Saturday, January 16, 2016


The Golden Age

Aratus, Phaenomena 108-113 (tr. A.W. Mair):
Not yet in that age had men knowledge of hateful strife,
or carping contention, or din of battle,
but a simple life they lived. Far from them was the cruel sea        110
and not yet from afar did ships bring their livelihood,
but the oxen and the plough and Justice herself, queen of the peoples,
giver of things just, abundantly supplied their every need.

οὔπω λευγαλέου τότε νείκεος ἠπίσταντο
οὐδὲ διακρίσιος πολυμεμφέος οὐδὲ κυδοιμοῦ,
αὕτως δ᾿ ἔζωον· χαλεπὴ δ᾿ ἀπέκειτο θάλασσα,        110
καὶ βίον οὔπω νῆες ἀπόπροθεν ἠγίνεσκον,
ἀλλὰ βόες καὶ ἄροτρα καὶ αὐτή, πότνια λαῶν,
μυρία πάντα παρεῖχε Δίκη, δώτειρα δικαίων.
Cicero's translation of the beginning of line 110 survives (Aratea, fragment XVII Buescu, my translation):
They preferred to live content with minimal effort.

malebant tenui contenti vivere cultu.
See also the version ascribed to Germanicus, lines 112-119 (tr. D.B. Gain):
Men were not yet so savage as to bare their swords in rage against each other; discord among blood relations was unknown; no one sailed the seas, men's own lands being satisfaction enough. Greed for wealth from far away did not cause them to build ships and entrust them to the hazards of the winds. The peaceful lands bore fruit unaided for those who dwelt in them. There were no boundary stones marking off their owners' small domains, for they were quite safe without them.

nondum vesanos rabies nudaverat ensis
nec consanguineis fuerat discordia nota,
ignotique maris cursus, privataque tellus
grata satis, neque per dubios avidissima ventos        115
spes procul amotas fabricata nave petebat
divitias, fructusque dabat placata colono
sponte sua tellus nec parvi terminus agri
praestabat dominis, sine eo tutissima, rura.

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