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Arma virumque canō, Trōiae quī prīmus ab ōrīs

Ītaliam, fātō profugus, Lāvīniaque vēnit

lītora, multum ille et terrīs iactātus et altō

vī superum saevae memorem Iūnōnis ob īram;

multa quoque et bellō passūs, dum conderet urbem,

inferretque deōs Latiō, genus unde Latīnum,

Albānīque patrēs, atque altae moenia Rōmae.

Mūsa, mihī causās memorā, quō nūmine laesō


munera. nullus amor populis nec foedera sunto.

exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor

qui face Dardanios ferroque sequare colonos,

nunc, olim, quocumque dabunt se tempore vires.


I sing of warfare and a man at war.

From the sea-coast of Troy in early days

He came to Italy by destiny,

To our Lavinian western shore,

A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
Till he could found a city and bring home

His gods to Laetium, land of the Latin race,

The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome.

Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled
Did you suppose, my father,

That I could tear myself away and leave you?

Unthinkable; how could a father say it?

Now if it pleases the powers about that nothing

Stand of this great city; if your heart

Is set on adding your own death and ours
Roman, remember by your strength to rule

Earth’s peoples—for your arts are to be these:

To pacify, to impose the rule of law,

To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.

Amata tossed and turned with womanly

Anxiety and anger. Now [Allecto]

Plucked one of the snakes, her gloomy tresses,

And tossed it at the woman, sent it down

Her bosom to her midriff and her heart,
They gore one another, bathing necks and humps

In sheets of blood, and the whole woodland bellows.

Just so Trojan Aeneas and the hero

Son of Daunus, battering shield on shield,

Fought with a din that filled the air of heaven.
The man you seek is here. I stand before you,

Trojan Aeneas, torn from Libyan waves.

O you who were alone in taking pity

on the unutterable trials of Troy,

who welcome us as allies to your city

and home- a remnant left by Greeks, harassed

by all disasters known on land and sea.
Do you believe the enemy have sailed away?

Or think that any Grecian gifts are free

of craft? Is this the way Ulysses acts?

Either Achaeans hide, shut in this wood,

or else this is an engine built against our walls...

I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.
Why are you mangling me, Aeneas? Spare

my body. I am buried here. Do spare

the profanation of your pious hands.

I am no stranger to you; I am Trojan.

The blood you see does not flow from a stem.

Flee from these cruel lands, this greedy shore,

for I am Polydorus; here an iron

harvest of lances covered my pierced body.
Let us make, instead of war,

an everlasting peace and plighted wedding.

You have what you were bent upon: she burns

with love; the frenzy now is in her bones.

Then let us rule this people - you and I-

with equal auspices...
Do not let love or treaty tie our peoples.

May an avenger rise up from my bones,

one who will track with firebrand and sword

the Dardan settlers, now and in the future,

at any time that ways present themselves.
The circling year

completes its months since we entombed in earth

the bones and remnants of my godlike father.

Unless I err, that anniversary

is here, the day that I shall always keep

in grief and honor...
In my sleep the image of the prophet Cassandra

appeared and offered blazing brands. 'Look here

for Troy; here is your home!' she cried. The time

to act is now; such signs do not allow

delay. Here are four altars raised to Neptune;

the god himself gives us the will, the torches.
I see wars, horrid wars, the Tiber foaming

with much blood.

You shall have your Simois

your Xanthus, and your Doric camp; already

there is in Latium a new Achilles.

And I could not believe that with my going I should bring

so great a grief as this. But stay your steps.

Do not retreat from me. Whom do you flee?

This is the last time fate will let us speak.
There are two gates of Sleep: the one is said

to be of horn, through it an easy exit

is given to true Shades; the other is made

of polished ivory, perfect glittering,

but through that way the Spirits send false dreams

into the world above. And here Anchises,

when he is done with words, accompanies

the Sibyl and his son together; and

he sends them through the gate of ivory.

(translation: John DRYDEN)

Book I (102-123)

Talia iactanti stridens Aquilone procella

velum adversa ferit, fluctusque ad sidera tollit.

Franguntur remi; tum prora avertit, et undis

dat latus; insequitur cumulo praeruptus aquae mons.

Hi summo in flucta pendent; his unda dehiscens

terram inter fluctus aperit; furit aestus harenis.

Tris Notus abreptas in saxa latentia torquet

saxa vocant Itali mediis quae in fluctibus aras

dorsum immane mari summo; tris Eurus ab alto

in brevia et Syrtis urguet, miserabile visu,

inliditque vadis atque aggere cingit harenae.

Unam, quae Lycios fidumque vehebat Oronten,

ipsius ante oculos ingens a vertice pontus

in puppim ferit: excutitur pronusque magister

volvitur in caput; ast illam ter fluctus ibidem

torquet agens circum, et rapidus vorat aequore vortex.

Adparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto,

arma virum, tabulaeque, et Troia gaza per undas.

Iam validam Ilionei navem, iam fortis Achati,

et qua vectus Abas, et qua grandaevus Aletes,

vicit hiems; laxis laterum compagibus omnes

accipiunt inimicum imbrem, rimisque fatiscunt .

While thus he cried to Heaven, a shrieking blast smote full

upon the sail. Up surged the waves to strike the very stars;

in fragments flew the shattered oars; the helpless vessel veered

and gave her broadside to the roaring flood, where watery

mountains rose and burst and fell. Now high in air she hangs,

then yawning gulfs lay bare the shoals and sands o'er which

she drives. Three ships a whirling south wind snatched

and flung on hidden rocks,—altars of sacrifice Italians call them,

which lie far from shore a vast ridge in the sea; three ships

beside an east wind, blowing landward from the deep,

drove on the shallows,—pitiable sight,— and girdled them

in walls of drifting sand. That ship, which, with his friend Orontes, bore the Lycian mariners, a great, plunging wave struck

straight astern, before Aeneas' eyes. Forward the steersman

rolled and o'er the side fell headlong, while three times

the circling flood spun the light bark through swift engulfing seas. Look, how the lonely swimmers breast the wave! And on the waste

of waters wide are seen weapons of war, spars, planks,

and treasures rare, once Ilium's boast, all mingled with the storm.

Now o'er Achates and Ilioneus, now o'er the ship of Abas or

Aletes, bursts the tempestuous shock; their loosened seams

yawn wide and yield the angry wave its will.

Translation Theodore C. WILLIAMS

Book IV


At regina gravi iamdudum saucia cura

vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igni.

multa viri virtus animo multusque recursat

gentis honos; haerent infixi pectore vultus

verbaque nec placidam membris dat cura quietem.

postera Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras

umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram,

cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem:

'Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!

quis novus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes,

quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!

credo equidem, nec vana fides, genus esse deorum.

degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille



Now felt the Queen the sharp, slow-gathering pangs

of love; and out of every pulsing vein

nourished the wound and fed its viewless fire.

Her hero's virtues and his lordly line

keep calling to her soul; his words, his glance,

cling to her heart like lingering, barbed steel,

and rest and peace from her vexed body fly.

A new day's dawn with Phoebus' lamp divine

lit up all lands, and from the vaulted heaven

Aurora had dispelled the dark and dew;

when thus unto the ever-answering heart

of her dear sister spoke the stricken Queen:

“Anna, my sister, what disturbing dreams

perplex me and alarm? What guest is this

new-welcomed to our house? How proud his mien!

What dauntless courage and exploits of war!

Sooth, I receive it for no idle tale

that of the gods he sprang . ’ T is cowardice

betrays the base-born soul. Ah me! How fate

(translation Theodore C. WILLIAMS)

Book VI

Here was the toilsome, labyrinthine maze,

Where, pitying love-lorn Ariadne's tears,

The crafty Daedalus himself betrayed

The secret of his work; and gave the clue

To guide the path of Theseus through the gloom.

0 Icarus, in such well-graven scene

How proud thy place should be! but grief forbade:

Twice in pure gold a father's fingers strove

To shape thy fall, and twice they strove in vain.

Aeneas long the various work would scan;

(Translaton: Theodore C. WILLIAMS)

Now carved out of the rocky flanks of Cumae

lies an enormous cavern pierced by a hundred tunnels,

a hundred mouths with as many voices rushing out,

the Sibyl’s rapt replies. They had just gained

the sacred sill when the virgin cries aloud:

“Now is the the time to ask your fate to speak!

The god, look, the god!”

So she cries before

the enterance – suddenly all her features, all

her color changes, her braided hair flies loose

and her breast heaves, her heart bursts with frenzy,

she seems to rise in height, the ring of her voice no longer

human – the breath, the power of god comes closer, closer.

