Scanned from Joseph J. Mooney (tr.), The Minor Poems of Vergil: Comprising the Culex, Dirae, Lydia, Moretum, Copa, Priapeia, and Catalepton (Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1916).

The Gnat

THE scene of this poem is the Theban district of Greece, below Mount Cithaeron.

Analysis of the Poem

Lines 1-65. Introduction addressed to Octavius.
66-90. The shepherd at dawn drives out his flock to their pastures.
91-148. Digression on the pleasures of a shepherd's life as compared with those of a rich man.
149-240. Amid such cogitations the shepherd looks after his flock until noon, when he drives them to the fountain in Diana's Wood, the trees, etc., of which are described in detail. Here he falls asleep in the shade by the fountain.
241-273. Chance brings along a huge snake which was in the habit of coming to the fountain in the middle of the day to immerse itself in the mud to keep cool. When it sees the man there it becomes enraged and is going to attack him.
274-284. At this moment a gnat stung him in the eye, and as he sprang up and crushed it to death with his hand he saw the serpent.
285-300. Jumping aside he broke off a thick bough and battered the serpent to death with it.
301-19. After resting awhile, as it is getting dark, he drives his flock home and goes to bed himself. As he sleeps, the ghost of the gnat appears to him and upbraids him with his ingratitude in killing it when it had just saved his life by wakening him up.
320-565. It tells him of its wanderings throughout the Lower World (digression on gratitude and duty, 331-344) and the persons and things it has seen there.
566-575. Thereafter it says that it is now going away never to return, and admonishes him, even though he should forget its words, to pay attention to fount, and pasture, and wood.
576-616. When the shepherd woke up, troubled by his dream he set to work to make a cenotaph for the gnat. Getting his old sword, he made a big mound of earth by its aid. He put an edging of white stones round the base of the mound, and planted it with all kinds of flowers and fruits. Having done this, he set up in front of it an epitaph to the gnat, which is given as a tail-piece.

OCTAVIUS, I've amused myself with sport
Which graceful Thalia' regulates for me,
And as the little spiders do I've made
A slight beginning. I've amused myself
By means of this, the poem of the Gnat
It may be called. In order that the whole
Arrangement of the story and its plan
And leaders' words, may harmonize
Throughout the merry little play I've made,
A critic may be present, 'tis allowed.
Whoe'er's prepared to blame the jests and Muse
Is lighter than the weight of e'en a gnat,
And shall be tolerated by my fame.
But later on my Muse shall speak to thee
In weightier tone, when undisturbed rewards
The times shall give to me, that poems may
For thee be smoothed in verse that's dignified.
The mighty Jove's and fair Latona's pride,
Their golden offspring Phoebus, shall be chief
Of cast and instigator of my lay,
And its promoter on resounding lyre.
And whether Arna bathed with Xanthus stream
From Mount Chimaera, or Asteria's pride,
Or cliff Parnassian where it from its brow
In this direction and in that extends
Its horns diverging, and Castalia's wave
Resounding glides with liquid foot below,
Possesses him, within my lay he'll be.
So then, ye pride of streams Pierian,
Ye Naiad sisters, come and celebrate
The god with sportive dancing in a ring.
And holy Pales, thou to whom returns
The rustic's increase good about to come,
To whom belongs the care of keeping green
The woods and dress aerial of the groves,
With thee, O lady dweller in the woods,
I'm borne a wand'rer 'mid the woods and caves.
And thou, Octavius, worthy of our awe,
To whom to draw a-nigh doth confidence
Arise in these the writings I've begun
From kindnesses received: for, holy youth,
My page' doth not relate to thee the war
Calamitous of Jupiter, and set
The lines of battle Phlegra once did show,
And earth which was bespattered with the blood
Of Giants, nor Lapithae urge upon
Centaurean swords, nor doth the East consume
With flames th' Athenian citadels, nor with
A trench is Athos sundered from the land,
Nor do the chains that then were thrown upon
The mighty sea, now seek so late for fame
In book of mine. The Hellespont is not
By feet of horses trampled when the Greeks
The Persians everywhere advancing feared,
But apt in verse my gentle lay doth joy
With strength its own to run with graceful foot
And sport with leader Phoebus. This my lay
To thee shall be related, holy youth,
And it shall strive to be to thee for aye
A shining glory, one to last through time;
And may a place in loyal home remain
For thee, and may the life of safety due
To thee be chronicled through happy years,
Conspicuous, and pleasing to the good.
