Goldwin Smith.

Bay leaves; translations from the Latin poets online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryGoldwin SmithBay leaves; translations from the Latin poets → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





I <j>?/Ckrvn O-TVK

[Printed for Private Circulation.



F to print this little collection, even for private
circulation, was presumptuous, some of my
friends must share the blame.

The translator of Latin poetry has the
comfort of knowing that he is separated from
his authors by no chasm of thought and sentiment, such as
that which separates the translator from Homer, or even
from ^Eschylus. The men are intellectually almost his con-
temporaries. Gibbon was right in thinking that no age would
have suited him better than that of the Antonines, provided
he had been, as he naturally took it for granted that he
would, a wealthy gentleman and a philosophic Pagan, not a
slave or a Christian. He and a cultivated Roman of that
day, or of Cicero's day, would have thoroughly understood
each other. Their views of life would have been pretty
much the same, so would their religion, so would their
mythology, for the literary men of the Georgian era had


adopted the Pagan Pantheon, and Jupiter, Mars, Venus,
and Diana were their divinities. Even the conventional
worship of the Roman Emperor would have had something
like a counterpart in the conventional reverence for " great
George," and the political temperament of the philosophic
Roman would have been in exact harmony with that of
Hume and Gibbon. Horace Walpole might have thor-
oughly enjoyed a supper with Horatius Flaccus ; he might
even have supped well, though he would have politely passed
the dormice. He and his host would have interchanged
ideas with perfect ease. This was largely due of course to
the direct influence of classical education on the moderns ;
but it was also partly due, especially in the religious sphere,
to a similarity in circumstances between the two epochs.
Apart, therefore, from mere difficulties of construction or
allusion, the translator may be sure that he knows what his
author means. Lucretius is further removed from us than
the poets of the Empire in forms of thought and in language
as well as in date. But he is brought wonderfully near to
our age by his Atomic and Epicurean philosophy and by the
sentiment connected with it. Sometimes the affinity is

The authors are not arranged in any particular order.
Perhaps, if the truth were told it would be that the easiest
are put first. It was with profound misgiving that I under-

took to render such art as that of Horace, and such poetry
as that of Lucretius.

The translations are free, an"d it is hardly possible that
anything but a free translation can be an equivalent for the
poetry of the original. A literal translation, as a rule, can
only be a fetter-dance. The general thought, the tone, and
choice expressions are all that a translator can usually
hope to reproduce.

It is hardly necessary to say anything about names so
well known as these. Familiar to all who would take up
anything classical are Martial, the creator of the Epigram,
the mirror of the social habits of Imperial Rome, amidst
whose heaps of rubbish and ordure are some better things
and some pleasant pictures of Roman character and life ;
Lucan, through whose early death, which left his work
crude as well as incomplete, we have perhaps missed a great
political epic, and who, in his best passages, rivals the
writer of Absalom and Achitophel ; the marvellous resur-
rection of Roman poetry in Claudian ; Seneca, seeking
under the Neronian Reign of Terror to make for himself an
asylum of stoicism and suicide ; Catullus, with his Byronian
mixture of sensibility and blackguardism ; Horace, whom,
for some occult reason, one loves the better the older one
grows; Propertius, whose crabbed style and sad addiction
to frigid mythology are sometimes relieved by passages of


wonderful tenderness and beauty ; Ovid, whose marvellous
facility, vivacity and to use the word in its eighteenth cen-
tury sense wit, too often misemployed, appear in all his
works, and who, though, like Pope, he had no real feeling,
shows in the epistle of Dido to -tineas that he could, like
the writer of Klo'isa to Abelard, get up a fine tempest of
literary passion ; Tibullus, famed in his day like Shenstone
and Tickell, about their fair equivalent, and the offspring of
the same fashion of dallying with verse ; and most interesting
of all, Lucretius, the real didactic poet, who used his poetry
as " honey on the rim " of the cup out of which a generation
distracted with mad ambition and civil war was to drink
the medicinal draught of the Epicurean philosophy, and be
at once beguiled of its woes and set free from the dark
thraldom of superstition. A translator can only hope that
he has not done great wrong to their shades.


