Sunday, November 24, 2013

Modeling Clay :: Ibis Liburnis :: Epode 1

[from Snowmanradio]

The first lines of this Epode made me laugh when I finally figured them out. I had assumed Horace had presented us with the ibis bird for close inspection. Instead, he had meant just ibis, ‘you will go.’ Reminds me of a translation I once saw in an old yearbook…probably a translation that, like sub ubi for ‘underwear,’ is known by every high school Latin student. This translation was ‘Gail was invited to three parties in all.’ I’ll let you identify the original Latin.

Translation is difficult and I have talked about why and how it is difficult in past blogs. I know I have mentioned the notion of ‘lost in translation,’ but I do not think I have mentioned everything that is lost because, it occurred to me the other day that what is abandoned, whether intentionally or not, is complexity. This thought occurred to me after reading an article about Daniel Ladinsky, who has made a success of himself translating Hafez and Rumi for modern ears.

Modern ears? Yes, those ears that desire to hear what is simple and clean. In architecture we seek clean lines. In typography uncluttered is beautiful. In music, it’s the beat, even over the dissonance of rap. In visual art, a few strokes of color will do for a painting, a few grains of rice scattered on a museum floor for three dimensional art. In literature, we admire the purity of the works of Hemingway. In the wasteland, beyond this aesthetic realm we have constructed, lies what is rejected: the busy, the ornate, the over-the-top. 

Was this also the aesthetics of Hafez or Rumi—or Horace, for that matter? What if complexity was as much a part of the art of their poetry as was the choice of words or the subject matter? Consider music. Think of Bach or Mozart. Now consider the works of these two simplified and reduced to what is essential. In other words, think of their work translated for modern ears. 

This is what has happened to the poems of Hafez and Rumi in the hands of a Ladinsky. This is what happens as I translate Horace. I seek the simple, the everyday speech that will make Horace speak to us. But I worry. Every time, I know I have left behind the complexity. I have lost the beauty of words weaving in and out, words corralled into fantastic sense groups. These things cannot be translated. And so, translation, is of necessity, to return to my analogy with music, monaural.

But is this comparison between music and non-English poetry a fair one? No. Bach can be appreciated in the original and in its many derivations. The Mona Lisa can be viewed by anyone and when translated onto a modern canvas by some Andy Warhol admired. Horace and Hafez, on the other hand, remain just sounds to English ears. There can be no appreciation beyond that. While an English speaker may appreciate the long and short vowels, even the cadence of the original poem, after a few lines, the mind shuts down. Without meaning, the sounds become noise.

And so, while Horace’s words may be eternal, his translations are not, for every few centuries new translations will be demanded not just to extirpate archaisms but to meet the aesthetics of the times. The Bible may have sung in the ears of Wycliff’s listeners, then a few hundred years later in those of King James; today it sings a different song. And tomorrow, there will be another.

Hafez in English may be in Ladinky’s voice today, but tomorrow it will have another’s voice. Horace, too, will continue to change, for, whether he could have  envisioned this or not, his monumentum aere is but modeling clay in the hands of his translators, now that Latin is dead and gone. 

But now a closer look at the work at hand. In this first of Horace’s epodes, his patron Maecenas is off to war. In what capacity? As a rich man, a thrill seeker, like those illuminati and glitterati of Washington D.C. who went off to see one of the first engagements of the Civil War at the Battle of Bull Run, and had to flee for their lives when the Union forces were overrun? Probably Maecenas was none of these. Daniel Garrison in his Horace:Epodes and Odes  [1991] states that Maecenas probably stayed in Rome to keep order at the time of the battle of Actium in 31 BC and went no where, no matter what Horace has implied in this epode. So what were Horace’s words for? Garrison suggests that they were a “statement of loyalty,” a “dedication to Horace’s benefactor.” They seem to be grand words to me, mainly because Horace often uses nos when he means ego. Perhaps here, as in Virgil’s Eclogues, nos is more self-deprecating than it is self-aggrandizing. 

There are three areas in this epode that deserve some grammatical sleuthing. The first of these is:

Ibis Liburnis inter alta navium,
    amice, propugnacula,
paratus omne Caesaris periculum
    subire, Maecenas, tuo.

Besides the lexical hurdle of Liburna [a light, fast-sailing bireme-type ship named after the Liburnians, an Illyrian (Albanian) people] and propugnaculum [a tower on a ship], we have two vocatives (amice and Maecenas) and a ablative/dative (tuo) dangling at the end of the sentence. The vocatives can be dealt with but tuo has caused translators heaps of trouble.

