previous next


Ode XII


What man, what hero, what god shall we sing, O Clio, while echo repeats his name in the fabled haunts of the Muses? Of gods, the All-father first, then Pallas, Diana, Liber, Phoebus. Of heroes, Hercules, Castor, Pollux. Of men, Romulus and the worthies whose virtues and sacrifices built up the Empire of Rome. Brightest in the constellation of glory shines the Julian star. Augustus, conqueror of the Orient, reigns on earth the vicegerent of Jove in heaven.

The date seems fixed by l. 46 to some time between the death of Marcellus, in B.C. 23, and the announcement of his marriage to Julia, which took place B.C. 25.

Translated by Pitt, Johnson's Poets, 12. 381.


quem virum, etc.: taken from Pindar's τίνα θεόν, τίϝ¹ ἥρωα, τίνα δ¹ ἄνδρα κελαδήσομεν; (O. 2. 2). The attempts to trace further a spiritual resemblance between the two odes are fanciful.—heroa: demigod.—lyra is Greek, tibia Roman, but we need not press the distinction; cf. on 1. 1. 32.—acri: Quintil. 8. 2. 9 cites the epithet as a proprium. Cf. 'ear-piercing fife.' λιγείῃ, Il. 9. 186.


sumis: dost thou choose; so sumite materiem (A. P. 38; Epp. 1. 3. 7).—celebrare: celebrandum in normal prose. G. L. 421. 1. b.—Clio was later the Muse of history For Horace's free use of the names of the Muses, cf. on 1. 1. 33; 1. 24. 3. His attitude is similar to that of the Alexandrianpoet, Rhianus, πᾶσαι δ¹ εἰσαίουσι, μιῆς ὄτε τ οὔνομα λέξεις.


recinet: give back.—iocosa: because it seems to mock.


imago: cf. 1. 20. 6. Imago alone may = ἠχώ; Varro, R. R. 3. 16. 12; Verg. G. 4. 50, saxa sonant vocisque offensa resultat imago; Lucret. 4. 571, imagine verbi. Cf. Words. Power of Sound, 'Ye voices and ye shadows and images of voice.' On echo, cf. further, Ov. Met. 3. 356; Eurip. Hec. 1111; Soph. Philoctet. 186; Aristoph. Thesm. 1059; Daniel, 'Echo, daughter of the air, | Babbling guest of rocks and hills'; Shaks. Twelfth Night, 1. 5, 'And make the babbling gossip of the air | Cry out Olivia'; Shelley, Adonais, 15.


oris: on the borders; cf. 2. 9. 4. Mt. Helicon, in Boeotia, was one of the seats of the worship of the Muses. Horace is thinking of the Boeotian or Hesiodic school of poetry, and there are touches that suggest the vision of the Muses in Hes. Theog. 1-10 sqq., so exquisitely imitated in the last song of Callicles, in Arnold's Empedocles.


Pindo: Mt. Pindus, between Thessaly and Epirus, also connected with the cult of the Muses; cf. Verg. Ecl. 10. 11.—Haemo: Mt. Haemus, in Thrace, an earlier seat of the Muses, and the tradition of Orpheus. Cf. Verg. G. 2. 488, O, qui me gelidis convallibus Haemi | sistat.


unde: from Haemus.—temere: blindly, in mad rout; 2. 11. 14.


Orphea: legendary singer of Thrace, a symbol of the charms of music 'to soothe a savage breast, | To soften rocks or bend a knotted oak.' Cf. Simon. fr. 40; Aeschyl. Ag. 1629; Eurip. Bacchae, 562; Iph. Aul. 1211, etc.; Anth. Pal. 7. 8; Apoll. Rhod. 1. 26; Ov. Met. 11. 44-46; Hor. Epp. 2. 3. 392; Shaks. Henry VIII. 3. 1, M. of V. 5. 1; Dryden, St. Cecilia, 'Orpheus could lead the savage race, | And trees unrooted left their place Sequacious of the lyre'; Tenn. Amphion; Dobson, A Case of Cameos, Sardonyx; Words. Power of Music. Cf. aso on 1. 24. 13; 3. 11. 13.


