Latin Eclogues

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DANTES ALAGHERII IOHANNI DE V IRGILIO
EGLOGA II
 
Velleribus Colchis prepes detectus Eous
alipedesque alii pulcrum Titana ferebant.
Orbita, qua primum flecti de culmine cepit,
currigerum canthum libratim quemque tenebat;
resque refulgentes, solite superarier umbris,               5
vincebant umbras et fervere rura sinebant.
Tityrus hoc propter confugit et Alphesibeus
ad silvam, pecudumque suique misenus uterque,
fraxineam silvam tiliis platanisque frequentem.
Et dum silvestri pecudes mixteque capelle                10
insidunt herbe, dum naribus aera captant,
Tityrus - bic annosus enim - defensus acerna
fronde soporifero gravis incumbebat odori;
nodosoque piri vulso de stirpe bacillo
stabat subnixus, ut diceret, Alphesibeus.                  15
“Quod mentes hominum” fabatur “ad astra ferantur,
unde fuere, nove cum corpora nostra subirent;
quod libeat niveis avibus resonare Caistrum
temperie celi letis et valle palustri;
quod pisces coeant pelagi pelagusque relinquant      20
flumina qua primum Nerei confinia tangunt;
Caucason Hyrcane maculent quod sanguine tigres,
et Libies coluber quod squama verrat arenas,
non miror - nam cuique placent conformia vite
Tityre; sed Mopso miror, mirantur et omnes              25
pastores alii mecum Sicula arva tenentes,
arida Ciclopum placeant quod saxs sub Ethna”.
Dixerat, et calidus et gutture tardus anhelo
iam Melibeus adest et vix “En, Tityre” dixit.
Inrisere senes iuvenilia guttura, quantum                   30
Sergestum e scopulo vulsum risere Sicani.
Tum senior viridi canum de cespite crinem 
sustulit et patulis efflanti naribus infit:
“O nimium iuvenis, que te nova causa coegit
pectoreos cursu rapido sic angere folles?”.                35
Ille nichil contra, sed, quam tunc ipse tenebat,
cannea cum tremulis coniuncta est fistula labris,
sibilus hinc simplex avidas non venit ad aures,
verum, ut arundinea puer is pro voce laborat
- mira loquar, sed vera tamen -, spiravit arundo:         40
Forte sub inriuos colles, ubi Sarpina Rheno;
et, tria si flasset ultra spiramina flata,
centum carminibus tacitos mulcebat agrestes.
Tityrus et secum conceperat Alphesibeus,
Tityron et voces compellant Alphesibei:                     45
“Sic, venerande senex, tu roscida rura Pelori
deserere auderes, antrum Ciclopis iturus?”.
Ille:”Quid hoc dubitas? Quid me, carissime, tentas?”.
Quid dubito? Quid tento? a refert tunc Alphesibeus:
(Tibia non sentis quod fit virtute canora                      50
numninis et similis natis de murmure cannis,
murmure pandenti turpissima tempora regis
qui iussu Bromii Pactolida tinxit arenam?
Quod vocet ad litus Ethneo pumice tectum, 
fortunat e senex, falso ne crede favori,                      55
et Driadum miserere loci pecorumque tuorum.
Te iuga, te saltus nostri, te flumina flebunt
absentem et Nymphe mecum peiora timentes,
et cadet invidia quam nunc habet ipse Pachynus;
nos quoque pastores te cognovisse pigebit.               60
Fortunate senex, fontes et pabula nota
desertare tuo vivaci nornine nolis”.
“O plus quam media merito pars pectoris huius,”
(atque suum tetigit) longevus Tityrus inquit,
“Mopsus amore pari mecu connexus ob illas             65
que male gliscentem timide fugere Pyreneum,
litora dextra Pado ralus a Rubicone sinistra
me colere, Emilida qua terminat Adria terram,
litoris Ethnei commendat Pascua nobis,
nescius in tenera quod nos duo degimus herba          70
Trinacride montis, quo non fecundius alter
montibus in Siculis pecudes armentaque pavit.
Sed quanquam viridi sint postponenda Pelori
Ethnica saxs solo, Mopsum visurus adirem,
hic grege dimisso, ni te, Polipheme, timerem”.          75
“Quis Poliphemon” ait “non horreat” Alphesibeus
“assuetum rictus humano sanguine tingui,
tempore iam ex illo quando Galathea relicti
Acidis heu miseri discerpere viscera vidit?
Vix illa evasit: an vis valuisset amoris,                      80
effera dum rabies tanta perferbuit ira?
Quid, quod Achemenides, sociorum cede cruentum
tantum prospiciens, animam vix claudere quivit?
A, mea vita, precor, nunquam tam dira voluptas
te premat, ut Rhenus et Nayas illa recludat               85
hoc illustre caput, cui iam fron dator in alta
virgine perpetuas festinat cernere frondes”.
Tityrus arridens et tota mente secundus
verba gregis magni tacitus concepit alumni.
Sed quia tam proni scindebant ethra iugales,             90
ut rem quamque sua iam multum vinceret umbra,
virgiferi, silvis gelida cum valle relictis,
post pecudes rediere suas, hirteque capelle,
inde velut reduces ad mollia prata, preibant.
Callidus interea iuxta latitavit Ionas,                          95
omnia qui didicit, qui retulit omnia nobis:
ille quidem nobis, et nos tibi, Mopse, poymus.
 
DANTES ALAGHERII IOHANNI DE VIRGILIO
EGLOGA II
 
Shorn of the Colchian fleece, forward Eous
and his companion winged steeds brought down
the beauteous Titan. From the peak, as soon as
the race began to turn, both chariots
sped on well-balanced wheels, and things that once    5
were won by shadows now all shadows won,
making a conflagration of the fields.
Tityrus, therefore, with Alphesiboeus
found shelter in the grove, each caring for
himself and his own flock, as in that place                10
the grove was thick with planes and linden trees.
There, while their flocks with intermingling goats
settled upon the grass and sniffed the air,
shading himself with maple-foliage,
eager to doze, old Tityrus lay down                          15
within that pungent, sleep-inducing scent;
but, next to him, Alphesiboeus stood
leaning upon a knotted staff carved out
of a pear-tree’s hard trunk, and wished to speak.
Thus he began, “That all the minds of men                20
are lifted to the stars whence they descended 
the day they first into our bodies came;
that, pleased with balmy skies and marshy dells,
snow-white birds like to make Cayster sound;
that fish seek one another in the sea                        25
but shun the spot where the incoming streams
enter the boundaries of Nereus;
that Caucasus is smeared with blood by wild
Hyrcanian tigers, and all scaly serpents
streak Libyan sands, I marvel not at all,                    30
for, Tityrus, we’re pleased by different things
according to our life’s delight and taste.
But I, indeed, do marvel (and with me
all of the shepherds on Sicilian plains)
that Mopsus finds such pleasure in the arid               35
rocks the Cyclopes under Etna own.”
At this, perspiring, breathless, Meliboeus
approached, and could but say, “Look, Tityrus!”
The older shepherds laughed at the young man
with the parched throat just as Sicanians did             40
at young Sergestus from his rock set free.
Then the old man out of the verdant turf
raised his gray locks, and told the younger one,
heavily puffing still, “What’s wrong with you,
who, still so young, make bellows of your chest?”      45
He did not answer, but as soon as he
drew to his quivering lips the reedy flute,
no simple whisper struck our eager ears
for, as the youngster strove to blow his voice
into the reed (how strange this is, yet true!),              50
the reed breathed forth this live “Perhaps beneath
the sprinkled hills where Sarpina and Rhenus,”
and, had it three more times breathed equally,
with full a hundred songs it would have soothed
the shepherds who were listening in awe.                  55
Tityrus understood, and so did, too,
Alphesiboeus, who was first to speak.
“Respectable old man, would you now dare
desert Pelorus’ dewy pasture-land
and seek the Cyclops’ hidden cave once more?”        60
And he, “Why doubt? Why am I tempting you?
Can you not see this reed is made to sing
by godly power, and resembles one 
of those reeds out of the old murmur born—
the murmur that laid bare the sordid brow                  65
of the king who, by Bromius compelled,
reddened the space of the Pactolian sand?
It calls you to the shore the Etna paved
with pumice stone. 0 fortunate old man,
do not believe in this deceptive gift                            70
but stay right here instead, still taking care
of every Dryad and of all your sheep.
Ah, if you go, our hillocks and our streams
and all our nymphs, afraid of harsher fate,
will mourn with me; the enyy that now throbs            75
in all Pachinus will at once be dead,
and we, your fellow shepherds, shall regret
once having known you. You are blessèd here,
