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ascertain the best interpretations and definitions of words, and to furnish the Dictionary with the references necessary to illustrate and verify the meanings given. One feature of the work, which I find in none before, is a complete representation of all the proper and personal names found in the text. For this I am indebted chiefly to the list appended to the smaller edition of Ribbeck.
In the first edition of my Aeneid, published in 1860, I called attention to the proper spelling of the name Vergilius; which, indeed, at that time, had already been ascertained and adopted by some of the best Vergilian scholars of Germany. It has now become so familiar to American scholars, through German editions of the classics and through some of our own best authorities, that I have ventured to adopt the true name in the present edition of the works of Vergil.
As to the fact that the poet called himself Vergilius, Latin scholars are now universally agreed. It is the form found in all the earliest manuscripts and inscriptions, while Greek writers uniformly represented the name by the corresponding form Ovepyínios or Bepyíλios. In Mommsen's "Inscriptions," in which are found many, probably all, examples of the family name on extant monuments, it is everywhere Vergilius. In the feminine form, in one single example Virgilia is used instead of Vergilia. The most notable and most accessible of these inscriptions is that of the "baker's tomb" close by the Porta Maggiore at Rome; a monument pertaining to the age of the poet himself. On this appears the name of the baker in the genitive form, Vergili Eurysacis.
When we come to the MSS., both of Vergil and other Latin authors in which his name occurs, none earlier than the ninth century change the e to i; while many of that century, and even
some of the tenth, retain the correct form; but about the end of the tenth century the latter seems to have entirely yielded its place.
The cause of this change seems to have been that the monks of the mediaeval period, many of whom devoted themselves to the copying of classical manuscripts, took a fancy to substitute "Virgilius" for "Vergilius." They probably thonght that there was little difference in sound between the e and the i, and that their new spelling of the poet's name was more in keeping with some of their notions about its origin and significance. For in the fourth Eclogue he had sung, as they believed, of the Divine Son of the Virgin; the Messiah prophesied in the same poem was the virga, or branch of Jesse and David; moreover, the poet was the magician of the golden branch, or aurea virga of the sixth book of the Aeneid.* And therefore the name was transformed into Virgilius. This change of one letter, which seemed to them, and which seems to many of our own day, so trivial, would be received almost as an outrage in the case of any living or recent author. Suppose, for example, we should write Tinnyson for Tennyson, or Spinser for Spenser, would there not be a very general protest?
In the oldest MSS., the "Vatican " or Roman and the Medicean," dating from the fourth and fifth centuries, we find in the text of the fourth Georgic, v. 563, Vergilium, and invariably the genitive Vergili in the oft-repeated formula of the copyists, used to mark the end and beginning of the several books--as at the end of the second Georgic: "P. Vergili Maronis Georgicon lib. II. expl(icitus), incipit lib. III. feliciter." So, too, the name of the poet several times occurs in the fine palimpsest MS. of Pliny, of the fourth century, published by Sillig as the fifth * See Fleckeisen's Jahrbücher, 97, pp. 294–296.
volume of his edition of Pliny's Natural History, where it is uniformly Vergilius.
The correct form was known to the learned Politianus of the fifteenth century, and was restored in several of the earliest printed editions of the works of Vergil, both Italian and German; but the monkish authority was too strong for them.
Nearly half a century ago German philologists began once more to write the name in its proper form. The earliest examples I have found are in Fickert's Pliny, 1842, and Obbarius's Prudentius, 1845. The German philological magazines soon adopted both Vergilius and Vergil; Vergilian editors, as Freund, in 1851, and Ladewig, in his edition of 1854, ventured to use the correct form, and the example was followed by the editors of Latin classics generally; so that the misspelled word has now disappeared from nearly all German philological and classical writings, excepting old publications, and reprints of old editions.
In England and America the corrected Latin form is used by all the best authorities, such as the Latin grammars of Roby, Harkness, and Gildersleeve, the Harpers' Latin Dictionary, representing the scholarship of Short and Lewis, and other eminent Latinists, the Conington edition of Vergil, by far the foremost English edition of the present century, and by the American Journal of Philology. Many, indeed, still adhere to the English form, while admitting the proper spelling in Latin. But, of course, the incongruity of Vergilius and Virgil can not long be tolerated, and the latter, as in Germany, must speedily follow its cognate of the dark ages.
LIFE AND WRITINGS OF VERGIL.
PUBLIUS VERGILIUS MARO was born at Andes, a village near Mantua, in the consulship of Pompey and Crassus, B. c. 70. Vergil's father possessed a farm at Andes sufficiently valuable to place his family in easy circumstances, and to afford him the means of educating his son under the most eminent teachers then living in Italy. The education of Vergil appears to have been commenced at Cremona, from whence, on assuming the manly gown, in his sixteenth year, he was transferred to the charge of new teachers at Milan.
After pursuing his studies, probably for several years, at Milan, he placed himself under the instruction of the Greek poet and grammarian, Parthenius, who was then flourishing at Naples. At the age of twenty-three he left Naples for Rome, where he finished his education under Syro the Epicurean, an accomplished teacher of philosophy, mathematics, and physics.
Vergil's love of literary pursuits, as well as the delicacy of his physical constitution, led him to choose a life of retirement rather than that public career which was more generally deemed proper for a Roman citizen. Hence, at the age when aspiring young Romans usually entered upon the stirring scenes of political and military life, he withdrew from Rome to his native Andes, with the intention of devoting himself to agriculture, science, and letters. The Sicilian Greek, Theocritus, was at this time his favorite author, and it was from him that the general plan, though not the individual character, of the Bucolics was derived.
The minor poems, such as the Culex, Ciris, etc., which have been appended to the works of Vergil, and which are sometimes
reckoned among his earlier productions, are ascribed to him on very insufficient grounds. The Eclogues were begun about B. C. 42, at the request of C. Asinius Pollio, who was then acting as the lieutenant of Antony in Gaul. Pollio was himself distinguished as a poet, and not less as a scholar, orator, and historian. Under his patronage the second, third, and fifth Eclogues had already been written, when the literary labors and the peaceful life of the poet were suddenly interrupted. The veteran legions of Octavian, on returning from Philippi, and demanding the allotments of land which had been promised them as a reward for their services in the civil war, were authorized to take possession of eighteen Italian cities, with the district of country pertaining to each. The cities thus treated were those which had espoused the side of Brutus. For this the unhappy occupants of the adjacent country were forced to give up their hereditary estates to the rapacious soldiery. As the lands of Cremona, which was one of the condemned cities, were not sufficient to satisfy the legionaries to whom they had been assigned, they took violent possession also of a part of the country belonging to the neighboring city of Mantua. Vergil, whose farm was in this district and was thus endangered, had recourse at first to Pollio, and for a time was secure under his protection. But when that commander, in B. C. 41, marched with his troops to the aid of L. Antonius in the Perusian war, Vergil was compelled to seek relief from Octavian in person, and for this purpose visited Rome. It was the kind reception given him by the emperor on this occasion which inspired the grateful and glowing eulogy contained in the first Eclogue, written in the summer of B. c. 41.
After the close of the Perusian war, the Mantuan country was again disturbed by the demands of the veterans, and our poet in vain, though at the risk of his life, attempted to maintain his rights against the centurion Arrius. Fleeing again for succor to Octavian, he was reinstated, though not without long and anxious delay, in the possession of his farm. During this period of delay and depressing uncertainty, in the autumn of B. c. 41, he wrote the ninth Eclogue, in which he bewails his unhappy lot. But on obtaining at length the object of his petition, his joy and grati