previous next


Ode XI


Yield me a strain, O my lyre, to which obdurate Lyde, shy as any colt, may lend an ear. Thou canst charm tigers and Cerberus, keeper of the gate of hell ; thou didst soothe the anguish of the damned and madest the daughters of Danaus forget to fill their urns. Let my Lyde mark the tale of their crime and the late punishment that awaits girls who sin against love. They slew their husbands,--all save one who nobly false to her perjured sire said to her young lord: Arise and escape from thy wicked cousins. Me my father may punish as he will ; but thou depart--night and Venus be thy speed--and carve a plaint for me upon an empty tomb.

Lyde (the name, 2.11.22; 3.28.3) merely supplies a motive and setting for Horace's pretty treatment of the more pleasing side of the myth.

Danaus, descendant of Io the daughter of Inachus, returned with fifty daughters from Egypt to his ancestral home, Argos. Constrained to marry his daughters to their cousins, the sons of Aegyptus, who had pursued them from Egypt, he bound the girls to assassinate their husbands on the bridal night. Hypermnestra alone spared her husband Lynceus, and became the ancestress of the line of Danae, Perseus, and Hercules.

Cf. Pind. Nem. 10. 6; Aesch. Prom. 853-869; Supplices passim, and the lost play the Danaids; Apollod. 2. 1.5; Ovid, Heroides, 14, an Epistle from Hypermnestra to Lynceus, should be compared throughout. Also 'Chaucer, Legend of Good Women.

Horace's readers were familiar with the statues of the Danaids that stood between the columns of the porticus of the temple of Apollo on the Palatine. Cf. on 1.31.1; Propert. 3.29.3, Tota erat in speciem Poenis digesta columnis,| inter quas Danai femina turba senis; Ov. Trist. 3.1.61, signa peregrinis ubi sunt alterna columnis |Belides et stricto barbarus ense pater.


nam: motivates invocation of Mercury, the author of the lyre (1.10.6). Cf. Epode 17.45; Hom. Il.24.334; Verg. Aen. 1.65, Aeole namque tibi; 1. 731; Milton, P. L. 3, 'Uriel, for thou,' etc. docilis: with te magistro, teachable and taught--an apt pupil.


Amphion: he reared 'the song-built towers and gates' (Tenn. Teires.) of Thebes. Cf. A. P.394, Dictus et Amphion Thebanae conditor arcis| saxa movere sono testudinis; Tenn. Amphion. See on 1.12.12.


testudo: cf. on 1.32.14; 4.3.17, 'Upon an empty tortoise shell| He stretched some chords and drew |Music that made men's bosom swell |Fearless, or brimmed their eyes with dew,' Lowell, The Shepherd of King Admetus; Gray, 'enchanting shell'; Shelley, Trans. Hymn to Mercury, 5.6.7-9. septem: Hymn Merc. 51; Pind. Pyth. 2.70; Nem. 5.24; Terpander, fr. 5, boasted that he first rejected the four-stringed lyre for that of seven strings; Ion. fr. 3, boasts a lyre of eleven strings.


callida: cf. on 1.10.7.


loquax: Sappho, fr. 45, Ἄγε ῾δἢ χέλυ δῖά μοι|φωνάεσσα γένοιο; Odyss. 17. 270, ἠπύει Note Latin poverty (3. 13. 15, loquaces). Cf. λάλος, λάλιος nunc et: cf. 4. 13. 6. Elsewhere Horace elides final et. Cf. 1. 7.6; 1.3.19; 1.9.13; 1.35.11; 2.6.1, 2; 2.13.23; 2.15.5; 2.16.37; 3.1.39; 3. 3.71; 3.4.59; 3.6.3; 3.8.27; 3.26.9; 3.27.29; 3.27.46; 3.27.22; 3.29.3; 3.29.7; 3 29 9. 3 29 49 He avoids it in the fourth book. Cf. on 4.6.11.


mensis: 1. 32. 13; Odyss. 17.270; Shelley, ut supra, 'King of the dance, companion of the feast'; Ronsard, A Sa Lyre, 'Toy qui jadis des grands rois les viandes| Faisois trouver plus douces et friandes.' The nurse in Eurip. Medea, 201-203, censures the custom, but Il Trovatore still sweetens the viands at the 'Grand Hotel.' templis: cf. on 1.36. 1; 4.1.23; Dionys. Hal. 7.32.

