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ODES, BOOK III. ODE IX.
A Dialogue between Horace and Lydia.
WHEN I a favorite with thee,
No other youth preferr'd to me,
Round thy white neck his arms might fling; More happy I than Persia's king.
When thou from other loves wert free,
Cloe of Thrace, my mistress now,
For Thurian Calais I burn,
My love does Calais' return;
My life twice freely would I give,
What, if Venus to her yoke
Bind us with the cord we broke?
Si flava excutitur Chloë,
Rejectæque patet janua Lydiæ ?
Quamquam sidere pulchrior
Ille est; tu levior cortice, et improbo Iracundior Adria:
Tecum vivere amem, tecum obeam libens.
If shaken off fair Cloe's chain,
And Lydia's door ne'er closed again?
Though he be brighter than a star,
In the usual order of the Odes (as probably arranged by Horace himself) the first ode is addressed to Mæcenas, the friend of Augustus, the great patron of men of letters. It treats of the difference of men's inclinations, and of the wish of Horace to obtain a place among the Lyric poets. The object of the second ode, to Augustus Cæsar, is to persuade the Romans, that they would best appease the gods, irritated by the crimes of their civil wars, and save the power of Rome, by accepting Augustus as its chief. In the third ode Horace addresses the ship, in which Virgil was sailing, and invokes the protection of Venus, and of the Gemini, Castor and Pollux, for his friend. Virgil hoped to strengthen his health, then declining, by the voyage to Athens; to go into Asia, to visit the scenes of the Iliad, and to finish his Æneid. Augustus found Virgil at Athens: they travelled towards Rome together; but Augustus left Virgil ill at Megara. Soon afterwards the great Poet embarked, and landed in a dying state at Brundusium, where he expired, on the 10th of the Calends of October (22nd September), in the year of Rome 735, nineteen years B.C.). He was born on the 15th October, A.U.C. 684, in the consulate of Crassus and Pompey.
ODE 1. "And looks commercing with the skies."
Milton, Il Penseroso.
or in swift race contend
As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields;
Milton, Par. Lost, book ii.
ODE 2. "Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other heavens That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps Light above light, for thee alone, as seems."
Milton, Par. Lost, book ix.
The overflowings of the Tiber were frequent, especially at Rome, and considered warnings of the displeasure of the deities. There was a terrible inundation the year this ode is supposed to have been written, 732 A.U.C., 22 B.C. An inscription, still to be seen on one of the arches of the bridge Quatro Capi (Pons Fabricius) at Rome, attests that it was destroyed and afterwards rebuilt by Q. Æmilius Lepidus, and M. Lollius, who were the consuls of that year. According to Horace the Tiber ('uxorius amnis') was so complaisant as to overflow to please Ilia, his complaining wife, and without the leave of Jupiter (Jove non probante').
Pliny says, as to the inundations of the Tiber,
"Tiberis. . . nullique fluviorum minus licet, inclusis utrimque lateribus: nec tamen ipse pugnat, quanquam creber ac subitus incrementis, et nusquam magis aquis quam in ipsa Urbe stagnantibus. Quin immo vates intelligitur potius ac monitor, auctu semper religiosus verius, quam sævus."
Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. iii. 9.
And Tacitus (Ann. lib. i. 76), thus,
"Eodem anno continuis imbribus auctus Tiberis plana Urbis stagnaverat relabentem secuta est ædificiorum et hominum