Friday, December 08, 2006


Horace's Birthday

Today is the birthday of the Roman poet Horace. We know the exact date from Suetonius' Life of Horace (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
He was born on the sixth day before the Ides of December in the consulate of Lucius Cotta and Lucius Torquatus.

natus est VI Idus Decembris L. Cotta et L. Torquato consulibus.
The temperature was 2 degrees Fahrenheit when I awoke yesterday. Horace knew what to do when the weather was cold and stormy.

Odes 1.11:

Don't ask (it's forbidden to know) what final fate the gods have given to me and you, Leuconoe, and don't consult Babylonian horoscopes. How much better it is to accept whatever shall be, whether Jupiter has given many more winters or whether this is the last one, which now breaks the force of the Tuscan sea against the facing cliffs. Be wise, strain the wine, and trim distant hope within short limits. While we're talking, grudging time will already have fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow.

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quicquid erit, pati,
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrrhenum: sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Epodes 13.1-6:

A wild storm has caused the sky to frown, and rain and snow are drawing down Jupiter; now the sea, now the woods echo with the north wind from Thrace. Let us seize, my friend, the opportunity which the day presents. While our knees are strong and it is seemly, let old age be erased from the clouded brow. Uncork the wine pressed when my Torquatus was consul.

Horrida tempestas caelum contraxit, et imbres
  nivesque deducunt Iovem; nunc mare, nunc silvae
Threicio Aquilone sonant. rapiamus, amice,
  occasionem de die, dumque virent genua
et decet, obducta solvatur fronte senectus.
  tu vina Torquato move consule pressa meo.

Odes 1.9.1-15:

You see how Soracte stands out white with deep snow, and the struggling trees can no longer sustain the burden, and the rivers are frozen with sharp ice. Dispel the cold by liberally piling logs on the fireplace, and draw out more generously, o Thaliarchus, four-year-old unmixed wine from the two-handled Sabine jar. Entrust everything else to the gods; as soon as they have stilled the winds battling on the heaving sea, neither the cypress trees nor the ancient ash trees are shaken. Leave off asking what tomorrow will bring, and whatever days fortune will give, count them as profit.

Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte, nec iam sustineant onus
  silvae laborantes, geluque
  flumina constiterint acuto.
dissolve frigus ligna super foco
large reponens atque benignius
  deprome quadrimum Sabina,
  o Thaliarche, merum diota:
permitte divis cetera, qui simul
stravere ventos aequore fervido
  deproeliantis, nec cupressi
  nec veteres agitantur orni.
quid sit futurum cras fuge quaerere et
quem fors dierum cumque dabit lucro

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