I.     Vergil: Georgics

A.  Ge—earth

B.  Ergon—work

II.   Pastoral or nature-writing, ecoliterary traditions--binaries

A.  Vita triplex

1.    Love, action, contemplation

2.    Country vs. city

3.    Pastoral vs. epic

4.    Peace vs. war; swords and ploughshares

5.    Otium and negotium

B.  Pastoral vs. georgic

C.  Soft vs. hard primitivism

D.  Youth vs. age

E.   Play vs. work

F.   Recreation vs. morality

G.  Georgic is didactic

1.    Moral and informational

2.    Guidance to the farmerŐs philosophy

3.    Ethics, aesthetics and practical knowledge of working the land

a)   Issues today of sustainable and local agriculture

b)   Civilizations destroyed by bad soil conservation practices


4.    Contemporary emphasis on agricultural virtues; close observation and love of land and soil

a)   Farmer John: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqP1SC5Tr7U

b)   Michael Pollan: Letter to the Farmer-in Chie

5. Cal Poly Georgic

6. The History of Peas

H.  Sources in Hesiods Works and Days--Almanac

1.    Not the Golden Age, but the Silver Age of time, process and seasons

2.    Changes in the passage of time

III. Reputation of Georgics

A.  Who is Maecenas and Augustus—becomes emperor in 27 BCE

B.  Vergil the most influential and highest prestige of European poets; cultivation; representation of the Roman Imperial ideology—dates: 70-19 BCE—Dryden: Ňbest poem of the best poet.Ó

C.  Widely read by farmers and poets—especially early american

IV.         Prestige of Rural life and farming among the Romans—generals and politicians and philosophers: country estates

A.  Considered holy and austere and honest and at the core of civic—i.e. city virtues often lost in the city and in politics

B.  The aesthetics of work—pictures and picturesque description

C.  Values: seen in Genesis—vitality, fertility, plenitude, variety

D.  Piety: recognize the gifts and threats of nature close by; express respect for its power; celebrate festivals and rituals

E.   Reading the signs—reading the landscape and the weather  p.8

F.   Enjoying description—variety of phenomena and vocabulary, derived from rich knowledge

V.  Structure of the poem

A.  Problematic like much ecolit, which is often not structured by narrative or logical conventions—structure open to debate and interpretation

1.    Mosaic like

2.    but more by natural patterns: time, season, weather, mood, associative transition

B.  intensification and contrast; generalization and exception

C.  Books 1 and 3 end in horror, 2 and 4 begin and end in harmony

VI.         Book I

A.  Preface—such are my theme

B.  Tilth of fields in this book

C.  Importance of observation, different capacities of soil

D.  Need to give back: manure and rest and rotation and burning

E.   Aggressive virtues: shattering share, earth assails/makes the field his thrall p.3

F.   NB: No easy road; silver not golden age; Jove vs. Saturn p.3

1.    Whetting minds of men; not drowsy sloth

2.    Thoughts, the arts

3.    Toil, poverty, tools

4.    Difficulty and obstacles of agriculture  p.4

G.  Methods for threshing—need to learn to cope with obstacles

H.  NB Image of rowing upstream—no time to slacken p. 5

I.     Times to sow different crops

1.    What jobs to do if the weather is bad 6

J.   Winter recreation, but work to do then too

K.  NB Description of storm—tour de force—p.7

L.   Psychology of birds and cattle; related to weather p.9

M. NB Description of social chaos; horses running without riderŐs control  9

VII.       Book 2

A.  Wine and olives—see Tuscan pics—go to vineyards on campus

B.  NB Invocation—take off shoes and stomp in the grapes p.10

C.  Trees: spontaneous—riparian willows

D.  Methods of generation, reproduction; grafting

E.   Varieties of wine

F.   Back to soils—their kinds; cf. field guide—olives like poor soils; rich soils good for wine

G.  Rich soil for grain  glebe=clod or earth

H.  Aesculus=buckeye

I.     NB Reverdie—p.15—Aether—personification of the sky or upper air—his wife is Gaia or Earth

J.   Pruning; protecting young vines from enemies

K.  Wheel of toil—cultivation—much husbandry required

L.   Not so with olivesÉp.17

M. NB Happy tillers of the soil   p. 17 --20 with them departing Justice her last footprints left; another invocation of Golden Age and long primitivist paean

VIII.     Book 3

A.  Raising cattle—student at Escuela Ranch?

B.  Breeding animals in ŇyouthŐs delightÓ  p.20
 as counter to aging and death

C.  Selection of horses; tending pregnant mothers  p. 21

D.  NB--Power of sexual desire in bulls—destructive  22—the loser in battle ostracized

E.   Furious power of love 23—nature as energy and force

F.   Protecting sheep—the moral obligation

G.  Long description of evil snake  25-6

H.  NB: On to diseases and plagues of animals—vivid description—the genre of horror 27 [like end of 1—storms]

IX.         Book 4

A.  Contrast to honey, gift of heaven

1.    They didnŐt have sugar

2.    Idea of bees as rational: a marvelous display of puny powers

3.    Tribute to bees  p. 32  division of labor—cf. Aeneid book 4 and Erasmus and Shakespeare Henry V

4.    False idea of their reproduction

5.    Imperial organization  p.34

6.    All things go back to god; no mortality  p.34

7.    Political propaganda: CaesarÉbare rule oer willing folk, Though vanquishedÉp.35