and so, my dear old man, let not your mind
be tempted by the thought of leaving all                    80
these rills and fields your lively name makes bright.”
“O rightly more than half of this my breast,”
(touching his own), old Tityrus replied,
“dear Mopsus, linked with bond of love to me
for those who ran in terror from the evil                      85
lust of Pyreneus, full well you know
that here I dwell upon the Po’s right bank
and on the left one of the Rubicon
where Adria ends th’ Emilian country-side
and lures us to the pastures far away                       90
along the slopes of Etna; but you should
also know well that here the two of us
press the soft grass of a Trinacrian mount
whi ch no Sicilian summit ever beats
for pasturable wealth to flock and herd.
Yet though the rocks of Etna by no means                95
should be held dearer than the verdant soil
of our Pelorus, willingly would I
visit my Mopsus, leaving here my flock,
if, Polyphemus, you I did not fear.”
Aphesiboeus added, “Who would not                      100
shudder at Polyphemus’ very sight,
accustomed as he is to taint his jaws
with human blood, since Galatea saw him
tear wretched Acis’ entrails one by one?
Scarce could she save herself. Would might of love  105
have then prevailed if brutal hunger flamed
in such a wrathful way? And what about
poor Achemenides, who only gazed
upon him, bloodied with his comrades’ death,
and hardly kept his soul still in his breast?              110
Ah, life of mine, I beg you not to let
so dire a frenzy seize you as would rob
the Rhenus and the Naiad of the bliss
of binding your most venerable head,
for which the pruner eagerly selects                        115
leaves everlasting from a virgin height.”
Tityrus smiled and with his every thought
welcomed in silence every uttered word
of the apprentice of his mighty flock.
But sinde the firmament by now was cleft                120
by steeds so low, they vanquished everything
with their own shadows, from the cooling vales
and from the woods every staffed shepherd came
behind his gathered flock, with shaggy goats
home-bound advancing to soft grass in front.           125
Meanwhile astute Iolas hid not far—
he who reported all these things to us.
Yes, it was he who told us everything
just as, O Mopsus, we are telling you.

Notes:

ECLOGUE II

Dante del Virgilio was very much delighted with Dante’s poetic and spirited reply in Latin. He wrote a second poetical epistle, an eclogue of 97 lines, inviting Dante to visit him in Bologna where he would find a number of eager disciples. The second eclogue describes the arrival of Dino Perini with Giovanni’s reply at hand, while Tityrus and Alphesibeous (a medical doctor from Certaldo named Fiducio de’ Miloti and Dante’s fellow-exile in Ravenna) are engaged in shepherds’ talk. Fiducio begs Dante not to leave Pelorus (Ravenna) and not to “seek the Cyclops’ hidden cave” (perhaps the dangers of Bologna?). Meliboeus follows suit by stressing the fear of Polyphemus (an uncertain character).

Dante reassures both with a smile and “welcomed in silence every uttered word.” “Perhaps beneath / the sprinkled hills where Sarpina and Rhenus,” is the first line of Giovanni del Virgilio’s reply with the second eclogue. Sarpina and Rhenus are rivers near Bologna. “Iolas” may be Guido da Polenta, Dante’s patron at Ravenna who overheard the conversation and conveyed it to the writer. This has raised doubts as to Dante’s authorship of the eclogue. It is widely accepted, however, that Dante wrote it in the third person.


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