Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Idyl VII.
The Harvest Feast
By Theocritus (fl. Third Century B.C.)
Translation of Andrew Lang
  [The poet, making his way through the noonday heat with two friends to a harvest feast, meets the goatherd Lycidas. To humor the poet, Lycidas sings a love song of his own; and the other replies with verses about the passion of Aratus, the famous writer of didactic verse. After a courteous parting from Lycidas, the poet and his two friends repair to the orchard, where meter is being gratified with the first-fruits of harvest and vintaging.
  In this idyl, Theocritus, speaking of himself by the name of Simichidas, alludes to his teachers in poetry, and perhaps to some of the literary quarrels of the time.
  The scene is in the isle of Cos. G. Hermann fancied that the scene was in Lucania; and Mr. W. R. Paton thinks he can identify the places named, by the aid of inscriptions (Classical Review, ii. 8, 265). See also Rayet, Mémoire sur l’Île de Cos, page 18, Paris, 1876.]

IT fell upon a time when Eucritus and I were walking from the city to the Hales water, and Amyntas was the third in our company. The harvest feast of Deo was then being held by Phrasidemus and Antigenes, two sons of Lycopeus (if aught there be of noble and old descent), whose lineage dates from Clytia, and Chalcon himself—Chalcon, beneath whose foot the fountain sprang, the well of Buriné. He set his knee stoutly against the rock, and straightway by the spring poplars and elm-trees showed a shadowy glade; arched overhead they grew, and pleached with leaves of green. We had not yet reached the midpoint of the way, nor was the tomb of Brasilas yet risen upon our sight, when—thanks be to the Muses—we met a certain wayfarer, the best of men, a Cydonian. Lycidas was his name, a goatherd was he, nor could any that saw him have taken him for other than he was, for all about him bespoke the goatherd. Stripped from the roughest of he-goats was the tawny skin he wore on his shoulders, the smell of rennet clinging to it still; and about his breast an old cloak was buckled with a plaited belt, and in his right hand he carried a crooked staff of wild olive: and quietly he accosted me, with a smile, a twinkling eye, and a laugh still on his lips:—  1
  “Simichidas, whither, pray, through the noon dost thou trail thy feet, when even the very lizard on the rough stone wall is sleeping, and the crested larks no longer fare afield? Art thou hastening to a feast, a bidden guest, or art thou for treading a townsman’s wine-press? For such is thy speed that every stone upon the way spins singing from thy boots!”  2
  “Dear Lycidas,” I answered him, “they all say that thou among herdsmen—yea, and reapers—art far the chiefest flute-player. In sooth this greatly rejoices our hearts; and yet, to my conceit, meseems I can vie with thee. But as to this journey, we are going to the harvest feast: for look you, some friends of ours are paying a festival to fair-robed Demeter, out of the first-fruits of their increase; for verily in rich measure has the goddess filled their threshing-floor with barley grain. But come, for the way and the day are thine alike and mine; come, let us vie in pastoral song: perchance each will make the other delight. For I too am a clear-voiced mouth of the Muses, and they all call me the best of minstrels: but I am not so credulous; no, by Earth! for to my mind I cannot as yet conquer in song that great Sicelidas, the Samian—nay, nor yet Philetas. ’Tis a match of frog against cicala!”  3
  So I spoke, to win my end; and the goatherd with his sweet laugh said: “I give thee this staff, because thou art a sapling of Zeus, and in thee is no guile. For as I hate your builders that try to raise a house as high as the mountain summit of Oromedon, so I hate all birds of the Muses that vainly toil with their cackling notes against the Minstrel of Chios! But come, Simichidas, without more ado let us begin the pastoral song. And I—nay: see, friend, if it please thee at all, this ditty that I lately fashioned on the mountain-side!”  4

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.