Thursday, June 07, 2018


Return of the Golden Age

Einsiedeln Eclogues 2.15-31 (tr. J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff, with their notes):
Do you see how the villagers, outspread o'er the well-worn turf,        15
offer their yearly vows and begin the regular altar-worship?
Temples reek of wine; the hollow drums resound to the hands;
the Maenalidsa lead the youthful ring-dances amid the holy rites;
joyful sounds the pipe; from the elm hangs the he-goat doomed to sacrifice,
and with neck already stripped lays his vitals bare.        20
Surely then the offspring of to-day fight with no doubtful hazard?b
Surely the blockish herd denies not to these times the realms of gold?c
The days of Saturn have returned with Justice the Maid:d
the age has returned in safety to the olden ways.
With hope unruffled does the harvester garner all his corn-ears;        25
the Wine-god betrays the languor of old age; the herd wanders on the lea;
we reap with no sword, nor do towns in fast-closed walls
prepare unutterable war: there is not any woman who, dangerous in her motherhood,
gives birth to an enemy.e Unarmed our youth
can dig the fields, and the boy, trained to the slow-moving plough,        30
marvels at the sword hanging in the abode of his fathers.

a Maenalus in Arcadia was especially associated with Pan.

b i.e. the present generation has no handicap in the struggle of life: there is no conflict between man and nature, because the Golden Age has returned.

c The very cattle must own that the blessings of the Golden Age belong to the present era.

d Line 23 imitates Virg. Ecl. iv.6, iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.

e No foeman can be born, as war is at an end.

cernis ut attrito diffusus cespite pagus        15
annua vota ferat sollennesque incohet aras?
spirant templa mero, resonant cava tympana palmis,
Maenalides teneras ducunt per sacra choreas,
tibia laeta canit, pendet sacer hircus ab ulmo
et iam nudatis cervicibus exuit exta.        20
ergo nunc dubio pugnant discrimine nati
et negat huic aevo stolidum pecus aurea regna?
Saturni rediere dies Astraeaque virgo
tutaque in antiquos redierunt saecula mores.
condit secura totas spe messor aristas,        25
languescit senio Bacchus, pecus errat in herba,
nec gladio metimus nec clausis oppida muris
bella tacenda parant; nullo iam noxia partu
femina quaecumque est hostem parit. arva iuventus
nuda fodit tardoque puer domifactus aratro        30
miratur patriis pendentem sedibus ensem.

15 cespite pagus Baehrens: cortice fagus E
16 inchoet Baehrens: imbuet E: imbuat Hagen: induat Peiper
21 nunc Baehrens: num E
22 tutaque Baehrens: totaque E
Codex Einsidlensis 266, fol. 207 (click image, twice if necessary, to enlarge):

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