The age is weary of storms and portents dire and civil strife. What god may we invoke to uphold the falling state and expiate our guilt? Apollo? Venus? Mars? Or is it thou, Mercury, already with us (in the guise of Augustus), Caesar's avenger? Late be thy return to thy native heaven. Long may'st thou dwell amid thy adoring people. The Mede will not ride on his raids while thou art our captain.A declaration of adhesion to Octavian, written apparently before the new constitution of the Empire and the bestowal upon him of the title of Augustus in Jan., B.C. 27 (cf. Merivale, 3. 335-36, chap. 30).The close resemblance to Vergil, G. 1. 465 sqq. (cf. Merivale, 3. 239, chap. 28), has led some scholars to date it as early as B.C. 37 or 32. But this is excluded by the allusion (l. 49) to the triumphs celebrated in Aug., B.C. 29. Nor would Horace so early have recognized Octavian as savior of the state. Octavian was princeps Senatus from B.C. 28 to his death. The evidence then points to a date between the return from the East, B.C. 29, and the renewal of the imperium in Jan., 27, and most probably to the latter part of B.C. 28, when Octavian, having, as he said, fulfilled his pious duty of punishing the assassins of Caesar (cf. on l. 44), affected to talk of laying down his authority (Dio. 53. 4, 53. 9; Merivale, 3. 331-32); which would have been a signal for the renewal of the disturbances of which the age was so weary (cf. l. 1. iam satis, and on 2. 16. 1).The portents that accompanied or followed the death of Caesar (Shaks. Jul. Caes. 1. 3, Hamlet, 1. 1; Verg. G. 1. 467 sqq.; Dio. 45. 17; Tibull. 2. 5. 71; Ov. Met. 15. 782; Petronius, 122) and the inundation of the Tiber (cf. on l. 13) do not date the ode. They are the experience of a generation.
'We may, if we please, hoar the swish of the storm in the repeated is. Cf. Il. 21. 239.—terris: dat. i.e. in terras.—dirae: strictly ominous, portentous. Cf. insessum diris avibus Capitolium, Tac. Ann. 12. 43. Snow and hail would be rare in Italy. Milton has 'dire hail.'
pater: Jupiter, the epic father of gods and men. Cf. on 1. 12. 13; 3. 29. 44.—rubente: in the lightning's glare. Pind. O. 9. 6, φοινικοστερόπαν. Milt. P. L. 2, 'Should intermitted vengeance arm again | His red right hand to plague us.'
iaculatus: transitive; cf. 3. 12. 11; Ov. Am. 3. 3. 35, Iuppiter igne suos lucos iaculatur et arces. Tenn. L. and El. 'javelining . . . | The dark earth round.'—arcis: the seven temple-crowned hills of Rome; Verg. G. 2. 535. More specifically the two summits of the Capitoline, the N. or Arx proper, and the S. with the temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.
terruit . . . terruit: cf. 2. 4. 4, 5, for this linking of sentences by repetition of the verb.
gentis: the nations; cf. 1. 3. 28; 2. 13. 20; Lucret. 5. 1222, non populi gentesque tremunt . . . (ne) poenarum grave sit solvendi tempus adultum? Psalm 2. 1, quare fremuerunt gentes.
Rome and mankind feared a return of the flood, of which Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha were the only survivors. An ingenious description of this deluge is given by Ovid, Met. 1. 260 sqq. Cf. Pind. O. 9. 47; Milt. P. L. 11. Horace pauses in the bare list of portents to paint it. Cf. 1. 12. 27; 3. 4. 53-57, 60-64.
nova monstra: strange prodigies. Cf. Epode 16. 30, novāque monstră iunxerit libidine.
Proteus: a sea-god, who kept Neptune's herd (pecus), i.e. seals. Cf. Lang, Helen of Troy, 3. 23, 'They heard that ancient shepherd Proteus call | His flock from forth the green and tumbling lea.' For Proteus as symbol of mutability ('protean'), cf. Sat. 2. 3. 71; Epp. 1. 1. 90.—egit: drove.
visere: inf. of purpose, archaic, colloquial, poetic. Cf. Pl. B. 900, “abiit aedem visere Minervae”, 'she went away to visit the temple of Minerva'; G. L. 421. 1. (a); 1. 23. 10; 3. 8. 11.
