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PRIMA Syracosio dignata est ludere versu
a The subject of this Eclogue is, two young Shepherds find Silenus asleep in a cave, intoxicated with wine, his garland fallen from his head, and his battered pitcher hanging down. A nymph assists them in binding him with his own garland, stains his face with mulberries, and compels him to sing; upon which the fauns and wild beasts immediately dance, and the oaks bend their heads. In his Song, Silenus describes the formation of the universe, and the original of animals according to the Epicurean Philosophy, and then recounts the most surprising transformations which have happened in Nature since her birth. This Eclogue was designed as a compliment to Syro, the Epicurean, who instructed Virgil and Varus in the principles of that Philosophy.
By way of introduction, Virgil says, that this Eclogue was his first attempt to write in imitation of Theocritus; that he had once attempted heroic poetry, but Apollo reproved him, and advised him to tend his sheep.
b Theocritus was of Syracuse, a famous city of Sicily: Virgil therefore, writing Bucolics, in imitation of that Poet, calls them Syracusian or Sicilian.
Cum canerem reges et praelia, Cynthius aurem
Agrestem tenui meditabor arundine Musam.
Non injussa cano. Si quis tamen haec quoque, si quis
Pergite, Pierides. Chromis et Mnasylus in antro Silenum pueri somno videre jacentem, Inflatum hesterno venas, ut semper, Iaccho; g
< Cynthus is the name of a mountain of Delos, where Apollo and Diana were born; whence they are called Cynthius and Cyn thia.
d Many conjectures have been made by different commentators concerning the identity of the person here alluded to: the most probable is, that this person was Quintus Atticus Varus, who served under Julius Cæsar with distinguished reputation, in the Gallic war, and adhered to him in the Civil war.
e Chromis and Mnasylus are generally thought to be Satyrs, but from an old story in Theopompus, there is reason to think that they may be Shepherds.
f Silenus, according to Ælian, was the son of a nymph; and was of a nature inferior to the Gods, but superior to mortals: from Ovid we learn, that he was the tutor and companion of Bacchus.
One of the names of Bacchus. It is here put for
Serta procul tantum capiti delapsa jacebant ;
Et gravis attrita pendebat cantharus ansa.
Aggressi, nam saepe senex spe carminis ambo
h Egle is said to have been daughter of the Sun and Neæra. i The Fauns were rufal Deities, so called á fando, because, according to the Pagan mythology, they spoke personally to men. They are generally thought to be the same as the Satyrs, and Horace seems to make Faunus the same as Pan.
k Parnassia rupes. Parnassus is a great mountain of Phocis, sacred to Apollo and the Muses. Near it was the city Delphi, fa. mous for the Temple and Oracle of the Pythian Apollo. At the foot of this mountain was the Castalian spring, sacred to the Muses. I Rhodope. A mountain of Thrace, the country of Orpheus. This mountain is represented as resounding the lamentations of the Dryads, for the death of that Poet's wife, Eurydice, in the fourth Georgick.
m Ismarus is a mountain of Thrace, not far from mount Hebrus, in a country famous of old for good wines.
Namque canebat, uti magnum per inane coacta
n Nereus, a sea-god, and father of the Nereids, is here put for the waters, and Pontus is used for the cavity of the sea.
• Lapides Pyrrhae jactos. When the world was destroyed by a deluge, Deucalion only, with his wife Pyrrha, survived. They consulted the Oracle of Themis, in what manner mankind was to to be restored. The Oracle commanded them to throw the bones of their great mother behind their backs. By their great mother, they understood the earth, and their bones they apprehended to mean the stones. They obeyed his command, and the stones which Deucalion threw became men, and those which Pyrrha threw be ame women. 'The story is related in the first book of Ovid's Metamor phosis.
P Caucasus is a mountain between the Euxine and Caspian seas 9 Prometheus, the son of lapetus, having formed a man out of clay animated him with the fire which he had stolen, by applying a ferula to the chariot wheels of the sun. Jupiter, offended at his pre
His adjungit, Hylan nautae quo fonte relictum
Et fortunatam, si nunquam armenta fuissent,
Ah, virgo infelix, quae te dementia cepit !
At non tam turpes pecudum tamen ulla secuta est
Ah, virgo infelix, tu nunc in montibus erras;
Ilice sub nigra pallentes ruminat herbas;
sumption, ordered Mercury to chain him to a rock, on the mountain Caucasus, where an eagle or vulture is continually gnawing his liver.
a Hylas was a young lad, who accompanied Hercules in the Ar. gonautic expedition. He was lost in a fountain, where he went to draw water; whence he is said to have been carried away by a Naiad. The Argonauts called for him a long time in vain : whence it is said, that an annual custom was established, of calling aloud for Hylas.
Pasipha was the daughter of the sun, and wife of Minos, king of Crete. She is said to have been enamoured with a bull. s Proetides. The daughter of Prœtus, king of the Argives, hav ing compared their beauty to that of Juno, were afflicted with madness, which made them fancy themselves to be cows, running about the fields and lowing. They were cured of this disease by Melampus, who received one of them in marriage for his reward.