When, under your high roof so
pleasing to Jupiter,
shall we praise Caesar’s victory,
blesséd Maecenas, by drinking the Caecuban wine
you cellar for holiday feasts
and by hearing without listening to flutes and lyre
a foreign air, familiar strings?
Just as we did when the sea god’s self-appointed son
fled Naulochus in burning ships
after threatening the capital with rings and chains
struck from the necks of slaves, his friends.
Now Roman legionaries (their children will say no)
sold outright for a woman’s kiss
shoulder their spears and erect palisades to protect
the shriveled tits of the eunuchs
whose mosquito netting ripples and flows in sunlight
among the dishonored standards.
Rearing back, two thousand Galatians wheeled for our lines,
chanting “Caesar,” horses snorting,
while the enemy galleys rowed smartly to the left
and gave a fine view of their sterns.
We’ve won already. Why not parade the golden cars
and slit the throats of spotless bulls?
We’ve won already, and no war in
sent back a general as great,
nor was Scipio such, who with exquisite courage
Beaten on land and on sea, Mark Antony has changed
royal purple for soldier black
and sails to
or, perhaps, to the
driven onward by bad luck, plunging through rough waves
and fighting head winds all the way.
So break out the larger bowls, boy, and fill them for us
with flasks from
or, because it stays down better in battering seas,
pour the last of the Caecuban.
Let our fears for Octavian and our own sweet selves
the charming wine god wash away.
translated, from the Latin, by Ron Horning