Horace Reimagined

[Poems are in order, with latest at the bottom. Scroll down.]

Austin Diaz, an American living in Switzerland and teaching Latin there, has decided to channel his outrage over Trump into something creative. An expert on Horace, and struck by the level of sycophancy in the Odes, Diaz has started translating those poems (mainly written in honor of, if not directly addressed to, Augustus) as though he were a sycophantic classics professor who voted for Trump out of spite and was then later hired by Kellyanne Conway to translate Horace to flatter the new president.


An unusual project, to be sure, but certainly an interesting one — and, as you can see from this inspired translation of the first poem, an amusing one.  (If you want to read a more conventional translation of this poem, a dedication to Maecenas, see here.) .

[Scroll down for additional translations of Horace by Diaz.]


Dedication to Kellyanne

Kellyanne, child of good, real American stock,
queen of interviews, my sweet and flaxen protectress:
there are those who revel in astroturf grass-stains,
striving for the end-posts, lifting helm and trophy,
like gods, to thunderous applause;
these career pols chase the fickle and false polls
while those donors rest not until every last drop
of Libyan oil is ours.

The good voter knows to buy American, hire American,|
and to never try business south of the border.
The true trader sweats every currency manipulation,
and fears Sinitic deceit,
until HE calms the pacific waters with a tweet.

Some of us like wine and spreading out on leather couches,
patting our pouches at lunchtime.
Some others (the very best) love the test of strength|
and patriotism, despite the good mothers weeping at home

The costumed hunter, cold, calling his ducks, dreams,
of his faithful wife until
one of God’s subjugated creatures opens its fated bill.

You, you called me a poet, and that’s all I need
to feel welcomed among titans of industry
and dance among the paid youth and attendants,
when it is that I’ve earned, alone, my keep, as you once told
Call me a poet and maybe one day I’ll meet
Brad Arnold.

Here is the second in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.


(A more conventional and formal translation of Book 1, II (to Augustus) is available here.


To Trump
            a proof of our fealty

Now enough debt and freeloading serfs brought by
th’Obamanation with handouts and free cell
phones causing carnage in once great metropoles
         now so terrified,

the terrified silent majority long
fearful of the return of a new New Deal,
’68 hippies turned skinny-jeaned hipsters
           with brunches and beards.

We saw the unions with liberal policy
dot the landscape with their tombstoned factories
and overwhelm those who just love our country,
            and precious freedom,

raging revenge on beneficent owners,
marching for wages they never could have earned,
while our thought-leader Rand sat somewhere in dis-
            approval. So ‘Sad!’tm

They’ll hear, our children cut low by abortion,
of politically-correct sharpened tongues,
they’ll hear of the lazy reproaching the real,
            true Americans.

Whom can the God-fearing patriots beseech to
stem the socialist flood? With what free-market
prayers can we hope to bend the ear of our sweet
            Lady Liberty?

On whom will Strong Leader bestow the task of
purification? Perhaps, at last, our lil’
Rubio, parched and repeating those well-timed,
            focus-grouped zingers,

or cackling Carly, slayer of RINOs,
come from the business world with lyin’ Cruz,
or just maybe he’ll turn his Px90-
            toned cheeks, bristling

with new down, the author of our Randian
hopes, turning his back on the swamp-drowned hordes,
stepping up, like Brutus, to cut out the pork
            defiling both floors.

But if we’re lucky that sacred soul of old
will leave his heavenly Hermitage to dwell
once more in corporeal form, re-named the
            Gipper’s avenger:

Stay for a while, at least two terms (maybe more!)
and make what was once great yet greater again,
let not the trespasses and cold-hard facts of
            your punditry foes

take you too soon. Here you will be the strong voice
for the forgotten men and women, slaying
the media. We will reign most triumphant,
            te duce, mein Trump.

Here is the third in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.


This one, a refusal to write an encomium to Gen. Michael Flynn (caricatured above by DonkeyHotey/Flickr), may be a little obscure for some readers. In a traditional version of the poem — an example of which can be found here — Horace is telling Agrippa (who more or less won the war against Marcus Antonius for Augustus) he can’t possibly write a poem for him.


Apologies to a National Hero

Might I suggest, instead, Scott Adams, whose talents
are far better disposed to extol your virtues
forged in the Grenadian and Haitian theatres,
refined when leading the DI

A, dear Michael, as I, though flattered by your note
passed on by sweet KC, shy away from wielding my pen
in service of martial exploits perpetrated
by oil-thirsting senator’s

sons, which fall outside my small imagination,
being more cosmopolitan myself, not dis-
similar to Bannon, though Lord knows he fought too—
he often reminds me and you.

And who can really draw that red line anyways
from dust-caked rucksacks to air-conditioned brass
with proper gravitas or connect war-room lights
to the watchful armed-satellites?

No, I’ve simply other principles, committees
with foil-clad heiresses partying all night,
discussing the infinite possibilities
of war in the south China sea.

Here is the fourth in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.


Diaz says this poem is one of the most beautiful, with some of the best Latin that’s been passed down to us. It contains one of the more widely known Latin phrases, “carpe diem.” Not sure that it should be defiled at all, he decided to put it in Trump’s vernacular, while closely  following the original meter, to which English is not suited. “Then again,” he says, “Trump’s language isn’t suitable for anything.”
A more traditional translation is here.


            Because the president has a sense of humor…right?

