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Virgil — Frustrated Bulls

Georgics, book 3, lines 209-241

With cattle as with horses,
nothing so enhances sheer brute power
as frustration of desire, of the urgings of a hidden love.
That’s why men banish bulls to lonely pastures
on the far side of the mountain, and across wide rivers;
or they keep them penned up in their stall
with well-filled feeding troughs.
For when a bull has glimpsed a female,
then his body gradually becomes inflamed,
his strength is sapped.
She works her sweet enticements on him
so that he forgets all thought of woods and pastures.
Often she will goad proud lovers
to resolve their argument by clash of horns.

A lovely heifer grazes in the mighty forests of Calabria.
In turn, her suitor bulls join battle, using all their force,
inflicting on each other countless injuries,
their bodies lathered with black gore.
They lower horns and, bellowing out loud,
they charge against the enemy.
Their echoes sound throughout the earth and sky.

These rivals never stay together as a herd.
The beaten animal departs,
to live in exile in a distant, unknown land,
where he bewails his shame,
the wounds his scornful conqueror has dealt him
and — especially — the love he’s lost;
a loss yet unavenged.
Regretfully, in his mind’s eye
he sees the comfort of his stall,
the country of his ancestors, abandoned.
So he lays his careful plans. He concentrates his powers.
All night long he lies on unstrawed ground,
surrounded by hard rocks,
with prickly leaves and spiky reeds his only food.
After a while, he tests his strength;
he butts into a tree trunk,
working up the anger in his horns;
he savages the winds with blows, he paws the sand,
in preparation for the fight to come.
And soon, with forces mustered, might regained,
he hoists his standard,
charging headlong at his unsuspecting enemy.
He’s like a wave far out at sea which starts to whiten;
from the deep it swells up in an arch
and, rolling on towards the shore,
it roars like thunder all along the reefs
till, nothing less than mountainous, it crashes down,
while, from beneath, the water boils in eddies,
tossing up black sand into the air.

Virgil — Georgics, book 3, lines 209-241

Sed non ulla magis vires industria firmat,
quam Venerem et caeci stimulos auertere amoris,
sive boum sive est cui gratior usus equorum.
atque ideo tauros procul atque in sola relegant
pascua, post montem oppositum et trans flumina lata,
aut intus clausos satura ad praesepia servant.
carpit enim vires paulatim uritque videndo
femina, nec nemorum patitur meminisse nec herbae
dulcibus illa quidem inlecebris, et saepe superbos
cornibus inter se subigit decernere amantis.
pascitur in magna Sila formosa iuvenca:
illi alternantes multa ui proelia miscent
vulneribus crebris, lavit ater corpora sanguis,
versaque in obnixos urgentur cornua uasto
cum gemitu; reboant silvaeque et longus Olympus.
nec mos bellantis una stabulare, sed alter
victus abit longeque ignotis exsulat oris,
multa gemens ignominiam plagasque superbi
victoris, tum quos amisit inultus amores,
et stabula aspectans regnis excessit avitis.
ergo omni cura viris exercet et inter
dura iacet pernox instrato saxa cubili,
frondibus hirsutis et carice pastus acuta,
et temptat sese atque irasci in cornua discit
arboris obnixus trunco, ventosque lacessit
ictibus, et sparsa ad pugnam proludit harena.
post ubi collectum robur viresque refectae,
signa mouet praecepsque oblitum fertur in hostem:
fluctus uti medio coepit cum albescere ponto,
longius ex altoque sinum trahit, utque volutus
ad terras immane sonat per saxa, neque ipso
monte minor procumbit; at ima exaestuat unda
uerticibus nigramque alte subiectat harenam.