Muses of Sicily, let us attempt a rather more exalted theme. Hedgerow and humble tamarisk do not appeal to all. If we must sing of woodlands, let them be such as may do a consul honour.
We have reached the last era in Sibylline song. Time has conceived and the great Sequence of the Ages starts afresh. Justice, the virgin, comes back to dwell with us, and the rule of Saturn is restored. The firstborn of the New Age is already on his way from high heaven down to earth.
With him, the Iron Race shall end and Golden Man inherit all the World. Smile on the Baby's birth, immaculate Lucina; your own Apollo is enthroned at last.
And it is in your consulship, yours, Pollio, that this glorious Age will dawn and the processing of the great months begin. Under your leadership all traces that remain of our iniquity will be effaced and, as they vanish, free the world from its long night of horror.
He will foregather with the gods; he will see the great men of the past consorting with them, and be himself observed by these, guiding a world to which his father's virtues have brought peace.
Free-roaming ivy, foxgloves in every dell, and smiling acanthus mingled with Egyptian lilies - these, little one, are the first gifts that the earth, unprompted by the hoe, will lavish on you. The goats, unsheparded, will make for home with udders full of milk, and the ox will not be frightened of the lion, for all his might. Your very cradle will adorn itself with blossoms to caress you. The snake will come to grief, and poison lurk no more in the weed. Perfumes of Assyria will breathe from every hedge.
Later, when you have learnt to read the praises of the great and what your father achieved, come to understand what manhood is, the waving corn will slowly flood the plains with gold, grapes hang in ruby clusters on the neglected thorn, and honey-dew exude from the hard trunk of the oak.
Even so, faint traces of our former wickedness will linger on, to make us venture on the sea in ships, build walls around our cities, and plough the soil. With a new Tiphys at the helm, a second Argo will set out, manned by a picked heroic crew. Wars will even repeat themselves and the great Achilles be dispatched to Troy once more.
Later again, when the strengthening years have made a man of you, even the trader will forsake the sea, pine-wood ships will cease to carry merchandise for barter, each land producing all it needs. No mattock will molest the soil, no pruning-knife the vine; and then at last the study ploughman will free his oxen from the yoke. Wool will be taught no more to cheat the eye with this tint or with that, but the ram himself in his own meadows will change the colour of his fleece, now to the soft glow of a purple dye, now to a saffron yellow. Lambs at their pastures will find themselves in scarlet coats.
The fates have spoken, in concord with the unalterable decree of destiny. "Run spindles", they have said. "This is the pattern of the age to come."
Enter - for the hour is close at hand - on your illustrious career, dear child of the gods, great increment of Jove. Look at the world, rocked by the weight of its overhanging dome; look at the lands, the far-flung seas and the unfathomable sky. See how the whole of creation rejoices in the age that is to be!
Ah, if the last days of my life could only be prolonged, and breath enough remain, for me to chronicle your acts, then neither Thracian Orpheus nor Linus could outsing me, not though the one had his mother and the other had his father at his side, Orpheus, his Calliope, and Linus, Apollo in all his beauty. If Pan himself, with Arcady for judge, were to contend with me, the great god Pan, with Arcady for judge, would own defeat.
Begin, then, little boy, to greet you mother with a smile: the ten long months have left her sick at heart. Begin, little boy: no one who has not given his mother a smile has ever been thought worthy of his table by a god, or by a goddess of her bed.