No, don’t ask, who can know—well, if someone knew it’d be me, okay?—
how often we will spend patriotic days of devotion here,
you and me, my little Milošević, and ignore polls, fake news—
well, yeah, unless, of course, I’m still ahead, those ratings, by the way,
did you see? So low, poor aging Arnold, can’t even pronounce you’re—
But now drink! Myself, I’m fine. Is it good? Good. It was very, very
expensive, but I’m real, really so rich, it’s nothing. So rich,
which means I can simply grab the…say it with me one more
time! Who cares if the Christians listen in? Did ya hear? I’m holy.




Here is the fifth in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.


Painting Horace in (very) broad strokes, it’s fair to say he wrote three types of Odes:

1) Encomiums to Augustus and his entourage (subtle criticisms sprinkled throughout).

2) Epicurean meditations involving (lots of) wine and the hope of sex.

3) Misogyny-laden diatribes against women who had either rejected him or committed the sin of growing old.

This translation comes from the third category. Our poor, rejected and drunk classicist, feeling the burn of Conway’s loose relationship with him and the truth, gets drunk and translates. As drunk classicists are wont to do. You can guess the identity of her new paramour. (If you need a hint, here it is: KC.)  (See a conventional translation here.)


To a Femme Fatale
            Drunk. NSFP (Not Suitable for Publication)

Who lifts your Paddington now, you two
nestled in that oblong office, he drowned in his
            own musk, KC, and whiskey?
                      For whom (for him?) do you brush

back that bottle blonde? Oh he (like me) will curse
your wavering faith, alternative facts, th’ unseen
           insolence behind your—let’s
                        be honest, he won’t long see

you with your wrinkle-rift and strain’d grimace,
your vacuous-ness, friendliness, avail-
            ability, guileless next
                        to his guile. Or, perhaps,

you feel it? Me? I harbored not vainglorious hope,
not long. I lit no candles, made no reservations.
            Last night I washed all the dishes
                        myself. I really did.



Here is the sixth in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.

With the president apparently not amused by subtle insinuations of filial intercourse and the disastrous leak of the last poem about Conway (does anything not leak in this Winter White House?), our bereaved classicist attempts to curry favor anew with a paean to Trump’s favorite president of old, Andrew Jackson.  This mirrors the internal logic of Horace’s own Odes.  (A more faithful translation of this poem can be found here.)



Hymn to Old Hickory

Andrew, our Scots-Irish scion, war hero,
who first laid low the ‘cultivated’ elites,
and taught the poles to trust the good populace,
            true patriots all,

we praise your watchful portrait eyes, your wild
coif, once red now green, the wild ways that brought
a smile to the people’s lips, but conster-
            nation to judges’

brows, weak on natives; chagrin to the corrupt,
who stole your first coronation, who called you
‘jackass’ but had to smile when you made it
           your new party’s own.

Despite our muddied feet, you led us voters,
into the hollowed halls to admire your
wealth; you saw the Central Bank as the red threat
           it was, laid it low

like the cowardly red coats at New Orleans.
Grandfather of the DAP, lead us back
to prosperity with our brand new tearless,
            peerless Strong Leader.  



timthumbHere is the latest (seventh) in Austin Diaz’s new series of satiric translations of Horace’s Odes.


This Odes is a sort of a sequel to I.2, and like any good sequel it has MORE. More gods, more generals, more praise, more everything. Our beleaguered poet does not leave out the Trump children, nor his faithful advisors, though he extends his apologies for leaving out Stephen Miller. Not to worry, we’ve got something special planned for him.



What man or true hero should my twittering
thumbs, my bloviations, Bannon, now extol?
Which real conservative? Whose name should echo
            on nationalist lips

either in the winter White House’s elite
confines or in a sweaty, bannered hangar,
where the long-forgotten and the simple learned
           to march in lock-step—

what rich glories of simple syntax were there
unlocked! Oh how eloquence was overcome
with a faux-preacher’s cadence and one very,
            very good adverb!

With whom should we begin but Pat Buchanan,
who first beseeched the silent majority,
set north from south and nourished once blue dogs with
           red, bloody red meat?

Let us not forget, in second place, our dear
deceased Shlafly, genetrix of Coulters and
Malkins, who knew where women (and babies) should
             spend, saintly, their days.

And we will not stay silent on our Spiro,
who did not shrink from putting the media
on notice, nor will we fail to recall Buck-
            ley’s serpentine barbs.

We sing of Nelle’s beloved and Wichita’s sons,
these with oil funds, that one with Saxon smile,
nobility all, guiding our grass-root green
            to great victory,

breaking like D-Day waves over the climate
liars; faced with their picketing rage the free-
loaders fled, the clouds of crushing debt parted,
           consumer freedom!

Shall I now turn to republican Lincoln
or the peaceful reign of Grant? I’ll certainly
skip over Kennedy, pass once in mention
           poor Richard Nixon.

And the great spirits of Bradley and Arnold,
MacArthur, conqueror of Hiroshima,
the iron Eisenhower, I’ll lead them all
            in song down to You,

along with the crazy cowboy general,
Patton, who, likewise of celebrity fame,
knew when to replace a few words with two,
           curse that cargo truck!

In these dark times, Ivanka’s fame (if not her
sales) will grow like a laurel tree, Trump Jr.’s
star will shine, a moon among lesser fires
        (you’re fired Tiffan—)

To you, our spiritual guardians, our thought
leaders, do we entrust the Donald’s young fate!
Dear Sessions, dear Bannon, may you steady his
            mighty, mighty hands!

He has already earned a well-earned triumph
in Yemen, despite the haters, and he’ll yet
subdue the orient: crowded India,
           bankrupting China.

With you by his side, he’ll rule the whole world, and
you, Strong Leader, thundering across the con-
tinental divide, you waylay the orgies
            of the rank impure.