ipse ego librorum video delicta meorum, cum sua plus iusto carmina quisque probet. auctor opus laudat: sic forsitan Agrius olim 10Thersiten facie dixerit esse bona. iudicium tamen hic nostrum non decipit error, nec, quicquid genui, protinus illud amo. cur igitur, si me video delinquere, peccem, et patiar scripto crimen inesse, rogas? 15non eadem ratio est sentire et demere morbos; sensus inest cunctis, tollitur arte malum. saepe aliquod verbum cupiens mutare reliqui, iudicium vires destituuntque meum. saepe piget (quid enim dubitem tibi vera fateri) 20corrigere et longi ferre laboris onus. scribentem iuvat ipse labor1 minuitque laborem, cumque suo crescens pectore fervet opus. corrigere ut2 res est tanto minus ardua quanto magnus Aristarcho maior Homerus erat, 25sic animum lento curarum frigore laedit, ut cupidi cursor3 frena retentat equi. atque ita di mites minuant mihi Caesaris iram, ossaque pacata nostra tegantur humo, ut mihi conanti nonnumquam intendere curas 30fortunae species obstat acerba meae, vixque mihi videor, faciam qui4 carmina, sanus, inque feris curem corrigere illa Getis. nil tamen e scriptis magis excusabile nostris, quam sensus cunctis paene quod unus inest. 35laeta fere laetus cecini, cano tristia tristis: conveniens operi tempus utrumque suo est.
myself perceive the defects of my own books despite the fact that every man is all too fond of his own verse. A creator finds praise for his own work: so perchance of old Agrius1 may have called Thersites fair. Yet my judgment is not distorted by this failing: whatever I beget does not forthwith please me. Why then, you ask, if I perceive my mistakes, should I continue to err, permitting faults to remain in my writing? ’Tis not the same story to feel and to cure a disease; all men can feel, skill must remove the trouble. Often when I am desirous of changing some word I leave it, and my strength forsakes my judgment. Often—why should I hesitate to confess to you the truth?—it irks me to emend and endure the burden of long toil. While writing the very toil gives pleasure and itself is lessened, and the growing work glows with the writer’s heart. But while to emend is as much easier as great Homer was greater than Aristarchus, nevertheless it wears down the mind with a slow chill of worry, as a driver restrains an eager steed. As truly as I hope that the merciful gods may lessen Caesar’s wrath and allow my bones to rest in peaceful soil, when I attempt to work carefully, sometimes the bitter vision of my lot confronts me and I think myself hardly sane in composing verses or in troubling to emend them among the wild Getae.33
And yet there is nothing more deserving of excuse in what I write than that in it all there is one single thought. Gay was oft my song when I was gay, sad it is now that I am sad: each period has a type of work