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I. TITLE OF THE POEM.-The title of this poem, as warranted by the best MSS., is as follows:-Publi Vergili Maronis Georgica, "The Georgics of Publius Vergilius Maro." The student will observe two things:1st, that the correct orthography of the poet's name is Vergilius, not, as it is commonly spelled, Virgilius. By the Greeks he was variously styled Βιργίλιος, Οὐιργίλιος, and Ovepylos;-2nd, that Georgica is the nom. neut. plur., yewpycká, of the Greek adjective yewpyxòs, "agricultural," the genitive being Georgicon (yewpуiкŵv). The term Georgica was probably borrowed from Democritus, who wrote a treatise with that title.
II. DATE OF COMPOSITION.-It is the common opinion of the ancient grammarians, and of most modern critics, that the poet devoted seven years to the composition of the Georgics, having begun in A.U.c. 717, and finished in A.U.C 724. Wagner's opinion is very different. He maintains that the work was commenced in A.U.C. 723, and concluded in A.U.c. 725; but that several passages (pointed out in the notes) were subsequently added by the poet.
III. CAUSE OF COMPOSITION.-The poet himself tells us (Geo. iii. 41) that this work was undertaken by order of Mæcenas. "The long continuance and cruel ravages of the civil wars had occasioned an almost general desolation. Italy was, in a great measure, depopulated of its husbandmen. The soldiers, by whom
the lands were recently acquired (Geo. ii. 198, note), had too long ravaged the fields to think of cultivating them, and, in consequence of the farms lying waste, a famine and insurrection had nearly ensued. In these circumstances Mæcenas resolved, if possible, to revive the decayed spirit of agriculture, to recall the lost habits of peaceful industry, and to make rural improvement, as it had been in former times, the prevailing amusement among the great; and he wisely judged that no method was so likely to contribute to these important objects as a recommendation of agriculture by all the insinuating charms of poetry." (DUNLOP, Rom. Lit.)
IV. SOURCES OF INFORMATION.-Virgil was the first Italian poet that selected husbandry as his theme. In Geo. ii. 176, he applies to his own composition the epithet Ascræum; i. e. Hesiodic," Ascra, a town in Boeotia, having been the birthplace of Hesiod. has led many to suppose that the "Epya kaì 'Huépaι of Hesiod was the model which he kept in view. But the two poems are of an entirely different character; and in only a few passages, and those in the first Georgic, can any imitation of the Ἔργα και Ημέραι be detected. From the works of other authors, however, Virgil has borrowed largely. In fact, the entire matter of the poem is second-hand. Lucretius, Mago Afer, Cato, and Varro, amongst the Latins, and Aristotle, Theophrastus, Democritus, Xenophon, Thucydides, Aratus, and Nicander, amongst the Greeks, were the principal sources from which he drew his information.
P. VIRGILII MARONIS
E. ix. 48.
G. ii. 178.
Æ. iii. 515.
G. ii. 67.
E. i. 42.
QUID faciat lætas segetes, quo sidere terram Vertere, Mæcenas, ulmisque adjungere vites Conveniat, quæ cura boum, qui cultus habendo Sit pecori, apibus quanta experientia parcis, Hinc canere incipiam. Vos, o clarissima mundi Lumina, labentem cœlo ducitis annum; Liber et alma Ceres, vestro si munere tellus Chaoniam pingui glandem mutavit aristâ, Poculaque inventis Acheloia miscuit uvis; Et vos, agrestum præsentia numina, Fauni, Ferte simul Faunique pedem Dryadesque puellæ : Munera vestra cano. Tuque o, cui prima frementem Fudit equum magno tellus percussa tridenti, Neptune; et cultor nemorum, cui pinguia Ceæ Ter centum nivei tondent dumeta juvenci ; Ipse, nemus linquens patrium saltusque Lycæi, Pan, ovium custos, tua si tibi Mænala curæ, Adsis, o Tegeæe, favens, oleæque Minerva Inventrix, uncique puer monstrator aratri, Et teneram ab radice ferens, Silvane, cupressum, Dique deæque omnes, studium quibus arva tueri, G. ii. 10-13. Quique novas alitis non ullo semine fruges, Quique satis largum cœlo demittitis imbrem ; Tuque adeo, quem mox quæ sint habitura deorum Concilia, incertum est, urbesne invisere, Cæsar,
Æ. viii. 139.
G. ii. 181.
E. x. 24.
G. iv. 197.
Æ. i. 80.
E. vii. 62.
E. i. 48.
E. i. 746.
Æ. vi. 373.
Æ. iii. 202.
E. v. 234.
G. ii. 204.
E. ix. 48.
Terrarumque velis curam, et te maximus orbis
Nec repetita sequi curet Proserpina matrem
Da facilem cursum, atque audacibus adnue cœptis, 40
Vere novo, gelidus canis quum montibus humor
Ac prius ignotum ferro quam scindimus æquor,
Ventos et varium cœli prædiscere morem
Cura sit ac patrios cultusque habitusque locorum,
G. ii. 11.
Et quid quæque ferat regio, et quid quæque recuset.
Arborei fetus alibi; atque injussa virescunt
G. ii. 117.
Æ. v. 339.
E. vi. 41.
Æ. viii. 315.
G. i. 94.
Gramina. Nonne vides, croceos ut Tmolus odores,