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    Horace Odes 3.6 Commentary

    In Ode 3.6 of the “Roman Odes,” Horace largely focuses on the evident decline of Roman morals. He begins by warning the current generation of Romans that a great penalty must be paid for a disregard of the gods and

    stpiety, which recalls the religious persona Horace adopted in the 1 Roman

    Ode. Horace believes that the decline of Roman society has come in part because of external contact through conflict and through the absorption of other cultures’ customs. He relays this message through the image of a newly-wedded girl that acts against all established mores of Roman society. Her promiscuity and infidelity stand as a testament to this decline in morals. Soldiers, who fought the great battles of history (Punic, Pyrrhic, Antiochus) are compared to the Romans of the current age. The military reference is continued from 3.5. Horace believes that these Romans, raised from better parents, had more honor and piety. His concluding message, however, reveals that Horace believes only more iniquity will spawn with time.

    Alcaic Meter

    The stanza contains four lines of which the first two lines follow the

    same metrical pattern. Line 3 has its own metrical pattern, and the last

    line again has its own metrical pattern.

    Lines 1-2: X | u || u u | u X Anacrusis Trochaic Choriamb Iambic

    Line 3: X | u u X Anacrusis Trochaic

    Line 4: u u u u u X Dactyl Dactyl Trochaic

    Delicta maiorum inmeritus lues,

    Romane, donec templa refeceris

     aedisque labentis deorum et

     foeda nigro simulacra fumo.

    Dis te minorem quod geris, imperas: 5

    hinc omne principium, huc refer exitum.

     Di multa neglecti dederunt

     Hesperiae mala luctuosae.

    Iam bis Monaeses et Pacori manus

    inauspicatos contudit impetus 10

     nostros et adiecisse praedam

     torquibus exiguis renidet.

Paene occupatam seditionibus

    delevit urbem Dacus et Aethiops,

    15 hic classe formidatus, ille

     missilibus melior sagittis. Fecunda culpae saecula nuptias primum inquinavere et genus et domos;

     hoc fonte derivata clades

     in patriam populumque fluxit. 20

    Motus doceri gaudet Ionicos

    matura virgo et fingitur artibus,

     iam nunc et incestos amores

     de tenero meditatur ungui. Mox iuniores quaerit adulteros 25

    inter mariti vina, neque eligit

     cui donet inpermissa raptim

     gaudia luminibus remotis, sed iussa coram non sine conscio surgit marito, seu vocat institor 30

     seu navis Hispanae magister,

     dedecorum pretiosus emptor. Non his iuventus orta parentibus infecit aequor sanguine Punico

     Pyrrhumque et ingentem cecidit 35

     Antiochum Hannibalemque dirum; sed rusticorum mascula militum proles, Sabellis docta ligonibus

     versare glaebas et severae

     matris ad arbitrium recisos 40

    portare fustis, sol ubi montium mutaret umbras et iuga demeret

     bobus fatigatis, amicum

     tempus agens abeunte curru.

     Damnosa quid non inminuit dies? 45

    aetas parentum, peior avis, tulit

     nos nequiores, mox daturos

     progeniem vitiosiorem.

    2 Romane: though singular probably represents the collective Roman people

     refeceris: perfect active subjunctive verb in a dependent clause introduced by donec.

     templa fumo: religious language, which is appropriate as Horace comments on how

    the delicta of ancestors will still have to be paid by the modern generation

    3 labentis = labentes; sliding here probably means ―slipping into decay‖ taken with both

    aedis and templa

4 foeda nigro simulacra fumo: synchysis as foeda and simulacra syntactically belong

    together and nigro and fumo syntactically belong together, forming an A B A B pattern

5 dis: ablative form of deus; ablative of comparison following minorem

     quod: because

     imperas: the addressee rules only because he acts in a manner not befitting of the gods;

    imperas suggests imperium or imperator, a clear allusion to the rule of Emperor Augustus

6 hinc omne principium, huc refer exitum 12 syllables! principium must be scanned

    as a trisyllabic word = principyum where the i- of ium must be a consonanatal i- in

    this particular case. The um is elided, as exspected, in front of the huc and the

    remaining i- is consonantal and forms, forms in pronunciation, ―yuc‖ with huc.

     hinc huc: anaphora, as the two consecutive clauses begin with the same or similar

    words

     refer: take as the finite verb for huc exitum as well as hinc principium because

    there is an ellipsis of refer in the first half

8 Hesperiae luctuosae: dative as indirect object of dederunt; Italy is the land of evening

    star (Hesperus) to Eastern tribes; Italy is luctuosae because of moral disgrace

    9 Monaeses: Parthian leader who defeated Roman commander Oppius Statianus in 36 BCE

     Pacorus: Parthian leader who invaded Syria and defeated Roman Commander L.

