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Virgil's design in this pastoral is to celebrate the birth of a son of Pollio, as appears
from verse 17 ; on which account he dedicated it to that noble Roman. But it is evident that he ascribes to the son of his friend, what cannot be attributed, with any propriety, to a being merely human. On examination, it will be found that there are several expressions and passages, which remarkably correspond with the prophecies and predictions of the Messiah, contained in the scriptures of the Old Testament; and particularly with those of the prophet Isaiah. That the poet was inspired is not pretended. We are assured, on the most credible testimony, that about this time there was a general
expectation of the Messiah's appearance. This was partly from the dispersion of the Jews over the Roman empire, who carried with them their scriptures; and partly from the Sibylline oracles then much in repute. What, therefore, was generally said, and was the common opinion concerning the Messiah, the poet applies to the son of Pollio. It was not fulfilled in him. For he died on the ninth day after his birth. It was, how
ever, actually fulfilled in about forty years afterwards, when the Savior appeared. Some suppose that the poet hath in view Marcellus, the son of Octavia, the sister of
Augustus, whose birth corresponds with the consulship of Pollio. Augustus adopted him, and designed him for his successor in the empire. This is the same Marcellus whom Virgil highly compliments in the sixth book of the Æneid. He died soon after he arrived at manhood.
SICELIDES Musæ, paulò majora canamus.
1. Sicelides : an adj. from Silicia, the residence of a sibyl. There were several island of Sicily, the country of Theocritus, others of the same name; but the most disthe father of pastoral poetry. Hence Sice- tinguished were, a city of Æolis, in Asia lides Muse, pastoral inuses.
Minor, and a city of Eubwa, an island in 2. Arbusta-myrica.
Trees and shrubs the Ægean sea : hodie, Negropont. The reseem to be put here for pastoral subjects, or sidence of this siby) was a cave or vault the style and manner in which they are dug into a rock. Justin Martyr informs us, sung, by meton. Myrica.: a shrub called that he visited the spot, and was shown a the tamarisk. The poet here proposes to kind of chapel in the rock, into which the write in a style different from the usual inhabitants told him (as they received it style of pastoral ; for that does not please from their forefathers) she retired whenever every ear. A more elevated strain he will she gave out her oracles. He also mennow atteinpt.
tioned several other particulars. Onuphrius 3. Sylvas : the woods. By meton. pas. tells us, that the cave or residence of the toral or rural subjects. If we sing of pas- sibyl remained in the same state Justin toral subjects, those subjects should be Martyr described it, until 1539, when it was worthy of a consul's ear.
entirely destroyed by an earthquake which 4. Ultima ætus : the last age of the sibyl- shook all Campania. See Prideaux's Con. line prophecy hath now arrived the last Part Lib. 9. The sibyls were women age, which was the subject, &c. I would said to have been endued with the spirit of here observe that the last days—the latter prophecy, and to have foretold the destinies days, or limes, are common expressions in of states and kingdoms. They lived at the scriptures to denote the age of the Gos- different periods of time, and in different pel, which is the last dispensation of grace. countries. They took the name of Sibylice, Cumæi : an adj. from Cuma, a city of Cam or Sibyls, from the first, who was thus enpania, in Italy, famous for having been the dued, her name being Sibylla.
Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.
8. Tu modò, casta Lucina, fave nascenti puero, sub quo ferrea gens primum desinet, ac
aurea gens surget toto 10 mundo.
merates ten : The Delphica, Erythræa, Cu- set at liberty by Jupiter. But Saturn did mæa, Samia, Cumana, Hellespontica, Libyca, not long remain mindful of this favor. Persica, Phrygia, and the Terburtina. Of He conspired against him to dethrone him, these, the one most noted was the Cumæan. and possess the empire himself. Upon this, She seems to have been the same that the Jupiter banished him from heaven. He Greeks called Erythræa, from the circum came to Italy, which was afterwards called stance of her being born at Erythræ in Ionia, Latium, from the circumstance of its being of the Lesser Asia; from whence she re the place of his concealment; from the verb moved to Cumæ, in Italy. Canninis: in the lateo. Janus, who was then king, received sense of vaticinii.
him with hospitality, and made him partner 5. Magnus ordo. Some suppose that the in his kingdoin. Saturn employed his time poet here hath reference to the great Plato- in civilizing his subjects, teaching them agrinic year; of which Claudius says, Ch. 1 culture, and the several arts and sciences. of the sphere: Ömnia, quæcunque in mundo His reign was so mild, so beneficent and sunt, eodem ordine esse reditura, quò nunc virtuous, that it came to be denominated the cernuntur. This would embrace the period Golden Age, to intimate the happiness and of 25,920 of our years; when the equinoxes tranquillity which then were enjoyed. The will have made the circuit of the ecliptic, and Silver Age succeeded, when men began to the same stars, which describe the equator, degenerate, and their peace to be disturbed tropics, and polar circles, by the diurnal by feuds and animosities. The Brasen Age motion of the earth, will describe them over followed, when avarice and licentiousness again. Ruæus, however, is of a different took possession of the heart. To this sucopinion, and very justly understands by ceeded the Iron Age, when the world became magnus, great and illustrious; implying that sunk into a general and total depravity. the period of which the poet spake as then These four ages are much spoken of by the commencing, should be distinguished by poets, but particularly the first. By this great and illustrious characters. Sæclorum, time men had become so wicked and degeby syncope for sæculorum. Sæculum properly nerate, that they were all destroyed by a signifies the period of a hundred years. deluge, which took place in the reign of It is also used to denote an indefinite period, Deucalion, king of Thessaly. He and his as in the present instance.
wife Pyrrha were the only survivors. 6. Virgo. The poet here means Astræa, 8. Fave nascenti puero : favor, or be prothe goddess of justice, the daughter of Ju- pitious to the infant boy. Nascens does not piter and Themis. See nom. prop. under refer here so much to his birth, as to his inAstræa. Saturnia regna: the reign of Sa- fant years. As Lucina had safely brought turn. According to fable, Saturn was the the child into the world, it is the desire of son of Colus and Terra, or Vesta. Cælus the poet that she should continue her attenconfined in Tartarus all his sons, except tion and regard to him during the dangers Saturn; who with the assistance of his of infancy. mother, banished his father, and set his bro 9. Gens : in the sense of ætas. thers at liberty. He succeeded to the king 10. Casta Lucina. Lucina was the goddom by the consent of his brother Titan, on dess supposed to preside over child-bearing, the condition that he should raise no male and called Lucina from lux, because through offspring. He accordingly devoured his her means children were brought to see the sons as soon as they were born. But when light. This office was attributed both to Jupiter was born, his wife Rhea, or Ops, un Juno and Diana; the latter of whom is the willing to see all her sons perish, concealed one here meant, as appears from Tuus jam him; giving to her husband a stone in room regnat Apollo: now thy Apollo reigns.-of the child, which he devoured, without This hath led some into a singularity. By discovering the cheat. In the same way she Apollo they would understand Augustwa preserved Neptune and Pluto.
and by Lucina his sister Octavia. Virgil Titan being informed that his brother had was fond of complimenting his prince, but broken the terms of their contract, made there can be no necessity of such an interwar upon him, and made both him and his pretation here. Ruæus understands it ut wife prisoners; they were, however, soon Apollo himself, who may be said to reis
11. Adcò hoc decus Teque adeò decus hoc ævi, te consule, inibit, evi inibit, te, te consule, Pollio : et incipient magni procedere menses. O Pollio.
Te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri,
because it is now manifest that his predic. as magnus ordo sæclorum, verse 5, supra. tions are true. Apollo was the god, under Pollio. A very distinguished Roman. He whose influence the Sibyls were, when they arrived to the highest honors that the people prophesied, or gave out
their oracles. could bestow. He was appointed Præfectus Apollo was the son Jupiter and Latona, of Hispania Ulterior by Julius Cæsar. On and brother of Diana Juno, in order to some occasion or other, being in Cis-alpine vent her rage against Latona, sent the ser. Gaul, he became acquainted with Virgil, pent Python, to vex and torment her. She for whom he conceived a very high regard, was unable to find a place where she could and recommended him to Mæcenas, who be delivered of her children in peace, till was then at Rome. A way was thus openNeptune, taking pity on her, raised the island ed to our poet for the recovery of his lands. Delos, where she was safely delivered of In the year of Rome, 714, Pollio was apApollo and Diana at a birth. As soon as pointed consul, and in the following year he was born, Apollo slew the serpent Python, he triumphed over the Partheni, a people from which circumstance he is sometimes of