Monday, August 23, 2021


Civil War

T.E. Page, summary of Horace, Epodes 7:
Why this unholy strife? Has not blood enough been shed by sea and land, not to win triumphs over foes but that Rome might perish by her own hand? Even beasts do not war upon their kind. Tell me, "Are ye mad or what?" They have no answer, but stand terror-stricken and dazed. Assuredly the curse of a brother's blood pursues the descendants of Romulus.
Horace, Epodes 7 (tr. C.E. Bennett):
Whither, whither are ye rushing to ruin in your wicked frenzy? Or why are your hands grasping the swords that have once been sheathed? Has too little Roman blood been shed on field and flood—

not that the Roman might burn the proud towers of jealous Carthage, or that the Briton, as yet unscathed, might descend the Sacred Way in fetters,

but that, in fulfilment of the Parthians' prayers, this city might perish by its own right hand? Such habit ne'er belonged to wolves or lions, whose fierceness is turned only against beasts of other kinds.

Does some blind frenzy drive us on, or some stronger power, or guilt? Give answer!—They speak not; a ghastly pallor o'erspreads their faces; and dazed are their shattered senses.

'Tis so: a bitter fate pursues the Romans, and the crime of a brother's murder, ever since blameless Remus' blood was spilt upon the ground, to be a curse upon posterity.

Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? aut cur dexteris
   aptantur enses conditi?
parumne campis atque Neptuno super
   fusum est Latini sanguinis,

non, ut superbas invidae Carthaginis        5
   Romanus arces ureret,
intactus aut Britannus ut descenderet
   Sacra catenatus Via,

sed ut secundum vota Parthorum sua
   urbs haec periret dextera?        10
neque hic lupis mos nec fuit leonibus
   umquam nisi in dispar feris.

furorne caecus, an rapit vis acrior,
   an culpa? responsum date!
tacent et albus ora pallor inficit        15
   mentesque perculsae stupent.

sic est: acerba fata Romanos agunt
   scelusque fraternae necis,
ut immerentis fluxit in terram Remi
   sacer nepotibus cruor.        20

12 numquam ed. Ven. 1490: umquam codd.
Paul Shorey and Gordon J. Laing, commentary on this poem:

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