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Bill Thayer

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This text of one of the


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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 p457  Nemesianus
First Eclogue

Timetas: Tityrus​1

Tim. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] While, Tityrus, you are weaving a basket with river rushes, and while the country-side is free from the harsh-toned grasshoppers,​2 strike up, if you've got any song set to the slender reed-pipe. Pan has taught your lips to blow the reeds and a kind Apollo has given you the grace of verse. Strike up, while the kids crop the willows and the cows the grass, while the dew and the mildness of the morning sun urge you to let your flocks into the green meadow-land.

Tit. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Neighbour Timetas, do you constrain these years of mine and hoary hair to sing, you a young man beloved of the gods? Time was when I found words; time was when I sang verses to the reeds, so long as my care-free youth uttered the merry lays of love. Now my head is white and passion has cooled beneath the years. Already hangs my pipe devoted to the country-haunting Faunus. With your fame the country now resounds. Victor in song of late, when I was judge, you mocked the pipes of Mopsus  p459 and his discordant blasts. With me the aged Meliboeus had heard you both, and he extolled your merits on high. He has fulfilled the span of life's campaign, and dwells now in a part of that secluded sphere, the heaven of the blest. Wherefore, come, if you have a living gratitude to Meliboeus, let the dulcet strains of your flute tell of his glorified spirit.

Tim. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 'Tis right to obey your commands, and your commands are pleasing. The old man deserved that the poetry of Phoebus, the reeds of Pan, and the lyre of Linus or of Orpheus, son of Oeagrus, should join in his praises and should extort all the glorious deeds of the hero. But since you ask but the praise my pipe can give, hear now what the cherry-tree you see beside the river keeps upon this theme; it preserves my lay in the carving on its bark.

Tit. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Come, speak: but lest the pine, made garrulous by the wind, trouble us with its noise, let us seek rather these elms and beeches.

Tim. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Here 'tis my pleasure to sing: for underneath us soft fields spread their carpeting of green sward, and far and wide all the grove is still. Look! see in the distance how the bulls are quietly browsing in the grass.

Ether, parent of all; water, primal cause of things; and earth, mother of body; and life-giving air! accept ye these strains; waft these words to our loved Meliboeus, if those at rest are permitted to have feeling after death. For if souls sublime dwell in the celestial precincts and the starry abodes, if the heavens are their lot, do thou, Meliboeus, give ear to  p461 my lays, which your own kind heart cherished and your judgement approved. An advanced old age, long esteemed by all, and happy years and the final cycle in our human span closed the period of your life which injured none. Neither did this make our tears and lamentations less sore than if churlish death had plucked the years of your prime: nor did the common cause​3 check dirges such as these: "Ah, Meliboeus, in that chill which awaits all men you lie strengthless, obeying the law of all flesh, worthy though you are of heaven in your hoary age and worthy of the council of the gods. Your heart was full of firmness fairly balanced. With patient ear and soothing word for diverse plaints, you were wont to judge the disputes of the peasants. Under your guidance flourished a love of law and a respect for justice; disputed land was marked with a boundary line. You had a courteous dignity in your countenance and kindly brow with an unruffled forehead; but still kindlier than your face was your heart. You urged me to adapt the reed-pipe to my lips and to fashion it with wax, and so taught me to beguile oppressive cares. You would not suffer my youth to languish in idleness; guerdons of no mean price you often gave to my Muse if she quitted herself well. Often  p463 too, lest singing might irk us, you sang joyfully despite your years to a flute inspired by Phoebus. Farewell, blessed Meliboeus; Apollo of the country-side plucks the laurel and offers you gifts of fragrant foliage. The Fauns offer, each according to his power, grape-clusters from the vine, harvest-stalks from the field, and fruits from every tree. Time-honoured Pales offers bowls foaming with milk; Nymphs bring honey; Flora offers chaplets of varied hue. Such is the last tribute to the departed. Songs the Muses offer: the Muses offer song: we play your praises on the flute. Your name, Meliboeus, is in the whisper of the forest plane-tree and pine: every tuneful answer that echo makes to the woodland resounds your name. 'Tis you our herds have upon their lips. For first will seals browse in the dry meadow, the shaggy lion live in the sea, and yew-trees drip sweet honey; first will the year confound its laws and winter's gloom control the harvest and summer the olive-crop; autumn will yield blossoms, spring will yield grapes, ere your praises, Meliboeus, are hushed upon my flute."

Tit. [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Forward, my boy, leave not off the music you have begun. Your melody is so sweet that a favourable Apollo bears you onward and is your auspicious guide into the queen of cities.​4 For propitious fame has here in the woods made smooth a kindly path for you, her pinions piercing the clouds of malice.

 p465  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But now the sun is driving his steeds down from the arch of heaven and prompting us to give our flocks the river waters.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The hybrid alternative title "Epiphunus" (ἐπὶ and funus) refers to the obituary lament on Meliboeus.

2 It is morning and the cicalas are not yet noisy.

3 i.e. that all men are mortal: cf. Hamlet I.II:

"Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity";

Tennyson, in Memoriam, vi:

"Loss is common to the race —

And common is the commonplace."

4 i.e. the imperial capital, Rome: cf. II.84.

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Page updated: 15 Sep 07