The Aeneid, Book I – Virgil

Arms and the man I sing

Arms and the man I sing, who, forced by fate 

And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate, 

Expelled and exiled, left the Trojan shore. 

Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore; 

And in the doubtful war, before he won 

The Latin realm and built the destined town, 

His banished gods restored to rights divine, 

And settled sure succession in his line; 

From whence the race of Alban fathers come, 

And the long glories of majestic Rome. 

O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate,— 

What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate; 

For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began 

To persecute so brave, so just a man; 

Involv’d his anxious life in endless cares, 

Expos’d to wants, and hurried into wars! 

Can heav’nly minds such high resentment show, 

Or exercise their spite in human woe? 

Against the Tiber’s mouth, but far away, 

An ancient town was seated on the sea,— 

A Tyrian colony; the people made 

Stout for the war, and studious of their trade: 

Carthage the name; belov’d by Juno more 

Than her own Argos, or the Samian shore. 

Here stood her chariot; here, if Heav’n were kind, 

The seat of awful empire she design’d. 

Yet she had heard an ancient rumor fly, 

(Long cited by the people of the sky,) 

That times to come should see the Trojan race 

Her Carthage ruin, and her tow’rs deface; 

Nor thus confin’d, the yoke of sov’reign sway 

Should on the necks of all the nations lay. 

She ponder’d this, and fear’d it was in fate; 

Nor could forget the war she wag’d of late 

For conqu’ring Greece against the Trojan state. 

Besides, long causes working in her mind, 

And secret seeds of envy, lay behind; 

Deep graven in her heart the doom remain’d 

Of partial Paris, and her form disdain’d; 

The grace bestow’d on ravish’d Ganymed, 

Electra’s glories, and her injur’d bed. 

Each was a cause alone; and all combin’d 

To kindle vengeance in her haughty mind. 

For this, far distant from the Latian coast 

She drove the remnants of the Trojan host; 

And sev’n long years th’ unhappy wand’ring train 

Were toss’d by storms, and scatter’d thro’ the main. 

Such time, such toil, requir’d the Roman name, 

Such length of labor for so vast a frame. 

Now scarce the Trojan fleet with sails and oars 

Had left behind the fair Sicilian shores, 

Entering with cheerful shouts the watery reign, 

And plowing frothy furrows in the main, 

When, laboring still, with endless discontent 

The Queen of Heaven did thus her fury vent:— 

“Then am I vanquished? must I yield?” said she, 

“And must the Trojans reign in Italy?” 

So Fate will have it, and Jove adds his force; 

Nor can my power divert their happy course. 

Could angry Pallas, with revengeful spleen, 

The Grecian navy burn and drown the men? 

She, for the fault of one offending foe, 

The bolts of Jove himself presumed to throw; 

With whirlwinds from beneath she tossed the ship 

And bare exposed the bosom of the deep: 

Then, as an eagle gripes the trembling game, 

The wretch , yet hissing with her father’s flame, 

She strongly seized, and with a burning wound, 

Transfixed and naked, on a rock she bound. 

But I, who walked in awful state above, 

The majesty of heaven, the sister-wife of Jove, 

For length of years my fruitless force employ 

Against the thin remains of ruined Troy. 

What nations now to Juno’s power will pray, 

Or offerings on my slighted altars lay?”

First Georgic [Excerpt] – Virgil

When spring begins and the ice-locked streams begin 

To flow down from the snowy hills above 

And the clods begin to crumble in the breeze, 

The time has come for my groaning ox to drag 

My heavy plow across the fields, so that 

The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs against it. 

Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice 

Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will 

It yield what the farmer prays for; then will the barn 

Be full to bursting with the gathered grain, 

And yet if the field’s unknown and new to us, 

Before our plow breaks open the soil at all, 

It’s necessary to study the ways of the winds 

And the changing ways of the skies, and also to know 

The history of the planting in that ground, 

What crops will prosper there and what will not. 

In one place grain grows best, in another, vines; 

Another’s good for the cultivation of trees; 

In still another the grain turns green unbidden.