Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Appendix: Mattinata (Mons Matinus)


By Horace (65–8 B.C.)

(From Odes)
Translated by R. M. Hovenden

THEE, too, the mapper-out of seas and lands,

The teller, bent unnumbered sands to count,

A scanty heap of dust from pious hands,

Archytas, holds beneath Matinus’ Mount.

What profits it the heavens to explore,

To range from pole to pole, and then to die?

So Tantalus, the guest of Gods no more,

So died Tithonus, wafted to the sky,

And Minos, councillor of Supreme Jove.

Twice to the shades Panthoïdes returned,

Calling the witness of a shield to prove

His fame, in Troy’s defence so dearly earned.

He, as thou know’st, well skilled in Nature’s lore,

Cast but the husks and shell of humankind;

But death to us is blackness evermore,

None can retrace the path by fate assigned.

The Furies offer some to cruel Mars,

Others, seafaring men, the waves o’erwhelm,

Old men and striplings crowd the funeral cars,

No head escapes from harsh Proserpine’s realm.

Me, too, rough Notus drowned in Hadria’s tide

What time Orion sheathed his sloping brand.

O sailor-man, these bones, this skull to hide

Grudge not a handful of the drifting sand;

So may the East-wind on Venusia blow

And spare thee on the waters far away.

Just guerdon for thy care may Jove bestow,

And Neptune, guardian of Tarentum’s bay.

But if thou turn a deaf ear to my prayer

Surely thy children’s fortune shall be wrecked,

And thou, for lack of charity, shalt bear

The just requital of a like neglect.

No expiation shall undo the wrong,

No lustral waters purify thy heart;

The boon I ask will not delay thee long,

Three handfuls of gray dust, and then depart.