Lawful Days


Book 1

The order of the calendar throughout the Latin year, its causes, and the starry signs that set beneath the earth and rise again, of these I’ll sing. Caesar Germanicus [son of Drusus the brother of Tiberius], accept with brow serene this work and steer the passage of my timid bark. Spurn not the honor slight, but come propitious as a god to take the homage vowed to you. Here shall you read afresh of holy rites unearthed from annals old, and learn how every day has earned its own peculiar mark. There too shall you find the festivals pertaining to your house; often the names of your sire and grandsire will meet you on the page. The laurels that are theirs and that adorn the painted calendar, you too shall win in company with your brother Drusus.

Let others sing of Caesar’s wars; my theme be Caesar’s altars and the days he added to the sacred roll. Approve my effort to rehearse the praises of your kin, and cast out quaking terrors from my heart. Show yourself mild to me; so shall you lend vigor to my song: at your look my Muse must stand or fall. Submitted to the judgment of a learned prince my page does shiver, even as if sent to the Clarian god [Apollo of Clarios in Ionia] to read. On your accomplished lips what eloquence attends, we have seen, when it took civic arms in defense of trembling prisoners at the bar. And when to poetry your fancy turns, we know how broad the current of your genius flows. If it is right and lawful, guide a poet’s reins, yourself a poet, that under your auspices the year may run its entire course happy.

When the founder of the City was setting the calendar in order, he ordained that there should be twice five months in his year. To be sure, Romulus, you were better versed in swords than stars, and to conquer your neighbors was your main concern. Yet, Caesar, there is a reason that may have moved him, and for his error he might urge a plea. The time that suffices for a child to come forth from its mother’s womb, he deemed sufficient for a year. For just so many months after her husband’s funeral a wife supports the signs of sorrow in her widowed home. These things, then, Quirinus in his striped gown had in view, when to the simple folk he gave his laws to regulate the year. The month of Mars was the first, and that of Venus the second; she was the author of the race, and he his sire. The third month took its name from the old, and the fourth from the young [Maius from maiores, Iunius from iuvenes]; the months that trooped after were distinguished by numbers. But Numa overlooked not Janus and the ancestral shades, and so to the ancient months he prefixed two.

But that you may not be unversed in the rules of the different days, not every morning brings the same round of duty. That day is unlawful on which the three words may not be spoken [do, dico, addico]; that day is lawful on which the courts of law are open. But you must not suppose that every day keeps its rules throughout its whole length: a lawful day may have been unlawful in the morning; for as soon as the inwards have been offered to the god, all words may lawfully be spoken, and the honored praetor enjoys free speech. There are days, too, on which the people may lawfully be penned in the polling-booths [comitiales]; there are also days that come round ever in a cycle of nine [the nundinae, or market-days]. The worship of Juno claims Ausonia’s Kalends: on the Ides a bigger white ewe-lamb falls to Jupiter: the Nones lack a guardian god. The day next after all these days – make no mistake – is black [ill-omened]. The omen is drawn from the event; for on those days Rome suffered grievous losses under the frown of Mars. These remarks apply to the whole calendar; I have made them once for all, that I may not be forced to break the thread of my discourse.


Kal. Ian. 1st

See Janus comes, Germanicus, the herald of a lucky year to you, and in my song takes precedence. Two-headed Janus, opener of the softly gliding year, you who alone of the celestials behold your back, O come propitious to the chiefs whose toil ensures peace to the fruitful earth, peace to the sea. And come propitious to your senators and to the people of Quirinus, and by your nod unbar the temples white. A happy morning dawns. Fair speech, fair thoughts I crave! Now must good words be spoken on a good day. Let ears be rid of suits, and banish mad disputes forthwith! You rancorous tongue, adjourn your wagging!

Do you mark how the sky sparkles with fragrant fires, and how Cilician saffron crackles on the kindled hearths? The flame with its own splendor beats upon the temples’ gold roof. In spotless garments the procession wends to the Tarpeian towers; the people wear the color of festal day; and now new rods of office lead the way, new purple gleams, and a new weight is felt by the far-sewn ivory chair. Heifers, unbroken to the yoke, offer their necks to the axe, heifers that cropped the sward on the true Faliscan plains. When from his citadel Jupiter looks abroad on the whole globe, naught but the Roman empire meets his eye. Hail, happy day! and evermore return still happier, day worthy to be kept holy by a people the masters of the world.

But what god am I to say you are, Janus of double-shape? for Greece has no divinity like you. The reason, too, unfold why alone of all the heavenly one you see both back and front. While thus I mused, the tablets in my hand, I thought the house grew brighter than it was before. Then of a sudden sacred Janus, in his two-headed shape, offered his double visage to my wondering eyes. A terror seized me, I felt my hair stiffen with fear, and with a sudden chill my bosom froze. He, holding in his right hand his staff and in his left the key, to me these accents uttered from his front mouth: “Dismiss your fear, your answer take, laborious singer of the days, and mark my words.

The ancients called me Chaos, for a being from of old am I; observe the long, long ages of which my song shall tell. Yon lucid air and the three others bodies, fire, water, earth, were huddled all in one. When once, through the discord of its elements, the mass parted, dissolved, and went in diverse ways to seek new homes, flame sought the height, air filled the nearer space, while earth and sea sank in the middle deep. It was then that I, till that time a mere ball, a shapeless lump, assumed the face and members of a god. And even now, small index of my erst chaotic state, my front and back look just the same. Now hear the other reason for the shape you ask about, that you may know it and my office too.

Whatever you see anywhere – sky, sea, clouds, earth – all things are closed and opened by my hand. The guardianship of this vast universe is in my hands alone, and none but me may rule the wheeling pole. When I choose to send forth peace from tranquil halls, she freely walks the ways unhindered. But with blood and slaughter the whole world would welter, did not the bars unbending hold the barricadoed wars. I sit at heaven’s gate with the gentle Hours; my office regulates the goings and the comings of Jupiter himself. Hence Janus is my name [from eo]; but when the priest offers me a barley cake and spelt mingled with salt, you would laugh to hear the names he gives me, for on his sacrificial lips I’m now Patulcius and now Clusius called. Thus rude antiquity made shift to work my changing functions with the change of name.

My business I have told. Now learn the reason for my shape, though already you perceive it in part. Every door has two fronts, this way and that, whereof one faces the people and the other the house-god; and just as your human porter, seated at the threshold of the house-door, sees who goes out and in, so I, the porter of the heavenly court, behold at once both East and West. You see Hecate’s faces turned in three directions that she may guard the crossroads where they branch three several ways; and lest I should lose time by twisting my neck, I am free to look both ways without budging.”

Thus spake the god, and by a look promised that, were I fain to ask him more, he would not grudge reply. I plucked up courage, thanked the god composedly, and with eyes turned to the ground I spoke in few: “Come, say, why does the new year begin in the cold season? Better had it begun in spring. Then all things flower, then time renews his age, and new from out the teeming vine-shoot swells the bud; in fresh-formed leaves the tree is draped, and from earth’s surface sprouts the blade of corn. Birds with their warblings winnow the warm air; the cattle frisk and wanton in the meads. Then suns are sweet, forth comes the stranger swallow and builds her clayey structure under the loft beam. Then the field submits to tillage and is renewed by the plow. That is the season which rightly should have been called New Year.”

Thus questioned I at length; he answered prompt and tersely, throwing his words into twain verses, thus: “Midwinter is the beginning of the new sun and the end of the old one. Phoebus and the year take their start from the same point.”

Next I wondered why the first day was not exempt from lawsuits. “Hear the cause,” quoth Janus. “I assigned the birthday of the year to business, lest from the auspice idleness infects the whole. For the same reason every man just delivers his calling, nor does more than but attest his usual work.”

Next I asked, “Why, Janus, while I propitiate other divinities, do I bring incense and wine first of all to you?” Quoth he, “It is that through me, who guard the thresholds, you may have access to whatever gods you please.” “But why are glad words spoken on your Kalends? and why do we give and receive good wishes?” Then, leaning on the staff he bore in his right hand, the god replied: “Omens are wont,” said he, “to wait upon beginnings. At the first word you prick up anxious ears; from the first bird he sees the augur takes his cue. (On the first day) the temples and ears of the gods are open, the tongue utters no fruitless prayers, and words have weight.” So Janus ended. I kept not silence long, but caught up his last words with my own: “What mean the gifts of dates and wrinkled figs?” I said, “and honey glistering in snow-white jar?” “It is for the sake of the omen,” said he, “that the event may answer to the flavor, and that the whole course of the years may be sweet, like its beginning.”

“I see,” said I, “why sweets are given. But tell me, too, the reason for the gift of cash, that I may be sure of every point in your festival.” The god laughed, and “Oh,” quoth he, “how little you know about the age you live in if you fancy that honey is sweeter than cash in hand! Why, even in Saturn’s reign I hardly saw a soul who did not in his heart find lucre sweet. As time went on the love of riches grew, till now it is at its height and scarcely can go farther. Wealth is more valued now than in the years of old, when the people were poor, when Rome was new, when a small hut sufficed to lodge Quirinus [Romulus], son of Mars, and the river sedge supplied a scanty bedding. Jupiter had hardly room to stand upright in his cramped shrine, and in his right hand was a thunderbolt of clay. They decked with leaves the Capitol, which now they deck with gems, and the senator himself fed his own sheep.

It was no shame to take one’s peaceful rest on straw and to pillow the head on hay. The praetor put aside the plow to judge the people, and to own a light piece of silver plate was a crime. But ever since the Fortune of this place has raised her head on high, and Rome with her crest has touched the topmost gods, riches have grown and with them the frantic lust of wealth, and they who have the most possessions still crave for more. They strive to gain that they may waste, and then to repair their wasted fortunes, and thus they feed their vices by ringing the changes on them. So he whose belly swells with dropsy, the more he drinks, the thirstier he grows. Nowadays nothing but money counts: fortune brings honors, friendships; the poor man everywhere lies low. And still you ask me, What’s the use of omens drawn from cash, and why do ancient coppers tickle your palms! In the olden times the gifts were coppers, but now gold gives a better omen, and the old-fashioned coin has been vanquished and made way for the new. We, too, are tickled by golden temples, though we approve of the ancient ones: such majesty befits a gold. We praise the past, but use the present years; well are both customs worthy to be kept.”

He closed his admonitions; but again in calm speech, as before, I addressed the god who bears the key: “I have learned much indeed; but why is the figure of a ship stamped on one side of the copper coin, and a two-headed figure on the other?” “Under the double image,” said he, “you might have recognized myself, if the long lapse of time had not worn the type away. Now for the reason of the ship. In a ship the sickle-bearing god came to the Tuscan river after wandering over the world. I remember how Saturn was received in this land: he had been driven by Jupiter from the celestial realms. From that time the folk long retained the name of Saturnian, and the country, too, was called Latium from the hiding (latente) of the god. But a pious posterity inscribed a ship on the copper money to commemorate the coming of the stranger god.

“Myself inhabited the ground whose left side is lapped by sandy Tiber’s glassy wave. Here, where now is Rome, green forest stood unfilled, and all this mighty region was but pasture for a few kine. My castle was the hill which the present age is accustomed to call by my name and dub Janiculum. I reigned in days when earth could bear with gods, and divinities moved freely in the abodes of men. The sin of mortals had not yet put Justice to flight (she was the last of the celestials to forsake the earth): honor’s self, not fear, ruled the people without appeal to force: toil there was none to expound the right to righteous men. I had naught to do with war: guardian was I of peace and doorways, and these,” quoth he, showing the key, “these be the arms I bear.”

The god now closed his lips. Then I thus opened mine, using my voice to lure the voice divine. “Since there are so many archways, why do you stand thus consecrated in one alone, here where you have a temple adjoining two forums [between the Forum Romanum and Forum Iulum]?  Stroking with his hand the beard that fell upon his breast, he straightway told the warlike deeds of Oebalian [Oebalus was a king of Sparta] Tatius, and how the traitress keeper [Tarpeia], bribed by armlets, led the silent Sabines the way to the summit of the citadel. “From there,” quoth he, “a steep slope, the same by which even now you descend, led down into the valleys and the forums. And now the foe had reached the gate from which Saturn’s envious daughter [Juno] had removed the opposing bars. Fearing to engage in fight with so redoubtable a deity, I slyly had recourse to a device of my own craft, and by the power I wield I opened the fountains’ mouths and spouted out a sudden gush of water; but first I threw sulfur into the water channels, that the boiling liquid might bar the way against Tatius. This service done, and the Sabines repulsed, the place now rendered safe, resumed its former aspect. An altar was set up for me, joined to a little shrine: in its flames it burns the sacrificial spelt and cake.”

“But why hide in time of peace and open your gates when men take arms?“ Without delay he rendered me the reason that I sought. “My fate, unbarred, stands open wide, that when the people has gone forth to war, the road for their return may be open too. I bar the doors in time of peace, lest peace depart, and under Caesar’s star I shall be long shut up.” He spoke, and lifting up his eyes that saw in opposite directions, he surveyed all that the whole world held. Peace reigned, and on the Rhine already, Germanicus, your triumph had been won, when the river yielded up her waters to your slaves. O Janus, let the pace and the ministers of peace endure for ever, and grant that its author may never forget his handiwork.

But now for what I have been allowed to learn from the calendar itself. On this day the senate dedicated two temples. The island, which the river hems in with its parted waters, received him whom the nymph Coronis bore to Phoebus [Aesculapius]. Jupiter has his share of the site. One place found room for both, and the temples of the mighty grandsire and the grandson are joined together.

III. Non. 3rd

What is to stop me if I should tell also of the stars, their risings and their settings? That was part of my promise. Ah happy souls, who first took thought to know these things and scale the heavenly mansions! Well may we believe they lifted up their heads alike above the frailties and the homes of men. Their lofty natures neither love nor wine did break, nor civil business nor the toils of war; no low ambition tempted them, nor glory’s tinsel sheen, nor lust of hoarded wealth. The distant stars they brought within our ken, and heaven itself made subject to their wit. So man may reach the sky: no need that Ossa on Olympus should be piled, and that Pelion’s peak should touch the topmost stars. Under these leaders we, too, will plumb the sky and give their own days to the wandering signs.

Therefore when the third night before the Nones has come, and the ground is sprinkled and drenched with heavenly dew, you shall look in vain for the claws of the eight-footed Crab: headlong he’ll plunge beneath the western waves.

Non. 5th

Should the Nones be at hand, showers discharged from sable clouds will be your sign, at the rising of the Lyre.

V. Id. 9th

Add four successive days to the Nones, and on the Agonal morn Janus must be appeased. The day may take its name from the attendant who, in garb succinct, fells at a blow the victim of the gods; for just before he dyes the brandished knife in the warm blood, he always asks if he is to proceed (agatne), and not until he is bidden does he proceed. Some believe that the day is named Agonal from the driving of the victims, because the sheep do not come but are driven (agantur) to the altar. Others think the ancients called this festival Agnalia (“festival of the lambs”), dropping a single letter from its proper place. Or perhaps, because the victim fears the knives mirrored in the water before they strike, the day may have been so styled from the brute’s agony. It may be also that he day took a Greek name from the games (agones) which were wont to be held in olden times. In the ancient tongue, too, agonia meant a sheep, and that last, in my judgment, is the true reason of the name. And though that is not certain, still the King of the Sacred Rites is bound to placate the divinities by sacrificing the mate of a woolly ewe. The victim is so called because it is felled by a victorious right hand; the hostia (sacrificial victim) takes its name from conquered hostes (foes).

Of old the means to win the goodwill of gods for man were spelt and the sparkling grains of pure salt. As yet no foreign ship had brought across the ocean waves the bark-stilled myrrh; the Euphrates had sent no incense, India no balm. And the red saffron’s filaments were still unknown. The altar was content to smoke with savine, and the laurel burned with crackling loud. To garlands woven of meadow flowers he who could violets add was rich indeed. The knife that now lays bare the bowels of the slaughtered bull had in the sacred rites no work to do. The first to joy in blood of greedy sow was Ceres, who avenged her crops by the just slaughter of the guilty beast; for she learned that in early spring the grain, milky with sweet juices, had been rooted up by the snout of bristly swine. The swine was punished: terrified by her example, billy-goat, you should have spared the vine-shoot. Watching a he-goat nibbling at a vine somebody vented his ill-humor in these words: “Pray gnaw the vine, you he-goat; yet when you stand at the altar, the vine will yield something that can be sprinkled on your horns.” The words came true. Your foe, Bacchus, is given up to you for punishment, and wine out-poured is sprinkled on his horns. The sow suffered for her crime, and the she-goat suffered, too, for hers.

But the ox and you, you peaceful sheep, what was your sin? Aristaeus wept because he saw his bees killed, root and branch, and the unfinished hives abandoned. Scarce could his azure mother [Cyrene, a water-nymph] soothe his grief, when to her speech she these last words subjoined. “Stay, boy, your tears! Your losses Proteus will retrieve and will show you how to make good all that is gone. But lest he elude you by shifting his shape, see that strong bonds shackle both his hands.” The stripling made his way to the seer, and bound fast the arms, relaxed in slumber, of the Old Man of the Sea. By his art the wizard changed his real figure for a semblance false: but soon, by the cords mastered, to his true form returned. Then lifting up his dripping face and azure beard, “Do you ask,” said he, “in what way you may repair the loss of your bees? Kill a heifer and bury its carcass in the earth. The buried heifer will give the thing you seek of me.” The shepherd did his bidding: swarms of bees hive out of the putrid beef: one life snuffed out brought to the birth a thousand.

Death claims the sheep: shameless it cropped the holy herbs which a pious beldame used to offer to the rural gods. What creature is safe, when even the wool-bearing sheep and plowing oxen lay down their lives upon the altars? Persia propitiates the ray-crowned Hyperion [sun] with a horse, for no sluggard victim may be offered to the swift god. Because a hind was once sacrificed to the twin Diana in room of a maiden [Iphigeneia, at Aulis], a hind is even now felled for her, though not in a maiden’s stead. I have seen the entrails of a dog offered to the Goddess of the Triple Roads (Trivia) [Hecate] by the Sapaeans and those whose homes border on your snows, Mount Haemus. A young ass, too, is slain in honor of the stiff guardian [Priapus] of the country-side: the cause is shameful, but beseems the god.

A feast of ivy-berried Bacchus, you were wont to hold, O Greece, a feast which the third winter brought about at the appointed time. Thither came, too, the gods who wait upon Lyaeus and all the jocund crew, Pans and young amorous Satyrs, and goddesses that haunt rivers and lonely wilds. Thither, too, came old Silenus on an ass with hollow back, and the Crimson One who by his lewd image scares the timid birds. They lit upon a dale meet for joyous wassails, and there they laid them down on grassy beds. Liber bestowed the wine: each had brought his garland: a stream supplied water in plenty to dilute the wine. Naiads were there, some with flowing locks uncombed, others with tresses neatly bound. One waits upon the revellers with tunic tucked above her knee; another through her ripped robe reveals her breast; another bares her shoulder; one trails her skirt along the grass; no shoes cumber their dainty feet. So some in Satyrs kindle amorous fires, and some in you, whose brows are wreathed with pine [Pan]. You too, Silenus, burn for the nymphs, insatiate lecher! It is wantonness alone forbids you to grow old.

But crimson Priapus, glory and guard of gardens, lost his heart to Lotis, singled out of the whole bevy. For her he longs, for her he prays, for her alone he sighs; he gives her signs by nodding and woos by making marks. But the lovely are disdainful, and pride on beauty waits: she flouted him and cast at him a scornful look. It was night, and wine makes drowsy, so here and there they lay overcome with sleep. Weary with frolic, Lotis, the farthest of them all, sank to her rest on the grassy ground under the maple boughs. Up rose her lover, and holding his breath stole secretly and silently on tiptoe to the fair. When he reached the lonely pallet of the snow-white nymph, he drew his breath so warily that not a sound escaped. And now upon the sward fast by he balanced on his toes, but still the nymph slept sound. He joyed, and drawing from off her feet the quilt, he set him, happy lover! to snatch the wished-for hour. But lo, Silenus saddle-ass, with raucous windpipe braying, gave out an ill-timed roar! The nymph in terror started up, pushed off Priapus, and flying gave the alarm to the whole grove; but, ready to enter the lists of love, the god in the moonlight was laughed at by all. The author of the hubbub paid for it with his life, and he is now the victim dear to the Hellespontine god.

You birds, the solace of the countryside, you haunters of the woods, you harmless race, that built your nests and warm your eggs under your plumes, and with glib voices utter descant sweet, you were inviolate once; but all that avails not, because you are accused of chattering, and the gods opine that you reveal their thoughts. Nor is the charge untrue; for the nearer you are to the gods, the truer are the signs you give, whether by wing or voice. Long time immune, the brood of birds was slaughtered then at last, and the gods gloated on the guts of the tale-bearing fowls. That is why the white dove, torn from her mate, is often burned upon Idalian [of Venus] hearths; nor did his saving of the Capitol protect the goose from yielding up his liver on a charger to you, daughter of Inachus [Egyptian Isis]; by night to Goddess Night the crested owl is slain, because with wakeful notes he summons up the warm day.

Meanwhile the bright constellation of the Dolphin rises above the sea, and from his native water puts forth his face.

IV. Id. 10th

The morrow marks midwinter; what remains of winter will be equal to what has gone before.

III. Id. 11th

When next his wife quits Tithonus’ couch, she shall behold the rite pontifical of the Arcadian goddess [Carmentis]. You, too, sister of Turnus [the nymph Juturna], the same morn enshrined the spot where the Virgin Water [aqueduct Aqua Virgo] circles the Field of Mars. Whence shall I learn the causes and manner of these rites? Who will pilot my bark in mid ocean? Yourself, enlighten me, O you (Carmentis), who take your name from song (carmen), be kind to my enterprise, lest I should fail to give you honor due. The land that rose before the moon (if we may take its word for it) derives its name from the great Arcas. Of that land came Evander, who, though illustrious on both sides, yet was the nobler for the blood of his sacred mother (Carmentis), who, soon as her soul conceived the heavenly fire, chanted with voice inspired by the god prophetic strains.

She had foretold that troubles were at hand for her son and for herself, and much beside she had forecast, which time proved true. Too true, indeed, the mother proved when, banished with her, the youth forsook Arcadia and the god of his Parrhasian [an Arcadian tribe] home. He wept, but she, his mother, said, “Check, prithee, your tears; bear like a man your fortune. It was fated so; no fault of yours has banished you, the deed is God’s; an offended god has driven you from the city. What you endure is not the punishment of sin but heaven’s ire: in great misfortunes it is something to be unstained by crime. As each man’s conscience is, so does it, for his deeds, conceive within his breast either hope or fear. Nor mourn these sufferings as if you were the first to suffer; such storms have whelmed the mighty. Cadmus endured the same, he, who of old, driven from Tyrian coasts, halted an exile on Aonian soil [Boeotia]. Tydeus endured the same, and Pegasaean Jason too, and others more of whom it were long to tell. Every land is to the brave his country, as to the fish the sea, as to the bird whatever place stands open in the void world. Nor does the wild tempest rage the whole year long; for you, too, trust me, there will be spring-time yet.”

Cheered by his parent’s words, Evander cleft in his ship the billows and made the Hesperian land. And now at sage Carmentis’ bidding he had steered his bark into a river and was stemming the Tuscan stream. Carmentis spied the river bank, where it is bordered by Tarentum’s shallow pool [in the Field of Mars]; she also spied the huts dotted about these solitudes. And even as she was, with streaming hair she stood before the poop and sternly stayed the steersman’s hand; then stretching out her arms to the right bank, she thrice stamped wildly on the pinewood deck. Hardly, yea hardly did Evander hold her back from leaping in her haste to land. “All hail!” she cried, “Gods of the Promised Land! And hail! you country that shall give new gods to heaven! Hail rivers and fountains, which to this hospitable land pertain! Hail nymphs of the groves and bands of Naiads! May the sight of you be of good omen to my son and me! And happy be the foot that touches yonder bank!

“Am I deceived? or shall yon hills by stately walls be hid, and from this spot of earth, shall all the earth take law? The promise runs that the whole world shall one day belong to yonder mountains. Who could believe that the place was big with such a fate? Anon Dardanian barks shall ground upon these shores: here, too, a woman [Lavinia] shall be the source of a new war. Pallas [son of Evander], my grandson dear, why don those fatal arms? Ah, put them on! By no mean champion shall you be avenged. Howbeit, conquered Troy, you shall yet conquer and from your fall shall rise again: your very ruin overwhelms the dwellings of your foes. You conquering flames, consume Neptunian Pergamum! Shall that prevent its ashes from overtopping all the world? Anon pious Aeneas shall hither bring his sacred burden, and, burden no whit less sacred, his own sire; Vesta, admit the gods of Ilium!

“The time will come when the same hand shall guard you and the world, and when a god shall in his own person hold he sacred rites. In the line of Augustus the guardianship of the fatherland shall abide: it is decreed that his house shall hold the reins of empire. Thereafter the god’s son and grandson, despite his own refusal, shall support with heavenly mind the weight his father bore; and even as I myself shall one day be sanctified at eternal altars, so shall Julia Augusta [Livia] be a new divinity.” When in these words she had brought her story down to our own time, her prophetic tongue stopped short at the middle of her discourse. Landing from his ships, Evander stood an exile on the Latian sward, fortunate indeed to have that ground for place of exile! But little time elapsed until new dwellings rose, and of all the Ausonian mounts not one surpassed the Arcadian [Evander landed at the foot of the Palatine hill].

Lo! the club-bearer [Hercules] hither drives the Erythean kine; a long road he had travelled across the world; and while he is kindly entertained in the Tegean house, the kine unguarded stray about the spacious fields. When morning broke, roused from his sleep the Tirynthian drover perceived that of the count two bulls were missing. He sought but found no tracks of the noiselessly stolen beasts. Fierce Cacus had dragged the bulls backwards into his cave, Cacus the terror and shame of the Aventine wood, to neighbors and to strangers no small curse. Grim was his aspect, huge his frame, his strength to match; the monster’s sire was Mulciber. For house he had a cavern vast with long recesses, hidden so that hardly could the wild beasts themselves discover it. Above the doorway skulls and arms of men were fastened pendent, while the ground bristled and bleached with human bones.

The son of Jove was going off with the loss of part of the herd, when the stolen cattle lowed hoarsely. “I accept the recall,” quoth he, and following the sound he came, intent on vengeance, through the woods to the unholy cave. But the robber had blocked the entrance with a barricade of crag, scarcely could twice five yoke of oxen have stirred that mass. Hercules shoved it with his shoulders – the shoulders on which the sky itself had once rested – and by the shock he loosened the vast bulk. Its overthrow was followed by a crash that startled even the upper air, and the battered ground sank under the ponderous weight. At first Cacus fought hand to hand, and waged battle fierce with rocks and logs. But when these naught availed him, worsted he had recourse to his sire’s tricks, and belched flames from his roaring mouth; at every blast you might deem that Typhoeus blew, and that a sudden blaze shot out from Etna’s fires. But Alcides was too quick for him; up he heaved the triple-knotted club, and brought it thrice, yea four times down full on the foeman’s face. He fell, vomiting smoke mixed with blood, and dying beat the ground with his broad breast.

Of the bulls the victor sacrificed one to you, Jupiter, and invited Evander and the swains to the feast; and for himself he set up the altar which is called the Greatest at the spot where a part of the City takes its name from an ox. Nor did Evander’s mother hide the truth that the time was at hand when earth would have done with its hero Hercules. But the happy prophetess, even as she lived in highest favor with the gods, so now herself a goddess has she this day in Janus’ month all to herself.

Idus. 13th

On the Ides the chaste priest [the Flamen Dialis] offers in the flames the bowels of a gelded ram in the temple of great Jove. On that day, too, every province was restored to our people, and your grandsire received the title of Augustus. Peruse the legends graved on the waxen images ranged round noble halls; titles so lofty never were bestowed on man before. Africa named her conqueror after herself; another by his style attests Isaurian or Cretan power subdued: one gloried in Numidians laid low, another in Messana, while from the city of Numantia yet a third drew his renown. To Germany did Drusus [brother of the Emperor Tiberius] owe his title and his death: woe’s me! that all that goodness should be so short-lived! Did Caesar take his titles from the vanquished, then must he assume as many names as there are tribes in the whole world. Some have earned fame from single enemies, taking their names either from a necklace won or from a raven confederate in the fight. Pompey, your name of Great is the measure of your deeds, but he who conquered you was greater still in name. No surname can rank above that which the Fabii bear: for their services their family was called the Greatest [Maximus].

But yet the honors bestowed on all of these are human: Augustus alone bears a name that ranks with Jove supreme. Holy things are by the fathers called august: the epithet august is applied to temples that have been duly dedicated by priestly hands: from the same root come augury and all such augmentation as Jupiter grants by his power. May he augment our prince’s empire and augment his years, and may an oaken crown protect your doors. Under the auspices of the gods may the same omens, which attended the sire, wait upon the heir of so great a surname, when he takes upon himself the burden of the world.

XVIII. Kal. Feb. 15th

When the third sun shall look back on the past Ides, the sacred rites will be repeated in honor of the Parrhasian goddess. For of old Ausonian matrons drove in carriages (carpenta), which I imagine were also called after Evander’s parent (Carmentis). Afterwards the honor was taken from them, and every matron vowed not to propagate the line of her ungrateful spouse by giving birth to offspring; and lest she should bear children, she rashly by a secret thrust discharged the growing burden from her womb. They say the senate reprimanded the wives for their daring cruelty, but restored the right of which they had been mulcted; and they ordained that now two festivals be held alike in honor of the Teagean mother to promote the birth of boys and girls. It is not lawful to bring leather into her shrine, lest her pure hearths should be defiled by skins of slaughtered beasts. If you have any love of ancient rites, attend the prayers offered to her: you shall hear names you never knew before. Porrima and Postverta are placated, whether they be your sisters, Maenalian goddess [Carmenta], or companions of your exile: the one is thought to have sung of what was long ago (porro), the other of what should come to pass hereafter (venturum postmodo).

XVII. Kal. 16th

Fair goddess, you the next morning set in your snow-white temple, where high Moneta [Juno Moneta] lifts her steps sublime: well shall you, Concord, oversee the Latin throng, now that consecrated hands have stablished you. Furius [M. Furius Camillus] the vanquisher of the Etruscan folk, had vowed the ancient temple, and he kept his vow. The cause was that the common folk had taken up arms and seceded from the nobles, and Rome dreaded her own puissance. The recent cause was better: Germany presented her dishevelled locks at your command, leader revered; hence did you offer the spoil of the vanquished people, and did build a temple to that goddess whom you yourself  worship. That goddess your mother [Livia] did stablish both by her life and by an altar, she who alone was found worthy to share the bed of mighty Jupiter.

XVI. Kal. 17th

When that is over, you will quit Capricorn, O Phoebus, and will take your course through the sign of the youth who carries water (Aquarius).

X. Kal. 23rd

When the seventh sun, reckoned from that day, shall have set in the sea, the Lyre will shine no longer anywhere in the sky.

IX. Kal. 24th

After the setting of that constellation (the Lyre), the fire that glitters in the middle of the Lion’s breast will be sunk below the horizon at nightfall.

Three or four times I searched the record of the calendar, but nowhere did I find the Day of Sowing. Seeing me puzzled, the Muse observed, “That day is appointed by the priests. Why look for movable feasts in the calendar? And while the day of the feast may shift, the season is fixed: it is when the seed has been sown and field fertilized.” You steers, take your stand with garlands on your heads at the full crib: with the warm spring your toil will return. Let the swain hang up on the post the plow that has earned its rest: in winter the ground fears every wound inflicted by the share. You bailiff, when the sowing is done, let the land rest, and let the men who tilled the land rest also. Let the parish keep festival; purify the parish, you husbandmen, and offer the yearly cakes on the parish hearths. Propitiate Earth and Ceres, the mothers of the corn, with their own spelt and flesh of teeming sow.

Ceres and Earth discharge a common function: the one lends to the corn its vital force, the other lends it room. “Partners in labor, you who reformed the days of old and replaced acorns of the oak by food more profitable, O satisfy the eager husbandmen with boundless crops, that they may reap the due reward of their tillage. O grant unto the tender seeds unbroken increase; let not the sprouting shoot be nipped by chilly snows. When we sow, let the sky be cloudless and winds blow fair; but when the seed is buried, then sprinkle it with water from the sky. Forbid the birds – pests of the tilled land – to devastate the fields of corn with their destructive flocks.

