Horace Book 2 Ode 16

Mr Bond

I am descended from a family who during many ages were members of a small Greek colony planted about the 70th Olympiad on the shores of the Black Sea between the northern foot of Mount Caucasus and the Cimmerian Bosphorus — whether it was in consequence of having heard that Ovid once resided on the other side of the mountain, or from some other cause. I contracted an affection for Roman Literature at a very early period of life; and although I am convinced that my style is vitiated by the Scythic idiom and deformed by numerous barbarians, yet I am impell’d by an irresistible inclination to offer the following feeble translation to the Attic Chest, as the fame of that sacred depository has already extended far beyond the dwellings of my ancestors.


January 1806

Translated from the 16th Ode of the 2nd Book of Horace

To Grosphus —

When dark’ning clouds the sickly moon o’er cast;
And the sea rages with the stormy blast
When not a star is seen; the sailor train
Thrown on the wide Aegean main
  Ask from the gods repose

The furious Thracian fam’d for martial pow’r
And the Mede dreaded for his arrowy show’r
All seek repose, which is not to be sold —
Grosphus for purple, eastern gems or gold
  Its purchase no one knows,

’Tis not vast wealth, nor yet the lictor’s wand
The emblem of the consul’s high command
Can chase the dreadful tumults of the mind
Or those corroding cares which unconfin’d
  Fly round the splended roof,

Happier the man, still on whose humble board
The tankard shines which call’d his grandsire Lord
His light and gentle sleep no terrors break
No sordid, low desires his couch partake
  All sorrow stands aloof.

In the short period which our lives confine
Why do we rashly num’rous plans combine?
O’er countries warm’d by foreign suns why road?
Like wretched exiles we may change our home
  But cannot change ourselves?

Each band of horsemen haggard care attends,
The brazen trireme’s lofty poop ascends;
Swift as the stag she whirls her rapid course,
Swifter than Eurus whose impetuous force
  The flying clouds impels.

Bless’d is that mind contented with its state
Which has no wish to know tomorrow’s fate,
That adverse fortune without fear can meet
And every sorrow with a smile can greet
  Thrice happy is that mind —

Swift death the great Achilles tore away,
Through a long age old Tithon met decay:
Thus may the Fates which round our dwellings fly,
Grant me a length of years, and thee deny,
  Lamented by mankind —

A thousand flocks for thee thy pastures feed,
And num’rous herds of the Sicilian breed
For thee the mare fit for the chariot neighs
And Apic’s purple casts it’s splendid rays
  Which twice the Murex dyes

While fate to me allots with sparing hand,
A humble portion of neglected land:
But adds the light spir’t of the Grecian Muse,
And my bold mind with constancy endues.
  The vulgar to despise —