The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 142 pages of information about The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace.


     Who with pared nails encounter youths in fight.

I like Ritter’s interpretation of sectis, cut sharp, better than the common one, which supposes the paring of the nails to denote that the attack is not really formidable.  Sectis will then be virtually equivalent to Bentley’s strictis.  Perhaps my translation is not explicit enough.


     And search for wreaths the olive’s rifled bower.

Undique decerptam I take, with Bentley, to mean “plucked on all hands,” i. e. exhausted as a topic of poetical treatment.  He well compares Lucretius, Book I, v. 927—­

        “Juvatque novas decerpere flores,
     Insignemque meo capiti petere inde coronam
     Unde prius nulli velarint tempora Musae.”

     ’Tis Teucer leads, ’tis Teucer breathes the wind.

If I have slurred over the Latin, my excuse must be that the precise meaning of the Latin is difficult to catch.  Is Teucer called auspex, as taking the auspices, like an augur, or as giving the auspices, like a god?  There are objections to both interpretations; a Roman imperator was not called auspex, though he was attended by an auspex, and was said to have the auspicia; auspex is frequently used of one who, as we should say, inaugurates an undertaking, but only if he is a god or a deified mortal.  Perhaps Horace himself oscillated between the two meanings; his later commentators do not appear to have distinguished them.


Since this Ode was printed off, I find that my last stanza bears a suspicious likeness to the version by “C.  S. C.”  I cannot say whether it is a case of mere coincidence, or of unconscious recollection; it certainly is not one of deliberate appropriation.  I have only had the opportunity of seeing his book at distant intervals; and now, on finally comparing his translations with my own, I find that, while there are a few resemblances, there are several marked instances of dissimilarity, where, though we have adopted the same metre, we do not approach each other in the least.


        And for your dames divide
     On peaceful lyre the several parts of song.

I have taken feminis with divides, but it is quite possible that Orelli may be right in constructing it with grata.  The case is really one of those noticed in the Preface, where an interpretation which would not commend itself to a commentator may be adopted by a poetical translator simply as a free rendering.


             Our guest,
     Megilla’s brother.

There is no warrant in the original for representing this person as a guest of the company; but the Ode is equally applicable to a tavern party, where all share alike, and an entertainment where there is a distinction between hosts and guests.

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The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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