    Decidius Saxa in 40 BCE

     manus: though it literally means ―hand;‖ the manus of Pacorus is suggestive of his army

10 inauspicatos: modifying impetus; inauspicious impetus through neglecting the gods,

    perhaps referring to Crassus who began his Eastern campaigns despite bad omens

11 What does et conjoin?

    11-12 adiecisse…renidet: perfect infinitive acting as the finite verb in an indirect statement

    introduced by renidet

    12 torquibus exiguis: dative of purpose. Ancient tribes wore torques, metal collars, which

    typically signified their little wealth; though only those permitted by tribal kings could

    wear them

    13 paene modifies delevit as Horace exacerbates the severity of the situation presented by

    the Dacus and Aethiops

     occupatum seditionibus: dissentions arose in Rome occupied with civil war in which

    Octavian led forces against Antony who was having an affair with foreign leader

    Cleopatra

    14 Dacus: in the fight between Octavian and Antony, the Dacians took sides with Antony

     Aethiops: African followers of Cleopatra

15 urbem Dacus et Aethiops: urbem juxtaposed with Dacus and Aethiops shows how the city

    occupied with dissentions ―nearly‖ fell to barbarians

     hic ille: each refers to the one of the two groups attacking Rome, the Dacus and

    Aethiops

     classe: ablative of cause, explaining formidatus

16 fecunda culpae: metaphor as the saecula are pregnant with crime, not children;

    additionally, this image personifies saecula

     sagittis: explaining melior. See classe line 15

18 inquinavere: alternative form of inquinaverunt

    19 hoc fonte: ablative of source following derivata

    20 fluxit: the literal meaning of fluxit follows the metaphor introduced by fonte, which

    figuratively means a source of clades

    21-28 The description of the matura virgo in these two stanzas stands to show the decadence of

    Roman morality. The girl tries to learn lewd Eastern dances, to ponder the erotic arts, to

    pursue promiscuous sexual relationships, and to engage in extramarital affairs. These

    two stanzas are the core of the message of the poem, a message which shows that Rome’s

    morals are on the decline

    21 motus Ionicos: object of doceri; dances (motus) of the East (Ionicos) were seen as

    lewd by Romans

    22 matura virgo: oxymoronic: the young impressionable maiden is mature

     fingitur: passive verb with middle force; here: she trains herself in …

     artibus: erotic skills; the matura virgo is learning techniques to entice men sexually

    23 iam nunc: introduces the very beginning of sexual maturity of the matura virgo

     incestos amores: implies amorality

    24 de tenero ungui: on the tip of her finger

    meditatur: can mean either to think about or to prepare for

    25 mox: again indicates a temporal change in the life of the matura virgo; mox implies that

    the girl grows up quite quickly

    26 inter mariti vina: traditionally a wife was not supposed to attend her husband’s parties,

    but with the great immorality the wife is at the party and partakes in amoral activities

     neque eligit: the adulterers a wife seeks are not chosen by the wife but taken without

    discretion

    27 donet: deliberative subjunctive

     inpermissa gaudia: inpermissa again indicates immorality

    28 luminibus remotis: ablative absolute; luminibus stands for eyesmetonymy, a figure of

    speech in which one word substitutes another with which it closely related 29 non sine conscio: litotes, as non sine, a double negative, affirms conscio

    30 institor: a traveling salesman who ―visits‖ the lady of a house

    32 dedecorum: objective genitive, a buyer of immoral pleasures; pleasures that are immoral,

    vices

    33 non: negates orta

     parentibus: ablative of source explaining orta

    his iuventus orta parentibus: chiasmus as his and parentis syntactically belong together

    and iuventus and orta syntactically belong together, forming an A B B A pattern; shows

    that the youth emerges from parents

    34 sanguine Punico: blood from the War with Carthage; the belief was that Rome began to

    deteriorate after the Punic Wars

    35 Pyrrhum: Hellenistic king of Epirus, whose costly military successes against Macedonia

    and Rome gave rise to the phrase, ―Pyrrhic Victory;‖ defeated by Manius Curius in 275

