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TO PARIDE CERESARA blue
BAPTISTA MANTUANUS O. C.
SENDS HIS GREETINGS

spacerHearken, oh Paride, to an entangled aenigma that Oedipus himself might not have unraveled. Fifty years old and already growing grey, I have found my youth again and simultaneously possess both youth and old age. But lest I detain you with a lengthy digression, I shall unravel this knot. Last year when returning from Florence I had come to Bologna, I understood that there was in the house of a certain man of letters a small book of mine that long ago, before I had entered religious orders, when I was beginning my studies in philosophy at the school at Padua, I had composed as a diversion and had called Youth, taking the title from that period in my life. The collection of poems is bucolic in character and is divided into eight eclogues. Born prematurely, as it were, it is a work that I thought had been destroyed long ago. So, when I learned of it, I was suddenly roused by Saturn’s hunger and pondered the means by which I might be able to bring about my progeny’s obliteration. Thus through the help of friends I laid claim to my little book in order to suppress it, a work that I suspected could not help but abound in errors. But when I learned that certain other copies also existed, it seemed better to emend the one I had laid claim to and publish it so that through its publication the other copies, which contain much that is too youthful, might be destroyed. Therefore, this work, thus corrected with the addition at the end of two other eclogues that I composed after entering religious orders, I present with the greatest pleasure to you, oh Paride—youth of ancient nobility, deeply devoted to learning in all the liberal arts, outstanding ornament of our city—so that when you have been wearied by those philosophical and theological works to which you continually devote yourself, you might have this pleasant book as light reading, a work by which, as by an agreeable yet honorable diversion, you might renew your wearied mind. Moreover, I desire everyone possessing those copies that I have called premature, if anything of mine has ever been pleasing to them, to burn those copies forthwith at my request and by no means to allow them to survive. Take then to yourself, most delightful Paride, this little book, and its author, and may you employ both of them in turn according to your judgment as though they were your own. Farewell.

September 1, 1498

ECLOGUE I blue
FAUSTUS
Honorable love and its happy outcome
FORTUNATUS spacerspacerFAUSTUS

  FOR. Faustus, while the cattle all lie chewing their cud in the cool shade, I pray you let us tell a little about our loves of old lest, if sleep perchance overwhelm us, any of the wild beasts that now lurk secretly in ambush within the ripened wheat fields should rage against the herd. Watchfulness is better than sleep. blue
spacerFAU. This place, this very tree beneath which we are resting, knows with what cares I sighed, with what fires I burned two or (unless memory fails me) four years ago. blue But since there is time and the tale is pleasing to tell, going back to its beginnings, I will lay open my story for you. blue
spacerHere, when in my youth I followed the herd, I sat on my coat spread upon the ground and lay on my back, pondering my sad fate with many a sigh and tear. No repose or toil was sweet to me. My emotions were dulled by a sickness of heart, my mind was overcome by torpor, like the stomach of a sick man that none of food’s enticements arouse, that no appetite attracts. My love of song had perished, blue my pipe’s uneven reeds sounded no more. Hateful too was my bow, hateful my sling, hateful my hounds and the spoils of my birds; irksome it was to pick out nutmeats with my knife. Weaving a basket with rushes or twigs, ensnaring fish, searching out birds’ nests, competing at wrestling and morra blue —unpleasant things now, these were all great pleasures before, when my heart knew not such a sickness. blue  Loathing to gather wild grapes and strawberries, I lamented like a nightingale returning from feeding and bearing food in her beak for her young when she sees that her darlings have been borne away from the empty nest. The food falls from her loosened beak, her heart is struck dumb and, facing the nests, she perches on the branch of a tall tree lamenting her ill–fated marriage. blue Or like a comely heifer when her calf has been lost: after filling the wide fields with her low bellowing, down she sinks alone in the wan shadows, and does not crop the grass or drink the waters of the stream. blue
spacer But why am I causing tedious ramblings, while I digress and waste both words and time? The sum of the matter is this: against my will I breathed the life–giving breezes. blue But if, desiring perchance to know the details, you should ask: “What manner of south wind dashed you against those sandbanks?” blue My Galla blue (for indeed, Fortunatus, I will confess the truth to you), my Galla thus ensnared me with her looks as a spider encircles a captured fly with its snares. For her face was ruddy and stout, and though she was almost blind in one eye, blue all the same when I marveled at her good looks and youth I used to say that in comparison triform Diana’s beauty was of no account. blue
spacerFOR. Love deceives the senses, blinds the eye, steals away the mind’s freedom, and bewitches us with his wondrous art. I am convinced that some demon, stealing into our hearts, stirs up a flame there and unhinges our ravished thoughts. blue Nor is love a god (as men say) but bitterness and error! blue
spacerFAU. Add to this that there was no hope of possessing what I desired blue though, having pitied my love, Galla looked with favor on it and by glances and nods revealed the fires of her love. For wherever she went, there always went a stern companion: always her married sister and strict mother followed her. Thus desire opposed desire as a cat does a mouse: the mouse strives to get at the ham; keen–eyed, the cat watches over the chinks in the wall.
spacer FOR
. The well–fed commend fasting. blue Those whom no thirst oppresses are cruel towards the thirsty. blue
spacerFAU. It was the season to mow the crops with our curved scythes, for far and wide the barley grains seemed white on their golden stalks. As is the custom, Galla’s mother was there, accompanied by her two daughters, to glean the barley that the reaper had passed over. For she was either ignorant of our love or hid her knowledge of it. I think that she hid her knowledge since she knew of the gifts—a small rabbit and twin wood–pigeons—I had given her daughter. bluespacerFOR. Poverty is the enemy of good character. It lapses into every vice and ministers to guilt and crime.
spacer FAU
. Gleaning grain, the girl followed my footsteps: barefoot, her dress loosened at her breasts, her arms stripped bare blue as befits summer when the sun blazes cruelly. A twisted garland of leaves covered her head, since a sunburned face becomes swarthy and does not serve a lover’s wishes. Now at my back and near my side Galla gleaned the grain that I willingly let slip from my hand. A woman is unable to hide, overcome, or put off her love—so much is the frivolity in her.
spacerFOR. Whoever falls in love is frivolous: not women alone but even those who people say are wise and surpass other mortals, men cloaked in a broad stripe of gleaming purple, blue proud men whom I have seen walk with a regal step. You too, thus afflicted, were more mad and perhaps more frivolous than Galla. The girl gathered the grain given to her, but you gave  her the grain. Tell me, which was the greater madness? But go on—at times we need words to keep slumber away.
spacer FAU
. Immediately seeing Galla, her cruel mother was vexed and, shouting, said, “Where are you going? Why are you leaving the group? Come, Galla, for here near the alders the shade is gentler, here the breezes murmur among the trembling leaves.” Oh voice hateful to my ears! “Go, swift winds,” I prayed, “go and scatter her harmful words!” If a shepherd should lead his sheep to fertile pasture lands and at once forbid them to graze; or if, having already pastured them, he should drive them to the river to drink and deny the dancing waters to their thirsty mouths, wouldn’t he be selfish, stupid, and contrary to nature? That voice of hers seemed more savage to me than Jupiter’s rage blue when he thunders and the rain–filled air rages at the earth. I couldn’t help but turn my face (and I wanted to), and the girl, gazing from under the edge of her chaplet, smiled alluringly at me with her dancing eyes. blue Seeing this, Galla’s mother (that wretch!) called her again. Galla, applying herself still more to her task, refused to hear. As with her feet, so with her thoughts she followed me. Then, having become cautious myself (for Love inspires trickery and provides for deception), blue urging on the mowers now with a song, now with a shout, I so veiled our crime that both her sister and mother might believe that the girl hadn’t heard them. With my scythe I drove back the brambles lest they dare strike her smooth legs or tender feet as she followed me. blue
spacerFOR
. He who loves also serves: he follows his lover as a captive, endures the yoke on his conquered neck, endures her sweet scourging and goading, and like an ox he draws the plow. blue
spacerFAU. You too, as I perceive from this, are not ignorant of love.
spacerFOR. ’Tis a universal evil. We have all been crazy once. blue
spacer FAU. This treasure so grievous to my mind, this venom so sweet grew daily more cruel with each hour, like heat when the sun reaches its height at midday. Like a dazed man I became pale, frenzied, distracted, forgetful, and sleepless. Nor was it hard to learn what kind of illness it was. The face is the changeable indicator of our thoughts. When my father observed this, he became gentler than usual since, having experienced love, he too knew its burden. And speaking gently to me with encouraging words he said, “Tell me, Faustus, what is this that you are pondering in your heart? Unhappy lad, this look of yours bears witness to your love. Tell me, don’t be ashamed to reveal your cares to your father.”
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FOR. Though parents’ looks may be harsh towards their children, their thoughts are always kind and their dispositions friendly.

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FAU. When my father had shown his sympathy, I asked his help, having freely confessed my love. He gave his promise, and before the chill of winter had sprinkled the fields with Boreas’ hoarfrost, my relatives together with him betrothed the girl to me. And I still was not meeting with her unescorted—I was Tantalus, parched by thirst in the middle of a river. Oh, how many times did I go, having left the plow and oxen, wishing for her to be alone at some time or other in the empty house! I made all sorts of excuses: the plow–handle, the share–beam, the yoke and its straps, the plowstaff—whatever was lacking I sought from her father’s house. All the same, I still lacked her presence alone. Yet I was not lacking to myself: I became a fisherman, hunter, and fowler and skillfully took up pursuits again that I had interrupted. Whatever game I caught, whatever good fortune brought me went to her family—I was thought a dutiful son–in–law. At midnight once when secretly approaching her door (for I had agreed to this with Galla) the dogs, having taken me for a thief, set upon me. At once, clearing a high hedge, with much ado I fled their barking jaws.
spacer With such activities we at length passed that winter. Spring returned, now the woods grew green again and the vineyards leafy; now the wheat put forth its ears, and now the reaper gave thought to his barley, and now the glowworms flew about at night on their little glimmering wings. And behold! our wedding day arrived, my wife is brought to me. But why say more? The night hoped for by both of us arrived, and my bark was driven into port by favorable winds. Then, having slain an ox, we celebrated with a two–day feast at tables prepared under a broad–spreading tree. Oenophilus blue was there and, freed from cares by drinking a good deal of wine, provided fit cheer for the whole village. And when Tonius, whose pipes are made of many–holed boxwood, after feasting and drinking took up his varicolored bagpipe, blue and, beginning to puff up his reddening cheeks, opened wide his eyes and when, having raised his eyelids and many times drained the breath from the depths of his lungs, he had filled the bag, the pipe, pressed by his elbow, gave out its sound.
His fingers dancing here and there, he called the lads and lasses from their richly provided tables to the crossroads with a song for dancing, and with friendly contests he thus closed up the day. And now three winters have gone and a fourth summer approaches—if a day is fortunate, its hours pass swiftly away. If a thing pleases, it passes away. Hostile things cling closer to us. blue
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FOR. Faustus, do you see? Our herd is stealing into the neighboring vineyards! Now, lest perchance we be punished with a heavy fine, we must go! blue

ECLOGUE II blue
FORTUNATUS
Love’s madness
FAUSTUSspacerspacer FORTUNATUS

spacerFAU. Why are you so late in coming? blue What kept you? (’Tis now the seventh day.) Are these pastures harmful to your flock?
spacerFOR
. The Po, Faustus, that glides past my fields had risen and with its swollen waters had reached the level of its banks. blue My flock’s care put aside, my own and others’ self–interest drove me, serving night and day, to fortify the bank and repulse the raging river.
spacerFAU. When it overflows, the Po too often brings omens of evil. Thus our Tityrus taught, who sang of the pastures and fields.
spacerFOR
. Perhaps this is true when, heedless of the season and beyond measure and bound, it swells with an unexpected surge. But now the season requires these things: for the snows of winter are melting on the high ridges and the mountains are filling the deep–channelled rivers.
spacerFAU. They disburden themselves and fill up the rivers. Likewise the rivers disburden themselves and fill up the sea. So too it is with the ways of men: whatever weighs us down we load on another man’s back.
spacerFOR
. But in fact, having already subsided, the river is being summoned back by its channel.
spacerFAU. Ah, Fortunatus (wondrous to tell!) though the Po is waning, our lake blue now swells with greater waves. The town is afloat now, our cellars have become concealed drains. Men approach their wine casks in skiffs. Gliding towards his wine the steward laughs when a heavy jar is borne from the depths of a pool. Though they might have been born for happier hours, townsmen at times endure many and great misfortunes.
spacerFOR
. Each advantage brings its disadvantages with it. All good fortune has its joyless sequel. blue
spacerFAU. Thus much for Eridanus. blue Let us return to our old loves, since now indeed life–giving Venus moves all things blue and warms the sky with her radiant light, now the earth is green, birds gladden the fields with their spring–songs, and all creatures are bringing forth their young.
spacer FOR
. You sang of your love, but let me speak of another man’s love. For I will recount the love of a shepherd we know to show you that nothing is mightier than Venus’ flames.
  Poor and born under a hostile star, Amyntas, leading to pasture six calves and the same number of heifers equal in age along with a bull, the sire of the herd, came to Coitus blue where the Mincio, swiftly fleeing, washes against the grassy fields with its glistening waves. A wondrous, lofty stronghold with pinnacled walls near the water is Coitus,blue a massive structure founded on the marshy plain. Reclining here nigh the waters of the glassy river where a vine embracing the hawthorn with its long arms overshadows curving shallows, he laid out his trap—rod and hook—for the fish. It was harvest time. The vehemence of the scorching sun had levelled the parched fields, the nightingale had ceased her singing and, the grass everywhere dying, neither could day pasture the sheep nor night feed the cicadas with dew. And while Amyntas bent over the water and turned to his foolish doings, his bull suddenly disappeared from the field, vexed first (so they say) by gadflies, then by dogs, and finally hidden in the woods by a thievish soldier.
spacerWhen the lad discovered this, he mounted a hill and, calling his bull with a loud voice, surveyed the entire countryside. When he found that his efforts were in vain, he snatched up his bow and quiver and searched for the bull among trackless places. At every enclosure and stable he sought him, among your hills, Benacus, blue among acres of land planted with olive trees and fields green with fig trees and vines. At last he came to an elevated ridge that lifts up a tower of sulphur blue and reveals on one side a distant view of Benacus and on the other side plains stretched out far and wide. The day was consecrated to Saint Peter: blue under a leafy elm young men from throughout the village had come together after their midday meal and frivolously danced to the re–echoing pipe.
spacer FAU. Rustics—a race tamable by no art, creatures forever restless—these people delight in the sweat of toil! When on a feast day (a day of rest for all) the morning service has been completed, impatient with rest and fasting they feast and cram their maws. Having heard the piper, they hasten to the elm, and here they rage and leap into the air like bulls. The earth, sinful to turn then with the hoe and plow, they weary and strike with their hard heels and clumsy bulk; and all day long they keep Bacchus’ orgies, shouting, laughing, dancing, and draining their cups.
spacerFOR
. Fool, why are you talking like this? You condemn rustic pleasures, though a rustic yourself? Unfaithful to your own race, you are most disloyal to yourself!
spacerFAU. These things may be spoken in jest—let us return to Amyntas, our fellow.
spacerFOR
. Amyntas stayed his course and, leaning on his maple staff, interrupted his journey until the heat of the day grew less severe. Ah, unfortunate lad, within the shade a greater heat will lay hold of you! Close your eyes lest you see Diana naked in the fountain, lend not your ear to the seductive Sirens. Your fate is like Narcissus’. When he hastened to ease his thirst within the waters, Narcissus thirsted still more. blue You, however, fleeing an outward heat, will burn inwardly. How much better had it been (had not fate thus carried you off) to have returned to your abandoned herd, watched over your heifers, and endured the cost of your lost bull, than, in trying to lose nothing, to lose your very self!
spacerFAU. But after a loss who isn’t wise? Advice that must be given before an action is useless after it. Counsel after action is like rain after harvest time.
spacer FOR
. Among a company of young women there, one girl was most beautiful: blond, taller than the others, some twenty years old, able with her radiant face to vie with and overcome the nymphs of the city. The fringe of her veil, glittering with gold flecks, was pulled back towards her temples and fell on a breast enclosed by the bronze clasp of her robe; a clasp of polished iron squeezed together her waist; and a pleated border of fresh white linen hung down at her feet. blue When the lad saw her, he perished. Beholding her, he drank in love’s flames blue and swallowed down its unseen fires into his heart, fires that can be neither extinguished by water nor lessened by shade or herbs and magical murmurings. Forgetting his herd and the losses to his household, he was wholly consumed by the fires of love and spent his bitter nights in sorrow.
spacer Having often tried with words to curb Amyntas’ worsening flames and restrain his insane rage, I said, “Pitiful lad, what god cast you into this confusion? Nay, no god but Satan, the worst of those who men say fell thrice three nights and days from heaven to earth. Tell me if you know, if you can recall anyone who grew rich in this way, blue who rose in the world, increased his household or heaped his granaries higher by such interests, who enlarged his fields or multiplied his herds or acquired pasturelands for his cattle? Among the many peoples who dwell on this broad earth there are those who carry in men’s bodies to be feasted on at bloodstained tables and who crush human limbs with their teeth; peoples, I say, whom such a Fury vexes with so much wickedness. But there is no race so monstrous, no people so barbarous that they do not curse the love of women. blue Hence springs brawling. Hence comes strife in arms and often deaths fearful and bloody. Hence too come cities overthrown, their walls destroyed. Moreover, the laws themselves written in volumes enclosed by red leather bindings forbid this crime and abhor love.”
spacer When he heard me speak of the law, Amyntas (for as a boy he had been a townsman and passed his time in the city) answered my words: “You are trying to be thought prudent and cautious with these warnings and striving to excel the stern Catos in judgment. Far and wide, this delusion, this shrewd–seeming madness reigns supreme. Man flatters himself and wants to be thought a clever creature, but heedlessly he spreads many nets for himself and tumbles into pitfalls that he himself has dug. Before now, he was free, but he fashioned a servile yoke for himself. This is the burden of those laws (for I too have seen those volumes) that neither our fathers of old could observe nor we ourselves or our children in ages to come can uphold. blue Behold how foolish is man’s wisdom! He hopes for heaven and trusts that there is a place for him among the stars. Perhaps when he dies, he will be changed into a bird blue and his spirit will rise high into the air on newly acquired wings!”
spacer Then I replied, “Why are you ranting this way? God created the laws and knows that impiety will not obey them when it waxes too great.”
spacerFAU. This was a great struggle about important matters!
spacerFOR
. What kind of man do you think I was? Though I might be ragged and rude now, then I was keen–witted, strong, and eloquent, blue then no herdsman could match himself against me.
spacerFAU. Even now, if you walk erect with your head uplifted, you are Marius. With your face shaved you seem to be Carbo. blue
spacer FOR. Thus rebuked, Amyntas replied, “When man had been created, God envied him—for the pleasure He had granted to him seemed too great a good—and repressed man’s desires by laws He invented: just as a rider halters his horse lest it be able to turn wheresoever it pleases. Love frees my tongue and compels me to speak my opinion. Whoever doesn’t share the use of his wife is an envious man; and honor, introduced by the unjust practice of longstanding envy, frees that envy from blame. For when a man keeps his delights to himself, not wishing to share them with others, a custom—made universal and longstanding, having become ‘honor’—madness makes into law. Love becomes an envious thing, pleasure a thing that is envied.”
At that moment, daring dispute no more with him, I withdrew from the further ravings of this man possessed by love.
spacerFAU. Do you see how, affected thus, this wicked man can close the eye of reason? Do you perceive how we can freely be led into open error?
spacerFOR
. And do you see how, descending Baldo’s peak, blue the darkening clouds are gathering? A hailstorm is stirring. Lest perchance the tempest overtake our wandering sheep, it is time to depart!

