Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/55

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ODE XXXVII.

ODES OF HORACE.

37

the couch of the gods with Salian[1] dainties. Before this, it was impious to produce the old Cæcuban stored up by your ancestors; while the queen, with a contaminated gang of creatures, noisome through distemper, was preparing giddy destruction for the Capitol and the subversion of the empire, being weak enough to hope for any thing, and intoxicated with her prospering fortune. But scarcely a single ship preserved from the flames[2] bated her fury; and Cæsar brought down her mind, inflamed with Egyptian wine, to real fears, close pursuing her in her flight from Italy with his galleys (as the hawk pursues the tender doves, or the nimble hunter the hare in the plains of snowy Æmon), that he might throw into chains[3] this destructive monster [of a woman]; who, seeking a more generous death, neither had an effeminate dread of the sword, nor repaired with her swift ship to hidden shores. She was able also to look upon her palace, lying


    courages his companions to give free reins to joy and hilarity, yet still to honor and admire the noble spirit and bold resolution this ill-fated Cleopatra. With the true spirit of a Roman citizen he is silent of his fellow Roman, Antony. The senate, too, had not proclaimed war against him, but against Cleopatra, and Augustus triumphed not ostensibly over his fallen colleague in the triumvirate, but over an Egyptian queen. It was, indeed, his interest, that men should speedily forget that his former friend and relative had been, by him, forced to death, and that in the glare of victory the Romans should be flattered, not alarmed.
    The tidings of the death of both were brought to Rome, in the autumn of A.U.C. 724, by M. Tullius Cicero, the son of the orator and then Consul Suffectus; and that this is one of the earliest lyric compositions of Horace is probable, as well from its subject as by the irregularity of its composition, such as the synalephe in v. 5, and neglect of the cæsure in vs. 5 and 14. Anthon.

  1. The Salii were priests of Mars, instituted by Numa Pompilius, twelve in number, of the senatorial rank; their number was doubled by Tullus Hostilius. These, armed with a brazen helmet, belt, and breastplate, went through the city with a constant even pace, dancing to the sound of musical instruments. Their solemn processions were very magnificent. Hence the proverb, Dapes Saliares, for a grand entertainment.
  2. Ab ignibus. The fleet of Antony, even after his flight, made such an obstinate resistance, that Augustus was obliged to send for fire from his camp to destroy it.
  3. Daret ut catenis. Octavius had given particular directions to Proculeius and Epaphroditus to take Cleopatra alive, that he might make himself master of her treasures, and have the glory of leading her in triumph. Justly sensible of this ignominy, she had reserved a dagger for her last extremities, and when she saw Proculeius enter, she raised it to stab herself, but he dexterously wrenched it from her. Lamb.