But now to my commencement am I borne.
Already into th' heights of upper sky
The sun had penetrated with his fires
And scattered beams of light from gilded car,
And with her rosy locks Aurora had
The darkness put to flight: when from the fold
To happy pastures did the shepherd drive
His she-goats forth, and sought the highest ridge
Of lofty mountain where the dewy grass
Was covering the hills extended wide.
In woods and thickets now they vagrant go,
Again they hide their bodies in the dells,
And now in every quarter wand'ring fleet
They cropped the verdant grass with dainty bite
Then having left the banks they strayed towards
The stony hollows, hanging from the far
Extended twigs arbutus fruits are culled,
And in the copses eagerly the grapes
In bunches thick there growing wild are sought.
Here this one seizes with a pulling bite
The drooping tops of pliant willow tree,
Or of the alder, which have sprouted new;
Amid the tender brambles of the bush
Another tears her way; while that one there
Doth threaten on the water of a stream
Her own reflection standing forward there.
O good are shepherds' times, if anyone
Doth not disdain from mind aforetime trained
Th' enjoyment of a man that's poor, and tries
The same; to him are all the things unknown
Which tear asunder greedy minds with cares,
The price of luxury to hostile breast.
If fleeces doubly dipped in Tyrian dye
Shall not have been bestowed on him with wealth
Like that of Attalus, if sheen of gold
Beneath the fretted ceiling of a house
And pride of painted scene doth trouble not
A greedy mind, the man's been taught by proof
That glistening of stones doth not proceed
From any usefulness, nor do the cups
Of Alco, nor Boëthius's embossed
Reliefs restore the thing that pleased, nor of
Importance is the pearl of Indian seas,
But with a conscious clear he oftentimes
Upon the tender grass his body throws
When blooming earth bedecked by budding plan
With alternating colours marks in spring
The separated fields; and him we see
Rejoicing with resounding reed from out
The marsh, and spending thus his ease with fraud
Removed and envy, self-sufficing too,
When shining with its branches green the crest
Of Tmolus wraps him 'neath its vine-shoot cloak
To him belong the pleasing she-goats, rich
In milk, the grove and fertile marshy land,
And dripping into fountains ever fresh
The gloomy caverns down within the vales.
For who with better reason in an age
To be desired can be more fortunate
Than he who, far away with conscious clear
And disposition proved, doth nothing know
Of greedy wrath or dismal wars, nor fears
The deadly contest of a mighty fleet,
Nor while with shining spoils he decorates
The holy temples of the gods, or raised
Aloft the bound of having doth transcend,
Doth offer to his cruel foes a head
Opposed in vain? To him the god by art
Unpolished with a pruning hook is dear,
He rev'rences the sacred groves, to him
The country plants Panchaian incense bring
From divers flowers, to him is sweet repose
And pleasure pure and free available,
With simple cares. He strives for this, to this
Doth every sense direct him, to his heart
This care's applied, that wheresoe'er he be
Contented he may have in plenty there
Both food and recreation, and restore
His wearied body with a pleasant sleep.
O flocks, O Pans, O Tempe's 'lovely vale
The land of fount and Hamadryads' too,
In whose unpolished worship emulous
Of Ascra's poet' every shepherd doth
splay a life secure with tranquil breast.
'Mid cogitations such the shepherd tends
His sunny cares as on he pressed with staff,
And while he modulates his song entire
On reeds-' arranged by length, melodious not
By art; upborne Hyperion's heat extends
Its rays and in the universe of heaven
Doth set the brilliant turning-point in which
It hurls on either ocean greedy flames.
And now upon the shepherd urging them
The wand'ring goats retraced their steps towards
The deepest bottoms of the murmuring stream
Which tarried dark beneath the verdant moss.
Along the middle portion of his course
The sun was driving now, and to the shade
Where deepest, did the shepherd drive his flock
And from a distance, Delian goddess, saw
Them settle in thy verdant grove, in which
O'ercome by rage and fleeing Bacchus once
Agave, daughter she of Cadmus, came
And foul'd her wicked hands with murder red.
She rioted in Bacchic style upon
The ranges cool and rested in a cave;
But later on there'll be a punishment
For having caused the murder of her son.
And here as well upon the verdant sward
Were sporting Pans and Satyrs, Dryads, too,
And with them damsels of the water nymphs
In this assemblage did the dances lead.
