Horace, Odes (tr. A.S. Kline)


BkIII:I Odi Profanum


I hate the vulgar crowd, and keep them away:

grant me your silence. A priest of the Muses,

I sing a song never heard before,

I sing a song for young women and boys.


The power of dread kings over their peoples,

is the power Jove has over those kings themselves,

famed for his defeat of the Giants,

controlling all with a nod of his head.


It's true that one man will lay out his vineyards

over wider acres than will his neighbour,

that one candidate who descends to

the Campus, will maintain that he's nobler,


another's more famous, or has a larger

crowd of followers: but Necessity sorts

the fates of high and low with equal

justice: the roomy urn holds every name.


Sicilian feasts won't supply sweet flavours

to the man above whose impious head hangs

a naked sword, nor will the singing

of birds or the playing of zithers bring back


soft sleep. But gentle slumber doesn't despise

the humble house of a rural labourer,

or a riverbank deep in the shade,

or the vale of Tempe, stirred by the breeze.


He who only longs for what is sufficient,

is never disturbed by tumultuous seas,

nor the savage power of Arcturus

setting, nor the strength of the Kids rising,


nor his vineyards being lashed by the hailstones,

nor his treacherous farmland, rain being blamed

for the state of the trees, the dog-star

parching the fields, or the cruel winter.


The fish can feel that the channel's narrowing,

when piles are driven deep: the builder, his team

of workers, the lord who scorns the land

pour the rubble down into the waters.


But Fear and Menace climb up to the same place

where the lord climbs up, and dark Care will not leave

the bronze-clad trireme, and even sits

behind the horseman when he's out riding.


So if neither Phrygian stone, nor purple,

brighter than the constellations, can solace

the grieving man, nor Falernian

wine, nor the perfumes purchased from Persia,


why should I build a regal hall in modern

style, with lofty columns to stir up envy?

Why should I change my Sabine valley,

for the heavier burden of excess wealth?



BkIII:II Dulce Et Decorum Est


Let the boy toughened by military service

learn how to make bitterest hardship his friend,

and as a horseman, with fearful lance,

go to vex the insolent Parthians,


spending his life in the open, in the heart

of dangerous action. And seeing him, from

the enemy's walls, let the warring

tyrant's wife, and her grown-up daughter, sigh:


'Ah, don't let the inexperienced lover

provoke the lion that's dangerous to touch,

whom a desire for blood sends raging

so swiftly through the core of destruction.'


It's sweet and fitting to die for one's country.

Yet death chases after the soldier who runs,

and it won't spare the cowardly back

or the limbs, of peace-loving young men.


Virtue, that's ignorant of sordid defeat,

shines out with its honour unstained, and never

takes up the axes or puts them down

at the request of a changeable mob.


Virtue, that opens the heavens for those who

did not deserve to die, takes a road denied

to others, and scorns the vulgar crowd

and the bloodied earth, on ascending wings.


And there's a true reward for loyal silence:

I forbid the man who divulged those secret

rites of Ceres, to exist beneath

the same roof as I, or untie with me


the fragile boat: often careless Jupiter

included the innocent with the guilty,

but lame-footed Punishment rarely

forgets the wicked man, despite his start.



BkIII:XIII O Fons Bandusiae


O Bandusian fountain, brighter than crystal,

worthy of sweet wine, not lacking in flowers,

tomorrow we'll honour you

with a kid, whose brow is budding


with those horns that are destined for love and battle.

All in vain: since this child of the playful herd will

darken your ice-cool waters,

with the stain of its crimson blood.


The implacable hour of the blazing dog-star

knows no way to touch you, you offer your lovely

coolness to bullocks, weary

of ploughing, and to wandering flocks.


And you too will be one of the famous fountains,

now I write of the holm oak that's rooted above

the cave in the rock where your

clear babbling waters run down.




Faunus, the lover of Nymphs who are fleeing,

may you pass gently over my boundaries,

my sunny fields, and, as you go by, be kind

to all my new-born,


if at the end of the year a tender kid

is sacrificed to you: if the full bowls of wine,

aren't lacking, friend of Venus: the old altar

smoking with incense.


All the flock gambols over the grassy plain,

when the fifth of December returns for you:

the festive village empties into the fields,

and the idle herd:


the wolf wanders among the audacious lambs:

for you the woods, wildly, scatter their leaves:

the ditcher delights in striking the soil he

hates, in triple time.





I was suited to sweethearts till now, and performed

my service, not without glory: but now this wall

that protects the left flank of Venus,

the girl from the sea, shall have my weapons,


and hold up the lyre that has finished with warfare.

Here, O here, place the shining torches, and set up

the crowbars, and set up the axes,

so that they menace opposite doorways.


O goddess, you who possess rich Cyprus, O queen,

who holds Memphis, that's free of Sithonian snows,

touch, just for once, arrogant Chloë,

touch her, just once, with your whip, lifted high.



BkIII:XXX Aere Perennius


I've raised a monument, more durable than bronze,

one higher than the Pyramids' royal towers,

that no devouring rain, or fierce northerly gale,

has power to destroy: nor the immeasurable

succession of years, and the swift passage of time.

I'll not utterly die, but a rich part of me

will escape Persephone: and fresh with the praise

of posterity I'll rise beyond. While the High

Priest and the silent Virgin climb the Capitol,

I'll be famous, I, born of humble origin,

(from where wild Aufidus roars, and where Daunus once,

lacking in streams, ruled over a rural people)

as the first to re-create Aeolian song

in Italian verse. Melpomene, take pride,

in what has been earned by your merit, and, Muse,

willingly, crown my hair, with the Delphic laurel.