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Ode IV

Spring has come, and the zephyrs. Cold winter's chains are loosed. Enjoy the spring flowers while you may. The night of death is nigh. Cf. 4. 7, and Carew's lovely lines on Spring.

L.Sestius was consul suffectus in the second half of the year B.C. 23, and the composition of the ode has been assigned by some editors to that year. The evidence, however, is inadequate. See Wochenschrift für Klassische Philologie, 15. 635.

solvitur: is relaxing; strictly perhaps of the frozen soil. Cf. solutae, 1. 10; Verg. G. 2. 331, laxant arva sinus. But cf. 1. 9. 5; Tibull. (?) 3. 5. 4, cum se purpureo vere remittit hiems (humus).—grata vice: by the welcome change. Cf. 4. 7. 3; E. 13. 8; 3. 29. 13.—Favoni: Favonius, also called Zephyrus, was the W. wind. It began to blow about the beginning of February and was a harbinger of spring. Cf. 4. 12. 2; 3. 7. 2; Cat. 46. 2, iam caeli furor aequinoctialis | iucundis zephyri silescit auris; Lucret. 5. 737 sqq.

trahunt: draw down. The regular word is deducere.—machinae: rollers (κύλινδροι) and tackle by which the ships were drawn down and launched at the opening of navigation. Caes. B. C. 2. 10; Anth. Pal. 10. 15.

igni: ingle-lowe (Burns).

Cythĕrea . . . Venus: Cytherea is a substantive; the rare tautology, found only in later Greek poets, is perhaps justified by the separation: the goddess of Cythēra . . . Venus. Or perhaps in Cythēra.—choros: dances. Cf. Hom. Hymn Apoll. Pyth. 16; Lucret. 5. 737; Rossetti, Sonnet on Botticclii's Spring.—imminente luna: Milton, P. L. 1. 780, 'while overhead the moon | Sits arbitress.' The Greek divinities, like the modern elves and fairies, dance in the woods, sub nocte silenti | cum superis terrena placent (Stat. Silv. 1. 1. 95).

iunctae: hand in hand.—decentes: comely, 1. 18. 6;3. 27. 53.

gravis: ponderous.—Cyclopum: according to Hesiod (Theog. 139) the Cyclopes were three in number, giant sons of Uranus and Gaca. They forged the bolts of Jupiter, and their forges were supposed to be on the island of Lipara; Cf. 3. 12. 6. n.; Verg. Aen. 8. 416; Ap. Rhod. 3. 41; Callim. Hymn 3. 46. They are mentioned here because in spring they would naturally be busy with the summer thunder-bolts. These Hesiodic Cyclopes are to be distinguished from the pastoral monsters of Homer, Odyss., Bk. 9.

Volcanus ardens: i.e. in the glow of the forge, or with eagerness (σπεύδων, Il. 18. 373; Verg. Aen. 2. 529, ardens insequitur). Cf. 3. 4. 58-59. n.—urit: fires up, kindles. A few Mss. and some editors who object to seeming tautology of ardens urit, read visit, visits. Cf. 3. 28. 15.

nitidum: with ointment, 2. 7. 7; but cf. 3. 19. 25; 3. 24. 20; 2. 12. 19.—impedire: wreathe; Cf. vincire, 4. 1. 32; 1. 7. 23; Tibull. 1. 6. 67, quamvis non vitta ligatos | impediat crinea. Cf. expedies caput, 3. 24. 8.

solutae: cf. Verg. G. 1. 44, zephyro putris se glaeba resolvit.

umbrosis: evidently cannot be pressed if the time is the Ides of February. But cf. 1. 23. 5-6. n.—Fauno: Faunus was a protecting deity of flocks, herds, and agriculture. According to Ovid, Fast. 2. 193, a sacrifice was offered to him on the Ides of February. Cf. 1. 17; 3. 18.

poscat: so. immolari sibi.—agna: abl. instr., as often with verbs of sacrificing.

pallida: by association. Cf. Shaks., 'death's pale flag'; Milton, P. L. 10, 'Death . . . not mounted yet | On his pale horse.' 'Where kingly death | Keeps his pale court,' Adonais, 7.—aequo . . . pede: Cowper, Yearly Bill of Mortality, 1787, 'Pale death with equal foot strikes wide the door | Of royal halls and hovels of the poor.' Dickens, David Copperfield, ch. 28, 'If we failed to hold our own, because that equal foot at all men a doors was heard knocking somewhere, every object in this world would slip from us.' For knocking with the foot, cf. Plaut. Most. 444; Callim. Hym. Apoll. 3. Observe alliteration.

regum: 2. 14. 11. n.—beate: in the conventional, if not in the stoic sense. Cf. 3. 7. 3. n.; 2. 2. 17. n.; 11. 11. 68.

summa: cf. 4. 7. 17.—brevis: a commonplace. Cf. Otto, Sprichwörter s.v. Vita, 2.—spem . . . longam: 1. 11 .6.—incohare: life's brief sum forbids us open (a) long (account with) hope (Gildersleeve). Cf. Seneca, Ep. 101, O quanta dementia est spec longas incohantium.

iam: presently; cf. Tibull. 1. 1. 7, iam veniet tenebris more adoperta caput. Cf. Lucret. 3. 894, iam iam, etc.—premet: will close in on.—nox: death; cf. 4. 9. 27. n.; Verg. Aen. 6. 827.—fabulae . . . Manes: the Manes of fable, but note that fabulae is nom. plur. in apposition with Manes: the spirit world that men prate of. Persius imitated this, 5, 152, cinis et manes et fabula fies. For fabula = theme of talk, cf. Epode 11. 8. There is a further Epicurean suggestion that the tales of a future life are—fabulae! nonsense (Ter. Heaut. 2. 3. 95). Cf. Sen. Tro. 380, Verum est, an timidos fabula decipit | umbrae corporibus vivere conditis? Callim Ep. 15. 4.

exilis: cheerless, barren of comforts (of. Epp. 1. 6. 45, and plena domo, 4. 12. 24) or unsubstantial (Cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 269, domos Ditis vacuas et inania regna).—simul = simul ac; 1. 9. 9. n.

regna vini: the sovereignty of the wine, the office of arbiter bibendi, master of the revels. The choice was made by the dice. Cf. 2. 7. 25. n.—talis: properly the knucklebones of certain animals, used as dice. For the Epicurean moral, cf. Fletcher, 'Drink to-day and drown all sorrow'; Herrick, 541; 111, 'Sing o'er Horace; for ere long | Death will come and mar the song'; Theog. 567-570, 973; Propert. 3. 7. 23, Dum nos fata sinunt, oculos satiemus amore: | nox tibi longa venit nec reditura dies.

Lycidan: the name of this youth is apparently fictitious. Cf. Verg. Ecl. 7. 67 Lycida formose.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Callimachus, Epigrams, 15
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 3.41
    • Plautus, Mostellaria, 2.2
    • Seneca, Epistulae, 101
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