You too, you ants, O spare the sown grain; so shall you have a more abundant booty after the harvest. Meantime may no scurfy mildew blight the growing crop nor foul weather blanch it to a sickly hue; may it neither shrivel up nor swell unduly and be choked by its own rank luxuriance. May the fields be free from darnel, that spoils the eyes, and may no barren wild oats spring from the tilled ground. May the farm yield, with manifold interest, crops of wheat, of barley, and of spelt, which twice shall bear the fire.” These petitions I offer for you, you husbandmen, and do you offer them yourselves, and may the two goddesses grant our prayers. Long time did wars engage mankind; the sword was handier than the share; the plow ox was ousted by the charger; hoes were idle, mattocks were turned into javelins, and a helmet was made out of a heavy rake. Thanks be to the gods and to your house! Under your foot long time War has been laid in chains. Yoke the ox, commit the seed to the plowed earth. Peace is the nurse of Ceres, and Ceres is the foster-child of Peace.

VI. Kal. 27th

On the sixth day before the coming Kalends a temple was dedicated to Leda’s divine sons [Castor and Pollux]; brothers of the race of the gods founded that temple for the brother gods beside Juturna’s pools.

III. Kal. 30th

The course of my song has led me to the altar of Peace. The day will be the second from the end of the month. Come, Peace, your dainty tresses wreathed with Actian [referring to the victory of Actium, 31 B.C.] laurels, and let your gentle presence abide in the whole world. So but there be nor foes nor food for triumphs, you shall be unto our chiefs a glory greater than war. May the soldier bear arms only to check the armed aggressor, and may the fierce trumpet blare for naught but solemn pomp! May the world near and far dread the sons of Aeneas, and if there be any land that feared not Rome, may it love Rome instead! Add incense, you priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace, let a white victim fall with wine anointed brow, and ask of the gods, who lend a favoring ear to pious prayers, that the house, which is the warranty of peace, with peace may last for ever.

But now the first part of my labor is done, and with the month of which it treats the book ends.


January is over. The year progresses with my song: even as this second month, so may my second book proceed.

My elegiacs, now for the first time you sail with ampler canvas spread: As I remember, up till now your theme was slender. Myself I found you pliant ministers of love, when in the morn of youth I toyed with verse. Myself now sing of sacred rites and of the seasons marked in the calendar: who could think that this could come of that? Herein is all my soldiership: I bear the only arms I can: my right hand is not all unserviceable. If I can neither hurl the javelin with brawny arm, nor bestride the back of war horse; if there is no helmet on my head, no sharp sword at my belt – at such weapons any man may be a master of fence – still do I rehearse with hearty zeal your titles, Caesar [Augustus], and pursue your march of glory. Come, then, and if the conquest of the foe leaves you a vacant hour, O cast a kindly glance upon my gifts.

Our Roman fathers gave the name of februa to instruments of purifications: even to this day there are many proofs that such was the meaning of the world. The pontiffs ask the King [the Rex Sacrorum] and the Flamen for woolen cloths, which in the tongue of the ancients had the name of februa. When houses are swept out, the toasted spelt and salt which the officer gets as means of cleansing are called by the same name. The same name is given to the bough, which, cut from a pure tree, wreathes with its leaves the holy brows of the priests. I myself have seen the Flamen’s wife (Flaminica) begging for februa; at her request for februa a twig of pine was given her. In short, anything used to cleanse our bodies went by that name in the time of our unshorn forefathers. The month is called after these things, because the Luperci purify the whole ground with strips of hide, which are their instruments of cleansing, or because the season is pure when once peace-offerings have been made at the graves and the days devoted to the dead are past. Our sires believed that every sin and every cause of ill could be wiped out by rites and purgation.

Greece set the example: she deems that the guilty can rid themselves of their crimes by being purified. Peleus cleansed Acrorides [Patroclus], and Acastus cleansed Peleus himself from the blood of Phocus by the Haemonian waters. Wafted through the void by bridled dragons, the Phasian witch [Medea] received a welcome, which she little deserved at the hands of trusting Aegeus. The son of Amphiaraus [Alcmaeon] said to Naupactian Achelous, “O rid me of my sin,” and the other did rid him of his sin. Fond fools alack! to fancy murder’s gruesome stain by river water could be washed away! But yet, lest you should err through ignorance of the ancient order, know that the month of Janus was of old the first, even as now it is; the month that follows January was the last of the old year. Your worship too, O Terminus, formed the close of the sacred rites. For the month of Janus came first because the door (janua) comes first; that month was nethermost which to the nether shades was consecrated. Afterwards the Decemvirs are believed to have joined together times which had been parted by a long interval.

Kal. Feb. 1st

At the beginning of the month Savior (Sospita) Juno, the neighbor of the Phrygian Mother Goddess, is said to have been honored with new shrines. If you ask, where are now the temples which on those Kalends were dedicated to the goddess? tumbled down they are with the long lapse of time. All the rest had in like sort gone to wrack and ruin, had it not been for the far-seeing care of our sacred chief, under whom the shrines feel not the touch of old age; and not content with doing favors to mankind he does them to the gods. O saintly soul, who build and rebuild the temples, I pray the powers above may take such care of you as you of them! May the celestials grant you the length of years which you bestow on them, and may they stand on guard before your house!

Then, too, the grove of Alernus [near the mouth of the Tiber] is thronged with worshippers, fast by the spot where Tiber, coming from afar, makes for the ocean waves. At Numa’s sanctuary [the temple of Vesta], at the Thunderer’s temple upon the Capitol, and on the summit of Jove’s citadel a sheep is slain. Often, muffled in clouds, the sky discharges heavy rains, or under fallen snow the earth is hid.

IV. Non. 2nd

When the next sun, before he sinks into the western waves, shall from his purple steeds undo the jewelled yoke, someone that night, looking up at the stars, shall say, “Where is to-day the Lyre, which yesterday shone bright?" And while he seeks the Lyre, he will mark that the back of the Lion also has of a sudden plunged into the watery waste.

III. Non. 3rd

The Dolphin, which of late you saw fretted with stars, will on the next night escape your gaze. (He was raised to heaven) either because he was a lucky go-between in love’s intrigues, or because he carried the Lesbian lyre and the lyre’s master. What sea, what land knows not Arion? [Herodotus, i. 24.] By his song he used to stay the running waters. Often at his voice the wolf in pursuit of the lamb stood still, often the lamb halted fleeing from the ravening wolf; often hounds and hares have couched in the same covert, and the hind upon the rock has stood beside the lioness: at peace the chattering crow has sat with Pallas’ bird [the owl], and the dove has been neighbor to the hawk. It is said that Cynthia [Diana] oft has stood entranced, tuneful Arion, at your notes, as if the notes had been struck by her brother’s hand.

Arion’s fame had filled Sicilian cities, and by the music of his lyre he had charmed the Ausonian land. Thence wending homewards, he took ship and carried with him the wealth his art had won. Perhaps, poor wretch, you dreaded the winds and waves, but in truth the sea was safer for you than your ship. For the helmsman took his stand with a drawn sword, and the rest of the conspiring gang had weapons in their hands. What would you with a sword? Steer the crazy bark, you mariner; these weapons ill befit your hands.

Quaking with fear the bard, “I deprecate not death,” said he, “but let me take my lyre and play a little.” They gave him leave and laughed at the delay. He took the crown that might well, Phoebus, become your locks; he donned his robe twice dipped in Tyrian purple: touched by his thumb, the strings gave back a music all their own, such notes as the swan chants in mournful numbers when the cruel shaft has pierced his snowy brow. Straightway, with all his finery on, he leaped plump down into the waves: the refluent water splashed the azure poop. Thereupon they say (it sounds past credence) a dolphin submitted his arched back to the unusual weight; seated there Arion grasped his lyre and paid his fare in song, and with his chant he charmed the ocean waves. The gods see pious deeds: Jupiter received the dolphin among the constellations, and bade him have nine stars.

Non. 5th

Now could I wish for a thousand tongues and for that soul of yours, Maeonides [Homer], which glorified Achilles, while I sing in distiches the sacred Nones. This is the greatest honor that is heaped upon the calendar. My genius faints: the burden is beyond my strength: this day above all others is to be sung by me. Fool that I was, how durst I lay so great a weight on elegiac verse? the theme was one for the heroic stanza. Holy Father of your Country [Augustus], this title has been conferred on you by the people, by the senate, and by us, the knights. But history had already conferred it; yet did you also receive, though late, your title true; long time had you been the Father of the World.

You bear on earth the name which Jupiter bears in high heaven: of men you are the father, he of the gods. Romulus, you must yield pride of place. Caesar by his guardian care makes great your city walls: the walls you gave to the city were such as Remus could overleap. Your power was felt by Tatius [king of the Sabines], the little Cures, and Caenina; under Caesar’s leadership whatever the sun beholds on either side is Roman. You owned a little stretch of conquered land: all that exists beneath the canopy of Jove is Caesar’s own. You raped wives: Caesar bade them under his rule be chaste. You admitted the guilty to your grove: he has repelled the wrong. Yours was a rule of force: under Caesar it is the laws that reign. You bore the name of master: he bears the name of prince [princeps]. You have an accuser in your brother Remus: Caesar pardoned foemen. To heaven your father raised you: to heaven Caesar raised his sire.

Already the Idaean boy [Ganymede] shows himself down to the waist, and pours a stream of water mixed with nectar. Now joy too, you who shrink from the north wind; from out the west a softer gale does blow.

V. Id. 9th

When five days later the Morning Star has lifted up its radiance bright from out the ocean waves, then is the time that spring begins. But yet be not deceived, cold days are still in store for you, indeed they are: departing winter leaves behind great tokens of himself.

III. Id. 11th

Come the third night, you shall straightway remark that the Bear-Ward [Arctophylax, also called BoŲtes] has thrust forth both his feet. Among the Hamadryads in the train of the archeress Diana [called also Cynthia and Phoebe] one of the sacred band was called Callisto [Metam. ii. 409-507]. Laying her hand on the bow of the goddess, “You bow,” quoth she, “which thus I touch, bear witness to my virginity.” Cynthia approved the vow, and said, “Keep but your plighted troth and you shall be the foremost of my company.” Her troth she would have kept if she had not been fair. With mortals she was on her guard; it was with Jove she sinned. Of wild beasts in the forest Phoebe had chased full many a score, and home she was returning at noon or after noon. No sooner had she reached the grove – the grove where the thick holm-oaks cast a gloom and in the midst a deep fountain of cool water rose – than the goddess spake: “Here in the wood,” quoth she, “let’s bathe, you maid of Arcady.” At the false name of maid the other blushed. The goddess spoke to the nymphs as well, and they put off their robes.

Callisto was ashamed and bashfully delayed. But when she doffed her tunic, too plainly, self-convicted, her big belly betrayed the weight she bore. To whom the goddess spake: “Daughter of Lycaon forsworn, forsake the company of maids and defile not the pure waters.” Ten times the horned moon had filled her orb afresh, when she who had been thought a maid was proved a mother. The injured Juno raged and changed the damsel’s shape. Why so? Against her will Jove ravished her. And when in the sweetheart she beheld the ugly features of the brute, quoth Juno, “Let Jupiter now court her embraces.”

But she, who of late had been beloved by highest Jove, now roamed, a shaggy she-bear, the mountains wild. The child she had conceived in sin was now in his third lustre when his mother met him. She indeed, as if she knew him, stood distraught and growled; a growl was all the mother’s speech. Her the stripling with his sharp javelin would have pierced, but that they both were caught up into the mansions on high. As constellations they sparkle beside each other. First comes what we call the Bear; the Bear-Ward seems to follow at her back. Still Saturn’s daughter frets and begs grey Tethys never to touch and wash with her waters the Bear of Maenalus. [In the northern latitudes the Bear never sets.]

Idus. 13th

On the Ides the altars of rustic Faunus smoke, there where the island [of the Tiber] breaks the parted waters. This was the day on which thrice a hundred and thrice two Fabii fell by Veientine arms. [The family of the Fabii offered to carry on the war against Veii alone. Three hundred and six went forth through the Carmental gate. See Livy ii. 48-50.] A single house had undertaken the defense and burden of the city: the right hands of a single clan proffered and drew their swords. From the same camp a noble soldiery marched forth, of whom any one was fit to be a leader. The nearest way is by the right-hand arch of Carmentis’ gate [the right-hand arch of the Porta Carmentalis, next to the temple of Janus, was unlucky]: go not that way, whoever you are: ‘tis ominous. By it, the rumor runs, the three hundred Fabii went forth. No blame attaches to the gate, but still ‘tis ominous. When at quick pace they reached the rushing Cremera [a stream near Veii] (it flowed turbid with winter rain) they pitched their camp on the spot, and with drawn swords broke through the Tyrrhenian array right valiantly, even as lions of the Libyan breed attack herds scattered through spacious fields. The foemen flee dispersed, stabbed in the back with wounds dishonorable: with Tuscan blood the earth is red. So yet again, so oft they fall. When open victory was denied them, they set an ambush of armed men in wait.

A plain there was, bounded by hills and forest, where the mountain beasts could find commodious lair. In the midst the foe left a few of their number and some scattered herds: the rest of the host lurked hidden in the thickets. Lo, as a torrent, swollen by rain or snow which the warm West Wind has melted, sweeps across the cornfields, across the roads, nor keeps its waters pent within the wonted limit of its banks, so the Fabii rushed here and there broadcast about the vale; all that they saw they felled; no other fear they knew. Whither away, you scions of an illustrious house? It is ill to trust the foe.

O noble hearts and simple, beware of treacherous blades! By fraud is valor vanquished: from every hand the foe leaps forth into the open plain, and every side they hold. What can a handful of the brave do against so many thousands? Or what help is left for them in such extremity? As a boar, driven afar from the woods by the pack, scatters the swift hounds with thunderous snout, but soon himself is slain, so do they die not unavenged, giving and taking wounds alternately. One day send forth to war the Fabii all: one day undid all that were sent to war. Yet may we believe that the gods themselves took thought to save the seed of the Herculean [the Fabii claimed descent from Hercules and Evander] house; for a boy under age, too young to bear arms, was left alone of all the Fabian clan, to the end, no doubt, that you, Maximus [Q. Fabius Maximus Cunetator], might one day be born to save the commonwealth by biding time.

XVI. Kal. Mart. 14th

Three constellations lie grouped together – the Raven, the Snake, and the Bowl, which stands midway between the other two. On the Ides they are invisible: they rise the following night, Why the three are so closely linked together, I will tell to you in verse. It chanced that Phoebus was preparing a solemn feast for Jupiter: my tale shall not waste time. “Go, my bird,” said Phoebus, “that naught may delay the pious rites, and bring a little water from running springs.” The raven caught up a gilded bowl in his hooked claws and few aloft on his airy journey. A fig-tree stood loaded with fruit still unripe: the raven tried it with his beak, but it was not fit to gather.

Unmindful of his orders he perched, it is said, under the tree to wait till the fruit should sweeten hungeringly. And when at last he ate his fill, he snatched a long water-snake in his black talons, and returning to his master brought back a lying tale: “This snake was the cause of my delay: he blocked the living water: he kept the spring from flowing and me from doing my duty.” “You aggravate your fault,” quoth Phoebus, “by your lies, and dare attempt to cheat the god of prophecy by fibs? But as for you, you shall drink cool water from no spring until the figs upon the tree grow juicy.” He spake, and for a perpetual memorial of this ancient incident the constellations of the Snake, the Bird, and the Bowl now sparkle side by side.

XV. Kal. 15th

The third morn after the Ides beholds the naked Luperci, and then, too, come the rites of two-horned Faunus. Declare, Pierian Muses, the origin of the rites, and from what quarter they were fetched and reached our Latin homes. The Arcadians of old are said to have worshipped Pan [Faunus], the god of cattle, him who haunts the Arcadian ridges. Witness Mount Pholoe [in Arcadia], witness the Stymphalian waters [lake in Arcadia], and the Ladon that seaward runs with rapid current: witness the ridges of the Nonacrine [a town in Arcadia] grove begirt with pinewoods: witness high Tricrene [mount in Arcadia] and the Parrhasian snows. There Pan was the deity of herds, and there, too, of mares; he received gifts for keeping safe the sheep. Evander brought with him across the sea his woodland deities; where now the city stands, there was then naught but the city’s site. Hence we worship the god, and the Flamen Dialis still performs in the olden way the rites [the Lupercalia] brought hither by the Pelasgians [Evander, as an Arcadian].

You ask, Why then do the Luperci run? and why do they strip themselves and bear their bodies naked, for so it is their wont to run? The god himself loves to scamper, fleet of foot, about the high mountains, and he himself takes suddenly to flight. The god himself is nude and bids his ministers go nude: besides, raiment sorted not well with running. The Arcadians are said to have possessed their land before the birth of Jove, and that folk is older than the moon. Their life was like that of beasts, unprofitably spent; artless as yet and raw was the common corn: water scooped up in two hollows of the hands to them was nectar. No bull panted under the weight of the bent plowshare: no land was under the dominion of the husbandman: there was as yet no use for horses, every man carried his own weight: the sheep went clothed in its own wool. Under the open sky they lived and went about naked, inured to heavy showers and rainy winds. Even to this day the unclad ministers recall the memory of the olden custom and attest what comforts the ancients knew.

But to explain why Faunus should particularly eschew the use of drapery a merry tale is handed down from days of old. As chance would have it, the Tirynthian youth was walking in the company of his mistress [Hercules and Omphale, a princess of Lydia (Maeonia)]; Faunus saw them both from a high ridge. He saw and burned. “You mountain elves (spirits},” quoth he. “I’m done with you. Yon shall be my true flame.” As the Maeonian damsel tripped along, her scented locks streamed down her shoulders; her bosom shone resplendent with golden braid. A golden parasol kept off the sun’s warm beams; and yet it was the hands of Hercules that bore it up.

Now had she reached the grove of Bacchus and the vineyards of Tmolus [a mountain in Lydia], and dewy Hesperus rode on his dusky steed. She passed within a cave, whereof the fretted roof was all of tufa and of living rock, and at the mouth there ran a babbling brook. While the attendants were making ready the viands and the wine for the wassail, she arrayed Alcides in her own garb. She gave him gauzy tunics in Gaetulian purple [made by the murex dye] dipped; she gave him the dainty girdle, which but now had girt her waist. For his belly the girdle was too small; he undid the claps of the tunics to thrust out his big hands. The bracelets he had broken, not made to fit those arms; his big feet split the little shoes. She herself took the heavy club, the lion’s skin, and the lesser weapons stored in their quiver. In such array they feasted, in such array they resigned themselves to slumber, and lay down apart on beds set side by side; the reason was that they were preparing to celebrate in all purity, when day should dawn, a festival in honor of the discoverer of the vine.

It was midnight. What durst not wanton love essay? Through the gloom came Faunus to the dewy cave, and when he saw the attendants in drunken slumber sunk, he conceived a hope that their masters might be as sound asleep. He entered and, rash lecher, he wandered to and fro; with hands outstretched before him he felt his cautious way. At last he reached by groping the beds, where they were spread, and at his first move fortune smiled on him. When he felt the bristly skin of the tawny lion, he stayed his hand in terror, and thunderstruck recoiled, as oft on seeing a snake a wayfarer freezes in alarm.

Then he touched the soft drapes of the next couch, and its deceptive touch beguiled him. He mounted and reclined on the nearer side, his swollen penis harder than horn, and meanwhile pulling up the bottom edge of the garment; there he met legs that bristled with thick rough hair. Before he could go further, the Tirynthian hero [Hercules] abruptly thrust him away, and down he fell from the top of the bed. There was a crash. Omphale called for her attendants and demanded a light: torches were brought in, and the truth was out. After his heavy fall from the high couch Faunus groaned and scarce could lift himself from the hard ground. Alcides laughed, as did all who saw him lying; the Lydian wench laughed also at her lover. Thus betrayed by vesture, the god loves not garments which deceive the eye, and bids his worshippers come naked to his rites.

To foreign reasons add, my Muse, some Latin ones, and let my steed career in his own dusty course. A she-goat had been sacrificed as usual to hoof-footed Faunus, and a crowd had come by invitation to partake of the scanty repast. While the priests were dressing the inwards, stuck on willow spits, the sun then riding in mid heaven, Romulus and his brother and the shepherd youth were exercising their naked bodies in the sunshine on the plain; they tried in sport the strength of their arms by crow-bars and javelins and by hurling ponderous stones. Cried a shepherd from a height, “O Romulus and Remus, robbers are driving off the bullocks across the pathless lands.” To arm would have been tedious; out went the brothers both in opposite directions; but it was Remus who fell in with the freebooters and brought the booty back. On his return he drew the hissing inwards from the spits and said, “None but the victor surely shall eat these.” He did as he had said, he and the Fabii together. Thither came Romulus foiled, and saw the empty tables and bare bones. He laughed, and grieved that Remus and the Fabii could have conquered when his own Quintilii could not. The fame of the deed endures: they run stripped, and the success of that day enjoys a lasting fame.

Perhaps you may also ask why that place [a cave on the Palatine] is called the Lupercal, and what is the reason for denoting the day by such a name. Silvia, a Vestal, had given birth to heavenly babes, what time her uncle sat upon the throne. He ordered the infant boys to be carried away and drowned in the river. Rash man! one of those babes will yet be Romulus. Reluctantly his servants carry out the mournful orders (though they weep) and bear the twins to the place appointed. It chanced that the Albula, which took the names of Tiber from Tiberinus, drowned in its waves, was swollen with winter rain: where now the forums [Forum Romanum and Forum Boarium] are, and where the valley of the Circus Maximus lies, you might see boats floating about. Hither when they were come, for farther they could not go, one or other of them said: “But how like they are! how beautiful is each! Yet of the two this one has more vigor. If lineage may be inferred from features, unless appearances deceive me, I fancy that some god is in you – but if some god were indeed the author of your being, he would come to your rescue in so perilous an hour; surely their mother would bring aid, if only aid she lacked not, she who has borne and lost her children in a single day. You bodies, born together to die together, together pass beneath the waves!”

He ended, and from his bosom he laid down the twins. Both squalled alike: you would fancy they understood. With wet cheeks the bearers wended their homeward way. The hollow ark in which the babes were laid supported them on the surface of the water: ah me! how big a fate the little plank upbore! The ark drifted towards a shady wood, and, as the water gradually shoaled, it grounded on the mud. There was a tree (traces of it still remain), which is now called the Rumina [from ruma or rumis, a “dug”] fig-tree, but was once the Romulan fig-tree.

A she-wolf which had cast her whelps came, wondrous to tell, to the abandoned twins: who could believe that the brute would not harm the boys? Far from harming, she helped them; and they whom ruthless kinsfolk would have killed with their own hands were suckled by a wolf! She halted and fawned on the tender babes with her tail, and licked into shape their two bodies with her tongue. You might know they were scions of Mars: fearless, they sucked her dugs and were fed on a supply of milk that was never meant for them. The she-wolf (lupa) gave her name to the place, and the place gave their name to the Luperci. Great is the reward the nurse has got for the milk she gave. Why should not the Luperci have been named after the Arcadian mountain? Lycaean Faunus has temples in Arcadia. [On Mt. Lycaeus was a sanctuary of Pan.]

You bride, why tarry? Neither potent herbs, nor prayer, nor magic spells shall make of you a mother; submit with patience to the blows dealt by a fruitful hand, soon will your husband’s sire enjoy the wished for name of grandsire. For there was a day when a hard lot ordained that wives but seldom gave their mates the pledges of the womb. Cried Romulus (for this befell when he was on the throne). “What boots it me to have ravished the Sabine women, if the wrong I did has brought me not strength but only war? Better it were our sons had never wed.” Under the Esquiline Mount a sacred grove, untouched by woodman’s axe for many a year, went by the name of the great Juno [Juno Lucina].

Hither when they had come, husband and wives alike in supplication bowed the knee, when of sudden the tops of the trees shook and trembled, and wondrous words the goddess spake in her own holy grove: “Let the sacred he-goat,” said she, “go in to Italian matrons.” At the ambiguous words the crowd stood struck with terror. There was a certain augur (his name has dropped out with the long years, but he had lately come an exile from the Etruscan land): he slew a he-goat, and at his bidding the damsels offered their backs to be beaten with thongs cut from the hide. When in her tenth circuit the moon was renewing her horns, the husband was suddenly made a father and the wife a mother. Thanks to Lucina! this name, goddess, you took from the sacred grove (lucus), or because with you is the fount of light (lucis). Gracious Lucina, spare, I pray, women with child, and gently lift the ripe burden from the womb.

When that day has dawned, then trust no more the winds: at that season the breezes keep not faith; fickle are the blasts, and for six days the door of the Aeolian [Aeolus, king of the winds, kept them in his house] jail unbarred stands wide. Now the light Water-Carrier (Aquarius) sets with his tilted urn: next in turn do you, O Fish, receive the heavenly steeds. They say that you and your brother (for you are constellations that sparkle side by side) supported twain gods upon your backs. Once on a time Dione [Mother of Venus, here for Venus herself], fleeing from the dreadful Typhon, when Jupiter bore arms in defense of heaven, came to the Euphrates, accompanied by the little Cupid, and sat down by the brink of the Palestinian water. Poplars and reeds crowned the top of the banks, and willows offered hope that the fugitives also could find covert there. While she lay hid, the grove rustled in the wind. She turned pale with fear, and thought that bands of foes were near. Holding her child in her lap, “To the rescue, nymphs!” she said, “and to two deities bring help!” Without delay she sprang forward. Twin fish received her on their backs, wherefore they now possess the stars, a guerdon meet. Hence scrupulous Syrians count it sin to serve up such fry upon the table, and will not defile their mouths with fish.

XIII. Kal. 17th

Next day is vacant, but the third is dedicated to Quirinus, who is so called (he was Romulus before) either because the ancient Sabines called a spear curis, and by his weapon the warlike god won his place among the stars; or because the Quirites gave their own name to their king; or because he united Cures to Rome. For when the father, lord of arms, saw the new walls and the many wars waged by the hand of Romulus, “O Jupiter,” he said, “the Roman power has strength: it needs not the services of my offspring. To the sire give back the son. Though one of the two has perished, the one who is left to me will suffice both for himself and for Remus. You yourself have said to me that there will be one whom you will exalt to the blue heavens. Let the word of Jupiter be kept.”

Jupiter nodded assent. At his nod both the poles shook, and Atlas shifted the burden of the sky. There is a place which the ancients call the She-goat’s Marsh. It chanced that there, Romulus, you were judging your people. The sun vanished and rising clouds obscured the heaven, and there fell a heavy shower of rain in torrents. Then it thundered, then the sky was riven by shooting flames. The people fled, and the king upon his father’s steeds soared to the stars. There was mourning, and the senators were falsely charged with murder, and haply that suspicion might have stuck in the popular mind.

But Julius Proculus was coming from Alba Longa; the moon was shining, and there was no need of a torch, when of a sudden the hedges on his left shook and trembled. He recoiled and his hair bristled up. It seemed to him that Romulus, fair of aspect, in stature more than human, and clad in a goodly robe, stood there in the middle of the road and said, “Forbid the Quirites to mourn, let them not profane my divinity by their tears. Bid the pious throng bring incense and propitiate the new Quirinus, and bid them cultivate the arts their fathers cultivated, the art of war.” So he ordered, and from the other other’s eyes he vanished into thin air. Proculus called the peoples together and reported the words as he had been bid. Temples were built to the god, and the hill also was named after him, and the rites observed by our fathers come round on fixed days.

Learn also why the same day is called the Feast of Fools. The reason for the name is trifling but apt. The earth of old was tilled by men unlearned: war’s hardships wearied their active frames. More glory was to be won by the sword than by the curved plow; the neglected farm yielded its master but a small return. Yet spelt the ancients sowed, and spelt they reaped; of the cut spelt they offered the first-fruits to Ceres. Taught by experience they toasted the spelt on the fire, and many losses they incurred through their own fault. For at one time they would sweep up the black ashes instead of spelt, and at another time the fire caught the huts themselves. So they made the oven into a goddess of that name (Fornax); delighted with her, the farmers prayed that she would temper the heat to the corn committed to her charge. At the present day the Prime Warden (Curio Maximus) [each tribe was subdivided into ten curiae, each with its curio or warden. These priests formed a college presided over by one of their number, the Curio Maximus] proclaims in a set form of words the time for holding the Feast of Ovens (Fornacalia), and he celebrates the rites at no fixed date; and round about the Forum hang many tablets, on which every ward has its own particular mark. The foolish part of the people know not which is their own ward, but hold the feast on the last day to which it can be postponed.

IX. Kal. 21st

Honor is paid, also, to the grave. Appease the souls of your fathers and bring small gifts to the tombs erected to them. [At the Feralia, or feasts in memory of the dead, offerings were made to them.] Ghosts ask but little: they value piety more than a costly gift: no greedy gods are they who in the world below haunt the banks of Styx. A tile wreathed with votive garlands, a sprinkling of corn, a few grains of salt, bread soaked in wine, and some loose violets, these are offerings enough: set these on a potsherd and leave it in the middle of the road. Not that I forbid larger offerings, but even these suffice to appease the shades: add prayers and the appropriate words at the hearths set up for the purpose. This custom was introduced into your lands, righteous Latinus, by Aeneas, fit patron of piety. He to his father’s spirit solemn offerings brought; from him the peoples learned the pious rites.

But once upon a time, waging long wars with martial arms, they neglected the All Souls’ Days. The negligence was not unpunished; for it is said that from that ominous day Rome grew hot with the funeral fires that burned without the city. They say, though I can hardly think it, that the ancestral souls issued from the tombs and make their moan in the hours of stilly night; and hideous ghosts, a shadowy throng, they say, howled about the city streets and the wide fields. Afterwards the honors which had been omitted were again paid to the tombs, and so a limit was put to prodigies and funerals.

But while these rites are being performed, you ladies change not your widowed state: let the nuptial torch of pine wait till the days are pure. And O, you damsel, who to your eager mother shall appear all ripe for marriage, let not the bent-back spear comb down the maiden hair! O God of Marriage (Hymenaeus), hide your torches, and from these somber fires bear them away! Far other are the torches that light up the rueful grave. Screen, too, the gods by shutting up the temple doors; let no incense burn upon the altars, no fire upon the hearths. Now do the unsubstantial souls and buried dead wander about, now does the ghost batten upon his dole. But this only lasts until there remain as many days of the month as there are feet in my couplets [eleven]. That day they name the Feralia, because they carry (ferunt) to the dead their dues: its is the last day for propitiating the ghosts.

Lo, an old hag, seated among girls, performs rites in honor of Tacita [dea Muta] (“the Silent Goddess”), but herself is not silent. With three fingers she puts three lumps of incense under the threshold, where the little mouse has made for herself a secret path. Then she binds enchanted threads together with dark lead, and mumbles seven black beans in her mouth; and she roasts in the fire the head of a small fish which she has sewed up, made fast with pitch, and pierced through and through with a bronze needle. She also drops wine on it, and the wine that is left over she or her companions drink, but she gets the larger share. Then as she goes off she says, “We have bound fast hostile tongues and unfriendly mouths.” So exit the old woman drunk.

At once you will ask of me, “Who is the goddess Muta (‘the Mute’)?” Hear what I learned from old men gone in years. Conquered by exceeding love of Juturna, Jupiter submitted to many things which so great a god ought not to bear. For now she would hide in the woods among the hazel-thickets, now she would leap down into her sister waters. The god called together all the nymphs who dwell in Latium, and thus in the midst of the troop he spake aloud: “Your sister is her own enemy, and shuns that union with the supreme god which is all for her good. Pray look to her interests and to mine, for what is a great pleasure to me will be a great boon to your sister. When she flees, stop her on the edge of the bank, lest she plunge into the water of the river.”

