Horace pretends to have caught sight of Bacchus and his train on the lonely hillside. He affects the poetic frenzy of the dithyramb, and, with many allusions to Greek poetry and legend, affirms his right and inspiration to sing the attributes and exploits of the God of wine and song. Cf. 3.25; Ovid. Met. 4.17 sqq.; Propert. 4.16; Ovid. Trist. 5.2; and Fletcher's 'God Lyaeus ever young.'
remotis: cf. 2.3.6. Bacchus and his train haunted solitary mountain tops. Cf. Soph. O. T. 1105, Antig. 1126; Dyer, Gods in Greece, pp.112, 113; Anacreon, 2.
docentem: even as Apollo teaches his choir the nine Muses. Cf. Pater, Study of Dionysus, pp. 10-11. credite posteri: Epode 9.11, posteri negabitis.
nymphas: his nurses and playmates in Greek poetry. Cf 1.1.31; Soph. O. C. 678; Anacr. fr. 2.
capripedum: cf. Lucret. 4.580, haec loca capripedes Satyros nymphasque tenere| finitimi fingunt; Tenn. Lucretius, 'Catch her, goatfoot.' Pan is τραγόπους Simon. fr. 133, and the attribute is transferred by Roman poets from the Panisci to the Satyrs. Cf. Pater, Study of Dionysus, pp.9-10. acutas: pointed; cf. Hawthorne's Marble Faun.
euhoe: i.e. εὐοῖ, the cry of the devotees of Baechus. Cf. 1.18.9, euhius; Juv. Sat. 7.62, Satur est cum dicit Horatius euoe; Shelley, Prom., 'Like Maenads who cry loud euoe, euoe'; Verg. Aen. 7.389, euoe Bacche fremens. trepidat: with the excitement of the vision. Cf. Il.20. 131; Verg. Aen. 4.279 sqq.
pleno: cf. 3.25.2; Ovid, Fasti, 6.537. turbidum: τεθολωμένον: adverbial; cf. on 2.12.14; 3.27.67.
parce: the enthusiast at once courted and dreaded the maddening presence of the god. Cf. Catull. 63.91-93; Verg. Aen. 6.77 sqq.
metuende: cf. 1.12.23. thyrso: the thyrsus of Baechus was a pole, the top of which was surmounted with a fir-cone or with vine or ivy leaves. Its touch inspired frenzy. 'And our fingers must beware of the thyrsus, tossed about so wantonly by himself and his chorus. The pine-cone at its top does but cover a spear-point! and the thing is a weapon--the sharp spear of the hunter Zagreus' (Pater, Greek Studies, p.60). Cf. Eurip. Ion, 216. But gravi probably refers to the madness caused by its touch: dread.
fas: the vision brings authentic inspiration. Cf. Ov. Fasti, 6.7, Fas mihi praecipue voltus vidisse deorum, etc. pervicacis: untiring, persistent. Cf. 3.3.70; Epode 17.14. Thyiadas: from θύω, to rave, the Bacchantes, the women who celebrated the orgies of the god. Other synonyms are Maenad, Bassarid, Euiad, etc.
For similar miracles of Bacchus, cf. Eurip. Bacchae, 141, 708; Plato, Ion, 534 A; Propert. 4.16.20 sqq.; Fletcher, 'From thy plenteous hand divine| Let a river run with wine.' Cf. Exod. 3.8; Hesiod, Works, 232; Verg. Eclog. 4.30.
iterare: rehearse, tell, renew the fact in speech.
beatae: deified. coniugis: Ariadne. Cf. Apoll. Rhod. 3.1002, ἀστερόεις στέφανος τόν τε κλείουσ᾽ Ἀριάδνης; Mrs. Browning's How Bacchus comforts Ariadne (from Nonnus), 'But I will wreathe thee, sweet, an astral crown| And as my queen and spouse thou shalt be known'; Ov. Fasti, 3.459; Heroides, 6. 115; Sen. Herc. Fur. 18; Propert. 4.16.8; Ov. Met. 8.176; Verg. G. 1.222.
