Billeder på siden


pullaque paupertas, et adunco fibula morsu
obfuerunt. utcumque tamen conspeximus ipsum
longius, ac, nisi me decepit visus, in uno

et Martis vultus et Apollinis esse putavi.' Nemesianus,' who, if not Calpurnius, was certainly an imitator of Calpurnius, makes his first Eclogue a funeral poem on Meliboeus, an exalted personage resembling the Meliboeus of his prototype. Tityrus is asked by Timetas to sing, but excuses himself on account of his age, and begs that the author of the request, who has become recently distinguished by a victory over Mopsus, will himself perform the task, taking as his subject the death of their common friend. Timetas complies, having recently composed an epicedium which he has inscribed on the bark of a neighbouring cherry-tree. Air, earth, and water are invoked to carry the lament to the ears of Meliboeus, whom the poet then proceeds to panegyrize.

* Longa tibi cunctisque diu spectata senectus,
felicesque anni, nostrique novissimus aevi
circulus, innocuae clauserunt tempora vitae.
nec minus hinc nobis gemitus lacrimaeque fuere,
quam si florentis mors invida pelleret annos.
nec tenuit talis communis causa querellas :
heu, Meliboee, iaces letali frigore segnis
lege hominum, caelo dignus, canente senecta,
concilioque Deum. plenum tibi ponderis aequi
pectus erat : tu ruricolum discernere lites
adsueras, varias patiens mulcendo querellas.
sub te ruris amor, sub te reverentia iusti
floruit, ambiguos signavit terminus agros.
blanda tibi vultus gravitas, et mite serena

fronte supercilium, sed pectus mitius ore.' The usual topics then succeed : the gods of the country bring gifts in honour of the dead : trees and herds, ‘nostra armenta,' repeat his name: for the sea and land will change their inhabitants, and the products of the seasons become confused, before Timetas will cease to sing of him. Tityrus compliments the singer, hints that the song may be the means of advancing him from a country life to a life in Rome, a species of promotion which these shepherds appear especially to desire, and finally reminds him that the hour is late. Epiphunus (éri-funus) is the title which the MSS. give to the poem-a curiously illiterate confusion of Greek and Latin.

The second Eclogue is entitled Donace, the name of a girl who has

[M. Aurelius Olimpius Nemesianus of Carthage wrote about A.D. 284; Teuffel 386. His poems have been edited by Bährens, Poetae Latini Minores, vol. iii, and Schenkl, Leipzig, 1885; both editors have introduced conjectures very freely.)


been removed by her parents from the passionate pursuit of two shepherd boys, Alcon and Idas, and whose absence they accordingly lament in amoebean strains. It is modelled to a certain extent on Calpurnius' second and third Eclogues, not without some exaggeration and coarseness of handling, which are due to the author himself. The images in which the lovers express their longing are, as usual, borrowed from Theocritus or Virgil: one recommends himself on account of his wealth, the other on the score of his personal appearance: one talks of all nature as blighted to him while Donace is away, the other reminds her that gods have led a shepherd's life: and evening as usual comes in to stop the singing. The only noticeable passage is about a tame nightingale, which Alcon has sent as a present to Donace, though the thought gains but little from its expression.

Munera namque dedi, noster quae non dedit Idas,
vocalem, longos quae ducit, aëdona, cantus;
quae, licet interdum contexto vimine clausa,
cum parvae patuere fores, ceu libera ferri
norit, et agrestis inter volitare volucres,
scit rursus remeare domum, tectumque subire

viminis, et caveam totis praeponere silvis.' It is noticeable that the two songs, which are continuous, are of exactly the same length, like those in Virgil's fifth and eighth Eclogues.

In the third Eclogue Nemesianus has imitated Virgil's sixth. Three shepherds find Pan asleep, take his pipe, and vainly try to perform on it: he awakes, and immediately offers to play, taking for his subject the praises of Bacchus, whose name the copyist has accordingly prefixed to the Eclogue. The song, which is of no great length, being given in the 'oratio recta,' not, like Virgil's, thrown into the form of a rapid summary, speaks of the birth and infancy of the god, and of the production of the grape, the first treading of which is described. There is considerable picturesque power in various parts of the song, which admits, as Wernsdorf remarks, of illustration from various extant gems. Here is a picture of the child in the arms of Silenus.

'Quin et Silenus parvum veneratus alumnum
aut gremio fovet, aut resupinus sustinet ulnis,
et vocat ad risum digito, motuque quietem
adlicit, aut tremulis quassat crepitacula palmis :
cui deus adridens horrentis pectore setas
vellicat, aut digitis auris astringit acutas,
applauditve manu mutilum caput aut breve mentum,

et simas tenero collidit pollice nares.' Evening ends the Eclogue, which Fontenelle rather boldly pronounces to be superior in elegance of invention to its Virgilian prototype. It is

[ocr errors]

difficult to see the appropriateness of the praises of Bacchus in the mouth of Pan, though they might have come with some grace from Silenus ; while the pictorial features, being such as are found represented in works of art, may perhaps be due as much to artistic tradition as to the imagination of the poet.

The fourth Eclogue, Eros, is again amoebean, Mopsus and Lycidas singing of their loves, Meroe and Iolas. The strophes are short, five lines each, and each has the same burden, 'Cantet, amat quod quisque : levant et carmina curas.' The topics are, as usual, chiefly Theocritean and Virgilian, the transitoriness of beauty, the universality of passionate pursuit, the lover singing in the heat when all else is sheltered, and the employment of the various resources of magic. As in the eighth Eclogue of Virgil, there is no formal conclusion.

Such are the somewhat meagre products yielded by Roman bucolic poetry after Virgil's time-compositions as unreal as Virgil's own, without that exquisite grace which makes us delight in the poem where we cannot recognize the genuine pastoral. A few other pieces of bucolic verse, included by Wernsdorf in his second volume, may perhaps be worth a few lines of mention. Citerius Sidonius Syracusanus (the suffix is noteworthy, as compared with that of Calpurnius) contributes an * Epigramma de Tribus Pastoribus,' eight closely packed lines, specifying the antecedents, fortunes, occupations, ages, musical qualifications, loves, and love-presents of three shepherds. Severus Sanctus, 'rhetor et poeta Christianus,' has a dialogue in Asclepiad stanzas, 'de Mortibus Boum,' in which Buculus laments the loss of his cattle by an epidemic, finds that Tityrus' herds have escaped by being signed with the cross, and becomes himself a convert from Paganism to Christianity. One Vespa writes ‘Iudicium Coci et Pistoris, iudice Vulcano,' in which the baker and the cook extol their own art and depreciate each other's, in verses of no classical merit, but with some humour, the cook being told that he is responsible for the suppers of Thyestes and Tereus, and replying that his art supplies liver for Tityus, wings for Icarus, and beef for Europa. Last comes an Eclogue by the venerable Bede, Conflictus Veris et Hiemis, sive Cuculus,' Spring and Winter arguing in verse before a company of shepherds for and against the appearance of the cuckoo, till the judges, naturally enough, decide that the cuckoo shall come, and conclude, Salve, dulce decus, cuculus, per saecula salve." ?


[Two fragments of Eclogues resembling those of Calpurnius, and probably dating from the reign of Nero, have been edited from an Einsiedeln MS. of the tenth century. They amount in all to eighty-eight hexameters and are of little importance : one of the poems quotes Virg. E. iv 10. See the reff. in Teuffel 306, 8.]





THE student of Virgil may be said to enjoy a singular advantage in the preservation of those works of Greek poetry which his author professes to have imitated. A few fragments are all that is left of that glorious body of lyric song which, after having been the delight of Greece, while Greece was yet a nation, lived again at Rome in the Odes of Horace, inspiring their spirit and dictating their metre. Still more scanty is our knowledge of the poems which are supposed to have served as models for Ovid's Metamorphoses, such as the Hesiodic 'Hołąı or the 'Etepoiohueva of Nicander. Not only may we suppose that we have lost the key to many thoughts, images, and phrases, which the possession of the Greek would have enabled us to clear up, but the whole relation of the Latin poems to their originals becomes a matter of inference and of vague conjecture. But in possessing Theocritus, Hesiod, and Homer, we may feel that we possess, as it were, the exciting causes of the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid. They do not indeed represent all the literary influences which must have told upon Virgil's genius, or disclose to us the origin of the peculiar manner in which he has conducted the work of imitation : but they show us what it was that in each successive case first stimulated his general conception of his subject-what it was that he admired in the literature of Greece, and sought to reproduce among his own countrymen : they enable us



to judge of him not only as a poet, but as a critic of the poetry of others.

With regard to Hesiod, indeed, there is considerable reason to doubt whether we possess the whole of what Virgil set himself to copy. Various agricultural precepts are cited from Hesiod—for instance, about the culture of the olive and the vine-which find no place in the Works and Days, as we now read them; and though some of these may be disposed of by the consideration that the name of Hesiod was often loosely applied to any thing which might fall under the head of rural didactics, enough remains of a more strictly Hesiodic character to render some other hypothesis necessary—whether it be the popular German theory that the extant Works and Days, interpolated as the same authority pronounces them to be, represent only a part of the work which was read by Virgil, or the more cautious speculation of Colonel Mure, who refers the unincorporated fragments to some of the lost poems traditionally ascribed to Hesiod, such as the Astronomy and the Maxims of Cheiron. Possibly Propertius’ may have been thinking of these when he addressed Virgil as repeating in song the directions of the old Ascraean bard, and telling of the plain in which the corn-crop grows greenest, the slope on which the grape clusters best, though it is equally likely that he simply intended to acknowledge the Georgics as a Hesiodic poem, characterizing them, not by any thing in Hesiod, but by their own argument as summed up in the exordium of the First Book. In any case, however, we may be sure that what we have lost bears no proportion in value, as a means of estimating the relations of Hesiod and Virgil, to what we have preserved. The recovery of the whole of Hesiod's poetry would doubtless supply us with illustrations of many passages in the Georgics : it is not needed to indicate and shadow forth, though it might possibly deepen, the contrast between the poet of Augustan Rome and the halfmythical minstrel of Boeotia.

The Works and Days are the earliest classical representative of that species of poetry which is known as the Didactic, a variety

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »