Vergil’s 8th Eclogue

A young heifer as memorable as a marvel is that of
Damon and Alfesiboeus, the shepherds, whose lynx cats
were struck dumb by the theme song, as they were looking
for streams redirected in course; so, let us talk up
the inspiration for Damon and Alfesiboeus.

Whether you overcome the present stones of the Timavo river with me,
or choose to brave the deep of the Aegean sea, whenever that day
should be, might I be permitted to recite your affairs? Will that day come,
just as it is not forbidden for me to publicize poems in your honor,
the only ones worthy of the tragic buckskin of Sophocles? The
principle derives from you; it deserts your cause: please accept
poetic verses undertaken at your behest, as well as donning this
ivy wreath about your head, among the laurels of victory.

A chill shadow scarcely departed from the night sky, when
a most agreeable flower rose in bloom among the youngling flock, —
reclining in the shade of an ebullient olive, so did Damon start:

“Arise, get up before the arriving day-time, Morning Star, at full harvest,
as you’ve been tricked into unsavory love of your wife Nessa, while
I utter complaint, out in public at that, although I’m of no use to such
kinds witness at interest, on my deathbed still do I offer final-hour appeal.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Maenalus the goat-herd always kept a spiffy grove, with loquacious ever-
greens; he always heard about the love-affairs of the shepherd community,
and Pan too, who above all lets not anyone’s flute remain inactive.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Nessa is taken with Mopsus: what reason have her admirers to be
anxious? Yet griffins are mixed up with the horses, and it will come
about in some future age, with hunting dogs upon a deer-horn goblet.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Hey Mopsus, go chop wood for new torches: you should grab a wife; stay
off the pine-nut trees, you married dog: the Evening Star is deserting Mt. Oeta.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Oh dear wife of a worthwhile husband, while you do look down
upon all, still may you feel hatred torward my little pipe, — just like
the lambs and the supplementary supply of fodder, and the grain as
agreed, you shall not ascribe mortal beliefs to any divine being!

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

I saw you about our bees, baiting a young ewe with flavored
honey, and its mother besides; one more year has already
taken me up for more than a decade, and then some; & now am I able
to ply the tender branches with earth: just as I witnessed, as I
was dying off, so did a horrendous error cause me to go wrong!

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Now I’m beginning to realize what Love is: do they publish his exploits over
treacherous crags, at Mure? or the mountains of Rhodope or even the Mediterranean
berber tribes, as a young lad unrelated to our family and bloodline.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Love itself teaches wild hands to sacrifice the mother of the flock;
you are also too harsh, oh mother: is the mother even more crude,
or is the young lad unsound? That lamb isn’t quite right:
and you are indeed a cruel one, mother sheep.

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

Now let the very wolf flee the sheep instead; let the rock-hard oaks
bear golden apples, let the alder-tree flower with narcissus,
let the myrtles drip with thick amber sap, let the wailing cries
also contest the swans; let Tityrus be made into Orpheus!
Let Orpheus be there in the woodlands, among Arion’s dolphins. . . .

Do start the Maenalian drinking songs with me, o’ my drum.

The open sea is cause of all things, or neutral keel. Long live
the woods: I’m going to ship a bronze mirror from the mountains to the
water, as prize; let this be the uttermost service, of a dying shepherd.[60

So, stop the Maenalian drinking song with me, dear drum.”

That’s what Damon said. Now you, dear Muses, please produce the response
Alfesiboeus made: as we are all incapable of handling every last thing in detail.

Go get some water, and hang flowery wreaths about here,
do pay homage to the boughs of incense, and fire up the altar, —
in order that I might try to deter legitimate spousal interests with holy magic,
there’re no hard feelings here, unless the poetic performance is lacking.

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

One can draw out a song, or play on the moon, in the sky; Circe transformed
Odysseus’ companions by means of poetic chants: a chilling snake
is busted up, for slithering throughout the meadows.

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

I am embellishing this trio of eclectic weavings into the triple
coloring, and do I produce a counterpoint pattern around
the sacred space of th’ altar: the god Pan delights in odd numerals.