Signore Ramous ignores the problem in Italian:

Su un battello, amico mio, te ne andrai fra le alte torri delle navi, preparato ad affrontare per Cesare qualsiasi rischio, Mecenate [Mario Ramous]

Señor Salinas does the same in Spanish:

¿Iras en los bajeles liburnos, amigo Mecenas, entre las altas fortalezas de las naves, resuelto a afrontar todos los peligros del Cesar? [Germán Salinas, 2005]

Mlle. Carlès explains the word in French:

tu iras sur nos liburnes, au milieu des hautes forteresses navales, ami, prêt à affronter tous les dangers de César, Mécène, au péril de ta vie. [Danielle Carlès, 2012]

And the Reverend Francis offers a different take in eighteenth-century English:

While You, my brave, illustrious Friend, would Caesar’s Person with your own defend: and Anthony’s high-tower’d Fleet, with light, Liburnian Gallies fearless meet, [Philip Francis, 1747]

When we turn to Latin speakers we find that Acron tells us: tuo. Subaudi periculo.

Porphyrio makes an even clearer relationship between tuo and periculum. He writes:

Non videtur verecundiae Horatii convenire, ut amicum se Maecenatis dicat, cum clientem debeat dicere. Numquid ergo sic ordinanda phrasis est, ut amice Caesaris intellegamus, et ideo bis Caesaris accipiendum erit, ut sit tale: Amice Caesaris, Maecenas, ibis Liburnis paratus [omne] periculum Caesaris tuo periculo subire? 

It doesn’t seem to fit Horace’s modesty that he would call himself Maecenas’ friend, when he ought to say that he is under his protection. What then must be the order of the phrase so that we might understand it to be ‘O friend of Caesar,’ and for that reason Caesaris must be taken twice so that it might be this: O friend of Caesar, Maecenas, you will go on Liburnians readied to undergo the danger to Caesar with danger to you? 

Along with his insight about the meaning of amice (for who am I to judge a native speaker?), I see more clearly what I should write in English:

You’ll go on Liburnians among high-towered 
     ships, O friend of Caesar, 
prepared to undergo every danger, 
     Maecenas, with your own

The second place where the grammar gets tricky follows hard on the heels of the first:

quid nos, quibus te vita si superstite
    iucunda, si contra, gravis?

If we add a few missing verbs, we might see things more clearly:

quid faciemus nos, quibus te vita si superstite
     sit iucunda, si sit contra, erit gravis

I’m not sure whether I have the tenses/moods right, but you get the picture. The only unclear part is quibus te vita si superstite iucunda. It seems that we are dealing with a relative clause and an ablative absolute. The relative clause is:

quibus vita iucunda

and means 

qui vitam iucundam habeamus

The ablative absolute is tricky because Horace has carefully wrapped it around vita, the subject of the relative clause and he has added the conjunction si to strengthen the meaning of the ablative absolute—something I didn’t think was possible. At any rate, we get:

What am I to do, who’ll have a happy life, if you survive; if not, hard?

The third sticky place is here:

comes minore sum futurus in metu,
    qui maior absentıs habet;
ut adsidens implumibus pullis avis
    serpentium allapsūs timet
magis relictis, non ut adsit auxilī
    latura plus praesentibus.

These lines are so terse, so compact that they defy comprehension at a glance. I hope that a Roman went ‘huh?’ when he came across these, ‘cause I certainly did.

If I break up these lines into small prose sentences, the meaning might become clearer.

Si ego comes tuus sim, ego in metu minore ero.
Metus eos absentes maior habet.
Ut avis quae pullis implumibus adsidet. 
Si avis eos relinquat, allapsūs serpentium magis timet.
Non ut avis adsit, plus auxilii pullis praesentibus latura est?

Three observations: 1] Ut avis = qualis avis. 2] Auxili is the older genitive form of auxilium. In Latin the genitive is used as in French: plus d’aide. 3] Non ut + subjunctive turns ut into ‘although’ and here it seems like the English expression ‘not that….would.’

Does this help? If not, perhaps this French translation by Danielle Carlès [b. 1956] will. It is delightfully as complicated as the original:

À tes côtés je serai moins dans cette peur
qui s’épanouit dans l’absence,
comme un oiseau veillant sa couvée déplumée
craint une approche des serpents
bien plus quand il les laisse seuls, mais qu’il soit là
n’aiderait pas plus, face à eux.

