The Georgics

Someone told me how good these were, but I only half-believed her.  I was wrong.  If you teach history or a classic language or gardening . . . and want something to illustrate perfectly the ethos of the Roman character, read these.  Yes, Virgil's Aeneaid is the classic work, but his Georgics--this captures the kind of desires that drove Cato, Cicero, Scipio, etc.  For someone who gardens or farms, these are a treat.

I found a translation here at A. S. Kline's free Poetry in Translation site.  Kline divides the sections with subheadings:  Spring Plowing, Weather Signs, Care of the Vineyard, Tending the Flock, The Nature and Qualities of Bees.  Yes, it is a book about agriculture--and what a book to write in contrast to Caesar and the kind of international history of that time!  Virgil did it on purpose.  Kline renders the poetry beautifully, for example:

Winter’s the farmer’s quiet time.
In the cold season countrymen mainly enjoy their lot
and treat themselves, delighting in feasts, together.
Genial winter entices them, and soothes their cares,
just as when loaded ships touch harbour,
and happy sailors crown the sterns with garlands.
But then is the time to gather acorns, and berries
from the bay-tree, and trim the olives, and blood-red myrtles,
to set snares for cranes, and nets for stags,
and chase the long-eared hares, to strike the deer
whirling a Balearic sling by its thongs of hemp,
when snow lies deep, and rivers thrust up ice.

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