Vergil’s 5th Eclogue

MENALCAS—MOPSVS

Menalcas
Why don’t we both, Mopsus, be right on, since we got together —
you, by blowing on your light reed-flute, while I recite
lines: shall we sit here among the elms mixed with hazels?

Mopsus
You are the greater, elder: it’s your job to make me equal to the task,
Menalcas, whether we come under the west winds as they stir up
uncertain shadows, or rather head to a cave: look at how the wild vine,
in the woodlands, scatters scant bunches of grapes about the cavern.

Menalcas
Amyntas is the only man to challenge you among our mountain peaks.

Mopsus
Why, what if he should overcome Phoebus Apollo in singing verses?!

Menalcas
Start first, Mopsus, if you have the fires of Phyllis, or[10
praise of Alco, or a rivalry with Codrus:
begin, ‘Tityrus will tend to the kids feeding…’

Mopsus
Actually, I jotted down these songs upon verdant bark of the
beech-tree recently, and did note this in changing the tune —
as I tried, so must you demand that Amyntas should compete.

Menalcas
As pliant willow yields to the pale olive tree,
as humble Asarum to purplish roses, is how much
Amyntas gives way to you, in my judgment.
You must give a lot up, boy; we’ve come to the cave.

Mopsus
The nymphs were bewailing Daphnis, snuffed out by a heart-[20
less death; you are a witness to the hazel and with respect
to the nymphs’ streams: for taking hold the pitiable
body of her own son, does fierce mother swear on the gods,
by the stars. Not a cow to take, oh Daphnis, along the
chilled streams for pasturing these days, no beasts of burden
have sipped the river, none to touch the growing blades.
Daphnis, the wild woods and savage peaks declare that
even the lions of Carthage bewailed your passing.
Daphnis made it a custom to drive Turkish tigers at chariot;
Daphnis did institute the ceremonial wands of Bachhus,[30
and wind slender spear with soft ivy green. As the
vine is glory to trees, as grapes grace the vines —
like the bulls with the flocks, just as crops for anointed altars,
so are you a guiding light to your own. After the fates took you,
did Pales the goddess and Apollo himself abandon the fields.
The barley by which we are fed is often plenty enough in the garden —
unfortunate darnel and infertile oats are produced: instead of
soft violet flower, rather than indigo narcissus,
the thistle and Christ’s thorn do arise of prickly spines.
Water the soil with foliage, go introduce your shadow to the springs,[40
you shepherds, should Daphnis command such affairs for his own
self — and build up a burial mound, & add this verse to the grave:
“I, Daphnis, will have been noted henceforth in the woods, on up
to the stars: oneself, a lovelier guardian for fine-looking flock.”

Menalcas
Such a song in verse as yours, oh holy poet, is
like slumber in the grass for the exhausted, like
the rushing of tasty waters to quench one’s thirst
through undulating stream: and you are not up to the task
on a reed-flute alone, but with the voice of masters.
Lucky young man, now you will be second only to that[50
famed poet. All the same will we recite these poems of ours
in whatever manner are yours, and raise your dear
Daphnis on up to the stars; we shall take him
even to stars: Daphnis was well-loved by me too.

Mopsus
Well if we found anything greater than such an offering,
then the young lad was worthy for singing, as well did
Stimicho praise those poems of ours some time ago.

Menalcas
The resplendent man marvels at the unfamiliar gate of Olympus,
with Daphnis up from the threshold looking at clouds and stars.
So a vivacious pleasure does cling to the forest’s trees, and
other country matters, as well as Pan and the shepherds, and the
wood-nymph girls; neither is the wolf considering plots for a flock,[60
nor do any hunting nets plot a stratagem for the deer: kind Daphnis is
in love with leisure. The rustic mountains themselves, they do
toss voices to the heavens in happiness; now do the very caves sing
verses, bristly trees resound: “God, the famed god, Menalcas!”
Oh, be noble and found lucky of your own. There are four altars, see:
look, two for you, Daphnis, with paired altars dedicated to Phoebus.
I dedicate twin goblets dripping with fresh milk the year-long, and
double fine jugs for your olive oil, & with a great rush right from
the start, delighting the revels for Bacchus, — right before the
hearth if it’s cold, and if summer, in the shade — will I offer[70
divine wine from Chios, poured from mixing bowls. Damoetas
and Aegon of Crete will recite lyrics for me; Alphesiboeus,
to make like the two-stepping satyrs. These things will
always be like this for you, both when return we pious offerings
sacred to the Nymphs, and when we shall the fields cleanse.
As long as the boar tends to hill-top peaks, long as the fish still
loves the deep, and while bees do feed upon thyme, as the cicadas
at murmur, will your your fame and name and compliments endure;
as with Bacchus and Ceres, so too will the farmers make you
annual offerings: you also shall condemn such by vows.[80

Mopsus
What’s it to you, that I should requite such a performance with presents?
For neither will the bluster of the south wind rushing in please me,
nor the shores battered by billowing wave help me so, no
streams rushing here & there from stony valleys.

Menalcas
We will dedicate this precious pipe to you beforehand:
this one taught us, “Corydon was burning for hand-
some Alex,” and also, “Whose flock, is it Meliboeus?”

Mopsus
Well then take your shepherd’s crook, which Antigenes did not get, even
though he often asked me for it (& he had reason for being bitter.), a
lovely looking staff with fine handles and bronze to match, Menalcas.[90

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