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WHEREFORE dost thou blame me, gnawing Envy, for consuming my days in slothfulness; wherefore callest thou my verses the employment of an idle mind? Why dost thou reproach me for not following in the footsteps of my forefathers, for not seeking, while vigorous youth permits, to crown my brows with the dusty laurels of war, for not studying the jargon of the law, or for not prostituting my words in a dingy court of justice? Mortal are the works whereof thou pratest; my aim is glory that shall not perish, so that in every time and in every place I may be celebrated throughout the world. Mæonides shall live so long as Tenedos and Ida shall endure, so long as Simois shall roll his hurrying waters to the sea. The Ascræan bard, too, shall live while the grape ripens on the vine, while the corn shall fall beneath the sickle's curving blade. The song of Battus shall be sung throughout the world, albeit his art, rather than his genius, is his title deed to fame. The tragic buskin of Sophocles shall never grow old. So long as the sun and the moon shall shine, Aratus will live on. So long as slaves are rogues, as fathers storm, as pimps deceive and strumpets wheedle, Menander will not die. Ennius, for all his artlessness, and Accius, with his lusty speech, possess a name that

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[paragraph continues] Time shall not lay low. When shall there dawn an age that shall know not Varro, or the first ship to sail the seas, or the Golden Fleece brought home by Æson's son? When the world perisheth, then, and not till then, shall the works of the high-souled Lucretius perish too. Tityrus and the garnered crops, Æneas and his doughty deeds, will be read so long as Rome shall wield her sceptre o’er the conquered world. So long as Cupid wields his fires and bends his bow, thy numbers, skilled Tibullus, will remembered be. In the West and in the East the name of Gallus shall be known to fame, and because of Gallus, the name of Lycoris shall live on. What though devouring time wear down the flint, and blunt the share of the enduring plough, yet poetry shall never die. Let kings, then, and all their train of conquests, yield to poetry, to poetry let the happy shores of the golden Tagus give place. Let the vulgar herd set their hearts on dross if they will. For myself, let Apollo bestow on me cups overflowing with the waters of Castaly; let the myrtle that dreads the cold adorn my brow and let my verses ever be scanned by the eager lover. While we live we serve as food for Envy; when we are dead we rest within the aureole of the glory we have earned. So, when the funeral fires have consumed me, I shall live on, and the better part of me will have triumphed over death.


Quid mihi Livor edax, ignavos obicis annos,
    ingeniique vocas carmen inertis opus;
non me more patrum, dum strenua sustinet aetas,
    praemia militiae pulverulenta sequi,
5 nec me verbosas leges ediscere nec me
    ingrato vocem prostituisse foro?
Mortale est, quod quaeris, opus. mihi fama perennis
    quaeritur, in toto semper ut orbe canar.
vivet Maeonides, Tenedos dum stabit et Ide,
10     dum rapidas Simois in mare volvet aquas;
vivet et Ascraeus, dum mustis uva tumebit,
    dum cadet incurva falce resecta Ceres.
Battiades semper toto cantabitur orbe;
    quamvis ingenio non valet, arte valet.
15 nulla Sophocleo veniet iactura cothurno;
    cum sole et luna semper Aratus erit;
dum fallax servus, durus pater, inproba lena
    vivent et meretrix blanda, Menandros erit;
Ennius arte carens animosique Accius oris
20     casurum nullo tempore nomen habent.
Varronem primamque ratem quae nesciet aetas,
    aureaque Aesonio terga petita duci?
carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti,
    exitio terras cum dabit una dies;
25 Tityrus et segetes Aeneiaque arma legentur,
    Roma triumphati dum caput orbis erit;
donec erunt ignes arcusque Cupidinis arma,
    discentur numeri, culte Tibulle, tui;
Gallus et Hesperiis et Gallus notus Eois,
30     et sua cum Gallo nota Lycoris erit.
Ergo, cum silices, cum dens patientis aratri
    depereant aevo, carmina morte carent.
cedant carminibus reges regumque triumphi,
    cedat et auriferi ripa benigna Tagi!
35 vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
    pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua,
sustineamque coma metuentem frigora myrtum,
    atque a sollicito multus amante legar!
pascitur in vivis Livor; post fata quiescit,
40     cum suus ex merito quemque tuetur honos.
ergo etiam cum me supremus adederit ignis,
    vivam, parsque mei multa superstes erit.

Next: The Loves: Book II