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Muses of Sicily, let us now undertake
A somewhat greater task! Not all men love
Coppice or lowly tamarind: sing we woods,
Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.
Now the last age by Cumæ’s Sibyl sung
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of a new order for the ages begins:
[Ultima Cumæi venit iam carminis ætas;
magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.]
Justice returns, returns old Saturn’s reign,
With a new breed of humankind sent down from heaven.
Only do you, at the boy’s birth in whom
The iron age shall cease, the golden race arise,
Befriend him, chaste Lucina; It is your own
Apollo who reigns. And in your consulate,
This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,
And the months enter on their mighty march.
Under your guidance, what tracks remain
Of our old wickedness, once done away,
Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.
He shall receive the life of gods, and see
Heroes with gods commingling, and himself
Be seen of them, and with his father’s worth
Reign over a world at peace. For you, my boy,
First shall the earth, untilled, pour freely forth
Its childish gifts, the surging ivy-spray
With foxglove and Egyptian bean-flower mixed,
And laughing-eyed acanthus. Of themselves,
Untended, will the she-goats then bring home
Their udders swollen with milk, while flocks afield
Shall of the monstrous lion have no fear.
Your very cradle shall pour forth for you
Caressing flowers. The serpent too shall die,
Die shall the treacherous poison-plant, and far
And wide Assyrian spices spring. But soon
As you have learned to read of heroes’ fame,
And of your father’s deeds, and deeply learn
What virtue is, the plain by slow degrees
With waving corn-crops shall to golden grow,
From the wild briar shall hang the blushing grape,
And stubborn oaks sweat honey-dew.
Yet shall there lurk within of ancient wrong
Some traces, bidding tempt the deep with ships,
Gird towns with walls, with furrows cleave the earth.
Therewith a second Tiphys shall there be,
Her hero-freight a second Argo bear;
New wars too shall arise, and once again
Some great Achilles to some Troy be sent.
Then, when the mellowing years have made you man,
No more shall mariner sail, nor pine-tree bark
Ply traffic on the sea, but every land
Shall all things bear alike: the glebe no more
Shall feel the harrow’s grip, nor vine the hook;
The sturdy ploughman shall loose yoke from steer,
Nor wool with varying colors learn to lie;
But in the meadows shall the ram himself,
Now with soft flush of purple, now with tint
Of yellow saffron, teach his fleece to shine.
While clothed in natural scarlet graze the lambs.
“Such still, such ages shall you weave, as you run,”
Sang to their spindles the consenting Fates
By Destiny’s unalterable decree.
Assume your greatness, for the time draws nigh,
Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!
See how it totters–the world’s orbed might,
Earth, and wide ocean, and the vault profound,
All, see, enraptured of the coming time!
Ah! might such length of days to me be given,
And breath suffice me to rehearse your deeds,
Nor Thracian Orpheus should out-sing me then,
Nor Linus, though his mother this, and that
His father should aid–Orpheus Calliope,
And Linus fair Apollo. No, though Pan,
With Arcady for judge, my claim contest,
With Arcady for judge great Pan himself
Should own him foiled, and from the field retire.
Begin to greet your mother with a smile,
O baby-boy! ten months of weariness
For you she bore: O baby-boy, begin!
For him, on whom his parents have not smiled,
Gods deem not worthy of their board or bed.
–Publius Vergilius Maro, Eclogue IV (44 BCE)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Average number of bacteria living in a pound of U.S. mud:
Canadian doctors saved a baby from drowning in his own drool by using Botox on his salivary glands.
A black bear named Pedals, famous for walking upright on his hind legs through Rockaway Township, New Jersey, was reported killed by a hunter, and a hiker in California was attacked after he interrupted two bears mating. It was a “pretty good bear attack,” said the local police chief.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."