from Odes, Book Three, 15

By Horace Horace

Translated By Abraham Cowley


A Tower of Brass, one would have said,
And Locks, and Bolts, and Iron Bars,   
Might have preserv’d one innocent Maiden-head.
The jealous Father thought he well might spare
All further jealous Care.
And, as he walk’d, t’himself alone he smiled,
To think how Venus’ Arts he had beguil’d;
         And when he slept, his Rest was deep:
         But Venus laugh’d, to see and hear him sleep:
                  She taught the am’rous Jove
                  A magical Receipt in Love,
Which arm’d him stronger, and which help’d him more,
Than all his Thunder did, and his Almightyship before.


She taught him Love’s Elixir, by which Art
His Godhead into Gold he did convert;
         No Guards did then his Passage stay,   
         He pass’d with Ease, Gold was the Word;
Subtle as Light’ning, bright, and quick, and fierce,
Gold thro’ Doors and Walls did pierce;
And as that works sometimes upon the Sword,
         Melted the Maidenhead away,
         Ev’n in the secret Scabbard where it lay.
         The prudent Macedonian King,
         To blow up Towns a Golden Mine did spring;
         He broke thro’ Gates with this Petarr,
         ’Tis the great Art of Peace, the Engine ’tis of War;
And Fleets and Armies follow it afar;
The Ensign ’tis at Land: and ’tis the Seaman’s Star.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Horace


Subjects Relationships, Love, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Ode, Rhymed Stanza


Horace wrote poetry ranging from iambi (epodes) and sermones (satires and epistles) to carmina (lyrics). These poems paint a detailed self-portrait—laughing poet of moderation; ironic and gentle moralist; enigmatic observer of the Augustan principate; and self-deprecating lover of the Italian countryside, good wine, his friends, and, most of all, his art. By offering a poetic persona who speaks to so many human concerns, Horace . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology


Poetic Terms Ode, Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.