Vergil, Eclogue 1.6-36: O Meliboee, deus nobis haec otia fecit

by Tom Gardner

O Meliboee, deus nobis haec otia fecit:
namque erit ille mihi semper deus; illius aram
saepe tener nostris ab ovilibus imbuet agnus.
Ille meas errare boves, ut cernis, et ipsum
ludere, quae vellem, calamo permisit agresti.

Non equidem invideo; miror magis: undique totis
usque adeo turbatur agris. En, ipse capellas
protinus aeger ago; hanc etiam vix, Tityre, duco:
hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,
spem gregis, ah, silice in nuda conixa reliquit. 
Saepe malum hoc nobis, si mens non laeva fuisset,
de caelo tactas memini praedicere quercus:—
saepe sinistra cava praedixit ab ilice cornix.
Sed tamen, iste deus qui sit, da, Tityre, nobis.

Urbem, quam dicunt Romam, Meliboee, putavi
stultus ego huic nostrae similem, quo saepe solemus
pastores ovium teneros depellere fetus:
sic canibus catulos similis, sic matribus haedos
noram, sic parvis componere magna solebam:
verum haec tantum alias inter caput extulit urbes,
quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.

Et quae tanta fuit Romam tibi causa videndi?

Libertas; quae sera, tamen respexit inertem,
candidior postquam tondenti barba cadebat;
respexit tamen, et longo post tempore venit,
postquam nos Amaryllis habet, Galatea reliquit:
namque, fatebor enim, dum me Galatea tenebat,
nec spes libertatis erat, nec cura peculi:
quamvis multa meis exiret victima saeptis,
pinguis et ingratae premeretur caseus urbi,
non umquam gravis aere domum mihi dextra redibat.

O Melibous, a god wrought for us this leisure:
for he shall forever be a god for me;
often shall a lamb from our pens drench his altar.
He lets my cattle roam, as you can see,
and lets me play what I will on my rustic pipe.

Well I, for one, do not envy you; I marvel all the more:
all around, there is so much unrest in the fields.
I drive my goats onward sorrowfully; behold, Tityrus, here is one I can scarcely even lead forth:
For here just now, amongst the dense hazels, under strain of exertion,
she bore twins, the hope of the flock, — alas! onto the bare flint.
I recall that this mishap was often foretold me
by oaks struck from heaven, had my mind not been so foolish.
But tell, I pray: who is this god of yours, Tityrus?

I thought, stupid as I am, that it was like one of ours:
the city they call Rome, wherefrom we shepherds
are used to often driving out the tender young:
thus I knew that puppies are like dogs, that young goats are like their mothers,
thus I used to compare great things with small:
but this one has raised her head as high through other cities
as cypresses are wont to do among pliant wayfaring trees.

And what was your grand reason to see Rome?

Freedom which, although late, nevertheless had regard for me as I lay idle,
when my beard grew white after being cut;
it nevertheless had regard for me, and came a long time afterwards —
after Galatea left me and Amaryllis held me:
for, I will admit, while Galatea ruled me,
I had neither hope of freedom nor concern for my savings.
Though very many sacrifices left my stalls,
and very much rich cheese was pressed for the thankless town,
never would my hand come home laden with money.