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Bill Thayer

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This text of one of the

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.
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 p227  Calpurnius Siculus
Eclogue II

Idas: Astacus: Thyrsis

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The virgin Crocale for long was loved by young Astacus and young Idas — Idas who owned a wool-bearing flock and Astacus a garden. Comely were both; and well-matched in tuneful song. These, upon a day when oppressive summer scorched the earth, met by a cooling spring — as it chanced, beneath the same shady tree; and made ready to contend together in sweet singing and for a stake. It was agreed that Idas, if beaten, should forfeit seven fleeces and Astacus the produce of his garden for the year. Great was the contest to which Thyrsis listened as their judge. Cattle of every kind were there, wild beasts of every kind, and every creature whose roving wing smites the air aloft. There met every shepherd who feeds his lazy flocks beneath the shady oak, and Father Faunus too and the twy-horned Satyrs. Dry-foot the wood-nymphs came; with watery feet the river-nymphs; and  p229 hastening torrents stayed their courses. East-winds ceased their rush upon the quivering leaves and so made deep silence over all the hills; everything stood idle; bulls trampled the pasture, which they heeded not; during that contest even the craftsman bee ventured to leave unvisited the nectar-yielding flowers. Now under the shade of an aged tree had Thyrsis taken his seat between them and said, "Lads, if I am to be judge, I urge that the stakes count for nothing. Let suffer recompense be won herefrom, if the victor take the glory and the vanquished the reproach. Now, the better to mark off your alternate songs, raise in sudden movement each your hands three times."​1 They obey at once. The finger-trial decides, and Idas begins first.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I am loved of Silvanus — he gives me reeds to obey my will — he wreathes my temples with leaves of pine. To me while yet a boy he uttered this prophecy of no slender import: "Already upon the sloping reed there grows a slender pipe for thee."

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But my locks doth Flora adorn with pale-green grasses, and for me Pomona in her ripeness sports beneath the tree. "Take, boy," said the nymphs, "take for yourself these fountains. Now with the channels you can feed your well-watered orchard."

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Pales herself​a teaches me the breeding of a flock, how a black ram mated with a white ewe produces a changed colour in the fleece of the lamb born to  p231 it, inasmuch as that the lamb cannot preserve the appearance of the sire so different from its dam, and yet testifies to both by varied colour.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] No less transformable by my cunning, the tree puts on a dress of alien leaves and fruits of a diverse species. My cunning now crosses pears with apples and anon constrains engrafted peaches to supplant the early plums.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It is my joy to lop branches from tender willow or wild olive and carry them to the young flocks, that they may learn to nibble the leaves and crop the herbage with early bite, lest the lambs though weaned may follow their straying dams.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But I, when I plant tawny roots in the parched ground, drench the flower-bed with a welling flood and give it water in plenty lest haply the slips droop with the change of soil and feel the need of their former moisture.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Oh, if some god bring me Crocale here, him will I acknowledge sole ruler of earth and stars. Unto him will I hallow a grove and say, "Beneath this tree a divinity shall dwell. Begone, ye uninitiated, begone far hence, 'tis holy ground."

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I burn with love for Crocale: if any of the gods hear my prayer, to him alone shall be dedicated a beechen bowl among the vine-clad elms, where the sparkling brook speeds its waters, where it flows among the lilies with its rippling stream.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Scorn not the cottage and a shepherd's homestead. Idas is a rustic, I allow; but he is not a savage too. Oft on the altar of smoking peat writhes the lab offered by me, oft in death falls the ewe-lamb devoted at the festival of Pales.

 p233  A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I too have been wont to offer first-fruits to the gods​2 who protect my apple-orchard and to mould for Priapus cakes of sacrifice. Dripping combs of trickling honey I present — nor think they shall be less acceptable to heaven than a goat's blood staining the altar.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] A thousand lambs I feed which bleat beneath their mother's teats; as many Tarentine ewes yield me their fleeces.​3 Throughout the year I press the snow-white cheese: if you come, Crocale, the whole produce of this year will be at your command.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] He who would count what multitude of apples I gather under my trees will sooner count fine sand. Ever am I plucking the green fruits of the earth — neither midwinter nor summer stays me. If you come, Crocale, the whole garden will be at your command.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Although the parched field is withering the drooping grass, yet accept from me pails of quivering curdled milk. Fleeces will I give in the early days of spring sunshine so soon as sheep-shearing starts with the temperate kalends.4

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But I who receive gifts even from the scorching summer will give you a thousand Chian figs of glistening skin, and as many chestnuts, when the December sun ripens the nuts and their green husks burst.

 p235  I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Tell me, pray, you do not think me uncomely, do you? not laden with years? Is it my ill fortune to be deceived whenever my hand touches my tender cheeks and when unconsciously I trace the marks of my first bloom and beguile my fingers with the slender down?

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Whenever I see my image in the clear stream I wonder at myself. For my visage clothes itself with the bloom in like manner as I have oft remarked wax-like quinces glistening under the delicate down upon their tree.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Love calls for song; nor is the pipe unequal to the call of love; but lo! the day departs and evening brings the gloaming back. On this side, Daphnis, drive the flocks — on that let Alphesiboeus drive them home.

A. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now are the leaves a‑rustling; now the forest drowns our song. Go yonder, Dorylas, go; and open full the channel. Let it water the garden-plots which have thirsted so long.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Scarce had they finished so, when Thyrsis full of years gave judgement thus: "Be equal: live therefore in amity; for beauty and song, love and youth, have made you comrades both."

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 In the Italian game of mora, the two players raise simultaneously any number of fingers they like, each calling out a number, which wins if it gives the correct sum of the fingers raised by both. Here the winner is the one who makes the best score out of three rounds.

2 Flora, Pomona and Priapus are the "Lares" of the garden.

3 Sheep from the district of Tarentum in South Italy were famed for the good quality of their wool: Varro, R. R., II.ii.18; Columella, R. R., VII.ii.3; iv.3; cf. Horace's reference to the valuable fleeces of sheep pasturing near the neighbouring river, the Galaesus, Od. II.vi.10.

4 The moderately warm weather in the months between the spring equinox and midsummer is recommended for shearing by Varro, R. R. II.xi.6.

Thayer's Note:

a Pales can be considered a feminine form of Pan, but was often considered a male deity — even a phallic divinity — and the name can even be parsed as a plural. Here our poet follows Virgil (Ecl. V.35); in our Latin text as given by the Loeb editor also has ipsa; the masculine ipse would scan equally well.

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Page updated: 7 Feb 09