Pastor Aristaeus fugiens Peneïa Tempe,
amissis, ut fama, apibus morboque fameque,
tristis ad extremi sacrum caput adstitit amnis
multa querens atque hac adfatus voce parentem:
‘Mater, Cyrene mater, quae gurgitis huius
ima tenes, quid me praeclara stirpe deorum
(si modo, quem perhibes, pater est Thymbraeus Apollo)
invisum fatis genuisti? aut quo tibi nostri
pulsus amor? quid me caelum sperare iubebas?
en etiam hunc ipsum vitae mortalis honorem,
quem mihi vix frugum et pecudum custodia sollers
omnia temptanti extuderat, te matre relinquo.
quin age et ipsa manu felices erue silvas,
fer stabulis inimicum ignem atque interfice messes,
ure sata et validam in vites molire bipennem,
tanta meae si te ceperunt taedia laudis.’
(Vergil, Georg. 4.317-332)
The shepherd Aristaeus, leaving the Tempe valley
where Peneus flows, his bees lost—so legend reports—to sickness
and hunger, stopped, beset by sorrow, at the stream’s holy
source and, loudly lamenting, called out to his mother,
“Mother, Cyrene, my mother, living beneath this gush
of water, why did you bear me from the radiant line
of gods—Apollo fathered me, if you’ve told the truth—
only to be scorned by fate? What has routed your love?
Why did you let me hope for immortality?
Look at me! Even this crowning grace of my human life
that zealous care for cattle and crops hammered out for me,
even though you are my mother, I give it all up.
Yes, come! With your own hand root out my fruit trees,
burn my livestock pens, murder my crops, torch my gardens,
chop my vines down with a battle-axe if you have been seized
by such great disdain for work that is well worth your praise.
(tr. Janet Lembke)