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Ovid: Pray for perpetual peace and a peace-loving leader


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Ovid: Selections on war and peace


From Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Ceres was the first who invited man to better sustenance and exchanged acorns for more useful food. She forced bulls to yield their necks to the yoke; then for the first time did the upturned soil behold the sun. Copper was now held in esteem; iron ore still lay concealed; ah, would that it had been hidden for ever! Ceres delights in peace; and you, ye husbandmen, pray for perpetual peace and for a pacific prince.

prima Ceres homine ad meliora alimenta vocato
mutavit glandes utiliore cibo.
ilia iugo tauros coUum praebere coegit:
tunc primum soles eruta vidit humus.
aes erat in pretio, chalybeia massa latebat:
eheu! perpetuo debuit ilia tegi.
pace Ceres laeta est; et vos orate, coloni,
perpetuam pacem pacificumque ducem.


O spare, I pray, and take thy scabby hands from off the harvest! Harm not the tilth; ’tis enough that thou hast the power to harm. Grip not the tender crops, but rather grip the hard iron. Forestall the destroyer. Better that thou shouldst gnaw at swords and baneful weapons There is no need of them: the world is at peace. Now let the rustic gear, the rakes, and the hard hoe, and the curved share be burnished bright; but let rust defile the arms, and when one essays to draw the sword from the scabbard, let him feel it stick from long disuse.

parce, precor, scabrasque manus a messibus aufer
neve noce cultis: posse nocere sat est.
nee teneras segetes, sed durum amplectere ferrum.
quodque potest alios perdere, perde prior.
utilius gladios et tela nocentia carpes:
nil opus est illis, otia mundus agit.
sarcula nunc durusque bidens et vomer aduncus,
ruris opes, niteant; inquinet arma situs,
conatusque aliquis vagina ducere ferrum
adstrictum longa sentiat esse mora.

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