Now compare this with a more melodious translation by Ugo Dotti [b. 1933]

Vicini, si prova meno il timore
     che attanaglia lontani,
come l’uccello che, se è presso ai suoi implumi,
     meno teme lo strisciare del serpe,
e non perché, vicino, li possa aiutare
    più di quando è lontano.

Now listen to the eighteenth century speak in the words of the Reverend Francis [c1708-1773]:

     Absence, my Lord, increases Fear;
The Danger lessens when the Friend is near;
     Thus, if the mother-Bird forsake
Her unfledg’d Young, She dreads the gliding Snake,
     With deeper Agonies afraid,
Not that her Presence could afford them Aid.

Finally a few vocabulary words to note:

Calabris: the region in the “toe” of Italy.
Lucana: from the Lucani, an Oscan-Umbrian tribe in the mountains of southern Italy.
Tusculi: Tusculum a city in Latium about 25 km southeast of Rome near present-day Frascati.
Circaea: an adjective based on Circe, whose son Telegonus, it was said, founded Tusculum 
Chremes: possibly a made-up name from the Greek χρηματα “money.” Was Horace being Dickensian before Dickens? Cf. Scrooge. 

Translation ::

You’ll go on Liburnians among high-towered 
     ships, O friend of Caesar, 
prepared to undergo every danger, 
     Maecenas, with your own!
What of me for whom life will be, if you make it,
     joyous, if not—aggrieved?
Is it that, bidden, I am to pursue idleness—
     unkind—unless one with you 
or am I about to bear this task with a mind
     soft men aren’t fit to bear?
I will bear it and you through the tips of the Alps,
     the inhospitable Caucasus,
or all the way to the furthest western bay I, 
     heart strong, will follow.
You ask how with my efforts I’ll help yours, me—
     no fighter, yielding?
As an attendant, I will be in less fear
     (which grips those absent more)
just as, sitting on unfledged chicks, a bird fears
     the snakes’ onslaught more when
they’re left—not that were she there, she’d bring
     more help to those nearby.
Willingly this and every war will be fought
     with the hope of your favor—
not so that many more cattle will struggle
     under my plow,
that the herd might before the Dog Star change pasture
     from Calabria to Lucania.
that a shining villa in high Tusculum 
     might touch its Circean walls.
Your kindness has given me riches enough,
     which I am not about,
like Miser Chremes, to bury in the earth,
     or a dissolute heir, to waste.
                   translation © 2013 by James Rumford

In Prose ::

     [O] amice Caesaris, [in] Liburnis inter propugnacula alta navium ibis, paratus omne periculum tuo, Maecenas, subire.
     Quid nos, quibus vita iucunda [erit], si te superstite—si contra, gravis?
     Utrumne [nos] iussi otium non dulce persequemur, ni[si] tecum simul, an [nos] hunc laborem mente laturi [sumus]—[mente] quā non decet viros mollıs ferre?
Feremus et te vel per iuga Alpium et Caucasum inhospitalem, vel usque ad sinum ultimum occidentis pectore forti sequimur.
     Roges quid [ego] ‹imbellis ac firmus-parum› [laborem] tuum [cum] labore meo iuvem? Comes, [ego] in metu minore—qui absentıs maior habet—futurus sum, ut avis, [cum] pullis implumibus adsidens—magis relictis—allapsūs serpentium timet, non ut adsit, plus auxili[i] praesentibus latura [est]. 
     Libenter hoc et omne bellum in spem gratiae tuae militabitur, non ut aratra iuvencis meis pluribus illigata nitantur, pecusve pascua Lucana pascuis Calabris ante sidus fervidum mutet, neque ut villa candens Tusculi superni moenia Circaea tangat. 
     Benignitasque tua super me satis ditavit; haud paravero quod aut, ut avarus Chremes, terra premam, aut [ut] nepos discinctus perdam.

