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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: 02-Apr-2012 at 13:58
I'm starting Horace, Odes, Book II


BkII:I To Pollio, Writing His History of the Civil Wars

 

You’re handling the Civil Wars, since Metellus

was Consul, the causes, errors, and stages,

Fortune’s game, and the heavy friendships

of princes, and the un-expiated

 

stain of blood over various weapons,

a task that’s filled with dangerous pitfalls,

so that you’re walking over embers

hidden under the treacherous ashes.

 

Don’t let the Muse of dark actions be long away

from the theatre: soon, when you’ve finished writing

public events, reveal your great gifts

again in Athenian tragedy,

 

you famous defendant of troubled clients,

Pollio, support of the Senate’s councils,

whom the laurel gave lasting glory

in the form of your Dalmatian triumph.

 

Already you’re striking our ears with the sounds,

the menace of blaring horns, and the trumpets,

already the glitter of weapons

terrifies horses, and riders’ faces.

 

Now I seem to hear magnificent leaders,

heads darkened, but not with inglorious dust,

and all the lands of earth are subdued,

but not implacable Cato’s spirit.

 

Juno, and those gods friendly to Africa,

who, powerless to avenge the land, withdrew,

make funeral offerings to Jugurtha,

of the grandchildren of his conquerors.


 

What fields are not enriched with the blood of Rome,

to bear witness with their graves to this impious

struggle of ours, and the sound, even heard

by the Persians, of Italy’s ruin?

 

What river or pool is ignorant of these

wretched wars? What sea has Roman slaughter failed

to discolour, and show me the shores

that are, as yet, still unstained by our blood.

 

But Muse, lest you dare to leave happy themes,

and take up Simonides’ dirges again,

search out a lighter plectrum’s measures,

with me, in some deep cavern of Venus.



Edited by Don Quixote - 02-Apr-2012 at 14:00
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 00:46
Horace

BkII:II Money

 

Crispus, silver concealed in the greedy earth

has no colour, and you are an enemy

to all such metal unless, indeed, it gleams

from sensible use.

 

Proculeius will be famous in distant

ages for his generous feelings towards

his brothers: enduring fame will carry him

on its tireless wings.

 

You may rule a wider kingdom by taming

a greedy spirit, than by joining Spain

to far-off Libya, while Carthaginians

on both sides, serve one.

 

A fatal dropsy grows worse with indulgence,

the patient can’t rid himself of thirst unless

his veins are free of illness, and his pale flesh

of watery languor.

 

Though Phraates is back on the Armenian

throne, Virtue, differing from the rabble, excludes

him from the blessed, and instructs the people

not to misuse words,

 

instead conferring power, and security

of rule, and lasting laurels, on him alone

who can pass by enormous piles of treasure

without looking back.



Edited by Don Quixote - 06-Apr-2012 at 01:40
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Apr-2012 at 01:40
Horace:

BkII:III One Ending

 

When things are troublesome, always remember,

keep an even mind, and in prosperity

be careful of too much happiness:

since my Dellius, you’re destined to die,

 

whether you live a life that’s always sad,

or reclining, privately, on distant lawns,

in one long holiday, take delight

in drinking your vintage Falernian.

 

Why do tall pines, and white poplars, love to merge

their branches in the hospitable shadows?

Why do the rushing waters labour

to hurry along down the winding rivers?

 

Tell them to bring us the wine, and the perfume, 

and all-too-brief petals of lovely roses,

while the world, and the years, and the dark

threads of the three fatal sisters allow.

 

You’ll leave behind all those meadows you purchased,

your house, your estate, yellow Tiber washes,

you’ll leave them behind, your heir will own

those towering riches you’ve piled so high.

 

Whether you’re rich, of old Inachus’s line,

or live beneath the sky, a pauper, blessed with

humble birth, it makes no difference:

you’ll be pitiless Orcus’s victim.

 

We’re all being driven to a single end,

all our lots are tossed in the urn, and, sooner

or later, they’ll emerge, and seat us

in Charon’s boat for eternal exile.



Edited by Don Quixote - 06-Apr-2012 at 01:41
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Apr-2012 at 03:29
Horace:

BkII:IV Loving A Servant Girl

 

Phocian Xanthis, don’t be ashamed of love

for your serving-girl. Once before, Briseis

the Trojan slave with her snow-white skin stirred

angry Achilles:

 

and captive Tecmessa’s loveliness troubled

her master Ajax, the son of Telamon:

and Agamemnon, in his mid-triumph, burned

for a stolen girl,

 

while the barbarian armies, defeated

in Greek victory, and the loss of Hector,

handed Troy to the weary Thessalians,

an easier prey.

 

You don’t know your blond Phyllis hasn’t parents

who are wealthy, and might grace their son-in-law.

Surely she’s royally born, and grieves at her

cruel household gods.

 

Believe that the girl you love’s not one who comes

from the wicked masses, that one so faithful

so averse to gain, couldn’t be the child of

a shameful mother.

