nunc est bibendum: Odes 1:37

I really like this ode because my sister recommended it to me and I love how Cleopatra is represented in several different ways throughout the poem. I also like how Horace’s mood towards her seems to change – she progresses from a mad queen, to a fated monster, to a woman who, although defeated, is still refusing to be led to Rome in disgrace.

Kate S, aged 16

Now let us drink. Now let us
Pound the earth with free feet;
Now it is time to adorn
The couch of the gods with sacrificial feasts, o comrades.

Earlier, it was a sin to bring out
The Caecuban wine from the ancestral storehouses,
While the queen, in madness, was preparing
Ruin and funeral for our empire,

With a crowd of diseased and foul men,
Powerless with whatever it pleases one to hope for, and drunk
With sweet fortune.
But her fury was diminished

As scarcely one ship was unscathed
By the flames, and
Caesar drove back her mind, crazed by Mareotic wine,
Into true fears, rowing after her as she fled from Italy,

Just like the swift hawk
Speeds after the soft doves,
Or the hunter after the hare,
On the snowy plains of Haemonia,

So that he might chain the fated monster. But she,
Searching for a nobler way to die, did not show
A womanly fear of the sword, nor did she recover
A hidden land with her swift fleet.

And, having dared to look at her palace,
Lying in ruins, with a serene face
And was brave enough to handle rough snakes, so that
Her body might drink dismal poison,

When she had resolved upon death, she was fiercer still,
Steadfastly refusing to be led to Rome
By the raging Liburnian galleys
And to be a lowly woman in a proud triumph.

Translation by Kate S

nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero 
pulsanda tellus; nunc Saliaribus 
ornare pulvinar deorum
tempus erat dapibus, sodales.

antehac nefas depromere Caecubum
cellis avitis, dum Capitolio
regina dementis ruinas
funus et imperio parabat

contaminato cum grege turpium 
morbo virorum quidlibet inpotens 
sperare fortunaque dulci
ebria. sed minuit furorem

vix una sospes navis ab ignibus
mentemque lymphatam Mareotico
redegit in veros timores
Caesar ab Italia volantem

remis adurgens, accipiter velut
mollis columbas aut leporem citus
venator in campis nivalis 
Haemoniae, daret ut catenis

fatale monstrum. quae generosius
perire quaerens nec muliebriter
expavit ensem nec latentis
classe cita reparavit oras.

ausa et iacentem visere regiam
voltu sereno, fortis et asperas
tractare serpentes, ut atrum
corpore conbiberet venenum,

deliberata morte ferocior; 
saevis Liburnis scilicet invidens
privata deduci superbo,
non humilis mulier, triumpho.

View the text on perseus.tufts

File:Frédéric Wenz - The dying Cleopatra (1914).jpg
The Death of Cleopatra by Frederic Wenz 1918

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