Friday, 11 March 2011

VIRGIL: "BUCOLICS" (THE PASTORAL POEMS)

Introduction.


The "Bucolics" ("Songs about Herdsmen") which consist of ten short poems, commonly known as "Eclogues" or "Select Pieces", were the first works to be published by Virgil. This was in 39 B.C., at the commencement of the "Golden Age" of Latin literature.These poems are reputed to have taken Rome by storm, and were recited or sung in theatres, and quoted by smart young men who wished, no doubt, to show off their cultural accomplishments, as is the way of world.

In these early years in the development of Latin letters, it was 'de rigueur' for aspiring poets to copy a Greek artist, and in the case of the "Bucolics" Virgil modelled his work on the pastoral poet Theocritus, who flourished in the first half of the Third Century B.C. Although born on the island of Cos, Theocritus lived for most of his life in Sicily, a country known for its pastoral communities and the lively disposition of its people. Theocritus' poems, known as "Idylls" or "Short Sketches" are descriptive of country life and frequently take the form of dramatic dialogue. They reflect a love of music and dance which arises naturally from the felicity of a shepherd's existence in a comfortable southern clime, and also to the singing matches and related improvisations which were common at village feasts among Dorian communities, whether on the Greek mainland or in its colonial offshoots.

A number of commentators of Virgil's works have criticised the "Bucolics" for their artificiality, and see these early poems as mere exercises or "ludi" ("games"), and thus as immature works when compared with his later master-pieces of the "Georgics" and the "Aeneid". Others have seen them as poems of the greatest beauty and tenderness. The French intellectual Voltaire thought lines 38-41 in Eclogue 8 as the greatest piece of writing in Latin literature, and Thomas Macaulay, author of "The Lays of Ancient Rome", believed the "Bucolics" to be superior to both the "Georgics" and the "Aeneid". Among English poets John Milton wrote his "Lycidas" in imitation of them, and a number of the works of Pope, Wordsworth and Coleridge display their influence. The Fourth Eclogue is perhaps the best known passage of all the works of Virgil, because of the belief of so many Christians down through the centuries that the "cara deum suboles", the "dear child of the gods", whom Virgil prophesies is to be born, was Jesus Christ. The genre of pastoral poetry, in which the unrequited loves and musical contests of rustic swains are depicted in a stylised world dominated by sheep, goats, trees, and the effects of the changing seasons, is not a medium which it is easy for the uninitiated to appreciate. However, the quality of Virgil's "Pastoral Poems" is well brought out in this tribute by E.V. Rieu, who published the Penguin Books' translation in 1949:

"...what inspired and unifies the "Eclogues" is a poet's perception of certain realities that underlie our relation to the world around us. It was in his Arcady, the pastoral world of his memories and of his fancy, that Virgil found the window which gave him this vision of the truth, and sensed the spirit that pulsates in everything that is, and makes a harmony of man, tree, beast and rock. Nature is fundamentally at one with man.....It is the shepherd and his sheep that are her nurslings and her confidants. It is they who comprehend, when the 'woods on Maenalus make music and the pine-trees speak.' Virgil had listened with them as a boy, and he remembers what he had heard and seen - a world where everything is quick with understanding, where 'the rocks burst into song and the plantations speak'..."

The ten "Eclogues" fall into two sections. Eclogues 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7, with 8 at their head, were probably sent to C. Asinius Pollio in 39, in thanks for his introduction to the young triumvir Caesar Octavian, as a result of which Virgil's family farm near Mantua was saved from confiscation during the programme of land settlements to provide lands for veterans discharged after the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. Eclogues 1, 6 and 9 all relate to Virgil's own personal experiences with regard to these events, and in Eclogue 1, no doubt placed deliberately at the beginning of the final version, Virgil expresses his great gratitude to Octavian for the safety of his father's property. Eclogue 10, a poem written to console Virgil's friend and fellow poet, Gallus, is specifically stated to be the last.

The "Bucolics" are not easy to translate, partly because of the frequent difficulty of determining what exactly Virgil is seeking to say. Sometimes he is almost quoting from Theocritus, and familiarity with that poet's works would assist. However, the quality of the hexameter verse is high. There are no unfinished lines, as in the "Aeneid"; there are relatively few elisions, and almost none at the point of the main caesura, or natural line -break, and as a result the verses can be read with ease. Hence, the polished impression of these poems is at odds with the notion of the "Bucolics" as an immature work.

The text of this translation is that of T.E. Page, M.A., Litt.D. in the Macmillan Elementary Classics Series, 1931. Like a number of commentators, Dr. Page is at times highly critical of the artificiality of this work, but in his introduction he acknowledges its beauty as follows: "None the less, as ecclesiastical art often shows, what is extremely conventional may be extremely beautiful, and the beauty of the Eclogues in beyond question." (page xix.)
  
Ecloga 1.  Tityrus, or "The Dispossessed." 


Meliboeus:  Tityrus, you, lying at ease under the awning of a spreading beech-tree, are practising a woodland melody (lit. Muse) on a slender pipe (lit. oak-straw); I am relinquishing the boundaries of my native-land and the fields (so) sweet (to me): I flee my native-land; you, Tityrus, at ease in the shade, teach the woods to re-echo (the words) "beauteous Amaryllis."

Tityrus:  O Meliboeus, a god has made this leisure for me. For indeed he will always be a god to me, and a tender lamb from my sheep-fold will often moisten his altar. As you (can) see, he vouchsafed (to me) that my cattle should roam and that I myself should play whatever I wished on my rural reed-pipe. 

Meliboeus:  For my part, I am not jealous; I marvel (all) the more: (as) on all sides confusion reigns (lit. it is disturbed) to such an extent even throughout all the fields. Behold, I myself, sick (as I am) am driving my goats forthwith. I can scarcely even lead this one (after me), Tityrus. For only (lately) here among the dense hazel-trees, having borne twin (kids), the hope of the flock, ah, she left (them) on the naked flint. I remember that the oak-tree, struck (by thunder) from heaven, often foretold us of this disaster, (and I should have acted on this warning), if my mind had not been stupid. But yet, Tityrus, tell us who is this god of yours. 

Tityrus:  I, simpleton (that I was), thought, Meliboeus, that the city which they call Rome, was like this one of ours (i.e. Mantua), to which we, shepherds, are often wont to drive the young offspring of our sheep (to market). Thus, I had known puppies to be like dogs, thus kids (to be like) their dams, (and) thus I was wont to compare great things to small ones. But this (city) has reared aloft its head as far above other cities, as cypress-trees are accustomed (to tower) above pliant osiers.

Meliboeus:  And what was for you so great a reason for seeing Rome?  

Tityrus:  Liberty, which, though late, had regard for (me), the sluggard, after my beard fell whiter, with me trimming (it), yet regard me it did, and it came after a long time, now that Amaryllis possesses me, and Galatea has left (me). For indeed, for I confess (it), while Galatea was holding me, there was no hope of liberty nor (any) concern for saving money. Although many a victim went forth from my sheep-fold and a rich cheese was pressed (in my dairy) for the ungrateful town, my right (hand) never (lit. not ever) returned home heavy with money (lit. bronze).

