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Ode I


A dedication of the first three books of the Odes to Maecenas. The first Epode, the first Satire, and the first Epistle are addressed to the same patron and friend. Cf. Class. Dict.; Gardthausen, Augustus und Seine Zeit, 2. 432 sqq.; Merivale, 3. 214-16.

Various are the pursuits of men,—athletics, politics, agriculture, commerce, epicurean ease, war, the chase. Me the poet's ivy and the muse's cool retreats delight. Rank me with the lyrists of Greece, and I shall indeed 'knock at a star with my exalted head.'

Being the dedication, it was probably among the last of the odes of the first three books to be written. The collection was published in 23 B.C.

For similar Apology for Poetry, cf. Sat. 2. 1. 24; Propert. 4. 8; Verg. G. 2. 475 sqq.; Pind. fr. 221; Solon, fr. 13 (4) 43 sqq.

Translated by Broome, Johnson's Poets, 12. 18; by Boyse, ibid. 14. 528; imitated by Blacklock, ibid. 18. 183.


Maecēnas: Caius Cilnius Maecenas, for a long time the Emperor Augustus' chief adviser, and a distinguished patron of literature. Not only Horace but Vergil, Propertius, and others profited by his patronage. Some of his ancestors were said to have been lucumōnes (chiefs) of Arretium, hence the use of regibus here. The Augustan poets are fond of dwelling in this way on the contrast between Maecenas' half-royal descent and his modesty in remaining a knight and declining promotion to the Senate. Cf. 3. 29. 1; Sat. 1. 6. 1; Propert. 4. 8. 1; El. in Maec. 13, Regis eras Etrusce genus, tu Caesaris almi | dextera, Romanae tu vigil urbis eras; Martial, 12. 4. 2, Maecenas, atavis regibus ortus eques. For Maecenas as typical patron of letters, cf. Laus Pisonis, 235 sqq.; Martial, 1. 107. 3-4; 8. 56. 5, sint Maecenates; non deerunt, Flacce, Marones; 12. 4. 1-4.—atavis . . . regibus: from royal ancestors. Literally, regibus is in apposition with atavis.


O et: for non-elision of O, cf. 1. 35. 38; 4. 5. 37.—praesidium: cf. Lucret. 3. 895, tuisque praesidium.—dulce: cf. Epist. 1. 7. 12, dulcis amice. For alliteration, cf. 3. 2. 13; 3. 9. 10; 4. 1. 4; 4. 5. 12; 4. 6. 27.—decus: cf. 2. 17. 4; Verg. G. 2. 40.—meum: to me.


sunt quos . . . iuvat: there are some whom it delights. On est qui, etc., with indic. or subj., cf. Hale, Cum Constructions, p.112: 'In poetry we may often doubt whether a given variation . . . is due to a definite meaning or to a love of the archaic or the unusual; but in est qui non curat (Epp. 2. 2. 182), and est qui nec spernit (Od. 1. 1. 19-21), Horace would seem to have himself in mind. In est ubi peccat (Epp. 2. 1. 63) he must be archaizing.'—curriculo: curru, with the chariot, rather than in the course.—Olympicum: The Olympic Games were the most famous of the national festivals of Greece. They were held every fourth year at Olympia in the south of Elis. Here Olympicum is typical for Greek games generally. Cf. labor Isthmius, 4. 3. 3.


collegisse: cf. 1. 34. 16; 3. 4. 52. The perfect may keep its force, but often in Latin poetry it is a mere trick of style. See Howard, in Harvard Studies, I., p.111.—meta . . . rotis: the pillar grazed by the glowing wheels. At each end of the Greek hippodrome, as in the Roman circus, there was a meta, pillar, turning post, around which the chariots were driven. The skillful driver turned it as closely as possible to keep the inside track. Cf. Il. 23. 334; Soph. El. 721; Ov. Amor. 3. 2. 12; Persius, 3. 68.—palma: a palm branch, carried in the hand in token of victory, did not make its appearance in Greece until about 400 B.C. It was established in Campania before the end of the fourth century, and was introduced into Rome in 293 B.C. (Livy, 10. 47). See Tarbell in Class. Phil. III (1908), 264 ff. Cf. Epist. 1. 1. 51.—nobilis: i.e. ennobling.


terrarum . . . deos: exalts (them, i.e. the victors in the chariot races) to the gods the rulers of the world. Cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 130, evexit ad aethera virtus.


hunc: this one, i.e. the man who has political ambition; sc. iuvat.—mobilium: fickle. Cf. Epist. 1. 19. 37, ventosae plebis suffragia; Cic. pro Mur. 35; Tac. Ann. 1. 15.


tergeminis: triple; the curule aedileship, the praetorship, and the consulship.—honoribus: abl. instr. Cf. Tac. Ann. 1. 3.


illum, the rich landowner; sc. iuvat.—proprio: his own; not as agent or lowly factor for another's gain. Cf. 3. 16. 27, meis.


Libycis: Libya, in North Africa, was at this time the chief source of Rome's grain supply. It was proverbial for its fertility. For similar periphrasis for farmer's wealth, cf. 3. 16. 26; Sat. 2. 3. 87, frumenti quantum metit Africa; Sen. Thyest. 356, non quidquid Libycis terit | fervens area messibus.—verritur areis: after the grain has been trampled and winnowed on the concrete threshing floor (area), it is swept up (verritur).


gaudentem: one whose joy it is. The reference is to the humble cultivator of a petty ancestral property, who lacks enterprise to depart from his father's footsteps.—patrios: cf. paterna rura, Epod. 2. 3.—sarculo: hoeing suggests the little field better than plowing.


Attalicis condicionibus: by terms such as an Attalus could offer. The wealth of the Attalids, kings of Pergamon in Asia Minor, was proverbial. Attalus III. made the Romans his heir B.C. 133. His treasures impressed them somewhat as those of Charles of Burgundy did the rude Swiss who defeated him at Granson and Morat. Cf. 2. 18. 5, Otto, Sprichwörter der Römer, p. 44.


numquam dimoveas ut: you could never induce to.—trabe Cypria, in a Cyprian bark. Trabs, beam, is used here by metonymy for ship. Cf. Verg. Aen. 3. 191; Catull. 4. 3; Pind. Pyth. 4. 27. Cyprus, a large island in the E. Mediterranean, was famous for its timber and merchandise (3. 29. 60; Pliny, N.H. 16. 203), and it was boasted that Cyprus could build a ship from keel to mast-top from its own resources (Ammian. Marc. 14. 8. 14).


Myrtoum: the western Aegean, south of Euboea, named from the little island Myrto. Horace uses the specific epithets Cypria and Myrtoum because they are more vivid and poetic than vague general terms would be. Cf. Icariis in the next line, and mari Hadriano for any sea in 1. 16. 4.—pavidus:ancient sailors were conventionally 'timid' (1. 14. 14; 1. 3. 12. n.). The petty farmer turned sailor would be especially so.—secet: so τέμνειν.


luctantem . . . fluctibus: Horace construes verbs of difference and strife with dat. For thought, cf. 'As each with other | Wrestle the wind and the unreluctant sea,' Swinb. Mater Triumphalis.—Icariis: the name given to that part of the Aegean east of Myrtoum mare, so called from the island Icaria.—Africum: Africus, the S.W. wind.


mercator: trader, ἔμποπος. Cf. 3. 24. 41. n.—metuens: a temporary mood; with gen. (3. 19. 16; 3. 24. 22), a permanent characteristic.—otium: repose, i.e. the quiet life. Cf. 2. 16. 1.


laudat: sc. as happy. Sat. 1. 1. 39.—rura: the fields about, the ager attached to.—mox: soon; so with abrupt asyndeton, 4. 14. 14. Love of gain, κέρδος ἀελλομάχον (Anth. Pal. 7. 586), soon makes him defy the winds.


quassas: shattered. Cf. 4. 8. 32.—indocilis, etc.: Herrick, 106, 'those desp'rate cares, | Th' industrious Merchant has; who for to find | Gold runneth to the Western Inde [cf. 3. 24. 41. n.], | And back again (tortur'd with fears) doth fly, | Untaught to suffer Poverty.'—pauperiem pati recurs, 3. 2. 1; 4. 9. 49. Cf. 3. 16. 37. n.


est qui: cf. Epp. 2. 2. 182, Sunt qui non habeant (indefinite), est qui (pretty plainly pointing to one that shall be nameless) non curat habere.—Massici: Massicum or Massicum vinum, a famous wine from the vineyards of Massicus, a mountain in Campania.


solido . . . de die: from the solid day, i.e. what should be the unbroken business hours up to about 3 P.M. Sen. Ep. 83. 2, hodiernus dies solidus est; nemo ex illo quicquam mihi eripuit. Cf. 2. 7. 6. n.


viridi: (ever) green.—membra . . . stratus: reclining; lit., stretched as to his limbs, Greek accusative; cf. G. L. 338; A. G. 397. b; H. 416; Lucret. 2. 29, inter se prostrati in gramine molli | propter aquae rivum, etc.—arbuto: a flowering shrub with evergreen leaves.


lene: gentle. Cf. Epode 2. 28.—caput: cf. sacrum caput amnis, Verg. G. 4. 319.—sacrae: the fountain-heads of streams were generally sacred to some divinity; see on 3. 13.


