Horace’s Odes Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Latin Language

Horace’s Carmina is a four volume book of odes. Book 1 Poem 11 contains the most famous line attributed to Horace: “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” (1)

Many of Horace’s poems are personal letters written to his friends. In Book 1 Poem 33, Horace comforts the heartbroken poet Tibullus: “Albi, ne doleas plus nimio memor
inmitis Glycerae neu miserabilis
descantes elegos, cur tibi iunior laesa praeniteat fide” (2)

Book 2 contains much of the same type of advice and helpful observations that Horace gives to his friends: Book 2 Poem 14 : “Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume,
labuntur anni nec pietas moram rugis et instanti senectae adferet indomitaeque morti” (3)

Another famous line from Horace is from Book 3 Poem 2: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (4)

In case we forget, Horace kindly reminds us of his contribution to the world of poetry in Book 3 of Poem 30:  “Exegi monumentum aere perennius” (5)

In Book 3 Poem 5 Horace uses his poetry as an opportunity to flatter the Emperor Augustus: “Caelo tonantem credidimus Iouem
regnare: praesens diuus habebitur Augustus adiectis Britannis imperio grauibusque Persis” (6)

Here’s another famous line from Book 4 Poem 9 where Horace tells his friend Lollius about the power of poetry: “Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona multi; sed omnes inlacrimabiles urgentur ignotique longa nocte, carent quia uate sacro” (7)

In Book 4 of Poem 7 Horace reflects on his old age and compares it to the seasons: “Diffugere niues, redeunt iam gramina campis arboribus comae;
mutat terra uices et decrescentia ripas
flumina praetereunt…” (8)


(1) pluck the day [seize the day], trusting tomorrow as little as possible

(2) What, Albius! Why this passionate despair for cruel Glycera? Why melt your voice in dolorous strains, because the perjured beauty has made a younger choice?

(3) Ah, Postumus! They flee away, our years, nor piety can win from wrinkles and decay by even one hour

(4) It is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country

(5) I have raised a monument more permanent than bronze

(6) Jove rules in heaven, his thunder shows; Henceforth Augustus shall own earth, her present god, now Briton foes and Persians bow before his throne

(7) Before Agamemnon, men were brave: But ah! oblivion, dark and long, has confined them in a tearless grave, for lack of a consecrating song

(8) The snow has dispersed: the trees their leaves reappeared, the fields their green: the Earth owns the transformation, and rivers decreasing the flow of their banks between…







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