And Orpheus by his singing didn't hold
The Hebrus standing still between its banks
And woods, as much as did the joyful girls
Displaying many pleasures to thy gaze
Detain thee lingering, O goddess fleet!
And from the very nature of the place
To them it gave a home with whisperings
Re-echoing, and in its pleasant shades
Refreshed the wearied girls. For first arose
From sloping vale the lofty spreading planes,
And, these among, the wicked lotus grew,
The wicked lotus which away did force
The comrades of the mournful Ithacan,'
While it as hostess held the men enslaved
By its excessive sweetness. Poplars, erst
The daughters of the Sun, whose limbs from grief
Had Phaëthon I transformed when downward hurled
By his distinguished team of horses, scorched,
With tender bodies snowy arms they twined
And spread on slender boughs their coverings.
Yet further back the almond tree, a girl
It was, to whom bewailing his deceit
Unending evils Demophöon left:
O faithless Demophöon, faithless thou
To many women wast, and now thou'rt one
To be repelled by girls. And this the oaks
Succeeded, songs of Fate were theirs, for oaks
Were given before the elements of life
Of Ceres; these to bearded ears of corn
The furrow of Triptolemus transformed.
And here a great distinction to the ship,
The Argo, is produced the bristling pine
Which ornaments the woods with branches high,
And tries to reach the stars from airy peaks.
And holm-oaks dark and weeping cypress here
And shady beeches spring, and ivy ropes
Its branches binding lest the poplar strike
Fraternal blows, and pliant they themselves
Ascend its very highest points, and there
Their golden ivy-berry clusters paint
On palish green. To which was near at hand
The myrtle, conscious of its ancient fate.
With brambles too upon the higher parts
Which lightly blowing on, the whistling wind's
Most gentle breath doth in disorder throw.
Beneath them, dripping from the fountains Cool
Was water which, while sprung from brooklets swift,
Doth pour a stream untroubled forth. The birds,
Moreover, dwelling in the spreading boughs
Emit their sweet resounding songs by means
Of varied melodies, and wheresoe'er
The song of birds doth smite on both our ears
'Tis there that plaintive croaks repeat the sound
From those ' for whom the water cherishes
Their bodies swimming in the mud. The sounds
O'th'air doth echo feed, and in the heat
Doth every place with lively crickets creak.
And as the shepherd, stretched at length, beside
The fountain in the densest shade reposed,
And round in all directions lay his goats,
He felt a stupor soft his limbs invade.
For, thinking not of any lurking ill,
He unconcerned upon the grass had laid
The limbs oppressed by slumber, free from care.
Extended on the ground, he thus had ta'en
Repose that's sweet to th'heart if Chance had not
The order given to bring unlikely haps.
For, rolling onward at its wonted time
By paths the same, a monstrous speckled snake
With many-coloured body now there comes
To sink submerged in mud i' th'heat intense.
With brassy coat 'twas heavy, snapping at
Whate'er was in the way with quiv'ring tongue,
And twirled its scaly coils with motions wide.
The gleams of it approaching took upon
Themselves fantastic shapes at every point.
Now curving more and more a body which
Is capable of bending back it lifts
Its breast with shining splendours, and upon
Th'uplifted neck the head itself, from which
A crest is upwards raised: conspicuous
With purple hood 'tis variegated all,
And from its savage glare there gleams the flash
Of flames. And while 'twas measuring by eye
The places round itself the monster sees
The leader of the flock reclined in front:
More angry, darting glances round, it hastes
T' extend, and oft'ner seizing them to break
The things i' th' way with savage mouth, because
A man had come to waters deemed its own.
The arms of Nature it prepares, it glows
With resolution, and it vents its rage
With hissings, sounds defiance with its mouth;
To upward rounded curves its body's coils
Are twisted; drops of bloody froth upon
The path are dripping everywhere; it tears
Its jaws asunder with its energy.
While it these preparations all doth make
A tiny nurseling of the moisture first
Alarms the man, and warns him by its sting
To shun his death: for where the eyelids were
Exposing opened eyes and pupils, there
(He was of nature somewhat old) was struck
The pupil by its weapon light. Enraged
He started up and crushed the gnat to death.
Its every sense was scattered, spirit gone.
And then he saw the serpent near at hand
Retaining fixed on him its glaring eyes:
From here he quick and breathless, hardly in
His senses, backward fled, and with his hand
A sturdy bough he from a tree did break.
What chance or which o' th' gods did lend their aid
(For either chance or god had giv'n the means)
It may be dang'rous to proclaim, but he
Availed with such assistance to subdue
The dreadful coiling joints o' th' scaly snake.
And he the bones of it resisting and
Attacking savagely with frequent blows
Doth batter, where the crest doth crown its head.
And since he still was slow, though languor all
Was gone-for seeing it a dread unknown
Had numbed his limbs, but this did not so much
His mind with direful terror fill-and when
He saw it languish, slain; he sat him down.
And now from Erebus arising Night
Doth drive her horses yoked in pair abreast,
And from the gilded Oeta cometh slow
The evening star. When, having got his herd
Together, in the growing shadows then
The shepherd hies away, and doth prepare
To furnish due repose to wearied limbs.
As through his frame a somewhat gentle sleep
Did penetrate, and, in a slumber deep
His listless limbs reposed, there came to him
The ghost of th' gnat and sang to him reproach
In consequence of its unhappy death.
Says it: "From what deserts, to whom denounced,
Am I compelled these harsh vicissitudes
To undergo? While dearer was thy life
To me than life itself I'm carried off
By winds through empty space. Indifferent,
Thou dost refresh thy limbs with pleasant sleep,
From loathsome slaughter snatched. But my remains
The gods below compel to float across
The waves of Lethe; Charon's' prey I'm led.
The threshold' blazing with its torches have
I seen, i' th' darkened temples everything
Is shining brightly; Tisiphone decked
On every side with snakes encounters me
And brandishes both flames and cruel whips.
Behind is Cerberus, vehement are
His mouths with barkings dire, his necks with snakes
Erected from them bristle here and there,
His eyes emit a glow of blood-red light.
(Alas! how gratitude has gone aside
From kindly service, when I from the very door
Of death did give thee back to those above!
O where are piety's rewards and where
Its honours? Into toils vicarious
For nought they've disappeared. Did justice not
Withdraw by right, and with her former Faith?
Another's fate impending did I see,
And disregarding what would hap to me,
To consequences similar I'm brought.
To one deserving well the punishment
Doth happen: let the punishment be death,
Provided only that the will be good,
'Tis manifest the duty is the same.)
I'm borne along o'erpassing places waste,
The wastes remote amid Cimmerian groves;
Around me thicken dismal punishments
On every side, for monstrous Otus sad
Doth sit with serpents bound regarding from
A distance Ephialtes bound the same,
When formerly they'd tried to mount the sky.
And troubled Tityös remembering
Thy wrath, Latona (wrath too merciless!)
As food of bird doth lie. I'm terrified,
Ah! terrified to dwell on shades so great.
To Stygian waters I'm recalled: the one
Who's last, with difficulty standing back
I' th' stream, which backward flew on every side
From th' dry sensation of his throat, is he
Who handed down the god's ambrosial food.
Afar the man' who's toiling up the hill
Which rolleth back his rock, whom seeking for
Himself some ease in vain doth bitter grief
Subdue, 'tis said contemned the deities.
Depart, O girls, depart, for whom the harsh
Erinnys lit the torches, Hymen-like,
And gave the bridal prophesied, of death.
And other throngs together closely pressed
Besides the other multitude I see:
The Colchian woman, senseless mother, in
Her wild impiety designing wounds
That worry, for her apprehensive sons;
Anon from stock of Pandion the girls
We should commiserate, whose voice repeats
But "Itys," "Itys"; while the Thracian king,
Bereft of him and borne aloft upon
The breezes swift, as hoopoe doth lament.
The disagreeing brothers, too, who sprung
From th' blood of Cadmus, now their truculent
And hostile eyes and body move, the one
Against the other's. Each of them has turned
Away already, since his impious hand
th drip with brother's blood. Alas! my toil
Is never to be changed. I'm swept away.
Beyond to places different far, unlike
The others are the names I now perceive,
For carried off toward the Elysian wave
I'm led, a stream that must be swum across.
Encountering me doth Proserpina urge
Her heroine companions forth to hold
The torches unpropitious when they wed.
Inviolate, Alcestis rests at ease
From every care, because by her the care
Tormenting of her spouse Admetus in
The Chalcodonian mountains was deferred.
Behold! the daughter always continent
Of Icarus-Ulysses' wife-received
As ornament of womankind; and far
From her remains the gallant crowd of youths
Her suitors, pierced with darts. With grief so great
Why went the wretched Eurydice back?
