Prima dicte mihi, summa dicende Camena, spectatum satis et donatum iam rude quaeris, Maecenas, iterum antiquo me includere ludo. non eadem est aetas, non mens. Veianius armis 5Herculis ad postem fixis latet abditus agro, ne populum extrema totiens exoret1 harena. est mihi purgatam crebro qui personet aurem: “solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne peccet ad extremum ridendus et ilia ducat.” 10Nunc itaque et versus et cetera ludicra pono; quid verum atque decens curo et rogo et omnis in hoc sum; condo et compono quae mox depromere possim. ac ne forte roges, quo me duce, quo lare tuter:
You, of whom my earliest Muse has told,a of whom my last shall tell—you Maecenas, seek to shut me up again in my old school, though well tested in the fray, and already presented with the foil.b My years, my mind, are not the same. Veianius hangs up his arms at Hercules’ door, then lies hidden in the country, that he may not have to plead with the crowd again and again from the arena’s edge.c Some one there is who is always dinning in my well-rinsed ear: “Be wise in time, and turn loose the ageing horse, lest at the last he stumble amid jeers and burst his wind.”
10 So now I lay aside my verses and all other toys. What is right and seemly is my study and pursuit, and to that am I wholly given. I am putting by and setting in order the stores on which I may some day draw. Do you ask, perchance, who is my chief, in what home I take shelter? I am not bound, overd
- aThe first Satire, the first Epode, and the first Ode are all addressed to Maecenas.
- bHorace compares himself to an old gladiator, who has often won approval, and received the wooden foil which was a symbol of discharge from the school of gladiators.
- cThe defeated combatant would beg for his life. Veianius, after his discharge, yielded to no inducements to return to the arena.
- dHorace, still using terms applicable to a gladiator, who took an oath to the master of his training-school, is speaking of the acceptance of the formula of some school of philosophy.