Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 b.c.), known in English as Vergil or Virgil, stands at the head of Latin poetry with his three poems, the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid.
The Eclogues belong to the genre of pastoral poetry, short poems set against a rural background, where peasants lead simple lives caring for their flocks. In the selection that follows, a despairing goatherd, Damon, complains of his former partner, Nysa, who has abandoned him in favor of another man.
Nascere praeque diem veniens age, Lucifer, almum, coniugis indigno Nysae deceptus amore dum queror et divos, quamquam nil testibus illis profeci, extrema moriens tamen adloquor hora. 20
incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus.
text P. Vergili Maronis Opera, ed. R. A. B. Mynors
(Oxford Classical Texts, 1969) meter hexameter [§mi]
nascere | praeque di|em || veni|ens age | Lucifer | almum coniugis | indig|nd || Ny|sae de|ceptus a | more
17 Nascere (2 sg, imp. nascor nascl) be born—Damon is bidding the Morning Star to rise; take the next words as praeveniensque diem—the two elements of praeveniens (praevenid -ire precede) are split by tmesis, a somewhat rare stylistic feature; diem ... almum is governed by both praeveniens and age, trans, precede and bring on the life-giving day; Lucifer Lucifer! m, lit., the Light-bringer, i.e., the Morning Star.
i8ff. The next clauses dum queror ... adloquor are introduced by a postponed conjunction (dum) [§G4]; coniunx coniugis m./f. normally husband/wife, but trans, here partner, since the woman (Nysa) is now formally marrying someone else; indigno ... amore instrumental abl. [§G47] by the unworthy love; decipio -ere deceive; queror queri complain; divus -I m.god; the quamquam clause is inserted into the second dum clause; nil = nihil; testibus illis instrumental abl. [§G47] with them as witnesses (testis testis m./f.)—presumably both Damon and Nysa had called on the gods to witness their undying love, but the gods had not made Nysa keep her word; proficio -ere achieve; extrema ... hora abl. of time when [§g 37] in [my] final hour; moriens (pres. pple. of morior mori die) trans, as I die—the lover ends his complaint by declaring that he is about to jump off a cliff; adloquor -I address. 21 A refrain, as exemplified here, is a feature of pastoral poetry; Maenalios ... versus Maenalian verses (versus -us m.), i.e., poetry such as that sung on Mt. Maenalus (Maenalus -i m.; cf. 1.22) in Arcadia, a remote area in Greece that was supposed to preserve a simple and old-fashioned lifestyle; tibia -ae f.flute, here voc.
Maenalus argutumque nemus pinusque loquentis semper habet, semper pastorum ille audit amores Panaque, qui primus calamos non passus inertis.
incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus. 25
Mopso Nysa datur: quid non speremus amantes? iungentur iam grypes equis, aevoque sequenti cum canibus timidi venient ad pocula dammae.
incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus. 28a
Mopse, novas incide faces: tibi ducitur uxor, sparge, marite, nuces: tibi deserit Hesperus Oetam. 30 incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus.
22 argutumque nemus pinusque loquentis both rustling forest (nemus nemoris n.) and whispering (lit., talking) pines (plnus -us f.).
23 pastor pastoris m. herdsman; ille it, i.e., Mt, Maenalus, which hears the loves of herdsmen in the sense that they are always singing love poetry on or around it.
24 Pana Greek acc. of Pan (Panos m.), a god of herdsmen and flocks, particularly associated with Arcadia; primus first; calamos non passus [est] inertis [esse] did not allow reeds (calamus -I m.) to be idle—Pan was credited with the invention of the panpipe, or flute, which he made from a reed.
26 Mopso dat. of Mopsus (-1 m.) to Mopsus, the rival to whom Nysa is being given in marriage; speremus deliberative subj. [§G7o] are we to expect; amantes [we] lovers.
27 Nysa's marriage is so ridiculous that other similar absurdities can now be expected; iungentur will be mated; grypes (gryps grypis M.) griffins, creatures of fable who were a combination of eagle and lion parts; equls dat. with (lit., to) horses; aevo sequenti abl. of time when [§g37] in the following age (aevum -I n.).
28 timidi ... dammae timid deer (damma -ae here m.); poculum (-1 n. cup) is used in the plural to mean drinking—trans, ad pocula by to drink.
29 inclde 2 sg, imp. act. incldo -ere cut; fax facis f. torch—the torches are for the evening wedding procession, in which the bride is led from her father's house to that of the bridegroom; this is alluded to in the next clause, lit., for you a wife is being led, i.e., a wife is being brought to you.
30 sparge ... nuces scatter (spargo -ere) nuts (nux nucis f.)—it was traditional to throw nuts among the crowd at a wedding; tibi dat. of advantage [§C3 31]; desero -ere leave; Hesperus -I m. the Evening Star; Oeta (-ae f.) a mountain in Thessaly traditionally associated with the Evening Star (cf. Statius Silvae 5.4.8, page 184)— the rising of the Evening Star above Mt. Oeta is mentioned to indicate that when night comes, Mopsus and Nysa will be united as husband and wife.
32 The goatherd addresses his lost love in a sarcastic vein; digno ... viro dat. to a worthy husband; coniungo -ere join; the dum clauses that follow give the reasons for the goatherd's sarcasm; despicis omnis you look down on (despicio -ere) everyone.
o digno coniuncta viro, dum despicis omnis, dumque tibi est odio mea fistula dumque capellae hirsutumque supercilium promissaque barba, nec curare deum credis mortalia quemquam. 3 5
incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus, saepibus in nostris parvam te roscida mala (dux ego vester eram) vidi cum matre legentem. alter ab undécimo turn me iam acceperat annus, iam fragilis poteram a terra contingere ramos: 40
ut vidi, ut perii, ut me malus abstulit error! incipe Maenalios mecum, mea tibia, versus.
<-: Vergil Eclogues 8.17-42
33f. tibi (dat. of reference [§G32]) est odio (predicative dat. [§G34-J) lit,, is for a dislike for you, \,e.,you dislike; fistula -ae f. pipe (the flute of 1. 21); Nysa's dislike extends to her former lover's nanny goats (capella -ae f.), his shaggy eyebrow (supercilium -(i)l n.), and his long (promissus perf. pple. of promitto -ere) beard (barba -ae f.)—promissus is commonly used to describe hair or a beard allowed to grow long (lit., sent forth, let hose).
35 Take deum (= deorum [§G95]) with quemquam (quisquam any(one)); mortalia human [affairs]—the goatherd is claiming that Nysa imagines that the gods will not remember the vows she has made to him.
37 saepibus in nostris lit., in our fences (saepes saepis f.)—our here refers to the goatherd and his family, trans, in our enclosure; parvam te you, [when] small; roscida mala dewy apples (malum -i n.).
38 dux here guide; vester, not tuus, because Nysa was with her mother (cum matre); legentem (lego -ere) here picking.
39 alter ab undecimo ... annus lit., the next year after [my] eleventh [year], i.e., he was in his twelfth year.
40 fragilis ... ramos fragile branches (ramus -i m.); a terra from the ground; con-tingo -ere here reach.
41 The construction is in imitation of a Greek idiom to express simultaneous actions; the first ut means just as, the second and third so, and the meaning is that the young goatherd fell in love with Nysa the instant he saw her, lit., just as I saw [you], so I was lost (pereo -Ire), so foul madness (error erroris m.) swept me away (aufero -ferre); trans, as soon as I saw [you], I was lost and foul madness swept me away.
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