He spake. Assent was given by all the nymphs of Tiber and by those who haunt, Ilia divine [mother of Romulus], your wedding bowers. It chanced there was a Naiad nymph, Lara by name; but her old name was the first syllable repeated twice, and that was given her to mark her failing [Lala, as if from lalein, “to prattle”]. Many a time Almo [God of the river] had said to her, “My daughter, hold your tongue,” but hold it she did not. No sooner did she reach the pools of her sister Juturna than, “Fly the banks,” said she, and reported the words of Jupiter. She even visited Juno and, after expressing her pity for married dames, “Your husband,” quoth she, “is in love with the Naiad Juturna.”

Jupiter fumed and wrenched from her the tongue she had used so indiscreetly. He also called for Mercury. “Take her to the deadland,” said he, “that’s the place for mutes. A nymph she is, but a nymph of the infernal marsh she’ll be.” The orders of Jupiter were obeyed. On their way they came to a grove: then it was, they say, that she won the heart of her divine conductor. He would have used force; for want of words she pleased with a look, and all in vain she strove to speak with her dumb lips. She went with child, and bore twins, who guard the cross-roads and ever keep watch in our city: they are the Lares. [The Lares Compitales or Praestites were the public guardians of the city.]

VIII. Kal. 22nd

The next day received its name of Caristia from dear (cari) kinsfolk. A crowd of near relations comes to meet the family gods. Sweet it is, no doubt, to recall our thoughts to the living soon as they have dwelt upon the grave and on the dear ones dead and gone; sweet, too, after so many lost, to look upon those of our blood who are left, and to count kin with them. Come none but the innocent! Far, far from here be the unnatural brother, and the mother who is harsh to her own offspring, he whose father lives too long, he who reckons up his mother’s years, and the unkind mother-in-law who hates and maltreats her daughter-in-law. Here is no place for the brothers, scions of Tantalus [Atreus and Thyestes], for Jason’s wife [Medea], for her who gave to husbandmen the toasted seeds [Ino], for Procne and her sister, for Tereus, cruel to them both, and for him, whoever he be, who amasses wealth by crime. Give incense to the family gods, you virtuous ones (on that day above all others Concord is said to lend her gentle presence); and offer food, that the Lares, in their girt-up robes, may feed at the platter presented to them as a pledge of the homage that they love. And now, when dank night invites to slumber calm, fill high the wine-cup for the prayer and say, “Hail to you! hail to you, Father of your Country, Caesar the Good!” and let good speech attend the pouring wine.

XII. Kal. 23rd

When the night had passed, see to it that the god who marks the boundaries of the tilled lands receives his wonted honor. O Terminus, whether you are a stone or stump buried in the field, you too have been deified from days of yore. You are crowned by two owners on opposite sides; they bring you two garlands and two cakes. An altar is built. Hither the husbandman’s rustic wife brings with her own hands on a potsherd the fire which she has taken from the warm hearth. The old man chops wood, and deftly piles up the billets, and strives to fix the branches in the solid earth: then he nurses the kindling flames with dry bark, the boy stands by and holds the broad basket in his hands. When from the basket he had thrice thrown corn into the midst of the fire, the little daughter presents the cut honeycombs. Others hold vessels of wine. A portion of each is cast into the flames.

The company dressed in white look on and hold their peace. Terminus himself, at the meeting of the bounds, is sprinkled with the blood of a slaughtered lamb, and grumbles not when a suckling pig is given him. The simple neighbors meet and hold a feast, and sing your praises, holy Terminus: “You set bounds to peoples and cities and vast kingdoms; without you every field would be a root of wrangling. You court no favor, you are bribed by no gold: the lands entrusted to you you guard in loyal good faith. If you of old had marked the bounds of the Thyrean land, three hundred men had not been done to death, nor had the name of Othryades been read on the piled arms. [Between Sparta and Argos: three hundred champions on each side fought for it, and Othryades was the only survivor of the Spartans.] O how he made his fatherland to bleed! What happened when the new Capitol was being built? Why, the whole company of gods withdrew before Jupiter and made room for him; but Terminus, as the ancients relate, remained where he was found in the shrine, and shares the temple with great Jupiter.

Even to this day there is a small hole in the roof of the temple, that he may see naught above him but the stars. From that time, Terminus, you have not been free to flit; abide in that station in which you have been placed. Yield not an inch to a neighbor, though he ask you, lest you should seem to value man above Jupiter. And whether they beat you with plowshares or with rakes, cry out, ‘This is your land, and that is his.’ There is a way that leads folk to the Laurentine fields [the Dardanian chief, Aeneas, landed in the Laurentine territory], the kingdom once sought by the Dardanian chief: on that way the sixth milestone from the City witnesses the sacrifice of the woolly sheep’s guts to you, Terminus. The land of other nations has a fixed boundary: the circuit of Rome is the circuit of the world.

VI. Kal. 24th

Now have I to tell of the Flight of the King [Regifugium]: from it the sixth day from the end of the month has taken its name. The last to reign over the Roman people was Tarquin, a man unjust, yet puissant in arms. He had taken some cities and overturned others, and had made Gabii his own by foul play [Livy i. 53.]. For the king’s three sons the youngest, true scion of his proud sire, came in the silent night into the midst of the foes. They drew their swords. “Slay an unarmed man!” said he. “It is what my brothers would desire, and Tarquin, my sire, who gashed my back with cruel scourge.” In order that he might urge this plea, he had submitted to a scourging.

The moon shone. They beheld the youth and sheathed their swords, for they saw the scars on his back, where he drew down his robe. They even wept and begged that he would side with them in war. The cunning knave assented to their unwary suit. No sooner was the installed in power than he sent a friend to ask his father to show him the way of destroying Gabii. Below the palace lay a garden trim of odoriferous plants, whereof the ground was cleft by a book of purling water: there Tarquin received the secret message of his son, and with his staff he mowed the tallest lilies. When the messenger returned and told of the cropped lilies, “I take,” quoth the son, “my father’s bidding.” Without delay, he put to the sword the chief men of the city of Gabii and surrendered the walls, now bereft of their native leaders.

Behold. O horrid sight! from between the altars a snake came forth and snatched the sacrificial meat from the dead fires. Phoebus was consulted [Livy, i. 56]. An oracle was delivered in these terms: “He who shall first have kissed his mother will be victorious.” Each one of the credulous company, not understanding the god, hasted to kiss his mother. The prudent Brutus feigned to be a fool, in order that from your snares, Tarquin the Proud, dread king, he might be safe; lying prone he kissed his mother Earth, but they thought he had stumbled and fallen.

Meantime the Roman legions had compassed Ardea, and the city suffered a long and lingering siege. While there was naught to do, and the foe feared to join battle, they made merry in the camp; the soldiers took their ease. Young Tarquin [Livy i. 57. 4] entertained his comrades with feast and wine: among them the king’s son spake: “While Ardea keeps us here on tenterhooks with sluggish war, and suffers us not to carry back our arms to the gods of our fathers, what of the loyalty of the marriage-bed? and are we as dear to our wives as they to us?” Each praised his wife: in their eagerness dispute ran high, and every tongue and heart grew hot with the deep draughts of wine.

Then up and spake the man who from Collatia took his famous name [Tarquinius Collatinus]: “No need of words! Trust deeds! There’s night enough. To horse! and ride we to the City.” The saying pleased them; the steeds are bridled and bear their masters to the journey’s end. The royal palace first they seek: no sentinel was at the door. Lo, they find the king’s daughters-in-law, their necks draped with garlands, keeping their vigils over the wine. Thence they galloped to Lucretia, before whose bed were baskets full of soft wool. By a dim light the handmaids were spinning their allotted stints of yarn.

Amongst them the lady spoke on accents soft: “Haste you now, haste, my girls! The cloak our hands have wrought must to your master be instantly dispatched. But what news have you? For more news comes your way. How much do they say of the war is yet to come? Hereafter you shall be vanquished and fall: Ardea, you do resist your betters, you jade, that keep perforce our husbands far away! If only they came back! But mine is rash, and with drawn sword he rushes anywhere. I faint, I die, oft as the image of my soldier spouse steals on my mind and strikes a chill into my breast.” She ended weeping, dropped the stretched yarn, and buried her face in her lap. The gesture was becoming; becoming, too, her modest tears; her face was worthy of its peer, her soul. “Fear not, I’ve come,” her husband said. She revived and on her spouse’s neck she hung, a burden sweet.

Meanwhile the royal youth caught fire and fury, and transported by blind love he raved. Her figure pleased him, and that snowy hue, that yellow hair, and artless grace; pleasing, too, her words and voice and virtue incorruptible; and the less hope he had, the hotter his desire. Now had the bird, the herald of the dawn, uttered his chant, when the young men retraced their steps to camp. Meantime the image of his absent love preyed on his senses crazed. “It was thus she sat, it was thus she dressed, it was thus she spun the yarn, it was thus her tresses lay fallen on her neck; that was her look, these were her words, that was her color, that her form, and that her lovely face.” As after a great gale the surge subsides, and yet the billow heaves, lashed by the wind now fallen, so, though absent now that winsome form and far away, the love which by its presence it had struck into his heart remained. He burned, and, goaded by the pricks of an unrighteous love, he plotted violence and guile against an innocent bed. “The issue is in doubt. We’ll dare the utmost,” said he. “Let her look to it! God and fortune help the daring. By daring we captured Gabii too.”

So saying he girt his sword at his side and bestrode his horse’s back. The bronze-bound gate of Collatia opened for him just as the sun was making ready to hide his face. In the guise of a guest the foe found his way into the home of Collatinus. He was welcomed kindly, for he came of kindred blood. How was her heart deceived! All unaware she, hapless dame, prepared a meal for her own foes. His repast over, the hour of slumber came. It was night, and not a taper shone in the whole house. He rose, and from the gilded scabbard he drew his sword, and came into your chamber, virtuous spouse. And when he touched the bed, “The steel is in my hand, Lucretia,” said the king’s son “and I that speak am a Tarquin.”

She answered never a word. Voice and power of speech and thought itself fled from her breast. But she trembled, as trembles a little lamb that, caught straying from the fold, lies low under a ravening wolf. What could she do? Should she struggle? In a struggle a woman will always be worsted. Should she cry out? But in his clutch was a sword to silence her. Should she fly? His hands pressed heavy on her breast, the breast that till then had never known the touch of a stranger hand. Her lover foe is urgent with prayers, with bribes, with threats; but still he cannot move her by prayers, by bribes, by threats. “Resistance is vain,” said he, “I’ll rob you of honor and of life. I, the adulterer, will bear false witness to your adultery. I’ll kill a slave, and rumor will have it that you were caught with him.” Overcome by fear of infamy, the dame gave way. Why, victor, do you joy? This victory will ruin you. Alack how dear a single night did cost your kingdom!

And now the day had dawned. She sat with hair dishevelled, like a mother who must attend the funeral byre of her son. Her aged sire and faithful spouse she summoned from the camp, and both came without delay. When they saw her plight, they asked why she mourned, whose obsequies she was preparing, or what ill had befallen her. She was long silent, and for shame hid her face in her robe: her tears flowed like a running stream. On this side and on that her father and her spouse soothed her grief and prayed her to tell, and in blind fear they wept and quaked. Thrice she essayed to speak, and thrice gave over, and when the fourth time she summoned up courage she did not for that lift up her eyes. “Must I owe this too to Tarquin? Must I utter,” quoth she, “must I utter, woe’s me, with my own lips my own disgrace?” And what she can she tells. The end she left unsaid, but wept and a blush overspread her matron cheeks.

Her husband and her sire pardoned the deed enforced. She said, “The pardon that you give, I do refuse myself.” Without delay, she stabbed her breast with the steel she had hidden, and weltering in her blood fell at her father’s feet. Even then in dying she took care to sink down decently: that was her thought even as she fell. Lo, heedless of appearances, the husband and father fling themselves on her body, moaning their common loss.

Brutus came, and then at last belied his name; for from the half-dead body he snatched the weapon stuck in it, and holding the knife, that dripped with noble blood, he fearless spake these words of menace: “By this brave blood and chaste, and by the ghost, who shall be god to me, I swear to be avenged on Tarquin and on his banished brood. Too long have I dissembled my manly worth.” At these words, even as she lay, she moved her lightless eyes and seemed by the stirring of her hair to ratify the speech. They bore her to burial, that matron of manly courage; and tears and indignation followed in her train. The gaping wound was exposed for all to see. With a cry Brutus assembled the Quirites and rehearsed the king’s foul deeds. Tarquin and his brood were banished. A consul undertook the government for a year. That day was the last of kingly rule.

Do I err? or has the swallow come, the harbinger of spring, and does he not fear lest winter should turn and come again? Yet often, Procne [the swallow], will you complain that you have made too much haste, and your husband Tereus will be glad at the cold you feel.

III. Kal. 27th

And now two nights of the second month are left, and Mars urges on the swift steeds yoked to his chariot. The day has kept the appropriate name of Equirria (“horse-races”), derived from the races which the god himself beholds in his own plain. You Marching God (Gradivus), in your own right you come. Your season demands a place in my song, and the month marked by the name is at hand.

Pr. Kal. 28th

We have come to port, for the book ends with the month. From this point may my bark now sail in other waters.


Come, warlike Mars; lay down your shield and spear for a brief space, and from your helmet loose your glistering locks. Haply you may ask, What has a poet to do with Mars? From you the month which now I sing takes its name. You yourself see that fierce wars are waged by Minerva’s hands. Is she for that the less at leisure for the liberal arts? After the pattern of Pallas take a time to put aside the lance. You shall find something to do unarmed. Then, too, were you unarmed when the Roman priestess [Silvia] captivated you, that you might bestow upon this city a great seed.

Silvia the Vestal (for why not start from her?) went in the morning to fetch water to wash the holy things. When she had come to where the path ran gently down the sloping bank, she set down her earthenware pitcher from her head. Weary, she sat her on the ground and opened her bosom to catch the breezes, and composed her ruffled hair. While she sat, the shady willows and the tuneful birds and the soft murmur of the water induced to sleep. Sweet slumber overpowered and crept stealthily over her eyes, and her languid hand dropped from her chin. Mars saw her; the sight inspired him with desire, and his desire was followed by possession, but by his power divine he hid his stolen joys. Sleep left her; she lay big, for already within her womb there was Rome’s founder.

Languid she rose, nor knew why she rose so languid, and leaning on a tree she spoke these words: “Useful and fortunate, I pray, may that turn out which I saw in a vision of sleep. Or was the vision too clear for sleep? I thought I was by the fire of Ilium, when the woolen fillet slipped from my hair and fell before the sacred hearth. From the fillet there sprang a wondrous sight – two palm-trees side by side. Of them one was the taller and by its heavy boughs spread a canopy over the whole world, and with its foliage touched the topmost stars. Look, my uncle [Amulius, king of Alba] wielded an axe against the trees; the warning terrified me and my heart did throb with fear. A woodpecker – the bird of Mars – and a she-wolf fought in defense of the twin trunks, and by their help both of the palms were saved.” She finished speaking, and by a feeble effort lifted the full pitcher; she had filed it while she was telling her vision. Meanwhile her belly swelled with a heavenly burden, for Remus was growing, and growing, too, was Quirinus.

When now two heavenly signs remained for the bright god to traverse, before the year could complete its course and run out, Silvia became a mother. The images of Vesta are said to have covered their eyes with their virgin hands; certainly the altar of the goddess trembled, when her priestess was brought to bed, and the terrified flame sank under its own ashes. When Amulius learned of this, scorner of justice that he was (for he had vanquished his brother and robbed him of power), he ordered the twins to be sunk in the river. The water shrank from such a crime, and the boys were left on dry land. Who knows not that the infants throve on the milk of a wild beast, and that a woodpecker often brought food to the abandoned babes? Nor would I pass you by in silence, Larentia, nurse of so great a nation, nor the help that you gave, poor Faustulus. Your honor will find its place when I come to tell of the Larentalia; that festival falls in December, the month dear to the mirthful spirits.

Thrice six years old was the progeny of Mars, and already under their yellow hair sprouted a fresh young beard: to all the husbandmen and masters of herds the brothers, sons of Ilia, gave judgment by request. Often they came home glad at blood of robbers spilt, and to their own domain drove back the raided kine. When they heard the secret of their birth, their spirits rose with the revelation of their sire, and they thought shame to have a name in a few huts. Amulius fell, pierced by the sword of Romulus, and the kingdom was restored to their aged grandfather. Walls were built, which, small though they were, it had been better for Remus not to have overleaped.

And now what of late had been woods and pastoral solitudes was a city, when thus the father of the eternal city spoke: “Umpire of war, from whose blood I am believed to have sprung (and to confirm that belief I will give many proofs), we name the beginning of the Roman year after you; the first month shall be called by my father’s name.” The promise was kept; he did call the month by his father’s name: this pious deed is said to have been well pleasing to the god. And yet the earlier ages had worshipped Mars above all gods; therein a warlike folk followed their bent. Pallas is worshipped by the sons of Cecrops, Diana by Minoan Crete, Vulcan by the Hypsipylian land [Lemnos, after its queen Hypsipyle], Juno by Sparta and Pelopid Mycenae, while the Maenalian country [Arcadia] worships Faunus, whose head is crowned with pine, Mars was the god to be revered by Latium, for that he is the patron of the sword; it was the sword that won for a fierce race empire and glory.

If you are at leisure, look into the foreign calendars, and you shall find in them also a month named after Mars. It was the third month in the Alban calendar, the fifth in the Faliscan, the sixth among your peoples, land of the Hernicans. The Arician calendar is in agreement with the Alban and with that of the city [Tusculum] whose lofty walls were built by the hand of Telegonus. It is the fifth month in the calendar of the Laurentines, the tenth in the calendar of the hardy Aequians, the fourth in the calendar of the folk of Cures, and the soldierly Pelignians agree with their Sabine forefathers; both peoples reckon Mars the god of the fourth month [local Italian calendars]. In order that he might take precedence of all these, Romulus assigned the beginning of the year to the author of his being.

Nor had the ancients as many Kalends as we have now: their year was short by two months. Conquered Greece had not yet transmitted her arts to the victors; her people were eloquent but hardly brave. The doughty warrior understood the art of Rome, and he who could throw javelins was eloquent. Who then had noticed the Hyades or the Pleiads, daughters of Atlas, or that there were two poles in the firmament? and that there are two Bears, of which the Sidonians [Phoenicians] steer by Cynosura [Little Bear, the dog’s tail], while the Grecian mariner keeps his eye on Helice [Great Bear, the twister]? and that the signs which the brother travels through in a long year, the horses of the sister traverse in a single month? [Apollo and Diana, the sun and moon, and the signs of the Zodiac.]

The stars ran their courses free and unmarked throughout the year; yet everybody agreed that they were gods. Heaven’s gliding ensigns were beyond their reach, not so their own, to lose which was a great crime. Their ensigns were of hay, but as deep reverence was paid to hay as now you see paid to the eagles. A long pole carried the hanging bundles (maniples); from them the private (maniplaris) soldier takes his name. Hence through ignorance and lack of science they reckoned lustres, each of which was too short by ten months. A year was counted when the moon had returned to the full for the tenth time: that number was then in great honor, whether because that is the number of fingers by which we are wont to count, or because a woman brings forth in twice five months, or because the numerals increase up to ten, and from that we start a fresh round.

Hence Romulus divided the hundred senators into ten groups, and instituted ten companies of spear-men (hastate); and just so many companies there were of first-line men (principes), and also of javelin-men (pilani); and so too with the men who served on horses furnished by the state. Nay, Romulus assigned just the same number of divisions to the tribes, the Titienses, the Ramnes, as they are called, and the Luceres. Therefore in his arrangement of the year he kept the familiar number. That is the period for which a sad wife mourns for her husband.

If you would convince yourself that the Kalends of March were really the beginning of the year, you may refer to the following proofs: the laurel-branch of the flamens, after remaining in its place the whole year, is removed (on that day), and fresh leaves are put in the place of honor; then the king’s door is green with the tree of Phoebus, which is set at it; and at your portal, Old Chapel of the Wards, the same things is done; the withered laurel is withdrawn from the Ilian [Vesta] hearth, that Vesta also may make a brave show, dressed in fresh leaves. Besides it is said that a new fire is lighted in her secret shrine, and the rekindled flame gains strength. And to my thinking no small proof that the years of old began with March is furnished by the observation that Anna Perenna begins to be worshipped in this month. With March, too, the magistrates are recorded to have entered on office, down to the time when, faithless Carthaginians, you waged your war. [If Hannibal is meant here, Ovid refers to the Second Punic War, which began in 218 B.C.] Lastly, the month of Quintilis is the fifth (quintus) month, reckoned from March, and with its begin the months which take their names from numbers.

(Numa) Pompilius, who was escorted to Rome from the lands where olives grow, was the first to perceive that two months were lacking to the year, whether he learned that from the Samian sage [Pythagoras] who thought that we could be born again, or whether it was his Egeria who taught him. Nevertheless the calendar was still erratic down to the time when Caesar took it, like so much else, in charge [in 46 B.C.]. That god, the founder of a mighty line, did not deem the matter beneath his attention. Fain was he to foreknow that heaven which was his promised home; he would not enter as a stranger god mansions unknown. He is said to have drawn up an exact table of the periods within which the sun returns to his proper signs. To three hundred and five days he added ten time six days and fifth [really a fourth] part of the whole day. That is the measure of the year. The single day compounded of the (five) parts is to be added to the lustre.

Kal. Mart. 1st

“If bards may list to secret promptings of the gods, as surely rumor thinks they may, tell me, you Marching God (Gradivus), why matrons keep your feast, whereas you are apter to receive service from men.” Thus I inquired, and thus did Mars answer me, laying aside his helmet, though in his right hand he kept his throwing spear: “Now for the first time in the year am I, a god of war, invoked to promote the pursuits of peace, and I march into new camps, nor does it irk me so to do; upon this function also do I love to dwell, lest Minerva should fancy that such power is hers alone. They answer take, laborious singer of the Latin days, and write my words on memory’s tablets. If you would trace it back to its beginning, Rome was but little, nevertheless in that little town was hope of this great city. The walls were already standing, boundaries too cramped for future peoples, but then deemed too large for their inhabitants. If you ask what my son’s palace was, behold yon house of reeds and straw [the Casa Romuli on the Palatine]. There on the litter did he take the boon of peaceful sleep, and yet from that same bed he passed among the stars.

Already the Roman had a name that reached beyond his city, but neither wife nor wife’s father had he. Wealthy neighbors scorned to take poor men for their sons-in-law; hardly did they believe that I myself was the author of the breed. It told against the Romans that they dwelt in cattle-stalls, and fed sheep, and owned a few acres of waste land. Birds and beasts mate each with its kind, and a snake has some female of which to breed. The right of intermarriage is granted to peoples far away; yet was there no people that would wed with Romans. I chafed and bestowed on you, Romulus, your father’s temper. ‘A truce to prayers!’ I said, ‘What you seek, arms will give.’ Romulus prepared a feast for Consus. [There are two festivals of Consus (Consualia), on August 21 and December 15.] The rest that happened on that day Consus will tell you, when you shall come to sing of his rites. Cures and all who suffered the same wrong were furious: then for the first time did a father wage war upon his daughters’ husbands [a covert allusion to the Civil Wars: Pompey’s wife Julia was Caesar’s daughter]. And now the ravished brides could claim the style of mothers also, and yet the war between the kindred folks kept lingering on, when the wives assembled by appointment in the temple of Juno.

Among them my son’s [Romulus, for Mars is speaking] wife thus made bold to speak: ‘O wives ravished alike – for that is a trait we have in common – no longer may we dawdle in our duties to our kin. The battle is set in array, but choose for which side you will pray the gods to intervene: on one side stand our husbands in arms and on the other side your sires: the question is whether you prefer to be widows or orphans. I will give you a piece of advice both bold and dutiful.’ She gave the advice: they obeyed, and unbound their hair, and clad their bodies in the sad weeds of mourners. Already the armies were drawn up in array, alert for carnage; already the bugle was about to give the signal for battle, when the ravished wives interposed between their fathers and husbands, bearing at their bosom the dear pledges of love, their babes.

When with their streaming hair they reached the middle of the plain, they knelt down on the ground, and the grandchildren stretched out their little arms to their grandfathers with winsome cries, as if they understood. Such as could cried ‘Grandfather!’ to him whom then they saw for the first time; such as could hardly do it were forced to try. The weapons and the passions of the warriors fall, and laying their swords aside fathers-in-law and sons-in-law grasp each other’s hands. They praise and embrace their daughters, and the grandsire carried his grandchild on his shield; that was a sweeter use to which to put the shield.

Hence the duty, no light one, of celebrating the first day, my Kalends, is incumbent on Oebalian [Sabine] mothers, either because, boldly thrusting themselves on the bare blades, they by their tears ended these martial wars; or else mothers duly observe the rites on my day, because Ilia was happily made a mother by me. Moreover, frosty winter then at last retires, and shorn by the cold, return to the trees, and moist within the tender shoot the bud swells; now too the rank grass, long hidden, discovers secret paths whereby to lift its head in air. Now is the field fruitful, now is the hour for breeding cattle, now does the bird upon the bough construct a nest and home; it is right that Latin mothers should observe the fruitful season, for in their travail they both fight and pray. Add to this that where the Roman king kept watch, on the hill which now bears the name of Esquiline [Romulus had a post here set to watch Titus Tatius on the neighboring hill], a temple was founded, if I remember aright, on this very day by the Latin matrons in honor of Juno.

But why should I spin out the time and burden your memory with various reasons? The answer that you seek stands out plainly before your eyes. My mother loves brides; a crowd of mothers throngs my temple; so pious a reason is above all becoming to her and me [the Matronalia, in honor of Juno Lucina].” Bring flowers to the goddess; this goddess delights in flowering plants; with fresh flowers wreathe your heads. Say, “You, Lucina, have bestowed on us the light (lucem) of life”; say, “you hear the prayer of women in travail.” But let her who is with child unbind her hair before she prays, in order that the goddess may gently unbind her teeming womb.

Who will now tell me why the Salii [dancing priests] bear the heavenly weapons of Mars and sing of Mamurius? Inform me, you nymph who wait on Diana’s grove and lake; you nymph, wife of Numa, come tell of your own deeds. In the Arician vale there is a lake begirt by shady woods and hallowed by religion of old [Lacus Nemorensis]. Here Hippolytus lies hid, who by the reins of his steeds was rent in pieces: hence no horses enter that grove. [Hippolytus, after being torn to pieces by his horses near Troezen, was restored to life by Aesculapius and transported by Diana to the woods of Aricia, where he took the name of Virbius.] The long fence is draped with hanging threads, and many a tablet there attests the merit of the goddess. Often does a woman, whose prayer has been answered, carry from the City burning torches, while garlands wreathe her brows.

The strong of hand and fleet of foot reign there as kings [a runaway slave reigns there as Rex Nemorensis, until a stronger runaway slave dispossesses him], and each is slain thereafter even as himself has slain. A pebbly brook flows down with fitful murmur; often have I drunk of it, but in little sips. Egeria it is who supplies the water, goddess dear to the Camenae; she was wife and councillor to Numa. [Egeria was one of the Camenae, water-nymphs whose spring flowed in a sacred grove outside the Porta Capena; but these came to be identified with the Muses.] At first the Quirites were too prone to fly to arms; Numa resolved to soften their fierce temper by force of law and fear of gods. Hence laws were made, that the stronger might not in all things have his way, and rites, handed down from the fathers, began to be piously observed. Men put off savagery, justice was more puissant than arms, citizen thought shame to fight with citizen, and he who but now had shown himself truculent would at the sight of an altar be transformed and offer wine and salted spelt on the warm hearths.

Lo, through the clouds the father of the gods scatters red lightnings, then clears the sky after the torrent rain: never before or since did hurtling fires fall thicker. The king quaked, and terror filled the hearts of the common folk. To the king the goddess spoke: “Fear not over much. It is possible to expiate the thunderbolt, and the wrath of angry Jove can be averted. But Picus and Faunus, each of them a deity native to Roman soil, will be able to teach the ritual of expiation [Faunus, or Faunus Fatuus, son of Picus, the woodpecker]. They will teach it only upon compulsion. Catch them and clap them in bonds.” And she revealed the ruse by which they could be caught. Under the Aventine there lay a grove black with the shade of holm-oaks; at sight of it you could say, “There is a spirit here.” A sward was in the midst, and, veiled by green moss, there trickled from a rock a rill of never-failing water. At it Faunus and Picus were wont to drink alone.

Hither King Numa came, and sacrificed a sheep to the spring, and set out bowls full of fragrant wine. Then with his folk he hid him close within a cave. To their accustomed springs the woodland spirits came, and slaked their thirst with copious draughts of wine. Sleep followed the debauch; from the chill cave Numa came forth and thrust the sleeper’s hands into tight shackles. When slumber left them, they tried and strained to burst the shackles, but the more they strained the stronger held the shackles. Then Numa spoke, and thus, shaking his horns, Faunus replied: “You ask great things, such as it is not lawful for you to learn by our disclosure: divinities like ours have their appointed bounds. Rustic deities are we, who have dominion in the mountains high: Jove has the mastery over his own weapons. Him you could never of yourself draw down from heaven, but haply you may yet be able, if only you will make use of our help.” So Faunus said. Picus was of the like opinion: “But take our shackles off,” quoth he; “Jupiter will come hither, drawn by powerful art. Witness my promise, cloudy Styx.”

What they did when they were let out of the trap, what spells they spoke, and by what art they dragged Jupiter from his home above, it were sin for man to know. My song shall deal with lawful things, such as the lips of pious bard may speak. They drew (eliciunt) you from the sky, O Jupiter, whence later generations to this day celebrate you by the name of Elicius. Sure it is the tops of the Aventine trees quivered, and the earth sank down under the weight of Jupiter. The king’s heart throbbed, the blood shrank from his whole body, and his bristling hair stood stiff. When he came to himself, “King and father of the high gods,” he said, “vouchsafe expiations sure for thunderbolts, if with pure hands we have touched your offerings, and if for that which now we ask a pious tongue does pray.”

The god granted his prayer, but hid the truth in sayings dark and tortuous, and alarmed the man by an ambiguous utterance. “Cut off the head,” said he. [The onion, human hair, and fish, are prescribed as expiation for a thunderstroke.] The king answered him, “We will obey. We’ll cut an onion, dug up in my garden.” The god added, “A man’s.” “You shall get,” said the other, “his hair.” The god demanded a life, and Numa answered him, “A fish’s life.” The god laughed and said, “See to it that by these things you expiate my bolts, O man whom none may keep from converse with the gods! But when to-morrow’s sun shall have put forth his full orb, I will give you pure pledges of empire.”

He spoke, and in a loud peal of thunder was wafted above the riven sky, leaving Numa worshipping. The king returned joyful and told the Quirites of what had passed. They were slow and reluctant to believe his saying. “But surely,” said he, “we shall be believed if the event follow my words. Behold, all you here present, hearken to what to-morrow shall bring forth. When the sun shall have lifted his full orb above the earth. Jupiter will give sure pledges of empire.” They separated full of doubt, and thought it long to await the promised sign; their belief hung on the coming day. Soft was the earth with hoar frost spread like dew at morn, when the people gathered at the threshold of their king. Forth he came and sat him down in their midst upon a throne of maple wood; unnumbered men stood round him silent.

Scarcely had Phoebus shown a rim above the horizon: their anxious minds with hope and fear did quake. The king took his stand, and, his head veiled in a snow-white hood, lifted up his hands, hands which the gods already knew so well. And thus he spoke: “The time has come to receive the promised boon; fulfill your promise, Jupiter.” Even while he spoke, the sun had already lifted his full orb above the horizon, and a loud crash rang out from heaven’s vault. Thrice did the god thunder from a cloudless sky, thrice did he hurl his bolts. Take my word for it: what I say is wonderful but true. At the zenith the sky began to yawn; the multitude and their leader lifted up their eyes. Lo, swaying gently in the light breeze, a shield fell down. The people sent up a shout that reached the stars.

The king lifted from the ground the gift, but not till he had sacrificed a heifer, which had never submitted her neck to the burden of the yoke, and he called the shield ancile, because it was cut away (recisum) on all sides, and there was no angle that you could mark. Then, remembering that the fate of empire was bound up with it, he formed a very shrewd design. He ordered that many shields should be made, wrought after the same pattern, in order to deceive a traitor’s eyes. That task was finished by Mamurius; whether he was more perfect in character or in smithcraft would be a difficult question to decide. Bountiful Numa said to him, “Ask a reward for your service. If I have a reputation for honesty, you shall not ask in vain.” He had already named the Salii from their dancing (saltus), and had given them arms and a song to be sung to a certain tune. Then Mamurius made answer thus: “Give me glory for my reward, and let my name be chanted at the end of the song.” Hence the priests pay the reward that was promised for the work of old, and they invoke Mamurius [probably an Oscan name of Mars].

If, damsel, you would wed, put off the wedding, however great the haste you both may be in; short delay has great advantage. Weapons excite to battle, and battle ill assorts with married folk; when the weapons shall have been stored away, the omens will be more favorable. On these days, too, the robed wife of the Flamen Dialis with peaked cap [he wore a cap with an apex, a point or peak] must keep her hair uncombed.

V. Non. 3rd

When the third night of the month has altered its risings, one of the two Fishes will have disappeared. For there are two: one of them is next neighbor to the South Winds, the other to the North Winds; each of them takes its name from the wind [one was called Notios, one Boreios].

III. Non. 5th

When from her saffron cheeks Tithonus’ spouse [Aurora] shall have begun to shed the dew at the time of the fifth morn, the constellation, whether it be the Bear-ward or the sluggard Bootes, will have sunk and will escape your sight. But not so will the Grape-gatherer escape you. The origin of that constellation also can be briefly told. It is said that the unshorn Ampelus [the Greek ampelos, “vine”], son of a nymph and a satyr, was loved by Bacchus on the Ismarian hills. Upon him the god bestowed a vine that trailed from an elm’s leafy boughs, and still the vine takes from the boy its name. While he rashly culled the gaudy grapes upon a branch, he tumbled down; Liber bore the lost youth to the stars.

Pr. Non. 6th

When the sixth sun climbs up Olympus’ steep from ocean, and through the aether takes his way on his winged steeds, all you, whoever you are, who worship at the shrine of the chaste Vesta, wish the goddess joy and offer incense on the Ilian hearth. To Caesar’s countless titles, which he has preferred to earn, was added the honor of the pontificate. [Augustus accepted the title Pontifex Maximus on March 6, 12 B.C. As such, he should preside over the Vestal Virgins. He claimed descent from Aeneas, though his adoption by Julius Caesar, and so from Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, brother of Vesta.] Over the eternal fire the divinity of Caesar, no less eternal, presides: the pledges of empire you see side by side. You gods of ancient Troy, you worthiest prize to him who bore you, you whose weight saved Aeneas from the foe, a priest of the line of Aeneas handles your kindred divinities; Vesta, do you guard his kindred head! Nursed by his sacred hand, you fires live well. O live undying, flame and leader both, I pray.

Non. 7th

The Nones of March have only one mark [F. for Fastus. That is, there is no meeting of the Comitia or the Senate] in the calendar, because they think that on that day the temple of Veiovis was consecrated in front of the two groves [the space between the two peaks of the Capitol, on each of which were trees originally. Here Romulus enclosed his lucus, the asylum for fugitives]. When Romulus surrounded the grove with a high stone wall, “Take refuge here,” said he, “whoever you are; you shall be safe.” O from how small a beginning the Roman took his rise! How little to be envied was that multitude of old! But that the strangeness of the name may not prove a stumbling-block to you in your ignorance, learn who that god is, and why he is so called. He is the Young Jupiter: look on his youthful face; look then on his hand, it holds no thunderbolts.

Jupiter assumed the thunderbolts after the giants dared attempt to win the sky; at first he was unarmed. Ossa blazed with the new fires (of his thunderbolts); Pelion, too, higher than Ossa, and Olympus, fixed in the solid ground. A she-goat also stands (beside the image of Veiovis); the Cretan nymphs are said to have fed the god; it was the she-goat that gave her milk to the infant Jove. Now I am called on to explain the name. Countrymen call stunted spelt vegrandia, and what is little they call vesca. If that is the meaning of the word, may I not suspect that the shrine of Veiovis is the shrine of the little Jupiter?

And now when the stars shall spangle the blue sky, look up: you will see the neck of the Gorgonian steed [Pegasus, which sprang from the severed neck of the Gorgon Medusa]. He is said to have leaped forth from the teeming neck of the slain Medusa, his mane bespattered with blood. As he glided above the clouds and beneath the stars, the sky served him as solid ground, and his wing served him for a foot. Soon indignantly he champed the unwonted bit, when his light hoof struck out the Aonian spring [Hippocrene, the “Horse’s Fountain” on Helicon]. Now he enjoys the sky, to which aforetime he soared on wings, and he sparkles bright with fifteen stars.

VII. Id. 8th

Straightway at the fall of night shall you see the Cnossian Crown [Ariadne, daughter of Minos, king of Cnossos in Crete, had a golden crown set with gems; which at her death was set in the sky, and the gems became stars]. It was through the fault of Theseus that Ariadne was made a goddess. Already had she happily exchanged a perjured spouse for Bacchus, she who gave to a thankless man a clue to gather up [she gave Theseus a clue of thread to guide him out of the Labyrinth; Theseus deserted her, and Bacchus found and wedded her]. Joying in her lot of love, “Why like a rustic maiden did I weep?” quoth she; “his faithlessness has been my gain.” Meantime Liber had conquered the straight-haired Indians and returned, loaded with treasure, from the eastern world. Amongst the fair captive girls there was one, the daughter of a king, who pleased Bacchus all too well. His loving spouse wept, and pacing the winding shore with dishevelled locks she uttered these words: “Look, yet again, you billows, listen to my like complaint! Look, yet again, you sands, receive my tears! I used to say, I remember, ‘Foresworn and faithless Theseus!’ He deserted me: now Bacchus does me the same wrong.

Now again I will cry, ‘Let no woman trust a man!’ My case has been repeated, only the name is changed. Would that my lot had ended where it first began! So at this moment had I been no more. Why, Liber, did you save me to die on desert sands? I might have ended my griefs once and for all. Bacchus, you light of love! lighter than the leaves that wreathe your brows! Bacchus, whom I have known only that I should weep! Have you dared to trouble our so harmonious loves by bringing a sweetheart before my eyes? Ah, where is plighted troth? Where are the oaths that you were wont to swear? Woe’s me, how often must I speak these self-same words!

You were wont to blame Theseus; you were wont yourself to dub him deceiver; judged by yourself, yours is the fouler sin. Let no man know of this, and let me burn with pangs unuttered, lest they should think that I deserve to be deceived so oft. Above all I would desire the thing were kept from Theseus, that he may not joy to know you a partner in his guilt. But I suppose a sweetheart fair has been preferred to dusky me:– may that hue fall to my foes! But what does that matter? She is dearer to you for the very blemish. What are you about? She defiles you by her embrace. Bacchus, keep faith, nor prefer any woman to a wife’s love. I have learned to love my love for ever. The horns of a handsome bull won my mother’s heart [PasiphaŽ, who was enamored of a bull, and brought forth the Minotaur. Dionysos was bull-horned], yours won mine. But my love was cause for praise: hers was shameful.

Let me not suffer for my love; you yourself, Bacchus, did not suffer for avowing your flame to me. No wonder that you make me burn; they say you were born in the fire and were snatched from the fire by your father’s hand. I am she to whom you were wont to promise heaven. Ah me! what guerdon do I reap instead of heaven!” She finished speaking. Long time had Liber heard her plaint, for as it chanced he followed close behind. He put his arms about her, with kisses dried her tears, and “Let us fare together,” quoth he, “to heaven’s height. As you have shared my bed, so shall you share my name, for in your changed state your name shall be Libera; and I will see to it that with you there shall be a memorial of your crown, that crown which Vulcan gave to Venus, and she to you.” He did as he had said and changed the nine jewels of her crown into fires. Now the golden crown sparkles with nine stars.

Pr. Id. 14th

When he who bears the purple day on his swift car shall six times have lifted up his disc and as often sunk it low, you shall a second time behold horse races (Equirria) on that grassy plain whose side is hugged by Tiber’s winding waters. But if perchance the wave has overflowed and floods the plain, the dusty Caelian hill shall receive the horses.

Idus 15th

On the Ides is held the jovial feast of Anna Perenna not far from the banks, O Tiber, who come from afar. The common folk come, and scattered here and there over the green grass they drink, every lad reclining beside his lass. Some camp under the open sky; a few pitch tents; some make a leafy hut of boughs. Others set up reeds in place of rigid pillars, and stretching out their robes place them upon the reeds. But they grow warm with sun and wine, and they pray for as many years as they take cups, and they count the cups they drink. There shall you find a man who drains as many goblets as Nestor numbered years, and a woman who would live to the Sibyl’s age if cups could work the charm. There they sing the ditties they picked up in the theatres, beating time to the words with nimble hands; they set the bowl down, and trip in dances, lubberly, while the spruce sweetheart skips about with streaming hair. On the way home they reel, a spectacle for vulgar eyes, and the crowd that meets them calls them “blest.” I met the procession lately; I thought it notable; a drunk old woman lugged a drunk old man.

But since erroneous rumors are rife as to who this goddess is, I am resolved to throw no cloak about her tale. Poor Dido had burned with the fire of love for Aeneas; she had burned, too, on a pyre built for her doom. Her ashes were collected, and on the marble of her tomb was this short stanza, which she herself dying had left: “Aeneas caused her death and lent the blade: Dido by her own hand in dust was laid.”

Straightway the Numidians invaded the defenseless realm, and Iarbas the Moor [Iarbas was a suitor for Dido (Virgil, Aen. iv. 36, 196): Elissa was Dido’s name] captured and took possession of the palace; and remembering how she had spurned his suit, “Look, now,” quoth he, “I enjoy Elissa’s bridal bower, I whom she so oft repelled.” The Tyrians [the Carthaginians came from Tyre] fled hither and thither, as each one chanced to stray, even as bees oft wander doubtingly when they have lost their king. Anna [Dido’s sister] was driven from home, and weeping left her sister’s walls; but first she paid the honors due to her dead sister. The soft ashes drank unguents mixed with tears, and they received an offering of hair clipped from her head. And thrice she said, “Farewell!” thrice she took the ashes up and pressed them to her lips, and under them she thought she saw her sister. Having found a ship and comrades to share her flight, she glided before the wind, looking back at the city’s walls, her sister’s darling work.

There is a fertile island Melite [Malta], lashed by the waves of the Libyan sea and neighbor to the barren Cosyra [now Pantellaria, about 150 miles from Malta]. Anna steered for it, trusting to the king’s hospitality, which she had known of old; for Battus there was king, a wealthy host. When he learned the misfortunes of the two sisters, “This land,” said he, “small though it be, is yours,” and he would have observed the duties of hospitality to the end, but that he feared Pygmalion’s [brother of Dido and Anna, and their enemy] mighty power. For the third time the reaped corn had been carried to the threshing-floor to be stripped of the husk, and for the third time the new wine had poured into the hollow vats. Twice had the sun traversed the signs of the zodiac, and a third year was passing, when Anna was compelled to seek a new land of exile.

Her brother came and demanded her surrender with threat of war. The king loathed arms and said to Anna, “We are unwarlike. Seek safety in flight.” At his bidding she fled and committed her bark to the wind and the waves. Her brother was more cruel than any sea. Near the fishy streams of stony Crathis there is a small plain; the natives call it Camere. Thither she bent her course, and was no farther off than nine shots of a sling, when the sails at first dropped and flapped in the puffs of wind.

“Cleave the water with the oars,” the seaman said. And while they made ready to furl the sails with the ropes, the swift south wind struck the curved poop and swept the ship, despite the captain’s efforts, into the open sea; the land receded from their sight. The surge assails them, and from its lowest depths the ocean is upheaved: the hull gulps down the foaming waters. Seamanship is powerless against the wind, and the steersman no longer handles the helm, so he too resorts to prayers for help. The Phoenician exile is tossed on the swelling waves and hides her wet eyes in her robe: then for the first time did she call her sister Dido happy, and happy any woman who anywhere did tread dry land. A mighty blast pulled the ship to the Laurentine shore; she went down and perished, but all on board got safe to land.

By this time Aeneas had gained the kingdom and the daughter of Latinus and had blended the two peoples. While, accompanied by Achates alone, he paced barefoot a lonely path on the shore with which his wife had dowered him, he spied Anna wandering, nor could bring himself to think that it was she. Why should she come into the Latin land? thought he to himself. Meantime, “’Tis Anna!” cried Achates. At the sound of the name she looked up. Alas! what should she do? should she flee? where should she look for the earth to yawn for her? Her hapless sister’s fate rose up before her eyes. The Cytherean [Aeneas was son of Venus, called Cytherea for her sacred island Cythera] hero perceived her distress and accosted her; yet did he weep, touched by memory of you, Elissa.

"Anna, by this land which in days gone by you used to hear a happier fate had granted me; and by the gods who followed me and here of late have found a home, I swear that they did often chide my loiterings. Nor yet did I dread her death; far from me was that fear. Woe’s me! her courage surpassed belief. Tell not the tale. I saw the unseemly wounds upon her body what time I dared to visit the house of Tartarus. But you, whether your own resolve or some god has brought you to our shores, do you enjoy my kingdom’s comforts. Much our gratitude owes to you, and something, too, to Elissa. Welcome shall you be for your own sake and welcome for your sister’s.” She believed his words, for no other hope was left her, and she told her wanderings. And when she entered the palace, clad in Tyrian finery, Aeneas opened his lips, while the rest of the assembly kept silence: “My wife Lavinia, I have a dutiful reason for entrusting this lady to your care; when I was shipwrecked I consumed her substance. She is of Tyrian descent; she owns a kingdom on the Libyan coast; I pray you, love her as a dear sister.”

Lavinia promised everything, but in the silence of her heart she hid her fancied wrong and dissembled her fears; and though she saw many presents carried before her eyes, still she thought that many were also sent secretly. She had not decided what to do. She hated like a fury, and hatched a plot, and longed to die avenged. It was night: before her sister’s bed it seemed that Dido stood, her unkempt hair dabbled in blood. “Fly, fly this dismal house,” she seemed to say, “O falter not!!” At the word a blast slammed the creaking door.

Up she leaped, and quick she threw herself out of the low window upon the ground: her very fear had made her bold. And as soon as terror carried her clad in her ungirt tunic, she ran as runs a frightened doe that hears the wolves. It is thought the horned Numicius [a river in Latium; rivers are called horned, being personified as bulls] swept her away in his swollen stream and hid her in his pools. Meanwhile with clamor loud they sought the lost Sidonian lady through the fields: traces and footprints met their eyes: on coming to the banks they found her tracks upon the banks. The conscious river checked and hushed his stream. Herself appeared to speak: “I am a nymph of the calm Numicius. In a perennial river I hide, and Anna Perenna is my name.” Straightway they feast joyfully in the fields over which they had roamed, and toast themselves and the day in deep draughts of wine.

Some think that this goddess is the moon, because the moon fills up the measure of the year (annus) by her months; others deem that she is Themis; others suppose that she is the Inachian cow [probably Isis, identified with Io]. You shall find some to say that you, Anna, are a nymph, daughter of Azan, and that you gave Jupiter his first food. Yet another report, which I will relate, has come to my ears, and it is not far from what we may take as true. The common folk of old, not yet protected by tribunes, had fled, and abode upon the top of the Sacred Mount [this refers to the Secession of the Plebs in 494 B.C.]; now, too, the provisions which they had brought with them and the bread fit for human use had failed them. There was a certain Anna, born at suburban Bovillae, a poor old woman, but very industrious [seemingly told to account for the worship of Anna Perenna at Bovillae]. She, with her grey hair bound up in a light cap, used to mold country cakes with tremulous hand, and it was her wont at morn to distribute them piping hot among the people: the supply was welcome to the people. When peace was made at home, they set up a statue to Perenna, because she had supplied them in their time of need.

Now it remains for me to tell why girls chant ribald songs; for they assemble and sing certain scurrilous verses. When Anna had been but lately made a goddess, the Marching God (Gradivus) came to her, and taking her aside spoke as follows: “You are worshipping in my month, I have joined my season to yours: I have great hope in the service that you can render me. An armed god myself, I have fallen in love with the armed goddess Minerva [Minerva in this story has probably taken the place of Nerio, an old goddess, the wife of Mars]; I burn and for a long time have nursed this wound. She and I are deities alike in our pursuits; contrive to unite us. That office well befits you, kind old dame.” So he spoke.

She duped the god by a false promise, and kept him dangling on in foolish hope by dubious delays. When he often pressed her, “I have done your bidding,” said she, “she is conquered and has yielded at last to your entreaties.” The lover believed her and made ready the bridal chamber. Thither they escorted Anna, like a bride, with a veil upon her face. When he would have kissed her, Mars suddenly perceived Anna; now shame, now anger moved the god befooled. The new goddess laughed at dear Minerva’s lover. Never did anything please Venus more than that. So old jokes are cracked and ribald songs are sung, and people love to remember how Anna cheated the great god.

I was about to pass by in silence the swords that stabbed the prince [the murder of Julius Caesar, 44 B.C., on the Ides of March], when Vesta spoke thus from her chaste hearth: “Doubt not to recall them: he was my priest [Pontifex Maximus], it was at me these sacrilegious hands struck with the steel. I myself carried the man away, and left naught but his wraith behind; what fell by the sword was Caesar’s shade.” Transported to the sky he saw the halls of Jupiter, and in the great Forum he owns a temple dedicated to him. But all the daring sinners who, in defiance of the gods’ will, profaned the pontiff’s head, lie low in death, the death they merited. Witness Philippi and they whose scattered bones whiten the ground. This, this was Caesar’s work, his duty, his first task by righteous arms to avenge his father.

XVII. Kal. Apr. 16th

When the next dawn shall have refreshed the tender grass, the Scorpion will be visible in his first part.

XVI. Kal. 17th

The third day after the Ides is a very popular celebration of Bacchus. O Bacchus, be gracious to your bard while he sings of your festival. But I shall not tell of Semele; if Jupiter had not brought his thunderbolts with him to her, you had been born an unarmed thing. [Semele, mother of Bacchus, requested Jupiter to show himself in full majesty. His lightning blasted her, and Jupiter caught up her unborn child, and sewed him into his own thigh, until the proper time for birth.] Nor shall I tell how, in order that you might be born as a boy in due time, the function of a mother was completed in your father’s body.

It were long to relate the triumphs won by the god over the Sithonians and the Scythians, and how he subdued the peoples of India, that incense-bearing land. I will say naught of him who fell a mournful prey to his own Theban mother, nor of Lycurgus, whom frenzy drove to hack at his own son. [When Bacchus brought his rites to Thebes, the king, Pentheus, disbelieved him; and he was torn to pieces by his mother Agave and the bacchant women. Lycurgus, king of the Edonians, expelled Bacchus; he was driven mad, and killed his own son with an axe, in mistake for a vine: then lopped off his own extremities.] Look now, fain would I speak of the Tyrrhenian monsters, men suddenly transformed into fish [Bacchus was captured at sea by pirates; but he drove them mad, they leaped overboard, and became dolphins], but that is not the business of this song; the business of this song is to set forth the reasons why a planter of vines hawks cakes to the people. Before your birth, Liber, the altars were without offerings, and grass grew on the cold hearths. They tell how, after subjugating the Ganges and the whole East, you set apart first-fruits for great Jupiter. You were the first to offer cinnamon and incense from the conquered lands, and the roast flesh of oxen led in triumph.

Libations (libamina) derive their name from their author, and so do cakes (liba), because part of them is offered on the hallowed hearths. Cakes are made for the god, because he delights in sweet juices, and they say that honey was discovered by Bacchus. Attended by the satyrs he was going from sandy Hebrus (my tale includes a pleasant jest), and had come to Rhodope and flowery Pangaeus, when the cymbals in the hands of his companions clashed. Look, drawn by the tinkle, winged things, as yet unknown, assemble, and the bees follow the sounding brass. Liber collected the stragglers and shut them up in a hollow tree; and he was rewarded by the discovery of honey.

Once the satyrs and the bald-pated ancient [Silenus, the merry companion of the satyrs] had tasted it, they sought for the yellow combs in every grove. In a hollow elm the old fellow heard the humming of a swarm; he spied the combs and kept his counsel. And sitting lazily on the back of an ass, and leaning upon a branch stump he greedily reached at the honey stored in the bole. Thousands of hornets gathered, and thrust their stings into his bald pate, and left their mark on his snub-nosed face. Headlong he fell, and the ass kicked him, while he called to his comrades and implored their help. The satyrs ran to the spot and laughed at their parent’s swollen face: he limped on his hurt knee. Bacchus himself laughed and taught him to smear mud on his wounds; Silenus took the hint and smudged his face with mire. The father god [liber pater] enjoys honey, and it is right that we should give to its discoverer golden honey infused in hot cakes.

The reason why a woman presides at the festival is plain enough: Bacchus rouses bands of women by his thyrsus. You ask why it is an old woman who does it. That age is more addicted to wine, and loves the bounty of the teeming vine. Why is she wreathed with ivy? Ivy is most dear to Bacchus. Why that is so can also soon be told. They say that when the stepmother [Juno, who as Jupiter’s wife pursued Semele’s son with a stepmother’s hatred] was searching for the boy, the nymphs of Nysa screened the cradle in ivy leaves.

It remains for me to discover why the gown of liberty [toga virilis] is given to boys, fair Bacchus, on your day, whether it be because you seem ever to be a boy and a youth, and your age is midway between the two; or it may be that, because you are a father, fathers commend to your care and divine keeping the pledges that they love, their sons; or it may be that because you are Liber, the gown of liberty is assumed and a freer (liberior) life is entered upon under your auspices.

Or was it because, in the days when the ancients tilled the fields more diligently, and a senator labored on his ancestral land, when a consul exchanged the bent plow for the rods and axes of office, and it was no crime to have horny hands, the country folk used to come to the City for the games (but that was an honor paid to the gods, not a concession to the popular tastes, the discoverer of the grape [Bacchus] held on his own day those games which now he shares with the torch-bearing goddess [Ceres (Demeter). The games are the Cerealia. April 19]); and the day therefore seemed not unsuitable for conferring the gown, in order that a crowd might gather round the novice? You Father God, hither turn your horned head, mild and propitious, and to the favoring breezes spread the sails of my poetic art!

On this day, if I remember aright, and on the preceding day, there is a procession to the Argei. What the Argei are, will be told in the proper place. The star of the Kite slopes downwards towards the Lycaonian Bear [the Bear was supposed to be Callisto, daughter of Lycaon]: on that night it becomes visible. If you would know what raised the bird to heaven, Saturn had been dethroned by Jupiter. In his wrath he stirred up the strong Titans to take arms and sought the help the Fates allowed him. There was a bull born of its mother Earth, a wondrous monster, the hinder part whereof was a serpent: him, at the warning of the three Fates, grim Styx had shut up in gloomy woods enclosed by a triple wall. There was an oracle that he who should burn the inwards of the bull in the flames would be able to conquer the eternal gods. Briareus sacrificed him with an axe made of adamant, and was just about to put the entrails on the fire: Jupiter commanded the birds to snatch them away; the kite brought them to him and was promoted to the stars for his services.

XIXIV – XI. Kal. 19th - 22nd

After an interval of one day rites are performed in honor of Minerva, which get their name from a group of five days [quinquatrus, QVIN in the calendar, properly the name of one day, the fifth after the Ides; but it was commonly taken to mean a period of five days]. The first day is bloodless, and it is unlawful to combat with the sword, because Minerva was born on that day. The second day and three besides are celebrated by the spreading of sand [for gladiatorial shows]: the warlike goddess delights in drawn swords. You boys and tender girls, pray now to Pallas; he who shall have won the favor of Pallas will be learned. When once they have won the favor of Pallas, let girls learn to card the wool and to unload the full distaffs. She also teaches how to traverse the upright warp with the shuttle, and she drives home the loose threads with the comb. Worship her, you who remove stains from damaged garments; worship her, you who make ready the brazen caldrons for the fleeces.

If Pallas frown, no man shall make shoes well, though he were more skillful than Tychius [said to have invented shoe-making]; and though he were more adroit with his hands than Epeus [who made the wooden horse] of old, yet shall he be helpless, if Pallas be angry with him. You too, who banish sicknesses by Phoebus’ art, bring from your earnings a few gifts to the goddess [Minerva Medica]. And spurn her not, you schoolmasters, you tribe too often cheated of your income [the Quinquatrus was a holiday: the master on that day collected pennies from his boys, which it appears he had to hand over to Minerva], she attracts new pupils; and spurn her not, you who ply the graving tool and paint pictures in encaustic colors, and you who mold the stone with deft hand. She is the goddess of a thousand works: certainly she is the goddess of song; may she be friendly to my pursuits, if I deserve it.

Where the Caelian Mount descends from the height into the plain, at the point where the street is not level but nearly level, you may see the small shrine of Minerva Capta, which the goddess owned for the first time upon her birthday. The origin of the name Capta is doubtful. We call ingenuity “capital”; the goddess herself is ingenious. Did she get name of Capta because she is said to have leapt forth motherless with her shield from the crown of her father’s head (caput)? Or because she came to us as a captive at the conquest of the Falerii? This very fact is attested by an ancient inscription. Or was it because she has a law which ordains capital punishment for receiving objects stolen from that place? From whatsoever source you derive the title, O Pallas, hold your aegis ever before our leaders.

X. Kal. 23rd

The last day of the five reminds us to purify the melodious trumpets [tubilustrium] and to sacrifice to the strong god [Mars].

Now you can look up to the sun and say, “Yesterday he set foot on the fleece of the Phrixean sheep.” [That is, entered the sign of the Ram.] By the guile of a wicked stepmother [Ino] the seeds had been roasted, so that no corn sprouted in the wonted way. A messenger was sent to the tripods to report, by a sure oracle, what remedy the Delphic god would prescribe for the dearth. But he, corrupted like the seed, brought word that the oracle demanded the death of Helle and the stripling Phrixus; and when the citizens, the season, and Ino compelled the reluctant king to submit to the wicked command, Phrixus and his sister, their brows veiled with fillets, stood together before the altars and bewailed the fate they shared.

Their mother [Nephele, “the cloud”] spied them, as by chance she hovered in the air, and thunder-struck she beat her naked breast with her hand: then, accompanied by clouds, she leaped down into the dragon-begotten city [Thebes] and snatched from it her children, and that they might take to flight, a ram all glistering with gold was delivered to them. The ram bore the two over wide seas. It is said that the sister relaxed the hold of her left hand on the ram’s horn, when she gave her own name to the water [Hellespont]. Her brother almost perished with her in attempting to succor her as she fell, and in holding out his hands at the utmost stretch. He wept at losing her who had shared his double peril, knowing not that she was wedded to the blue god. On reaching the shore the ram was made a constellation, but his golden fleece was carried to Colchian homes.

VII. Kal. 26th

When thrice the Morning Star shall have heralded the coming Dawn, you shall reckon the time of day equal to the time of night.

III. Kal. 30th

When four times from that day the shepherd shall have folded the cloying kids, and four times the grass shall have whitened under the fresh dew, it will be time to adore Janus, and gentle Concord with him, and Roman Safety, and the altar of Peace.

Pr. Kal. 31st

The moon rules the months: the period of this month also ends with the worship of the Moon on the Aventine Hill.


“O gracious Mother of the Twin Loves [Eros and Anteros],” said I, “grant me your favor.” The goddess looked back at the poet. “What would you with me?” she said, “surely you were wont to sing of loftier themes. Have you an old wound rankling in your tender breast?” “Goddess,” I answered, “you knew of my wound.” She laughed, and straightway the sky was serene in that quarter. “Hurt or whole, did I desert your standards? You, you have ever been the task I set myself. In my young years I toyed with themes to match, and gave offense to none; now my steeds tread a larger field.

"I sing the seasons, and their causes, and the starry signs that set beneath the earth and rise again, drawing my lore from annals old. We have come to the fourth month in which you are honored above all others, and you know, Venus that both the poet and the month are yours.” The goddess was moved, and touching my brows lightly with myrtle of Cythera, “Complete,” said she, “the work you have begun.” I felt her inspiration, and suddenly my eyes were opened to the causes of the days: proceed, my bark, while still you may and the breezes blow.

Yet if any part of the calendar should interest you, Caesar [Augustus, adopted by Julius Caesar, who traced his descent from Venus, through Aeneas], you have in April matter of concern. This month you have inherited by a great pedigree, and it has been made yours by virtue of your adoption into a noble house. When the Ilian sire [Romulus, as descended from Aeneas and so from Ilus, founder of Ilium] was putting the long year on record, he saw the relationship and commemorated the authors of your race: and as he gave the first lot in order of the months to fierce Mars, because he was the immediate cause of his own birth, so he willed that the place of the second month should belong to Venus, because he traced his descent from her through many generations.

In seeking the origin of his race, he turned over the roll of the centuries and came at last to the gods whose blood he shared. How, prithee, should he not know that Dardanus was born of Electra, daughter of Atlas, and that Electra had lain with Jupiter? Dardanus had a son Erichthonius, who begat Tros; and Tros begat Assaracus, and Assaracus begat Capys. Next came Anchises, with whom Venus did not disdain to share the name of parent. Of them was born Aeneas, whose piety was proved when on his shoulders through the fire he bore the holy things and his own sire, a charge as holy.

Now at last have we come to the lucky name of Julus, through whom the Julian house reaches back to Teucrian ancestors. He had a son Postumus, who, because he was born in the deep woods, was called Silvius among the Latin folk. He was your father, Latinus; Latinus was succeeded by Alba, and next to Alba on the list was Epytus. He gave to his son Capys, a Trojan name, revived for the purpose, and he was also the grandfather of Calpetus. And when Tiberinus possessed his father’s kingdom after the death of Calpetus, he was drowned, it is said, in a deep pool of the Tuscan river. Yet before that he had seen the birth of a son Agrippa and of a grandson Remulus; but Remulus, they say, was struck by lightning-bolts. After them came Aventinus, from whom the place and also the hill took their name. After him the kingdom passed to Proca, who was succeeded by Numitor, brother of hard-hearted Amulius. Ilia and Lausus were born to Numitor. Lausus fell by his uncle’s sword: Ilia found favor in the eyes of Mars and gave birth to you, Quirinus, and your twin brother Remus. He always averred that his parents were Venus and Mars, and he deserved to be believed when he said so; and that his descendants after him might know the truth, he assigned successive periods to the gods of his race.

But I surmise that the month of Venus took its name from the Greek language: the goddess was called after the foam of the sea [Aphrodite, from aphros, “foam”]. Nor need you wonder that a thing was called by a Greek name, for the Italian land was Greater Greece. Evander had come to Italy with a fleet full of people; Alcides also had come; both of them were Greeks by race. As a guest, the club-bearing hero fed his herd on the Aventine grass, and the great god drank of the Albula. The Neritian chief also came [Ulysses, after the hill Neriton in Ithaca]: witness the Laestrygones and the shore which still bears the name of Circe [the promontory Circeium]. Already the walls of Telegonus [Tusculum] were standing, and the walls of moist Tibur, built by Argive hands.

Driven from home by the tragic doom of Atrides, Halaesus had come, after whom the Faliscan land deems that it takes its name. Add to these Antenor [said to have founded Patavium], who advised the Trojans to make peace, and (Diomedes) the Oenid, son-in-law to Apulian Daunus. Aeneas from the flames of Ilium brought his gods into our land, arriving late and after Antenor. He had a comrade, Solymus, who came from Phrygian Ida; from him the walls of Sulmo take their name – cool Sulmo, my native town, Germanicus. Woe’s me, how far is Sulmo from the Scythian land! Therefore shall I so far away – but check, my Muse, your plaints; it is not for you to warble sacred themes on mournful strings [Ovid was exiled to Scythia].

Where does not sallow envy find a way? Some there are who grudge you the honor of the month, and would snatch it from you, Venus. For they say that April was named from the open (apertum) season, because spring then opens (aperit) all things, and the sharp frost-bound cold departs, and the earth unlocks her teeming soil, though kindly Venus claims the month and lays her hand on it. She indeed sways, and well deserves to sway, the world entire; she owns a kingdom second to that of no god; she gives laws to heaven and earth and to her native sea, and by her inspiration she keeps every species in being. She created all the gods – it were long to number them; she bestowed on seeds and trees their origins. She drew rude-minded men together and taught them to pair each with his mate. What but bland pleasure brings into being the whole brood of birds?

