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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces the


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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 p151  Grattius,
The Chase

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Under thine auspices, Diana, do I chant the gifts of the gods1 — the skill that has made the hunters glad. Erstwhile their sole hope lay in their weapons:2 men untrained stirred the woods with prowess unaided by skill:3 mistakes beset life everywhere. Afterwards, by another and a more fitting way,4 with better schooling they took thee, Reason, to aid their enterprises. From Reason came all their help in life: the true order of things shone forth: men learned out of arts to produce kindred arts: from Reason came the undoing of mad violence. But 'twas a divinity who gave the first favouring impulse to the arts, putting around them their deep-set props: then did every man work out the portions of his choice, and industry  p153 attained its goal. The life that was imperilled by warfare against wild beasts, where most it needed help, thou, Diana, didst deign to shield with aids of thy discovery, and to free the world from harm so great. Under thy name the goddesses joined to them a hundred comrades:5 all the nymphs of the groves, all the Naiads dripping from the springs, and Latium's satyrs and the Faun-god came in support; Pan, too, the youth of the Arcadian mount, and the Idaean Mother, Cybele, who tames the lions, and Silvanus rejoicing in the wilding bough. I by these guardians ordained — and not without song — to defend our human lot against a thousand beasts, with song too will furnish weapons and pursue the arts of the chase.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The beginning of hunting equipment consists in nets and the ropes of the snare.6 First of all, experts prescribe that the rope along the edge of the net be twined, at the start, of thin thread and then fourfold strands be drawn tight to form the twist;7  p155 that makes a length to stand its work; that will serve many a day. The snare itself, at the central mouth which it has when being made, you must entangle all round with six pouches so that in the whole cavity it may catch the savage quarry, however big he is. But I should have the whole net extend forty paces in length and rise ten full meshes in height from the ground. Nets likely to cost more outlay are unremunerative.8

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The Cinyphian marshes,9 doubt it not, will yield excellent thread-material; there is fine produce from the Aeolian valley10 of the Sibyl, and there is the flax harvest on the sunny Tuscan meadow drinking in the neighbouring moisture from the river, where Tiber that fertilises Latium glides through the shady silences and meets with mighty mouth the gulf of the sea. But on the other hand our Falerians have flax-crops unfit for conflict, and (those of) the Spanish Saetabes are tested by a different use.11 The dancing crowds of sultry Canopus12 are scarcely veiled by their transparent native linen when sacrificing in the ritual at Bubastis: its very whiteness, ruinous in a material useless for nets, reveals the deceit afar off and frightens away the beasts. Yet the poor guardian of a well-watered estate at Alabanda13 can rear a growth of hemp, right fitting equipment for this task of ours. Burdensome is the care needed, but you may entrap within such toils the bears of Thessaly. Only, first take pains that no moisture, worst of plagues, steal thereon:  p157 in damp equipment there is no use, no dependence. Therefore, whether streams in a narrow valley and sluggish swamps have wrought harm amid the hunter's task, or unforeseen rain from heaven shall have drenched their nets, either unfold them to face the northern breezes of serene Helice14 or set them in murky smoke to slacken. For such reasons too it is forbidden to touch the first crops of flax before the Pleiad15 had kindled the year with ripening fires and appeared in its brilliant rising. If nets drink in breeze or smoke,16 their longer service answers accordingly.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The chase is a mighty task, unfit to be handled, save it is mastered by pains.17 Do you not see the demigods whom old mythic lore records (they dared on proud-piled mountains to essay the way to heaven18 and assault the mothers of the gods) — at what mighty cost they hunted the woodlands without the boon of my teaching? Venus, baffled, still weeps and long will weep Adonis: Ancaeus19 fell, arms in hand (yet was he right skilful and imposing with the double axe). The god himself, he of Tiryns, who civilised a barbarous world,  p159 to whom sea and earth and the sheer gateway of Pluto yielded as he essayed all things where glory's path lay open, even he (Hercules) won from the chase the chiefest ornament and honour of his fame. Consider, then, what benefit, derived from the arts I treat, can trick the strong beasts when matched against them.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Some hunters have found in plumes plucked from the filthy vulture a handy means of working and no slight help. Only, at intervals along the line there must be added the down of the snow-white swan, and that is implement enough: the white feathers glitter in clear sunlight, formidable appearances for game,20 whereas the dread stench from the black vulture disturbs the forest-creatures; and the contrast of colour works the better effect. But, while the plumage hanging from your device has its bright gleam or heavy scent, let it be at the same time soft to handle and not very closely entwined, so that the cord when pulled in will not entangle you with its feathers in your hurry and by its faultiness convict you in the very using. This device of terror has more use against stags; but when the pliant feathers are sometimes dyed with African vermilion and the flaxen cord gleams from its projecting forks,21 it is rare for any beast to escape the counterfeit terrors. Yes, and there is also some use in "running"  p161 nooses:22 it is recommended to compose these of deer's leather preferably: the deceit will cloak the snare through falsely suggesting a creature of the wild.23 What of the hunter who to his toothed springe adds an oaken stake? How often, thanks to these tricksome devices, does one unexpectedly reap the fruit of another's toil!24

