ODES - II.8 IF FOR ALL THE PROMISES ...
Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus) trans. Phil Poole


Vlla si iuris tibi peierati
poena, Barine, nocuisset umquam,
dente si nigro fieres vel uno
turpior ungui,

crederem. sed tu, simul obligasti
perfidum votis caput, enitescis
pulchrior multo iuvenumque prodis
publica cura.

expedit matris cineres opertos
fallere et toto taciturna noctis
signa cum caelo gelidaque divos
morte carentis.

ridet hoc, inquam, Venus ipsa, rident
simplices Nymphae, ferus et Cupido,
semper ardentis acuens sagittas
cote cruenta.

adde quod pubes tibi crescit omnis,
servitus crescit nova, nec priores
impiae tectum dominae relinquunt,
saepe minati.

te suis matres metuunt iuvencis,
te senes parci, miseraeque nuper
virgines nuptae, tua ne retardet
aura maritos.


If, for your lies, Barine, youíd caught
any comeback, a blackened tooth,
a chipped fingernail,
some small hurt,

then I might trust. But a promise made
ties you down. Straightway you wriggle out,
more radiant than ever. Public matter
young men note.

Youíll swear on motherís hidden ashes,
on a whole night sky of unheard stars,
on the gods who donít know death,
that cold thought.

Venus, I tell you, snickers at all this,
and the silly Nymphs - and nasty Cupid,
who sharpens, on bloodstained stone,
infectious arrowheads.

Whatís more, for you young men mature:-
more slaves! Sad old men canít quit
your fake despotic rule, despite
all their threats.

Youíre a nightmare to mothers of randy sons,
to thrifty fathers. Miserably, young brides fret
that husbands might have caught a whiff of you.
Come home late.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Phil Poole 2008

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