Home > Uncategorized > Calpurnius Siculus: The unholy War-Goddess shall yield. All wars shall be quelled in Tartarean durance.

Calpurnius Siculus: The unholy War-Goddess shall yield. All wars shall be quelled in Tartarean durance.

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Calpurnius Siculus
From Eclogue I
Translated by J. Wight Duff and Arnold M. Duff

“I, Faunus of celestial birth, guardian of hill and forest, foretell to the nations that these things shall come. Upon the sacred tree I please to carve the joyous lay in which destiny is revealed. Rejoice above all, ye denizens of the woods; rejoice, ye peoples who are mine! All the herd may stray and yet no care trouble its guardian: the shepherd may neglect to close the pens at night with wattles of ash-wood – yet no robber shall bring his crafty plot upon the fold, or loosing the halters drive the bullocks off. Amid untroubled peace, the Golden Age springs to a second birth; at last kindly Themis, throwing off the gathered dust of her mourning, returns to the earth; blissful ages attend the youthful prince who pleaded a successful case for the Iuli of the mother town (of Troy). While he, a very God, shall rule the nations, the unholy War-Goddess shall yield and have her vanquished hands bound behind her back, and, stripped of weapons, turn her furious teeth into her own entrails; upon herself shall she wage the civil wars which of late she spread o’er all the world: no battles like Philippi shall Rome lament henceforth: no triumph o’er her captive self shall she celebrate. All wars shall be quelled in Tartarean durance: they shall plunge the head in darkness, and dread the light. Fair peace shall come, fair not in visage alone – such as she often was when, though free from open war, and with distant foe subdued, she yet ‘mid the riot of arms spread national strife with secret steel. Clemency has commanded every vice that wears the disguise of peace to betake itself afar: she has broken every maddened sword-blade. No more shall the funereal procession of a fettered senate weary the headsman at his task; no more will crowded prison leave only a senator here and there for the unhappy Curia to count. Peace in her fullness shall come; knowing not the drawn sword, she shall renew once more the reign of Saturn in Latium, once more the reign of Numa who first taught the tasks of peace to armies that rejoiced in slaughter and still drew from Romulus’ camp their fiery spirit – Numa who first hushed the clash of arms and bade the patient sound ‘mid holy rites instead of war. No more shall the consul purchase the form of a shadowy dignity or, silenced, receive worthless fasces and meaningless judgement-seat. Nay, laws shall be restored; right will come in fullest force; a kinder god will renew the former tradition and look of the Forum and displace the age of oppression. Let all the peoples rejoice, whether they dwell furthest down in the low south or in the uplifted north, whether they face the east or west or burn beneath the central zone. Do ye mark how already for a twentieth time the night is agleam in an unclouded sky, displaying a comet radiant in tranquil light? and how brightly, with no presage of bloodshed, twinkles its undiminished lustre? Is it with any trace of blood-hued flame that, as is a comet’s way, it besprinkles either pole? does its torch flash with gory fire? But aforetime it was not such, when, at Caesar’s taking off, it pronounced upon luckless citizens the destined wars. Assuredly a very god shall take in his strong arms the burden of the massive Roman state so unshaken, that the world will pass to a new ruler without the crash of reverberating thunder, and that Rome will not regard the dead as deified in accord with merit ere the dawn of one reign can look back on the setting of the last.”

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“qui iuga, qui silvas tueor, satus aethere Faunus,
haec populis ventura cano: iuvat arbore sacra
laeta patefactis incidere carmina fatis.
vos o praecipue nemorum gaudete coloni,
vos populi gaudete mei: licet omne vagetur
securo custode pecus nocturnaque pastor
claudere fraxinea nolit praesepia crate:
40 non tamen insidias praedator ovilibus ullas
afferet aut laxis abiget iumenta capistris.
aurea secura cum pace renascitur aetas
et redit ad terras tandem squalore situque
alma Themis posito iuvenemque beata sequuntur
saecula, maternis causam qui vicit Iulis.*
dum populos deus ipse reget, dabit impia victas
post tergum Bellona manus spoliataque telis
in sua vesanos torquebit viscera morsus
et, modo quae toto civilia distulit orbe,
secum bella geret: nullos iam Roma Philippos
deflebit, nullos ducet captiva triumphos;
omnia Tartareo subigentur carcere bella
immergentque caput tenebris lucemque timebunt.
candida pax aderit; nec solum candida vultu,
qualis saepe fuit quae libera Marte professo,
quae domito procul hoste tamen grassantibus armis
publica diffudit tacito discordia ferro:
omne procul vitium simulatae cedere pacis
iussit et insanos Clementia contudit enses.
60 nulla catenati feralis pompa senatus
carnificum lassabit opus, nec carcere pleno
infelix raros numerabit Curia patres.
plena quies aderit, quae stricti nescia ferri
altera Saturni referet Latialia regna,
altera regna Numae, qui primus ovantia caede
agmina, Romuleis et adhuc ardentia castris
pacis opus docuit iussitque silentibus armis
inter sacra tubas, non inter bella, sonare.
iam nec adumbrati faciem mercatus honoris
nec vacuos tacitus fasces et inane tribunal
accipiet consul; sed legibus omne reductis
ius aderit, moremque fori vultumque priorem
reddet et afflictum melior deus auferet aevum.
exultet quaecumque notum gens ima iacentem
erectumve colit boream, quaecumque vel ortu
vel patet occasu mediove sub aethere fervit.
cernitis ut puro nox iam vicesima caelo
fulgeat et placida radiantem luce cometem
proferat? ut liquidum niteat sine vulnere plenus?
80 numquid utrumque polum, sicut solet, igne cruento
spargit et ardenti scintillat sanguine lampas?
at quondam non talis erat, cum Caesare rapto
indixit miseris fatalia civibus arma.
scilicet ipse deus Romanae pondera molis
85 fortibus excipiet sic inconcussa lacertis,
ut neque translati sonitu fragor intonet orbis
nec prius ex meritis defunctos Roma penates
censeat, occasus nisi cum respexerit ortus.”

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