9, 10. Cf. Anaer. fr. 75; Theog. 257; Eurip. Hippol. 547; Aristoph. Lysistr. 1308; Lucil. 30, 61; Ronsard, Amours de Marie, 'Mais tout ainsi qu'un beau poulain farouche,' etc. ; Tenn. Talking Oak, 'Then ran she gamesome as the colt,' etc. Cf. also on 1.23.1; 2.5.6; 3.15.12.


trima: colts were broken in fourth year (Verg. G. 3.190).


ludit exsultim: frisks and frolics. Exsultim occurs only here; cf. exultare of horses, and Anacreon's σκιρτῶσα παίζεις. metuit . . tangi: cf. on 2.2.7; 4.5.20; Catull. 62.45, sic virgo, dum intacta manet.


protervo: cf. on 2.5.15; 'And he may be rude, and yet I may forgive' (Lady Mary W. Montagu).


cruda: 2.5.10; 3.6.22, matura.

13, 14. Cf. on 1.2 and 1.12.7 sqq. que: cf. on 1.30.6.


Cf. on 1.24.13; 2. 13. 33-40; Verg. G. 4.510, mulcentem tigris.


immanis: 3.4.43; 4.14.15; preferably with aulae, ianitor being sufficiently characterized in next strophe. Cf. Sil. 2. 552, insomnis lacrimosae ianitor aulae. For aulae, cf. on 2. 18.31. Verg. Aen. 6.400 has ingens ianitor; 6. 417-18, Cerberus . . . recubans immanis in antro. blandienti: 1.12.11; 1.24.13.


Cerberus, etc.: cf. on 2.13.34, belua centiceps.


furiale: fury-like. Cf. 2.13.36.


angues: F. Q. 1.5.34, 'Before the threshold dreadful Cerberus| His three deformèd heads did lay along,| Curled with thousand adders venomous'; Verg. Aen. 6.419, horrere videns iam colla colubris; Callim. fr. 161, ἐχιδναῖον. . .δακετόν eius: may be made emphatically demonstrative by a comma after caput. Cf. 4.8.18. But Vergil avoids the word altogether, Ovid uses it about twice, and so some critics reject the strophe as unworthy of Horace.


trilingui: 2.19.31; Verg. Aen. 6.417, trifauci.


quin et: cf. 1.10. 13.n.; 2.13. 37. Ixion: F. Q. 1.5. 35, 'There was Ixion turnèd on a wheel,| For daring tempt the queen of heaven to sin'; Pind. Pyth. 2.21; Soph. Philoct. 671; Sen. Herc. Fur. 752; Verg. G. 4.484, Atque Ixionii vento (cantu?) rota constitit orbis; Ov. Met. 10.42, stupuitque Ixionis orbis; Tenn., 'And stay'd the rolling Ixionian wheel'; 'On stept the bard. Ixion's wheel stood still' (Landor, Orpheus and Eurydice), Browning, Ixion in Jocoseria. He is not found with Tantalus (2.13.37), Sisyphus (2.14.20), and Tityos (2.14.8; 3.4.77; 4.6.2), in Homer's Hades.


risit: cf. 1.10.12. invito: on account of their tortures they were but little inclined to smile. urna: the piteber which each used in carrying water to the leaky jar (dolium). Phaedr. App. 1.5.10, Urnis scelestae Danaides portant aquas| Pertusa nec com- plere possunt dolia. This form of punishment, alluded to by Plato (Gorg. 493 B) and Bion (Diog. Laert. 4.7. 50), is first specifically appropriated to the Danaids in PseudoPlat. Axiochus, 371 E. It appears on Italian vases of the 3d century B.C. Moralized, Lucret. 3. 1007-1010.


notas: the scelus also is notum, of course.


lymphae: with inane, gen. 'plenty and want.'


dolium: Horace puts the leak in the larger jar. Cf. supra, on urna, and the illustration in Harper's Class. Dict. s.v. fundo: by (way of). pereuntis: etymologically, running out by. Cf. on 4.4.65. But cf. Odyss. 11.586 (in diff. connection), ὕδωρ ἀπωλέσκετο; Lucret. 1.250, pereunt imbres.


sera: though late; cf. on 3.2.32; Verg. Aen. 6. 569, distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem.


sub Orco: sc. rege, editors say, citing 3.5.9, 2.18.30, on the doubtful ground that Horace always personifies Orcus. Cf. 1.28.10; 2.3.24; 3.4.75; 3.27.50; 4.2.24; Epp. 2. 2.178. But υ9´ὸ χθονὸς, κατὰ γᾶς (Pind. O.2.65) is the meaning wanted. Cf. Aesch. Eum. 175, ὑπό τε γᾶν φυγὼν οὔ ποτ᾽ ἐλευθεροῦται.

