Horace, Odes, Book II: Ode 15: “Iam Pauca Aratro”

Now regal villas will leave few acres

for ploughing; on all sides ornamental ponds

will appear as extensive

as Lake Lucrinus; bachelor plane-trees


usurp the realm; beds of violets

and myrtles and all olfactory crops

scatter their scents in olive-groves

which previous owners farmed;


dense laurels exclude the burning strokes

of the sun.  This is not the norm

our ancestors divined, that Romulus

and rough-bearded Cato prescribed.


For them private wealth was small,

the commonwealth great: no private

north-facing shady porches

were laid out with ten-foot rules:


the law forbade abuse of the common turf

and enjoined the adornment at public expense

of towns and temples

with fresh-hewn marble.

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Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC to 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was a contemporary of Virgil and the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian).