L. Annaeus Florus


Translated from Latin to English by David Camden

I do not want to be Caesar,
to walk through the Britons
to suffer the Scythian frost.

Bacchus, inventor of vines, may you arrive full of wines,
may you pour forth the sweet liquid, to be compared with nectar,
and make the old pleasant, and turned to another use,
may it not lead harsh flavor to our spiteful veins.

Every woman hides a deadly poison within her chest;
they speak sweetness with their lips, and they live with harmful hearts.

Just as Apollo, so then Liber is seen as bearing fire:
both were created by flames and brought forth from glowing passion;
both bring down heat as gifts, in the vine and in the ray;
this one breaks the darkness of night, this one the darkness of the heart.

When I was planting new apple and pear saplings,
I carved the name of my love in the highest bark.
Thereafter no end or silence of my desire is made:
the tree grows, my passion swells: my heart fills up the letters.

Those who are evil were not evil straight from their mothers' wombs,
but they are made evil by the deceitful companionship of evil men.

Spurn the customs overseas, they have a thousand duties.
Throughout the earth, no one lives more properly than a Roman citizen:
indeed let me prefer one Cato to three hundred of Socrates.

As bad as it is to have money, it is just as bad not to have it;
as bad as it is to always be daring, perpetual modesty is just as bad;
as bad as it is to say little, it is just as bad to say much;
as bad as a female friend outside is, a wife at home is just as bad;
no one says these things are not true, no one does not say the contrary.

Consuls and new governors are appointed every year;
only either a king or a poet is not born every year.

Roses have come at any time. Through the nature
of pleasant spring one day reveals the spikes of flowers,
the next reveals pyramids swelling with a greater knot,
the third now reveals flower baskets, the forth light finishes
all the work of the flower. They die today unless they are gathered this morning.

Ah, what sorts of roses have I seen bloom in the morning!
They were still being born and the age was not equal for all.
The first covering was leading clusters of berries shaped like buds,
the next lifted crimson peaks from a projecting stone,
the third had now revealed a whole circle of flower baskets,
the fourth likewise shined with the bud of a new flower.
While one lifts its head and the other unties a knot,
thus, while virgin modesty is unwrapped with clothing,
gather the roses in the morning lest they die: quickly does a maiden grow old.

Either Love has ridiculed this or Dawn has drawn this
with the rosy hairs from her comb or the Cyprian has stuck
to the briars and this blood remains on the sharp thorns.

There was a garden of Venus, surrounded by rosy plants,
the pleasing field of the mistress, which he who had seen it might love.
While this boy hurries to pick flowers here and there
and to cover heads of hair, a sharp thorn pricked
his marble fingers: as the pain soon reached his joints
and his bloody hand, a tear wet his eyes.
Gnashing his teeth, he came to his mother and delivered his complaints:
"Mother, whence did roses begin to be harmful,
whence did your flowers begin to fight with hidden arms?
They wage wars with me. The color of the flower and my blood are one!"

Clio recounts ages past in unbound speech.
Euterpe's hollow flute speaks with twin winds.
The comical goddess Thalia rejoices in the slippers of actors.
Bellowing Melpomene grows hot with tragic iambs.
Terpsichore's golden lyre proclaims all splendor.
Plucking strings, Erato composes melodies with her fingers.
Polyhymnia is bent on quick and various emotions.
Urania examines the numerous stars in the heavens.
Calliope gives laurel garlands to learned poets.