ECLOGUE III blue
AMYNTAS
The unhappy outcome of mad love
FAUSTUSspacerspacer FORTUNATUS

spacerFAU. That hailstorm yesterday,blue Fortunatus, that came tumbling down Baldo’s peak did us no harm (all thanks to the gods who watch over our crops). But just as Harculus coming from the region claims, it so ravaged Verona’s fields, livestock, and sheepfolds, overthrew so many of its cottages and shepherds’ huts that the farmers there have no hope left them. For indeed livestock are the farmer’s riches, livestock and the fields subjected to these misfortunes. But the townsman has a hoard laid up in a large coffer, a treasure that no hailstorm, frost, cold, or airy tempest can batter.
spacerFOR. I know not who rules the winds and storms. This I do know. (But though I know this, I know not enough. And yet might I dare speak? What will I say? Will I therefore be punished in my lifetime?) If, as is claimed, divine powers rule the world from above, I reckon that they care not at all for the hard labors of men. Look with what sweat we gain our meager living, blue how many evils the shepherd bears (poor wretch!) for his flock, children, and wife. In summer he burns in its harmful heat. He is numbed by the frosts of winter. In the rain we sleep on hard flints or on the ground. A thousand contagions, a thousand sicknesses oppress our sheep, a thousand dangers harass them. The thief threatens the flock with his snares, the wolf too and the soldier, more thievish than any wolf. When our hands have become calloused, worn by constant use, when our faces have become dirty, our beards stiff, our skin dried out by the heat, then a single hailstorm suddenly snatches up everything with its whirling winds. The gods above do this, the gods before whose altars we bend in honor and to whom we dedicate our little torches and waxen offerings. blue I don’t know what kind of affection and mildness could overwhelm with so many calamities shepherds who lack all the necessities of life.
spacerFAU
. Our crimes, Fortunatus, bring all these things on us. The sentence of Heaven’s judge is just.
spacer FOR. What crimes? Did we plot against Christ’s life?
spacerFAU. Our quarrels, thefts, anger, and lust, our lies and brawling.
spacerFOR. But why have even good men deserved this? For truly crime overwhelms not all men, yet one scourge equally destroys all of us.
spacerFAU.
Ah! don’t you know that it is impiety to speak wickedly of the gods above? These matters, impious to know, it is thus necessary not to know. Putting them aside, let us turn again to the cares of Amyntas, cares we too have known and cannot be ignorant of. Love is common to all of us, an interest shared by all young men.
spacerFOR. Often grief and other feelings unhinge our judgment. Troubled words oft issue from a troubled mind.
spacerFAU. Things we understand may be spoken according to circumstance and time (in this way was Cosmas thought wise), but what we don’t understand must never be uttered.
spacerFOR. Faustus, indeed you are wise. Let us return to love, a subject we know. It remains to present Amyntas’ ravings during his last days and to devote a tear to his pitiable downfall.

spacer Passing that place again a little later I saw the man raging with love and pitying him I again said, “Oh, you of heedless mind, drunk with a deadly poison! Though the people gossip about you, you still haven’t recovered your reason. Sunk still in love, you are ruining yourself and everything around you, both cattle and cottage, just as once long ago Samson in dying destroyed everything with him. When you are bent with age (if perchance destiny grants you an old age) who will support you, idle, dull, and weak, since all your strength and skills have already deserted you and your reason has wholly abandoned you? All these afflictions old age (unless death precedes it) will bring to you. Stay at home, remain wakeful and watchful; above all, always look where you’re heading and beware of going where it is grievous to enter. Distinguish between the various paths, and remember that man was not born for those feminine delights and allurements so ruinous to frivolous young men. I myself, who have cattle, milk and cheese, can scarcely make a living: such great want has ravaged all my fields; everywhere so many hardships, such great vexations, so many misfortunes are compacted within the world. Hearken to a tale untold, a matter revealed to me not in the past but today. As usual, with autumn approaching I sheared my sheep. At the market this morning I offered for sale sixty pounds of wool and thought I would get a high price for it. I have supported my flock with difficulty; now, only with difficulty will I be able to buy food for them against the snows of winter. I can’t see yet, Amyntas, how the rest of my household is going to live. Every lover must send little gifts to his lady. But you, whom Fortune has scarce left a roof under which poverty dwells night and day, blue what gift will you be able to offer to a greedy wench? I remember when it used to be enough to send your lover ten apples, blue red flowers, a bird’s nest snatched from a tree, and fragrant herbs. blue I recall when these were thought great riches. But now we have come from herbs to gold. blue In these times love is a regal thing. The old ways are gone and a kind of evil rule of love has arisen.”
blue
spacer And while I thus exhorted him, with a fierce look he replied: “If you wish my welfare, Fortunatus, give me what I desire. This is the one remedy for my heartache. The others you name are torments to me. This ‘madness’ can’t be plucked from my thoughts. The girl’s image dwells in my heart: blue she stays with me, comes and goes with me, wakes and slumbers with me. Twined round my heart, head, bones, and marrow, she can leave me only when my life departs. Just as wherever a scion cut from one tree is grafted onto the trunk of another, the nature of the two is joined and the slip, blended with the trunk, unites with it, in the same way my lady’s beloved image has plunged into my heart and drawn our two hearts together, making them one; the same feelings, the same soul dwells within us.   Oh, how fortunate would I be if when death calls me I could at least lay my languishing head, my soul then departing, on her lap, sweet breasts, and in her snow–white arms! With her right hand she would close my dying eyes, and she would bewail my death with many a mournful cry.  Whether after death I journey to the fields of the blessed or am borne to swift Phlegethon’s burning waves, blue without you I will never be blessed, with you never be pitiable. Oh you dryads, floral goddesses, and comely nymphs, oh Silvanus, lord of the groves, on your hills and within your cool valleys watch over, I pray you, each grace of the forest and fields. Enclose your groves with fences and keep out the herds lest they injure the flowers there. Keep those beauties, I pray you, for my lady’s funeral rites. Then let the ground be wholly strewn with flowers, blue weave fragrant garlands and place them round her grave and over my mistress as she lies there at rest. The Pierian maidens blue will be in mourning at her tomb and sing a song of lamentation, their cheeks moist with tears. And they will leave behind engraved on her tomb these words to be read by future ages: ‘Here lies buried a maid who would have been called “goddess,” had she not been cruel to her lover.’ Ah maid, if such an ardent desire as mine consumed you, past a hundred Scyllas, a thousand Charybdises blue I would swim to help you; but you, more savage than the Hydra, flee me. And yet she is not to blame, for as yet she does not know of me. Indeed, if she knew, she would hasten unbidden to aid me; nor do I reckon that behind such a gentle visage can lie so iron–hard a heart. blue All the same, looks are deceiving: fierce minds lie under soft skin, monstrous hearts behind a tranquil brow. I will speak to her and make her understand the fires of my love. And yet if she turns her face from mine, my eyes will melt in tears, my unhappy heart in sighs. Though she might forever hate and flee me, nonetheless wherever I am borne, my care for her will always pursue me.
spacerHence, you healing arts—I cannot be cured. Hence, you who with magic incantations (a thing unworthy of belief) recall pale spirits from Orcus. Hence, you who think the gods can be moved by your vain entreaties. Heaven is contrary and deaf to your prayers. An impatient rage now seizes me and bids me wander alone among mountain heights and the unknown haunts of wild beasts!”
spacer While thus he raged, with friendly words I tried to turn him from his purposes, but nothing can heal an incurable wound. The dead of night discovered him among the still fields. Among thickets of thorns the newly risen day viewed him always sleepless, now and then plucking an apple in the forest and content simply with a draught of water. After many a sigh, his eyes emptied by constant weeping, after lamentations and after his heart had repeatedly been shaken by sobbing, in dying he at last set a bound to his love. His lifeless body, abandoned without the honor of a grave, beasts devoured by night and birds by day.
spacerspacerFAU. Alas, oh deadly plague, oh fateful weapon that pierces human hearts far and wide with poisoned arrows, that brings men to the level of beasts! What worse cup could Circe have offered? What love potion more evil could Calypso ever have given? What Stygian waves, what waters of Phlegethon are more grievous? What Fury is greater? Oh, fools you are, anyone who affirms Love to be a god! blue Can a nature that is harmful be a god? Wherever a god is, he is merciful, just, not harmful to men.
spacerFOR. Alas, pitiable lad felled in the tenderness of youth, what stars shone at your birth? What part of heaven is so harmful to you as to have afflicted you undeservedly and condemned you to misfortune in your youth? Nonetheless, the heavens were not wholly unforthcoming to you. You were expert in every kind of verse and in whatever we sang to the accompaniment of the clear–noted pipe. Had not an untimely death borne you off, you would have been worthy of the ivy, worthy of Parnassus’ bays. Nor did Tityrus sing better of battles and unhappy war, of barley and pastures and the care of the fields—Tityrus, our fellow, greatly beloved by mighty Alexis. blue For your early quickness of mind, long known to us, had begun to bring forth a bountiful harvest, and indeed you had borne an uncommon example of your excellence and artistry. You could already be called the glory of our fields and the imperishable ornament of our age. The Po and our Mincio with their nymphs wept for you, as Thracian Hebrus lamented Orpheus. blue The lords of the flocks in sadness wept for you, just as they are said to have mourned Daphnis. The pastures and fields everywhere wept for you, and lamentation was heard throughout the plains. Shepherds, strew his tomb with fragrant grasses, yearly lead in procession the priests’ singing and incense, and hymn the poet’s eternal repose.
spacer FAU. All the same, Amyntas, you have reached the fields of a better homeland and now dwell high on Elysium. blue We here on earth weep for you.
spacerFOR. And today there was reason for us to weep: for at night in my dreams I have been seeing mournful apparitions. But now Vesper is here and the setting sun, hiding behind a cloud, announces an approaching rainstorm to the farmer. blue  ’Tis time to gather the sheep together and drive them to the sheepfold!

ECLOGUE IV blue
ALPHUS
The character of women
ALPHUS spacerspacerIANNUS

spacerALPHUS That goat of yours, Jannus, I see has grown gaunt. He used to be lively and walk with his horns raised skywards. But downcast now, his ears drooping, he dully sniffs the grass and only touches it with his lips. blue
spacerIAN. Indeed, he languishes, yet from that languor of his arises a merry tale that, however often I recall it, rouses my laughter. As yet I’ve not recounted it, and when I have, all the world will wonder at it.
spacerALPHUS Jannus, you are wont to recount a jest most wittily and with pleasing words—tell me then why your goat droops.
spacerIAN. ’Tis no fable (God is my witness) but a recent event. Yet this delightful misdeed I can’t recount for free. What reward can I hope for? What gifts will I carry home? blue
spacerALPHUS I will teach you, Jannus, where the nightingale builds her nest.
spacerIAN. He who promises lightly deceives with empty promises.
spacerALPHUS And he who mistrusts is mistrusted. But I will make your mind secure with a token of my promise: take two arrows from my quiver.
spacerspacerIAN. Then I will begin. Nymphs of Parnassus, rouse your voices. blue Recount my goat’s dire misfortune and grant to Alphus the nests of Philomel. blue
spacer A lad I had hired to oversee my sheepfold used regularly to pasture my sheep and my he–goat and she–goats. The boy’s service was useful to me until, having spied a girl who came hither to fetch water, he pined away. blue Driven mad from that moment he began to cool in his care for my flock, to pay no heed to the sheepfold and, his mind exhausted, to upset all manner of things. Whenever he slept, he could seem to be awake, for he used to babble; and when he was awake, he was listless and daydreamed. Sporting once in a grove, with strong withes he bound this goat here by its horns among the thornbushes (that was three days ago) to see if it could overcome his bonds with its neck and the strength of its rock–hard horns. Meanwhile he roamed throughout the grove seeking the nests of birds. blue The girl’s image had entered his heart. blue He reflected on her dear face; her face, her breasts, and parts it’s shameful to speak of—he contemplated everything! Meanwhile the light of day fled and, his goat forgotten, he returned home. Remembering it in the dead of night he arose, and as he walked fearfully among the shadows he tumbled into a pitfall that, covered with willow branches and dry straw to catch wild animals, was like some inescapably deep dungeon. Thus my goat was in bonds, my boy in a prison, and no shepherd watched over my sheep!
spacer By this time the third hour of the day had come. blue I began to wonder. I released and counted the sheep and, searching for my goat, was struck dumb with amazement. I called after the lad and made the rounds of the huts. I’ll speak truly: I feared lest, anointed perchance with some magic oil, he had mounted the goat and departed into the air. For it is said that by such magic, witches wandering at night are borne hence to their far–off revels. Puzzled, I at last drove my sheep to pasture. And when, musing idly on my shepherd’s crook, I entered the grove—lo! among its shadows my goat raised a ruckus far off within the thornbushes and with its horns struggled against its bonds. Not expecting such a sight, I was terrified by this sudden spectral image. But plucking up my courage at last, I recognized the animal and, entering the brambles, cut its bonds with my billhook.
spacer Returning home late I spied far off in the pasture a crowd exulting with boyish laughter. When we had drawn near and they had recognized me, they greeted me and said, “Behold your boy here, oh Jannus, plucked out of the wolfpits. blue While he was roaming the fields at night, he fell into a trap.” And thus were found both goat and shepherd. Having borne these troubles, my goat droops yet; but the callow boy has less sense than the goat. The girl soon grew proud when she heard she was loved and, pretending not to know of his love, feigned coyness so that it might add to her beauty. She decked out her mouth and breasts and walked with her eyes turned cunningly towards the ground. She conducted herself with the simplicity of a fox. These cares, these snares—these are the weapons of women. Hoping to win his Galatea blue at some time or other, the lad pursued his love, caring little for his wages. Thus I have returned to shepherd’s toil, my cart, plow, and oxen left behind. This frivolity of youth, when ruled by love’s rage, is upsetting the whole countryside!
spacer ALPHUS What ingenuity can’t accomplish, chance can. Oh, dullness! oh, clever chance! oh, tale that two months’ laughter will go to celebrate! Jannus, my promise must be kept: for you the nightingale now labors. But what you recount so skillfully concerning the girl’s cunning brings to mind a song about woman’s guile that Umber often used to sing long ago. blue
spacerIAN. If you have any song of Umber’s, pray sing it. blue For a little while rehearse both its words and measures. A song of Umber’s is worthy of being remembered. blue
spacerALPHUS It is (as you say) a song memorable, but not free. What thanks will you give me? What reward will I have?
spacerIAN. Take these things: I free you from your promises and give back your arrows.
spacerALPHUS While I go to relieve my bowels behind that sedge there, blue drive together my flock, Jannus, lest they harm the vines. [He departs.]

spacerIAN. Ah, ram—you who with your twisted horns bring to mind a black devil—you are forever stealing into our vineyards! Until I have plucked your eyes out, you won’t know any better! A hundred acres of pasture aren’t enough unless you have ravaged the vineyards and fields.
spacerALPHUS I’m back, Jannus, and have recalled Umber’s song. But let me also tell you of many things perhaps not yet known among men. Umber knew all that a man is permitted to learn thoroughly: the skies, stars, earth, winds, sea, rivers, and springs. blue He had viewed Rhodope, yes and the lofty Ceraunian peaks blue and Ossa, the Gallic kingdom with its Saô ne and Rhô ne rivers, and both the Tiber and Po. With a Roman’s words he rehearsed an Attic song, fluent in either tongue, most excellent in either language. Him alone Greece, the Arcadians themselves, the Thracian grove, and Thessalian Tempe envied us. If perchance you would like to know anything more about him, Candidus blue (who has always followed his example) dwells not far from here. He keeps Umber’s wisdom, he will teach it to us. But now let me try with my breath my oaten pipe of seven holes. Yet first I pray that the nymphs of Libethra be present, blue and chiefly Polyhymnia who men say remembers many things.
spacer “Servile, cruel, and proud, blue a woman lacks law, measure and reason. She ignores the bounds of right, delights in extremes, does everything by whim. She lolls about or runs around excitedly; she is winter and fierce cold, or with the Dog Star she torments the burning earth. A woman never cares for moderation or the mean: she either loves you ardently or hates you mortally. If she is sad, she grieves, wild–eyed, stony and stern. But if, her sadness abated, she should try to become loving, she becomes waggish; her wantonness breaks forth in seductive laughter, and a harlot–like submissiveness beams in her soft features. She weeps, laughs, is judicious or mad, fears or is bold. She wants or doesn’t want something, blue quarrels with herself. She is changeable, blue inconstant, wandering, prattling, vain, deceitful, domineering, threatening, indignant, bloodthirsty, wicked, greedy, grasping, complaining, envious, credulous, untruthful, impatient, burdensome, drunken, rash, carping, ambitious, frivolous, a witch, a bawd, superstitious, lazy, gluttonous, eager to stuff herself, overdelicate in her tastes, lecherous, impudent, given over to licentiousness, flattery, and pandering to her beauty. Unyielding in her anger and hatred, she puts off her vengeful thoughts until the right moment. She is faithless, ungrateful, spiteful, impetuous, bold, savage, quarrelsome, and rebellious. She accuses others but with a tragic voice excuses her own misdeeds. She grumbles, inflames quarrels, disregards her bond, laughs at friendship, and cares only for her own advantage. She deceives, flatters, denounces, and nips at others with her caustic wit. She sows trifles among her neighbors, enlarges with her prattle tales she has heard, and makes a mountain out of a molehill. Skilled in inventing motives, she conceals the truth and feigns falsehoods; she suits her looks to embarking on trickery and to deceiving, those looks readily suitable to all occasions. You cannot escape her schemes or defeat her cunning: so many are her arts, so great is her skill in doing harm. And though you might witness some crime of hers with your own eyes, she will nonetheless dare to justify it. Through the diligence of her mind she can delude your senses: there is nothing you can believe in and nothing in which, if she wishes, she would not lead you to believe.
spacer “Examples will bear these things out. What crimes have not been attempted by the hand of woman? Beguiled by an ornament for her left arm, Tarpeia betrayed her city to its enemies. Medea raged with gory hands against her children. Tyndareus’ daughter burdened the Aegean waves with ships. Scylla followed the enemy, having stolen a lock of her father’s hair. Byblis loved her brother, Myrrha gave herself to her father, Semiramis yearned in old age to lie with her son. The seer Amphiaraus’ wife was the cause of his death, Danaus’ daughters slew their husbands with weapons at night, and the Thracian women cut up the poet Orpheus limb by limb. The wantonness of Pasiphae’s lust is well–known; and Phaedra cruelly ventured against Hippolytus’ chastity. Rebecca of the Jews tricked her husband and his son when she covered Jacob’s neck with goatskins; Hercules’ wife offered him the fatal poison; and Hippodamia beguiled her father. blue Lavinia involved the Trojans in a dubious war, Briseis drove Achilles from the camps, and maddened by Chryseis Agamemnon flashed lightning and felt Apollo’s wrath. Indeed, Eve drove our race from those happy fields. Believe me, you shepherds, (by the gods of the countryside I swear it!) if you want the fields safe for your flocks, if you care for your sheep, finally if quiet, peace, and life itself are dear to you, keep away those capricious girls; let all of them—Thestylis and Phyllis, Galatea, blue Neaera, and Lycoris blue —be driven far from your sheepfolds. Tell me, what woman ever descended into gloomy Orcus’ realm and returned? Had she not been foolish, Eurydice could have been brought back from those shades among which she had descended. blue And Persephone, when she had been carried off, refused to follow her weary mother. blue But pious Aeneas returned, yes and Orpheus came back, as did mighty Achilles and Theseus and the two brothers blue (the one skilled in riding, the other in boxing and wrestling) and in truth our Lord God, whence springs again our salvation and life. These, shepherds, these are mysteries you ought to consider: men’s thoughts flee obscene matters while the minds of women choose shameful things.”

