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Addressed to Maecenas when preparing for some expedition in which
Augustus was about to engage. The terms of affection which Horace here and elsewhere applies to his patron must in these days appear hyperbolical, but we moderns, whose warmest feelings take rather the direction of love, do not readily appreciate the fervour of ancient friendship. That Horace's contemporaries did not suppose him to be exaggerating when saying that he should not survive Maecenas, is proved by the fact that when his own death did actually follow closely on that of Maecenas, he was commonly reported to have committed suicide.
To go, with skiffs Liburnian, you prepare
Mid floating castles of the foe,
All Caesar's risks to undergo.
Survive, but grievous otherwise,
Where, without you, no sweetness lies,
A man not pusillanimous ?
Your steps will follow undismayed.
Your labour's strain with mine can aid?
Ibis Liburnis inter alta navium,
Subire, Maecenas, tuo.
Jucunda, si contra gravis ?
Non dulce ni tecum simul ?
Qua ferre non molles viros ?
Inhospitalem et Caucasum,
Forti sequemur pectore.
Imbellis ac firmus parum ?
Attending you, less fear shall I have then
Which more hold on the absent takes; Even, as for her unfledged brood the hen
When left, more dreads the gliding snake's Approach-yet not that of more service she
Could, if still present with them, prove. Cheerfully, this, yea every war shall be
Engaged in by me for your love; Not that my ploughs, yoked with more beeves of mine,
Be dragged; or that for pasturing range
Calabria for Lucania exchange ;
Steep Tusculum's Circaean wall.
Enriched me. Naught, to hide it all Like miser Chremes under ground, will I
Amass—nor yet to squander wantonly.
Whether a money-getting usurer was precisely the person into whose
mouth these praises of a country life should have been placed, may be, and of course has been, questioned. But be this as it may, there is no doubt that the picture painted is a very pleasing one.
HAPPY is he, who, far from broil
Comes minore sum futurus in metu,
Qui major absentes habet;
Serpentium allapsus timet,
Latura plus praesentibus.
Bellum in tuae spem gratiae ;
Aratra nitantur mea,
Lucana mutet pascuis,
Circaea tangat moenia.
Ditavit : haud paravero
Discinctus aut perdam nepos.
BEATUS ille, qui procul negotiis,
Ut prisca gens mortalium, Paterna rura bobus exercet suis,
Solutus omni fenore :
He starts not at the trumpet's call, Nor shudders at the angry sea: The law-court and patrician's hall Alike he shuns,—no suit has he. But, to the poplar tall, for spouse, He yokes the marriageable vine, And, pruning off the useless boughs, Grafts in their place a fruitage fine: Or, in secluded valley, watches The lowing herd their pasture choose; Or, in clean jars, squeezed honey catches, Or shears the unresisting ewes. And when, in the ripe fields, appears, With brow fruit-laden, Autumn's shape, How he delights to pluck the pears Of his own growth, or purple grape, Gifts for thee, Sylvan, thee, Priape! Sometimes, beneath an old oak's shade, Sometimes, on the thick grass, he lies, And, while the clink of the cascade Joins with the grove's bird melodies, And tune by purling brooklet played, Slumber lights gently on his eyes. But when the stormy months arrive, Full fraught with wintry snow and sleet, He and his dogs fierce wild boars drive Upon strong nets laid opposite; Or, on light twigs, a meshy snare He hangs, the greedy thrushes' bane, And traps, beside, the timid hare,