Siqua meis fuerint, ut erunt, vitiosa libellis, excusata suo tempore, lector, habe. exul eram, requiesque mihi, non fama petita est, mens intenta suis ne foret usque malis. 5hoc est cur cantet vinctus quoque compede fossor, indocili numero cum grave mollit opus. cantat et innitens limosae pronus harenae, adverso tardam qui trahit amne ratem; quique refert pariter lentos ad pectora remos, 10in numerum pulsa bracchia iactat1 aqua. fessus ubi incubuit baculo saxove resedit pastor, harundineo carmine mulcet oves. cantantis pariter, pariter data pensa trahentis, fallitur ancillae decipiturque labor. 15fertur et abducta Lyrneside tristis Achilles Haemonia curas attenuasse lyra. cum traheret silvas Orpheus et dura canendo saxa, bis amissa coniuge maestus erat. me quoque Musa levat Ponti loca iussa petentem: 20sola comes nostrae perstitit illa fugae;
I. A Plea for Indulgence
Whatever faults you may find—and you will find them—in my books, hold them absolved, reader, because of the time of their writing. I am an exile; solace, not fame, has been my object—that my mind dwell not constantly on its own woes. This is why even the ditcher, shackled though he be, resorts to song, lightening with untutored rhythm his heavy work. He also sings who bends forward over the slimy sand, towing against the stream the slow-moving barge; he who pulls to his chest in unison the pliant oars, moves his arms rhythmically1 as he strikes the water. The weary shepherd leaning upon his staff or seated upon a rock soothes his sheep with the drone of his reeds. At once singing, at once spinning her allotted task, the slave girl beguiles and whiles away her toil. They say too that when the maid2 of Lyrnesus was taken from him, sad Achilles relieved his sorrow with the Haemonian lyre. While Orpheus was drawing to him the forests and the hard rocks by his singing, he was sorrowing for the wife3 twice lost to him.
19 Me also the Muse comforted while on my way to the appointed lands of Pontus; she only was the steadfast companion of my flight—the only one who