spacer —Just as a sailor, having been once hurled against the rocks by wind and waves, knows how to show the dangers to unsuspecting sailors, so an older man, made more prudent by great experience, remembers past misfortunes, lays bare their future consequences, and points out the dangers in life.—
spacer“If coots flee the eagle, deer the hunters’ nets, if the lamb flees the wolf and the doe the hound, why, shepherd, don’t you flee women’s enticements, so harmful to you?  blue  In women there are the crocodile’s compassion and the hyena’s cunning: when they weep and call seductively, they are lying in ambush for you. blue Flee, shepherd—for they are snares—flee women’s looks. Trust not to your reason, ability, or strength, or to that shield by whose protection Perseus safely viewed the serpents of Medusa, who turned men to stone. Many men have slain monsters, conquered giants, overthrown cities, and imposed law on the seawaves, river currents, and craggy mountains; sacred contests have crowned many; but even those who have conquered all obstacles have themselves been conquered by women. That king, famous for his sling and lion’s skin, who once was a shepherd, blue and his son who first erected Sion’s temple, and Samson, distinguished for his unconquered strength—all these men submitted to a woman’s yoke. Fire, stones, spears, arrows, death itself all are less harmful! And, not content with her beauty’s radiance, a woman increases it by a thousand means. She binds her forehead with gold, artfully makes her cheeks rosy and arranges her hair, artfully governs her walk and controls the movements of her eyes. She runs away so as to lead her lover deceptively to her hideaway. blue She wants to surrender yet, wishing to seem simple and honorable, denies and struggles against him; but above all she wants to be conquered. blue Woman is like the wind named caecias that (a wondrous matter!) draws the clouds while it drives them away with its deceptive breezes.
spacer“Whoever you are—from experience I warn you—while you are able, don’t put to the test how much fastidiousness this brittle sex possesses. By nature a filthy creature, woman nonetheless seeks through her art to be clean. That is her toil by day, her dream by night. She smooths her skin, washes and paints her face, wrinkles her brow, rubs her face with creams, and adorns herself—but all of her is trickery, artifice, mimicry, and poison! She does everything by the counsel of her mirror. Having gazed into a glass, she learns how to move her lips and compose her features, to flatter a man, to laugh and jest, and to wiggle her shoulders and hips as she walks. What means that naked bosom? That uncovered cleft which cleaves a valley between her breasts? Doubtless for no other reason than for her piercing venom to oppress your senses further and for her Stygian flames to seize your heart. These are the rocks and sands, the Scylla and Charybdis of youth. These creatures are the foul–winged monsters known to Phineus blue that, loosening their bowels, are wont to defile with their filthy flood bedchambers, dining rooms, banqueting tables, crossroads, churches, highways, fields, seas, rivers, and mountains. These are Phorcus’ daughters blue of monstrous visage who once in far–off Lybian lands were wont by their looks to transform men into stone.”
spacer I have repeated in haste these verses of wise–spoken Umber. If they seem long to you, remember that it is the fault of the subject, not the song. The verses aren’t long; the folly of women is unending.
spacerIAN. Ah, memorable old man! Ancient Umbria and the Tiber itself that borders your city blue so boast of you; and to its advantage Rome, sacred to Mars, so often used to call upon your attendance. Rome itself had come to know of your achievements and rare verses. When you died, the Naiads of Rome and Greece wept for you. blue May your bones forever rest softly blue and may your resplendent soul dwell forever on the heights of Olympus. blue

ECLOGUE V blue
CANDIDUS
The treatment of poets by rich men
SILVANUSspacerspacerCANDIDUS

spacerSIL. Candidus, once you were accustomed to graze your sheep with ours, to play your pipe beneath this cool shade, exchange jests, and take part in our wrestling matches. blue But now, as if detesting shepherds and fields, you flee our pastures and draw out your idleness, having put your song to sleep.
spacerCAN. You whose household goods abound, whose cows’ udders are swollen, whose herds fill creamy milkpails, whose cups are snow–white with milk, and whose rich midday meals give off their steam—you it is who praise my songs, and if any of them turns out more neatly than the rest, you praise it and happily extend it an ear freed from stress. But in exchange for my verses you pay me with empty praise and meaningless words, and in the meantime as a shepherd I thirst, suffer hunger, and endure the cold weather. blue
spacerSIL.
But can’t you care for your flocks and sing your verses when there is time? Having laid aside your cares, can’t you change your life?
spacerCAN. A shepherd must devote all his labor to his flocks. He must keep coming and going, chasing away the wolves, surrounding his sheds with a fence, buying straw and winter feed, and seeking food for himself. No leisure is left to him. A praiseworthy song, Silvanus, requires all my toil and thought. Both labors, singing and tending a flock, are great ones and unequal to my strength. When I sing, I grow thirsty, yet no man extends me a cup in my thirst. Some mock me and say, “your cloak is worn, Candidus, your knees are bare, your beard stiff with bristles.” blue Now the woods are unplumed and in the mountains winter seems white with snow; blue and now I am angry, I grieve and complain. For the way that we live now is taking all we have, our wool and young rams. We aren’t selling the ewe lambs. blue And on the contrary, since they are being suckled, none of the ewes can be milked. The lambs dry up their udders. I rue my talents (if I have any), my trade, even my life, since none of the many stars that are in the clear sky has guided it favorably. Up to now I sang (as you know) without payment. My youth, which needed little, was my reward. Far otherwise are the circumstances of advancing old age. It makes me needful of all things and, my strength extinguished, takes away all my hope of gain. Soon I must put to use what I have acquired, now is the time to seek it. Behold how the ant, a small but foresighted creature, lays up against the cold of winter fresh grain in his hollow storerooms during the summertime blue and, lest the grains sprout, cuts them in two with his jaws when he has stored them.
spacerSIL. Astrologers are said to understand the stars, those beacons of Fate. These men place poets under Mercury and put kings and other powerful men under Jupiter. To the latter Jupiter grants wealth and office. To the former the son of Maia gives genius, speech, the lyre, and the art of song. This is your lot. Why do you seek for riches? God divides all things among everyone, since He can see the future better than we. Remain content with your lot, blue then, without seeking ours.
spacerCAN. You have your riches, I my songs. Why then, Silvanus, do you seek to obtain poetry and usurp another man’s portion?
spacerSIL. I’m not stealing Apollo’s songs and instruments from you. On the contrary, I wish to lend an ear to their sweet–sounding harmonies.
spacer CAN. If then you wish to rejoice in my harmonies, Silvanus, it is fit for me to rejoice in your riches.
spacerSIL. The man rejoices in my riches who loves them. The envious man hates them and endures another man’s prosperity with troublesome thoughts.
spacerCAN. So also you can rejoice in my songs in absence. Let these joys be enough of my art for you. Songs are a feast for the ears but food for the mouth. If you want to listen to them, you must please my palate. Love, piety, and God all desire this. For God grants diverse gifts to different folk in such a way that no man is wholly self–sufficient but each needs some aid from another. Just this circumstance joins together every race: Frenchmen and Moors, Italians and Spaniards. Let us unite our stars then; make Jupiter be favorable to me and I will cause my Mercury to grant you all his gifts: blue his cap, rod, lyre, Herculean knot, blue and wings.
spacerSIL. You’re preaching idle thoughts with too many words.
spacer CAN. You say those things are idle that seem to lessen your wealth. If you want to hear my songs, rescue a mind dulled by care. A song wants cheerful thoughts and a tranquil heart. Like a kite enduring hunger and cold I feel numbed. For a long time my skin has been rough, old age has ravaged my face. I haven’t a herd in my stables, grain in my field, or gold in my coffer—and you want me to live, having laid aside my cares! Such a remedy doesn’t suit my afflictions. Come, give me life, clothe and feed me, hasten to relieve my burdensome old age. Then you will find me prompt in my verses and prepared to sing. Cares are driven away by a well–stocked house and cellar, an ample store of victuals, full jars and wine–flasks, a full granary, sleek herds, and a purse heavy with coins. Then I delight to keep watch before the fire at night through wintry Decembers and to play at plowing into the ashes with a stick. blue Then I love to roast chestnuts, covering them afterwards with the warm embers, to quench my thirst with a brimful glass, and to laugh at a merry tale among the spinning maids. blue Under Maecenas’ care of old, Tityrus blue (so men say) sang more loftily of the countryside, of the oxen and fields, and of the wars of Mars; and with his mighty song he battered the heavens. Good fortune gave him eloquence. But the Aeonian Muses flee us and Apollo slights us, the feeble crowd of poets: ragged, weakened by hunger, fed on scraps.
spacerSIL. If the conditions I hope for grant me what I desire, I will release you, Candidus, from your present cares.
spacer CAN. Ah, Silvanus, may you have as much good will then as you have means at this moment! I ask not for Cosimo’s riches, blue silk garments and Tyrian cloaks, or the meals of a king. I hunger not for the delicacies of Aesop’s dish blue or Minerva’s shield. I don’t need the dwelling of that king whose iron–colored—nay, bronze–colored—beard blue (for I remember having learned these things long ago under Umber) blue gave him his name. I ask for clothing and food within a small dwelling, more certain that that aid will last throughout my life. Let me have Pythagoras’ meals and Codrus’ furnishings. blue Often I have met others who gave me hope, blue who were lavish in words but sparing in their gifts. In you alone I put my trust. If even you were to be false to me, all my hopes would be cut off so that I would become like the nightingale when summer’s heat has returned: silent and dumb. There will come a time to hang up my arblue ms on the door and, with the Circus’ closing, to cease my gladiator’s trials by combat.
spacerSIL. Candidus, have you seen Rome and the prelates of its holy court where there are so many poets, so much abundance? ’Tis easy to grow wealthy in those fields.

spacerCAN. You are deceived in thinking I want to grow wealthy. The wolf thinks that all animals devour their food raw, and indeed you believe that other men frame their songs by the measure you have allowed. I don’t desire to become rich but to live with little. Give me a slender diet without care, with this I will live content. I have seen Rome’s palaces. But why do you suppose Rome will help me? Oh Silvanus, Augustus has perished, never will he return from Orcus. If Rome will give anything, it will give me baubles. It takes gold but gives only words. Alas, wealth alone now rules in Rome. Virtue is banished. We are bidden to be hopeful, and indeed all round the whole world poets are fed on hope.
spacerSIL. Sing of battles, sing of men’s deeds, sing of the strife of kings. Turn your thoughts to those who wield the scepter and govern kingdoms. You will find someone to rescue you from your squalor.
spacerCAN. Nay, I’ll find only men to deride and mock me. In that tempest poetry has as much respect as a bawdyhouse. Silvanus, why do you provoke me like this?
spacerSIL. A poet shouldn’t burst out in obscene language.
spacerCAN. I am unable to utter lies. If you perhaps wish the truth to remain silent, stop provoking me with foolish maxims.
spacerSIL. To offer useful counsel is not to provoke you.

spacerCAN. I’m rich in counsel but most poor in gold. How will a poor poet sing of battles, men’s deeds, and the strife of kings who hasn’t a knife fit to carve his pipe aright or bore holes in it? Look how the hilt is crooked, the pins having fallen out, and how its edge is jagged like an old saw. ’Tis a trifling inconvenience but grievous and intolerable when I eat. Useful counsel fortifies the mind. Useless advice shatters it, lessens its vigor, and blunts it. Great men are ashamed to grant small rewards and refuse to give large gifts. Moreover, kings respect our songs in the same way that the north wind cares for the leaves, the south wind for the sea, or hoarfrost for the vineyard. Kings, themselves inclined to passing fancies and idleness, desire what they honor to be praised. From this arise dissipated songs of the desperate pursuit of Venus and scurrility, of gluttony and sloth, and of shameful deeds that it is mortal sin for an honest poet to celebrate. But kings who with their mighty hands vigorously waged war and bravely reveled in arms, not spinelessly in gold—these men loved the grave muses. Kings who do heroic deeds praise heroic verses. When brave and manly virtue passed away, poets found no exalted subjects to sing. Their inspiration died and lofty poetry was brought to ruin. But if by chance some king now wages war cruelly and has obtained glory by his zeal for arms in war, he cares not at all for the regard of foreign peoples and the ages to come; the praise of his own people and the present age is enough. Either he is a barbarian and loves not our song or, a greedy man, he is immersed in his gold and burns with Midas’ fiery cares. So too among kings there is a rude, envious, coarse mob of players, sycophants, pimps, flatterers, adulterers, court jesters, and buffoons, all of whom hate excellence. blue In a thousand ways they drive poets away: just as, when ravens discover a carcass, they put to flight the other birds and beasts. Moreover there are also certain wanton, lawless poets who, reared without discipline, dare without instruction to write whatever kings like (and they like only infamous tales): for madness vexes poets too. By some sort of foolishness in their thoughts these men aspire to be true poets. After they have pressed their mouths to their puny Pan pipes, they applaud themselves and boast of their songs—these insipid, graceless, ignorant, unforeseeing, tasteless men! He who is accustomed to lend an ear freed from other preoccupations to these long–winded verses thinks their defects to be faults shared by all poets and, unlearned himself in discerning what is false from what is true, opposes poets who are truly learned.
spacer
SIL. By the gods above, by the spirits of Heaven I swear, Candidus, that, if favorable winds fill my sails, I will bring help to you. Live for better times, and for a little while refuse not still to join your hopes with mine.
spacerCAN. If this is what you wish for me, Silvanus, may you have it!
spacerSIL. It is, indeed—and my good faith will soon follow my promise.
spacerCAN. Greedy wretch, go under evil omens, never to return! And like Midas may you suddenly gild whatever you touch, since in your eyes excellence is cheaper than gold.
   

Go to Eclogue VI