“Why so slow, Trojan Aeneas?” she shouts, “so slow

to pray, to swear your vows? Not until you do

will the great jaws of our spellbound house gape wide.”

And with that command the prophetess fell silent….

But grant one prayer.

Since here, they say, are the gates of Death’s king

and the dark marsh where the Acheron comes flooding up,

please, allow me to go and see my beloved father,

meet him face-to-face.

Teach me the way, throw wide the sacred doors!….”

So he prayed,

grasping the alter while the Sibyl gave her answer:

“Born of the blood of gods, Anchises’ son,

man of Troy, the descent to the Underworld is easy.

Night and day the gates of shadowy Death stand open wide,

but to retrace your steps, to climb back to the upper air-

there the struggle, there the labor lies. Only a few,

loved by impartial Jove or born aloft to the sky

by their own fiery virtue – some sons of the gods

have made their way. The entire heartland here

is thick with woods, Cocytus glides around it,

coiling dense and dark.

But if such a wild desire seizes on you – twice

to sail the Stygian marsh, to see black Tartarus twice –

if you’re so eager to give yourself to this, this mad ordeal,

then hear what you must accomplish first.

Hidden deep in a shady tree there grows a golden bough,

its leaves and its hardy, sinewy stem all gold,

held sacred to Juno of the Dead, Porserpina.

The whole grove covers it over, dusky valleys

enfold it too, closing around it. No one

may pass below the secret places of the earth before

he plucks the fruit, the golden foliage of that tree.

As her beauty’s due, Proserpina decreed this bough

shall be offered up to her as her own hallowed gift.

When the first spray’s torn away, another takes its place,

gold too, the metal breaks into leaf again, all gold.

Lift up your eyes and search, and once you find it,

duly pluck it off with your hand. Freely, easily,

all by itself it comes away, if Fate calls you on.

If not, no strenght within you can overpower it,

no iron blade, however hard, can tear it off….”




hinc via Tartarei quae fert Acherontis ad undas.

turbidus hic caeno uastaque uoragine gurges

aestuat atque omnem Cocyto eructat harenam.

portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina seruat

terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento

canities inculta iacet, stant lumina flamma

sordidus ex umeris nodo dependet amictus.

ipse ratem conto subigit uelisque ministrat

et ferruginea subuectat corpora cumba,

iam senior, sed cruda deo uiridisque senectus.

huc omnis turba ad ripas effusa ruebat,

matres atque uiri defunctaque corpora uita

magnanimum heroum, pueri innuptaeque puellae,

impositique rogis iuuenes ante ora parentum:

quam multa in siluis autumni frigore primo

lapsa cadunt folia, aut ad terram gurgite ab alto

quam multae glomerantur aues, ubi frigidus annus

trans pontum fugat et terris immittit apricis.

stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum

tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.

nauita sed tristis nunc hos nunc accipit illos,

ast alios longe summotos arcet harena.

Aeneas miratus enim motusque tumultu

'dic,' ait, 'o virgo, quid vult concursus ad amnem?

quidue petunt animae? uel quo discrimine ripas

hae linquunt, illae remis uada liuida uerrunt?'

olli sic breuiter fata est longaeua sacerdos:

'Anchisa generate, deum certissima proles,

Cocyti stagna alta uides Stygiamque paludem,

di cuius iurare timent et fallere numen.

haec omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est;

portitor ille Charon; hi, quos vehit unda, sepulti.

nec ripas datur horrendas et rauca fluenta

transportare prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt.

centum errant annos volitantque haec litora circum;

tum demum admissi stagna exoptata revisunt.'

constitit Anchisa satus et vestigia pressit

multa putans sortemque animo miseratus iniquam.

Descent to he Underworld

You gods, whose is the realm of spirits, and you, dumb shadows,

and Chaos, Phlegethon, wide silent places of the night,

let me tell what I have heard: by your power, let me

reveal things buried in the deep earth, and the darkness.

On they went, hidden in solitary night, through gloom,

through Dis’s empty halls, and insubstantial kingdom,

like a path through a wood, in the faint light

under a wavering moon, when Jupiter has buried the sky

in shadow, and black night has stolen the colour from things.

