Georgics, Book 2, lines 458 - 474

The farmer’s happy lot

by Virgil

Virgil praises the ease and simple privileges of a farmer’s life. The picture is a romantic one: one doubts that farmers themselves would see things this way, and no passage in the Georgics illustrates more clearly that this is definitely a city-dweller’s view of the countryside.

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O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint,
agricolas! quibus ipsa procul discordibus armis
fundit humo facilem victum iustissima tellus.
si non ingentem foribus domus alta superbis
mane salutantum totis vomit aedibus undam,
nec varios inhiant pulchra testudine postis
inlusasque auro uestis Ephyreiaque aera,
alba neque Assyrio fucatur lana veneno,
nec casia liquidi corrumpitur usus olivi;
at secura quies et nescia fallere vita,
diues opum uariarum, at latis otia fundis,
speluncae vivique lacus, at frigida tempe
mugitusque boum mollesque sub arbore somni
non absunt; illic saltus ac lustra ferarum
et patiens operum exiguoque adsueta iuventus,
sacra deum sanctique patres; extrema per illos
Iustitia excedens terris vestigia fecit.

Farmers would be too happy, if they understood the good things they have! For whom the just land itself pours forth from the soil an easy living, far from clashing arms! If they have no lofty mansion, disgorging a great wave of clients come to greet them in the morning from all its grand halls through its haughty gates, and if they don’t pant for doors beautifully inlaid with tortoiseshell, Corinthian bronzes and clothes threaded with gold, and if their white wool is not red with Assyrian dye, and their bright oil uncorrupted by aromatics, yet safety, peace, a life free of dishonesty, rich in abundance of all sorts, rest in open country, grottoes, pools of living water, cool vales, the lowing of cattle and gentle sleep under a tree, all these they have; there lie forests and haunts of game, the young are used to hard work and to frugal life, the Gods are reverenced and the old respected; among them Justice left her last traces as she left the Earth.