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Horace: Epode 2
Translated by John Quinn

Epode 2

"The fellow's worth a fortune who, far
    from commerce, cultivates his fathers'
farm with his own oxen & is free
    of usury -- like the folk of yore.

"No soldier, summoned to battle by the bugle
    or fearful of a fuming sea,
no plaintiff or haunter of the haughty portals
    of especially-powerful citizens
is the man who marries mature growths
    of grape to poplars he's pampered
OR watches over his wandering herd
    bellowing in lonely bottomlands
while he saws away worthless scions
    & engrafts the gainful
                        OR hoards
honey from the comb into clean containers
    OR shears his compliant sheep.

"As Autumn hoists its head, adorned with
    fleshy fruits, through fields,
he gloats, gathering prize pears
    & grapes purpler than the pigment
to pay you, Priapus, & you sir,
    Silvanus, protector of property.
The bliss of napping beneath an old oak
    OR on a luxuriant lawn
while water wends between wide banks
    & birds whine in the woods
& fountains fret with splashing spray --
    a summons to soft slumbers!

"When wintry weather threatens with thunder,
    storms & snow, he speeds
into snares (from all sides) boars
    battling a horde of hounds
OR suspends from slender staves the webbing
    widened to fool feeding
figpeckers and ropes the frightened rabbit
    & drifting crane (a delicacy!).

"Living that life, who wouldn't ignore
    the ills latent in love?

"Should a faithful wife do her fair share
    helping with the home & cherished
children (a Sabine, say, or the sunburned
    bride of an assiduous Apulian)
AND stack seasoned timber on the hearth
    for her tired husband's return
AND pen yielding ewes within pleachwork
    to drain their distended udders
AND, ladling a lively vintage from the vat,
    prepare an unpurchased repast --

"I'd freely forego the finest oyster
    OR flounder OR scaurfish forced
to these waters when winter blasts
    bolts on Eastern breakers.
African fowl & Greek game-hens hardly
    would settle into my stomach
happier than the odd olive, harvested
    from the orchard's oiliest offshoot
OR meadow-dwelling sourdock & mallows
    (medicine for a body's burdens)
OR a lamb slain for a farmers' festival
    OR a friskling whisked from a wolf.

"How felicitous at such feasts to see fattened
    flocks hurrying homeward,
bone-weary bulls with nodding necks
    pulling an upended plough,
& the worker-bees of a wealthy abode: slaves
    stationed near smiling cult-statues!"

So spoke Alfius, a financier,
    bent on becoming a bumpkin.
Midway through the month, he cashed his capital --
    to float it again on the first.


'Beatus ille qui procul negotiis,
     ut prisca gens mortalium,
paterna rura bubus exercet suis
     solutus omni faenore
neque excitatur classico miles truci
     neque horret iratum mare
forumque vitat et superba civium
     potentiorum limina.
ergo aut adulta vitium propagine
     altas maritat populos
aut in reducta valle mugientium
     prospectat errantis greges
inutilisque falce ramos amputans
     feliciores inserit
aut pressa puris mella condit amphoris
     aut tondet infirmas ovis.
vel cum decorum mitibus pomis caput
     Autumnus agris extulit,
ut gaudet insitiva decerpens pira
     certantem et uvam purpurae,
qua muneretur te, Priape, et te, pater
     Silvane, tutor finium.
libet iacere modo sub antiqua ilice,
     modo in tenaci gramine:
labuntur altis interim ripis aquae,
     queruntur in Silvis aves
frondesque lymphis obstrepunt manantibus,
     somnos quod invitet levis.
at cum tonantis annus hibernus Iovis
     imbris nivisque conparat,
aut trudit acris hinc et hinc multa cane
     apros in obstantis plagas
aut amite levi rara tendit retia
     turdis edacibus dolos
pavidumque leporem et advenam laqueo gruem
     iucunda captat praemia.
quis non malarum quas amor curas habet
     haec inter obliviscitur?
quodsi pudica mulier in partem iuvet
     domum atque dulcis liberos,
Sabina qualis aut perusta Solibus
     pernicis uxor Apuli,
sacrum vetustis exstruat lignis focum
     lassi Sub adventum viri
claudensque textis cratibus laetum pecus
     distenta siccet ubera
et horna dulci vina promens dolio
     dapes inemptas adparet:
non me Lucrina iuverint conchylia
     magisve rhombus aut scari,
siquos Eois intonata fluctibus
     hiems ad hoc vertat mare,
non Afra avis descendat in ventrem meum,
     non attagen Ionicus
iucundior quam lecta de pinguissimis
     oliva ramis arborum
aut herba lapathi prata amantis et gravi
     malvae salubres corpori
vel agna festis caesa Terminalibus
     vel haedus ereptus lupo.
has inter epulas ut iuvat pastas ovis
     videre properantis domum,
videre fessos vomerem inversum boves
     collo trahentis languido
positosque vernas, ditis examen domus,
     circum renidentis Laris.'

haec ubi locutus faenerator Alfius,
     iam iam futurus rusticus,
omnem redegit idibus pecuniam,
     quaerit kalendis ponere.

Copyright © John Quinn, 1997-1998.

This translation was first published on the web at Diotima: Materials for the study of women and gender in the ancient world ( and is reprinted here by permission.