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uf Virgil. Pietro Stefano, who lived in the thirteenth century, men Lions that he had seen the urn, with the epitaphı muscribed on it which is said to have been written by the poet binseif a few mo ments before his death :
" Mantua me geruil; Calabri rapucre ; lenel nunc
Parthenope. Cecini pascua, rura, duces.” Passing by the Eclogues and Georgics, our remarks on which will be reserved for a future occasion, we wiil conclude the present biographical sketch with a few observations on the Æneid. This production has for its subject the settlement of the Trojans in Italy, and, belonging to a nobler class of poetry than the Georgics, is al. mnost equally perfect in its kind It ranks, indeed, in the very highest order, and it was in this exalted species that Virgil was most fitted to excel. Undisturbed by excess of passion, and never hurriel away by the current of ideas, he calmly consigned to immortal verse i'e scenes which his fancy had first painted as lovely, and which his understanding had afterward approved. The extent, too, and depth of the design proposed in the Æneid rendered this sub. jection to the judgment indispensable.
The chief objection which critics in all ages have urged against the Eneid, or, at least, against the poetical character of its author, is the defect in what forms the most essential quality of a poet, origin. ality and the power of invention. It has never, indeed, been denied that he possessed a species of invention, if it may be so called which consists in placing ideas that have been preoccupied in a new light, or presenting assemblages, which have been already exhibited, in a new point of view. Nor has it been disputed that he often succeeds in bestowing on thein the charm of novelty, by the power of more perfect diction, and by that poetic louch which transmutes whatever it lights on into gold. But it is alleged that he has contrived few incidents, and opened up no new veins of thoughi It is well known that the Roman dramatic writers, instead of con. triving plots of their own, translated the master-pieces of Sopho. cles, Euripides, and Menander. The same imitative spirit naturally enough prevailed in the tirst attempts at epic poetry. When any beautiful model exists in an art, it so engrosses and intimidates the mind, that we are apt to think that, in order to execute success.. fully any work of similar descripiion, the approved prototype m'ist be imitated. It is supposed that what had pleased once musi .please always; and circumstances, in themselves unimportant, or parhaps accidental, are converted into general and immutable rules It was natural, then, scr the Romans, struck with admiration at the sublime and beautiful productions of the epic muse of Greece, to follow her lessons with servility. The mind of Virgil also led him to imitation. His excellence lay in the propriety, beauty, and majesty or his poetical character, in his judicious contrivance of composition, his correctness of drawing, his purity of taste, his arı ful adaptation of the concaptions of others to his own purposes, and his skill in the combination of materials. Accordingly, when Virgil first applied himself to frame a poem, which might celebraie his imperial master, and emulate the productions of Greece, in a department of poetry wherein she was as yet unrivalled, he first naturally bent a reverent eye on Homer ; and, though he differed
videly hom nis Grecian master in the qualities of bis mind and ge. mus, he became his most strict and devoted disciple. The Latin dramatists, in preparing their pieces for the stage, had frequently compounded them of the plots of two Greek plays, melted, as it were, into one, and thus compensated for the want of invention and severe simplicity of composition by greater richness and variety of incident. From their example, Virgil comprehended in his plan the arguments of both the Iliad and Odyssey; the one serving him as a guide for the wanderings and adventures of his hero pre vious to the landing in Latium, and the other as a model for the wars which he sustained in Italy, to gain his destined bride Lavinia. He had thus before him all the beauties and defects of Homer, as lights to gaze at and as rocks to be shunned, with the judgment of ages on both, as a chart which might conduct him to yet greater perfection. In the Iliad, howeter, there was this superiority, that a sense of injury (easily communicated to the reader) existed among the Greeks; and in the Odyssey, we feel, as it were, the hero's desire of returning to his native country. But both these ruling prin. ciples of action are wanting in the Æneid, where the Trojans rather infict than sustain injury, and reluctantly seek a settlement in new and unknown lands.
Another objection made to the Æneid is its occasional violation of the order of time, and among the instances of anachronism that have been cited by industrious critics, the one which occurs in the case of Dido occupies a prominent place. The whole question relative to Dido is discussed by Heyne in the first Excursus to the fourth Æneid. He divides the earlier history of Carthage into three epochs : the first commences fifty years before the taking of Troy : the second, 173 years after the former; and the third, 190 years still later. At the commencement of this third epoch he makes Dido to have flourished, and to have improved, not, however, is have founded, the city, which, in fact, existed long before. Now Virgil has just so far availed himself of ancient traditions as to give probability to his narration, and to support it by the prisca fides facto. He wrote, however, at such a distance of time from the events which formed the groundwork of his poem, and the events themselves were so obscure, that he could depart from history without violating probability. Thus, it appears from chronology, that Dido lived many hundred years after the Trojan war; but the point was one of obscure antiquity, known perhaps to few readers, and not very precisely ascertained. Hence, so far was the violence offered io chronology from revolting his countryinen, that Ovid, who was 30 knowing in ancient histories and fables, wrote an heroic cpisila u addressed by Dido to Æneas.
Besides the well-known and authentic works of Virgil that have now been enumerated, several poems still exist, which are very generally ascribed to him, but which, from their interiority, are supposed to be the productions of his early youth. Of these the longest is the Culet, which has been translated by Spenser under the title of Virgil's Gnat. Its authenticity, however, has been doubted The Ciris, the Moretum, and the Copa complete the list - Dunlon History of Roman Literature, vol. iii., p. 68, sige:
P. VIRGIIII MARONIS
ARMA viruinque cano, Trojæ qui primus ab oris
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine læso
Urbs antiqua fuit ; Tyrii tenuere coloni :
Judicium Paridis, spretæque injuria formæ,
Vix, e conspectu Siculæ telluris, in altum
Italià Teucrorum avertere regem ?
gero. Et quisquam numen Junonis adora! Præterea, aut supplex aris imponet honorem?
Talia flammato secum dea corde volutans,