Book Club | October 2020: Virgil Georgics

Wordcloud Georgics grape harvest

What should I tell of autumn’s storms, and stars,
and what men must watch for when the daylight shortens,
and summer becomes more changeable, or when spring
pours down showers, when spiked crops bristle in the fields,
and wheat swells with sap on its green stem?[1]

Our October selection is from the Roman poet Virgil: the pastoral poem Georgics. This work is divided into four books: Book I discusses agriculture and the weather,  Book II deals with trees and vineyards, Book III features livestock farming, and Book IV covers bee-keeping.

With its mixture of mythological references, practical advice, Epicurean philosophy, and oblique political references—it was composed around 29 BCE during the Roman Empire under Octavian—this work is not simply about the developing agricultural science of the period.

We will all read Books I and IV, but you can also read Books II and III if you wish.

As usual you can read any translation you like. Here are links to some free online translations:

Discussion will start and continue in the Forum, and we will meet via Zoom on Tuesday, October 27 at 11 a.m. EDT.

Happy readings!

[1] Book I: 311–315, translation by A.S. Kline