Meliboeus:  I used to wonder, Amaryllis, why you called (so) sadly to the gods; (and) for whom you allowed their own apples to hang on the trees: Tityrus was away from here. To her, Tityrus, the pine-trees, the very springs (and) these very orchards were calling.

Tityrus:  What (else) was I to do? Neither was it (otherwise) permitted that I should escape from my servitude, nor elsewhere to identify gods so available to help (me). There, Meliboeus, I saw that young man, to whom yearly for twelve (lit. twice six) days my altars smoke. There, at once, he gave a reply to me seeking (one): "Feed your cows as before, boys: rear your bulls."

Meliboeus; So, (you) happy old man, your fields will remain (yours), and (will be) big enough for you. Although bare rock and marsh with muddy rushes will overlay your pastures, unaccustomed fodder will not try your drooping pregnant mothers, nor will the evil contagion of a neighbouring flock harm (them). Happy old man, here amid familiar streams and holy springs you will strive after shady coolness. On this side, as always, the hedge of willow from the neighbouring boundary, having been fed, in respect of its flowers, by Hyblaean bees, will often urge, with its gentle humming, sleep to come upon you; on that side, at the foot of the high rock, the vine-dresser will sing to the breezes; nor yet meanwhile will the wood-pigeons, your care, (be) hoarse, nor will the turtle-dove cease to coo from the elm-tree reaching to the sky.

Tityrus:  So, sooner will light stags feed in the air, and will the seas abandon their fish naked on the shore; sooner, the boundaries of both being wandered over, either the Parthian exile will drink the Arar (i.e. the Saone) or the German (exile drink) the Tigris, than the face of that man will fade from my heart.

Meliboeus:  But we shall go from here, some to the burning Africans, others shall reach the Oxus, rolling with chalk, and the Britons totally separated from the whole world. Ah, shall I ever, after a long time (has passed), (beholding) my country's borders, and the roof of my humble cottage piled with turf, some (day) afterwards, beholding my domain, marvel at (some) ears of corn?  Is some impious soldier to own these acres so (well) cultivated (by me)? (Is some) barbarian (to own) these crops? Behold, to what (a pass) has (civil) discord brought our poor citizens! For these men we have sown our fields! Now, Meliboeus, graft your pears: plant your vines in a row. Go, my once happy flock, go, my she-goats. I, stretched out in (some) green cavern, shall not afterwards behold you from afar, hanging from a bushy rock; I shall sing no (more) songs; you will not (again) pluck, with me setting (you) to graze, the flowering clover and the bitter willow (shoots).

Tityrus:  Yet this night you could rest here with me on the green foliage: I have (lit. there are to me) (some) mellow apples, mealy chestnuts and an abundance of cheese (lit. curdled milk); and now the roof-tops of the houses are smoking from afar, and the shadows of the mountain peaks are falling farther (out).

Ecloga 2.  Alexis, or "The Passionate Shepherd to his love."

The shepherd Corydon was burning (with love) for the fair Alexis, his master's favourite; and he did not have anything to hope for. He could not but come (lit. he only came) constantly among the dense elm-trees (as) a shady roof-covering. And there, alone, he used to fling these disordered (rhymes) with idle passion to the mountains and woods: "O cruel Alexis, do you care nothing for my songs? Do you not pity me at all? You will force me finally to die. Now even the cattle seek the shade and coolness, now even the thorn-bush hides the green lizards, and Thestylis pounds garlic and thyme, fragrant herbs, for the reapers wearied by the scorching heat: yet, with me, while I trace your footsteps under the burning sun, the orchards resound with raucous cicadas. Were it not better to endure the sulky passions and proud disdain of Amaryllis? (Were it) not (better to endure) Menalcas, although he was dark, (and) although you (are) fair? O beautiful boy, do not rely too much on complexion: the white privet (flowers) fall (ungathered), and the dark bilberries are picked. I am despised by you, and you do not ask who I am, Alexis, how rich (I am) in flocks, how abounding in snow(-white) milk: I (can) sing as Dircaean (i.e. Theban) Amphion was wont (to do) on Actaean (i.e. Attic) Aracynthus. Nor am I so ill-favoured: I saw myself lately on the beach, when the sea lay (lit. stood) becalmed by the winds; with you (as) the judge, I should not fear Daphnis, since (lit. if) that reflection never deceives. O let it only be pleasing to you to inhabit the rough countryside and (some) humble cottages with me, and to shoot hinds and to drive together the flock of kids with a green marsh-mallow (switch); you will imitate Pan by playing together with me in the woods. Pan first taught (men) to join together many reeds with wax, (for) Pan cares for sheep and the masters of sheep. And may you not regret (lit. may it not repent you) to have chafed your lip with a reed. To learn these same things, what did Amyntas not do? I have (lit. there is to me) a pipe, fixed together with seven hemlock stalks of different lengths, (which) Damoetas, a long time ago, (while) dying, gave to me as a gift, and he said, 'It has you now as a second (master)': Damoetas said (that), (and) Amyntas, the foolish (fellow), was jealous. Besides, two roe-bucks (were) found by me in a not (very) safe valley, their coats speckled with white even now; twice a day they suck the teats of a ewe: I am keeping these for you. Thestylis has long been (lit. is already for some time) begging to take them away from me; and (so) she shall do, since my gifts are dirty in your eyes. Come hither, O beautiful boy: behold, the Nymphs bring lilies in full baskets for you; for you, a white Naiad, plucking pale irises and poppy-heads, joins narcissus and the flower of the pleasant (lit. well) smelling anise; then, interweaving (them) with cassia and other sweet herbs, she sets the tender hyacinth off with the yellow marigold.  I, myself, shall gather quinces (lit. hoary apples) with their tender down and the nuts of chestnut-trees, which my Amaryllis used to love; I shall add (some) waxy plums: there will be honour (shown) to this fruit also; and you, O laurel, I shall pluck, and you (too), neighbouring myrtle, since, thus placed, you will mingle sweet smells. Corydon, you are a yokel: Alexis does not care for gifts, and, if you vie (with him) through gifts, Iollas will not yield. Alas, alas! what have I wished on my poor self? Having been destroyed (in my mind), I have let loose the south wind on my flowers and wild boars in my limpid fountains. Ah, foolish one, from whom do you flee? Gods and Dardanian Paris also lived in the woods. Let Pallas, herself, inhabit the citadels which she established: let the woods delight us before everything (else). The wild lioness pursues the wolf, the wolf itself (pursues) the goat, the wanton goat pursues the flowering clover, Corydon (pursues) you, O Alexis: his own desire drags each one (along). Look, the cattle draw home by the yoke the hanging ploughs, and the setting sun doubles the lengthening shadows: yet love (still) burns me (up): for what limit can there be to love? Ah, Corydon, Corydon, what madness has taken hold of you? You have (There is to you) a half-pruned vine on a leafy elm-tree. But are you not rather preparing to plait with osiers and pliant rushes at least something (of those things) of which (daily) usage is in need? If this one scorns you, you will find another Alexis.

Ecloga 3.  Palaemon, or "Are these Meliboeus' sheep?" 


Menalcas:  Tell me, Damoetas, whose flock (is that)? (Is it) Meliboeus's?

Damoetas:  No, but (it is) Aegon's; Aegon has recently handed them over to me.

Menalcas:  O (poor) sheep, always an unhappy flock! While the master (lit. he) courts Neaera, and he fears lest she may prefer me to him, here a hireling shepherd milks his sheep twice in the hour, and the life-juice is stolen from the flock and milk from the lambs.

Damoetas:  But remember more sparingly those taunts of yours being thrown at men. I know (what you did) and who (did it) with you, the he-goats looking askance, and in what shrine (you did it) [but the tolerant Nymphs laughed].

Menalcas: (O that happened) then, I suppose, when they saw me hack at Micon's orchard and young vines with a spiteful hook.

Damoetas:  Or here by those old beeches, when you smashed up Daphnis' bow and arrows: (O) perverse Menalcas, you both grieved at these, when you saw (them) given to the boy, and you would have died of spite (over these) if you had not harmed (them) in some way.

Menalcas: What can owners do, when thieves are so daring (lit. dare such things)? Did I not see you, (you) rogue, trying to take by stealth a goat belonging to Damon, with Lycisca barking vigorously (lit. much)? And, when I called out, "Whither is that (villain) rushing (lit. hurrying himself forward) now? Tityrus, round up your flock!" you were skulking in the rushes.

Damoetas:  Or, was he, having been beaten in playing, not returning to me the goat which my pipe had earned by its tunes? If you do not know, that goat was mine; and Damon, himself, admitted (it) to me; but he said that he could not make the payment.

Menalcas:  (Did) you (beat) him in playing? Did you ever have (lit. Was there ever to you) a pipe joined with wax? Were you not accustomed, (you) dolt, (while standing) at the crossroads, to murder a miserable tune with a squeaking straw?

Damoetas;  So, do you wish that we should try between ourselves what each can (do), (playing) in turn? I stake this heifer - lest, perchance, you may refuse, it comes twice (a day) to the milk-pail, and it feeds a pair of calves from its udders: (now) you must say with what pledge you contend with me.

Menalcas: I could not dare to stake anything from my flock against you. For I have (lit. there is to me) at home a father and an unjust step-mother; and twice a day they count, both (of them) the flock, (and) one (of them) the kids also. But -  since it is pleasing to you to be insane - I shall stake a thing which even you yourself will admit is much more (valuable), (two) beechwood cups, the engraved work of the divine Alcimedon: on these, pliant vine, overlaid with a skilful chisel, clothes the clusters spread by the pale ivy. In the centre (there are) two figures, Conon and -- who was the other (sage) who mapped the whole circuit (of the heavens) for mankind, (that is) the seasons, which the reaper (and) the husbandman, bent (over the plough), would keep?  Nor yet have I touched them with my lips, but I have kept them in store.

Damoetas:  For me too, the same Alcimedon has made two cups, and he wreathed the handles around with pliant acanthus leaves, and in the centre he portrayed (lit. placed) Orpheus and the woods following (him); nor yet have I touched (them) with my lips, but I have kept (them) stored away. If you look at a heifer, there is no reason as to which you should praise cups.

Menalcas:  You will not (lit. never) escape (me) today; I shall come whithersoever you bid me. Provided that (someone) may hear these things - or (even) Palaemon, who is (now) approaching - look! - , I shall bring it about that you do not challenge anyone with your voice in future.

Damoetas:  However, come on, if you have anything (worth listening to), (for) there will not be any delay in me, nor do I flee from anyone: only, neighbour Palaemon, may you lay up your inmost thoughts - (for this contest) is no small matter.

Palaemon: Sing on (then), since we are sitting down together on soft grass, and now every field, now every tree is bringing forth, now the woods are in leaf, now the year (is) at its loveliest. Begin, Damoetas; then you follow, Menalcas. You will sing alternately; (for) the Camenae (i.e. the Muses) love alternate (songs).

Damoetas:  (O) Muses, the beginning (is) from Jupiter: everything (is) full of Jupiter; he cherishes the earth; my songs are of concern to him.

Menalcas:  There are always special gifts for Phoebus (i.e. Apollo) in my home, laurel and the sweetly blushing hyacinth.

Damoetas:  Galatea, the saucy girl, pelts me with an apple, and (then) flees to the willows, and desires that she is seen first (lit. beforehand) (by me).

Menalcas:  And my love (lit. flame), Amyntas, comes (lit. brings himself) to me unbidden, as Delia is not now better known to my dogs.

Damoetas:  My gifts have been acquired for my love (lit. Venus): for I have marked the spot, to which they have carried (materials for building their nests) in the air.

Menalcas:  I have sent to my (dear) boy what I have been able (to send), ten golden apples, picked from a tree in the woods.

Damoetas:  O how often and what (words) Galatea has spoken to me! (O) winds, may you carry some part (of them) to the ears of the gods!

Menalcas:  How does it help (me) (lit. What avails [it]) in that you do not yourself despise me in your heart, Amyntas, if, while you are hunting wild boars, I hold the nets?

Damoetas:  Send Phyllis to me: it is my birthday, Iollas; when I sacrifice ( lit. make [a sacrifice with]) a heifer, (then) come yourself.

Menalcas:  I love Phyllis before (all) others: for she wept to see me go, and uttered a lingering "Farewell, fair (youth), farewell, (O) Iollas."

Damoetas:  A bane (is) the wolf to the sheep-fold, the rains to the ripe crops, the winds to the trees, (and) the rages of Amaryllis to me.

Menalcas:  Moisture (is) sweet to crops, arbutus to weaned kids, the pliant willow to pregnant ewes, (but) only Amyntas to me.

Damoetas:  Pollio loves my Muse, although she is a rustic: (O) Pierian Maidens (i.e. the Muses), feed a heifer for your reader.

Menalcas:  Pollio himself  too is making new verses: feed a bull (for him), so that it may butt (lit. attack with its horn) and scatter the sand with its feet.

Damoetas:  Whoever loves you, Pollio, may he come whither he rejoices that you too (have) also (come); may honey flow for him, and may a bramble bush produce cardamon spice.

Menalcas:  Let (he), who does not hate Bavius, (also) love your verses, Maevius, and likewise let him harness foxes (to the plough) and milk he-goats.

Damoetas:  O lads, who are picking flowers and strawberries growing in the ground, flee hence, (as) a clammy snake is lurking in the grass.

