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Ode XXIII


Horace, Epicurean and Student of Greek Philosophy, 'tells the farmer's little girl that the Gods will love her, though she has only a handful of salt and meal to give them' (Ruskin, Queen of the Air, 48).

Translated, as a sonnet, by Austin Dobson. Cf. Lang, Letters to Dead Authors, p.210. For Horace's religion, cf. on 1.34, 3.18; Sellar, pp. 159-160.


caelo: dat. Cf. manusque susum ad caelum sustulit suas rex; ἀνατείναις οὐρανῷ χεῖρας (Pind. Is. 5.41). supinas: like ὕπτιος, of upturned palms (Aesch. Prom. 1005; Verg. Aen. 4. 205).


nascente luna: on the first day of each (lunar) month. Cf. 3.19.9. Phidyle: φείδομαι, the sparing, thrifty one.


ture: Tibull. 1.3. 34, reddereque antiquo menstrua tura Lari; Herrick, 334, To Larr. horna: this year's; Epode 2. 47; a sheaf or garland of the new grain as first fruits. Tibull. 1. 10.22, seu dederat sanctae spicea serta comae.


Laris: cf. Harper's Class. Dict. s.v. avida: the homely proprium lends a touch of intimacy. Cf. Keats' 'small gnats,' Vergil's exiguus mus. porca: Tibull. 1.10.26. Cf. 3.17.15; Sat. 2.3.165, porcum Laribus. Servius, on Verg. Aen. 8.641, says that female victims are more efficacious. Quintiliati, 8. 3. 19, thinks that the form porco would have destroyed the Vergilian elegance of caesa iungebat foedera porca. See Postgate, Preface to Bréal's Semantics, p. 12.


Africum: 'sirocco.' 'Afric bane' (Dobson).


fecunda: βοτρυόεις, thick-clustered. sterilem: withering, active, as sterilis Sirius (Verg. Aen. 3.141).


Robigo: blight was regularly worshiped as a deity to be propitiated (Ov. Fast. 4.907). alumni: 3.18.4.


pomifer autumnus (4.7.11) is 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,' as well as of the nocentem Austrum (2.14.15). grave: sickly; Liv. 3.6, grave tempus et . . . pestilens annus. anno: season; Epode 2.29. 'The sick apple-tide' (Dobson).


Algido: 1.21.6; 4.4. 58; Macaulay, Horat., 'When round the lonely cottage| Roars loud the tempest's din,| And the good logs of Algidus| Roar louder yet within.'


Construe nam victima quae, devota, pascitur, etc. devota: doomed to death; Milton has 'to death devote.' Cf. 4. 14.18.


crescit: cf. 4.2.55. Albanis: in the pastures assigned to the temples for the purpose (Dionys. 3.29).


te: for similar contrast, cf. 4.2.53. attinet: it concerns thee not, thou hast no need.


temptare: try, besiege, importune. Cf. 1.2.26, fatigare; 2.18.12, lacesso. bidentium: of full-grown victims; properly two-year-old sheep, which are called bidentes from the two prominent teeth which appear in their lower jaws at that age.


parvos . . . deos: Ov. Fast. 5.130, signaque parva deum; the little images of the Lares; in her case of wood.


immunis, etc.: If there is no guilt in the hand that touches the altar, it doth not appease the estranged Penates more acceptably with costly sacrifice than with pious grain and crackling salt. mollivit: gnomic perfect, hath not, doth not. Immunis, in Horace, usually means without a gift. Cf. 4.12.23; Epp. 1. 14.33. Here it has the force of immunis scelerum, innocent. In this sense it would seem to require a genitive. Cf. Ovid's immunis caedis habere manus. But the absolute use is no harsher than that of acervos in 2.2.24. In any case, the thought is the religious commonplace that Heaven prefers innocence and the pauper's mite to the splendid offerings of the rich. Immunis is the emphatic word; the rendering without a gift merely says that the small offering is as acceptable as the great, and misses the main point of the utterance. Cf. Gildersleeve, on Persius, 2.75; Psalms 69.31; Eurip., frs. 946, 327, Nauck; Isoc. 2.20. But see Postgate, Classical Quarterly IV (1910), 106 sqq.


sumptuos&amacr;: if we could read sumptuos&abreve; blandior, assuming that Horace allowed the form <*>--[[breve]]--[[breve]]</*>, hostia could be the subject of mollivit, and the sentence would run smoothly enough.


aversos: cf. Epode 10. 18. But they are not positively hostile in Phidyle's ease. Cf. 1.36.2. n.


Cf. Pliny, N. H. Praef., mola tantum salsa litant qui non habent tura; Lev. 2.13, 'with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt'; Herrick, 106, 'Making thy peace with heav'n, for some late fault,| With Holy-meale, and spirting-salt'; Swinb. At Eleusis, 'Faint grape-flowers and cloven honey-cake | And the just grain with dues of the shed salt'; Tibull. 3.4.10, Et natum in curas hominum genus omina noctis | Farre pio placant et saliente sale. saliente: that crackles in the blaze.


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