Albius Tibullustr. A. S. Kline
Quis fuit, horrendos primus qui protulit enses?
Quam ferus et vere ferreus ille fuit!
Tum caedes hominum generi, tum proelia nata,
Tum brevior dirae mortis aperta via est.
An nihil ille miser meruit, nos ad mala nostra
Vertimus, in saevas quod dedit ille feras?
Divitis hoc vitium est auri, nec bella fuerunt,
Faginus adstabat cum scyphus ante dapes.
Non arces, non vallus erat, somnumque petebat
Securus sparsas dux gregis inter oves.
Tunc mihi vita foret, volgi nec tristia nossem
Arma nec audissem corde micante tubam;
Nunc ad bella trahor, et iam quis forsitan hostis
Haesura in nostro tela gerit latere.
Sed patrii servate Lares: aluistis et idem,
Cursarem vestros cum tener ante pedes.
Neu pudeat prisco vos esse e stipite factos:
Sic veteris sedes incoluistis avi.
Tum melius tenuere fidem, cum paupere cultu
Stabat in exigua ligneus aede deus.
Hic placatus erat, seu quis libaverat uva,
Seu dederat sanctae spicea serta comae,
Atque aliquis voti compos liba ipse ferebat
Postque comes purum filia parva favum.
At nobis aerata, Lares, depellite tela,
Hostiaque e plena rustica porcus hara.
Hanc pura cum veste sequar myrtoque canistra
Vincta geram, myrto vinctus et ipse caput.
Sic placeam vobis: alius sit fortis in armis
Sternat et adversos Marte favente duces,
Ut mihi potanti possit sua dicere facta
Miles et in mensa pingere castra mero.
Quis furor est atram bellis accersere mortem?
Inminet et tacito clam venit illa pede.
Non seges est infra, non vinea culta, sed audax
Cerberus et Stygiae navita turpis aquae;
Illic percussisque genis ustoque capillo
Errat ad obscuros pallida turba lacus.
Quam potius laudandus hic est, quem prole parata
Occupat in parva pigra senecta casa.
Ipse suas sectatur oves, at filius agnos,
Et calidam fesso conparat uxor aquam.
Sic ego sim, liceatque caput candescere canis,
Temporis et prisci facta referre senem.
Interea pax arva colat. pax candida primum
Duxit araturos sub iuga curva boves,
Pax aluit vites et sucos condidit uvae,
Funderet ut nato testa paterna merum,
Pace bidens vomerque nitent - at tristia duri
Militis in tenebris occupat arma situs -
Rusticus e lucoque vehit, male sobrius ipse,
Uxorem plaustro progeniemque domum.
Sed Veneris tum bella calent, scissosque capillos
Femina perfractas conqueriturque fores.
Flet teneras subtusa genas, sed victor et ipse
Flet sibi dementes tam valuisse manus.
At lascivus Amor rixae mala verba ministrat,
Inter et iratum lentus utrumque sedet.
A, lapis est ferrumque, suam quicumque puellam
Verberat: e caelo deripit ille deos.
Sit satis e membris tenuem rescindere vestem,
Sit satis ornatus dissoluisse comae,
Sit lacrimas movisse satis: quater ille beatus,
Quo tenera irato flere puella potest.
Sed manibus qui saevus erit, scutumque sudemque
Is gerat et miti sit procul a Venere.
At nobis, Pax alma, veni spicamque teneto,
Perfluat et pomis candidus ante sinus.
Who was he, who first forged the fearful sword?
How iron-willed and truly made of iron he was!
Then slaughter was created, war was born to men.
then a quicker road was opened to dread death.
But perhaps itís not the wretchís fault we turn to evil
what he gave us to use on savage beasts?
Thatís the curse of rich gold: there were no wars
when the beech-wood cup stood beside menís plates.
There were no fortresses or fences, and the flockís leader
sought sleep securely among the diverse sheep.
I might have lived then, Valgius, and not known
sad arms, or heard the trumpet with beating heart.
Now Iím dragged to war, and perhaps some enemy
already carries the spear that will pierce my side.
Lares of my fathers, save me: you are the same
that reared me, a little child running before your feet.
Donít be ashamed that youíre made from ancient wood:
so you were when you lived in my grandfatherís house.
Then faith was better kept, when a wooden god
poorly dressed, stood in a narrow shrine.
He was placated, if someone offered the first grapes
or placed the garland of wheat-ears on his sacred head:
and whoever gained his wish brought the honey-cakes
himself, his little daughter behind, with the pure comb.
Turn the bronze spears away from me, Lares,
and accept a sacrifice of a hog from the full sty.
I will follow in pure clothing, carrying the basket
bound with myrtle, myrtle binding my own head.
So I may please you: let another be brave in war,
and topple hostile generals with Marsí help,
then he can tell me his military deeds while I drink,
and draw his camp on the table with wine.
What madness to summon up dark Death by war!
It menaces us, and comes secretly on silent feet.
There are no cornfields down there, no trim vineyards,
only bold Cerberus, and the foul ferryman of Styxís stream.
There, with eyeless sockets and scorched hair,
a pallid crowd wanders by the lakes of darkness.
No heís more to be praised whom, blessed with children,
a long old age keeps occupied in his humble cottage.
He tends the sheep, and his son the lambs,
and his wife provides hot water for weary limbs.
So let me be, and may my head whiten with snowy temples,
and recall old things from ancient deeds.
Meanwhile let peace tend the fields. Bright peace first
bowed the oxen for ploughing under the curved yoke.
Peace nurtured the vines and laid up the juice of the grape
so the sonís wine might pour from the fatherís jar.
Hoe and ploughshare gleam in peace, but rust seizes
the grim weapons of the cruel soldier in darkness.
The countryman drives home from the wood,
himself half-sober, with wife and children in his cart,
but then they summon loveís war, and the woman
bewails her torn hair and the broken doors.
The bruised girl weeps for her tender cheeks, but the victor
weeps himself that his hands were so strong in his madness.
And impudent Love supplies evil words to the quarrel,
and sits indifferent between the angry pair.
Ah, heís stone and iron, whoever would strike his girl:
that action draws down the gods from the heavens.
let it be enough to have torn the thin cloth from her limbs,
enough to have disordered the arrangement of her hair,
enough to have caused her tears: heís four times blessed
whose anger can make a tender girl weep.
But he whose hands are cruel, should carry shield and pike,
and stay far away from gentle Venus.
Then come, kindly Peace, hold the wheat-ear in your hand,
and let your radiant breast pour out fruits before us.

Transl. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2001

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