    BCE

     ingentem: epic epithet, as Pyrrhum is not huge rather his battle was; the adjective stands

    to show how worthy an opponent he was to Rome

    36 Antiochum: Antiochus of Syria was defeated by the Romans at the Battle of Magnesia in

    190 BCE

     Hannibalem: defeated at Zama in 202 BCE by Roman general Scipio

     dirum: cf. ingentem, line 35

    37 mascula proles: contrasts the matura virgo of line 22

     rusticorum mascula militum proles: ―m‖ alliteration; synchysis, cf. line 4

    38 Sabellis: Sabine Italians were known for conservatism

     ligonibus: ablative of means

    39 versare: epexegitical infinitive following docta

    40 matris: while the maturo virgo earlier in the poem sought to engage in amoral,

    extramarital affairs, the mother is described as severae; thus she is some who presumably

    imparts moral judgments, arbitrium

    41 portare: cf. versare in line 39

     fustis: alternative form for fustes

    42 mutaret: generalizing subjunctive, which makes ubi translate as ―whenever‖

     mutaret umbras iuga demeret: chiasmus, cf. line 33

    43 bobus: ablative dependent on the de of demeret

     amicum: adjective

    44 curru: ablative of means

    46 avis: metaphor: in the context of the poem avis most likely refers to the omen, aetas

    parentum

     tulit: here means to beget

    47 daturos: modifies nequiores; here daturos nearly means to beget 48 vitiosiorem: amoral language

     Horace Ode 3.6 Vocabulary

    abeo, abire, abii, abitum to go away, retire ad (+ acc.) to, towards, at, near, according to, for adicio, adicere, adieci, adiectum to add, increase, hurl adulter, adulteri (m) adulterer

    aedes, aedis (f) temple, shrine, dwelling (pl.) aequor, aequoris (n) even surface, surface of ocean, sea aetas, aetatis (f) age, lifetime

    Aethiops, Aethiopis (m) Ethiopian

    ago, agere, egi, actum to drive, lead, conduct amicus, a, um friendly, kind, loving amor, amoris (m) love, affection

    Antiochus, Antiochi (m) Antiochus

    arbitrium, arbitrii (n) judgment

    ars, artis (f) skill, knowledge, art avis, avis (f) bird, omen

    bis twice

    bonus, a, um good

    bos, bovis (m) ox, bull

    caedo, caedere, cecidi, caesum to strike, murder, slaughter, chop clades, cladis (f) defeat, calamity, disaster, ruin classis, classis (f) class or division of citizens, army, navy, fleet conscius, a, um compliant, conscious, knowing, aware contundo, contundere, contudi, contu(n)sum to crush, bruise, destroy coram in person, publically culpa, culpae (f) fault, blame (+ gen.); crime, offense currus, currus (m) chariot, cart

    Dacus, Daci (m) Dacian

    damnosus, a, um causing damage, injurious, destructive de (+ abl.) from, about, concerning, according to, down from

    dedecus, dedecoris (n) disgrace, vice, blemish deleo, delere, delevi, deletum to blot out, obliterate, destroy delictum, delicti (n) sins, transgressions demo, demere, dempsi, demptum to take away, remove derivo, derivare, derivavi, derivatum to draw off, divert, derive deus, dei (m) god

    dies, diei (f) day, daylight

    dirus, a, um ill-omened, omnius, portentous divus, divi (m) god

    do, dare, dedi, datum to give, dedicate do, dare, dedi, datum to give, dedicate, devote doceo, docere, docui, doctum to teach, show

    doceo, docere, docui, doctum to teach, show

    domus, domi (f) house, building

    donec while, as long as, until dono, donare, donavi, donatum to present, grant, forgive eligo, eligere, elegi, electum to pick out, choose emptor, emptoris (m) buyer, purchaser et and