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Fortunate the man whose industry made him first inventor of arts so great! Was he a god or was that mind close kin to the gods which mightily sped its clear gaze into blind darkness and flooded the uninstructed crowd with light? Come speak, Diana, for 'tis heaven's will, unto a servant of the Muses. The story stands secure that it was an old Arcadian whom you, Maenalus, his witness, and you, Lacedaemonian Amyclae, first saw laying out hunting-nets in unaccustomed vales — Dercylos his name. Never did man bear himself more justly than he: on earth there was no other more regardful of the gods. He then it was whom the goddess fashioned in primeval fields,25 and deigning to inscribe him as author of a mighty work, she enjoined him to go and unfold her own arts to the nations. He was the first also to dress hunting-spears with a strong tooth, and, controlling the angry onslaught of a forward thrust, to receive all the (boar's) weight on projecting spear-guards.26  p163 Later, there succeeded to them weapons furnished with spit-like teeth and twofold fork, and some gave their spear-ends a ring of sharp points to prevent the thick steel remaining inactive in the wounded quarry.27 You are to shun the allurements of fleeting novelty: in this same field of hunting they do harm by a small or excessive size of spear. But slippery fashion goes its wandering round, and all men are in haste to discard usages which have been tried. What if I choose to speak of the enormous Macedonian pikes? How long are the shafts and how small the teeth which furnish their spikes! Or, on the other hand, how does nimble Lucania overload with a huge point thin rods stripped of their tender bark! All weapons have been the better fashioned by healthy moderation. Wherefore for javelins too we weigh thoroughly their manageable handling, lest their wounding power speed lightly or the weapon's force fall short.28 Diana herself armed her own comrades with bow and Lycian quiver: abandon ye not the weapons of the goddess: once on a day great work was wrought by swift arrows.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now, moreover, learn the whole range of choice for strong spears. The cornel tree grows abundantly in the Thracian valleys of the Hebrus; there are shady myrtles along the shores of Venus;29 there are yew trees and pines and the broom-plants of Altinum,30 and the lopped bough more likely to help  p165 with its service the uncouth country-folk. From the Arabians in the East comes the branch that is far the fairest mother of fragrant frankincense: it draws from the laws of its birth (so have the goddesses of the groves ordained) its own uses and its natural shapeliness; but it is only with much toil that the other stems widely grown in our western woods are fashioned into spear-shafts. Never did bough of its own accord rise tall into the air; and the broom curves even in its lower stem. Come, then, strip off at once the excessive growth and harmful branches: indulgence overloads trees with leaves. Later, when the tree proves its goodliness in its tall stems and the shapely branches tend starwards, cut round the places where suckers start and remove the rows of sprouting branches. If any sap of an injurious sort causes harm,a it will flow out of these wounds and so harden the weak veins. When the shafts have risen to a height of five feet, cut them with full grasp, while the year approaches the season of fruit-laden leafage and autumn holds back the warm showers.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But why do we traverse these wide rounds amidst small details? The foremost care is that of dogs;31 no other care comes before that throughout the whole system of hunting, whether you energetically pursue the untamed quarry with bare force or use skill to manage the conflict. Dogs belong to a  p167 thousand lands32 and they each have characteristics derived from their origin. The Median dog, though undisciplined, is a great fighter, and great glory exalts the far-distant Celtic dogs. Those of the Geloni,33 on the other hand, shirk a combat and dislike fighting, but they have wise instincts: the Persian is quick in both respects.34 Some rear Chinese35 dogs, a breed of unmanageable ferocity; but the Lycaonians, on the other hand, are easy-tempered and big in limb. The Hyrcanian dog, however, is not content with all the energy belonging to his stock: the females of their own will seek unions with wild beasts in the woods: Venus grants them meetings and joins them in the alliance of love. Then the savage paramour wanders safely amid the pens of tame cattle, and the bitch, freely daring to approach the formidable tiger, produces offspring of nobler blood. The whelp, however, has headlong courage: you will find him a‑hunting in the very yard and growing at the expense of much of the cattle's blood. Still you should rear him: whatever enormities he has placed to his charge at home, he will obliterate them as a mighty combatant on gaining the forest. But that same Umbrian dog which has tracked wild beasts flees from facing them. Would that with his fidelity and shrewdness in scent he could have corresponding courage and corresponding will-power in the conflict! What if you visit the straits of the Morini, tide-swept by a wayward sea, and choose to penetrate even among the Britons?36  p169 O how great your reward, how great your gain beyond any outlays! If you are not bent on looks and deceptive graces (this is the one defect of the British whelps), at any rate when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, and the impetuous War-god calls in the utmost hazard, then you could not admire the renowned Molossians37 so much. With these last38 cunning Athamania compares her breeds; as also do Azorus, Pherae and the furtive Acarnanian: just as the men of Acarnania steal secretly into battle, so does the bitch surprise her foes without a sound. But any bitch of Aetolian pedigree rouses with her yelps the boars which she does not yet see — a mischievous service, whether it is that fear makes these savage sounds break out or excessive eagerness speeds on uselessly. And yet you must not despise that breed as useless in all the accomplishments of the chase; they are marvellously quick, marvellously efficient in scent; besides, there is no toil to which they yield defeated. Consequently, I shall cross the advantages of different breeds:— one day an Umbrian mother will give to the unskilled Gallic pups39 a smart disposition:  p171 puppies of a Gelonian mother have drawn spirit from a Hyrcanian sire;40 and Calydonia,41 good only at pointless barking, will lose the defect when improved by a sire from Molossis. In truth, the offspring cull the best from all the excellence of the parents, and kindly nature attends them. But if in any wise a light sort of hunting captivates you, if your taste is to hunt the timid antelope or to follow the intricate tracks of the smaller hare, then you should choose Petronian42 dogs (such is their reputation) and swift Sycambrians43 and the Vertraha44 coloured with yellow spots — swifter than thought or a winged bird it runs, pressing hard on the beasts it has found, though less likely to find them when they lie hidden; this last is the well-assured glory of the Petronians. If only the latter could restrain their transports until the completion of their sport, if they could affect not to be aware of their prey and approach without barking, they would be assured all the honour which you dogs of the metagon45 breed now hold: as it is, in the forest ineffectual spirit means loss. But you metagontes have no ignoble pedigree or home.  p173 Sparta,46 by common report, and Crete47 alike claim you as their own nurslings. But, Glympic48 hound, you were the first to wear leash on high-poised neck and he that followed you in the forest was the Boeotian Hagnon, Hagnon son of Astylos, Hagnon, to whom our abundant gratitude shall bear witness as pre-eminent in our practice of the chase. He saw where the easier road lay to a calling as yet nervously timorous and owing to its newness scarce established: he brought together no band of followers or implements in long array: his single metagon was taken as his guard, as the high promise of the longed-for spoil; it roams across the fields which are the haunts of beasts, over the wells and through the lurking-places frequented by them. 'Tis the work of early dawn then, while the dog is picking out the trail as yet unspoiled by another animal's scent, if there is any confusion of tracks in that place whereby he is thrown off, he runs an outside course in a wider circle and, at last discovering beyond mistake the footprints coming out, pounces on the track like the fourfold team, the pride of Thessaly, which is launched forth on the Corinthian race-course, stirred by ancestral glory and by hopes covetous of the first prize. But lest loss be the outcome of excessive zeal, the dog's  p175 duties are regulated: he must not assail his foe with barking;49 he must not seize on some trivial prey or on signs of a nearer catch and so blindly lose the fruit of his first activities. When, however, better fortune already attends the outlay of toil, and the sought-for lair of the wild beasts is near, he must both know his enemies are hidden and prove this by signs: either he shows his new-won pleasure by lightly wagging the tail, or, digging in his own footprints with the nails of his paws, he gnaws the soil and sniffs the air with nostril raised high. And yet to prevent the first signs from misleading the dog in his keenness, the hunter bids him run all about the inner space encircled by rough ground and nose the paths by which the beasts come and go; then, if it happens that the first expectation has failed him in the place,50 he turns again to his task in wide coursings; but, if the scent was right, he will make for the first trail again as the quarry has not crossed the circle. Therefore, when full success has arrived with its proper issue, the dog must come as comrade to share the prey and must recognise his own reward: thus let it be a delight to have given ungrudging service to the work.