Odes 1.23

Horace’s Chloe

by Horace

This elegant little poem, with a neat, epigrammatic conclusion in the final couplet, looks like another of the many standard subjects from Greek lyric that Horace draws on in many of his odes – “Chloe” can mean a green shoot in Greek. The converse variation on this theme also occurs in Horace, as advice to a friend not to pursue a girl who is still too young for love, but wait a little (Ode 2.5).

The metre is fourth Asclepiad.

See the illustrated blog post here.

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Vitas hinnuleo me similis, Chloe,
quaerenti pavidam montibus aviis
matrem non sine vano
aurarum et siluae metu.

nam seu mobilibus veris inhorruit
adventus foliis seu virides rubum
dimovere lacertae,
et corde et genibus tremit.

atqui non ego te tigris ut aspera
Gaetulusve leo frangere persequor:
tandem desine matrem
tempestiva sequi viro.

You avoid me like a young deer, Chloe, looking for his timid mother in the pathless hills, full of needless fear of the breezes and the wood:

for if the coming of spring has ruffled the leaves, or the green lizards have moved the brambles, his knees and heart are in a tremble.

But I am not pursuing you to tear you to pieces like a savage tigress or a desert lion from Africa: it’s time to stop following your mother, now that you’re fit to follow a husband.