« PreviousContinue »
1-48 I will sing also of the herds and flo ks over which Pales and the Nomlan Apollo preside ; for this theme promises more of interest and of fame than the thricotold myths of heroes sung by Greek and Roman poets before me (1-9); and I, first of Roman poets to tread this pathway, returning from Helicon (Aonio vertice), with the Muses in my train, shall bo the first also to bring back the victorious palm of song to my native Mantua (9-12); and there, by the slowly-winding Mincius, I will rear in honor of Caesar, the deity to whom my successes are due, a votive temple; but my temple shall be no material structure made with bands: it shall be a monunent of epic verse; not less glorious than the shrine raised by Augustus himself to Apollo; and it shall be adorned with the images of Apollo and the great ancestors of the Julian house, and with monuments of the achievements of Augustus (13–89); but first (in. terea), before I touch this higher theme, in obedience to your request, Mæcenas. I will complete my present task; reserving for a time the story of Caesar and his Trojan ancestry (40-48).
1, 2. Pales, Pastor ab Amphryso. See on E. V, 35. Apollo tended the flocks of Admetus near the banks of the Amphrysus.-2. Lycaei į a favorite haunt of the god Pan. Comp. E. X, 15. -3. Tennissent; either potential, might have held (comp. Ac. IV, 604, $99.), os conditional with oinission of the protasis si canerem. -4. Durum, hard, relentless, persistent in imposing labors upon Hercules, in the hope of destroying him.-6. Hylas. See on E. VI, 43, sq. Latonia Delos ; an allusion to the love of Jupiter for Latona, and her concealment in Delos, where she gave birth to Apollo and Diana. -7. Umero insignis eburno. When Tantalus, in order to prove that gods had no more insight than men, had served up at a banquet his Bon Pelops, Jupiter detected the imposition, but not until Ceres had eaten part of one of the shoulders of the child. On restoring him to life, Jupiter replaced this with one of ivory. —8. Acer equis. Neptune presented Pelops with winged (or swift) horses, so that he might easily outstrip Aenomaus, king of Pisa, in the race which be compelled all suitors to run with him, if they would win the hand of his daughter. Hippodamia. This and the foregoing allusions to heroic personages are instances of the subjects that had become trite in the hands of preceding poets. Comp. Hor. O. 1, 6, 5, 899. ; where, however, the motive for declining such themes is different from that of Vergil here.-9. Humo; from the ground; from the humble level of common men. Virum volitare per ora, to fly continually through the lips of men ; to enjoy a world-wide fame; suggested by the last words of the epitaph of Ennius written for his own tomb: Võlito vivu' per ora virum. 10–12. He who is first among his townsmen to become distinguished in poetry, may be said, in a figure, to have brought the Muses from Helicon to his native city (in patriam); and also " bringing back the palms" may be said figuratively of the approbation and fame won by the successful poet. -11. Aonio vertica. See on E. VI, 64, sq.-12. Idumaeas ;
Coin of Augustus, struck in memory of the victory of
Actium; representing the votive temple of Apollo. used as a general appellative. See on Ge. I, 8.-13. Templom. Votive monuments, such as temples and statues, were erected both by victors in the Grecian games and by Roman generals successful in war. Here the poet fancies himself returning victorious from a poetic contest in the Pythian games, his forthcoming Georgics having won the prize, and then, under the allegory of erecting a votive temple to Augustus, his patron deity, composing an heroic poem that shall embody his praises. This, however, he proposes to himself to achieve at some future day. See 46.16. In medio, The statue of Augustus, as the tutelary god, is to be placed on a pedestal against the back wall of the interior, behind the altar, in the usual position facing the entrance;
so that the statue is conspicuous to worshipers standing in front of the temple, when the portal is thrown open. The illustration is from a coin of Augustus, representing, of course imperfectly, the statue of Apollo thus placed. — 17. fui, dativus commodi; for him, or in his honor. Tyrio in ostro. The magistrate who conducted any of the public games worc the official toga bordered with a broad stripe of purple. Tyrio, as Idumaeas, above.- -18. Centum; probably for an indefinite and large number. See on Ae. IV, 510. Quadriiagos orrus. See illustration at the end of notes on Ge. bk. I.' Agitabo. As the conductor of the games, he does indirectly what is done strictly by the charioteers.—19, 20. All the Greeks (cuncta Graecia) wont to compete in the Olympian games on the Alpbeus, and in the Nemean games near the woods of Molorchus, shall on this occasion desert those famous contests, and prefer to take part in mine. Interpreted allegorically with reference to the proposed epic, this may mean that the poet will combine in his work traditions and imagery of Grecian poetry with those of the Italian or Latin. Mihi ; as illi, above. ---20. Crudo caesta. See illustrations, n. on Ae. V, 364.-21. Tonsae, clipped or plucked; namely, from the twig; for the wreath is formed of the leaves alone. -22. Dona ; such as the caesos iuvencos presently mentioned. Iam nuno, even now, in imagination or anticipation. Pompas. The procession moved first to the temples (ad delubra) to receive certain images of the gods, and then conveyed them on couches or feretra to the Circus Maximus, the place of the great public games. -24. Vel ut, etc., or (as another part of the festivities, it delights me to see) how the scene divides, when the fronts are turned. This refers to the theatrical spectacles, which usually formed a part of public games. The poet imagines that even now the shifting of the scenery of the stage, and the rise and fall of the curtain, are going on before him. The scenery was of three kinds : 1. The permanent scaena, formed by the back wall of the stage, built in the form of a palace front of two or three stories, with a terraced and battlemented roof. 2. A kind of revolving scenery (versilis), consisting of painted tablets or canvases spread over the three sides of two immense rotary prisms, located at the two extremities of the scaena. The sides or faces of these prisms, representing parts of different scenes, are here termed frontes. 