The Georgics (Nevile)/Book 3

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YOU, mighty Pales! and Amphrysian Swain,
Worthy of mem'ry! now invite my strain;
Ye woods too of Lycæus, and ye streams!
Grateful to vacant minds all other themes
Are hackney'd quite: of harsh Eurystheus' hate       5
Who has not heard? the stripling Hylas' fate?
Who knows not the disprais'd Busiris' deeds,
Latonian Delos' tale, and him, in steeds
Unrivall'd, whom Hippodame could charm,
Pelops, illustrious for his ivory arm?       10
I too from earth to lift myself will try,
And on the wings of Fame adventurous fly:
Yes, first of Romans, should long life be mine,
From their Aonian mount I'll lead the Nine,
Returning home, and, Mantua! first to thee       15
Triumphant bear the palm of victory.
Yet more; of marble I'll erect a fane
Close by the water on the grassy plain,
Where the vast Mincius in meanders lost
Creeps slow, and shades with rustling reeds the coast.
In the mid temple Cæsar shall preside,       21
God of the dome: myself, in purple pride,
Victor, to him will whirl along the strand
An hundred cars: all Greece at my command
Molorchus' groves and Alpheus shall forsake,       25
And of the race and cestus here partake.
With the clipt olive's twine my temples bound,
I'll bring the prizes to the lifted ground:
Ev'n now transported to the shrine I lead
The solemn pomps, and see the victims bleed,       30
See a new front the shifting scene unfold,
And pictur'd Britons the rich veils uphold.
With gold and ivory where the portals shine,
Of Ganges' sons the battle I'll design,
And of Quirinus the victorious arms:       35
Here too Nile, foamy with wars dire alarms,
Rolling with ample sweep, shall strike the eyes,
And of the naval brass tall columns rise;
With these Niphates routed be exprest,
And all the vanquish'd cities of the East;       40
The Parthians, confident in flight, who pour
On their pursuers a sharp arrowy show'r;
From two Foes trophies wrested with his hand,
And nations twice subdu'd from either strand:
And breathing statues, Parian stones, the race       45
Of great Assaracus, shall gild the place,
Heroes, from heav'n's high King who fetch their line,
Tros, and of Troy the Architect divine.
Envy accurst Cocytus' pool severe,
And the fell rage of tort'ring fiends shall fear,       50
The stone's unconquer'd toil, and dread to feel
Ixion's twisted snakes, and whirling wheel.
Meanwhile, Mæcenas! let us (for you lay
No light injunctions) urge o'er lawns our way,
Pierce the deep Dryad-haunts, untouch'd before:       55
In vain, by thee unaided, would I soar:
Rise then, my friend! Cithæron calls us; rise!
Taygetus' fleet beagles rend the skies;
Tamer of horses Argos joins the sound;
The mingled roar assenting woods rebound.       60

Smit with th' Olympic palm who coursers feeds,[1]
Or sturdy bullocks for the ploughshare breeds,
Must mark the mothers; and first choose a cow,
That spreads a brawny neck, of torvous brow,
Of head uncouth, and from whose chin he sees       65
Loose dangling dewlaps trembling at her knees:
Then her side long and large; all vast of size:
Her foot too, and her ears, that bristly rise:
Nor one with white spots dappled would I scorn,
Shy of the yoke, and churlish with her horn;       70
A bull in face, that lofty in her gait
Trails on the ground her tail in sweepy state.
Lucina and the nuptial rites they shun,
Till his fourth annual progress Sol has run;
The ninth year ends their pains; the rest allow       75
Nor plight nor strength for breeding, or the plough.
Indulge the males with liberty betime,
While your herds frolick in youth's wanton prime:
Soon give the cattle love's delights to try,
The sinking race attentive to supply       80
With a perpetual stock: life's better day
From all of mortal birth first flits away,
Disease succeeds, and sad-repining Age,
Pain, and of rav'ning Death the ruthless rage.
Some to displace you'll never fail to find;       85
Then still be watchful to recruit the kind;
And not to feel your fault in time of need,
Prevent your losses by an annual breed.

Nor in the choice of horses less appears
The skilful task: chief from their tend'rest years       90
Let those engage your pains, on whom you place
The pride and promise of the future race.
Of gen'rous Sire the colt with graceful gait
Shifts his light legs, and treads with step elate;
The first to lead, the river's roar essay,       95
And o'er the bridge untry'd to tempt his way;
Nor heeds he vain alarms: of sharp short head,
Lofty his neck, his back of sinewy spread;
His paunch contracted; his bold breast displays
Luxuriant swells in many a fleshy maze.       100
Good steeds a bright bay boast, and blueish gray;
A white and dun the very worst betray.
If from afar the clang of arms he hears,
Restless he starts, erects his quivering ears;
Tremble his limbs; beneath his nostrils wide       105
Collected circles a pent fiery tide:
On his right shoulder floating loose reclines
His bushy mane: along his loins two spines
Extend to view; his deep hoof scoops the ground,
And the hard horn sends forth an heavy sound.       110
Such Cyllarus, reluctant to the rein,
By Pollux broken; and, in Grecian strain
Fam'd, the fierce coursers of the God of war:
And such the steeds, that whirl'd Achilles' car;
Thus look'd great Saturn's self on Pelion's height,
When at his wife's approach he sped his flight;
Down the God's neck a mane devolving hung,
And with shrill neighings all the region rung.

Worn with long years, or by disease deprest,
Keep him from sight, and let his age find rest:       120
Cold to love's joys he drags a dull delight;
And should he venture on the amorous fight,
The frigid stallion, like a stubble fire,
Gives a short flash of impotent desire.
Chief then their age and vigour mark with care,       125
And let their other gifts your notice share,
And parent-stock; how victor in the race
Each feels the praise, how vanquish'd the disgrace.
Seest thou? when from the goal the chariots pour,
And in the rapid strife the plain devour;       130
Fond hopes of glory flush the youthful train;
Their hearts leap high; fear beats in ev'ry vein;
Prone o'er their steeds the twisted lash they ply,
Give all the rein; the glowing axles fly:
Now low on earth, now lifted from the ground       135
Aloft they spring, and seem thro' air to bound;
Rise the red sands in clouds; no stop, no stay;
Close-prest the leaders of the dusty way
Steam with their followers' foam: so fierce a flame
Prompts them to conquest; such the lust of fame.       140

First Erichthonius to the chariot broke,
And boldly join'd four horses to the yoke,
O'er all the racers victor in his speed:
The Lapithæ next rein'd, and back'd the steed;
Taught him to wheel, in stately march to round       145
The circling paw, and proudly spurn the ground.
Arduous each labour; both alike require
A youth of eager pace, and full of fire:
Else it imports but little, tho' in fight
He oft has forc'd th' opponent hosts to flight,       150
Epirus or Mycenæ tho' he boast,
And ev'n in Neptune's self his line be lost.

Observant Riders to these rules attend;
And in fit season with firm fat distend
Him, of the herd, whom leader they ordain,       155
The titled husband of the softer train.
For him the juiciest grass they cut with care;
Fresh water minister, and corn prepare,
Lest his strength languish in the lax embrace,
And the frail offspring speak the sire's disgrace.       160
The females, when lust prompts them first to taste
The well-known bliss, with abstinence they waste,
Refuse them fodder, drive from springs by force,
Oft shake, and tire them in the midday course,
When the floor groans beneath the thresher's flail,
And light chaff flits before the rising gale:       166
With this intent, lest luxury should spoil
The fatt'ning furrows of the genial soil;
But that with thirsty fervours it may feel
The joy, and in it's last recess conceal.       170

The time approaches, when, once more the sire
Forgot, the mothers all thy care require;
Some months past o'er, as big they roam the plain,
Beware to yoke them to the weighty wain,
O'er the broad path permit them not to leap,       175
Float in the flood, or o'er the meadows sweep:
Let them in op'ning glades near streams be seen,
Where moss and herbage clothe the banks with green,
Where cooly caves afford a shelt'ring seat,
And rocks o'er-arching screen them from the heat.
Near shady Silarus, and Alburnus, crown'd       181
With verdant holm-oaks, many a fly is found,
Asilus call'd; so known to Roman fame;
The Greeks to Oestros have now chang'd the name:
Whizzing he stings; the cattle with affright       185
Forth from the forests rush with rapid flight;
Repeated bellowings rend the madding sky;
Tanager's thirsty shores, and all the woods reply.
With this did Juno, studious to torment
Th' Inachian heifer, her fell fury vent.       190
Drive too this monster from the pregnant herd,
And (for in noon-day heats he most is fear'd)
Feed them, when eastern skies first blush with light,
Or when the twinkling stars lead the cool night.

On the new-born your care you next must place:
With searing irons note their sorts, and race;       196
Whom you select to propagate the breed,
Whom at the altars you reserve to bleed,
Or whom you purpose at the share to toil,
And into broken clods cleave the rough soil.       200
Calves, that to rural tasks you mean to train,
(The rest unheeded crop the verdant plain)
Instruct betime, and manage, while with ease
Youth's pliant temper takes what forms you please.
First on their necks loose osier-hoops suspend;       205
Next, taught by use to servitude to bend,
Bullocks well coupled, by the collars ty'd,
Join, and compel them to pace side by side.
With the void orb oft let them make essay,
And with light footsteps print the dusty way:       210
Last let the axle groan beneath the load,
And the pole drag the wheels along the road.
Meanwhile a stronger food your wild steers need
Than the green herbage, or the wat'ry weed,
Or willow browse: for them the bearded grain       215
Crop with your hand, and give the young to drain
Their dams' swoll'n teats, nor, as in days of yore,
In full pails empty all their milky store.

But if to martial troops your genius guide,
Or with swift wheels by Alpheus' stream to glide,       220
And in th' Olympic grove to whirl the car,
Inure your steed to arms, and din of war;
Teach him unmov'd the rustling reins to hear,
The trump, and wheel rough-rattling in his ear,
Touch'd with his master's blandishments to stand,
And court the plausive strokings of his hand.       226
Of these an early trial must he make,
When first his dam you force him to forsake;
Let him to soft thongs yield his mouth, of years
While raw, yet weak, yet trembling, full of fears.       230
Three summers past, and now the fourth begun,
Strait let him learn the mazy round to run,
In measur'd march sonorous bound, in state
Shift his quick-glancing legs, and labour in his gait;
Then brave the winds in swiftness, o'er the plain
Urge his free flight, unconscious of the rein,       236
His light hoof leaving scarce a print behind:
So pours from Scythian coasts the dense North-wind;
Scatter'd in air clouds, storms, before him fly;
The floating fields, and tall crops waving high       240
Roughen; the forests rustle; with long sweep
Press to the shore the billows of the deep;
O'er land, o'er seas, he drives with winged speed:
Form'd for the ring of Elis such a steed
Churning red foam will panting grace the goal,       245
Or with soft neck the Belgic chariots roll.
Now is the time, when, tam'd with proper care,
Your colts may riot in abundant fare;
Pamper'd too soon they rise in rage, unfit
To bear the scourge, and heed the galling bit.       250

But whether bulls or horses ask your pains,
No industry their vigour more maintains,
Than to avert the stings of madd'ning love:
Hence bulls to lonely pastures they remove,
Screen'd by some mountain's interposing side,       255
O'er rivers broad; or close in stables hide.
They pine, they burn, the female in their sight;
No thoughts of grove or herbage now delight:
Oft by sweet blandishments and coy delay
She stirs the haughty rivals to the fray:       260
The beauteous heifer browses in the wood:
For her, their limbs besmear'd with black'ning blood,
With mighty force the combatants engage,
And wounds on wounds are dealt with mutual rage;
Each at his rival drives with thund'ring sound       265
His horns; the bellow woods and skies rebound.
The conflict o'er, that instant part the foes;
Far to some unknown coast the vanquish'd goes,
A banish'd vagrant, his disgrace deplores,
And, the proud victor's gift, his smarting sores;       270
Nor moaning less his unreveng'd lost loves,
With look retorted on the stalls, removes
From his paternal realms: with ceaseless care
His strength he tries by practice to repair,
And, with rough leaves and prickly rushes fed,       275
Reposes nightly on a flinty bed;
Oft makes essay, and, butting at some bole,
Vents on his horns the anguish of his soul,
Wastes on the empty winds his random might,
And paws the sands, preluding to the fight.       280
His pow'rs recruited, he now hastes to go,
And headlong springs on his forgetful foe.
As when a billow, whitening by degrees,
Heaves up his swelling bosom from the seas,
Rolls to the land o'er rocks with hideous roar,       285
And like a mountain dashes on the shore;
Whirl'd round the water at the bottom glows,
And a black gravel to the surface throws.

Nor they alone: but beasts that haunt the woods,
The painted birds, the people of the floods,       290
Cattle, and men, to frenzy and to flame
Start wild: Love's empire is in all the same.
The lioness, regardless of her young,
Ne'er roam'd the plain with fiercer fury stung;
Nor bears deform so many deaths spread round,       295
And with such carnage strow'd the forest-ground.
Then most the boar, then most the tiger dread:
How dan'grous then the Libyan wastes to tread!
Seest thou the horse? his frame what tremblings seize,
If the known scent come wafted by the breeze!       300
His rage nor bits, nor tort'ring whips, restrain;
Rocks interpose, and caverns yawn in vain;
Nor rivers, whirling mountains in their course,
Check, as they roll between, his frantic force.
Ev'n the Sabellian boar with grunting sound       305
Forth rushes, whets his fangs, and thumps the ground,
Rubs 'gainst a knotty tree each bristly side,
And hardens for th' approaching fight his hide.
What does the youth, who feeds in ev'ry vein       309
Love's scorching fires? all night the troubled main
Darkling he swims; from heav'n's gate thunders roll,
Seas dash'd on rocks his rash attempt control:
Not ev'n his wretched parents can dissuade,
Nor, to a sad death doom'd, the desp'rate maid.
How then are Bacchus' speckled beasts inclin'd,       315
Ounces? and dogs, and the keen wolfish kind?
Stags too, a timorous tribe, what wars they wage?
But above all of mares exceeds the rage;
So Venus will'd, when with jaws red with gore
The Potnian team the limbs of Glaucus tore.       320
Not mountains, rivers, stop their lustful flight,
Ascanius' roar, nor Garg'rus' airy height.
Soon as in spring they feel the gliding flame,
(In spring a warmth new-thrills thro' all the frame)
Facing the west on some steep's pendent brow       325
They stand, and catch the breezes, as they blow;
Oft, without rites of Hymen, strange to say!
By Zephyr pregnant, wing their rapid way
O'er rocks, o'er craggy cliffs, and deep low dales,
Not to Sol's rising, nor bleak Eurus' gales,       330
Caurus, or Boreas, or whence southwinds rise,
And with chill vapours sadden all the skies.
At length a clammy juice is seen to fall,
Which swains Hippomanes correctly call;       334
By stepdames gathered oft, when, fell of soul,
With charms and temper'd drugs they've mixt the bowl.
But, while love's copious themes our course delay,
Time flits, irrevocably flits away.

For herds let this suffice: the woolly train,
And the rough race of goats, demand the strain:       340
Labour not light: hence, emulous of fame,
Rise ye, of husbandmen who boast the name!
Hard task! to conquer these low themes by art,
Or grace and grandeur by mere words impart:
But pleasing passion all my soul incites,       345
Rapt to Parnassus' unfrequented heights:
Yes; to the proud retreats with joy I go,
There, where descending to the spring below
No poet's tread e'er mark'd the winding way:
Now, Pales! I must lift a loftier lay.       350

First let your sheep, till Spring returning spread
His verdant favours, in warm folds be fed:
And, lest the cold the tender flocks molest,
And scurfy scab, and loathsome corns infest,
Let straw with lavish hand be strown around,       355
And with fern cover all the flinty ground.
The shaggy goats (from sheep to shift the theme)
Ask but green arbutes and the running stream.
Fronting the wintry sun let their cotes lie,
From winds, and open to the southern sky,       360
When at the closing year the wat'ry Sign
With drizzling urn now hastens to decline.
Nor with less diligence your goats regard,
Nor deem your pains will meet a less reward,
Tho' proud Miletus costly fleeces vend,       365
Rich with the crimson, Tyrian juices lend.
Their breed more numerous; hence their milky store
Abundant swells; their udders eas'd, the more
Their frothy brims the teemful vessels show,
From their prest teats a gladder stream will flow.       370
A shaggy vest nor vainly do they bear,
Nor boast their chins an useless length of hair;
With their shorn bristles camps are oft supply'd,
And sailors find a raiment in their hide.
On brakes and bushes of the mountain ground       375
Browsing, thro' thickets and on hills they bound.
Returning with their kids the female train
Lift o'er the threshold their big dugs with pain.
The less your aid they call, do you with care
Screen them the more from cold and frosty air,       380
Food, and fresh twigs attentive to provide;
Nor all the wintry months your fodder hide.

Soon as the Zephyrs the glad summer lead,
In lawns and pastures give both kinds to feed.
When first bright Lucifer salutes the view,       385
Crop the cool herbage, while the morn is new,
While the grass whitens, and the dew is seen,
Grateful to flocks, bespangling all the green.
When the fourth hour a parching thirst shall bring,
And with shrill music all the copsies sing,       390
To wells or pools be all your cattle sent
In troughs to drink the limpid element;
But let them, panting in the midday heat,
Seek in some darksome dell a safe retreat,
Where'er of ancient growth Jove's tree is found,       395
Stretching with ample sweep his arms around,
Or blackest grove of thick'ning holm-oaks made
Frowns with the horrors of a sacred shade.
Soon as the Sun sinks downward in the main,
Give them sweet water, and fresh food again,       400
What time cool Hesperus thro' temper'd skies
Gleams, and the Moon refreshing dews supplies,
On vocal brambles linnets tune their throats,
And the shores echo with the halcyons' notes.

Why sing of Libyan pastures, Libyan swains,       405
And huts wide-straggling in thin-peopled plains?
Oft day and night, a whole long month, flocks stray
Grazing, unstall'd, a dreary length of way;
Prospect immense! his all their Afric guide
Carries; his dog, his quiver by his side,       410
His house, his weapons, and domestic God:
As when, lab'ring beneath a cumbrous load,
March the keen Romans arm'd; their tents they rear,
And unawares before the foe appear.

Not so the race, who dwell in Scythian lands,       415
Where creeps Mæotis' wave, o'er yellow sands
Where foamy Ister's turbid torrents roll,
And, stretcht in length beneath the middle pole,
Proud Rhodope returns; the prudent hind
There keeps the cattle in close stalls confin'd:       420
The fields no grass, the trees no foliage boast;
Deep-hid in hills of snow, and bound in frost,
Earth joyless lies; eternal Winter there
Reigns, and northwinds for ever chill the air.
Nor the pale gloom does Sol with golden ray       425
Dispel, or when he climbs th' ethereal way
Rapt by his steeds, or when in western waves
Glist'ring with red his headlong Car he laves.
On running rivers sudden crusts congeal;
The water's top sustains the griding wheel;       430
Where the broad vessels sail'd, now waggons pass;
This is the time, when oft burst bowls of brass:
The furry vestures, their pinch'd limbs receive,
Stiffen: with steel the fluent wine they cleave.
The lakes one shining sheet of ice extend;       435
From uncomb'd beards rough icicles depend:
Perpetual snows fall fleecy on the land;
The cattle die: with rime thick-cover'd stand
Large steers; beneath new loads the close-wedg'd deer
Torpid with tips of antlers just appear.       440
No toils insnare them, and no dogs pursue;
Nor crimson feathers, fluttering in their view,
Stir them with fears; by some near hand they're slain,
Pushing against th' opposing pile in vain,
And braying sad: the crew with clamorous cries       445
Glad to their home convey the prostrate prize.
In subterranean caves the Natives, freed
From all alarms, a life of leisure lead;
Oaks, and whole elms, roll'd on the hearth, they raise
In heaps, and set the sewel in a blaze,       450
And, while the night to pleasure they consign,
With barm and acid berries mimic wine.
Such are the men, unconscious of control,
Who freeze beneath the Hyperborean pole,
Beat by Riphæan winds, and wrapt in vests,       455
Tawny and rough, the spoils of shaggy beasts.

If wool engage you, shun the prickly wood,
Caltrops and burs, and fly a joyous food:
With soft white fleeces choose your bleating care;
But, should the master-ram be e'er so fair,       460
In his moist mouth if a black tongue be seen,
Instant reject him, and from all the green
Search out another, lest the first deface
With dusk the whiteness of the future race.
'Twas thus, if tales may safely be believ'd,       465
Arcadian Pan, thee, Luna! once deceiv'd,
Lur'd by wool's snowy softness from the plain
To the thick grove he call'd, nor call'd in vain.
But milk who covets, Cytisus must bring;
And in their cribs salt herbs and lotus fling:       470
Hence thirst for water, hence their dugs distend;
And to their milk a briny taste they lend.
Some from the dams withdraw grown kids, and fix
Close to their noses thongs set round with pricks.
What they at morn have milk'd, and what by day,
All night is prest; what at Sol's setting ray,       476
And dusk of eve, is carry'd by the clown
At early dawn in vessels to the town,
Or sparingly with salt is sprinkled o'er,
And for the wintry season kept in store.       480

Nor dogs despise; but with whey's richness feed
Swift Spartan whelps, and fierce Molossian breed:
Guarded by these your fold no wolves affright,
Th' insidious Spaniard, nor the thief by night.
To rouse wild asses with your dogs you'll go,       485
Trace the fleet hare, and urge the timid doe:
Oft with your hounds' loud howlings will you chace,
Driv'n from their dirty dens, the tusky race;
Or o'er steep mountains with tumultuous cries
Press to the toils some stag of mighty size.       490

Perfume your stalls with cedar, and repel
With odorous gums the snake of noisome smell:
Oft, dire of touch, beneath foul cribs, from sight
The viper skulks, and shudd'ring shuns the light;
Or, pest of kine, the serpent on the ground       495
Squats, on the watch to fix the venom'd wound,
Sure friend to gloom of shelter and of shade:
Now, now, ye swains! with stones, with clubs invade
The monster, stiff'ning to an horrid spire
His swelling neck, and with collected ire       500
Hissing dire threats: lo! now to earth he bends
His crest, and, in the middle maim'd, extends
A length of loosen'd folds, and scarce with pain
Drags the last volumes of his ling'ring train.
A snake too in Calabria's woody vales       505
Lifts his proud breast, and writhes his glist'ring scales;
His parts beneath with large spots speckled glow:
He, while from springs the bursting rivers flow,
While vernal dews, and Austral showers abound,
Couches in rushy banks, or marshy ground,       510
With ravening rage makes croaking frogs his food,
Or of the finny natives sweeps the flood.
When the pool parches beneath sultry skies,
And scorcht earth gapes, he rolls his reddening eyes,
Leaps on dry land, by thirst, and heat impel'd,       515
And chases, and burns, and maddens round the field.
May I ne'er then by waving wood be seen,
Lolling at ease, or slumb'ring on the green,
What time, his old slough cast, he shines again
In glossy youth, and glides along the plain,       520
And, leaving in his den his eggs or young,
Rears to the Sun his crest, and darts his forky tongue.

Hear, by what signs diseases are foretold,
And whence they rise: the scab infests the fold,
When the soak'd pores have long imbib'd chill show'rs,
And felt of brumal frosts the piercing pow'rs;       526
Or unregarded sweat to hides fresh-shorn
Has stuck, and prickly briers the skin have torn.
For this in cleansing streams the Masters lave
Their fleecy flocks: plung'd in the flashing wave       530
The ram along the current of the tide
Floats with wet curls: for this their new clipt-hide
Cautious they smear with oil's astringent lees,
Temper'd with living sulphur; and to these
Add litharge, unctuous wax, black tar, and squil,       535
Rank hellebore, and pitch from Ida's hill.
But with such instant ease no cure is crown'd,
As if with steel the sore's ripe top you wound:
While from the peccant part the swains forbear
Their healing hands, and piously by pray'r       540
Seek succour of the Gods, neglected thrives
The lurking taint, and by concealment lives.
But on the bones when pangs deep-gliding prey,
And feverish fervours waste the strength away,
It oft avail'd to sooth the burning pain,       545
And lance between the hoof the bounding vein:
A remedy the Thracian Borderers prize,
And fierce Gelonian Rover, when he flies
To mountains, dreary desarts, and with blood
Of horses thicken'd swills the milky flood.       550
Far from her fleecy fellows should a sheep
To shady shelter oft be seen to creep,
Languidly listless the green herbage taste,
Nibbling the tops, or loitering lag the last,
Feeding sink on the plain, and at late eve       555
With solitary step the pasture leave;
Check with your knife the threat'nings of the pest,
Ere the dire venom seize th' unwary rest.
Less frequent far, black harbinger of storms,
The rushing whirlwind the vext main deforms,       560
Than Plagues unnumber'd on the cattle prey:
Nor single bodies do they snatch away,
But folds entire with ruthless rage embrace,
The young, and old, and root out all the race.
This the proud Alps still witness to the sight,       565
And Noric castles on the hilly height,
Timavus' meads, wide desolated plains,
And realms ev'n yet forsaken by their swains.
Here from sick air a Plague once took her birth,
And thro' Autumnal heats wax'd hot on earth,       570
On cattle, beasts of prey destruction spread,
And on the lakes and herb her poison shed.
Death strange and new! when, circling thro' the heart,
The scorching thirst had shrivel'd ev'ry part,
Ooz'd a lean liquor, that by slow degrees       575
Melted the bones, half-putrid with disease.
Oft in the middle of the rites divine,
As at the altar with the snowy twine
The Priests prepare the fillet to surround,
The victim, agonizing, to the ground       580
Drops; or before the shrine if timely led
By holy hands the sacrifice had bled,
No flames aspiring from the fibres rise,
Nor can the Seer consulted give replies;
The slaught'ring steel with blood is faintly stain'd,       585
And a thin ichor clouds the topmost sand.
Hence in glad pastures calves oft meet their death,
And at the teeming manger yield their breath.
Domestic dogs to madness hence incline;       589
Short wheezing coughs torment the sickening swine,
Gasping thro' straiten'd throats: the victor steed,
Lost to his former fame, forgets to feed,
Loaths the clear springs, with wild hoof beats the ground;
His ears fall; starting there by fits is found
A sweat, of clammy coldness when they die:       595
His rough skin to the touch feels hard and dry.
Such are the symptoms of the pest's first stage;
But when progressive it begins to rage,
Then their eyes redden with a fiery glare,
With many a far-fetcht groan they pant for air;       600
Their low flanks, labouring with distending throes,
Heave; from their nostrils black blood dribbling goes;
To their stuft jaws their parcht tongue clings: 'twas thought
Of use to drench them with wine's generous draught;
The sole assistance desp'rate Art could lend;       605
But this, ev'n this, prov'd fatal in the end:
With flames renew'd they burn'd, and (gracious Heav'n!
May to the good a better mind be giv'n!)
Frantic and fell, ere life's last pow'rs were spent,
With their bar'd teeth their mangled members rent.
The steaming steer, as at the plough he strains,       611
Sinks, and the ground with gory foam distains,
And sends his last deep sighs: the Rustic strait
The bullock, pensive for his fellow's fate,
Unyoking, quits the place, opprest with care,       615
And in th' unfinish'd furrow leaves the share.
No more in velvet meads a charm he finds,
Or grove's green umbrage, or the stream, that winds
O'er rocks, fast-trickling to the plain, more clear
Than amber: flaccid, lo! his flanks appear;       620
Stiff in their sockets flare his beamless balls,
Drooping to earth his nerveless neck low falls.
Say, to what end their services, their toil?
Avails it, that they've turn'd the stubborn soil?
No wines, no rich repasts e'er fir'd their blood;       625
Their drink, clear springs, and self-refining flood;
Leaves and green herbage are their simple fare,
And their sound sleeps unbroken by a care.
Then, and then only, in these regions, kine
Fail'd for the use of Juno's rites divine,       630
And buffaloes ill-pair'd, as Fame has told,
To the tall fanes the sacred chariots roll'd.
Hence men with harrows cleave the clods with pain,
And with their nails scratch furrows for the grain,
And, stretching at the yoke, with creaking sound       635
Drag loaden wains up the steep hilly ground.
No wolves now nightly take their wily way,
Prowl round the folds, and meditate their prey,
Their bosoms labouring with cares more severe:
’Mong men and dogs shy stags, and fearful deer       640
Now roam familiar: on the shore's edge cast
The various natives of the wat'ry waste,
Wash'd by the wave, like ship-wreckt bodies, lie;
And, strange to sight! in rivers Phocæ fly:
With scales erect maz'd adders yield their breath;       645
Nor can her den the viper screen from death:
Not their own element the birds can bear;
Headlong they fall, and leave their lives in air.
Yet more; a change of pasture gives no ease;
Succour implor'd but hastens the disease:       650
Nor art, nor art's Professors ought avail'd;
Chiron himself, and great Melampus fail'd.
Commission'd from the shades of Stygian night
Springs pale Tisiphone to realms of light;
Terror and Plagues precede: high and more high
Her head insatiate shoots into the sky.       656
The brooks, dry banks, and sloping hills around
With bleating flocks and lowing herds resound.
Now on whole ranks her fiercer fury falls;
Herself with putrid bodies piles the stalls,       660
Till on the foul dissolving mass they heap
Mould, and in trenches learn to bury deep.
Useless their hides; their morbid entrails brave
Alike the purging fire, and cleansing wave.
Nor dare they the polluted fleeces shear,       665
Or touch the tainted web without a fear:
But whoso once essay'd the loathsome vest,
Saw burning blisters all his limbs infest,
Rank with moist dew; nor long the Pest delay'd,
But on the shrivel'd joints devouring prey'd.       670


  1. Ver. 61.] The just suspicion raised by Mr. Hurd concerning the three concluding lines of the Introduction have induced the Translator to pass them over in silence. See note on ver. 16. of Hor. Epist. to Aug.