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declares that Silius Italicus first restored its long-forgotten honours. What is at present called the tomb, is in the form of a small, square, flat-roofed building, placed on a sort of platform, near the brow of a precipice on one side, and on the other sheltered by a superincumbent rock. Half a century ago, when More travelled in Italy, an ancient laurel (a shoot, perhaps, of the same which Petrarch had planted) overhung the simple edifice.-(More's Travels, Letter 65.) Within the low-vaulted cell was once placed the urn supposed to contain the ashes of Virgil. Pietro Stefano, who lived in the thirteenth century,' mentions that he had seen the urn, with the epitaph inscribed on it, which is said to have been written by the poet himself a few moments before his death :
"Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nunc
Passing by the "Eclogues" and "Georgics," we will conclude the present biographical sketch with a few observations on the "Eneïd." This production has for its subject the settlement of the Trojans in Italy, and, belonging to a nobler class of poetry than the "Georgics," is almost equally perfect in its kind. It ranks, indeed, in the very highest order, and it was in this exalted species of poetry that Virgil was most fitted to excel. Undisturbed by excess of passion, and never hurried away by the current of ideas, he calmly consigned to immortal verse the scenes which his fancy had first painted as lovely, and which his understanding had afterwards approved. The extent, too, and depth of the design proposed in the "Æneid" rendered this subjection to the judgment indispensable. Among the imperfections, which criticism has pointed out, the greater portion are to be attributed, as in the instance of the prophecy of Celano and its ludicrous accomplishment, not so much to the poet himself, as to the manners and feelings of the age. See on Æn. iii. 257.
The chief objection which critics in all ages have urged against the "Eneid," or, at least, against the poetical character of its author, is the defect in what forms the most essential quality of a poet, originality and the power of invention. It has never, indeed, been denied that he possessed a species of
invention, if it may be so called, which consists in placing ideas that have been pre-occupied in a new light, or presenting assemblages, which have been already exhibited, in a new point of view. Nor has it been disputed that he often succeeds in bestowing on them the charm of novelty, by the power of more perfect diction, and by that poetic touch which transmutes whatever it lights on into gold. But it is alleged that he has contrived few incidents, and opened up no new veins of thought. It is well known that the Roman dramatic writers, instead of contriving plots of their own, translated the master-pieces of Sophocles, Euripides, and Menander. The same imitative spirit naturally enough prevailed in the first attempts at Epic poetry. When any beautiful model exists in an art, it so engrosses and intimidates the mind, that we are apt to think that, in order to execute successfully any work of a similar description, the approved prototype must be imitated. It is supposed that what had pleased once must please always; and circumstances, in themselves unimportant, or perhaps accidental, are converted into general and immutable rules. It was natural then, for the Romans, struck with admiration at the sublime and beautiful productions of the epic muse of Greece, to follow her lessons with servility. The mind of Virgil also led him to imitation. His excellence lay in the propriety, beauty, and majesty of his poetical character, in his judicious contrivance of composition, his correctness of drawing, his purity of taste, his artful adaption of the conceptions of others to his own purposes, and his skill in the combination of materials. Accord ingly, when Virgil first applied himself to frame a poem, which might celebrate his imperial master, and emulate the productions of Greece, in a department of poetry wherein she was as yet unrivalled, he first naturally bent a reverent eye on Homer; and, though he differed widely from his Grecian master in the qualities of his mind and genius, he became his most strict and devoted disciple. The Latin dramatists, in preparing their pieces for the stage, had frequently compounded them of the plots of two Greek plays, melted, as it were, into one; and thus compensated for the want of invention and severe simplicity of composition by greater richness and variety of incident. From
their example, Virgil' comprehended in his plan the arguments of both the Iliad and Odyssey; the one serving him as a guide for the wanderings and adventures of his hero previous to the landing in Latium, and the other as a model for the wars which he sustained in Italy, to gain his destined bride Lavinia. He had thus before him all the beauties and defects of Homer, as lights to gaze at and as rocks to be shunned, with the judgment of ages on both, as a chart which might conduct him yet to greater perfection. In the Iliad, however, there was this superiority, that a sense of injury, easily communicated to the reader, existed among the Greeks; and in the Odyssey, we feel, as it were, the hero's desire of returning to his native country. But both those ruling principles of action are wanting in the "Eneid," where the Trojans rather inflict than sustain injury, and reluctantly seek a settlement in new and unknown lands.
Another objection made to the "Eneid" is its occasional violation of the order of time, and among the instances of anachronism that have been cited by industrious critics, the one which occurs in the case of Dido occupies a prominent place. The whole question relative to Dido is discussed by Heyne in the first Excursus to the fourth Æneid. He divides the earlier history of Carthage into three epochs: the first commences 50 years before the taking of Troy; the second, 173 years after the former and the third, 190 years still later. At the commencement of this third epoch he makes Dido to have flourished, and to have improved, not, however, to have founded, the city, which, in fact, existed long before. Now Virgil has just so far availed himself of ancient traditions as to give probability to his narration, and to support it by the prisca fides facto. He wrote, however, at such a distance of time from the events which formed the groundwork of his poem, and the events themselves were so obscure, that he could depart from history without violating probability. Thus, it appears from chronology, that Dido lived many, hundred years after the Trojan war; but the point was one of obscure antiquity, known perhaps to few readers, and not very precisely ascertained. Hence, so far was the violence offered to chronology from revolting
his countrymen, that Ovid, who was so knowing in ancient histories and fables, wrote an heroic epistle as addressed by Dido to Æneas.
Besides the well-known and authentic works of Virgil that have now been enumerated, several poems still exist, which are very generally ascribed to him; but which, from their inferi ority, are supposed to be the productions of his early youth. Of these, the longest is the Culex, which has been translated by Spenser under the title of Virgil's Gnat. Its authenticity, however, has been doubted. The Ciris, the Moretum, and the Copa complete the list.-(Dunlop, History of Roman Literature, vol. iii. p. 68. seqq.)