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This text of one of the Einsiedeln Eclogues
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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 p325  Einsiedeln Eclogues

[The personages are Thamyras and Ladas as contending shepherds, and Midas as umpire.]

Th. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Long have our contests called for you, my handsome Midas; lend a leisured ear to competing swains.

Mi. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I am ready: the sequestered charm of the holy wood is an invitation to pipings: lay skill upon your minstrelsy.

Th. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] If prizes are lacking, the confidence of skill is dumb.

La. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Nay, two stakes will make our confidence endure: either yonder he-goat, whose forehead is decked with the white mark, or this light pipe set round with moveable knobs,​1 the memorable gift of Faunus, denizen of the woods.

Th. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Whether you prefer to stake the he-goat or Faunus' gift, choose which of the two you are to lose; but the surer omen, I fancy, will be the pipe which, instead of being a stake, is as good as taken away from the rejected competitor.

 p327  La. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] What avails it to waste the daylight in wild words? Let the winner's fame rise from the umpire's bosom.

Th. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The spoil is mine, because my mind prompts me to recount a Caesar's praises: to such a task the prize is ever due.

La. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] My heart too hath Apollo stirred with celestial lips and bade me sing changing strains to my lyre which has already won praise.

Mi. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Proceed, my lads, to render the promised song: so may God aid you as ye sing! Ladas, begin — you first: Thamyras in turn will bring his tribute.2

La. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Greatest of gods, eternal ruler of the sky,​3 whether, Phoebus, it is thy pleasure to make trial of the eloquent strings and set to melodies on the lyre the first principles of the world, even as in song the maiden-priestess raves and chants with lips o'er-mastered, so may I be allowed to have looked on gods, allowed to reveal the story of the universe:​4 whether that mind was the mind of the sky or likeness of the sun,​5 worthy of both divine principles Apollo took his place, brilliant in purple and gold, and  p329 sped thunder with his hand. Such was the divine power which has begotten the world and has inwoven with the seven borders the artificer's zones​6 and blends them all with love.​7 Such was Phoebus, when, rejoicing in the slaughter of the dragon,​8 he produced learned minstrelsy to the beat of the plectrum: if there are any dwellers in heaven, they speak with voice like this. The band of the learned sisterhood had come to the sounds of the music. . . .

Th. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Hither, hither, ye Pierian Muses, approach in the fleet dance! Here flourishes the wealth of Helicon; here is your own Apollo! You too, O Troy, raise your hallowed ashes to the stars,​9 and display this work to Agamemnon's Mycenae! Now has it proved of such value to have fallen! Rejoice, ye ruins; praise your funeral pyres: 'tis your nurseling that raises you again! . . . <Lo! Homer too had come, whose> full beard and white hair shone in undimmed honour. So when he filled the poet's ears with accents divine, he undid the golden circlet from his fair brow and veiled the emperor's head with its deserved attire. Hard by stood Mantua,​10 erstwhile as forceful as the lips which sang of Ilion; but now with her own hands she began to tear her writings to shreds.

[The poem is incomplete. Probably Thamyras' verses are unfinished and certainly the judgement of Midas is lacking.]

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The bullae might control the musical notes by closing or opening the perforations; but they might merely be decorative. Hubaux (Les thèmes bucoliques, p230) thinks of "une flûte ornée de verroteries."

2 i.e. to Nero's merits.

3 Some have taken this as addressed to Jupiter; but Ladas is concerned with Phoebus alone (17‑18), while Thamyras is concerned with the emperor (15‑16). This seems to preclude the idea supported by some scholars that the emperor (instead of Apollo) is the subject of stetit in 28.

4 Ladas prays for inspiration like that of the Pythian prophetess: cf. Lucan, V.88‑99, on Apollo as guardian of eternal fate at Delphi, a passage containing noticeable parallelisms of expression to the verses here given to Ladas.

5 The reference is to Apollo as the omniscient god of divination (Lucan V.88 caeli . . . deus omnia cursus aeterni secreta tenens) and as the Sun-God.

6 Apollo's power, from a Stoic stand-point, was totius pars magna Iovis (Lucan, V.95). The artifex, or contriver of the mundus, is the δημιουργός of Platonic philosophy. According to Plutarch, Thales and Pythagoras divided the heavens into five zones, Pythagoras dividing the earth into five corresponding zones (De Placitis Philosophorum, 2.12 and 3.14). The Stoic Poseidonius gave Parmenides as originator of the division into five zones (Strabo, Geog. II.ii.2). Poseidonius himself recognized seven zones (Strabo, II.ii.3 [C. 95]), and his influence acts directly or indirectly on this passage.

7 The principle of attraction in the universe descended from the Theogony of Pherecydes to Stoic philosophy. This physical φιλία of the Greeks is echoed in Lucan, IV.189‑191, nunc ades aeterno complectens omnia nexu, o rerum mixtique salus, Concordia, mundi, et sacer orbis amor. The difficulties of the passage 22 sqq. are discussed by Loesch, Die Einsiedler Gedichte (1909), pp34‑42.

8 i.e. the serpent Python sent to torment Latona, cf. Lucan, V.80.

9 The reference might be, some have argued, to Nero's poem on Troy, from which according to common gossip he recited the episode of the fall of the city (Ἅλωσις Ἰλίου) on the occasion of the great fire at Rome, A.D. 64: Tac. Ann. XV.39; Suet. Nero, 38; Dio, LXII.18. But it would not be a tactful allusion, and there are difficulties in placing the poem so late.

10 Virgil's birthplace, now eclipsed by Nero's minstrelsy! This gross sycophancy contrasts with the reverential homage shown towards Virgil both in Calp. Sic. IV.62‑63 and in Laus Pisonis 230 sqq. It suggests different author­ship.

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Page updated: 14 Feb 09