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Such was the mighty benefit, such the surpassing prize of triumph granted to thee, great Hagnon, by favour of the gods: so shalt thou live for ever, as long  p177 as my songs shall last, as long as the woods keep their treasures and Diana's weapons abide on earth.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 'Twas he too who developed a species with a wild strain from the blood of the thoes.51 Beneath no other breast is there higher courage, whether you call them to the leash or to the test of open conflict. The thoes (their reputation is famous) can steal craftily on lions pitted against them52 and overcome them with their short legs; for it is a small-sized breed, and one may scruple to own how ugly: it has a fox-like look: still its resolution is perfect. But there is no other breed which you could wish to train for tasks so important; or else your own mistake will find you out in the hunt when loss of game makes late-learned wisdom vain.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now then couple well-matched mates53 and mark the offspring with the pledge of their pedigree, letting the parents who produce this wonderful progeny in the vigour of their youth yield you a fine metagon. First I shall mate dogs tried in courage, the foremost quality: the next care in the apportionment is that outward appearance shall not belie descent or lower any of its merits. They should have the face high, they should have shaggy ears by their foreheads, the mouth big, and they should breathe fiery blasts from wide nostrils; a neat belly should gird their flanks below; tail should be short and sides long, hair parted on the neck, and that  p179 neither too shaggy nor yet unable to stand cold; and then from strong limbs54 must rise a breast capable of drawing deep breaths, and with strength left for more. Avoid the dog that spreads its steps with a broad foot: he is weak in hunting-duty. I should want hardy legs with firm muscles and I should want solid feet for such struggles.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But zealous and prolonged trouble is all in vain unless the bitch is shut up in some deep retreat and secluded for a single male: otherwise she cannot at the time of coupling maintain unspoilt the pedigree of a fine sire or the pitch of past distinction won. The first unions, the first pleasure is sweetest: such frenzy has uncontrolled nature given to love. If the attendant has kept her shut up and the pregnant bitch has no unions with other dogs,55 give her rest and remit her usual tasks: she is barely sufficient for her own burden. Then later I shall suggest, to prevent an unruly litter of whelps from wearing their mother out, that you examine them by their points and thereupon pick out the inferior ones. They will themselves give indications. The puppy that one day will not fail56 your pride in him57 is scarcely yet firm in his tender limbs, and already his vigour, impatient of equality with the rest, has raised him above them: he aims at sovereignty beneath his mother's belly, keeps her teats wholly to himself, his back unencumbered  p181 and unpressed by the others so long as the genial warmth of the heavens is kind to earth;58 but when the evening has shrivelled him with north-western chilliness, his bad temper flags and this strong pup lets himself be snugly covered by the sluggish crowd (of the rest). It must be your care thoroughly to weigh his promised strength in your hands: he will humble his light brothers with his weight.59 In these signs my poems will mislead neither myself nor you.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] As soon as she has produced young, you are to offer the mother different treatment and the comforts due to her, and to attend her carefully as she deserves. Exactly as she is kindly treated, she will maintain her little ones until a long service of nurture has been rendered.60 Then finally, when the mothers fail their offspring and their assiduity in the task of suckling has shattered them, let all your concern pass over to the deserted whelps. You must sustain the young brood with milk and a simple pap: they must not know other luxuries and the outlays of a gluttonous life: such indulgence comes home at a mighty cost. Nor is this surprising: no other life eats more into the senses of mankind, unless reason banishes it and bars the way against the approach of vices. Such was the fault that ruined Egyptian kings, as they drank old Mareotic wines in goblets of precious stone, reaping the perfumes  p183 of nard-bearing Ganges and ministering to vice. By this sin fell you too, Lydia, beneath Persian Cyrus; and yet you were rich and golden in the veins of your river.61 In good truth, so that nothing might be left to crown the possession of wealth, how much and how often, O Greece, did you too fall short of ancestral honour by gathering together the arts which luxury fashioned and by madly following the faults of other nations! But of what sort, how simple, was the table of our Camilli!62 What was your dress, Serranus, after all your triumphs!63 These were the men who, in accord with the bearing and character of ancient virtue, set o'er the world Rome as its head; and by them was virtue exalted to heaven, and so she reached highest honours.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] In truth, taught by great precedent you will be able to provide for small details, finding the right system and the limits which should govern them. Therefore rule is imposed on the whelps in the shape of a single keeper: he must control their food and punishments, their service and rest: the young pack that is to master the woods must look to him. It is no trumpery charge: whosoever has such power dedicated to him should be a youth picked by you from young folk of merit, at once prudent  p185 and, when he grasps his weapons, unflagging. But unless he knows the right ways of approach and the right moments for attack and can protect his allies when unequal to their enemy, then either the dogs will run away or the victory so won is after all too dear.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] So then be wakeful for your work and attend equipped64 with weapons fully. Weapons make the way of the chase more keen:65 let bandaging protect the lower parts of the leg: the leather should be calf's leather, and tawny pig-skin is fit for the march: the caps should gleam with the grey of the badger:66 close under the hunter's flanks should be girt a knife of Toledo steel: a missile weapon brandished in the right hand should give a terrifying sound, while curved reaping-hooks must break through thickets which block the way.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Such is your active service in the chase. But especially is it your concern to care for the martial wounds suffered in fight, the maladies which stray along so many different paths, their causes and the symptoms shown by your dogs. Above stands Fate: the insatiable Death-god devours everything and echoes round the world on sable wings. Clearly for a great task still greater care must be employed, nor will the deity67 play the experienced false: for this our care too there is another divinity68 easy to  p187 be entreated who can guarantee the work of healing. Nor is aid far distant, though the lips of a deep wound have parted and the fibres are dripping with dark blood: thereupon seize from the very enemy that has deal the wound some of his fetid urine, sprinkling it with the hand over the mouth of the torn wound, till the acid juice compresses the veins: for the avenues of death lie open. Then my advice will be to go round the lips till they are clean and sew them fast with a slender thread. But if deadly danger battens in a narrow wound, contrariwise, widen the outlet and expose the treacherous causes of corruption; the remedy is easy in a newly-found mischief; but the beasts which are infected they soothe with strokes of the hands (that is enough), or seal the sore around with an ointment of black pitch: if, however, there is merely a trivial hurt in a slight wound, the dog has the natural remedy of efficacious saliva.69 It is a serious plague, too deep for the treatments mentioned, when hidden causes have sped the malady through all the bodies of the pack and the damage is only discovered in its final consummation. Then has pestilence been let loose, and by contagion deaths have come upon the pack at large, and the great host alike perishes beneath an infection that falls on all: neither is there indulgence granted for any strength or service, nor is there hope of escape in answer to prayer. But whether it be that Proserpina has brought death forth from Stygian darkness, satisfying her wrath for some offence entrusted to the Furies to avenge, whether the infection is from on high and ether breathes with contagious vapours, or whether earth  p189 is devastating her own fair products,70 remove the source of the evil. I warn you to lead the dogs over the high mountain-paths: you are to cross the broad river in your flight. This is your first escape from destruction: thereafter the aids we have devised will avail and some service is secured from our lore. But varied are the onsets of disease, nor is there the same force in all of them: learn their phases and make trial of the medicine which is most available. Rabies, prevalent among young dogs and uncontrollable for those who delay treatment, launches a deadly evil: it must be safer then to forestall it with remedies and overcome its first causes. For the mischievous and barbarous plague — it has been described as a tiny worm — steals in where the tongue is rooted to its firm ligaments. When the worm has seized on the inwards briny with prolonged thirst, darting its sweltering fires with fevers aflame, it works its escape and spurns its bitter71 quarters. Impelled, it is plain, by its activity and potent goads, dogs turn frantic. So, when they are quite young, it is usual to cut out with the knife the deep-seated elements and causes of disease. Prolonged treatment is not needed for the wound so made: sprinkle clean salt and soothe the affected part with a little olive-oil: before returning night can well complete her shadows, look, the dog will be on the scene, and, forgetting the wound made, is actually fawning at table and pleading for bread72 with his mouth.

 p191  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] What need to record primitive devices and the inventions of an unsophisticated age? Of no groundless fear were those the consolations: so lasting a confidence have they prolonged.73 Thus there are some whose prescription has been to fasten cock's combs upon the dog-collars made from the light-shunning badger,74 or they twine necklets around, strung of sacred shells,75 and the stone of living fire76 and red coral from Malta and herbs aided by magic incantations. And so the peace of the gods won by the protective amulet is found to vanquish baleful influences and the venom of the evil eye.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But if the mange pursues a body torn with the ugly itch for scratching, it is the cruellest road of slow death: at the first onset, the remedy is a melancholy one, but destruction must be brought off by the one life (of the dog) which has first been contaminated with the infectious disease, to prevent the whole pack from contracting the dread contagion. If, however, the ailment is slight, giving time and forewarnings at the start, learn the methods of cure and by skilled devices escape wherever feasible. Then fire is found to blend and into one whole unite  p193 doses of bitumen, mixed with fragrant wine, and portions of Bruttian77 pitch and ointment from the unregarded dregs of olive-oil. Therewith they bathe the ailing dogs: then the anger of the malady is curbed and its severity relaxed. Let not this treatment, for all your anxiety, distract you (from further precautions): the dogs must avoid both rains and the chills of the north-west wind: rather, when sultry heats hang over the bare valleys, take them (to heights) away from the wind to meet the rays of the bright sun, so that they may sweat out all the infection and moreover that the healing which has been effected may steal into their hidden veins.78 Besides the Healing-God, kindly disposed to our skill, fails not to regard favourably and to aid him who dips79 his whelps in the tide of the foaming beach. O Experience, foreseeing in affairs, how much material benefit hast thou lavished on the mass of men, if they make it their care to overcome sloth and by vigorous action to get a grip of fair ideals!

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] There is in Sicily a grotto enormous in its rocky mass — with hollow windings which return upon themselves; high ramparts of black woodland enclose it around and streams bursting from volcanic jaws —  p195 Vulcan's acknowledged haunt. As one passes beneath, the pools lie motionless oozing in veins of natural bituminous oil. I have often seen dogs dragged hither fordone from mischievous wasting, and their custodians overcome by still heavier suffering. "Thee first, O Vulcan, and thy peace, holy dweller in this place, do we entreat: grant final aid to our wearied fortunes, and, if no guilt is here deserving penalty so great, pity these many lives and suffer them, holy one, to attain to thy fountains" — thrice does each one call, thrice they offer rich incense on the fire, and the altar is piled with fruitful branches. Hereat (wondrous to tell and a portent elsewhere unknown) from the confronting caves and the mountain's riven breast there has come, exultant in southern gales and darting forth 'mid a full flood of flame, the God himself: his priest, waving in pallid hand the olive branch, proclaims aloud: "In the presence of the God, in the presence of the altars, I ordain that all go out of the land far from here, who have put their hands to crime or contemplated it in their heart": forthwith droop their spirits and their nervous limbs. Oh! whoso has ever impaired heaven's law in the case of a wretched suppliant, whoso for a price has dared to aim at the life of brothers or of faithful friend or to outrage ancestral gods — if such a man be impelled hither by audacity, the comrade of unutterable sin, he will learn how mighty is the power of God who followeth after as the avenger in wrath for crime committed.80 But he whose mind  p197 is good at heart and is reverent to the God, has his altar-gift gently caressed by the Fire-god, who himself, when the flame has reached the sacrifices offered in his honour, retreats from the holy ritual and again conceals himself in his cave. For such a one 'tis right to attain relief and Vulcan's kindliness. Let there be no delay: if the malady has gnawed right into the fibres, bathe with the remedies specified81 and soothe the suffering bodies: so will you expel the tyrannous disease. The God lends support, and nature herself nourishes her own skilful remedy.82 What plague is sharper than "robur"83 or what path nearer to death? But still for it there comes here assistance more active than the powerful anger of the ailment.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Yet if a lost opportunity baffles first aid, then you must attack the furious pestilence where prospects are likeliest: sudden disturbance calls for sudden relief. The nostrils must be cut slightly with the steel, as well as the two muscles of the shoulders, and blood is to be drawn off from both ears: from the blood comes the corruption, from the blood the violence of the insatiate plague. Forthwith you will comfort the wearied body with palliatives, and you must sprinkle on the wounds the sediment of oil-dregs and Massic wine outpoured from its ancient cask — Bacchus expels light cares from the heart: Bacchus also is healing for the fury of disease.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Why mention coughs, why the afflictions of a  p199 sluggish lethargy or any prophylactic there is for gout that twists the limbs? A thousand plagues hold their victims, and their power transcends our care. Come, dismiss such cares (our confidence is not so great in our own resources) — dismiss them, my mind: the deity must be summoned from high Olympus and the protection of the gods invoked by suppliant ritual. For that reason we construct cross-road shrines in groves of soaring trees84 and set our sharp-pointed torches hard by the woodland precinct of Diana, and the whelps are decked with the wonted wreath, and at the centre of the cross-roads in the grove the hunters fling down among the flowers the very weapons which now keep holiday in the festal peace of the sacred rites. Then the wine-cask and cakes steaming on a green-wood tray lead the procession, with a young goat thrusting horns forth from tender brow, and fruit even now clinging to the branches, after the fashion of a lustral ritual at which all the youth both purify themselves in honour of the Goddess and render sacrifice for the bounty of the year. Therefore, when her grace is won, the Goddess answers generously85 in those directions where you sue for help: whether your greater anxiety is to master the forest or to elude the plagues and threats of destiny, the Maiden is your mighty affiance and protection.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It remains to define by their characteristics the horses which Diana's equipment can accept as useful.86 Not every breed has the courage needed for my  p201 profession. Some show deficiency on the score of spirit; some have feeble bodies to play them false; at times excessive mettle is unsuitable. Bethink you — what sort of Thessalian horse bathes in Peneus' stream, or what is the grey sort on which its native Mycenae fixes its gaze? Assuredly it is huge, assuredly it will throw its legs high in air. What better steed ever traversed the race-course in Elis?87 Yet let it not touch our hunting-work: its vigour is too impetuous for an attack on the hard fighting of the forests. Doubtless Syene88 on the level plain has horses to admire which are not wild, and those of Parthia have kept their reputation in their own flat country: if such a horse comes to the crags of Taburnus near the Caudine Forks or to rugged Garganus89 or over the Ligurian Alps, he will collapse before his task with hoofs battered.90 And yet he has spirit and will mould himself to my methods if ordered: but heaven alongside of merit imposes defects. On the other hand, you find the horses of the Callaeci91 can traverse the jagged Pyrenees. I should not, however, venture to try the conflict with a Spanish steed to serve me: amid sharp stones they scarce yield their stubborn mouths to the steel; but all Nasamonia92 controls her horses with light switches. The bold and hard-toiling Numidian folk free theirs even  p203 from halters: the horse will show his vigour careering in a hundred race-courses and will work off his temper in the contest. Nor does his keep cost much: whatsoever of its own the barren earth or the small rivulet doth yield, is enough to support him. So too maintenance is easy for horses of the Bisaltae93 near the Strymon: oh, that they could career along the highlands of the Aetna, the sport which Sicilians make their own! What then, though their necks are ugly or though they have a thin spine curving along their back? Thanks to such steeds Acragas was praised in song by the Greeks,94 thanks to such, the vanquished creatures of the wild quitted craggy Nebrodes.95 Oh, how stalwart will he be in hunting whose herds shall yield colts that can be trained! Who could dare pit against them the horses of Epirus, which are distinguished by Greece with honour scarce deserved? The chestnut-brown horses of Macedonian96 Ceraunus have scanty worth as hunters: but the herds of Cyrrha,97 sacred to thee, O Apollo, have won high honour, whether the need be to yoke light vehicles or pull our (image-laden) cars in procession to  p205 the shrines. For the hunter the horse's colour is a better ally (than its origin). His legs had best be black: let brown steeds be chosen . . . and those whose backs resemble spent embers. Oh, how much do the mares of Italy (such is heaven's will) excel in their foals; how much have we outstripped the world in every practice of life; and how active the young breed which brightens our meadows! . . .98

The Editor's Notes:

1 Like Xenophon or the pseudo-Xenophon, Cyn. ad init. τὸ μὲν εὕρημα θεῶν κ.τ.λ., Grattius claims a divine origin for hunting.

2 Good sense is got without taking armis from armi, "members," as Vollmer does with Barth, Burman and others. A. E. Housman, Cl. Rev. 14 (1900), 465‑66, and P. J. Enk, in his edn. 1918, take armis from arma.

3 Nuda virtute: cf. 153 nudo marte contrasted with ex arte.

4 i.e. by training they attained to a more convenient and suitable method (via) than the old haphazard hunting. For sense of propior cf. Cic. ad Att. XIV.XIX, nos alium portum propiorem huic aetati videbamus.

5 Herter, Rhein. Mus., 78 (1929), p366, takes centum with divae.

6 With lines 24‑60, 75‑94, on hunting-nets, cf. Xen. Cyn. II.3‑8; Arrian, Cyn. 1; Pollux, Onomast. V.26‑32; Oppian, Cyn. I.150‑51; Nemes. Cyn. 299 sqq. The Latin rete (δίκτυον) means net in general, or specifically a large "hay"; plaga (ἐνόδιον) means a net placed in the known run or track of the game; cassis (ἄρκυς) means a funnel-shaped net resembling, according to Pollux,º a κεκρύφαλος (reticulum) — which may be applied either to a network cap for the hair or to the bag-shaped reticule, pouch or belly of a hunting-net.

7 Limbus, the rope along the edge of the net, corresponds to the τόνος in Xen. Cyn. X.2, Pollux V.27. Grattius uses limbi, the plural, for the fila linea out of which the limbus is made (Limbus grandis et capitalis linea illa est cui minores limbi quadrangulo sinuamine circumstringuntur, Barth).

8 Ingrati is predicative: "Thankless (i.e. profitless) will be the nets that demand greater expense."

9 In North Africa between the two Syrtes.

10 At Cumae on the Bay of Naples.

11 i.e. are unsuitable for nets.

12 In Egypt.

13 In Caria, Asia Minor.

14 Ursa Major.

15 Summer began with the rising of the constellation of the Seven Pleiades (Lat. Vergiliae), and winter with their setting.

16 i.e. si lina imbiberint flatus vel fumum: cf. 55‑56.

17 Lines 61‑74 are by some editors transposed to follow either 23 or 24.

18 Unsatisfying attempts have been made to read ire freta and explain it as applicable either to the giants traversing the ocean of the sky in their account on heaven or even to the Argonauts crossing the sea, which is Curcio's strange suggestion.

19 A son of Neptune and an Argonaut, who, like Adonis, was killed by a boar.

20 The linea pinnis districta intended to drive game into snares was called a "formido" (cf. metus85); Sen. Dial. IV.11.5; Phaedra 46‑48; Virg. G. III.372; Lucan IV.437‑38.

21 The ancon (ἀγκών) was a forked pole on which to spread nets. A pure Latin term for a similar trestle was the ames of Hor. Epod. II.33: cf. varae, Lucan, Phars. IV.439; and in Greek στάλικες, σταλίδες, or σχαλίδες; Xen. Cyn. II.7, Oppian, Cyn. I.151.

22 Enk, pp36‑38, has a full note on different interpretations of laquei curraces.

23 i.e. the cervinus nervus will have the smell of the cervus.

24 An animal partly lamed or dragging with it the robur would be easily caught.

25 Arcadia.

26 The term morae is applied to projecting metal alae or orbes fixed behind the spear-head so as to hinder the spear from going too deeply into the beast.

27 The sharp points would make the wound worse.

28 Vulnus is used of the weapon which wounds in Virg. Aen. IX.745, X.140; Sil. Ital. I.397; Val. Flacc. III.197. Illi sc. vulneri i.e. iaculo.

29 i.e. in Cyprus.

30 On the Adriatic shore, not far from Venice.

31 On dogs generally see Xen. Cyn. III‑IV, VII; Aristotle, Hist. An. 574 A16 sqq. and passim; Arr. Cyn. 2 sqq.; Poll. Onom. V.37 sqq.; Geoponica (10th cent.) XIX.1 sqq.; Virg. G. III.404 sqq.; Varro, R. R. II.9; Plin. N. H. VIII.142 sqq.; Colum. R. R. VII.12‑13; Nemes. Cyn. 103 sqq.; Oppian, Cyn. I.368‑588; Claud. Stil. III.298‑301.

32 i.e. the breeds are innumerable: cf. Oppian, Cyn. I.400, τὰ δὲ μυρία φῦλα πέλονται.

33 A Sarmatian tribe in the region of the modern Ukraine.

34 In pugnacity and sagacity.

35 Or, possibly, Tibetan.

36 British dogs were, Strabo tells us, IV.V.2 (C 199), exported as εὐφυεῖς πρὸς τὰς κυνηγεσίας. Cf. Nemes. 225, divisa Britannia mittit Veloces nostrique orbis venatibus aptos: Claud. Stil. III.301, magnaque taurorum fracturae colla Britannae. The Morini were northern Gauls whose chief town Gesoriacum became Bononia (Boulogne).

37 Molossian dogs are frequently mentioned in ancient literature: e.g. Aristoph. Thesm. 416; Poll. V.37; Opp. Cyn. I.375; Plaut. Capt. 86; Lucr. V.1063; Virg. G. III.405; Hor. Epod. VI.5; Sat. II.VI.114; Lucan IV.440; Sen. Phaedra, 33; Stat. Theb. III.203, Silv. II.VI.19; Ach. I.747; Mart. XII.I.1; Claud. Stil. II.215, III.293; Nem. Cyn. 107.

38 It seems appropriate to take his of Molossian dogs rather than of British, as the proper names refer to neighbouring districts of Epirus, Thessaly, Aetolia and Acarnania. Athamania is a district in Epirus near the Pindus range.

39 Cf. the qualities suggested in 171‑73, and 156. "Gallic" in 194 may mean "Galatian": see Introduction.

40 Cf. 157‑58 and 161‑63.

41 i.e. Aetolia: cf. 186‑92.

42 Petroni: possibly dogs workable on stony ground (petra).

43 Sycambri, a tribe of Western Germany near the Rhine.

44 Perhaps Vertagra: cf. Italian veltro, a greyhound. MSS. of Martial, XIV.CC.1 give the forms vertrăcus, vertăgus, vetrăgus. The word seems to be Celtic: Arrian, Cyneg. 3.6, αἱ δὲ ποδώκεις κύνες αἱ Κελτικαὶ καλοῦνται μὲν οὐέρτραγοι φωνῇ τῇ Κελτῶν . . . It has sometimes been explained as a "tumbler" dog that inveigled game by rolling himself into a heap to disguise his appearance.

45 The μετάγων is mentioned only by Grattius. Burman suggested the word implied the tracking of game: Ulitius and Curcio take it of the cross-breeding of the dog.

46 For Spartan or Lacedaemonian dogs cf. Soph. Aj. 8; Xen. Cyn. III.1; Opp. Cyn. I.372; Pollux, V.37; Virg. G. III.405; Hor. Epod. VI.5; Ov. Met. III.208, 233; Sen. Phaedra, 35; Lucan, IV.441; Claud. Stil. III.300 (tenuesque Lacaenae); Nemes. Cyn. 107, etc.

47 For Cretan dogs cf. Xen. Cyn. X.1; Poll. V.37; Opp. Cyn. I.373; Ov. Met. III.208, 233; Sen. Phaedra, 34; Claud. Stil. III.300 (hirsutae Cressae), etc.

48 The reference is to a locality on the Argive and Laconian border.

49 Cf. Lucan, Phars. IV.441, nec creditur ulli Silva cani nisi qui presso vestigia rostro Colligit et praeda nescit latrare reperta, and Pliny's description of the silent tracking of game, Plin. N. H. VIII.147, quam silens et occulta sed quam significans demonstratio est cauda primum deinde rostro.

50 i.e. if the animal has already escaped and is no longer lying hidden there.

51 The θῶες of Oppian, Cyneg. III.336‑38, are jackals sprung from a union of wolves with leopards. The θώς of Aristotle is perhaps rather a civet than a jackal. Pliny, N. H. VIII.123, mentions thoes as a kind of wolf.

52 e.g. in the public games at Rome.

53 For the mating of dogs, with 263 sqq. cf. Nemesianus, Cyn. 103 sqq.; Oppian, Cyn. I.376 sqq.

54 The shoulder-blades should be broad, as in Oppian, Cyn. I.409, εὐρέες ὠμοπλάται; cf. Xen. Cyn. IV.1; Pollux, V.58; Arr. Cyn. 5.9; Colum. R. R. VII.XII.4.

55 Vollmer's inclusion of the si tenuit clause in the preceding sentence, with hunc . . . furorem as a parenthesis, is unsatisfactory.

56 Cf. note on illum . . . mergentem, 424‑5.

57 Or "high tasks to which you may call him."

58 i.e. during the sunny day.

59 Cf. Livy IX.34 . . . ad servorum ministerium deduxisti (= brought down, degraded). The reference is not to exact weighing in a trutina or balance.

60 The text is uncertain; but the sense required is that the greater the care lavished on the mother, the longer she will be able to give milk to her pups.

61 The river Pactolus was famous for its golden sands. Postgate's Pactolique aurea venis suggests that fluminis was a gloss on the original reading.

62 The plural alludes rhetorically to M. Fulvius Camillus, the conqueror of Veii, who saved Rome after the Allian disaster: for his poverty cf. Hor. Od. I.XII.42 sqq.

63 C. Atilius Regulus Serranus was consul in 257 and in 250 B.C. He was summoned from farm-work to undertake a military command, Val. Max. IV.IV.5; Virg. Aen. VI.845.

64 factus, if sound, must have the force of instructus.

65 Via is the method of the hunt, cf. 5. Johnson's virum is attractive, "make the hunter keen."

66 The nose, chin, lower sides of the cheeks and the mid forehead of the badger (maeles) are white: the ends of the hairs on the body are at bottom yellowish-white, in the middle black, and at the ends ash-coloured or grey: hence the proverb "as grey as a badger." The skin dressed without removing the hair can be used for caps or pouches.

67 Diana.

68 Paean.

69 i.e. he licks the wound.

70 i.e. with the result that they rot and cause disease.

71 With the meaning of amaram compare salsa in 388.

72 The goddess' name is put by metonymy for bread; cf. Nemes. Cyn. 154, cererem cum lacte ministra: so for corn,º Virg. G. I.297; Cic. N. D. II.23.60; Aetna, 10.

73 The omission of a punctuation mark after falsi would imply in Grattius an Epicurean disdain for primitive superstition: "those consolations of a groundless fear did not continue to command such a lasting belief." According to the text here accepted, Grattius seems to admit that superstitious cures soothed reasonable fears, and remained long in vogue.

74 The badger burrows underground, confining itself to its hole during the day and feeding at night.

75 Among prophylactic amulets the conchae were sacred to Venus. Pliny, N. H. XXXII.2‑6, mentions the shell echeneis or remora, believed to have power to stop ships by adhering to the hull. The marvellous properties of such shells, he considers, became the more credible because they were preserved and consecrated in the temple of Venus at Cnidos.

76 Pyrites: cf. Pliny, N. H. XXXVI.137, molarem quidam pyriten vocant: cf. Aetna, 454.

77 Ἱππώνιον is Vibo Valentia on the Via Popilia in the territory of the Bruttii. Curcio thinks that Hippo in Numidia is meant.

78 Vadis is also explained as (1) pores (Enk), (2) intestines (Radermacher). Vollmer imagines a contrast between latentibus vadis, meaning ex aquis reconditis, and the open sea of the next sentence.

79 The Latin of illum mergentem in the sense of illum qui mergit is questionable; but cf. ille . . . defecturus291. Vollmer proposes tentatively illic or ullum.

80 ira commissa (a curious consideration recalling commissa piacula, Virg. Aen. VI.569) is here taken with Wernsdorf to mean ira quae commissis sceleribus provocata est. The sense is different in 374, Furiis commissam . . . iram, unless 455 can imply "in wrath assigned to him to vent."

81 e.g. the oil from the bituminous lake of 434.

82 In the form of fire and bitumen.

83 The disease has the symptoms of tetanus according to veterinary writers: Vegetius, Mulomedicina 2, 88; Chiron, 315; Pelagonius, ed. Ihm, 294.

84 483‑96, description of an Ambarval sacrifice to Diana, with allusion to her worship near Aricia.

85 Multa, nom. sing. fem., agreeing with dea understood: i.e. "in full force" (like πολὺς ῥεῖ in Greek). Enk thinks multa neut. plur.; Vollmer takes it for mulcta in the sense of "mollified."

86 Dianae arma = the chase. For horses in general see Xen. Cyn. 1; Pollux, Onom. I.188 sqq.; Virg. G. III.72 sqq.; Varro R. R. II.7; Columella, VI.26‑29; Plin. N. H. VIII.154; Nemes. Cyn. 240 sqq.; Oppian, Cyn. I.158‑367.

87 i.e. at the Olympic games.

88 Syene (Assouan) in Upper Egypt below the First Cataract.

89 Taburnus was in Samnium: Garganus in Apulia.

90 i.e. owing to the stony nature of the ground.

91 The Callaeci were a people of Hispania Tarraconensis.

92 The Nasamonian tribe dwelt in the eastern part of the Syrtis Major in N. Africa.

93 In Thrace. Grattius proceeds to express a wish that these Thracian horses could have the chance of showing their powers on the mountains of Sicily. The Sicilian horses are mentioned for their swiftness, Oppian, Cyn. I.272. Their victories in horse-racing and chariot-racing are the themes of many of Pindar's odes: e.g. Pyth. I celebrates a victory won by Hieron of Aetna (cf. Gratt. 524). Qualities of speed and surefootedness requisite in Sicilian sport (cf. qui ludus Siculis, 525, and fragosum Nebroden, 527‑528) explained to Grattius' mind how, though not of prepossessing appearance, these horses could be trained to win glory in the games of Greece (cantatus Graiis Acragas, 527).

94 Pindar, Olymp. III.2, κλεινὰν Ἀκραγάντα (= Agrigentum in Sicily, now Girgenti). Olympian Odes II and III celebrate victories won by Theron of Acragas in chariot-racing; Pyth. VI and Isthm. II similar victories by Xenocrates of Acragas.

95 A Sicilian mountain. Fragosum indicates the serviceability of Sicilian horses as hunters on rocky ground.

96 The fact that Pella was in Macedonia and the Ceraunian range in Epirus does not justify the epithet Pellaei; but, as Enk says, "poeta parum curat geographiam."

97 Cyrrha or Cirrha, a seaport in Phocia, near Parnassus on which was the Delphic oracle of Apollo.

98 A portion of the poem is lost — presumably of no great extent, as restat of 497 suggests that the author was drawing to a conclusion.

Thayer's Note:

a Moving a (modern) comma back one word — see the Latin — gives a text that makes more sense: "If something harmful damages it, the sap will flow out of these wounds and so harden the weak veins."

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