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[L.P. refers to the Public School Latin Primer. N.E. to the Notes on Etymology of the same. L.L. to the translation of Messrs. Lonsdale & Jee.]
Two husbandmen converse, one of whom (Tityrus) has been restored to his farm by the favour of Octavianus (Augustus), the other (Meliboeus) has not been so fortunate. Melibocus congratulates Tityrus and describes all the delights which he will retain. Tityrus answers with expressions of eternal gratitude to his preserver, and Meliboeus then contrasts his own unhappy lot as an exile.
[The lines refer to an event in Vergil's own life, though the date is not quite clear. But some time after the battle of Philippi (B.c. 42) many occupiers of lands near Mantua and Cremona were turned out of their estates to make room for allotments to the victorious veterans. Vergil is said to have thus suffered, and to have been restored, in answer to his petition, by Octavianus.]
1. tua rura manebunt] 'the farm will remain yours,' tua is part of the predicate. The plural rura is used in the sense of 'lands,' 'a farm.' Cp. Hor. Epod. 2, 3, paterna rura bobus exercet suis.
2-3. lapis nudus] 'surface stones.' This refers not to rock but to the loose stones lying about the fields. quamvis . obducat 'even though bare stone should cover,' not implying that it does so, in which case the poet would have said quamvis obducit. Cf. Aen. 5, 542, quamvis solus avem caelo dejecit ab alto, though as a fact he alone brought down the bird.' The neglect of this distinction between the indie.
and subj. with quamvis has caused confusion. whole farm.'
Your sheep will not suffer from a change of pasture, as mine will when I have to go to another country. insueta to which they have not been used.' gravis fetas 'the preg nant ewes.' A more usual word than gravis in this sense is gravida. The word feta means (1) 'pregnant,' (2) 'just delivered,' as in feta lupa in Ovid F. 2, 414. It is here a substantive. For temptat in the sense of 'injuring the health' cp. G. 3, 411, turpis oves temptat scabies. [Dr. Kennedy translates fetas graves 'sickly from calving or yeaning.']
7. fontes sacros] Fountains and streams are called sacred because of the nymphs supposed to inhabit them. frigus opacum, 'cool shade,' or more literally 'sheltered coolness.' Just as Horace (Od. 2, 15, 15) says, nulla opacam porticus excipiebat Arcton, 'no colonnade caught the North wind on the shady side.' captabis] 'you will make for,' i.e. when keeping your sheep.
8-10. hinc] on one side,' answering to hinc in verse 11: it is further defined by vicino ab limite, on your neighbour's border.' The Latin has 'from' where we say 'at,' as in the phrase a me at my house.' quae semper... saepes suadebit 'the old hedgerow with its gentle murmur of bees will induce sleep to steal on you.' florem depasta salicti 'whose willow flowers are fed on.' Accus. of respect, L. P. § 100. Bees are called Hyblacan because the neighbourhood of Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse was famous for its bees. Megara in Sicily was called Hyblaea to distinguish it from Megara in Greece, and because it was built on the site of an old town called Hybla. Though the bees are Italian bees he gives them a general and ornamental epithet derived from a place where they were numerous, just as elsewhere Vergil calls bees and thyme Cecropian,' i.e.Attic' (G. 4, 177, 270). So all pines are 'Idaean' (G. 3, 450), wool is 'Milesian' (G. 4, 334), dogs are 'Spartan' and quivers Cretan' (G. 3, 345). glaucae salices are mentioned as favourites with bees in G. 4, 182.
11. hinc] see verse 8, on the other side,' or 'in another direction.' The frondator dressed the trees by stripping the leaves to be used as fodder for cattle.' Con.
12-13. tua cura] 'your pets.' Cp. juvenumque prodis publica cura (Hor. Od. 2, 8, 7). aeria towering.' turtur The turtle dove is said to moan' from its cooing note suggesting the human voice in pain. For the doves or pigeons resting in the elms we have Horace's authority (Od. 1, 2, 9) piscium summis genus haesit ulmis Nota quae sedes fuerat columbis.
14-18. The answer of Tityrus expressing his gratitude to Octavianus (Augustus). 'All the ordinary course of nature,' he says, 'will change before he forgets the favour.'
14. ante] answered by quam in verse 18 is repeated in 5, 16 for the sake of clearness. leves leves facti, rising in the air,' as in Aen. 6, 16, Daedalus when flying Chalcidicaque levis tandem super adstitit arce.
15. nudos] 'uncovered by water,' i.e. to live on dry land.
16-18. 'Sooner shall the Parthian drink of the Saône or 2 the German of the Tigris, coming in their wandering exile from the farthest limit of each other's native lands, than from my heart shall fade the image of his face.' pererratis amborum finibus is difficult. The poet wishes to express an extreme improbability by supposing the German and Parthian, from the remotest East and West, to interchange homes. pererratis conveys the idea of a long journey from one end to another, like Ovid's orbe pererrato. The word exul is introduced to indicate that a change of homes, not mere travel, is meant. Germania, the country used for the people, is here loosely employed to express the western European generally, for the Arar (Saône) is a Gallic stream. Parthus stands generally for the Fast, just as Vergil uses Scythia to express the North in verse 20. vultus is the expression of the face': ['the gracious look he gave me.' Con.]
19-21. 'But we unhappy ones,' answers Meliboeus'shall be scattered in every direction ;-south to Africa, north to Scythia, east to Crete, west to Britain, wherever we can get grants of land.'
21. Scythiam] The Roman poets use Scythia to indicate vaguely all the country north of the Don (cp. Ov. Ep. 12, 27), stretching to Serica in the east, and with no defined limits to