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" among the dead, as not having run out the thread of their 6 days, and finished the term of life that had been allotted them “ upon earth : the first of these are the souls of infants, who “ are snatched away by untimely ends; the second are of those " who are put to death wrongfully, and by an unjust sentence; " and the third of those who grew weary of their lives, and laid “ violent hands upon themselves'.
After this, follow the two Episodes of Dido and Deïphobus, in imitation of Homer; where we find nothing to our purpose, but the strange description of the latter, whose mangled phantom is drawn according to the philosophy of Plato; who teaches in his Gorgias, that the dead not only retain all the passions of the soul, but all the marks and blemishes of the body.
Aeneas having passed this first division, comes now on the confines of Tartarus; and is instructed in what relates to the crimes and punishments of the inhabitants, by his guide; who declares her office of Hierophante, or interpreter of the Mysteries, in these words:
6 Dux inclyte Teucrûm,
“ Ipsa Deum poenas docuit, perque omnia duxit.” It is remarkable, that Aeneas is led through the Regions of Purgatory and Elysium ; but, he only sees the sights of Tar tarus at a distance, which his guide explains to him : i “ Tum demum horrisono stridentes cardine sacrae.
“ Panduntur portae: Cernis, custodia qualis
“ Vestibulo sedeat; facies quae limina servet.” For thus it must needs be, in the shows of the Mysteries, for very obvious reasons.
The criminals destined to eternal punishment; in this division, are,
1. Those who had sinned so secretly as to escape the animadversion of the Magistrate :' .......
6 Gnossius haec Rhadamanthùs habet durissima regna :
6 Distulit in seram commissa piacula' mortem.” And it was principally on account of such crimes, that the Legislator enforced the doctrine of a future state of punishment.
i Mr Addison's Works, Vol. 2. p. 300. Quarto Ed. 1721.
2. The Atheistical Despisers of God and Religion:
“ Hic genus antiquum terrae Titania pubes." This was agreeable to the laws of Charondas, who says, “ Be “ the contempt of the Gods put in the number of the most “ flagitious crimes k.! The Poet dwells particularly on that species of impiety, that affects divine honours;
« Vidi et crudeles dantem Salmonea poenas,
“ Dum flammas Jovis et sonitus imitatur Olympi.” And this was doubtless designed by him for an oblique castigation of the adulation of the Apotheosis, then beginning to be paid and received at Rome. I cannot but think Horace likewise, in his Ode, of which Virgil is the subject, upbraids, his countrymen for this madness :
“Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia ; neque « Per nostrum patimur scelus
6 Iracunda Jovem ponere fulmina!." 3. The Infringers of the Duties of Imperfect Obligation, which Civil Laws cannot reach: such as want of natural affection to brothers, duty to parents, protection to clients, and charity to the poor :
“ Hic quibus invisi fratres, dum vita manebat;
“ Nec partem posuere suis; quae maximą turba est.” 4. Those pests of public and private peace, the Traitor and the Adulterer :
“ Quique ob adulterium caesi, quique arma secuti
“ Hic thalamum invasit natae, vetitosque hymenaeos." It is observable, he does not say, simply, Adulteri, but “ob " adulterium caesi ;” as implying, that the greatest civil punishment makes no atonement for this crime at the bar of Divine Justice.
5. The fifth and last species of offenders are the Invaders
k Eσω δε μέγισα αδικήματα θεών καταφρόνησις. ap. Stob. Serm. 42. i Carm. Lib. 1. Od. 3.
m So the Law of the twelve tables: Patronus si clienti fraudem fecerit, sacer esto,
the fact, Pirithains, til delandestine
ies pilothous capitally, and reasons to polysteries, to whori
Thesd, as the
addos viole several
and Violators of the holy Mysteries, held out in the person of Theseus :
" Sedet, aeternumque sedebit
DISCITE JUSTITIAM MONITI, ET NON TEMNERE Divos. The Fable says, that Theseus, and his friend Pirithous, formed a design to steal Proserpine from Hell; bụt being taken in the fact, Pirithous was thrown to the dog Cerberus, and Theseus kept in chains", till delivered by Hercules. Hereby, no doubt, was designed their clandestine intrusion into the Mysteries; for which they were punished, as the Fable relates ; that is, Pirithous capitally, and Theseus by imprisonment. We have already given several reasons to prove the descent of Theseus to be a violent intrusion into the Mysteries, to which we may add what the antients tell us of the time of his imprisonment, which was four years; the exact space between the celebrations of the greater Mysteries. So Seneca makes him say,
“ Tandem profugi noctis aeternae plagam,
“ Detinuit inter mortis et vitae malao.” Thus we may reconcile the contradictory accounts of the Fable concerning Theseus, some of which say he was delivered from Hell, others, that he was eternally detained there. The first relate to the liberty given him by the President of the Mysteries ; the other, to what the Mysteries taught was the lot of the violators of them in the other world. This leads me to a circumstance which will much confirm our general interpretation of this 6th Book. In Aeneas's Speech to the Sibyl, Theseus is put amongst those Heroes who went to, and returned from Hell
66 Quid Theseas Magnum
• Quid memorem Alciden ?"But afterwards he is represented as eternally confined there. Julius Hyginus, in his Commentaries on Virgil”, thinks this a
9 Kurucgsbrwy dd dur@y, IItigiboos pés i bpálin
To reizig@sgp rõ xuv), Onosùs's sigxrñ xqatsītasJo. Tzetzes, C. II. Cap. LI. 9. Hippol. PA. Gellii Noct. Att. 1. 10, c. 16.
gross contradiction; that Virgil would have corrected had he lived to finish the Poem. But can any man in his senses believe that the Poet was not aware of these two contradictory accounts so near one another in the same book? I have reconciled them above. And his employing them both, confirms, as we say, our general interpretation. Aeneas wanted to be initiated, and where he speaks to the Sibyl, or Mystagogue, he enumerates those heroes who had been initiated before him, that is, those who had seen the Shews of the Mysteries, of which number was Theseus, though he had 'intruded violently. But when the Poet comes to describe the Shews of the Mysteries, which were supposed to be a true representation of what was done and suffered in Hell, Theseus is put among the damned, that being his destiny upon death.
This brings to my mind a story told by Livy. 6. The Athe6 nians,” says he, 6 drew upon themselves a war with Philip, “ on a very slight occasion; at a time, when nothing remained " of their antient fortune, but their high spirit. Two young “ Acarnanians, during the days of initiation, themselves un66 initiated and ignorant of all that related to that secret wor66 ship, entered the Temple of Ceres along with the crowd. 6. Their discourse soon betrayed them; as making some absurd s inquiries into what they saw : so being brought before the • President of the Mysteries, although it was evident they “ had entered ignorantly, and without design, they were put 66 to death, as guilty of a most abominable impiety q.”.
The Phlegyae here mentioned, I take to be those people of Boeotia spoke of by Pausanias, who attempting to plunder the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, were almost aïl destroyed by lightning, earthquakes, and pestilence: hence Phlegyae, I suppose, signified impious, sacrilegious persons in general; and is so to be understood here.
The office Theseus is put upon, of admonishing his hearers against impiety, could not sure be discharged by any one so well, in the Shews of the Mysteries, as by him who represented the violator of them. And here it is to be observed, that our view of things frees this passage from an absurdity, which the critics knew not how to remove: who saw there could not be a more impertinent employment, than perpetually sounding in the ears of the damned this admonition:
“ DISCITE JUSTITIAM MONITI, ET NON TEMNERE Divos.”
9 Contraxerant autem cum Philippo bellum Athenienses haud quaquam dignâ causâ, dum ex vetere fortunâ nihil praeter animos servant. Acarnanes duo juvenes per initiorum dies, non initiati, templum Cereris, imprudentes Religionis, cum ceterâ turbâ ingressi sunt. Facile eos sermo prodidit, absurdè quaedam percunctantes ; deductique ad antistites templi, cùm palam esset, per errorem ingressos, tanquam ob infandum scelus, interfecti sunt.--Hist. lib. 31.
For though it was a sentence of great truth and dignity, it was very uselessly preached amongst those to whom there was no « room for pardon or remission.
Even the ridiculous Scarron, who has employed all his poor talents in abusing the most useful Poem that ever was written, hath not neglected to urge this objection against it:
“ Cette sentence est bonne et belle,
“ Mais en enfer de quoi sert-elle ?” And it must be confessed that, according to the common ideas of Aeneas's Descent into Hell, Virgil hath put Theseus on a very impertinent office.
But nothing could be juster, or more useful than this continued admonition, if we suppose Virgil to be here giving a representation of what was said during the celebration of the Shews of the Mysteries : for then it was addressed to the vast Multitude of living Spectators. But that this admonitory circumstance made part of the representations is not a bare supposition. Aristides expressly tells us, that no where was more astonishing words sung than in these Mysteries; the reason for such practice was, that the sounds and sights might mutually assist each other in making an impression on the minds of the initiated. But, from a passage in Pindar I conclude, that in the Shews of the Mysteries (from whence men took their ideas. of the infernal regions) it was customary for each offender, represented under punishment, to make his admonition against his own crime, as he passed by in machinery. “It is reported,” says Pindar, " that Ixion, while he is incessantly turning round « his rapid wheel, calls out to this effect to MORTALS, that " they should be always at hand to repay a benefactor for the “ kindnesses he had done them.”. Where the word BPOTOI, living men, seems plainly to shew that the speech was first made before men in this world.
The Poet closes his catalogue of the damned with these words:
“ Ausi omnes immane nefas, AUSOQUE POTITI." For the ancients had generally a notion that an action was sanctified by success which they esteemed a mark of the favour. and approbation of Heaven. As this was a very pernicious opinion, it was necessary to teach that the imperial villain who
opinapprobationccess which thely a notion
r 'Iξίονα φαντί ταύτα