3. Drawing or sliding scenery (ductilis), made, as with us, in sections, and coming together so as to conceal the permanent scaena or stage-wall, and to form new scenes independent of it. By all possible combinations of the revolving and sliding scenes with each other and with the wall-scene, a variety of scenery sufficient for all the wants of the drama could be produced. The language here suggests that the faces or frontes of the prisms are shifted, and that the sliding
scenery (here scaena) moves asunder (discedat), sometimes, at least, in sight of the audi
-25. Tollant aulaea Britanni. The ancient pictured curtain, corresponding to our “ drop-scene,” was a lifting curtain, being drawn up from beneath the front part of the stage through a groove. Among its decorations were powerful figures like “Telemones," represented in the painting as themselves raising the curtain. Captive barbarians were naturally chosen by artists for this purpose ; and here Vergil, in anticipation of the conquest of Britain, imagines British captives to be thus painted on the aulaea. The illustrations on page 52 give two views of the ruins of the Roman theatre at Arles, in the south of France, excavated a few years ago. The first is taken from the rear of the stage, on the right-hand side, showing the two remaining columns of the scaena, or permanent scene, and fragments of the right wing of the stage. Beyond is the audience-room, or cavea, including the area of the orchestra, and the cunei, or wedge-shaped divisions of stone seats. The second view, taken from one end of the right wing, shows the remains of the low front wall of the stage, and between this and the scaena the hollow space which was covered by the wooden stage, or proscaenium. At the farther side are the arched entrances to the orchestra and to the stage. In the fragments of the front wall is easily distinguished a part of the channel or groove for the aulaea.
-26–33. It is probable that this passage was inserted after the completion of the entire poem, and perhaps soon after the battle of Actium (B. c. 31), when there was a general and confident expectation, shared of course by Vergil, that Augustus would now completo his work, not only by capturing Alexandria and Egypt, and Antony and Cleopatra, but by bring
ing under subjection all the other cities and nations that were still maintaining a hostile attitude toward Rome. These were especially the
Two views of the theatre of Arles. Arabians, the Indi (here Gangarides), the Parthians, the Armenians, and the disaffected cities of Asia Minor (Crbes Asiac); and also, in the west, the Britanni and Cantabri. Horace, in several of the odes written
a little later, echoes the popular expectation ; and Vergil, even now, is so sure of the coming victories, that he does not hesitate to include them in the relief sculpture of gold and ivory to be placed on the doors (in foribus) of his imaginary temple. See Hor. O.1, 21, 15; 29, 1, sq.; 35, 39, sq.; II, 6, 2; et al. As in the reliefs described in the Aeneid, VI, 20, 894., in the work on the shield of Aeneas, Ae. VIII, 626, sqq., and in the paintings, Ae. I, 466, sqq., 80 here, the poet has in mind a definite artistic design, with subjects appropriately assigned to different panels. The following illustrations, from bronze and silver coins of Augustus, commemorate some of the victories actually achieved, probably after the words of Vergil were written. The Parthians signified their submission by returning the standards of the army of Crassus, and thus avoided a war; and the Indi sent envoys to sue for peace, as represented with their olive-branches on one of the coins. 26, 27. A battle-scene in which the forces of the Indi (Gangaridum) are supposed to be conquered by the Roman troops of Augustus (Quirini). — 27. Quirini. This is the designation of Augustus on one of the coins, page 54.
-28. Magnum; after fluentem ; flowing vast, or with its mighty stream.
-29. Navali aere; join with surgentis, which is here a poetic substitute for factas. From the bronze that was stripped from the prows of captured ships, columns shall be erected, adorned with the beaks of ships (columna rostrata). See cut of coins, page 54.-30. Urbes Asiae. The cities and kingdoms of Asia Minor in general had been allied with Pompey against Caesar, and were now on the
side of Antony and Cleopatra. Niphatens for Armenia or the Armenians. Comp. the use of Euphrates, Ge. I, 509, and of Histro, Ge. II, 497. 31. Versis sagittis. The Parthian horseman, while fleeing, shot his arrows back upon his pursuers, like an American prairie Indian of the earlier days.
-32. Mana, by his own) hand. Augustus received credit for the victories over Brutus and Cassius at Philippi (B. c. 42), and over Sextus Pompeius in Sicily (B. C. 36), and was honored with an ovation for each. See Sueton. Octavianus XXII. The duo tropaea may have reference to these victories. For the form of a trophy, see the coin below, inscribed Armenia Capta ; also notes on Ae. page 180. Diverso ex hosto '= diversis hostibus. The allies of Brutus and Cassius were chiefly from the East ; the adherents of Sextus Pompeius, from Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Africa.33. Bis triumphatas, etc. The nations on either shore-i. e., the nations of the East and the West-will have afforded to Augustus two triumphs each, or two triumphs over the East and two over the West ; namely, the two victories above mentioned, followed by ovations, included here in the term