Iccius the scholar s'en va-t-en guerre to spoil the treasures of Araby the blest, and win a fair barbarian for his bride. Streams may run uphill when Iccius sells his library for a coat of mail.Cf. Epp. 1. 12, a complimentary letter written about five years later to Iccius as steward of Agrippa's Sicilian estates. The expedition referred to is the unsuccessful campaign of Aelius Gallus in the year 25 B.C. Cf. Strabo, 16. 22; Augustus, Mon. Ancyr. 5. 13, In Arabiam usque in fines Sabaeorum processit exercitus ad Oppidum Mariba; Plin. N. H. 6. 160. For bantering tone, cf. Cicero's playful letters to his friend Trebatius, who went to seek his fortune in the camp of Caesar.
beatis: for transferred epithet, cf. 'perfumes of price | Robb'd from the happy shrubs of Araby' (William Browne, Book 2. Song 3).—nunc: i.e. after a life of study. The position italicizes in Latin. Cf. Arnold, Obermann Once More: 'And from the world, with heart opprest, | Choosest thou now to turn?'—Arabum: Arabia is alluded to as a sort of California by the Augustan poets. Cf. 2. 12. 24; 3. 24. 1; Ep. 1. 7. 36; Propert. 1. 14. 19; 3. 1. 15, India quin, Auguste, tuo dat colla triumpho | et domus intactae te tremit Arabiae. Cf. also, 'the gold of Arabia' (Ps. 72. 15); Otto, p.33, 34.
gazis: oriental coloring.—acrem militiam: fierce warfare; cf. 3. 2. 2.
non ante: 4. 14. 41.—Sabaeae: Sheba. Cf. 1 Kings 10. 1, and Milton's 'Sabaean odors from the spicy shore | Of Araby the blest.'
Medo: Iccius will subdue the entire Orient. Cf. 1, 9, Sericas.—horribili: cf. Cat. 11. 11, horribiles Britannos. The tone is that of Falstaff to Prince Hal, Hen. IV. 1. 1. 2, 4, 'Could the world pick thee out three such enemies again . . . Art thou not horribly afraid? doth not thy blood thrill at it?'
catenas: cf. the anecdotes of armies so confident of victory that they took more chains than arms into battle (Flor. 3. 7).
Avoid the ambiguity of a recent English version, 'What savage maiden having slain her lover?'
puer: page.—ex aula: royal; cf. aulicus, regius. Cf. Livy, 45. 6.—capillis: cf. Fitzgerald cited at 1. 38. 6, and Tenn. 'long-hair'd page.'
ad cyathum: as thy cup-bearer, to dip the wine from the cratera. Cf. Sueton. Caes. 49; Juv. Sat. 5. 56, flos Asiae ante ipsum; 13. 43, nec puer Iliacus, formosa nec Herculis uxor | ad cyathos; Jebb on Soph. Philoct. 197; Daniel, 1. 3. Strictly cyathus is the ladle.
doctus: Persian youth were taught τρία μοῦνα, ἱππεύειν, τοξεύειν καὶ ἀληθίζεσθαι (Hdt. 1. 136). Cf. Strabo, 15. 3. 18. Only a page of good lineage and training, one intended for a much higher position in life, will be in keeping with the magnificence to which Iccius looks forward.—tendere: shoot, but strictly applicable to the bow. So τεῖναι, Soph. Philoctet. 198. Cf. Verg. Aen. 9. 606, spicula tendere cornu; 5. 507.—Sericas: cf. 1. 12. 56. n.
Proverbial expression for reversal of order of nature.Cf. Eurip. Med. 410, ἄνω ποταμῶν ἱερῶν χωροῦσι παγαί; Suppl. 520; Cic. ad. Att. 15. 4. 1; Propert. 3. 7. 33; 4. 18. 6; Verg. Aen. 11. 405; Ov. Trist. 1. 8. 1; Her. 5. 27, cum Paris Oenone poterit spirare relicta, | Ad fontem Xanthi versa recurret aqua; ex Pont. 4. 5. 43; 4. 6. 45; Claudian. Eutrop. 1. 353; in Rufin. 1. 159; infra, Ep. 16. 28; Otto, p.139; Scott, Lay of Last Minstrel, 1. 18, 'Your mountains shall bend and your streams ascend | Ere Margaret be our foeman's bride'; Tenn., 'Against its fountain upward runs | The current of my days.'—arduis . . . relabi . . . montibus: flow back up the steep mountains; montibus, dat. whither.
pronos: by nature. Cf. 3. 27. 18; 4. 6. 39; Shelley, Witch of Atlas, 41, 'and ever down the prone vale . . . the pinnace went'; Manil. 4. 415, et pronis fugientia flumina ripis; Verg. G. 1. 203.
coemptos: 2. 3. 17.—nobilis: preferably with Panaeti.
Panaetius, a Stoic philosopher of Rhodes, friend of the younger Scipio, and author of a treatise περὶ τοῦ καθήκοντος, followed by Cicero in his De Officiis.—Socraticam domum: the Socratic school, the writings of Plato, Xenophon, and the other Socratics. Cf. Peripateticorum familia (Cic. de Divin. 2. 1); Hor. Epist. 1. 1. 13, quo me duce quo lare tuter; Sen. Ep. 29; Julian. p.259 B, καὶ τὸ Σωκράτους δωμάτιον; cf. Milt. P. R. 4, 'Socrates . . . from whose mouth issued forth | Mellifluous streams that water'd all the schools,' etc.
mutare: cf. 1. 16. 26. n.—Hiberis: cf. Shaks. Othello, 5. 2,'It is a sword of Spain, the ice-brook's temper.'
pollicitus: cf. 1. 15. 32.—tendis: art intending; cf. Epp. 1. 19. 16, tenditque disertus haberi.