Theokritos, Idyll VI

Damoetas and Daphnis

Damoetas and Daphnis the cowherd once drove their flocks to a single place, Aratus. The beard of one was red, the other's half-grown. Beside a spring on a summer's day at noon they sat and sang. Daphnis began since his was the challenge:


"Polyphemus, Galatea with apples pelts your flocks and calls you cursed in love and a goatherd man, and you don't look at her, you wretch, but sit and sweetly pipe. But, see, again she pelts the bitch that guards your sheep and looks to sea and barks&emdash;the lovely waves that splash upon the sands reflect her as she runs along the beach. Don't let her lunge at the girl's legs as she comes from the sea or tear her lovely flesh. From there she flirts with you. As from the thorn the thistledown in parching summertime, she flees who loves and loves who loves her not and moves her counter from the line. Often, Polyphemus, foul to a lover seems very fair."

Damoetas began to play to him and sang.


"I saw her, by Pan, when she was pelting my flock. With my one sweet eye I saw her, my only eye, with which may I see forever to the end.


(May Telemus the seer who sings of evil for me keep it for his house, his children, his own!) don't look at her. I'm teasing her. I say I've got another girl. She hears. She's jealous, she wastes away, and from the sea she peeps, stung by love, at my flocks and caves. hiss at my dog to bark at her, for when I fell in love it nuzzled her and whined. Perhaps when she sees me doing this she'll send a messenger. But I'll lock the doors: until she swears she'll spread her bed on this isle with me, because I'm not so ugly as they say. Lately I looked in the sea&emdash;there was a calm&emdash; and my beard was fair and so was my single eye, or so it seemed to me, and my teeth shone with beams whiter than those of the Parian stone. Lest I be bewitched, three times I've spat inside my cloak as the hag Cotyttaris taught."

Damoetas kissed Daphnis after this song and gave him a pipe. He got a pretty flute. Damoetas played the flute and Daphnis his pipe. On the soft grass the heifers began to dance. Neither won the match&emdash;unconquered the two.