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Pluto upon an enchanted rock at the gate of his realms. From this rock they were unable to move. Theseus, however, was at last released by Hercules.
621. Dominumque potentem imposuit. “And imposed upon it a powerful master," i. e. the yoke of a tyrant. The term dominus had an odious sound to Roman ears, from its being commonly employed to designate a master or proprietor of slaves. Hence Augustus is said to have always refused assuming it. (Sueton. Vit. Aug. 53.)622. Fixit leges pretio, &c. “Made and unmade laws for a stipulated price," i, e. for a bribe. Literally, “ fixed up and unfixed laws.” An allusion to the Roman custom of fixing up the laws, engraved on tables of brass, in public places, more especially in temples, in order that all might read and become acquainted with them; and of unfixing or taking them down when abrogated. Wagner places a semicolon after imposuit and refixit, so as to refer to two different instances of criminality, in different individuals; and some commentators imagine that Virgil has Curio and Marc Antony in view. Others, who retain the ordinary punctuation, make the passage refer to Marc Antony alone. It is more than probable, however, that the allusion is merely a general one.
630. Cyclopum educta caminis, &c. “I plainly see the walls constructed in the forges of the Cyclopes," i. e. the brazen walls of Pluto's palace. Literally, “ drawn forth from the furnaces of the Cyclopes.” The expression Cyclopum caminis conveys the idea of stupendous magnitude.-631. Atque adverso fornice portas. “And the portals with their confronting arch."-632. Hæc dona. “This offering.” Referring to the golden branch.- Præcepta. “Our instructions."
633. Opaca riarum. A Græcism for opacas vias.—635. Recenti spargit aquâ, Lustral water was placed in the entrances of temples, in order that the devout might have their persons sprinkled with it before going in. In imitation of this custom, the poet places lustral water in the entrance to Pluto's palace.
637. Perfecto munere dioce. “The offering to the goddess being fully made," i. e. the golden branch, sacred to Proserpina, being placed in the portal of the palace.-640. Largior hic campos, &c. “A freer and purer sky here decks the fields, and clothes them with resplendent light." : In translating this passage, Heyne gives us our choice of two modes of construction, though he himself prefers the latter : namely, either Largior æther (est) hic, et cestit campos purpureo lumine, or else æther largior et purpureo lumine hic vestit campos. We have, however, merely supplied restit in the first half of the sentence, and have given the verb a different meaning in each clause.
Lumine purpureo. Consult note on i. 591.–642. In gramineis palæstris, i. e. in places of exercise.—644. Pedibus plaudunt choreas. “ Strike the ground with their feet in the loud-resounding dance." Equivalent to pede terram pulsando choreas agunt.
645. Sacerdos. This term embraces the idea of both priest and bard, but more particularly the latter. Orpheus is said to have introduced certain mystic rites and religious dogmas, all of which were imparted through the medium of verse. In this sense, therefore, and in this alone, was he a priest as well as bard.
646. Obloquitur numeris, &c. “Replies in melodious numbers to the seven varying tones of his lyre, and now he strikes the string with his fingers, now with his ivory quill,”. i. e, accompanies with his voice the tones of his lyre, playing on the latter with finger or with ivory quill, according as he wishes to produce a graver or a sharper sound. We have adopted here the explanation of Muenscher (Obs. in Virg. Æn. p. 21). According to this writer, the verb obloqui has the same construction here that we commonly find in Latin compound words: thus, we can either say obducere rem rei, or obducere rem re; and obstrepit res rei, or obstrepitur res re. Virgil's meaning, therefore, is simply this : “ Per numeros (i. e. terba numerosa) obloquitur chordis ;” or, in other words, “ Ore canit ad septem chordarum sonos.”
Septem discrimina cocum. More literally, “ the seven distinctions (or differences) of tones.” The allusion is to the tones produced by the seven strings of the lyre, each different, of course, from the other. There appears to be an anachronism in connecting the name of Orpheus with the heptachord. The seven-stringed lyre was introduced by Terpander at a much later period than that commonly assigned to the bard.—647. Fidem. The conjectural emendation of Markland. The common text has eadem. By fidem we may understand either the instrument itself or each individual string. The latter appears preferable.
648. Genus antiquum Teucri, i. e, the descendants of Teucer, an early king in Troas, who reigned over the Teucrians. The expression genus antiquum Teucri applies, in strictness, only to Ilus and Assaracus. Dardanus was a stranger-chieftain who settled in Troas, married the daughter of Teucer, and founded the city of Dardanus at the foot of Mount Ida. Ilus and Assaracus were the offspring of his grandson Tros.-649. Melioribus annis. “In better years," i. e. in the good olden time, when mankind were more virtuous, and therefore happier.
65). Procul. Equivalent to stans procul.- Currusque inanes. “ And the shadowy cars." In the world of the dead all is unreal, even down to the arms and chariots of the equally shadowy warriors.653. Quce gratia currúm, &c. “Whatever fondness was theirs, when alive, for chariots,” &c.—659. Eridani. Virgil appears to follow here some old poetic legend, which made the Eridanus rise in the lower world.
