Home > Uncategorized > Ovid: Add incense, ye priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace

Ovid: Add incense, ye priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Ovid: Selections on war and peace


From The Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Long time did wars engage mankind; the sword was handier than the share; the plough ox was ousted by the charger; hoes were idle, mattocks were turned into javelins, and a helmet was made out of a heavy rake. Thanks be to the gods and to thy house! Under your foot long time War has been laid in chains. Yoke the ox, commit the seed to the ploughed earth. Peace is the nurse of Ceres, and Ceres is the foster-child of Peace.

bella diu tenuere viros: erat aptior ensis
vomere, cedebat taurus arator equo;
sarcula cessabant, ersique in pila ligones,
factaque de rastri pondere cassis erat.
gratia dis domuique tuae; religata catenis
iampridem vestro sub pede bella iacent.
sub iuga bos veniat, sub terras semen aratas
pax Cererem nutrit, pacis alumna Ceres.


The course of my song hath led me to the altar of Peace. The day will be the second from the end of the month. Come, Peace, thy dainty tresses wreathed with Actian laurels, and let thy gentle presence abide in the whole world. So but there be nor foes nor food for triumphs, thou shalt be unto our chiefs a glory greater than war. May the soldier bear arms only to check the armed aggressor, and may the fierce trumpet blare for naught but solemn pomp! May the world near and far dread the sons of Aeneas, and if there be any land that feared not Rome, may it love Rome instead! Add incense, ye priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace, let a white victim fall with cloven brow, and ask of the gods, who lend a favouring ear to pious prayers, that the house, which is the warranty of peace, with peace may last for ever.

Ipsum nos carmen deduxit Pacis ad aram.
haec erit a mensis fine secunda dies.
frondibus Actiacis comptos redimita capillos,
Pax, ades et toto mitis in orbe mane.
dum desint hostes, desit quoque causa triumphi
tu ducibus bello gloria maior eris.
sola gerat miles, quibus arma coerceat, arma,
canteturque fera nil nisi pompa tuba,
horreat Aeneadas et primus et ultimus orbis:
si qua parum Romam terra timebat, amet.
tura, sacerdotes, pacalibus addite flammis,
albaque percussa victima fronte cadat,
utque domus, quae praestat eam, cum pace perennet
ad pia propensos vota rogate deos.

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