Horace Odes 1.5 (contributed by Anne Dicks)

This is a totally brilliant poem.  “One of Horace’s rare failures” is how a book which used to be in the Leicester University library described it – because of the convoluted word-order of the first few lines.

The poem itself is lovely, with storms as a metaphor for the troubles of love, and some people see the final stanza as Horace’s personal renunciation of love after his rejection by Pyrrha.

The first three lines are what really attract me and I have designed a pictorial interpretation to illustrate them.

Anne Dicks


Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa

perfusus liquidis urget odoribus

grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?

cui flavam religas comam


simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem              5

mutatosque deos flebit et aspera

nigris aequora ventis

emirabitur insolens


qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,

qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem               10

sperat, nescius aurae

fallacis. miseri, quibus


intemptata nites. me tabula sacer

votiva paries indicat uvida

suspendisse potenti                                                     15

vestimenta maris deo.




Which slender boy, drenched in liquid perfume,

Presses against you amongst the many roses

In your pleasant love nest, Pyrrha?

For whom do you tie up your blonde hair


Simplistic in your elegance? Alas, how often will he weep,

Inexperienced, at trustworthiness and the changed fates,

And be amazed at seas,

Rough with black winds.


He, in naivety, is now enjoying you, his golden one.

He hopes you will always be free for him, always loving,

Unaware of the treacherous breezes!

O wretches, for whom you


Yet untried, gleam. As for me,

The holy wall shows, with its votive tablet,

That I have hung up my soaking wet clothes

To the powerful God of the sea.


Picture drawn by Di Lorriman

Chosen by Anne Dicks and translated by Helen, one of her students.

Anne’s accompanying powerpoint www.pyrrha.me.uk/utpicturaPyrrha.pptx

Anne’s website has more, including a Latin poetry medley: www.pyrrha.me.uk/utpicturaHoraceVirgilCatullus.pptx

The above text is provided by the Perseus Digital Library.

Read more of this text at the Perseus site.

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  • Michael Murray wrote:

    Nice submission, despire the word order I really like the first few lines as well

  • Michael Murray wrote:

    Nice submission, despite the word order I really like the first few lines as well

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