Skip to main content

A Wee-bit More About Faunus Sampler

‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, frontispiece from 1913 edition of “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Graham illustrated by Paul Bransom.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-Hygeia is a ‘Wee-bit More About Faunus Sampler’ in which we offer more references to the Roman field & countryside God Faunus, we published about yesterday in Antoine Court de Gebelin’s encyclopedic notice.


Horace-Book I, Ode IV: ‘Spring’

‘Fierce winter slackens its grip: it’s spring and the west wind’s sweet change:

the ropes are hauling dry hulls towards the shore,

The flock no longer enjoys the fold, or the ploughman the fire,

no more are the meadows white with hoary frost.

Now Cytherean Venus leads out her dancers, under the pendant moon,

and the lovely Graces have joined with the Nymphs,

treading the earth on tripping feet, while Vulcan, all on fire, visits

the tremendous Cyclopean forges.

Now its right to garland our gleaming heads, with green myrtle or flowers,

whatever the unfrozen earth now bears:

now it’s right to sacrifice to Faunus, in groves that are filled with shadow,

whether he asks for a lamb,  an ewe, or a ram.

Pale death knocks with impartial foot, at the door of the poor man’s cottage,

and at the prince’s gate. O Sestus, my friend,

the span of brief life prevents us from ever depending on distant hope.

Soon the night will crush you, the fabled spirits,

and Pluto’s bodiless halls: where once you’ve passed inside you’ll no longer

be allotted the lordship of wine by dice,

or marvel at Lycidas, so tender, for whom, already, the boys

are burning, and soon the girls will grow hotter.’


Horace-Book II-Ode XVII-‘The Delights of the Country’

‘Swift Faunus, the god, will quite often exchange

Arcady for my sweet Mount Lucretilis,

and while he stays he protects my goats

from the midday heat and the driving rain.

The wandering wives of the rank he-goats search,

with impunity, through the safe woodland groves,

for the hidden arbutus, and thyme,

and their kids don’t fear green poisonous snakes,

or the wolf of Mars, my lovely Tyndaris,

once my Mount Ustica’s long sloping valleys,

and its smooth worn rocks, have re-echoed

to the music of sweet divine piping.

The gods protect me: my love and devotion,

and my Muse, are dear to the gods. Here the rich

wealth of the countryside’s beauties will

flow for you, now, from the horn of plenty.

Here you’ll escape from the heat of the dog-star,

in secluded valleys, sing of bright Circe,

labouring over the Teian lyre,

and of Penelope: both loved one man.

Here you’ll bring cups of innocent Lesbian

wine, under the shade, nor will Semele’s son,

that Bacchus, battle it out with Mars,

nor shall you fear the intemperate hands

of insolent Cyrus, jealously watching,

to possess you, girl, unequal to evil,

to tear off the garland that clings to

your hair, or tear off your innocent clothes.’

‘Fauns frolicking in the woods’, by Allen Todd Yeager.


Virgil-Eglogue VI, 27 to 40.

‘Then you might have seen Fauns and wild creatures dance

to the measure, then the unbending oaks nodded their crowns:

no such delight have the cliffs of Parnassus in their Phoebus,

Rhodope and Ismarus are not so astounded by Orpheus.

For he sang how the seeds of earth and air and sea and liquid fire

were brought together through the great void: how from these first

beginnings all things, even the tender orb of earth took shape:

then began to harden as land, to shut Nereus

in the deep, to gradually take on the form of things:

and then the earth is awed by the new sun shining,

and rain falls from the clouds borne on high:

and woods first begin to rise, and here and there,

creatures roam over the unknown hills.’


Virgil-Georgic. Book I. The invocation

‘I’ll begin to sing of what keeps the wheat fields happy,

under what stars to plough the earth, and fasten vines to elms,

what care the oxen need, what tending cattle require,

Maecenas, and how much skill’s required for the thrifty bees.

