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MENALCAS, DAMOETAS, PALAEMON.
M. Dic mihi, Damoeta, cujum pecus? an Meliboei ? D. Non, verum Aegonis: nuper mihi tradidit Aegon. M. Infelix o semper oves pecus: ipse Neaeram Dum fovet, ac, ne me sibi praeferat illa, veretur; Hic alienus oves custos bis mulget in hora: Et succus pecori, et lac subducitur agnis.
D. Parcius ista viris tamen objicienda memento:
a This eclogue contains a dispute between two shepherds, of that kind which the critics call Amoebaea, from 'Aμobałoç, mutual, or alternate. In this way of writing, the persons are represented to speak alternately; the latter always endeavouring to exceed, or at least equal, what has been said by the former. Menalcas, Damoetas, and Palaemon, are all feigned characters, and as far as is known without any allusion to individual persons. The intention of Virgil seems to have been to imitate and exceed Theocritus, particularly the Nous, which begins almost in the same words. It is probable, also, that he did not write this eclogue till Pollio was advanced to the highest honours, 715, A.V.C.
FORMOSUM pastor Corydona ardebat Alexin,
O crudelis Alexi, nihil mea carmina curas?
Nil nostri miserere? mori me denique coges.
Thestylish et rapido fessis messoribus aestu
Sole sub ardenti resonant arbusta cicadis.
Atque superba pati fastidia? nonne Menalcan ? e
a Corydon is a fictitious name for a shepherd, and most probably alludes to no individual person.
b Thestylis. The name of a female servant.
Thymus serpyllum. Fig. 4.
d Amaryllis by some commentators is supposed to be a girl, and Menalcas a boy, given to Virgil by Mæcænas; but these are opi
Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses.
Nec sum adeo informis: nuper me in littore vidi,
O tantum libeat mecum tibi sordida rura
mions more of imagination than authority. In the filth eclogue, under the name of Menalcas, Virgil would seem to mean himself.
e The ligustrum of the ancients is generally supposed to be the common privet, Ligustrum vulgare, fig. 5; nevertheless, there is reason to believe that it may be our great Bind-weed, Convolvulus sepium.
f Vaccinium, as mentioned by Virgil, both here and in the tenth eclogue, is not different from what, in other places, he calls hyacinthus; the latter being the same as the axes of the Greeks, and the former a Latin name derived from it.
From different passages
in Moschus, Ovid, and Virgil, this hyacinthus, or vaccinium, would seem to be, not the flower that is known to us by that name, but the Liium martagon of Linnæus, fig. 6.
Mecum una in Sylvis imitabere Pana canendo.
Haec eadem ut sciret, quid non faciebat Amyntas ? 5 35
Fistula, Damoetas dono mihi quam dedit olim,
Et dixit moriens: Te nunc habet ista secundum :
Dixit Damoetas; invidit stultus Amyntas.
Praeterea duo, nec tuta mihi valle reperti,
Capreoli, sparsis etiam nunc pellibus albo,
Amyntas is not known to allude to any particular person; nor, Damoetas, by the best commentators, supposed to personify any known poet.
i Lilium candidum, fig. 7. White lilies are those which were best known and most celebrated among the ancients. Theophrastus speaks of red lilies as flowers he had only heard of, but never saw. k Naides were nymphs of the springs and fountains.
Pallens viola is thought, with great probability, to mean our stock-gilliflower, Cheiranthus incanus, fig. 8.
m The Poppy here alluded to is our common garden poppy, which is the black poppy of the fields in a state of cultivation.
Narcissum," et florem jungit bene olentis anethi;'
Heu, heu, quid volui misero mihi! floribus austrum
n Narcissus poeticus, fig. 9.
• Anethum graveolens, fig. 10.
P Daphne gnidium, fig.11.
9 Caltha. This plant cannot be ascertained with certainty; but it is supposed to be a marigold, of which genus there are fourteen species, and this may probably be the field marigold, Calendula arvensis, fig. 12.
Lanugine mala. It is probable that this fruit was some kind of apricot or peach, though Pliny's account of the introduction of these fruits into Italy, militates somewhat against this opinion. 3 Laurus nobilis of Linnæus,
Myrtus communis, fig. 13.
"Dardaniusque Paris. Paris was called Dardanius, from Dardanus the son of Jupiter and founder of the royal family of Troy.