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

Weave three different colors into a tripartite band, shepherd lass Amaryllis; dear
Amayllis, put it together right away, and say, “I’m locking Venus‘ chains down.”

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

As the mud grows impliable, and does melt these words like wax with one
and the same fire, — just like so, is our love for Daphnis. Season the mill
and incinerate the pliant laurels with asphalt. Bad-boy Daphnis
sure did torch me: I claim the laureate prize for Daphnis.

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

Such hopeless love — of the kind which gets worn out by cows in the woods,
as well as a heifer seeking for the lofty groves, on account of the river’s stream, —
sure did lay Daphnis out, upon the verdant hedge-grass, & he had forgotten
not to stay out too late, so great the desire which held him,
that it’s not my place to prescribe a cure. . . .

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

That back-stabber once left these spoils out for me, such dearly bought bets
on his own; I require you to inform me what land am I in, at the
very borderline: these bets are on Daphnis‘s tab!

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

Moeris the herdsman granted me these magic herbs and such choice morsels,
which he got from the Black Sea (a great many products hail from the Crimea);
I often told them that a wolf might arise, and that Moeris has made himself
at home in the woods, by provoking the living spirits from the depths of
the tomb, — yet saw I the harvests get sown and handed off to a stranger!

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

Take the ashes outdoors, Amaryllis, and toss them over your head, into
the rushing pool, & don’t bother looking back again. I shall approach Daphnis
with these means; he has no respect for the gods, and cares not for my poems.

Send Daphnis home from the city, my songs, send Daphnis home.

Take a look: the beast breaks the altar amid the tremulous flames, of its own accord,
as do I delay to execute sacrifice, the very ash itself. Let it be taken to suffice!
I don’t know much for certain, yet Hylax the mutt is barking at the doorway. Are we
of proper belief? — yet people in love do imagine, for themselves, their own dream.

Give it up, he just left town — so give it up on the songs, Daphnis!


Vergil’s 6th Eclogue

At Syracuse was our service to Thalia — the Grace
of pastoral ode, etc. — first established. Whenever I
should sing of kingships and battles, Cynthius
the shepherd would lend an ear, then advise: “A sleek
sheep is fit for feeding a shepherd, to recite a drawn-out tune.”

Now do I (for they are your people up top, Varus, who love speaking in
praise of you, and to conduct unhappy wars) modulate the pastoral Muse
on a rustic reed flute. I’m not singing without cause: all the same, if some-
body states also these claims — should one taken in love choose to, —
every grove will resound with your praises, in thanks for that tamarisk
of ours; nor is any other flowering plant more dear to Apollo than that
which the name of Varus does prescribe as page for his service.

Get going, Muses of Pieris! The young lads Chromis and
Mnasyllus came to look upon Silenus, the satyr, as he lay asleep
in the cave, hungover from last night, as ever: nearby were so
many garlands, which had slipped from his head, and
a heavy mixing bowl, hanging from a worn-down handle.

At the approach (’cause an old man is often made a fool of, for a song or two),
they threw their garlands off like shackles. Aegle made herself available and
overcame the fearful masses. Aegle, she’s the most lovely of the Naiad nymphs,[20
& for anyone viewing her face out of the blood-red mulberries, does she
decorate her brow with adornments. The young man asked, “How did
you get out of the cuffs?”, as she chuckled at the jest: “The young lads
let me out; it was enough to be able to be seen. Please consider the lyrical
pieces which you wanted; they are compositions dedicated to you,
with another form of hire, as such.” And so did Mnasyllus start up.

But then would you have seen woodland beasts and spirits at play,
also the peaks setting the imperturbable oaks into motion. The cave
of Parnassus took not so much pleasure in homage to Apollo,
neither did Mt. Rhodope, nor Ismara, wonder as such at Orpheus himself.

