Quid faciat laetas segetes, quo sidere terram
vertere, Maecenas, ulmisque adiungere vites
conveniat, quae cura boum, qui cultus habendo
sit pecori, apibus quanta experientia parcis,
hinc canere incipiam. vos, o clarissima mundi
lumina, labentem caelo quae ducitis annum;
Liber et alma Ceres, vestro si munere tellus
Chaoniam pingui glandem mutavit arista,
poculaque inventis Acheloia miscuit uvis;
et vos, agrestum praesentia numina, Fauni
(ferte simul Faunique pedem Dryadesque puellae:
munera vestra cano); tuque o, cui prima frementem
fudit equum magno tellus percussa tridenti,
Neptune; et cultor nemorum, cui pinguia Ceae
ter centum nivei tondent dumeta iuvenci;
ipse nemus linquens patrium saltusque Lycaei
Pan, ovium custos, tua si tibi Maenala curae,
adsis, o Tegeaee, favens, oleaeque Minerva
inventrix, uncique puer monstrator aratri,
et teneram ab radice ferens, Silvane, cupressum:
dique deaeque omnes, studium quibus arva tueri,
quique novas alitis non ullo semine fruges
quique satis largum caelo demittitis imbrem.
(Vergil, Georg. 1.1-23)

What makes the crops joyous, beneath what star, Maecenas, it is well to turn the soil, and wed vines to elms, what tending the cattle need, what care the herd in breeding, what skill the thrifty bees—hence shall I begin my song. O most radiant lights of the firmament, that guide through heaven the gliding year, O Liber and bounteous Ceres, if by your grace Earth changed Chaonia’s acorn for the rich corn ear, and blended draughts of Achelous with the new-found grapes, and you Fauns, the rustics’ ever present gods (come trip it, Fauns, and Dryad maids withal!), ’tis of your bounties I sing. And Neptune, for whom Earth, smitten by your mighty trident, first sent forth the neighing steed; you, too, spirit of the groves, for whom thrice a hundred snowy steers crop Cea’s rich thickets; you too, Pan, guardian of the sheep, leaving your native woods and glades of Lycaeus, as you love your own Maenalus, come of your grace, Tegean lord! Come, Minerva, inventress of the olive; you, too, youth, who showed to man the crooked plough; and you, Silvanus, with a young uprooted cypress in your hand; and gods and goddesses all, whose love guards our fields—both you who nurse the young fruits, springing up unsown, and you who on the seedlings send down from heaven plenteous rain! (tr. Henry Rushton Fairclough, revised by George Patrick Goold)

Quod autem dicit ‘studium quibus arva tueri’, nomina haec numinum in indigitamentis inveniuntur, id est, in libris pontificalibus, qui et nomina deorum et rationem ipsorum numinum continent, quae etiam Varro dicit. nam, ut supra diximus, nomina numinibus ex officiis constat imposita, verbi causa, ut ab occatione, deus Occator dicatur, a sarritione, deus Sarritor, a stercoratione Sterculinus, a satione Sator. Fabius Pictor hos deos enumerat, quos invocat Flamen sacrum Cereale faciens Telluri et Cereri: Vervactorem, Reparatorem, Inporcitorem, Insitorem, Obaratorem, Occatorem, Sarritorem, Subruncinatorem, Messorem, Convectorem, Conditorem, Promitorem.
(Servius, Comm. in Verg. Georg. 1.21)

As to the words ‘whose love guards our fields’, the names of these deities can be found in invocation formulas, that is to say, in the books of the priests thatcontain both the names of the gods and the aspects of their divinity, as Varro too says. For, as we have said earlier, it is quite obvious that names have been given to divine spirits in accordance with the function of the spirit. For example, Occator was so named after the word occatio, harrowing; Sarritor, after sarritio, hoeing; Sterculinus, after stercoratio, spreading manure; Sator, after satio, sowing. Fabius Pictor lists the following as deities whom the flamen of Ceres invokes when sacrificing to Mother Earth and Ceres: Vervactor (ploughing fallow), Reparator (replough), Imporcitor (make furrows), Insitor (sow), Obarator (plough up), Occator, Sarritor, Subruncinator (clear weeds), Messor (harvest), Convector (carry), Conditor (store) and Promitor (bring forth). (tr. Matthew Dillon & Linda Garland; first few lines tr. David Bauwens)



Quid ergo est bonum? rerum scientia. quid malum est? rerum imperitia. ille prudens atque artifex pro tempore quaeque repellet aut eliget. sed nec quae repellit timet, nec miratur quae eligit, si modo magnus illi et invictus animus est. submitti te ac deprimi veto. laborem si non recuses, parum est: posce. “quid ergo?” inquis; “labor frivolus et supervacuus et quem humiles causae evocaverunt non est malus?” non magis quam ille, qui pulchris rebus impenditur, quoniam animi est ipsa tolerantia, quae se ad dura et aspera hortatur ac dicit: “quid cessas? non est viri timere sudorem.” huc et illud accedat, ut perfecta virtus sit, aequalitas ac tenor vitae per omnia consonans sibi, quod non potest esse, nisi rerum scientia contingit et ars, per quam humana ac divina noscantur. hoc est summum bonum. quod si occupas, incipis deorum socius esse, non supplex. “quomodo” inquis “isto pervenitur?” non per Poeninum Graiumve montem nec per deserta Candaviae, nec Syrtes tibi nec Scylla aut Charybdis adeundae sunt, quae tamen omnia transisti procuratiunculae pretio: tutum iter est, iucundum est, ad quod natura te instruxit. dedit tibi illa, quae si non deserueris, par deo surges. parem autem te deo pecunia non faciet: deus nihil habet. praetexta non faciet: deus nudus est. fama non faciet nec ostentatio tui et in populos nominis dimissa notitia: nemo novit deum, multi de illo male existimant, et impune. non turba servorum lecticam tuam per itinera urbana ac peregrina portantium: deus ille maximus potentissimusque ipse vehit omnia. ne forma quidem et vires beatum te facere possunt: nihil horum patitur vetustatem. quaerendum est, quod non fiat in dies eius, quoi non possit obstari. quid hoc est? animus, sed hic rectus, bonus, magnus. quid aliud voces hunc quam deum in corpore humano hospitantem? hic animus tam in equitem Romanum quam in libertinum, quam in servum potest cadere. quid est enim eques Romanus aut libertinus aut servus? nomina ex ambitione aut iniuria nata. subsilire in caelum ex angulo licet. exsurge modo
“et te quoque dignum
finge deo.”
finges autem non auro vel argento: non potest ex hac materia imago deo exprimi similis; cogita illos, cum propitii essent, fictiles fuisse. vale.
(Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 31.6-11)

What, then, is good? Knowledge of the facts. What is bad? Ignorance of the facts. The man who is truly wise and skilled will exercise avoidance or choice in accordance with circumstances; but he does not fear the things he avoids nor admire the things he chooses, not if he has a great and unconquerable spirit. I forbid you to abase yourself; I forbid you to be downcast. Not refusing labor is too little: ask for it. “But what if the work is demeaning?” you say. “What if it is unnecessary or is demanded for frivolous reasons? Isn’t such work bad?” No more so than labor expended on attractive objects. Your very endurance shows spirit, when you urge yourself on toward difficult tasks, saying, “Why the delay? A real man is not afraid of sweat.” Besides, complete virtue consists in the evenness and steadiness of a life that is in harmony with itself through all events, which cannot come about unless one has knowledge and the skill of discerning things human and divine. This is the highest good; if you obtain it, you begin to be an associate of the gods and not a suppliant. You ask, “How do I get there?” You need not scale the Alps, at either the Pennine or the Graian Pass, or navigate the Syrtaean shoals, or traverse the mountain fastness of Illyria; you need not approach the straits where Scylla and Charybdis are; and yet you passed through all of these for no more reward than your paltry governorship. No, the road is both safe and pleasant, and is one for which you have been equipped by nature. Nature has given you certain gifts, and if you do not abandon them, you will mount up equal to a god. Money will not make you equal to a god: God owns nothing. A tunic bordered with purple will not do it; God is naked. Fame will not do it, and neither will self-display and spreading one’s name far and wide: no one has personal acquaintance with God, and many think ill of him with impunity. Nor will a troop of slaves bearing your sedan chair through the streets, in the city and abroad: God, the greatest and most powerful god, is himself the bearer of everything. Not even beauty and strength can confer blessedness on you; neither endures the onset of age. You must devote your efforts to that which does not deteriorate over time, and which no obstacle can bar. What is that? It is the mind—but specifically this mind, which is upright, great, and good. What else would you call it but God dwelling in a human body? This mind can be found just as well in a freedman or even a slave as in a Roman of equestrian status. For what is a Roman equestrian, or a freedman, or a slave? Those are names born of ambition or of unfair treatment. One may leap up to heaven even from a chimney corner. Rise, then,
“and shape yourself as well into a likeness
worthy of godhead.” [Vergil, Aen. 8.364-365]
But you will not make that likeness from gold or silver: from such materials no likeness can be made that truly resembles God. Bear in mind that in the days when the gods were well disposed, their images were of clay. Farewell. (tr. Margaret Graver & Anthony A. Long)