Original ::

Ibis Liburnis inter alta navium,
    amice, propugnacula,
paratus omne Caesaris periculum
    subire, Maecenas, tuo.
quid nos, quibus te vita si superstite
    iucunda, si contra, gravis?
utrumne iussi persequemur otium
    non dulce ni tecum simul,
an hunc laborem, mente laturi decet
    qua ferre non mollis viros?
feremus, et te vel per Alpium iuga
    inhospitalem et Caucasum
vel occidentis usque ad ultimum sinum
    forti sequemur pectore.
roges, tuum labore quid iuvem meo,
    imbellis ac firmus parum?
comes minore sum futurus in metu,
    qui maior absentıs habet;
ut adsidens implumibus pullis avis
    serpentium allapsūs timet
magis relictis, non ut adsit auxilī
    latura plus praesentibus.
libenter hoc et omne militabitur
    bellum in tuae spem gratiae,
non ut iuvencis illigata pluribus
    aratra nitantur mea,
pecusve Calabris ante sidus fervidum
    Lucana mutet pascuis,
neque ut superni villa candens Tusculi
    Circaea tangat moenia.
Satis superque me benignitas tua
    ditavit; haud paravero,
quod aut avarus ut Chremes terrā premam,
    discinctus aut perdam nepos.

Delphin Ordo ::

Navigabis, O, amice, Liburnicis navibus inter excelsa navium munimenta, Augusti discrimen quodlibet promptus ovire tuo periculo. Quid agemus nos, quibus vita te vivente grata fuerit; si secùs, molesta? An ex mandatis otio fruermur minimè jucundo, nisi unà tecum? An verò istum laborem toleraturi sumus eo animo, quo tolerare debent viri non segnes? Tolerabimus, certè, atque te sectabimur generosâ mente per altas Alpes, et Caucasum inhabitabilem, et ad extrema Occidentis maria. Quæres, quid tuum laborem meo sublevem ego non aptus militiæ, minimèque strenuus: Scilicet te comitans minorem habebo pro te timorem, qui gravius angit absentes: veluti avis incubans pullis implumibus, plus iis relictis metuit incursiones anguium: majorem opem non præstitura, etiamsi præsentibus astiterit. Hanc et aliam quamlibet militiam obibo amicitiæ tuæ gratia; nequaquam ut pluribus meis bobus annexa aratra portentur; aut greges è pascuis Lucanis transeant in Calabra, ante ardens astrum: neque ut villa candidea vicina alti Tusculi pertingat muros Circæos. Imò tua munificentia locupletavit me sufficienter et abundè. Absit ut accumulem quæ vel terræ infodiam, velut Chremes avarus, vel dilapidem, sicut helluo dissolut

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

War on Others not Brothers :: Quo Quo Scelesti :: Epode VII

It’s okay to war on others but not on brothers. So says Horace in Epode VII. But what’s a city state to do? Especially one like Rome which was founded on brother shedding the blood of brother, the Cain and Abel sin oft told throughout the world but with different names?

Here we have Romulus and Remus, wolf-nursed and wild, who, according to Horace, were the cause of Rome’s later troubles. Romulus killed Remus, but how and why? There are two answers. The first comes from the historian Florus [c AD 74–c130], Book I, Chapter I:

Ad tutelam novæ urbis sufficere vallum videbatur; cujus dum irridet angustias Remus, idque increpat  saltu, dubium an jussu fratris, occisus est. Prima certè victima fuit: munitionemque rubis urbis novæ sanguine suo consecravit.

For the defense of the new city it seemed a good idea to put up a wall, which Remus laughed at for its puniness, and he scoffed at it by jumping over it, and by order of his brother he was killed. He was of course the first sacrifice:  the walls of the new city he consecrated with his own red blood. [my translation]

The second comes from Livy, Book I, chapter 6:

[Livy I, cap 6 ff. ] Intervenit deinde his cogitationibus avitum malum, regni cupido, atque inde foedum certamen coortum a satis miti principio. Quoniam gemini essent nec aetatis verecundia discrimen facere posset, ut di quorum tutelae ea loca essent auguriis legerent qui nomen novae urbi daret, qui conditam imperio regeret, Palatium Romulus, Remus Aventinum ad inaugurandum templa capiunt.
[7] Priori Remo augurium venisse fertur, sex voltures; iamque nuntiato augurio cum duplex numerus Romulo se ostendisset, utrumque regem sua multitudo consalutauerat: tempore illi praecepto, at hi numero auium regnum trahebant. Inde cum altercatione congressi certamine irarum ad caedem vertuntur; ibi in turba ictus Remus cecidit. Volgatior fama est ludibrio fratris Remum novos transiluisse muros; inde ab irato Romulo, cum verbis quoque increpitans adiecisset, "Sic deinde, quicumque alius transiliet moenia mea," interfectum. Ita solus potitus imperio Romulus; condita urbs conditoris nomine appellata. 
[1.6 . . .] After the government of Alba was thus transferred to Numitor, Romulus and Remus were seized with the desire of building a city in the locality where they had been exposed. There was the superfluous population of the Alban and Latin towns, to these were added the shepherds: it was natural to hope that with all these Alba would be small and Lavinium small in comparison with the city which was to be founded. These pleasant anticipations were disturbed by the ancestral curse - ambition - which led to a deplorable quarrel over what was at first a trivial matter. As they were twins and no claim to precedence could be based on seniority, they decided to consult the tutelary deities of the place by means of augury as to who was to give his name to the new city, and who was to rule it after it had been founded. Romulus accordingly selected the Palatine as his station for observation, Remus the Aventine.
[1.7] Remus is said to have been the first to receive an omen: six vultures appeared to him. The augury had just been announced to Romulus when double the number appeared to him. Each was saluted as king by his own party. The one side based their claim on the priority of the appearance, the other on the number of the birds. Then followed an angry altercation; heated passions led to bloodshed; in the tumult Remus was killed. The more common report is that Remus contemptuously jumped over the newly raised walls and was forthwith killed by the enraged Romulus, who exclaimed, "So shall it be henceforth with every one who leaps over my walls." Romulus thus became sole ruler, and the city was called after him, its founder. [Rev. Canon Roberts, translator, 1905]
With such a heavy sin to bear, Rome was doomed to fratricidal wars, that is, if like Horace, we take the karmic view of history. I know I am mixing cultures, but . . . the fact is, there were some 7 such wars in the twenty years preceding this poem, far too many, and perhaps a goodly part of the potent mix that led to the ultimate fall of Rome.

Daniel Garrison in his Horace, Epodes and Odes: a New Annotated Latin Edition, says that this epode may have been written following the collapse of the Treaty of Misenum in the spring of 38 BC. This caused a civil war between Octavian and Sextus Pompey (who claimed to be the son of Neptunus and whom Horace perhaps symbolized in line 3 below). Given Rome’s history, given this recent event, it is no small wonder that Horace took up stylus to incise these shame-on-us words into his wax tablet:

Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? aut cur dexteris
    aptantur enses conditi?
parumne campis atque Neptuno super
    fusum est Latini sanguinis,
non ut superbas invidae Carthaginis
    Romanus arces ureret,
intactus aut Britannus ut descenderet
    Sacrā catenatus Viā,
sed ut, secundum vota Parthorum, suā
    urbs haec periret dexterā?
neque hic lupis mos nec fuit leonibus,
    umquam nisi in dispar feris.
furorne caecus an rapit vis acrior
    an culpa? responsum date!
tacent, et albus ora pallor inficit
    mentesque perculsae stupent.
sic est: acerba fata romanos agunt
    scelusque fraternae necis,
ut immerentis fluxit in terram Remi
    sacer nepotibus cruor.

Translation ::

Why, why do you rush to ruin? And why in your right 
hands are readied stored swords?
Not a little—in fields and on Neptune’s sea— 
has Latin blood been poured,
not so the proud citadels of jealous Carthage
a Roman could set ablaze  
or so the unbowed Briton might descend in
chains the Via Sacra, 
but so, as the Parthians pray, by its own
right hand this City might perish. 
This was not the way of wolves or lions ever,
fierce only to those not of their kind.
Does blind fury have a more violent hold?
Power? Wrong doing?  Answer me!
They are silent; a dull pallor infects their mouths 
and their minds are struck dumb.
Thus it is: the bitter fates drive the Romans on—
and the crime of killing brothers—
as when, of undeserving Remus, flowed o’er land
his sacred gore for those to come.

translation ©2013 by James Rumford

In Prose ::

Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? aut cur enses [nuper] conditi [in manibus] dexteris aptantur?
Parumne fusum sanguinis Latini est [in] campis atque super Neptuno, non ut Romanus arces superbas Carthaginis invidae ureret, aut ut Britannus intactus [in] Viā Sacrā catenatus descenderet, sed ut, secundum vota Parthorum, haec urbs [manu] suā dexterā periret?
Neque hic mos lupīs nec leonibus fuit, nisi umquam in [animal] dispar ferīs.
Furorne caecus an vis an culpa acrior rapit? Responsum date!
Tacent, et pallor albus ora inficit menteque perculsae stupent.
Sic est: fata acerba scelusque necis fraternae Romanos agunt, ut ‹cruor sacer Remi immerentis› in terram nepotibus fluxit.

Delphin Ordo ::

Quò, quò scelerati properatis? vel cur inclusi vaginâ gladii dextris inseruntur An non satis Latini sanguinis effusum est terrâ marique? non quidem ut Romani incenderent excelsa castella æmulæ Carthaginis, vel ut Britanni hâctenus indomiti per viam sacram vincti traherentur; Sed ut juxta, Parthorum optata destrueretur hæc civitas per vires proprias. Atque nec lupis hæc consuetudo, nec leonibus unquam fuit, sævire, nisi contra dissimile animal. An cœca [sic] rabies agit vos, an vis superior, an crimen aliquod? Respondete. Silent: atque pallidus color vultum tingit; animique attoniti obstupescunt. Ita est, Romanos exagitat sors inimica, et crimen cædis fraternæ; ex quo effusus est humi sanguis Remi innocentis posteris luendus. 

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Carpe Diem: Horace Depoetized

(I have revised and made corrections to this book. For information about the new edition, please go to the blog posting for March 26, 2015 or click here:

Everything takes longer than expected. A ten-minute repair job on your son’s bike: days. A two-day paint job in the living room: a week. So it is with my collection of Horace’s odes turned into prose. What I thought to be a simple task last spring has turned into quite a struggle—right up to the first days of fall.

But, at last, the book is ready. It is called Carpe Diem: Horace De-Poetized.

(The image on the cover, by the way, is my portrait of Horace. None exists from BC times, not even a statue. He is supposed to have been short and prematurely grey. I thought he might have been a bit thin, too. Who knows? Maybe he was fat, debauched, and hung over most of the time.)

Carpe Diem sells for $11.50 on It is paperback, 322 pages long, and printed on cream-colored paper. It contains a prose rendition and notes for each ode as well as the original ode. The meter is given for each poem and long vowels are marked. Translations for many of the odes are given at the back of the book.

Sample pages can be found at my March 26, 2015 post:

Friday, September 27, 2013

No Kick from Champagne :: Petti, Nihil Me Sicut :: Ep. 11

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all.
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?

Was there a Frankus Sinatrus in Horace’s time to croon the lines from today’s epode? We’ll never know. Roman cabarets closed long ago.

In this epode, Horace tells us he used to enjoy writing love poetry, but this time it’s different, so he wants us to believe. This time Horace is wrapped up with some snotty boy named Lyciscus, presumably with girlishly long hair. I suppose we might mention here the title of the musical that gave us “no kick from champagne”: “Anything Goes.”

Yes, anything goes chez Horace, chez le vieux roué, but he knows better. Horace vows to take a new path even though he knows that that path like all the ones he’s traveled on before will lead him back to the same place. Because of the orbits of love and sex, regret and hate, bitterness and sweetness that go whizzing round us—I suppose we must leave Cole Porter’s simple comparisons between the effect of champagne and the taste of love. Horace’s lines are far more complicated. 

In fact, I’d say that, far from being a love poem, these lines are a bitter comment on man’s lot.  Had Horace been a Buddhist, he might have mentioned the folly of earthly desire. But since he was not, his only remedy to suffering is more pain and suffering disguised in the form of another girl or another boy. Horace is caught in a web of lust. Although he might act as if he has come to his senses, crying his eyes out to his friend Pettius, it is, we see, just an act. Before he knows it, he’s back on the doorstep of love, begging admittance.

And who was this Pettius? We don’t know. Likewise, the names of a past love Inachia and the object of his present desire Lyciscus are unknown. Real people? Maybe not. More than likely, just symbols, metaphorical putty in the poet’s hands. 

As you read the original, observe the repeated words, candidum ingenium and puellae candidae, libera bilis and libera consilia; the words of passion: expetit, calentis, fervidiore, inaestuet; and the false logic of nil and nihil.  There is also a rare verbal form of promoveratpromorat and a rare form of quibusquis. Below is the seventeenth century rephrasing done for the dauphin of France as well as, and, if you can take the weird spelling, the sixteenth-century scholarly cogitations of Mancinelli. Both are worth a good look.

Before all of this, here are some photos my wife Carol took when we were in Italy two weeks ago. They are of the ruins of Horace’s villa….at least the reputed ruins. Argued about for centuries, these ruins have, by a series of scholarly triangulations been fairly solidly verified as the farm Horace, often talked about in his work. The County of Licenza (pronounced in the dialect of the Sabine hills as Lishennnza), has undertaken to erect a visitors’ center. Too bad. For now, it is a beautifully quiet spot where I swear I saw the ivy, the verbena, the chicory, Horace once planted.

The Visitors' Center under construction (Sept. 2013) and the architect's drawing.

Below, the hilltop town of Licenza, built in the Middle Ages.

translation ::

Pettius, I get no kick like I did before
writing bits of verse, knocked flat by love
serious love, wanting more than anything
to be consumed in soft boys, in girls too.
This third December (of my ending it 
with Inachia) is shedding its beauty in the forests.
Ah me! I’m ashamed of so much!
How I was the talk throughout Rome!
It pains me, the parties where my idleness
my silence and sighs from deep inside
gave me the lover away. “Is there nothing
the shining qualities of a poor man can do
against the lucered?” I’d wail to you in tears,
once the god of shamelessness pulled the secrets 
out of me fired-up by hotter wine.
“But if anger unchecked heats my belly 
so I scatter to the winds the useless whining—  
poultices that draw no poison from my wound— 
then my self decency, swept away,
cannot compete with those not my equal.”
After I dead-serious had said this to your face,
though ordered home, I took myself on unsure feet
to a door—ah—not a friendly one and—oh
the hard threshold, where hip and side I bruised!
Now a love for Lyciscus, bragging he’s won over 
some servant girl with his softness, has hold of me,
a hold from which neither the frank advice of friends 
nor serious condemnation can free me,
only the ardor for another, be that some dazzling lass 
or some well-formed boy, tying up his long hair.

{Translation © 2013 by James Rumford]

In Prose ::

[O] Petti, nihil me iuvat sicut antea versiculos scribere—[me] amore gravi percussum, amore qui me prater omnis expetit in pueris mollibus aut in puellis urere.

Hic tertius December, ex quo destiti Inachiā furere, honorem [ex] silvis decutit.

Heu me! Nam tanti mali [me] pudet— quanta fabula per Urbem fui! Et [me] paenitet conviviorum in qui[bu]s ‹languor et silentium et spiritus latere imo petitus› [me] amantem arguit.

“Contrane lucrum ingenium candidum pauperis nil valere?” [ego] applorans, tibi querebar, simul [ac] deus inverecundus ‹arcana calentis› ex loco mero fervidiore promo[ve]rat. “Quodsi bilis libera praecordiis meis inaestuet, ut fomenta ingrata, vulnus malum [meum] nil levantia,ventis dividam, pudor summotus [meus me] desinet imparibus certare.”

Ubi [ego] severus haec te palam laudaveram, iussus [sum] domum abire, ad postıs mihi non amicos—heu!—pede incerto ferebar et—heu—[ad] limina dura, [in] quibus lumbos et latus infregi.

Nunc amor Lyisci ‹gloriantis mollitie quamlibet mulierculam vincere› me tenet, unde consilia libera amicorum [meorum] [me] expedire non queant, nec contumeliae graves [me expediant], sed ardor alius—aut [pudor] puellae candidae aut [pudor] pueri teretis comam longam renodantis.

original epode ::

[The undotted i in -ıs is the poetic ending for -es, v. infra postıs

Petti, nihil me sicut antea iuvat 

     scribere versiculos amore percussum gravi
amore, qui me praeter omnis expetit

     mollibus in puerīs aut in puellīs urere.

hic tertius December, ex quo destiti*  *dēsisto

     Inachiā furere, silvis honorem dēcutit.
heu me, per Urbem—nam pudet tanti mali—

     fabula quanta fui! conviviorum et paenitet,

in quīs amantem languor et silentium  

     arguit et latere petitus imo spiritus.  

“contrane lucrum nil valere candidum

     pauperis ingenium querebar applorans tibi,

simul calentis inverecundus deus [Bacchus]

     fervidiore mero arcana promorat loco.

“quodsi meis inaestuet praecordiis

     libera bilis, ut haec ingrata ventis dividam

fomenta vulnus nil malum levantia, 

     desinet imparibus certare summotus pudor.”

ubi haec severus te palam laudaveram,

     iussus abire domum ferebar incerto pede

ad non amicos heu mihi postıs et heu 

     limina dura, quibus lumbos et infregi latus.

nunc gloriantis quamlibet mulierculamt

    vincere mollitie amore Lycisci me tenet,

unde expedire non amicorum queant

     libera consilia nec contumeliae graves,

sed alius ardor aut puellae candidae

     aut teretis pueri longam renodantis comam.

