The Ship of State: navem pro re publica, fluctus et tempestates pro bellis civilibus, portum pro pace et concordia (Quintil. 8. 6. 44).Sellar (p.122) thinks the poem coincident with Epode 7. It might have been written at any time before the final establishment of the Empire. It is idle to carry the allegory into every detail of the ode. As Professor Tyrrell wittily says: 'Horace no more had in his mind the Mithridatic wars when he wrote Pontica pinus than Tennyson thought of the Wars of the Roses when he wrote in the Talking Oak "She left the novel half uncut upon the rose-wood shelf."'For image of Ship of State, cf. Alcaeus, fr. 18; Theog. 671; Plato, Rep. 488 A; Aeschyl. Septem. 1; Jebb on Soph. Antig. 163; Longfellow's Ship of State; William Everett, Atlantic Monthly, 1895; Speech of Maecenas, Dio. 52. 16. The ode has been prettily translated by Dobson as a 'Ballade,' 'Ship to the roadstead rolled'; by Calverly; Gilbert West, Dodsley's Poems, 2. 293,; paraphrased by Swift, Johnson's Poets, 11. 451; cf. Ode sur la situation de la République, 1794, Marie Joseph Chénier.
referent . . . te: will bear thee back.—in mare: ancient sailors hugged the shore. Cf. 2. 10. lA.
occupa portum: get to port first, i.e. anticipate, φθάνειν, the storm. Cf. Epist. 1. 6. 32, cave ne portus occupet alter. Cf. Milton's 'like a weather-beaten vessel holds | gladly the port.'
vides ut: 1. 9. 1; 3. 10. 5-8. For one verb used of both sight and sound, cf. Verg. Aen. 4. 490; Aeschyl. Prom, 21-22.
nudum: stripped; we may 'understand' sit rather than strain gemant by zeugma.—remigio: cf. remigioque carens (Ov. Met. 8. 228).
mālus.—saucius: cf. volnerata navis, Livy, 37. 24. 8; Herod. 8. 18; and Longfellow, Wreck of the Hesperus, 'But the cruel rocks, they gored her side | Like the horns of an angry bull.'
funibus: ὑποζώματα, undergirding (Acts 27. 17; Plato, Rep. 616. C). Cables were passed under the hull and then drawn taut to prevent the timbers starting.
durare: withstand. Verg. Aen. 8. 577, durare laborem.—carinae: timbers.
imperiosius: too imperious. May this have suggested Shakspeare's 'In cradle of the rude imperious surge'?
di: images of tutelary divinities at the stern. They have been washed away. Cf. Ov. Trist. 1. 4. 8, et pictos verberat unda deos; Lucan, 3. 512; Verg. Aen. 10. 171; Pers. 6. 30.—iterum pressa . . . malo: overwhelmed a second time with disaster.
quamvis . . . iactes: although . . . thou boastest.
Pontica: Pontus, a district on the south coast of the Black Sea, was famed for ship-timber (Catull. 4. 9-13).
filia: cf. Catull. 64. 1, Peliaco quondam prognatae vertice pinus; Martial, 14. 90. 1, silvae filia Maurae (of a table).—nobilis: with silvae.
inutile: unavailing. Cf. on 3. 24. 48.
pictis: Ov. Met. 6. 511, at simul imposita est pictae Philomela carinae. Cf. Verg. Aen. 7. 431, 8. 93; Sen. Ep. 76. 10.—navita: 1. 1. 14.
tu . . . cave: do thou, unless thou art destined to be the sport of the winds, beware, lit., owest sport to. Cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 75, rapidis ludibria ventis.
tu: cf. 1. 9. 16. n.
From sheer weariness and disgust at civil strife, Horace has passed to anxious solicitude for the prosperity of the new empire. 'Ship of the State before | A care and now to me | A hope in my heart's core' (Dobson).
A pretty picture at the close. Cf. 3. 28. 14, fulgentis Cycladas; Verg. Aen. 3. 126, sparsasque per aequor Cycladas; Browning, Cleon, 'the sprinkled isles, | Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea'; Dyer, The Gods in Greece, p. 365. There is a faint contrast between their white beauty and the danger.