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.

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More Poems by Virgil

  1. Omens for Princess Lavinia
  2. Aeneas comes to the Hell of Tartarus
  3. Aeneas finds Dido among the shades
  4. Aeneas tours the site of Rome
  5. The Trojans prepare to set sail from Carthage
  6. Love is the same for all
  7. Laocoon and the snakes
  8. Jupiter’s prophecy
  9. More from Virgil’s farming Utopia
  10. Rumour
  11. Virgil begins the Georgics
  12. Turnus at bay
  13. The natural history of bees
  14. Virgil predicts a forthcoming birth and a new golden age
  15. The Aeneid begins
  16. The portals of sleep
  17. The farmer’s starry calendar
  18. Mourning for Pallas
  19. Turnus the wolf
  20. New allies for Aeneas
  21. Catastrophe for Rome?
  22. King Latinus grants the Trojans’ request
  23. Aeneas reaches the Elysian Fields
  24. Aeneas’s oath
  25. Laocoon warns against the Trojan horse
  26. The Trojans reach Carthage
  27. The Harpy’s prophecy
  28. Dido falls in love
  29. Souls awaiting punishment in Tartarus, and the crimes that brought them there.
  30. The death of Pallas
  31. King Mezentius meets his match
  32. Aristaeus’s bees
  33. The Trojan Horse enters the city
  34. Fire strikes Aeneas’s fleet
  35. Dido and Aeneas: royal hunt and royal affair
  36. Storm at sea!
  37. Aeneas’s vision of Augustus
  38. Aeneas’s ships are transformed
  39. Aeneas rescues his Father Anchises
  40. Dido and Aeneas: Hell hath no fury …
  41. In King Latinus’s hall
  42. Signs of bad weather
  43. The infant Camilla
  44. Sea-nymphs
  45. Aeneas saves his son and father, but at a cost
  46. Aeneas joins the fray
  47. Aeneas sees Marcellus, Augustus’s tragic heir
  48. Palinurus the helmsman is lost
  49. Vulcan’s forge
  50. The death of Euryalus and Nisus
  51. Hector visits Aeneas in a dream
  52. Virgil’s perils on the sea
  53. Juno throws open the gates of war
  54. Turnus is lured away from battle
  55. A Fury rouses Turnus to war
  56. Dido’s release
  57. Virgil’s poetic temple to Caesar
  58. Aeneas is wounded
  59. The Syrian hostess
  60. Mercury’s journey to Carthage
  61. Aeneas arrives in Italy
  62. How Aeneas will know the site of his city
  63. Rites for the allies’ dead
  64. The death of Dido.
  65. Help for Father Aeneas from Father Tiber
  66. Aeneas prepares to tell Dido his story
  67. Aeneas learns the way to the underworld
  68. The journey to Hades begins
  69. The Fury Allecto blows the alarm
  70. Juno is reconciled
  71. The death of Priam
  72. Anchises’s ghost invites Aeneas to visit the underworld
  73. Charon, the ferryman