Devotum

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‘Impia Trinacriae sterilescant gaudia vobis
nec fecunda, senis nostri felicia rura,
semina parturiant segetes, non pascua colles,
non arbusta novas fruges, non pampinus uvas,
ipsae non silvae frondes, non flumina montes.’
rursus et hoc iterum repetamus, Battare, carmen:
‘effetas Cereris sulcis condatis avenas,
pallida flavescant aestu sitientia prata,
immatura cadant ramis pendentia mala,
desint et silvis frondes et fontibus umor,
nec desit nostris devotum carmen avenis.
haec Veneris vario florentia serta decore,
purpureo campos quae pingunt verna colore
(hinc aurae dulces, hinc suavis spiritus agri),
mutent pestiferos aestus et taetra venena;
dulcia non oculis, non auribus ulla ferantur.’
(Pseudo-Vergil, Dirae 1-24)

“Unholy and unblest, may Trinacria’s joys become barren for you and your fellows, and may the fruitful seeds in our old master’s rich lands give birth to no corn crops, the hills to no pastures, the trees to no fresh fruits, the vines to no grapes, the very woods to no leafage, the mountains to no streams!” Again and yet again, O Battarus, let us repeat this song: “Outworn be the oats of Ceres that ye bury in the furrows; pale and wan may the meadows become, parched with the heat; unripened may the drooping apples fall from the boughs! Let leaves fail the woods, let water fail the streams, but let not the song that curses fail my reeds! May these flowery garlands of Venus, with their varied beauties, which in springtime paint the fields with brilliant hues (depart, ye breezes sweet; depart, ye fragrant odours of the field!)—may they change to blasting heats and loathsome poisons; may nothing sweet to eyes or ears be wafted!” (tr. Henry Rushton Fairclough, revised by George Patrick Goold)

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