Cattle, too, would not come together, were loose love wanting. The savage ram butts at the wether, but would not hurt the forehead of the ewe he loves. The bull, whom all the woodland pastures, all the groves dread, puts off his fierceness and follows the heifer. The same force preserves all living things under the broad bosom of the deep, and fills the waters with unnumbered fish. That force first stripped man of his savage garb; from it he learned decent attire and personal cleanliness. A lover was the first, they say, to serenade by night the mistress who denied him entrance, while he sang at her barred door, and to win the heart of a coy maid was eloquence indeed; every man then pleaded his own cause. This goddess has been the mother of a thousand arts; the wish to please has given birth to many inventions that were unknown before.

And shall any man dare rob this goddess of the honor of giving her name to the second month? Far from me be such a frenzy. Besides, while everywhere the goddess is powerful and her temples are thronged with worshippers, she possesses yet more authority in our city. Venus, O Roman, bore arms for your Troy, what time she groaned at the spear wound in her dainty hand [wounded by Diomede, Iliad, v. 335]; and by a Trojan’s verdict she defeated two heavenly goddesses. [Paris, the Trojan, adjudged to her the apple, the prize of beauty; and her rivals, Juno (Hera) and Athena, bore a grudge for their defeat.] Ah would that they had not remembered their defeat! And she was called the bride of Assaracus’ son [Anchises, grandson of Assaracus], in order, to be sure, that in time to come great Caesar might count the Julian line among his sires. And no season was more fitting for Venus than spring. In spring the landscape glistens; soft is the soil in spring; now the corn pushes its blades through the cleft ground; now the vine-shoot protrudes its buds in the swelling bark. Lovely Venus deserves the lovely season and is attached, as usual, to her dear Mars: in spring she bids the curved ships fare across her natal seas and fear no more the threats of winter.

Kal. Apr. 1st

Duly do you worship the goddess, you Latin mothers and brides, and you, too, who wear not the fillets and long robe [courtesans, who were forbidden to wear the garb of matrons]. Take off the golden necklaces from the marble neck of the goddess [Venus, to whom the month of April belonged]; take off her gauds; the goddess must be washed from top to toe. Then dry her neck and restore to it her golden necklaces; now give her other flowers, now give her the fresh-blown rose. You, too, she herself bids bathe under the green myrtle, and there is a certain reason for her command; learn what it is. Naked, she was drying on the shore her oozy locks, when the satyrs, a wanton crew, espied the goddess. She perceived it, and screened her body by myrtle interposed: that done, she was safe, and she bids you do the same.

Learn now why you give incense to Virile Fortune in the place which reeks of warm water. All women strip when they enter that place, and every blemish on the naked body is plain to see; Virile Fortune undertakes to conceal the blemish and to hide it from the men, and this she does for the consideration of a little incense. Nor grudge to take poppy pounded with snowy milk and liquid honey squeezed from the comb; when Venus was first escorted to her eager spouse, she drank that draught: from that time she was a bride. Propitiate her with supplications; beauty and virtue and good fame are in her keeping. In the time of our forefathers Rome had fallen from a state of chastity, and the ancients consulted the old woman of Cumae [the Sibyl]. She ordered a temple to be built to Venus, and when that was duly done, Venus took the name of Changer of the Heart (Verticordia) from the event. Fairest of goddesses, ever behold the sons of Aeneas with look benign, and guard your offspring’s numerous wives.

While I speak, the Scorpion, the tip of whose swinged tail strikes fear, plunges into the green waters.

IV. Non. 2nd

When the night has passed, and the sky has just begun to blush, and dew-besprinkled birds are twittering plaintively, and the wayfarer, who all night long has waked, lays down his half-burnt torch, and the swain goes forth to his accustomed toil, the Pleiads will commence to lighten the burden that rests on their father’s [Atlas] shoulders; seven are they usually called, but six they usually are; whether it be that six of the sisters were embraced by gods (for they say that Sterope lay with Mars, Alcyone and fair Celaeno with Neptune, and Maia, Electra, and Taygete with Jupiter); the seventh, Merope, was married to a mortal man, to Sisyphus, and she repents of it, and from shame at the deed she alone of the sisters hides herself; or whether it be that Electra could not brook to behold the fall of Troy, and so covered her eyes with her hand.

Pr. Non. 4th

Let the sky revolve thrice on its never-resting axis; let Titan thrice yoke and thrice unyoke his steeds, straightway the Berecyntian [Phrygian (from Mount Berecyntus)] flute will blow a blast on its bent horn, and the festival of the Idaean Mother will have come [Cybele, the Asiatic goddess; her attendants, the Galli, were eunuchs]. Eunuchs will march and thump their hollow drums, and cymbals clashed on cymbals will give out their tinkling notes: seated on the unmanly necks of her attendants, the goddess herself will be borne with howls through the streets in the City’s midst. The state is clattering, the games are calling. To your places, Quirites! and in the empty law-courts let the war of suitors cease!

I would put many questions, but I am daunted by the shrill cymbal’s clash and the bent flute’s thrilling drone. “Grant me, goddess, someone whom I may question.” The Cybelean goddess spied her learned granddaughters [the Muses, whose father Jupiter was son of Cybele] and bade them attend to my inquiry. “Mindful of her command, you nurslings of Helicon, disclose the reason why the Great Goddess delights in perpetual din.” So did I speak, and Erato [Eros, Love] thus replied (it fell to her to speak of Venus’ month, because her own name is derived from tender love): “Saturn was given this oracle: ‘You best of kings, you shall be ousted of your sceptre by your son.’ In fear, the god devoured his offspring as fast as they were born, and he kept them sunk in his bowels.

Many a time did Rhea [Cybele] grumble, to be so often big with child, yet never be a mother; she repined at her own fruitfulness. Then Jove was born. The testimony of antiquity passes for good; pray do not shake the general faith. A stone concealed in a garment went down the heavenly throat [of Saturn (Cronos)]; so had fate decreed that the sire should be beguiled. Now rang steep Ida loud and long with clangorous music, that the boy might whimper in safety with his infant mouth. Some beat their shields, others their empty helmets with staves; that was the task of the Curetes and that, too, of the Corybantes. The secret was kept, and the ancient deed is still acted in mimicry; the attendants of the goddess thump the brass and rumbling leather; cymbals they strike instead of helmets, and drums instead of shields; the flute plays, as of yore, the Phrygian airs.”

The goddess ended. I began: “Why for her sake does the fierce breed of lions yield their unwonted manes to the curved yoke?” I ended. She began: “It is thought, the wildness of the brute was tamed by her: that she testifies by her (lion-drawn) car.” But why is her head weighted with a turreted crown? Is it because she gave towers to the first cities?” The goddess nodded assent.

“Whence came,” said I, “the impulse to cut their members?” When I was silent, the Pierian goddess began to speak: “In the woods a Phrygian boy of handsome face, Attis by name, had attached the tower-bearing goddess to himself by a chaste passion. She wished that he should be kept for herself and should guard her temple, and she said, ‘Resolve to be a boy for ever.’ He promised obedience, and, ‘If I lie,’ quoth he, ‘may the love for which I break faith be my last love of all.’ He broke faith; for, meeting the nymph Sagaritis [no doubt named from the river Sangarius or Sagaris, in Phrygia], he ceased to be what he had been before.

For that the angry goddess wreaked vengeance. By wounds inflicted on the tree she cut down the Naiad, who perished thus; for the fate of the Naiad was bound up with the tree. Attis went mad, and, imagining that the roof of the chamber was falling in, he fled and ran for the top of Mount Dindymus. And he kept crying, at one moment. ‘Take away the torches!’ at another, ‘Remove the whips!’ And oft he swore that the Stygian goddesses [the Furies] were on him. He mangled, too, his body with a sharp stone, and trailed his long hair in the filthy dust; and his cry was, ‘I have deserved it! With my blood I pay the penalty that is my due. Ah, perish the parts that were my ruin! Ah, let them perish,’ still he said. He retrenched the burden of his groin, and of a sudden was bereft of every sign of manhood. His madness set an example, and still his unmanly ministers cut their vile members while they toss their hair.” In such words the Aonian Muse eloquently answered my question as to the cause of the madness of the votaries.

“Instruct me, too, I pray, my guide, whence was she fetched, whence came? Was she always in our city?” “The Mother Goddess ever loved Dindymus, and Cybele, and Ida, with its delightful springs, and the realm of Ilium. When Aeneas carried Troy to the Italian fields, the goddess almost followed the ships that bore the sacred things; but she felt that fate did not yet call for intervention of her divinity in Latium, and she remained behind in her accustomed place. Afterwards, when mighty Rome had already seen five centuries [in 204 B.C., year of Rome 549, the Sibylline books were consulted], and had lifted up her head above the conquered world, the priest consulted the fateful words of the Euboean song.

They say that what he found ran thus: ‘The Mother is absent; you Roman, I bid you seek the Mother. When she shall come, she must be received by chaste hands.’ The ambiguity of the dark oracle puzzled the senators to know who the Parent was, and where she was to be sought. Paean [Delphic Apollo. The envoys sent from Rome, M. Valerius Laevinus, M. Caecilius Metellus, Ser. Sulpicius Gallus, consulted the oracle at Delphi on their way and received a favorable answer] was consulted and said, ‘Fetch the Mother of the Gods; she is to be found on Mount Ida.’ Nobles were sent. The sceptre of Phrygia was then held by Attalus; he refused the favor to the Ausonian lords. Wonders to tell, the earth trembled and rumbled long, and in her shrine thus did the goddess speak: It was my own will that they should send for me. Tarry not: let me go, it is my wish. Rome is a place meet to be the resort of every god.’ Quaking with terror at the words Attalus said, ‘Go forth. You will still be ours. Rome traces its origin to Phrygian ancestors.’

Straightway unnumbered axes fell those pinewoods which had supplied the pious Phrygian [Aeneas] with timber in his flight: a thousand hands assemble, and the Mother of the Gods is lodged in a hollow ship painted in encaustic colors. She is borne in perfect safety across the waters of her son and comes to the long strait named after the sister of Phrixus [Helles-pontus]; she passes Rhoeteum, where the tide runs fast, and the Sigean shores, and Tenedos, and Eetion’s ancient realm [EŽtion was father of Andromache, and king of Thebe in the Troad]. Leaving Lesbos behind, she came next to the Cyclades and to the wave that breaks on the Carystian shoals [south of Euboea]. She passed the Icarian Sea also, where Icarus lost his wings that slipped, and where he gave his name to a great water. Then she left Crete on the larboard and the Pelopian billows on the starboard, and steered for Cythera, the sacred isle of Venus. Thence she passed to the Trinacrian [Sicilian] Sea, where Brotnes and Steropes and Acmonides [usually called Pyracmon. These are the three Cyclopes who forged Jupiter’s thunderbolts under Mount Etna] are wont to dip the white-hot iron. She skirted the African main, and beheld astern to larboard the Sardinian realms, and made Ausonia.

“She had reached the mouth where the Tiber divides to join the sea and flows with ampler sweep. All the knights and the grave senators, mixed up with the common folk, came to meet her at the mouth of the Tuscan river. With them walked mothers and daughters and brides, and the virgins who tended the sacred hearths. The men wearied their arms by tugging lustily at the rope; hardly did the foreign ship make head against the stream. A drought had long prevailed; the grass was parched and burnt; the loaded bark sank in the muddy shallows. Every man who lent a hand toiled beyond his strength and cheered on the workers by his cries. Yet the ship stuck fast, like an island firmly fixed in the middle of the sea. Astonished at the portent, the men stood and quaked.

Claudia Quinta traced her descent from Clausus [a Sabine leader, said to have assisted Aeneas] of old, and her beauty matched her nobility. Chaste was she, though not reputed so. Rumor unkind had wronged her, and a false charge had been trumped up against her: it told against her that she dressed sprucely, that she walked abroad with her hair dressed in varied fashion, that she had a ready tongue for gruff old men. Conscious of innocence, she laughed at fame’s untruths; but we of the multitude are prone to think the worst. When she had stepped forth from the procession of the chaste matrons, and taken up the pure water of the river in her hands, she thrice let it drip on her head, and thrice lifted her palms to heaven (all who looked on her thought that she was out of her very mind), and bending the knee she fixed her eyes on the image of the goddess, and with dishevelled hair uttered these words: ‘You fruitful Mother of the Gods, graciously accept your suppliant’s prayers on one condition. They say I am not chaste. If you condemn me, I will confess my guilt; convicted by the verdict of the goddess, I will pay the penalty with my life. But if I am free of crime, give by your act a proof of my innocency, and, chaste as you are, do you yield to my chaste hands.’

She spoke, and drew the rope with a slight effort. My story is a strange one, but it is attested by the stage [probably acted at the Megalensia, the Great Mother’s festival]. The goddess was moved, and followed her leader, and by following bore witness in her favor: a sound of joy was wafted to the stars. They came to a bend in the river, where the stream turns away to the left [left for one ascending the Tiber]; men of old named it the Halls of Tiber. Night drew on; they tied the rope to an oaken stump, and after a repast disposed themselves to slumber light. At dawn of day they loosed the rope from the oaken stump; but first they set down a brazier and put incense on it, and crowned the poop, and sacrificed an unblemished heifer that had known neither the yoke nor the bull.

There is a place where the smooth Almo flows into the Tiber, and the lesser river loses its name in the great one. There a hoary-headed priest in purple robes washed the Mistress and her holy things in the waters of Almo. The attendants howled, the mad flute blew, and hands unmanly beat the leathern drums. Attended by a crowd, Claudia walked in front with joyful face, her chastity at last vindicated by the testimony of the goddess. The goddess herself, seated in a wagon, drove in through the Capene Gate; fresh flowers were scattered on the yoked oxen. Nasica received her [P. Corn. Scipio Nasica, a young man, was commissioned to receive the goddess]. The name of the founder of the temple has not survived; now it is Augustus; formerly it was Metellus.”  [The temple was dedicated in 191 B.C. It was burned down in 111 B.C., when one Metellus restored it; and in A.D. 3, when Augustus restored it.]

Here Erato stopped. There was a pause to give me time to put the rest of my questions. “Why,” said I, “does the goddess collect money in small coins?” “The people contributed their coppers, with which Metellus built her temple,” said she; “hence the custom of giving a small coin abides.” I asked why then more than at other times people entertain each other to feasts and hold banquets for which they issue invitations. “Because,” said she, “the Berecyntian goddess luckily changed her home, people try to get the same good luck by going from house to house.” [This feast was a great time for hospitality.] I was about to ask why the Megalesia are the first games of the year in our city, when the goddess took my meaning and said, “She gave birth to the gods. They gave place to their parent, and the Mother has the honor of precedence.”

“Why then do we give the name of Galii to the men who unman themselves, when the Gallic land is so far from Phrygia?” “Between,” said she, “green Cybele and high Celaenae [in Phrygia] a river of mad water flows, it is named the Gallus. Who drinks of it goes mad. Far hence depart, you who care to be of sound mind. Who drinks of it goes mad.” “They think no shame,” said I, “to set a dish of herbs on the tables of the Mistress. Is there a good reason at the bottom of it?” “People of old,” she answered, “are reported to have subsisted on pure milk and such herbs as the earth bore of its free will. White cheese is mixed with pounded herbs, that the ancient goddess may know the ancient foods.”

Non. 5th

When the next Dawn [Pallantias, Aurora] shall have shone in the sky, and the stars have vanished, and the Moon shall have unyoked her snow white steeds, he who shall say, “On this day of old the temple of Public Fortune was dedicated on the hill of Quirinus” will tell the truth.

VIII. Id. 6th

It was, I remember, the third day of the games, when a certain elderly man, who sat next to me at the show, observed to me, “This was the famous day when on the Libyan shores Caesar crushed proud Juba’s treacherous host [Thapsus, 46 B.C.]. Caesar was my commander; under him I am proud to have served as colonel: at his hands did I receive my commission. This seat I won in war, and you won in peace [the Decemviri stlitibus iudicandis had special seats in front], by reason of your office in the College of the Ten.” We were about to say more when a sudden shower of rain parted us; the Balance hung in heaven released the heavenly waters.

V. ID. 9th

But before the last day shall have put an end to the shows, sworded Orion will have sunk in the sea.

IV. Id. 10th

When the next Dawn shall have looked on victorious Rome, and the stars shall have been put to flight and given place to the sun, the Circus will be thronged with a procession and an array of the gods, and the horses, fleet as the wind, will contend for the first palm.

Pr. Id. 12th

Next come the games of Ceres. There is no need to declare the reason; the bounty and the services of the goddess are manifest. The bread of the first mortals consisted of the green herbs which the earth yielded without solicitation; and now they plucked the living grass from the turf, and now the tender leaves of tree-tops furnished a feast. Afterwards the acorn became known; it was well when they had found the acorn, and the sturdy oak offered a splendid affluence.

Ceres was the first who invited man to better sustenance and exchanged acorns for more useful food. She forced bulls to yield their necks to the yoke; then for the first time did the upturned soil behold the sun. Copper was now held in esteem; iron ore still lay concealed; ah, would that it had been hidden for ever! Ceres delights in peace; and you, ye husbandmen, pray for perpetual peace and for a pacific prince. You may give the goddess spelt, and the compliment of spurting salt, and grains of incense on old hearths; and if there is no incense, kindle resinous torches. Good Ceres is content with little, if that little be but pure. You attendants, with tucked up robes, take the knives away from the ox; let the ox plow; sacrifice the lazy sow. The axe should never smite the neck that fits the yoke; let him live and often labor in the hard soil.

The subject requires that I should narrate the rape of the Virgin: in my narrative you will read much that you knew before; a few particulars will be new to you.

The Trinacrian land [Sicily] got its name from its natural position: it runs out into the vast ocean in three rocky capes. It is the favorite home of Ceres: she owns many cities, among them fertile Henna [in Sicily: often called Enna] with its well-tilled soil. Cool Arethusa [nymph of the fountain Arethusa, in Syracuse] had invited the mothers of the gods, and the yellow-haired goddess had also come to the sacred banquet. Attended as usual by her wonted damsels, her daughter roamed bare-foot through the familiar meadows. In a shady vale there is a spot moist with the abundant spray of a high waterfall. All the hues that nature owns were there displayed, and the pied earth was bright with various flowers. As soon as she espied it, “Come hither, comrades,” she said, “and with me bring home lapfuls of flowers.” The bauble booty lured their girlish minds, and they were too busy to feel fatigue. One filled baskets plaited of supple withes, another loaded her lap, another the loose folds of her robe; one gathered marigolds, another paid heed to beds of violets; another nipped off the heads of poppies with her nails; some are attracted by the hyacinth, others lingered over amaranth; some love thyme, others corn poppies and melilot; full many a rose was culled, and flowers without a name.

Persephone herself plucked dainty crocuses and white lilies. Intent on gathering, she, little by little, strayed far, and it chanced that none of her companions followed their mistress. Her father’s brother [Pluto, or Dis, brother of Jupiter] saw her, and no sooner did he see her than he swiftly carried her off and bore her on his dusky steeds into his own realm. She in sooth cried out, “Ho, dearest mother, they are carrying me away!” and she rent the bosom of her robe. Meantime a road is opened up for Dis; for his steeds can hardly brook the unaccustomed daylight. But when the band of playmates attending her had heaped their baskets with flowers, they cried out, “Persephone, come to the gifts we have for you!” When she answered not their call, they filled the mountain with shrieks, and smote their bare bosoms with their sad hands.

Ceres was startled by the loud lament; she had just come to Henna, and straightway, “Woe’s me! my daughter,” said she, “where are you?” Distraught she hurried along, even as we hear that Thracian Maenads rush with streaming hair. As a cow, whose calf has been torn from her udder, bellows and seeks her offspring through every grove, so the goddess did not stifle her groans and ran at speed, starting from the plains of Henna. From there she lit on prints of the girlish feet and marked the traces of the familiar figure on the ground. Perhaps that day had been the last of her wanderings if swine had not foiled the trail she found. Already in her course she had passed Leontini, and the river Amenanus, and the grassy banks of Acis. She had passed Cyane, and the spring of gently flowing Anapus, and the Gelas with its whirlpools not to be approached.

She had left behind Ortygia and Megara and the Pantagias, and the place where the sea receives the water of the Symaethus, and the caves of the Cyclopes, burnt by the forges set up in them, and the place that takes its name from a curved sickle, and Himera, and Didyme, and Acragas, and Tauromenum, and the Mylae, where are the rich pastures of the sacred kine. Next she came to Camerina, and Thapsus, and the Tempe of Halorus, and where Eryx lies for ever open to the western breeze. Already had she traversed Pelorias, and Lilybaeum, and Pachynum, the three horns of her land.

And wherever she set her foot she filled every place with her sad plaints, as when the bird mourns her Itys lost [the nightingale]. In turn she cried, now “Persephone!” now “Daughter!” She cried and shouted either name by turns; but neither did Persephone hear Ceres, nor the daughter hear her mother; both names by turns died away. And whether she spied a shepherd or a husbandman at work, her one question was, “Did a girl pass this way?”

Now over the landscape stole a sober hue, and darkness hid the world; now the watchful dogs were hushed. Lofty Etna lies over the mouth of huge Typhoeus, whose fiery breath sets the ground aglow [the monster was imprisoned beneath Etna]. There the goddess kindled two pine-trees to serve her as a light; hence to this day a torch is given out at the rites of Ceres. There is a cave all fretted with the seams of scalloped pumice, a region not to be approached by man or beast. Soon as she came hither, she yoked the bitter serpents to her car and roamed, unwetted, over the ocean waves. She shunned the Syrtes, and Zanclaean Charybdis, and you, you Nisaean hounds, monsters of shipwreck; she shunned the Adriatic, stretching far and wide, and Corinth of the double seas.

Thus she came to your havens, land of Attica. There for the first time she sat her down most rueful on a cold stone: that stone even now the Cecropids [Athenian, from Cecrops, the first king] call the Sorrowful. For many days she tarried motionless under the open sky, patiently enduring the moonlight and the rain. Not a place but has its own peculiar destiny: what now is named the Eleusis of Ceres was then the plot of land of aged Celeus. He carried home acorns and blackberries, knocked from bramble bushes, and dry wood to feed the blazing hearth. A little daughter drove two nanny-goats back from the mountain, and an infant son was sick in his cradle. “Mother,” said the maid – the goddess was touched by the name of mother – “what do you all alone in solitary places?” The old man, too, halted, despite the load he bore, and prayed that she would pass beneath the roof of his poor cottage. She refused.

She had disguised herself as an old dame and covered her hair with a cap. When he pressed her, she answered thus: “Be happy! may a parent’s joy be yours for ever! My daughter has been taken from me. Alas! how much better is your lot than mine!” She spoke, and like a tear (for gods can never weep) a crystal drop fell on her bosom warm. They wept with her, those tender hearts, the old man and the maid; and these were the words of the worthy old man: “So may the ravished daughter, whose loss you weep, be restored safe to you, as you shall arise, nor scorn the shelter of my humble hut.” The goddess answered him. “Lead on; you have found the way to force me”; and she rose from the stone and followed the old man. As he led her and she followed, he told her how his son was sick and sleepless, kept wakeful by his ills.

As she was about to pass within the lowly dwelling, she plucked a smooth, a slumberous poppy that grew on the waste ground; and as she plucked, it is said she tasted it forgetfully, and so unwitting stayed her long hunger. Hence, because she broke her fast at nightfall, the initiates time their meal by the appearance of the stars. When she crossed the threshold, the saw the household plunged in grief; all hope of saving the child was gone. The goddess greeted the mother (her name was Metanira) and deigned to put her lips to the child’s lips.

His pallor fled, and strength of a sudden was visibly imparted to his frame; such vigor flowed from lips divine. There was joy in the whole household, that is, in mother, father, and daughter; for they three were the whole household. Anon they set out a repast – curds liquefied in milk, and apples, and golden honey in the comb. Kind Ceres abstained, and gave the child poppies to drink in warm milk to make him sleep. It was midnight, and there reigned the silence of peaceful sleep; the goddess took up Triptolemus in her lap, and thrice she stroked him with her hand, and spoke three spells, spells not to be rehearsed by mortal tongue, and on the hearth she buried the boy’s body in live embers, that the fire might purge away the burden of humanity.

His fond-foolish mother awoke from sleep and distractedly cried out, “What do you?” and she snatched his body from the fire. To her the goddess said: “Meaning no wrong, you have done grievous wrong: my bounty has been baffled by a mother’s fear. That boys of yours will indeed by mortal, but he will be the first to plow and sow and reap a reward from the turned-up soil.”

She said, and forth she fared, trailing a cloud behind her, and passed to her dragons, then soared aloft in her winged car. She left behind bold Sunium [a headland of Attica], and the snug harbor of Piraeus, and the coast that lies on the right hand. From there she came to the Aegean, where she beheld all the Cyclades; she skimmed the wild Ionian and the Icarian Sea; and passing through the cities of Asia she made for the long Hellespont, and pursued aloft a roving course, this way and that [she turns from N.E. to S.E. and S.W., passing between Libya and Ethiopia, thence to Europe]. For now she looked down on the incense-gathering Arabs, and now on the Indians: beneath her lay on one side Libya, on the other side Meroe, and the parched land. Now she visited the western rivers, the Rhine, the Rhone, the Po, and you, Tiber, future parent of a mighty water.

Whither do I stray? It were endless to tell of the lands over which she wandered. No spot in the world did Ceres leave unvisited. She wandered also in the sky, and accosted the constellations that lie next to the cold pole and never dip in the ocean wave. “You Parrhasian stars [the constellation of the Great Bear (also Helice), as identified with Arcadian Callisto: Parrhasian stands for Arcadian], reveal to a wretched mother her daughter Persephone; for you can know all things, since never do you plunge under the waters of the sea.” So she spoke, and Helice answered her thus: “Night is blameless. Ask of the Sun concerning the ravished maid: far and wide he sees the things that are done by day.” Appealed to, the Sun said, “To spare you vain trouble, she whom you seek is wedded to Jove’s brother and rules the third realm.”

After long moaning to herself she thus addressed the Thunderer, and in her face there were deep lines of sorrow: “If you remember by whom I got Persephone, she ought to have half of your care. By wandering round the world I have learned naught but the knowledge of the wrong: the ravisher enjoys the reward of his crime. But neither did Persephone deserve a robber husband, nor was it meet that in this fashion we should find a son-in-law. What worse wrong could I have suffered if Gyges [he confuses the hundred-handed brothers with the giants who tried to storm heaven] had been victorious and I his captive, than now I have sustained while you are sceptered king of heaven? But let him escape unpunished; I’ll put up with it nor ask for vengeance; only let him restore her and repair his former deeds by new.”

Jupiter soothed her, and on the plea of love excused the deed. “He is not a son-in-law,” said he, “to put us to shame: I myself am not a whit more noble: my royalty is in the sky, another owns the waters, and another void of chaos [she has wedded Pluto or Hades, himself a king like Jupiter and Neptune. Chaos, the abyss, is used for Hades]. But if haply your mind is set immutably, and you are resolved to break the bonds of wedlock, once contracted, come let us try to do so, if only she has kept her fast; if not, she will be the wife of her infernal spouse.” The Herald God received his orders and assumed his wings: he flew to Tartarus and returning sooner than he was looked for brought tidings sure of what he had seen.

“The ravished Maid,” said he, “broke her fast on three grains enclosed in the tough rind of a pomegranate.” Her rueful parent grieved no less than if her daughter had just been reft from her, and it was long before she was herself again, and hardly then. And thus she spoke: “For me, too, heaven is no home; order that I too be admitted to the Taenarian vale [Tartarus, since there was supposed to be a mouth of hell at Taenarum, a promontory in Laconia].” And she would have done so, if Jupiter had not promised that Persephone should be in heaven for twice three months. Then at last Ceres recovered her looks and her spirits, and set wreaths of corn ears on her hair; and the laggard fields yielded plenteous harvest, and the threshing-floor could hardly hold the high-piled sheaves. White is Ceres’ proper color; put on white robes at Ceres’ festival; now no one wears dun-colored wool.

Id. 13th

The Ides of April belong to Jupiter under the title of Victor: a temple was dedicated to him on that day [vowed by Q. Fabius Maximus, 295 B.C.]. On that day, too, if I mistake not, Liberty began to own a hall well worthy of our people [Atrium ibertatis, not far from the Forum].

XVIII. Kal. Mai. 14th

On the next day steer for safe harbors, you mariner: the wind from the west will be mixed with hail. Yet be that as it may, on that day, a day of hail, Caesar in battle-array smote hip and thigh his foes at Modena [he relieved the siege of Mutina in 43 B.C., against Antony].

XVII. Kal. 15th

When the third day shall have dawned after the Ides of Venus, you pontiffs, offer in sacrifice a pregnant (forda) cow. Forda is a cow with calf and fruitful, so called from ferendo (“bearing”): they think that fetus is derived from the same root. Now are the cattle big with young; the ground, too, is big with seed: to teeming Earth is given a teeming victim. Some are slain in the citadel of Jupiter; the wards (Curiae) get thrice ten cows, and are splashed and drenched with blood in plenty. But when the attendants have torn the calves from the bowels of their dams, and put the cut entrails on the smoking hearths, the eldest (Vestal) Virgin burns the calves in the fire, that their ashes may purify the people on the day of Pales.

When Numa was king, the harvest did not answer to the labor bestowed on it; the husbandman was deceived, and his prayers were offered in vain. For at one time the year was dry, the north winds blowing cold; at another time the fields were rank with ceaseless rain; often at its first sprouting the crop balked its owner, and the light oats overran the choked soil, and the cattle dropped their unripe young before the time, and often the ewe perished in giving birth to her lamb. There was an ancient wood, long unprofaned by the axe, left sacred to the god of Maenalus [Pan]. He to the quiet mind gave answers in the silence of the night. Here Numa sacrificed two ewes. The first fell in honor of Faunus, the second fell in honor of gentle Sleep: the fleeces of both were spread on the hard ground.

Twice the king’s unshorn head was sprinkled with water from a spring; twice he veiled his brows with beechen leaves. He refrained from the pleasures of love; no flesh might be served up to him at table; he might wear no ring on his fingers. Covered with a rough garment he laid him down on the fresh fleeces after worshipping the god in the appropriate words. Meantime, her calm brow wreathed with poppies, Night drew on, and in her train brought darkling dreams. Faunus was come, and setting his hard hoof on the sheep’s fleeces uttered these words on the right side of the bed: “O King, you must appease Earth by the death of two cows, let one heifer yield two lives in sacrifice.” Fear banished sleep: Numa pondered the vision, and revolved in his mind the dark sayings and mysterious commands. His wife [Egeria], the darling of the grove, extricated him from his doubts and said: “What is demanded of you are the inwards of a pregnant cow.” The inwards of a pregnant cow were offered; the year proved more fruitful, and earth and cattle yielded increase.

XVI. Kal. 16th

This day once on a time Cytherea commanded to go faster and hurried the galloping horses down hill, that on the next day the youthful Augustus might receive the sooner the title of emperor for his victories in war. [Venus, as the ancestress of the Julian house, is made to hasten the sun’s setting on April 15, that he might rise the sooner on the 16th, when the title of Imperator was given him for his relief of Mutina.]

XV. Kal. 17th

But when you shall have counted the fourth day after the Ides, the Hyades will set in the sea that night.

XIII. Kal. 19th

When the third morn shall have risen after the disappearance of the Hyades, the horse will be in the Circus, each team in its separate stall. I must therefore [because this loosing of foxes was part of the Games of Ceres] explain the reason why foxes are let loose with torches tied to their burning backs. The land of Carseoli [a Latin town, on the road to Paelignian Corfinium] is cold and not suited for the growth of olives, but the soil is well adapted for corn. By it I journeyed on my way to the Pelignian land, my native country, a country small but always supplied with never-falling water. There I entered, as usual, the house of an old host; Phoebus had already unyoked his spent steeds. My host was wont to tell me many things, and among them matters which were to be embodied in my present work.

