Horace: Ode for Cassandra (From Latin)

Ode for Cassandra
By Horace (Ode 1.11)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original in Latin

Don't ask (we're not to know) what end, Cassandra,
the gods intend for you, for me; nor squander
your mind with horoscopes. Do better: let
what will be, be. Jove may grant winters yet
or deem this year's your last that wears the wide
Tyrrhenian sea out on the brawny side
of cliffs. Be wise: have wine and prune the bough
of long hopes to short minutes. Even now
as we speak here, devouring time speeds on.
Harvest this day and take no stock in dawn.


Many thanks to: Geoffrey Brock for giving a draft a well-needed thrashing, to Jean Migrenne for fixing an embarrassing problem of geography and to David Wray for advice on prosody.


The Original:

Tū nē quaesieris (scīre nefās) quem mihi quem tibi
fīnem dī dederint, Leuconoē, nec Babylōniōs
temptāris numerōs. Ut melius, quidquid erit, patī!
Seu plūrēs hiemēs, seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositīs dēbilitat pūmicibus mare
Tyrrhēnum: sapiās, vīna liquēs et spatiō brevī
spem longam resecēs. Dum loquimur, fūgerit invida
aetās: carpe diem, quam minimum crēdula posterō. 

4 comments:

  1. Great post! Thank you for make me enjoy it and the reciting on Latin too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your excellent rhyming translation makes an excellent companion to Louis MacNeice's version, which I also like.

    Have you considered translating the ode on Cleopatra's death? I would love to see your take on it.

    Here is MacNeice's version of 1.11, in case you don't have it handy:


    Do not, Leúconoé, seek to inquire what is forbidden, what
    End the gods have assigned to you or to me; nor do you meddle with
    Astrological numbers. What shall arise count to your balance if
    God marks down to you more winters—or perhaps this very one is the
    Last which now on the rocks wears out the fierce Mediterranean
    Sea; but be wise and have wine, wine on the board, prune to a minimum
    Long-drawn hopes. While we chat, envious time threatens to give us the
    Slip; so gather the day, never an inch trusting futurity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don't ask (it's forbidden to know) what final fate the gods have
    given to me and you, Leuconoe, and don't consult Babylonian
    horoscopes. How much better it is to accept whatever shall be,
    whether Jupiter has given many more winters or whether this is the
    last one, which now breaks the force of the Tuscan sea against the
    facing cliffs. Be wise, strain the wine, and trim distant hope within
    short limits. While we're talking, grudging time will already
    have fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for translating the first line of this poem. Your work helped me understand the conclusion of a short story by Alice Munro, "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship."

    ReplyDelete

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