Saturday, April 03, 2010


Ille Potens Sui

Horace, Odes 3.29.29-56 (tr. John Beaumont):
The wise Creator from our knowledge hides
The end of future times in darksome night;
  False thoughts of mortals He derides,
    When them vaine toyes affright.

With mindfull temper present houres compose,
The rest are like a river, which with ease,
  Sometimes within his channell flowes,
    Into Etrurian seas.

Oft stones, trees, flocks, and houses it devoures,
With echoes from the hills, and neighb'ring woods,
  Where some fierce deluge, rais'd by showres,
    Turns quiet brookes to floods.

He master of himselfe, in mirth may live,
Who saith, I rest well pleas'd with former dayes;
  Let God from heav'n to morrow give
    Blacke clouds, or sunny rayes.

No force can make that voide, which once is past,
Those things are never alter'd, or undone,
  Which from the instant rolling fast,
    With flying moments run.

Proud Fortune joyfull sad affaires to finde,
Insulting in her sport, delights to change
  Uncertaine honours: quickly kinde,
    And straight againe as strange.

I prayse her stay, but if she stirre her wings,
Her gifts I leave, and to my selfe retire,
  Wrapt in my vertue: honest things
    In want no dowre require.
Horace's Latin:
prudens futuri temporis exitum
caliginosa nocte premit deus,
  ridetque si mortalis ultra
    fas trepidat. quod adest memento

componere aequus; cetera fluminis
ritu feruntur, nunc medio alveo
  cum pace delabentis Etruscum
    in mare, nunc lapides adesos

stirpesque raptas et pecus et domos
volventis una non sine montium
  clamore vicinaeque silvae,
    cum fera diluvies quietos

irritat amnes. ille potens sui
laetusque deget, cui licet in diem
  dixisse: "vixi": cras vel atra
    nube polum Pater occupato

vel sole puro; non tamen irritum,
quodcumque retro est, efficiet neque
  diffinget infectumque reddet,
    quod fugiens semel hora vexit.

Fortuna saevo laeta negotio et
ludum insolentem ludere pertinax
  transmutat incertos honores,
    nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna.

laudo manentem; si celeres quatit
pinnas, resigno quae dedit et mea
  virtute me involvo probamque
    pauperiem sine dote quaero.
A literal prose version by Niall Rudd:
God in his providence hides future events in murky darkness, and laughs if a mere mortal frets about what is beyond his control. Make sure to settle problems calmly. Everything else flows away like a river that now glides peacefully in the middle of its channel down to the Etruscan Sea, now rolls along eroded boulders, uprooted trees, livestock and houses all mixed together amid the roar of the mountains and neighbouring woods, when a wild flood enrages its quiet streams. That man will be master of himself and live a happy life who as each day ends can say "I have lived." Tomorrow let our Father cover the sky in dark cloud or bright sunshine, he will not cancel whatever is past, nor will he render null and void what the flying hour has once carried away. Fortune, revelling in her cruel business, and determined to play her high-handed game, switches her fickle favours, kind now to me, now to someone else. I praise her while she stays, but if she shakes her swift wings, I return her presents, wrap myself in my virtue, and go in search of honest Poverty, though she brings no dowry.

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