Page images
PDF
EPUB

NOTES

ON THE

SELECTIONS FROM VIRGIL.

THE BUCOLICS.

THE ten short poems called Bucolica were the earliest works of Virgil, and probably all written between B. C. 41, and B. C. 37. They are not Bucolica in the same sense as the poems of Theocritus, which have the same title. They have all a Bucolic form and coloring, but some of them have nothing more. Their chief merit consists in their versification, which was smoother and more polished than the hexameters which the Romans had yet seen, and in many natural and simple touches. But as an attempt to transfer the Syracusan muse into Italy, they are certainly a failure; and we read the pastorals of Theocritus and of Virgil with a very different degree of pleasure. The former are distinguished by a simplicity equally remote from epic majesty and sordid rusticity. Every charm of the country has been rifled to adorn them, and almost every deformity carefully concealed. Then, too, the Doric dialect, in which they were written, was peculiarly adapted to pastoral poetry. It at once removed the reader from the town, while it afforded the Muse every facility of utterance. The lordly language of Imperial Rome was ill suited to convey the unpremeditated effusions of unlettered herdsmen. If Virgil, therefore, has fallen very far short of his great prototype, the difficulty of his attempt must not be forgotten. Indeed, he appears not insensible of it himself; and by the nature of the language in which he wrote he has been compelled to abandon his original intention, and to attempt loftier flights than the nature of pastoral poetry strictly justifies.

The publication of the Bucolica created a great sensation in literary Rome. Honors were publicly lavished on the author. They were recited on the stage; and it is said that, on one occasion, when the poet happened to be present, all the spectators rose and paid him the same marks of respect which they would have shown to Au

gustus. Propertius (II. 34) has celebrated the conclusion and publication of the Bucolics, and Ovid (Amor. I. 12) has foretold their immortality.

The title Bucolica was probably that given to these poems by Virgil himself. It is from a Greek word which signifies pertaining to the shepherd life, pastoral. The title Ecloga is generally supposed to have been added by the critics. It also is from the Greek, and signifies, a selected piece; so that Bucolicon Eclogae means, selections from pastoral poems, Bucolicon being the genitive plural in the Greek form.

[blocks in formation]

THE subject of this Eclogue is Virgil's gratitude to Octavianus for the favor shown him in the restoration of his lands. See Life.

The speakers are two shepherds, one of whom is enjoying rustic life, singing of his love, and seeing his cattle feed undisturbed, when he is encountered by the other, who has been expelled from his homestead, and is driving his goats before him, with no prospect but a cheerless exile. This is simple enough, but it is complicated by an unhappy artifice. The fortunate shepherd is represented as a farm slave who has just worked out his freedom; and this emancipation is used to symbolize the confirmation of the poet in his property. The two events, with their concomitants, are treated as convertible with each other, the story being told partly in the one form, partly in the other.

1 Tityre; a name borrowed from Theocritus. Tu...nos. Gr. 446. A. & S. 209, R. 1 (6). So nos... tu, v. 4.-2. Silvestrem Musama pastoral tune. The Muse is here put, by metonymy, for that over which she presided. Gr. 705. II. A. & S. 324. 2. Tenui... avena = on a slender reed-pipe. Tenui suggests the notion of simplicity and humility, at the same time that it is a natural epithet of the reed, like fragili cicuta, v. 85. Avena by metonymy for fistula, Meditaris art practising. The word implies care, repetition, and by some critics is translated "art composing." -3. Nos. Gr. 446. 2. A. & S. 209, R. 7 (6). Patriae = of my paternal estate, farm. Cf. patrios fines, v. 68. — 4. Fugimus: =we are banished from. Lentus at ease. - 5. Formosam silvas = thou teachest the woods to re-echo (the name of) the beautiful Amaryllis. Amaryllis is a shepherdess, beloved by Tityrus. Gr. 93. I; 374 4. A. & S. 80. I.; 231, R. 3 (b). - 6. Deus; Octavianus. This may be mere hyperbole, though this same emperor was actually

=

deified, before his death, by the Roman people. Otia=peace, secu rity. A. & S. 98. —7. Mihi. Gr. 390. 2. A. & S. 222, R. 8, N.; 227, R. 4. Illius. Gr. 612. 3. A. & S. 283. I. Ex. 4-8. Im. buet; sc. sanguine suo. 9. Errare: to roam at will, to graze at large. It implies security. Ipsum; sc. me, implied in meas. -10. Quae vellem. Gr. 445. 6; 501. I. A. & S. 206 (4); 264 I. Permisit. Gr. 551. II. I. A. & S. 273. 4 (a). Calamo; the same as avena, v. 2. — 11. Invideo; sc. tibi. Magis: = rather.12. Usque turbatur to such a degree does confusion prevail; i. e. caused by the veteran soldiers, who are everywhere dispossess ing the people of their lands. This sentence is explanatory of the preceding, and the connection of thought may be thus expressed: I wonder rather that you enjoy such peace, since there is everywhere so much confusion. Ipse is contrasted with undique totis agris.— 13. Protinus = forward, before me. Aeger=sad, sick at heart. It may refer also to the state of the body, as consequent upon that of the mind. Duco. The rest he drove before him; this one he leads by a cord. —14. Namque. A. & S. 279. 3 (a) and (e). — 15. Silice in nuda; i. e. with no herbage spread beneath. Connixa is put for enixa for the sake of the measure, though it has a rhetorical force of its own, expressing the difficulty of the labor.16. Laeva stupidly perverse. It is better to consider the non as qualifying laeva. Cf. A. II. 54. Before si mens some such clause is implied as quod nos monuisset. - 17. De coelo tactas = struck by lightning. The striking of a person or thing by lightning was an omen of evil. Pomponius says, on the authority of the lost works of ancient Grammarians, that the blasting of fruit-trees was ominous : that of the olive being supposed to forebode barrenness; that of the oak, banishment. This would make the malum hoc to be Meliboeus's exile, not the loss of the goat's twins. Memini. A. & S. 268, R. I (a). Z. 589. Praedicere portended, foreboded. · -18. Praedixit; sc. malum hoc. This line is generally regarded as spurious. It is made up from IX. 15.-19. Sed tamen. These particles indicate a stronger opposition than the simple sed or tamen, and mark a return to a previous thought from which the speaker has digressed. Here they recall the mind to the words of Tityrus, vv. 6-10, from which Meliboeus had turned aside to speak of himself. Cf. G. I. 79. Iste that of yours. Gr. 450. A. & S. 207, R. 25. Sit. Gr. 525. A. & S. 265. Da... nobis tell me. - 20. Urbem. Instead of answering directly, Tityrus begins ab ovo, in rustic fashion, and dilates upon the description of Rome itself. - 21. Huic nostrae; i. e. Mantua, which was about three miles from Andes, Virgil's native village. Quo whither. - 22. Pastores. Gr. 363. 2. A. & S. 204, R. 4. Depellere: to drive away. The de denotes destina

[ocr errors]

=

tion, not descent, as Andes was not on a hill. Cf. deducere, demittere naves (in portum), etc. Fetus. A. & S. 323. 2 (4).-24. Componere to compare. - 26. Lenta viburna = pliant shrubs. The viburnum is a low, flexible shrub. It was used for binding fagots. Tityrus means to say, in effect, that he found the difference between Rome and Mantua to be one, not of degree merely, but of kind.

