Then farewell, Horace, whom I hated soMy own Latin abilities were never very good - good enough to impress people who never learned any Latin, to be sure. Good enough to (once I had learned the ancient Roman formula for inscriptions on monuments) impress the lovely and is-actually-an-accomplished-linguist Mrs. Borepatch when we visited Rome, as I rattled off what was carved on the various ruins in the Forum. She knew that I was most definitely not a linguist. What she didn't know was that I was cheating: the Romans were lovers of formula, and I learned the formula.
Not for thy faults, but mine; it is a curse
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow,
To comprehend, but never love thy verse.
And so I was able to stumble my way through Horace's Odes, like Byron. That's a shame, because you yourself know some of his poetry:
dum loquimur, fugerit invidaCarpe Diem. You've likely run across that one before. It's from Odes 1.11. Military veterans may have run across this one:
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum
While we speak, envious time will have already fled
Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. You might have run across that one, too.
mors et fugacem persequitur uirum
nec parcit inbellis iuuentae
poplitibus timidoue tergo.It’s sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.
Yet death chases after the soldier who runs,
and it won’t spare the cowardly back
or the limbs, of peace-loving young men.
Horace was the most famous and influential of the ancient poets. If I were as educated as I'd like, I'd improve my Latin to where I could not just stumble through the Odes, but actually appreciate them. It's a bit odd to think that I'm decently educated for our time but would be functionally illiterate for two centuries back.
Horace died on this day in 8 B.C. A friend of Caesar Augustus himself, he willed his estate to the Emperor.