30, 31. impiae: cf. 3.27.49, 50. potuere: in 30 of physical or logical, in 31 of moral, possibility = ἔτλησαν had the heart to. duro: cruel; Homer's νηλέι χαλκῷ Cf. saevis, 1.45.


una: one only, Hypermnestra. Cf. Aesch. Prom. 865. μίαν δὲ παίδων; Pind. Nem. 10.6, μονόψαφον . . . ξίφος face: of Hymen. Cf. Milt. L'Allegro, 'There let Hymen oft appear| In saffron robe with taper clear.'


periurum in parentem: to her perjured father, i.e. Danaus, who in binding his daughters by oath to murder their husbands, broke the faith he had plighted at their betrothal.


splendide mendax: cf. Tac. Hist. 4.50, egregio mendacio; Cic. pro Mil. 72, mentiri gloriose; Aesch. fr. 301, ἀπάτης δικαίας; Soph. Antig. 74; Eurip. Hel. 1633; Sen. Ep. 95.30, gloriosum scelus; Tasso, Ger. Lib. 2.22, magnanima menzogna; Ruskin, 'splendid avarice'; Tenn., 'bright dishonour ' . 'His honour rooted in dishonour stood,' etc. For oxymoron in Horace, cf. 1.18.16; 1.33.2; 1.34.2; 1.22.10; 1.33.14; 2.12.26; 3.4.5-6; 3.20.3; 3.24.59; 3.5.48; 3.27.28; 3.3.38; 3. 6.44; 3.8.1; 3.16.28; 3.25.18; 3.27.25-26, etc. On the ethical question, cf. Jacobi, cited by Coleridge; the quaint 'Christian Horace,' published for young Catholics at Lyons, eliminates the dangerous suggestion, reading: digna crudelis fera iussa patris| iure contempsit.


surge: Ov. Her. 14.73, surge age, Belide, de tot modo fratribus unus: |nox tibi ni properas, ista perennis erit.


longus somnus: cf. 1.24.5, perpetuus sopor; the passage is parodied by Ausonius (Ephemeris, 18-19). For poverty of vocab., note use of longus, 2.14.19; 4.9.27; 3.3.37; 2.16.30; 3.27.43; 3.5.53, etc. Or is it restraint? unde=(inde) unde: from a quarter whence.


socerum: my father; avoid -in-law.


falle: λάθε; 1.10.16; postico falle clientem, Epp. 1.5. 31, elude. sorores: cousins. Danaus and Aegyptus were brothers.


nactae: that have seized. leaenae: as in Il.5.161.


singulos: suum quaeque maritum; Aesch. Prom. 862, γυνὴ γὰρ ἄνδρ᾽ ἕκαστον. lacerant: the lions, blending image and thing compared as usual. For the detai's, cf. Ov. Her. 14.35.


intra claustra: imprisoned.


tenebo= retinebo.


In Ov. Her. 14.3, she writes, clausa domo teneor gravibusque coercita vinclis. Cf. Pausan. 2. 19.6 for her trial!


clemens misero: cf. on 1.6.9.


me: 'as for me, he may do his worst, I will not regret having spared thee'; Ov. Her. 14.13-4, non tamen ut dicant morientia 'paenitet' ora,| efficiet. extremos: 3. 10. 1; Ep. 1. 1. 45; Catull. 11. 2.


classe: νηυσι]ν ἄγωνIl.21.41. releget: suggesting the technical relegatio, banishment.


pedes et aurae: an all-including formula. Cf. Epode 16. 21. Those who choose may take it literally,--to the coast on foot and then back to Egypt by sea.


Venus: who prompted her to spare him (Aesch. Prom. 865), and by whose intervention she was saved in Aeschylus' lost Danaids, fr. 43.


nostri: i.e. mei, of me, as 3.27.14; Tibull. 3.5.31; 3.2. 25.


querellam: in Ov. Her. 14.128, she composes it, exul Hypermnestra, pretium pietatis iniquum,| quam mortem fratri (cousin) depulit, ipsa tulit. In the age of Trajan, a Cook's tourist, who knew her Horace, scrawled on the Pyramid of Gizeh: et nostri memorem luctus hanc sculpo querelam.

Unlike Pindar, Horace closes with the myth, and Lyde is forgotten.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (1 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (1):
    • Cicero, For Milo, 72
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: