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TO THE SHIP IN WHICH VIRGIL WAS ABOUT
TO SAIL TO ATHENS. Horace wishes Virgil a good voyage, and inveighs
against the impious boldness of mankind, So may the powerful Cyprian Goddess ; so may the bright stars, the* brothers of Helen ; and so may the father of the winds, confining all except Iapyx, † direct thee, O Ship, who art intrusted with Virgil : my prayer is, that thou may
land him safe on the Athenian shore, and preserve the half of my soul. Sure oak and threefold brass surrounded his heart, who first trusted a frail vessel to the merciless ocean, nor was afraid of the impetuous African wind contending with the Northern stórms, nor of the mournful Hyades, nor of the rage of the South-west wind, than which there is not a more absolute controller of the Adriatic, to either raise or assuage its waves at pleasure. What form of death could terrify him, who beheld unmoved the rolling monsters of the deep; who beheld unmoved the tempestuous swelling of the sea, and the Acroceraunians-infamous rocks? In vain hath God in his wisdom divided the countries of the earth by the separating ocean, if, notwithstanding, profane ships bound over waters which ought not to be violated. The race of man, presumptuous enough to support every thing, rushes on through forbidden wicked
* Castor and Pollux.
† A westerly wind.
ness. The presumptuous son of Iapetust by an impiousț fraud brought down fire into the world : After fire was thus stolen from the celestial mansions, consumption, and a new train of fevers, settled upon the earth ; and the slow approaching necessity of death, which, till now, was remote, ccelerated its pace. Dædalus essayed the empty air with wings not designed for men: The labour of Hercules broke through Acheron. 'There is nothing too arduous for mortals to attempt. We aim at Heaven itself through folly :neither do we suffer by our wickedness Jupiter to lay aside his revengeful thunderbolts.
He exhorts him to pleasure, on the considerations of the
approach of spring, and the brevity of life. Severe winter is relaxed by the agreeable vicissitude of the spring and the western breeze ; and engines haul from shore the dry ships : And neither
does the cattle any longer delight in the stalls, or the ploughman in the fire-side ; nor are the meadows whitened by hoary frosts. Now Cytherean Venus leads up the dance by moonlight; and the comely Graces, in conjunction with the Nymphs, shake the ground with alternate feet;
* Or if, with Hemelius and Sanad. we read, upon the au. thority of an ancient MS. vetitum et nefas-breaks through all human and divine laws. † Prometheus.
while ardent Vulcan inflames the laborious forges of the Cyclops. Now it is fitting to encircle the shining head* either with verdant myrtle, or with such flowers as the relaxed earth produces. Now likewise it is fitting to sacrifice to Faunus in the shady groves, whether he demand a lamb, or is more pleased with a kid. Pale death knocks at the cottages of the poor and the palaces of kings with an impartial pace. O happy Sestius, the short sum-total of life forbids us to form remote expectations. Presently shall darkness, and the ghosts so much talked of, and the shadowy mansion of Pluto, oppress you; where, when you shall once arrive, you
shall neither decide the dominion of the bottlet by dice, nor shall you admire the tender Lycidas, with whom now all the youth is inflamed, and for whom, ere long, the ladies will grow warm.
TO PYRRHA. They are miserable who are captivated by her charms :
as for his own part, he has escaped from them as from a shipwreck.
What dainty youth, bedewed with liquid perfumes, caresses you, Pyrrha, in some pleasant grotto, 'midst a profusion of roses ? For whom do you fillet up your golden hair, unaffectedly delicate? Alas ! how frequently shall he deplore your perfidy and the altered Gods; and, through inexperience, be amazed at the seas rough with blackening storms, who now, credulous, enjoys you all precious; who hopes you will be always disengaged, always amiable, ignorant of the faithless gale! Wretched are those to whom you untried seem fair! The sacred wall of Neptune's temple demonstrates, by a votive tablet, that I have consecrated dropping garments to the powerful God of the sea.
* The same as nilidi cupilli, shining hair, Epis. I. 14, 32. + The Romans used to cast lots who should be toast
Horace's genius is fitter for amorous subjects, than to
celebrate the exploits of heroes. You shall be described by Varius, with all the flight of the Mæonian verse, as brave and a subduer of your enemies, whatever achievments your fierce soldiery shall have accomplished, under your command, either a shipboard, or on horseback. We humble writers, O Agrippa, neither undertake these high subjects, nor the destructive wrath of inexorable Achilles, nor the voyages of the crafty Ulysses, nor ihe cruel house of Pelops : while diffidence, and the Muse who presides over the peaceful lyre, forbids me to diminish the praises of illustrious Cæsar, and yours, through defect of genius. Who with sufficient dignity will ever describe Mars covered with his adamantine coat of mail, or Meriones embrowned with Trojan dust, or the son of Tydeus,* a match
for the Gods by the favour of Pallas! We, whether, free, whether enamoured ourselves, with our accustomed levity, sing of banquets; we of the battles of maids, desperate against young fel. lows-with pared nails.
TO MUNATIUS PLANCUS. He describes the pleasant retreat of Tibur. The poet
advises him to drive away care with wine, after the example of Teucer.
OTHER poets shall celebrate the famous Rhodes, or Mitylene, or Ephesus, or the walls of Corinth, situated between two seas, or Thebes, illustrious by the birth of Bacchus, or Delphi, by Apollo's Oracle, or the Thessalian Tempe. There are some whose sole employment is to chant in endless verse the city of the spotless virgin goddess Pallas, and to prefer the olive* to every other leaf that is gathered. Many a one, in honour of Juno, celebrates Argos, productive of generous horses, and rich Mycenæ. Neither patient Lacedæmon so much struck me (or my fancy,) neither so much did the plain of fertile Larissa, as the house of resounding Albuneat and the precipitately
* The favourite tree of Pallas.
+ His house at Tibur near the lake of Albunea. Towns or houses situated on rivers, lakes, &c., were called by the ancients, the towns or houses of those rivers, fc. A great way round the lake of Albunea, the earth sounds hollow under the feet, which probably gave occasion to the epithet, resounding here made use of. See Spence's Polym.