O you brightest lights of the universe

that lead the passing year through the skies,

Bacchus and kindly Ceres, since by your gifts

fat wheat ears replaced Chaonian acorns,

and mixed Achelous’s water with newly-discovered wine,

and you, Fauns, the farmer’s local gods,

(come dance, together, Fauns and Dryad girls!)

your gifts I sing. And you, O Neptune, for whom

earth at the blow of your mighty trident first produced

whinnying horses: and you Aristaeus, planter of the groves,

for whom three hundred snowy cattle graze Cea’s rich thickets:

you, O Tegean Pan, if you care for your own Maenalus,

leaving your native Lycaean woods and glades, guardian

of the flocks, favour us: and Minerva bringer of the olive:

and you Triptolemus, boy who revealed the curving plough,

and Silvanus carrying a tender cypress by the roots:

and all you gods and goddesses, whose care guards our fields,

you who nurture the fresh fruits of the unsown earth,

and you who send plentiful showers down for the crops!’

‘Fauns and Nymphs in the forest clearing’, by Isaac Oliver (1565 – 1617).


Virgil-Aeneid-Book VII, 37-106- King Latinus & the Oracle

Come now, Erato, and I’ll tell of the kings, the times,

the state of ancient Latium, when that foreign

troop first landed on Ausonia’s shores, and I’ll recall

the first fighting from its very beginning. You goddess,

you must prompt your poet. I’ll tell of brutal war,

I’ll tell of battle action, and princes driven to death

by their courage, of Trojan armies, and all of Hesperia

forced to take up arms. A greater order of things

is being born, greater is the work that I attempt.

King Latinus, now old in years, ruled fields

and towns, in the tranquility of lasting peace.

We hear he was the child of Faunus and the Laurentine

nymph, Marica. Faunus’s father was Pictus, and he boasts

you, Saturn, as his, you the first founder of the line.

By divine decree, Latinus had no male heir, his son

having been snatched from him in the dawn of first youth.

There was only a daughter to keep house in so noble a palace,

now ready for a husband, now old enough to be a bride.

Many sought her hand, from wide Latium and all Ausonia,

Turnus above all, the most handsome, of powerful ancestry,

whom the queen hastened to link to her as her son-in-law

with wonderful affection. But divine omens, with their many

terrors, prevented it. There was a laurel, with sacred leaves,

in the high inner court in the middle of the palace,

that had been guarded with reverence for many years.

It was said that Lord Latinus himself had discovered it,

when he first built his fortress, and dedicated it to Apollo,

and from it had named the settlers Laurentines.

A dense cloud of bees (marvelous to tell) borne

through the clear air, with a mighty humming,

settled in the very top of the tree, and hung there,

their feet all tangled together, in a sudden swarm.

Immediately the prophet cried: ‘I see a foreign hero,

approaching, and, from a like direction, an army

seeks this same place, to rule from the high citadel.

Then as he lit the altars with fresh pine torches,

as virgin Lavinia stood there next to her father

she seemed (horror!) to catch the fire in her long tresses,

and all her finery to burn in crackling flame, her royally

dressed tresses set alight, her crown alight, remarkable

for its jewels: then wreathed in smoke and yellow light,

she seemed to scatter sparks through all the palace.

Truly it was talked of as a shocking and miraculous sight:

for they foretold she would be bright with fame and fortune,

but it signified a great war for her people.

Then the king, troubled by the wonder, visited the oracle

of Faunus, his far-speaking father, and consulted the groves

below high Albunea, mightiest of forests, that echoed

with the sacred fountain, and breathed a deadly vapour from the dark.

The people of Italy, and all the Oenotrian lands, sought answers

to their doubts, from that place: when the priest brought

offerings there, and, found sleep, in the silent night, lying

on spread fleeces of sacrificed sheep, he saw there many ghosts

flitting in marvelous forms, and heard various voices, had speech

with the gods, and talked with Acheron, in the depths of Avernus.

And here the king, Latinus, himself seeking an answer,

slaughtered a hundred woolly sheep according to the rite,

and lay there supported by their skins and woolly fleeces:

Suddenly a voice emerged from the deep wood:

O my son, don’t try to ally your daughter in a Latin marriage,

don’t place your faith in the intended wedding:

strangers will come to be your kin, who’ll lift our name

to the stars by their blood, and the children

of whose race shall see all, where the circling sun

views both oceans, turning obediently beneath their feet.

