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Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 B.C.), known in English as Virgil, was perhaps the single greatest poet of the Roman empire—a friend to the emperor Augustus and the beneficiary of wealthy and powerful patrons. Most famous for his epic of the founding of Rome, the Aeneid, he wrote two other collections of poems: the Georgics and the Bucolics, or Eclogues.The Eclogues were Virgil's first published poems. Ancient sources say that he spent three years composing and revising them at about the age of thirty. Though these poems begin a sequence that continues with the Georgics and culminates in the Aeneid, they are no less elegant in style or less profound in insight than the later, more extensive works. These intricate and highly polished variations on the idea of the pastoral poem, as practiced by earlier Greek poets, mix political, social, historical, artistic, and moral commentary in musical Latin that exerted a profound influence on subsequent Western poetry.
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ECLOGUE 1. TITYRUS
ECLOGUE 2. ALEXIS
ECLOGUE 3. PALAEMON
ECLOGUE 4. POLLIO
ECLOGUE 5. DAPHNIS
ECLOGUE 6. SILENUS
ECLOGUE 7. MELIBOEUS
ECLOGUE 8. THE SORCERESS
ECLOGUE 9. MOERIS
ECLOGUE 10. GALLUS
The Eclogues of Virgil
Translated By J. W. Mackail
FROMVIRGILS'WORKS,MODERN LIBRARY,NEW YORK 1934, PP.263-91.
© David De Angelis 2017 [all rights reserved]
M.--Tityrus, thou where thou liest under the covert of spreading beech, broodest on thy slim pipe over the Muse of the woodland: we leave our native borders and pleasant fields; we fly our native land, while thou, Tityrus, at ease in the shade teachest the woods to echo fair Amaryllis.
T.--O Meliboeus, a god brought us this peace: for a god ever will he be to me: his altar a tender lamb from our sheepfolds shall often stain. He granted that my oxen might stray as thou descriest, and myself play what I would on the rustic reed.
M.--I envy not, I, rather I wonder, so is all the countryside being routed out. See, I myself wearily drive forth my she-goats; and this one, Tityrus, I just drag along: for here among the hazel thickets she has borne twins, the hope of the flock, and left them, alas! on the naked flints. Often, had a mind not infatuate been mine, I remember how lightning-scathed oaks presaged this woe of ours. But yet vouchsafe to us, Tityrus, who is this god of thine.
T.--The city they call Rome, O Meliboeus, I fancied in my foolishness like ours here, whither we shepherds are often wont to drive the tender weanlings of the sheep. Thus I knew the likeness of puppies to dogs, of kids to their mothers: thus would I compare great things with small. But she bears her head as high among all other cities as any cypress will do among trailing hedgerow shoots.
M.--And why might nothing less serve thee than seeing Rome?
T.--For freedom: she at last in spite of all turned her face upon a slothful servant, when now the beard was sprinkled with white that fell under the razor: in spite of all she turned her face and came after long delay, since Amaryllis holds us and Galatea has let us go. For I will confess it, while Galatea kept me, there was no hope of freedom, no thrift of savings: though many a victim went out from my pens, and rich cheese from my presses for the thankless town, never once did my hand come money-laden home.
M.--I wondered, Amaryllis, why thou calledst sadly on the gods, for whom thine apples were left hanging on the tree: Tityrus was away. The very pines, O Tityrus, the very springs and orchards here cried for thee.
T.--What was I to do? Neither might I free myself from service, nor elsewhere know gods so potent to help. Here I saw the prince, O Meliboeus, to whom yearly for twice six days the steam rises from our altars: here he gave present reply to my prayer: Pasture your oxen as of old, my children, rear your bulls.
M.--Happy in thine old age! so thy fields will remain thine, and ample enough for thee, although all the pastures be covered with bare stone or muddy rush of the fen. No strange fodder will try the breeding ewes, or touch of evil hurt them from any neighbour's flock. Happy in thine old age! here, amid familiar streams and holy springs thou wilt woo the coolness of the shade: here the hedge that ever keeps thy neighbour's boundary, where bees of Hybla feed their fill on the willow-blossom, shall often with light murmuring lull thee into sleep: here under the lofty rock shall rise the leaf-gatherer's song: nor all the while shall the hoarse wood-pigeons, thy delight, or the turtle on the elm's aëry top cease to moan.
T.--Therefore sooner shall light stags feed in the sky and the sea-channels leave the fishes naked on the beach; sooner, over-wandering both their boundaries, shall the exiled Parthian drink of Arar, or Germany of Tigris, than his countenance shall fade from our heart.
M.--But we! some shall pass hence to thirsty Africa, some reach Scythia and Oaxes' clayladen torrent, and the Britons wholly sundered from all the world. Lo, shall I ever, long in time to come, again in my native borders marvel as I see my realm stink to a poor cabin with turf-heaped roof behind a handful of corn? Shall a lawless soldier possess these trim fallows? a barbarian these cornfields? lo, to what wretched pass has civil discord brought us! lo, for whose profit we have sown our fields! Engraft thy pear trees now, Meliboeus, set thy vines arow! Go, my she-goats, go, once happy flock: never hereafter shall I, stretched in a green cave, see you afar hanging from the tufted rock: no songs shall I sing; not in my herding shall you, my she-goats, crop the flowering cytisus and bitter willows.
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