Illyricum, who adhered to the party of called Pythius. He was accounted the god Brutus and Cassius. He wroto the history of medicine, music, poetry, and eloquence, of the civil wars, and was both a poet and all of which, it is said, he invented. His orator. He died in the eightieth year of his son Æsculapius being killed by Jupiter for age, and in the year of Rome, 757. raising the dead, he in turn slew the Cy 13. Siqua vestigia, &c. The poet here clops, who had made the thunderbolt that alludes, most probably, to the perjury of slew him. Jupiter being much enraged at Laomedon, king of Troy; to which the this piece of conduct, banished him from Trojans attributed their misfortunes and heaven, and deprived him of his dignity. calamities. See Geor. l. 502 ; or to the He came to Admetus, king of Thessaly, civil wars which were carried on between and hired himself as a shepherd, in which Cæsar and Pompey. Or lastly, to the death employment he served nine years. Hence of Julius Cæsar, who was slain by Brutus he is sometimes called the god of shepherds. in the senate house ; which was the cause Apollo was amorous, and had many chil- of a second civil war, between Brutus and dren. His worship was very general. At Cassius on the one part, and Octavius and Delphi, Delos, Claros, Tenedos, Patara, &c. Anthony on the other. It terminated in he had celebrated oracles. He had several the ruin of the Republic, and in the estanames: Pythius, already mentioned; Delius, blishment of the Empire. from the island Delos, where he was born; 14. Irrita : being effaced, or done away, Cynthius, from Cynthus, the name of a will free the earth, &c. Irrita, of in negamountain on the same island ; Pæan, from tivum, and ratus ; agreeing with vestigia. a Greek word which signifies to strike, or 15. Ille accipiet vitam : he shall partako wound, in allusion to his killing the Python ; the life of the gods, &c. Here is an alluDelphicus, from Delphi, in Phocis, where sion to the Golden Age, when, the poets he had his most famous temple and oracle; say, the gods had familiar intercourse with Clarus, &c. He was called Phæbus, or Sol, men, and dwelt on the earth. That happy in heaven. There were several among the period was again about to return. ancients, who went under the name of 17. Reget, &c. He shall rule the peace Apollo. Cicero mentions three, besides the ful world by his father's virtues. Meaning son of Jupiter and Latona.
that the child should arrive at the highest 11. Hoc decus ævi: this glory of the age, honors of the state, that is, should be a coni. e. this glorious age, shall commence in your sul. Or, he shall rule the world, reduced to consulship.
peace by his father's virtues. Pollio and 12. Magni menses. Servius and Pompo- Mecenas effected a reconciliation between nius think we are to understand the months Octavius and Anthony, which gave hope of July and August, because they bore the of a lasting peace. Orbem here means the names of Julius and Augustus. But we Roman Empire; which, in the height of its are undoubtedly to understand the magni greatness, comprehended the greater part renses here, in the same manner and sonse, of the world that was then known.
an aromatic hera
26. At simul jam po teris legere laudus he roum, et facta parealis.
At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu,
: nec magnos metuent armenta leones.
32. Que jubeant ko mines tentare Thetim ratibus; quæ jube anul ul
los cingere oppida muris; 35
et quæ jubeant iiws infindere sulcos telluri.
19. Baccare. Baccar, a sweet herb called in all its felicity and glory. Fraudus : in by some ladies-glove; by others, clown-spike- the sense of sceleris. nard. Colocasia: Egyptian beans. Acan 32. Thetim. Thetis, a goddess of the tho: the herb called bear's fool. It has a sea, the daughter of Nereus and Duris. long and broad leaf.
Jupiter fell in love with her, and determmed 23. Cunabula ipsa: the cradle itself to marry her; but being informed by Prothe very cradle. Blandes : in the sense of metheus of a decree of the fates, that she jucundos.
should bear a son who shculd be greater 24. Serpens occidet : the serpent shall die. than his father, he desisted from h.. purThis is a very remarkable passage. The pose. Whereupon Peleus, king of Thessaly, Messiah was promised to bruise the head of took her to wife, and of har begat Achilles. the serpent, Gen. Ch. iii. 15th verse. Fallax Thetis, by meton.is put for the sea in this place. herba veneni : the deceiving herb of poison 34. Tiphys. The name of the pilot of shall die-every herb whose poisonous the ship Argo. It was so called, either trum quality is not known. For if it were known, Argus, the architect; or from Argivi, loreeks, no person would meddle with it, and con whom it carried. It was built at Pesusa, a sequently none would be deceived. Amo- promontory and town of Thessaly. Hence Sec Ecl. ii. 89.
sometimes called navis Pegasæa. 28. Molli : ripe. For the fields do not 35. Delectos heroas : chosen heroes.grow yellow till the approach of harvest. These were noble Greeks, chiefly of ThesArista : corn-an ear of corn.
saly. They were about fifty in number, 29. Sentibus : thorn-bushes.
