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After the defeat of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi (42 B.C.) the Triumvirs promised to assign to their veterans the lands of eighteen Italian cities. Among these cities was Cremona, but its territory proving insufficient, the soldiers either received or seized upon that of the neighbouring Mantua (9. 28), and among others Virgil's father was ejected from his farm at Andes. Virgil applied for help to C. Asinius Pollio (see Ecl. 4 Intr.), who in 41 B.C. had been the legate of Antony in Transpadane Gaul, and was by him advised to proceed to Rome and make a personal appeal to Octavian. His appeal was successful and the farm was 'exempted' from confiscation (fundus concessus or exceptus). See Introduction, p. vi.

This Eclogue is a dialogue between two shepherds: Tityrus, who represents Virgil, is described as reposing at his ease in the fields among his sheep, when Meliboeus, who has just been ejected from his farm, enters driving before him his weary and unhappy flock.

Although Tityrus represents Virgil, he is in the main an imaginary character and only speaks for the poet occasionally. So too the scenery of the Eclogue is purely imaginary, and does not in any way describe the country round Mantua.

1-10. M. You, Tityrus, enjoy leisure and sing of love on your own farm: we are driven from our dear country. T. Το a god, Meliboeus, I owe it all—a god to whom I shall ever pay reverence due.


1. tu...nos patriae... nos patriam...tu] Notice the marked antithesis between tu and nos repeated in inverse order, and the pathetic repetition of patriae and patriam.

nos: not 'I' but 'we,' i.e. I and my neighbours; cf. 64, where nos must be plural.

2. silvestrem...] 'rehearse' or 'practise a woodland melody on the slender pipe.' Musam meditaris: Milton endeavours to make this phrase English, cf. Lycidas 66 'and strictly meditate the thankless Muse.' avena: as an oat-straw could not be made into a musical instrument, avena must be used for a reed' or something of the sort; Milton however (Lycidas 33) ventures to talk of the 'oaten flute.'

4. lentus] This word (connected with lenis 'soft') seems to mean 'sticky' (G. 4. 41 pice lentius, 160 lentum gluten) and then 'tough,' 'pliant' (cf. 3. 38 lenta vitis, 5. 16 lenta salix; G. 4. 170), or 'slow,' 'sluggish,' and so 'lazy,' 'at ease' as here.

5. formosam resonare Amaryllida] 'to re-echo (the words) "beauteous Amaryllis.' formosam Amaryllida is cognate acc. after resonare: the sound which the woods re-echo is the phrase which the lover keeps repeating as he singsformosa Amaryllis.

6. deus] 'a god,' i.e. Octavian: the word is emphatic by position, as is deus in the next line by its contrasted position at the end of the clause.

The formal ascription of divine honours to the Emperor at Rome did not take place until 29 B.C., and the use of the term deus here is only the extravagant expression of personal gratitude. None the less it is in the growing use of similar language in common speech that the subsequent formal deification of the Emperor partly finds its origin.

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7. ille...illius...ille (line 9)] Notice the emphatic repetition. 9. ille meas...] 'he vouchsafed (to me) that my oxen should roam and that I myself should play whate'er I would on the rural reed.' Conington rightly remarks that the rendering 'permitted my oxen to roam' is wrong, as this would require the dat. bobus: permitto takes a dat. of the person to whom anything is granted and acc. of the thing granted; here the dat. mihi is omitted and the clause meas boves errare forms the acc.

10. ludere quae...] Many intransitive verbs become transitive in a secondary sense (cf. G. 1. 312 n.): so ludere 'to sport' or 'play' can often mean 'to do something in sport' or 'playfully.' It is especially used by the poets, as here, of composing light or playful songs; cf. G. 4. 565 carmina qui lusi; Hor. Od. 4. 9. 9 si quid olim lusit Anacreon.

11-25. M. I envy you not, but marvel rather at your good fortune in these troubled times. Look! I can scarcely drive my

goats along and have just lost two newly-born kids. I might have known from the oaks being struck by lightning what trouble was coming-but tell me who your 'god' is. T. I used to imagine that Rome was like our market-town, only larger, as a dog is like a puppy, but it towers above other cities as much as cypresses over osiers.

