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Unde si Parcae prohibent iniquae,
IDulce pellitis ovibus Galaesi
Flumem et regnata petam Laconi
Ille terrarum mihi praeter omnes
Angulus ridet, ubi non Hymetto
Mella decedunt viridique certat 15
AD POMPEIUM VARUM.
In this ode, which is supposed to have been written A.U.c. 724, after the battle of Actium, Horace addresses Pompeius Varus, his friend, and former companiomin-arms, on the republicam side, at the battle of Philippi. Varus continued to serve in the army formamy years after Horace had returned to Italy, and commenced his literary career; and the poet here congratulates his old comrade upon his restoration to his country, after the peace concluded between Sextus Pompeius amd the Triumvirate had enabled the proscribed republicans, of whom Varus was one, to revisit their native land with impunity.
O SAEPE mecum tempus in ultimum
Pompei, meorum prime sodalium? 5
os et celerem fugam Sensi, relictâ non bene parmulâ,
Carm. 7.—1. saepe, sc. about two years (in B.c. 43 and 42 tillto the battle of Philippi)—tempus in ultimum, poetic. = im summum vitae discrimen, in summum periculum, * into the greatest peril.' 3. Quiritem, the sing. only used in poetry for * Roman citizen' (comp. beJow Ep. 1, 6, 7: Plausus et amici dona Quiritis), here with the special meaning of a Roman with the full rights of citizenship (not, deprived of them in consequemce of his having espoused the party of Brutus). 4. Italoque the i here short, in other passages long (e. g. C. 2, 13, 18: Parthus et Italum; C. 3, 80, 13; ad Italos al.) 5. Pompei, dissyl., as Pompêi (comp. above C. 1, 35, 17: antëit),—prima,
the first not in time but in affection, * principal, dearest.' 7. fregi, poetic. = breviorem reddidi, ' have shortemed the lingering day.' 9. sq. the meaning of this strophe is: with thee I felt the shame of the general flight at the battle of Philippi, when the bravest men had fallem—Philippos et celerem fugam, poetic. for celerem fugam Philippensem, *the precipitate flight at (the battle of) Philippi* in B.c. 42; see the Life of Horace—sensi, very expressively put at the beginning of the verse * I felt deeply, with shame ' — relictâ parmulâ, probably nothing but a lively poetical picture of the precipitate flight (perhaps also in imitation of the Greek lyric poets Archilochus, Alcaeus and Anacreon,
who had related the same of themselves)—non bene = non honeste, ' ingloriously.' 11. minaces = milites minaci vultu. 12. turpe, poetic. * soiled ' (by the stain of defeat). 13. sed me, &c., i. e. Ihave been saved by the god of poetry from the consequences of the civil war. 14. denso aëre, i. e. me involutum densâ nube (comp. Virg. A. 1, 411: At Venus obscuro gradientes aëre sepsit). 15. te, &c., after the battle of Philippi, Pompejus Varus had with others joined Sextus Pompejus in Sicily—in bellum belong to resorbens as well as to tulit. 17. obligatam = debitam ; as having been delivered from dangers. 19. lauru, collat. form of the ablat. lauro, which is used by Horace in C. 3,
EXCURSUS IX. CARM. VII. LIB. II.
Dice-playing (alea), which was a favourite game among both the Romans and Greeks, and was often carried on to such an extent that its abuse had to be prevented by laws, was invented in the most ancient times. There were two kinds of dice, tali (άστράγαλοι) and te88erae (κύβοι). The tali, which were originally made of the ankles of animals, and afterwards of other materials, had an oblong shape, and only four even sides; they were rounded at both ends, and could, therefore, scarcely ever lie on either of them, or if they did, they had to be thrown once more. There were points or strokes on the four even sides, the two opposite sides having the numbers 1 and 6, the other two 3 and 4; 2 and 5 were omitted. Four tali were required for playing. They were not thrown from the hand, but from a box shaped like a tower or cup, and made of horn, boxwood, ivory, &c. (pyrgus, phimus, fritillus.) This box was narrower om the top than below, and cut on the inside like a staircase, in order that the dice might be more shaken, and all kinds of trickery prevented. The dice were thrown on a board made for that purpose (alveus, alveolus, abacus). This board was probably surrounded with a high edge or rim, to prevent the dice from falling on the floor. The most fortunate throw, called Venus or jactus Venereus, was when all the four tali exhibited different numbers; all the four tali showing 1 was considered the worst throw (canis, or canis damnosu8). The tesserae (κύβοι) entirely resembled our dice. All the sides were marked with numbers from 1 to 6, so that the sum of the two sides opposed to one another was always seven. Two or three dice made up a game. They were also thrown by means of the pyrgus, phimus, or fritillus, and the same terms were used for both the best and worst . throw. It was a general custom to play at dice for amusement, or for the purpose of choosing, by a throw, the chairman at a feast (magister, or reae convivii, or arbiter bibendi.) Tali were generally employed for the latter purpose;l and it was, of course, the jactus Venereus that fixed the choice, as may be seen from the preceding ode:
“ Quem Venus arbitrum Dicet bibendi?”
1 Hor. C. 1, 4, 18: Nec regna vini sortiêre talis.
Thfs Ode is addressed to Gaius Valgius Rufus, a noted rhetoriciam, grammariam, and poet, who became Consul Suffectus A.U.C. 742. Horace here endeavours to mitigate the grief of Rufus for the death of his friend (not son) Mystes, by diverting his thoughts into a different channel, and by suggesting, as topics more worthy of his poetical genius, the recent triumphs of Augustus, and the conquests of the Romam people.