'Twas Orpheus looked behind and now on. thee
The punishment remains. He's bold indeed
Who ever thought that Cerberus was mild.,
Or Dis's power for any could be soothed,
Nor raging feared Phlegethon with its waves,
Of fire, nor yet the dismal realms of Dis
By gloom possessed, and excavated homes,
And Tartarus that's filled with blood-red night,
And Dis's throne with judge who after death
The deeds of life avenges, not with ease
Approached by one who's still without a judge.
But mighty Fortune had aforetime made
Him bold. Already rapid streams had stood
And throngs of beasts had occupied the place
Enticed by Orpheus's alluring voice,
And now the oak had from the verdant soil
Dislodged on high its lowest root [the streams
Had stood] and of themselves the sounding woods
Were soaking up his songs with greedy bark.
The Moon her horses gliding through the stars
In two-horse chariot has checked as well
And thou, O maiden of the month, to hear
His lyre didst hold thy running horses back,
The night relinquished. Able was this lyre
To conquer thee, O spouse of Dis, as well,
And get thee to surrender of thyself
His Eurydice to be led away.
It wasn't right, 'twas not the easily
Persuaded will o' th' goddess queen of Death
That she should be restored again to life.
But she, who by experience knew too well
The gods severe below, the path prescribed
Was marking with her footsteps, neither turned
She back her eyes, nor did she bring to nought
The bounty of the goddess with her tongue.
But cruel, more than cruel, Orpheus, thou,
Desiring kisses dear, didst break the gods'
Commands. His love was worthy pardon though,
If Tartarus had known a pleasing fault:
'Tis grievous you should keep it in your mind.
front of you i'th' dwelling of the good
Abides a band of heroes, also here
Are both the sons of Aeacus, for in
Their sire's secure authority the strength
Of Telamon and Peleus doth rejoice;
Upon whose weddings Love and Valour brought
Distinction. Periboea carried off
The one, a Nereid the other loved.
A youngish man' is sitting near them here
And joins them from the glory of his lots
He, high on place demolished, driving back
The fires from Grecian ships, doth smite with skill
The Phrygians routed in a mob. O who
Of such a war may not recount the turns
Which men of Troy have seen, which Greeks have seen,
When Trojan earth, the stream of Xanthus too
And Simois with mighty blood did flow,
And when the shores of Sigaeum, besides
The Troad, furnished men prepared to bear
Both wounds and slaughter, darts and fire, against
The Grecian fleets with force and fell intent,
From rage because of Hector, cruel chief?
For Ida's self, which breeds ferocity
In those who roam it, Ida, their support,
Supplied its eager nurselings torches from
Itself, that all the coast o'th' Rhoetean shore
Might be conceded to the fleets consumed
To ashes by the weeping flame.' Against
Them here the Telamonian hero was
Opposed, and joins in combats with his shield
Before him placed, and Hector there there was,
The highest pride of Troy, and each was keen.
A crash there is as when the lightnings fly
From out the whirlwind; one doth with his hand
The blazing pines discharge upon the shores,
With shields and darts doth rush upon the foe,
That haply he might stop their getting back.
Defended by his sword the other draws
A-nigh that Vulcan's havoc from the ships
He may avert. The son of Aeacus
These honours had by visage stern concealed.
Another, too, was there because he did
As victor circle Troy with Hector's corpse,
Whose blood was spilt upon Dardania's plains.
Again they loudly utter bitter words,
For Paris slays him and the heroes claim
His arms, to one do some assign them, some
Would give them to the other; valour blind
Doth smitten fall before Ulysses' wiles.
From him Laërtes' son averts his looks
And now the vanquisher of Rhesus, king
Of Thracia, and of Dolon, triumphing
In Pallas stolen doth rejoice, anon
He shakes for fear, he now the Cicones,
And now the dreadful Laestrygon himself,
Doth shudder at. Rapacious Scylla girt
With monstrous dogs, the Cyclops of the Mount
Of Aetna, Charybdis that must be feared,
The yellow lakes and gloomy Tartarus,
Affright him. Here the son of Atreus,
A scion of the race of Tantalus,
Is at their side, the glory of the Greeks;
While he was king the Doric flame destroyed
The towers of Troy completely, but alas
The Greek has paid the penalty, O Troy,
For overthrowing thee: about to die
He wended back o'er Hellespontian waves.
