Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/25

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ode v.



impartial foot. O happy Sextius![1] The short sum total of life forbids us to form remote expectations. Presently shall darkness, and the unreal ghosts,[2] and the shadowy mansion of Pluto oppress you; where, when you shall have once arrived, you shall neither decide the dominion of the bottle by dice,[3] nor shall you admire the tender Lycidas, with whom now all the youth is inflamed, and for whom ere long the maidens will grow warm.



What dainty youth, bedewed with liquid perfumes, caresses you, Pyrrha, beneath the pleasant grot, amid a profusion of roses? For whom do you bind your golden hair, plain in your neatness?[4] Alas! how often shall he deplore your perfidy, and the altered gods; and through inexperience be amazed at the seas, rough with blackening storms who now credulous enjoys you all precious, and, ignorant of the faithless gale, hopes you will be always disengaged, always amiable! Wretched are those, to whom thou untried seemest fair? The sacred

  1. Lucius Sextius, or Sestius, kept up a constant friendship with Brutus, after he was routed, yet was commended by Augustus, and made consul with Cneius Calpurnius Piso, in the year after the building of the city 730. Watson.
  2. By "the unreal manes" are meant, the shades of the departed, often made the theme of the wildest fictions of poetry. Some commentators, however, and among them Orellius, understand the expression in its literal sense, "the manes of whom all is fable," and suppose it to imply the disbelief of a future state. Comp. τι δέ Πλούτων; Μῦθος; Call. Epig. xiv. 3. Fabulœ is the nom. plural, i. e. Manes fabulosi, inanes. McCaul.
  3. A king of wine: it was a custom among the ancients, at feasts, to chose a king, or master, to order how much each guest should drink, whom all the company were obliged to obey; he was chosen by throwing of the dice, upon whose sides were engraven or painted the images of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Venus, and Diana. He who threw up Venus was made king; as Horace, Book II. Ode vii. insinuates: Quem Venus dicet arbitrum bibendi." Watson.
  4. I have borrowed Milton's happy version.