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English 230 Virgil - English 230 Selections from the...

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English 230 Selections from the Georgics by Virgil Book I Lines 1-42 The Invocation I’ll begin to sing of what keeps the wheat fields happy, under what stars to plough the earth, and fasten vines to elms, what care the oxen need, what tending cattle require, Maecenas [1], and how much skill’s required for the thrifty bees. O you brightest lights of the universe that lead the passing year through the skies, Bacchus and kindly Ceres, since by your gifts fat wheat ears replaced Chaonian acorns [2], and mixed Achelous’s [3] water with newly-discovered wine, and you, Fauns, the farmer’s local gods, (come dance, together, Fauns and Dryad girls!) your gifts I sing. And you, O Neptune, for whom earth at the blow of your mighty trident first produced whinnying horses: and you Aristaeus [4], planter of the groves, for whom three hundred snowy cattle graze Cea’s rich thickets: you, O Tegean Pan [5], if you care for your own Maenalus, leaving your native Lycaean woods and glades, guardian of the flocks, favor us: and Minerva bringer of the olive: and you Triptolemus [6], boy who revealed the curving plough, and Silvanus [7] carrying a tender cypress by the roots: and all you gods and goddesses, whose care guards our fields , you who nurture the fresh fruits of the unsown earth, and you who send plentiful showers down for the crops: and you too, Caesar [8], who, in time, will live among a company of the gods, which one’s unknown, whether you choose to watch over cities and lands, and the vast world accepts you as bringer of fruits, and lord of the seasons, crowning your brows with your mother Venus’s myrtle, or whether you come as god of the vast sea, and sailors worship your powers, while furthest Thule [10]serves you, and Tethys with all her waves wins you as son-in-law, or whether you add yourself to the slow months as a Sign, where a space opens between Virgo and the grasping claws, (Even now fiery Scorpio draws in his pincers for you, and leaves you more than your fair share of heaven): whatever you’ll be (since Tartarus [11] has no hope of you as ruler, and may such fatal desire for power never touch you, though Greece might marvel at the Elysian fields, and Proserpine, re-won, might not care to follow her mother), grant me a fair course, and agree to my bold beginning, pitying the country folk, with me, who are ignorant of the way: prepare to start your duties, and even now, hear our prayer. Lines 43-70 Spring Ploughing In the early Spring, when icy waters flow from snowy hills, and the crumbling soil loosens in a westerly breeze, then I’d first have my oxen groaning over the driven plough,
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and the blade gleaming, polished by the furrow. The field that’s twice felt sun, and twice felt frost, answers to the eager farmer’s prayer: from it boundless harvest bursts the barns.
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