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deal as literally as possible with the Virgilian language in its various phases of presentation, from a conviction, now more confirmed than ever after a study of twenty years, that it is only by keeping as closely as possible to the literal sense of Virgil's ipsissima verba, that we can in any degree come to see and feel the infinite beauty, the marvellous and majestic power, and the subtle and tender grace of the incomparable original.
T. H. LINDSAY LEARY, D.C.L.
19, PECKHAM GROVE, CAMBERWELL.
VIRGIL AND HIS ENEID.
VIRGIL, or Vergil, was born of humble parentage, at Andes, three miles from Mantua, in the year A.U.c. 684, B.C. 70, the first consulate of Pompey and Crassus, seven years before the birth of the Emperor Augustus, and five before that of his friend Horace. In the year A.U.C. 699 he assumed the toga virilis, and left Cremona, where he had hitherto resided, for Mediolanum (Milan), whence he afterwards removed to Penthenope (Naples), or, according to the less probable statement of Eusebius, to Rome. Naples was then, next to Athens, the great school of literature and science; and here, in that intellectual repose which the uninitiated often mistake for listless indolence, he zealously pursued his favourite studies under the tuition of Parthenius in Greek; Tyro, the Epicurean, in philosophy; and Epidius in oratory.
In his twenty-second year he returned to Mantua, on the breaking out of the civil war between Julius Cæsar and Pompey.
After the battle of Philippi, he was among those whose lands were handed over to the soldiery of the victorious Triumvirs. But what seemed his ruin brought him into earlier notice than otherwise might have been his lot. was introduced to Mæcenas by Asinius Pollio, himself a poet, who had been made governor of Cisalpine Gaul, and was reinstated in his property. This happy event he gratefully celebrates in his first "Eclogue." But it appears that when he tried to resume possession, he was nearly slain by the rude soldier who had received a grant of the land, and it was some months before he was securely restored. In company with Horace, Varius, and other literary friends, he attended Mæcenas in the famous journey to Brundusium
(probably in 37 B.C.). He had already (in the year 40 B.C.) written the famous Eclogue on the consulship of Pollio; and soon after this he began the Georgics, at the special desire of Mæcenas. They seem to have been published in their complete form soon after the battle of Actium. For the rest of his life, which he closed at Brundusium in the fifty-first year of his age (B.c. 19), he was occupied with his "Eneid," which with modest self-depreciation he ordered to be destroyed. But it was revised by his friends Varius and Plotius, and published by order of the Emperor, whom he had accompanied in a tour through Greece just before his death.
Patriotism is the very key-note of the "Eneid." From the first book of this national epic, where Jove promises the empire of the world to the Roman race, with no limit to its territory except the ocean, no bound to its fame except the heavens, down to the last Æneid, where the divine founder of the Roman State wins his victorious way to an Italian throne, Virgil paints the most captivating pictures of patriotism ever painted. To paint the portraits of Rome's immortal patriots, the poet brings down his hero Æneas to the land of spirits, in which he allots the highest happiness to the souls of the patriotic, and describes the unspeakable agonies in the lowest depth of Tartarus as the penalty of the traitor who sells his country for gold. "There is" (say Messrs. Lonsdale and Lee in their Globe Translation) "in Virgil a great tenderness of feeling, something better and more charming than mere Roman virtue or morality; that he excels in pathos, as Homer in sublimity, is the old opinion, and it is surely the right one. This pathos is given at times. by a single epithet, by a slight touch, with graceful art by an indirect allusion; this tenderness is more striking as contrasted with the stern Roman character, and with the stately majesty of the verse. The poet never becomes affected or sentimental, he hardly ever offends against good taste; he knows where to stop; he is excellent in his silence as well as in his speech. Virgil, as Wordsworth says, is a great master of language; but no one can really be a master of language unless he be also a master of thought, of which language is the expression."
Ille ego, qui quondam gracili modulatus avend
ARMA, virumque cano, Troja qui primus ab oris
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine læso
Urbs antiqua fuit, Tyrii tenuêre coloni,
Hinc populum late regem belloque superbum
Talia flammato secum Dea corde volutans,
Hic vasto rex Eolus antro
Luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras