Ode 1.24 - To vergil on the Death of Quintilius
This is my second favorite of Horace's Odes. I did a whole project and paper on this ode. Here Vergil writes to his friend Vergil (yes, THE Vergil, writer of the Aeneid), about the death of their friend Quintilus. Here Horace addresses (as I said in my paper) "piety, poetry, death, and limitations."
Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
tam cari capitis? praecipe lugubris
cantus, Melpomene, cui liquidam pater
vocem cum cithara dedit.
5 ergo Quintilium perpetuus sopor
urget, cui Pudor et Iustitiae soror
incorrupta Fides nudaque Veritas
quando ullum inveniet parem?
multis ille bonis flebilis occidit,
10 nulli flebilior quam tibi, Vergili;
tu, frustra pius, heu non ita creditum
poscis Quintilium deos.
quid? si Threicio blandius Orpheo
auditam moderere arboribus fidem
15 num vanae redeat sanguis imagini,
quam virga semel horrida
non lenis precibus fata recludere
nigro conpulerit Mercurius gregi?
durum; sed levius fit patientia
20 quidquid corrigere est nefas.
1.24 – To Vergil on the Death of Quintilius
What shame or limit should there be on feeling of loss
for such a dear life? Direct this mournful
song, Melpomene, to whom the father gave a clear
voice accompanied with the lyre.
Seeing as a never ending sleep hems in
Quintilius, whom will Modesty and the sister of Justice
unspoilt Faith and naked Truth
ever find comparable to him?
That man has died mourned by his many good friends
though mourned by none so much as you, Vergil;
you, dutiful in vain, Oh though not in this way was he loaned,
you beg the gods for Quintilius.
What if you were to play more sweetly than Thracian Orpheus
the lyre to which the trees listened
would blood return to the hollow shade
which Mercury, resistant to prayers to break up fate with the rod once and for all,
may have rounded up into his shadowy throng?
It is hard, but whatever it is a sin to change becomes easier