I'm currently reading Horace's Odes 1.5, and on lines 10–11 there's an odd construction:

...Miseri, quibus
intemptata nites...

Now, as far as I can tell, this literally means "Wretched people, to whom you shine untried." That doesn't make sense — "shine untried" is a thing that just doesn't work in English, or if it does, I'm too tired to tell.

What's a good colloquial translation of that phrase?

  • 2
    ...to whom you seem brilliant while they have not tried you. = ...to whom you seem extremely attractive as long as they have not been intimate with you (because afterwards they will have realised how fickle and difficult you are).
    – Cerberus
    Feb 24 '16 at 5:29

Horace's poem here is about a pretty young girl, Pyrrha, and I understand the phrase to describe how unfortunate (miseri) the men are who have not been able to touch (tempto/tento) her.

I might translate it as follows: "Poor guys, for whom you [Pyrrha] shine, you who are untouched [by them]" -- I've expanded the participle into a relative clause.

tempto (the same verb as tento, see Lewis and Short) can have the meaning "to try" or "to test," and such a meaning might even work here, but it can also just mean "to handle, touch, feel a thing" (L&S, I). As for the shining, Pyrrha does have light hair (flavam...comam, 4), or perhaps she's just a radiant young lady....


It means, "unfortunate are those to whom you appear resplendently innocent (or virginal) (or "all shiny and pure")."

  • 1
    That's a nice translation, but I'm not sure I understand the dog comment. Anyway, welcome to the site!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 12 '17 at 22:22
  • Could you explain how you arrived that this translation? Jun 15 '17 at 15:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.