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THE civil wars, that had distracted the Roman empire, had nearly desolated Italy. The land lay neglected, and the inhabitants were reduced to great distress for want of the necessaries of life. In this state of things, they cast the blame upon Augustus, and murmured against his administration. To remedy the existing evils, and to avert heavier calamities, it became necessary to revive agriculture; which for many years had been almost wholly neglected, the people being taken from their lands to supply the armies. It occurred to Mæcenas that a treatise upon that subject would be highly useful to the inhabitants of Italy; he therefore engaged Virgil, who had just finished his Eclogues, to undertake the work. It had the desired effect. For, after the publication of the Georgics, Italy began to assume a new and flourishing appearance, and the people found themselves in plenty, and in the enjoyment of peace and content.
Virgil spent about seven years in this part of his works. His correct taste, his chaste style, and above all, his extensive knowledge, duly qualified him for a work of this kind. The Georgics, like the Eclogues, were every where well received.
The rules for the improvement of husbandry, and the advice given to the farmer
upon the several subjects connected with it, were not only suited to the climate of Italy, but have been esteemed valuable in every country where “due honor has been paid to the plough,” down to the present time.
The word Georgica is from the Greek. Its original word properly signifies the cultivation or tillage of the earth. In the Georgics, Virgil imitated Hesiod, who wrote a treatise upon this subject, entitled, Opera et Dies, but he far excelled him in every respect. He began this part of his works in the year
of Rome 717, being then about thirty-two years of age, and dedicated it to Mæcenas, his friend and patron, at whose request he wrote it.
The Georgics are divided into four books. The first treats of the various soils, and the proper method of managing each. The second treats of the various ways of propagating fruit trees, and particularly the vine. The third treats of the several kinds of grass, and the proper method of raising horses, cattle, sheep, and goats. The fourth treats of the proper management of bees.
With the main subject, the poet hath interwoven several very interesting fables and episodes, which contribute to our pleasure, and relieve the mind under the dryness of precept.
What was the state of Italy, when Virgil Were they well received by his countrymen ? began his Georgics?
Was Virgil well qualified to write upon At whose request did he write them? the subject of agriculture? To whom did he dedicate them?
Whom did he imitate? What is the meaning of the word Geor What is the comparative merit of each gica, or Georgics ?
work? From what language is the word derived? Do the Georgics contain valuable rules
What effect had the Georgics upon the and directions to the agriculturist in all state of Italy?
countries? How long was Virgil in writing them? Into how many books are they divided? In what year of Rome did he begin thom? What is the subject of each book ? &c
P. VIRGILII MARONIS
This Book opens with the plan of the whole work: and in the four first lines informs us
of the subject of each book. The poet then proceeds to invoke the gods, that were thought to have any concern in the affairs of tillage or husbandry; and particularly, he compliments Augustus with divinity. After which, he goes on to show the different kinds of tillage proper for the different soils. He traces out the origin of agriculture. He describes the various implements proper for that use. He notices the prognostics of the weather. And concludes, by relating the prodigies which happened about the time of Julius Cæsar's death; and by invoking the gods for the safety of Augustus,
his prince. *The whole is embellished with a variety of other matter, so judiciously blended with the
subject, that, besides preventing languor and fatigue under the dryness of precept, it contributes to our pleasure and delight.
QUID faciat lætas segetes; quo sidere terram Vertere, Mæcenas, ulmisque adjungere vites, Conveniat: quæ cura boum ; qui cultus habendo Sit pecori; atque apibus quanta experientia parcis; Hinc canere incipiam. Vos, ô clarissima mundi Lumina, labentem cælo
ducitis annum : Liber et alma Ceres, vestro si munere tellus Chaoniam pingui glandem mutavit arista, Poculaque inventis Acheloïa miscuit uvis :
2. O Mecenas, incipiam canere hinc, quid faciat lætas segetes, quo
sidore conveniat vertere 5 terram
3. Quæ sit cura boum; qui
7. O Liber, et alma Coros, si
1. Latas: in the sense of copiosas vel fer- vorn the seasons; rather than Ceres and tiles.
Bacchus, as some imagire. 3. Qui cultus, &c. What management is 7. Liber et alma Ceres. Ruæus considers necessary for raising cattle. It is plain that these as the Clarissima Lumina mundi in necessarius, aptus, or some word of the like the preceding line. But the reason which import, is to be supplied, agreeing with cul- he gives for so doing appears insufficient.