A topsy-turvy world. Cf. Ov. Met. 1. 296, hic summa piscem deprendit in ulmo.
nota: cf. 4. 2. 6, 'custom'd.'
superiecto: overwhelming.—pavidae: 1. 23. 2.
vidimus: i.e. our age has seen. Cf. Verg. G. 1. 472, quotiens . . . vidimus. Livy, Praef. 5, malorum quae nostra tot per annos vidit aetas. Cf. 1. 35. 34.—flavum: yellow, standing epithet of the Tiber on account of its muddy color (1. 8. 8; 2. 3. 18); multa flavus arena, Verg. Aen. 7. 31. Cf. Arnold, Consolation, 'By yellow Tiber, | They still look fair.'
retortis litore (ab) Etrusco: the waters, supposed to be heaped up and driven back by winds or tides at the mouth of the river, overflow on the lower left bank, flood the region of the Velabrum between the Palatine and the Capitoline, and spread to the Forum. Cf. Ov. Fast. 6. 401 sqq.; Propert. 5. 9. 5. By litus Etruscum is meant the coast of Italy from the mouth of the Tiber northwards; cf. C. 8. 38; Epode 16. 40. Others take it of the high right bank of the Tiber (litus ripa, Verg. Aen. 3. 389; 8. 83), from which the foaming flood in freshet is violently hurled on to the opposite low left bank, at the sharp bend below the island. Cf. further Tac. Ann. 1. 76; Plin. N. H. 3. 55; Dio. 45. 17, 53. 20, 54. 1.
deiectum: supine; to overthrow. The personification of the angry river begins to be felt.—monumenta regis, etc.: the building in the Forum known as the Regia, said to have been built by Numa Pompilius and so called a memorial of the king. When the Republic was established it became the official residence of the Pontifex Maximus. Close to it was the Temple of Vesta, and the House of the Vestals to whom the Pontifex Maximus stood in loco parentis. The river is represented as proceeding to the destruction of these venerable monuments because they had been desecrated by the assassination of Julius Caesar, who was Pontifex Maximus at the time of his death. Cf. Lanciani, Ancient Rome, p. 159; Platner, Ancient Rome, pp. 196 sqq.
Ilia, or Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus by Mars (Livy, 1. 3-4), and, according to the legend followed by Horace, daughter of Aeneas, might be called the bride of the Tiber, into which she was thrown (on one tradition) by order of King Amulius. The Julian gens claimed to be descended from her, and so, by a far-fetched conceit, the wife-doting stream is said to avenge the wrong done her by the assassination of her great descendant Julius Caesar.
Iliae . . . querenti: to complaining Ilia, dat. of interest; it is for her that the display is made.—dum se . . . iactat . . . et . . . labitur: for this use of dum equivalent to a pres. part. of cause or circumstance, Cf. 1. 6. 9; 2. 10. 2; 3. 7. 18; G. L. 570. n. 2.—se . . . iactat, shows himself off.—nimium . . . ultorem: a too zealous avenger.—vagus et = et vagus.
ripa: over the bank.—Iove non probante: Jupiter wishcd to frighten, but not to destroy the city. Moreover he had not instructed the river god to take any part in the punishment of the city.
u-xorius: Cf. 1. 25. 11 (a compound); 2. 16. 7. The license is avoided in the 3d and 4th books. It is frequent in Sappho, who treated the third and fourth verses as one. In English mostly for comic effect: 'Here doomed to starve on water gru | el never shall I see the U | niversity of Gottingen.' Anti-Jacobin. When the cola were printed as separate lines, its apparent frequency in Pindar was a stumbling-block to French critics.
audiet . . . iuventus: note position. Our sons will marvel at the crime and folly of this generation. Cf. 1. 35. 35; Epode 7. 1; 16. 1-9.
civis: emphatic, but the ellipsis of in civis (against their fellow-citizens) is harsh. The reference is to the civil war by which the state had been so long distracted.
graves: formidable; cf. 3. 5. 4. So βαρύς.—Persae: the empire of the East was Parthian from B.C. 250 to A.D. 226. But Horace uses Oriental names freely, and to a student of Greek literature Eastern was Persian, or Mede.—melius perirent: would better have perished; cf. 3. 14. 27; 4. 6. 16. For the general thought in this passage, cf. Lucan, cited on Epode 7. 5.
vitio: gives cause of rara.
rara: thinned; the thought is rhetorically amplified by Lucan, 7. 398, crimen civile videmus, | tot vacuas urbes. Cf. ibid. 535 sqq. 1. 25 sqq.; Verg. G. 1. 507.
divum: gen. plur.; only a god can save. Ten years earlier Vergil prayed Di patni . . . hunc saltem everso iuvenem succurrere saeclo | ne prohibete.—ruentis: falling, cf. on 2. 1. 32; 3. 3. 8.
imperi: almost = empire. Cf. 4. 15. 14.—rebus: on behalf of the fortunes.—fatigent: importune. Cf. Verg. Aen. 1. 280.
Virgines: Vestal virgins; cf. 3. 5. 11; 3. 30. 9.—minus audientem: minus is idiomatic—not listening to. Vesta is offended by the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Pontifex Maximus. In Ov. Fast. 3. 699, she says: ne dubita meminisse! meus fuit ille sacerdos.
carmina: chants, or litanies, any set form. Possibly contrasted with the less formal prece.
partis: office, rôle. So A. P. 193, 315. It was the favorite rôle of Augustus. Cf. infra, l. 44.—scelus: guilt; τὸ ἄγος, 1. 35. 33.—expiandi: 2. 1. 5.
venias: optative subjunctive.
nube . . . amictus: Il. 5. 186, νεφέλῃ εἰλυμένος ὤμους. Cf. Milton's 'kerchef'd in a comely cloud.'—candentis umeros: Greek acc.; cf. on 1. 1. 21. For the thought, cf. Homer's φαίδιμοι ὦμοι; see note on 2. 5. 18.
augur Apollo: prophetic Apollo; so Verg. Aen. 4. 376. In answer to the question, 'What god shall expiate our guilt?' Apollo, who helped at Actium (Verg. Aen. 8. 704; Propert. 5. 6. 67), is first invoked. He was Augustus' patron deity. For his new temple, cf. on 1. 31.
sive tu mavis: supply venias; or mayest thou come, if thou wilt. Venias should be supplied also with the clause sive neglectum genus et nepotes respicis, auctor (35, 36).—Erycina: Venus, so called from her temple on Mt. Eryx in Sicily (Verg. Aen. 5. 759). She is invoked because as Aeneas' mother she would naturally be interested in the fortunes of his descendants in Italy. Cf. Preller-Jordan 1. 444; Lucret. 1. 1, Aeneadum genetrix.
Iocus: so Plaut. Bacch. 113. Cf. Milton's 'Jest and youthful Jollity.'—circum volat: they hover about her like the loves in a picture of Albani, making a pretty contrast with the following vision of grim-visaged war. Cf. F. Q. 4. 10. 42. —Cupido: Verg. Aen. 1. 663, aligerum . . . amorem. Aristoph. Birds, 697; Shaks. Rom. and Jul. 2. 5, 'And therefore hath the windswift Cupid wings,' etc.
genus et nepotes: cf. 3. 17. 3, nepotum . . . genus. Romulus was the son of Mars by Ilia, and so the Romans were his nepotes.
respicis: regardest, dost care for.—auctor: sc. Mars. Cf. 3. 17. 5; Verg. G. 3. 36, Troiae Cynthius auctor; Macaulay, Capys, 20, 'And such as is the War-God | The author of thy line.'
satiate: the Homeric Ares is insatiate of war—ατος πολέμοιο.—ludo: cf. 1. 28. 17, spectacula Marti. Cf. Ruskin on 'game of war.' Other gods have other 'games,' 1. 33. 12; 3. 29. 50.
clamor: cf. strepitum, 1. 15. 18; cf. 'loud-throated war,' 'the noise of battle hurtled in the air'; κυδοιμός, ὅμαδος.—lēves:not lĕves.
acer: fierce, the light of battle upon it.—Mauri peditis: so the Mss. Marsi is generally read (cf. 2. 20. 18; Epode 16. 3; Verg. G. 2. 167, genus acre virum; Appian. B. C. 1. 46); Peditis means unhorsed.—cruentum: whether blood-stained or bleeding, it is close work.
