Today’s ode has 52 lines. Scholars over the past two thousand years have divided it into 7 sentences. Some of them are quite long. One sentence begins at line 9 and doesn’t end until line 24! Why ancient scholars didn’t break the ode up into more sentences, I don’t know. Perhaps they wanted to emphasize its structure, which runs like this:
1 O Augustus, how can we praise you enough? [1-6]
2 You “learned” the Vindilici people. [7-9]
3 Because of you, your two stepsons have done well in battle. [9-24]
4 More about your stepson Tiberius Claudius. [25-34]
5 Fortune smiles on you, Augustus. [34-40]
6 Tribes have submitted to you. [41-44]
7 Rivers and lands and the Sygambri have submitted to you. [45-52]
I am afraid that even this outline isn’t going to make much sense unless you have this imperial genealogy fixed in your head, which shows that Augustus Caesar had three wives, the last of whom was Livia, the widow of Tiberius C. Nero, whose sons Augustus adopted:
You will also need to know something about the campaigns to subdue Rome’s enemies.
Then to top it off, you have to realize the level of scholarship that awaits you. This level is very high. For example, in line 14 there is the phrase:
Scholars merely mention that the name Tiberius wouldn’t have fit in the line metrically; so Horace used Neronum. This is little help. I needed to be told, which I finally figured out for myself, that the base of Neronum is Nero and that the -num is the genitive plural. Once I did this I had:
the greater of the Neros
Referring to the genealogy chart above, I discovered why the scholars mentioned Tiberius.
But there is something else even more bothersome. Why didn’t Niall Rudd, for example, say in his translation “the elder of the two Neros” or something like that? Why did he go beyond translation and slip into explanation? Was this because the phrase, even to scholars, was a bit difficult to understand? I don’t know the answer, but to me, more that two thousand years after Horace’s ink dried—after Rome’s wars were fought—after the genealogies of emperors were no longer of interest, once one started to explain/translate, where would one stop? I’ve mentioned this problem in other blog posts. I guess, I expected a little more integrity from the Loeb series. I suppose, I thought that its editors, of all people, would have known where to draw the line between translation and explanation.
I suppose, this misunderstanding is my fault. I should have looked at Porphyrio, who says that the order of maior Neronvm is: Drusus maior Neronum. Hic enim maior natu fuit. I should also have looked at the French translation, which has l’aîné des Nérons. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.
Translation and explanation. There is no real solution to this dilemma. Rudd decided to “transexplain” the first line of the ode as well.
Quae cura patrum quaeve Quiritium
Senate and people are anxious
This is very clever, but it does take a bit of background knowledge to understand how he arrived at the English he did. It turns out that Quiritium refers to the Roman people. This designation comes from the time of Romulus, who united the Sabines and their town of Cures with the Romans. Over time the civilians came to be called Quirites [people of Cures]. The military and the people of the government were called Romani. Patrum refers to the fathers of the State, i.e., the senators.
Finally another stumbling block to my understanding of the poem are lines 7-9:
quem legis expertes Latinae
Vindelici didicere nuper,
quid Marte posses———
Once we understand didicere as a quasi-poetic past tense agreeing with Vindelici meaning “they learned,” we are ready to tackle the meaning, which is that the outlaw Vindelici people recently learned about someone through your [i.e., Augustus’] military power. [Tu] posses “you can” clearly refers to Augustus, to whom the poem is addressed, but to whom does quem [meaning here ‘and him’] refer? The Lewis and Short dictionary quotes this line under disco and says:
Quem (Augustum) didicere Vindelici
Daniel Garrison in his Horace [1991, pg. 365] writes “quem: Augustus, obj. of didicere.” But this doesn’t make sense. Horace can’t refer to Augustus in the third person in one part of the sentence and then in the second person in another! Or can he? Maybe Horace means ‘him with a capital h.’ In other words: the Emperor.
And about the Emperor
the lawless Vindelici recently learned
and about what power you have through Mars.
The question is: why would Horace do this? Out of deference? I don’t think so. Something else is going on. Garrison provides some of the answer when he writes [ibid.]:
[the Vindelici] have come to know, through the military operations of his stepsons Tiberius and Drusus in 15 B.C.
But Garrison’s explanation isn’t clear enough for me. Fortunately, ancient Porphirio comes to my rescue. He writes that Horace speaks as though the Vindelici were conquered by [Augustus] Caesar, but in truth it was his stepson Drusus who had conquered them—with his backing. This gives me an idea—maybe quem refers to Drusus, about whom Horace is going to speak in the next several lines. Maybe lines 7-9 mean:
And about Drusus
the lawless Vindelici have recently learned
and about the power you have through Mars.
If this is so, I have just gone against 2000 years of scholarship. I must be wrong somehow, but I ask you, after 2000 years who’s to know for sure?
Maior Neronum, patrum quaeve Quiritium and quem, are black holes for the modern reader. Without a prodigious understanding of Rome and its history, there is no way one can understand what Horace is saying. Rudd’s approach may be the best after all. I fear that my translation below will, once the explanations are forgotten, be as impenetrable as Horace’s words.
translation :: 11:11:9:10
What thoughtfulness from the Fathers or from the
Quirites with gifts honor-filled, Augustus,
would keep your virtues with titles and
memorials forever in the annals,
greatest of the princes wherever the sun
shines on habitable shores? And about him
the Vindelici, having no part
in Latin Law, have just learned and about
what you through Mars can do. Now with your army,
brave Drusus, in a more than simple payback,
dislodged the savage Genauni and the
quick Breuni and the strongholds set within
the terrifying Alps, and then the older
of the two Neros fought a heavy battle
and under your auspices repulsed
the savage Raeti, he being something
to behold in the martial contest of war:
how he tormented those hearts sworn to die free
like the waves the austral winds might stir up,
when the chorus of the Pleiades splits the
clouds asunder, and tireless, harassing
the towers of the enemy and
sending his horse screaming through the fire.