Right before the entrance, in the very jaws of Orcus,

Grief and vengeful Care have made their beds,

and pallid Sickness lives there, and sad Old Age,

and Fear, and persuasive Hunger, and vile Need,

forms terrible to look on, and Death and Pain:

then Death’s brother Sleep, and Evil Pleasure of the mind,

and, on the threshold opposite, death-dealing War,

and the steel chambers of the Furies, and mad Discord,

her snaky hair entwined with blood-wet ribbons.

In the centre a vast shadowy elm spreads its aged trunks

and branches: the seat, they say, that false Dreams hold,

thronging, clinging beneath every leaf.

And many other monstrous shapes of varied creatures,

are stabled by the doors, Centaurs and bi-formed Scylla,

and hundred-armed Briareus, and the Lernean Hydra,

hissing fiercely, and the Chimaera armed with flame,

Gorgons, and Harpies, and the triple bodied shade, Geryon.

At this, trembling suddenly with terror, Aeneas grasped

his sword, and set the naked blade against their approach:

and, if his knowing companion had not warned him that these were

tenuous bodiless lives flitting about with a hollow semblance of form,

he would have rushed at them, and hacked

at the shadows uselessly with his sword.


Translation: A.S. KLINE


Hence the way leads to that Tartarean stream

Of Acheron, whose torrent fierce and foul

Disgorges in Cocytus all its sands.

A ferryman of gruesome guise keeps ward

Upon these waters, -- Charon, foully garbed,

With unkempt, thick gray beard upon his chin,

And staring eyes of flame; a mantle coarse,

All stained and knotted, from his shoulder falls,

As with a pole he guides his craft, tends sail,

And in the black boat ferries o'er his dead; --

Old, but a god's old age looks fresh and strong.

To those dim shores the multitude streams on --

husbands and wives, and pale, unbreathing forms

Of high-souled heroes, boys and virgins fair,

And strong youth at whose graves fond parents mourned.

As numberless the throng as leaves that fall

When autumn's early frost is on the grove;

Or like vast flocks of birds by winter's chill

Sent flying o'er wide seas to lands of flowers.

All stood beseeching to begin their voyage

Across that river, and reached out pale hands,

In passionate yearning for its distant shore.

But the grim boatman takes now these, now those,

Or thrusts unpitying from the stream away.

Aeneas, moved to wonder and deep awe,

Beheld the tumult; Virgin seer! he cried,

Why move the thronging ghosts toward yonder stream?

What seek they there? Or what election holds

That these unwilling linger, while their peers

Sweep forward yonder o'er the leaden waves?

To him, in few, the aged Sibyl spoke :

Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods,

Yon are Cocytus and the Stygian stream,

By whose dread power the gods themselves do fear

To take an oath in vain. Here far and wide

Thou seest the hapless throng that hath no grave.

That boatman Charon bears across the deep

Such as be sepulchred with holy care.

But over that loud flood and dreadful shore

No trav'ler may be borne, until in peace

His gathered ashes rest. A hundred years

Round this dark borderland some haunt and roam,

Then win late passage o'er the longed-for wave.

Aeneas lingered for a little space,

Revolving in his soul with pitying prayer

Fate's partial way.


Book IX


Then from heaven

the flowing-haired Apollo bent his gaze

upon Ausonia's host, and cloud-enthroned

looked downward o'er the city, speaking thus

to fair Iulus in his victory:

“Hail to thy maiden prowess, boy! This way

the starward path to dwelling-place divine.

O sired of gods and sire of gods to come,

all future storms of war by Fate ordained

shall into peace and lawful calm subside

beneath the offspring of Assaracus.

No Trojan destinies thy glory bound.


Vina bonus quae deinde cadis onerarat Acestes

litore Trinacrio dederatque abeuntibus heros,

dividit, et dictis maerentia pectora mulcet:

`O socii---neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum---

O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.

Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis

accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopea saxa

experti: revocate animos, maestumque timorem

mittite: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum

tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas

ostendunt; illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.

Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.

The jars of gen'rous wine (Acestes' gift,
When his Trinacrian shores the navy left)

He set abroach, and for the feast prepar'd,

In equal portions with the ven'son shar'd.

Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief

With cheerful words allay'd the common grief:

"Endure, and conquer! Jove will soon dispose

To future good our past and present woes.

With me, the rocks of Scylla you have tried;

Th' inhuman Cyclops and his den defied.

What greater ills hereafter can you bear?

Resume your courage and dismiss your care,

An hour will come, with pleasure to relate

Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate.

