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Georgics

Liber IV

mpr Protinus aërii mellis caelestia dona exsequar. hanc etiam, Maecenas, aspice partem. admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum magnanimosque duces totiusque ordine gentis 5mores et studia et populos et proelia dicam. in tenui labor; at tenuis non gloria, si quem numina laeva sinunt auditque vocatus Apollo. Principio sedes apibus statioque petenda, quo neque sit ventis aditus (nam pabula venti 10ferre domum prohibent) neque oves haedique petulci floribus insultent, aut errans bucula campo decutiat rorem et surgentis atterat herbas. absint et picti squalentia terga lacerti pinguibus a stabulis, meropesque aliaeque volucres 15et manibus Procne pectus signata cruentis: omnia nam late vastant ipsasque volantis ore ferunt dulcem nidis immitibus escam. at liquidi fontes et stagna virentia musco adsint et tenuis fugiens per gramina rivus, 20palmaque vestibulum aut ingens oleaster inumbret, ut, cum prima novi ducent examina reges vere suo, ludetque favis emissa iuventus,

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Book IV

Book IV

Next will I discourse of Heaven’s gift, the honey from the skies. On this part, too, of my task, Maecenas, look with favour. The wondrous pageant of a tiny world—chiefs great-hearted, a whole nation’s character and tastes and tribes and battles—I will in due order to you unfold. Slight is the field of toil; but not slight the glory, if adverse powers leave one free, and Apollo hearkens unto prayer.

First seek a settled home for your bees, whither the winds may find no access—for the winds let them not carry home their food—where no ewes or sportive kids may trample the flowers, nor straying heifer brush off the dew from the mead and bruise the springing blade. Let the spangled lizard with his scaly back be also a stranger to the rich stalls, and the bee-eater and other birds, and Procne, 1 with breast marked by her blood-stained hands. For these spread havoc far and near, and, while the bees are on the wing, carry them off in their mouths, a sweet morsel for their cruel nestlings. But let clear springs be near, and moss-green pools, and a tiny brook stealing through the grass; and let a palm or huge wild olive shade the porch, so that, when the new kings lead forth the early swarms in the spring they love, and the youth revel in their freedom from

  • 1The swallow.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.virgil-georgics.1916