This ode is the appropriate epilogue to the Fourth Book,of which the poems that celebrate the Roman victories under Drusus and Tiberius constitute the noblest portion. If it be true that the book was published on account of these odes, and at the desire of Augustus, Horace would naturally conclude by a special reference to the beneficial issues of the wars undertaken by Augustus, and from the final completion of which in Gaul, Germany, and Spain, he had just returned to Rome. Horace here begins by saying, that when he wished to sing of those wars Phoebus checked him. But Phoebus does not forbid him to sing the triumphs of peace; and, with a lively lyrical abruptness, he therefore at once bursts forth: — “Tua, Caesar aetas Fruges et agris . . . ”
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 104, August 1868
The foregoing unauthored article from Blackwood’s says it all. Even so, I am now going to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
Nowhere have I seen a discussion about the last five lines. Everyone seems to understand them, but I don’t. Does duces in line 29
virtute functos more patrum duces
leaders by manliness exhibited
in the fashion of [our] fathers
refer to nos ‘us’ [line 25], making us the leaders who exhibit manliness like our fathers?
Or is duces an object of apprecati [line 28], meaning we worship not only the gods but also the leaders?
Or is duces an object of canemus [line 32], meaning that we sing of the leaders as well as of Troy, Anchises and Venus?
There are problems with each of these possibilities. It is doubtful that Horace thinks of himself as a leader. I haven’t seen him act so bold, although he comes across as one who knows best for his people, a kind of poet-prophet. The second possibility has merit, but editors put a comma after apprecati, thus making it unlikely that we worship the leaders as well as the gods. The third possibility works until we realize that it is far removed form the verb canemus. In my translation, I am going to leave the ambiguity.
The Tyrrhenian Sea is off the western coast of Italy.
The Tanais is the River Don in Russia.
Anchises was a Trojan and Venus’ mortal lover. It was he whom Aeneas carried on his shoulders out of the burning city of Troy.
The Getae are a Tracian tribe living on the Danube in what is modern Rumania.
The Julian Edicts were August Caesar’s laws and policies, which helped enforce pax Romana.
The Ianus Quirinus was a temple or arch that was closed when there were no on-going wars. The Ianus Quirinus was closed only five times in Roman history, three of which occured during Augustus Caesar’s reign.
Apollo, when I wanted to speak of
battles and cities won, sounded his lyre
that I not set my little sail to cross
the Tuscan Sea. Your era, O Caesar,
has brought back fruitful and abundant fields,
has restored to our god insignia
ripped from the arrogant doorways of the
Persians, has closed the Quirini Temple
now empty of war and has seized the reins
of correct order because of errant
lawlessness and driven away misdeeds
and invited back the veteran arts
by which the name of Latinum and the
strength and fame of Italy have grown with
the majesty of the empire stretching
to the rising sun from its western bed.
With Caesar custodian of the State,
civil anger and strife will not drive off
repose, and ire, which pounds out swords,
won’t make enemies of wretched cities.
Those who drink the deep Danube will not break
the Julian Edicts, not the Getae,
the Chinese or the faithless Persians, not
those arising around the River Don.
And we these days both profane and sacred,
amidst the gifts of joyous Bacchus, with
our children and our wives, first worshipping
the gods according to what is custom,
leaders showing manliness as did our
fathers, by the Lydian flutes mixed with
song, sing of Troy and Anchises and of
the progeny of bountiful Venus.
translation © 2010 by James Rumford
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›
Phoebus, ‹me volentem loqui proelia et urbıs victas› lyrâ increpuit, ne per aequor Tyrrhenum vela parva darem.
[O] Caesar, aetas tua et fruges uberes agris rettulit et ‹signa postibus superbîs Parthorum derepta Iovi nostro› restituit et ‹Ianum Quirini duellîs vacuum› clausit et ‹frena licentiae ordinem rectum evaganti› iniecit, ‹culpasque emovit et artıs veteres› revocavit, ‹per quas nomen Latinum et vires famaque Italae crevere et maiestas imperi ad ortus solis ab Hesperio cubili porrecta [sunt]›.
Caesare rerum custode, furor civilis aut vis otium non exiget, et ira, quae ensıs procudit, urbıs miseras non inimicat. [Is] qui Danuvium profundum bibunt edicta Iulia non rumpent, non Getae, non Seres Persaeque infidique, non prope flumen Tanain orti. Nosque et lucibus profestîs et sacrîs inter munera Liberi iocosi cum prole matronîsque nostrîs, prius deos rite apprecati, more patrum duces virtue functos, carmine tibiîs Lydîs remixto, Troiamque et Anchisen et progeniem Veneris almae canemus. [revised August 13, 2013]
Phoebus volentem proelia me loqui
victas et urbıs increpuit lyrâ,
ne parva Tyrrhenum per aequor
vela darem. Tua, Caesar, aetas
fruges et agris rettulit uberes
et signa nostro restituit Iovi
derepta Parthorum superbîs
postibus et vacuum duellîs
Ianum Quirini clausit et ordinem
rectum evaganti frena licentiae
iniecit emovitque culpas
et veteres revocavit artıs
per quas Latinum nomen et Italae
crevere vires famaque et imperi
porrecta maiestas ad ortus
solis ab Hesperio cubili.
custode rerum Caesare non furor
civilis aut vis exiget otium,
non ira, quae procudit ensıs
et miseras inimicat urbıs.
non qui profundum Danuvium bibunt
edicta rumpent Iulia, non Getae,
non Seres infidique Persae,
non Tanain prope flumen orti.
nosque et profestîs lucibus et sacrîs
inter iocosi munera Liberi
cum prole matronîsque nostrîs
rite deos prius apprecati,
virtute functos more patrum duces
Lydîs remixto carmine tibiîs
Troiamque et Anchisen et almae
progeniem Veneris canemus.
For the other 102 odes, annotated and rendered into prose, get a copy of Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetized.
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