Song of triumph over the fall of Antony and Cleopatra. Written apparently in the autumn of B.C. 30, when the news of Cleopatra's suicide reached Rome.Cf. on Epodes. 1 and 9; Dio. 51. 6-15; Merivale, 3. 270-276; Propert. 4. 10. 30 sqq.; 5. 6. 63 sqq.; Verg. Aen. 8. 675. The name of Antony is ignored, as it was in the declaration of war against Egypt and in the triumph.The first two lines imitate Alcaeus' song over the death of the tyrant Myrsilus: νῦν χρὴ μεθύσθην καί τινα πρὸς βίαν | πίνην ἐπειδὴ κάτθανε Μυρσίλος; fr. 20. One of the earliest poems in Alcaic meter, as shown perhaps by metrical harshness of 5 and 14.
pede libero: cf. 3. 18. 15; 1. 4. 7; Catull. 61. 14, pelle humurn pedibus. But libero also suggests liberation from fear of the enemy. Cf. Hector's κρητῆρα ἐλεύθερον, Il. 6. 528; Aesch. Ag. 328.
Saliaribus: Salian, i.e. as magnificent as those of the Salii, the priests of Mars, the luxury of whose banquets was proverbial. Cf. 2. 14. 28, pontificum. Cf. 1. 30. 12; Otto, p. 306.
pulvinar: couch. The reference is to the ceremony of the lectisternium, a banquet of the gods, sometimes held on occasions of national thanksgiving. Images of the gods were laid on cushions (pulvinaria), and food of all kinds was placed before them.
erat: variously taken (1) as Greek imperfect of surprise or recognition (ef. on 1. 27. 19), or (2) more simply as rebuke of delay. The latter is more probable. Cf. Ov. Am. 3. 1. 23, tempus erat, thyrso pulsum graviore moveri, | cessaturn satis est, incipe maius opus; Livy, 8. 5, tempus erat . . . tandem iam vos nobiscum nihil pro imperio agere; Ov. Trist. 4. 8. 24, me quoque donari iam rude tempus erat, tempus erat nec me peregrinum ducere caelum; Her. 6. 4; Tibull. 3. 6. 64; Arist. Eccles. 877. Logically this is somewhat inconsistent with antehac nefas, which favors (1), but in the rapid movement of the ode the exclamatory first strophe may be forgotten.
depromere: cf. 1. 9. 7.—antehac: dissyllable.—Caecubum: cf. 1. 20. 9; Epode 9. 1.
Capitolio: the symbol of Roman empire (cf. on 3. 30. 8; 3. 3. 42) menaced by the foul Egyptian. Cf. Ov. Met. 15. 827, frustraque erit illa minata, | servitura suo Capitolia nostra Canopo; Lucan, 10. 63, terruit illa suo, si fas, Capitolia sistro.
regina: a doubly invidious title to Roman ears. 'There was a Brutus once that would have brooked | The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome | As easily as a king' (Shaks. Jul. Caes.). Cf. 3. 5 9, sub rege Medo; Epode 9. 12, emancipatus feminae; Propert. 4. 10. 39, scilicet incesti meretrix regina Canopi . . . . Ausa Iovi nostro latrantem opponere Anubin; El. in Maec. 53. She is called Regina or βασίλισσα on extant coins. Cf. Florus, 4. 11; Dio. 50. 5.—dementis: transferred epithet. Cf. 3. 1. 42; 1. 12. 34; 1. 15. 33, etc. Vergil's sceleratas poenas (Aen. 2. 576).
et: loosely placed as 1. 2. 18 and passim.
The Eunuchs, etc. Cf. Epode 9. 13; Shaks. Ant. and Cleop. 1. 2; Propert. 4. 10. 30; Tac. Ann. 15. 37.
virorum: with emphatic scorn.—morbo: like νόσος, of base passions.—impotens: with sperare, frenzied enough to. There is no equivalent in modern English. It denotes the weakess of uncontrolled passion. Cf. Tenn. 'Impotence of fancied power'; Milton, 'Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire, | Belike through impotence or unaware?' Cf. ἀκρατής and impotentia, Epode 16. 62; and Trench, Study of Words, § 70;F. Q. 5. 12. 1, 'O sacred hunger of ambitious minds | And impotent desire of men to reign.'
ebria: so μεθύειν, Demosth. Phil. 1. 49. Tenn. has 'drunk with loss.' Cf. 'If, drunk with sight of power, we loose | Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe' (Rudyard Kipling, Recessional) .
vix una sospes: the escape of barely one ship. Cf. on 2. 4. 10. It was the fleet of Antony that was thus destroyed. Cleopatra fled early in the action, and Antony followed her. Cf. Ant. and Cleopat. 3. 9; Propert. 3. 8. 39, hunc insanus amor versis dare terga carinis | iussit; and Tenn.'s youthful poem, 'Then when the shriekings of the dying | Were heard along the wave, | Soul of my soul I saw thee flying, | I followed thee to save. | The thunder of the brazen prows | O'er Actium's ocean rung; | Fame's garland faded from my brows, | Her wreath away I flung. | I sought, I saw, I heard but thee, | For what to love was victory?'
