Horace’s Prophecy

(To find the book, click on the image above)


I came across a startling prophecy in Horace (Odes 16):

Altera iam teritur bellis civilibus aetas,

suis et ipsa Roma viribus ruit


Impia perdemus devoti sanguinis aetas,

ferisque rursus occupabitur solum.

Barbarus heu cineres insistet victor et Urbem

eques sonante verberabit ungula…

I render these lines this way:

Now another age is destroyed by civil war,

Rome itself falls by the hand of its own men…

We destroy ourselves, a profane age consecrated in blood,

The ground will once again be occupied by wild beasts.

Lo! A barbarian victor will stand on the ashes,

The hooves of a horseman resounding in the city.

Make of this what you will.  Our own age, profane in its own way, may yet pave the way for a conqueror who will tread on the cinders of our own civilization.

And the the hooves of his horse will clatter amidst the ruins.

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