Horace 2.6: The Weary Soldier

Addressed to his friend Septimius, in Ode 2.6 Horace turns down an invitation to the restless corners of the Empire, pleading the war-weariness of a footsore soldier. He would rather stay in Italy by the river Tibur, or maybe go down south to the river Galaesus, where he can end his days in peace and quiet.

Septimius, you, who are prepared to visit

Cadiz with me, and its tribes (they’re not used

to bearing our yoke) and barbarous Syrtes,

by the Moors’ fierce Sea,

I’d rather Tibur, founded by men of Greece,

were my home when I’m old, let it be my goal,

when I’m tired of the seas, and the roads, and all

this endless fighting.

But if the cruel Fates deny me that place,

I’ll head for the river Galaesus, sweet

with its precious sheep, on Spartan fields, once ruled

by King Phalanthus.

That corner of earth is the brightest to me,

where the honey gives nothing away to that

of Hymettus, and its olives compete with

green Venafrum:

where Jupiter grants a lengthy spring, and mild

winters, and Aulon’s hill-slopes, dear to fertile

Bacchus, are filled with least envy for those rich

grapes of Falernum.

That place, and its lovely heights, call out to me,

to you: and there’ll you’ll scatter your debt of a sad

tear, over the still-glowing ashes of this,

the poet, your friend.

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