Tuesday, November 22, 2011


You wouldn't want to have to sit and listen
To the soft voice of the cithara telling you stories
About the long wars against the fearsome Spaniards,
Or Hannibal the tough, or how the sea

Near Sicily ran red with Punic blood,
Or about the Lapiths and the wine-crazed Centaurs,
Or how by the punishing hand of Hercules
The Sons of the Earth were tamed, the Giants who caused

Old Saturn's shining house to quake with fear.
Maecenas, you'd be better able to tell
Straightforwardly in prose stories like these,
About the triumphs of Caesar and about how

Chained by the neck once-dangerous kings paraded
Disgraced along the streets of jubilant Rome.
Instead of this the Muse wants me to use
The peaceable music of my cithara

To celebrate Lycymnia's shining eyes,
Lycymnia's wit, Lycymnia's lovely singing,
Lycymnia's faithful loving marital heart,
Lycymnia dancing with such seemly grace,

Lycymnia joining hands with the festal band
Of maidens on Diana's sacred day.

Odes, ii.12
David Ferry, translation
op. cit.

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