Book 11: Greges (“Herds” or “Flocks”)

This book focuses on the keeping of different kinds of herds, including sheep, goat, and pig. It explores how the day of the shepherd is structured, considering how the animals behave and their different needs. The book aligns with a didactic tradition, for example with Vergil’s Georgics, and showcases some of the common practices in farming in the poem’s time.

Lamp, from the British Museum (n. 1814,0704.180)

[ll. 1-9]

The author introduces his new theme, grazing animals; invokes the Muses; and makes his recusatio, that is, his definition of the theme he will not sing (hunting).

Armentis sociare greges per rura vagantes,

Lanigerumque pecus, caprasque, haedosque petulcos,

Atque saginatos aurato germine porcos,

Musa jubet. Procul hinc, Nymphae, procul este Napaeae:

Nil mihi vulnificis ferro lucente sagittis,

Nec visco, aut laqueis fallaci gramine tectis

Est opus. Expertis tantum pastoribus utar,

Errantesque agro pecudes in septa molossis

Ducam, torva quibus discedat bellua campis.

petulcus, a, um: butting, apt to butt (with the horns or head) 

sagīnō, sagīnāre, sagīnāvī, sagīnātum: to fatten, fat

Napaeae, ārum (fem.): of the wooded dell (the dell-nymphs). It occurs only in Vergil, Georgics 4.535, and later poets who derive from him

vulnificus, a, um: wound-inflicting

viscum, ī (neut.): birdlime, a substance used to trap birds (cf. Vergil’s Georgics 1.139)

laqueus, ī (masc.): a snare, trap

opus, operis (neut.) [+ abl.]: there is need of…

utar and ducam: hortatory subjunctive (A&G 439)

septum, ī (neut.): [from saeptum, ī] a fence

molossus, ī (masc.): a large dog, originally kept by the Molossians, who lived in Epirus

quibus discedat: a relative clause of characteristic (A&G 534)

bellua, ae (fem.): [from bēlua, ae] beast

campis: ablative of place from which, more commonly expressive by preposition + abl.

[ll. 10-17]

The poet continues his invocation, now asking for Pan’s assistance and promising sacrifices in return. He wants to have shepherds around him to help with his theme.

Tu, qui Maenalia, Capripes, modulatus avena

Et campo, et nigra dūcis pecuaria sylva,

Pastorumque frequens demulces pectora cantu,

Protinus ante oculos resonis pecus omne cicutis

Accerse, et blanda pastores voce vocatos

Naturam pecorum variam compelle docere:

Et tibi septenos avulsos ubere natos

Ocyus ipse tuis libabo cernuus aris.

Capripēs, Capripedis (masc.): goat-footed, an epithet of rural deities, probably referring to Pan

modulor, modulārī, modulātus sum: to play (usually it takes a complement in the accusative)

dēmulceo, dēmulcēre, dēmulsī, dēmulctum: to stroke down, to soften

cicūta, ae (fem.): a shepherd’s pipe, made from the stalks of the hemlock

accerso, accersere, accersīvī, accersitum: to call, to summon

septēnī, ae, a: seven each, seven at a time

āvellō, āvellere, āvulsī, āvulsum: to tear away

ocyus: ocius, a comparative adverb

cernuus, a, um: inclined forwards, with bowed head

[ll. 18-24]

The poet emphasizes how his theme will not suit everyone since others might prefer the products derived from these animals, such as the animals’ skin and meat.

Nos omnes armenta juvant, strepitusque bubulcum:

Alter enim placidas ardet tondere bidentes:

Alter amat celsis errantes collibus haedos

Tergore nudatos fusis condire salinis,

Ac vario mollire hirtam medicamine pellem;

Dum porcos alius curat pinguescere fundo

Et largus genti convivia lauta parare.

juvō, juvāre, jūvī, jūtum: here in the meaning “to delight”

bubulcus, ī (masc.): (post-Aug.) herdsman

ardeo, ardere, arsī, arsum [+ inf.]: to desire ardently to do a thing

bidens, bidentis (fem.): an animal for sacrifice whose two rows of teeth are complete

condiō, condīre, condīvī/condiī, condītum: to season, to embalm

salīna, ae (fem.): salt pan, salt works

largus, a, um: abundant

[ll. 70-88]

The poet describes how the shepherd spends his night sleeping and at the same time protecting his herd with the help of dogs.

Ast vero tacitae celsis ut montibus umbrae

Praecipitant, orbemque tegit nox atra tenebris,

Villicus actutum, latis qui praesidet arvis,

Palantesque greges medio consistere campo

Imperat, ac fessos placido dare membra sopori.

Tunc tacet omne pecus, catuli, pecorumque magistri, 75

Herbosisque toris turba inclinata recumbit,

Dum somno pressam Phoebi lux alma revisat.

Sed prius infirmos quam pastor providus artus

Fronde super viridi, nigraque sub ilice ponat,

Mollia carnivoris partitur frusta molossis, 80

Ardoremque famis, rabiemque extinguit edenti.

Fida canum subito plebes diffusa per herbam

Intrepidisque armata minis pecuaria cingit

Prompta fero quoscumque hostes invadere rictu.

Aequore tunc medio cameram sibi pastor adornat 85

Curvatis fictam storeis, et gramine fusus

Tranquillum proflat rauco de pectore somnum.

vīlicus, ī (masc.): bailiff

actūtum (adv.): immediately

pālor, pālārī, pālātus sum: to wander up, to stray

catulī, pecorumque magistrī: also subjects of tacet, later referred to by turba

torus, ī (masc.): bed

pressam: referring to turba

almus, a, um: nourishing

revīsō, revīsere, revīsī, revīsum: to pay a visit again

frustum, ī (neut.): pieces (of food)

ardoremque famis, rabiemque extinguit edenti: see that there is no exact parallel in this line, since famis is a noun in the genitive and edenti a participle in the dative

plēbēs, plēbeī/plēbis (fem.): an archaic form of plebs, plebis

intrepidis… minis: a reference to the dogs’ barking

rictus, ūs (masc.): the mouth wide open

aequor, aequoris (neut.): a level surface (here, a plain)

camera, ae (fem.): hut

storea, ae (fem.): mat or covering made of straw

fundō, fundere, fūdi, fūsum: to stretch

prōflō, prōflāre, prōflāvī, prōflātum: to breathe out

[ll. 217-224]

A description of the unquiet flock, which runs in different directions to find food and water, while the shepherd and his dogs try to keep the animals on track.

Dum tamen halantes errat de more per herbas

Improbaque herboso sedat jejunia campo

Irrequieta pecus, saltusque, agrosque peragrat,

Nunc frondes pedibus cummis arrecta recidens,

Nunc saltu veteris conscendens brachia quercus,

Aut riguum quaerens etiam sitibunda fluentum.

Agmina sed fidis custos dispera molossis

Cogit iter longum totis urgere diebus.

hālō, hālāre, hālāvī, hālātum: to be fragrant

sēdō, sēdāre, sēdāvī, sēdātum: to appease, to calm

saltus, ūs (masc.): woodland-pasture

arrigō, arrigere, arrēxī, arrēctum: to raise

conscendō, conscedere, conscendī, conscensum: to mount, to ascent

brāchia = brācchia

riguus, a, um: watering

sitibundus, a, um: thirsty

fluentum, ī (neut.): a stream

cōgo, cōgere, coēgī, coactum: to urge together

[ll. 225-231]

Once more the poet describes the setting of the sun and the shepherd’s duties, using a similar vocabulary to lines 70-88.

Ut tamen aurato curru lux alma recessit,

Noxque pecus celat densis obducta tenebris,

Villicus actutum gregibus consistere jussis,

E silicis venis excussum colligit ignem

Frondibus, ingentemque rogum mox suscitat arvis.

