||Literal English Translation
THE PRIMAL CHAOS
In nova fert animus mūtātas dīcere fōrmās
corpora; dī, coeptīs (nam vos mūtastis et illa)
adspīrāte meīs prīmāque ab orīgine mundī
ad mea perpetuum dēdūcite tempora carmen!
My mind takes me to speak of forms changed
into new bodies. O gods
breathe upon my undertakings (for you have changed them also) and from the first origin of the world
to my times, bring down perpetual song!
Ante mare et terrās et quod tegit omnia caelum
ūnus erat tōtō nātūrae vultus in orbe,
quem dixēre chaos: rudis indīgestaque mōlēs
nec quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eōdem
nōn bene iūnctārum discordia sēmina rērum.
Before the sea and the lands and (which covers all things) the sky,
one form was in the whole sphere of nature,
which they called Chaos, a raw undigested mass,
and nothing but an inert mass, and heaped up in the same [place],
the discordant seeds of things not well joined.
nullus adhuc mundo praebebat lumina Titan,
nec nova crescendo reparabat cornua Phoebe,
nec circumfuso pendebat in aere tellus
ponderibus librata suis, nec bracchia longo
margine terrarum porrexerat Amphitrite;
utque erat et tellus illic et pontus et aer,
sic erat instabilis tellus, innabilis unda,
lucis egens aer; nulli sua forma manebat,
obstabatque aliis aliud, quia corpore in uno
frigida pugnabant calidis, umentia siccis,
mollia cum duris, sine pondere, habentia pondus.
There was no Titan [the sun] yet, supplying light to the world,
nor Phoebe [the moon] repairing her new horns by increasing,
nor the earth hanging in the air spread round it
balanced by its own weights. Nor through the long
shore of the lands had Amphitrite [the sea] spread [her] arms.
And where the earth was, also there was sea and air too,
thus the earth was unstable, the waves unswimmable,
the air lacking light, to nothing remained its own form,
and one thing opposed others, because in one body
cold things fought with warm things, moist with dry,
soft with hard, those having weight, with those not having it.
SEPARATION OF THE ELEMENTS
Hanc deus et melior litem natura diremit.
nam caelo terras et terris abscidit undas
et liquidum spisso secrevit ab aere caelum.
quae postquam evolvit caecoque exemit acervo,
dissociata locis concordi pace ligavit:
ignea convexi vis et sine pondere caeli
emicuit summaque locum sibi fecit in arce;
proximus est aer illi levitate locoque;
densior his tellus elementaque grandia traxit
et pressa est gravitate sua; circumfluus umor
ultima possedit solidumque coercuit orbem.
This, god and a better nature broke off this discord.
For he split off the land from the sky, the waves from the land,
and separated the transparent sky from the dense air.
Which after he had disentangled and freed from the blind heap,
he bound them, disjoined in their places, in harmonious peace.
The fiery force of convex heaven, and weightless
shot upwards and made itself a place in the highest heaven.
Next is air to it, in lightness and in place.
Denser than these the earth drew the gross elements
and was subdued by its own weight. Water flowing round
possessed the final places, and bound together the solid orb.
EARTH AND SEA
Sic ubi dispositam quisquis fuit ille deorum
congeriem secuit sectamque in membra coegit,
principio terram, ne non aequalis ab omni
parte foret, magni speciem glomeravit in orbis. 35
tum freta diffundi rapidisque tumescere ventis
iussit et ambitae circumdare litora terrae;
addidit et fontes et stagna inmensa lacusque
fluminaque obliquis cinxit declivia ripis,
quae, diversa locis, partim sorbentur ab ipsa, 40
in mare perveniunt partim campoque recepta
liberioris aquae pro ripis litora pulsant.
When whichever of the gods it was divided [secuit]
the heap thus arranged and collected it divided into parts,
At first the earth, lest it were unequal in every
part, he collected into the form of a great globe.
Then he ordered the seas to be poured everywhere, and to rise up with fast winds,
and to surround the shores of the encompassed earth.
He added fountains too, and immense pools and lakes
and the descending rivers he enclosed with sloping banks,
which widely-separated are partly absorbed by it [the earth],
partly arrive into the sea, and being received
into the expanse of open waters beat against coastlines for banks
THE FIVE ZONES
iussit et extendi campos, subsidere valles,
fronde tegi silvas, lapidosos surgere montes,
utque duae dextra caelum totidemque sinistra 45
parte secant zonae, quinta est ardentior illis,
sic onus inclusum numero distinxit eodem
cura dei, totidemque plagae tellure premuntur.
quarum quae media est, non est habitabilis aestu;
nix tegit alta duas; totidem inter utramque locavit 50
temperiemque dedit mixta cum frigore flamma.
He ordered the plains to stretch out, valleys to sink down,
leaves to hide the trees, stony mountains to rise,
and as two Zones on the right side, and as many on the left,
cut the heaven, the fifth is hotter than those,
thus the included mass was distinguished by the same [number]
by the care of the god, and as many climates are marked out on the earth.
Of which that in the middle, is not habitable from the heat,
deep snow covers two, as many between both he placed
and he gave them a temperate climate mixing heat with cold.
THE FOUR WINDS
Inminet his aer, qui, quanto est pondere terrae
pondus aquae levius, tanto est onerosior igni.
illic et nebulas, illic consistere nubes
iussit et humanas motura tonitrua mentes
et cum fulminibus facientes fulgura ventos.
Over these hangs the air, which, as the weight of water is lighter
than the weight of the earth, by as much is heavier than fire.
There too he ordered [iussit] vapours, there clouds to settle,
and thunders that would shake up human minds,
and with thunderbolts winds causing flashes
His quoque non passim mundi fabricator habendum
aera permisit; vix nunc obsistitur illis,
cum sua quisque regat diverso flamina tractu,
quin lanient mundum; tanta est discordia fratrum. 60
To these, also, the Maker of the world did not permit [permisit] having
the air everywhere [passim]. Even now, resistance is scarcely made to them,
when each directs his own blasts in a different course,
but that they tear the world apart, so much is the discord of brothers
Eurus ad Auroram Nabataeaque regna recessit
Persidaque et radiis iuga subdita matutinis;
vesper et occiduo quae litora sole tepescunt,
proxima sunt Zephyro; Scythiam septemque triones
horrifer invasit Boreas; contraria tellus
nubibus adsiduis pluviaque madescit ab Austro.
haec super inposuit liquidum et gravitate carentem
aethera nec quicquam terrenae faecis habentem.
Eurus drew back to Dawn [Aurora] and the kingdoms of Nabataea
and Persia, and the heights under the morning light.
The Evening Star and the coasts which are warmed by the setting sun,
are nearest to the Zephyr. Scythia and the seven stars
were invaded by chill Boreas [North wind]. The opposite land
is drenched by constant clouds and by rainy Auster.
Above these he placed the transparent and weightless
upper atmosphere, that has nothing of earthly dross.
THE CREATION OF MAN
Vix ita limitibus dissaepserat omnia certis,
cum, quae pressa diu fuerant caligine caeca,
sidera coeperunt toto effervescere caelo;
neu regio foret ulla suis animalibus orba,
astra tenent caeleste solum formaeque deorum,
cesserunt nitidis habitandae piscibus undae,
terra feras cepit, volucres agitabilis aer.
Scarely had he separated all things thus, in fixed limits,
when, [the stars] which subdued for a long time in the blind mist,
began to blaze out throughout the whole sky.
Lest any any region be in its own animals lacking,
the stars held the celestial floor (and the forms of the gods),
the waves gave way to inhabiting glittery fishes,
the earth received wild animals, the moving air, flying things.
Sanctius his animal mentisque capacius altae
deerat adhuc et quod dominari in cetera posset:
natus homo est, sive hunc divino semine fecit
ille opifex rerum, mundi melioris origo,
sive recens tellus seductaque nuper ab alto 80
aethere cognati retinebat semina caeli.
More sacred than these, an animal more capable of a higher mind,
was still absent (and which could rule over the rest).
Man was born, either made from divine seed
by that Maker of things, the origin of a better world,
or the newborn earth, lately severed from the lofty
heaven, retained the seed of the kindred sky
quam satus Iapeto, mixtam pluvialibus undis,
finxit in effigiem moderantum cuncta deorum,
pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram,
os homini sublime dedit caelumque videre
iussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus:
sic, modo quae fuerat rudis et sine imagine, tellus
induit ignotas hominum conversa figuras.
which, mixed with river waters, the son of Iapetus
fashioned into the image of the all-controlling gods.
Whereas other animals look grovelling at the ground,
to man he gave an upturned aspect, and ordered him to look
at the sky, and to raise his face to the stars.
Thus the earth which just now was raw and without form,
being changed [conversa], assumed the unknown shapes of men