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This text of one of the
Eclogues

of
Calpurnius Siculus

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1934 (revised 1935)

is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

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p269 Calpurnius Siculus
Eclogue VI

Astylus: Lycidas: Mnasyllus

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] You are here too late, Lycidas. Just now Nyctilus and young Alcon have been contending in alternate song beneath these branches. I was umpire: each laid a stake. Nyctilus pledged his p271goat-kids along with their mother; Alcon pledged a whelp from a lioness mother, affirming its breed on oath.1 But he won and carried off all.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] That untrained Alcon can have beaten Nyctilus in song is only believable, Astylus, if the crow can excel the goldfinch or the eerie owl surpass the tuneful nightingale.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] May I never win Petale, for whom alone I pine, if Nyctilus can rank next him in trained skill upon the pipes or in song any more than in looks.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] No longer am I deceived. When you were umpire, Nyctilus came pale, his beard pricklier than the bristly porcupine. But his rival was fair, sleeker than a smooth egg, with laughter in his eyes and the very gleam of gold in his hair, worthy the name "Apollo," if only he did not sing.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] O Lycidas, if you'd any practice in song, you too would know how to applaud Alcon and award him the palm.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Well then, since you're not on a level even with me, you rascal, will you yourself, umpire though you've been, match your reed-pipes against mine? Will you join strife? Alcon, if you like, may come as arbiter.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Can you beat anyone? or would anyone deign to compete with you? — scarce can your dry throat jerk out its dribbling notes and squirt words forth in miserable gasps.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] More lies you may tell; and yet, you rascal, you p273can't bring true reproaches against me like all that Lycotas brings against you. But what need to waste our time in fruitless wrangling? See, here comes Mnasyllus. He will be (unless mayhap you shirk the challenge) an umpire undeceived, you rascal, by boastful words.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I own I had preferred to depart, even though condemned beforehand, rather than match a bit of my voice against your rivalry. Still, that you may not go unpunished for all this — look, do you see yonder stag that reclines in the heart of the white lilies? Though my own Petale is fond of him, take him if you win. He is trained to bear reins and yoke and follows a call with trustfulness; 'tis no glutton mouth he shoots out for his food. Do you see how his head branches wide with antlers, and how the necklet hangs beneath his very horns and shapely neck? Do you see how his forehead gleams, enmeshed with snowy frontlet, and how from his back the side girth, circling his whole belly, has amulets of glass on this side and on that? Roses twine neatly round his horns and softly round his branching temples; and a collaret with red-gold chain dangles from beneath the neck, where a boar's pendent tusk is set, showing up his breast with snow-white crescent. This stag, just as you see him, is the stake whose forfeiture I risk, Mnasyllus, to secure that this fellow may know he is not worsted in a stakeless conflict.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He thinks, Mnasyllus, that his wager frightens me. Look how alarmed I am! You know I have p275some mares of no mean breed; from their stock swift-footed Petasos will I stake: now for the first time weaned from his mother, he has cropped the grass with tender teeth. His back is firmly set, head tossing keenly, neck free from over-weight, foot light, flank thin, forehead high-poised; and below, in narrow sheath of horn, is bound his shapely hoof — the hoof which takes him prancing across the green cornland so lightly as to touch, but not bend, the slender blades. By the woodland deities I swear, him I will give, if I lose.

M. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I am at leisure and 'twill be a joy to hear your songs. Compete, of course, if you so wish and I will judge. Look, yonder, straight ahead, the Muses have made a couch under the ilex-tree.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Nay, let us leave the meadow and the bank of the flowing stream, so that the sound of the neighbouring river may not drown our music. For under the worn porous rock the waters echo me hoarsely, and the gravel of the babbling brook spoils a song.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] If you wish, let us seek the caves rather and the crags which neighbour them, those crags where clings green moss with dripping fleece, and a vaulted roof, as it were of tortoise-shell scooped out, overhangs the rocks which make a curving hollow arch.

M. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] We have arrived; we have exchanged the noise for the silent cave. If you wish to sit down, look, the tufa will afford a seat; if you wish to recline, the green grass is better than couch-coverlets. Now, away with your wrangling and render me your songs; I would rather that in turn you sang of tender love-affairs. Astylus, sing you the praises of Petale, and you, Lycidas, of Phyllis.

p277 L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I pray you, Mnasyllus, do you but hear us this very hour with that same ear with which, 'tis said, you heard and judged Astylus and Acanthis of late in the Thalean wood.2

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I cannot keep quiet when that fellow provokes me. I am ready to burst, Mnasyllus; he is only seeking a quarrel. Let him listen or recite, since so he desires. 'Twill be joy enough for me to watch Lycidas quaking, when, blenched, he hears in your presence his evil deeds made public.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It was at me, I suppose, friend Stimicon and at me neighbour Aegon had their secret laugh in the shrubbery here for wanting to ape the kisses of a grown man with young Mopsus.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Mnasyllus is stronger than I am. Oh, I wish he were still off the scene! then I'd take good care that you (Lycidas) never saw an uglier face than your own!

M. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Why do you storm at each other? To what bounds has your madness urged you to go? If you want to compete in turn — But no, I'll not be your umpire: someone else may be the judge to settle this! Look, here come both Mycon and neighbour Iollas: they will be able to put a close to your strife.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 It was a cross similar to the semifera proles of Grattius Cyneg. 253. Pollux V.38 mentions the Hyrcanian breed from dogs and lions (τὰς δὲ Ὑρκανὰς ἐκ κυνῶν καὶ λεόντων, καὶ κληθῆναι λεοντομιγεῖς). Alcon has offered a sort of sworn warranty of its pedigree.

2 Acanthis has been guessed to be either an ordinary shepherdess or a dangerous witch, like her namesake in Propertius, IV.v.63. Thale(i)a may imply either "Sicilian" from association with the nymph of that name in Sicily mentioned by Macrobius, Sat. V.xix, or simply "bucolic," since Thalia was muse of pastoral poetry as well as of comedy (cf. Virg. Ecl. IV.1‑2, where Servius gives Thalea as the proper Latin form). Some think it = Latin virens, connecting it with the root of θάλλειν and θαλλός, a young branch. Another view is to take Thalea as a nominative, i.e. "a true bucolic muse when you acted as a judge," "a Thalea come to judgement." Whatever the obscurity of allusion, however, it is certain that Astylus is annoyed, and would assault Lycidas but for the presence of Mnasyllus.


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