Carminum liber primus
The Odes are a collection in four books of Latin lyric poems
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

 by Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

. The Horatian ode
Ode is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist...

 format and style has been emulated since by other poets. Books 1 to 3 were published in 23 BC
23 BC
Year 23 BC was either a common year starting on Saturday or Sunday or a leap year starting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday of the Julian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

. According to the journal Quadrant, they were "unparalleled by any collection of lyric poetry produced before or after in Latin literature". A fourth book, consisting of 15 poems, was published in 13 BC
13 BC
Year 13 BC was either a common year starting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday or a leap year starting on Friday or Saturday of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...


The Odes were developed as a conscious imitation of the short lyric poetry of Greek originals. Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

, Sappho
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life...

 and Alcaeus
Alcaeus may refer to:*Alcaeus , a writer of ten plays of the Old Comedy.*Alcaeus , one of several figures of this name in Greek mythology*12607 Alcaeus - a main belt asteroid...

 are some of Horace's models; his genius lay in applying these older forms to the social life of Rome in the age of Augustus. The Odes have been considered traditionally by English-speaking scholars as purely literary works. Recent evidence by a Horatian scholar suggests they were intended as performance art, a Latin re-interpretation of Greek lyric song.

The Roman writer Petronius
Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian age.-Life:...

, writing less than a century after Horace's death, remarked on the curiosa felicitas (studied spontaneity) of the Odes (Satyricon 118). The English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson declared that the Odes provided "jewels five-words long, that on the stretched forefinger of all Time / Sparkle for ever" (The Princess, part II, l.355).

The earliest positively dated poem in the collection is I.37 (an ode on the defeat of Cleopatra at the battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was fought between the forces of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the city of Actium, at the Roman...

, clearly written in 30 B.C.), though it is possible some of the lighter sketches from the Greek (e.g. I.10, a hymn to the god Mercury) are contemporary with Horace's earlier Epodes and Satires. The collected odes were first published in three books in 23 B.C.

Book 1

Book 1 consists of 38 poems. Notable poems in this collection include:

I.3 Sic te diva potens Cypri, a propempticon (travel poem) addressed to contemporary poet Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...


I.4, Solvitur acris hiems a hymn to springtime in which Horace urges his friend Sestius vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam (Life's brief total forbids us cling to long-off hope)

I.5, Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa, on the coquettish Pyrrha, famously translated by John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...


I.11, Tu ne quaesieris, a short rebuke to a woman worrying about the future; it closes with the famous line carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero (pluck the day, trusting tomorrow as little as possible).

I.22, Integer vitae, an amusing ode that starts as a solemn praise of honest living and ends in a mock-heroic song of love for "Lalage" (cf. II.5.16, Propertius IV.7.45).

I.33, Albi, ne doleas, a consolation to the contemporary poet Tibullus
Albius Tibullus was a Latin poet and writer of elegies.Little is known about his life. His first and second books of poetry are extant; many other texts attributed to Tibullus are of questionable origins. There are only a few references to him in later writers and a short Life of doubtful authority...

 over a lost love.

Book 2

Book 2 consists of 20 poems. Notable poems in this collection include:

II.14, Eheu fugaces, an ode to Postumus on the futility of hoarding up treasure that begins Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume, labuntur anni! (alas, the fleeting years glide away, Postumus, Postumus)

Book 3

Book 3 consists of 30 poems.

The ancient editor Porphyrion
Pomponius Porphyrion
Pomponius Porphyrion was a Latin grammarian and commentator on Horace, possibly a native of Africa, who flourished during the 2nd or 3rd century....

 read the first six odes of this book as a single sequence, one unified by a common moral purpose and addressed to all patriotic citizens of Rome. These six "Roman odes", as they have since been called (by HT Plüss in 1882), share a common meter and take as a common theme the glorification of Roman virtues and the attendant glory of Rome under Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

. Ode III.2 contains the famous line "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace's Odes . The line can be roughly translated into English as: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country."-Context:...

," (It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country). Ode III.5 Caelo tonantem credidimus Jovem makes explicit identification of Augustus as a new Jove destined to restore in modern Rome the valor of past Roman heroes like Marcus Atilius Regulus
Marcus Atilius Regulus
Marcus Atilius Regulus , a general and consul in the ninth year of the First Punic War...

, whose story occupies the second half of the poem.

Besides the first six Roman Odes, notable poems in this collection include:

III.13, O fons Bandusiae
The Spring Of Bandusia
The Spring of Bandusia is a natural water source in rural Italy, to which the Roman poet Horace addressed a well-known ode. The location of the spring is unknown: speculation has centered on Apulia, the poet's birthplace, and the neighborhood of an archaeological ruin east of Rome, thought to be...

, a celebrated description of the Bandusian fountain.

III.29, Tyrrhena regum progenies, an invitation for the patron Maecenas to visit the poet's Sabine farm.

III.30, Exegi monumentum, a closing poem in which Horace brags Exegi monumentum aere perennius (I have raised a monument more permanent than bronze).

Book 4

Horace published a fourth book of Odes in 13 BC
13 BC
Year 13 BC was either a common year starting on Friday, Saturday or Sunday or a leap year starting on Friday or Saturday of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

 consisting of 15 poems that were commissioned by Augustus himself. Horace acknowledged the gap in time with the first words of the opening poem of the collection: Intermissa, Venus, diu / rursus bella moves (Venus, you return to battles long interrupted). Notable poems in this collection include:

IV.7 Diffugere nives, an ode on the same springtime theme as I.4. Contrasts between these two odes show a change in Horace's attitude with age.

IV.9 Ne forte credas, an ode to Lollius about the power of poetry that contains the famous line, "Vixere fortes Agamemnona," "Brave men lived before Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...


IV.10 O crudelis adhuc, an ode to young Ligurinus on the inevitability of old age that hints at a pederastic relationship.

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