lymphatam: crazed; her panic is attributed to Bacchus, author of panic fear, no less than Pan,'or rather to her deep potations of sweet Egyptian wine. 'Now no more | The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip,' she says, in her death hour (Ant. and Cleop. 5. 2). The superstition that the sight of a nymph (lymphae, water-nymphs) caused madness is preserved in the word nympholepsy.—Mareotico: Egyptian. Marea was the name of a lake and a town near Alexandria.
veros: as contrasted with the panic alarms of 14. Cf. Epist. 2. 1. 212, falsis terroribus; Lucan, 1. 469, Vana quoque ad veros accessit fama timores.
ab Italia: she had come against Italy, if she had not reached it.—volantem: sc. Cleopatra. Cf. Vergil's pelagoque volamus. The imaginative transition is easy to the image of the fleeing (flying) dove in the next strophe.
adurgens: pursuing her closely; as a matter of fact, Octavian returned to Italy to quiet a mutiny of the veterans, wintered at Samos, and entered Egypt only in the following spring.—accipiter: cf. Il. 22. 139; Aeschyl. Prom. 856; Verg. Aen. 11. 721; Ov. Met. 5. 606. For Cleopatra's flight, cf. Verg. Aen. 8. 707-712; Propert. 4. 10. 51, fugisti tamen in timidi vaga flumina Nili; El. in Maec. 47
Horace may have seen the plains of Thessaly (Haemonia) white with snow in his travels with Brutus. Winter was the hunting season (Epode 2. 30. n.).
daret: sc. Caesar, who was eager to exhibit Cleopatra in his triumph. Cf. Plut. Ant. 78.
monstrum: sc. Cleopatram. Cf. Lucan's dedecus Aegypti, Latii feralis Erinnys (10. 58).—quae: construction according to sense; but she.—generosius perire: a nobler death; 'fitting for a princess descended of so many royal kings' (Ant. and Cleo. 5. 2).
quaerens: with inf. Cf. 3. 4. 39; 3. 24. 27; 3. 27. 55; 4. 1. 12; Epode 2. 70; 16. 16. So Lucret. and Vergil, not, it seems, Cicero.—muliebriter: Velleius, 2. 87. 1, Cleopatra . . . expers muliebris metus spiritum reddidit; Ant. and Cleo. 5. 2, 'My resolution's placed, and I have nothing | Of woman in me.¹
ensem: she first attempted suicide with a dagger (Plut. Ant. 79).
reparavit: perhaps procured by exchange a place of hiding by her swift fleet—a tortuous expression for sought refuge in remote lands. Cf. 1. 31. 12. Penetravit, properavit, repetivit, etc., have been proposed. Dio. 51. 6 and Plut. Ant. 69, speak of schemes for taking refuge beyond the Red Sea, etc.
There is no principal sentence in these two strophes; ausa (participle), fortis (upon which tractare depends), ferocior, invidens all agree with the subject of expavit and reparavit, and rnulier is in appositioii with the same.
et: even; et in the next line has the same force.—iacentem . . . regiam: her humbled court, the palace at Alexandria now in the possession of the Roinans. Cf. 4. 14. 36, Alexandrea supplex . . . vacuam patefecit aulam.
asperas: cf. 1. 23. 9; 3. 2. 10.
serpentes: the asps. Cf. Verg. Aen. 8. 697; Ant. and Cleo. 5. 2.—atrum: cf. 3. 4. 17. n.
deliberata morte (abl. abs.) motivates ferocior, fiercely defiant in (by) her resolve to die.
saevis Liburnis . . . invidens: dative, grudging to the cruel Liburnian galleys. What she grudged is stated in the words privata deduci superbo triumpho. The Liburnian galleys were light aud swift, and proved especially effective at the battle of Actium. Cf. Epode 1. 1-2.
Cf. the cry attributed to her in Livy, apud Porphyr. οὐ θριαμβεύσομαι; Shaks. Ant. and Cleo. 5. 1,' her life in Rome | Would be eternal in our triumph'; 5. 2, 'Shall they hoist me up, | And show me to the shouting varletry | Of censuring Rome?' Tenn. Dr. of Fair Women, 'I died a queen'; F. Q. 1. 5. 50, 'Highminded Cleopatra that with stroke | Of aspës sting herself did stoutly kill.' Her effigy was borne in the triumph. Cf. Propert. 4. 10. 53, Bracchia spectavi sacris admorsa colubris.—privata: discrowned queen. Superbo (1. 35. 3).—non humilis: Martial, 7. 40. 2, pectore non humili.