De Bello Gothico
Post resides annos longo velut excita somno Romanis fruitur nostra Thalia choris. optatos renovant eadem mihi culmina coetus, personat et noto Pythia vate domus: 5consulis hic fasces cecini Libyamque receptam, hic mihi prostratis bella canenda Getis.
Sed prior effigiem tribuit successus aënam, oraque patricius nostra dicavit honos; adnuit hic princeps titulum poscente senatu; 10respice iudicium quam grave, Musa, subis! ingenio minuit merces properata favorem: carminibus veniam praemia tanta negant; et magis intento studium censore laborat, quod legimur medio conspicimurque foro.
15Materies tamen ipsa iuvat solitumque timorem dicturo magna sedula parte levat. nam mihi conciliat gratas impensius aures vel meritum belli vel Stilichonis amor.
The Gothic War
After years of sloth my Muse, as if startled from long slumber, rejoices to sing a Roman song to Roman ears. Once more the same halls bring the gathering I longed for, and Apollo’s temple echoes to the voice of a familiar bard. ’Twas here I sang of the consular fasces and of the winning back of Libya and here must I sing of the war that overthrew the Getae.
But my former success won for me a brazen statue1 and the Fathers set up my likeness in my honour; at the Senate’s prayer the Emperor allowed the claim—bethink thee, Muse, how strict a judgement thou dost face! Wit wins less favour when too soon rewarded, and so great a gift refuses indulgence for my song. Now that my name is read and my features are known in the forum my Muse labours for a sterner critic than before.
Yet my theme itself brings cheer and, as I begin to speak, eagerly lightens much of my accustomed fear. A gracious and more devoted hearing is secured for me, be it by the war’s deserving or be it by Stilicho’s love.