Habendo may be a future part. pass. Alma: an adj. cherishing-nourishing. In or a gerund in do, of the dat. case.
this sense it is a very appropriate epithet of 4. Quanta experientia, &c. How great Ceres, as being the goddess of husbandry. care, or attention, is necessary to rear the It also signifies, pure-holy, &c. frugal bees. Or, it may mean; how great 8. Chaoniam glandem: Chaonian acorns, experience, foresight, and regular manage or mast: here put for mast in general; the ment, in their affairs, there may be to the species for the genus. Chaoniam: an adj. frugal bees. When sentences are very ele from Chaonia, a part of Epirus, in which liptical, it is sometimes difficult to fall upon was the famous grove Dodona,that abound. the meaning of the author.
ed in mast-trees. 6. Lumina. We are here to understand, 9. Acheloïa pocula : draughts of pure waI apprebend, the sun and moon, as they go- ter. Pocula, properly the cups, here put
10. Et vos, o Fauni, Et vos, agrestům præsentia numina, Fauni,
10 præsentia numina agres- Ferte simul Faunique peden Dryadesque puellæ ; tùm; O Faunique Dry- Muñéra vestra cano. adesque puellæ, ferte
Táqueocumpringa tip trentem pedem sing
Futilegum magno tellus percussa tridenti, 14. Et, tu o Aristæe, Neptune: et cultor nemorum, cui pinguia Cææ cultor nemorum, cui ter Ter centum nivei tondent dumeta juvenci:
15 centum nivei juvenci Ipse nemus linquens patrium, saltusque Lycæi,
16. Tu ipse, o Tegeæe Pan ovium custos, tua si tibi Mænala curæ, Pan, custos ovium, linquens patrium nemus, Adsis, ô Tegeæe, favens : oleæque Minerva
NOTES. meton. for the water itself. Acheloïa: an of wisdom and the liberal arts. She is said adj. from Achelous, a river of Ætolia, sup- to have been produced from the brain of Juposed by the ancients to have been the first piter full grown, and immediately adınitted that arose out of the earth : hence put, fre- into the assembly of the gods; where she quently, for water in general. Ceres, it is distinguished herself by her wise counsel. said, taught inen husbandry, and Bacchus, Her power was very great. She could hurl the cultivation of the vine: to which the the thunderbolts of Jupiter, prolong the lives words vestro munere allude. At the first, of men, and bestow the gift of prophecy. men lived upon the spontaneous productions Arachne, the daughter of Idmon, a Lydian, of the earth.
challenged the goddess to a trial of skill in 10. Præsentia: in the sense of propitia. embroidery. She represented on her piece
11. Dryades. Nymphs or goddesses of the the amours of Jupiter in a masterly manwoods, froin a Greek word signifying an She was, however, outdone, and haoak. See Ecl. ii. 46.
ving hung herself through chagrin, was 14. Neptune. Neptune, god of the sea, changed into a spider by the victorious god. and father of fountains and rivers. He was dess. Minerva took a very active part in the son of Saturn and Ops, and brother of support of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, Jupiter and Pluto. In the division of the and protected her favorite Ulysses in all his world with his brothers, he obtained the em- dangers. Her worship was universally espire of the sea. He is said to have married tablished. She had magnificent temples Amphitrite, the daughter of Nereus or Oce- dedicated to her in most countries. Sais,
He is said to have been the first who Rhodes, and Athens, were her favorite platamed the horse. Hence the poets feign, ces. She was variously represented acthat when a dispute arose between him and cording to the characters in which she apMinerva, respecting the name to be given peared; but most generally with a helmet to the city Athens, it was referred to the on her head, and a large plume waving in gods for their decision ; who declared it the air; with one hand holding a spear; should be called by the name of the party with the other a shield, having the head of that should confer on mankind the greatest Medusa upon it. This shield was called benefit; whereupon Neptune struck the earth the Ægis. When she is represented as the with his trident and produced the horse, a goddess of the liberal arts, she is covered warlike animal; and Minerva with her with a veil called the Peplum. She had a spear produced the olive, the emblem of very celebrated statue called the Palladium, peace: upon which the case was given in said to have been about three cubits in her favor. Neptunus, by meton. is often height, and represented her sitting, and holdput for the sea. Cultor nemorum. The per- ing in her right hand a pipe, and in her left son here meant is Aristous, the reputed son a distaff and a spindle. It is said to have of Apollo and thenymph Cyrene, the daugh- fallen from heaven near the tent of Ilus, ter of Peneus, the god of the river Peneus as he was building the citadel of Troy, on in Thessaly. After his son Actæon was torn the preservation of which, the safety of that to pieces by dogs for looking upon Diana, city depended. It was carried off by Ulysas she was bathing, Aristæus left Thebes, ses and Diomede, who privately found a way and took up his residence in the island Cæa, into the temple. It is said, however, that one of the Cyclades. He is said to have the true palladium was not taken away, been the first, who taught mankind the cul- but only a statue of similar shape ; and tivation of bees. See Geor. iv. 317. that Æneas carried the true one with him to
17. Si tua Manala, &c. The meaning is: Italy. The olive-tree, the cock, the owl, if you have a regard for Mænalus, Lycæus, and the dragon, were sacred to her. She and the rest of your mountains in Arcadia, had various names, and as various offices come and be propitious to my undertaking. and functions attributed to her. She was These mountains were sacred to Pan. called Athena, from the city of Athens, of
18. Tegeæe : an adj. from Tegen, a city of which she was the tutelar goddess : Pallas, Arcadia, sacred to Pan. Minerva. Goddess from a giant of that name whom she slew;