27. Et sometimes introduces a question with emphasis, marking the curiosity and wonder of the speaker. Romam. Gr. 559. A. & S. 275. I. Tibi. Gr. 387. A. & S. 226.-28. Libertas. A. & S. 204, R. 11. Sera; sc. quidem. The omission of quamquam or quidem before tamen is not uncommon. Respexit. Libertas is here personified; hence the appropriateness of the word respexit. Inertem (sc. me) = indolent, neglectful; i. e. to save his little gains with which to purchase his freedom. It was for this that slaves saved their peculium (see on v. 33); and of course the less inertes they were, the sooner they got the necessary sum. Tityrus, a farm-slave, having saved enough, goes up to buy his freedom from his owner, and the owner of the estate, who is living at Rome. Nothing can be less happy than this allegory in itself except the way in which it is introduced in the midst of the reality — the general expulsion of the shep. herds, and the exemption of Tityrus through the divine interposition of Octavianus — which ought to appear through the allegory and not by the side of it.-29. Candidior growing gray. In v. 47 Tityrus is called senex. Tondenti; sc. mihi. Gr. 571; 578. A. & S. 274. 2 and 3 (a). Manumitted persons were accustomed to shave their beards, which, while slaves, they had permitted to grow. -30. Longo tempore; i. e. a long time compared with the much shorter time in which slaves were accustomed to obtain their freedom. - 31. Postquam reliquit = since Amaryllis is holding possession of me (i. e. of my affections), (and) Galatea left me; i. e. since I got rid of the extravagant Galatea and took to the thrifty Amaryllis. These were doubtless successive partners (contubernales) of the slave Tityrus. Note the difference of the tenses joined with postquam in vv. 29, 31: cadebat, a continuing act now completed; habet, an act still continuing; reliquit, an act completed at once. - 33. Peculi. Gr. 45. 5. 1). A. & S. 52; 322. 5. The peculium was the property acquired by a slave, which his master permitted him to consider as his own. — 34. Multa... victima many a victim; used poetically for multae victimae. Z. 109, N. Saeptis: = enclosures, folds. 35. The position of pinguis before et indicates that it is specially emphatic. Ingratae; because it did not pay him for his trouble so much as he thought it ought. -36. Tityrus blames the unthrift of Galatea and his own recklessness, which made him too careless about making

=

=

money by his produce, though he took it from time to time to Mantua. To suppose that he squandered his earnings directly on Galatea would not be quite consistent with the blame thrown on the town, v. 35. 37. Quid. Gr. 380, 2. A. & S. 235, R. 11. Amarylli. Gr. 94. A. & S. 81, R. -38. Sua—in arbore (each) on its own tree. Cf. VII. 54. G. II. 82 and A. VI. 206. Amaryllis in her sorrow had forgotten her careful habits. She left the fruit hanging for Tityrus as if no hand but his ought to gather it. — 39, 40. Aberat. The final syllable is made long by caesura. Gr. 669. V. A. & S. 309. 2 (1). Ipsaethe very, Pinus... fontes... arbusta. These called him back, because, depending on his care, they suffered from his absence. Virgil doubtless meant the passage as a piece of rustic banter. -41. Facerem. Gr. 486. II. A. & S. 260, R. 5. — 41. Praesentes powerful to aid. See on Ov. M. III. 658, and cf. M. IV. 612. Alibi belongs also to v. 41. Cognoscere to find: lit. to become acquainted with, — 43. Juvenem; Octavianus. He was now in his twenty-third year. See on Hor. C. I. 2. 41. Cf. G. I. 500. 44. Bis senos ... dies; i. e. twelve days in the year, probably once a month.-Nostra. Gr, 446. 2. A. & S. 209, R. 7 (6). —45. Responsum... dedit; i, e. as a god to those who consult his oracle. Primus denotes the anxiety with which the response was sought; it does not imply that any one else could have given it. The sense may be expressed thus: it was here that he gave me my first assurance.→ 46. Pueriservi, Submittite: produce, rear. —47. Tua is a predicate, like magna, and emphatic, suggesting a contrast between his lot and that of his neighbors. Quamvis - junco = although naked stones (lit. stone) cover it all, and pools overspread with slimy rushes the pasture grounds. Palus is probably the overflowing of the Mincius. Cf. VII. 13. Omnia must mean the whole farm, while the latter part of the description applies only to the pascua. -50. Non-fetas (sc. pecudes): =no unusual food shall injure (lit. attack, i. e. with disease) thy pregnant ewes. Graves = gravidas, in A. I. 274.51. Mala = malignant. - 52. Flumina may be the Mincio and the Po, or the smaller streams in the neighborhood. — 53. Fontes are called sacros, because each had its divinity. Cf. Hor. C. I. 1. 22 and note. -54. Hinc susurro. Construe thus: Hinc, ab vicino limite, saepes Hyblaeis apibus florem salicti depasta, saepe tibi levi susurro suadebit, quae semper, somnum inire. Vicino ab limite is explanatory of hinc, and with hinc on this side, namely, on the side of the neighboring boundary. Cf. III. 12, hic — fagos; A. II. 18, huc... caeco lateri. Quae semper is an elliptical relative clause in the sense of ut semper, like quae proxima, litora, A. I. 157, and = as it has ever done. Quae then will be used here for the corresponding adverb quemadmodum, like quo, A. I. 8, for quemode,

=

« PreviousContinue »