Thro' various hazards and events, we move

To Latium and the realms foredoom'd by Jove.

Call'd to the seat (the promise of the skies)

Where Trojan kingdoms once again may rise,

Endure the hardships of your present state;

Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate.



The shepherd Corydon with love was fired

For fair Alexis, his own master's joy:

No room for hope had he, yet, none the less,

The thick-leaved shadowy-soaring beech-tree grove

Still would he haunt, and there alone, as thus,

To woods and hills pour forth his artless strains.

"Cruel Alexis, heed you naught my songs?

Have you no pity? you'll drive me to my death.

Now even the cattle court the cooling shade

And the green lizard hides him in the thorn:

Now for tired mowers, with the fierce heat spent,

Pounds Thestilis her mess of savoury herbs,

Wild thyme and garlic. I, with none beside,

Save hoarse cicalas shrilling through the brake,

Still track your footprints 'neath the broiling sun.

Better have borne the petulant proud disdain

Of Amaryllis, or Menalcas wooed,

Albeit he was so dark, and you so fair!

Trust not too much to colour, beauteous boy;

White privets fall, dark hyacinths are culled.

You scorn me, Alexis, who or what I am

Care not to ask- how rich in flocks, or how

In snow-white milk abounding: yet for me

Roam on Sicilian hills a thousand lambs;

Summer or winter, still my milk-pails brim.

I sing as erst Amphion of Circe sang,

What time he went to call his cattle home

On Attic Aracynthus. Nor am I

So ill to look on: lately on the beach

I saw myself, when winds had stilled the sea,

And, if that mirror lie not, would not fear

Daphnis to challenge, though yourself were judge.

Ah! were you but content with me to dwell.

Some lowly cot in the rough fields our home,

Shoot down the stags, or with green osier-wand

Round up the straggling flock! There you with me

In silvan strains will learn to rival Pan.

Pan first with wax taught reed with reed to join;

For sheep alike and shepherd Pan hath care.

Nor with the reed's edge fear you to make rough

Your dainty lip; such arts as these to learn

What did Amyntas do?- what did he not?

A pipe have I, of hemlock-stalks compact

In lessening lengths, Damoetas' dying-gift:

'Mine once,' quoth he, 'now yours, as heir to own.'

Foolish Amyntas heard and envied me.

Ay, and two fawns, I risked my neck to find

In a steep glen, with coats white-dappled still,

From a sheep's udders suckled twice a day-

These still I keep for you; which Thestilis

Implores me oft to let her lead away;

And she shall have them, since my gifts you spurn.

Come hither, beauteous boy; for you the Nymphs

Bring baskets, see, with lilies brimmed; for you,

Plucking pale violets and poppy-heads,

Now the fair Naiad, of narcissus flower

And fragrant fennel, doth one posy twine-

With cassia then, and other scented herbs,

Blends them, and sets the tender hyacinth off

With yellow marigold. I too will pick

Quinces all silvered-o'er with hoary down,

Chestnuts, which Amaryllis wont to love,

And waxen plums withal: this fruit no less

Shall have its meed of honour; and I will pluck

You too, ye laurels, and you, ye myrtles, near,

For so your sweets ye mingle. Corydon,

You are a boor, nor heeds a whit your gifts

Alexis; no, nor would Iollas yield,

Should gifts decide the day. Alack! alack!

What misery have I brought upon my head!-

Loosed on the flowers Siroces to my bane,

And the wild boar upon my crystal springs!

Whom do you fly, infatuate? gods ere now,

And Dardan Paris, have made the woods their home.

Let Pallas keep the towers her hand hath built,

Us before all things let the woods delight.

The grim-eyed lioness pursues the wolf,

The wolf the she-goat, the she-goat herself

In wanton sport the flowering cytisus,

And Corydon Alexis, each led on

By their own longing. See, the ox comes home

With plough up-tilted, and the shadows grow

To twice their length with the departing sun,

Yet me love burns, for who can limit love?

Ah! Corydon, Corydon, what hath crazed your wit?

Your vine half-pruned hangs on the leafy elm;

Why haste you not to weave what need requires

Of pliant rush or osier? Scorned by this,

Elsewhere some new Alexis you will find.


'Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;

Even now was I revolving silently

If this I could recall- no paltry song:

'Come, Galatea, what pleasure is 't to play

Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth

Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;

Here the white poplar bends above the cave,

And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,

Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.

