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Ancient Roman Poetry, Drama and Literature

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ancient Roman Poetry, Drama and Literature
    Posted: 07-Mar-2012 at 18:18
Horace 

BkI:XX To Maecenas

 

Come and drink with me, rough Sabine in cheap cups,

yet wine that I sealed myself, and laid up

in a Grecian jar, when you dear Maecenas,

flower of knighthood,

 

received the theatre’s applause, so your native

river-banks, and, also, the Vatican Hill,

together returned that praise again, to you,

in playful echoes.

 

Then, drink Caecubum, and the juice of the grape

crushed in Campania’s presses, my cups are

unmixed with what grows on Falernian vines,

or Formian hills.

 



Edited by Don Quixote - 07-Mar-2012 at 18:19
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Mar-2012 at 14:26
Horace:

BkI:XXI Hymn to Diana

 

O tender virgins sing, in praise of Diana,

and, you boys, sing in praise, of long-haired Apollo,

and of Latona, deeply

loved by all-conquering Jove.

 

You girls, she who enjoys the streams and the green leaves

of the groves that clothe the cool slopes of Algidus,

or dark Erymanthian

trees, or the woods of green Cragus.

 

You boys, sounding as many praises, of Tempe

and Apollo’s native isle Delos, his shoulder

distinguished by his quiver,

and his brother Mercury’s lyre.

 

He’ll drive away sad war, and miserable famine,

the plague too, from our people and Caesar our prince,

and, moved by all your prayers,

send them to Persians and Britons.




Edited by Don Quixote - 10-Mar-2012 at 14:26
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Mar-2012 at 21:30
Horace 

BkI:XXII Singing of Lalage (Integer Vitae)

 

The man who is pure of life, and free of sin,

has no need, dear Fuscus, for Moorish javelins,

nor a bow and a quiver, fully loaded

with poisoned arrows,

 

whether his path’s through the sweltering Syrtes,

or through the inhospitable Caucasus,

or makes its way through those fabulous regions

Hydaspes waters.

 

While I was wandering, beyond the boundaries

of my farm, in the Sabine woods, and singing

free from care, lightly-defended, of my Lalage,

a wolf fled from me:

 

a monster not even warlike Apulia

nourishes deep in its far-flung oak forests,

or that Juba’s parched Numidian land breeds,

nursery of lions.

 

Set me down on the lifeless plains, where no trees

spring to life in the burning midsummer wind,

that wide stretch of the world that’s burdened by mists

and a gloomy sky:

 

set me down in a land denied habitation,

where the sun’s chariot rumbles too near the earth:

I’ll still be in love with my sweetly laughing,

sweet talking Lalage.

 

 



Edited by Don Quixote - 11-Mar-2012 at 21:37
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 19:32
Horace:

BkI:XXIII Chloë, Don’t Run.

 

You run away from me as a fawn does, Chloë,

searching the trackless hills for its frightened mother,

not without aimless terror

of the pathless winds, and the woods.

 

For if the coming of spring begins to rustle

among the trembling leaves, or if a green lizard

pushes the brambles aside,

then it trembles in heart and limb.

 

And yet I’m not chasing after you to crush you

like a fierce tiger, or a Gaetulian lion:

stop following your mother,

now, you’re prepared for a mate.




Edited by Don Quixote - 13-Mar-2012 at 19:34
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Mar-2012 at 13:31
Horace:

BkI:XXIV A Lament For Quintilius

 

What limit, or restraint, should we show at the loss

of so dear a life? Melpomene, teach me, Muse,

a song of mourning, you, whom the Father granted

a clear voice, the sound of the lyre.

 

Does endless sleep lie heavy on Quintilius,

now? When will Honour, and unswerving Loyalty,

that is sister to Justice, and our naked Truth,

ever discover his equal?

 

Many are the good men who weep for his dying,

none of them, Virgil, weep more profusely than you.

Piously, you ask the gods for him, alas, in vain:

not so was he given to us.

 

Even if you played on the Thracian lyre, listened

to by the trees, more sweetly than Orpheus could,

would life then return, to that empty phantom,

once Mercury, with fearsome wand,

 

who won’t simply re-open the gates of Fate

at our bidding, has gathered him to the dark throng?

It is hard: but patience makes more tolerable

whatever wrong’s to be righted.




Edited by Don Quixote - 14-Mar-2012 at 13:32
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Mar-2012 at 23:56
Horace:

BkI:XXV A Prophecy of Age

 

Now the young men come less often, violently

beating your shutters, with blow after blow, or

stealing away your sleep, while the door sits tight,

hugging the threshold,

 

yet was once known to move its hinges, more than

readily. You’ll hear, less and less often now:

‘Are you sleeping, Lydia, while your lover

dies in the long night?’

