Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Just because you are blind, and unable to see my beauty doesn't mean it does not exist."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Georgic III

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    Thee too, great Pales, will I hymn, and thee,
    Amphrysian shepherd, worthy to be sung,
    You, woods and waves Lycaean. All themes beside,
    Which else had charmed the vacant mind with song,
    Are now waxed common. Of harsh Eurystheus who
    The story knows not, or that praiseless king
    Busiris, and his altars? or by whom
    Hath not the tale been told of Hylas young,
    Latonian Delos and Hippodame,
    And Pelops for his ivory shoulder famed,
    Keen charioteer? Needs must a path be tried,
    By which I too may lift me from the dust,
    And float triumphant through the mouths of men.
    Yea, I shall be the first, so life endure,
    To lead the Muses with me, as I pass
    To mine own country from the Aonian height;
    I, Mantua, first will bring thee back the palms
    Of Idumaea, and raise a marble shrine
    On thy green plain fast by the water-side,
    Where Mincius winds more vast in lazy coils,
    And rims his margent with the tender reed.
    Amid my shrine shall Caesar's godhead dwell.
    To him will I, as victor, bravely dight
    In Tyrian purple, drive along the bank
    A hundred four-horse cars. All Greece for me,
    Leaving Alpheus and Molorchus' grove,
    On foot shall strive, or with the raw-hide glove;
    Whilst I, my head with stripped green olive crowned,
    Will offer gifts. Even 'tis present joy
    To lead the high processions to the fane,
    And view the victims felled; or how the scene
    Sunders with shifted face, and Britain's sons
    Inwoven thereon with those proud curtains rise.
    Of gold and massive ivory on the doors
    I'll trace the battle of the Gangarides,
    And our Quirinus' conquering arms, and there
    Surging with war, and hugely flowing, the Nile,
    And columns heaped on high with naval brass.
    And Asia's vanquished cities I will add,
    And quelled Niphates, and the Parthian foe,
    Who trusts in flight and backward-volleying darts,
    And trophies torn with twice triumphant hand
    From empires twain on ocean's either shore.
    And breathing forms of Parian marble there
    Shall stand, the offspring of Assaracus,
    And great names of the Jove-descended folk,
    And father Tros, and Troy's first founder, lord
    Of Cynthus. And accursed Envy there
    Shall dread the Furies, and thy ruthless flood,
    Cocytus, and Ixion's twisted snakes,
    And that vast wheel and ever-baffling stone.
    Meanwhile the Dryad-haunted woods and lawns
    Unsullied seek we; 'tis thy hard behest,
    Maecenas. Without thee no lofty task
    My mind essays. Up! break the sluggish bonds
    Of tarriance; with loud din Cithaeron calls,
    Steed-taming Epidaurus, and thy hounds,
    Taygete; and hark! the assenting groves
    With peal on peal reverberate the roar.
    Yet must I gird me to rehearse ere long
    The fiery fights of Caesar, speed his name
    Through ages, countless as to Caesar's self
    From the first birth-dawn of Tithonus old.

    If eager for the prized Olympian palm
    One breed the horse, or bullock strong to plough,
    Be his prime care a shapely dam to choose.
    Of kine grim-faced is goodliest, with coarse head
    And burly neck, whose hanging dewlaps reach
    From chin to knee; of boundless length her flank;
    Large every way she is, large-footed even,
    With incurved horns and shaggy ears beneath.
    Nor let mislike me one with spots of white
    Conspicuous, or that spurns the yoke, whose horn
    At times hath vice in't: liker bull-faced she,
    And tall-limbed wholly, and with tip of tail
    Brushing her footsteps as she walks along.
    The age for Hymen's rites, Lucina's pangs,
    Ere ten years ended, after four begins;
    Their residue of days nor apt to teem,
    Nor strong for ploughing. Meantime, while youth's delight
    Survives within them, loose the males: be first
    To speed thy herds of cattle to their loves,
    Breed stock with stock, and keep the race supplied.
    Ah! life's best hours are ever first to fly
    From hapless mortals; in their place succeed
    Disease and dolorous eld; till travail sore
    And death unpitying sweep them from the scene.
    Still will be some, whose form thou fain wouldst change;
    Renew them still; with yearly choice of young
    Preventing losses, lest too late thou rue.

    Nor steeds crave less selection; but on those
    Thou think'st to rear, the promise of their line,
    From earliest youth thy chiefest pains bestow.
    See from the first yon high-bred colt afield,
    His lofty step, his limbs' elastic tread:
    Dauntless he leads the herd, still first to try
    The threatening flood, or brave the unknown bridge,
    By no vain noise affrighted; lofty-necked,
    With clean-cut head, short belly, and stout back;
    His sprightly breast exuberant with brawn.
    Chestnut and grey are good; the worst-hued white
    And sorrel. Then lo! if arms are clashed afar,
    Bide still he cannot: ears stiffen and limbs quake;
    His nostrils snort and roll out wreaths of fire.
    Dense is his mane, that when uplifted falls
    On his right shoulder; betwixt either loin
    The spine runs double; his earth-dinting hoof
    Rings with the ponderous beat of solid horn.
    Even such a horse was Cyllarus, reined and tamed
    By Pollux of Amyclae; such the pair
    In Grecian song renowned, those steeds of Mars,
    And famed Achilles' team: in such-like form
    Great Saturn's self with mane flung loose on neck
    Sped at his wife's approach, and flying filled
    The heights of Pelion with his piercing neigh.

    Even him, when sore disease or sluggish eld
    Now saps his strength, pen fast at home, and spare
    His not inglorious age. A horse grown old
    Slow kindling unto love in vain prolongs
    The fruitless task, and, to the encounter come,
    As fire in stubble blusters without strength,
    He rages idly. Therefore mark thou first
    Their age and mettle, other points anon,
    As breed and lineage, or what pain was theirs
    To lose the race, what pride the palm to win.
    Seest how the chariots in mad rivalry
    Poured from the barrier grip the course and go,
    When youthful hope is highest, and every heart
    Drained with each wild pulsation? How they ply
    The circling lash, and reaching forward let
    The reins hang free! Swift spins the glowing wheel;
    And now they stoop, and now erect in air
    Seem borne through space and towering to the sky:
    No stop, no stay; the dun sand whirls aloft;
    They reek with foam-flakes and pursuing breath;
    So sweet is fame, so prized the victor's palm.
    'Twas Ericthonius first took heart to yoke
    Four horses to his car, and rode above
    The whirling wheels to victory: but the ring
    And bridle-reins, mounted on horses' backs,
    The Pelethronian Lapithae bequeathed,
    And taught the knight in arms to spurn the ground,
    And arch the upgathered footsteps of his pride.
    Each task alike is arduous, and for each
    A horse young, fiery, swift of foot, they seek;
    How oft so-e'er yon rival may have chased
    The flying foe, or boast his native plain
    Epirus, or Mycenae's stubborn hold,
    And trace his lineage back to Neptune's birth.

    These points regarded, as the time draws nigh,
    With instant zeal they lavish all their care
    To plump with solid fat the chosen chief
    And designated husband of the herd:
    And flowery herbs they cut, and serve him well
    With corn and running water, that his strength
    Not fail him for that labour of delight,
    Nor puny colts betray the feeble sire.
    The herd itself of purpose they reduce
    To leanness, and when love's sweet longing first
    Provokes them, they forbid the leafy food,
    And pen them from the springs, and oft beside
    With running shake, and tire them in the sun,
    What time the threshing-floor groans heavily
    With pounding of the corn-ears, and light chaff
    Is whirled on high to catch the rising west.
    This do they that the soil's prolific powers
    May not be dulled by surfeiting, nor choke
    The sluggish furrows, but eagerly absorb
    Their fill of love, and deeply entertain.

    To care of sire the mother's care succeeds.
    When great with young they wander nigh their time,
    Let no man suffer them to drag the yoke
    In heavy wains, nor leap across the way,
    Nor scour the meads, nor swim the rushing flood.
    In lonely lawns they feed them, by the course
    Of brimming streams, where moss is, and the banks
    With grass are greenest, where are sheltering caves,
    And far outstretched the rock-flung shadow lies.
    Round wooded Silarus and the ilex-bowers
    Of green Alburnus swarms a winged pest-
    Its Roman name Asilus, by the Greeks
    Termed Oestros- fierce it is, and harshly hums,
    Driving whole herds in terror through the groves,
    Till heaven is madded by their bellowing din,
    And Tanager's dry bed and forest-banks.
    With this same scourge did Juno wreak of old
    The terrors of her wrath, a plague devised
    Against the heifer sprung from Inachus.
    From this too thou, since in the noontide heats
    'Tis most persistent, fend thy teeming herds,
    And feed them when the sun is newly risen,
    Or the first stars are ushering in the night.
    But, yeaning ended, all their tender care
    Is to the calves transferred; at once with marks
    They brand them, both to designate their race,
    And which to rear for breeding, or devote
    As altar-victims, or to cleave the ground
    And into ridges tear and turn the sod.
    The rest along the greensward graze at will.
    Those that to rustic uses thou wouldst mould,
    As calves encourage and take steps to tame,
    While pliant wills and plastic youth allow.
    And first of slender withies round the throat
    Loose collars hang, then when their free-born necks
    Are used to service, with the self-same bands
    Yoke them in pairs, and steer by steer compel
    Keep pace together. And time it is that oft
    Unfreighted wheels be drawn along the ground
    Behind them, as to dint the surface-dust;
    Then let the beechen axle strain and creak
    'Neath some stout burden, whilst a brazen pole
    Drags on the wheels made fast thereto. Meanwhile
    For their unbroken youth not grass alone,
    Nor meagre willow-leaves and marish-sedge,
    But corn-ears with thy hand pluck from the crops.
    Nor shall the brood-kine, as of yore, for thee
    Brim high the snowy milking-pail, but spend
    Their udders' fullness on their own sweet young.

    But if fierce squadrons and the ranks of war
    Delight thee rather, or on wheels to glide
    At Pisa, with Alpheus fleeting by,
    And in the grove of Jupiter urge on
    The flying chariot, be your steed's first task
    To face the warrior's armed rage, and brook
    The trumpet, and long roar of rumbling wheels,
    And clink of chiming bridles in the stall;
    Then more and more to love his master's voice
    Caressing, or loud hand that claps his neck.
    Ay, thus far let him learn to dare, when first
    Weaned from his mother, and his mouth at times
    Yield to the supple halter, even while yet
    Weak, tottering-limbed, and ignorant of life.
    But, three years ended, when the fourth arrives,
    Now let him tarry not to run the ring
    With rhythmic hoof-beat echoing, and now learn
    Alternately to curve each bending leg,
    And be like one that struggleth; then at last
    Challenge the winds to race him, and at speed
    Launched through the open, like a reinless thing,
    Scarce print his footsteps on the surface-sand.
    As when with power from Hyperborean climes
    The north wind stoops, and scatters from his path
    Dry clouds and storms of Scythia; the tall corn
    And rippling plains 'gin shiver with light gusts;
    A sound is heard among the forest-tops;
    Long waves come racing shoreward: fast he flies,
    With instant pinion sweeping earth and main.

    A steed like this or on the mighty course
    Of Elis at the goal will sweat, and shower
    Red foam-flakes from his mouth, or, kindlier task,
    With patient neck support the Belgian car.
    Then, broken at last, let swell their burly frame
    With fattening corn-mash, for, unbroke, they will
    With pride wax wanton, and, when caught, refuse
    Tough lash to brook or jagged curb obey.

    But no device so fortifies their power
    As love's blind stings of passion to forefend,
    Whether on steed or steer thy choice be set.
    Ay, therefore 'tis they banish bulls afar
    To solitary pastures, or behind
    Some mountain-barrier, or broad streams beyond,
    Or else in plenteous stalls pen fast at home.
    For, even through sight of her, the female wastes
    His strength with smouldering fire, till he forget
    Both grass and woodland. She indeed full oft
    With her sweet charms can lovers proud compel
    To battle for the conquest horn to horn.
    In Sila's forest feeds the heifer fair,
    While each on each the furious rivals run;
    Wound follows wound; the black blood laves their limbs;
    Horns push and strive against opposing horns,
    With mighty groaning; all the forest-side
    And far Olympus bellow back the roar.
    Nor wont the champions in one stall to couch;
    But he that's worsted hies him to strange climes
    Far off, an exile, moaning much the shame,
    The blows of that proud conqueror, then love's loss
    Avenged not; with one glance toward the byre,
    His ancient royalties behind him lie.
    So with all heed his strength he practiseth,
    And nightlong makes the hard bare stones his bed,
    And feeds on prickly leaf and pointed rush,
    And proves himself, and butting at a tree
    Learns to fling wrath into his horns, with blows
    Provokes the air, and scattering clouds of sand
    Makes prelude of the battle; afterward,
    With strength repaired and gathered might breaks camp,
    And hurls him headlong on the unthinking foe:
    As in mid ocean when a wave far of
    Begins to whiten, mustering from the main
    Its rounded breast, and, onward rolled to land
    Falls with prodigious roar among the rocks,
    Huge as a very mountain: but the depths
    Upseethe in swirling eddies, and disgorge
    The murky sand-lees from their sunken bed.

    Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,
    And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,
    Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.
    Never than then more fiercely o'er the plain
    Prowls heedless of her whelps the lioness:
    Nor monstrous bears such wide-spread havoc-doom
    Deal through the forests; then the boar is fierce,
    Most deadly then the tigress: then, alack!
    Ill roaming is it on Libya's lonely plains.
    Mark you what shivering thrills the horse's frame,
    If but a waft the well-known gust conveys?
    Nor curb can check them then, nor lash severe,
    Nor rocks and caverned crags, nor barrier-floods,
    That rend and whirl and wash the hills away.
    Then speeds amain the great Sabellian boar,
    His tushes whets, with forefoot tears the ground,
    Rubs 'gainst a tree his flanks, and to and fro
    Hardens each wallowing shoulder to the wound.
    What of the youth, when love's relentless might
    Stirs the fierce fire within his veins? Behold!
    In blindest midnight how he swims the gulf
    Convulsed with bursting storm-clouds! Over him
    Heaven's huge gate thunders; the rock-shattered main
    Utters a warning cry; nor parents' tears
    Can backward call him, nor the maid he loves,
    Too soon to die on his untimely pyre.
    What of the spotted ounce to Bacchus dear,
    Or warlike wolf-kin or the breed of dogs?
    Why tell how timorous stags the battle join?
    O'er all conspicuous is the rage of mares,
    By Venus' self inspired of old, what time
    The Potnian four with rending jaws devoured
    The limbs of Glaucus. Love-constrained they roam
    Past Gargarus, past the loud Ascanian flood;
    They climb the mountains, and the torrents swim;
    And when their eager marrow first conceives
    The fire, in Spring-tide chiefly, for with Spring
    Warmth doth their frames revisit, then they stand
    All facing westward on the rocky heights,
    And of the gentle breezes take their fill;
    And oft unmated, marvellous to tell,
    But of the wind impregnate, far and wide
    O'er craggy height and lowly vale they scud,
    Not toward thy rising, Eurus, or the sun's,
    But westward and north-west, or whence up-springs
    Black Auster, that glooms heaven with rainy cold.
    Hence from their groin slow drips a poisonous juice,
    By shepherds truly named hippomanes,
    Hippomanes, fell stepdames oft have culled,
    And mixed with herbs and spells of baneful bode.

    Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour,
    As point to point our charmed round we trace.
    Enough of herds. This second task remains,
    The wool-clad flocks and shaggy goats to treat.
    Here lies a labour; hence for glory look,
    Brave husbandmen. Nor doubtfully know
    How hard it is for words to triumph here,
    And shed their lustre on a theme so slight:
    But I am caught by ravishing desire
    Above the lone Parnassian steep; I love
    To walk the heights, from whence no earlier track
    Slopes gently downward to Castalia's spring.

    Now, awful Pales, strike a louder tone.
    First, for the sheep soft pencotes I decree
    To browse in, till green summer's swift return;
    And that the hard earth under them with straw
    And handfuls of the fern be littered deep,
    Lest chill of ice such tender cattle harm
    With scab and loathly foot-rot. Passing thence
    I bid the goats with arbute-leaves be stored,
    And served with fresh spring-water, and their pens
    Turned southward from the blast, to face the suns
    Of winter, when Aquarius' icy beam
    Now sinks in showers upon the parting year.
    These too no lightlier our protection claim,
    Nor prove of poorer service, howsoe'er
    Milesian fleeces dipped in Tyrian reds
    Repay the barterer; these with offspring teem
    More numerous; these yield plenteous store of milk:
    The more each dry-wrung udder froths the pail,
    More copious soon the teat-pressed torrents flow.
    Ay, and on Cinyps' bank the he-goats too
    Their beards and grizzled chins and bristling hair
    Let clip for camp-use, or as rugs to wrap
    Seafaring wretches. But they browse the woods
    And summits of Lycaeus, and rough briers,
    And brakes that love the highland: of themselves
    Right heedfully the she-goats homeward troop
    Before their kids, and with plump udders clogged
    Scarce cross the threshold. Wherefore rather ye,
    The less they crave man's vigilance, be fain
    From ice to fend them and from snowy winds;
    Bring food and feast them with their branchy fare,
    Nor lock your hay-loft all the winter long.

    But when glad summer at the west wind's call
    Sends either flock to pasture in the glades,
    Soon as the day-star shineth, hie we then
    To the cool meadows, while the dawn is young,
    The grass yet hoary, and to browsing herds
    The dew tastes sweetest on the tender sward.
    When heaven's fourth hour draws on the thickening drought,
    And shrill cicalas pierce the brake with song,
    Then at the well-springs bid them, or deep pools,
    From troughs of holm-oak quaff the running wave:
    But at day's hottest seek a shadowy vale,
    Where some vast ancient-timbered oak of Jove
    Spreads his huge branches, or where huddling black
    Ilex on ilex cowers in awful shade.
    Then once more give them water sparingly,
    And feed once more, till sunset, when cool eve
    Allays the air, and dewy moonbeams slake
    The forest glades, with halcyon's song the shore,
    And every thicket with the goldfinch rings.

    Of Libya's shepherds why the tale pursue?
    Why sing their pastures and the scattered huts
    They house in? Oft their cattle day and night
    Graze the whole month together, and go forth
    Into far deserts where no shelter is,
    So flat the plain and boundless. All his goods
    The Afric swain bears with him, house and home,
    Arms, Cretan quiver, and Amyclaean dog;
    As some keen Roman in his country's arms
    Plies the swift march beneath a cruel load;
    Soon with tents pitched and at his post he stands,
    Ere looked for by the foe. Not thus the tribes
    Of Scythia by the far Maeotic wave,
    Where turbid Ister whirls his yellow sands,
    And Rhodope stretched out beneath the pole
    Comes trending backward. There the herds they keep
    Close-pent in byres, nor any grass is seen
    Upon the plain, nor leaves upon the tree:
    But with snow-ridges and deep frost afar
    Heaped seven ells high the earth lies featureless:
    Still winter? still the north wind's icy breath!
    Nay, never sun disparts the shadows pale,
    Or as he rides the steep of heaven, or dips
    In ocean's fiery bath his plunging car.
    Quick ice-crusts curdle on the running stream,
    And iron-hooped wheels the water's back now bears,
    To broad wains opened, as erewhile to ships;
    Brass vessels oft asunder burst, and clothes
    Stiffen upon the wearers; juicy wines
    They cleave with axes; to one frozen mass
    Whole pools are turned; and on their untrimmed beards
    Stiff clings the jagged icicle. Meanwhile
    All heaven no less is filled with falling snow;
    The cattle perish: oxen's mighty frames
    Stand island-like amid the frost, and stags
    In huddling herds, by that strange weight benumbed,
    Scarce top the surface with their antler-points.
    These with no hounds they hunt, nor net with toils,
    Nor scare with terror of the crimson plume;
    But, as in vain they breast the opposing block,
    Butcher them, knife in hand, and so dispatch
    Loud-bellowing, and with glad shouts hale them home.
    Themselves in deep-dug caverns underground
    Dwell free and careless; to their hearths they heave
    Oak-logs and elm-trees whole, and fire them there,
    There play the night out, and in festive glee
    With barm and service sour the wine-cup mock.
    So 'neath the seven-starred Hyperborean wain
    The folk live tameless, buffeted with blasts
    Of Eurus from Rhipaean hills, and wrap
    Their bodies in the tawny fells of beasts.

    If wool delight thee, first, be far removed
    All prickly boskage, burrs and caltrops; shun
    Luxuriant pastures; at the outset choose
    White flocks with downy fleeces. For the ram,
    How white soe'er himself, be but the tongue
    'Neath his moist palate black, reject him, lest
    He sully with dark spots his offspring's fleece,
    And seek some other o'er the teeming plain.
    Even with such snowy bribe of wool, if ear
    May trust the tale, Pan, God of Arcady,
    Snared and beguiled thee, Luna, calling thee
    To the deep woods; nor thou didst spurn his call.

    But who for milk hath longing, must himself
    Carry lucerne and lotus-leaves enow
    With salt herbs to the cote, whence more they love
    The streams, more stretch their udders, and give back
    A subtle taste of saltness in the milk.
    Many there be who from their mothers keep
    The new-born kids, and straightway bind their mouths
    With iron-tipped muzzles. What they milk at dawn,
    Or in the daylight hours, at night they press;
    What darkling or at sunset, this ere morn
    They bear away in baskets- for to town
    The shepherd hies him- or with dash of salt
    Just sprinkle, and lay by for winter use.

    Nor be thy dogs last cared for; but alike
    Swift Spartan hounds and fierce Molossian feed
    On fattening whey. Never, with these to watch,
    Dread nightly thief afold and ravening wolves,
    Or Spanish desperadoes in the rear.
    And oft the shy wild asses thou wilt chase,
    With hounds, too, hunt the hare, with hounds the doe;
    Oft from his woodland wallowing-den uprouse
    The boar, and scare him with their baying, and drive,
    And o'er the mountains urge into the toils
    Some antlered monster to their chiming cry.

    Learn also scented cedar-wood to burn
    Within the stalls, and snakes of noxious smell
    With fumes of galbanum to drive away.
    Oft under long-neglected cribs, or lurks
    A viper ill to handle, that hath fled
    The light in terror, or some snake, that wont
    'Neath shade and sheltering roof to creep, and shower
    Its bane among the cattle, hugs the ground,
    Fell scourge of kine. Shepherd, seize stakes, seize stones!
    And as he rears defiance, and puffs out
    A hissing throat, down with him! see how low
    That cowering crest is vailed in flight, the while,
    His midmost coils and final sweep of tail
    Relaxing, the last fold drags lingering spires.
    Then that vile worm that in Calabrian glades
    Uprears his breast, and wreathes a scaly back,
    His length of belly pied with mighty spots-
    While from their founts gush any streams, while yet
    With showers of Spring and rainy south-winds earth
    Is moistened, lo! he haunts the pools, and here
    Housed in the banks, with fish and chattering frogs
    Crams the black void of his insatiate maw.
    Soon as the fens are parched, and earth with heat
    Is gaping, forth he darts into the dry,
    Rolls eyes of fire and rages through the fields,
    Furious from thirst and by the drought dismayed.
    Me list not then beneath the open heaven
    To snatch soft slumber, nor on forest-ridge
    Lie stretched along the grass, when, slipped his slough,
    To glittering youth transformed he winds his spires,
    And eggs or younglings leaving in his lair,
    Towers sunward, lightening with three-forked tongue.

    Of sickness, too, the causes and the signs
    I'll teach thee. Loathly scab assails the sheep,
    When chilly showers have probed them to the quick,
    And winter stark with hoar-frost, or when sweat
    Unpurged cleaves to them after shearing done,
    And rough thorns rend their bodies. Hence it is
    Shepherds their whole flock steep in running streams,
    While, plunged beneath the flood, with drenched fell,
    The ram, launched free, goes drifting down the tide.
    Else, having shorn, they smear their bodies o'er
    With acrid oil-lees, and mix silver-scum
    And native sulphur and Idaean pitch,
    Wax mollified with ointment, and therewith
    Sea-leek, strong hellebores, bitumen black.
    Yet ne'er doth kindlier fortune crown his toil,
    Than if with blade of iron a man dare lance
    The ulcer's mouth ope: for the taint is fed
    And quickened by confinement; while the swain
    His hand of healing from the wound withholds,
    Or sits for happier signs imploring heaven.
    Aye, and when inward to the bleater's bones
    The pain hath sunk and rages, and their limbs
    By thirsty fever are consumed, 'tis good
    To draw the enkindled heat therefrom, and pierce
    Within the hoof-clefts a blood-bounding vein.
    Of tribes Bisaltic such the wonted use,
    And keen Gelonian, when to Rhodope
    He flies, or Getic desert, and quaffs milk
    With horse-blood curdled.

    Seest one far afield

    Oft to the shade's mild covert win, or pull
    The grass tops listlessly, or hindmost lag,
    Or, browsing, cast her down amid the plain,
    At night retire belated and alone;
    With quick knife check the mischief, ere it creep
    With dire contagion through the unwary herd.
    Less thick and fast the whirlwind scours the main
    With tempest in its wake, than swarm the plagues
    Of cattle; nor seize they single lives alone,
    But sudden clear whole feeding grounds, the flock
    With all its promise, and extirpate the breed.
    Well would he trow it who, so long after, still
    High Alps and Noric hill-forts should behold,
    And Iapydian Timavus' fields,
    Ay, still behold the shepherds' realms a waste,
    And far and wide the lawns untenanted.

    Here from distempered heavens erewhile arose
    A piteous season, with the full fierce heat
    Of autumn glowed, and cattle-kindreds all
    And all wild creatures to destruction gave,
    Tainted the pools, the fodder charged with bane.
    Nor simple was the way of death, but when
    Hot thirst through every vein impelled had drawn
    Their wretched limbs together, anon o'erflowed
    A watery flux, and all their bones piecemeal
    Sapped by corruption to itself absorbed.
    Oft in mid sacrifice to heaven- the white
    Wool-woven fillet half wreathed about his brow-
    Some victim, standing by the altar, there
    Betwixt the loitering carles a-dying fell:
    Or, if betimes the slaughtering priest had struck,
    Nor with its heaped entrails blazed the pile,
    Nor seer to seeker thence could answer yield;
    Nay, scarce the up-stabbing knife with blood was stained,
    Scarce sullied with thin gore the surface-sand.
    Hence die the calves in many a pasture fair,
    Or at full cribs their lives' sweet breath resign;
    Hence on the fawning dog comes madness, hence
    Racks the sick swine a gasping cough that chokes
    With swelling at the jaws: the conquering steed,
    Uncrowned of effort and heedless of the sward,
    Faints, turns him from the springs, and paws the earth
    With ceaseless hoof: low droop his ears, wherefrom
    Bursts fitful sweat, a sweat that waxes cold
    Upon the dying beast; the skin is dry,
    And rigidly repels the handler's touch.
    These earlier signs they give that presage doom.
    But, if the advancing plague 'gin fiercer grow,
    Then are their eyes all fire, deep-drawn their breath,
    At times groan-laboured: with long sobbing heave
    Their lowest flanks; from either nostril streams
    Black blood; a rough tongue clogs the obstructed jaws.
    'Twas helpful through inverted horn to pour
    Draughts of the wine-god down; sole way it seemed
    To save the dying: soon this too proved their bane,
    And, reinvigorate but with frenzy's fire,
    Even at death's pinch- the gods some happier fate
    Deal to the just, such madness to their foes-
    Each with bared teeth his own limbs mangling tore.
    See! as he smokes beneath the stubborn share,
    The bull drops, vomiting foam-dabbled gore,
    And heaves his latest groans. Sad goes the swain,
    Unhooks the steer that mourns his fellow's fate,
    And in mid labour leaves the plough-gear fast.
    Nor tall wood's shadow, nor soft sward may stir
    That heart's emotion, nor rock-channelled flood,
    More pure than amber speeding to the plain:
    But see! his flanks fail under him, his eyes
    Are dulled with deadly torpor, and his neck
    Sinks to the earth with drooping weight. What now
    Besteads him toil or service? to have turned
    The heavy sod with ploughshare? And yet these
    Ne'er knew the Massic wine-god's baneful boon,
    Nor twice replenished banquets: but on leaves
    They fare, and virgin grasses, and their cups
    Are crystal springs and streams with running tired,
    Their healthful slumbers never broke by care.
    Then only, say they, through that country side
    For Juno's rites were cattle far to seek,
    And ill-matched buffaloes the chariots drew
    To their high fanes. So, painfully with rakes
    They grub the soil, aye, with their very nails
    Dig in the corn-seeds, and with strained neck
    O'er the high uplands drag the creaking wains.
    No wolf for ambush pries about the pen,
    Nor round the flock prowls nightly; pain more sharp
    Subdues him: the shy deer and fleet-foot stags
    With hounds now wander by the haunts of men
    Vast ocean's offspring, and all tribes that swim,
    On the shore's confine the wave washes up,
    Like shipwrecked bodies: seals, unwonted there,
    Flee to the rivers. Now the viper dies,
    For all his den's close winding, and with scales
    Erect the astonied water-worms. The air
    Brooks not the very birds, that headlong fall,
    And leave their life beneath the soaring cloud.
    Moreover now nor change of fodder serves,
    And subtlest cures but injure; then were foiled
    The masters, Chiron sprung from Phillyron,
    And Amythaon's son Melampus. See!
    From Stygian darkness launched into the light
    Comes raging pale Tisiphone; she drives
    Disease and fear before her, day by day
    Still rearing higher that all-devouring head.
    With bleat of flocks and lowings thick resound
    Rivers and parched banks and sloping heights.
    At last in crowds she slaughters them, she chokes
    The very stalls with carrion-heaps that rot
    In hideous corruption, till men learn
    With earth to cover them, in pits to hide.
    For e'en the fells are useless; nor the flesh
    With water may they purge, or tame with fire,
    Nor shear the fleeces even, gnawed through and through
    With foul disease, nor touch the putrid webs;
    But, had one dared the loathly weeds to try,
    Red blisters and an unclean sweat o'erran
    His noisome limbs, till, no long tarriance made,
    The fiery curse his tainted frame devoured.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Virgil essay and need some advice, post your Virgil essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?