Menalcas: Sheep, refrain from venturing too far: it is not safe to trust the (lit. trust is not well given to) the river-bank.

Damoetas:  Tityrus, drive your goats away from the stream; when there is (lit. will be) time, I myself shall wash (them) all in the spring.

Menalcas:  Drive together the sheep (into the shade), boys; if the heat shall have first caught the milk, as (it did) recently, we shall press their udders with our hands (lit. hand-palms) in vain.

Damoetas:  Alas, alas! How lean my bull is amid the fattening vetch! The same love (is) destruction for both the herd and the master of the herd.

Menalcas:  To these (lambs) at any rate love is not the cause: (yet) they are scarcely sticking to their bones. I know not what (evil) eye is bewitching my young lambs.

Damoetas:  Say in what country - and you will be great Apollo to me -  heaven's space extends no more (than) three ells.

Menalcas:  Say in what country do flowers grow, having been inscribed with the names of kings.

Palaemon:  I am not able (lit. [it is] not of me) to settle so great a strife between you. Both you and he (are) worthy of a heifer, as are (lit. and) whoever shall (like you) either fear sweet loves or experience bitter (loves). Now shut off the sluices, boys: the meadows have drunk enough.

Ecloga 4.  Pollio, or "The Golden Age returns."


Muses of Sicily, let us sing a somewhat more exalted (lit. greater) (theme)! Groves of trees and humble tamarisks do not please everyone; if we sing of woods, let them be woods worthy of a consul. The last era of Cumaean (i.e. Sybilline) song has now come; the great sequence of ages is born anew (lit. from fresh). Now the Maiden (i.e. Astraea, or Justice) returns, and the reign of Saturn returns; now a new breed (of men) is being sent down from the high heaven. Only, do you, chaste Lucina, smile on the boy being born, through whom the iron (race) shall first cease, and the golden race shall arise throughout the whole world: now your own Apollo reigns. And with you, even you, (O) Pollio, (as) consul, shall this glory of the age begin, and the mighty months will start to progress; with you (as) leader, if any traces of our guilt remain, having been obliterated, they shall free the world from terror. He will receive the life of the gods, and will see heroes intermingling with gods, and he himself will be seen by them, and he shall rule a world pacified by the virtues of his father. And you, (O) boy, first shall the earth, with no cultivation, pour forth everywhere her little gifts, the roaming ivy with fox-gloves, and Egyptian lilies mixed with the smiling acanthus. The goats themselves will carry home their udders swollen (lit. having been stretched) with milk, and the cattle will not fear the mighty lions. Your very cradle will pour forth caressing flowers. The snake too will die, and poison's treacherous plant will perish. Assyrian spice will grow everywhere (lit. will be born commonly). As soon as you will be able to learn to read of the praises of the heroes and the deeds of your father, and so what virtue is, the plain will gradually become yellow with waving corn, and the ruby grape will hang from wild brambles, and hard oaks will sweat dewy honey. However, a few traces of our former wickedness will linger on, so as to bid (us) to make hazard of the sea (lit. Thetis), to gird our towns with walls, (and) to cleave furrows in the earth. Then there will be a second Tiphys, and a second Argo to carry chosen heroes; there will also be other wars, and mighty Achilles will again be sent to Troy. Hence, when by now strengthened years have made you a man, of his own accord the merchant (lit. passenger) will quit (lit. withdraw from) the sea, and the pine-wood ship (lit. sea-going pine-tree) will not exchange merchandise (lit. reward). Every land will produce everything (it needs). The ground will not suffer mattocks, nor the vines the pruning-hook; then the strong ploughman  will unbind the yokes from his oxen (lit. bulls); wool will learn not to counterfeit different colours, but the ram himself in his own meadows will change (the colour of) its fleece now to soft ruby purple, now to saffron yellow; of its own accord, scarlet will clothe the grazing lambs. "Run on, such (blessed) ages," said the Fates to their spindles, agreeing with the fixed decree of destiny. Enter upon your high honours - for the time will soon be here - O dear offspring of the gods, mighty germ of Jupiter! Look at the world shaking with its vaulted mass, the lands, the expanses of sea and the deep sky: behold, how all things are rejoicing in the age to come. O, may the last part of so long a life remain, and (such) inspiration as shall be enough to tell of your deeds, (and) may neither Thracian Orpheus nor Linus conquer me with songs, although his mother was present for the one and his father for the other, Calliope for Orpheus and the beautiful Apollo for Linus. Even if Pan, with Arcady (as) judge, were to contend with me, even Pan, with Arcady (as) judge, would declare himself defeated. Begin, little boy, to recognise your mother with a smile; ten long months have brought weariness to your mother. Begin, little boy: him, upon whom his parents have not smiled, neither a god will deem worthy of his table, nor a goddess of her couch.

Ecloga 5.  Daphnis, or "Daphnis at Heaven's Gate."


Menalcas:  Why have we not, (O) Mopsus, sat down together, since we have both met together (as) experts, you  to breathe upon light reed-pipes, I to utter verses amid the elm-trees mixed with hazels?

Mopsus:  You (are) the elder; it is fair I obey you, Menalcas, whether we go beneath the flickering (lit. uncertain) shade with the West Winds shifting, or rather into a cave. Look, how the woodland wild vine has sprinkled the cave with clusters of grapes here and there.

Menalcas:  Begin first, Mopsus, if you have any flames for Phyllis, or praises of Alcon or complaints about (lit. quarrels with) Codrus. Begin; Tityrus will look after our grazing kids.

Mopsus:  Nay rather, I shall try these songs, which I recently wrote down on the green bark of a beech-tree. Do you then bid that Amyntas competes.

Menalcas:  As the pliant willow yields to the pale olive, (and) as the humble Egyptian reed (yields) to purple rose-gardens, so in my judgement Amyntas yields to you. But you must stop (any) more (talk), boy, we have come into the cave.  

Mopsus:  The Nymphs wept for Daphnis, destroyed by a cruel death; you hazel-trees and rivers (were) witnesses to the Nymphs, when his mother, embracing the poor body of her son, calls both the gods and the stars cruel. Nobody (lit. not anybody) drove their grazing oxen to the cool streams in those (sad) days, nor did any four-footed creature taste the river, nor touch a blade of grass. (O) Daphnis, the wild mountains and forests state that even the Punic lions lamented your death. Daphnis taught (us) to yoke Armenian tigers to the chariot, Daphnis (taught us) to lead the dances (in honour) of Bacchus, and to wreathe our supple spear-wands with pliant leaves. And (as) the vine is the glory amid the trees, as grapes (are) amid grapes, as bulls amid their herds and corn-crops amid rich ploughlands, (so are) you all the glory to your (people). When the fates took you away (from us), Pales herself and Apollo himself, left our fields. To what furrows we have entrusted large (grains of) barley, (in these) fruitless darnel and barren wild oats spring up (lit. are born); the thistle and thorn with their prickly spines arise in place of the soft(-coloured) viola and the bright (lit. purple) narcissus. Sprinkle the ground with leaves, draw shade over the fountains, shepherds; Daphnis enjoins that such (rites) be done for him; both build a mound, and on top of the mound add this verse: "I (am) Daphnis, famous in the woods, (famous) from here as far as the stars, (once) the guardian of a fair flock, myself fairer (still)."

