Da propere lunae novae. Da mediae noctis. Da, puer, auguris Murenae! Pocula tribus aut novem cyathis commodis miscentur. Vates attonitus, qui musas impares amat, cyathos ternos ter petet. Gratia ‹sororibus nudis iuncta, rixarum metuens› prohibet tris supra tangere.
Insanire iuvat. Cur flamina tibiae Berecyntiae cessant? Cur fistula cum lyra tacita pendet? Ego dexteras parcentes odi. Rosas sparge. [Vicinus] Lycus invidus et vicina ‹Lyco seni non habilis› strepitum dementem audia[n]t.
Rhode tempestiva te ‹coma spissa nitidum›, te ‹Vespero puro similem›, petit. Amor lentus Glycerae meae me torret.
[revised March 28, 2015]
En langue française: http://agoraclass.fltr.ucl.ac.be/concordances/Horace_odesIII/ligne05.cfm?numligne=140&mot=te#debut
Quantum distet ab īnachō
Cōdrus, prō patriā nōn timidus morī,
narrās, et genus Aeacī,
et pugnāta sacrō bella sub īliō.
quō Chīum pretiō cadum
mercēmur, quis aquam temperet ignibus,
quō praebente domum et quota
Paelignīs caream frīgoribus, tacēs.
dā lūnae properē novae,
dā noctis mediae, dā, puer, auguris
Mūrēnae. tribus aut novem
miscentur cyǎthīs pōcula commodīs?
quī Mūsās amat imparıs,
ternōs ter cyathōs attonitus petet
vātēs, trīs prohibet suprā
rixārum metuēns tangere Grātia
nūdīs iuncta sorōribus.
insānīre iuvat! Cūr Berecyntiae
cessant flāmina tībiae?
cūr pendet tacitā fistula cum lyrā?
parcentıs ego dexterās
ōdī: sparge rosās; audiat invidus
dēmentem strepitum Lycus,
et vīcīna senī nōn habilis Lycō.
spissā tē nitidum comā,
pūrō tē similem, Tēlephe, Vesperō
tempestīva petit Rhodē:
mē lentus Glycerae torret amor meae.
:: Latin books by James Rumford ::
For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetized, for $11.50 at
For a Latin translation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at $12, click here:
To find out more about Carpe Diem go to the blog of March 26, 2015;
for more about Pericla Thomae Sawyer, go to the blog of November 22, 2016.