Saturnalia on 17 December was the Roman’s midwinter party festival. It had a definite topsy-turvy element, with masters waiting on their slaves, as shown in the illustration, and a generally indulgent attitude towards high jinks.
Today’s poem was written for a different occasion: it is an extract from one of Virgil’s pastoral poems, or Eclogues, written in 40 BCE and looking forward to a birth which will herald the start of a new golden age. It is appropriate to the run-up to Christmas because, though few if any would agree today, a strong current of opinion among early Christians and in the middle ages interpreted it as a prophesy of the birth of Christ. Hear the Latin and follow in English here.

Acting as a priest, the Trojan Helenus, now by a favourable reverse of fortunes the ruler of Achilles’s former kingdom, makes a curious prophecy that centres on a white sow with thirty piglets. Perhaps he had covered his head to officiate at the sacrifice, as was the later Roman custom. The Roman shown here is the Emperor Augustus, dressed as the Pontifex Maximus (High Priest). Hear the poem in Latin with an English translation here.