In the Buckley translation of the Art of Poetry he translates this passage:

Mū́să dĕdī́t fĭdĭbū́s; dīuṓs pŭĕrṓsquĕ dĕṓrum Ḗt pŭgĭlḗm uīctṓrem‿ĕt ĕquū́m cērtā́mĭnĕ prī́mum Ḗt iŭuĕnū́m cūrā́s ēt lī́bĕră uī́nă rĕfḗrre:


To celebrate gods, and the sons of gods, and the victorious wrestler, and the steed foremost in the race, and the inclination of youths, and the free joys of wine, the muse has allotted to the lyre

I'm pretty sure he's translating 'referre' as 'celebrate'. I can't find a sese of this word in the OLD as 'celebrate'. Wouldn't it be better just to translate it as 'report on'?

1 Answer 1


I think it's the translator trying to convey the meaning, not the words exactly. Interpreted meaning, but a possibility still. It makes sense to say that the lyre celebrates all these things because they all are joyous things in life.

One could translate "the muse gave to the lyre the task of telling about these things" but a translator might feel that it misses the lyric quality of the original.

(It's Hor. Ars P 83-85 for those wondering.)

  • 1
    Tervetuloa mukaan!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 11:53
  • ok, but for the sake of understanding the meaning of 'referre' is it the case that while speaking or writing Latin I should never use 'referre' when I intend to communicate celebrate?
    – bobsmith76
    Commented Nov 20, 2021 at 22:22
  • 1
    Other words are probably more appropriate in most cases. Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 11:55

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