A prelude addressed to the chorus of noble youths and maidens who were to sing the carmen saeculare (q.v.). Apollo that didst punish Niobe and Tityos and overthrow even Achilles (4-12), who else would have left alive no child of Troy to found Rome under happier auspices (12-24), thou inspirer of the Grecian muse, uphold to-day the honor of Latin song. And you, noble maids, mark well the measure of this sacred chant. Happy matrons, one day you will boast that on the great festival day you learned and sang the strains of Horace the Bard.
Dive: lines 5-23 are a digression suggested by Achilles ; and the verb of the prayer is defende (line 27). Apollo slew Achilles and so made possible the escape of Aeneas and the founding of Rome.--proles Niobea: the children of Niobe; cf. Tenn. 'a Niobean daughter'; Il.24.608, 'for that Niobe matched herself against fair-checked Leto, saying that the goddess bare but twain, but herself many children: so they, though they (Apollo and Diana) were but twain, destroyed the others all'; Ovid, Met. 6. 135; Jebb on Soph. Antig. 823; Landor's Niobe; and the famous group of statues at Florence.
linguae: a big tongue is Greek for boastful tongue. Cf. Soph. Antig. 127; Verg. Aen. 10.547; Swinburne, Erechtheus; Dante (Purg. 12) cites Niobe among the examples of punita superbia. This moral significance of the myth was first emphasized in a lost play of Aeschylus. It was also represented in the reliefs carved on the throne of the Olympian Zeus. Horace had seen a Niobe group at Rome. Cf. Plin. N. H. 36.28, Par haesitatio est in templo Apollinis Sosiani Niobae liberos morientes Scopas an Praxiteles fecerit. The relation of this group to the one now at Florence is uncertain. Cf. Anth. Pal. 16.129-134. --Tityos: cf. on 2.14.8; 3.11.21; 3.4.77; Ody. 11.576; Pind. Pyth. 4.90. ---raptor: sc. Latonae. Cf. Λητὼ γὰρ ἥλκησε.
sensit: cf. 4.4.25.--prope victor: by slaying Hector (cf. on 2.4.11), who dying prophesies his death by the hand of Apollo (Il.22.359). Cf. Quint. Smyrn. 3.62.--altae: cf. 1. 16.18; Il.13.773, Ἵλιος αἰπεινή; Verg. Aen. 1.7; 1.95; 10. 469.
impar: cf. Verg. Aen. 1.475, impar congressus Achilli.
filius quamvis Thetidis . . . quateret: son of Thetis though he (was and) shook.--marinae: cf. 1.8.13; Pind. Nem. 3.35, ποντίαν Θέτιν.
tremenda: see its description, Il.16.140-144.
pugnax: participial effect of adj. Cf. Livy, 22.37.8, pugnacisque alias missili telo gentes; Simonides, αἰχμηταὶ πρὸ πόληος.
mordaci: cf. Macaulay, Regillus, 8, 'Camerium knows how deeply the sword of Aulus bites' ; Arnold, Strayed Reveller, 'They feel the biting spears |Of the grim Lapithae '; Shaks. Merry Wives, 2. 1, 'I have a sword and it shall bite upon my necessity'; Aeschyl. Sept. 399; Eurip. CycI. 395, πελέκεων ηνάθοις.--icta: Verg. Aen. 6.180, icta securibus ilex.
Cf. Il.5.560; 16.483; Macaulay, Horatius, 46,' And the great Lord of Luna| Fell at that deadly stroke |As falls on Mount Alvernus |A thunder-smitten oak' ; Catull. 64.105-109
impulsa: cf. Juv. Sat. 10.107, et impulsae praeceps immane ruinae.
late: Homer's μέγας μεγαλωστί(Od. 24.40); but the fallen tree is still present to the mind. Cf Verg. Aen. 2.466, Danaum super agmina late incidit; Macaulay, ut supra, 'Far o'er the crashing forest| The giant arms lie spread.'
ille non: cf. non ille (4.9.51). The stratagem of the Wooden Horse is familiar from Verg. Aen. 2.--Minervae: perhaps with both equo and sacra.
sacra mentito: which pretended to be an offering; Verg. Aen. 2.17, votum pro reditu simulant.--male feriatos: it was a luckless holiday for them. Cf. Aen. 2.248; Eurip. Tro. 516; Lang, Helen of Troy, 6.8 sqq.
falleret: virtually = the metrically inconvenient fefellisset.