Menalcas:  Such a thing (is) your song to me, (O) divine poet, as slumber on the grass (is) to the weary, (or) as quenching the thirst in the heat from a gushing (lit. leaping) rivulet of sweet water. Nor are you equal to your master only on the reed-pipe, but in your voice (also). Fortunate boy, you will now be second to him. Yet, I in turn shall sing these (songs) of mine to you in whatever way (I can), and I shall raise your Daphnis to the stars; I shall bear Daphnis to the stars: (for) Daphnis loved me also.

Mopsus:  Could anything be greater to me than such a gift? And the boy himself was worthy to be sung (about), and Stimichon has, for some time already, been praising your songs to me. Therefore, eager pleasure takes hold of the woods and the rest of the countryside, and Pan and the shepherds and the Dryad girls. Neither does the wolf devise an ambush against the flock, nor the nets any trick against the deer; good Daphnis loves repose. Through joy, the wooded (lit. unshorn) mountains themselves fling their voices to the stars; now the very rocks, (and) the very groves cry aloud their song: "A god, a god he (is), (O) Menalcas!" Oh, be kind and propitious to your own (people)! Look, four altars: behold, two for you, Daphnis, (and) two for Phoebus. Annually I shall set before you two cups on each (altar) foaming with milk and two mixing-bowls of rich olive-oil; and above all (lit. in the first [place]), making the banquets convivial with much wine (lit. Bacchus), before the hearth, if it is (lit. will be) winter, in the shade, if it (is) the harvest, I shall pour in goblets Ariusian (i.e. Chian) wine, a new nectar. Damoetas and Lyctian (i.e. Cretan) Aegon will sing to me: Alphesiboeus will mimic the leaping Satyrs. These (rites) will always be yours, both when we (duly) repay to the Nymphs our solemn vows, and when we purify the fields. As long as the wild boar (will love) the heights of the mountain, and as long as fishes will love the the rivers, as long as bees feed on thyme, and as long as cicadas (feed on) dew, your dignity and your name and your praises will always endure. As to Bacchus and to Ceres, so to you the farmers will make vows annually; you too will order them to make payment (lit. will condemn [them]) in vows.

Mopsus:  What, what gifts can I repay to you in return for such a song? For neither the whistling of the gathering South Wind, nor the the beaches so beaten by the surf, nor the streams that hurry down between rocky dells, delight me so greatly.

Menalcas:  First, I shall give you this fragile hemlock(-pipe). This (pipe taught) me "Corydon was burning with  love for the fair Alexis," this same (pipe) taught (me) "Whose flock (is that)? (Is it) Meliboeus's?"

Mopsus:  But you must take this beautiful shepherd's crook with its regular knots and bronze (studs), which, although he often asked me, Antigenes (could) not win (lit. carry off) (from me) - and at that time, (O) Menalcas, he was worthy to be loved.

Ecloga 6.  Varus, or "The Song of Silenus."


My earliest (Muse) Thalia deigned to play with the verse of Syracuse (i.e. Sicily), nor did she blush to inhabit the woodlands; when I was singing of kings and battles, the Cynthian (god) (i.e. Apollo) plucked my ear and admonished (me): " A shepherd, Tityrus, ought to feed fat sheep, (but) utter a finely spun (lit. drawn out) song." Now shall I - for you will have (lit. there will be to you) in abundance (those) who wish to utter your praises, Varus, and to put  into verse gloomy wars - practice on my slender pipe my rustic Muse. I sing of things not unbidden. Yet if anyone, if anyone captured by love were to read this also, of you, (O) Varus, our tamarisks, of you all the forest would sing; nor is there anything more pleasing to Phoebus than that page which has the name of Varus written in front of itself.

Proceed, (O) Pierian (Maidens)! The boys, Chromis and Mnasyllos, saw Silenus lying asleep (lit. in sleep) in a cave, swollen in respect of his veins, as ever, by yesterday's wine (lit. Iacchus, i.e. Bacchus): his garlands lay close by, only (just) fallen from his head, and his heavy tankard hung (from his hand) by its well-known handle. Falling on (him) - for often the old man had kidded (them) both with the hope of a song - they throw upon (him) fetters (fashioned) from his very garlands. Aegle adds herself (as) a companion and reinforces (them) fearful (as they are), Aegle, the most beautiful of the Naiads, and now, (with him) opening his eyes (lit. seeing), she paints his brow and temples with blood-red mulberries. He, laughing at their ruse, says, "To what (end) are you twining these bonds? Release me, boys: it is enough (for you) that you seem to have been able (to capture me). Recognise the songs which you want. For you, (there will be) songs; for her there will be another (kind) of reward." At once, he himself begins. Then indeed you might have seen both Fauns and wild creatures dance (lit. play) to the measure (of his song), (and) then stiff oak-trees sway their tops: nor does the Parnassian rock rejoice so much in Phoebus, nor do Rhodope and Ismarus marvel so much at Orpheus (as they delighted in the song of Silenus). For he sang of how the first beginnings (lit. seeds) of earth and of air and of sea, and of liquid fire as well, had been collected through the mighty void: (and) how from these first (elements) all beginnings, and the young orb of the earth itself, have grown. Then, the ground began to harden and to pen Nereus into the sea, and, little by little, to take the forms of things; and now earth is amazed (to see how) the new sun is beginning to shine (as he mounts) higher, and (how) the rains fall from the clouds (which have been) raised aloft; (how) when the forests first begin to spring up; and (how) when, one by one, animals roam through the unknowing hills. Hence, he tells of the stones cast by Pyrrha, the reign of Saturn, and of the Caucasian birds and the theft of Prometheus. To these he adds, at what fountain the sailors had shouted for the abandoned Hylas, so that "Hylas! Hylas!" echoed from all of the shore; and he comforts Pasiphae, happy, if there had never been herds, with love for a snowy steer. Ah, unfortunate maiden, what frenzy has taken hold of you? The daughters of Proetus filled the fields with imaginary lowings, but yet not any of the herd pursued so shameful a union, although  she had feared the plough for her neck, and had often sought for horns on her smooth forehead. Ah, unfortunate maiden, you are wandering now in the hills: he, having rested his snowy flank on a soft hyacinth (bloom) beneath a dark holm-oak, chews the pale grasses. Or he pursues some (heifer) in the vast herd. "Close, (O) Nymphs, (O) Nymphs of Dicte, close now the glades of the forest, if by any (means) perhaps the wandering footsteps of the bull (lit. ox) may meet (lit. bring themselves in the way of) my eyes; perhaps some cows may lead him, either lured (lit. captured) by green grass or following the herds, to the stalls of Gortyn."  Then he sings of the girl marvelling at the apples of the Hesperides; then he surrounds the sisters of Phaethon with moss on bitter bark, and raises tall alders from the ground. Then he sings of Gallus, wandering by the streams of Permessus, and how one of the sisters led (him) to the Aonian hills, and how the whole chorus of Phoebus rose up to greet the hero; how Linus, a shepherd of godlike song, having been garlanded in respect of his hair with flowers and bitter parsley, said these things to him: "Look, take these reed-pipes (which) the Muses give to you, (and) which (they gave) before to the old man of Ascra (i.e. Hesiod) (and) with which he was wont to draw by his singing the stiff ash-trees down from the mountains. With these, let the beginning of the Grynean wood be told by you, so that there is not any grove, in which Apollo may pride himself more. Why should I tell of either Nisus' Scylla, whom report has followed that girt, in respect of her dazzling loins, with barking monsters, she harried the ships of Dulichium and ah! in her deep whirlpool tore the quaking sailors to pieces with her sea hounds: or how he told of the changed limbs of Tereus, of what a feast, of what gifts Philomela made ready for him, with what flight (lit. a run) she sought deserted places, and with what wings she first hovered, (O) unhappy one, over her home? He sings all (the songs) which the blessed Eurotas once heard from the brooding Apollo, and bade her laurels learn by heart, the smitten valleys relay (them) to the stars, until he bade (the shepherds) round up their sheep and drive the mass (of them) back to their to their folds, and the Evening Star came out in an unwilling heaven (lit. Olympus).ake a little rest

