Ode 2.1 – To Pollio, On His History of the Civil Wars Lyrics

Quintus Horatius Flaccus Lyrics

Of all that civil unrest since Metellus,
the phases, causes and the crimes of war,
of Fortune's games, of great men's grave
friendships, of weapons smeared with gore
not yet atoned for – you are writing now
a work where every turned phrase is a roll
of dangerous dice. Let not the ash
deceive: you tread on blazing coal.
Let your stern Muse not leave the tragic stage
for long. Soon, when you've set affairs of state
in order, you will heed the theater's
calling again. Pollio the great
bastion of law to grieved defendants, famous
for counseling the Senate council, crowned
with deathless military honor
for victory on Illyrian ground.
Even now I hear the war-horns' baleful roar
in your raucous music, and the bugles' blare.
I see the flash of swords strike panicked
horses and the horsemen's eyes with fear.
I see the great commanders filthy with
war's not inglorious dirt, I hear the whole
world fall at Rome's feet notwithstanding
defiant Cato's dogged soul.
The gods allied with Africa who, helpless
to help, left unavenged that country's shores,
now sacrifice to dead Jugurtha
the grandsons of his conquerors.
What field has Latin blood not fertilized,
its graves attesting the unholiest
of wars, and that the ears of Persia
ring with the ruin of the West?
What churning main, what river does not know
those rueful wars' taste? What sea has the slaughter
of Rome's own sons not dyed? What beach
has our gushed blood not washed like water?
But stay amusing, sa**y muse. Enough
drumming up death-songs from Simonides.
let's flee to one of Venus' grottos
to strum a lighter tune than these.

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