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should be in human hands. But the poet is a worker too. His task is to instruct the labourer in his manifold duties, and record his manifold triumphs. He has launched his bark, and must perform the voyage; and he calls on his patron to stand at his side, and spread with him the flying sail over this broad ocean. Again and again in the book we see glimpses of the same unflinching resolution:

"terram multo ante memento

Excoquere, et magnos scrobibus concidere montis."

"Seminibus positis, superest diducere terram
Saepius ad capita, et duros iactare bidentis,
Aut presso exercere solum sub vomere, et ipsa
Flectere luctantis inter vineta iuvencos."

The ploughing is to be across, as well as up and down the lines of vines.
The bullocks may be restiff: the turns may be sharp and awkward: but
the work is to be done. So when he passes from the vine, the olive,
and the apple and its cognates, to less favoured trees, he seeks to shame
the reluctant husbandman into a sense of his duty. 'I speak of fruit
trees-while the whole forest is teeming with produce, and the haunts
of the birds, that know nought of culture, are red all over with blood-
dyed berries. The lowly lucerne is food for cattle: the tall grove sup-
plies pine-torches: hence are fed the flames that give us light by
night. And are men to hesitate about planting and bestowing their
pains ?'
'Shall nature do her part, and shall not man do his ?' For
the Third Book I need only refer to the passage which I instanced in a
preceding paragraph-that where he talks of the arduous nature of the
work to which he has bound himself, and the joy which for that very
reason attends it. As before, he mentions his own labours in connection
with those of the husbandman. Enough of herds: another part of our
charge is yet to do, the ceaseless care of the woolly sheep and shaggy
goat. Here is a task indeed: here fix your hopes of renown, ye brave
sons of the soil.' The nature of his own exertion is changed: it is not
the immensity of his work which he contemplates now, but the resistance
to be overcome in expressing a mean subject in the language of poetry:
but it is labour still, and it is the effort required that makes him love it.
In the Fourth Book, it must be confessed, there seem to be few, if any,
touches of this feeling. Yet some may perhaps be inclined to think
that it does really appear there, only in another shape. There is no
other part of the Georgics where we hear so little of the human
labourer. But the pervading atmosphere of the book is one of labour,
from beginning to end. The community which is the subject of the
labourer's care is itself a miracle of labour: and the poet for the time

is absorbed in it. He gives directions as usual to the husbandman about the position and construction of the hive, the taking of the honey, the remedies for disease, and the like: the cares of a bee-keeper are in some measure illustrated by the elaborate episode in which he tells how the means of producing a new swarm came to be discovered: but his enthusiasm is reserved for the unflagging toil of the bees themselves, for that organized industry to which the superhuman labours of the Cyclopes are supposed to furnish no exaggerated parallel-for that self-sacrificing patriotism which makes them brave death in carrying home their contribution to the common stock of honey. In the exordium of the First Book, at the end of a summary which speaks of nothing but human labour, an epithet is introduced which strikes a chord, as some have thought, out of harmony with the context by commemorating the frugality of the bee side by side with the weight of experience required for rearing and keeping it. If that epithet was not intended, as it may well have been, to announce to the reader that the poem would treat of bees as fully as of their keepers, it may at least witness to the division of interests even then existing in the poet's mind, and show that in the brief glance with which he took in the whole of his subject he thought not of man alone, but of all that can combine intelligence with energetic toil.

The biographer informs us that the composition of the Georgics occupied seven years. From whatever source this statement was derived, it appears to meet the facts of the case as nearly as possible. The last date of the Eclogues, as we saw, is probably 717; the concluding lines of the Georgics tell us that Virgil was writing while Caesar was conquering in the East, a time which seems most naturally to refer to the victorious progress of Octavianus after the battle of Actium in 724 (see Merivale, vol. iii., pp. 358, 359). Forbiger rightly maintains that there is nothing to favour Wagner's inference from those lines, that the poem was entirely composed during the events there spoken of. It is not likely that the poet rested on his oars for five years after the completion of the Eclogues; it is not likely that he employed himself on any other work and we can easily understand that his habits of composition, and the preparation necessary for an undertaking of such a character and magnitude, may have made a period of seven years not more than sufficient for the production of the poem. At the same time it is natural enough that he should have made alterations in it during the remaining years of his life, though it was doubtless published soon after its completion. Perhaps the only passage which inevitably points to a later date than 724 is vv. 31 foll. of Book 3; but the legend mentioned in the Introduction to. Book 4 would support the hypothesis of more extensive

changes, though we need not suppose them in any case to have been such as seriously to interrupt the composition of the Aeneid. Whether the poet's residence at Naples (G. 4. 564), which is mentioned as if it synchronized with Caesar's progress in the East, is to be understood as referring to the entire time during which the Georgics were written, or only to their completion, is not clear. Mr. Keightley remarks that the whole aspect of the poem is Campanian: others have maintained as decidedly that it is Mantuan. The language in G. 2. 197 would suit Mantua better, as I have there observed, while Spohn argues that southern Italy can hardly have been sufficiently tranquil to induce Virgil to fix his residence there before 718. It would be easy to suggest that the poem was written partly at Mantua, partly, if not principally, at Naples: but perhaps we have not data enough even for so unambitious a hypothesis.




THE subject of the First Book is the tillage of the ground with a view to crops, chiefly corn. The mention of the uncertainty of the weather at different times of the year leads the poet to give a list of the signs of a storm and of fair weather, which he abridges from the Diosemeia of Aratus. From this he passes to the signs of the political storm which had broken over Rome, and shows that external nature had been no less eloquent there, while he prays that Octavianus Caesar may yet be spared to save society.

The various events mentioned in the concluding lines are generally considered to point to the earlier part of the period of seven years during which Virgil is supposed to have been composing the Georgics, or to the time immediately preceding that period. Mr. Merivale, on the other hand, believes the passage to have been written in the early part of 722, during the general expectation of war between Octavianus and Antonius. His explanation of the poet's supposed position deserves quoting, both for the ingenuity of the conception and for the rhetorical ability with which it is enforced. "The prevailing sentiment of gloomy yet vague foreboding found expression in the voice of a youthful enthusiast. Cherished by Maecenas, and honoured with the smiles of Octavius himself, Virgil beheld in the sway of the chief of the Romans the fairest augury of legitimate and peaceful government. With strains of thrilling eloquence not less musical than those with which Lucretius had soared into the airy realms of imagination, he descended to the subject of the hour, and gave words to the thoughts with which every bosom was heaving. He invoked the native gods of Italy, with Romulus and Vesta, guardians of Tuscan Tiber and Roman Palatine, to permit the youthful hero to save a sinking world.. He reminded his countrymen of the guilt of their fathers' fathers, which had effaced the landmarks of right, and filled the world with wars and a thousand forms of crime. He mourned the decay of husbandry, the dishonour of the plough, the desolation of the fields he sighed over the clank of the armourer's forge, and the training of the rustic conscript. It was not the border skirmishes with the Germans or the Parthians that could excite such a phrenzy of alarm: it was the hate of neighbour against neighbour, the impending conflict of a world in arms. The foes of Rome were indeed raging against her, but her deadliest enemy was of her own household. Virgil pointed to the Rhine and the Euphrates, but his eye was fixed upon the Nile." (Hist. vol. iii. pp. 303, 4.) In a note, after quoting vv. 509-511, he adds: “In the year 717 there was actual warfare on the Rhine and the Euphrates, but at that time there was apparent harmony between the triumvirs, and the prospect at least of universal pacification. On the other hand, in the year 722, there

was no apprehension of hostilities on the eastern or the northern frontier, but there was a general foreboding of civil war." So far as the poem itself is concerned, it is of course open to us to fix on any date between the two points of time assigned respectively to its commencement and its completion. Nor do the general probabilities of the case help us much. When Virgil wrote the Fourth Eclogue the recollections of the Perusian war were buried by the peace of Brundisium: 'but the conduct of Antonius may well have revived them again long before the final struggle for empire between the two rivals. Virgil owed nothing to Antonius, and so might pass him over in silence—he does no more—at a time when the triumvir was not yet the public enemy.