12. turbatur] 'confusion reigns'; cf. Cic. Sull. 20. 57 si in Hispania turbatum esset. For intrans. verbs used impersonally in the pass. cf. G. 3. 98 ventum est; 249 male erratur 'it is ill wandering'; 4. 78 concurritur 'there is the clash of battle'; 189 siletur; 374 est...perventum; and turbare is often='be in confusion' in Lucretius. Many MSS. give turbamur. en ipse...: he quotes his own case as illustrating the general disturbance. 13. protinus...] Observe the slow and halting line. ago 'drive' in front of me: duco 'lead' after me.

14. namque] In prose namque is usually the first and only occasionally the second word in a clause: its position here is a poetic license.

gemellos...reliquit] Notice the pathos of each word: gemellos 'twins' heightening the sense of loss; spem gregis marking that they were fine ones which, could they have been reared, the flock would have regarded with pride and hope; silice in nuda in contrast with the soft bed of litter that would have been provided at home (cf. G. 3. 297); conixa instead of the usual enixa emphasising more strongly the pain and effort of the labour; reliquit closing the description with the thought of their abandonment.

16. si fuisset] The apodosis of this clause is easily supplied: 'I remember being warned, (and should have acted on the warning) if I had not been foolish.' laeva: 'stupid,' the opposite of dexter 'handy,' 'clever'; σкaιós)(değiós.

17. de caelo tactas] 'struck from heaven,' i.e. by lightning. After this line bad MSS. insert saepe sinistra cava praedixit ab ilice cornix from 9. 15.

18. da] 'communicate,' 'tell': so commonly accipe='hear.' 20. huic nostrae] i. e. Mantua.

21. depellere] Because depellere a lacte (7. 15) or even depellere by itself (3. 82) means 'to wean,' some editors would drag in this meaning here and render depellere 'carry after weaning. It is obvious that the word simply means 'drive down,' 'drive to market' (de marking the destination as in deduco, deveho): the shepherds were in the habit of driving their young lambs to Mantua to sell.

23. sic parvis...] 'so was I wont to compare great things

with small. Previously, when using the terms 'great' and 'small' in making a comparison, his idea of the relative difference of size expressed by them was represented by the difference between a full-grown and a young animal; and so, when speaking of Rome as 'great' in comparison with Mantua, he had conceived it to be a sort of full-grown Mantua. He now finds, however, that in relation not only to Mantua but to all other cities' Rome towers above them, not merely as much as a fine specimen of one tree does above another of the same kind, but as much as the stately cypress does above the humble viburnum.

24. caput extulit] 'has reared aloft its head': composition often means 'up,' cf. 7. 32 suras evincta.

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26-35. M. What made you go to Rome? T. I went to purchase my freedom: it came late in life, but it came at last, when I gave up Galatea, who hindered me from saving anything, for Amaryllis, who is my present mistress.

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26. tanta causa videndi] 'so great reason for seeing': videndi 'seeing' implies 'going to see'; after tanta SO great' the thought that you did go to see it' is mentally supplied.

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27. libertas] A hard-working slave was often allowed to retain a portion of his earnings for himself; this money (peculium line 32) he might save up so as ultimately to purchase his liberty. sera...: though late, still had regard to me the sluggard'; sera, tamen would be in Greek òyè μév, áλ' öμws: inertem, i.e. though I showed no eagerness to deserve it.

28. candidior] Predicatively with cadebat 'fell whiter': tondenti ethic dat. 'as I trimmed it'; tondere is 'to cut,' radere to shave' the beard.

29. respexit tamen] 'still regard me it did.' Notice the tamen respexit of 27 repeated in inverse order.

30. Amaryllis habet, Galatea reliquit] 'now that Amaryllis rules (and) Galatea has quitted me.' In Latin contrasted clauses are frequently placed side by side without any connecting particle: this is called the co-ordination of contrasted clauses'; the Greeks would use μév and dé. Cf. 2. 18, 39; 6. 1 n. ; 6. 84; 7. 3; 10. 41.

32. peculi] Horace and Virgil use the contracted form of the gen. of words ending in ius and ium, Ovid the open form in ii. Cf. line 68 tuguri; G. 4. 565 oti.

33. victima] i.e. some animal taken to market to be sold for sacrifice.

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