Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Commander's Intent IV: Parthian shot

Before I depart the subject, let me turn to another late Republican, in this case, Horace. He, too, watched his people turn away from themselves and "great men" take over the business of state and turn that business to wars and rumors of wars. Horace claimed that he only survived the resulting civil wars by fleeing the republic; he returned to an empire only to enjoy his last years in cynical comfort. In "Odes" (v. 1, n. 2) he asks:
"Quem vocet divum populus ruentis
imperi rebus? Prece qua fatigent
virgines sanctae minus audientem
carmina Vestam?"

(Whom will the people call on in the collapse of the empire?
With what prayer can the holy virgins call out the Vesta
if she doesn't listen to their song?)
And in v.1, n.11, he reflects on life in a lesser key:
"Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quicquid erit, pati,
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrrhenum: sapias, uina liques, et spatio breui
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit inuida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero."

Don't ask, Leuconoe!
What business have you and/or I to know
When death comes from the gods?
Neither consult soothsayers and the like!
So much better to take whatever comes,
whether this winter is
One of many that Jove's given us,
or whether we're seeing for
One more time how the sea batters the cliffs,
how they are tumbling down.
Let's be wise above all,
get out the wine, and never make big plans!
Let small hopes be enough!
While we two speak, time, reckless time, flies by.
So seize this very day,
and never count on what the future holds.
(translation by Walter Baumann)

So. I'm on vacation for a week from today. Let joy be unconfined!

I'll be back tonight with some odd ruminations on the $10,000 Tree and the Cut Direct


Anonymous said...

Enjoy the vacation! Remember that you can't do with a kid what you did way back when :)


Lisa said...

"While we two speak, time, reckless time, flies by."

Carpe diem, and I hope you enjoy some contemplative time this week.