Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

ODE XVI.

TO GROSPHUS.

O GROSPHUS, he that is caught in the wide Ægean Sea, when a black tempest has obscured the moon, and not a star appears with steady light for the mariners, supplicates the gods for repose for repose, Thrace furious in war; the quiver-graced Medes, for repose neither purchaseable by jewels, nor by purple, nor by gold. For neither regal treasures nor the consul's officer can remove 60 the wretched tumults of the mind, nor the cares that hover about splendid ceilings. That man lives happily on a little, who can view with pleasure the oldfashioned family salt-cellar on his frugal board; neither anxiety nor sordid avarice robs him of gentle sleep. Why do we, brave for a short season, aim at many things? Why do we change our own for climates heated by another sun? Who ever, by becoming an exile from his country, escaped likewise from himself? Consuming care boards even brazen-beaked ships; nor does it quit the troops of horsemen, for it is more fleet than the stags, more fleet than the storm-driving east wind. A mind that is cheerful in its present state, will disdain to be solicitous any further, and can correct the bitters of life with a placid smile. Nothing is on all hands completely blessed. A premature death carried off the celebrated Achilles; a protracted old age wore down Tithonus; and time perhaps may extend to me, what it shall deny to you. Around you a hundred flocks bleat, and Sicilian heifers low; for your use the mare, fit for the harness,61 neighs; wool doubly dipped in the African purple-dye clothes you: on me undeceitful fate has bestowed a small country estate, and the slight inspiration of the Grecian muse, and a contempt for the malignity of the vulgar.

60 One part of the lictor's office was, to remove the crowd, and open a way for the magistrates; from whence the poet hath taken this beautiful image. DAC.

61 Apta quadrigis, "Born for the chariot." The poet merely wishes to express the generous properties of the animal. The ancients gave the preference in respect of swiftness to mares. The term quadrigæ properly denotes a chariot drawn by four horses, or mares. The Romans always yoked the animals that drew their race-chariots abreast.

ODE XVII.

62 TO MÆCENAS.

WHY dost thou kill me with thy complaints? 'Tis neither agreeable to the gods, nor to me, that thou shouldest depart first, O Mæcenas, thou grand ornament and pillar of my affairs. Alas! if an untimely blow hurry away thee, a part of my soul, why do I the other moiety remain, my value lost, nor any longer whole? That [fatal] day shall bring destruction upon us both. I have by no means taken a false oath: 63 we will go, we will

go, whenever thou shalt lead the way, prepared to be fellowtravellers in the last journey. Me nor the breath of the fiery Chimæra, nor hundred-handed Gyges, were he to rise again, shall ever tear from thee: such is the will of powerful Justice, and of the Fates. Whether Libra or malignant Scorpio had the ascendant at my natal hour, or Capricorn the ruler of the western wave, our horoscopes agree in a won

64

62 The constitution of Mæcenas, naturally weak, had been impaired by effeminacy and luxurious living. "He had laboured," observes Mr. Dunlop, "from his youth under a perpetual fever; and for many years before his death he suffered much from watchfulness, which was greatly aggravated by his domestic chagrins. Mæcenas was fond of life and enjoyment; and of life even without enjoyment. He confesses, in some verses preserved by Seneca, that he would wish to live even under every accumulation of physical calamity. (Seneca Epist. 101.) Hence he anxiously resorted to different remedies for the cure or relief of this distressing malady. Wine, soft music sounding at a distance, and various other contrivances, were contrived in vain. At length Antonius Musa, the im perial physician, obtained for him some alleviation of his complaint by means of the distant murmuring of falling water. But all these resources at last failed. The nervous and feverish disorder with which he was afflicted increased so dreadfully, that for three years before his death ho never closed his eyes." (History of Roman Literature, vol. iii. p. 42, Lond. ed.) ANTHON.

63 Perfidum Sacramentum. Horace alludes here to an oath of fidelity taken by soldiers when they were enlisted, and although there be not a formal oath expressed, yet it is included in

Ille dies utramque
Ducet ruinam.

CRUQ. DAC.

64 Pars violentior natalis horæ. Pars here signifies what the Greeks call μopa, that part of the sign which appears above the horizon at the moment of birth; for every sign is divided into several parts, which make as many horoscopes, called by the poet Natales Hora.

DAC.

derful manner. Thee the benign protection of Jupiter, shining with friendly aspect, rescued from the baleful influence of impious Saturn, and retarded the wings of precipitate destiny, at the time the crowded people with resounding applauses thrice hailed you in the theatre: me the trunk of a tree, falling upon my skull, would have despatched, had not Faunus, the protector of men of genius, with his right hand warded off the blow. Be thou mindful to pay the victims and the votive temple; I will sacrifice an humble lamb.

ODE XVIII.

AGAINST AVARICE AND LUXURY.

