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Ode XII


The swallow and the spring zephyrs are here again. 'Tis a thirsty season. Come, Vergilius, and quaff a cup with me. But you must pay for your wine. An alabaster box of your precious nard will lure forth a cask from the Sulpician cellars. Come, let be the pursuit of gain, forget the funeral pyre. 'Tis sweet to relax in season.

The phrases juvenum nobilium cliens and studium lucri hardly fit Vergil the poet, who, for the rest, had been dead six years when this book was published. The scholiasts sagely conjecture that an unguentarius, a mercator, or medicus is meant. A physician dispensed his own drugs and would charge well for the precious nard.

There is a translation by Lord Thurlow. For the spring motif, cf. 1.4 and 4.7. For the jocose invitation, cf. Catull. 13. Cf. also Herrick, Hesperides, 643, 'Fled are the frosts and now the fields appear| Reclothed in fresh and verdant Diaper.| Thaw'd are the snowes and now the lusty spring |Gives to each Mead a neat enameling.| The palms put forth their Gemmes, and every Tree |Now swaggers in her Leavy gallantry.| The while the Daulian Minstrell sweetly sings With warbling rotes, her Tyrrean (qy. Terean?) sufferings'; Anth. Pal. 9. 363, 10.5, 10.14, and passim; Sellar, p.197.


Iam: cf. Catull. 46.1, Iam ver egelidos refert tepores; Anth. Pal. 9.363.9, ἤδη δὲ πλώουσιν ἐπ᾽ εὐρέα κύματα ναῦται|πνοιῇ ἀπημάντῳ Ζεφύρου λίνα κολπώσαντος.--temperant: soothe, calm. Cf. on 1.12.16; 2.16.27; 3.4.45,


impellunt: of. Tenn. Maud, 'when the far-off sail is blown by the breeze of a softer clime'; Seneca, Thyest. 126, nives . . . aestas veliferis solvit Etesiis.--Thraciae: of. 1.25. 11; Epode 13.3. Probably the Zephyrs are meant, Homer (Il.9.5) makes both Zephyr and Boreas blow from Thrace and Zephyrus, as the parallel passages show, is the conventional spring wind. Cf. Lucret. 1.11; 5.737-738; Chaucer, Prologue, 5, .


prata: cf. 1.4.4,--rigent: rigidum Niphaten, 2.9.20. fluvii:4.7.3-4 --strepunt: cf. on 3.30.10.


Cf. on 4.7.34,


Itys was the son of Tereus, a Thracian king and Procne, an Athenian princess, Pretending that Procne was dead Tereus betrayed Philomela, her sister, When Procne heard this, she killed Itys and served him up at Tereus' table. Procne and Philomela then fled and were only saved from' Tereus' vengeance by transformation into birds. According to one form of the myth Procne became a nightingale, Philomela a swallow; according to another, Procne became a swallow and Philomela a nightingale, Tereus himself was changed into a hoopoe, Ovid, Met. 6.424 sqq. ; Matthew Arnold's Philomela; Swinburne's Itylus; and the allusive summary of the tale in the spring chorus in 'Atalanta,' 'And the brown bright nightingale amorous |Is half assuaged for Itylus| For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces, |The tongueless vigil and all the pain.'

It is probable that Horace adopts the second form of the legend and that the bird which moans for Itys is the swallow. For though Sappho calls the nightingale, in Ben Jonson's paraphrase, 'the dear good angel of the spring' (ἦρος ἄγγελος ἱμεροφωνος ἀηδών), the swallow is the regular poetical harbinger of spring. Cf. Homeric(?) Εἰρεσιώνη; Hes. Works 564; Simon. fr. 74; Aristoph. Eq. 419; the popular song; ἦλθε, ἦλθε, χελιδών; Hor. Epist. 1. 7. 13, cum zephyris . . . et hirundine prima ; the proverb, 'one swallow does not make a spring,' Aristotle, Eth. 1.7.16; Ovid, Fasti, 2.853, veris praenuntia ; Anth, Pal, 10.14, 5, οἱ ζέφυροι πνείουσι ἐπιτρύζει δὲ χελιδών|κάρφεσι κολλητὸν πηξαμένη θάλαμον; Verg. Georg. 4.306; in Gray's Ode to Spring, 'The Attic warbler pours her throat'; Cicero's λαλαγεῦσαν ad Att. 9.18.


et connects infelix and opprobrium.--Cecropiae: Attic; cf. on 2.1.12. Procne and Philomela were the daughters of Pandion, the third mythical king of Athens.


male: i.e. with excessive cruelty.


regum: the plural generalizes. Cf. on 3.27. 38.


dicunt: sing. Cf. on 1.6.5.--tenero: it is early spring 'when all the wood stands in a mist of green | And nothing perfect' (Tenn.). Later it would be in tenaci gramine (Epode 2.24).


fistula: cf. on 1.17.10; abl. instr.


deum: Pan; cf. Verg. Ed. 10.26, Pan deus Arcadiae; ibid. 2.33, Pan curat oves oviumque magistros.--nigri: cf. on 1.21.7.


placent: cf. C. S.7.


pressum Calibus: cf. on 1.20.9; 1.31. 9.--ducere: cf. 1.17.22.


iuvenum nobilium: patrons with whom Vergil sometimes dined.


merebere: fut.=colloquial imperative.--nardo: cf. on 2.11. 16.--vina: cf. on 1.18.5.


eliciet: suggests personification. Cf. 2. 11. 21 and descende (3.21.7).


We can only guess whether Horace bought or stored his wine at the Sulpician vaults or storehouses, which later scholiasts and inscriptions place at foot of the Aventine ; see Platner, Topography of Ancient Rome, 397.


donare . . . largus: cf. Intr., p. xv, note b.


amara . . . curarum: cf. on 4.4.76. For thought, cf. 3.21.17.


gaudia: cf. 4.11.14.--properas: not physical hurry. Cf. Sat. 1.9.40; Epp. 1.3.28.


merce continues the jest of merebere, if it is a jest.--non ego te: cf. 1.18.11; 4.9.30; 1.23.9.


immunem: ἀσύμβολον, 'without paying your scot.' Cf. Ter. Phorm. 339; Epist. 1.14.33, immunem Cinarae placuisse rapaci.


tinguere: soak; cf. Alcaeus' τέγγε πνεύμονας οἴνῳ, madidus, irriguus mero, 'a wet night,' and similar phrases. --plena: cf. 2.12.24.


verum: only here in odes.--pone moras: cf. 3.29. 5, eripe te morae.


Cf. Lucretius, 3.913-915; and Tennyson, Maud, '0, why should Love, like men in drinking songs, |Spice his fair banquet with the dust of death?'--nigrorum . . . ignium: the fires of the funeral pyre are conventionally 'dark.' Cf. Verg. Aen. 11.186; 2.3. 16, fila atra; Lucretius, 2. 580, funeris atri.--memor: cf. Sat. 2.6.97; Martial, 2.59.4.--dum licet: cf. Sat. 2.6.96; Epist. 1.11.20; also, Odes, 2.3.15-16; 2.11.16.


consiliis: dat. For thought, cf. 3.28.4.


A familiar quotation, 'A little nonsense now and then |Is relished by the wisest men.'--in loco: in season; e)n kairw=|. Cf. Ter. Adelph. 216, pecuniam in loco neglegere.


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