Vergil’s 1st Eclogue


M: Hey Tityrus, you, lying beneath the cover of branching oak,
do practice the woodland Muse on slender reed-pipe; we
are at the confines of our country, have left its fields of sweet-
ness: we are in exile from the republic; you do — Tityrus, lying there
in the shade — teach the woods to echo with sound of Amaryllis.

T: Well Meliboeus, some god produced for us this leisure time: and
so will he always be a god to me; many a time shall soft lamb
from our fold stain that noted one’s altar with sacrifice. He
did grant my cattle leeway to wander, as you notice, and
permitted me to play on my woodland reed flute like I want.

M: No envy for sure, rather am I amazed: there’s trouble on every
side all over the country, all the way on up to here, now: oh, I my-
self, sick at heart, am taking my sheep onward; I can hardly even lead
this one, Tityrus: here among the crowding pair of hazel-trees twin,
this lamb has lost all hope of the herd, oh my!, after giving birth
upon the uncovered rocks. Unless my mind was in left-field, I re-
member this apple to us often signified oak-trees that the sky touches:
like the crow often forewarns the sinister caves from the great oak.
But, Tityrus, who would he be, that god of yours — let us have it.

T: The city which its people call Rome, Meliboeus, looked to stupid
me to be just like ours, where often we shepherds are in the habit
of pasturing our tender nursing-sheep: so did I learn puppies are
like dogs, just like lambs and their mother, thus was I accustomed
to put great things up to small ones like so: but truly has this city
supported the other states to such extent that cypress trees
are customary habit, among the pliant way-faring trees.

M: And what reason was such cause of your going to view Rome?

T: Liberty was — freedom, which though late, still looked upon a
lazy man once more; the beard was falling a brighter silver for the one
trimming it after that; still Liberty looked back on me, and arrived
a good long time after Amaryllis had me, after Galatea left me:
in fact, well I’ll confess, as long as I was Galatea’s, there was no
hope of freedom, any liberty, no care concerned for the herds:
however many sacrifices will be proclaimed from my boundaries,
or rich cheese produced for the thankless city, she never did
return home weighed down with copper coins upon my right.

M: I’m amazed at how you would call on the gods, you poor woman,
wretched Amaryllis, whose apples you disclose upon the tree:
Tityrus was not present here. Tityrus, the very pine-trees themselves,
the very self-same rivers, these very woods do call out your name.

T: What couild I do? I wasn’t allowed to be freed of my servitude,
nor was anyone present to know the will of the gods otherwise. I
saw that famed young man, Meliboeus, at as many years as twelve
full on, for whom our civic altars do smoke with fumes by the day;
here it is, the answer that man first provided to me seeking response:
“Put your cattle to pasture as before, young men, do raise your steer.”

M: Oh lucky old man, so the plots of land will remain yours,
& be large enough for you, though uncovered stone and
swamp cover all over with mud-caked rushes! It’s not like
some unfamiliar fodder is weighing down th’ ewes with lamb,
no sickness from the neighboring flock to harm. You lucky
elder, here among the well-known streams and spiritual
rivers you’re going to long for the cool of the shade!
From this source shall that hedge from the neighboring path,
which has been swarmed upon at flower by Sicilian honey-
bees of the willow-grove, often urge you to sleep in a light
whispering; hence does the garden-tiller recite singing from the
lofty cliff; and yet meanwhile the doves are not, you being so concerned,
squawking — turtle-dove will cease not its cooing from the airy elm.

T: Sooner should swift, the stags forage into sea, and the Straits leave
the fish laid bare upon the shore — sooner would an exile drink from
either, given both parties’ boundaries having been so thoroughly traversed,
rather the Parthian meet Arar, or western Europe take the river Tigris,
before that famed one’s face should slip away from my our heart.

M: But surely from here we will go, one and another, to burning
Libya, one to Scythia, other to arrive at the flood of the Oaxes
at Crete, and to Britain, cut so far off from all the globe. Oh,
after a long time shall I wonder at the homeland’s borders, in awe
at the top of the poor shepherd’s cottage piled up to the roof —
will I marvel in view of my rule after so many harvests? Will
some defiled veteran take possession of so lush a field to till,
foreign soldier have these produce? Oh, how conflict does make
for miserable citizens! We have gotten these people used to the fields!
Now go cultivate the pear-trees, Meliboeus, put your vines in order.
Come on, she-goats, come along, you formerly fortunate flock. I
will not see see you after this, myself having been thrown away, in
a sea green cave, that you hang at a distance from the thorny cliff;
I won’t sing any songs; no, myself to put to feed, you lambs,
you will pluck flowering myrtle and bitter willows.

T: Nonetheless you’re able stay here with me for tonight, over the verdant
greenery: there are soft ripe apples just for us, mildness of chestnuts,
and stores of milk already pressed; and now the fore-
most rooftops of the communities fume smoking — and the
greater darkness of larger shadows falls from mountaintops.