March 2ist, 1890.





EPIG. X. xlvii. A Roman Gentleman's Idea of Happiness .. 5

III. Iviii. Roman Life in the Country 6

V. xx. The True Business of Life 9

IV. xiii. On a Friend's Wedding 10

X. xxiv. On His Own Birthday n

I. xxxix. The Perfect Friend 12

XII. xxxiv. Vicissitudes of Friendship 13

VIII. xviii. Literary Chivalry 14

VIII. Ixix. The Reverse of the Last 15

II. Ixviii. A Revolt 15

II. xi. The Diner-out Disappointed 16

V. xlii. An Exhortation to Liberality 17

Ixxxix. On the Death of a Young and Favourite

Slave 18

I. xciii. On Two Old Roman Officers Buried Side by

Side 19

I. xv. The Fleeting Joys of Life , 20

IV. viii. The Occupation of a Roman Day 21

X. i.On the Untimely Death of a Famous Chari-
oteer 22


EPIG. III. xx. On a Slave Who had been Branded by

His Master ...................... ...... 23

I. xiii. On the Death of Arria and Petus .......... 23

VIII. xxxv., xli. On Two Works of Art ................. .. 24

PHARS. I. 11. 119-182. The Characters of Pompey and Caesar ...... 25

IX. 11. 189-213. Cato on the Death of Pompey ............... 29

IX. 11. 543-585. Cato at the Temple of Ammon .............. 31



.VjinuoJ^ stLI fujniofl -JiivJ JU

Lib. I. 11. i-2i. Providence Vindicated ............................. 34

slid to assnisua etnT 9rfT~.xx .V

01 ... gnibbaW a'boshH B nO .iii/ -VI

^BbrifiS^&^tH nO .

THYESTES 11. 344-403. The Stoic Idea of Perfection -i. . ...... .