660. Hic manus, &c. Supply as follows : “ Hic (sunt) manus (eorum) qui passi (sunt),” &c.—661. Quique. Supply erant.-662. Pii rates. “ Holy bards," i. e. filled with the true inspiration of song, and uttering strains fraught with piety and genius. This idea is expressed immediately after by Phoebo digna locuti, i. e. taught such useful doctrines of religion and morality as were worthy of the god to whose inspiration they laid claim.-663. Excoluere. “Improved.”— 664. Merendo equivalent to bene merendo, or promerendo.
667. Muscum ante omnes. Because conspicuous not only as a bard, but also as a benefactor of the human race in establishing mysteries, one of the most powerful means of early culture.-669. Optime. “ Most excellent.” “Not“ best.” In Greek qota.
679. Ilius ergo. “On his account.” When ergo is thus employed, the noun always precedes in the genitive.—674. Riparum toros, &c. “ The couches afforded by the banks of streams, and meads all verdant through many a rill.” The use of recentia here is analogous to that of the English word “fresh.”—678. Dehinc summa cacumina, &c. Musæus here departs from them, and the Sibyl and Æneas descend the hill on the other side, in the direction of Anchises.
679. Penitus, &c. “Deep in a verdant vale.”-681. Recolens. Equivalent to meditans. The verb properly means to recall to mind the scenes of the past.—683. Manus. Equivalent to fortia facta.
687. Exspectata parenti. “Long expected by thy parent,” i. e. on which I had long counted, for beholding thee here. Heyne prefers spectata, “approved ” or “well tried,” which is also praised by Lennep (ad Ter. Maur. p. 417). The common reading, however, is well defended by Wagner, who also remarks that no similar instance of lengthening a short syllable (tuaquē spectata) can be found in Virgil.
691. Tempora. Literally, “ the times," i. e. the several spaces of time requisite for the performance of each intervening event, until Æneas should at length reach the lower world, as he had been directed by his father to do.
692. Quas terras. Supply per from the succeeding clause.—694. Ne quid Libyæ, &c. Alluding to Dido and Carthage. The father feared lest the allurements of Carthage might mar the high prospects of his son.—696. Sæpius occurrens. “Often appearing.” Compare iv. 351 and v. 712.-Hæc limina tendere. “To direct my steps unto these abodes."-697. Stant sale Tyrrheno. “Stand (moored) in the Tyrrhenian brine." His vessels were drawn up on the Campanian shore at Cumæ, or, in other words, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.—700. Ter conatus, &c. Repeated from ii. 792, seqq.
703. In calle reductá. “In a retired vale.” Literally, “a receding vale,” i. e. curving inward, and receding from the view.704. Seclusum. “ Sequestered.”—Et virgulta sonantia silois. “ And (hears) the bushes rustling amid the woods.” Wagner proposes silda, “ with their thick underwood,” which is probably the true reading. Observe the zeugma in videt.—705. Lethæumque, &c. " And (espies) the Lethean river,” &c.
709. Strepit omnis murmure campus. “The whole field resounds with their (busy) hum.” These words form the apodosis of the sentence, and refer, not to the bees, but to the spirits fitting to and fro, and to the low murmuring sound (the imago docis) proceeding from their lips.-711. Porro. “In the distance.” Compare the Greek trópw. Some supply fluentia, but this is hardly necessary.—712. Agmen is well selected here, as denoting a body in motion to and fro.
713. Animæ, quibus altera fato, &c. The poet now enters, in the person of Anchises, upon certain philosophical dogmas, founded upon the tenets of the Pythagorean school, with some additions borrowed from the Platonic system. The substance of these doctrines is simply this : after the soul is freed from the chains of the body, it passes into the regions of the dead, where it remains, undergoing purgations of one kind or other, till it is sent back to this world to be the inhabitant of some other body, brutal or human ; and after suffering in this way successive purgations, and animating in turn different bodies, it is finally received into the heavens, and returns to and becomes merged in the great Essence, or Soul of the world, of which it was originally an emanation. Moreover, before each of these several departures to the upper world to inhabit some new frame, the spirits drink of the waters of Lethe, in order to forget whatever has happened to them in their previous state of being.
714. Debentur. Anchises here speaks of such as were destined to return to other bodies ; for some were excepted from that trans
migration, those especially who, on account of their virtues, were admitted at once to their reward, without any further trial, and translated to the skies. In the number of these was Anchises, whose soul, therefore, was already in the heavens ; for Æneas, according to the popular belief, only conversed with his image, or simulacrum, in the shades. Consult note on v. 81.
716. Has equidem, &c. “Long since, indeed, have I desired to speak of these unto thee, and to display them to thy view.-717. Jampridem, like jamdudum, when joined with the present, gives it, in our idiom, the force of a perfect.-Jampridem hanc prolem, &c. Heyne thinks that there is some harshness in the connexion of this part of the sentence with what precedes, and that Virgil probably wrote ostendere coram jampridem, ac prolem, &c. Wagner, however, refers jampridem (which thus becomes an emphatic term) to both members of the sentence.
