Billeder på siden



D. Heu, heu, quam pingui macer est mihi taurus in ervo!
Idem amor exitium pecori pecorisque magistro.
M. His certe neque amor caussa est; vix ossibus haerent.
Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat
D. Dic, quibus in terris-et eris mihi magnus Apollo-
Tris pateat caeli spatium non amplius ulnas.
M. Dic, quibus in terris inscripti nomina regum
Nascantur flores, et Phyllida solus habeto.

P. Non nostrum inter vos tantas conponere lites.
Et vitula tu dignus, et hic, et quisquis amores
Aut metuet dulcis, aut experietur amaros.
Claudite iam rivos, pueri: sat prata biberunt.

100-103.] D. My bull won't fatten: it is love. M. My lambs won't either; it is the evil eye.'

100.] Theocr. 4. 20. 'Ervum,' a species of tare: probably the hairy tare that grows in our fields and hedges. Keightley. The old reading before Heins. was 'arvo,' which is found in the Rom. Quam' with 'macer.' 105.] For the construction non am

[ocr errors]

plius tris ulnas,' see on G. 4. 207.
102.] Theocr. 4. 15. These of mine
are not even so well off as yours; they have
some malady more mysterious than love.'
'Neque' is for 'ne quidem,' used like
ovde. Wagn. quotes Cic. Tusc. 1. 26, "quo
nec in deo quidquam maius intelligi po-
test," Pliny 17. 4, "Sed neque illa, quae
laudatur, diu, praeterquam salici, utilis sen-

103.] Comp. Hor. 1 Ep. 14. 37, "Non istic (at his farm) obliquo oculo mea commoda quisquam Limat, non odio obscuro morsuque venenat."

104-107.] D. Guess my riddle, and you shall be my Apollo. M. Guess mine, and you shall have Phyllis to yourself.'

104.] According to Serv. Asconius Pedianus heard Virgil say that he had intended in this passage to set a trap for the critics; and that the real answer was the tomb of Caelius, a Mantuan who had squandered his estate, and left himself only land enough for a tomb. The critics may be pardoned if they have fallen into such a trap with their eyes open, though their various guesses, e. g. a well, an oven, the shield of Achilles, the pit called mundus' in the Comitium, only opened for three days each year, are not particularly happy. Caeli spatium'



would not naturally express the ground possessed by or covering Caelius, so that the riddle, according to its traditional explanation, does not even fulfil the conditions of a good catch. 'Apollo,' as the god of divination.


106.] Regum,' princes;' the Homeric Baoiλñes. So in Hor. 4 Od. 2. 13, "Seu deos, regesve canit, deorum Sanguinem." 'Reges' is applied to Theseus, Pirithous, and Bellerophon. The flower meant is the hyacinth, which was supposed to be inscribed with At Aï to express the name of Aiac, or with Y for 'Yaxiveos, the lost favourite of Apollo.

108-111.] 'P. I cannot decide between those who feel so truly and sing so well.'

[ocr errors]

109.] Both ultimately wagered a heifer. See v. 49. Et quisquis amaros :' this obscure and harshly expressed, but there seems no reason to suspect the text. The general sense no doubt is, as Serv. says, 'Et tu et hic digni estis vitula et quicunque similis vestri est,' any one who can feel love as you have shown you can, the alarm which attends its enjoyment, and the pangs of disappointment. The action may be put for the celebration of the action, as in 6. 62, 9. 19; or Palaemon may mean that the lover is equal to the poet, as in vv. 88, 89, the admirer seems to be equal to the poet. None of the corrections that have been proposed improve the passage.

111.] If Palaemon says this to his slaves, it also alludes metaphorically to the stream of bucolic verse. 'Rivos,' the sluices. "Rivus est locus per longitudinem depressus, quo aqua decurrat," Dig. 43. 21. Î. 2.



THE precise reference of this famous poem is still, and will probably remain, an unsolved problem. It seems, however, possible to arrive at certain proximate results.

