"When Gilbert began to list and recite Virgil, Uere nouo gelidus canis cum montibus humor liquitur; Howard reached into the hermit’s mouth with the pliers, grabbed the fetid tooth, and pulled with all his strength."

Gilbert's recitation is from Georgics, Book I of 4 by Virgil the great poet of ancient Rome; it was most likely published in 29 BC.  Georgics celebrates Nature, but also the darker, relentless aspects of Man toiling to tame it.

The quote above is from Line 42; translated to English it reads: "In early spring-tide, when the icy drip / Melts from the mountains hoar, and Zephyr's breath / Unbinds the crumbling clod, even then 'tis time; / Press deep your plough behind the groaning ox, / And teach the furrow-burnished share to shine."