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« una pars; quae nos admoneat, ne aliter arbores constituamus,
66 Vescas salicum frondes.”—
: Ver. 440—443.
* Navigiis pinos, domibus cedrosque * cupressosque." * It is true, that Vitruvius does not reckon the Cypress the best timber for building houses; for he says: “ Nec abietis nec sapin“ orum omnibus locis copia est; sed inopiae abietis aut sapinorum “ vitabuntur, utendo cypresso, populo, ulmo, pinu.” Lib. II. c. ii.-But Mons. Perrault, in his edition of Vitruvius, remarks: " Que le Cyprés est sans comparaison meilleur que l'Abies et le “ Sapin. Theophraste en parle comme du plus durable et du “ moins sujet aux vers et à la pourriture; etant celui dont on " trouve les plus anciens edifices avoir eté batis." N. B. Vitruvius himself asserts the same, lib. II. c. ix.
Ver. 446-448. 66 Viminibus *' salices foecundae, frondibus ** ulmi: “ At myrtus validis *8 hastilibus, et bona bello 66 Cornus.”* Salices being twice mentioned within thirteen verses; Q. whether Virgil does not mean two different trees, both valuable on different accounts ?
“ Genus haud unum, nec fortibus ulmis,
Ver. 83. At the beginning of this book, Virgil names Siler and Salicta immediately after one another :
- O Molle siler, lentaeque genistae, 6s Populus, et glaucâ canentia fronde salictâ.” Ver. 12. ** See note on ver. 83 of this Georgic. Varro advises planting elms as boundaries of lands: " Quòd frondem jucundisto simam ministrat ovibus ac bubus.” Lib. I. c. XV. It is the practice still in Italy, to strip elms for fodder.
** Virgil arms Camilla with a myrtle javelin. Aen. VII. ver. ult.
:: Ver. 455-457. “ Bacchus et ad culpam causas dedit: ille furentes “ Centauros leto domuit, Rhaetumque, Pholumque ; “ Et magno * Hylaeum Lapithis cratere minantem.”
* A good image of drunken folks quarrelling.-Q. if any old bas-reliefs representing the Centaurs in this attitude ?-See what Pliny relates of the story of the Lapithae engraved by Phideas on Pallas's shield, lib. XXXVI. c. v. 6 Scuto ejus " (i. e. Minervae) Amazonum praelium Phideas caelavit, intuo mescente ambitu parmae, ejusdem concavâ parte Deorum et • Gigantum dimicationem, in soleis verò Lapitharum et Cen66 taurorum ; adeo momenta omnia compacta artis illius fuere." This being one of the most celebrated statues of the world, was undoubtedly very well known to the virtuosi of Rome.
“ Fundit humo facilem victum * justissima tellus.” * The Earth is called here, very properly, Justissima ; not only because it restores with interest what is deposited, but by way of antithesis to the “ discordibus armis” in the foregoing verse.
“ Non absunt.” *" Ingentem Salutantum Undam totis Vomit aedibus." This expression is too bombast for Virgil's usual style; but is purposely affected here, as proper in a description of pomp and vanity.
** Some of the Romans were so extravagant as to cover their doors and door-cases with Indian tortoise-shell; and, not contented with pure tortoise-shell, they had the shell inlaid or studded (as we see old cabinets) with precious stones'; which
Virgil perhaps means by Varios.- Lucan, describing the palace where Cleopatra entertained Julius Caesar at Alexandria, says;
- Suffecta manu foribus testudinis Indae
Lib. X. 120. and observes, ten verses before, that this extravagance was not then got into Rome.
*Observe the difference of style between the six foregoing verses and the following.–Observe likewise, with what variety of simple expressions he enumerates the innocent amusements and happiness of a country life.
66 O ubi * campi,
“ Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrâ !”. * Father Catrou has taken the liberty to change this word into Tempe ; without any authority, and, I think, without reason: for supposing the Poet to mean the Tempe of Thessaly, is it not more elegant and poetical to express himself by Campi, i. e. Campi isti celebres, Campi, xazetoxnu, than to name Tempe itself? Besides, it is probable that, having mentioned the word Tempe but seventeen words before, he purposely avoids repeating it here; and as he there makes Tempe signify any fine fields in general, so here he makes Campi signify the fields of Tempe in particular.–And, that his meaning may not be undetermined, he adds the very next word the river. Sperchius, which runs through those fields.
to The very best of the Roman poets copied so much after the Greek, that they sometimes give us ideas of things, that would be proper enough for a Greek, but sound quite improper from a Roman. Virgil's and Horace's instancing in Thessaly and Thrace (see Hor. lib. I. od. xxv. 20.) as such very cold countries, is a very strong proof of this.-Thrace was full north of Greece; and some of the Greeks therefore might talk of the coldness of that country, as strongly (perhaps) as some among us talk of the coldness of Scotland.
The Roman writers speak just in the same style, of the coldness of Thrace, though a considerable part of Italy lay in as northern a latitude, and some of it even farther north than Thrace.
ify any fines
4, that his men pi signify
of Virgil had been saying, that his greatest delight was in the Muses; that he could wish to treat of Natural Philosophy in verse; but that if he had not a genius equal to so great an undertaking; he would however please himself with rural subjects. " Happy (says he is the person, that has done the former with “ so good an effect; and not unhappy are those, that are en“ gaged, and can divert themselves at least, in the latter.”
Lucretius was the only one of the Romans, who had written any philosophical poem, when Virgil said this :-all the points he mentions here are treated of in that poem:—the effects of it, spoken of by Virgil, are the very things which Lucretius aimed at:—and Virgil, in speaking of the author of it, uses the same words and expressions taken directly from this poem of Lucretius. All which considered together with Virgil's general manner of rather hinting at things than speaking them quite out) make it clear to me, that it was Lucretius whom he means in this passage.
Our Archbishop Tillotson may be a little too severe on Virgil, where he singles out this passage as a very criminal one, vol. II. Ixiy.
I suppose, the chief point that gave offence in it, is his disbelief of Hell. And it is true that Virgil himself did not believe it. After describing hell, in the Aeneid, he makes his Hero and the Sibyl go out of the Ivory-gate, which he had just before called, The passage of vain dreams. The Poetic Hell was not a part of the old Roman creed; though a future state was believed by their best philosophers.
Balbus the Stoic, in Cicero De Naturâ Deorum, arguing for a God, says: 5. Quis Hippocentaurum fuisse, aut Chimaeram " putat? Quaeve anus tam excors inveniri potest, quae illa, " quae quondam credebantur apud Inferos, portenta extimesu cat?”' Lib. II. sub initio.
Caesar says roundly in the Senate-house: “ De poenâ possum “ equidem dicere id quod res habet, in luctu atque miseriis “ mortem aerumnarum requiem, non cruciatum esse; eam 6 cuncta mortalium mala dissolvere; ultra, neque curae, neque “ gaudio, locum esse.” Sallust. Bell. Cat. § Ii. And all that Cato answers to it is: “ Bene et composite C, Caesar paulo 6 ante in hoc ordine de vitâ et morte disseruit; credo, falsa " existimans ea quae de Inferis memorantur; diverso itinere “ malos a bonis loca tetra, inculta, foeda et formidolosa habere, 6 Itaque censuit,” etc. Ironically.
Cicero says much the same as Caesar; in a public pleading too: “ Nunc quidem quod tandem illi mali mors attulit? Nisi “ forte ineptiis ac fabulis ducimur, ut existimemus illum apud “ Inferos impiorum supplicia perferre, ac plures illic offendisse “ inimicos quàm hic reliquisse; à socrûs, ab uxorum, à fratris, a
putae quonda 11. sub nithe se
hraates and Ticidy writing his ca
“ liberûm poenis, actum esse praecipitem in sceleratorum sedem “ atque regionem: quae si falsa sunt, id quod omnes intelligunt,
quid ei tandem aliud mors eripuit praeter sensum doloris ?" Pro Cluentio, & lxi.
The same great philosopher is very plain and full against the poetical hell, in his Tusculan Questions, lib. I. sub initio; and in his Cato Major.
* This was an action of triumph, as may be seen in several statues and medals (see Medaglioni di Buonarroti, p. 176.); and from hence was used metaphorically, to signify any sorts of triumphing, or having superiority.
" Aut ** doluit miserans inopem, aut invidit habenti.” ** Virgil was undoubtedly writing his Georgics at the very time that Phraates and Tiridates were disputing for the kingdom of Persia ; and therefore probably hints at that.--Horace, who wrote at the same time, mentions this piece of history:
• Redditum Cyri solio Phraaten." Lib. II. Od. ii. of When the Roman empire had any war, their authors say they had something to do against the Reges: so Regna here may signify the countries under the Reges, “ the nations yet to “ be conquered.”
** Ruaeus's construction may perhaps be agreeable to the sentiments of the rigid Stoics, but, I think, is too abstruse for this place. Virgil speaks of the philosopher above in those three verses,
“ Felix qui potuit,” etc. And here he describes the happiness of the innocent farmer above the citizen; and may be understood in a much plainer sense: That he who lives retired in the country is free from seeing such sad spectacles, as they must be every day exposed to at Rome. “ He sees no objects of pity, nor envies the pomp of the rich.”