The date is fixed to the year 714, when Pollio was consul and assisted in negotiating the peace of Brundisium. The hero of the poem is a child born, or to be born, in this auspicious year, who is gradually to perfect the restoration then beginning. It is difficult to say who the child was, for the simple reason that Virgil's anticipations were never fulfilled. It is not certain that the child was ever born: it is certain that, if born, he did not become the regenerator of his time. On the other hand, there is considerable scope for conjecturing who he may have been. Pollio himself had two sons born about this period : the treaty was solemnized by the marriage of Antonius with Octavia, and the union of Octavianus with Scribonia had taken place not long before. Tradition, as given by Servius, favours the claims of both of Pollio's sons, one of whom, called Saloninus from his father's capture of Salona in Dalmatia, died in his infancy, while the other, C. Asinius Gallus, who is said to have spoken of himself to Asconius Pedianus as the person meant, lived to be discussed by Augustus as his possible successor (Tac. Ann. 1. 13), and finally fell a victim to the jealousy of Tiberius (ib. 6. 23). Octavianus' marriage issued in the birth of Julia: Octavia's child, if it was ever born, was the child not of Antonius, but of Marcellus, her former husband, by whom she was pregnant at the time of her second marriage. Any of these births, so far as we can see, may have appeared at the time to a courtly or enthusiastic poet a sufficient centre round which to group the hopes already assumed to be rising in men's minds, and though the next three years may have made a difference in this respect, the poem would still continue to be in its general features the embodiment of a feeling not yet extinguished, and as such might well be published along with the other Eclogues. The peace of Brundisium itself was not so much the cause of this enthusiasm as the occasion of its manifestation-the partial satisfaction of a yearning which had long been felt, not merely the transient awakening of desires hitherto dormant. How far such hopes may have been connected with the expectation of a Messiah opens a wide question. The coincidence between Virgil's language and that of the Old Testament prophets is sufficiently striking: but it may be doubted whether Virgil uses any image to which a classical parallel cannot be found.

The allusions to the prophecies of the Sibyl and to the doctrine of the Annus Magnus will be found explained in their places. Some features of the poem, which seem to deserve attention, are noticed in the note on v. 18.

SICELIDES Musae, paulo maiora canamus!

Non omnis arbusta iuvant humilesque myricae ;
Si canimus silvas, silvae sint Consule dignae.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Ultima Cymaei venit iam carminis aetas; Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.

still to be the country, let it rise to a dignity of which a consul need not be ashamed.' A consul like Pollio need not be ashamed of the rural glories of the golden age, 3. 89


[ocr errors]

4-17.] The golden age is returning. A glorious child is born. Thy consulship, Pollio, will usher him into life, and inaugurate a period of peace, when the world will obey a godlike king.'

4.] Cymaei carminis,' 'the Sibylline verses' the Sibyl of Cumae being the most famous. The original Sibylline books having been destroyed in the burning of the Capitol in Sulla's time, the senate ordered a collection of Sibylline verses to be made in the various towns of Italy and Greece. After a critical examination about a thou sand lines were retained as genuine, and preserved with the same formality as the lost volumes. Varro however tells us (Dionys. Halic. Antiq. R. 4. 62) that some spurious ones were introduced, which might be detected by their acrostich character, and this test was employed by Cicero (De Div. 2. 54) to disprove a professedly Sibylline prediction brought forward by those who wished to make Caesar king. Later we find that forgeries of the kind had become common, private persons pretending to have oracles in their possession, and the matter was accordingly twice publicly investigated under Augustus (Suet. Aug. 31), and under Tiberius (Tac. Ann. 6. 12). Of the precise oracle to which Virgil refers nothing seems to be known. We can only conjecture, with Voss, from whom this note is mainly taken, that it prophesied the return of the golden age by the accomplishment of the great cycle. The emperor Constantine in his oration to the clergy preserved by Eusebius, quotes an acrostich oracle, which, though an evident forgery by a Christian, imposed on many both before and after his time. Augustine, who cites a Latin version of it (De Civitate Dei, 18. 23) curiously enough, in his Exposition of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, authenticates it by this line of Virgil, but for which he would have been unwilling to believe that the Sibyl prophesied of Christ. An elaborate edition of this and the other Sibylline oracles has been published, with a Latin translation and notes, by M. Alexandre (Paris, 1851-7). Mr. Merivale believes these oracles to be the representatives of others of an earlier date, which spoke lan


