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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces the surviving poems of

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1934 (revised 1935)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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[The Epitome of Roman History by Florus — who may or may not be the same man, see Introduction — are presented on this site separately.]

 p427  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I​1

I've no mind to be a Caesar,

Strolling round among the Britons,

Wandering about Pannonia,a

Victim of the Scythian hoar-frosts.​2

II‑IX. The Quality of Life​3

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] II

Bacchus, of the vine revealer, let thy fullness aid the vine:

Send the dulcet juice aflowing which no nectar can outshine.

Grant it ever-mellowing storage lest in veins inimical

It produce a smack of roughness turned to vinegar withal.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] III

Every woman in her bosom hides a poisonous pestilence:

Though the lips speak ne'er so sweetly, yet the heart contrives offence.

 p429  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] IV

So Apollo and then Bacchus are fire-bringers, I opine:

Both the gods are flame-created; in their birth the fires take part.

Both confer their heat for guerdon, by the sunbeam or the vine;

One dispels the long night's darkness, one the darkness of the heart.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] V

When my young pear-trees I planted, when I planted apple-trees,

On the bark the name I gravéd of the sweetheart who is mine.

Never henceforth will my passion find an end or find its ease.

As the tree grows, so my zeal glows: love-dreams through each letter shine.​b

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] VI

Rascals have not been so always — rascals from their mother's womb;

But false comradeship with rascals brings one to a rascal's doom.​4

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] VII

Shun the morals brought across seas; they've a thousand trickeries.

None in all the world lives straighter than a citizen of Rome.

Why, I prize one Cato more than fifteen score like Socrates.

 p431  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] VIII

'Tis as bad possessing money as to live in penury;

Just as bad perpetual daring as perpetual modesty;

Just as bad is too much silence as too much loquacity;

Just as bad the girl you visit as the wife at home can be.

None can say that this is falsehood: none but does the contrary.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] IX

Every year we get fresh consuls, every year proconsuls too:

Only patrons,​c only poets, are not born each year anew.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] X
Roses in Springtime

Roses are here at last: thanks to the mood

Of lovely Spring, one day shows barbs of bloom;

A second, pyramids more largely swoln;

A third reveals the cup: four days fulfil

Their task of flowering. This day seals their doom

Unless the morning brings a gatherer.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XI

What roses have I seen come with the morn!

Scarce born they were, yet not alike in age:

One showed the breast-like buds that hid the flower,

One shot its purple crest from swelling heart,

A third had opened full its rounded cup,

 p433  A fourth was bright with well-grown naked bloom,

One rears its head, while one untwines its coil:

So, while their maiden virtue's chastely garbed,

At dawn pull roses fresh: maids soon grow old.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XII
The Rose

The rose was Cupid's smile, or from her comb

Dawn drew it forth — Dawn of the lustrous hair,

Or haply Venus was by briars caught

And on the sharp thorns this her blood remained.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XIII
Venus' Rose-Garden

Venus a garden had, rose-bushes round —

Its lady's darling plot; once seen, beloved.

Her boy, in random haste to cull the blooms

And crown his tresses, pricked with pointed thorn

His marble fingers. Soon, as pain stabbed limbs

And blood-stained hand, the tear-drop bathed his eye.

In rage he seeks his mother with his plaints:

"Whence comes it, mother, that the roses hurt?

Whence fight thy flowers with hidden arms? They war

On me: the flower's hue is the same as blood!"

 p435  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XIV
The Nine Muses​5

Clio records past ages in her prose.

Euterpe's hollow reed makes double sound.

Voice-famed Thalia revelling loves the sock.

Melpomene's notes in tragic iambs seethe.

Terpsichore's golden lyre thrills all the sky.

Strings touched by Erato sweet love-songs make.

Polymnia's odes suit swift and varying moods.​6

Urania scans the stars of heaven in verse.

Calliope crowns epic bards with bays.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The numbering I‑XIII follows L. Mueller's edition: No. XIV is taken from Baehrens.

2 The Latin is given by Spartianus, Hadrian XVI: also Hadrian's retort (see p444). As the latter is in four lines, it may be assumed that Florus' third line is lost.

3 The MS. heading for the 26 verses in II‑IX is so inappropriate that Lucian Mueller by emending vitae into vitium suggested that it meant "On the Nature of Vines" and was applicable only to poem II.

4 Cf. Juvenal II.83, nemo repente fuit turpissimus, "no one became an absolute villain in a moment," and St. Paul's quotation from Menander, I Cor. xv.33 φθείρουσιν ἤθη χρήσθ’ ὁμιλίαι κακαί, "evil communications corrupt good manners."

5 Ascribed to Florus, Baehrens, P. L. M. IV p279. Cf. the verses which have come down under the name of Cato, P. L. M. III p243: see infra, p634.

The Muses in Hesiod (Theog. 36‑103, 915‑918) are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, born in Pieria. Sometimes represented as linked together in a dance, they formed an allegory of the connexion among the liberal arts. For their functions and varying symbols in literature and art see "Musen" in Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der gr. und röm. Mythologie and "Musai" in P. W. Realencyclopädie.

6 Motus is here taken of the mind. But it is possible to take it of bodily movement ("P. sways her body in easy and in varied movements"); for a province assigned at a late period to Polymnia was that of pantomime: see p635, note b.

Thayer's Notes:

a The line is left blank in the Loeb edition, but most of it is given in the Historia Augusta; see critical note.

b A word of caution to the student with no Latin: this translation is far better than the original.

c The Latin has rex: to me the literal meaning of "king" makes better sense here; given the propensity of poets to compare themselves to kings, the association has become a commonplace.

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Page updated: 2 Nov 08