Terminus

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Part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Nox ubi transierit, solito celebretur honore
separat indicio qui deus arva suo.
Termine, sive lapis sive es defossus in agro
stipes, ab antiquis tu quoque numen habes.
te duo diversa domini de parte coronant,
binaque serta tibi binaque liba ferunt.
ara fit: huc ignem curto fert rustica testo
sumptum de tepidis ipsa colona focis.
ligna senex minuit concisaque construit arte,
et solida ramos figere pugnat humo;
tum sicco primas inritat cortice flammas;
stat puer et manibus lata canistra tenet.
inde ubi ter fruges medios immisit in ignes,
porrigit incisos filia parva favos.
vina tenent alii: libantur singula flammis;
spectant, et linguis candida turba favet.
spargitur et caeso communis Terminus agno,
nec queritur lactans cum sibi porca datur.
(Ovid, Fast. 639-656)

When night has passed, let the god be celebrated
With customary honour, who separates the fields with his sign.
Terminus, whether a stone or a stump buried in the earth,
You have been a god since ancient times.
You are crowned from either side by two landowners,
Who bring two garlands and two cakes in offering.
An altar’s made: here the farmer’s wife herself
Brings coals from the warm hearth on a broken pot.
The old man cuts wood and piles the logs with skill,
And works at setting branches in the solid earth.
Then he nurses the first flames with dry bark,
While a boy stands by and holds the wide basket.
When he’s thrown grain three times into the fire
The little daughter offers the sliced honeycombs.
Others carry wine: part of each is offered to the flames:
The crowd, dressed in white, watch silently.
Terminus, at the boundary, is sprinkled with lamb’s blood,
And doesn’t grumble when a sucking pig is granted him.
(tr. Tony Kline)

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