Muses of Sicily, essay we now

A somewhat loftier task! Not all men love

Coppice or lowly tamarisk: sing we woods,

Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.

Now the last age by Cumae's Sibyl sung

Has come and gone, and the majestic roll

Of circling centuries begins anew:

Justice returns, returns old Saturn's reign,

With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.

Only do thou, at the boy's birth in whom

The iron shall cease, the golden race arise,

Befriend him, chaste Lucina; 'tis thine own

Apollo reigns. And in thy consulate,

This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,

And the months enter on their mighty march.

Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain

Of our old wickedness, once done away,

Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.

He shall receive the life of gods, and see

Heroes with gods commingling, and himself

Be seen of them, and with his father's worth

Reign o'er a world at peace. For thee, O boy,

First shall the earth, untilled, pour freely forth

Her childish gifts, the gadding ivy-spray

With foxglove and Egyptian bean-flower mixed,

And laughing-eyed acanthus. Of themselves,

Untended, will the she-goats then bring home

Their udders swollen with milk, while flocks afield

Shall of the monstrous lion have no fear.

Thy very cradle shall pour forth for thee

Caressing flowers. The serpent too shall die,

Die shall the treacherous poison-plant, and far

And wide Assyrian spices spring. But soon

As thou hast skill to read of heroes' fame,

And of thy father's deeds, and inly learn

What virtue is, the plain by slow degrees

With waving corn-crops shall to golden grow,

From the wild briar shall hang the blushing grape,

And stubborn oaks sweat honey-dew. Nathless

Yet shall there lurk within of ancient wrong

Some traces, bidding tempt the deep with ships,

Gird towns with walls, with furrows cleave the earth.

Therewith a second Tiphys shall there be,

Her hero-freight a second Argo bear;

New wars too shall arise, and once again

Some great Achilles to some Troy be sent.

Then, when the mellowing years have made thee man,

No more shall mariner sail, nor pine-tree bark

Ply traffic on the sea, but every land

Shall all things bear alike: the glebe no more

Shall feel the harrow's grip, nor vine the hook;

The sturdy ploughman shall loose yoke from steer,

Nor wool with varying colours learn to lie;

But in the meadows shall the ram himself,

Now with soft flush of purple, now with tint

Of yellow saffron, teach his fleece to shine.

While clothed in natural scarlet graze the lambs.

'Such still, such ages weave ye, as ye run,'

Sang to their spindles the consenting Fates

By Destiny's unalterable decree.

Assume thy greatness, for the time draws nigh,

Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!

See how it totters- the world's orbed might,

Earth, and wide ocean, and the vault profound,

All, see, enraptured of the coming time!

Ah! might such length of days to me be given,

And breath suffice me to rehearse thy deeds,

Nor Thracian Orpheus should out-sing me then,

Nor Linus, though his mother this, and that

His sire should aid- Orpheus Calliope,

And Linus fair Apollo. Nay, though Pan,

With Arcady for judge, my claim contest,

With Arcady for judge great Pan himself

Should own him foiled, and from the field retire.

Begin to greet thy mother with a smile,

O baby-boy! ten months of weariness

For thee she bore: O baby-boy, begin!

For him, on whom his parents have not smiled,

Gods deem not worthy of their board or bed.


Until Jove let it be, no colonist

Mastered the wild earth; no land was marked,   

None parceled out or shared; but everyone   

Looked for his living in the common world.

And Jove gave poison to the blacksnakes, and   

Made the wolves ravage, made the ocean roll,   

Knocked honey from the leaves, took fire away—   

So man might beat out various inventions   

By reasoning and art.

                                 First he chipped fire

Out of the veins of flint where it was hidden;   

Then rivers felt his skiffs of the light alder;

Then sailors counted up the stars and named them:   

Pleiades, Hyades, and the Pole Star;

Then were discovered ways to take wild things.   

In snares, or hunt them with the circling pack;   

And how to whip a stream with casting nets,   

Or draw the deep-sea fisherman’s cordage up;   

And then the use of steel and the shrieking saw;   

Then various crafts. All things were overcome   

By labor and by force of bitter need.

And some will stay up late beside the fire   

On winter nights, whittling torches, while

The housewife runs the shuttle through the loom   

And comforts the long labor with her singing;   

Or at the stove she simmers the new wine,   

Skimming the froth with leaves. Oh idle time!   