719. Aliquas ad coelum, &c. The expression ad coelum is equivalent merely to ad superas auras, relation being had at the same time to the position of the speaker in the world below. The same idea is implied in sublimes.--721. Miseris. They are truly to be pitied on account of their wish to return to the wretched realities of life. What he here calls a wish to revisit the upper world, is subsequently shown to be a matter of pure fatality.—723. Suscipit. “Answers." Literally, “ takes up ;" as in our own idiom,“ takes up the conversation."
724. Principio coelum, &c. The poet is here describing what the Stoics called the “Soul of the Universe," or anima mundi, namely, a spirit or essence gifted with intelligence, and pervading and animating matter, and all things formed out of matter. The human soul is an emanation from this great principle, proceeding from it as a spark from the parent fire.
725. Titaniaque astra. The sun and stars are here meant, but more particularly the former. Heyne and Voss make it merely the plural of excellence for Titanium astrum, and suppose the sun alone to be meant. This, however, is rather forced. The epithet “Titanian," however, belongs more, in fact, to the sun than to the stars, and in this sense he is the same with the Homeric Hyperion.—726. Spiritus. The terms spiritus and mens combined are like the yuxr and vous of the Greek schools. The former denotes the great living, the latter the great intellectual principle, and both united constitute the anima mundi.
728. Inde hominum, &c. “ Thence (spring),” &c., i.e. men and animals, birds and fishes, all derive their life and being from this great principle that animates the universe.—729. Marmoreo sub æquore. « Beneath its sparkling surface.” Heyne explains marmoreus here, very correctly, by “resplendescens a sole.” Compare the Homeric üla uapuapénv.
730. Igneus est ollis, &c. By semina are meant the emanations from the great anima mundi, which enter into and vivify our mortal frames, and form the souls of men.-731. Quantum non noxia, &c. The meaning is, that these emanations that take up their abode within us are constantly struggling with our gross corporeal propensities, and cannot fully exercise their peculiar influence because more or less retarded by our passions and evil propensities.- Noxia. Literally, “ harmful,” i. e. harming our spiritual natures.
733. Hinc metuunt, &c., i. e. from the contaminating ivfluence of the body arise our passions and emotions, and every thing that disturbs the placid course of our lives.—734. Neque respiciunt, i. e. they are so degraded by their slavery to the body while confined within its dark prison-house, that they forget their heavenly origin. The poet is still speaking of the semina, or divine emanations, that constitute the souls of men.
737. Penitusque, &c. “But it is wholly unavoidable that many imperfections, long habitual (to them), should adhere (to their natures) in surprising ways." The doctrine advanced here and in what follows is briefly this : the soul contracts certain impurities from its union with the body, which impurities cleave unto it even after the death of that body, and have therefore to be eradicated in the lower world by various kinds of penance. These modes of atonement or expiation the poet then proceeds to describe.
739. Veterum properly denotes here the same idea with that conveyed by diu concreta in the previous line. The chastisements referred to are of three kinds, according to the nature of the stain contracted by the soul. If the impurity be slight and superficial, it is bleached away in the wind, or washed out in the water ; but if it be of a darker and deeper dye, it is burned out by fire.—742. Infectum scelus. “ The deep stain of guilt.”
743. Quisque suos patimur Manes. “We suffer each his own portion of spiritual punishment.” Literally, “we endure each his own Manes," ė. e. we endure each the burden of punishment imposed upon our Manes in the world below, according to the degree of impurity contracted by our ethereal natures in the world above. Heyne makes Manes depend on quoad understood. The meaning will then be, “We suffer each in his own Manes,” i, e. the Manes of all of us undergo some purgation or other. The interpretation which we have adopted, however, seems decidedly preferable.—Exinde per amplum, &c. Heyne makes per, in this passage, have the force of ad. It conveys rather the idea of moving on through, or along, an extensive region. Hence Wagner remarks, “per, ut de loco amplo." -744. Pauci. A small number only succeed in reaching Elysium, Those who are not sufficiently purified return to earth to animate new bodies.
745. Donec longa dies, &c., i. e. until length of days, the (appointed) revolution of time being completed, has restored the fiery energy of the ethereal essence to its originally pure and unmixed state. Heyne makes a difficulty with donec, and thinks that lines 745, 746, and 747 are misplaced, Elysium being, according to him, not a scene of purgation, but of rest. Wagner, on the other hand, regards donec here as equivalent to cum tandem, and in this way seeks to remove the objection. There is no need, however, of giving so unusual a meaning to donec, nor are the lines in question at all out of place. Our souls, says the poet, contract certain impurities from long union with the body, which impurities must be effaced by severe penance. After these stains have been eradicated, the soul has to pass a certain time in Elysium, in order that an habitual communion with virtuous emotions may now restore it to its proper tone, and take the place of its former habitual communings with what was corrupt. In this sense, therefore, Elysium becomes a second scene of purification and trial.
Perfecto temporis orbe. A period of a thousand years, as is stated