honorem: her crown, which was transformed into a constellation. Verg. Aen. 7. 814, regius . . . honos. Penthei: the Bacchae of Euripides describes the punishment of King Pentheus of Thebes for his impious resistance to the introduction of the worship of the new god. His palace was thrown down by an earthquake (663), and he was torn in pieces by his mother and sisters in their Baechic frenzy (Theoc. 26). Cf. Pater, Greek Studies, pp.68, 74. Horace moralizes the tale (Epistle 1.16.73). Cf. Ov. Met. 3.511.
non leni: 1.24.17; 1.18.9.
Lycurgi: a king of Thrace who attempted to suppress the worship of Bacchus in his kingdom; of. Homer, Il.6.130 sqq., 'Nay moreover even Dryas' son mighty Lykurgos was not for long when he strove with heavenly gods, he that erst chased through the goodly land of Nysa the nursing-mothers of frenzied Dionysos. . . . Then Dionysos fled and plunged beneath the salt sea-wave. . . . But with Lykurgos the gods that live at ease were wroth, and Kronos' son made him blind, and he was not for long, because he was hated of all the immortal gods.' Cf. Soph. Antig. 955; Propert. 4.16.23. Aeschylus wrote a play on the theme.
flectis: tamest avoids zeugma with mare. amnis: he dried the Hydaspes and the Orontes, by the touch of his thyrsus, in the expedition to India. mare: of. Sen. Herc. Fur. 907, adsit Lycurgi domitor et rubri maris (the Indian Ocean).
separatis = remotis. uvidus: cf. 1. 7. 22; 4. 5. 39; Eurip. El. 326, βρεχθείς.
viperino: of. Catuli. 64.258, pars sese tortis serpentibus incingebant.
Bistonidum: the Bistones were a tribe of Thrace, Bistonides is the plural of the feminine Bistonis. sine fraude . i.e. without harming them. Cf. C. S. 41; an archaism found in Twelve Tables (se fraude) and in Livy (1.24.5), and imitated by Milton several times; e.g. 'To draw the proud king Ahab into fraud.'
His defence of heaven against the giants (a post-Homeric legend), and his descent into hell to fetch his mother Semele.
parentis: Jove; 1.12.13. regna: the plural magnifies (1.4.18; 2.13.21; 3.4.46), but is resorted to largely metri gratia (4.14.26).
scanderet: Pindar, fr. 162, actually speaks of a ladder. Cf. on 2.12.7 and 3.4.42 sqq.
Rhoetum: a giant whose name is selected for alliterative effect. Cf. 3.4.55.
He assumed the form of a lion, as in Hymn. Hom. 7. 44. Cf. also Eurip. Bacch. 1019. Porphyrio refers the words Leonis unguibus horribilique mala to Rhoetum. This is done also by Stier and by Trendelenburg, who emend horribilique to horribilemque. It is true that we have no other reference to Bacchus' transformation into a lion in the battle of the gods and giants, and on the Pergamene frieze a giant is represented with a lion's head and claws.
quamquam: with ferebaris, of which aptior dictus gives the reason. For Liber fit for war, cf. 1.12.21. n.
sed idem: idem is the predicate; construe, but in the midst of peace and of war thou wast the same.
insons: harmless, to thee.
cornu: the reference is rather to the golden horn of wine with which he propitiates Cerberus and the beasts than to the horns often attributed to him by the poets (Tibull. 2.1.3; Propert. 4.16.19; Orphic Hymn 52.2).
atterens caudam: σαίνων, adulans, wagging. Cf. Gildersleeve on Pind. O.4.4; Theoc. 6.30.
trilingui: triple-headed and triple-tongued is all one reckoning, 'save the phrase is a little variations.'
tetigitque: for que, cf, on 1.30.6.