 

Old, in your turn, you’ll bemoan coarse adulterers,

as you tremble in some deserted alley,

while the Thracian wind rages, furiously,

through the moonless nights,

 

while flagrant desire, libidinous passion,

those powers that will spur on a mare in heat,

will storm all around your corrupted heart, ah,

and you’ll complain,

 

that the youths, filled with laughter, take more delight

in the green ivy, the dark of the myrtle,

leaving the withering leaves to this East wind,

winter’s accomplice.




Edited by Don Quixote - 15-Mar-2012 at 23:58
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Mar-2012 at 12:02
Horace:

BkI:XXVI A Garland For Lamia

 

Friend of the Muses, I’ll throw sadness and fear

to the winds, to blow over the Cretan Sea,

untroubled by whoever he is, that king

of the icy Arctic shores we’re afraid of,

 

or whatever might terrify the Armenians.

O Sweet Muse, that joys in fresh fountains,

weave them together all the bright flowers,

weave me a garland for my Lamia.

 

Without you there’s no worth in my tributes:

it’s fitting that you, that all of your sisters,

should immortalise him with new strains

of the lyre, with the Lesbian plectrum.

 





Edited by Don Quixote - 16-Mar-2012 at 12:05
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Mar-2012 at 23:11
Horace:

BkI:XXVII Entanglement

 

To fight with wine-cups intended for pleasure

only suits Thracians: forget those barbarous

games, and keep modest Bacchus away

from all those bloodthirsty quarrels of yours.

 

The Persian scimitar’s quite out of keeping

with the wine and the lamplight: my friends restrain

all that impious clamour, and rest

on the couches, lean back on your elbows.

 

So you want me to drink up my share, as well,

of the heavy Falernian? Then let’s hear

Opuntian Megylla’s brother tell

by what wound, and what arrow, blessed, he dies.

 

Does your will waver? I’ll drink on no other

terms. Whatever the passion rules over you,

it’s not with a shameful fire it burns,

and you always sin with the noblest

 

of lovers. Whoever it is, ah, come now,

let it be heard by faithful ears – oh, you wretch!

What a Charybdis you’re swimming in,

my boy, you deserve a far better flame!

 

What magician, with Thessalian potions,

what enchantress, or what god could release you?

Caught by the triple-formed Chimaera,

even Pegasus could barely free you.



Edited by Don Quixote - 17-Mar-2012 at 23:12
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Mar-2012 at 21:57
Horace:

BkI:XXVIII Three Handfuls of Earth

 

You, my Archytas, philosopher, and measurer of land,

of the sea, of wide sands, are entombed 

in a small mound of meagre earth near the Matinian shore,

and it’s of no use to you in the least,

 

that you, born to die, have explored the celestial houses

crossed, in spirit, the rounds of the sky.

Tantalus, Pelop’s father, died too, a guest of the gods,

and Tithonus took off to the heavens,

 

Minos gained entry to great Jupiter’s secrets, Tartarus

holds Euphorbus, twice sent to Orcus,

though he bore witness, carrying his shield there, to Trojan times,

and left nothing more behind, for black Death,

 

but his skin and his bones, and that certainly made him, Archytas,

to your mind, no trivial example

of Nature and truth. But there’s still one night that awaits us all,

and each, in turn, makes the journey of death.

 

The Furies deliver some as a spectacle for cruel Mars,

the greedy sea’s the sailor’s ruin:

the funerals of the old, and the young, close ranks together,

and no one’s spared by cruel Proserpine.

 

Me too, the south wind, Notus, swift friend of setting Orion,

drowned deep in Illyrian waters.

O, sailor, don’t hesitate, from spite, to grant a little treacherous

sand, to my unburied bones and skull.

 

So that, however the east wind might threaten the Italian

waves, thrashing the Venusian woods,

you’ll be safe, yourself, and rich rewards will flow from the source,

from even-handed Jupiter, and from


 

Neptune, who is the protector of holy Tarentum. Are you

indifferent to committing a wrong

that will harm your innocent children hereafter? Perhaps

a need for justice, and arrogant

 

disdain, await you, too: don’t let me be abandoned here

my prayers unanswered: no offering

will absolve you. Though you hurry away, it’s a brief delay:

three scattered handfuls of earth will free you.



Edited by Don Quixote - 18-Mar-2012 at 21:58
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Mar-2012 at 19:59
Horace:

BkI:XXIX Off To The Wars

 

Iccius, are you gazing with envy, now,

at Arabian riches, and preparing

for bitter war on unbeaten kings

of Saba, weaving bonds for those dreadful

Medes? What barbaric virgin

will be your slave, when you’ve murdered her lover?

