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O Battarus,2 let us repeat the notes of the swan : again let us sing our divided homes and lands—those lands whereon we have pronounced our curses, unholy prayers. Sooner shall kids prey upon wolves, sooner calves upon lions; sooner shall dolphins flee before fishes, sooner eagles before doves, and a world-chaos, again returning, shall burst forth--yea, many things shall befall,
sooner than my shepherd's reed shall be enslaved. To the mountains and woods will I tell thy deeds, Lycurgus. 3
9 “Unholy and unblest, may Trinacria's joys become barren for thee and thy 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,
woods to no leafage, the mountains to no streams !”
14 Once more and yet again, O Battarus, let us repeat this strain :
“ Outworn may the oats of Ceres be that ye bury in the furrows; pale and wan may the meadows become, parched with heat; unripened may the drooping apples fall from the boughs! Let leaves
1 This iinprecatory poem belongs to the beginning of the Augustan age, and was apparently inspired by the distribution of lands in 41 B.C. Inasmuch as Virgil lost his estate at this time, the poem was easily assigned to him. See vol. i p. vii.
Nothing is known of Battarus. He was perhaps a neighbour, who, like the poet, was dispossessed of his farm.
Lycurgus is one of the soldiers who have taken possession of the poet's land. cf. the plur. in 11. 9 and 10.
desint et silvis frondes et fontibus umor, nec desit nostris devotum carmen avenis. haec Veneris vario florentia serta decore, 20 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.” Sic
precor et nostris superent haec carmina votis: 25
“ Lusibus et nostris multum cantata libellis optima silvarum, formosis densa virectis, tondebis viridis umbras : nec laeta comantis iactabis mollis ramos inflantibus auris, nec mihi saepe meum resonabit, Battare, carmen 30 militis impia cum succidet dextera ferro formosaeque cadent umbrae, formosior illis ipsa cades, veteris domini felicia ligna. nequiquam ! nostris potius devota libellis, ignibus aetheriis flagrabis. Iuppiter (ipse 35 Iuppiter hanc aluit), cinis haec tibi fiat oportet. Thraecis tum Boreae spirent immania vires, Eurus agat mixtam fulva caligine' nubem, Africus immineat nimbis minitantibus imbrem, cum tua cyaneo resplendens aethere silva 40 non iterum discet, crebro quae, Lydia, dixti. vicinae flammae rapiant ex ordine vitis, 19 carmen] gramen M. 21 pingunt verna Heinsius : pingit avena. 23 mittent M.
26 lusibus Putsch : ludimus. 28 tondebis Gronovius : tondemus (tundemus or tondentur) 31 succedet 2 : succaedet Ellis. 32 cadent It. : cadunt.
35 flagrabis It. : flagrabit. 36 tibi] a Iove Maehly (haec omitted).
tu cyaneo resplendes Vollmer. 41 discet crebro quae etc. Eskuché : dicens 2: dices It. crebro M : erebo L: nec ero “tua,” Lydia, dici Ellis : quae Eskuché : tua dixti (dixi).
fail the woods, water fail the streams, but let the strain that curses fail not my reeds! May these flowery garlands of Venus, with their varied beauties, which in spring-time paint the fields with brilliant hues (hence, ye sweet breezes : hence, ye fragrant odours of the field !) may they change to blasting heats and loathsome poisons; may nothing sweet to eyes, nothing sweet to ears be wafted!”
25 Thus I pray, and in our prayers may these strains abound!
“() thou best of woods, oft sung in our playful songs and verses, thou beauteous in thy wealth of green, thou shalt shear thy green shade : neither shalt thou boast of thy soft boughs' joyous leafage, as the breezes blow among them, nor, O Battarus, shall it oft resound for me with my song. When with his axe the soldier's impious hand shall fell it, and the lovely shadows fall, thyself, more lovely than they, shalt fall, the old owner's happy timber. Yet all for naught! Rather, accursed by our verses, thou shalt burn with heaven's fires. O Jupiter ('twas Jupiter himself nurtured this wood), this must thou turn into ashes !
37 “Then let the strength of the Thracian North blow his mighty blasts; let the East drive a cloud with lurid darkness mixed; let the South-West menace with storm-clouds threatening rain, when thy woodland, gleaming in the dark-blue sky, shall not learn again what thou, O Lydia,2 hast often uttered! Let neighbouring flames in order seize
1 Ellis takes auris as dative: “ toss to the gales that blow music into thy soft-swaying branches." 2 Lydia is the poet's sweetheart.
pascantur segetes, diffusis ignibus auras transvolet, arboribus coniungat et ardor aristas. pertica qua nostros metata est impia agellos, 45
qua nostri fines olim, cinis omnia fiat.” Sic precor et nostris superent haec carmina votis :
“Undae, quae vestris pulsatis litora lymphis, litora, quae dulcis auras diffunditis agris, accipite has voces : migret Neptunus in arva 50 fluctibus et spissa campos perfundat harena, qua
Volcanus agros pastus Iovis ignibus arsit, barbara dicatur Libycae soror altera Syrtis.” Tristius hoc, memini, revocasti, Battare, carmen: Nigro multa mari dicunt portenta natare,
55 monstra repentinis terrentia saepe figuris, cum subito emersere furenti corpora ponto: haec agat infesto Neptunus caeca tridenti, atrum convertens aestum maris undique ventis et fuscum cinerem canis exhauriat undis. 60 dicantur mea rura ferum mare; nauta, caveto
rura, quibus diras indiximus, impia vota.” Si minus haec, Neptune, tuas infundimus auris, Battare, Auminibus tu nostros trade dolores ; nam tibi sunt fontes, tibi semper flumina amica. 65 nil est quod perdam ulterius; merito omnia Ditis.
“Flectite currentis nymphas, vaga flumina, retro, flectite et adversis rursum diffundite campis ; auras Heinsins :
44 ardor It.: arbor. 46 fiant H. 52 arsit Ribbeck : arcet : ardet Scaliger. 54 revocasti R : revocasset n. 57 ferenti S.
58 infesto It.: infesta. 63 tuas Heinsius : tuis. 64 nostris M. 65 Alumina semper S.
em quod pergam ulteris S
upon the vines, let the crops become their food, let the blaze in scattered fires wing its way athwart the breezes, and link the corn-ears with the trees ! Where the unholy rod measured our fields, where once were our boundaries, let all become ashes!”
47 Thus I pray, and in our prayers may these strains abound !
“O waves, that with your waters beat the shores; () shores, that o'er the fields scatter sweet breezes, give ear to these cries. Let Neptune with his waves pass to the tilth, and with thick sand cover the fields! Where Vulcan, feeding on the lands, has burned with heaven's fires, be it called a sister of the Libyan sand, a second Syrtis !”
54 This sadder strain, O Battarus, I remember thou didst recall :
“Many fearsome things, they say, swim in the black sea
-monsters that oft-times terrify with forms unlooked for, when suddenly they have reared their bodies from out the raging deep. These hidden things may Neptune chase with threatening trident, on all sides upturning with the winds the murky seasurge, and in his hoary waves swallowing the swarthy ashes !!
lands be called the savage sea; beware, O sailor, of lands, whereon we have pronounced our curses, unholy prayers !”
63 If this, o Neptune, we do not pour into thy ears, do thou, O Battarus, consign our sorrows to the streams; for to thee the springs, to thee the streams are ever friendly. No further ruin can I effect ?; to Dis all belongs of right.
“ 'Turn back your running waters, ye roving streams; turn back, and pour them again over the
1i.e. left by the fire described above.