Thus, the bull-like Aufidus is made to roll,
flowing past the Apulian kingdom of
Daunus in fury and devises
a fearful flood over the tilled fields,
like the savage iron mailed troops Claudius
destroyed by a vast assault, cutting down the
front and the rear, the victor heaping
them up on the ground without any loss,
as you provided the troops, the counsel and
your gods. For, for you, from the day the harbor
of Alexandria, on its knees,
threw wide open the deserted palace,
prosperous fortune over fifteen years has
granted a favorable outcome to the
war and to your commands accomplished
the acclaim and the glory long wished for.
You the Cantabri, before this unmastered,
the Medes, the Indians, the Scythes retreating
admire, Guardian of Italy,
of the city of Rome, the dominant.
You the Nile, which hides the source of its waters
and the River Danube, you the hurrying
Tigris, you the monster-filled ocean
thundering at the far-away Britons,
you the lands of Gaul, unafraid of death, and
the obstinate earth of Iberia heeds,
you the slaughter-happy Sygambri,
their weapons now laid aside, venerate.
copyright © 2011 by James Rumford
commentarii :: http://www.horatius.ru/index.xps?2.1.414
in prose ::
[O] Auguste, o maxime principum ‹qua sol oras habitabiles illustrat›, quae cura patrum quaeve Quiritium tuas virtutes muneribus honorum plenis, per titulos memoresque fastus, in aevum aeternet?
Quem Vindelici, legis Latinae expertes, nuper didicere quid Marte posses. Nam milite tuo, Drusus acer Genaunos, genus implacidum, Breunosque veloces et ‹arces tremendes Alpibus impositas› vice plus simplici deiecit.
[Tiberius] maior Neronum mox proelium grave commisit, Raetosque immanes auspiciis secundis pepulit—[ille] spectandus quantis ruinis in certamine Martio pectora morti liberae devota fatigaret. Prope qualis Auster, [ille] undas indomitas exercet, choro Pleiadum nubes scindente. [Ille est] impiger turmas hostium vexare et equum frementem per medios ignes mittere. Sic [ille] Aufidus tauriformis volvitur, qui regna Dauni Apuli praefluit, cum saevit diluviemque horrendam [in] agris cultis mediatur, ut Claudius ‹agmina ferrata barbarorum› impetu vasto diruit, primosque et extremos metendo, victor humum sine clade stravit, te copias, te consilium et divos tuos praebente.
Nam quo die portus Alexandrea supplex et aulam vacuam tibi patefecit, Fortuna prospera lustro tertio exitus secundos belli reddidit laudemque et decus optatum imperiis peractis arrogavit.
Te Cantaber ‹ante non domabilis› Medusque et Indus, te Scythes profugus miratur, o tutela praesens Ītaliae dominaeque Romae.
Teque, qui Nilus ‹origines fontium [suorum] celat› et Hister, te Tigris rapidus, te Oceanus beluosus ‹qui Britannis remotis obstrepit›, te tellus Galliae ‹funera non paventis› Hiberiaeque durae audi[un]t.Te Sygambri caede gaudentes [et] armis compositis venerantur.
[revised March 28, 2015]
original ode ::
Quae cūra patrum quaeve Quirītium
plēnīs honōrum mūneribus tuās,
Auguste, virtūtēs in aevum
per titulōs memorēsque fastūs
aeternet, ō quā sōl habitābilıs
illustrat ōrās maxime principum?
quem lēgis expertēs Latīnae
Vindelicī didicēre nūper
quid Marte possēs. Mīlite nam tuō
Drūsus Genaunōs, implacidum genus,
Breunōsque vēlōcıs et arcēs
Alpibus impositās tremendıs
dēiēcit ācer plūs vice simplicī.
māior Nerōnum mox grave proelium
commīsit immānısque Raetōs
auspiciīs pepulit secundīs,
spectandus in certāmine Martiō,
dēvōta mortī pectora līberae
quantīs fatīgāret ruīnīs,
indomitās prope quālis undās
exercet Auster Plēiadum chorō
scindente nūbēs, impiger hostium
vexāre turmās et frementem
mittere equum mediōs per ignıs.
Sīc tauriformis volvitur Aufidus,
quī regna Daunī praefluit āpulī,
cum saevit horrendamque cultīs
dīluviem meditātur agrīs,
ut barbarōrum Claudius agmina
ferrāta vastō dīruit impetū
prīmōsque et extrēmōs metendō
strāvit humum sine clāde victor,
tē copiās, tē consilium et tuōs
praebente dīvōs. Nam tibi quō diē
portūs Alexandrēa supplex
et vacuam patefēcit aulam,
Fortūna lustrō prospera tertiō
bellī secundōs reddidit exitūs
laudemque et optātum peractīs
imperiīs decus arrogāvit.
tē Cantaber nōn ante domābilis
Mēdusque et Indus, tē profugus Scythēs
mīrātur, ō tūtēla praesēns
ītaliae dominaeque Rōmae;
tē fontium quī cēlat orīginēs
Nīlusque et Hister, tē rapidus Tigrīs,
tē bēluōsus quī remōtīs
obstrepit ōceanus Britannīs,
tē nōn paventis fūnera Galliae
dūraeque tellūs audit Hibēriae,
tē caede gaudentēs Sygambrī
compositīs venerantur armīs.
:: 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.