In that hale season, all their worries past,

Farmers arrange convivialities—

As after laden ships have reached home port,

The happy sailors load the prow with garlands.   

Then is the time to gather acorns and

Laurel berries and the bloodred myrtle,

To lay your traps for cranes and snares for buck,   

To hit the fallow deer with twisted slingshots,   

And track the long-eared hare—

When snow is deep, and ice is on the rivers.
A storm should never catch you unprepared.   

Aerial cranes take flight before its rising,   

The restless heifer with dilated nostrils   

Sniffs the air; the squeaking hirondelle   

Flits round and round the lake, and frogs,

Inveterate in their mud, croak a chorale.   

And too the ant, more frantic in his gallery,   

Trundles his eggs out from their hiding place;   

The rainbow, cloud imbiber, may be seen;   

And crows go cawing from the pasture   

In a harsh throng of crepitating wings;   

The jeering jay gives out his yell for rain   

And takes a walk by himself on the dry sand.   

Stormwise, the various sea-fowl, and such birds   

As grub the sweet Swan River in Asia,

May be observed dousing themselves and diving

Or riding on the water, as if they wished—   

What odd exhilaration—to bathe themselves.
When Caesar died, the great sun pitied Rome,   

So veiling his bright head, the godless time   

Trembled in fear of everlasting night;

And then were portents given of earth and ocean,   

Vile dogs upon the roads, and hideous   

Strange birds, and Aetna quaking, and her fires   

Bursting to overflow the Cyclops’ fields

With flames whirled in the air and melted stones.   

Thunder of war was heard in Germany   

From south to north, shaking the granite Alps;   

And a voice also through the silent groves

Piercing; and apparitions wondrous pale   

Were seen in dead of night. Then cattle spoke

(O horror!), streams stood still, the earth cracked open   

And tears sprang even from the temple bronze.   

The Po, monarch of rivers, on his back   

Spuming whole forests, raced through the lowland plains

And bore off pens and herds; and then continually   

The viscera of beasts were thick with evil,

Blood trickled from the springs; tall towns at night   

Re-echoed to the wolf-pack’s shivering howl;   

And never from pure heaven have there fallen   

So many fires, nor baleful comets burned.   

It seemed that once again the Roman lines,   

Alike in arms, would fight at Philippi;

And heaven permitted those Thessalian fields   

To be enriched again with blood of ours.   

Some future day, perhaps, in that country,   

A farmer with his plow will turn the ground,   

And find the javelins eaten thin with rust,   

Or knock the empty helmets with his mattock   

And wonder, digging up those ancient bones.
Paternal gods! Ancestors! Mother Vesta!   

You that guard Tiber and the Palatine!   

Now that long century is overthrown,

Let not this young man fail to give us peace!   

Long enough beneath your rule, O Caesar,   

Heaven has hated us and all those triumphs   

Where justice was thrown down—so many wars,   

So many kinds of wickedness! No honor

Rendered the plow, but the fields gone to ruin,   

The country-folk made homeless, and their scythes   

Beaten to straight swords on the blowing forge!   

War from the Euphrates to Germany;

Ruptured engagements, violence of nations,

And impious Mars raging the whole world over—

As when a four horsed chariot rears away   

Plunging from the barrier, and runs wild,   

Heedless of the reins or the charioteer.
Translation Robert FITGERALD

Georgica IV 452-528 - Vertaling Ida Gerhardt

Hij sprak. De ziener eindelijk, met geweld zich dwingend,
-groen vuur schiet uit zijn vlammende ogen- knarsetandend,
opent de mond en doet orakelend zijn uitspraak:
'Wel is het van een god, dat u de wraakzucht teistert;
gij boet een zware fout. Orpbeus, rampzalig- schuldeloos
nochtans- met deze straf  blijft bij, zo 't lot niet ingrijpt, 
u slaan, diep wrokkend om de vrouw hem afgenomen,
Eurydice. In vlucht voor ü, rap langs het water, 
zag zij niet voor haar voet- een kind in doods nabijheid- 
de grote slang, in 't hoge oevergras verscholen.
En de Dryaden, rei van speelgenoten, riepen
over de bergen, vèr; de hoge toppen schreiden
 -Pangaca, Rhodope-, het vechtersland van Rhesus,
de Donausteppen en zij, Athene's Orythuia. 
Zelf zocht hij met zijn lier te sussen 't ziek verlangen,
zingend, o liefste, op 't verlaten strand eenzelvig 
van u bij 't rijzend licht, van u als de avond daalde. 
Zelfs door de Hellekrochten, Hades' diepe poorten, 
geschreden door het woud, spokig van donk're nevelen, 
trad hij voor 't schimmenrijk, de koning der verschrikking, 
de harten voor het menselijk smeken zonder deernis.
Zie, door zijn lied geroerd, ontzweefden donkers diepten
de schimmen ijl, van licht verstoken schijngestalten,
 - zo komen in een boom honderden vogels schuilen
voor de avondval of voor een onweer uit de bergen-:
moeders en vaders, fiere helden, afgestorven 
van dit bestaan; kinderen, meisjes vóór haar bruidstijd;
zonen, tot as verbrand voor de ogen van hun ouders.
Rondom hen, slijkig zwart niet haveloze biezen, 
ligt de Cocytus, sombere poel van stilstaand water, 
en negen malen strikt de Styx hen in zijn kronkels. 
Hij zingt: de hoven van de dood, de Orcus zelve,
de Erinyen - blauwig kronkelen door het haar de slangen - 
zijn ademloos; het blaffen smoort in Cerberus' kelen,
Ixions wentelrad blijft, nu de wind zwijgt, stilstaan.
Reeds keerde Orpheus terug, aan elk gevaar ontkomen, 
terwijl de weergegevene naar het licht geleid werd,
Eurydice, ná hem, Proserpina gehoorzaam.
Toen plotseling overmocht hem weerloos het verlangen
- hoezeer vergeeflijk, als de Hel vergeving kende- 
staan bleef hij en zag om, reeds op de grens van 't daglicht,
naar haar, Eurydice, roekeloos - ach! - bezweken.
Te niet zijn tocht, geschonden van de wrede heerser
't verdrag: drie donderslagen klonken uit de Avernus.
En zij: 'hoe kondt ge mij verderven en u zelve,
Orpheus, zozeer verblind! Genadeloos roept opnieuw mij

het noodlot terug, het donker dekt mijn brekende ogen;
een laatst vaarwel - de grote nacht heeft mij gegrepen,
'k strek machteloos naar u, niet meer van u, mijn handen.' 
Zij sprak - en uit zijn ogen, zoals rook vernevelt, 
dun in de lucht ontweek zij. Tastend in het ijle, 
nog zóveel woorden op de lippen, ontwaarde Orpheus 
Eurydice niet meer en Orcus' veerman laat hem
ten tweeden male niet over het scheidend water.
Wat kon jij? Waar vindt woon die tweemaal dierf het liefste? 
Verbad zijn stem de dood, zijn tranen deze machten? 
Zij, in doods kilte, voer reeds in de boot van Charon.
En hij - gaat het verhaal - heeft zeven volle maanden, 
waar steil de rotswand rijst, bij de verlaten Strymon
geschreid en in de koele grot zich uitgezongen;
de tijgers strekten zich, de eiken kwamen tot hem.
Zo klaagt de nachtegaal, in schaduw van een peppel, 
om zijn verloren jongen, die een boer, hardvochtig,
loerend heeft uitgehaald - kaal uit het nest; de vogel 
snikt heel de nacht - droef, op zijn tak, begint hij telkens
de melodie en vult ver de omtrek niet zijn klachten. 
Geen vrouw, geen liefde wist zijn hart te winnen - eenzaam,
de ijsvlakten van liet noorden over, Tanaïs, sneeuwveld,
en de altijd ruig berijpte barre steppen zwierf hij 
en treurde om zijn verlies - Eurydice en Hades' 
geschonden gave - trouw die de Bacchanten krenkte. 
Bij Bacchus' riten, in nachtelijke orgie, is Orpheus 
verscheurd; zijn lichaam lag verstrooid over de velden.
En nòg, toen van de marmeren hals het hoofd gescheiden
mee met de Hebrus dreef en wentelde in zijn wieling, 
bleef toch 'Euryidice' de stem, het stervend spreken
'arme Euridice'  het wijkend leven roepen, 
'Eurydice' weerkaatsten langs de stroom de oevers.'

Proteus verhaal: dan dook hij met een sprong de zee in
en maakte, waar hij sprong, een kolk van kruivend water.