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THE Idyls of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus have served as models for no inconsiderable portion of our modern pastoral and elegiac poetry. They have been imitated by Spenser, improved upon by Milton, parodied by Pope and Gay, copied after by Shelley, and loved and admired by all the poets. By the three specimens presented in this book most of the elegies in our own language have been either directly or remotely suggested, or in some way modified. No apology, therefore, would seem necessary for the admission of these translations from the Greek into a volume of select English classics. No Book of Elegies could be complete without them.






An English Prose Version

Thy song,

The shepherd Thyrsis, famed for his skill in song, sat one day in the shade of a pine, close by a clear, cool spring that gushed up out of the earth. A goatherd lounged at his ease on the grass and played sweet tunes upon his pipe. Ah, friend,said Thyrsis, thou dost in truth play well upon that reed : next to l'an thou shoulist have the prize. If he take the horned he-goat, then the she-goat shall be thine; but if he choose the she-goat for his meed, then the year-old kid must fall to thee." Well pleased was the goatherd with this high praise, and he paid it back in kind. good Thyrsis,said he, " is far more sweet than that of the stream as it falls from the edge of the rock. If the Muses for their meed bear off the young ewe, thou shalt have the lamb for thy gift; but if it please them best to take the lamb, then thou shalt take the ewe as thine own.Come, sit thou here and pipe me a song,said Thyrsis, and I will watch thy flocks.” “Nay,” quoth the goatherd, it is not right good for us to pipe at mid-day. Pan. But, come with me to the shade of yon elm, and do thou sing to me the song of Daphnis and his grief. If thou wilt but sing as thou didst one day, I will let thee milk ay,

three times a goat that hath twins, and whose milk doth fill two pails. A deep bowl of ivy-wood, too, will I give thee, rubbed with sweet bees-wax, - a two-eared bowl, carved with great skill, for which I gave a goat and a large cheese-cake of white milk, and which has not yet touched my lips.

Thus urged, Thyrsis sang of the sorrow of Daphnis.

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The Song of Thyrsis



1 Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

2 Thyrsis I am, and this is the song I sing on Etna's slopes. — 3 Where were ye, Nymphs, when Daphnis pined and died? Were ye not then in the far fair dells where 4 Peneus flows, or in the vales where Pindus rears his head ? For ye staid not, I ween, by the broad stream 5 Anapus, nor on the high top of Etna's mount, nor yet on the weird Acis' banks.

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

6 For him the wild beasts, for him the wolves did cry. 10 For him, when dead, the king of beasts in the dark woods wept.

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

At his feet the kine grieved sore, ay, herds of bulls, and all the young cows and sad-faced calves did mourn.

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

First 7 Hermes from the hill did come, and thus to Daphnis spake: “Who is it that gives thee pain, my child ? For the love of whom dost thou pine and die?”

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

Then came those who tend the kine, the sheep, and the goats when in the fields they feed, and 8 all asked him what harm had caused him so much pain. Came, too, o Priapus, and said : “Poor Daphnis, why dost thou grieve, while for thee the fair maid fleets through all the glades and past all streams in search of thee?"

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

“Ah! thou art a swain too slack in love, and now thou 10 art past help! They say thou dost mind the cows, but

now thou art most fit to keep the goats! For he that keeps the goats, when he marks the grown-up kids at their play, looks on with well-pleased eyes, and fain would be as they. And thou, when thou dost hear the young girls and see them smile, dost gaze with glad eyes, and yet dost not join them in the dance."

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

Yet to these Daphnis said not one word; but his grief he fed, and his own sad love he bare, and bare it still 20 to the end that stern fate at the last did bring.

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay !

Ay, and there came, too, sweet 10 Cypris, queen of love, and a smile was on her face though wrath was in her heart; and to the sad shepherd thus she spake: “Daphnis, I did hear thy boast that thou wouldst 11 bend Love to a fall! Hast not thou thine own self been bent, yea, thrown by Love?"

Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the shepherd's lay!

And Daphnis these words spake to her: “Harsh 30 Cypris, Cypris to be feared, Cypris the bane of men,

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