qirfabnsnH to asbutb-aioiV -.vixxx


V.R.I aiU H. 3>'t3'/S>I 9fiT ,XiXf

OD. XXXI. The Traveller's Return ................... ............. 39

lfo-/t)H A rnvxl .II

IV. The Old Ship. ......:...... ... . . . :. . . . .......... .. ...... 40

III. On the Death of a Favourite Sparrow . . . . ............. 42

ri vjtiiio^dLI 01 noiJsJiorixa nA .HIx .V

V. Love and Death ...................................... 43

3 V <#- -I,,** * 5r rJ V"' K }r) rf^aCI orit nO .xixxxl
LXX. Woman s Inconstancy ...... .,. ........................ 44

gl . . ........ , . . , ...... ...... aVBiC

</d 9bJii bai'HiJ'i aiaofttO njencoli biO owT fiO - -.iito/ -


OD. I. xxxi. The Poet's

II. xvi.-^Peace and Quiet. f !5tfwQ.9tfX-; -'"
HI.- : " ix. The Reconciliation of Lovers



On. III. xiii. The Spring of Bandusia 51

I. xxxviii. Simplicity ji JIQUSDC., 52

III. vii. To a Girl Whose Lover was Absent at Sea 53

III. xxi. To a Cask of Wine '..aJI^-.wlKu.U Ja.. 55

II. ix. To a Friend Who had Lost His Love 56

I. xxiii. To a Coy Girl : 58

I. xi. Ignorance of the Future is Bliss 59

II. vii. Welcome to a Long Absent Friend 60

III. v. The Patriot Martyr 62

II. xv. Against the Seltish Luxury of a Degenerate Age .. 65

I. v. To Pyrrha 66

III. xxix. The Poet's Invitation to the Statesman 67

EPOD. II. A Rich Usurer's Dream of Rural Happiness 71


ELKG. V. xi. Epitaph on a Wife ..'J&S 74

I. ii. Beauty Unadorned 79


AMOR. II. vi. On the Death of a Parrot 80

III. ix. An Elegy on the Death of Tibullus 83

HKKOID. VII. Dido to ^neas 87


ELEG. I. i. Farewell to Ambition , 96




LIB. I. 11. 1-40. Opening Invocation to Venus 100

I. 11. 62-101. A Defence of Free-Thinking 102

II. 11. 1-61. The Consolations of Science 104

III. 11. 1-30. The Light of the Ancient World 107

III. 11. 895-1094. Against the Fear of Death 109



EPIGRAM X. xlvii.

Vitam quce faciunt beatiorem.

TA/HAT makes a happy life, dear friend,.

If thou would'st briefly learn, attend.
An income left not earned by toil ;
Some acres of a kindly soil ;
The pot unfailing on the fire ;
No lawsuits ; seldom town attire ;
Health ; strength with grace ; a peaceful mind;
Shrewdness with honesty combined ;
Plain living ; equal friends and free ;
Evenings of temperate gaiety ;
A wife discreet, yet blythe and bright ;
Sound slumber, that lends wings to night.
With all thy heart embrace thy lot,
Wish not for death and fear it not.


Baiana nostri villa, Basse, Faustini.

[This piece gives a pleasant picture of Roman country
life, and shows that there was something left under the
Empire better than the vast estates tilled by slave gangs,
which Pliny calls the ruin of Italy.]

TIJVusTiNUS is a man of taste ;

Yet is his Baian seat no waste
Of useless myrtle, barren plane,
Clipped box, like many a grand domain
That covers miles with empty state,
But country unsophisticate.
In every corner grain is crammed,
Casks fragrant of old wine are jammed.
Here, at the turning of the year,
Vinedressers house the vintage sere.
Grim bulls in grassy valleys low
And the calf butts with hornless brow.
Poultry of every clime and sort
Ramble in dirt about the court.
The screaming geese, flamingoes red,
Peacocks with jewelled tail outspread.
Pied partridges, pheasants that come


From Colchian strand, dark magic's home.

And Afric's birds of many spots.

The cock amidst his harem struts

While on the tower aloft doves coo

And pigeons flap and turtles woo.

Pigs to the good wife's apron scurry,

Lambs to their milky mothers hurry.

The fire, well-heaped, burns bright and high,

Around it crowds the nursery.

No butler here from lack of toil

Grows sick, no trainer wastes his oil,

Lounging at ease ; but forth they fare

The fish with quivering line to snare,

The crafty springe for birds to set,

Or catch the deer with circling net.

Pleased with the garden's easy work

The city hands take spade and fork,

The curly-headed striplings ask

The bailiff for a merry task

Without their pedagogue's command ;

E'en the sleek eunuch bears a hand.

Then country callers, many a one,

Troop in, and empty-handed none ;

This brings a honeycomb, that a pail

Of milk from green Sassinum's dale.


Capons or dormice plump another,

Or kid, reft from his shaggy mother.

Basket on arm, stout lasses come

With gifts from many a thrifty home.

Work over, each a willing guest,

Is bidden to no niggard feast,

Where all may revel at their will,

And servants eat, like guests, their fill.

But thou, friend Bassus, close to town,

On trim starvation lookest down ;

Seest laurels, laurels everywhere ;

No need the thief from fruit to scare.

Town bread thy vinedresser must eat ;

The town sends greens, eggs, cheese and meat.

Such country is my friend must own

Not country, but town out of town.



Si tecum mihi, care Martialis.

COULD both thou and I, my friend,

From care and trouble freed,
Our quiet days at pleasure spend
And taste of life indeed,

We'd bid farewell to marble halls,

The sad abodes of state,
The law, with all its dismal brawls,

The trappings of the great ;

We'd seek the book, the cheerful talk,

At noonday in the shade,
The bath, the ride, the pleasant walk

In the cool colonnade.

