Notes to Horace, Carmina 1.11

quaero, quaerere, quaesivi (quaesii), quaesitum
ask, seek, look for; acquire, earn.  Quaesieris is perfect active subjunctive, after ne in a clause of prohibition. A poetic usage, it is the equivalent of noli(te) + infinitive.

scio, scire, scivi, scitum
know, have skill in.

nefas, n.  indeclinable
wickedness, offense against divine law, sacrilege, wrong, crime.  Supply est.  The phrase scire nefas scans as a choriamb (long-short-short-long), which places emphasis on the thought.  D. West (Horace Odes I, 1995) notes that throughout the poem the choriamb highlights key ideas with resonant sound patterns (Leuconoe, debilitat, vina liques, carpe diem).

quem mihi, quem tibi: note how the interlocking word order connects Horace as speaker with his addressee.  Anaphora and asyndeton represent visually the intimate relationship of the poet and Leuconoe.

finis, finis m.
boundary, end, limit.  Finem is modified by the interrogative adjective quem.

di = dei, nominative plural masculine of deus.  Note the alliteration of di dederint.  How does this enhance the meaning?

do, dare, dedi, datum
give, permit, grant. Dederint is perfect active subjunctive in an indirect question introduced by quem finem.

Leuconoe, Leuconoes f.
Leuconoe. The addressee of the poem. She is probably of slave or meretrix status, which the manner and content of the poet's words below confirm. It has been suggested that her name recalls Apollo Leucatas (Carrubba and Fratantuono, “Apollo and Leuconoe” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica 74.2, 2003), which further links her to the prophetic and poetic arts.

Babylonius, -a, -um
Babylonian.  Modifies numeros.  Babylonian numbers are Babylonian tables of astrology, using numerical charts in calculations about the future.  Astrology was a popular art in Rome in Horace’s day; Leuconoe has apparently consulted astrologers to inquire about her future and Horace’s future (quem mihi, quem tibi), perhaps as lovers.

tempto (1)
try, attempt.  Temptaris = temptaveris, syncopated perfect active subjunctive after ne (line 1) in a parallel construction with tu ne quaesieris.

ut exclamatory adverb

melior, melius (comparative of bonus)
better.  Supply est.

quisquis, quidquid/quicquid
whoever, whatever.

patior, pati, passus/a sum
suffer, experience, undergo, allow, endure. The infinitive pati is the subject of [est]. Note the impact of postponing pati to the end of the line.

seu...seu  correlative conjunction

plus, pluris (comparative of multus)
more. Pluris = plures , accusative plural feminine, modifying hiemes.

hiems, hiemis f.
winter; stormy weather. Metonymy for “year,” but Horace also uses hiems (“winter”) to transition to the winter scene that evokes the theme of death.

tribuo, tribuere, tribui, tributum
allot, assign.  Tribuit is either present or perfect tense; the perfect tense would imply that Jupiter has allotted one’s span of life at birth.

ultimus, -a, -um
last, farthest, extreme.  Understand hiemem with ultimam.

oppositus,  -a, -um
against, placed against, opposite, hostile.

debilito (1)
weaken, cripple, disable.

pumex, pumicis m.
pumice-stone.  Horace depicts the winter as wearing out the sea.  Nisbet and Hubbard comment that pumex, a porous rock, suggests a slow and steady erosion in the breaking of sea against the rocks; thus Horace “evokes a contrast (which he does not explicitly state) between the long-drawn-out conflicts of nature and the brevity of human life and happiness” (140).

Tyrrhenus, -a, -um
Tyrrhenian, Etruscan.  Modifies mare; the Tyrrhenian sea lies between the west coast of Italy and Sardinia and Sicily.

sapio, sapere, sapivi (sapii), --
have taste, be wise, have discernment.  Jussive subjunctive (also liques and reseces) directed at Leuconoe, as a slave attendant at a symposium.  The verb has literary associations.  Note the repetition of “s” sounds in Horace’s commands to Leuconoe: sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi / spem longam reseces.

liquo (1)
strain; melt.  The phrase vina liques means “strain the wine” to remove the sediment for immediate consumption. The verb liquo also has the figurative meaning to “purify” language (e.g., Quintilian, Inst. 12.6.4 speaking of Cicero).

spatium, spatii n.
space, period of time.  Modified by brevi in an ablative of cause.

reseco, resecare, resecui, resectum
cut back, prune, restrain.  The phrase spem longam reseces uses the metaphor of vine pruning to urge Leuconoe to focus on the present.  The verb also implies the need to edit language, as Horace criticizes Lucilius for writing too much (cum flueret lutulentus, erat quod tollere velles, “when he was flowing muddily, there was much that you would want to take out,” Sat. 1.4.11).  The wine-producing vine and poetry, like the mind (Leuconoe), should be uncluttered and trim.

fugio, fugere, fugi, fugitum
flee, run away, escape.  Fugerit = future perfect active indicative, emphasizing the swift movement of time.

invidus, -a, -um
envious, jealous.  Note the personification of aetas, which attempts to rob humans of life's enjoyments.

aetas, aetatis f.
time, age.

carpo, carpere, carpsi, carptum
pluck, seize.  The famous phrase carpe diem, a metaphor of the natural world, suggests the “plucking” of fruit or flowers (the Greek verb karpizein means “to enjoy the fruits of”). It is the culminating image in a series of verbs that evoke the senses and nature (sapio, liquo, reseco) while also expressing Horace’s literary and aesthetic principles. As the word is addressed to Leuconoe, it may also have erotic overtones.

quam minimum (quam + the superlative )
to the least extent possible.

credulus, -a, -um
credulous, trusting. It takes the dative case (postero).  Credula implies foolish trust.

posterus, -a, -um
next, following, future, later.  Supply diei or tempori.

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