QUID faciat laetas segetes, quo sidere terram
Vertere, Maecenas, ulmisque adiungere vitis
Conveniat, quae cura boum, qui cultus habendo
Sit pecori, apibus quanta experientia parcis,
Hinc canere incipiam. Vos, o clarissima mundi

1-5.] 'Agriculture, the cultivation of vines, the care of cattle, and that of bees, are to be my subjects:' a more or less precise enumeration of the matters actually treated of in the Georgics, though the subjects of Books 1 and 2 are rather indicated poetically than fully described.


1.] This division of the subjects of Book 1 seems to be taken, as Serv. remarks, from the title of Hesiod's poem, "Epya rai 'HμέSo 2. 1, "Hactenus arvorum cultus et sidera caeli." Laetae segetes' seems to have been a common expression, used even by country people, as we find from Cic. de Or. 3. 38, " gemmare vites, luxuriem esse in herbis, laetas segetes etiam rustici dicunt," where it is instanced as a metaphor. Laetamen ' is a technical term among agricultural writers for manure. Keightley thinks that the physical sense of 'laetus' was the primary one, and that it was thence transferred to the mind; but Cicero's view seems more natural. It is not easy to determine whether 'segetes' refers to the land or the corn. Columella (2. 15) has segetes laetas excitare,' which points rather to the latter: but a few lines above he uses 'segetem' unmistakeably of the field where the corn is to be sown. 'Laetus' would apply equally to both, as may be seen from vv. 101, 102. Quo sidere' like 'quo signo,' v. 354. Addison (Essay on the Georgics prefixed to Dryden's translation) says that " Virgil, to deviate from the common form of words, would not make use of 'tempore,' but 'sidere:"" but the stars enter prominently into Virgil's plan, constituting in fact the shepherd's calendar (vv. 204 foll.).

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2.] Vertere terram as in v. 147, where 'ferro' is added. "Vertentes vomere glebas," Lucr. 1. 211. Vertere' is used


without an ablative by Col. 3. 13, in conjunction with 'subigere.' 'Maecenas,' Dict. Biog., the person to whom the poem is inscribed, as the Works and Days are to Perses, the poem of Lucretius to Memmius.

3.] Cura-cultus.' So 'cultus' and 'curatio' occur in a similar connection, Cic. N. D. 2. 63, quoted by Heyne. 'Habendo pecori,' as we should say, 'for breeding cattle:' nearly equivalent to 'ad habendum pecus,' a use of the dative with the gerundive sufficiently common, especially in official designations, e. g. 'triumviri agris dividendis.' See Madv. § 241, obs. 3, § 415 obss.

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4.] Pecori: apibus' was restored by Heins. from Med. and Rom. for 'pecori atque apibus.' 'Experientia,' of the bee-keeper, not of the bees, whose habits are only described incidentally. So 4. 315, 316, "Quis Deus hanc, Musae, quis nobis extudit artem? Unde nova ingressus hominum experientia cepit?" Habendis' then will have to be supplied from 'habendo.' 'Parcis' is an ornamental epithet, indicating the bee as it is in itself, not as an object of its keeper's care. Perhaps we may say that it has an appropriateness here, as showing that the nature of the bees themselves is a subordinate part of the subject of Book 4. See pp. 140, 141. Wagn, and Forb. think it refers to the difficulty of keeping up and increasing the stock of bees; but though this would agree well with 'habendo,' the use of 'parcus' would be extremely harsh, and not supported by 3. 403 (where the epithet is poetically transferred from the sparer to the thing spared), not to mention that the fact itself is disputed by Keightley.

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5.] Hinc incipiam' seems to mean 'I will take up the song from this point of

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