“In yonder plain,” said he, and he pointed it out, “a thrifty countrywoman had a small croft, she and her sturdy spouse. He tilled his own land, whether the work called for the plow, or the curved sickle, or the hoe. She would now sweep the cottage, supported on props; now she would set the eggs to be hatched under the plumage of the brooding hen; or she gathered green mallows or white mushrooms, or warmed the low hearth with welcome fire. And yet she diligently employed her hands at the loom, and armed herself against the threats of winter.

"She had a son, in childhood frolicsome, who now had seen twice five years and two more. He in a valley at the end of a willow copse caught a vixen fox which had carried off many farmyard fowls. The captive brute he wrapped in straw and hay, and set a light to her; she escaped the hands that would have burned her. Where she fled, she set fire to the crops that clothed the fields, and a breeze fanned the devouring flames. The incident is forgotten, but a memorial of it survives; for to this day a certain law of Carseoli forbids to name a fox; and to punish the species a fox is burned at the festival of Ceres, thus perishing itself in the way it destroyed the crops.”

XII. Kal. 20th

When next day Memnon’s saffron-robed mother [Aurora] on her rosy steeds shall come to view the far-spread lands, the sun departs from the sign of the leader of the woolly flock, the ram which betrayed Helle; and when he has passed out of that sign, a larger victim meets him. Whether that victim is a cow or a bull, it is not easy to know; the fore part is visible, the hinder part is hid. But whether the sign be a bull or a cow, it enjoys this reward of love against the will of Juno. [Whether is be Io as a cow, or the bull that carried off Europa, Juno is equally offended at the reminder of her husband’s unfaithfulness.]

XI. Kal. 21st

The night has gone, and Dawn comes up. I am called upon to sing of the Parilia, and not in vain shall be the call, if kindly Pales favors me. O kindly Pales, favor me when I sing of pastoral rites, if I pay my respects to your festival. Sure it is that I have often brought with full hands the ashes of the calf and the bean-straws, chaste means of expiation. Sure it is that I have leaped over the flames ranged three in a row, and the moist laurel-bough has sprinkled water on me. The goddess is moved and favors the work I have in hand. My bark is launched; now fair winds fill my sails.

You people, go fetch materials for fumigation from the Virgin’s altar. Vesta will give them; by Vesta’s gift you shall be pure. The materials for fumigation will be the blood of a horse and the ashes of a calf; the third thing will be the empty stalks of hard beans. Shepherd, purify your well-fed sheep at fall of twilight; first sprinkle the ground with water and sweep it with a broom. Deck the sheepfold with leaves and branches fastened to it; adorn the door and cover it with a long festoon. Make blue smoke with pure sulfur, and let the sheep, touched with the smoking sulfur, bleat. Burn wood of male olives and pine and savines, and let the singed laurel crackle in the midst of the hearth. And let a basket of millet accompany cakes of millet; the rural goddess particularly delights in that food. Add viands and a pail of milk, such as she loves; and when the viands have been cut up, pray to sylvan Pales, offering warm milk to her.

Say, “O, take thought alike for the cattle and the cattle’s masters; ward off from my stalls all harm, O let it flee away! If I have fed my sheep on holy ground, or sat me down under a sacred tree, and my sheep unwittingly have browsed on graves; if I have entered a forbidden grove, or the nymphs and the half-goat god have been put to flight at sight of me; if my pruning-knife has robbed a sacred copse of a shady bough, to fill a basket with leaves for sick sheep, pardon my fault. Count it not against me if I have sheltered my flock in a rustic shrine till the hail left off, and may I not suffer for having troubled the pools: forgive it, nymphs, if the trampling of hoofs has made your waters turbid. Do you, goddess, appease for us the springs and their divinities; appease the gods dispersed through every grove. May we not see the Dryads, or Diana’s baths, nor Faunus [it was dangerous to disturb Pan (Faunus) at midday, or to see satyrs and nymphs at their gambols], when he lies in the fields at noon.

Drive far away diseases: may men and beasts be hale, and hale too the sagacious pack of watch-dogs. May I drive home my flocks as numerous as they were at morn, nor sigh as I bring back fleeces snatched from the wolf. Avert dire hunger. Let grass and leaves abound, and water both to wash and drink. Full udders may I milk; may my cheese bring in money; may the sieve of wicker-work give passage to the liquid whey: lustful be the ram, and may his mate conceive and bear, and many a lamb be in my fold. And let the wool grow so soft that it could not fret the skin of girls nor chafe the tenderest hands. May my prayer be granted, and we will year by year make great cakes for Pales, the shepherd’s mistress.” With these things is the goddess to be propitiated; these words pronounce four times, facing the east, and wash your hands in living dew. Then may you set a wooden bowl to serve as mixer, and may quaff the snow-white milk and purple must; anon leap with nimble foot and straining sinews across the burning heaps of crackling straw.

I have set forth the custom; it remains for me to tell its origin. The multitude of explanations creates doubt and thwarts me at the outset. Devouring fire purges all things and melts the dross from out the metals; therefore it purges the shepherd and the sheep. Or are we to suppose that, because all things are composed of opposite principles, fire and water – those two discordant deities – therefore our fathers did conjoin these elements and thought meet to touch the body with fire and sprinkled water? Or did they deem these two important because they contain the source of life, the exile loses the use of them, and by them the bride is made a wife?

Some suppose (though I can hardly do so) that the allusion is to Phaethon and Deucalion’s flood. Some people also say that when shepherds were knocking stones together, a spark suddenly leaped forth; the first indeed was lost, but the second was caught in straw; is that he reason of the flame at the Parilia? Or is the custom rather based on the piety of Aeneas, whom, even in the hour of defeat, the fire allowed to pass unscathed? Or is it haply nearer the truth that, when Rome was founded, orders were given to transfer the household gods to the new houses, and in changing homes the husbandmen set fire to their country houses and to the cottages they were about to abandon, and that they and their cattle leaped through the flames? Which happens even to the present time on the birthday of Rome [the Palilia].

The subject of itself furnishes a theme for the poet. We have arrived at the foundation of the City. Great Quirinus, help me to sing your deeds. Already the brother of Numitor [Amulius] had suffered punishment, and all the shepherd folk were subject to the twins. The twins agreed to draw the swains together and found a city; the doubt was which of the two should found it. Romulus said, “There needs no contest. Great faith is put in birds; let’s try the birds.”

The proposal was accepted. One of the two betook him to the rocks of the wooded Palatine; the other hied at morn to the top of the Aventine. Remus saw six birds; Romulus saw twice six, one after the other: they stood by their compact, and Romulus was accorded the government of the city. A suitable day was chosen on which he should mark out the line of the walls with the plow. The festival of Pales was at hand; on that day the work began. A trench was dug down to the solid rock; fruits of the earth were thrown into the bottom of it, and with them earth fetched from the neighboring soil. The trench was filled up with mould, and on the top was set an altar, and a fire was duly lit on a new hearth. Then pressing on the plow-handle he drew a furrow to mark out the line of the walls: the yoke was borne by a white cow and snow-white steer.

The king spoke thus: “O Jupiter, and Father Mavors, and Mother Vesta, stand by me as I found the city! O take heed, all you gods whom piety bids summon! Under your auspices may this my fabric rise! May it enjoy long life and dominion over a conquered world! May East and West be subject unto it!” So he prayed. Jupiter vouchsafed omens by thunder on the left and lightnings flashing in the leftward sky. Glad at the augury, the citizens laid the foundations, and in short time the new wall stood. The work was urged on by Celer, whom Romulus himself had named and said, “Celer, be this your care; let no man cross the walls nor the trench which the share has made: who dares to do so, put him to death.” Ignorant of this, Remus began to mock the lowly walls and say, “Shall these protect the people?” And straightway he leaped across them. Instantly Celer struck the rash man with a shovel. Covered with blood, Remus sank on the stony ground.

When the king heard of this, he smothered the springing tears and kept his grief locked up within his breast. He would not weep in public; he set an example of fortitude, and “So fare,” quoth he, “the foe who shall cross my walls.” Yet he granted funeral honors, and could no longer bear to check his tears, and the affection which he had dissembled was plain to see. When they set down the bier, he gave it a last kiss, and said, “Snatched from your brother, loath to part, brother, farewell!” With that he anointed the body before committing it to the flames. Faustulus and Acca, her mournful hair unbound, did the same. Then the Quirites, though not yet known by that name, wept for the youth, and last of all a light was put to the pyre, wet with their tears. A city arose destined to set its victorious foot upon the neck of the whole earth; who at that time could have believed such a prophecy? Rule the universe, O Rome, and may you often have several of that name, and whensoever you stand sublime in a conquered world, may all else reach not up to your shoulders!

IX. Kal. 23rd

I have told of Pales, I will now tell of the festival of the Vinalia; but there is one day interposed between the two. You common wenches, celebrate the divinity of Venus: Venus favors the earnings of ladies of a liberal profession. Offer incense and pray for beauty and popular favor; pray to be charming and witty; give to the Queen her own myrtle and the mint she loves, and bands or rushes hid in clustered roses. Now is the time to throng her temple next the Colline gate; the temple takes its name from the Sicilian hill. When Claudius carried Arethusian Syracuse [M. Claudius Marcellus captured Syracuse, 212 B.C.] by force of arms, and captured you, too, Eryx, in war, Venus was transferred to Rome in obedience to an oracle of the long-lived Sibyl, and chose to be worshipped in the city of her offspring.

You ask, Why then do they call the Vinalia a festival of Venus? And why does that day belong to Jupiter? There was war to decide whether Turnus or Aeneas should be the husband of Latin Amata’s daughter: Turnus sued the help of the Etruscans. Mezentius was famous and a haughty man-at-arms; mighty was he on horseback, but mightier still on foot. Turnus and the Rutulians attempted to win him to their side. To these overtures the Tuscan chief thus replied: “My valor costs me dear. Witness my wounds and those weapons which oft I have bedabbled with my blood. You ask my help: divide with me the next new wine from your vats – surely no great reward. Delay there need be none: it is yours to give, and mine to conquer. How would Aeneas wish you had refused my suit!”

The Rutulians consented. Mezentius donned his arms, Aeneas donned them too, and thus he spoke to Jupiter. “The foe has pledged his vintage to the Tyrrhenian king; Jupiter, you shall have the new wine from the Latin vines.” The better vows prevailed: huge Mezentius fell, and with his breast indignant smote the ground. Autumn came round, stained with the trodden grapes; the wine that was his due was justly paid to Jupiter. Hence the day is called the Vinalia: Jupiter claims it for his own, and loves to be present at his own feast.

VII. Kal. 25th

When April shall have six days left, the season of spring will be in mid course, and in vain will you look for the Ram of Helle, daughter of Athamas; the rains will be your sign, and the constellation of the Dog will rise.

On that day, as I was returning from Nomentum to Rome, a white-robed crowd blocked the middle of the road. A flamen was on his way to the grove of ancient Mildew (Robigo), to throw the entrails of a dog and the entrails of a sheep into the flames. Straightway I went up to him to inform myself of the rite. Your flamen, O Quirinus, pronounced these words: “You scaly Mildew, spare the sprouting corn, and let the smooth top quiver on the surface of the ground. O let the crops, nursed by the stars of a propitious sky, grow till they are ripe for the sickle. No feeble power is yours: the corn on which you have set your mark, the sad husbandman gives up for lost. Nor winds, nor showers, nor glistening frost, that nips the sallow corn, harm it so much as when the sun warms the wet stalks; then, dread goddess, is the hour to wreak your wrath.

O spare, I pray, and take your scabby hands from off the harvest! Harm not the tilth; it is enough that you have the power to harm. Grip not the tender crops, but rather grip the hard iron. Forestall the destroyer. Better that you should gnaw at swords and baneful weapons. There is no need of them: the world is at peace. Now let the rustic gear, the rakes, and the hard hoe, and the curved share be burnished bright; but let rust defile the arms, and when one essays to draw the sword from the scabbard, let him feel it stick from long disuse. But do not you profane the corn, and ever may the husbandman be able to pay his vows to you in your absence.” So he spoke.

On his right hand hung a napkin with a loose nap, and he had a bowl of wine and a casket of incense. The incense, and wine, and sheep’s guts, and the foul entrails of a filthy dog, he put upon the hearth – we saw him do it. Then to me he said, “You ask why an unwonted victim [the dog] is assigned to these rites?” Indeed, I had asked the question. “Learn the cause,” the flamen said. “There is a Dog (they call it the Icarian dog) [the dog Maera, which discovered the body of his master Icarius], and when that constellation rises the earth is parched and dry, and the crop ripens too soon. This dog is put on the altar instead of the starry dog, and the only reason why this happens is his name.”

IIV. Pr. Kal. 28th - 30th

When the spouse of Tithonus has left the brother of Phrygian Assaracus [according to Homer, Tithonus was a distant cousin of Assaracus], and thrice has lifted up her radiant light in the vast firmament, there comes a goddess decked with garlands of a thousand varied flowers, and the stage enjoys a customary license of mirth. The rites of Flora also extend into the Kalends of May. Then I will resume the theme: now a loftier task is laid upon me. O Vesta, take your day! Vesta has been received in the home of her kinsman: so have the Fathers righteously decreed. Phoebus owns part of the house; another part has been given up to Vesta; what remains is occupied by Caesar himself. Long live the laurels of the Palatine! Long live the house wreathed with oaken boughs! A single house holds three eternal gods. [Augustus built a chapel of Vesta in his own house on the Palatine.]


You ask whence I suppose the name of the month of May to be derived. The reason is not quite clearly known to me. As a wayfarer stands in doubt, and knows not which way to go, when he sees roads in all directions, so, because it is possible to assign different reasons, I know not where to turn; the very abundance of choice is an embarrassment. Declare to me, you who haunt the springs of Aganippian Hippocrene, those dear traces of the Medusaean steed [Aganippe and Hippocrene, two springs associated with the Muses, on Mount Helicon. Hippocrene was supposed to have gushed from the rock where the hoof of Pegasus struck the ground]. The goddesses disagreed; of them Polyhymnia began the first; the others were silent, and noted her saying in their mind. “After chaos, as soon as the three elements were given to the world, and the whole creation resolved itself into new species, the earth subsided by its own weight, and drew the seas after it, but the sky was borne to the highest regions by its own lightness; the sun, too, not checked by gravity, and the stars, and you, you horses of the moon, you bounded high. But for a long time neither did Earth yield pride of place to Sky, nor did the other heavenly bodies to Phoebus; their honors were all equal.

“Often someone of the common sort of gods would dare to sit upon the throne which you, Saturn, owned; not one of the upstart deities took the outer side of Ocean, and Themis was often relegated to the lowest place, until Honor and comely Reverence with her calm look united in lawful wedlock. From them sprang Majesty, them the goddess reckons her parents, she who became great on the very day she was born. Without delay she took her seat high in the midst of Olympus, a golden figure far seen in purple vest. With her sat Modesty and Fear. You might see every divinity modelling his aspect upon hers. Straightway respect for dignities made its way into their minds; the worthy got their due, and nobody thought much of himself. This state of things in heaven lasted for many a year, till fate banished the elder god from heaven’s citadel.

Earth brought forth the Giants, a fierce brood, enormous monsters, who durst assault Jove’s mansion; she gave them a thousand hands, and snakes for legs, and said, ‘Take arms against the great gods.’ They set themselves to pile up the mountains to the topmost stars and to harass great Jupiter in war. From heaven’s citadel Jupiter hurled thunderbolts and turned the ponderous weights upon their movers. These weapons of the gods protected Majesty well; she survived and has been worshipped ever since. Hence she sits beside Jupiter, she is Jupiter’s most faithful guardian: she assures to him his sceptre’s peaceful tenure. She came also to earth. Romulus and Numa worshipped her, and other after them, each in his time. She keeps fathers and mothers in honor due; she bears boys and maidens company; she enhances the lictor’s rods and the ivory chair of office; she rides aloft in triumph on the festooned steeds.”

Polyhymnia ended. Clio and Thalia, mistress of the curved lyre, approved her words. Urania took up the tale; all kept silence and not a voice but hers could be heard. “Great was of old the reverence for the hoary head, and wrinkled old age was valued at its true worth. Martial exploits and doughty wars were work for youths, who in defense of their own gods kept watch and ward. In strength unequal, and for arms unfit, age often stood the country in good stead by its advice.

The senate-house was then open only to men of mature years, and the very name of senate signifies a ripe old age. The elders legislated for the people, and certain laws defined the age at which office might be sought [the first such law was passed in 180 B.C. by L. Villius]. An elder man used to walk between younger men, at which they did not repine, and if he had only one companion, the elder walked on the inner side. Who would dare to talk bawdy in the presence of an old man? Old age conferred a right of censorship. This Romulus perceived, and on the men of his choice he bestowed the title of Fathers: on them the government of the new city was conferred. Hence I incline to think that the elders (maiores) gave their own name to the month of May: they considered the interests of their own class. And Numitor may have said, ‘Romulus, grant this month to the old men,’ and the grandson may not have been able to resist his grandsire. No slight proof of the proposed honor is furnished by the next month, the month of June, which is named after young men (iuvenes).”

Then Calliope, her unkempt hair bound up with ivy, thus began, first of her choir: “Tethys, the Titaness, was wedded of old by Ocean, who encompasses the earth, far as it stretches, with his flowing waters. Their daughter Pelione, as report has it, was united to Atlas, who upholds the sky, and she gave birth to the Pleiads. Of them Maia is said to have surpassed her sisters in beauty and to have lain with Sovereign Jove. She on the ridge of Mount Cyllene, wooded with cypresses, gave birth to him who speeds through the air on winged foot. Him the Arcadians, and hurrying Ladon, and huge Maenalus – that land accounted older than the moon – worship with honors due. An exile from Arcadia, Evander came to the Latin fields and brought his gods on shipboard.

“On the spot where now stands Rome, the capital of the world, there were trees, and grass, and a few sheep, and here and there a cottage. When they had come hither, ‘Halt you,’ said his prophetic mother, ‘for that rural scene will be place of empire.’ The Nonacrian [a city of Arcadia] hero obeyed the prophetess his mother, and halted as a stranger in a foreign land. He taught the natives many sacred rites, but first of all the rites of two-horned Faunus and of the wing-footed god [Mercury (Hermes)]. Faunus, you half-goat god, you are worshipped by the Luperci in their loin-cloths what time the severed hides purify the crowded streets.

“But you bestowed your mother’s name upon the month, O you inventor of the curved lyre, patron of thieves. Nor was this the first proof you gave of your affection: you are supposed to have given to the lyre seven strings, the number of the Pleiads.” Calliopea ended in her turn, and was praised by the voices of her sisters. What am I to do? Each side has the same number of votes. May the favor of all the Muses alike attend me, and let me never praise anyone of them more or less than the rest.

Kal. Mai. 1st

Begin the work with Jupiter. On the first night is visible the star that tended the cradle of Jupiter [Capella]; the rainy sign of the Olenian [perhaps from Olene in Achaea] She-goat rises. She has her place in the sky as a reward for the milk she gave the babe. The Naiad Amalthea, famous on the Cretan Mount Ida, is said to have hidden Jupiter in the woods. She owned a she-goat, conspicuous among the Dictaean flocks, the fair dam of two kids; her airy horns bent over on her back; her udder was such as the nurse of Jove might have. She suckled the god. But she broke a horn on a tree, and was short of half her charm. The nymph picked it up, wrapped it in fresh herds, and carried it, full of fruit, to the lips of Jove. He, when he had gained the kingdom of heaven and sat on his father’s throne, and there was nothing greater than unconquered Jove, made his nurse and her horn of plenty into stars: the horn still keeps its mistress’ name. [The horn of Amalthea, or cornucopiae, “Horn of Plenty,” was supposed to produce for its possessor whatever he wished.]

The Kalends of May witnessed the foundation of an altar to the Guardian Lares, together with small images of the gods. Curius indeed had vowed them, but length of time destroys many things, and age prolonged wears out a stone. The reason for the epithet [praestites, “guardians,” because they “stand before” and so guard] applied to them is that they guard all things by their eyes. They also stand for us, and preside over the City walls, and they are present and bring us aid. But a dog, carved out of the same stone, used to stand before their feet. What was the reason for its standing with the Lar? Both guard the house: both are faithful to their master: cross-roads are dear to the god [Lares Compitales], cross-roads are dear to dogs: the Lar and Diana’s pack give chase to thieves; and wakeful are the Lares, and wakeful too are dogs. I sought for the images of the twin gods, but by the force of year-long time they had decayed. In the City there are a thousand Lares, and the Genius of the chief, who handed them over to the public; the parishes worship the three divinities. [Augustus made 265 vici in Rome, and each had a shrine of the Lares Compitales. The Lares were two: and the figure of Augustus was set up with them.]

Whither do I stray? The month of August has a rightful claim to that subject of my verse: meantime the Good Goddess [the Good Goddess was formerly an Earth-goddess] must be the theme of my song. There is a natural knoll, which gives its name to the place; they call it the Rock [the peak of the Aventine]; it forms a good part of the hill. On it Remus took his stand in vain, what time, birds of the Palatine, you vouchsafed the first omens to his brother. There, on the gentle slope of the ridge, the Senate founded a temple which abhors the eyes of males. It was dedicated to an heiress of the ancient name of Clausi, who in her virgin body had never known a man [Livia is the wife of Augustus]; Livia restored it, that she might imitate her husband and follow him in everything.

VI. Non. 2nd

When next Hyperion’s daughter on the steeds of morn shall lift her rosy lamp, and the stars are put to flight, the cold north-west wind will sleek the topmost corn-ears, and white sails will put out from Calabrian waters. But no sooner shall the dusk of twilight lead on the night, than no single part of the whole flock [alluding to the derivation from hus (pig), whence they were called suculae] of the Hyades will be invisible. The head of the Bull sparkles radiant with seven flames, which the Grecian sailor calls the Hyades after the word for rain (hyein). Some think that they nursed Bacchus; some believe that they are the granddaughters of Tethys and old Ocean.

Not yet did Atlas stand bearing the burden of Olympus upon his shoulders when Hyas was born, of loveliness far-seen; to him and to the nymphs did Aethra, of the stock of Ocean, give birth in due time, but Hyas was the elder. While the down was fresh upon his cheeks, he was the terror of the bucks that shied at his snares, and he was glad to bag a hare. But when with his years his manly spirit grew, he dared to close with boars and shaggy lionesses, and while he sought out the lair and the whelps of a lioness with young, he himself fell a blood-stained prey to the Libyan brute. For Hyas his mother wept, and for Hyas his sad sisters, and Atlas, soon to bow his neck to the burden of the pole, yet the love of the sisters exceeded that of both parents: it won for them a place in the sky, but Hyas gave them their name (of Hyades).

“Come, Mother of Flowers, that we may honor you with merry games; last month I put off giving you your due. You begin in April and pass into the time of May [the Floralia extended over six days, April 28 to May 3]; the one month claims you as it flies, the other as it comes. Since the borders of the months are yours and appertain to you, either of the two is a fitting time to sing your praises. The games of the circus and the victor’s palm, acclaimed by the spectators, fall in this month; let my song run side by side with the shows in the circus. Tell me yourself who you are; the opinion of men is fallacious; you will be the best voucher of your own name.”

So I spoke, and the goddess answered my question thus, and while she spoke, her lips breathed vernal roses: “I who now am called Flora was formerly Chloris: a Greek letter of my name is corrupted in the Latin speech. Chloris I was, a nymph of the happy fields where, as you have heard, dwelt fortunate men of old. Modesty shrinks from describing my figure; but it procured the hand of a god for my mother’s daughter. It was spring, and I was roaming; Zephyr caught sight of me: I retired; he pursued and I fled; but he was the stronger, and Boreas had given his brother full right of rape by daring to carry off the prize from the house of Erechtheus [Boreas carried off Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus]. However, he made amends for his violence by giving me the name of bride, and in my marriage-bed I have naught to complain of. I enjoy perpetual spring; most buxom is the year ever; ever the tree is clothed with leaves, the ground with pasture.

“In the fields that are my dower, I have a fruitful garden, fanned by the breeze and watered by a spring of running water. This garden my husband filled with noble flowers and said, ‘Goddess, be queen of flowers.’ Oft did I wish to count the colors in the beds, but could not; the number was past counting. Soon as the dewy rime is shaken from the leaves, and the varied foliage is warmed by the sunbeams, the Hours assemble, clad in dappled weeds, and cull my gifts in light baskets. Straightway the Graces draw near, and twine garlands and wreaths to bind their heavenly hair. I was the first to scatter new seeds among the countless peoples; till then the earth had been of but one color. I was the first to make a flower out of Therapnaean blood, and on its petals the lament remains inscribed. [Purple iris was said to have sprung from the blood of Hyacinthus, slain by Apollo.] You, too, Narcissus, have a name in the trim gardens, unhappy you in that you had not a double of yourself. [Narcissus, a beautiful youth, died for love of his own image reflected in a pool.] What need to tell of Crocus [another fair youth, who was turned into the flower so named], and Attis [violets were thought to have sprung from the blood of his wound], and the son of Cinyras [Adonis: the red anemone is said to have sprung from his blood], from whose wounds by my art beauty springs?

“Mars, too, was brought to birth my contrivance; perhaps you do not know it, and I pray that Jupiter, who thus far knows it not, may never know it. Holy Juno [Juno Lucina] grieved that Jupiter had not needed her services when Minerva was born without a mother. She went to complain of her husband’s doings to Ocean; tired by the journey, she halted at my door. As soon as I set eyes on her, ‘What brings you here,’ I said, ‘daughter of Saturn?’ She set forth her journey’s goal, adding its reason. I consoled her with friendly words. ‘My grief,’ quoth she, ‘is not to be assuaged with words. If Jupiter has become a father without the use of a wife, and unites both titles in his single person, why should I despair of becoming a mother without a husband, and of bringing forth without contact with a man, always supposing that I am chaste? I will try all the drugs in the wide world, and I will explore the seas and the depths of Tartarus.’ Her speech would have flowed on, but on my face there was a sudden look of doubt. ‘You seem, nymph,’ said she, ‘to have some power to help me.’

“Thrice did I wish to promise help, but thrice my tongue was tied: the anger of great Jupiter filled me with fear. ‘Help me, I pray,’ she said, ‘the helper’s name will be kept secret, and I will call on the divinity of the Stygian water to be my witness. [The great oath of the gods was taken by this water “eldest daughter of Oceanus” (Hesiod, Theog. 776).]’ ‘Your wish,’ quoth I, ‘will be accomplished by a flower that was sent me from the fields of Olenus. It is the only flower of the kind in my garden.’ He who gave it me said, ‘Touch also with this a barren heifer; she will be a mother.’ I touched, and without delay she was a mother. Straightway I plucked with my thumb the clinging flower and touched Juno, and she conceived when it touched her bosom. And now being with child, she passed to Thrace and left the shores of the Propontis; her wish was granted, and Mars was born. In memory of the birth he owed to me, he said, ‘Do you also have a place in the city of Romulus.’

“Perhaps you may think that I am queen only of dainty garlands; but my divinity has to do also with the tilled fields. If the crops have blossomed well, the threshing-floor will be piled high; if the vines have blossomed well, there will be wine; if the olive-trees have blossomed well, most buxom will be the year; and the fruitage will be according to the time of blossoming. If once the blossom is nipped, the vetches and beans wither, and your lentils, O Nile that comes from afar, do likewise wither. Wines also bloom, laboriously stored in great cellars, and a scum covers their surface in the jars. Honey is my gift. It is I who call the winged creatures, which yield honey, to the violet, and the clover, and the grey thyme. It is I, too, who discharge the same function when in youthful years spirits run riot and bodies are robust.”

I silently admired her as she spoke thus. But she said, “You are free to learn the answers to any questions you may put.” “Say, goddess,” I replied, “what is the origin of the games.” Scarce had I ended when she answered me. “The other instruments of luxury were not yet in vogue: the rich man owned either cattle or broad lands; hence came the name for rich, and hence the name for money itself [locuples, i.e. loco-ples, from locus and the root of plenus, first in the sense of owning landed property; pecunia, from pecus]. But already some amassed wealth from unlawful sources: it had become a custom to graze the public pastures, the thing was suffered long, and no penalty was exacted.

Common folk had no champion to protect their share in public property; and at last it was deemed the sign of a poor spirit in a man to graze his cattle on his own land. Such license was brought to the notice of the plebeian aediles, the Publicii [L. and Marcus Publicius Malleolus, aediles, 240 B.C.]; till then men’s hearts had failed them. The case was tried before the people: the guilty were fined: the champions were praised for their public spirit. Part of the fine was given to me; and the winners of the suit instituted new games with great applause. With part of the fine they contracted for making a way up the slope, which then was a steep rock: now it is a serviceable road, and they call it the Publician road [a road up the Aventine, made by L. and M. Publicii, as aediles].”

I had thought that the shows were annual; the goddess denied it and added to her former discourse a second speech. “We, too, are touched by honor; we delight in festivals and altars; we heavenly beings are a greedy gang. Often by sinning has a man disposed the gods against him, and a sacrificial victim has been a sop for crimes. Often have I seen Jupiter, when he was just about to launch his thunderbolts, hold his hand on the receipt of incense. But if we are neglected, we avenge the wrong by heavenly penalties, and our wrath exceeds just bounds. Remember Thestiades [Meleager, son of Oeneus, king of Calydon, by Althaea, daughter of Thestius]: he was burnt by flames afar; the reason was that no fire blazed on Phoebe’s altar. Remember Tantalides [Agamemnon, as descended from Tantalus]: the same goddess detained the fleet; she a virgin, yet she twice avenged her slighted hearths [in the cases of Oeneus and of Agamemnon]. Unhappy Hippolytus, fain would you have worshipped Dione [Venus (Aphrodite)] when your scared steeds were rending you asunder! It were long to tell of cases of forgetfulness redressed by forfeitures.

“I myself was once neglected by the Roman senate. What was I to do? By what could I show my resentment? What punishment exact for the slight put on me? In my gloom I relinquished my office. I guarded not the countryside, and the fruitful garden was naught to me. The lilies had dropped; you might see the violets withering, and the tendrils of the crimson saffron languishing. Often Zephyr said to me, ‘Spoil not your own dowry.’ But my dowry was worthless in my sight. The olive-trees were in blossom; the wanton winds blighted them: the crops were in blossom; the crop was blasted by the hail: the vines were promising; the sky grew black under the south wind, and the leaves were shaken down by a sudden shower. I did not will it so, nor am I cruel in my anger; but I did not care to ward of these ills. The senate assembled and voted an annual festival to my divinity if the year should prove fruitful. I accepted the vow. The consuls [consuls 173 B.C.] Laenas and Postumius celebrated the games which had been vowed to me.”

I was about to ask why these games are marked by greater wantonness and broader jests; but it occurred to me that the divinity is not strait-laced, and that the gifts she brings lend themselves to delights. The brows of wassailers are wreathed with stitched garlands, and the polished table is buried under a shower of roses. Maudlin the guest dances, his hair bound with linden bark, and all unwitting plies the tipsy art. Maudlin the lover sings at the hard threshold of his lady fair: soft garlands crown his perfumed locks. No serious business does he do whose brow is garlanded; no water of the running brook is quaffed by such as twine their hair with flowers: so long as your stream, Achelous, was dashed with no juice of grapes, none cared to pluck the rose [Achelous is used for water simply].

Bacchus loves flowers; that he delights in a floral crown, you may know from Ariadne’s clustered stars. A rakish stage fits Flora well; she is not, believe me she is not, to be counted among your buskined goddesses. The reason why a crowd of drabs frequents these games is not hard to discover. She is none of your glum, none of your high-flown ones: she wishes her rites to be open to the common herd; and she warns us to use life’s flower, while it still blooms: for the thorn, she reminds us, is flouted when the roses have fallen away.

But why is it that whereas white robes are given out at the festival of Ceres, Flora is neatly clad in attire of many colors? Is it because the harvest whitens when the ears are ripe, but flowers are of every hue and every shape? She nodded assent and at he motion of her tresses the flowers dropped down, as falls the rose cast by a hand upon a table.

There yet remained the lights, the reason whereof escaped me; when the goddess thus removed my doubts: “Lights are thought to befit my days either because the fields glow with purple flowers; or because neither flowers nor flames are of a dull color, and the splendor of both attracts the eye; or because nocturnal license befits my revels. The third reason comes nearest the truth.”

“There is yet a small matter about which it remains, with your leave, to put a question.” “You have my leave,” said she. “Why, instead of Libyan lionesses, are unwarlike roes and shy hares pent in your nets [that is, hunted in the arena at the Floralia]?” She replied that her province was not woods, but gardens and fields, where no fierce beast may come.

Her tale was ended, and she vanished into thin air. A fragrance lingered; you could know a goddess had been there. That Naso’s lay may bloom for ever, O strew, I pray you, goddess, your boons upon my breast!

V. Non. 3rd.

In less than four nights the semi-human Chiron, who is compounded with the body of a tawny horse, will put forth his stars [the Centaur]. Pelion is a mountain of Haemonia [Thessaly] which looks southward: its top is green with pinewoods: the rest is draped with oaks. It was the home of Philyra’s son [Chiron]. There remains an ancient rocky cave, which they say was inhabited by the righteous old man. He is believed to have employed, in strumming the lyre, those hands which were one day to send Hector to death. Alcides had come after accomplishing a part of his labors, and little but the last orders remained for the hero to obey. You might see standing by chance together the two masters of the fate of Troy, on the one side the boyish descendant of Aeacus, on the other the son of Jupiter [the descendant of Aeacus is Achilles. Hercules, “son of Jupiter,” destroyed Troy, because Laomedon had broken faith with him]. The Philyrean hero received Hercules hospitably and asked the reason of his coming, and Hercules informed him.

Meantime Chiron looked askance at the club and lion’s skin and said, “Man worthy of those arms, and arms worthy the man!” Nor could Achilles keep his hands from daring to touch the skin all shaggy with bristles. And while the old man fingered the shafts clotted with poison [Hercules poisoned his arrows with the hydra’s blood], one of the arrows fell out of the quiver and stuck in his left foot. Chiron groaned and drew the steel from his body; Alcides groaned too, and so did the Haemonian boy. The centaur himself, however, compounded herbs gathered on the Pagasaean hills and tended the wound with diverse remedies; but the gnawing poison defied all remedies, and the bane soaked into the bones and the whole body.

The blood of the Lernaean hydra, mingled with the Centaur’s blood, left no time for rescue. Achilles, bathed in tears, stood before him as before a father; so would he have wept for Peleus at he point of death. Often he fondled the feeble hands with his own loving hands; the teacher reaped the reward of the character he had molded. Often Achilles kissed him, and often said to him as he lay there, “Live, I pray you, and do not forsake me, dear father.” The ninth day was come when you, most ighteous Chiron, girded your body with twice seven stars [the constellation of Centaurus].

III. Non. 5th

The curved Lyre would wish to follow the Centaur, but the road is not yet clear. The third night will be the proper time.

Pr. Non. 6th

The Scorpion will be visible from its middle in the sky, when we say that to-morrow the Nones will dawn.

VII. Id 9th

When from that day the Evening Star shall thrice have shown his beauteous face, and thrice the vanquished stars shall have retreated before Phoebus, there will be celebrated an olden rite, the nocturnal Lemuria: it will bring offerings to the silent ghosts. The year was formerly shorter, and the pious rites of purification (februa) were unknown, and you, two-headed Janus, were not the leader of the months. Yet even then people brought gifts to the ashes of the dead, as their due, and the grandson paid his respects to the tomb of his buried grandsire. It was the month of May, so named after our forefathers (maiores), and it still retains part of the ancient custom.

When midnight has come and lends silence to sleep, and dogs and all you varied fowls are hushed, the worshipper who bears the olden rite in mind and fears the gods arises; no knots constrict his feet; and he makes a sign with his thumb in the middle of his closed fingers [the charm to avert the evil eye], lest in his silence an unsubstantial shade should meet him. And after washing his hands clean in spring water, he turns, and first he receives black beans and throws them away with face averted; but while he throws them, he says: “These I cast; with these beans I redeem me and mine.” This he says nine times, without looking back: the shade is thought to gather the beans, and to follow unseen behind. Again he touches water, and clashes Temesan [copper mines near Temesa in Bruttium] bronze, and asks the shade to go out of his house. When he has said nine times, “Ghost of my fathers, go forth!” he looks back, and thinks that he has duly performed the sacred rites.

Why the day was called Lemuria, and what is the origin of the name, escapes me; it is for some god to discover it. Son of the Pleiad [Hermes (Mercury), son of Maia], you reverend master of the puissant wand, inform me: often have you seen the palace of the Stygian Jove. At my prayer the Bearer of the Herald’s Staff (Caducifer) was come. Learn the cause of the name; the god himself made it known. When Romulus had buried his brother’s ghost in the grave, and the obsequies had been paid to the too nimble Remus, unhappy Faustulus and Acca, with streaming hair, sprinkled the burnt bones with their tears. Then at twilight’s fall they sadly took the homeward way, and flung themselves on their hard couch, just as it was.

The gory ghost of Remus seemed to stand at the bedside and to speak these words in a faint murmur: “Look on me, who shared the half, the full half of your tender care, behold what I am come to, and what I was of late! A little while ago I might have been the foremost of my people, if but the birds had assigned the throne to me. Now I am an empty wraith, escaped from the flames of the pyre; that is all that remains of the once great Remus. Alas, where is my father Mars? If only you spoke the truth, and it was he who sent the wild beast’s dugs to suckle the abandoned babes. A citizen’s rash hand undid him whom the she-wolf saved; O how far more merciful was she! Ferocious Celer [who killed Remus, according to Ovid], may you yield up your cruel soul through wounds, and pass like me all bloody underneath the earth! My brother willed not this: his love’s a match for mine: he let fall upon my death – it was all he could – his tears. Pray him by your tears, by your fosterage, that he would celebrate a day by signal honor done to me.”

As the ghost gave this charge, they yearned to embrace him and stretched forth their arms; the slippery shade escaped the clasping hands. When the vision fled and carried slumber with it, the pair reported to the king his brother’s words. Romulus complied, and gave the name Remuria to the day on which due worship is paid to buried ancestors. In the course of ages the rough letter, which stood at the beginning of the name, was changed into the smooth; and soon the souls of the silent multitude were also called Lemures: that is the meaning of the word, that is the force of the expression. But the ancients shut the temples on these days, as even now you see them closed at the season sacred to the dead. The times are unsuitable for the marriage both of a widow and a maid: she who marries then, will not live long. For the same reason, if you give weight to proverbs, the people say bad women wed in May. But these three festivals fall about the same time, though not on three consecutive days.

V. Id. 11th

If you look for Boeotian Orion in the middle of these three days, you will be disappointed. I must now sing of the cause of the constellation. Jupiter, and his brother who reigns in the deep sea, and Mercury, were journeying together. It was the time when the yoked kine draw home the upturned plow, and the lamb lies down and drinks the milk of the full ewe. An old man Hyrieus, who cultivated a tiny farm, chanced to see them as he stood before his little cottage; and thus he spoke: “Long is the way, but short the hours of daylight left, and my door is open to strangers.” He enforced his words by a look, and again invited them. They accepted the offer and dissembled their divinity. They passed beneath the old man’s roof, begrimed with black smoke; a little fire was glimmering in the log of yesterday. He knelt and blew up the flames with his breath, and drawing forth the stumps of torches he chopped them up. Two pipkins stood on the fire; the lesser contained beans, the other kitchen herbs; both boiled, each under the pressure of its lid. While he waited, he served out red wine with shaky hand.

The god of the sea received the first cup. When he had drained it, “Now serve the drink,” said he, “to Jupiter in order.” At the word Jupiter the old man paled. When he recovered himself, he sacrificed the ox that plowed his poor land, and he roasted it in a great fire; and the wine which as a boy he had laid up in his early years, he brought forth stored in its smoky jar. And straightway they reclined on mattresses stuffed with river sedge and covered with linen, but lowly still. The table shone, now with the viands, now with the wine set down on it: the bowl was of red earthenware, the cups were beechen wood. Quoth Jupiter: “If you has any fancy, choose: all will be yours.” The calm old man thus spoke: “I had a dear wife, whose love I won in the flower of early youth. Where is she now? you ask. The urn her ashes holds. To her I swore, and called you gods to witness, ‘you shall be my only spouse.’ I gave my word, and I keep it. But a different wish is mine: I would be, not a husband, but a father.”

All the gods assented; all took their stand at the bullock’s hide – I am ashamed to describe what followed – then they covered the reeking hide by throwing earth on it: when ten months had passed, a boy was born. Him Hyrieus called Urion on account of the mode of his begetting: the first letter of his name has lost its ancient sound. He grew to an enormous size; the Delian goddess took him to be her companion; he was her guardian, he her attendant. Heedless words excite the wrath of gods. “There is no wild beast,” said he, “which I cannot master.” Earth egged on a scorpion: its mission was to attack the Goddess Mother of Twins with its hooked fangs. Orion threw himself in the way. Latona set him among the shining stars, and said, “Take your well-earned reward.”

IV. Id. 12th

But why do Orion and the other stars haste to withdraw from the sky? And why does night shorten her course? Why does the bright day, heralded by the Morning Star, raise its radiant light faster than usual from the watery main? Do I err, or was there a clash of arms? I err not, there was a clash of arms, Mars comes, and at his coming he gave the sign of war. The Avenger descends himself from heaven to behold his own honors and his splendid temple in the forum of Augustus. [The future Augustus had vowed a temple to Mars Ultor, if he should avenge the death of Julius Caesar.] The god is huge, and so is the structure: no otherwise ought Mars to dwell in his son’s city. That shrine is worthy of trophies won from giants; from its might the Marching God fitly open his fierce campaigns, whether an impious foe shall assail us from the eastern world or whether another will have to be vanquished where the sun goes down.

The god of arms surveys the pinnacles of the lofty edifice, and approves that the highest places should be filled by the unconquered gods. He surveys on the doors weapons of diverse shapes, and arms of lands subdued by his soldiery. On this side he sees Aeneas laden with his dear burden, and many an ancestor of the noble Julian line. On the other side he sees Romulus carrying on his shoulders the arms of the conquered leader [the spolia opima taken from Acron], and their famous deeds inscribed beneath the statues arranged in order.

He beholds, too, the name of Augustus on the front of the temple; and the building seems to him still greater, when he reads the name of Caesar. Augustus has vowed it in his youth at the time when he took up arms in duty’s cause [to punish Brutus and Cassius]. Deeds so great were worthy to inaugurate a prince’s reign. While the loyal troops stood on the one side, and the conspirators on the other, he stretched forth his hands and spoke these words: “If my father [Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus], Vesta’s priest, is my warrant for waging war, and I do now prepare to avenge both his divinity and hers, come, Mars, and glut the sword with knavish blood, and grant your favor to the better cause. You shall receive a temple, and shall be called Avenger, when victory is mine.” So he vowed, and returned rejoicing from the routing of the foe.

Nor is he content to have earned once for all the surname of Avenger for Mars: he tracks down the standards detained by the hands of the Parthians. These were a nation whom their plains, their horses, and their arrows rendered safe, and surrounding rivers made inaccessible. The pride of the nation had been fostered by the deaths of Crassus and his son, when soldiers, general, and standards perished together. [M. Licinius Crassus, killed with his son Publius, and his army destroyed, by the Parthians at Carrhae, 53 B.C. Augustus recovered the captured standards in 20 B.C.] The Parthians kept the Roman standards, the glory of war, and a foe was the standard-bearer of the Roman eagle.

That shame would have endured till now, had not Ausonia’s empire been guarded by Caesar’s powerful arms. He put an end to the old reproach, to the disgrace of the whole generation: the recovered standards knew their true owners again. What now availed you, you Parthian, the arrows you are wont to shoot behind your back? What availed your deserts? What the use of the fleet steed? You bring back the eagles; you tender, too, your conquered bows. Now you have no tokens of our shame. Justly have the temple and the title of Avenger been given to the god, who has earned that title twice over; and the well-deserved honor has paid the debt incurred by the vow. Quirites, celebrate the solemn games in the Circus: the stage seems little to befit a valiant god.

III. Id. 13th

You will behold all the Pleiads, even the whole bevy of sisters, when there shall be one night remaining before the Ides. Then summer begins, as I learn from sure authorities, and the season of warm spring comes to an end.

Pr. Id. 14th

The day before the Ides marks the time when the Bull lifts his starry front [Hyades]. This constellation is explained by a familiar tale. Jupiter in the shape of a bull offered his back to the Tyrian maid [Europa] and wore horns on his false brow. She held the bull’s mane in her right hand, her drapery in her left; and her very fear lent her fresh grace. The breeze fills the robe on her bosom, its stirs her yellow hair; Sidonian damsel, thus indeed it became you to meet the gaze of Jove. Often did she withdraw her girlish soles from the sea, and feared the contact of the dashing wave; often the god knowingly plunged his back into the billows, that she might cling the closer to his neck. On reaching the shore, Jupiter stood without any horns, and the bull was turned into the god. The bull passed into the sky: you, Sidonian damsel, were got with child by Jupiter, and a third part of the earth bears your name. Others say that this constellation is the Pharian heifer, which from a human being was made a cow, and from a cow was made a goddess [Io, often identified with Egyptian Isis].

Then, too, the Virgin [the Vestals] is wont to throw the rush-made effigies of ancient men from the oaken bridge. He who believes that after sixty years men were put to death, accuses our forefathers of a wicked crime. There is an old tradition, that when the land was called Saturnia those words were spoken by soothsaying Jove: “Do you cast into the water of the Tuscan river two of the people as a sacrifice to the Ancient who bears the sickle.” The gloomy rite was performed, so runs the tale, in the Leucadian manner [the “lover’s leap” at the promontory of Leucas is well known. A man used to be cast from it every year; but all possible means were taken to make his fall easy and to save him] every year, until the Tirynthian hero came to these fields; he cast men of straw into the water, and now dummies are thrown after the example set by Hercules.

Some think that the young men used to hurl the feeble old men from the bridges, in order that they themselves alone should have the vote. O Tiber, inform me of the truth: your bank is older than the City: you can well know the origin of the rite. The Tiber raised his reed-crowned head from the mid channel, and opened his hoarse mouth to utter these words: “These regions I have seen when they were solitary grass-lands without any city walls: scattered kine pastured on either bank; and I, the Tiber, whom the nations now both know and fear, was then a thing to be despised even by cattle. You often hear mention of the name of Arcadian Evander; he came from far and churned my waters with his oars. Alcides also came, attended by a troop of Greeks. At that time, if I remember aright, my name was Albula. The Pallantian hero [Evander, born at Pallantium in Arcadia] received him hospitably; and Cacus got at last the punishment he deserved. The victorious Hercules departed and carried off with him the kine, the booty he had taken from Erythea. But his companions refused to go farther: a great part of them had come from Argos, which they abandoned.

"On these hills they set their hope and their home; yet were they often touched by the sweet love of their native land, and one of them in dying gave this brief charge: ‘Throw me into the Tiber, that, borne upon his waves, my empty dust may pass to the Inachian shore.’ His heir disliked the charge of sepulture thus laid on him: the dead stranger was buried in Ausonian ground, and an effigy of rushes was thrown into the Tiber in stead of him, that it might return to his Greek home across the waters wide.” Thus far did Tiber speak, then passed into the dripping cave of living rock: you nimble waters checked your flow.

Idus 15th

Come, you famed grandson [Mercury; he was worshipped by merchants at Rome, as the patron of gain] of Atlas, you whom of old upon the Arcadian mountains one of the Pleiads bore to Jupiter. You arbiter of peace and war to gods above and gods below, you who ply your way on winged foot; you who delight in the music of the lyre, and delight too in the wrestling-school, glistening with oil; you by whose instruction the tongue learns to discourse elegantly, the senate founded for you on the Ides [495 B.C.] a temple looking toward the Circus: since then the day has been your festival. All who make a business of selling their wares give you incense and beg that you would grant them gain.

There is a water of Mercury near the Capene Gate: if you care to take the word of those who have tried it, there is a divinity in the water. Hither comes the merchant with his tunic girt up, and, ceremonially pure, draws water in a fumigated jar to carry it away. With the water he wets a laurel bough, and with the wet bough he sprinkles all the goods that soon are to change owners; he sprinkles, too, his own hair with the dripping laurel and recites prayers in a voice accustomed to deceive. “Wash away the perjuries of past time,” says he, “wash away my glozing words of the past day. Whether I have called you to witness, or have falsely invoked the great divinity of Jupiter, in the expectation that he would not hear, or whether I have knowingly taken in vain the name of any other god or goddess, let the swift south winds carry away the wicked words, and may to-morrow open the door for me to fresh perjuries, and may the gods above not care if I shall utter any! Only grant me profits, grant me joy of profit made, and see to it that I enjoy cheating the buyer!” At such prayers Mercury laughs from on high, remembering that he himself stole the Ortygian [Belonging to Apollo, who was born in Delos (Ortygia)] kine.

XIII. Kal. Ivn. 20th

But I put up a far better prayer. Unfold to me, I beseech you, at what time Phoebus passes into the sign of the Twins. “When you shall see,” he answered, “that as many days of the month remain over as are the labors of Hercules.” “Tell me,” I replied, “the cause of this constellation.” The god in answer explained the cause in eloquent speech. The brother Tyndarids, the one a horseman, the other a boxer, had ravished and carried away Phoebe and Phoebe’s sister. [Castor (horseman) and Pollux (boxer), sons of Tyndareus, carried off Phoebe and Hilaira, daughters of Leucippus, betrothed to Idas and Lynceus. Oebalus was father of Tyndareus.] Idas and his brother prepare for war and demand the restitution of their brides; for both of them had convenanted with Leucippus to be his sons-in-law.

Love prompts the one pair to demand the restitution, the other to refuse it; each pair is spurred on to fight by the like motive. The Oebalids might have escaped their pursuers by superior speed; but it seemed base to win by rapid flight. There is a place free from trees, a suitable ground for a fight: in that place they took their stand (its name is Aphidna). Pierced through the breast by the sword of Lycneus – a wound he had not looked for – Castor fell to the ground. Pollux comes up to avenge him, and runs Lynceus through with his spear at the point where the neck joins on to and presses upon the shoulders. Idas attacked him, and scarcely was repulsed by the fire of Jupiter; yet they say that his weapon was not wrested from his right hand by the thunderbolt. And already the lofty heavens opened its door for you, Pollux, when you said, “Hear my words, O Father. The heaven that you give to me alone, O share between us two; one-half the gift will be greater than the whole.” He spoke, and redeemed his brother from death by changing places with him alternately. Both stars are helpful to the storm-tossed bark [Pollux was born immortal, but Castor mortal; hence Pollux can offer his price and share his immortality with Castor].

XII. Kal. 21st

He who would learn what the Agonia are, may turn back to January, though they have a place in the calendar at this season also.

XI. Kal. 22nd

In the night that follows the day the dog of Erigone rises [Sirius]: I have the explanation of this constellation in another place.

X. Kal. 23rd

The next day belongs to Vulcan; they call it Tubilustria. The trumpets which he makes are then cleansed and purified.

IX. Kal. 24th

The next place is marked by four letters, which, read in order, signify either the custom of the sacred rites or the Flight of the King [“Quando Rex Comitiavit Fas”].

VIII. Kal. 25th

Nor will I pass you over, you Public Fortune of the powerful people, to whom a temple was dedicated next day. When that day shall have sunk into Amphitrite’s wealth of waters, you will see the beak of the tawny bird, dear to Jupiter [the eagle].

VII. Kal. 26th; VI. Kal. 27th

The coming morn will remove Bootes from your sight, and next day the constellation of Hyas will be visible.


The explanations of this month’s name also are doubtful. I will state them all, and you shall choose which one you please. I’ll sing the truth, but some will say I lied, and think that no deities were ever seen by mortal. There is a god within us. It is when he stirs us that our bosom warms; it is his impulse that sows the seeds of inspiration. I have a peculiar right to see the faces of the gods, whether because I am a bard, or because I sing of sacred things. There is a grove where trees grow thick, a spot sequestered from every sound except the purl of water.

There I was musing on what might be the origin of the month just begun, and was meditating on its name. Look, I beheld the goddesses, but not those whom the teacher of plowing beheld when he followed his Ascraean sheep [Hesiod of Ascra]; nor those whom Priam’s son compared in watery Ida’s dells [the Judgment of Paris, on “many-fountained Ida”]; yet one there was of these. Of these there was one, the sister of her husband: she it was, I recognized, who stands within Jove’s citadel.

I shivered, and, speechless though I was, my pallid hue betrayed my feeling; then the goddess herself removed the fears she had inspired. For she said, “O poet, minstrel of the Roman year, you who have dared to chronicle great things in slender couplets, you have won for yourself the right to look upon a celestial divinity by undertaking to celebrate the festivals in your numbers. But lest you should be ignorant and led astray by vulgar error, know that June takes its name from mine. It is something to have married Jupiter and to be Jupiter’s sister. I know not whether I am prouder of him as brother or as husband. If descent is considered, I was the first to call Saturn by the name of father: I was the first child whom fate bestowed on him.

“Rome was once named Saturnia after my sire: this land was the next he came to after heaven. If the marriage-bed counts for much, I am called the consort of the Thunderer, and my temple is joined to that of Tarpeian Jupiter. If a sweetheart could give her name to the month of May, shall a like honor be grudged to me? To what purpose, then, am I called Queen and chief of goddesses? Why did they put a golden sceptre in my right hand? Shall the days (luces) make up a month and I be called Lucina after them, and yet shall I take a name from not a single month? Then indeed might I repent of having loyally laid aside my anger at the offspring of Electra and the Dardanian house. [Dardanus, son of Electra, by Zeus]. I had a double cause of anger: I fretted at the rape of Ganymede, and my beauty was misprized by the Idaean judge.

“It might repent me that I cherish not the battlements of Carthage, since my chariot and arms are there. It might repent me that I have laid Sparta, and Argos, and my Mycenae, and ancient Samos, under the heel of Latium; add to these old Tatius [alluding to Juno Curitis, Curritis, or Quiritis, whose worship Titus Tatius, Savine king, is said to have introduced at Rome], and the Faliscans, who worship Juno, and whom I nevertheless suffered to succumb to the Romans. Yet let me not repent, for there is no people dearer to me: here may I be worshipped, here may I occupy the temple with my own Jupiter. Mavors himself has said to me, ‘I entrust these walls to you. You shall by mighty in the city of your grandson.’ His words have been fulfilled: I am celebrated at a hundred altars, and not the least of my honors is that of the month (named after me). Nevertheless it is not Rome alone that does me that honor: the inhabitants of neighboring towns pay me the same compliment. Look at the calendar of woodland Aricia, and the calendars of the Laurentine folk and of my own Lanuvium; there, too, there is a month of June [Called Junonius at Aricia and Praeneste]. Look at Tibur and at the sacred walls of the Praenestine goddess: there shall you read of Juno’s season. Yet Romulus did not found these towns; but Rome was the city of my grandson.”

So Juno ended. I looked back. The wife of Hercules stood by, and in her face were signs of vigor [Hebe, daughter of Zeus and Hera, whom he thinks of by the Latin name Iuventas]. "If my mother were to bid me retire from heaven outright,” quoth she, “I would not tarry against my mother’s will. Now, too, I do not contend about the name of this season. I coax, and I act the part almost of a petitioner, and I should prefer to maintain my right by prayer alone. You yourself may haply favor my cause. My mother owns the golden Capitol, where she shares the temple, and, as is right, occupies the summit along with Jupiter. But all my glory comes from the naming of the month; the honor about which they tease me is the only one I enjoy.

"What harm was it if you did, O Roman, bestow the title of a month upon the wife of Hercules, and if posterity remembered and ratified the gift? This land also owes me something on account of my great husband. Hither he drove the captured kine: here Cacus, ill protected by the flames, his father’s gift, dyed with his blood the soil of the Aventine. But I am called to nearer themes. Romulus divided and distributed the people into two parts according to their years. The one was the readier to give counsel, the other to fight; the one age advised war, the other waged it. So he decreed, and he distinguished the months by the same token. June is the month of the young (iuvenes); the preceding is the month of the old.”

So she spoke, and in the heat of rivalry the goddesses might have engaged in dispute, wherein anger might have belied their natural affection. But Concord came, at once the deity and the work of the pacific chief, her long tresses twined with Apollo’s laurel. When she had told how Tatius and brave Quirinus, and their two kingdoms and peoples, had united in one, and how fathers-in-law and sons-in-law were received in a common home, “The months of June,” quoth she, “gets its name from their junction.”

Thus were three causes pleaded. But pardon me, you goddesses; the matter is not one to be decided by my judgment. Depart from me all equal. Pergamum was ruined by him who adjudged the prize of beauty: two goddesses mar more than one can make.

Kal. Ivn. 1st

The first day is given to you, Carna. She is the goddess of the hinge: by her divine power she opens what is closed, and closes what is open. Time has dimmed the tradition which sets forth how she acquired the powers she owns, but you shall learn it from my song. Near to the Tiber lies an ancient grove of Alernus; the pontiffs still bring sacrifices thither. There a nymph was born (men of old named her CranaŽ), often wooed in vain by many suitors. Her wont it was to scour the countryside and chase the wild beasts with her darts, and in the hollow vale to stretch the knotty nets. No quiver had she, yet they thought that she was Phoebus’ sister; and, Phoebus, you need not have been ashamed of her. If any youth spoke to her words of love, she straightway made him this answer: “In this place there is too much of light, and with the light too much of shame; if you will lead to a more retired cave, I’ll follow.” While he confidingly went in front, she no sooner reached the bushes than she halted, and hid herself, and was nowise to be found.

Janus had seen her, and the sight had roused his passion; to the hard-hearted nymph he used soft words. The nymph as usual bade him seek a more sequestered cave, and she pretended to follow at his heels, but deserted her leader. Fond fool! Janus sees what goes on behind his back; vain is your effort; he sees your hiding-place behind him. Vain is your effort, look! said I. For he caught you in his embrace as you lurked beneath a rock, and having worked his will he said: “In return for our dalliance be yours the control of hinges; take that for the price of your lost maidenhood.” So saying, he gave her a thorn – and white it was – wherewith she could repel all doleful harm from doors. [Branches of whitethorn, or buckthorn, kept out witches, and protected against wandering ghosts.]

There are greedy birds, not those that cheated Phineus’ maw of its repast [the Harpies], though from those they are descended. Big is their head, goggle their eyes, their beaks are formed for rapine, their feathers blotched with grey, their claws fitted with hooks. They fly by night and attack nurseless children, and defile their bodies, snatched from their cradles. They are said to rend the flesh of sucklings with their beaks, and their throats are full of the blood which they have drunk. Screech-owl is their name, but the reason of the name is that they are wont to screech horribly by night. Whether, therefore, they are born birds, or are made such by enchantment and are nothing but beldames transformed into fowls by a Marsian [Marsians were famous for wizardry] spell, they came into the chambers of Proca [King of Alba Longa]. In the chambers Proca, a child five days old, was a fresh prey for the birds. They sucked the infant with their greedy tongues, and the poor child squalled and craved help.

Alarmed by the cry of her fosterling, the nurse ran to him and found his cheeks scored by their rigid claws. What was she to do? The color of the child’s face was like the common hue of late leaves nipped by an early frost. She went to CranaŽ and told what had befallen. CranaŽ said, “Lay fear aside; your nursling will be safe.” She went to the cradle; mother and father were weeping. “Restrain your tears,” she said, “I myself will heal the child.” Straightway she thrice touched the doorposts, one after the other, with arbutus leaves; thrice with arbutus leaves she marked the threshold. She sprinkled the entrance with water (and the water was drugged), and she held the raw inwards of a sow just two months old. And thus she spoke: “You birds of night, spare the child’s inwards: a small victim falls for a small child. Take, I pray you, a heart for a heart, entrails for entrails. This life we give you for a better life.” When she had thus sacrificed, she set the severed inwards in the open air, and forbade those present at the sacrifice to look back at them. A rod of Janus, taken from the white-thorn, was placed where a small window gave light to the chambers. After that, it is said that the birds did not violate the cradle, and the boy recovered his former color.

You ask why fat bacon is eaten on these Kalends, and why beans are mixed with hot spelt. She is a goddess of the olden time, and subsists upon the foods to which she was inured before; no voluptuary is she to run after foreign viands. Fish still swam unharmed by the people of that age, and oysters safe in their shells. Latium knew not the fowl that rich Ionia supplies [francolin], nor the bird that delights in Pygmy blood [the Cranes were said to wage war on the Pygmies]; and in the peacock naught but the feathers pleased, nor had the earth before sent captured beasts. The pig was prized, people feasted on the slaughtered swine: the ground yielded only beans and hard spelt. Whoever eats at the same time these two foods on the Kalends of the sixth month, they affirm that nothing can hurt his bowels.

They say, too, that the temple of Juno Moneta was founded in fulfillment of your vow, Camillus, on the summit of the citadel: formerly it had been in the house of Manlius, who once protected Capitoline Jupiter against the Gallic arms [M. Manlius Capitolinus, 390 B.C.]. Great gods, how well had it been for him if in that fight he had fallen in defense of your throne, O Jupiter on high! He lived to perish, condemned on a charge of aiming at the crown: that was the title that length of years reserved for him.

The same day is a festival of Mars, whose temple, set beside the Covered Way [probably a colonnade rising along the side of the Appian way], is seen afar without the walls from the Capene Gate. You, too, O Storm, did deserve a shrine, by our avowal, what time the fleet was nearly overwhelmed in Corsican waters [dedicated by L. Corn. Scipio, 259 B.C., after expelling the Carthaginians from Corsica]. These monuments set up by men are plain for all to see: if you look for stars, the bird of great Jupiter with its hooked talons then rises.

IV. Non. 2nd

The next day calls up the Hyades, which form the horns of the Bull’s forehead; and the earth is soaked with heavy rain.

III. Non. 3rd

When twice the morning shall have passed, and twice Phoebus shall have repeated his rising, and twice the crops shall have been wetted by the fallen dew, on that day Bellona is said to have been consecrated in the Tuscan war [vowed by Appius Claudius Caecus in 296 B.C.], and ever she comes gracious to Latium. Her founder was Appius, who, when peace was refused to Pyrrhus, saw clearly in his mind, though from the light of day he was cut off. [After the defeat of 280 B.C., Pyrrhus offered honorable terms of peace: but Appius Claudius the Blind had himself carried into the Senate, and persuaded them to refuse.] A small open space commands from the temple a view of the top of the Circus. There stands a little pillar of no little note. From it the custom is to hurl by hand a spear, war’s harbinger, when it has been resolved to take arms against a king and peoples. [The fetialis, or sacred herald, advanced to the enemy boundary, and threw over it a spear with the solemn words of declaration.]

Pr. Non. 4th

The other part of the Circus is protected by Guardian Hercules: the god holds office in virtue of the Euboean oracle [the Sibylline Books; the Sibyl being of Cumae, founded by Euboea]. The time of his taking office is the day before the Nones. If you ask about the inscription, it was Sulla who approved the work.

Non. 5th

I inquired whether I should refer the Nones to Sancus, or to Fidius, or to you, Father Semo; then Sancus said to me: “To whomsoever of them you may give it, the honor will still be mine: I bear the three names: so willed the people of Cures.” Accordingly the Sabines of old bestowed on him a shrine, and established it on the Quirinal hill.

VIII. Id. 6th

I have a daughter, and I pray she may outlive me; I shall always be happy while she survives. When I would give her to a son-in-law, I inquired what items were suitable for weddings and what should be avoided. Then it was shown to me that June after the sacred Ides is good for brides and good for bridegrooms, but the first part of this month was found to be unsuitable for marriages; for the holy wife of the Flamen Dialis spoke thus to me: “Until the calm Tiber shall have carried down to the sea on its yellow current the filth from the temple of Ilian Vesta, it is not lawful for me to comb down my hair with a toothed comb, or cut my nails with iron, or touch my husband, though he is the priest of Jupiter, and though he was given to me for life. You, too, be in no hurry; your daughter will better wed when Vesta’s fire shall shine on a clean floor.”  [The Flamen Dialis and his wife were subjected to many strange taboos.]

VII. Id. 7th

On the third morn after the Nones it is said that Phoebe chases away (the grandson of) Lycaon, and the Bear has none behind her to fear. Then I remember that I saw games held on the sward of the Field of Mars, and that they were named yours, O smooth Tiber. The day is a festival for those who draw their dripping lines and hide their bronze hooks under little baits.

