ODES - II.13 ODES - II.13
Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus) trans. Colin Sydenham
Ille et nefasto te posuit die
quicumque primum, et sacrilega manu
produxit, arbos, in nepotum
perniciem opprobriumque pagi;

illum et parentis crediderim sui
fregisse cervicem et penetralia
sparsisse nocturno cruore
hospitis; ille venena Colcha

et quidquid usquam concipitur nefas
tractavit, agro qui statuit meo
te triste lignum, te caducum
in domini caput immerentis.

quid quisque vitet numquam homini satis
cautum est in horas: navita Bosphorum
Poenus perhorrescit neque ultra
caeca timet aliunde fata;

miles sagittas et celerem fugam
Parthi, catenas Parthus et Italum
robur; sed improvisa leti
vis rapuit rapietque gentis.

quam paene furvae regna Proserpinae
et iudicantem vidimus Aeacum
sedesque descriptas piorum et
Aeoliis fidibus querentem

Sappho puellis de popularibus,
et te sonantem plenius aureo,
Alcaee, plectro dura navis,
dura fugae mala, dura belli!

utrumque sacro digna silentio
mirantur umbrae dicere; sed magis
pugnas et exactos tyrannos
densum umeris bibit aure vulgus.

quid mirum, ubi illis carminibus stupens
demittit atras belua centiceps
auris et intorti capillis
Eumenidum recreantur angues?

quin et Prometheus et Pelopis parens
dulci laborem decipitur sono,
nec curat Orion leones
aut timidos agitare lyncas.
It was a godless man who planted you
upon a lawless day, pernicious tree,
bequeathing ruin to his offspring,
infamy to this locality;

I swear he was the sort of ruffian
to break his mother's neck, or stain at night
with blood of some defenceless guest his
household shrine; a criminal who might

traffic in poisons and all other kinds
of vice was he who placed you, fateful tree,
in my domain, to fall upon your
owner passing inoffensively.

Watch as he will, a man can't be on guard
at every moment; sailors dread the straits
of Bosphorus, unmindful of the
hidden fate that round the headland waits;

the soldier fears the backward arrow of
the Parthian, the Parthian fears to go
in chains to Rome, but what is always
fatal is the unexpected blow.

How near I came to seeing that dark realm
of Proserpine, and Aeacus unfolding
judgment, the region of the blessed, and
Sappho in Aeolian lyrics scolding

her countrywomen, and, Alcaeus, you,
with golden touch and in robuster style
portraying the relentless hardships
faced in warfare, naval life, exile.

They both command a wondering silence from
the listening shades, but most the triumph-song
of strife and tyranny expelled is
drunk in by the densely pressing throng; -

no wonder when that magic sound can charm
the hundred-headed hound to droop his ears
bewitched, and all the snakes to sway in
pleasure twined among the Furies' hairs;

the music even cheats the torment of
Prometheus, lending him a breathing space,
and rests the wary lynx and lion
while Orion pauses in the chase.

Transl. copyright © Colin Sydenham 2006

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