Now as it is, he used to perform lyrics on how the original seeds
of th’ earth and the soul and the sea were brought together out of a massive
void, likewise also with liquids and fire; just as beginnings all apply
to initial origins, so did the porous globe of the world come
to solidify; then did Nerea begin to stabilize the firmament,
and disclose the very sea, also by gradual degree to cause
the figures of beings to cohere; yet as the grounds stand in awe
at the new dawning day, let the rains fall even harder from the uplifted
cloud-banks, whenever the woods should start to stir, since
unlikely animals may wander over obscure mountain ranges.[40
Then he sang of the stones which Pyrrhus hurled, Saturn’s imperial
kingdoms, and the birds of Caucasus, as well as of Prometheus’ theft.
In addition to which, he added that the mariners called out for Hyla,
left off at some fountain’s source, until the entire shoreline echoed
with “Hyla, Hyla!”; and does he isolate Pasiphae, one lucky gal — if only
the pack mules had never been! — with the desire of a snow-white heifer.

Oh poor unmarried girl, what frenzied madness detained you?!

Proteus’ daughters filled the field with their feigned moo-ing; but none
of them were so uncivilized as to actually mate with a beast of burden,
though they were afraid of being put to death by the plough,
and often sought to put horns upon one’s fair forehead.

Oh poor unmarried girl, now you’re wondering lost in the
mountains: the cow does recline along its snow-white flanks,
over soft hyacinths, grazing on light green grasses beneath
the shady ilex, or following the trail among the crowding herd.
“Now you Nymphs of Dicte, oh Nymphs — do close
the woodland passes, to see if some traces of the cow’s
tracks might present themselvs to our eyes: perhaps
some cows had him led off, taken with green grass
or by following the herd, to the famed stables at Crete.”[60

Then does he sing of the young maid astounded by the apples
of the Hesperids, next of surrounding Phaethon’s beloved sisters
with moss from the bitter rings of bark, and setting the towering poplars,
from the ground up, right. He sings next of Gallus wandering past
the streams of Mt. Helicon, so that a sister of the Muses would take him
to the mountains of Aonia, and about how the entire chorus of Apollo’s
service rose up, to greet him; a song about Linus, the shepherd with the most
famed poem-writing skills around, adorned about his temples with flowers
and bitter herbs, singing, “The Muses offer you this victory flute, so
do accept it, before it goes to old-man Ascra the poet; he used to be able
to make the very ash-trees in the mountains stand on end with these reeds.
You should document the birth of the Grynean grove on this reed-flute,
so that there be not one valley where Apollo is more of a subject.”

What else is there to say, about Scylla, the daughter of king Nisus, who was
pursued by glittering infamy herself, belted with barking beasts about her waist-
line, as she harried the Cretan fleet, and off into the eddying whirpool,
to rip the distressed sailors into bits with hounds at the shore —
or to recite the tale of Tereus’ transformed limbs, which Philomela
served to him for a feast, as though offering him a present, on
which path she did seek the wild desert, with those wings[80
by which the unlucky female had flown over her royal abode?

The famed satyr Silenus, poetic as Orpheus (sic), declaimed on all these affairs as such,
like what lucky Eurotas heard when Apollo was strumming at the lyre, and how
he ordered his laurels to learn to record it (The valleys resounded until echoing
to the starlight.), reciting his work until sunset compelled the shepherds to give an account
of their flocks and their ranks, as Hesperus advanced about Mount Olympus.

Vergil’s Occasional Verse for Octavian

These were the verses I was singing, right over the rightful observance at
th’ altar of sacrifice, and over about the trees, as Octavian Caesar, a great figure
on the deep, struck the Euphrates valley at war like a thunderbolt, and as conqueror
grants rule of law to willing peoples, and fixes his pathway to Mt. Olympus.

That famèd lord did assist me, at a moment in time when I was in full flower
about the zealous studies of the siren’s song, rather less than noble at leisure,
by stanzas for shepherds which I do perform — & what a daring youth am I — dear
Tityrus, as I recite poetic verses on you, beneath the cover of branching oak.

Vergil’s 9th Eclogue


L: Feet got you going, Moeris? How does the way take you, into town?

M: Well Lycidas, we made it through alive, so that a stranger trying
(which is never cause for concern to me) to master my field, should’ve
said: ‘These things are my stuff; move abroad, you old settlers!’
Now do we get these flocks going, in our defeat, humbled — which
might not go so well — because Fate causes all things to turn.

L: Really, I heard for sure — where the hills start to turn to rolling,
and send the mountain-ridge off at a soft slope, on to the water
front and old time beech (now breaking at peaks) trees — that
your boy Menalcas plays by the rules in his compositions.

M: You heard it here, & it was famed: but our tunes do so well,
Lycidas, among the arms of Mars, as well as what people
do call doves from Chaon, with the eagle arriving. As the crow
was warning me from the evergreen oak not to fall, in any way,
into clever legalese before the hung jury, so neither will
Moeris, nor even Menalcas himself, let you live off of here. . . .

L: Oh no! Did such an evil deed happen to anyone? Too bad! Were
your comforts taken from us nearly right off with you, Menalcas?
So that someone might set the Nymphs to singing? Who would sprinkle
flowering plants on the earth, or bring shade from the verdant source
of the stream? Or your poems which I recently had a peek at,
should you take them with you to my own favorite Amaryllis?
“Tityrus, please put the lambs to pasture (It’s a short way.) while I’m on my
way back; once fed, take them to stream, Tityrus, and watch out for the
boar (which does go wild in the glen) in the midst of heading to meet one.”

M: Alright, & what Varo was singing, albeit unfinished, goes: “Varo,
only our native Mantua should surpass your own name,
poor Mantua too close to lowly Cremona, as singing
swans head to the heavens in sublime fashion.”

L: Just as your flocks flee from the Corsican yew, as the pastured
herd of cattle, when fed on clover, does swell at the udder,
so begin, if you have any starting point. And the Muses made me
a poet; the songs are mine too: the shepherds, they also
call me a prophetic seer, but I don’t buy it from them — for neither
did I seem so to Varius yet, nor to say things appropriate for Cinna,
rather as the goose resounding among conspicuous, the swans.

M: Really, that’s what I’m doing, and considering such to myself in
silence, whether or not I can even remember; it’s not such an unpopular
song: “Here you are, oh Galatea — now what kind of game is upon
the waves’ deep? Now shining spring-time, now the very earth pour
diverse flowers about the stream; here the brilliant poplar impends
over a cave, & the light vines do intertwine with shaded alcoves.
There you are — let the crazy rushing waters rage along the shore.”

L: Why, what poems did I hear you singing alone under the naked
night? I remember the tune, if I still have the words right: “Daphnis,
why don’t you respect the age-old origin of symbols? Look, at
the morning star of Caesar’s love goddess, the star in which
the crops rejoice with flowering plants, and by which the vine
deploys its coloring upon sun-drenched ridges. Plant the
pear trees, Daphnis: your young ones are picking the apples.”

M: Summer’s age moves everything, including the mind — I recall
how often I kept watch over lengthening sunshine days as a boy chanting:
so many of my songs are forgotten already that even one’s voice now retreats
from Moeris: the vanguard of wolves are looking at Moeris. But
still, Menalcas should’ve offered you these answers often enough.

L: You’re leading my desirable loves a long way off, making excuses.
And currently every level field lies open to you in silence, & look,
all the wind-swept airs of heaven have landed with a mild roar.
That’s why our way is so far in between, since it started to make its
appearance with Bion’s memorial marker. Here, where the farmers
put the crowding branches and bushes together, right here, Moeris,
do we sing: leave the kids here all the same — we’re still going to town.
Or, if we’re afraid that night-time may muster a rainstorm beforehand,
then let’s go sing verses as long as one can (The shorter way’s a pain.)
get away with it: to go singing as we go, I’ll relieve you by this torch.

M: No more, young man, do cease what we are doing that’s coming up now.
Let us recite verses even better in song, when the poet will have arrived!

