display | more...

A remarkable Latin poem of unknown origin describing Venus as the bringer of spring.

The poem is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, almost uniquely in Latin poetry, it is governed by a stress pattern as opposed to a metre based on long and short syllables. It is thus much more similar in form to much English poetry. Most famous for its first line being quoted in John Fowles' The Magus, this is a poem which should be in every classicist's vocabulary.

Second, its content does not conform to the usual themes of Latin poetry (love, heroic epic, mythology.) Instead, it is evocative and lovely, reminding us of carefree days and the joy of nature. The closest any other poetry comes to these themes is in the work of Catullus, which is perhaps why it has been attributed to him by some people, although he is from a completely different period.. Other people have suggested Tibullus as the author, but the form and content of the poem is so different to any other author's work that it is most likely to have come from a completely different source.

The most learned scholars think that it dates from either the 2nd or 3rd century AD, although others have suggested as late as c.4th., attributed then to Tiberianus

The content

This beautiful poem centres on a pervigilium, an all-night celebration, in honour of Venus, which in this case lasts for three nights. It makes reference to the birth of Venus from the testes of castrated Saturn, the creation of the world, the birth of Cupid and various events from Roman history.

The last two stanzas are of a markedly different tone to the rest of the poem, as they are tinged with great sadness. They refer to the myth of King Tereus and Philomela, and to the destruction of Amylcae, a city which forbade false alarms to the city's danger. When it was actually in danger, no one spoke up and the city was destroyed.

Pronunciation and the stress scheme

Should you ever want to sound academic in real life and talk about this poem, the correct pronunciation is as follows.

Pair-wig-IL-ium WEN-air-iss

As stated before, this poem follows a regular stress pattern, which is as follows.

cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet

Of course, the most remarkable aspect of the poem is the poetry itself, which is below for your enjoyment.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Ver novum, ver iam canorum, vere natus orbis natus est,
Vere concordant amores, vere nubunt alites,
Et nemus comam resolvit de maritis imbribus.
Cras amorum copulatrix inter umbras arborum
inplicat casa virentes de flagello myrteo:
Cras Dione iura dicit fulta sublimi throno.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Tunc cruore de superno spumeo pontus globo
Caeruleas inter catervas, inter et bipedes equos
Fecit undantem Dionem de maritis imbribus.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Ipsa gemmis purpurantem pingit annum floridis,
Ipsa surgentes papillas de Favoni spiritu
Urget in toros tepentes, ipsa roris lucidi,
Noctis aura quem relinquit, spargit umentis aquas.
En micant lacrimae trementes de caduco pondere:
Gutta praeceps orbe parvo sustinet casus suos.
En pudorem florulentae prodiderunt purpurae:
Umor ille, quem serenis astra rorant noctibus,
Mane virgineas papillas solvit umenti peplo.
Ipsa iussit mane ut udae virgines nubant rosae:
Facta Cypridis de cruore deque flabris deque Solis purpuris
Cras ruborem, qui latebat veste tectus ignea,
Unico marita voto non pudebit solvere.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Ipsa Nymphas diva luco iussit ire myrteo:
It puer comes puellis: nec tamen credi potest
Esse amorem feriatum, si sagittas vexerit.
Ite, Nymphae, posuit arma, feriatus est Amor:
Iussus est inermis ire, nudus ire iussus est,
Neu quid arcu, neu sagitta, neu quid igne laederet.
Sed tamen, Nymphae, cavete, quod Cupido pulcher est:
Totus est in armis idem quando nudus est Amor.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Conpari Venus pudore mittit ad te virgines.
Una res est quam rogamus: cede, virgo Delia,
Ut nemus sit incruentum de ferinis stragibus.
Ipsa vellet te rogare, si pudicam flecteret,
Ipsa vellet ut venires, si deceret virginem.
Iam tribus choros videres feriantis noctibus
Congreges inter catervas ire per saltus tuos,
Floreas inter coronas, myrteas inter casas.
Nec Ceres, nec Bacchus absunt, nec poetarum deus.
Detinenter tota nox est perviclanda canticis:
Regnet in silvis Dione: tu recede, Delia.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Iussit Hyblaeis tribunal stare diva floribus;
Praeses ipsa iura dicet, adsidebunt Gratiae.
Hybla, totus funde flores, quidquid annus adtulit;
Hybla, florum sume vestem, quantus Aetnae campus est.
Ruris hic erunt puellae vel puellae fontium,
Quaeque silvas, quaeque lucos, quaeque montes incolunt.
Iussit omnes adsidere pueri mater alitis,
Iussit et nudo puellas nil Amori credere.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Et recentibus virentes ducat umbras floribus.
Cras erit quom primus primus Aether copulavit nuptias,
Ut pater totis crearet vernis annum nubibus:
In sinum maritus imber fluxit almae coniugis,
Unde fetus mixtus omnis omnis aleret magno corpore.
Ipsa venas atque mente permeanti spiritu
Intus occultis gubernat procreatrix viribus,
Perque coelum perque terras perque pontum subditum
Pervium sui tenorem seminali tramite
Inbuit iusstque mundum nosse nascendi vias.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Ipsa Troianos nepotes in Latinos transtulit:
Ipsa Laurentem puellam coniugem nato dedit,
Moxque Marti de sacello dat pudicam virginem:
Romuleas ipsa fecit cum Sabinis nuptias
Unde Ramnes et Quirites proque prole posterum
Romuli matrem crearet et nepotem Caesarem;

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Rura fecundat voluptas, rura Venerem sentiunt;
Ipse Amor, puer Dionae, rure natus dicitur.
Hunc, ager cum parturiret, ipsa suscepit sinu:
Ipsa florum delicatis educavit osculis.

Cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavit cras amet.

Ecce iam subter genestas explicant tauri latus,
Quisque tutus quo tenetur coniugali foedere.
Subter umbras cum maritis ecce balantum greges:
Et canoras non tacere diva iussit alites.
Iam loquaces ore rauco stagna cygni perstrepunt:
Adsonat Terei puella subter umbram populi,
Ut putes motus amoris ore dici musico,
Et neges queri sororem de marito barbaro.
Illa cantat, nos tacemus. Quando ver venit meum?
Quando fiam uti chelidon, ut tacere desinam?
Perdidi Musam tacendo, nec me Phoebus respicit.
Sic Amyclas, cum tacerent, perdidit silentium.

In (my own) translation

Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!

Spring is now here, spring full of songs; the world was born in spring,
lovers are happy together, the birds mate in spring
and the plants let their hair down after marital showers.

Tomorrow the great Matchmaker will build green shelters
with myrtle leaves under the shade of the trees:
Tomorrow Venus is in charge, upon her heavenly throne.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
Then the sea with its blue troops and two-footed horses

made Venus with the blood of the foaming divine orb
as she floated in its waters.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
She paints the year, enriches it with colourful gems.
She pushes the growing rosebuds into the swirling of

the West Wind's lukewarm breath; she sprinkles the moist, clear
dew which the breeze of the night leaves behind.
The tears shine, trembling from the passing burden,
the falling drop in its little world looks after its own fate.
Look! They have produced a blemish of flowery colour!

That moisture, which the stars shed in the silent night,
loosens untouched rosebuds in the morning from their moist garments.
Venus ordered that those wet virgin rosebuds marry in the morning,
made by Cyprian blood and the kisses of love
and from gems and the rich flames of the Sun.

Tomorrow the bride will not be ashamed to reveal the redness
hidden by her fiery cloak with one single vow.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
The goddess ordered the Nymphs to leave the myrtle grove:
the boy accompanies the girls, but it cannot be believed

that Love is on holiday, if he will carry arrows.
Go, Nymphs, he has laid down his weapons, Love is on holiday!
He was ordered to go nude, he was ordered to go unarmed
so he wouldn't wound with a bow, arrow or fire.
But beware, Nymphs, for Cupid is handsome;

he is totally armed just as he is nude.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
"Venus is sending young girls to contest your chastity.
We only ask one thing: Leave, Delian virgin,
so the forest will be unspoilt by the sacrifice of beasts
and so it will cast green shadows on the strong flowers.

She would want to ask you, if she could spoil your chastity;
She would want you to come, if a maiden should.
Then you would see choruses for three festival nights.
You would join the crowds and go through your glens,
among the colourful crowds and the myrtle shelters.

Ceres and Bacchus are both here, and the god of poets.
The whole night will be taken up, kept awake by songs.
Leave, Delian! Let Venus rule the forest!"
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
The goddess has ordered here platform to stand in the Hyblaean flowers;

As she rules, she will say the laws, the Graces beside her.
Pour forth all flowers, Hybla, whatever the year has brought;
Put on your flowered cloak, Hybla, as many as Mt. Etna's plain.
Here the country girls will be, or the girls from the hills:
and those from the woods, groves and mountains:

Cupid's mother ordered all to sit at her side,
and that the girls should not trust naked Love.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
It will be tomorrow that Aether first joined in marriages;

So that he, the father, would create the whole year with spring clouds.
The marital shower dripped into the bosom of his kind wife,
from which she could feed all her young, surrounding her great form.
The bringer of life, with hidden strength within,
directs minds and life-blood in the changing spirit,

And she filled an unhindered course of hereself with a fertile path
through the heavens, through the earth and through the calm sea,
and ordered the world to know the ways of fertility.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
She guided her Trojan offspring to Latium;

She gave a Laurentian girl to her son in marriage,
and she soon gives a holy girl from Mars's chapel.
She ordered the Roman marriage with the Sabines,
from which she made Ramnes and Quirites, and for
the Romulan line, Caesar the father and the nephew.

Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
the countryside is full of pleasure, the country senses Venus;
Love himself, Venus' son, is said to have been born here.
While she laboured, the field took him in her bosom
and reared him with light kisses of flowers.

Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!
Look! The bulls show their sides below the flower-broom,
each protected by the oath of love that holds it.
Below the shade, behold the bleating animals with their shepherds.
And she ordered the birds not to suppress their songs.

Now the noisy swans fill the ponds with their hoarse sounds.
Below the shadow of the crowd, Tereus' girl sounds out,
so you might think a musical mouth is speaking of love,
and you would deny that a sister complains about a barbarous husband.
She sings, as we are silent. "When will spring come to me?

When will I become as a swallow, so I will stop being silent?
I lost my Muse by being silent, and Apollo does not care for me.
Thus the silence destroyed Amylcae, when they did not speak.
Love tomorrow, loveless ones! And you who have loved, love tomorrow!"


Thanks to liveforever and JerboaKolinowski
There are (minor) mistakes in the Latin text, and probably in my translation as well. I'm working on them.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.