Horace: Odes and Poetry

Book 2

Book 2 consists of 20 poems.

II.1, Motum ex Metello consule civicum... - To Asinius Pollio, the writer of tragedy, who is now composing a history of the civil wars. A lament for the carnage caused by the conflicts of the Romans with their fellow-citizens.

II.2, Nullus argento color est avaris... - The Wise Use of Money - To Sallustius Crispus (nephew of the historian Sallust). The love of gain grows by self-indulgence. The moderate man is the genuine king.

II.3, Aequam memento rebus in arduis... - The Wisdom of Moderation, The Certainty of Death - To Quintus Dellius. Let us enjoy our life while we may, for death will soon strip us all alike of our possessions.

II.4, Ne sit ancillae tibi amor pudori... - To Xanthias Phoceus - Horace encourages his friend on his love for Phyllis, his slave.

II.5, Nondum subacta ferre iugum valet... - Not Yet! To a Friend on His Love for Lalage - The maid his friend loves is not yet marriageable and still too young to return his passion - Soon it will be otherwise.

II.6, Septimi, Gadis aditure mecum et... - Fairest of All is Tibur - Yet Tarentum, Too, Is Fair - To Horace's friend, the Roman knight Septimius, who would go with him to the ends of the earth. The poet prays that Tibur may be the resting-place of his old age; or, if that may not be, he will choose the country which lies around Tarentum.

II.7, O saepe mecum tempus in ultimum... - A Joyful Return - An ode of congratulation to Pompeius Varus, once the poet's comrade in the army of Brutus, on his restoration to civil rights.

II.8, Ulla si iuris tibi peierati... - The Baleful Charms of Barine - On Barine's utter faithlessness, which Heaven will not punish - Indeed, her beauty and fascination are every increasing.

II.9, Non semper imbres nubibus hispidos... - A Truce to Sorrow, Valgius! - To C. Valgius Rufus on the death of his son Mystes. Since all troubles have their natural end, do not mourn overmuch. Rather let us celebrate the latest victories of Augustus.

II.10, Rectius vives, Licini, neque altum... - The Golden Mean - To L. Licinius Murena. The moderate life is the perfect life.

II.11, Quid bellicosus Cantaber et Scythes... - Enjoy Life Wisely! Horace in a half-playful tone advises his friend Quinctius Hirpinus to enjoy life wisely, and not to fret.

II.12, Nolis longa ferae bella Numantiae... - The Charms of Licymnia - Horace pleads the unfitness of his lyric poetry to record the wars of the Romans or the battles of mythology. He advises Maecenas to write in prose the history of Caesar's campaigns, while he himself will sing the praises of Licymnia (some commentators say that Licymnia was another name for Terentia, the wife of Maecenas).

II.13, Ille et nefasto te posuit die... - A Narrow Escape - This ode owes its origin to Horace's narrow escape from sudden death by the falling of a tree on his Sabine estate. (This same event is also alluded to in Odes, II.17 line 28 and III.4 line 27.) After expressing his indignation against the person who planted the tree, he passes to a general reflection on the uncertainty of life and the realms of dark Proserpine.

II.14, Eheu fugaces, Postume... - Death Inevitable - Addressed to Postumus, a rich but avaricious friend. Nothing can stay the advance of decay and death, the common doom of all on earth. Men pile up wealth, only for another to waste it.

II.15, Iam pauca aratro iugera regiae... - Against Luxury - Horace describes the extravagant luxury prevalent among the rich, and praises the simplicity and frugality of the old Romans.

II.16, Otium divos rogat in patenti... - Contentment With Our Lot the Only True Happiness - All men long for repose, which riches cannot buy. Contentment, not wealth, makes genuine happiness.

II.17, Cur me querellis exanimas tuis?... - To Maecenas on His Recovery from Illness - Horace says that the same day must of necessity bring death to them both - Their horoscopes are wonderfully alike and they have both been saved from extreme peril.

II.18, Non ebur neque aureum... - The Vanity of Riches - The poet, content with his own moderate fortune, inveighs against the blindness of avarice - for the same end awaits all men.

II.19, Bacchum in remotis carmina rupibus... - Hymn to Bacchus - The poet celebrates Bacchus as all-powerful, all-conquering, and lord of creation; whom the earth, the sea and all nature obey; to whom men are subject, and the giants and the monsters of Orcus are all brought low.

II.20, Non usitata nec tenui ferar... - The Poet Prophesies His Own Immortality - Transformed into a swan, the poet will soar away from the abodes of men, nor will he need the empty honors of a tomb.

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