• linguanatolinapl

LIBER PRIOR

How did Chios and famous Lesbos seem to you, Bullatius,

how pretty Samos, how Sardis, Croesus' royal home,

how Smyrna and Colophon? Better or worse than rumours?

Do they all appear worthless before the Campus or the Tiber,

or does one of Attalus' cities have a place in your heart,

or do you praise Lebedus in grudge of the sea and of the roads?

You know how Lebedus is: a village emptier than Gabii

and than Fidenae; I would nevertheless like to live there

and – having forgotten my own, being also forgotten by them –

like to gaze from afar at an infuriated Neptune from the shore.

But neither he who goes from Capua to Rome, covered in rain

and in mud, will want to live in an inn; nor he who

collected cold praises ovens and baths

as fully representing a happy life;

nor, if a strong Auster threw you in high seas,

would you therefore sell your ship on the other side of the Aegean.

Once you are safe, Rhodes and beautiful Mytilene do to you what

a heavy cloak does in the summer, a wrestling-apron in snowy air,

the Tiber in the winter, a furnace in August.

While it's possible and Fortuna shows you her benign face,

from Rome Samos and Chios and Rhodes should be praised from afar.

Whatever hour a god will have made happy for you,

grasp it with a grateful hand and don't put off pleasures throughout the year,

so that in whatever place you were you may say you

lived gladly; for if reason and wisdom get rid of worries,

and not a place standing witness of the largely spread-out sea,

those who cross the sea change their sky, not their mind.

A huge ineptness unsettles us: we seek to live well

thanks to ships and carriages; what you're seeking is here,

it's in Ulubrae, if you are not lacking a reasonable mind.



Elina Le Merle, Aurora Borealis, Oil on Canvas, 2021.


[Horatius]