Tibur is next door to Horace’s beloved Sabine farm: is he actually thinking of leaving it to live in Tarentum, on the heel of Italy? Not really: his list of Tarentum’s local attractions is appealing, but its purpose is probably to compliment Septimius, who has a local connection of some kind, and the sub-text is surely that Horace prefers to stay where he is. In fact he begins by telling us so, and the tear at the end looks like a virtual one, shed on virtual ashes. Nothing much seems to be known about Septimius, though the prominent references to Greek traditions and the emphatic “poet friend” in the last line indicate that Horace’s poetry played an important part in the relationship. Was he an army friend? We will never know, but the second stanza has clear military overtones, and the very next poem will be addressed to someone who is certainly a fellow-veteran of Horace’s. Many thanks to Tony Sillem for the fine translation of this charmingly mysterious ode.
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