« PreviousContinue »
HENRY NETTLESHIP, M.A.
FELLOW OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD, AND ASSISTANT MASTER IN
WHITTAKER & CO., AVE MARIA LANE;
GEORGE BELL, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN
THE Sixth Book of the Aeneid of Virgil being appointed for the Oxford Local Examinations, the Publishers have, on request, issued this portion of the late Professor Conington's abridged edition for the convenience of the Candidates.
P. VERGILI MARONIS
As usual, the subject of this Book and much of the treatment in detail are from Homer. The heroic courtesy of Achilles is never more conspicuous than in the games which he gives in memory of his dead friend, as described in the Twenty-third Iliad: and by treading in the steps of Homer, Virgil has succeeded in investing his own hero with similar associations of chivalrous magnificence. For the scene in which the action is laid, he was indebted to that variety of the Trojan legend which made Anchises die in Sicily, and to the tradition which had fixed a Trojan colony there already. That Aeneas should revisit the island by choice or accidentally, and that being there he should honour his father by a splendid funeral celebration, was a sufficiently plausible development of the story. The earlier games, it is true, are little more than a rearrangement of the Homeric materials; but they are made interesting in themselves, and the few novelties introduced increase the reader's pleasure-such as the affection between Nisus and Euryalus, the defeat of the braggart by the veteran in the boxing match, and the portent of Acestes' arrow. The tilt, which was Aeneas' surprise for his spectators, is Virgil's surprise for his readers: it is described with an ingenious felicity of language which exercises commentators and translators alike; and it must have been peculiarly flattering to Augustus to find an exhibition in which he took pleasure referred to his great progenitor.
The burning of the ships by the Trojan women was a part of the Trojan legend, though the story was very variously told, as will be seen by any one who will consult Heyne's Excursus on the subject, some placing the scene in Greece, some in Italy, while one account connected it with the foundation of Rome. In the account of the fate of Palinurus, with which the book closes, the poet, as usual, has combined an Italian tradition with an imitation of Homer. The promontory of Palinurus was supposed to have derived its name from the pilot of Aeneas, who was buried there: in the Odyssey, Menelaus' pilot dies at his post in the middle of his voyage: Ulysses loses one of his comrades just as he is about to visit the shades. Virgil has B