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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.
If you find a mistake though,
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 p235  Calpurnius Siculus
Eclogue III

Iollas: Lycidas

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Have you chanced, Lycidas, to see a heifer of mine in this vale? She is wont to go to meet your bulls. By now the search for her has wasted nearly two hours; and in spite of all she is not to be seen. For long have my legs been hurt by the rough  p237 broom and yet I have nowise shrunk from letting the bramble tickets scratch them: and after so much loss of blood I have effected nothing.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I paid not enough heed; for I have not the time. I burn, I burn with love, Iollas — beyond all measure. Phyllis has left her Lycidas ungratefully, and after all my presents has found a new lover in Mopsus.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] O woman more inconstant than the wind! Is it thus with your Phyllis, who, I remember, when you alone were absent, would swear that without you honey itself seemed bitter?

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] These troubles I will tell more fully, when you chance to have leisure, Iollas. Search now these willows, and turn beneath the elms on the left. For there, when 'tis hot in the meadows, my bull loves to rest, as he reclines his great bulk in the cool shade, and in his mouth chews the cud after his morning's grazing.1

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] No, Lycidas, I will not go away, though thus mocked by you. Tityrus,​2 by yourself make for those willows he spoke of, and if indeed you find the heifer, catch her and drive her thence with many a blow here; but remember to bring back your broken crook. Come now, Lycidas, tell me. What great quarrel has brought the mischief? What god has come to sunder the love of you two?

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Content with only Phyllis (you are my witness, Iollas), I spurned Callirhoe although she asked my love with a dowry to offer. Then, lo! Phyllis begins to take Mopsus' aid in joining reeds with wax and she sings beneath the oak attended by the youth.  p239 When I saw this, I own, such fire I felt within that I could endure no more: at once I tore open both her vests and beat her naked breast. In fury she went to Alcippe, saying as she went, "Spiteful Lycidas, your Phyllis will abandon you and give her love to Mopsus." And now in Alcippe's house she stays; and oh, I fear that entry will be refused me. But more than I desire to have Phyllis restored to me, do I pant​3 to see her quarrel with Mopsus.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] It was with you that your quarrel began. You must be the first to stretch out to her your hands in surrender. It is fitting to show indulgence to a girl, even when she is the aggressor. If you please to send any word to her, I as your messenger will take care to win your angry mistress' ear.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Long have I been pondering with what song I am to pacify Phyllis. Mayhap, when she hears my lay, she can be softened: and it is her way to laud my poetry to the stars.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Come, speak — for I will carve your words upon the bark of the cherry-tree and then cut away the lines on the red rind and take them to her.

L. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] "These prayers, Phyllis, your Lycidas, now wan with grief, despatches to you, this song which in misery he plays through the painful night, weeping the while and by banishment of sleep doing despite to his eyes. No thrush grows thin so much when the olive-tree is stripped, nor hare when the gleaner has gathered the last grapes, as I, Lycidas, have pined a‑wandering without Phyllis for my queen. Without you (poor wretch that I am!), lilies seem black to  p241 me, fountains lose their taste and wine as I drink turns sour. But if you come, lilies will grow white again, fountains taste aright and wine be sweet to drink. I am that Lycidas at whose singing you used to declare your joy, to whom you gave many a tender kiss, whose strains half-sung you did not hesitate to interrupt by seeking my lips as they strayed o'er the reed-pipe. O sorrow! and, after that, have you been pleased by the harsh voice of Mopsus, his lifeless song and the shriek of his strident pipe? Whom do you follow? and whom, Phyllis, do you avoid? I am called more comely than he, and that is but what you were wont to say to me on oath. Besides, I am richer; let him vie in pasturing as many kids as there are bulls of mine counted at even-tide. Why should I rehearse to you what you know? You are aware, darling Phyllis, how many heifers are milked over my pails, and how many have calves clinging to their teats. But when you are gone, I can weave no slender basket-work out of willow-withes: no milk quivers in its curdled form. But if even now, Phyllis, you are afraid of cruel blows, see, I surrender my hands: let them, if you choose, be bound with twisted osier and the tough vine-twig behind my back, as Tityrus once bound the knavish arms of your night-prowler Mopsus, and strung the thief up inside his sheepfold. Take them, be not slow; both hands have earned their punishment. Yet with these, yes, these same hands, have I many a time put turtle-doves or a frightened hare into your lap, after snaring their mother; through me it was your luck to get the earliest lilies and the earliest roses; scarce had the bee well partaken of the  p243 flower when you were crowned with chaplets. But perhaps he may lyingly boast to you of golden gifts — he, who, they say, gathers the funeral lupines​4 when night is far spent, and makes up for the lack of bread with a boiling of greens, who deems himself happy and blest by fate in the very hour when he grinds inferior barley with a mill his own hand works. But if (I pray, heaven forfend!) a base passion is an obstacle to these my pleadings, I will in my misery twine a noose from yonder oak-tree which first did outrage to our affection.​5 Yet, ere all is o'er, these lines shall be affixed upon the accursed tree: 'Shepherds, put not your trust in fickle maids. Phyllis is loved by Mopsus; the end of all claims Lycidas.' " — Come now, Iollas, if you have any help for misery, take this missive to Phyllis and entreat her with harmonious song. Myself I will stand apart, perhaps concealed by prickly reed-grass or hiding nearer beneath the neighbouring garden hedge.

I. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I will go: and Phyllis will come, unless the portents cheat me. For the good Tityrus has brought me an omen — ah! a favourable one! Look, he returns successful, my heifer found.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Palearia, strictly the dewlap or skin hanging from the neck of oxen, is loosely used here for mouth and throat.

[image ALT: A photograph of a large white cow. It is a fine specimenn of the Italian breed called Chianina.]

Thayer's Note: As seen about 80 miles N of Rome; this particular breed, by the way, the Chianina, is even locally said to be descended from the white cattle used in ancient Roman sacrifices.

2 Iollas bids his attendant search for the missing heifer, while he stays behind to hear about Lycidas' quarrel with his sweetheart. Similarly in Theocr. Idyll. III.1 sqq. it is Tityrus who has to work while his master indulges in love and song.

3 anhelo might be an adjective — "the wheezy Mopsus"; exopto would then govern first an infinitive (reddi) and secondly a subjunctive (iurgetur).

4 Lupines were served at feasts in honour of the dead, and were sometimes carried off by the poorer guests: cf. Tibull. I.v.53‑54. Their main use was to feed cattle.

5 See 26‑27.

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Page updated: 7 Feb 09