Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/58

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40

ODES OF HORACE.

book ii.

affairs, you shall resume your great work in the tragic style of Athens,[1] O Pollio, thou excellent succor to sorrowing defendants and a consulting senate; [Pollio,] to whom the laurel produced immortal honors in the Dalmatian triumph. Even now you stun our ears with the threatening murmur of horns: now the clarions sound; now the glitter of arms affrights the flying steeds, and dazzles the sight of the riders. Now I seem to hear[2] of great commanders besmeared with, glorious dust, and the whole earth subdued, except the stubborn soul of Cato.[3] Juno, and every other god propitious to the Africans, impotently went off, leaving that land unrevenged; but soon offered[4] the descendants of the conquerors, as sacrifices to the manes of Jugurtha.[5] What plain, enriched by Latin blood, bears not record, by its numerous sepulchres, of our impious battles, and of the sound of the downfall of Italy, heard even by the Medes? What pool, what rivers, are unconscious of our deplorable war? What sea have not the Daunian[6] slaughters discolored? What shore is unstained by our blood? Do not, however, rash muse, neglecting your jocose strains, resume the task of Cæan plaintive song,[7] but rather with me seek measures of a lighter style[8] beneath some love-sequestered grotto.[9]

  1. The cothurnus (κοθόρνος) is here put figuratively for tragedy. 12 Cecropio. Equivalent to Attico, and alluding to Cecrops as the founder of Athens. Anthon.
  2. On this zeugma see my notes on Æsc. Prom. 22, ed. Bohn.
  3. Cato of Utica, so remarkable for his virtue, and the strenuous opposition he made to tyranny. After the defeat of Pomep, he was shut up by Cæsar in Utica, where, rather than fall into the hands of the conqueror, and survive the ruin of his country, he slew himself. Watson.
  4. Rettulit inferias. The word rettulit is here taken in the same sense as in the proverb par pari referre, and inferias alludes to a custom of the ancients, who sacrificed a number of prisoners upon the tombs of their generals. Tor.
  5. Jugurtha, a king of Numidia, who being engaged in war with the Romans, was taken by Sylla, and led in triumph by Marius. Watson.
  6. i.e. Roman. cf. Od. i. 22, 13.
  7. Ceæ retractes munera nœniae. Nœnia is a word properly signifying the song which was sung at funerals by the mourners. But by Nœnia, in this passage, the poet intends the goddess Nænia, who presided over tears, lamentations, and funerals. Dac.
  8. Ovid, Met. 10, 150, "Cecini plectro graviore Gigantas-Nunc opus est leviore lyra." Orelli.
  9. Dionœo sub antro. Although Dione was the mother of Venus, yet Venus herself is called by that name. The poet therefore invites his