Ecloga 7.  Meliboeus, or "The Singing-match."


Meliboeus:  By chance, Daphnis had (just) sat down under a whispering holm-oak, and Corydon and Thyrsis had driven their flocks together into one (place), Thyrsis his sheep, and Corydon his she-goats, (their udders) swollen (lit. having been stretched) with milk, both in the flower of youth (lit. flourishing in their [young] age), both Arcadians, and equally ready to sing and to respond. Hither, while I was protecting my young myrtles from the cold, my he-goat, the lord of the flock, had strayed (lit. wandered down), and I espy Daphnis. When he sees me in turn, he says, "Quick, come hither, O Meliboeus! Your he-goat and kids (are) safe; and, if you can take a little break (lit. leave off for any [time]), rest under this shade. Hither will come your bullocks of their own accord through the meadows to drink; here the Mincio borders its green banks with soft rushes, and swarms (of bees) resound from the sacred oak." What was I to do? I had neither Alcippe nor Phyllis to shut in the lambs, (newly) weaned from milk, in their fold (lit. at home), and Corydon against (lit. with) Thyrsis was a great match. Yet I put aside my business (lit. serious affairs) for their pleasure (lit. play). So, both began to compete in alternate verses; the Muses willed (themselves) to recall alternate (verses). Corydon uttered these (verses), Thyrsis those in (due) order.

Corydon:  Nymphs of Libethrum, my delight, either grant to me such a song as my Codrus' own; he makes (poems) next to the verses of Phoebus; or, if we cannnot all (make such poems), this tuneful pipe will hang from your holy pine-tree.

Thyrsis:  Shepherds of Arcady, deck your rising poet with ivy, so that Codrus' sides (lit. loins) may be burst with envy; or, if he shall praise (me) beyond (what is) pleasing (to the gods), bind my brow with a fox-glove, lest an evil tongue may harm the future bard.

Corydon:  (O) Delian maid (i.e. Diana), young Micon (dedicates) to you this bristly boar's head and these branching antlers of a long-lived stag. If this (success) will be yours, your statue will be set up (lit. you will stand) all in smooth marble, having been bound, in respect of your calves, with purple buskins.

Thyrsis:  This bowl of milk and these cakes, Priapus, are enough for you to look for each year. Now we have fashioned you in marble to suit the time; but if breeding will make good the flock, be you golden.

Corydon:  My Galatea, daughter of Nereus (i.e. Sea Nymph), sweeter to me than Hyblaean thyme, brighter than swans, more lovely than pale ivy, when the pastured bulls first will seek again their stalls, if any care for your Corydon possesses you, come.

Thyrsis:  Nay, I may seem more bitter to you than Sardinian herbs, rougher than butcher's broom, cheaper than sea-weed cast up (on the beach), if this day (lit. day-light) is not already longer to me than a whole year. Go home, (you) pastured bullocks, if you have any shame (lit. if [there is] any shame [to you]), go.

Corydon:  (You) mossy springs and grass softer than sleep, and the green arbutus which covers you with chequered shade, ward off the (summer) solstice from my flock; now comes on parched summer, now the buds swell upon the pliant vine-shoot.

Thyrsis:  Here (is) the hearth and pine-logs rich (in resin), here (is) a big fire all the time and door-posts black with constant soot; here we heed the cold of the North Wind only as much as either the wolf (heeds) the number (of the flock) or rivers in flood (heed) their banks.

Corydon:  (Here) both junipers and prickly chestnuts stand; everywhere their own particular fruits lie strewn beneath the trees, (and) all things are smiling; but, if fair Alexis were absent, you would see even the rivers (running) dry.

Thyrsis:  The field is parched; the dying grass thirsts in the taint of the air; Liber (i.e. Bacchus) has begrudged the shade of the vine-tendrils to the slope: at the coming of our Phyllis, all the woodland will be green, and Jupiter will descend abundantly in genial rain.

Corydon:  The poplar is most delightful to Alcides (i.e. Hercules), the vine to Iacchus, the myrtle to the lovely Venus, his own laurel to Phoebus: Phyllis loves hazels: while Phyllis loves them, neither the myrtle nor the laurel of Phoebus will surpass hazels.

Thyrsis:  The ash is most the beautiful (tree) in the forest, the pine in the garden, the poplar by rivers, the fir in high mountains: but if, fair Lycidas, you come back to me more often, the ash in the forest (and) the pine in the garden must give way to you.

Meliboeus: These (lines) I recall, and Thyrsis striving for victory in vain. From that time Corydon is Corydon (i.e. peerless) to us.

Ecloga 8.  Pharmaceutria (i.e. the Enchantress), or "Damon and Alphesiboeus."


We shall tell of the Muse of Damon and of Alphesiboeus, the Muse of the shepherds, Damon and Alphesiboeus, at whom striving the amazed heifer is forgetful of grass, (and) at whose song the lynxes were stupefied, and the changed streams stopped flowing (lit. rested in respect of their current).

You, my (friend), whether you are now skirting the rocks of the great Timavus or passing by the the shores of the Illyrian sea, will that day ever come (lit. be) when I am allowed (lit. it is permitted to me) to tell of your deeds? Behold, will I be allowed (lit. will it be permitted [to me]) to spread abroad (lit. carry) throughout the whole world your songs (which) alone (are) worthy of the buskins (i.e. the tragic plays) of Sophocles? From you (was) my beginning, in your praise (lit. to you) (my poetry) will cease. Take the songs begun on your instructions, and let this ivy entwine (itself) among the victor's laurels around your temples.