materna: tradition made the Muse Calliope the mother of Orpheus. Verg. Ecl. 4. 57. Cf. fraterna, 1. 21. 12.—morantem: 3. 11. 14, morari. Cf. 'Thyrsis, whose artful strains have oft delayed | The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,' Milton, Comus; Sen. Here. Fur. 577, ars quae praebuerat fluminibus moras; Verg. Ecl. 8. 4.


lapsus: flow; cf. Milton's 'liquid lapse of murmuring streams,' and his 'smooth-sliding Mincius'; Horace's labitur et labetur; Epode 2. 25, labuntur.


blandum et: and having charm to; Cf. 1. 24. 13; 3. 11. 15; 4. 1. 8; Propert. 1. 8. 40, blandi carminis obsequio.—auritas ducere quercus: auritas is proleptic: to give ears to the oaks and lead them. Tyrrell, Latin Poetry, p. 184, says that 'long-eared oaks' is a 'strange deviation from the lyrical manner.' Cf. Verg. G. 1. 308, auritos lepores. But cf. Plaut. Asin. Prol. 4,face nunc iam . . . omnem auritum populum”; Manilius, 5. 322, et sensus scopulis et silvis addidit aures; Milton, 'that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard | In Rhodope where woods and rocks had ears | To rapture.'—fidibus canoris: with melodious strings; Verg. Aen. 6. 120, Threicia fretus cithara fidibusque canoris.


solitis: the customary ab Iove principium (Verg. Ecl.3. 60), the ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα of Greek poetry; Arat. Phaen. 1; Pind. Nem. 2. 1. Cf. 'The Song began from Jove,' Dryden, Alexander's Feast.—parentis: the same designation of Jupiter is used in 2. 19. 21; cf. Arnold, Empedocles, 'First hymn they the father | Of all things; and then, | The rest of immortals, | The action of men'; Hesiod, Theog. 16-18. Cf. 3. 4. 45; Verg. Aen. 1. 230.


mundum: the universe, and more specifically the heavens. Cf. Munro on Lucret. 1. 73.


temperat: governs, preserves the harmonious order cf. Cf. 3. 4. 45; Epp. 1. 12. 16; Propert. 4. 4. 26, quis deus hanc mundi temperat arte domum; Ovid, cited on 1. 49; Pausan. 1. 40. 4.—horis: seasons. Cf. 3. 13. 9; A. P. 302.


unde: ex quo. Cf.1. 28. 28; 2. 12. 7; Sat.1. 6. 12; 2. 6. 21. So the Deity in Milton, 'For none I know | Second to me or like, equal much less.'


secundum: cf. Quintil. 10. 1. 53, ut plane manifesto appareat quanto sit aliud proximum esse, aliud secundum; i.e. close following (sequor). Cf. Verg. Aen. 5. 320. Hence tamen is to be taken closely with proximus.


occupavit = obtinet. Some read occupabit.


Pallas: she is in Homer second only to Zeus. Hesiod says her power is equal to her sire's, Theog. 896. In Aesehylus (Eumen. 826) she boasts that she alone knows the keys of the chambers of the thunder-bolt. Cf. Callim. Hymn 5. 132-133.


proellis audax: with Pallas, Ἀθηνά νικαφόρος πρόμαχος. Others put a period after honores, and take proeliis audax with Liber. This is possible, Liber being conceived as the Greek Baechus (ef. 2. 19. 28), but the position of neque would be unusual.


Virgo: vocative; Diana, the goddess of the chase. Cf. on cohibentis arcu, 4. 6. 34; Theog. 11, Ἄρτεμι, Θηροφόνη.


certa . . . sagitta: the reference is to Apollo's slaying the python; Ov. Met. 1. 438 sqq. Cf. Catull. 68. 113; Byron, Childe Harold, 4. 161, 'The lord of the unerring bow.'