guage borrowed from Jewish prophecy, and so' finds no difficulty' in accounting for the phraseology employed by Virgil (Hist. vol. iii. p. 232). Whether the ultima aetas' is identical with the 'magnus saeclorum ordo,' or whether the one is the end of the old cycle, the other the beginning of the new, is not clear. The latter view is that most naturally presented by the passage: the former is countenanced by some obscure notices in Serv. about ten ages (comp. Juvenal's 'nona aetas,' 13. 28), each with its appropriate metal, the last being the age of the sun. On v. 10 Serv. quotes the following passage from the fourth book of a treatise, 'De Dis,' by Nigidius Figulus, a contemporary of Julius Caesar, and esteemed second only to Varro in learning: "Quidam Deos et eorum genera temporibus et aetatibus, inter quos et Orpheus: primum regnum Saturni, deinde Jovis, tum Neptuni, inde Plutonis: nonnulli etiam, ut magi, aiunt Apollinis fore regnum: in quo videndum est ne ardorem, sive illa ecpyrosis appellanda est, dicant:" i. e. the final conflagration. But this, though possibly the origin of Servius' notices, tells us nothing about the Sibylline prophecy. Probus merely says "post quattuor saecula alıɣyɛveoiav futuram cecinit." The other explanation of Cymaeum carmen as the poem of Hesiod, whose father came from Cyme in Aeolis, breaks down, as Hesiod's theory of the four (or rather five) ages is not a theory of cycles, and the last age he mentions is the worst or iron age, in which he represents himself as living, though in an obscure passage (Works and Days, 180) he apparently holds out a hope that it too may be destroyed. Cymaei' is restored by Wagn. and Forb., being found in some MSS. here, and supported by the Med. in A. 3. 441., 6. 98. Forb. remarks that the old name was Kuun, whence Kvμaios, the later Koupaι or Cumae,' the adjective of which is Cumanus.'

[ocr errors]

5.] The reference is to the doctrine of the annus magnus,' or 'Platonicus,' a vast period variously estimated at 2489, 3000, 7777, 12,954, 15,000, and 18,000 years, to be completed whenever all the heavenly bodies should occupy the same places in which they were at the beginning of the world. In each of these periods it was supposed that the cycle of mundane and human history repeated itself. Like the ordinary year, the 'annus magnus' was

Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
Iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.
Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
Desinet ac toto surget gens aurea mundo,
Casta fave Lucina: tuus iam regnat Apollo.
Teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te Consule, inibit,
Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses;
Te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri,

divided into three hundred and sixty-five days, twelve months, and four seasons, the latter being identified by some with the four ages of mankind, while others, such as Aristotle, connected the winter with the deluge, the summer with the final conflagration. See Voss's note, from which the above is abridged, and compare Macrobius, Somn. Scip. 2. 11, and Censorinus, De Die Natali, c. 18. Whether this doctrine was in any way connected with the Etruscan theory of secles, with which it might possibly be brought into some kind of harmony, seems not easy to say, though the commentators appear to treat them together. Ab integro, "columnam efficere ab integro," Cic. Verr. 2. 1. 56. We also findex integro' and 'de integro,' like 'de novo.' The lengthening of 'integro,' though not usual, is found Lucr. 1. 927, and elsewhere. 6.] Heyne places a semicolon after 'Virgo.' Wagn. strikes it out and adds this note: "Redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna' is the same thing as 'et Virgo et Saturnia regna redeunt.' For it is to be observed that the repetition of a noun or verb is sometimes equivalent to a repetition of the copula: A. 7. 327, 'Odit et ipse pater Pluton, odere sorores Tartareae monstrum;' 8. 91, 'Labitur uncta vadis abies: mirantur et undae, Miratur nemus insuetum fulgentia longe Scuta virum;' 11. 169, 'Quin ego non alio digner te funere, Palla, Quam pius Aeneas, et quam magni Phryges, et quam Tyrrhenique duces, Tyrrhenum exercitus omnis;' 12. 548, 'Totae adeo conversae acies, omnesque Latini, Omnes Dardanidae.' The preposition is repeated in the same way: A. 10. 313, huic gladio perque aerea suta, Per tunicam squalentem auro, latus haurit apertum.' Virgo,' 'Justice,' who left the earth in the iron age. G. 2.474.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

7.] Nova progenies,' 'a new and better race of men.' Gens aurea, v. 9. With 'caelo demittitur ' comp. G. 2. 385, "Necnon Ausonii Troja gens missa coloni."


[merged small][ocr errors]

10.] If any reliance is to be placed on Serv.'s statement referred to on v. 4, that the Sibylline prophecy made the last of the ten ages the age of the sun, it is doubtless he that is spoken of here as Apollo. Whether any further historical reference is supposed-to Apollo as the reputed father of Octavianus, for instance, must depend on the opinion held as to the hero of the Eclogue. See Introduction. Tuus,' because Lucina and Diana (Eilithyia and Artemis) were identified.

11.] Tuque adeo' are not unfrequently found together, as in G. 1. 24; Ennius, Medea, fr. 14, "Iuppiter, tuque adeo, summe sol, qui omnis res inspicis ;"'adeo' here, as in other places, giving a rhetorical prominence to the word after which it is used. See G. 2. 323, A. 3. 203.

