Parentis olim siquis inpia manu senile guttur fregerit

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Michael Chernicoff
“Epode 3”



Parentis olim siquis inpia manu

      senile guttur fregerit,
edit cicutis alium nocentius.
      o dura messorum ilia.
quid hoc veneni saevit in praecordiis?
      num viperinus his cruor
incoctus herbis me fefellit? an malas
      Canidia tractavit dapes?
ut Argonautas praeter omnis candidum
      Medea mirata est ducem,
ignota tauris inligaturum iuga
      perunxit hoc Iasonem,
hoc delibutis ulta donis paelicem
      serpente fugit alite.
nec tantus umquam siderum insedit vapor
      siticulosae Apuliae
nec munus umeris efficacis Herculis
      inarsit aestuosius.
at siquid umquam tale concupiveris,
      iocose Maecenas, precor,
manum puella savio opponat tuo,
      extrema et in sponda cubet.

Literal Translation

[His] parent’s at some time if anyone with impious hand

Aged throat will have throttled,

He would have eaten hemlocks garlic more noxious than.

O the hardy harvesters’ side part of the body extending from the hips

down to the groin!

What this of poison rages in [my] vitals below the heart?

Viperous in these [governing herbs] blood

Boiled [governing blood] herbs did deceive me [negative answer expected]?

Or evil [governing banquets]

Canidia did handle banquets?

As the Argonauts above all shining [governing leader]

Medea admired the leader,

Ignorant [governing yoke] of bulls about to bind [governing Jason] the yoke

Anointed with this Jason;

With this having been smeared [governing gifts] having avenged herself gifts on the mistress

By serpent she fled flying [governing serpent].

Neither so much ever the stars’ has been troublesome hot vapor

To thirsty Apulia

Nor the gift [his] shoulders of efficacious Hercules

Kindle more hotly.

But if any ever such you will have longed for,

Fond of jokes Maecenas, I pray

A hand [your] girl kiss may put against your,

The farthest [governing frame] and on frame may she lie.


x -/uu u -/uu x | -/uu u | - x - u _

x -/uu u - x - u _
u: short duration

-: long duration

x: either short or long

-/uu: long or two shorts

_: brevis in longo

|: caesura

Legible Translation

If anyone at some time with impious hand his parent’s

Aged throat will have throttled,

He would have eaten garlic more noxious than hemlock.

O the hardy guts of harvesters!

What of poison rages in my breast?

Did boiled viperous blood

In these herbs deceive me? Or did wicked

Banquets Canidia handle?

As when the leader shining beyond all the Argonauts

Medea admired,

About to bind the bulls with the yoke ignorant of bulls

Jason with this she anointed;

Having avenged herself on the mistress, gifts having been smeared with this

She fled by flying serpent.

Neither has so much hot vapor of the stars ever been troublesome

To thirsty Apulia,

Nor did the gift the shoulders of efficacious Hercules

Kindle more hotly.

But if you will have ever longed for any such food,

O fond of jokes Maecenas, I pray,

May your girl put a hand against your kiss,

And may she lie on the farthest frame.


Horace is complaining that Maecenas, his friend and patron, has put far too much garlic in his food.

3. Hemlock was traditionally used in earlier times to poison criminals (e.g. Socrates).

6. Snakes’ venom was believed to be contained in their blood.

8. Canidia- a stock witch figure who occurs elsewhere in Horace’s poetry.

9-12. Medea, a sorceress, smeared a magical ointment on Jason, captain of the Argonauts to protect him from the fire breathing bulls he was required to yoke.

11. “bulls” occurs once, but is the object of two different words in the sentence, a Greek lyric device.

13. After Jason married another woman, Medea put a magic poison on this woman’s bridal gifts, which killed the woman (and her father).

14. Medea later fled on a chariot pulled by flying serpents, here referenced by a collective singular.

15. The constellation Canis Maior, which include Sirius, the “dog star”.

16. Apulia referred to a smaller region in southeastern Italy than it does today and was notable for its hot summers.

17. In line 14, dona is used for “gifts”, here munus. The former often has a more ceremonial meaning.

17. Hercules was so afflicted by the burning of a poisoned shirt given to him, unknowingly, by his wife that he chose to die rather than endure more suffering.

21. The implication being that Maecenas will have stinky garlic breath.
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