See Mau-Kelsey, Pompeii, p.90.
sive . . . imitaris: or if changing thy form thou dost wear on earth the disguise of a youth. The wish is no longer venias, but serus redeas, etc. The poet hints that there is a god incarnate on earth in the person of Octavian.—iuvenem:so Sat. 2. 5. 62, iuvenis Parthis horrendus; Verg. G. 1 . 500. Octavian was about thirty-five years old. Men were iuvenes in the age of military service, seventeen to forty-five.
ales . . . almae filius Maiae: Mercury. Cf. Verg. Aen. 4. 240; 1. 10. notes. The nom. filius instead of the vocative for the sake of euphony.—patiens: Cf. Epp. 1. 16. 30, pateris sapiens . . . vocari.
Caesaris = Julius Caesar only here and Sat. 1. 9. 18.—ultor: Augustus dedicated a temple to Mars Ultor, B.C. 2 (cf. Merivale, 4. 34. 116; Suet. Aug. 29), and both he (Mon. Ancyr. 1. 8-10) and the contemporary writers dwell complacently on his mission as Caesar's avenger. Cf. Sellar, p. 151; Ov. Fast. 3. 709, Hoc opus, haec pietas, haec prima elementa fuere | Caesaris, ulcisci iusta per arma patrem; ibid. 5. 577; Suet. Aug. 10; Velleius, 2. 87.
serus . . . redeas: cf. Ov. Trist. 5. 2. 52, sic ad pacta tibi sidera tardus eas; Met. 15. 868.
Quirini: the deified Romulus was identified with the old god Quirinus, and so populus Quirini = the Romans. Cf. Ov. Met. 15. 572, Fast. 1. 69.
vitiis: cause of iniquum, offended by our faults.—iniquum: cf. 2. 4. 16; 2. 6. 9; 1. 28. 28, aequo ab love; C. S. 65; Verg. Aen. 6. 129, Pauci, quos aequus amavit | Juppiter.
ocior: i.e. untimely, premature.—aura: suggested by ales.
triumphos: acc. after ames. Tres egit, Dalmaticum, Actiacum, Alexandrinum, continuo triduo omnes (Suet. Aug. 22). Cf. Merivale, 3. 314, chap. 30; Gardthausen, 2. 257 sqq. Cf. the description in Verg. Aen. 8. 714; also Verg. G. 1. 503, Iam pridem nobis caeli te regia, Caesar, | Invidet atque hominum queritur curare triumphos.
pater: Augustus was formally saluted as pater patriae by the Senate in B.C. 2. But the poets had long since anticipated the title. Cf. 3. 24. 27. n.; Ov. Trist. 2. 181; 4. 4. 13; Fast. 2. 127; as epithet of a god, 1. 18. 6; Epode 2. 21; see also Juv. 8. 244 (of Cicero).—princeps: 4. 14. 6. Octavian affected the title princeps, first citizen, because of its freedom from invidious associations. Cf. Tac. Ann. 1. 1. 3, quoted on 2. 16. 1, and 1. 9. 6. It is not to be identified with princeps senatus, the title given to the senator first called upon to express his opinion in the absence of the consuls designate, but there is obviously a connection between the two. See Furneaux, Tac. Ann. Vol. I. p. 66; Shuckburgh, Augustus, p. 149.
Medos: cf. on 22.—equitare: cf. 2. 9. 24; 4. 4. 44, ride on their raids; ride and ride (Gildersleeve). Cf. 1. 19. 11; 2. 13. 17.—inultos: 1. 28. 33; 3. 3. 42; Epode 6. 16; here,unpunished, with impunity. The defeat of Carrhae and the shade of Crassus are still unavenged. Lucan, 1. 11, umbraque erraret Crassus inulta. Cf. on 3. 5. 5.
te duce: cf. Epp. 2. 1. 256, et formidatam Parthis teprincipe Romam. Propert. 3. 1. 12-18.—Caesar: i.e. Octavian, the true name of our god and savior at last. Caesar in Horace = Julius Caesar, supra, 44, and Sat. 1. 9. 18 only. The full title of Augustus by adoption and honorary decrees of the Senate was, at the close of his life, 'Imp. Caesar, Divi F. Augustus Pontif. Max. Cos. XIII. Imp. XXI. Tribunic. Potestat. XXXVII. P. P.'