David West (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Horace: The Complete Odes and Epodes
IVSolvitur acris hiems
- Link 1Harsh winter is melting away in the welcome change to spring and zephyrs,
- 2 winches are pulling down dry-bottomed ships,
- 3the cattle no longer like the steading, the ploughman does not hug the fire,
- 4 and meadows are not white with hoar-frost.
- 13Pale death kicks with impartial foot at the hovels of the poor
- Editor’s Note14 and the towers of kings. O fortunate Sestius,
- 15the brief sum of life does not allow us to start on long hopes.
- 16 You will soon be kept close by Night and the fabled shades
14 Sestius: Lucius Sestius fought for Brutus against Octavian at Philippi in 42 bc, was amnestied, and became part of the Augustan establishment, taking over the consulship from Augustus in 23 bc. The fourth poem in this collection published in that year is thus the fourth to honour prominent figures in the Augustan regime. The Sestii were rich (in line 14 the word beate means fortunate, blessed, wealthy). They owned potteries near Cosa on the Etruscan coast 140 km. north-west of Rome. From its port their ships would start sailing every spring with cargoes of amphorae filled with wine, oil and fish products. These potteries were known as officinae and officinae is the word used for foundries in line 8 of the ode. The name of this Sestius and the letters OF for officina appear on bricks made in these potteries. The Sestii had connections with the turreted villa of Sette Finestre at Cosa (14), no doubt more spacious than Pluto's meagre house in the Underworld in line 17.