lituo: with the clarion. The lituus was the cavalry trumpet curved at the end. The tuba, the trumpet of the infantry, was straight.


matribus: dat. of agent. Cf. Epode 16. 8; 2. 1. 31.


manet: all night, like the hunter in Sat. 2. 3. 234, In nive Lucana dormis ocreatus, ut aprum | cenem ego.—sub Iove frigido: under the cold sky. Zeus, Dyaus, Jupiter go back to a root div or diu, 'the bright (sky).' A consciousness of this survived in many Greek and Latin phrases, and was revived by pantheistic utterances of the poets. Cf. 1. 34. 5. n.; 1. 18. 13; 1. 22. 20; 3. 2. 6, sub divo; 3. 10. 8; Epode 13. 2; Lucret. 4. 209, sub diu; Ov. Fast. 3. 527; Verg. Ecl. 7. 60; Il. 5. 91, Διὸς ὄμβρος; the Athenian prayer, ὗσον, ὗσον φίλε Ζεῦ, Marc. Aurel. 5. 7; Ennius, Sat. 41 (ed. Müller), Istic est is lovi' pater quem dico, quem Graeci vocant aerem, etc.; Aesch, fr. 70.


seu . . . seu: cf. A. G. 324. f; G. L. 496. 2. The result is the same whatever the game.—visa est: ἐφάνη.


teretes . . . plăgas, close-twisted nets; Epode 2. 32. For boar-hunting, cf. 3. 12. 11; Epp. 1. 6. 57.—Marsus: Marsian. The country of the Marsi, a mountainous district in the center of Italy, abounded in game.


me: for antithetic emphasis, cf. Milt. P. L. 9, 'Me of these | Nor skill'd nor studious,' etc.; Tenn. Alcaics, 'Me rather all that bowery loneliness,' etc. Cf. 1. 5. 13; 1. 31. 15; 1. 7. 10; 2. 12. 13; 4. 1. 29; 2. 17. 13.—doctarum: learned, or lettered, but more especially poetic: cum apud Graecos antiquissimum e doctis genus sit poetarum, Cic. Tusc. 1. 3. Early man thinks rather (so Ruskin moralizes) of the knowledge than of the art of the poet. Cf. the comment of Gorgo, Theoc. 15. 145-146. So σοφός in Pindar; doctus, Tibull. (?) 3. 6. 41, etc.—hederae: the ivy of Bacchus as well as the laurel of Phoebus crowned the poet as cliens Bacchi, Epist. 2. 2. 78. Cf. Epist. 1. 3. 25; Juv. 7. 29; Ben Jonson, 'To come forth worth the ivy or the bays'; Propert. 2. 5. 25; Ov. Trist. 1. 7. 2; Verg. Ecl. 7. 25.


miscent: make me one of; cf. Pindar's free use of μίγνυμι, Isth. 2. 29.—gelidum nemus: the traditional 'green retreats' of the poet. Cf. 3. 4. 8; 3. 25. 13; 4. 3. 10; Epist. 2. 2. 77; Verg. G. 2. 488; Tac. Dial. 12, nemora vero et luci et secretum ipsum, etc.


Cf. 2. 19. 3-4.—chori: dances. Cf. 1. 4. 5; 2. 12. 17; 3. 4. 25; 4. 3. 15; 4. 7. 6; 4. 14. 21.


secernunt: set apart (se-cernunt), make a dedicated spirit.—si: modest condition—if only the muse be gracious.—tibias: flutes, two played together. Cf. 1. 12. 1; 3. 4. 1.


Euterpe and Polyhymnia here represent all branches of lyric poetry . The departments of the nine Muses are not sharply defined in Horace.


Lesboum: the island of Lesbos, off the coast of Asia Minor in the northeastern part of the Aegean, was the birthplace of Alcaeus and Sappho and other famous Greek lyric poets. Cf. 3. 30. 13. n.; 4. 3. 12. n.—tendere: Herrick, 333, 'Aske me, why I do not sing | To the tension of the string.'


quod si, etc.: but if you rank me with the nine Greek lyric poets of the canon. Wordsworth, Personal Talk, 4, 'The Poets—Oh might my name be numbered among theirs.'—inseris: ἐγκρίνεις. 2. 5. 21; 3. 25. 6.


Proverbial. Cf. Otto, p. 63; Ov. Met. 7. 61, vertice sidera tangam; Ben Jonson, Sejanus, 5. 1, 'And at each step I feel my advanced head | Knock out a star in heaven'; Herrick, 'And once more yet (ere I am laid out dead) | Knock at a star with my exalted head.'


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  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Cicero, For Lucius Murena, 35
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.475
    • Seneca, Thyestes, 356
    • Persius, Saturae, 3
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