While Paris, the traitorous shepherd, her guest,
bore Helen over the waves, in a ship from Troy,
Nereus, the sea-god, checked the swift breeze
with an unwelcome calm, to tell

their harsh fate: ‘You’re taking a bird of ill-omen,
back home, whom the Greeks, new armed, will look for again,
having sworn to destroy the marriage your planning
and the empire of old Priam.

Ah, what sweated labour for men and for horses
draws near! What disaster you bring for the Trojan
people! Athene’s already prepared her helm,
breastplate, chariot, and fury.

Uselessly daring, through Venus’ protection,
you’ll comb your hair and pluck at the peace-loving lyre,
make the music for songs that please girls: uselessly
you’ll hide, in the depths of your room,

from the heavy spears, from the arrows of Cretan
reeds, and the noise of the battle, and swift-footed
Ajax quick to follow: yet, ah too late, you’ll bathe
your adulterous hair in the dust!

Have you thought of Ulysses, the bane of your race,
have you even considered Pylian Nestor?
Teucer of Salamis presses you fearlessly,
Sthenelus, skilful in warfare,

and if it’s a question of handling the horses
he’s no mean charioteer. And Meriones
you’ll know him too. See fierce Tydides, his father’s
braver, he’s raging to find you.


As the deer sees the wolf there, over the valley,
and forgets its pastures, a coward, you’ll flee him,
breathing hard, as you run, with your head thrown high,
not as you promised your mistress.

The anger of Achilles’ armies may delay
the day of destruction for Troy and its women:
but after so many winters the fires of Greece
will burn the Dardanian houses.’

More verses by Horace