Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus)tr. W.G.Shepherd
Non ebur neque aureum
mea renidet in domo lacunar,
non trabes Hymettiae
premunt columnas ultima recisas
Africa, neque Attali
ignotus heres regiam occupavi,
nec Laconicas mihi
trahunt honestae purpuras clientae:
at fides et ingeni:
benigna vena est, pauperemque dives
me petit: nihil supra
deos lacesso nec potentem amicum
largiora flagito,
satis beatus unicis Sabinis.
truditur dies die,
novaeque pergunt interire lunae:
tu secanda marmora
locas sub ipsum funus et sepulcri
immemor struis domos
marisque Bais obstrepentis urges
summovere litora,
parum locuples continente ripa.
quid quod usque proximos
revellis agri terminos et ultra
limites clientium
salis avarus? pellitur paternos
in sinu ferens deos
et uxor et vir sordidosque natos.
nulla certior tamen
rapacis Orci fine destinata
aula divitem manet
erum. quid ultra tendis? aequa tellus
pauperi recluditur
regumque pueris, nec satelles Orci
callidum Promethea
revexit auro captus. hic superbum
Tantalum atque Tantali
genus coercet, hic levare functum
pauperem laboribus
vocatus atque non vocatus audit.
No ivory or gilded
panels gleam in my house; no
beams from Hymetus
press on columns quarried in Africa's
heartland; I have not
unexpectedly inherited a palace from Attalus;
I have no retinue
of ladies trailing Laconian purple
robes. I am loyal, however,
and of a kindly humour: though poor,
am courted by the rich. Content
with my Sabine farm, I make no more suits
to my powerful friend,
seek nothing further from the Gods above.
Each day drives out the day
before, new moons make haste to wane:
yet you, on the brink of the grave,
contract for the cutting of marble slabs;
forgetful of death you fret
to build your mansion out from the coast
in the roaring sea at Baiae -
the mainland shore will not suffice.
What do you hope to achieve
by tearing down fences and avidly
jumping your tenants'
boundaries? Men and women are evicted,
clutching to their breasts
both household Gods and ragged children.
And yet no hall more certainly
awaits the rich grandee than does rapacious
Orcus' predestined
bourne. What more can you need? Earth
opens impartially for paupers
and the sons of kings, and Charon could not
be bribed to ferry back
even resourceful Prometheus. He holds
Tantalus and Tantalus'
progeny, and whether or not invoked
is alert to disburden
the serf when his labour is done.

Transl. Copyright © W.G.Shepherd 1983 - publ. Penguin Classics

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