and went to Colchis in the ship Argo, to 31. Tamen pauca, &c. We may here bring away the golden fleece, which was observe the several gradations of the Gold- guarded by a dragon, and bulls breathing en Age. With the birth of the child it fre. Jason commanded the expedition. commenced: Cunabula fundent flores. Du- Castor, Pollut, Hercules, Theseus, Orpheus, ring the years of his youth, the earth is to Zetes, and Calais, accompanied him. The bring forth abundantly. There is to be crew collectively was called Argonautæ. See no want of any thing : Campus flavescet, nom. prop. under Jason. &c. All vestiges of former crimes, howe 36. Achilles-Trojam-ArgoTiphys. ver, were not done away. Some traces of These are here put for any hero, any city, the Iron Age were to be visible in the con any ship, any pilot. duct and actions of men : Quæ jubeant, &c. 38. Nec nautica pinus, &c. Nor shalı ine But when he has arrived to years of full naval pine exchange commodities carry on maturity, then the earth is to produco al traffic. Pinus is here put for a ship made things spontaneously : Omnis jellus feret of that tree, by meton. Vector : the mariomnia; and the Golden Age is to appear ner. Cedet : shall leave, or abandon.
Mutabit merces: omnis feret omnia tellus.
Nec varios discet mentiri lana colores :
45 46. Parcæ concordes Talia sæcla suis dixerunt, currite, fusis stabili numine fatorum Concordes stabili fatorum numine Parcæ. dixerunt suis fusis, O Aggredere, ô, magnos, aderit jam tempus, honores, talia sæcla, cạrrite. O clara soboles Deûm, Clara Deûm soboles, magnum Jovis incrementum !
50 Aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum, magnum incrementum Jovis, aggredere mag- Terrasque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum : nos honores
Aspice venturo lætentur ut omnia sæclo. 53. O uitima pars () mihi tam longæ maneat pars ultima vitæ, tam longæ vitæ maneat Spiritûs et, quantùm sat erit tua dicere facta ! mihi, et tantùn spiritûs, Non ne carminibus vincet, nec Thracius Orpheus, 55 quantùm
Nec Linus : huic mater quamvis, atque huic pater adsit,
42 Lana discet, &c. Nor shall the wool ponderis, and connects it with mundum, and learn to counterfeit various colors.
not with nutantem, as is commonly done. 44. Murice. Murex, a sea-fish of the For he observes, that it is impossible for the shell kind. It is said to have been of great earth to reel to and fro or nod, with its own use among the ancients for dying purple. weight or load. He chooses, therefore, to Hence, by meton. put for the purple color understand it of the load of its guilt and itself. Croceo : an adj. from crocum, or misery: mole malorum, vitiorumque; but crocus, saffron. Luto : the Lutum was an rejoicing at the happy change about to be herb used in dying yellow. Hence the color introduced, which is expressed in the next itself, by meton. Modern botanists describe line : omnia lætentur sæclo futuro. Some exit under the name of luteola, wild-woad, plain the words, aspice mundum, &c., look and dyer's weed. It is used in coloring with compassion upon a world, nutantem both wool and silk. Mutabit : shall tinge, mole malorum vitiorumque : laboring and or dye.
oppressed with a load of guilt and misery. 45. Sandyx: the scarlet color-vermilion. Ut : in the sense of quomodo. 46. Fusis : to their spindles.
55. Non vincet. Non appears to be used 47. Parce. They were the daughters of in the sense of nullus. No one shall excel Erebus and Nox, and said to be three in me in singing, neither Thracian, &c. number : Clouho, Lachesis, and Atropos. 56. Linus. He was the son of Apollo They were supposed to preside over the and Terpsichore, one of the niuses. He birth, life, and death of mankind. The first was an excellent musician, and the precepwas represented as presiding over the mo tor of Orpheus and Hercules. He is said to ment of birth, and holding a distaff in her have been killed by the latter, by a stroke hand; the second, as spinning out the events of his lyre, because he laughed at his singand actions of human life; the last as cut- ing. Quamvis mater Calliopea adsit, &c. ting the thread of it with a pair of scissors. Although the mother Calliopia should assist They were considered powerful goddesses, this Orpheus; and fair Apollo, the father, and were worshipped with great solemnity. should assist this Linus. Orphei: a Greek Stabili numine: in the fixed purpose or de dat. of Orpheus.
Clara. Some copies have cara.- 59. Arcadiâ judice : Arcadia being judge. Magnum incrementum : great son of Jove. Arcadia was an inland country of the Pelo
48. Aggredere. Ruæus says accede. ponnesus, famous for its excellent pastures.
50. Aspice mundum : see the world with The whole of it was sacred to Pan. See its globous mass or load, nodding (reeling Ecl. ii. 31.
nd fro) both the land, &c. Dr. Trapp 60. Risut cognoscere, &c. Begin, sweet
convexo pondere in the sense of converi boy, to know thy mother by her smiles.