That host the ups and downs of men did once
Attest that no one might, by gift of his
Especial fortune rich, advance upborne
Above the sky: for every dignity
Is smashed by Envy's weapon near at hand.
The Grecian power repairing to its land,
By booty of the Trojan citadel
Enriched, proceeded on the deep. Along
With it there went a favouring breeze upon
Its course o'er th' placid sea. A Nereid
Was making signals from the waves; a part
Had been gone over by the curving keels,
When either by celestial fate or by
The rising of a star, on every side
The sky's bright look is changed, and everything
By winds, by whirlwinds everything's disturbed;
The wave o'th' sea already strives to lift
Itself to th' stars, and now it from above
Doth threaten suns and stars together all
To sweep away and fall with violence,
A crashing of the sky upon the earth.
But late rejoicing, here the anxious force
Is by its wretched fates beset, and dies
Upon the waves, Caphareus's rocks,
Or by Euboic cliffs and widely through
Aegean shores, when wandering here and there
Upon the watery flood now shipwrecked floats
Annihilated Phrygia's booty all.
Here other heroes dwell, the peers of these
In reputation of their fortitude;
In middle habitations all are fixed.
And Rome, the glory of the spacious world,
Admits them all her sons. The Fabii
And Decii are here, and here the brave
Horatius, here Camilli, too, whose fame
Of old will never die, and Curtius,
Whom formerly amid the City's homes
Devoted with his ornaments the bog
Voracious swallowed up beneath its ooze.
And crafty Mucius with his body fire
Endured; to him th'intimidated might
Of Lydian king did yield; and Curius
Was here a sharer of his valour bright,
And that renowned Flaminius who gave
His body, thus devoted, to the flames.
(Such honours therefore they by right possess,
Th'abodes of piety.) And Scipios,
The leaders at whose triumphs swift the walls
Of Libyan Carthage doomed to perish shake.
While those in praise their own are flourishing,
I'm forced to go to Dis's darkened lakes,
Deprived of light of day, t'endure the vast
Phlegethon where, O greatest Minos, thou
From pious seat the wicked bonds dost part.
Accordingly, the cruel goddesses
Of vengeance force us with the lash to tell
Before the judge the cause of death and life.
While thou the cause of evil art to me,
And helpest not, though knowing it, but dost
With cares that may be borne unmindful hear
These words, and notwithstanding wilt the dream'
Abandon to the winds as thou dost go.
Away I'm going, never to return:
Do thou, rejoicing, tend the pastures green
And woods of fount and groves. But words of mine
Are swept away by means of breezes wide."
He spoke, and sad with final words retired.
When life's inactive state has quitted him
Disturbed and groaning grievously within
No longer did he brook the grief about
The gnat's demise on his perceptions pressed.
The strength his aged powers conferred on him
(With which he nevertheless had overcome
In fight a dangerous foe) he active takes
To shape a place concealed beneath the green
And leafy boughs, a stream of water near.
And with a view to this memorial round
He settles in his mind from verdant sward
To dig the grassy earth, and for the need
The handle of his sword doth take again.
For him at length did heedful care, the toil
Begun completing, gather up the piled
Material, and with a plenteous mound
Of earth a tomb arose in circle shaped.
Around it placing stone of marble smooth,
He plants it, mindful of his constant care.
And growing here throughout the brilliant ring
Acanthus is, and bashful' roses too,
And every kind of violet; and here
Is Spartan myrtle, hyacinth as well,
And here the crocus by Cilician field
Produced, the laurel, too, the rising pride
Of Phoebus; here the oleander was,
And lilies, and the never distant care
Of rosemary, and savin, which the power
Of incense to the men of old expressed,
And marigolds, and sheen of ivy with
Its berry clusters wan, and bocchus, plant
Commemorative of the Libyan king;
The amaranth' is here, and grapes which large
Do cluster, ever-flowering picris too.
Narcissus isn't absent there, in whom
His beauty's radiance from Cupid's fire
For limbs his own begot a hot desire;
And all the flowers that blooming seasons know.
With these the mound is planted o'er; then on
T he front is placed th' inscription which asserts,
The letters saying it with silent speech:
"O tiny gnat, the keeper of the flocks
Doth pay to thee, deserving such a thing,
The duty of a ceremonial tomb,
In payment for the gift of life to him." Last modified 31 May 1998. This page maintained by David Wilson-Okamura. Email your comments to