This poem was not all that hard to disentangle, but it took some effort to put the nouns with their adjectives, the subjects with their verbs, and to realize that lasso in line 6 meant 'to tired me.' I am reminded of the poem Su Dongpo 苏东坡wrote after struggling all night to read a bit of the poet Meng Jiao孟郊:
At first it's like eating little fish
Not worth all the effort
Then after a bit more of a struggle dealing with really difficult Chinese characters, Su Dongpo gives up, saying:
What bitterness to my two ears!
Listening to this cold insect's chirp
So I'll put [his poems] aside
And drink my jade-colored wine
Septimus, come with me to Cadiz,
to the Cantabers who haven't been taught
to bear our yoke, to barbarous Sidra,
where ever seethe the Moorish waves.
What if Tibur, founded by a farmer
from Argos, were my place when I am old
big enough for this soul tired of the sea
and the roads and the soldiering?
But, if the Fates unfairly block me, I
would seek out the sweet Galaesi River
for the skin-covered sheep and the fields once
ruled by the Spartan Phalanthus.
That corner of the earth does smile to me
above all others, where the honey is
not less than that from Hymettus and the
olives match those of green Venafro.
A long spring time, where Juppiter offers
warm winters and where Mount Aulon, friend of
fertile Bacchus, doesn't envy the grapes
from Falernus, not in the least.
That place and its mountain top so favored
calls to you and me; there you will sprinkle
the still warm ashes of your poet friend
with tears natural and fitting.
translation ©2010 by James Rumford
Cantaber: rebellious tribe of northwestern Spain
Syrtis [Σύρτις]: the Gulf of Sidra [خلیج سرت ].
Tibur: modern Tivoli near Rome
Argive [Ἀργαιός]: of Argos, a Greek.
Parcae: the Fates
Galaesus [Γαλαῖσος]: the Galeso River near Tarento.
skin-covered sheep: apparently they covered the sheep with skins to protect their wool.
Phalant[h]us [Φάλαντος]: a Spartan who founded Tarentum; Phalanthum: Tarento.
Venafrum: modern Venafro, celebrated for its olive oil
Hymettus [Ὑμηττός], a mountain near Athens famed for its thyme honey, even today.
Aulon: a mountain in Calabria where grapes are grown
Falernus: wine country in Campania.
Accents & Symbols Used
(Standard accents for Latin have been modified to
accommodate the internet)
italics = short vowels—flava
ˆ long vowels—tacitâ
ı poetic long e—habentıs for habentês
[ ] words added for clarity—[ego] princeps
‹ › sense groups—‹ex humili potens›
[O] Septimi, [o] aditure mecum Gadıs et Cantabrum ‹iuga nostra ferre indoctum› et Syrtis barbaras, ‹ubi unda Maura semper aestuat›, utinam Tibur ‹colono Argeo positum› sedes senectae meae sit! Modus maris et viarum militiaeque lasso sit!
Unde, si Parcae iniquae prohibent, flumen dulce Galaesi ‹ovibus pellitis› et ‹rura Phalantho Laconi regnata› petam. Ille angulus terrarum mihi praeter omnis ridet, ubi mella Hymetto non decedunt, bacaque Venafro viridi certat, ubi Iuppiter ver longum brumasque tepidas praebet et Aulon, ‹Baccho amicus›, uvis Falernis minimum invidet. Ille locus et arces beatae te (Septimium) mecum postulant. Ibi tu favillam calentem vatis amici lacrimâ debitâ sparges. [revised August 12, 2013]
Septimi, Gadıs aditure mecum et
Cantabrum indoctum iuga ferre nostra et
barbaras Syrtis, ubi Maura semper
Tibur Argeo positum colono
sit meae sedes utinam senectae,
sit modus lasso maris et viarum
unde si Parcae prohibent iniquae,
dulce pellitis ovibus Galaesi
flumen et regnata petam Laconi
ille terrarum mihi praeter omnis
angulus ridet, ubi non Hymetto
mella decedunt viridique certat
ver ubi longum tepidasque praebet
Iuppiter brumas et amicus Aulon
fertili Baccho minimum Falernis
ille te mecum locus et beatae
postulant arces; ibi tu calentem
debitâ sparges lacrimâ favillam
For the other 102 odes, annotated and rendered into prose, get a copy of Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetized.
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