Tunc circum flammas effusum protinus agmen

Omne recumbit agris, positoque pavore quiescit.

obdūcō, obdūcere, obdūxī, obductum: to cover over, to surround

vēna, ae (fem.): a streak of wood

colligō, colligere, colēgī, colectum: to collect together (though not very common to describe lightening a fire)

rogus, ī (masc.): fire

[ll. 342-347]

The poet describes the dawn and the chores the shepherd must accomplish before sending out his animals to graze.

Sed prius ardenti rodant quam mollia rictu

Arva sues; dum mane novum, dum Lucifer undis

Exoritur, camposque redux Aurora revisit,

Munera sollicitus largā Cerealia dextrā

Disseminat custos, flaventiaque hordea fundit,

Agmina queis avidi solvant jejunia ventris.

rōdō, rōdere, rōsī, rōsum: to gnaw

ll. 342-343: note the intricate position of the words; for a more natural order, consider sed prius quam sues mollia arva ardenti rictu rodant

dum mane novum: “early in the morning,” an expression found in Vergil’s Georgics 3.325, also in a description of the duties of the shepherd before sending out the animals to graze.

exorior, exorīrī, exortus sum: from ex + orior, taking a complement in the ablative because of its compound nature

redux, reducis [also as reddux, redducis]: returning, an idea emphasized in this line by its use alongside revisit. This adjective is usually an epithet for Jupiter or Fortuna, although that is not the case here

sollicitus, a, um: engaged, careful, solicitous

flāveō, flāvēre, flāvī: to be golden or yellow

hordeum, ī (neut.): barley

queis = quīs (quibus)

solvō, solvere, solvī, solūtum: to loosen, exempt, get rid of; here in a subjunctive because of the relative clause of characteristic (A&G 534)

venter, ventris (masc.): belly

[ll. 348-353]

 Once the animals have been fed, they graze and play throughout the fields under the watch of their keepers.

Mox satiata petunt, pueris rectoribus, agrum

In plures distracta greges, effusaque campis

Nunc tranquilla metunt sinuato pascua dente,

Nunc laetis lusura toris dispersa feruntur:

Nec potis est gentem custos cohibere fugacem,

Pinguia ni rigido proscindat terga flagello.

rector, rectōris (masc.): a guider, leader; here as part of an ablative absolute alongside pueris (A&G 419a)

distrahō, distrahere, distrāvī, distractum: to divide, scatter

metō, metere, messuī, messum: to mow down, cut, reap

sinuō, sinuāre, sinuāvī, sinuātum: to bend, curve

torus, ī (masc.): an elevation, bank of earth

lusura: a future participle, indicating purpose (A&G 499)

ferō, ferre, tulī, lātum: to move quickly, to haste; here with a reflexive idea of motion

potis, pote (adj.): able, capable; usually in connection with est, “to be able”, and an infinitive as complement

ni = nisi, si nōn, a conditional negative

prōscindō, prōscindere, prōscidī, prōscissum: to tear open, cut up, castigate. Note the violence behind the meaning of this verb, suggesting how the animals were treated.

[ll. 354-363]

The animals grow hot during the day and the shepherd relies on his assistants to bring the animals under protection, where they will be able to drink water just as the deer, a wild animal, does.

Ast ubi diffusum campis pecus omne coegit,

Et medio Phoebus properat sublimis Olympo,

Ocyus instructo rursus longo agmine turmam

Circumstante manu socium, sub tecta reducit.

Illa renidentis Titanis torrida flammis

Chorte recepta suā vitreos petit anxia fontes,

Et gelidis aestum gaudet relevare fluentis:

Ceu quondam cervus cursu vexatus anhelo,

Vulnere quem laesum longae sitis ardor adurit,

Exhaurit promptis undantia flumina labris.

ast = at

properō, properāre, properāvī, properātum: to hasten

ōcyus = ocius, the neuter singular nom./acc. in the comparative degree, working as an adverb (A&G 218)

agmen, agminis (fem.): line

renīdeō, renīdēre, renīduī: to shine back or again, another of the many compounds with re– in this passage