 

I’m unbiased in praising her arms and face,

and shapely ankles: reject all suspicion

of one whose swiftly vanishing life has known

its fortieth year.



Edited by Don Quixote - 09-Apr-2012 at 03:30
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2012 at 02:43
Horace:

BkII:V Be Patient

 

She’s not ready to bear a yoke on her bowed

neck yet, she’s not yet equal to the duty

of coupling, or bearing the heavy

weight of a charging bull in the mating act.

 

The thoughts of your heifer are on green pastures,

on easing her burning heat in the river,

and sporting with the eager calves

in the depths of moist willow plantations.

 

Forget this passion of yours for the unripe

grape: autumn, the season of many-colours,

will soon be dyeing bluish clusters

a darker purple, on the vine, for you.

 

Soon she’ll pursue you, since fierce time rushes on

and will add to her the years it takes from you,

soon Lalage herself will be eager

to search you out as a husband, Lalage,

 

beloved as shy Pholoë was not, nor your

Chloris, with shoulders gleaming white, like a clear

moon shining over a midnight sea,

nor Cnidian Gyges, that lovely boy,

 

whom you could insert in a choir of girls,

and the wisest of strangers would fail to tell

the difference, with him hidden behind

his flowing hair, and ambiguous looks.



Edited by Don Quixote - 10-Apr-2012 at 02:44
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2012 at 02:36
Horace:

BkII:VI Tibur and Tarentum

 

Septimus, you, who are prepared to visit

Cadiz with me, and its tribes (they’re not used

to bearing our yoke) and barbarous Syrtes,

by the Moors’ fierce Sea,

 

I’d rather Tibur, founded by men of Greece,

were my home when I’m old, let it be my goal,

when I’m tired of the seas, and the roads, and all

this endless fighting.

 

But if the cruel Fates deny me that place,

I’ll head for the river Galaesus, sweet

with its precious sheep, on Spartan fields, once ruled

by King Phalanthus.

 

That corner of earth is the brightest to me,

where the honey gives nothing away to that

of Hymettus, and its olives compete with

green Venafrum:

 

where Jupiter grants a lengthy spring, and mild

winters, and Aulon’s hill-slopes, dear to fertile

Bacchus, are filled with least envy for those rich

grapes of Falernum.

 

That place, and its lovely heights, call out to me,

to you: and there’ll you’ll scatter your debt of sad

tears, over the still-glowing ashes of this,

the poet, your friend.



Edited by Don Quixote - 17-Apr-2012 at 02:36
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-May-2012 at 01:50
Horace

BkII:VII A Friend Home From the Wars

 

O Pompey, often led, with me, by Brutus,

the head of our army, into great danger,

who’s sent you back, as a citizen,

to your country’s gods and Italy’s sky,

 

Pompey, the very dearest of my comrades,

with whom I’ve often drawn out the lingering

day in wine, my hair wreathed, and glistening

with perfumed balsam, of Syrian nard?

 

I was there at Philippi, with you, in that

headlong flight, sadly leaving my shield behind,

when shattered Virtue, and what threatened

from an ignoble purpose, fell to earth.

 

While in my fear Mercury dragged me, swiftly,

through the hostile ranks in a thickening cloud:

the wave was drawing you back to war,

carried once more by the troubled waters.

 

So grant Jupiter the feast he’s owed, and stretch

your limbs, wearied by long campaigning, under

my laurel boughs, and don’t spare the jars

that were destined to be opened by you.

 

Fill the smooth cups with Massic oblivion,

pour out the perfume from generous dishes,

Who’ll hurry to weave the wreathes for us

of dew-wet parsley or pliant myrtle?

 

Who’ll throw high Venus at dice and so become

the master of drink? I’ll rage as insanely

as any Thracian: It’s sweet to me

to revel when a friend is home again.



Edited by Don Quixote - 08-May-2012 at 01:51
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2012 at 01:13
Horace

BkII:VIII Faithless Barine

 

If any punishment ever visited

you, Barine, for all your perjuries, if you

were ever harmed at all by a darkened tooth,

a spoilt fingernail,

 

I’d trust you. But no sooner have you bound your

faithless soul by promises, than you appear

much lovelier, and shine out, as everyone’s

dearest young thing.

 

It helps you to swear by your mother’s buried

ashes, by all night’s silent constellations,

by the heavens, and the gods, who are free from

the icy chill of death.

 

Venus herself smiles at it all, yes she does:

the artless Nymphs, smile too, and cruel Cupid,

who’s always sharpening his burning arrows

on a blood-stained stone.

 

Add that all our youths are being groomed for you,

groomed as fresh slaves, while none of your old lovers

leave the house of their impious mistress, as

they often threatened.

 

All the mothers fear you, because of their sons,

and the thrifty old fathers, and wretched brides,

who once were virgins, in case your radiance

makes husbands linger.

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