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Saepe monet, fraudemque et operta tumescere bella. 465
Signa dabant. Quotiens Cyclopum effervere in agros
467.] Ferrugine,' the dark colour of the sun under eclipse. An eclipse of the sun occurred in November, u.c. 710, in which year Caesar was murdered. Caerulus, et vultum ferrugine Lucifer atra Sparsus erat," Ov. M. 15. 789, who gives a similar account of the portents on the occasion. Lucan, 1. 522 foll., also imitates this passage, describing the prodigies which heralded the first civil war. But the light of the sun seems to have been abnormally affected at different times during the year in question (Pliny 2. 30, Dion Cass. 45. 17, Plut. Caes. 69). Taking this in connexion with the other prodigies, Keightley observes that the phenomena appear to have been parallel to those which occurred in 1783, when Calabria was devastated by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and the atmosphere of the whole of Europe more or less obscured. Ferrugo' is explained by Nonius, p. 549, as a kind of iron-grey, from which it comes to be used of objects of a lurid or murky hue, as of Charon's boat, A. 6. 303, not unlike 'caeruleus,' with which Ovid, 1. c., couples it. But it is also used of more pleasing objects, as in G. 4. 183, A. 9. 582., 11. 772. Its various applications may perhaps be reconciled if we suppose the colour intended to be a dark blue, which would strike different observers differently according as they compared it with different shades. So Catull. 62 (64). 223, speaks of the sail
468.] Impia saecula,'' the impious race,' like' mortalia saecla,' &c., in Lucretius. 469.] Quamquam :' though if we are to speak of the sun's significance to the world as well to the husbandman, it was not the sun alone,' &c. And this leads the way to past and present politics. Tellus,' by earthquakes, vv. 475, 479: σoμòs μéyas yevóμevoç, Dion, l. c.
470.] Obscenae,' Med.; obsceni,' the rest of the MSS. But the fem. seems more usual. "Visaeque canes ululare per umbram," A. 6. 257. 'Inportunus' ("in quo nullum est auxilium, velut esse solet portus navigantibus," Festus) seems to be the same as 'inopportunus.' It is sometimes coupled with incommodus.' hence acquires that strong sense which we see in the Greek ἄκαιρος. "Crudelis simus atque inportunissimus tyrannus," Livy 29. 17, in fin. Here, as in A. 12. 864, inportuna' seems ‘infausta,' ill omened,'' accursed,' and so virtually synonymous with 'obscenae,' itself an epithet of volucres,' A. 3. 241. 262., 12. 876. Rooks were said to have picked out an inscription in the temple of Castor, a pack of dogs to have howled at the door of the chief pontiff. Dion, 1. c. "Tristia mille locis Stygius dedit omina bubo," Ov. 1. c. So Shakspeare, Jul. C. 1. 3, "And yesterday the bird of night did sit, Even at noonday, upon the market-place, Hooting and shrieking." Serv. says night-birds appeared by day, and so Lucan I. c. " dirasque diem foedasse volucris."
471.] Signa dabant' seems to imply that these portents occurred before Caesar's death, as warnings of the crime and harbingers of the calamity, which is the meaning of Ov. 1. c.; Virgil however may mean that they were signs of the anger of the gods at the parricide, and prognostics of civil war as a punishment. See v. 489. Dion describes the portents as happening after Caesar's death, and speaks as if they were regarded by some as omens of the
Vidimus undantem ruptis fornacibus Aetnam,
Audiit; insolitis tremuerunt motibus Alpes.
Visa sub obscurum noctis; pecudesque locutae,
Et maestum inlacrimat templis ebur, aeraque sudant. 450
subversion of the republic. Cic. Phil. 4. 4 makes another use of them. Comp. also Hor. 1 Od. 2, who treats the prodigies in the same spirit as Virgil, apparently regarding them as penalties from heaven for the civil wars. The phenomena of that time were doubtless spread over a considerable period. Servius quotes from Livy a statement that before the death of Caesar there was an eruption of Aetna so tremendous as to be felt even at Rhegium.
472.] In agros,' on account of the motion implied in effervere.' 'Undantem' refers to the lava. Fornacibus' is suggested by Cyclopum.' 'Volvere' is the lava stream. 'Liquefacta saxa:' comp. A. 3. 576. The lava hardens into stone. With the language comp. Lucr. 6. 680-693. 474.] Germania,' i. e. the Roman garrisons on the Rhine. "The noise of battle hurtles in the air," Shaksp. Jul. C. 2. 2. Comp. Ov. M. 15. 783,"Arma ferunt nigras inter crepitantia nubes, Terribilisque tubas auditaque cornua caelo Praemonuisse nefas."
475.] The belief of the ancients that earthquakes took place in the Alps from time to time (Pliny 2. 80), is confirmed by modern experience, though Heyne suggests that avalanches may have been mistaken for them. Lucan I. c. has "veteremque iugis nutantibus Alpes Discussere nivem." Montibus,' the reading of Med. and Rom., though adopted by Wakefield, is an obvious error.
476.] "Eodem anno M. Caedicius de plebe nuntiavit tribunis, se in Nova via, ubi nunc sacellum est (sc. Aii Locutii) supra aedem Vestae, vocem noctis silentio audisse clariorem humana, quae magistrati bus dici iuberet Gallos adventare," Livy 5. 32. Comp. Juv. 11. 111. So the famous
μɛraßaivwμev ¿vrevlev, the voice (Bathcol) from the Temple just before the taking of Jerusalem. Lucos' shows that the voice was divine. So Ov. 1. c. has 'sanctis lucis.' 477.] 'Simulacra modis pallentia miris,' Lucr. 1. 123.
478.] Pecudesque locutae:' the old Roman portent locutus bos.' 'Infandum' calls attention to its peculiar horror.
479.] Sistunt,' intransitive. The cause of 'sistunt amnes' is given in 'terrae dehiscunt,' the earthquake. The same portent seems to be pointed to by Horace, "Vidimus flavum Tiberim retortis Littore Etrusco violenter undis," 1 Od. 2. 13 foll., where see Macleane. 'Terrae' generally means the whole expanse of the earth. Here it implies that there were numerous or repeated earthquakes.
480.] Templis,' abl. of place. 'Ebur' and aera are ivory and bronze statues, the material being put for the object. So 'ebur' for an ivory pipe, 2. 193; "spirantia aera,' A. 6. 848. Ov. M. 15. 792, "Mille locis lacrimavit ebur." 'Inlacrimat' seems to mean weeps over Caesar.' The moisture of the atmosphere, as Keightley observes, explains both.
481.] Dion 1. c. says o Te 'Hpidavòç iπì πολὺ τῆς πέριξ γῆς πελαγίσας ἐξαίφνης ἀνεχώρησε, καὶ παμπληθεῖς ἐν τῷ ξηρῷ opes EYKATEλITTE. There is a question between vertice' and vortice.' Wagn. writes always' vertex,' from Med. and Vat. It is of course one word, the meaning of 'top' coming from that of 'spire,' which is on the other hand connected with 'eddy.'
482.] The notion of overflowing is expressed here metrically by a crasis, as in v. 295 by a hypermeter. So Hor. 2 Ep. 2. 120, "Vehemens et liquidus puroque simillimus amni." 'Campos-tulit,' repeated (with the substitution of 'trahit ') A. 2. 499.
Cum stabulis armenta tulit. Nec tempore eodem
484.] No respite was there in those fearful days to the threatening filaments that overcast the entrails with sadness, or to the blood that welled from springs in the ground, or to the howling of wolves by night, echoing through our steep-built towns.' 'Fibrae,' according to Varro, L. L. 5. 79, and Serv. on v. 120, A. 6. 599., 10. 176, are the extremities of the liver. Cels. 4. 11 says that the lungs are divided into two 'fibrae,' the liver into four. What the point to be observed with regard to them was does not appear. Cic. De Div. 1. 10 says "quid fissum in extis, quid fibra valeat, accipio," which would almost seem as if the existence of a 'fibra' at all was a phenomenon but he may merely mean what good or evil can be prognosticated from the state of the 'fibra.' Ovid's language here is parallel to Cicero's: "magnosque instare tumultus Fibra monet, caesumque caput reperitur in extis," 1. c. Inauspicious appearances during sacrifice happened to Caesar himself, Suet. Jul. 81. Dion 1. c. speaks of
a bull leaping up after sacrifice. 485.] To run from wells,' as if there were springs of blood. Ov. 1. c. speaks of bloody rain.
'Resonare' depends on 486.] runt.' Altae' perhaps, as Wakefield says, may have reference to resonare,' the sound being increased by the height of the buildings; at any rate it seems to point to the position of the Italian cities, 2. 156. Wolves entering Rome are several times mentioned in Livy as portents. In Shakspeare there is a lion, but no wolf.
487.] Sereno is the emphatic word. Thunder in a clear sky converted Horace. "Namque Diespiter Igni corusco nubila dividens Plerumque per purum tonantis Egit equos volucremque currum," 1 Od. 34. 5. Dion 1. c. speaks of lightning striking the temple of Victory, but not of a clear sky. 488.] Totiens arsere cometae:' Voss sug
gests that they were meteors. λαμπὰς ἀπ ̓ ἀνίσχοντος ἡλίου πρὸς δυσμὰς διέδραμε, καί τις ἀστὴρ καινὸς ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας ὤφθη.