What boy, from the palace, with scented

hair, will handle your wine-cups, one taught

by his father’s bow how to manage eastern

arrows? Who’ll deny, now, that rivers can flow

backwards, to the summits of mountains,

and Tiber reverse the course of his streams,

when you, who gave promise of much better things,

are intent on changing Panaetius’s

noble books, the school of Socrates,

for a suit of Iberian armour?



Edited by Don Quixote - 19-Mar-2012 at 20:00
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Mar-2012 at 17:57
Horace:

BkI:XXX Ode To Venus

 

O Venus, the queen of Cnidos and Paphos,

spurn your beloved Cyprus, and summoned

by copious incense, come to the lovely shrine

of my Glycera.

 

And let that passionate boy of yours, Cupid,

and the Graces with loosened zones, and the Nymphs,

and Youth, less lovely without you, hasten here,

and Mercury too.



Edited by Don Quixote - 20-Mar-2012 at 17:57
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 04:09
Horace:

BkI:XXXI A Prayer to Apollo

 

What is the poet’s request to Apollo?

What does he pray for as he pours out the wine

from the bowl? Not for the rich harvests

of fertile Sardinia, nor the herds,

 

(they’re delightful), of sunlit Calabria,

not for India’s gold or its ivory,

nor fields our silent Liris’s stream

carries away in the calm of its flow.

 

Let those that Fortune allows prune the vines,

with a Calenian knife, so rich merchants

can drink their wine from a golden cup,

wine they’ve purchased with Syrian goods,

 

who, dear to the gods, three or four times yearly,

revisit the briny Atlantic, unscathed.

I browse on olives, and chicory

and simple mallow. Apollo, the son

 

of Latona, let me enjoy what I have,

and, healthy in body and mind, as I ask,

live an old age not without honour,

and one not lacking the art of the lyre.



Edited by Don Quixote - 22-Mar-2012 at 04:09
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 17:14
Horace

BkI:XXXII To the Lyre

 

I’m called on. O Lyre, if I’ve ever played

idle things with you in the shade, that will live,

for a year or more, come and utter a song

now, of Italy:

 

you were first tuned by Alcaeus of Lesbos,

a man daring in war, yet still, amongst arms,

or after he’d moored his storm-driven boat

on a watery shore,

 

he sang of the Muses, Bacchus, and Venus

that boy of hers, Cupid, that hangs around her,

and that beautiful Lycus, with his dark eyes

and lovely dark hair.

 

O tortoiseshell, Phoebus’s glory, welcome

at the feasts of Jupiter, the almighty,

O sweet comfort and balm of our troubles, heal,

if I call you true!



Edited by Don Quixote - 22-Mar-2012 at 17:15
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 11:02
Horace:

BkI:XXXIII Tibullus, Don’t Grieve

 

Tibullus, don’t grieve too much, when you remember

your cruel Glycera, and don’t keep on singing

those wretched elegies, or ask why, trust broken,

you’re outshone by a younger man.

 

Lovely Lycoris, the narrow-browed one, is on fire

with love for Cyrus, Cyrus leans towards bitter

Pholoë, but does in the wood are more likely

to mate with Apulian wolves,

 

than Pholoë to sin with some low-down lover.

So Venus has it, who delights in the cruel

game of mating unsuitable bodies and minds,

under her heavy yoke of bronze.

 

I, myself, when a nobler passion was called for,

was held in the charming bonds of Myrtale,

that freed slave, more bitter than Hadria’s waves

that break in Calabria’s bay.



Edited by Don Quixote - 23-Mar-2012 at 11:03
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 13:27
Horace:

BkI:XXXIV Fortune’s Changes

 

Once I wandered, an expert in crazy wisdom,

a scant and infrequent adorer of gods,

now I’m forced to set sail and return,

to go back to the paths I abandoned.

 

For Jupiter, Father of all of the gods,

who generally splits the clouds with his lightning,

flashing away, drove thundering horses,

and his swift chariot, through the clear sky,

 

till the dull earth, and the wandering rivers,

and Styx, and dread Taenarus’ hateful headland,

and Atlas’s mountain-summits shook.

The god has the power to replace the highest

 

with the lowest, bring down the famous, and raise

the obscure to the heights. And greedy Fortune

with her shrill whirring, carries away

the crown and delights in setting it, there.



Edited by Don Quixote - 24-Mar-2012 at 13:31
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2012 at 23:12
Horace:

BkI:XXXV To Fortune

 

O goddess, who rules our lovely Antium,

always ready to lift up our mortal selves,

from humble position, or alter

proud triumphs to funeral processions,

 

the poor farmer, in the fields, courts your favour

with anxious prayers: you, mistress of ocean,

the sailor who cuts the Carpathian

Sea, in a Bithynian sailing boat:

 

you, the fierce Dacian, wandering Scythian,

cities, and peoples, and warlike Latium,

mothers of barbarous kings, tyrants,

clothed in their royal purple, all fear you,

 

in case you demolish the standing pillar

with a careless foot, or the tumultuous crowd

incite the peaceful: ‘To arms, to arms’,

and shatter the supreme authority.

