Horace

(8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC / Italy)

BkI:II To Augustus


The Father’s sent enough dread hail
and snow to earth already, striking
sacred hills with fiery hand,
to scare the city,

and scare the people, lest again
we know Pyrrha’s age of pain
when Proteus his sea-herds drove
across high mountains,

and fishes lodged in all the elms,
that used to be the haunt of doves,
and the trembling roe-deer swam
the whelming waters.

We saw the yellow Tiber’s waves
hurled backwards from the Tuscan shore,
toppling Numa’s Regia and
the shrine of Vesta,

far too fierce now, the fond river,
in his revenge of wronged Ilia,
drowning the whole left bank, deep,
without permission.

Our children, fewer for their father’s
vices, will hear metal sharpened
that’s better destined for the Persians,
and of battles too.

Which gods shall the people call on
when the Empire falls in ruins?
With what prayer shall the virgins
tire heedless Vesta?


Whom will Jupiter assign to
expiate our sins? We pray you,
come, cloud veiling your bright shoulders,
far-sighted Apollo:

or laughing Venus Erycina,
if you will, whom Cupid circles,
or you, if you see your children
neglected, Leader,

you sated from the long campaign,
who love the war-shouts and the helmets,
and the Moor’s cruel face among his
blood-stained enemies.

Or you, winged son of kindly Maia,
changing shape on earth to human
form, and ready to be named as
Caesar’s avenger:

Don’t rush back to the sky, stay long
among the people of Quirinus,
no swifter breeze take you away,
unhappy with our

sins: here to delight in triumphs,
in being called our prince and father,
making sure the Medes are punished,
lead us, O Caesar.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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