Me.--Why not, O Mopsus, since we are met so good a pair, thou to breathe in the slim reeds, I to utter the verses, sit down here among the mingled elms and hazels?
Mo.--Thou art the older: it is fit I should obey thee, Menalcas, whether where western breezes shift the flickering shadows or rather the cavern be our resting-place. See, how over the cavern the woodland wild vine scatters her thin clusters.
Me.--On our hills Amyntas alone contends with thee.
Mo.--What if he even contend to excel Phoebus in song.
Me.--Begin, O Mopsus, first, if thou hast aught of flames for Phyllis or praises of Alcon or flouts at Codrus. Begin: Tityrus will keep the grazing kids.
Mo.--Nay, the songs I have newly written down on green beech bark and marked the music between the lines, these will I essay: thou thereafter bid Amyntas enter the contest.
Me.--Even as the pliant osier yields to the grey olive, as the low scented reed to the crimson rose-plots, so far by our judgment Amyntas yields to thee.
Mo.--But cease thou further, O boy: we have reached the cavern.
Dead Daphnis cruelly slain the Nymphs wept; you, O hazels and rivers, were the Nymphs' witnesses; while clasping her son's wretched corse, his mother calls on gods and stars that pity not. None in those days, Daphnis, drove the pastured oxen to cool streams; no four-footed thing tasted the river nor touched the grassy sward. Daphnis, the wild bills and the woodlands repeat how even Punic lions bemoaned thy decease. Daphnis ordered the harnessing of Armenian tigresses to the car; Daphnis the processions of Bacchus' revellers and
the soft leafage wound round their supple shafts. As the vine adorns her tree, as her grapes the vine; as bulls the herds, as corn the rich fields; so thou art all the ornament of thy people; since the Fates reft thee, Pales and Apollo themselves have left the country desolate. In the furrows where we often have bestowed the large barley, fruitless darnel and barren wild oats spring: instead of soft violet and shining narcissus rises the thistle and the thorn with his keen spines. Strew the ground with leaves, train shade over the springs, O shepherds: Daphnis bids such remembrance be done to him; and pile a mound, and over the mound add a verse: I am Daphnis the forester, known from here even to the heavens, keeper of a fair flock, myself more fair than they.
Me.--Such is thy song unto us, O divine poet, as sleep to the weary on the grass, as quenching of thirst in the heat from a gushing rivulet of sweet water. Nor on the reeds alone, but with voice too, thou equallest thy master: happy boy, thou shalt now be next to him. Yet we in turn will sing thee these songs of ours even as best we may, and raise thy Daphnis into the sky: we will ensky thy Daphnis, for us also Daphnis loved.
Mo.--And might aught be higher in our eyes than such a gift? Both the boy himself was worthy the singing, and these verses of thine Stimicon long since commended to us.
Me.--Clad in light, Daphnis marvels at Heaven's untrodden floor and sees the clouds and the stars beneath his feet. Therefore gay pleasure reigns in the forest and all the countryside, among Pan and the shepherds and the Dryad maidens. Neither does the wolf plot ambushes to the flock nor any hunting-nets ensnarement of the deer: gentle Daphnis loves peace. The unshorn mountains themselves cast echoes of gladness to the skies; the very rocks, the very copses now resound in song: A god, a god is he, O Menalcas. Ah be gracious and prosperous to thine own: see, four altars, two, lo! Daphnis, to thee, two for altars of offering to Phoebus: double cups frothing with fresh milk yearly, and two bowls of the fatness of the olive will I lay before thee; and above all making the
banquet glad with much wine, before the hearth in the cold season, in harvest beneath the shade, I will pour from flagons the fresh nectar of Ariusian wine. Damoetas and Lyctian Aegon shall sing to me: Alphesiboeus shall mimic the leaping Satyrs. This shall ever be thine, both when we pay the Nymphs our accustomed vows and when we purify our fields. While the wild boar and the fish shall haunt mountain-ridge and river, while bees shall feed on thyme and grasshoppers on dew, ever shall thine honour, thy name and praise endure. As to the Wine-god and the Corn-goddess, so to thee shall the husbandmen make yearly vows; thou likewise shalt claim their payment.
Mo.--How, how may I repay the gift of such a song? for neither the whisper of the gathering South nor the wave breaking on the beach so delights me, nor streams that race down amid rocky dells.
Me.--First shall this brittle hemlock-pipe be our gift to thee: the pipe that taught us Corydon burned for fair Alexis, and withal Who is the flock's master? Meliboeus?
Mo.--But take thou the crook that, often as he besought it, Antigenes got not of me, and then he was worth loving, beautiful with ranged studs of brass, O Menalcas.