11.] Decus hoc aevi,' 'this glorious age.' Lucr. 2. 15, "Qualibus in tenebris vitae quantisque periclis Degitur hoc aevi quodcumque est." Comp. also "monstrum mulieris," Plaut. Poen. 1. 2. 64, and dɛσTórоv σTúyoç, Aesch. Choeph. 770. 'Inibit,'' commence,' as in 'anno ineunte,' 'ineunte aetate.'

12.] Magni menses,' the periods into which the 'magnus annus' was divided. See on v. 5.

13.] 'Te duce,' under your auspices as consul, giving the year its name. Sceleris,' not general, like 'fraudis,' v. 31, but referring to the guilt of civil bloodshed. Keightley refers to Hor. 1 Od. 2. 29, “Cui dabit partis scelus expiandi Iuppiter?" and Epod. 7. 1, "Quo, quo scelesti ruitis?" So 'pacatum orbem v. 17.

Inrita perpetua solvent formidine terras.
Ille deum vitam accipiet divisque videbit
Permixtos heroas et ipse videbitur illis,
Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.
At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
Errantis hederas passim cum bacchare tellus
Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.
Ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae
Ubera, nec magnos metuent armenta leones.
Ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni
Occidet; Assyrium volgo nascetur amomum.
At simul heroum laudes et facta parentis

[ocr errors]

14.] Inrita,' in its strict sense, by their abolition.'

15.] Ille,' the 'puer' of v. 8. 'Deum vitam,' the characteristic of the golden age; worε Oεoi wor, Hesiod, Works, 112. Another of its privileges was that of familiar intercourse with the gods on earth, Catull. 62 (64) ad fin., here expressed by 'videbit.'

16.] Videbitur' expresses the reciprocal character of the intimacy. In Aesch. Eum. 411 the Furies are said to be οὔτ ̓ ἐν θεαῖσι πρὸς θεῶν ὁρωμέναις.

17.] Patriis' of course cannot be explained without solving the riddle of the Eclogue.

18-25.] 'Nature will do honour to the babe flowers will spring spontaneously: herds will come to be milked for its sustenance: poison will be taken out of its way.' 18.] The coming of the golden age will be gradual, its stages corresponding to those in the life of the child. Thus its infancy is signalized by the production of natural gifts and the removal of natural evils, things which were partially realized even before: in its youth the vegetable world will actually change its nature: in its manhood the change will extend to the animals. Further, the particular changes would seem to be adapted to the successive requirements of the child. There are toys and milk for its childhood, which is to be specially guarded from harm; stronger food for its youth, which is not to be without adventure and military glory; quiet and prosperous luxury for its mature age. Munuscula,' as Keightley well remarks, are gifts for children. "Non invisa feres pueris munuscula parvis," Hor. 1 Ep. 7. 17. 'Nullo cultu' is a characteristic of the golden age. G. 1. 128. Hesiod, Works, 118.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

19.] Passim' goes with 'fundet.' What now grows only in certain places will then grow everywhere. It is doubtful what

bacchar' is: some say foxglove, others asarabacca, a creeping plant with leaves somewhat like ivy. 'Colocasium' is the Egyptian bean, which was introduced into Italy.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

21.] Ipsae,' of their own accord;' so aurós in Greek, e. g. Theocr. 11. 12. The goats shall need no goatherd, and the kine no keeper. They are to produce milk for thee, so lions and wolves will not approach them.' Comp. Hor. Epod. 16. 49, which seems to be imitated either by or from Virg., according to the date which we assign to its composition.

23.] Ipsa' in the same sense as 'ipsae,' v. 21, nullo cultu,' v. 18, 'No need to make thee a bed of flowers. The ground on which thou liest will of its own accord bring forth flowers to show its love.' 'Blandos' has the sense of 'blandiri.'

24.] With this and the previous line comp. Hor. 3 Od. 4. 17 foll. : "Ut tuto ab atris corpore viperis Dormirem et ursis, ut premerer sacra Lauroque collataque myrto,

[ocr errors]

Non sine Dis animosus infans." The serpents and poisonous plants are removed for the child's sake. So in the remarkable parallel to this whole passage in Isaiah 11, "The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp (v. 8). Herba 'Veneni' is a veneni,' 'poisonous herb.' gen. of quality. Comp. Juv. 3. 4, "gratum littus amoeni Secessus." Fallax' is well illustrated by Serv. from G. 2. 152, "nec miseros fallunt aconita legentis."

[ocr errors]

25.] Foramomum' see 3. 89.
26-36.] When he advances to youth,

« ForrigeFortsæt »