NOR ivory, nor a fretted ceiling adorned with gold, glitters in my house: no Hymettian beams 65 rest upon pillars cut out of the extreme parts of Africa; nor, a pretended heir, have I possessed myself of the palace of Attalus,66 nor do ladies, my dependants, spin Laconian purple for my use. But integrity, and a liberal vein of genius, are mine: and the man of fortune makes his court to me, who am but poor. I importune the gods no further, nor do I require of my friend in power any larger enjoyments, sufficiently happy with my Sabine farm alone. Day is driven on by day, and the new moons hasten to their wane. You put out marble to be hewn, though with one foot in the grave; and, unmindful of a sepulchre, are building houses; and are busy to extend the shore of the sea, that beats with violence at Baiæ,67 not rich enough with 65 Architraves, formed of the white marble of Hymettus, a mountain near Athens.

ORELLI.

66 The old commentators and Cruquius imagine, that there is a stroke of satire here, by which the poet would insinuate, that the Roman people had fraudulently obtained the will by which Attalus made them his heirs. But this unknown heir was undoubtedly Aristonicus, who, after the death of Attalus, seized upon the throne, defeated Licinius Crassus, and being conquered by Perpenna, was carried to Rome, and strangled in prison by order of the senate. TORR.

67 Baiæ, a city of Campania, near the sea, situated between Puteol and Picenum. People were fond of building here, because of the beauty of the place. Here are many hot waters, pleasant and wholesome WATSON.

the shore of the main-land. Why is it, that through avarice you even pluck up the landmarks of your neighbour's ground, and trespass beyond the bounds of your clients; and wife and husband are turned out, bearing in their bosom their household gods and their destitute children? Nevertheless, no court more certainly awaits its wealthy lord, than the destined limit of rapacious Pluto. Why do you go on? The impartial earth is opened equally to the poor and to the sons of kings; nor has the life-guard ferryman of hell, bribed with gold, re-conlucted the artful Prometheus. He confines proud Tantalus, and the race of Tantalus; he condescends, whether invoked or not, to relieve the poor freed from their labours.

ODE XIX.

ON BACCHUS.

A DITHYRAMBIC, OR DRINKING SONG.

I SAW Bacchus (believe it, posterity) dictating strains among the remote rocks, and the nymphs learning them, and the ears of the goat-footed satyrs all attentive. Evo! my mind trembles with recent dread, and my soul, replete with Bacchus,68 has a tumultuous joy. Eve! 69 spare me, Bacchus; spare me, thou who art formidable for thy dreadful thyrsus. It is granted me to sing the wanton Bacchanalian priestess, and the fountain of wine, and rivulets flowing with milk, and to tell again of the honeys distilling from the hollow trunks. It is granted me likewise to celebrate the honour added to the constellations by your happy spouse,70 and the palace of Pen

68 Bacchus, the son of Jupiter by Semele. He was taken out of his mother, and sewed into Jupiter's thigh till ripe for birth. He was the god of wine. WATSON.

69 Eve was a word used by the priests of Bacchus when they celebrated his mysteries, being taken from his name Evius, which was given by Jupiter in that war which the giants waged against heaven. WATSON.

70 Ariadne, daughter to Minos, king of Crete, who, for the love she had to Theseus, gave him a clue to guide him through the mazes of the Labyrinth. She accompanied him as far as the island Naxos, or Dionysia, where Theseus most ungratefully left her: but Bacchus, pitying her, too

theus 71 demolished with no light ruin, and the perdition of Thracian Lycurgus.72 You command the rivers, you the barbarian sea. You, moist with wine, on lonely mountain-tops bind the hair of your Thracian priestesses with a knot of vipers without hurt. You, when the impious band of giants scaled the realms of father Jupiter through the sky, repelled Rhœtus, with the paws and horrible jaw of the lion-shape [you had assumed]. Though, reported to be better fitted for dances and jokes and play, you were accounted insufficient for fight; yet it then appeared, you, the same deity, was the mediator of peace and war. Upon you, ornamented with your golden horn, Cerberus innocently gazed, gently wagging his tail; and with his triple tongue licked your feet and legs, as you returned.

ODE XX.

TO MECENAS.

At

I, A two-formed poet, will be conveyed through the liquid air with no vulgar or humble wing; nor will I loiter upon earth any longer; and, superior to envy, I will quit cities. Not I, even I, the blood of low parents, my dear Mæcenas, shall die; nor shall I be restrained by the Stygian wave. this instant a rough skin settles upon my ankles, and all upwards I am transformed into a white bird, and the downy plumage arises over my fingers and shoulders. Now, a melodious bird, more expeditious than the Dædalean Icarus, I will visit the shores of the murmuring Bosphorus, and the Gætulean Syrtes, and the Hyperborean plains. Me the Col

her into heaven, made her his wife, and presented her with a diadem, sparkling with seven stars, called Gnosia Corona. WATSON.

" Pentheus, a king of Thebes, who, for slighting the rites of Bacchus, was torn in pieces by his own mother, sisters, and aunt. WATSON.

72 Lycurgus, a king of Thrace, who, finding his people too much addicted to wine, ordered all the vines of the country to be rooted up. Justin, book iii. Therefore Bacchus made him mad; so that he cut off his own legs. There was another of the same name, the famous Spartan lawgiver. Watson.

« PoprzedniaDalej »