 

Grim Necessity always treads before you,

and she’s carrying the spikes and the wedges

in her bronze hand, and the harsh irons

and the molten lead aren’t absent either.

 

Hope cultivates you, and rarest Loyalty,

her hands bound in sacred white, will not refuse

her friendship when you, their enemy,

desert the great houses plunged in mourning.

 

But the disloyal mob, and the perjured whores

vanish, and friends scatter when they’ve drunk our wine

to the lees, unequal to bearing

the heavy yoke of all our misfortunes.


 

Guard our Caesar who’s soon setting off again

against the earth’s far-off Britons, and guard

the fresh young levies, who’ll scare the East

in those regions along the Red Sea’s shores.

 

Alas, the shame of our scars and wickedness,

and our dead brothers. What has our harsh age spared?

What sinfulness have we left untried?

What have the young men held their hands back from,

 

in fear of the gods? Where are the altars they’ve left

alone? O may you remake our blunt weapons

on fresh anvils so we can turn them

against the Scythians and the Arabs.



Edited by Don Quixote - 25-Mar-2012 at 23:16
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Mar-2012 at 01:23
Horace:

BkI:XXXVI Numida’s Back Again

 

With music, and incense, and blood

of a bullock, delight in placating the gods

that guarded our Numida well,

who’s returned safe and sound, from the farthest West, now,

 

showering a host of kisses

on every dear friend, but on none of us more than

lovely Lamia, remembering

their boyhood spent under the self-same master,

 

their togas exchanged together.

Don’t allow this sweet day to lack a white marker,

no end to the wine jars at hand,

no rest for our feet in the Salian fashion,

 

Don’t let wine-heavy Damalis

conquer our Bassus in downing the Thracian draughts.

Don’t let our feast lack for roses,

or the long-lasting parsley, or the brief lilies:

 

we’ll all cast our decadent eyes

on Damalis, but Damalis won’t be parted

from that new lover of hers she’s

clasping, more tightly than the wandering ivy.



Edited by Don Quixote - 27-Mar-2012 at 01:24
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 00:26
Horace:

BkI:XXXVII Cleopatra

 

Now’s the time for drinking deep, and now’s the time

to beat the earth with unfettered feet, the time

to set out the gods’ sacred couches,

my friends, and prepare a Salian feast.

 

It would have been wrong, before today, to broach

the Caecuban wines from out the ancient bins,

while a maddened queen was still plotting

the Capitol’s and the empire’s ruin,

 

with her crowd of deeply-corrupted creatures

sick with turpitude, she, violent with hope

of all kinds, and intoxicated

by Fortune’s favour. But it calmed her frenzy

 

that scarcely a single ship escaped the flames,

and Caesar reduced the distracted thoughts, bred

by Mareotic wine, to true fear,

pursuing her close as she fled from Rome,

 

out to capture that deadly monster, bind her,

as the sparrow-hawk follows the gentle dove

or the swift hunter chases the hare,

over the snowy plains of Thessaly.

 

But she, intending to perish more nobly,

showed no sign of womanish fear at the sword,

nor did she even attempt to win

with her speedy ships to some hidden shore.

 

And she dared to gaze at her fallen kingdom

with a calm face, and touch the poisonous asps

with courage, so that she might drink down

their dark venom, to the depths of her heart,


 

growing fiercer still, and resolving to die:

scorning to be taken by hostile galleys,

and, no ordinary woman, yet queen

no longer, be led along in proud triumph.



Edited by Don Quixote - 28-Mar-2012 at 00:27
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2012 at 23:57
Horace:

BkI:XXXVIII The Simple Myrtle

 

My child, how I hate Persian ostentation,

garlands twined around lime-tree bark displease me:

forget your chasing, to find all the places

where late roses fade.

 

You’re eager, take care, that nothing enhances

the simple myrtle: it’s not only you that

it graces, the servant, but me as I drink,

beneath the dark vine.


This was the last poem from Horace's "Odes"; I have to find something else to start from tomorrow on.



Edited by Don Quixote - 30-Mar-2012 at 00:01
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  Quote Leroy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Apr-2012 at 08:21
Aeneid, 428-433

Aeneas wakes up to see the Greeks ravaging his city



Insane, I seize my weapons. There's no sense

in weapons, yet my spirit burns to gather

a band for battle, to rush out against

the citadel with my companions. Rage

and anger drive my mind. My only thought:

how fine a thing it is to die in arms.

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