Horace Odes III.12 (contributed by Terry Walsh)

A beguiling lyric, Horace’s unique poem in this metre, and one does not even know how to divide up the verses. Who is talking and to whom? Is Neobule (a.k.a. Planning-novelties) talking to herself? If she is, then is she also, metaphorically, the boar of the last stanza…..?

Terry Walsh

Miserarum est neque amori dare ludum neque dulci
mala uino lauere aut exanimari metuentis
patruae uerbera linguae.

tibi qualum Cythereae puer ales, tibi telas
operosaeque Mineruae studium aufert, Neobule, 5
Liparaei nitor Hebri,

simul unctos Tiberinis umeros lauit in undis,
eques ipso melior Bellerophonte, neque pugno
neque segni pede uictus;

catus idem per apertum fugientis agitato               10
grege ceruos iaculari et celer arto latitante
fruticeto excipere aprum.



Lovesick girls are fated not to give themselves to love,
nor rinse away their cares in sweet wine, and pale
at the lash of uncle’s tongue;

Venus’ winged lad from you has filched your sewing-box,
busy Minerva’s tasks taken from you, Neobule,
by the sheen of Liparan Hebrus,

once he’s washed his gleaming shoulders in Tiber,
a rider better than Bellerophon himself, undefeated
fighter and unbeaten runner;

shrewd, as he is, to scare and chase the fleeing deer
with javelin, fast enough to speed the boar that hides
in the thickest of bushes.



Yiorgos Avlichos (1842 – 1909), Girl at Window, 1877


Translation by Terry Walsh

Terry recommends John Conington’s version, ‘jaunty and fun’.

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