palam: with captis, antithesis to falleret. He would have taken his enemies openly, not by stratagem .--gravis:βαρύς.--heu: 1.15.9, 19. --heu nefas: 3.24.30.
nescios fari: infantes; νήπια τέκνα(Il.22.63).
latentem, etc.: cf. Il.6.58.
ni: freely used in the Satires and by Vergil (Aen. 1.58). Elsewhere in odes, nisi.
vocibus: by the entreaties. --pater: cf. 1.2.2; 1.12.13; Verg. Aen. 1.254, 10.2.--adnuisset: vouchsafed; cf. on 3.1.8. Horace by this time knew the scene in Verg. Aen. 1.257.
rebus Aeneae: to the fortunes of Aeneas; cf. rerum (2. 17.4) and Vergil's res Troiae (Aen. 8.471).
potiore . . . alite: melioribus auspiciis. Cf. on 1. 15.5; and for thought, C. S. 41-44.
ductos: traced rather than built up. Cf. Verg. Aen. 1.423, ducere muros, and ducere vallum, etc.
Argivae: some read argutae, λιγείας Cf. on 3.14.21. The reading Argivae brings out more clearly the antithesis between the Greek Thalia and the Italian Camena. Horace is Romanae fidicen lyrae (4.3.23).
Cf. on 3.4.61. The Lycian Xanthus is meant.
Note alliteration.--Dauniae: 2.1.34.
lēvis: unshorn. Cf. on 1.21.2; Callim. Hymn Apoll. 36. --Agyieu: an epithet of Apollo, guardian of the ways (Aesehyl. Ag. 1081), used more for its pretty Greek sound than for the sense.
spiritum: cf. on 2.16.38.
poetae: elsewhere in Odes vates, etc.
He addresses the boys and girls who made up the chorus.
tutela: wards; maids are Dianae . . . in fide (Catull. 34. 1). The word is passive here as in Ovid, Trist. 1.10. 1, flavae tutela Minervae. For active use, cf. 4.14.43; Juv. Sat. 14.112; Dekker's Lullaby, 'Care is heavy, therefore sleep you,| You are care, and care must keep you.'--fugacis: 2.1.19.
cohibentis: her shafts stay their flight. Diana has "a hand |To all things fierce and fleet that roar and range |Mortal, with gentler shafts than snow or sleep" (Swinburne). Callim. Hymn Dian. 16.
Lesbium: Sapphic. Cf. on 1.1.34.
pollicis: marking time or, perhaps, assuming the time described by Lesbium pedem, touching the lyre to guide the melody like Greek χοροδιδάσκαλος, to whom, in imagination, Horace likens himself.
rite: duly, meetly. It was a solemn function performed ex ritu maiorum.
crescentem: not of shape. Cf. Milton's 'Astarte, queen of heaven with crescent horns.'--face: light; Orph. Hymn, 9. 3, δᾳδοῦχε.--Noctilucam: ϝυκτιφαής. The archaic word hasa hieratic effect. Luna had a temple on the Palatine under the name. Cf. Varro, L. L. v.68.
prosperam: bringing prosperity to. Cf. C. S. 29, fertilis frugum. Connected with spes, as spero and old form speres show. Cf. spem mentita seges; Tennyson's 'lead through prosperous floods his holy urn' (In Mem. 9); and the 'prosperous flight' of Jeremy Taylor's lark.--pronos: swift; cf. 1.29.11; Tennyson's 'cherish my prone year' and his 'I heard the watchman peal the sliding season.'
volvere: cf. Verg. Aen. 9.7, volvenda dies; 1.269, volvendis mensibus.--mensis: cf. Shelley, Witch of Atlas, 4, 'the mother of the months' the moon; Hymn Orph. 9.5 (δῖα σελήνη）χρόνου μήτηρ φερέκαρπε; Catull. 34.17.
nupta: one, as often, represents the chorus, and the old teacher naturally addresses the girls of the class.--iam: with nupta, idiomatically; presently, i.e. you will soon find yourself already married and looking back on your girlhood. Not 'many years hence.' Cf. on iam, 4.4.14.
saeculo . . . luces: when the century brought back the festal days; cf. C. S. Introd.--referente: of. 3.29.20; C. S. 22.--luces: so 4. 16.25.
reddidi: rendered; cf. 4. 11. 35.--modorum: cf. on 1.15.24-25; 3.9.10.--docilis: trained in.
vatis: cf. on 2.6.24.