Dead to our better selves we see
The golden hours take flight,

Still scored against us as they flee.
Then haste to live aright.

[9] ~


Claudia, Rufc, meo mi-bit Pcrcgrina Pudenti.

TUl Y Pudens shall his Claudia wed this day.
/ Shed, torch of Hymen, shed thy brightest ray !

So costly nard and cinnamon combine,
So blends sweet honey with the luscious wine.
So clasps the tender vine her elm, so love
The lotus leaves the stream, myrtles the cove.
Fair Concord, dwell for ever by that bed ;
Let Venus bless the pair so meetly wed ;
May the wife love with love that grows not cold,
And never to her husband's eye seem old.


EPIGRAM X. xxiv.

Natales mihi Marti cz Caltndce.

[To explain lines three and four, it should be said that
men usually sent presents to girls on the first of March,
but Martial, thanks to his birthday, received presents from
female as well as male friends.]

/TBOVE all days bright is my natal morn.
/ Blessed I who, March, upon thy Kalends born,
Receive from ladies presents many a one,
While others get them from the men alone.
Fifty and seven times at the altar now
Martial has duly paid his birthday vow.
Grant, if it be your pleasure, powers divine,
That I to fifty-seven may add twice nine,
And thus, when life's three stages I have past
Yet sound and brisk and hearty to the last,
To Proserpine's domain may wend my way.
I ask not Nestor for another day.


EPIGRAM I. xxxix.

Si quis erit, raros inter numerandus amicos.

Ts there a man whose friendship rare

With antique friendship may compare ;
In learning steeped, both old and new,
Yet unpedantic, simple, true ;
Whose soul, ingenuous and upright,
Ne'er formed a wish that shunned the light,
Whose sense is sound ? If such there be,
My Decianus, thou art he.



Triginta mihi quatuorque messes.

7UI Y friend, since thou and I first met,
/ This is the thirty-fourth December ;

Some things there are we'd fain forget,
More that 'tis pleasant to remember.

Let for each pain a blackball stand,
For every pleasure past a white one,

And thou wilt find, when all are scanned,
The major part will be the bright one.

He who would heartache never know,
He who serene composure treasures,

Must friendship's chequered bliss forego ;
Who has no pain has fewer pleasures.



Si tua, Cirini, promas epigrammata vulgo.


r iVEN to the world, those epigrams of thine,

My friend Cirinius, might have rivalled mine ;
But thou hast such regard for friendship shown
As to prefer my glory to thy own.
So, Virgil, though he might with Pindar's strain
Have vied, to Horace left his own domain.
To Varius so he left the Roman stage
Himself the born tragedian of the age.
Money or lands to give is nothing new,
They who make presents of renown are few.



Miraris veteres, Vacerra, solos.

A/^ACERRA lauds no living poet's lays,

But for departed genius keeps his praise.
I, alas, live, nor deem it worth my while
To die, that I may win Vacerra's smile.


Quod te nomine jam tuo sciluto.

" J^HINK not I have become a boor

If I " My Lord " thee now no more,
My haughty friend. I've paid my fee,
All I was worth, for liberty.
Who wants what lords to servants give
A lord must own, a servant live.
But, my good Olus, take my word,
Who needs no servant wants no lord.



Quod fronte Selium nubila vides, Rufe.

13 EHOLD, on Selius' brow, how dark the shade ;
How late he roams beneath the colonnade ;
How his grim face betrays some secret wound ;
How with his nose he almost scrapes the ground ;
He beats his breast, he rends his hair. What now ?
Has Selius lost a friend, or brother ? No !
His brace of sons still live, long be their life !
Safe are his slaves, his chattels and his wife ;
His steward's, his bailiff's books are right what

So dire has fallen on him ? He dines at home !


EPIGRAM V. xlii.

Callidus effvcicta uumnws fur auferet area.