489.] Ergo' the murder of Caesar led to a retribution on Rome, which was foreshadowed by all these portents. Paribus,' because they were Romans on both sides. "Pares aquilas et pila minantia pilis," Lucan 1. 7.
490.] It is not necessary to suppose that Virgil actually confounded the site of the two battles of Pharsalia and Philippi, as 'iterum' may very well gowith 'concurrere,' the sense being the issue of all was a second civil war.' But in the next lines he dwells on the fact that both were fought in the north of Greece with something less than geographical accuracy, extending Emathia, which was a name of Paeonia, afterwards of Macedonia, so as to cover Thessaly. Other writers were still less strict, probably, as Mr. Merivale (Hist. Rom. 3. 214) has suggested, mistaking Virgil, whom they imitated. Ov. M. 15. 824, "Emathiaque iterum madefient caede Philippi," may mean no more than Virgil does; but Manil. 1. 906 can hardly be referring to the two engagements which actually took place at Philippi with twenty. days' interval, and Lucan I. 680 foll., 7, 854 foll., 9. 270, treats Emathia, Thessaly, and Haemus as poetically convertible terms, as does Juv. 8. 242, who makes Octavianus conquer in Thessaly.
491.] Nor did it seem too cruel in the eyes of the gods.' Comp. "Cui pulchrum fuit in medios dormire dies," Hor. 1 Ep. 2. 30, and for the absolute use of 'indignum' with the ethical dative, "Sat fuit indignum, Caesar, mundoque tibique," Lucan 10. 102.
492.] Pinguescere:' comp. Hor. 2 Od. 1. 29, and Macleane's note. Plutarch says that Archilochus spoke of the plains as fattened by war-perhaps the earliest that
Scilicet et tempus veniet, cum finibus illis
did so. Comp. also Aesch. Theb. 587, τývdɛ
493.] Yes, and the time will come when in those borders the husbandman, as with his crooked plough he upheaves the mass of earth, will find, devoured by a scurf of rust, Roman javelins, or strike his heavy rake on empty helms, and gaze astounded on the gigantic bones that start from their broken sepulchres.' The touch in agricola' is probably meant to recall the reader's mind to the real subject of the poem. In any case it is a sort of unconscious testimony to the arts of husbandry as more permanent than those of war. 494.] Lucr. 5. 932, "Nec robustus erat curvi moderator aratri Quisquam, nec scibat ferro molirier arva." 'Molitus' (v. 329 n.) perhaps contains a suggestion that the relics of Pharsalia would be buried deep by age.
495.] Pila' is emphatic, as it was the characteristic Roman weapon. So Lucan 1. 7, "pares aquilas et pila minantia pilis." Scabra robigine,' Catull. 66 (68). 151.
496.] Inanis' is emphatic, as the hollowness would affect the sound, at the same time that it reminds us that the heads which wore the helmets have long since mouldered away.
497.] Grandia' refers to the notion of perpetual degeneration. Juv. 15. 69,"Nam genus hoc vivo iam decrescebat Homero ; Terra malos homines nunc educat atque pusillos." Comp. also Lucr. 2. 1150 foll. 'Effossis,' 'being broken into by the plough or harrow.'
498-514.] We have a Caesar yet: spare him to us, ye gods, though ye may well call him away from a world like ours, where right and wrong are inverted, husbandry gives way to arms, war rages from east to west, cities of the same land are
arrayed against each other, and humanity is whirled on like a charioteer in a race mastered by his horses.'
498.] With this whole passage compare Horace's imitation, 1 Od. 2. Di patrii' are not the same as 'Indigetes,' as appears from Ovid's parallel to this passage, Met. 15. 861, "Di, precor, Aeneae comites, quibus ensis et ignis Cesserunt, dique Indigetes, genitorque Quirine," where the Di Aeneae comites' are the 'Di patrii,' as they include Vesta, while the 'Di Indigetes' include Quirinus.
499.] Tuscum Tiberim :' it seems probable that the old connexion of Etruria with Rome may be in Virgil's mind here, as it obviously was in the Aeneid. 'Romana Palatia :' the Palatine was the hill of Romulus and his city.
500.]Hunc saltem:' as the gods had snatched away Caesar. 'Saeculum answers exactly to 'the age.' In modern English perhaps we should say 'society.' 'Iuvenem :' comp. E. 1. 43 and Hor. 1 Od. 2. 41, "Sive mutata iuvenem figura Ales in terris imitaris almae Filius Maiae patiens vocari Caesaris ultor."
