Horace’s Odes


This is Pantheon Poets’s selection of twenty-eight of Horace’s poems in the order in which they appear in his four Books of the Odes. Click on the description of each Ode to link to the page where you can hear it in Latin and follow an English translation.

Odes 1.1 Horace begins his Odes, a work for which he claims a new and original place in Rome’s literature, with a greeting to his patron Maecenas and a poetic manifesto.

Odes 1.2 Rome has suffered a prolonged crisis of civil war: the solution is Augustus.

Odes 1.3 Horace wishes his friend Virgil bon voyage and a safe return from a trip to Athens. Metre: second Asclepiad

Odes 1.5: Pyrrha has a new lover. Metre: fourth Asclepiad

Odes 1.6: Horace says that his gift is too slight for the epic subjects of war and heroism, but his poem tells a different story

Odes 1.9: Mount Soracte under winter snows inspires a reflection on the good things of youth and life. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 1.11: Horace coins (or recalls) the famous phrase, “carpe diem.” Metre: fifth Asclepiad

Odes 1.13: An admirer’s jealousy for a pretty girl’s stormy new affair. Metre: second Asclepiad.

Odes 1.14: Rome’s ship of state in stormy seas. Metre: third Asclepiad.

Odes 1.16: In a compliment to a lovely mother and her lovelier daughter, Horace renounces the libellous poems of his youth

Odes 1.22: an encounter with a wolf reminds Horace of the need to lead a decent life. Metre: Sapphic

Odes 1.23: Horace tells a shy girl it is time to prepare for womanhood. Metre: third Asclepiad.

Odes 1.32: the “poscimur” ode – Horace affirms his mission to create an entirely new form of Latin poetry by transmuting Greek models. Metre: Sapphic

Odes 1.37: Horace’s rejoicing at the future Emperor Augustus’s victory over Cleopatra, the dangerous but brave oriental Queen. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 2.3: Dellius seems to be a rich landowner: Horace draws on Epicurean philosophy to remind him that there are some good things in life that money can’t buy. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 2.6: Horace concedes that his friend’s beloved Tarentum is a fine place, but it will not make him forsake his own Sabine farm. Metre: Sapphic

Odes 2.7: Horace welcomes an old comrade-in-arms – at the personal level the poem celebrates friendship, along with the clemency of the new Augustan regime. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 2.8: beware of Barine, the femme fatale! Metre: Sapphic

Odes 2.19: Horace pays an impassioned and elegant tribute to Bacchus, God of wine and intoxication. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 3.5: Horace uses the example of Regulus, a Roman legend of unshakeable courage and devotion to duty from the wars against Carthage, to assert the need for the same qualities in his own time. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 3.8: a compliment from Horace to Maecenas, his patron and friend, in the form of an invitation to dinner. Metre: Sapphic

Odes 3.13: O fons Bandusiae – Horace venerates a spring for the Roman festival of Fontinalia. Metre: fourth Asclepiad

Odes 3.19: Horace is throwing a party to celebrate Murena’s election to the college of augurs. Metre: second Asclepiad

Odes 3.20: Horace warns Pyrrhus that the lady from whom he has stolen the gorgeous Nearchus will be coming after him. Metre: Sapphic

Odes 3.21: Horace’s prayer to a wine-jar. Metre: Alcaic

Odes 3.28: Horace celebrates Neptune’s feast-day. Metre: second Asclepiad

Odes 3.30: Horace signs off from the Odes – or so he thought – by asserting that in them he has created a monument more lasting than bronze. Metre: first Asclepiad

Odes 4.1: returning to poetry in lyric metre after a break of perhaps ten years, Horace in middle age is now past love – or so he thinks. Metre: second Asclepiad.

Odes 4.7: Horace mourns the transience of life in this poem to the dark side of “carpe diem.” Metre: Hexameters followed by an Archilochius minor

Odes 4.11: Horace tries out his powers of seduction for one last time. Metre: Sapphics

Odes 4.15: Horace brings his last book of Odes to a close with a final panegyric on the success and legacy of Augustus. Metre: Alcaic.