'For of all gods death only loves not gifts;| Nor with burnt offering nor blood sacrifice| Shalt thou do aught to get thee grace of him;| He will have naught of altar and altar-song,| And from him only of all the lords in heaven| Persuasion turns a sweet averted mouth' (Swinb. after Aesch., fr. Niobe). In vain we shun the battlefield, the storm-tossed Adriatic, and the fever-laden autumn breeze. 'Cocytos named of lamentation loud' we all shall see at last. One day thou must bid farewell to earth and the wife so dear, and of all the trees whose growth thou watchest, only the 'Cypress funeral,' shall go with thee to the grave. Then shall the 'hard heir stride about thy lands,' and the spilth of thy hoarded Caecuban stain thy marble floors. Postumus is unknown: perhaps merely typical. Cf. Martial, 2.23, non dicam, licet usque me rogetis, quis sit Postumus in meo libello; Juv. Sat. 6.28, uxorem, Postume, ducis; Propert. 4. 11 is addressed to a Postumus. This ode with 4.7 is Horace's consummate expression of the eternal commonplace of death. Cf. 1.4.13; 1.9.17; 1. 11.7; 1.24.15; 1.28.15; 2.3.5; 2. 3. 20; 2.13.20; 2.18.31; 3.24.8; 4.7; 4.12.26; 3.2.15. Students may choose between the admiration of Matthew Arnold, who shortly before his death selected this as one of his two favorite poems, and the censure of Buecheler (Rhein. Mus. N. F. 37, p.234), who thinks it is proved a youthful effort by 'den krass mythologischen Ton, die breiten griechischen Reminiscenzen, die Neigung zum Hyperbolischen, einige Sprachliche Härten oder Verwegenheiten' (inlacrimabilis, enaviganda, carebimus, merum potius cenis). One would like to hear his opinion of Gray's Elegy. There is a translation by Edwin Arnold. Imitated by Congreve, Johnson's Poets, 10.278, and by Sir Wm. Jones, ibid. 18. 445. Cf. also Austin Dobson's amusing skit, 'Ah! Postumus, we all must go'; Villon's 'mort, j'appelle de ta rigueur'; Herrick, 337. 1-2, 'Ah Posthumus! our yeares hence flye,| And leave no sound; nor piety,| Or prayers or vow| Can keepe the wrinkle from the brow:| But we must on,' etc.; Locker, To My Old Friend Postumus, 'Ay, all too vainly are we screen'd|From peril day and night;| Those awful rapids must be shot,| Our shallop will be slight,' etc. l. Postume, Postume: emotional repetition. Cf. on 3.3. 18; 4.4.70.
labuntur: Ov. Fast. 6.771, tempora labuntur tacitisque senescimus annis. 'Le temps s'en va, le temps s'en va, ma dame! Las! le temps non; mais nous, nous en allons.' The 'gliding' and the flight of time do not make a mixed metaphor-- 'my days are gliding swiftly by| And I . . . would not detain them as they fly!' pietas, etc.: cf. on 1.24.11; 4.7. 24; Omar Khayyám, 71, 'The moving finger writes; and, having writ,| Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit| Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,| Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.'
instanti: cf. on 3. 3. 3; Mimnermus, 5.6, Γῆρας . . . ὑπερκρέμεται; Sen. Praef. Q. Nat. L. 3, premit a tergo (premat ergo?) senectus; Hamlet, 5.1, 'But age, with his stealing steps,| Hath caught me in his clutch.'
indomitae: i.e. indomabili. Cf. 1.24.7, incorrupta; the ending -bilis is avoided. Αδάμαστος(Il.9. 158), ἄλλιστος(Anth. Pal. 7.643); inexorable, the Conqueror Death. Cf. nemo potest impetrare a Papa bullam numquam moriendi (Imitat. Christi).
The meaning is three hecatombs a day. We need not apply mathematics to the hyperbole. eunt: 4.5.7; Epp. 2. 2.55, anni . . . euntes.
ămice: 2. 9.5. places: conative, shouldst try to appease. inlacrimabilem: active; 4. 9. 26 passive. Cf. δάκρυτος, flebilis, 4.2.21 and 1.24.9; tutela, 4.14.43 and 4.6.33. For thought, cf. Milt. Il Pens., 'drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek'; Sen. Herc. Fur. 582, deflent et lacrimis difficiles dei.
ter amplum: τρισώματον (Eur. Herc. Fur. 423); Lucret. 5.28, tripectora tergemini vis Geryonai; Verg. Aen. 6.289, forma tricorporis umbrae.
Geryonen: Geryon, a giant with three bodies whom Hercules slew; cf. Verg. Aen. 8.201 sqq. Heywood, Love's Mistress, 'Wert thou more strong than Spanish Geryon| That had three heads upon one man.' Tityon; Tityos, who insulted Latona, was slain by her children, Apollo and Diana, and in the lower regions covered nine acres of ground; cf. 3. 4.77; 3.11.21; 4.6.2; Odyss. 11.576; Verg. Aen. 6. 595 sqq.; Tibull. 1. 3. 75, porrectusque novem Tityos per iugera terrae. They were big and burly, but death was stronger. Lucret. 3.1030 sqq. points a similar moral with Xerxes, the Scipios, and Homer. tristi: Verg. G. 4.479, inamabilis unda.
compescit: ἐρύκει Homer Il.21. 63; Verg. G. 4. 480, novies Styx interfusa coercet; Lucan, 9. 2, nec cinis exiguus tantam com- pescuit umbram. unda: 2.20.8; κῦμ᾽ Ἀί[[ξυρρενξψ]]δα, Pind. Nem. 7.31. scilicet: the wave which must in very deed. omnibus: 3.1.16; 1.28.15; 2.3.25.
terrae munere: the bounty of (mother) earth. Cf. Il.6. 142; Simon. fr. 5; 'The gods do not eat grain nor drink the ruddy wine, wherefore also they are immortal,' says Homer. For idea in munus, cf. Comus, 'Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth| With such a full and unwithdrawing hand?'
enaviganda: an Horatian innovation--e, to the further shore.
sive . . . sive: 2. 3. 5, 6.
reges: lords of lands, lords and masters, not necessarily kings. (Cf. 1.4.14; Juv. Sat. 1.135; 7.45.) Contrasted with coloni, tenant farmers (1.35.6). Cf. 2.18. 33-4.
frustra: cf. 2.13.13 sqq.--carebimus: avoid; cf. on 2.1.36; 2.10.7.
fractis: 'the breaking waves dashed high.' rauci: cf. Arnold, 'saw the hoarse boughs labor in the wind.' 'Hoarse torrent.'
autunmos: still dangerous at Rome, 3.23.8; Sat. 2.6.19; Epp. 1.7.5 sqq.; 1.16.16.
corporibus: with both nocentem and metuemus. Austrum: the Sirocco from the Sahara. Cf. Shelley's 'wind-walking pestilence.'
ater: cf. on 2.3.16; 2.13.34; 1.28.13; 4.12.26. flumine languido errans: etc., meandering with sluggish flow. Cf. Verg. G. 4.478; Aen. 6. 131. Pind. fr. 107, βληχριό . . . ποταμοί.
Danai genus: the Danaids, who killed their husbands on their wedding night; cf. on 3.11.23 sqq.
longi: gen. of the sentence. G. L. 378.3. For the word, cf. on 3.11.38; 2.16.30. Eccles. 12.5, 'Man goeth to his long home.'
Sisyphus: Epode 17.68. The crafty king of Corinth, whose punishment in the lower world was to roll up a hill a huge stone which invariably slipped from his hands before he reached the top. Odyss. 11.593 sqq.; F. Q. 1.5.35; 'And Sisyphus an huge round stone did reel |Against an hill, ne might from labor lin'; Longfellow, Masque of Pandora, chorus of Eumenides; Pseudo-Plat. Axiochus, 371 E. Variouisly moralized, Lucret. 3.995 sqq.; Morris, Epic of Hades; Ruskin, Queen of Air, 29. Aeolides: Il.6.154.
linquenda tellus: cf. the exquisite dirge in Lucret. 3.894 sqq.; the Earth Song in Hamatreya, Emerson.--Nero, 4, 7, 'Hither you must and leave your purchased houses,| Your new-made garden and your black-browed wife:| And of the trees thou hast so quaintly set| No one but the displeasant Cypress shall| Go with thee.' Gray, 'Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day.' placens: dear; 3.7.24; Ov. A. A. 1.42, elige cui dicas 'tu mihi sola places.'
colis: Petronius about to end his life changed the position of his funeral pyre that it might not injure a favorite tree (Tac. Ann. 11.3).
invisas: hated, on account of their association with death (1.34.10). Cf. Verg. Aen. 6.216; Epode 5.18; Lucan, 3.442; Ov. Met. 10.141; F. Q. 1.1.8; Browning, Up in a Villa, 'Except yon Cypress that points like death's lean lifted forefinger.' 'They brought a bier and hung it| With many a Cypress crown' (Macaulay, Virginia).
brevem: short-lived; ὀλιγοχρόνιον, Lucian, Nigr. 33. Cf. 1.36.16; 1.4.15; 2.3.13; Macbeth, 5.5, 'Out, out, brief candle'; Shelley, Liberty, 19, 'As a brief insect dies with dying day'; Tenn. 'Our brief humanities.' Man is 'sick for the stubborn hardihood' of the tree that outlives him. See Tenn. In Mem. 2.
absumet: cf. Epp. 1.15.27. heres: Ecciesiastes, 2.18, 'Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.' For the perpetual moral of the'heir,' cf. on 4.7.19; 3.24.62; 2.3.20; Epp. 1.5.13; 2.2.175; 2.2.191; Pers. Sat. 6.60-65. Caecuba: cf. on 1.20.9. dignior: ironically pointing the Epicurean moral--he knows the use of wealth. Cf 3. 24.61. n.
centum: so 2.16.33; 3.8.14.
tinguet: will stain, Timon of Ath. 2.2, 'when our vaults have wept |With drunken spilth of wine'; Cic. Phil. 2.105, natabant pavimenta vino madebant parietes; Petron. 38.
pontificum: their banquets proverbially splendid, 1.37.2; Martial, 12.48.12. potiore cenis: better than (that served at) the banquets, comparatio compendiaria. Cf. 2.6.14; Il.17.51, 'Locks like the Graces.'