The ancient editor Porphyrion read the first six odes of this book as a single sequence, one unified by a common moral purpose and addressed to all patriotic citizens of Rome. These six "Roman odes", as they have since been called (by HT Plüss in 1882), share a common meter and take as a common theme the glorification of Roman virtues and the attendant glory of Rome under Augustus. Ode III.2 contains the famous line "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," (It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country). Ode III.5 Caelo tonantem credidimus Jovem makes explicit identification of Augustus as a new Jove destined to restore in modern Rome the valor of past Roman heroes like Marcus Atilius Regulus, whose story occupies the second half of the poem.
Book 3 consists of 30 poems.
III.1, Odi profanum volgus et arceo... - On Happiness - Philosophy is a mystery which the uninitiated crowd cannot understand. The worthlessness of riches and rank. The praise of contentment. Care cannot be banished by change of scene.
III.2, Angustam amice pauperiem pati... - On Virtue - Horace extols the virtue of endurance and valor in fighting for one's country, of integrity in politics, and of religious honor.
III.3, Iustum et tenacem propositi virum... - On Integrity and Perseverance - The merit of integrity and resolution: the examples of Pollux, Hercules and Romulus. Juno's speech to the gods on the destiny of Rome.
III.4, Descende caelo et dic age tibia... - On Wise Counsel and Clemency - The Muses have guarded and given counsel to Horace since his youth. They also do so to Augustus, and prompt him to clemency and kindness. The evils of violence and arrogance, on the other hand, are exemplified by the Titans and Giants, and others.
III.5, Caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem... - To Augustus - On Virtue and Fortitude - Augustus will be recognized as a god on earth for his subjugation of the Britons and Parthians. The disgraceful actions of the troops of Crassus (who married Parthians after being taken prisoner) are contrasted by the noble example of Regulus (who was released from Carthage to negotiate a peace, but dissuaded the Senate, and then returned to Carthage to be tortured to death).
III.6, Delicta maiorum inmeritus lues... - Piety & Chastity - Return to the Old Morals! - Horace condemns the prevailing domestic immorality and contempt of the institutions of religion, and earnestly urges a speedy return to the simpler and purer manners of ancient times.
III.7, Quid fles, Asterie, quem tibi candidi... - Constancy, Asterie! - Horace consoles Asterie on the absence of her lover Gyges, and warns her not to be unfaithful to her own vows.
III.8, Martis caelebs quid agam Kalendis... - A Happy Anniversary - Horace invites Maecenas to celebrate with him the festival of the Calends of March (the Feast of the Matrons), which was also the anniversary of his narrow escape from sudden death by a falling tree.
III.9, Donec gratus eram tibi... - The Reconciliation of Two Lovers - Often referred to as an "Amoebaean" ode (from the Greek αμείβω - to exchange), it describes, in graceful dialogue, a quarrel between two lovers and their reconciliation.
III.10, Extremum Tanain si biberes, Lyce... - A Lover's Complaint - Horace warns Lyce that he cannot put up with her unkindness forever.
III.11, Mercuri, -- nam te docilis magistro... - Take Warning, Lyde, from the Danaids! - To Mercury - Horace begs the god to teach him such melody as will overcome the unkindness of Lyde. The ode concludes with the tale of the daughters of Danaus, and their doom in the underworld.
III.12, Miserarum est neque amori dare ludum... - Unhappy Neobule - Joyless is the life of Neobule, ever under the watchful eye of a strict guardian. Only thoughts of handsome Hebrus take her mind off her troubles.
III.13, O fons Bandusiae splendidior vitro... - O, Fountain of Bandusia! - Tomorrow a sacrifice will be offered to the fountain of Bandusia, whose refreshing coolness is offered to the flocks and herds, and which is now immortalized in verse.
III.14, Herculis ritu modo dictus, o plebs... - The Return of Augustus - Horace proclaims a festal day on the return of Augustus from Spain (c. 24 BCE), where he had reduced to subjection the fierce Cantabri.
III.15, Uxor pauperis Ibyci... - Chloris, Act Your Age! - Horace taunts Chloris with her attempts to appear young, and with her frivolous life, while she is really an old woman.
III.16, Inclusam Danaen turris aenea... - Contentment is Genuine Wealth - Gold is all-powerful, but its possession brings care and restlessness. True contentment is to be satisfied with little, as Horace is with his Sabine farm.
III.17, Aeli vetusto nobilis ab Lamo... - Prepare for Storms Tomorrow - To Aelius Lamia - The crow foretells a stormy day tomorrow - Gather some firewood while you may, and spend the day in festivity.
III.18, Faune, Nympharum fugientum amator... - Hymn to Faunus - Horace asks Faunus to bless his flocks and fields, for when Faunus is near, the whole countryside is glad.
III.19, Quantum distet ab Inacho... - Invitation to a Banquet - Horace invites Telephus to give up for a time his historical researches, and join him at a banquet in honor of Murena.
III.20, Non vides quanto moveas periclo... - The Rivals - Horace humorously describes a contest between Pyrrhus and some maiden for the exclusive regards of Nearchus.
III.21, O nata mecum consule Manlio... - To a Wine-Jar - Horace, preparing to entertain his friend the orator M. Valerius Messala Corvinus, sings of the manifold virtues of wine.
III.22, Montium custos nemorumque virgo - To Diana - Horace dedicates a pine tree to Diana, and vows to the goddess a yearly sacrifice.
III.23, Caelo supinas si tuleris manus - Humble Sacrifices Devoutly Offered - Horace assures the rustic Phidyle that the favor of the gods is gained not by costly offerings, but simple sacrifices such as salted meal offered with true feeling.
III.24, Intactis opulentior... - The Curse of Mammon - Boundless riches cannot banish fear or avert death. A simple life like that of the Scythians is the healthiest and best. Stringent laws are needed to curb the present luxury and licentiousness.
III.25, Quo me, Bacche, rapis tui... - To Bacchus in Honor of Augustus - Horace fancies himself carried along by Bacchus amid woods and wilds to celebrate, in some distant cave, the praises of Augustus.
III.26, Vixi puellis nuper idoneus... - Love's Triumphs Are Ended - Scorned by the haughty Chloe, the poet, like a discharged soldier, abandons the arms of love. But he begs of Venus, as a last request, that his slighted love may not go unavenged.
III.27, Impios parrae recinentis omen... - Galatea, Beware! - Addressed to Galatea, whom the poet seeks to dissuade from the voyage she intended to make during the stormy season of the year. He bids her to beware, lest the mild aspect of the deceitful skies lead her astray - for it was through lack of caution that Europa was carried away across the sea.
III.28, Festo quid potius die... - In Neptune's Honor - An invitation to Lyde to visit the poet on the festival of Neptune, and join him in wine and song.
III.29, Tyrrhena regum progenies, tibi... - Invitation to Maecenas - Horace invites Maecenas to leave the smoke and wealth and bustle of Rome, and come to visit him on his Sabine farm. He bids him to remember that we must live wisely and well in the present, as the future is uncertain.
III.30, Exegi monumentum aere perennius... - The Poet's Immortal Fame - In this closing poem, Horace confidently predicts his enduring fame as the first and greatest of the lyric poets of Rome. He asserts: Exegi monumentum aere perennius (I have raised a monument more permanent than bronze).