Wednesday, August 26, 2015

To the Messenger

Horace I.x

Mercury, Atlas’ supple-tongued descendent, 
who formed the customs of our ancient forebears
deftly in speech and by instituting
dignified wrestling:

I’ll praise you, spokesman of the mighty Father
and all the gods. Sire of the crooked lyre!
nimble thief! lightly you hide whatsoever 
rouses your fancy.

Once, when Apollo threatened you, a boy then,
bellowing fiercely for his stolen cattle, 
he reached for his quiver, and to find it missing
broke out in laughter.

You, too, led Priam when he slipped the city,
past Meneleus and proud Agamemnon,
past the Greek fires, and all Troy’s besiegers,
duping their barracks.

You send down good souls to their happy slumber,
goading the faint crowd with your golden scepter;
you, the delight of all the gods in heaven
and in the dark earth.

Mercurî, facunde nepos Atlantis,
qui feros cultus hominum recentum
voce formasti catus et decoræ
more palæstræ,

te canam, magni Jovis et deorum
nuntium curvæque lyræ parentem,
callidum quicquid placuit jocoso
condere furto.

Te, boves olim nisi reddidisses
per dolum amotas, puerum minaci
voce dum terret, viduus pharetrâ
risit Apollo.

Quin et Atridas duce te superbos
Ilio dives Priamus relicto
Thessalosque ignis et iniqua Troiæ
castra fefellit.

Tu pias lætis animas reponis
sedibus virgâque levem coërces
aureâ turbam, superis deorum
gratus et imis.
Hermes Ingenui Pio-Clementino Inv544.jpg

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