When spring begins and the ice-locked streams begin To flow down from the snowy hills above And the clods begin to crumble in the breeze, The time has come for my groaning ox to drag My heavy plow across the fields, so that The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs against it. Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will It yield what the farmer prays for; then will the barn Be full to bursting with the gathered grain, And yet if the field's unknown and new to us, Before our plow breaks open the soil at all, It's necessary to study the ways of the winds And the changing ways of the skies, and also to know The history of the planting in that ground, What crops will prosper there and what will not. In one place grain grows best, in another, vines; Another's good for the cultivation of trees; In still another the grain turns green unbidden.
The Aeneid, Book VI, [First, the sky and the earth]
"First, the sky and the earth and the flowing fields of the sea, the shining orb of the moon and the Titan sun, the stars: an inner spirit feeds them, coursing through all their limbs, mind stirs the mass and their fusion brings the world to birth. From their union springs the human race and the wild beasts, the winged lives of birds and the wondrous monsters bred below the glistening surface of the sea. The seeds of life— fiery is their force, divine their birth, but they are weighed down by the bodies' ills or dulled by earthly limbs and flesh that's born for death. That is the source of all men's fears and longings, joys and sorrows, nor can they see the heavens' light, shut up in the body's tomb, a prison dark and deep. "True, but even on that last day, when the light of life departs, the wretches are not completely purged of all the taints, nor are they wholly freed of all the body's plagues. Down deep they harden fast—they must, so long engrained in the flesh—in strange, uncanny ways. And so the souls are drilled in punishments, they must pay for their old offenses. Some are hung splayed out, exposed to the empty winds, some are plunged in the rushing floods—their stains, their crimes scoured off or scorched away by fire. Each of us must suffer his own demanding ghost. Then we are sent to Elysium's broad expanse, a few of us even hold these fields of joy till the long days, a cycle of time seen through, cleanse our hard, inveterate stains and leave us clear ethereal sense, the eternal breath of fire purged and pure. But all the rest, once they have turned the wheel of time for a thousand years: God calls them forth to the Lethe, great armies of souls, their memories blank so that they may revisit the overarching world once more and begin to long to return to bodies yet again."