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Horace -‘An Hymn To Bacchus’

‘Triumph of Bacchus’, oil on canvas by Ciro Ferri, 17th century.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA is a ode from Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace. ‘Horace was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). His career coincided with Rome’s momentous change from a republic to an empire‘. (Source: Wikipedia). This is Ode XIX from Book II, ‘Bacchum in remotis carmina rupibus’, quoted and translated into French by Antoine Court de Gebelin in volume one of the ‘Monde Primitif’.


Ode XIX from Book II, English translation by Via-Hyggeia

‘On the rocky hill-tops I saw Bacchus; i saw him; believe me, future generations; He was teaching the attentive nymphs, the pans and the goat-legged satyrs with verses. EVOHE! I am still taken by panic. Entranced, my heart is shaken with stupor and joy. EVOHE! Forgive me, God of Wine, master of the fierce Thyrsus; forgive me. Allow me to praise the fiery Thyades, the sources of wine, the fountains of milk, the honey extracted from the hollow trees. Allow me that I celebrate your wife induced among the stars, the eerie fall of the house of Pentheus, the frightening death of Lycurgus.

The rivers obey you; a foreign sea tried your might. With your divine juice, you lure on the mountain crests the Thracian women, whose hairs are intertwined with snakes. When the impious band of Giants climbed up to the celestial home of your fathers, you repelled Rhoetos with your lion claws, with tearing jaws.

You are been given the name of King of the dances, of laughter and games; however, you were seen a true Hero in combat, as gifted in war than in peace. As soon as Cerberus glanced at your golden horns, his fierceness vanished, he stroked you and when you wanted to go, with his triple tongue, he licked your legs and feet.’


Antoine Court de Gebelin’s French translation


Original Latin


Bacchum in remotis carmina rupibus
vidi docentem, credite posteri,
Nymphasque discentis et auris
capripedum Satyrorum acutas.

Euhoe, recenti mens trepidat metu 5
plenoque Bacchi pectore turbidum
laetatur. Euhoe, parce Liber,
parce, gravi metuende thyrso.

Fas pervicacis est mihi Thyiadas
uinique fontem lactis et uberes 10
cantare rivos atque truncis
lapsa cavis iterare mella;

fas et beatae coniugis additum
stellis honorem tectaque Penthei
disiecta non leni ruina, 15
Thracis et exitium Lycurgi.

Tu flectis amnes, tu mare barbarum,
tu separatis uvidus in iugis
nodo coerces viperino
Bistonidum sine fraude crinis. 20

Tu, cum parentis regna per arduum
cohors Gigantum scanderet inpia,
Rhoetum retorsisti leonis
unguibus horribilique mala;

quamquam, choreis aptior et iocis 25
ludoque dictus, non sat idoneus
pugnae ferebaris; sed idem
pacis eras mediusque belli.

Te vidit insons Cerberus aureo
cornu decorum leniter atterens 30
caudam et recedentis trilingui
ore pedes tetigitque crura.’

Quintus Horatius Flaccus. (8 December 65– 27 November 8 BC).


More about Horace: 🌿 Ode XIX Latin text source:
Horace -‘An Hymn To Bacchus’

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