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[L.P. refers to the Public School Latin Primer. N.E. to the Notes on Etymology of the same. L.L. to the translation of Messrs. Lonsdale & Jee.]
Two husbandmen converse, one of whom (Tityrus) has been restored to his farm by the favour of Octavianus (Augustus), the other (Meliboeus) has not been so fortunate. Meliboeus congratulates Tityrus and describes all the delights which he will retain. Tityrus answers with expressions of eternal gratitude to his preserver, and Melibocus then contrasts his own unhappy lot as an exile.
[The lines refer to an event in Vergil's own life, though the date is not quite clear. But some time after the battle of Philippi (B.c. 42) many occupiers of lands near Mantua and Cremona were turned out of their estates to make room for allotments to the victorious veterans. Vergil is said to have thus suffered, and to have been restored, in answer to his petition, by Octavianus.]
1. tua rura manebunt] 'the farm will remain yours,' tua is part of the predicate. The plural rura is used in the sense of 'lands,' 'a farm.' Cp. Hor. Epod. 2, 3, paterna rura bobus exercet suis.
2-3. lapis nudus] 'surface stones.' This refers not to rock but to the loose stones lying about the fields. quamvis obducat 'even though bare stone should cover,' not implying that it does so, in which case the poet would have said quamvis obducit. Cf. Aen. 5, 542, quamvis solus avem caelo dejecit ab alto, though as a fact he alone brought down the bird.' The neglect of this distinction between the indic.
and subj. with quamvis has caused confusion. whole farm.'
Your sheep will not suffer from a change of pasture, as mine will when I have to go to another country. insueta 'to which they have not been used.' gravis fetas' the pregnant ewes.' A more usual word than gravis in this sense is gravida. The word feta means (1) 'pregnant,' (2) 'just delivered,' as in feta lupa in Ovid F. 2, 414. It is here a substantive. For temptat in the sense of injuring the health' cp. G. 3, 411, turpis oves temptat scabies. [Dr. Kennedy translates fetas graves sickly from calving or yeaning.']
7. fontes sacros] Fountains and streams are called sacred because of the nymphs supposed to inhabit them. frigus opacum, 'cool shade,' or more literally 'sheltered coolness. Just as Horace (Od. 2, 15, 15) says, nulla opacam porticus excipiebat Arcton, 'no colonnade caught the North wind on the shady side.' captabis] 'you will make for,' i.e. when keeping your sheep.
8-10. hinc] on one side,' answering to hinc in verse 11: it is further defined by vicino ab limite, on your neighbour's border.' The Latin has 'from' where we say 'at,' as in the phrase a me 'at my house.' quae semper. saepes suadebit 'the old hedgerow with its gentle murmur of bees will induce sleep to steal on you.' florem depasta salicti 'whose willow flowers are fed on.' Accus. of respect, L. P. § 100. Bees are called Hyblaean because the neighbourhood of Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse was famous for its bees. Megara in Sicily was called Hyblaea to distinguish it from Megara in Greece, and because it was built on the site of an old town called Hybla. Though the bees are Italian bees he gives them a general and ornamental epithet derived from a place where they were numerous, just as elsewhere Vergil calls bees and thyme Cecropian,' i.e.Attic' (G. 4, 177, 270). So all pines are 'Idaean' (G. 3, 450), wool is 'Milesian' (G. 4, 334), dogs are 'Spartan' and quivers Cretan' (G. 3, 345). glaucae salices are mentioned as favourites with bees in G. 4, 182.
11. hinc] see verse 8, 6 on the other side,' or 'in another direction.' The frondator dressed the trees by stripping the leaves to be used as fodder for cattle.' Con.
12-13. tua cura] 'your pets.' Cp. juvenumque prodis publica cura (Hor. Od. 2, 8, 7). aeria towering.' turtur The turtle dove is said to 'moan' from its cooing note suggesting the human voice in pain. For the doves or pigeons resting in the elms we have Horace's authority (Od. 1, 2, 9) piscium summis genus haesit ulmis Nota quae sedes fuerat columbis.
14-18. The answer of Tityrus expressing his gratitude to Octavianus (Augustus). All the ordinary course of nature,' he says, 'will change before he forgets the favour.'
14. ante] answered by quam in verse 18 is repeated in 5, 16 for the sake of clearness. leves leves facti, rising in the air,' as in Aen. 6, 16, Daedalus when flying Chalcidicaque levis tandem super adstitit arce.
15. nudos] 'uncovered by water,' i.e. to live on dry land.
16-18. 'Sooner shall the Parthian drink of the Saône or 2 the German of the Tigris, coming in their wandering exile from the farthest limit of each other's native lands, than from my heart shall fade the image of his face.' pererratis amborum finibus is difficult. The poet wishes to express an extreme improbability by supposing the German and Parthian, from the remotest East and West, to interchange homes. pererratis conveys the idea of a long journey from one end to another, like Ovid's orbe pererrato. The word exul is introduced to indicate that a change of homes, not mere travel, is meant. Germania, the country used for the people, is here loosely employed to express the western European generally, for the Arar (Saône) is a Gallic stream. Parthus stands generally for the Fast, just as Vergil uses Scythia to express the North in verse 20. vultus is the expression of the face': ['the gracious look he gave me.' Con.]
19-21. But we unhappy ones,' answers Meliboeus'shall be scattered in every direction ;-south to Africa, north to Scythia, east to Crete, west to Britain, wherever we can get grants of land.'
21. Scythiam] The Roman poets use Scythia to indicate vaguely all the country north of the Don (cp. Ov. Ep. 12, 27), stretching to Serica in the east, and with no defined limits to
the north. Oaxen The Oaxes or Axus falls from Mt. Ida in Crete to the north coast, a town still called Axus stands on it. Whether it was rapidus Vergil probably did not know or care, just as he calls the Hebrus, which is a sluggish stream, volucer, Aen. 1, 317. [I have here adopted the common reading and explanation. But it ought to be noted that Dr. Kennedy would read rapidum cretæ chalk rolling,' and explain Oaxes to be the Oxus in Central Asia.]
21. 'And the Britons severed from it [the East] by the whole world.' The more usual explanation is this: The orbis terrarum is surrounded by the stream of the ocean, and Britain being in this ocean is regarded as outside the world. Tennyson alludes to this meaning of the line in his address to Vergil :— 'I, from out the northern islands sunder'd once from all the human race
I, salute thee, Mantovano.'
But Dr. Kennedy translates 'utterly separated by the whole world' from the Oaxes, and is strongly supported by the quotations he brings forward, to which we may add Ov. Pont. 2, 2, 23.
The accusatives Afros, Scythiam, Oaxen, Britannos, are of 'the place whither one goes.' L.P. § 101. In prose they would usually have a preposition as not being names of single towns. For the form Oaxen, see N.E. A. 4.
Ah! shall I ever long hence see with joyful surprise my ancestral lands again, and the straw thatch laid upon the turf roof of my poor cottage,-ever see hereafter the poor crops 1 once was lord of?'
longo post tempore] 'a long while hence.' In this construction post is an adverb: and longo tempore is the ablative answering the question, 'how long before or after'? L. P. § 120.
23. tuguri]'rustic house' [Tug-urium is from the root σTey seen in σréyw 'cover,' with the loss of initial s, as in teg-o, tec-tum, teg-imen, teg-ula]. congestum caespite culmen The roof is first covered with sods and then thatched with straw. Cp. Horace (Od. 2, 15, 17), Nec fortuitum spernere caespitem leges sinebant.
24. This line is very difficult. Some translate post aliquot aristas after some harvests,' i.e. years. Others, with whom I
agree, take post as an adverb repeating the idea of longo post tempore. For mea regna [in apposition to aliquot aristas, fines, culmen,] cp. 15, 10, of the defeated bull going into exile, et stabula adspectans regnis excessit avitis. As in the case of tuguri he means by aliquot to indicate the humble nature of the property left, 'some few ears of corn.'
25. impius] He calls the soldier impius as having been engaged in civil war, which was an unnatural combat (impia proelia, Hor., Od. 2, 1, 30). miles the veteran to whom the land will be or is assigned. novalia novale (sc. solum) is properly land left fallow or ploughed for the first time. It is here used for any cultivated ground.
26. barbarus] 'some foreign soldier,' for Gauls and men of other nations served in the Roman armies.
26. quo] to what a state civil war has brought our citizens.'
27. his] for such as these!' hic often expresses indignation or contempt. Cp. haec sunt officiis digna sepulchra meis? 'Such a burial as this.' Ov. Ep. 11, 124.
29. insere] 'graft.' ordine, i.e. in the quincunx or alternate rows, like this :
Ite go your ways.' felix quondam pecus, once a happy flock,' in apposition to capellae.
31. dumosa pendere procul de rupe] 'seeming in the distance, to hang suspended from the bosky rock.' The appearance of goats on a mountain ridge, seeming to be hanging from it, must be familiar to all who have seen mountain scenery. Thus Ovid describes the appearance of a person on a cliff to one at sea as haerentem scopulo, [Ep. 10, 186.]
me pascente] 'with me for shepherd.'
33. cytisum]. The cytisus is said to be the large sort of clover called snail-clover. ['lucerne' L. L.].