This short poem seems like a set of stage directions. You girls sing this. You boys sing that. Men, chant for war. And for the sake of us all, ask Apollo to send untold misery upon the Iranians and the Celts. How appropriate! Praise for an emperor and a state continually at war. Change the gods, the place names, the peoples vilified, and we would have a rather nasty ode fit for today’s internet. Give the words music and this modernized Horatian ode might even go viral.
But we’re talking art here. Can’t be caught up in the B.C. Roman politics. So, what is this art? There is some interesting alliteration. And there are clever references to Apollo as Cynthius, because he like his sister Diana, known as Cynthia, were born on Delos, where mount Kynthos is located. There is also a nod to Mercury, once again, who is Apollo’s brother and the inventor of the lyre. There are place names as well, all of them connected to Diana or Apollo: Mount Agidus, which is near Rome as is known today as Monte Compatri. There are the forests on Mount Erymenthus in Arcadia (Greece), and in the Kragos Mountains, located in the Turkish provinces of Antalya and Muğla. Finally there is Tempe, a gorge in Thessaly, Greece, where in a cave, Apollo and Diana were . . . also, apparently . . . born. Keats wrote about Tempe in his “Ode to a Grecian Urn”: “Of deities or mortals, or of both, / In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?”
Tender maidens, sing of Diana,
You boys, sing of unshorn Cynthius—
Of Latona deeply loved
by father-god supreme,
You sing of her, happy with streams,
the tresses of the woods prominent on cold Algidus
or in the black forests of Erymanthus
or in the green Cragus mountains.
You, men, praise equally Tempe and Delos,
the birthplace of Apollo and his insignia, the quiver,
and his shoulder with his brother’s lyre.
Here is tearful war, pitiable hunger and plague.
Moved by your prayers, he will drive these away
from the people and from Caesar the leader
onto the Persians, onto the Britons.
translation copyright © 2010 by James Rumford
Virgines tenerae, Dianam dicite. Pueri, Cynthium intonsum Latonamque penitus dilectam Iovi supremo dicite.
Vos [virgines], laetam fluviis et coma nemorum, aut quaecumque Algido gelido prominet, aut silvis nigris Erymanthi aut Gragi viridis [laudibus tollite].
Vos mares, Tempe, Delonque natalem Apollinis, umerumque pharetra lyraque fraterna insignem totidem laudibus tollite.Hic [Apollo], prece vestra motus, bellum lacrimosum, hic famem miseram pestemque a populo et principe Caesare in Persas atque Britannos aget. [revised March 27, 2015]
Dīānam tenerae dīcite virginēs,
intonsum, puerī, dīcite Cynthium
dīlectam penitus Iovī;
vōs laetam fluviīs et nemorum comā,
quaecumque aut gelidō prōminet Algidō,
nigrīs aut Erymanthī
silvīs aut viridis Gragī;
vōs Tempē totidem tollite laudibus
nātālemque, marēs, Dēlon Apollinis
frāternāque umerum lyrā.
hīc bellum lacrimōsum, hīc miseram famem
pestemque ā populō et principe Caesare in
Persās atque Britannōs
vestrā mōtus aget prece.
:: 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.