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relief to sumptuous banquets:1 here sharp-pointed radish, and the heavy gourd, that swells into its broad belly. But this crop was not for the owner (for who more frugal than he?) but for the people; and every ninth day on his shoulders he would carry faggots to town for sale. Thence he would home return, light of neck, but heavy of pocket, and seldom attended by the city-market's wares. His hunger red onion tames, and his plot of cut-leek, and nasturtium that with sharp taste pinches the face, and endive, and cole-wort that calls back a lagging love.
87 At this hour, too, with some such plan in his thoughts had he entered the garden. At first, lightly digging up the ground with his fingers, he draws out four garlic bulbs with thick fibres, then plucks slender parsley-leaves and unbending rue, and coriander, trembling on its scanty stalk. These culled, he sat down by the pleasant fire, and loudly calls to the maid for a mortar. Then he strips the single heads of their rough membranes, and despoils them of the outermost skins, scattering about on the ground the parts thus slighted and casting them away. The bulb, saved with the leaves, he dips in water, and drops into the mortar's hollow circle. Thereon he sprinkles grains of salt, adds cheese hardened with consuming salt, and heaps on top the herbs we have named; and while his left hand gathers up the tunic about his shaggy flanks, his right first crushes with a pestle the fragrant garlic, then grinds all evenly in the juicy mixture. Round and round passes the hand: little by little the ele
1 Lettuce was eaten at the close of a feast, though from the time of Martial it appeared at the beginning; cf. Martial, XIII. xiv.
deperdunt proprias, color est e pluribus unus,
Procedebat opus: non iam salebrosus, ut ante,
atque iterum commiscet opus mixtumque retractat.115 tum demum digitis mortaria tota duobus circuit inque globum distantia contrahit unum, constet ut effecti species nomenque moreti.
Eruit interea Scybale quoque sedula panem, quem laetus recipit manibus, pulsoque timore iam famis inque diem securus Simylus illam, ambit crura ocreis paribus, tectusque galero sub iuga parentis cogit lorata iuvencos, atque agit in segetes et terrae condit aratrum.
non SL: nec. 120 laetus] lotis It.
109 tergit D1RM.
112 lentus PSL. orbem R It. 122 abit P.
ments lose their peculiar strength; the many colours blend into one, yet neither is this wholly green, for milk-white fragments still resist, nor is it a shining milky-white, for it is varied by so many herbs. Often the strong odour smites the man's open nostrils, and with wrinkled nose he condemns his breakfast fare, often drawing the back of his hand across his tearful eyes, and cursing in anger the innocent smoke.
111 The work goes on apace: no longer in uneven course, as before, but heavier in weight, the pestle moves on in slower circles. Therefore he lets fall upon it some drops of Minerva's oil, pouring o'er it strong vinegar in scanty stream, then once more stirs up the dish and handles the mixture afresh. And now at length he passes two fingers round all the mortar, and into one ball packs the sundry pieces, so that, in reality as in name, there is fashioned a perfect moretum.1
119 Meanwhile Scybale too, industrious maid, draws forth the bread, which he gladly welcomes to his hands; and now that fear of hunger is driven away, care-free for the day, Simylus dons his well-matched leggings and sheltering cap, forces his submissive bullocks under their leather-bound yokes, and drives them to the fields, there in the earth burying his plough.
1 Thus is designated the rustic dish of herbs, which forms the subject of this curious sketch. Another reference to the moretum in Latin literature is in Ovid, Fasti, IV. 367, where we learn that the mixture was used at the feasts of Cybele. A prose description is given in Columella (XII. 57).
BATTARE, cycneas repetamus carmine voces:
'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;
3 rura H: dura.
7 avena SFL: sata (fata) M. 10 nostris M.
4 rapiunt M: -ant FL.
The principal MSS. cited are M (see note at the opening of the Moretum) and S, F, L (see note at the opening of the Culex). For Z and H see note at the opening of the Ciris.
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, the very woods to no leafage, the mountains to no streams!"
14 Once more and yet again, O Battarus, let us repeat this strain:
66 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 imprecatory 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.
2 Nothing is known of Battarus. He was perhaps a neighbour, who, like the poet, was dispossessed of his farm.
3 Lycurgus is one of the soldiers who have taken possession of the poet's land. cf. the plur. in 11. 9 and 10.