Nec Miseros Fallunt Aconita Legentes

Jlgriculture is the subject of Vergil's Georgics, the second of whose four books is concerned with trees and shrubs. In his discussion of varieties from different parts of the then-known world, Vergil mentions the citron tree of Media, noted for its medicinal properties. This prompts him to digress on the superiority of Italy over Media and all other lands: its climate and fertility, coupled with the absence of dangerous animals, suggest to the reader that the land still possessed something of the abundance and carefree life enjoyed in the Golden Age (cf. Tibullus Elegies 1.3, page 117).

Sed neque Medorum silvae, ditissima terra, nec pulcher Ganges atque auro turbidus Hermus laudibus Italiae certent, non Bactra neque Indi totaque turiferis Panchaia pinguis harenis.

haec loca non tauri spirantes naribus ignem 140

text P. Vergili Maronis Opera, ed. R. A. B. Mynors

(Oxford Classical Texts, 1969) meter hexameter [§mi]

sed neque | Medo|rum || sll|vae di|tissima | terra nec pul|cher Gan|ges || at|qu(e) auro | turbidus | Hermus

136 Medl -drum the inhabitants of Media (-ae f.), a region south of the Caspian Sea (the northern part of modern Iran); silvae (groves) refers to the plantations of citron trees mentioned in the preceding lines; ditissima (superl. of dls (ditis)) terra is in apposition [§g 52] to silvae.

137 Ganges Gangis m. the modern Ganges River; take auro (abl. of cause [§g 48]) with turbidus, thick with gold; Hermus -i m. a river in Asia Minor noted for its alluvial gold. ..

I38f. laudibus (laus laudis f. praise) abl. with certent (potential subj. [§g68]; certo -are + abl. contend with); Italia -ae f. Italy; Bactra, Indi, and Panchaia (1. 139) are also subjects of certent; Bactra -drum the capital of Bactria, a region that included modern Afghanistan and certain adjacent lands; Indus -I m. an Indian; take turiferis ... harenis (abl. of cause [§G48]) with pinguis, rich with [its] incense-bearing sands (harena -ae f.); Panchaia -ae f. a legendary island supposed to lie off the coast of Arabia. l4of. Although Italy had not been the scene of bizarre incidents such as those in Greek legend, it could boast of more worthwhile glories (11. i43ff.); haec loca (i.e., Italy) is the object of invertere (= inverterunt; inverto -ere turn over (in plowing)); tauri spirantes naribus ignem bulls (taurus -I m.) breathing (spiro -are) fire from [their] nostrils (abl. of place from which [§g 39]; naris nans f.)—Jason, after arriving at Colchis in his quest for the Golden Fleece, was obliged to plow a field with two fire-breathing bulls and then sow the teeth of a dragon (hydrus -i m.), which produced an immediate crop of armed warriors, whom he had to dispose of; satis ... dentibus a somewhat unusual dat. of purpose [§G 1,3] for sowing (sero invertere satis immanis dentibus hydri, nec galeis densisque virum seges horruit hastis; sed gravidae fruges et Bacchi Massicus umor implevere; tenent oleae armentaque laeta. hinc bellator equus campo sese arduus infert, hinc albi, Clitumne, greges et maxima taurus victima, saepe tuo perfusi flumine sacro, Romanos ad templa deum duxere triumphos, hic ver adsiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas: bis gravidae pecudes, bis pomis utilis arbos.

-ere) the teeth (dens dentis m.)—we would have expected the gerundive construction [§g8i] serendls dentibus; immanis (gen. with hydri) savage.

142 galeis densisque ... hastis instrumental abl. [§G47] with helmets (galea -ae f.) and closely packed spears (hasta -ae f.); virum (= virórum [§g 95J) seges (sege-tis f.) crop of men; horreó -ere bristle.

143 gravidae frügés abundant harvests (frügés frügum; Bacchi Massicus ümor the Massic juice (ümor ümdris m.) of Bacchus, i.e., wine from mons Massicus in Campania, which was famous for its vineyards—Bacchus (also called Dionysus) was the god of wine; Vergil is using a specific type of wine to refer to Italian wine in general.

144 implevere (= implévérunt; impleó -ere) have filled [them], i.e., haec loca (1. 140; Italy as a whole is meant), which is also to be supplied after tenent (here cover); olea -ae f. olive tree; armenta laeta fat herds (armentum -i n.).

145 hinc from here, i.e., from these places; bellator equus warhorse; campo abl. of place where [§G38]; sésé (= sé) ... infert bears (infero -ferre) itself, advances; trans, arduus by an adverb [§055], proudly.

I46f. albi ... gregés white herds (grex gregis m.), i.e., of cattle—white beasts were always used for sacrifices to the upper gods; Clitumne voc. sg. of Clitumnus -i m. a river in a region of Umbria famous for its white catde; maxima ... victima (-ae f.) (the largest sacrifice) is in apposition to taurus; take saepe with duxére (= duxé-runt, 1.148); tuó ... flümine sacro abl. of place where [§g 38] in your (i.e., that of Clitumnus) sacred river; perfusi dipped (perfundo -eré)—legend had it that the waters of the Clitumnus turned animals white.

148 The animals mentioned in 1.146 have often led Roman triumphal processions (triumphus -I m.) to the temples of the gods (deum = dedrum [§g 95])—the procession of a victorious general passed through the Forum up to the Capitol (see the map of Rome on page xxiv), where a sacrifice was made.

149 hie here, i.e., in Italy; supply est with each noun, vér (veris n. spring) and aestas (aestátis f. summer); adsiduus constant; aliénis mensibus abl, of time when [§037] in months (mensis mensis m.) not its own (aliénus lit., belonging to

150 bis twice [a year]; gravidus here pregnant; pecudes [farm] animals; pomis abl. of cause [§G48] with [its] fruits (pomum -i N.); utilis useful, i.e., to its owner; arbos = arbor.


at rabidae tigres absunt et saeva leonum semina, nec miseros fallunt aconita legends nec rapit immensos orbis per humum neque tanto squameus in spiram tractu se colligit anguis.

adde tot egregias urbes operumque laborem, 155

tot congesta manu praeruptis oppida saxis fluminaque antiquos subter labentia muros.

<-: Vergil Georgics 2.136-157

I5if. rabidae tigres raging tigers (tigris tigris f.); absunt (absum) lit., are absent, trans, are not here, i.e., in Italy; saeva leonum semina the fierce offspring (semen seminis n. lit., seed) of lions; aconita trans, by sg., aconite (aconltum -I n.), a poisonous plant that could be mistakenly gathered by reapers (legentis; lego -ere here pick) with a normal crop. !$■}{. The subject of both clauses is squameus ... anguis (anguis m.) scaly snake, which governs rapit (here hurries) and colligit (colligo -ere gather); immensos orbis [its] huge coils (orbis orbis m.); humus -i f. ground; tanto ... tractu abl. of manner [§g 45], lit., with so great a pulling (tractus -us m.), trans, with a mighty upward movement; spira -ae f. spiral.

155 adde 2 sg. imp. act. addo -ere add—Vergil is addressing the reader; in addition to its idyllic environment, Italy has benefited from human effort; egregius splendid; operum laborem the toil of [human] undertakings.

156 so many towns raised up (congero -ere lit., pile up) by hand on precipitous rocks (abl. of place where [§g 38])—Vergil is referring to the many Italian towns, then as now, perched on mountain ridges.

157 subter (prep. + acc. below, at the base of) governs antiquos... muros; labentia pres. pple. of labor labi (here flow).

Vergiliana I-

In the final episode of the story of Troy, the Greeks trick the Trojans into believing that they have given up their siege and left for home. When the Trojans find a large wooden horse in what had been the Greek camp, opinion is divided as to what should be done with it. Laocoon, a priest of Neptune, insists that the horse is a Greek ruse and sums up his opinion with these words:

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. Aeneid 2.49

I fear the Greeks even [when] hearing gifts.

For more Vergiliana, see pages 109,182, iSj, and 199.

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