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From The Silvae of Statius translated with Introduction and Notes, by D. A. Slater; Oxford: The Clarendon Press; 1908; pp. 157-158.



V    Parvi beatus ruris honoribus

An ode to Septimius of Leptis.

HAPPY in the glory of my narrow domain, where ancient Alba worships her Teucrian gods, I salute Severus the eloquent and the brave with a greeting that is sounded on unwonted strings. At last surly Winter has been overwhelmed by the sun on high and has fled to the Parrhasian North: at last the icy gusts have melted into warm zephyrs and sunshine is upon land and sea. Spring rules everywhere: the trees are tressed with the leafage of another year: the birds sing their plaints anew and the fresh songs that in mid-winter’s hush they have devised. A thrifty soil, a sleepless hearth, a roof-tree blackened with smoke of many a lamp: these are my solace, these and a wine taken from the jar almost before it has had time to ferment. Not in my fields bleat a thousand woolly flocks: nor lows the cow to her pleasant paramour. If ever I sing, it is alone, and nought but the dumb field protests against its master’s voice. Yet, next to my native home, this land has my heart; here it is that the warrior-queen of battle crowned my strains with Caesar’s chaplet, when with all your heart 158 strongly you strove to have your comrade safe from the welcome ordeal, trembling as Castor trembled at every note in the din of the Bebrycian lists. Can it be that far Leptis on the distant Syrtes is indeed your birthplace? Why, soon she will yield Indian harvests and rob fragrant Sheba of her priceless cinnamon. Who would not think that beloved Septimius had planted his baby steps on each of the seven hills of Romulus? Who would think that as a weanling child he had not drunk of Juturna’s rill? Nor strange such worth: in your boyhood you knew not the waters of Africa, but sailed into Ausonian havens, and swam, our adopted kinsman, in Tiber’s pools. Then among sons of the Senate, content with the narrow purple, you grew out of boyhood, by noblesse of disposition achieving boundless tasks. No trace of Carthage in your speech or in your bearing: no alien heart is yours: Italy, Italy is your motherland. Whereas in Rome and amid Roman knights are men fitted to be the foster-sons of Libya. In the hum of the courts cheerily rings out your voice: not to be bought is that eloquence; that sword sleeps in the scabbard, save when friends bid you draw. But oftener your delight is in the tranquil fields, either in the home of your father on Veientine soil, or above bowers of the Hillmen or in old-world Cures. There you shall rehearse more themes in prose: but between-whiles forget me not; and in those shy recesses make your coy lyre ring again.

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