THE crafty thief your cash-box may invade ;

Your father's house in ashes may be laid ;
Your debtor may a bankrupt prove ; your field,
The sower's hopes belied, no harvest yield ;
Your steward be swindled by a harlot's guile ;
Your merchandise become the ocean's spoil.
What thou hast given to friends, and that alone.
Defies misfortune, and is still thy own.

1 17]

EPIGRAM I. Ixxxix.

Alcime, quern rap turn domino crescentibus annis.


youth, too early lost, who now art laid
Beneath the turf in green Labicum's glade,
O'er thee no storied urn, no laboured bust,
I rear to crumble with the crumbling dust ;
But tapering box and shadowy vine shall wave,
And grass, with tears bedewed, shall clothe thy grave.
These gifts my sorrowing love to thee shall bring
Gifts ever fresh and deathless as the Spring.
O when to me the fatal hour shall come,
Mine be as lowly and as green a tomb !

EPIGRAM I. xciii.

Pabricio junctus fido requiscit Aquinus.


[A pleasant trait of Roman military life.]

^TQUINUS here, by his Fabricius, lies,
/ Glad that he first was summoned to the skies :
The equal honours of each martial chief
Their tombs set forth. This record is more brief-
Comrades they were in virtue to the end/
And each, rare glory ! earned the name of friend.



O mihi post nullos Juli memorande saddles.

of my heart and none of all the band
Has to that name older or better right :
Julius, thy sixtieth winter is at hand,

Far-spent is now life's day, and near the night.

Delay not what thou would'st recall too late ;

That which is past, that only call thine own :
Cares without end and tribulations wait,

Joy tarrieth not, but scarcely come, is flown.

Then grasp it quickly, firmly to thy heart,
Though firmly grasped, too oft it slips away ;

To talk of living is not wisdom's part :
To-morrow is too late : live thou to-day !



Prima salutantes atque altera continet hora.

\7isiTS consume the first, the second hour ;

When comes the third, hoarse pleaders show

their power.

At four to business Rome herself betakes ;
At six she goes to sleep, by seven she wakes.
By nine well breathed from exercise we rest,
And in the banquet hall the couch is pressed.
Now, when thy skill, greatest of cooks, has spread
The ambrosial feast, let Martial's rhymes be read,
With mighty hand while Caesar holds the bowl,
When draughts of nectar have relaxed his soul.
Now trifles pass. My giddy Muse would fear
Jove to approach in morning mood severe.


Frangat Idumczas tristis Victoria palmas.


[It is needless to say how great a part under the Roman
Empire the chariot races were.]

T ET Victory, sorrowing, cast her palm away,

Let Favour beat her breast and wail the day,
Let Honour don the mourner's dark attire,
And Glory fling her wreath upon the pyre.
Snatched in his prime, Scorpus, sad thought! must go
To yoke night's horses in the realm below.
Swift flew the chariot, soon the goal was won,
Another race thou hast too quickly run.



Proscriptum famulus scrvavit fronte notatus.

[On a slave who, having been branded by a cruel master,
afterwards saved that master's life from massacre in conscrip-
tion. A welcome tribute from the Roman Poet to humanity.]

^\A/HEN scarred with cruel brand, the slave

Snatched from the murderer's hand
His prescript lord, not life he gave
His tyrant, but the brand.

EPIGRAM I. xiii.

Casta suo gladium cum traderet Arria Pceto.


[Caecina Paetus had been ordered by the Emperor Claudius
to put an end to his life: when he hesitated, his wife, Arria,
showed him the way.]

'"T^HE poniard, with her life-blood dyed,

When Arria to her Paetus gave.
44 'Twere painless, my beloved," she cried,
" If but my death thy life could save."



Artis Phidiacce torettma clarum.


Inserta phialce Mentoris manu ducta.

[Showing the extreme value which the Ancients set on exact

" I^HESE fishes Phidias wrought : with life by him

They are endowed ; add water and they swim.