Tītan, Tītānis (masc.): the Sun-god

torridus, a, um: hot, dry

chorte = cohorte, from cohors, cohortis (fem.): a yard or court

recipiō, recipere, recēpī, receptum: to retake, regain, having a complement in the ablative

vitreus, a, um: of glass, clear, shining

relevō, relevāre, relevāvī, relevātum: to make light, refresh

ceu (adv.): just like

anhēlus, a, um: out of breath, panting

sitis, is (fem.): thirst

adūrō, adūrere, adussī, adustum: ad + urō, to burn

exhauriō, exhaurīre, exhausī, exhaustum: to draw out, empty

undō, undāre, undāvī, undātum: to rise in waves or surges

lābrum, ī (neut.): lip

[ll. 364-371]

The shepherd continues to take care of his animals, who enjoy the shade as the sun recedes and then graze again until the day ends.

Mox terris pastor nitratis aequore chortis

Perfundit, cogitque pecus, saturatque salinis,

Ac tectis umbram mittit captare sub altis,

Dum vires Phoebus curru impendente remittat.

Tunc armenta movet, mollique abrepta cubili

Vernantes iterum pastus jubet ire sub agri,

Et gramen tondere novum; spumantia^ donec

Mergat equos fessos praeceps in ^caerula Titan.

nitrātus, a, um: mixed with sodium carbonate, a kind of salt

aequor, aequoris (neut.): floor

perfundō, perfundere, perfūdī, perfūsum: to pour over, wet; here governing an ablative as complement (instead of the more common accusative) and another ablative as instrument

saturō, saturāre, saturāvī, saturātum: to fill, satisfy

salīnum, ī (naut.): salt-cellar, but here probably just referring to salt, a common supplement to pigs’ diet

captāre: an infinitive of purpose (A&G 415)

currus, ūs (masc.): chariot

impendeō, impendēre: to hang over

cubīle, cubīlis (neut.): bed

abrēpō, abrēpere, abrepsī, abreptum: (or arrepō) to move slowly, in post-Augustan Latin taking a complement in the dative

vernō, vernāre, vernāvī, vernātum: to spring, bloom

pastus, ūs (masc.): pasture

grāmen, grāminis (neut.): grass

spūmō, spūmāre, spūmāvī, spūmātum: to foam

mergō, mergere, mersī, mersum: to dip, plunge into water

[ll. 372-378]

As the pigs are back in their enclosure, they receive more barley and prepare to finally rest in the sand.

Ilicet ille greges opulenta ad tecta retorquet

Largaque per chortem reclusis hordea saccis

Objicit, ac multo solatur viscera pastu.

Vix tamen haec avido consumit pabula dente

Cum subito plebes obducti claustra suilis

Pulverulenta petit, tritaque volutat arena

Artus, prolixamque capit per membra quietem.

īlicet (adv.): hence

opulentus, a, um: rich, wealthy

rēclūdo, rēclūdere, rēclūsī, rēclūsum: to unclose

saccus, ī (masc.): bag

ōbjiciō, ōbjicere, ōbjēcī, ōbjēctum: to throw before

sōlor, sōlārī, sōlātus sum: to comfort, soothe

vīscus, vīsceris (neut.): entrails, internal organ of the body

consūmō, consūmere, consūmpsī, consūmptum: to consume, devour

pabulum, ī (neut.): food, fodder

plebs, plebis: the common people, the community; here referring to the pigs [usually fem., but here agreeing with obducti, so masc.]

obdūcō, obdūcere, obdūxī, obdūctum: to cover over

suīle, suīlis (neut.): a pigsty, an enclosure for pigs

claustra, claustrōrum (neut.): an enclosure, usually in the plural

pulverulentus, a, um: full of dust

trītus, a, um: rubbed down, fine

volūtō, volūtāre, volūtāvī, volūtātum: to roll about

artus, artūs (masc.): joint, limb; usually in the plural

prōlixus, a, um: long, extended

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