Lusimus, Octavi, gracili modulante Thalia atque ut araneoli tenuem formavimus orsum; lusimus: haec propter culicis sint carmina docta, omnis ut historiae per ludum consonet ordo 5notitiaeque ducum voces, licet invidus adsit. quisquis erit culpare iocos Musamque paratus, pondere vel culicis levior famaque feratur. posterius graviore sono tibi Musa loquetur nostra, dabunt cum securos mihi tempora fructus, 10ut tibi digna tuo poliantur carmina sensu. Latonae magnique Iovis decus, aurea proles, Phoebus erit nostri princeps et carminis auctor et recinente lyra fautor, sive educat illum Arna Chimaeraeo Xanthi perfusa liquore 15seu decus Asteriae seu qua Parnasia rupes hinc atque hinc patula praepandit cornua fronte, Castaliaeque sonans liquido pede labitur unda.
- 3docta Ω: dicta V
- 4ut ς: et Ω
- 7feratur Scaliger: feretur Ω
- 14Arna Haupt: alma Ω
We have trifled, Octavius,1 while a slender Muse marked the measure, and lo! like tiny spiders, have fashioned our thin-spun task. We have trifled: let our Gnat’s song be a learned one, that for all its sportive mood the whole plot of the story and the speeches of the heroes be consistent with tradition, whatever carping critic be present. Let the man ready to blame our playful Muse be deemed lighter than even our Gnat in weight and name. In time to come our Muse will speak to you in graver tones, when the seasons yield me their fruits in peace, that you may find her verses polished and worthy of your taste.
The pride of Latona and mighty Jove, their golden child, even Phoebus, shall be the fount and source of my song, and he with resounding harp shall inspire, whether Arna nurture him—Arna, bathed with Xanthus’ stream from Mount Chimaera—or the glory of Asteria, 2 or that land where Parnassus’ ridge, with broad brow, spreads his horns this way and that, and Castalia’s singing waves glide in their watery course. 3 Wherefore, come, ye sister
- 1The later Augustus, who is still a puer (vv. 26, 37) when thus addressed. The young Octavius assumed the toga in his fifteenth year, in 48 b.c.: the poem, therefore, which purports to have been written before that date, must be a fake, containing, as it does, so many echoes of the mature Virgil.
- 3Far below the real summit of Parnassus, the rocky cliffs that tower above Delphi present two peaks, between which, in a deep chasm, flows the Castalian stream.