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It is singular, that Virgil's account of this part of Sicily should be so very different from that of Homer, when there was so short a space, only a few months, between the times that their two heroes visited it. Indeed, Virgil seems to have followed the historians, in his conduct of this part of his poem, more than the sentiments of Homer; who makes this very country where Æneas was so hospitably received, the habitation of Polyphemus and the Cyclops, where Ulysses loft fo many of his companions, and himself made so very narrow an escape. The island of Licosia where he moored his fleet, lay very near the port of Drepanum, and Homer describes the adventure of Polyphemus to have happened on the shore of Sicily, opposite to that island. Virgil has taken the liberty to change the scene of a&ion, as he was better acquainted both with the geography and history of the country than Homer; and perhaps with a good deal of propriety places it at the foot of mount Ætna. I am afraid there is not so much propriety in his changing the action itself, and contradicting the account that Homer gives of it. For Ulysses says that Polyphemus devoured four of his companions; but that he, by his address, saved all the rest, and was himself the last that escaped out of the cave. Now Virgil makes Ulysses to have told a lie, for he affirms that ne left Achemenides behind him; and Achemenides too gives a different account of this affair from Ulysses: he assures Æneas, that Polyphemus devoured only two of his companions ; after which they put out his eye, (acuto telo) with a sharp weapon; which rather gives the idea of a spear or javelin, than that of a great beam of wood made red hot in the fire, as - Homer describes it. But there are many such passages. Don't you think they seem either to indicate a negligence in Virgil, or a want of deference for his master? neither of which, I believe, he has ever been accused of..
The Sicilian authors are by no means pleased with Virgil for making Æneas the founder of this temple of Venus Erecina. They will only allow that the colony which he was obliged to leave there, after the burning of his ships, did, in honour of his mother Venus, build the city of Eryx around her temple: but they all insist upon it, that the temple was built by Eryx, or as they call him Erice, another son of Venus, but much older than Æneas; the same that was found to be so equal a match for Hercules, but was at last killed by him, at a boxing match near the foot of this mountain. The spot where this is supposed to have happened, still retains the name of (il campo di Hercole) the field of Hercules. Through the whole fifth book of the Æneid, this Eryx is stiled the brother of Æneas; and, in his account of the games, Virgil introduces those very gauntlets with which he fought with Hercules, (in hoc ipso littore) in this very field. The light
of which, from their enormous size, astonishes the whole host, and frightens the champion Dares so much that he refuses to fight.
Adieu. The opera begins in two days; after which, I think, we fhall soon take leave of Sicily
Palermo, July 21st. YESTERDAY we walked up to the Monte Pelegrino to pay our refpe&s to St. Rosolia, and thank her for the variety of entertainment she has afforded us. It is one of the most fatiguing expeditions I ever made in my life. The mountain is extremely high, and so uncommonly steep, that the road up to it is very properly termed la Scala, or the Stair : before the discovery of St. Rofolia, it was looked upon as almost inaccessible, but they have now at a vast expence cut out a road, over precipices that were almost perpendicular. We found the saint lying in her grotto, in the very fame attitude in which she is said to have been discovered; her head reclining gently upon her hand, and a crucifix before her. This is a statue of the finest white marble, and of most exquisite workmanship. It is placed in the inner part of the cavern, on the very same spot where St. Rosolia expired. It is the figure of a lovely young girl of about fifteen, in an act of devotion. The artist has found means to throw something that is extremely touching, into the countenance and air of this beautiful ftatue. I never in my life saw one that affected me so much, and am not surprised that it should have captivated the hearts of the people. It is covered with a
robe of beaten gold, and is adorned with some valuable jewels. The cave is of a considerable extent, and extremely damp, so that the poor little saint must have had very cold uncomfortable quarters. They have built a church around it; and appointed priests to watch over these precious relics, and receive the offerings of pilgrims that visit them.
An inscription graved by the hand of St. Rosolia herself, was found in a cave in mount Quesquina, at a considerable distance from this mountain. It is said that she was disturbed in her retreat there, and had wandered from thence to mount Pelegrino, as a more retired and inaccessible place. I shall copy it exa&ly, as it is preserved in the poor little faint's own Latin.
NE ET ROSARUM
DEI MEI JESU
After St. Rosolia was scared from the cave where this inscription was found, she was never more heard of, till her bones were found about five hundred years after, in this spot. Vol. II.