Horace

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

BkI:XII Praising Augustus


What god, man, or hero do you choose to praise
on the high pitched flute or the lyre, Clio?
Whose name will it be that joyfully resounds
in playful echoes,

either on shadowed slopes of Mount Helicon,
or on Pindus’s crest, or on cool Haemus,
where the trees followed thoughtlessly after
Orpheus’s call,

that held back the swift-running streams and the rush
of the breeze, by his mother the Muse’s art,
and seductively drew the listening oaks
with enchaining song?

Which shall I sing first of the praises reserved
for the Father, who commands mortals and gods,
who controls the seas, and the land, and the world’s
various seasons?

From whom nothing’s born that’s greater than he is,
and there’s nothing that’s like him or near him,
though Athene has honour approaching his,
she’s bravest in war:

I won’t be silent about you, O Bacchus,
or you Diana, virgin inimical
to wild creatures, or you Apollo, so feared
for your sure arrows.

I’ll sing Hercules, too, and Leda’s twin boys,
one famed for winning with horses, the other
in boxing. When their clear stars are shining bright
for those on the sea,


the storm-tossed water streams down from the headland,
the high winds die down, and the clouds disappear,
and, because they wish it, the menacing waves
repose in the deep.

I don’t know whether to speak next, after those,
of Romulus, or of Numa’s peaceful reign,
of Tarquin’s proud axes, or of that younger
Cato’s noble death.

Gratefully, I speak in distinguished verses
of Regulus: and the Scauri: and Paulus
careless of his life, when Hannibal conquered:
of Fabricius.

Of him, and of Curius with uncut hair,
and Camillus too, whom their harsh poverty
and their ancestral gods, and their ancient farms,
inured to struggle.

Marcellus’ glory grows like a tree, quietly
with time: the Julian constellation shines,
among the other stars, as the Moon among
the lesser fires.

Father, and guardian of the human race,
son of Saturn, the care of mighty Caesar
was given you by fate: may you reign forever
with Caesar below.

Whether its the conquered Persians, menacing
Latium, that he leads, in well-earned triumph,
or the Seres and the Indians who lie
beneath Eastern skies,

under you, he’ll rule the wide earth with justice:
you’ll shake Olympus with your heavy chariot,
you’ll send your hostile lightning down to shatter
once-pure sacred groves.

Submitted: Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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