Some Roman Poets Sing the Spring

Horace, Ars Poetica 299-304

…”O, what a savage I am,
Who cleanse myself of bile for the coming of the season of spring!
No one else would make better poems. It is truly
Worth nothing. Therefore, I act in place of a whetstone,
Which can return to steel its edge, but is powerless to cut itself.”

…o ego laevus,
qui purgor bilem sub verni temporis horam!
non alius faceret meliora poemata: verum
nil tanti est. ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
reddere quae ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi;

Vergil, Georgics 2.149-154

“Here, spring is endless and summer overtakes other months:
The flocks give birth twice a year; twice a year the trees have fruit.

hic ver adsiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas:
bis gravidae pecudes, bis pomis utilis arbos.

Ovid, Fasti 4.125-132

“And no time of the year was better fit for Venus than spring
In spring the lands shine, the fields are tender in spring,
The grains raises its heads through the broken earth
And the shoot drives its buds in swollen bark.

Gorgeous Venus is worthy of a gorgeous time,
As always, and goes hand in hand with Mars.
In spring she tells the curved ships to go
Over maternal seas because she no longer fears the winter.”

nec Veneri tempus quam ver erat aptius ullum:
vere nitent terrae, vere remissus ager,
nunc herbae rupta tellure cacumina tollunt,
nunc tumido gemmas cortice palmes agit.
et formosa Venus formoso tempore digna est,
utque solet, Marti continuata suo est:
vere monet curvas materna per aequora puppes
ire nec hibernas iam timuisse minas.

Propertius, 4.5.59-60

“While spring is in your blood, while your age is free of wrinkle,
Use it—just in case tomorrow takes the youth from your face.”

dum vernat sanguis, dum rugis integer annus,
60utere, ne quid cras libet ab ore dies

Image result for ancient roman seasons spring
Villa Dar Buc Ammera, Libya, Roman era mosaic of the four seasons

“Ox-Skinning Days”: Hesiod’s Strange View of Winter

[Lenaion is the month that occupies the end of January and beginning of February.]

 Hesiod, Works and Days 504-528

“Avoid the month of Lenaion, terrible days, all of them ox-skinning,
Avoid it and the frosts which grow cruelly
Over the earth as Boreas blows them on.
Boreas, through horse-breeding Thrace and the wide sea
Raises the cold, blowing on, and the earth and trees whimper.
He fells many high-headed oaks and broad pines
As he leaps over the much-nourishing earths and forest glens,
And the whole forest roars then in anguish.
The beasts bristle, they tuck their tails beneath their legs,
Even those with skin covered in fur. He goes cold
Straight threw them, even when they are covered in wool.
He pierces an ox-hide which cannot hold him;
He blows straight through a thin-coated got. But not sheep—
No, because their hair is lush and thick, the might
Of the wind Boreas cannot pierce it. But it makes an old man
Curved. Boras does not touch the tender maiden’s skin
If she stays at home, inside, next to her dear mother,
Where she does not know the deeds of golden Aphrodite
As she bathes her fine skin and anoints with olive oil,
Rubbing herself down in the deepest room of her home,
On that day when the boneless cold grates his foot
In his fireless home and his harsh pastures.
No sun promises to rise on his pastures,
But he turns slowly on the countries and cities of
The darker men, and shines sluggishly for all the Greeks.”

Μῆνα δὲ Ληναιῶνα, κάκ’ ἤματα, βουδόρα πάντα,
τοῦτον ἀλεύασθαι καὶ πηγάδας, αἵ τ’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν
πνεύσαντος Βορέαο δυσηλεγέες τελέθουσιν,
ὅς τε διὰ Θρῄκης ἱπποτρόφου εὐρέι πόντῳ
ἐμπνεύσας ὤρινε, μέμυκε δὲ γαῖα καὶ ὕλη·
πολλὰς δὲ δρῦς ὑψικόμους ἐλάτας τε παχείας
οὔρεος ἐν βήσσῃς πιλνᾷ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ
ἐμπίπτων, καὶ πᾶσα βοᾷ τότε νήριτος ὕλη·
θῆρες δὲ φρίσσουσ’, οὐρὰς δ’ ὑπὸ μέζε’ ἔθεντο·
τῶν καὶ λάχνῃ δέρμα κατάσκιον· ἀλλά νυ καὶ τῶν
ψυχρὸς ἐὼν διάησι δασυστέρνων περ ἐόντων·
καί τε διὰ ῥινοῦ βοὸς ἔρχεται οὐδέ μιν ἴσχει,
καί τε δι’ αἶγα ἄησι τανύτριχα· πώεα δ’ οὔτι,
οὕνεκ’ ἐπηεταναὶ τρίχες αὐτῶν, οὐ διάησι
ἲς ἀνέμου Βορέω· τροχαλὸν δὲ γέροντα τίθησιν
καὶ διὰ παρθενικῆς ἁπαλόχροος οὐ διάησιν,
ἥ τε δόμων ἔντοσθε φίλῃ παρὰ μητέρι μίμνει,
οὔπω ἔργα ἰδυῖα πολυχρύσου ᾿Αφροδίτης,
εὖ τε λοεσσαμένη τέρενα χρόα καὶ λίπ’ ἐλαίῳ
χρισαμένη μυχίη καταλέξεται ἔνδοθι οἴκου,
ἤματι χειμερίῳ, ὅτ’ ἀνόστεος ὃν πόδα τένδει
ἔν τ’ ἀπύρῳ οἴκῳ καὶ ἤθεσι λευγαλέοισιν·
οὐ γάρ οἱ ἠέλιος δείκνυ νομὸν ὁρμηθῆναι,
ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ κυανέων ἀνδρῶν δῆμόν τε πόλιν τε
στρωφᾶται, βράδιον δὲ Πανελλήνεσσι φαείνει.

Boreas the north-wind | Athenian red-figure pelike C5th B.C. | Martin von Wagner Museum, University of Würzburg