The chill shadow had scarcely departed from the sky, when the dew on the tender grass (was) most delightful to the flock: Damon, leaning on a smooth olive(-staff) thus began.

Damon:  Arise (lit. be born), (O) Morning Star, and come anticipate the kindly day, while, beguiled by undeserving love, I complain about Nysa, my betrothed, and, although I have gained nothing by them (as) witnesses, yet in this my very last hour I call upon the gods.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus (i.e. Arcady). Maenalus always keeps both his tuneful forest and his speaking pine-trees; he always listens to the loves of shepherds and to Pan, who first did not permit the reeds (to be) idle.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Nysa marries (lit. is given [in marriage] to) Mopsus: what may we lovers not expect? Now griffins will mate with (lit. be joined to) horses, and in the age following timid deer will come to the drinking-trough (together) with hounds.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Cut fresh torches, Mopsus: your wife is being led to you; scatter nuts, bridegroom; for you the Evening Star is quitting Oeta.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus.(O woman) married to a worthy husband, while you despise everyone (else), and while my pipe and while my she-goats, and my shaggy eyebrows and my untrimmed beard (are) hateful to you, and you do not believe that any god cares about mortals.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. In our orchard, I saw you (as) a little girl with your mother - (for) I was your guide - picking apples wet with dew. The next (lit. second) year after my eleventh had just then received me; I could just reach the heavily laden (lit. fragile) branches from the ground. When I saw, how I perished, how the fatal error carried me off!

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Now I know what Love is. Either Tmaros or Rhodope or the remotest Garamantes (i.e. the Sahara) bring him forth, a boy not of our race nor with our blood.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Savage Love taught a mother to defile her hands in the blood of her children; (but) you too were cruel, (O) mother. (Was) the mother the more cruel, or that boy (the more) remorseless? That boy (was) remorseless; you too (were) cruel, (O) mother.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Now let the wolf even flee from the sheep spontaneously, let gnarled oaks bear golden apples, let the alder flower with narcissus, let screech-owls vie even with swans , let Tityrus be Orpheus, Orpheus in the woods, Arion among the dolphins.

Begin with me, my pipe, the verses of Maenalus. Yes, let the middle of the sea overwhelm (lit. become) all things. Farewell, (O) woods: from my watch-tower on the lofty mountain I shall plunge (lit. throw myself down) headlong into the waves; let her (i.e. Nysa) have this last gift from a dying man.

Damon (sang) these (words): you, (O) Pierian (Maidens), tell how Alphesiboeus responded; (for) we cannot all (do) all things.

Alphesiboeus:  Bring forth water, and bind these altars with soft woollen fillet, and burn in sacrifice sacred boughs rich (in resin) and manly frankincense, so that I may try to turn aside my lover's healthy senses; nothing is wanting here except incantations.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.

Songs may even draw down the Moon from heaven; with songs, Circe transformed the companions of Ulysses; by singing, the clammy snake is burst asunder in the meadows.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.


First I bind around you three times these separate threads of triple hue, and three times I lead your effigy around these altars;  a god delights in an odd number.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.


Twine the threefold colours in three knots, Amaryllis; only twine (them), Amaryllis, and say "I twine the chains of Venus."


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.

As this clay hardens and this wax softens in one and the same fire, so (let) Daphnis (fare) with my love. Scatter barley-meal and kindle the crackling bay-twigs with pitch. Heartless Daphnis burns me, (and) I burn this laurel in relation to Daphnis.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.

May such love (possess) Daphnis as (possesses) a heifer, when (she), weary with seeking a steer through forests and high groves, sinks down forlorn on green sedge near a river of water, nor does she remember to give way to late night, may such love possess (Daphnis), nor may I care to heal (it) (lit. nor may there be a care to me to heal [it]).


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.

That faithless one left me these former garments, dear pledges of himself: these I now entrust to you (O) earth on this very threshold; these pledges owe (me) Daphnis.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.

Moeris himself gave me these herbs and these poisons gathered in Pontus (i.e. Colchis, the home of Medea); in Pontus they grow thickest (lit. most); through these I (myself) have often seen Moeris become a wolf and conceal himself in the woods, (I have) often (seen him) summon up spirits from the deepest parts of their graves, and transplant sown harvests elsewhere.


Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home. 


Take the ashes outside, Amaryllis, and cast (them) over your shoulder (lit. across your head), nor (having done this) will you look back.  With these (ashes) I shall attack Daphnis; (but) he cares nothing for gods, nothing (for) songs.

Draw Daphnis from the town, my songs, draw (him) home.


The ash itself has caught the altar of its own accord with flickering flames, while I delay to take (it) away. may this bring (lit. be) good (luck)! It is something (lit. I know not what) certain, and Hylax is barking in the doorway. Can I believe (it)? Or, do (those) who love fashion dreams for themselves on their own account?

Forbear, he is coming from the town, forbear now, my songs, Daphnis (is coming).

Ecloga 9.  Moeris, or "The Road to Town."


Lycidas:  Whither are you going (lit. [do] your feet [lead] you), Moeris? Or, whither does the road lead, (is it) towards the town?

Moeris:  O Lycidas, have I lived to come (lit. have I come alive) (to such a point) that a stranger, (a thing) which I have never feared, (as) the occupier of my small farm should say, "These are mine; move off, old husbandmen." Now (we are) beaten (and) sad, since fortune turns everything upside down, (and) I am sending these kids to him - and may it not turn out well.

Lycidas:  Surely I indeed had heard that, where the hills begin to fall back (lit. withdraw themselves) and to lower their ridge with a gentle slope, as far as the water and those old beeches, now battered on top, your Menalcas had saved everything by his songs.

Moeris:  You had heard (it) and (such) was the rumour; but our songs prevail as much among weapons of war (lit. Mars) as they say that Chaonian doves (prevail) with an eagle approaching. Wherefore, if a raven from a hollow holm-oak on my left, had not warned me to break off by whatever (means)  this fresh dispute, neither your (friend) Moeris here, nor Menalcas himself, would (now) be alive.

Lycidas: Alas, can such great guilt belong to (lit. fall upon) anyone? Alas, were your soothing (songs) almost  taken from us together with you, Menalcas? (If you had died), who would sing of the Nymphs? Who would strew the ground with flowering plants, or cover over the fountains with green shade? Or, (who would sing) those songs (which) recently I picked up secretly from you, when you were betaking yourself to our darling Amaryllis? "Tityrus, until I return - the journey is short - put my she-goats out to graze, and drive (them), having been fed, to drink, and beware, during the driving, of running up against the he-goat - he strikes with his horn."

Moeris:  Nay rather, these which, not yet finished, he sang to Varus: Varus, (if) only our Mantua may remain, Mantua, alas, too near to poor Cremona, singing swans will bear your name on high to the stars.

