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Ode XV

One of those diatribes against luxury which were a standing commonplace in the rhetorical literature of the Romans. Cf. Odes. 3.6; SaIl. Cat. 12, 13 and 20; Petron. Sat. 119; Manilius, 5.374; Gratius Cyneget. 312 sqq.; Lucan. 1.170; Tac. Ann. 3.53; Martial, 3.47.58; Sen. Contr. 5.5, Epist. 95.14.

It was a cherished object of Augustus' policy to foster Italian agriculture, ruined by latifundia, slave labor, the decay of the peasantry, and the competition of Sicily and Africa. Cf. Vergil's complaint, squalent abductis arva colonis (G. 1.507), and his alluring picture of the delights of the farmer's life (ibid. 2. 457-510). Horace is less successful in this perfunctory, impersonal ode; but he can do better. Cf. 3.1-6.

Palaces and fish ponds, useless shade trees, and flowery parterres are displacing the vine and olive. Our fathers roofed their homes with turf and built their temples of marble. But we have changed all that.

l. iam: soon. Cf. 1.4.16. regiae: regales, royal.

moles: piles. Cf. 3.29.10; The Deserted Village, 'Along the lawn where scattered hamlets rose| Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose.'

visentur: cf. 1.37.25; will meet the gaze. vīsĕre is often more convenient metrically than vĭdēre.

stagna: fish ponds, piscinae. Horace says they are larger than the Lucrine Lake (near Baiae) connected with Lake Avernus and converted into an artificial harbor, the Portus Julius, by Agrippa. Cf. A. P.63. So Sen. Controv. 5.5, navigabilium piscinarum freta. Cicero (ad Att. 1.19.6) uses piscinarios as a nickname for the degenerate nobles. platanus: 2.11.13; it was a shade tree, αμφιλαφής. Tennyson's 'thick-leaved platan.' Cf. Nux Elegeia, 17, at postquam platanis sterilem praebentibus umbram |uberior quavis arbore venit honos. Quintus Hortensius was said to water a favorite plane-tree with wine. caelebs: as contrasted with the ulmi maritatae, the 'vine-prop elm' (Epode 2.10). Cf. on 4.5.30, and Martial, 3.58.3, vidua; Ov. Met. 10. 92, 95, 100; Quintil. 8.3.8, sterilem platanum . . . maritam ulmum. Cf. 2.11.13.

Cambridge's version of this strophe (Johns. Poets, 18.244) is a curiosity of literature: 'Now flowers disposed in various groups |Dislodge those honors of your soups,| The tasteful rich legumes.' evincet: will drive out.

copia narium: store of (all that delights) the nostrils. The reference is to the extensive flower gardens. Cf. Aelian's ὀφθαλμῶν πανήγυρις and his ἀνθέων . . . εἰς ἑορτὴν ὄψεως (V. H. 13.1); Wordsworth's 'cups the darlings of the eye'; Juvenal, gustus elementa (11. 14).

olivetis: abl. of place, over the olive grounds. Cf. 3.18.14. The meaning is that flower beds and sweet-smelling plants will take the place of the useful olive groves.

fertilibus: which were productive.

spissa ramis: cf. densum humeris (2. 13. 32); umbrae enormes . . . lauris (Pliny). laurea: sc. arbor = laurus.

ictus: the strokes, darts, rays of the sun. Cf. Lucretius' lucida tela diei; βολαῖς ἡλίου (Eurip. Phoen. 169).

praescriptum: sc. est. intonsi: cf. on 1.12. 41; Tibull. 2. 1. 34, intonsis . . . avis. Catonis: the elder Cato, the Censor, the type of old Roman austerity. Cf. 3.21.11.

auspiciis: i.e. example; lit. chief command, guidance.

Now it is just the reverse. Sall. Cat. 52, publice egestatem, privatim opulentiam.

privatus illis census: the list of their private possessions. brevis: short. Cf. exiguus (Epist. 1. 1.43); tenuis (Epist. 1. 7. 56).

commune: the public wealth.

No private colonnade measured with ten-foot rods received (took, lay in wait for, 3.12.12) the cool (shady) north (ern breeze). Privatis should be construed with decempedis. Cf. Verg. Ecl. 1.52, frigus captabis opacum; Juv. 7. 183, et algentem rapiat cenatio solem. For similar complaints and contrasts, cf. Demosth. Olyn. 3.25; Cic. pro Flacco, 28, pro Murena, 76, odit populus Romanus privatam luxuriam, publicam magnificentiam diligit.

fortuītum: chance, the first that came to hand, die erste beste, προτυχόν (Pind. Pyth. 4. 35). caespitem: cf. Verg. Ecl. 1.68, congestum caespite culmen; or perhaps the reference is to altars. Cf. on 1. 19. 13; Tibull. 2. 5. 100, caespitibus mensas caespitibusque torum.

leges: Horace could hardly have cited chapter and verse. The phrases publico sumptu and novo saxo are divided between the two parts of the sentence oppida (decorare) and templa decorare, to each of which they both belong.

iubentes: the laws which bade.

novo: 3.1.45. Possibly fresh-hewn; more probably of the marble, new and strange then, but familiar to modern luxury. Cf. on 2.18.3. Possibly a compliment to Augustus, the restorer of temples. Cf. on 3.6.2; "'Brickwork I found thee and marble I left thee," their emperor vaunted; |"Marble I thought thee, and brickwork I find thee!" the tourist may answer' (Clough); cf. Suet. Aug. 28.

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