Quis fuit, horrendos primus qui protulit enses?
quam ferus et vere ferreus ille fuit!
tum caedes hominum generi, tum proelia nata,
tum brevior dirae mortis aperta via est.
an nihil ille miser meruit, nos ad mala nostra
vertimus, in saevas quod dedit ille feras?
divitis hoc vitium est auri, nec bella fuerunt,
faginus adstabat cum scyphus ante dapes.
non arces, non vallus erat, somnumque petebat
securus sparsas dux gregis inter oves.
tunc mihi vita foret, Valgi, nec tristia nossem
arma nec audissem corde micante tubam;
nunc ad bella trahor, et iam quis forsitan hostis
haesura in nostro tela gerit latere.
(Tibullus 1.10.1-14)

Who was he, who first forged the fearful sword?
How iron-willed and truly made of iron he was!
Then slaughter was created, war was born to men.
Then a quicker road was opened to dread death.
But perhaps it’s not the wretch’s fault we turn to evil
what he gave us to use on savage beasts?
That’s the curse of rich gold: there were no wars
when the beech-wood cup stood beside men’s plates.
There were no fortresses or fences, and the flock’s leader
sought sleep securely among the diverse sheep.
I might have lived then, Valgius, and not known
sad arms, or heard the trumpet with beating heart.
Now I’m dragged to war, and perhaps some enemy
already carries the spear that will pierce my side.
(tr. Tony Kline)



Rura colam, frugumque aderit mea Delia custos,
area dum messes sole calente teret,
aut mihi servabit plenis in lintribus uvas
pressaque veloci candida musta pede.
consuescet numerare pecus; consuescet amantis
garrulus in dominae ludere verna sinu.
illa deo sciet agricolae pro vitibus uvam,
pro segete spicas, pro grege ferre dapem.
illa regat cunctos, illi sint omnia curae:
at iuvet in tota me nihil esse domo.
(Tibullus 1.5.21-30)

I’ll live in the country, and while the harvest’s threshed
in the hot sun, my Delia will be there, guarding the crop,
or she’ll watch over the grapes in the brimming troughs
when agile feet trample the gleaming must.
She’ll be used to counting flocks: she’ll be used to a child
babbling, a slave’s, lovingly playing in its mistress’s lap.
She’ll know to offer the country god grapes for the vines
wheat ears for the harvest, food for the flocks.
She’ll rule everyone, all things will be in her care:
and I’ll joy in being nothing in that house.
(tr. Tony Kline)


Num Veneris magnae violavi numina verbo,
et mea nunc poenas impia lingua luit?
num feror incestus sedes adiisse deorum
sertaque de sanctis deripuisse focis?
non ego, si merui, dubitem procumbere templis
et dare sacratis oscula liminibus,
non ego tellurem genibus perrepere supplex
et miserum sancto tundere poste caput.
(Tibullus 1.2.79-86)

Have I wronged the divinity of mighty Venus with words,
and does my impious tongue now pay the penalty?
Can they say now I’ve sinfully entered the divine sanctuary
and snatched the garland from the holy altar?
I won’t hesitate, if I’m guilty, to kneel in her temple,
and grant her kisses on her sacred threshold,
to crawl on my knees, a suppliant, over the ground
and beat my wretched head against the sacred door.
(tr. Tony Kline)