PHAT lizard on the goblet makes thee start.
Fear not ; it lives only by Mentor's art.


PHARSALIA I. 119-182.

[The opening of the Civil War. The reference in the first
line is to Julia, daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompey, whose
death has been narrated.]

txl ER death the bond between the leaders broke,

And called to war ; then rival passions woke.
That new achievements might o'er old prevail,
Piratic laurels before Gallic pale,
Was Pompey's fear. His rival in the race,
Now flushed with victory, scorned the second place.
Caesar in power would no superior own,
Pompey would brook no partner of his throne.
Which of the chiefs had right upon his side
Is not for mortal judgment to decide,
Since either cause had warranty divine,
The winning Heavens', the losing, Cato, thine.
Ill were the champions matched. One aged grown
Had long exchanged the corselet for the gown ;

[ 25 J

In peace forgotten the commander's art,

And learned to play the politician's part,

To court the suffrage of the crowd, and hear

In his own theatre the venal cheer ;

Idly he rested on his ancient fame,

And was the shadow of a mighty name.

Like the huge oak which towers above the fields

Decked with ancestral spoils and votive shields.

Its roots once mighty, loosened by decay,

Hold it no more ; weight is its only stay ;

Its naked limbs bespeak its glories past,

And by its trunk, not leaves, a shade is cast ;

It totters to each breeze, yet in the ring

Of lusty greenwood stands alone a king.

Not such the talisman of Caesar's name ;

But Caesar had, in place of empty fame,

The unresting soul, the resolution high

Which shuts out every thought but victory.

Whate'er his goal, nor mercy nor dismay

He owned, but drew the sword and cleft his way.

Pressed each advantage that his fortune gave ;

Constrained the stars to combat for the brave ;

Swept from his path whate'er his rise delayed,

And marched triumphant through the wreck he made.

So, while the crashing thunder peals on high,


Leaps the live lightning from the storm-rent sky,
Affrights the people with its dazzling flame,
Smites e'en his temple from whose hand it came ;
Winged with destruction flashes to and fro,
O'erthrows to reach and reaches to o'erthrow.
Such private causes moved the chiefs ; but Rome
Was drawn by Empire's sins to Empire's doom.
'Whelmed by the riches of the conquered earth
The virtue perished which gave greatness birth.
From boundless plunder boundless luxury grew,
The pomp of palaces no measure knew ;
Old fare pleased pampered appetite no more,
Robes which had shamed a woman manhood wore.
Field unto field was added till the plain
Was turned to one luxurious lord's domain ;
While herds of foreign slaves their fetters wore
Where Roman heroes held the plough of yore.
A peaceful happiness had lost its charms,
Mere freedom palled on hearts that craved for arms.
When passion bade, at once they drew the sword ;
Crime was no crime when need had given the word.
With traitorous arms the country to enslave
Was deemed the crowning glory of the brave.
Now force made law, force turned the people's vote,
Force with its ruffian hand the statute wrote.

[27] .

To duty lost, tribunes with consuls vied
In boldly thrusting public right aside.
Next fell corruption filled the State of Rome ;
The fasces sold and sealed the nation's doom ;
Elections grew an auction of disgrace,
And public life the course for bribery's race.
Last usury came, the failing debtor sued,
And desperate need was ripe for civil blood.

PHARS. IX. 189-213.

7T MAN, he said, is gone unequal far
< To our good sires in reverence for the law,
Yet useful in an age that knew not right,
One who could power with liberty unite,
Uncrowned 'mid willing subjects could remain,
The Senate rule, yet let the Senate reign.
The conqueror's force he hated to unmask,
And what he might demand he stooped to ask.
If vast his wealth, no bounds his largess knew ;
He drew the sword, but he could sheath it too.
War was his trade, yet he to peace inclined,

1 3 4

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithBay leaves; translations from the Latin poets → online text (page 1 of 4)