et … et both … and

    exiguus, a, um scanty, small exitus, exitus (m) end, departure fatigo, fatigare, fatigavi, fatigatum to weary, tire fecundus, a, um fertile, prolific, abundant, pregnant, fecund fero, ferre, tuli, latum to bring, carry, bear fingo, fingere, finxi, fictum to mold, shape, invent, compose, groom, devise

    fluo, fluere, fluxi, fluctum to flow, stream, emanate foedus, a, um filthy, loathsome, obscene, dark fons, fontis (m) spring, fountain, well formido, formidare, formidavi, formidatum to fear

    fumus, fumi (m) smoke

    fustis, fustis (m) cudgel, club, log, faggot gaudeo, gaudere, gavisus sum to be glad, rejoice gaudium, gaudii (n) joy, delight, gladness genus, generis (n) origin, family, race, people gero, gerere, gessi, gestus to bear, carry, manage glaeba, glaebae (f) clod, earth, clump Hannibal, Hannibalis (m) Hannibal

    Hesperia, Hesperiae (f) Italy, western land hic, haec, hoc this/ these

    hinc from here, henceforth Hispanus, a, um Spanish

    huc to this place

    iam now, already iam already

    ille, illa, illud that/ those

    imminuo, imminuere, imminui, imminutum to diminish, impair impero, imperare, imperavi, imperatum to command, order; to rule over (+ dat.) impetus, impetus (m) violent impulse, vehemence, passion, attack

    inauspicatus, a, um unfavorable

    incestus, a, um unchaste, unholy, unclean, lewd inficio, inficere, infecim infectum to dye, color, poison, corrupt ingens, ingentis vast, huge

    inmeritus, inmerita, inmeritum undeserved, unmerited inpermissus, a, um forbidden

    inquino, inquinare, inquinavi, inquinatum to stain, pollute institor, institoris (m) shopkeeper, peddler inter (+ acc.) among, between Ionicus, a, um Ionic, Ionian

    iugum, iugi (n) yoke

    iunior, iunius younger

    iussum, iussi (n) order, demand, decree iuventus, iuventutis (f) youth, young people labor, labi, lapsus sum to slip, glide, fall into ruin ligo, ligonis (m) mattock, hoe luctuosus, luctuosa, luctuosum mournful, grievous lumen, luminis (n) light, torch, (metonymy) eye luo, luere, lui, luitus to atone for, pay for magister, magistri (m) teacher, tutor, master, ship pilot

maiores, maiorum (m) ancestors

    malum, mali (n) evil, calamity, misfortune manus, manus (f) hand, band (of soldiers) maritus, a, um nuptial, married, united maritus, mariti (m) husband

    masculus, a, um male, manly, vigorous mater, matris (f) mother

    maturus, a, um ripe, mature meditor, meditari, meditatus sum to consider, ponder, meditate miles, militis (m) soldier

    minor, minoris smaller, inferior missilis, missile that may be thrown, swift Monaeses, Monaesis (m) Monaeses

    mons, montis (m) mountain

    motus, motus (m) movement, gesture, dance mox soon

    mox soon, presently multus, a, um much, many muto, mutare, mutavi, mutatum to substitute, exchange, alter, change, move

    navis, navis (f) ship

    neglego, neglegere, neglexi, neglectum to disregard, neglect, ignore neque and not

    nequior, nequius more wicked, worse niger, nigra, nigrum black, dark, unlucky non not

    nos, nostrum we, us

    noster, nostra, nostrum our

    nunc now

    nuptia, nuptiae (f) wedding; (plural) marriage occupatus, a, um busy, engaged omnis, omnis, omne each, every, all orior, oriri, ortus sum to rise, emerge, originate from Pacorus, Pacori (m) Pacorus

    paene nearly, almost parens, parentis (m) parent, ancestor patria, patriae (f) native land, fatherland peior, peius worse

    populus, populi (m) people, nation, public porto, portare, portavi, portatum to carry, convey praeda, praedae (f) booty, plunder pretiosus, a, um expensive, costly primum at first

    principium, principii (n) beginning

    progenies, progeniei (f) descent, lineage, opffsrping proles, prolis (f) offspring, progency, young man Punicus, a, um Punic, Carthaginian Pyrrhus, Pyrrhi (m) Pyrrhus

    quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitum to seek, inquire, search for -que and

    qui, quae, quod who, which quis, quid who, what

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