After the gods come the demi-gods.—Alciden: Hercules, grandson of Alceus.—puerosque Ledae: Castor (hunc) and Pollux (illum); cf. 11. 3. 237, Κάστορά θ¹ ἱππόδαμον καὶ πὺζ ἀγαθὸν Πολυδεύκεα; Sat. 2. 1. 26, Castor gaudet equis, ovo prognatus eodem | pugnis.


superare . . . nobilem: famous for victories.—pugnis: with his fists, from pugnus.


quorum: when their.—sirnul (ac): 1. 9. 9.


alba . . stelia: cf. on 1. 3. 2.


refulsit: cf. on 2. 17. 23.


Cf. Theoc. 22. 15; note position of verbs: back from the rocks streamsdown die the windsaway flee the clouds. Cf. Tenn. Locksley Hall, 'Droops the heavy-blossomed bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree.'—agitatus humor: wind-blown spray, or 'wind-shaked surge' (Othello, 2. 1).


concidunt: cf. Verg. Aen. 1. 154, sic cunctus pelagi cecidit fragor.


et: joins (29+30) to 31, 32.—quod sic voluere: because they (i.e. Castor and Pollux) have willed it so, parenthetical formula of submission to or recognition of the inscrutable divine power. Cf. 1. 33. 10; 11. 1. 5. Some read sic di.


recumbit: subsides. Sen. Thyest. 589, mitius stagno pelagus recumbit.33 sqq. Famous Romans. Construe dubito (utrum) post hos Romulum prius memorem an, etc.


quietum: the peaceful reign of Numa Pompilius established the religious and civil traditions of Rome. Cf. Livy,1. 21. 6.


Tarquini . . . Catonis: the last king and the last republican. Proud fasces of Tarquin = rule of Tarquin the Proud—Superbus. Cf. Cic. Phil. 3. 9, Tarquinius . . . non crudelis . . . sed superbus habitus est et dictus. His reign was splendid on the whole, despite its disgraceful close. Macaulay, Virginia, 'He stalked along the Forum like King Tarquin in his pride.'—dubito: the throng of great memories crowds on the soul of the bard. Cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 842-845.


nobile letum: his suicide at Utica, which gave him the epithet Uticensis, and made him the idol of declaimers. Cf. on 2. 1. 24.


Regulum: cf. on 3. 5. 13 sqq.—Scauros: Niebuhr says he never could understand why Horace placed Scaurus in this roll of honor. See the character of M. Aemilius Scaurus, Sall. Jug. 15. Cicero often praises him. Cf. Juv. 11. 90. The reference is perhaps to the story of M. Scaurus, lumen ac decus patriae (Valer. Max. 5. 8. 4), whose stern rebuke to his son for joining the rout in the defeat of Catulus by the Cimbri drove the young man to suicide.


L. Aemilius Paullus sought voluntary death on the field of Cannae (B.C. 216), lost by the rashness of his colleague in the consulship, Terentius Varro. Cf. Livy, 22. 49. For prodigum cf. Ov. Am. 3. 9. 64, sanguinis atque animae prodige Galle tuae.—Poeno: i.e. Hannibal.


gratus: in grateful memory, or merely pleasing. Cf. Martial, 4. 55. 10, grato non pudeat referre versu.—insigni . . . camena: in lofty strain; others think insigni = quae reddit insignes. Cf. 3. 25. 7, dicam insigne.—camena: the Romans identified the Camenae with the Muses, and frequently used the singular camena for poem or song.: 2. 16. 38; 3. 4. 21; 4. 6. 27; 4. 9. 8.

40 sqq. Cf. Milton, P. R., 'Canst thou not remember | Quintus, Fabricius, Curius, Regulus? | For I esteem those names of men so poor, | Who could do mighty things.' The constancy of Fabricius, whom King Pyrrhus' gold could not seduce nor his 'big beast' terrify, is in all the copy books. Cf. Cic. de Off. 3. 22; Plut. Pyrrhus. For M' Curius Dentatus, consul 275, who defeated Pyrrhus at Beneventum, cf. Macaulay, cited on Epode 9. 24. Camillus took Veii and delivered Rome from the Gauls (3. 90). The names of all three were proverbial to point a moral. Cf. Otto, Sprichwörter der Romer, s.v. Cf. Martial, 1. 24. 3; Juv. 2. 3.


incomptis: Quintil. (9. 3. 18) quotes this line. There were no barbers at Rome till after B.C. 300. intonsis is read. Cf. on 2. 15. 11.


utilem: belongs to all these names. Cf. Eurip. Suppl.887, πόλει παρασχεῖν σῶμα χρήσιμον θέλει; Ov. Met. 14. 321, utilium bello . . . equorum; Soph. Ajax, 410.—tulit: bred.


paupertas: cf. 3. 2. 1; 3. 24. 42.—apto: the dwelling matches the modesty of the little ancestral farm.


crescit . . . aevo: grows like a tree with age unmarked; cf. Shakspeare 's 'unseen, yet crescive in his faculty'; Anth. Pal. 7. 564. 3, ἀνωίστοιο χρόνοιο; Ov. Met. 10. 519, labitur occulte fallitque volatilis aetas. Nauck, however, takes it of a tree whose roots go back to unknown antiquity, Kiessling of growth towards an unknown future! For the comparison of tree and family, cf. Pind. Nem. 8. 40.


Horace, like Vergil (Aen. 6. 860), blends the name and fame of M. Claudius Marcellus, who took Syracuse B.C. 212, with that of the young Marcellus, son of Octavia, husband of the emperor's daughter Julia, whose premature death B.C. 23 was so much deplored. Cf. Propert. 4. 17. 15; Gardthausen, 2. 399 sqq.—micat: cf. Ov. Trist. 5. 3. 41, sic micet aeternum vicinaque sidera vincat.


Iulium sidus: cf. Verg. Ecl. 9. 47, ecce Dionaei processit Caesaris astrum. A comet appeared after the death of Julius Caesar. Cf. Pliny, N. H. 2. 93. There is a reference also to the glory of the Julian house as represented by Augustus.—ignis: 'Doubt that the stars are fire,' says Hamlet; 'cold fires,' Tennyson calls them.


minores: Epode 15. 2. Cf. Sir H. Wotton, 'You common people of the skies, | What are you, when the moon shall rise?' Cf. Claudian's expansion of the image, In. Prob. et Olybr. Con. 22 sqq.; Sappho, fr. 3; Bacchylides, 9. 28.

49 sqq. Jupiter in heaven, Augustus on earth. Cf. Ov. Met.15. 858, Iuppiter arces | temperat aetherias et mundi regna triformis: | Terra sub Augusto: pater est et rector uterque.—custos: 4. 5. 2; 4. 15. 17.—orte Saturno: son of Saturn.


seu . . . sive: marking divers alternatives that lead to one conclusion. Cf. 4. 2. 10; 1. 1. 27; 1. 4. 12; 1. 16. 3; 2. 3. 5; 1. 7. 20; 2. 14. 11; 2. 17. 17; 3. 4. 22; 3. 21. 2.


Latio imminentis: (now) threatening Latium; cf. on 3. 6. 9. horace exaggerates the danger.


egerit: the captives preceded the chariot of the triumphator. Cf. on 4. 2. 34.


subiectos . . . orae: along the border of the East. Cf. Tenn. Tiresias, 'All the lands that lie | Subjected to the Heliconian ridge.'


Seras: the Seres were a people of Eastern Asia (modern Chinese), known to the Romans chiefly through their fabrics of silk. Cf. 1. 2. 22. n.; 4. 15. 23; 3. 29. 27; 4. 14. 42.


te minor: subordinate to thee; 3. 6. 5.


parum castis: desecrated, polluted, by homicide or other crime. The stroke of the lightning was sufficient proof of the fact and required expiation (Preller-Jordan, 1. 193).


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plautus, Asinaria, prologue.0
    • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Or what you will, 1.5
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: