Page:The works of Horace - Christopher Smart.djvu/83

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ode iv.



way. Me, when a child, and fatigued with play, in sleep the woodland doves, famous in story, covered with green leaves in the Apulian Vultur, just without the limits of my native Apulia; so that it was matter of wonder to all that inhabit the nest of lofty[1] Acherontia, the Bantine Forests, and the rich soil of low Ferentum, how I could sleep with my body safe from deadly vipers and ravenous bears; how I could be covered with sacred laurel and myrtle heaped together, though a child, not animated without the [inspiration of the] gods. Yours, O ye muses, I am yours, whether I am elevated to the Sabine heights; or whether the cool Præneste, or the sloping Tibur, or the watery Baiæ have delighted me. Me, who am attached to your fountains and dances, not the army put to flight at Philippi,[2] not the execrable tree, nor a Palinurus in the Sicilian Sea has destroyed. While you shall be with me with pleasure will I, a sailor, dare the raging Bosphorus; or, a traveler, the burning sands of the Assyrian shore:[3] I will visit the Britons inhuman to strangers,[4] and the Concanian delighted [with drinking] the blood of horses; I will visit the quivered Geloni, and the Scythian river[5] without hurt. You entertained lofty[6] Cæsar, seeking to put an end to his toils, in the Pierian grotto, as soon as he had distributed in towns

  1. Horace calls Acherontia a nest, because it was situated upon rocks, on the frontiers of Lucania. Cicero says of Ulysses, "so powerful is the love of our country, that this wisest of the Greeks preferred his Ithaca, fixed, like a nest, upon rocks, to the enjoyment of immortality." Dac.
  2. The poet here collects three facts, to show that the gods particularly watched over his preservation. He fled from the battle of Philippi in 712; he avoided the fall of a tree, 734; and he was preserved from shipwreck, probably. in the year 716, when he went aboard the fleet with Mæcenas, to pass over into Sicily against Pompey. San.
  3. Assyria, properly speaking, is an inland country, and far distant from the sea; it is therefore used by the poet for Syria, which extends itself along the shore as far as Babylon. Such liberties are usual to the poets. Dac.San.
  4. Upon the authority of the scholiast Acron, the commentators believe that the Britons sacrificed strangers to the gods.
  5. The commentators here understand the Tanais: but the poet seems rather to speak of the Caspian Sea, which is also called Scythicus sinus. The Latins, in imitation of the Greeks, make use of the word amnis instead of mare. Dac.
  6. Dacier and Sanadon, in opposition to all the commentators, agree that this epithet is here used for alumnus, that it refers to almæ in the forty-second line, and that they are both derived from the verb alere.