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From Readings in Ancient History, Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, Volume II. Rome and the West, by William Stearns Davis; Allyn and Bacon; Boston; 1913; pp. 6-7.




Old Latin Fragment from Wordsworth’s Translation

The “Arval Brethren ” were a company of twelve priests, whose main business seems to have been to offer sacrifice for the fertility of the soil. During their solemn festival they executed a sacred 7 dance, and recited the hymn here given. This hymn is in such primitive Latin that its correct translation is in some points disputed; but it continued to be recited centuries after the priests had almost forgotten its meaning. Compare this early Latin effort at poetry with the earliest known poetry of the Greeks!

Help us, O Lares, help us, Lares, help us!
    And thou, O Marmar, suffer not
    Fell plague and ruin’s rot
    Our folk to devastate.
Be satiate, O firece Mars, be satiate!
    Leap o’er the threshold! Halt! now beat the ground!

[Above couplet repeated three times.]

Call to your aid the heroes all, call in alternate strain;
    Call, call the heroes all!
Call to your aid the heroes all, call in alternate strain.
Help us, O Marmar, help us! Marmar, help us!
Leap high in solemn measure; leap and leap again!
    Leap high and leap again!


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