Friday 19 October 2012 09:20

Horace (65 BC to 8 BC) was the principal lyric poet of the Augustan period of ancient Rome. These two poems are ‘versions’ - loosely based on Horace. The poems they are based on are perhaps the most translated of Horace’s work.

Horace at the Latin Library

Iam satis terris niuis atque dirae

Now the world has had enough

of hail and sleet

the river drowns the bridge-arch

and shocks the town.

We who feared terror

fire and famine

now fear water

having seen the river turned

a terrible flood

that drowned the plain.

Here dread succeeds

greater than God

or country

and we have lost our way.

Odi profanum uolgus et arceo

I fear the venal cliques

and keep my mouth shut –

new things, only lately learned,

for children and fools.

A president for all his power

falls to the gods in time:

they tramp the battlefield;

men drop when they frown.

This man buys land

and conceals his boundaries;

this one is elected;

another is spoken of with care;

the demagogue, the barrister,

the great, the small:

necessity rules all of them;

from the spacious clay.

The politician at the public feast

stares at the carving-knife

in dread; the songs

disturb his peace of mind.

But sleep need not be bought.

Farmer and factory man,

hilltop home and Council estate

all feel its gentling hand.

If the sea is troubled,

or the western wind  brings rain,

or stones hail on the vines,

or crops and profits fail,

still be content:

you will not hear the olive trees

complaining of the rain

or the cold stars or the sun.

But the fish feels

the ocean shrinking

when he brushes the breakwater

that the contractor filled with waste,

and fear leaps from the wave

and snatches down the man

from the ship’s wheel and the car,

the hired-man on the mole

and the owner. If granite cannot

protect them, why build a fine house

with impressive gates

like all the rest of them?

The translations are Creative Commons