In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas
[My] mind moves [me] to speak of forms having been changed
corpora; di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas)
into new bodies; inspire my beginnings, gods
adspirate meis primaque ab origine mundi
(for even you have altered those forms), and spin out a continuous poem
ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen.
from the first beginning of the world to my own time.
Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum
Before the sea and lands and the sky which covers all things
unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,
there was one face of Nature in the whole world,
quem dixere Chaos: rudis indigestaque moles
which men called Chaos: a rough and unorganized mass
nec quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eodem
and not anything except an inert weight, and different seeds
non bene iunctarum discordia semina rerum.
of things having not been well-united were heaped up in that same place.
Nullus adhuc mundo praebebat lumina Titan,
Hitherto no Titan was furnishing lights to the world,
nec nova crescendo reparabat cornua Phoebe,
nor was Phoebe restoring new horns by growing,
nec circumfuso pendebat in aere tellus
nor was the earth hanging in surrounding air
ponderibus librata suis, nec bracchia longo
balanced by its own weight, nor was Amphitrite
margine terrarum porrexerat Amphitrite;
stretching out her arms along the edge of the lands;
utque erat et tellus illic et pontus et aer,
and although there was there earth and sea and air,
sic erat instabilis tellus, innabilis unda,
thus the earth was unstable, the water unswimmable,
lucis egens aer; nulli sua forma manebat,
the air lacking light; its no element maintained its own form,
obstabatque aliis aliud, quia corpore in uno
and one thing was obstructing the others, because in one body
frigida pugnabant calidis, umentia siccis,
cold things were fighting with hot [things], wet things were fighting with dry,
mollia cum duris, sine pondere, habentia pondus.
soft with hard, things having weight with things without weight.
Hanc deus et melior litem natura diremit,
The god, even better nature, broke off the contention,
nam caelo terras et terris abscidit undas
for he separated the lands from the heavens and the waters from the lands
et liquidum spisso secrevit ab aere caelum.
and parted the clear sky from the dense air.
quae postquam evolvit caecoque exemit acervo,
After he rolled out these things and released them from the chaotic heap,
dissociata locis concordi pace ligavit
he united the things dissociated with respect to place with harmonious peace:
ignea convexi vis et sine pondere caeli
the fiery and weightless force of the vaulted heavens
emicuit summaque locum sibi fecit in arce;
sprang forth and made a place for itself in the highest stronghold;
proximus est aer illi levitate locoque;
air is next to that in lightness and place;
densior his tellus elementaque grandia traxit
denser than these is earth, and it draws larger elements
et pressast gravitate sua; circumfluus umor
and is pressed down by its own weight; the water flowing around
ultima possedit solidumque coercuit orbem.
took possession of the farthest places and enclosed the solid disk.
Sic ubi dispositam quisquis fuit ille deorum
When whoever that one was of gods had divided the mass so that
congeriem secuit sectamque in membra coegit,
it was thus arranged, and had confined the principle into divisions,
principio terram, ne non aequalis ab omni
At first he rolled together the earth, so that
parte foret, magni speciem glomeravit in orbis.
it would not be unequal by any part, into the likeness of a great orb.
tum freta diffudit rapidisque tumescere ventis
Then he poured out straits and ordered them to begin to swell with violent
iussit et ambitae circumdare litora terrae.
winds and to put shores around the encircled land.
addidit et fontes et stagna immensa lacusque
He added both springs and immense lakes and ponds
fluminaque obliquis cinxit declivia ripis,
and rivers sloping downwards he surrounded with winding banks,
quae diversa locis partim sorbentur ab ipsa,
which, diverse as to places, were partly sucked in by those same lands,
in mare perveniunt partim campoque recepta
others came into the sea and received onto the level space
liberioris aquae pro ripis litora pulsant.
of the more free water which struck the shores in place of the banks.
iussit et extendi campos, subsidere valles,
He ordered the plains to be extended, the valleys to subside,
fronde tegi silvas, lapidosos surgere montes.
the woods to covered by foliage, the stony mountains to arise.
Quae pater ut summa vidit Saturnius arce,
As the father, he of Saturn, saw these things from his highest citadel,
ingemit et facto nondum vulgata recenti
he sighed, and with the recent deed not yet commonly known,
foeda Lycaoniae referens convivia mensae
recalling the foul feasts of Lycaonís table,
ingentes animo et dignas Iove concipit iras
he conceived wrath huge and worthy of Jove in his heart
conciliumque vocat: tenuit mora nulla vocatos.
and he calls an assembly: no delay holds those called.
Est via sublimis, caelo manifesta sereno;
There is an exalted way, revealed in the clear heavens;
lactea nomen habet, candore notabilis ipso.
notable for its very brilliant whiteness, it has the name Milky.
hac iter est superis ad magni tecta Tonantis
By this way is the journey to the great ones, the abode of the great Thunderer,
regalemque domum: dextra laevaque deorum
and the royal house: on the right and left of the gods
atria nobilium valvis celebrantur apertis.
halls of nobles are thronged, with their folding doors open.
plebs habitat diversa locis: hac parte potentes
The plebeians reside in different places: in this part the powerful
caelicolae clarique suos posuere penates;
and illustrious gods have placed their own hearths;
hic locus est quem, si verbis audacia detur,
this is the place which, if audacity were given to my words,
haud timeam magni dixisse Palatia caeli.
I would not fear to call the Palatine of great heaven.
Ergo ubi marmoreo superi sedere recessu,
Accordingly, when the gods above sat in the marble inner room,
celsior ipse loco sceptroque innixus eburno
and the elevated one himself was in place, leaning on his ivory scepter
terrificam capitis concussit terque quaterque
he shook the frightful hair of his head three and four times
caesariem, cum qua terram, mare, sidera movit.
with which he moved the earth, the sea, the stars.