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The Rhyme Maker
65-8 bce

Theme:  Wine and Warriors

In this poem, Horace is addressing a long-time friend and, most recently, brother-in-arms by the name of Pompeius Varus. They had both fought under Brutus after the famed assassination of Julius Caesar. Defeated, Horace returned to Rome under a general amnesty granted by the victorious Octavius, his friend returning later, after continuing military service under Pompey.  It was under these circumstances that this “welcome home” poem was written.  Horace's plan for the homecoming is the same as for many a returning soldier today:  "Let's party!"

“Care-drowning Massic” (next to last stanza): Massic was a type of Roman wine.

The final stanza refers to a practice at Roman wine parties of tossing the dice to see who would be in charge of the festivities.  The honor went to he who rolled the highest combination, a pair of sixes, which the locals referred to as “Venus”, after the goddess of Love and Beauty . . . a much more colorful nickname than “boxcars”.
- S. H. Bass   

more Horace at

Hold! hold! 'Tis for Thracian madmen (Martin)
No pomp of Persian feast (de Vere)
O precious crock (Martin)
Our common Sabine wine (Martin)
See, Spring's companion, Thracian gales (Gladstone)
Than you, O valued friend of mine (Field)
To A Jar Of Wine (Field)
To Quintus Dellius (Field)
Wine, Women, and Song (Field)

Tributes to Horace:
On A Wine Of Horace's by Franklin P. Adams

Stop Button Clutter!
Dear comrade in the days when thou and I
Horace (65-8 BC), Roman poet
translation by Theodore Martin (1816-1909), Scottish poet

Dear comrade in the days when thou and I
With Brutus took the field, his perils bore,
Who hath restored thee, freely as of yore,
To thy home gods, and loved Italian sky,

Pompey, who wert the first my heart to share,
With whom full oft I've sped the lingering day,
Quaffing bright wine, as in our tents we lay,
With Syrian spikenard on our glistening hair?

With thee I shared Philippi's headlong flight,
My shield behind me left, which was not well,
When all that brave array was broke, and fell
In the vile dust full many a towering wight.

But me, poor trembler, swift Mercurius bore,
Wrapped in a cloud, through all the hostile din,
Whilst war's tumultuous eddies, closing in,
Swept thee away into the strife once more.

Then pay to Jove the feasts that are his fee,
And stretch at ease these war-worn limbs of thine
Beneath my laurel's shade; nor spare the wine
Which I have treasured through long years for

Pour till it touch the shining goblet's rim,
Care-drowning Massic; let rich ointments flow
From amplest conchs! No measure we shall know!
What! shall we wreaths of oozy parsley trim,

Or simple myrtle? Whom will Venus send
To rule our revel? Wild my drafts shall be
As Thracian Bacchanals', for 'tis sweet to me
To lose my wits, when I regain my friend.

Ode 2.7 from Horace


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