Lay down that load of state-concern.
I have translated generally; but Horace’s meaning is special, referring to Maecenas’ office of prefect of the city.
Buttmann complains of the editors for specifying the interlocutors as Horace and Lydia, which he thinks as incongruous as if in an English amoebean ode Collins were to appear side by side with Phyllis. The remark may be just as affects the Latin, though Ode 19 of the present Book, and Odes 33 and 36 of Book I, might be adduced to show that Horace does not object to mixing Latin and Greek names in the same poem; but it does not apply to a translation, where to the English reader’s apprehension Horace and Lydia will seem equally real, equally fanciful.
Lamia was doubtless vain of his pedigree; Horace accordingly banters him good-humouredly by spending two stanzas out of four in giving him his proper ancestral designation. To shorten the address by leaving out a stanza, as some critics and some translators have done, is simply to rob Horace’s trifle of its point.
There is something harsh in the expression of the fourth stanza of this Ode in the Latin. Tentare cannot stand without an object, and to connect it, as the commentators do, with deos is awkward. I was going to remark that possibly some future Bentley would conjecture certare, or litare, when I found that certare had been anticipated by Peerlkamp, who, if not a Bentley, was a Bentleian. But it would not be easy to account for the corruption, as the fact that the previous line begins with cervice would rather have led to the change of tentare into certare than vice versa.
Necessity but drive
Her wedge of adamant into that proud head.
I have translated this difficult passage nearly as it stands, not professing to decide whether tops of buildings or human heads are meant. Either is strange till explained; neither seems at present to be supported by any exact parallel in ancient literature or ancient art. Necessity with her nails has met us before in Ode 35 of Book I, and Orelli describes an Etruscan work of art where she is represented with that cognizance; but though the nail is an appropriate emblem of fixity, we are apparently not told where it is to be driven. The difficulty here is further complicated by the following metaphor of the noose, which seems to be a new and inconsistent image.
Nor gaze on Tibur, never dried.
With Ritter I have connected semper udum (an interpretation first suggested by Tate, who turned ne into ut); but I do not press it as the best explanation of the Latin. The general effect of the stanza is the same either way.