502.] Horace (3 Od. 3. 21) indulges in the same affectation of antiquarian superstition, a spirit to which it must be allowed that the Aeneid itself ministers. The line itself is nearly repeated A. 4. 541.
504.] Octavianus had probably not yet enjoyed his triple triumph, which was not celebrated till 725, though he had had more than one ovation; but Virgil speaks to him, as Forb. remarks, as if to live on earth were synonymous with to triumph. Yet there is something strange in the expression human triumphs,' unless suppose the poet to intend some still more extravagant compliment. Perhaps the feeling may be that the human victor
Quippe ubi fas versum atque nefas: tot bella per orbem, Tam multae scelerum facies; non ullus aratro Dignus honos; squalent abductis arva colonis, Et curvae rigidum falces conflantur in ensem. Hinc movet Euphrates, illinc Germania bellum; Vicinae ruptis inter se legibus urbes Arma ferunt; saevit toto Mars impius orbe; Ut cum carceribus sese effudere quadrigae, Addunt in spatia, et frustra retinacula tendens Fertur equis auriga, neque audit currus habenas. was all but a god ("Res gerere et captos ostendere civibus hostes Attingit solium Iovis et caelestia tentat," Hor. 1 Ep. 17. 33), but that Caesar might rise higher. Horace treads closely in the steps of Virgil, "Hic magnos potius triumphos, Hic ames dici pater atque princeps" (1 Od. 2. 49). The concluding strophe of Mr. Tennyson's Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington may illustrate the difference of tone with which a Christian poet would speak of the translation of an earthly conqueror to higher triumphs.'
505.] 'Ubi''apud quos,' sc. ' homines.' 'Quippe' assigns the reason why heaven grudges Caesar to so thankless a sphere. Versum,' 'inverted,' not ' overturned.' Comp. Hor. Epod. 5. 87, 88, "Venena magnum fas nefasque non valent Convertere humanam vicem."
506.] Aratro' is probably the dative. 'The plough has none of its due honour.' "Honos erit huic quoque pomo," E. 2. 53. But it might possibly be the abl. 'There is no honour that is worthy of the plough
'the plough is thought worthy of no honour.' The language is like A. 7. 635, "Vomeris huc et falcis honos, huc omnis aratri Cessit amor." Here and in the two following lines the subject of the Georgics is kept before the eye.
507.] Squalent,' 6 are gone to weeds.' "Abductis,' taken away to serve as soldiers." Keightley.
508.] Curvae' and 'rigidum' seem to be opposed, and 'rigidum' seems to refer to the straight sword of the Romans.
inter se legibus,' breaking the laws which bound them together. Legibus,' the laws of civil society. Forb. comp. A. 8. 540, "Poscant acies et foedera rumpant."
511.] Arma ferunt,' are in arms,' A. 9. 133. Wakef. wished to read fremunt,' not seeing that great part of the emphasis is on v. 510. 'Impius' is emphatic, as most of the wars of the time were connected directly or indirectly with the civil conflict.
512.] 'Carceribus sese effudere :' the 'carceres' were a range of stalls at the end of the circus, with gates of open wood-work, which were opened simultaneously to allow the chariots to start. Dict. A. s. v. 'Circus.'
513.] The true reading of the opening words of this line is not certain. 'Addunt in spatia' seems to be the reading of Rom.; 'addunt se in spatia' of Pal. ; 'addunt spatio' of Med.; an obviously faulty reading, but supported by two other good MSS. Heins. read 'addunt in spatio.' Wagn. suggests 'addunt se spatio.' 'Addunt in spatia' is confirmed by an evident imitation in Sil. 16. 372, " Iamque fere medium evecti certamine campum In spatia addebant" (where, however, there is another reading 'spatio"), and certainly has the advantage of difficulty. If right, it is probably to be interpreted they throw themselves on to the course,' 'bound onward,' 'addunt' being used intransitively, orsese' supplied from the previous line (comp. A. 1. 439, "Infert se... miscetque viris"), so that the sense will be parallel to "Corripiunt spatia," A. 5. 316, used in a similar connexion of runners starting. With this use of 'addere in' comp. Ov. Am. 1. 7. 1, “ Adde manus in vincla meas."
514.] • Fertur equis, like ἄστομοι πῶλοι Big pipovoi, Soph. El. 725. Comp. A. 1. 476. For 'audit' comp. Hor. 1 Ep. 15. 13, "equi frenato est auris in ore;" and for currus audit,' Pind. Pyth. 2. 21, üppara
oxáλiva. Servius suggests that the charioteer hurried on by the furious horses is Octavianus; but this hardly agrees with v. 500.