For the Dauphin [1670s] ::

O Petti, nequaquam placet ut prius, versus facere, quia amore gravi occupor; amore, qui me præ cunctis incendere cupit erga teneros pueros vel puellas. Hic tertius December spoliat arbores foliis, ex quo desii deperire Inachiam. Heu me, quanta fui fabula per urbem! (Nam pude me tanti mali) pœnitet etiam conviviorum, in quibus amans declarat se languore, taciturnitate, et suspiriis è profundo pectore deductis! Tum verò simul ac ardente vino incalueram, et numen pudore carens secreta mea  dmoverat loco suo; ego flens apud te conquerebar, quòd sincera mens pauperis non prævaleret quæstui. Addebam porrò: Quòd si libera indignatio cor meum inflammet, ut in auras dissipet molesta hæc pabula nequaquam sublevantia dolorem improbium; protinus abjecta verecundia cessabit pugnare adversus inæquales. At postquam ista coram te graviter statueram, accepto mandato discedendi in ædes meas, dubio gressu ibam ad fores eheu mihi non propitias et dura eheu vestbula, in quibus rupi lumbos et latus. Jam me occupat amor Lycisci gloriantis omnem fœminam superare mollitiâ: Quo me exsolvere non possint sincera amicorum monita vel objurgationes acerbæ; sed tantum  alius amor, sive adolescentulæ speciosæ, sive rotunduli pueri prolixos capillos nodo colligentis.

 Mancinelli’s comments [i. = id est    s. = sum   q. = qui   d. = de] ::

Pecti. Pectio amico familiari amores suos fatetur satis inverecunde dicens. o pecti scribere versiculos nihil iuvat sicut antea me percussum amore graut [sic].i.tycilti? pueri: amore (repetit) q expetit.ipersequitur & excruciat me praeter.i.super omnes.s.alios amatores: urere aut in pueris mollibus aut in puellis hic.i.prosens? december tertitius exquo.i.postquam destiti.i.desij furere inachia.i.amore inachiae puellae: decuiti  silvis honorem.i.frondes.i.iam tertia agitur hyems postquam dereliqui inachiam: heu me quanta fabula fui per urbem: cum.s.furerem amore inachiae.q.d.quod dico. Nam pudet tanti mali & pœnitet conuitriorum: in quis i. in quibus languor & silentium.i.que in convivijs languens amore silerem: & spūs.i.anhelitus meus petitus i.attractus: imo.i.profundo latere: arguit.i.evidenti argumento probavit amantem. Et querebar.s.tibi & alijs applorans iuvenium pauperis.s.poetae: nil valere contra lucrum candidum.i.avaritiam quae meretricibus candida videtur: applorans dicit simil.i.statim ut.i.postquam deus inverecundus.i.cupido vel potius eius provocator bacchus ? modicus: promotat.i.promoverat loco.i.statione sua. mero fervidiore.i.acri vino. arcana.s.mea.i.intima praecordia calentis.i.ardentis amore. Que? sibilis libera.i.stomachatio & indignatio vera inaestuet meis ad veram iram compulerit sicut tunc simulabam iratum: ita ut dividat? id est dispergat ventis haec fomenta?.i.medicamenta ingrata.i.has querimonias inutiles:quia nil allevantia.i.imminuètia vulnus.s.amoris:malum.i.perniciosum.pudor submotus.i.iqui nunc clanculum ame amotus est: desinet certare imparibus.i.potioribus.i.non amplius victus cedet: sed vincet. Ubi ego severus.i.tanquam severus: hoc est rigide sequens verum laudaveram haec.i.huiusmodi propostitum palam.i.coram te: aut te conscio? ego iussus.s.a te: abire domum: ferebar pede incerto.i.titubante: ad postes heu mihi non ostia inachiæ & heu ad limina dura: ut pote quibus infregi lumbo: & latus meum: cum neque lachrymis neque precibus cederent. amor lycisci pueri gloriantis vincere mollicia quamlibet mulierculam tenet nunc me: unum.i. a quo libera consilia amicorus nec graves contumeliae amicorus: non quaeant expedire.i.solvere me: sed ardor.i.fervens amor alius puellae candidae aut pueri teretis.i.proceri: renidentis?.i.religantis longam.i.prolixam comam.

:: Latin books by James Rumford ::

For all 102 odes purchase Carpe Diem, Horace De-Poetizedfor $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.