Horace

8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC / Italy

Bki:Xxxv To Fortune

O goddess, who rules our lovely Antium,
always ready to lift up our mortal selves,
from humble position, or alter
proud triumphs to funeral processions,

the poor farmer, in the fields, courts your favour
with anxious prayers: you, mistress of ocean,
the sailor who cuts the Carpathian
Sea, in a Bithynian sailing boat:

you, the fierce Dacian, wandering Scythian,
cities, and peoples, and warlike Latium,
mothers of barbarous kings, tyrants,
clothed in their royal purple, all fear you,

in case you demolish the standing pillar
with a careless foot, or the tumultuous crowd
incite the peaceful: ‘To arms, to arms’,
and shatter the supreme authority.

Grim Necessity always treads before you,
and she’s carrying the spikes and the wedges
in her bronze hand, and the harsh irons
and the molten lead aren’t absent either.

Hope cultivates you, and rarest Loyalty,
her hands bound in sacred white, will not refuse
her friendship when you, their enemy,
desert the great houses plunged in mourning.

But the disloyal mob, and the perjured whores
vanish, and friends scatter when they’ve drunk our wine
to the lees, unequal to bearing
the heavy yoke of all our misfortunes.
Guard our Caesar who’s soon setting off again
against the earth’s far-off Britons, and guard
the fresh young levies, who’ll scare the East
in those regions along the Red Sea’s shores.

Alas, the shame of our scars and wickedness,
and our dead brothers. What has our harsh age spared?
What sinfulness have we left untried?
What have the young men held their hands back from,

in fear of the gods? Where are the altars they’ve left
alone? O may you remake our blunt weapons
on fresh anvils so we can turn them
against the Scythians and the Arabs.
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