Mything Quotes - Horace

by Erin on May 18, 2012

Today, I’d like to share an Ode from the ancient Roman poet Horace. As the opening lines indicate, this Ode is dedicated to the god Bacchus.

“I saw Bacchus today:
In a wild gorge he lay,
Teaching his sacred melodies. O years
To come, credit my glimpse
Of the attentive nymphs
And goat-foot satyrs cocking pointed ears.

Ai, ai, my mind still reels
With the sharp dread, and feels
Tumultuous rapture, bursting with the god.
Ai, ai, spare me, be kind,
Unchainer of the mind,
Stern master of the fearful ivy-rod.

Now I may celebrate
Your tireless, unsedate
Revellers, your wine-fountains and the rich
Runnels of milk that spring
At your command, I sing
The honey dripping from the tree-trunk niche.

I sing your radiant bride
Who, crowned and glorified,
Among the constellations has her place,
The palace roof raised flat
At Thebes - no light stroke, that -
And King Lycurgus’ grim demise in Thrace.”

Horace, Odes, Book Two, 19 (translation by James Michie)

Some notes about Horace’s poem:

Bacchus is the Roman god of wine. The line about the “wine-fountains” of the god underscores this fact. In addition, Bacchus is also associated with mysteries.

Nymphs and satyrs are types of woodland spirits in mythology. They are often depicted in the entourage of Bacchus.

The “fearful ivy-rod” refers to a thyrsos, which is one of the symbols of Bacchus and / or his Greek counterpart, Dionysos.

The “radiant bride” of Bacchus is none other than Ariadne.

There was a story from myth in which Lycurgus attacked Dionysos and drove the god to seek refuge in the sea.

In conclusion, I should also mention that this is the only first portion of the Ode. Perhaps I will include the rest sometime in the near future.

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