Horace

8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC / Italy

Bkii:Xii Terentia’s Singing -

You’d not wish the theme of Numantia’s fierce wars
matched to the lyre’s soft tones, nor cruel Hannibal,
nor the Sicilian Sea turned to dark crimson
by the Carthaginians’ blood,

nor the savage Lapiths, and drunken Hylaeus
filled with excess wine, nor Hercules with his hand
taming the sons of earth, at the danger of which
ancient Saturn’s glittering house

was shaken: you’d be better yourself, Maecenas,
at writing prose histories of Caesar’s battles,
and telling us about all those menacing kings,
now led by the neck through the streets.

The Muse wishes me to speak of the sweet singing
of your lady Terentia, and speak of her bright
flashing eyes, and speak of that heart of hers, that is
so faithful in mutual love:

she to whom it’s not unbecoming to adopt
the lead among the dancers, or compete in wit,
or, that holy day that honours Diana, give
her arm in play to shining girls.

Would you exchange now, one hair of Terentia’s
for what rich Achaemenes owned, Mygdonian
wealth of fertile Phrygia, or
the Arabians’ well-stocked homes,

while she bends her neck for those passionate kisses,
or in gentle cruelty refuses to yield them,
more than he who asks likes having them taken: then
at times surprises by taking?
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