Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/45

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ode xxvi.




to ælius lamia.

A friend to the Muses, I will deliver up grief and fears to the wanton winds, to waft into the Cretan Sea; singularly careless, what king of a frozen region is dreaded under the pole, or what terrifies Tiridates.[1] O sweet muse, who art delighted with pure fountains, weave together the sunny flowers, weave a chaplet for my Lamia.[2] Without thee, my praises profit nothing. To render him immortal by new strains,[3] to render him immortal by the Lesbian lyre,[4] becomes both thee and thy sisters.

  1. In the year 719, u.c., the Parthians expelled Phraates for his cruelty, and set Tiridates upon the throne. In 724, Phraates was restored by the Scythians; and Tiridates, obliged to fly, carried with him the son of Phraates to Octavius, who was then in Syria. That prince, delighted with having the son of the greatest enemy of the republic in his power, carried him to Rome, and permitted Tiridates to remain in Syria; who being impatiend to recover his throne, solicited Augustus for succors. In 731, Phraates sent an embassy to Rome, with an offer of restoring to Augustus to Roman eagles, which were taken in the defeat of Crassus, if he would send his son and Tiridates to him. Augustus made the report to the senate, who remitted to him the decision of the affair. He granted the embassadors the first part of their demand, but kept Tiridates at Rome, and promised to entertain him in a manner suitable to his dignity.

    This ode was written when the affair was depending, and we may judge how Tiridates must have been alarmed, while he was afraid of being sent to Phraates, from whom he could expect nothing but tortures and deat. San.

  2. Ælius Lamia was a Roman knight, whose character is thus drawn by Cicerto: "Vir summo splendore, summá gratiá; nullo prorsùs plùs Homine delector." Dac.
  3. When the poets intended to sing any thing extraordinary, they used to change the strings of their lyres. Dac.

    However, this changing the strings of the lyre seems rather a poetical, metaphorical expression for the change of the subject. Fran.

  4. Sappho, a famous poetess, inventress of the Sapphic verse, being rejected by her lover Phaon, she destroyed herself. There was a promontory in Arcadia called Leucate, on the top of which was a little temple dedicated to Apollo. Watson.