Though I’d jig a hornpipe if I saw one, I love this vivid viper of glass-green, and can imagine cooling oneself after a picnic by stepping on a smooth-stoned riverbed.


‘You make quick changes, furry Faunus,

God of woods and fields, quit Arcady

And come to these Italian hills,

Keep my herds safe from rain and roasting.


Thanks to you my she-goats roam

Unharmed, the wives of Stinking Billy,

Root out the hidden herbs and shrubs;

The kids need not fear glass-green vipers


Or warlike wolves; so long, my sweet,

As all the sounding valleys hereabouts,

The smooth-stoned riverbeds ring out

With music from your rustic flute …’


See also the quote-mosaic review of Harry Eyres’ splendid book on the charm and continuing relevance of Horace.


Source: Horace, Odes 1.17, ‘These Italian hills’, quoted in (and translated by) Harry Eyres, Horace and Me: Life Lessons from an Ancient Poet (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), p. 145

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