Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70 -19 BCE)

The Georgics
original texts from: (translation: Andrea Gaddini)


Sed neque Medorum siluae, ditissima terra,           136
nec pulcher Ganges atque auro turbidus Hermus
laudibus Italiae certent,
... grauidae fruges et Bacchi Massicus umor
impleuere; tenent oleae armentaque laeta.
hinc bellator equus campo sese arduus infert,         145
hinc albi, Clitumne, greges et maxima taurus
uictima, saepe tuo perfusi flumine sacro,
Romanos ad templa deum duxere triumphos.
hic uer adsiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas:
bis grauidae pecudes, bis pomis utilis arbos.          150
But neither Medes' forests, richest lands,                          136
nor beautiful Ganges and Hermus turbid by gold
can compete with Italy as to virtues,
... it's full of plentiful fruits and Bacchus' humour from Massicus mount; it's covered by rich olive-groves and rich herds.
here the fiery horse advances in the field with its head upright; 145 from here, o Clitumnus, the white flocks and the bull, the biggest of the sacrificed, often plunged in your sacred stream,
leading the Roman triumphs to the gods' temples.
it's always spring here and summer appears in unusual months: sheep lamb twice a year, trees bear fruits twice.                     150

   Seu quis Olympiacae miratus praemia palmae
pascit equos, seu quis fortis ad aratra iuuencos,          50
corpora praecipue matrum legat. optima toruae
forma bouis cui turpe caput, cui plurima ceruix,
et crurum tenus a mento palearia pendent;
tum longo nullus lateri modus: omnia magna,
pes etiam, et camuris hirtae sub cornibus aures.          55
nec mihi displiceat maculis insignis et albo,
aut iuga detrectans interdumque aspera cornu
et faciem tauro propior, quaeque ardua tota
et gradiens ima uerrit uestigia cauda.
aetas Lucinam iustosque pati hymenaeos                   60
desinit ante decem, post quattuor incipit annos;
cetera nec feturae habilis nec fortis aratris.
interea, superat gregibus dum laeta iuuentas,
solue mares; mitte in Venerem pecuaria primus,
atque aliam ex alia generando suffice prolem.              65
optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aeui
prima fugit; subeunt morbi tristisque senectus
et labor, et durae rapit inclementia mortis.
semper erunt quarum mutari corpora malis:
semper enim refice ac, ne post amissa requiras,          70
ante ueni et subolem armento sortire quotannis.
     Rursus cura patrum cadere et succedere matrum
incipit. exactis grauidae cum mensibus errant,
non illas grauibus quisquam iuga ducere plaustris,      140
non saltu superare uiam sit passus et acri
carpere prata fuga fluuiosque innare rapacis.
saltibus in uacuis pascunt et plena secundum
flumina, muscus ubi et uiridissima gramine ripa,
speluncaeque tegant et saxea procubet umbra.          145
est lucos Silari circa ilicibusque uirentem
plurimus Alburnum uolitans, cui nomen asilo
Romanum est, oestrum Grai uertere uocantes,
asper, acerba sonans, quo tota exterrita siluis
diffugiunt armenta; furit mugitibus aether                 150
concussus siluaeque et sicci ripa Tanagri.
hoc quondam monstro horribilis exercuit iras
Inachiae Iuno pestem meditata iuuencae.
hunc quoque (nam mediis feruoribus acrior instat)
arcebis grauido pecori, armentaque pasces               155
sole recens orto aut noctem ducentibus astris.
     Post partum cura in uitulos traducitur omnis;
continuoque notas et nomina gentis inurunt,
et quos aut pecori malint summittere habendo
aut aris seruare sacros aut scindere terram                160
et campum horrentem fractis inuertere glaebis.
cetera pascuntur uiridis armenta per herbas:
tu quos ad studium atque usum formabis agrestem
iam uitulos hortare uiamque insiste domandi,
dum faciles animi iuuenum, dum mobilis aetas.          165
ac primum laxos tenui de uimine circlos
ceruici subnecte; dehinc, ubi libera colla
seruitio adsuerint, ipsis e torquibus aptos
iunge pares, et coge gradum conferre iuuencos;
atque illis iam saepe rotae ducantur inanes                170
per terram, et summo uestigia puluere signent.
post ualido nitens sub pondere faginus axis
instrepat, et iunctos temo trahat aereus orbis.
interea pubi indomitae non gramina tantum
nec uescas salicum frondes uluamque palustrem,       175
sed frumenta manu carpes sata; nec tibi fetae
more patrum niuea implebunt mulctraria uaccae,
sed tota in dulcis consument ubera natos.
     Sed non ulla magis uiris industria firmat
quam Venerem et caeci stimulos auertere amoris,      210
siue boum siue est cui gratior usus equorum.
atque ideo tauros procul atque in sola relegant
pascua post montem oppositum et trans flumina lata,
aut intus clausos satura ad praesepia seruant.
carpit enim uiris paulatim uritque uidendo                215
femina, nec nemorum patitur meminisse nec herbae
dulcibus illa quidem inlecebris, et saepe superbos
cornibus inter se subigit decernere amantis.
pascitur in magna Sila formosa iuuenca:
illi alternantes multa ui proelia miscent                220
uulneribus crebris; lauit ater corpora sanguis,
uersaque in obnixos urgentur cornua uasto
cum gemitu; reboant siluaeque et longus Olympus.
nec mos bellantis una stabulare, sed alter
uictus abit longeque ignotis exsulat oris,               225
multa gemens ignominiam plagasque superbi
uictoris, tum quos amisit inultus amores,
et stabula aspectans regnis excessit auitis.
ergo omni cura uiris exercet et inter
dura iacet pernox instrato saxa cubili                230
frondibus hirsutis et carice pastus acuta,
et temptat sese atque irasci in cornua discit
arboris obnixus trunco, uentosque lacessit
ictibus, et sparsa ad pugnam proludit harena.
post ubi collectum robur uiresque refectae,               235
signa mouet praecepsque oblitum fertur in hostem.  
Both those who rear horses aiming the victory of Olympic palm, and those who breed strong cattle for ploughing,      50
should mainly choose the dams' conformation:
the best ones have an ugly head, a very thick neck,
and a dewlap hanging down from chin to the knees;
let it have flanks without lenght limits: let it be wholly big,
even its feet, with hairy ears under crooked horns.         55
Neither I dislike if it's white with broad spots,
or if sometimes it rises against the yoke with its sharp horns
and looks rather a bull, and proceeds all erect
sweeping feet's end with its tail.
The age to devote itself to Lucina and to a fair wedding    60
ends before the tenth year, and begins past the fourth;
out of these ages it's not fit to calve, nor strong for the plough.
In the meantime, until joyful youth stays with the herd,
let you set the sires free, and send first the herds to Venus,
and renew the progeny, breeding any animal from another. 
Whatever may be the best day in life of wretched mankind
runs away first; then diseases and the sad old age comes
and trouble, and the harsh death comes merciless to abduct.
There always will be heads you want to change: and always
you'll rear more, for not to be left without for having culled  
70 them, move in advance and choose the herd's replacement every year.      (...)         
  Then the cares for the sires end and those for the dams begin As they wander pregnant, while the months of pregnancy increase, nobody let them pull the yoke of an heavy cart,    140
nor let them jump crossing a way or run away through meadows and plunge to swim in impetuous streams.
You'd better send them to graze in free pastures, near swollen rivers, where there's moss and banks verdant of grass,
where caves shelter them and rocks throw their shadow
Near Silarus and Alburnum woods, green by holm-oaks
in thick swarms flutters the horse-fly, to whom the Romans give the name of asilus, translated by the Greek as
raging, harsh-sounded, from which herds flee, scattering all frightened in the woods; the air is shaken                          150    by wild bellows as the woods and the dry bank of Tanager.
By this horrible monster Juno expressed her anger against
the heifer Io, Inachus' daughter, having planned her ruin.
Even this (more nagging in noon heat)
you'll keep away from pregnant cows, and you'll pasture the herds                        155 at the rising of the sun or when stars bring the night.  
  After calving, all the cares are transferred on calves;
and at once they're branded with a mark and breed's name,
choosing those to be reared as breeders

or those to be sacrificed on altars or destined to plough    160
turning out the fields spiked with broken sods.
The rest of the calves are pastured on green grass:
and those to be trained to land work and purpose should be
urged as they're calves and begin to devote yourself to tame them, until they have the meek and variable nature of youth. 
First halter them by their neck with a loose loop made with thin wicker; then, when the free neck get accustomed
to be slave, you'll tie them in pairs by the same collars, and force them to step together; then you can already
let them pull on the ground an unloaded cart,             
leaving a track on soil's surface.
Then, proceeding under a heavy weight, the beech wood axle
must squeak, and the bronze shaft pull the wheels together.
Meanwhile you'll feed the untamed calves not just grass
neither willow foliage and swamp weeds,                   
but reap by hands the wheat you sowed; and the cows
which just calved are not filling your pail of snowy milk as they did at our fathers' time, but they'll empty the whole udder for their beloved offsprings.    (...)

   Yet no care recruits strenghts more than
swaying them from Venus and from blind love's stings,      
both for cattle breeders, both for those who prefer horses.
Therefore bulls are confined far away in lonely pastures
with a mountain put between and over wide rivers,
or are shut up inside, in front of full mangers.
Indeed the female wastes strenght little by little and excites 
just seeing her and doesn't let to recall woods and meadows and just with her sweet attractions, often drives her proud lovers to fight one against the other with their horns.
On the great Sila a beautiful heifer pastures:
the bulls alternating themselves fight with great impetus     
with frequent strokes; the dark blood sprinkles the bodies,
and the horns turned against the rivals are driven with huge
noise; the woods and immense Olympus rumble.
And it's not custom to keep the rivals in the same stable, but
the looser must be sent away and exiled to distant places, 
mourning loudly the shame and the wounds caused by the proud winner, and then the loves lost without revenge,
when watching the stables abandoned the fathers' possessions. Then it uses its strenght with great care and lies between hard rocks passing the whole night on unsheltered couches  230
nibbling thorny leaves and prickly reed,
and tries itself and learns to wreak the anger with horns
against the steady trunk of a tree, facing winds with its
blows, throwing the dust up while it trains to the battle.
Then, as it collects the strenghts and recovers energies,    
dives head-first into battle and hurls itself at the unaware foe.   

from "Bucolics"


original text from: (translation: Andrea Gaddini)
Heu heu, quam pingui macer est mihi taurus in ervo! 100
idem amor exitium pecori pecorisque magistro.
Ahi ahi, how meagre is my bull even if
pastures in rich vetch! 100
love drives to the ruin both livestock,
and those who tend livestock.

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page created: February 2nd 2008 and last updated: July 1st 2010