« PreviousContinue »
“Quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,
Una salus ambobus erit" is his exclamation as he rescues his father; for his selfcontrol, as, for instance, when he represses his love for Dido by his higher love for his future country, of which he says to her,
“ Hic amor, hic patria est;" and again for his obedience to the divine will
“ Italiam non sponte sequor;" for his sense of duty coloured with sadness, as when he says to Iulus before his last battle
“ Disce puer virtutem ex me verumque laborem,
Fortunam ex aliis ;” and again in his farewell to Andromache
“ Vivite felices quibus est fortuna peracta
Jam sua, nos alia ex aliis in fata vocamur." (c) The wanderings of Æneas have been employed by Vergil as a means for connecting Rome first with Troy, secondly with Sicily, and thirdly with Carthage.
The connection with Troy was a favourite boast of the Romans, and it received public recognition on more than one occasion.
Thus the senate, in their terms of peace with Seleucus, exempted the Trojans from tribute az being of their own race. Titus Flamininus also, after the second Macedonian war, proclaimed himself as one of the Æneada—"Aiveadav Tayos péyas.” Many of the noble families at Rome, such as the Sergii and Memmii, traced their descent from Trojans. Trojan blood inspired the same feelings as Norman blood does with us. But above all, Julius Cæsar claimed connection with Iulus, the son of Æneas, and his watchword at Pharsalia was Venus Victrix, in reference to his supposed lineage. According to one legend, the very name Rome was derived from Póun, a Trojan woman who burned the ships of some Trojan colonists in Latium to prevent their return. To assist the tradition there was an old Roman word troia, meaning "a sow with young ;" and another, trosulus, “a Roman knight.” The Di magni, moreover, or Penates, were easily identified with the Deoi jeyadoof the Troad. Again, the connection between Cumæ in Campania, and Cyme in Æolis, acted in the same manner, especially as the Sibylline books which contained references to Æneas were brought from Cumæ to Rome.
The connection with Sicily has less foundation. No doubt, after the first Punic War, the Romans and Sicilians perceived a close affinity between themselves; and this feeling found sanction in the poems of Stesichorus, particularly in the 'Illov répous, in which Æneas and his crew are mentioned as leaving Sicily for Italy. Thucydides vi. 2 also, we are told that the people of Egesta claimed Trojan origin.
The connection with Carthage has more of a poetic than historic basis. Vergil wished, as Nævius before him, in his poem on the Punic War, to find a reason for the mutual animosity existing between the two empires, and accordingly he gave a significance to the parting of Æneas from Dido, prophetic of the struggle between the two countries in later days.
THE CRITICISM OF NAPOLEON I. ON THE
SECOND BOOK OF THE ÆNEID.
In a volume entitled Précis des guerres de César, by the first Napoleon and published by M. Marchand, the great Emperor has made some criticisms on the Trojan legends which merit some notice.
Commenting on the admiration universally evoked by the second book of the Æneid, he remarks that this admiration is due more to the style than the matter; and he proceeds to pour ridicule upon the story of the Trojan horse and the episodes of Sinon and Laocoon.
The first he condemns for its unique absurdity, which has no parallel in the Iliad. He asks how it was that the Trojans never sent a fishing-smack to Tenedos, to watch the retreat of the Greek fleet,-how a hundred warriors could possibly be secreted in the wooden horse, and brought into Troy, especially as it had to cross two rivers on its way thither. And he pursues the same practical vein in dealing with the other two.
Heyne, on the other hand, with more literary feeling, commends the dexterity with which Vergil has treated an improbable story,—dexterity so great that, though the legend is almost puerile, we are rather captivated than offended by it. He points out that Vergil makes use of religious motives for the introduction of the horse into the city; and we must remember that the folly of the
Trojans is the pivot of the story: they were infatuated by divine intervention.
Napoleon further criticises the rapidity with which one event follows another in the capture. The entire destruction of Troy is described as being accomplished between one o'clock at night and four in the morning. Sinon lets the soldiery out of the horse, and the Greeks in at the gates, and Æneas has time to go several times to his father's house in spite of the fighting going on, all in this meagre space of time. “In fact,” he says, “ the account is the work of a college tutor who never had experience of active life.” He insists that the siege would have taken a fortnight. Scipio, he urges,
took seventeen days to burn Carthage ; eleven days were required to burn Moscow. If this matter-of-fact style of criticism were applied to all ancient myths, the same reductio ad absurdum would follow. It is only interesting, as coming from the pen of a great strategist, whose military habit of mind was too practical for literary appreciation.
THE TEXT OF VERGIL.
TRADITION tells us that the Æneid being left imperfect, was committed by Vergil to the care of Varius and Tucca, whom he desired to edit and correct it. Whether they discharged this request we do not know, but we may be certain that the text was the subject of constant lectures and criticism, and perhaps alteration at the hands of grammarians. Besides these there are several cursive MSS. which belong probably to the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries. A short account is here given of the seven MSS. in capitals, i.e. in the style characteristic of the best period of MS. writing.
I. The Vatican Text.—This is in the Vatican Library at Rome. It is not in first-rate preservation, and only contains scattered portions of the Georgics and Æneid. It contains some valuable miniatures. It passed through the hands of three owners, Pontanus, Cardinal Bembo, and Fulvio Orsini, the last of whom presented it to the Vatican Library. It belongs to the time of Septimius Severus, i.e. about 200 A.D.
II. The Sangallensis, so called from the fact that it belongs to the library of St. Gall.—This also contains only fragments of the Georgics and Eneid. It is written in very fine characters.
III. The Mediceus.—This belongs to the Laurentian Library at Florence. Formerly it was in the Vatican collection, but it was sold to Cosmo I., the Duke of Tuscany, one of the Medici family, hence its name. A facsimile was made of it by Foggini in 1741. It begins at line 48 of Ecl. vi. and continues straight on to the end of the Æneid. Its date may be put rather earlier than Theodosius, i.e. a short time before 370 A.D.