Latinus failed to keep this reply of his Father’s quiet,

this warning given in the silent night, and already

Rumour flying far and wide had carried it through

the Ausonian cities, when the children of Laomedon

came to moor their ships by the river’s grassy banks.’


Ovid-Fasti-Book II. February 15: The Lupercalia

This third morning after the Ides sees the naked Luperci,

And the rites of two-horned Faunus enacted.

Pierian Muses, tell the origin of the rites,

And where they were brought from to our Latin home.

They say the ancient Arcadians worshipped Pan

The god of cattle, he of the mountain heights.

Mount Pholoe was witness, and the Stymphalian waters,

And Ladon that runs its swift course to the sea:

The ridges of the Nonacrine grove circled with pines:

High Tricrene, and the Parrhasian snows.

Pan was the god of cattle there, and the mares,

He received gifts for guarding the sheep.

Evander brought his woodland gods with him:

There where Rome stands there was merely a site.

So we worship the god, and the priest performs

The rites the Pelasgians brought in the ancient way.

Why, you ask, do the Luperci run, and since it’s their custom,

This running, why do they strip their bodies naked?

The god himself loves to run swiftly on the heights,

And he himself suddenly takes to flight.

The god himself is naked, and orders his servants naked,

Since anyway clothes were not suited to that course.


Grattius-Cynegeticon.1 to 23-The chase

‘Under thine auspices, Diana, do I chant the gifts of the gods 0-the skill that has made the hunters glad. Erstwhile their sole hope lay in their weapons: men untrained stirred the woods with prowess unaided by skill: mistakes beset life everywhere. Afterwards, by another and a more fitting way, with better schooling they took thee, Reason, to aid their enter­prises. From Reason came all their help in life: the true order of things shone forth : men learned out of arts to produce kindred arts : from Reason came the undoing of mad violence. But ’twas a divinity who gave the first favouring impulse to the arts, putting around them their deep-set props : then did every man work out the portions of his choice, and industry attained its goal. The life that was imperilled by warfare against wild beasts, where most it needed help, thou, Diana, didst deign lo shield with aids of thy discovery, and to free the world from harm so great. Under thy name the goddesses joined to them a hundred comrades: all the nymphs of the groves, all the Naiads dripping from the springs, and Latium’s satyrs and the Faun-god came in sup­ port; Pan, too, the youth of the Arcadian mount, and the Idaean Mother, Cybele, who tames the lions, and Silnanus rejoicing in the wilding bough. I by these guardians ordained-and not without song-to defend our human lot against a thousand beasts, with song too will furnish weapons and pursue the arts of the chase.’


Calpurnius Siculus-Eglogue 1, 33 to 44

“I, Faunus of celestial birth, guardian of hill and forest, foretell to the nations that these things shall come. Upon the sacred tree I please to carve the joyous lay in which destiny is revealed. Rejoice above all, ye denizens of the woods; rejoice, ye peoples who are mine! All the herd may stray and yet no care trouble its guardian : the shepherd may neglect to close the pens at night with wattles of ash-wood-yet no robber shall bring his crafty plot upon the fold, or loosing the halters drive the bullocks off. Amid untroubled peace, the Golden Age springs to a second birth ; at last kindly Themis, throwing off the gathered dust of her mourning, returns to the earth.’


Calpurnius Siculus-Eglogue IV, 60 to 63

‘This pipe wins over savage bulls, and makes sweetest melody to our own Faunus. It once was owned by Tityrus, who among these hills of yours was the first to sing his tuneful lay on the Hyblaean pipe.’

Pablo Picasso, ‘La danse des Faunes’. Lithograph, 1957, with Picasso’s ink stamp at lower right, from the unsigned edition of 1000, published by Mourlot, Paris, matted and framed. Leland Little Auction House.


Source English Translation text for Horace: / Source English translation text for Virgil: / Source English Translation for Ovid’s Fasti: /Grattius: Loeb classical Library, Minor Latin Poets page 151 to 153/ Calpurnius Siculus: Loeb classical Library, Minor Latin Poets page 221 and249
A Wee-bit More About Faunus Sampler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

all rights reserved Via Hygeia 2022