getting horace across

Horace1J. Kates at The Harvard Review:

When curmudgeons want to argue the intractability of poetry to translation, one of the first names they pull out of the hat is that of Quintus Horatius Flaccus. It is generally acknowledged that his poetry is about as untranslatable as you can get. Therefore, in the perversity of human endeavor, Horace is probably the most translated poet in the Western world, honored even by the attentions of at least one prime minister of the British Empire, William Ewart Gladstone. “'We love Horace,'” William Peterfield Trent wrote,

“and hence we must try to set him forth in a way to make others love him,” is what all translators, it would seem, say to themselves, consciously or unconsciously, when they decide to publish their respective renditions. And who shall blame them? Where is the critic competent to judge their work, who has not himself listened to the Siren’s song, if but for a moment in his youth, who has not a version of some ode of Horace hid away among his papers, the memory of which will doubtless forever prevent him from flinging a stone at any fellow-offender? [1]

One of Horace's most thoroughly worked-over poems is the fifth ode in his first book ofcarmina. [2] It begins with the speaker of the poem putting a question to a blonde bombshell. Pyrrha—her name actually means “redhead,” but the adjective (flavam) used within the poem to describe her hair means golden yellow—is asked rhetorically who her latest victim might be.

more here.