Sunday, June 13, 2021

Far from the Crimes of Man: Astraea, Seneca, Octavia, 397 - 424


Tunc illa virgo, numinis magni dea,
Iustitia, caelo missa cum sancta Fide
terra regebat mitis humanum genus.
non bella norant, non tubae fremitus truces
non arma gentes, cingere assuerant suas
muris nec urbes: per
vium cunctis iter,
communis usus omnium rerum fuit;
et ipsa Tellus laeta fecundos sinus
pandebat ultro, tam piis felix parens                          
et tuta alumnis. Alia sed suboles minus
conspecta mitis * * *
* * * Tertium sollers genus                   
vas ad artes extitit, sanctum tamen,
mox inquietum quod sequi cursu feras
auderet acres, fluctibus tectos graui         
extrahere pisces rete uel calamo le
volucres crate * * *
tenere laqueo, premere subiectos iugo  
tauros feroces,
vomere immunem prius
sulcare terram, laesa quae fruges suas

interior, alte condidit sacro sinu.
     Sed in parentis
viscera intravit suae
deterior aetas; eruit ferrum gra
aurumque, sae
vas mox et armavit manus;
partita fines regna constituit, no
exstruxit urbes, tecta defendit sua 
aliena telis aut petit praedae imminens.
neglecta terras fugit et mores feros
hominum, cruenta caede pollutas manus
virgo, siderum magnum decus.

--Seneca the Younger, Octavia 397 – 424

Then Justice, the great-souled virgin goddess,

Sent down from heaven,

Ruled over the human race throughout the earth

With sacred faith.

At that time, mankind knew not the name of war,

Nor the shrill trumpet cry of reveille, nor of warfare;

Cities were not accustomed to build up defensive walls,

Travel was open for all;

All property was held in common.

The earth herself, Mother and Guardian,

gladly produced her bountiful crops for her children.

But the next age was less luxurious; . . .

The third age of mankind expanded with new technology,

Still a pious generation, but restless.

They dared to hunt down wild beasts,

Drag fish from the waves with their nets,

Use snares for birds and other animals,

Tame oxen with yoke,

Slash open the untouched earth with their ploughs.

And now, wounded, the earth hid her fruits

More deeply in her bosom.

But that age violated their sacred Mother’s loins,

Plucking out iron and gold

Put weapons in their savage hands,

Established borders for their kingdoms,

Built up new empires,

Defended their own homes with weapons,

Or sought out new homes for booty.

Neglected, the virgin goddess Astraea

Fled the earth and savage ways of man,

Fled those hands polluted with bloody murder

And sought the great glory of stars.




Name:  Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Date:  4 BCE – 65 CE

Works:  Epistulae Morales*

               De Clementia

               Phaedra, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Originally from Corduba, Hispania, Seneca the Younger was a Roman statesman with a tumultuous career. First exiled to the island of Corsica by the emperor Claudius, he was later recalled and became the emperor Nero’s mentor and tutor. Seneca wrote prolifically in several genres, including Stoic philosophy and Roman tragedies. He was ultimately put to death by the emperor Nero for his participation in the Pisonian Conspiracy of 65 CE.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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