Page images

treatise on farming, or, as it has been happily put, "the glorification of labour." He died B.C. 21. The following epitaph is said to have been composed by him

Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc
Parthenope: Cecini pascua, rura, duces.

The Aeneid was meant to be, and it was, a national epic; it was to reveal, concentrated in one focus, the glorious past, on which Augustus wished the Romans, "the servile offspring of the free," to dwell. Vergil was a patriot to the core, and the loving enthusiasm with which he writes goes far to compensate that want of freshness, which has often been brought up against him, but which was really unavoidable in his generation. The chief characteristics of the Aeneid are grace, subtlety, and elaborate quaintness, which are combined with a command of language truly masterful, and kept from awkwardness and affectation only by the poet's exquisite taste, judgment, and skill. He borrowed freely (what Latin poet did not ?), but the manner in which he borrowed made the theft his own; and every translation contains some touches which Vergil and Vergil alone could put in. It has of late been usual to depre

ciate him by the side of Lucretius and Catullus, the poets of the generation before. But little is to be gained from such comparisons, for while Vergil und Horace excel in polish and refinement, their elder contemporaries possessed a power and fire altogether their own.

Story of the Aeneid (Book II.)-Aeneas, son of Anchises and Venus, scarcely by the aid of the gods rescues his father and son from the flaming ruins of Troy. (III.) Landing first in Thrace he touches at Delos, Crete, Leucadia, Chaonia, and Sicily, where Anchises dies. (I.) Setting sail from Sicily they are wrecked, at Juno's instigation, and come to Carthage, where queen Dido (whom Venus has inflamed with love for Aeneas) kindly receives them. (III.) But the fates do not suffer Aeneas to give up Italy, the object of his whole voyage, and (IV.) he sets sail from Carthage, Dido slaying herself in despair. (V.) The Trojans in Sicily celebrate the anniversary of Anchises' death, and during these the Trojan women burn their ships, which are saved, but by Jupiter's aid. (VI.) Aeneas at Cumae (near Naples) visits the infernal regions, and sees his father and the future heroes of Rome. The last six books (based on the

Iliad) tell of Aeneas' wars in Italy, and his final triumph over Turnus the Rutulian chief, whom he slays with his own hand.

The text of Vergil is on the whole in a satisfactory state, although this applies less to the Aeneid (which was left unfinished) than to the other poems. We have no fewer than seven uncials (i.e. MSS. written in capitals, and therefore early), the two best, the Roman and Medicean, dating from the fourth century.



I sing of the wanderings and wars of Aeneas..

ARMA virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab .oris Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinaque venit

litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram, multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem 5 inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum Albanique patres atque altae moenia Romae.

Why, muse, did Juno persecute him?

Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso, quidve dolens regina deum tot volvere casus insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores inpulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae ?

Juno loved Carthage as much as she hated the Trojans. Urbs antiqua fuit,-Tyrii tenuere coloni,Karthago, Italiam contra Tiberinaque longe



ostia, dives opum studiisque asperrima belli; quam Iuno fertur terris magis omnibus unam 15 posthabita coluisse Samo: hic illius arma,


hic currus fuit; hoc regnum dea gentibus esse siqua fata sinant, iam tum tenditque fovetque. Progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine duci audierat, Tyrias olim quae verteret arces; hinc populum late regem belloque superbum venturum excidio Libyae: sic volvere Parcas. Id metuens veterisque memor Saturnia belli, prima quod ad Troiam pro caris gesserat Argis: -necdum etiam causae irarum saevique dolores 25 exciderant animo; manet alta mente repostum iudicium Paridis spretaeque iniuria formae, et genus invisum et rapti Ganymedis honores :— his accensa super iactatos aequore toto

Troas, reliquias Danaum atque immitis Achilli, 30 arcebat longe Latio, multosque per annos

errabant acti fatis maria omnia circum: tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem.

She chafes to think that whereas Pallas had destroyed the Greek fleet, she, the queen of the gods, could not keep Aeneas from Italy.

Vix e conspectu Siculae telluris in altum

vela dabant laeti et spumas salis aere ruebant, 35 cum Iuno aeternum servans sub pectore volnus haec secum: 'Mene incepto desistere victam, nec posse Italia Teucrorum avertere regem?

« PreviousContinue »