Vergil’s 2nd Eclogue

Corydon the shepherd used to be burning for hand-
some Alexis, & was missing what he wanted; so he kept heading
out again among the crowding beech-trees, the shaded mountain-
tops. Right there & then did he toss off these disorderly words,
by himself, to the hills and woods of an empty zeal:
“Oh heartless Alex, do you care not at all for my songs?
You have no pity on me? Then you’re going to make me die!
Now the sheep also seize the shadows and chills; now
the thorn bushes also abscond the chartreuse lizards;
Thestylis, too, in the sweltering heat — given the reapers[10
at rest — she mixes in thyme with other savory herbs.
But along with me under the burning sunlight, while I
illuminate your signs, do the trees resound with cicadas.
Was it not enough to suffer the wrath of sad Amaryllis and
the condescending compliments, wasn’t it Menalcas, to
want that boy as black as you are pale? Dear shapely
young man, don’t put too much faith in color’s shade!
The white privets fade, with dark hyacinths picked.
You/I hate you, me! — not who you want, Alexis, for
being rich in flocks, loaded with snowy white milk. A[20
thousand of my lambs do wander about in the Sicilian high-
lands; my milk is not bitter in summer, nor lacking in cold;
I recite what I’m accustomed to sing: since indeed he called
to the herd, Amphion of Dirce at Attic Aracynthus. It’s not
like I’m so misshapen: I saw myself in a pool recently,
since the sea came gentle on the breeze; I’m not afraid of
you sitting in judgment, Daphnis, if the image never errs.
Oh, how should it please you, along with me, to live in
shabby country abode and lowly houses, and strike stags,
and force the flock of lambs to pallid marshmallow plants![30

Do make like Pan singing together with me among the trees.
Pan was the first to invent how to unite a bunch of reeds
with wax; Pan, who takes care of the sheep and lords of the
flock. Don’t let it bother you, chafing your lip on a
pipe: so you may know the same things, why wasn’t Amyntas
doing them? I have a pipe composed of seven fretted flutes that
Damoetas gave to me some time ago: his dying words were,
‘Now that kind of woman currently holds you secondary.’
Damoetas said it; struck dumb, Amyntas gave him evil eye.
What’s more, two goats which I discovered in a less than safe[40
valley, with pelts still speckled white even now, they have
been dry of udder two days yet; I am tending them for you:
actually, Thestylis is now saying that I had abducted them;
and he will make good on it, since you find my services un-
tidy. Here you are, you shapely young man: the Nymphs,
just look!, bear lilies for you in loaded baskets; fair Nais,
your girl, plucking the pale violets and lofty poppies, does
combine narcissus flower and that of sweetly smelling anise;
then, weaving mezereon with other soft-scented shrubbery,
does tender hyacinth embroider the tawny hued marigold.[50

Myself, I shall pick apples gleaming with soft, light down, and
chestnuts, the ones my dear Amaryllis used to adore; I’ll
supplement it with plums light as beeswax: this fruit will be
a badge of honor too: and I’ll pluck you, oh you laurels, and you
too, neighboring myrtle blossom, since you mingle odors so
sweet. You’re a country bumpkin, Corydon: Alexis likes not your
offerings, & Iollas yields one’s place not, if you disagree about
our positions. Oh no!, what did I want for my pathetic state?
Lost, I launched the wind into flowers, boar to foaming springs.
Whom do you run from, crazyass? The gods dwell in the forest[60
too, as does Paris from Troy. Let Athena abide by those citadels
which she established; the woods please us better than every, all.
The golden lioness is pursuing the wolf; the wolf itself follows
the she-goat; the naughty lamb goes after the flowering clover;
Corydon’s after you, Alexis: one’s own pleasure pulls each a way.
Look here, plows do bear the yoke lifted over the young cow,
as the sun, when departing, mirrors the crescendo of shadows;
nonetheless love cinges me: now what way is there for love?

‘Oh Corydon, Don-Cory, what madness seized control of you!’

Half-pruned, a leafy stalk is upon the elm tree; weren’t you[70
at least getting ready rather to uncover something of those
practicality requires, with branches green and soft rushes?
You’ll find another man, if he looks down on you, Alex.”

Vergil’s 5th Eclogue


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?

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.

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

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

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…’

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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

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.

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?”

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

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.