Moeris & Lycidas


MOER. Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque; saepe ego longos
cantando puerum memini me condere soles:
nunc oblita mihi tot carmina: vox quoque Moerin
iam fugit ipsa: lupi Moerin videre priores.
sed tamen ista satis referet tibi saepe Menalcas.
LYC. causando nostros in longum ducis amores.
et nunc omne tibi stratum silet aequor, et omnes,
aspice, ventosi ceciderunt murmuris aurae.
hinc adeo media est nobis via; namque sepulcrum
incipit apparere Bianoris. hic, ubi densas
agricolae stringunt frondis, hic, Moeri, canamus;
hic haedos depone, tamen veniemus in urbem.
aut, si nox pluviam ne colligat ante veremur,
cantantes licet usque (minus via laedit) eamus:
cantantes ut eamus, ego hoc te fasce levabo.
MOER. desine plura, puer, et quod nunc instat agamus;
carmina tum melius, cum venerit ipse, canemus.
(Vergil, Ecl. 9.51-67)


MOER. Time bears all away; the mind as well. As a boy
I recall spending the long sunlit days in song.
Now I’ve forgotten so many songs. Moeris too
loses his voice. The wolves have caught first sight of him.
But Menalcas will recite them often enough to you.
LYC. With talking you put off fulfillment of our desire.
Now look, all the sea is smooth and still, and see,
all the breath of murmuring breezes has died away.
Just from here is half our way, for Bianor’s tomb
begins to show. Here where farmers strip the leaves
grown too dense, here, Moeris, let us sing.
Here put down your kids. Still we’ll reach the town.
Or if we fear that rain will fall before the night,
we can sing as we go (the road will tire us less).
That we sing as we go, I’ll take this bundle from you.
MOER. No more, my boy. Let us do the task at hand.
When Menalcas comes, we’ll better sing his songs.
(tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler)


lost at sea

Ego ita sum quasi a cuncto grege morbida aberrans ovis. quod nisi me bonus pastor ad sua stabula umeris impositum reportarit, lababunt gressus et in ipso conamine vestigia concident assurgentis. ego sum ille prodigus filius, qui omni, quam mihi pater crediderat, portione profusa necdum me ad genitoris genua submisi necdum coepi prioris a me luxuriae blandimenta depellere. et quia paululum non tam desivi a vitiis, quam coepi velle desinere, nunc me novis diabolus retibus ligat, nunc nova impedimenta proponens ‘maria undique circumdat et undique pontum’ [cf. Vergil, Aen. 3.193], nunc in medio constitutus elemento nec regredi volo nec progredi possum. superest, ut oratu vestro sancti spiritus aura me provehat et ad portum optati litoris prosequatur.
(Jerome, Ep. 2.3-4)

I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising my feet will give way. I am that prodigal son who wasted all the portion entrusted to me by my father. But I have not yet fallen at my father’s knees. I have not yet begun to put away from me the enticements of my former riotous living. And because I have not so much given up my sins as begun to wish a little to give them up, now the devil is trying to ensnare me in new nets. He puts new stumbling blocks in my way, he encompasses me on every side with the ocean’s waters and on every side with the ocean’s deep. I find myself in the midst of the element, unwilling to retreat and unable to advance. It remains that through your prayers the breath of the Holy Spirit waft me onward and bring me to the haven of the longed-for shore. (tr. Charles Christopher Mierow)



Asclepius taken from The Womb of Coronis. Wood carving, 1549 edition of Alessandro Benedetti_s De Re Medica.

Apollo, cum Coronidem gravidam fecisset, corvum ei custodem apposuit, ne quis ad eam occulte temerator accederet. cum hac Lycus occulte concubuit, quem fulmine Iuppiter exstinxit. ipsam Coronidem Apollo sagittis occidit, cuius mortuae exsecto utero Aesculapium produxit in lucem. unde Vergilius: ‘fulmine poenigenam Stygias detrusit ad undas’ [Aen. 7.773], id est per poenam matris natum.
(Lactantius Placidus, Comm. in Stat. Theb. 3.506)

When Apollo had made Coronis pregnant, he assigned a raven as a guardian over her lest any rash person should secretly approach her. With her by stealth lay Lycus whom Jupiter destroyed with a thunderbolt. Coronis herself Apollo slew with his arrows; from her womb, cut open when she was dead, he brought forth Asclepius into the light of day. Wherefore Vergil says: ‘with his thunderbolt he [sc. Jupiter] hurled down to the Stygian waters ‘poenigenam’, that means him who was born through the punishment of his mother. (tr. Emma & Ludwig Edelstein)




Aetheria tum forte plaga crinitus Apollo
desuper Ausonias acies urbemque videbat
nube sedens, atque his victorem adfatur Iülum:
‘macte nova virtute, puer, sic itur ad astra,
dis genite et geniture deos. iure omnia bella
gente sub Assaraci fato ventura resident,
nec te Troia capit.’ simul haec effatus ab alto
aethere se mittit, spirantes dimovet auras
Ascaniumque petit; formam tum vertitur oris
antiquum in Buten. hic Dardanio Anchisae
armiger ante fuit fidusque ad limina custos;
tum comitem Ascanio pater addidit. ibat Apollo
omnia longaevo similis vocemque coloremque
et crines albos et saeva sonoribus arma,
atque his ardentem dictis adfatur Iülum:
‘sit satis, Aenide, telis impune Numanum
oppetiisse tuis. primam hanc tibi magnus Apollo
concedit laudem et paribus non invidet armis;
cetera parce, puer, bello.’ sic orsus Apollo
mortales medio aspectus sermone reliquit
et procul in tenuem ex oculis evanuit auram.
agnovere deum proceres divinaque tela
Dardanidae pharetramque fuga sensere sonantem.
ergo avidum pugnae dictis ac numine Phoebi
Ascanium prohibent, ipsi in certamina rursus
succedunt animasque in aperta pericula mittunt.
(Vergil, Aen. 9.638-663)

At that moment Apollo, the youthful god, whose hair is never
cut, chanced to be seated on a cloud, looking down from the
expanse of heaven on the armies and cities of Italy, and he
addressed these words to the victorious Iulus: ‘You have become
a man, young Iulus, and we salute you! This is the way that
leads to the stars. You are born of the gods and will live to be
the father of gods. Justice demands that all the wars that Fate
will bring will come to an end under the offspring of Assaracus.
Troy is not large enough for you.’ At these words he plunged
down from the heights of heaven, parting the breathing winds,
and made for Ascanius, taking on the features of old Butes.
Butes had once been armour-bearer to the Dardan Anchises and
the trusted guard of his door, and Aeneas had then appointed
him as companion to his son Ascanius. This was the guise in
which Apollo came, the old man Butes to the life—voice,
colouring, white hair, weapons grimly clanking—and these were
the words he spoke to Iulus in the flush of his victory: ‘Let that
be enough, son of Aeneas. Numanus has fallen to your arms
and you are unhurt. Great Apollo has granted you this first taste
of glory and does not grudge you arrows as sure as his own.
You must ask for no more, my boy, in this war.’ So began
Apollo, but while speaking, he left the sight of men, fading
from their eyes into the insubstantial air. The Trojan leaders
recognized the god. They knew his divine arrows and the quiver
that sounded as he flew. So, although Ascanius was thirsting for
battle, they held him back, urging upon him the words of
Phoebus Apollo and the will of the god. But they themselves
went back into battle and put their lives into naked danger.
(tr. David West)



Fortunate senex, ergo tua rura manebunt,
et tibi magna satis, quamvis lapis omnia nudus
limosoque palus obducat pascua iunco.
non insueta gravis temptabunt pabula fetas
nec mala vicini pecoris contagia laedent.
fortunate senex, hic inter flumina nota
et fontis sacros frigus captabis opacum;
hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite saepes
Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti
saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro;
hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras,
nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes
nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo.
(Vergil, Ecl. 1.46-57)

Fortunate old man, your fields will still be yours.
And they’re enough for you although the bare rock
and the marsh with all its reeds and mud abut your fields.
No unfamiliar fodder will tempt your pregnant ewes,
nor will any disease from a neighbor’s flock bring harm to them.
Fortunate old man, here between the rivers
you know and the sacred springs you’ll lie in the cool shade.
Here your hedge, as it always has, at your neighbor’s line
will pasture on willow buds those Hyblaean bees,
which soon will coax you to sleep with their light murmuring hum.
There beneath the high rock the vinedresser
will sing to the breeze and all the while your hoarse pigeons
and your turtle dove, high in the elm, will murmur and coo.
(tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler)