Monday, January 31, 2005


Horace's Prayer

Horace, Epistles 1.18.105-112 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough):
What, think you, my friend, are my prayers? May I have my present store, or even less; may I live to myself for what remains of life, if the gods will that aught remains. May I have a goodly supply of books and of food to last the year; nor may I waver to and fro with the hopes of each uncertain hour. But 'tis enough to pray Jove, who gives and takes away, that he grant me life, and grant me means; a mind well-balanced I will myself provide.
Here is another translation, this one in verse, by John Conington:
What prayers are mine? "O may I yet possess
The goods I have, or, if Heaven pleases, less!
Let the few years that Fate may grant me still
Be all my own, not held at others' will!
Let me have books, and stores for one year hence,
Nor make my life one flutter of suspense!"

But I forbear: sufficient 'tis to pray
To Jove for what he gives and takes away:
Grant life, grant fortune, for myself I'll find
That best of blessings, a contented mind.
And finally here is the Latin original:
                         quid credis, amice, precari?
'sit mihi quod nunc est, etiam minus, et mihi vivam
quod superest aevi, si quid superesse volunt di;
sit bona librorum et provisae frugis in annum
copia, neu fluitem dubiae spe pendulus horae.'
sed satis est orare Iovem, qui ponit et aufert,
det vitam, det opes; aequum mi animum ipse parabo.

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