Lycidas:  So may your swarms (of bees) escape the yew-trees of Cyrneus (i.e. Corsica), so may the udders of your cows, having fed on clover, be swollen (lit. stretch out): begin, if you have anything. The Pierian (Maidens) have made me a poet too. I even have songs (lit. there are even songs to me), (and) the shepherds call me a bard also; but I (am) not trustful of them. For I seem to utter as yet (something) worthy neither of Varius nor of Cinna, but to cackle (as) a goose among melodious swans.

Moeris:  Indeed I am busy with that, and I myself am quietly pondering within myself, Lycidas, if I can remember: nor is my song a mean (one). Come hither, O Galatea; what pleasure is there in the waves? Here spring (is) bright, here around the streams the ground pours forth manifold flowers, here a white poplar overhangs my cave, and the trailing vines weave a covering of shade: come here: let the mad waves lash the shore.

Lycidas:  What (of the song) which I heard you singing alone under a clear night? I remember the tune, if (only) I could retain the words.

Moeris:  "Daphnis, why do you look up at the ancient risings of the constellations? Lo, the star of Caesar,  (the child) of Dione (i.e. the mother of Venus, Caesar's ancestor) has advanced, the star through which the cornfields might rejoice in crops and the grape might take colour on sunny hills. Engraft your pear-trees, Daphnis; your grandchildren will (still) pluck your fruit." Time carries (away) everything (and) the mind too; often I remember that I (as a boy) brought sunny (days) to a close with singing: now so many songs are forgotten by me; now his very voice escapes Moeris too; the wolves saw Moeris first. But yet Menalcas will relate these very things to you often enough.

Lycidas: By making excuses you put off to a far (day) my eager longing. And now, mark you, all the sea, having been spread, is still, and all the breezes with their windy murmur have fallen away. Just here it is half way for us; for Bianor's tomb begins to appear: here, where farmers strip the dense foliage, here, Moeris, let us sing: here, put down your kids; however, we shall come to the town. Of if we fear lest night gathers rain beforehand, it is permitted (to us) to go singing all the way - (for so) the road is less wearisome; so that we may go singing, I shall  lighten you of this bundle.

Moeris:  Stop any more, boy, and let us do what is now pressing: when (the great man) himself (i.e. Menalcas) comes, we shall sing the better then.

Ecloga 10.  Gallus.

Grant to me this last task, (O) Arethusa. A few verses must (lit. are needing to) be said for my Gallus, but such as (lit. which) Lycorus herself may read: who would deny verses to Gallus? So for you, when you slide under the Sicanian (i.e. Sicilian) waters, may salty Doris (i.e. a Sea-Nymph) not intermingle her waves. Begin; let us speak of Gallus' troubled loves, while the snub-nosed she-goats nibble the tender bushes. We do not sing to the deaf; the forests will repeat everything.

What woods or what glades kept you, Naiad girls, when Gallus was perishing of unrequited (lit. unworthy ) love? For neither the ridges of Parnassus, nor any (ridges) of Pindus, nor (those) by Aonian Aganippe caused you delay. For him even laurels, even tamarisks wept; even pine-bearing Maenalus and the rocks of chilly Lycaeus wept for him lying under a lonely crag. The sheep stand around also - nor are they ashamed (lit.    nor does it repent them) of us: nor may you be ashamed (lit. nor may it repent you) of your flock, (O) divine poet; even the fair Adonis pastured his sheep by the river - the shepherd came too, the sluggish swine-herds came, (and) Menalcas came, wet from (gathering) winter acorns. All (of them) asked, "Whence is that love of yours?" Apollo came: "Why are you mad, Gallus? he says. "Your love Lycoris, amid the snows and the rugged camp, has followed another." Silvanus came too with his rustic ornament on his head, shaking his flowering fennels and large lilies. Pan, the god of Arcady came, who we ourselves saw (stained) red with the blood-coloured berries of elder and with vermilion. "Will there be any limit?" he says. "Love does not care for such things: nor is cruel Love satisfied with tears, nor grasses with streams, nor bees with clover, nor goats with foliage."

But he says sadly, "Yet, Arcadians, you will be singing of these things to your hills: Arcadians alone (are) skilled at singing. Oh, how softly then would my bones lie at rest, if your pipe may once tell of my loves! And would that I had been one of you, and either the shepherd of your flock or the vine-dresser of (your) ripe grapes! Surely, whether Phyllis or Amyntas or whoever was my passion - what then if Amyntas (be) swarthy? violets too are dark and hyacinths (are) dark - he (or she) would lie with me among the willows under a trailing vine: Phyllis would gather garlands for me, Amyntas would sing (to me). Here (there are) cool springs, here soft meadows, (O) Lycoris, here woodlands: here with you I should be worn away by time alone. Now a mad love for stern war (lit. Mars) detains me in arms amid encircling weapons and confronting enemies: you, far from your native-land - only let me not believe such a thing! (lit. let it not be mine to believe) - look upon, ah, cruel, the Alpine snows and the frosts of the Rhine alone without me. Ah, may the frosts not hurt you! Ah, may the harsh ice not cut the tender soles (of your feet)!

I shall go, and the songs, which were composed by me in Chalcidian verse, I shall set to the measure of the oaten(-pipe) of the Sicilian shepherd. I am resolved (lit. it is resolved [by me]), in the woods among the caves of wild beasts, to choose to suffer, and to cut my love(-songs) on the tender trees. Meanwhile, I shall roam over Maenalus in the company of the Nymphs (lit. the Nymphs intermingling), or I shall hunt the keen wild boar. No (lit. not any) frosts will deter (lit. forbid) me from encircling the Parthenian (i.e. Arcadian) glades with my hounds. Already I seem to myself to be traversing among rocks and echoing groves, (and) it pleases (me) to hurl Cydonian ( i.e. Cretan) arrows from a Parthian bow - as if that were a remedy for my madness, or that god could learn to soften at the sufferings of men! Now again, neither the Hamadryads (i.e. woodland Nymphs) nor even songs delight me; again even (you) woods depart! Our troubles cannot change him: neither, if in the midst of frosts we both could drink the Hebrus and endure the Sithonian (i.e. Thracian) snows in a watery winter, nor, if when the dying bark is parched on a lofty elm, we drive Ethiopian sheep under the tropical sun (lit. the constellation of Cancer). Love conquers all things: let us too yield to Love."

This will be enough, Pierian goddesses, that your poet has sung, while he sat and wove a basket of slim mallow (shoots): you will make this precious in the eyes of Gallus, of Gallus, for whom love grows in me every hour as fast (lit. much) as the green alder shoots up (lit. throws itself up from beneath) in a new spring. Let us arise! The shade is wont to be hard on singers, the shade of this juniper (is) hard, (and) shade harms the crops as well. Go home satisfied, the Evening Star is coming, go, my she-goats.  






























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