VI. ID. 8th

The mind also has its divinity. We see that a sanctuary was vowed to Mind during the terror of your war, you treacherous Carthaginian. You renewed the war, you Carthaginian, and, thunder-struck by the consul’s death, all dreaded the Moorish bands. Fear had driven out hope, when the Senate made vows to Mind [after the defeat at Lake Trasimene, 217 B.C.], and straightway she came better disposed. The day on which the vows paid to the goddess is separated from the coming Ides by six intermediate days.

V. Id. 9th

O Vesta, grant me your favor! In your service now open my lips, if it is lawful for me to come to your sacred rites. I was wrapt up in prayer; I felt the heavenly deity, and the glad ground gleamed with a purple light. Not indeed that I saw you, O goddess (far from me be the lies of poets!), nor was it meet that a man should look upon you; but my ignorance was enlightened and my errors corrected without the help of an instructor. They say that Rome had forty times celebrated the Parilia when the goddess, Guardian of Fire, was received in her temple; it was the work of that peaceful king, than whom no man of more god-fearing temper was ever born in Sabine land [Numa]. The buildings which now you see roofed with bronze you might then have seen roofed with thatch, and the walls were woven of tough osiers. This little spot, which now supports the Hall of Vesta, was then the great palace of unshorn Numa.

Yet the shape of the temple, as it now exists, is said to have been its shape of old, and it is based on a sound reason. Vesta is the same as the Earth; under both of them is a perpetual fire; the earth and the hearth are symbols of the home. The earth is like a ball, resting on no prop; so great a weight hangs on the air beneath it. Its own power of rotation keeps its orb balanced; it has no angle which could press on any part; and since it is placed in the middle of the world and touches no side more or less, if it were not convex, it would be nearer to some part than to another, and the universe would not have the earth as its central weight. There stands a globe hung by Syracusan art in closed air, a small image of the vast vault of heaven, and the earth is equally distant from the top and bottom [the orrery of Archimedes, which Cicero tells us was brought to Rome by Marcellus, the conqueror of Syracuse, 212 B.C.]. That is brought about by its round shape. The form of the temple is similar: there is no projecting angle in it; a dome protects it from the showers of rain.

You ask why the goddess is tended by virgin ministers. Of that also I will discover the true causes. They say that Juno and Ceres were born of Ops by Saturn’s seed; the third daughter was Vesta. The other two married; both are reported to have had offspring; of the three one remained, who refused to submit to a husband. What wonder if a virgin delights in a virgin minister and allows only chaste hands to touch her sacred things? Conceive of Vesta as naught but the living flame, and you see that no bodies are born of flame. Rightly, therefore, is she a virgin who neither gives nor takes seeds, and she loves companions in her virginity.

Long did I foolishly think that there were images of Vesta: afterwards I learned that there are none under her curved dome. An undying fire is hidden in that temple; but there is no effigy of Vesta nor of the fire. The earth stands by its own power; Vesta is so called from standing by power (vi stando); and the reason of her Greek name may be similar. But the hearth (focus) is so named from the flames, and because it fosters (fovet) all things; yet formerly it stood in the first room of the house. Hence, too, I am of opinion that the vestibule took its name; it is from there that in praying we begin by addressing Vesta, who occupies the first place: it used to be the custom of old to sit on long benches in front of the hearth and to suppose that the gods were present at the table; even now, when sacrifices are offered to ancient Vacuna, they stand and sit in front of her hearths.

Something of olden custom has come down to our time: a clean platter contains the food offered to Vesta. Look, loaves are hung on asses decked with wreaths, and flowery garlands veil the rough millstones. Husbandmen used formerly to toast only spelt in the ovens, and the goddess of ovens has her own sacred rites: the hearth of itself baked the bread that was put under the ashes, and a broken tile was laid on the warm floor. Hence the baker honors the hearth and the mistress of hearths and the she-ass that turns the millstones of pumice.

Shall I pass over or relate your disgrace, rubicund Priapus? It is a short story, but a very merry one. Cybele, whose brow is crowned with a coronet of towers, invited the eternal gods to her feast. She invited all the satyrs and those rural divinities, the nymphs. Silenus came, though nobody had asked him. It is unlawful, and it would be tedious, to narrate the banquet of the gods: the livelong night was passed in deep potations. Some roamed at haphazard in the vales of shady Ida; some lay and stretched their limbs at ease on the soft grass; some played; some slept; some, arm linked in arm, thrice beat with rapid foot the verdant ground. Vesta lay and careless took her peaceful rest, just as she was, her head low laid and propped upon a sod. But the ruddy guardian of gardens courted nymphs and goddesses, and to and fro he turned his roving steps.

He spied Vesta too; it is doubtful whether he took her for a nymph or knew her to be Vesta; he himself said that he knew her not. He conceived a wanton hope, and tried to approach her furtively; he walked on tiptoe with throbbing heart. It chanced that old Silenus had left the ass, on which he rode, on the banks of a babbling brook. The god of the long Hellespont was going to begin, when the ass uttered an ill-timed bray. Frightened by the deep voice, the goddess started up; the whole troop flocked together; Priapus made his escape between hands that would have stopped him. Lampsacus is wont to sacrifice this animal to Priapus, saying: “We fitly give to the flames the innards of the tell-tale.” That animal, goddess, you adorn with necklaces of loaves in memory of the event: work comes to a stop: the mills are empty and silent.

I will explain the meaning of an altar of Baker Jupiter, which stands on the citadel of the Thunderer and is more famous for its name than for its value. The Capitol was surrounded and hard pressed by fierce Gauls: the long siege had already caused a famine. Having summoned the celestial gods to his royal throne, Jupiter said to Mars, “Begin.” Straightway Mars made answer, “Forsooth, nobody knows the plight of my people, and this my sorrow needs to find utterance in complaint. But if you do require me to declare in brief the sad and shameful tale: Rome lies at the foot of the Alpine foe. [This refers to the capture of Rome by the Gauls, 390 B.C., and the siege of the Capitol. The besieged threw out loaves of bread, to show they were not in want.]

"Is this that Rome, O Jupiter, to which was promised the domination of the world? is this that Rome which you purposed to make the mistress of the earth? Already she had crushed her neighbors and the Etruscan hosts. Hope was in full career, but now she is driven from her own hearth and home. We have seen old men decked in embroidered robes – the symbol of the triumphs they had won – cut down within their bronze-lined halls. We have seen the pledges of Ilian Vesta removed from their proper seat [the Vestals buried some of their sacred things, and carried away what they could: these included relics brought from Troy]: plainly the Romans think that some gods exist. But if they were to look back to the citadel in which you dwell, and to see so many of your homes beleaguered, they would know that the worship of the gods is of no avail, and that incense offered by an anxious hand is thrown away. And would that they could find a clear field of battle!

"Let them take arms, and, if they cannot conquer, then let them fall! As it is, starving and dreading a coward’s death, they are shut up and pressed hard on their own hill by a barbarous mob.” Then Venus and Quirinus, in the pomp of augur’s staff and striped gown, and Vesta pleaded hard for their own Latium. Jupiter replied, “A general providence is charged with the defense of yonder walls. Gaul will be vanquished and will pay the penalty. Only do you, Vesta, look to it that the corn which is lacking may be thought to abound, and do not abandon your proper seat. Let all the grain that is yet unground be crushed in the hollow mill, let it be kneaded by hand and roasted by fire in the oven.”

So Jupiter commanded, and the virgin daughter of Saturn assented to her brother’s command, the time being the hour of midnight. Now sleep had overcome the wearied leaders. Jupiter chode them, and with his sacred lips informed them of his will. “Arise and from the topmost battlements cast into the midst of the foe the last resource which you would wish to yield.” Sleep left them, and moved by the strange riddle they inquired what resource they were bidden to yield against their will. They thought it must be corn. They threw down the gifts of the Corn-goddess, which, in falling, clattered upon the helmets and the long shields of the foe. The hope that the citadel could be reduced by famine now vanished: the enemy was repulsed and a white altar set up to Baker Jupiter.

It chanced that at the festival of Vesta I was returning by that way which now joins the New Way to the Roman Forum. [The Via Nova was as old as the time of the kings.] Hither I saw a matron coming down barefoot: amazed I held my peace and halted. An old woman of the neighborhood perceived me, and bidding me sit down she addressed me in quavering tones, shaking her head. “This ground, where now are the forums, was once occupied by wet swamps: a ditch was drenched with the water that overflowed from the river. That Lake of Curtius, which supports dry altars, is now solid ground, but formerly it was a lake. [A place in the Forum, then dry, where in ancient times a gulf had appeared, which could not be filled until the most precious thing of Rome should be cast in. Marcus Curtius leapt in fully armed on horseback, crying that arms and valor were the most precious thing for Rome. The gulf then filled up (362 B.C.).] Where now the processions are wont to defile through the Velabrum to the Circus, there was naught but willows and hollow canes; often the roysterer, returning home over the waters of the suburb, used to tip a stave and rap out tipsy words at passing sailors. Yonder god (Vertumnus), whose name is appropriate to various shapes, had not yet derived it from damming back the river (averso amne)). Here, too, there was a grove overgrown with bulrushes and reeds, and a marsh not to be trodden with booted feet. The pools have receded, and the river confines its water within its banks, and the ground is now dry; but the old custom survives.” The old woman thus explained the custom. “Farewell, good old dame,” said I; “may what remains of life to you be easy all!”

The rest of the tale I had learned long since in my boyish years; yet not on that account may I pass it over in silence. Ilus, descendant of Dardanus, had lately founded a new city (Ilus was still rich and possessed the wealth of Asia); a celestial image of armed Minerva is believed to have leaped down on the hills of the Ilian city. [The famous Palladium, the Luck of Tory, which fell from heaven as described here, and so long as it was preserved, Troy was safe.] (I was anxious to see it: I saw the temple and the place; that is all that is left here; the image of Pallas is in Rome.) Smintheus [Apollo Smintheus, the Mouse Apollo, named for having destroyed a plague of mice] was consulted, and in the dim light of his shady grove he gave this answer with no lying lips: “Preserve the heavenly goddess, so shall you preserve the city. She will transfer with herself the seat of empire.” Ilus preserved the image of the goddess and kept it shut up on the top of the citadel; the charge of it descended to his heir Laomedon. In Priam’s reign the image was not well preserved. Such was the goddess’s own will ever since judgment was given against her in the contest of beauty. Whether it was the descendant of Adrastus [Diomedes], or the guileful Ulysses, or Aeneas, they say someone carried it off; the culprit is uncertain; the thing is now at Rome: Vesta guards it, because she sees all things by her light that never fails.

Alas, how alarmed the Senate was when the temple of Vesta caught fire, and the goddess was almost buried under her own roof [241 B.C.]! Holy fires blazed, fed by wicked fires, and a profane flame was blended with a pious flame. Amazed the priestesses wept with streaming hair; fear had bereft them of bodily strength. Metellus [L. Caecilius Metellus, Pontifex Maximus] rushed into their midst and in a loud voice cried, “Hasten to the rescue! There is no help in weeping. Take up in your virgin hands the pledges given by fate; it is not by prayers but by deed that they can be saved. Woe’s me, do you hesitate?” said he. He saw that they hesitated and sank trembling on their knees. He took up water, and lifting up his hands, “Pardon me, you sacred things, [the sacred things on which the safety of Rome depended: the Palladium, the conical image of the Mother of the Gods, the earthen chariot which had been brought from Veii, the ashes of Orestes, the sceptre of Priam, the veil of Iliona, and the sacred shields]” said he, “I, a man, will enter a place where no man should set foot. If it is a crime, let the punishment of the deed fall on me! May I pay with my head the penalty, so Rome go free!” With these words he burst in. The goddess whom he carried off approved the deed and was saved by the devotion of her pontiff.

You sacred flames, now you shine bright under Caesar’s rule; the fire is now and will continue to be on the Ilian hearths, and it will not be told that under his leadership any priestess defiled her sacred fillets, and none shall be buried in the live ground [the infula and vitta were torn from an unfaithful Vestal before she was buried alive.]. That is the doom of her who proves unchaste; because she is put away in the earth which she contaminated, since Earth and Vesta are one and the same deity.

Then did Brutus win his surname from the Gallaecan [a tribe of north-west Spain (Galicia) conquered by Dec. Junius Brutus, 138-137 B.C.] foe, and dyed the Spanish ground with blood. To be sure, sorrow is sometimes blended with joy, lest festivals spell unmingled gladness for the people: Crassus lost the eagles, his son, and his soldiers at the Euphrates, and perished last of all himself [at Carrhae, 53 B.C.]. “Why exult, you Parthian?” said the goddess; “you shall send back the standards, and there will be an avenger who shall exact punishment for the slaughter of Crassus.”

IV. Id. 10th

But as soon as the long-eared asses are stripped of their violets, and the rough millstones grind the fruits of Ceres, the sailor, sitting at the poop, says, “We shall see the Dolphin, when the day is put to flight and dank night has mounted up.”

III. Id. 11th

Now, Phrygian Tithonus, you complain that you are abandoned by your spouse, and the watchful Morning Star comes forth from the eastern waters. Go, good mothers (the Matralia is your festival), and offer to the Theban goddess [Mater Matuta] the yellow cakes that are her due. Adjoining the bridges and the great Circus is an open space of far renown, which takes its name from the statue of an ox [Forum Boarium]: there, on this day, it is said, Servius consecrated with his own sceptered hands a temple of Mother Matuta. Who the goddess is, why she excludes (for exclude she does) female slaves from the threshold of her temple, and why she calls for toasted cakes, do you, O Bacchus, whose locks are twined with clustered grapes and ivy, (explain and) guide the poet’s course, if the house of the goddess is also yours.

Through the compliance of Jupiter with her request Semele was consumed with fire [Ino is sister of Semele, and wife of Athamas. In consequence of Juno’s resentment, Athamas went mad, and murdered his son Learchus; upon which Ino cast herself into the sea, with her other son Melicertes, from the Isthmus of Corinth. Panope and the other sea-nymphs caught her; and the two became sea-divinities with the names of Leucothea and Palaemon]: Ino received you, young Bacchus, and zealously nursed you with the utmost care. Juno swelled with rage that Ino should rear the son who had been snatched from his unwed mother; but that son was of the blood of Ino’s sister. Hence Athamas was haunted by the furies and by a delusive vision, and little Learchus, you fell by your father’s hand. His sorrowful mother committed the shade of Learchus to the tomb and paid all the honors due to the mournful pyre. She, too, after tearing her rueful hair, leaped forth and snatched you, Melicertes, from your cradle.

A land there is, shrunk with narrow limits, which repels twin seas, and, single in itself, is lashed by twofold waters. Thither came Ino, clasping her son in her frenzied embrace, and hurled herself and him from a high ridge into the deep. Panope and her hundred sisters received them scatheless, and smoothly gliding bore them through their realms. They reached the mouth of thick-eddying Tiber before Ino had yet received the name of Leucothea and before her boy was called Palaemon. There was a sacred grove: it is doubtful whether it should be called the grove of Semele or the grove of Stimula: they say that it was inhabited by Ausonian Maenads. Ino inquired of them what was their nation; she learned that they were Arcadians and that Evander was king of the place.

Dissembling her godhead, the daughter of Saturn shyly incited the Latian Bacchanals by glozing words: “Too easy souls! O blinded hearts! This stranger comes no friend to our assemblies. Her aim is treacherous, she would learn our sacred rites. Yet she has a pledge by which we can ensure her punishment.” Scarce had she ended, when the Thyiads, with their locks streaming down their necks, filled the air with their howls, and laid hands on Ino, and strove to pluck the boy from her. She invoked the gods whom still she knew not: “You gods and men of the land, succor a wretched mother!” The cry reached the neighboring rocks of the Aventine. The Oetaean hero [Hercules, burnt on his pyre on Mount Oeta] had driven the Iberian kine to the river bank; he heard and hurried at full speed towards the voice.

At the approach of Hercules the women, who but a moment before had been ready to use violence, turned their backs shamefully in womanish flight. “What would you here, O sister of Bacchus’s mother [Ino]?” quoth Hercules, for he recognized her: “does the same deity [Juno] who harasses me harass you also?” She told him her story in part, but part the presence of her son induced her to suppress; for she was ashamed to have been goaded into crime by the furies. Rumor – for she is fleet – flew far on pulsing wings, and your name, Ino, was on many lips. It is said that as a guest you entered the home of loyal Carmentis and there stayed your long hunger [Tegea is in Arcadia].

The Tegean priestess is reported to have made cakes in haste with her own hand and to have quickly baked them on the hearth. Even to this day she loves cakes at the festival of the Matralia. Rustic civility was dearer to her than the refinements of art. “Now,” said Ino, “reveal to me, O prophetess, my future fate, so far as it is lawful; I pray you, add this favor to the hospitality I have already received.” A brief pause ensued, and then the prophetess assumed her heavenly powers, and all her bosom swelled with majesty divine. Of a sudden you could hardly know her again; so holier, so taller far was she than she had been but now.

“Glad tidings I will sing: rejoice, Ino, your labors are over,” said she. “O come propitious to this people evermore! You shall be a divinity in the sea: your son, too, shall have his home in the ocean. Take you both different names in your own waters. You shall be called Leucothea by the Greeks and Matuta by our people: your son will have all authority over harbors; he whom we name Portunus will be named Palaemon in his own tongue. Go, I pray you, be friendly, both of you, to our country!” Ino bowed assent, she gave her promise. Their troubles ceased: they changed their names: he is a god and she a goddess.

You ask why she forbids female slaves to approach her? She hates them, and the source of her hatred, with her leave, I will tell in verse. One of your handmaids, daughter of Cadmus [Ino], used often to submit to the embraces of your husband. The caitiff Athamas loved her secretly, and from her he learned that his wife gave toasted seed-corn to the husbandmen. You yourself, indeed, denied it, but rumor affirmed it. That is why you hate the service of a woman slave.

Nevertheless let not an affectionate mother pray to her on behalf of her own offspring: she herself proved to be no lucky parent. You will do better to commend to her care the progeny of another; she was more serviceable to Bacchus than to her own children. They relate that she said to you, Rutilius, “Whither do you hasten? On my day in your consulship you shall fall by the hand of a Marsian foe.” Her words were fulfilled, and the stream of the Tolenus flowed purple, its water mingled with blood. [P. Rutilius Lupus, slain by the Marsians at the river Tolenus, 90 B.C.] When the next year was come, Didius, slain on the same day [Pallatnis, for Aurora], doubled the forces of the foe.

The same day, Fortune, is yours, and the same founder, and he same place. [King Servius Tullius dedicated a temple to Fortune and one to Matuta on the same day and place. The muffled image was probably Fortune herself.] But who is yonder figure that is hidden in robes thrown one upon the other? It is Servius: so much is certain, but different causes are assigned for this concealment, and my mind, too, is haunted by doubt. While the goddess timidly confessed her furtive love, and blushed to think that as a celestial being she should mate with a mere man (for she burned with a deep, an overmastering passion for the king, and he was the only man for whom she was not blind), she was wont to enter his house by a small window (fenestra); hence the gate bears the name of Fenestella (“the Little Window”). To this day she is ashamed and hides the loved features beneath a veil, and the king’s face is covered by many a robe. Or is the truth rather that after the murder of Tullius the common folk were bewildered by the death of the gentle chief, there were no bounds to their grief, and their sorrow increased with the sight of his statue, until they hid him by putting robes on him?

A third reason must be expounded in my verse at greater length, though I will rein in my steeds. Having accomplished her marriage by means of crime, Tullia used to incite her husband by these words: “What boots it that we are well matched, you by my sister’s murder, and I by your brother’s, if we are content to lead a life of virtue? Better that my husband and your wife had lived, if we do not dare attempt some greater enterprise. I offer as my dower the head and kingdom of my father: if you are a man, go to, exact the promised dower. Crime is a thing for kings. Kill your wife’s father and seize the kingdom, and dye our hands in my sire’s blood.” Instigated by such words, he, private man though he was, took his seat upon the lofty throne; the mob, astounded, rushed to arms. Hence blood and slaughter, and the weak old man was overpowered: his son-in-law (Tarquin) the Proud snatched the sceptre from his father-in-law.

Servius himself, at the foot of the Esquiline hill, where was his palace, fell murdered and bleeding on the hard ground. Driving in a coach to her father’s home, his daughter passed along the middle of the streets, erect and haughty. When he saw her father’s corpse, the driver burst into tears and drew up. She chode him in these terms: “Will you go on, or do you wait to reap the bitter fruit of this your loyalty? Drive, I say, the reluctant wheels across his very face!” A sure proof of the deed is the name of the street called Wicked after her; the event is branded with eternal infamy. Yet after that she dared to touch the temple, her father’s monument: strange but true the tale I’ll tell. There was a statue seated on a throne in the likeness of Tullius: it is said to have put its hand to its eyes, and a voice was heard, “Hide my face, lest it should see the execrable visage of my own daughter.” The statue was covered by a robe lent for the purpose: Fortune forbade the garment to be moved, and thus she spoke from her own temple: “That day on which the statue of Servius shall be laid bare by unmuffling his face will be the first day of modesty cast to the winds.”

You matrons, refrain from touching the forbidden garments; enough it is to utter prayers in solemn tones. Let him who was the seventh king in our city always keep his head covered with Roman drapery. This temple was once burnt [in the great conflagration of 213 B.C.], yet the fire spared the statue: Mulciber himself rescued his son. For the father of Tullius was Vulcan, his mother was the beautiful Ocresia of Corniculum. [Ocresia, or Ocrisia, was the wife of a prince of Corniculum named Tullius.] After performing with her the sacred rites in due form, Tanaquil ordered Ocresia to pour wine on the hearth, which had been adorned. There among the ashes there was, or seemed to be, the shape of the male organ; but rather the shape was really there. Ordered by her mistress, the captive Ocresia sat down at the hearth. She conceived Servius, who thus was begotten of seed from heaven. His begetter gave a token of his paternity when he touched the head of Servius with gleaming fire, and when on the king’s hair there blazed a cap of flame.

To you, too, Concordia, Livia dedicated a magnificent shrine, which she presented to her dear husband. But learn this, you age to come: where Livia’s colonnade now stands, there once stood a huge palace. [Bequethed by Vedius Pollio to Augustus, who destroyed it and built this colonnade on the site, and named it after Livia, 7 B.C.] The single house was like the fabric of a city; it occupied a space larger than that occupied by the walls of many a town. It was levelled with the ground, not on a charge of treason, but because its luxury was deemed harmful. Caesar brooked to overthrow so vast a structure, and to destroy so much wealth, to which he was himself the heir. That is the way to exercise the censorship; that is the way to set an example, when an upholder of law does himself what he warns others to do.

Pr. Id. 12th; Id. 13th

The next day has no mark attached to it which you can note. On the Ides a temple was dedicated to Unconquered Jupiter. And now I am bidden to tell of the Lesser Quinquatrus. Now favor my undertaking, you yellow-haired Minerva. “Why does the flute-player march at large through the whole City? What mean the masks? What means the long gown?” So did I speak, and thus did Tritonia [Athena, who by one account was a daughter of Poseidon and the Tritonian lake in Libya] answer me, when she had laid aside her spear – would that I could report the very words of the learned goddess! “In the times of your ancestors of yore the flute-player was much employed and was always held in great honor. The flute played in temples, it played at games, it played at mournful funerals. The labor was sweetened by its reward; but a time followed which of a sudden broke the practice of the pleasing art. Moreover, the aedile had ordered that the musicians who accompanied funeral processions should be ten, no more. The flute-players went into exile from the City and retired to Tibur: once upon a time Tibur was a place of exile! [The flute-players, enraged at some ordinance of the Twelve Tables, seceded to Tibur, and refused to return.]

The hollow flute was missed in the theatre, missed at the altars; no dirge accompanied the bier on the last march. At Tibur there was a certain man who had been a slave, but had long been free, a man worthy of any rank. In his country place he made ready a banquet and invited the tuneful throng; they gathered to the festal board. It was night, and their eyes and heads swam with wine, when a messenger arrived with a made-up tale, and thus he spoke (to the freedman): ‘Break up the banquet without delay, for see here comes the master of your rod!’ [The vindicta was the rod with which the freedman had been touched in the ceremony of manumission.] Immediately the guests bestirred their limbs, reeling with heady wine; their shaky legs or stood or slipped. But the master of the house, ‘Off with you all!’ says he, and when they dawdled he packed them in a wain that was well lined with rushes.

The time, the motion, and the wine allured to slumber, and the tipsy crew fancied that they were on their way back to Tibur. And now the wain had entered the city of Rome by the Esquiline, and at morn it stood in the middle of the Forum. In order to deceive the Senate as to their persons and their number, Plautius [Censor 312 B.C.] commanded that their faces should be covered with masks; and he mingled others with them and ordered them to wear long garments, to the end that women flute-players might be added to the band. In that way he thought that the return of the exiles could be best concealed, lest they should be censured for having come back against the orders of their guild [the guild of flute-players]. The plan was approved, and now they are allowed to wear their new garb on the Ides and to sing merry words to the old tunes.”

When she had thus instructed me, “It only remains for me to learn,” said I, “why that day is called Quinquatrus.” “A festival of mine,” quoth she, “is celebrated under that name in the month of March, and among my inventions is also the guild of flute-players. I was the first, by piercing boxwood with holes wide apart, to produce the music of the long flute. The sound was pleasing; but in the water that reflected my face I saw my virgin cheeks puffed up. ‘I value not the art so high; farewell, my flute!’ said I, and threw it away; it fell on the turf of the river-bank. A satyr [Marsyas] found it and at first beheld it with wonder; he knew not its use, but perceived that, when he blew into it, the flute gave forth a note, and with the help of his fingers he alternately let out and kept in his breath. And now he bragged of his skill among the nymphs and challenged Phoebus; but, vanquished by Phoebus, he was hanged and his body flayed of its skin. Yet am I the inventress and foundress of this music; that is why the profession keeps my days holy.”

XVII. Kal. Ivn. 15th

The third day will come, on which you, O Thyone [one of the Hyades] of Dodona, will stand visible on the brow of Agenor’s [father of Europa] bull. It is the day on which you, O Tiber, send the filth of Vesta’s temple down the Etruscan water to the sea [swept out yearly on this day].

XVI. Kal. 16th

If any trust can be put in the winds, spread your canvas to the West Wind, you mariners; tomorrow it will blow fair upon your waters.

XV. Kal. 17th; XIV. Kal. 18th

But when the father of the Heliades [Helios, “the Sun”] shall have dipped his rays in the billows, and heaven’s twin poles are girdled by the stars serene, the offspring of Hyrieus [Orion] shall lift his mighty shoulders above the earth: on the next night the Dolphin will be visible. That constellation once indeed beheld the Volscians and the Aequians put to flight upon your plains, O land of Algidus; whence you, Tubertus [in 431 B.C., A. Postumius Tubertus, dictator, defeated the Aequians and Volscians at Mount Algidus], won a famous triumph over the neighboring folks and later rode victorious in a car drawn by snow-white horses.

XIII. Kal. 19th

Now twice six days of the month are left, but to that number add one day; the sun departs from the Twins, and the constellation of the Crab flames red. Pallas begins to be worshipped on the Aventine hill.

XII. Kal. 20th

Now, Laomedon [father of Tithonus], your son’s wife rises, and having risen she dispels the night, and the dank hoar-frost flees from the meadows. The temple is said to have been dedicated to Summanus [a sort of nocturnal Jupiter, god of the nightly sky], whoever he may be, at the time when you, Pyrrhus, were a terror to the Romans [probably 278 B.C.].

XI. Kal. 21st

When that day also has been received by Galatea in her father’s waters, and all the world is sunk in untroubled sleep, there rises above the horizon the young man blasted by the bolts of his grandsire and stretches out his hands, entwined with twin snakes [Anguitenens (Ophiuchus)]. Familiar, too, the wrong that Theseus did, when, too confiding, he cursed his son to death. [Phaedra, wife of Theseus, made advances to his son Hippolytus, which were repulsed. She accused him of having made advances to her, and he prayed to his father Poseidon, to punish Hippolytus. Poseidon sent a bull out of the sea to frighten Hippolytus’s horses, and the young man was killed.] Doomed by his piety, the youth was journeying to Troezen, when a bull cleft with his breast the waters in the path. Fear seized the startled steeds; in vain their master held them back, they dragged him along the crags and flinty rocks. Hippolytus fell from the car, and, his limbs entangled by the reins, his mangled body was whirled along, till he gave up the ghost, much to Diana’s rage. “There is no need for grief,” said the son of Coronis [Aesculapius], “for I will restore the pious youth to life all unscathed, and to my leech-craft gloomy fate shall yield.”

Straightway he drew from an ivory casket simples that before had stood Glaucus’ ghost in good stead, what time the seer went down to pluck the herbs he had remarked, and the snake was succored by a snake. Thrice he touched the youth’s breast, thrice he spoke healing words; then Hippolytus lifted his head, low laid upon the ground. He found a hiding-place in a sacred grove and in the depths of Dictynna’s own woodland; he became Virbius of the Arician Lake. But Clymenus [Pluto] and Clotho [one of the three Fates] grieved, she that life’s broken thread should be respun, he that his kingdom’s rights should be infringed. Fearing the example thus set, Jupiter aimed a thunderbolt at him who used the resources of a too potent art. Phoebus, you did complain. But Aesculapius is a god, be reconciled to your parent: he did himself for your sake what he forbids others to do.

X. Kal. 22nd

However great your haste to conquer, O Caesar, I would not have you march, if the auspices forbade. Be Flaminius and the Trasimenian shores your witnesses that the kind gods give many warnings by means of birds. If you ask the date of that ancient disaster, incurred through recklessness, it was the tenth day from the end of the month [217 B.C. Flaminius set the omens at defiance].

IX. Kal. 23rd

The next day is luckier: on it Masinissa defeated Syphax [Hasdrubal Syphax were defeated by Masinissa and Scipio, 203 B.C.], and Hasdrubal fell by his own sword. [Hasdrubal, brother of Hannibal, fell fighting at the Metaurus.]

VIII. Kal. 24th

Time slips away, and we grow old with silent lapse of years; there is no bridle that can curb the flying days. How quickly has come round the festival of Fors Fortuna! Yet seven days and June will be over. Come, Quirites, celebrate with joy the goddess Fors! On Tiber’s bank she has her royal foundations. Speed some of you on foot, and some in the swift boat, and think no shame to return tipsy home from your ramble. You flower-crowned skiffs, bear bands of youthful revellers, and let them quaff deep draughts of wine on the bosom of the stream. The common folk worship this goddess because the founder of her temple is said to have been of their number and to have risen to the crown from humble rank. Her worship is also appropriate for slaves, because Tullius, who instituted the neighboring temples of the fickle goddess, was born of a slave woman.

VI. Kal. 26th

Look, returning from the suburban shrine, a maudlin worshipper thus hails the stars: “Orion, your belt is now invisible, and perhaps it will be invisible to-morrow: after that it will be within my ken.” But if he had not been tipsy, he would have said that the solstice would fall on the same day.

V. Kal. 27th

Next morn the Lares were given a sanctuary on the spot where many a wreath is twined by deft hands. At the same time was built the temple of Jupiter Stator [Jupiter the Stayer], which Romulus of old founded in front of the Palatine hill.

III. Kal. 29th

When as many days of the month remain as the Fates have names, a temple was dedicated to you, Quirinus, god of the striped gown.

Pr. Kal. 30th

To-morrow is the birthday of the Kalends of July. Pierides, put the last touches to my undertaking. Tell me, Pierides, who associated you with him to whom his stepmother was forced to yield reluctantly [Juno]. So I spoke, and Clio answered me thus: “You behold the monument of that famous Philip from whom the chaste Marcia is descended, Marcia who derives her name from sacrificial Ancus, and whose beauty matches her noble birth. In her the figure answers to the soul; in her we find lineage and beauty and genius all at once. Nor deem our praise of figure base; on the same ground we praise great goddesses. The mother’s sister of Caesar was once married to that Philip. [Atia, mother of Augustus, appears to have married Marcius Philippus.] O glorious dame! O lady worthy of that sacred house!” So Clio sang. Her learned sisters chimed in; Alcides bowed assent and twanged his lyre.

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