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of the poet come out so clearly in these passages that they help us to understand the Aeneid better in its meaning both for Virgil's own age and for all time.
The present edition is meant to meet the needs of pupils in the higher classes of Secondary Schools and those of the 'ordinary' Latin Class in the Scottish Universities. Lovers of Virgil may also find it convenient to have these passages collected.
The Introduction is intended to appeal both to younger and older students of Virgil's works in general and will, it is hoped, add to the interest of the book. Thanks mainly to British scholars we can now estimate the poem far better as reflecting the history of the time. Moreover recent research has thrown fresh light on all Virgil's earlier writings especially in relation to the poets of his day1. I have tried to point out the relation of the Georgics both to his earlier and to his later work and thus to show Virgil's steady growth both in thought and art.
The influence of Lucretius is also discussed both in the earlier admiration for Epicurean science, which Virgil soon outgrew, and also in the deeper and lifelong enthusiasm which helped in great part to make him, more than all others, 'the Humanist Poet.'
British scholars from Conington, first and foremost, down to Page and Sidgwick have done such admirable work on the Georgics that not much room is left for fresh interpretation of the poem. A more conscientious editor than Conington could not be found: he passes over no difficulty, and is careful to admit to the full the force of any evidence for an interpretation even when he himself rejects it. It must be admitted that Virgil's language is frequently
1 These results are skilfully summed up by Mr Mackail in an admirable paper, "Virgil and Virgilianism" (Classical Review for 1908).
obscure so that we cannot decide which of several possible meanings he intended.
Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Who can tell the exact meaning of this line? (Perhaps its strength may be partly in the very vagueness, which widens its application.) Munro regrets that Virgil lacks "the transparent clearness of Ovid." Water may be clear because it is shallow. It must be admitted that Virgil at times "shadows out more meanings than one, not discriminating them in his own mind as sharply as they must be distinguished by a modern commentator1." The Georgics offer fewer difficulties than the Aeneid with its frequent inversions and transferences of construction2 and, not least, by "his habit of hinting at two or three modes of expression, while actually employing one3." But Virgil is in general difficult to translate. The position of a word, the choice of one synonym rather than another, may affect the meaning of a sentence in his case far more than in other writers. No commentator on the poet has equalled Conington in instinctive perception of such points: sometimes he may, with intention, overstress their force, but always with marvellous intuition of the relation of single words or phrases to the whole sentence. In the notes his readings have been frequently quoted and emphasized as a valuable lesson for the young student in the fine art of translating. They make him realize the diffi
1 For a simple instance see Conington's note on G. III, 9, and Aen. II, I.
2 See note on G. IV, 50 in the present volume.
3 Conington, Preface to verse-translation, 1879, p. xiv. 4 See for instance the lines
Quo fletu manes, qua numina voce moveret? Illa quidem Stygia nabat iam frigida cumba. G. IV, 505-6. Conington's rendering may be over-stressed but he has caught
culties of 'conscientious rendering,' and often the almost impossibility of reconciling exact scholarship and the exacting literary sense which asks not merely an equivalent for each clause but demands also the spirit which binds all clauses together in a living, glowing sentence.
I am much indebted to Mr Page's commentary, which is extremely thorough and helpful. Sidgwick's brief notes are very much to the point and his Index of style is valuable as referring Virgil's peculiarities to general principles. Keightley's edition is very serviceable from his knowledge of ancient and modern husbandry in Italy as well as at home. For all that appeals to the naturalist, especially in Georgic IV, Mr Royds' interesting book, Beasts, Birds and Bees of Virgil (second edition, 1918), has been helpful.
Conington says, "There are few writers whose text is in so satisfactory a state as Virgil's." This is due to the fact that of our best MSS. several date from the fourth century. Moreover the text was from the first century the subject of close study by grammarians and commentators, much of whose work is preserved. A few important variants are discussed in their place.
Amongst many writers on Virgil, British and foreign, I am specially indebted to Sellar, whose admirable work is so condensed that it will always be read more by the scholar than by the young student, also to Sainte-Beuve's delightful Étude sur Virgile. Édouard Goumy's Les Latins (1892) is also useful. Dr T. R. Glover's very readable book treats ably the influences, literary and national, which moulded the poet's outlook. Dr Warde Fowler's Social Life at
the spirit of both lines and the relation of one to the other. Compare again at Aen. IV, 382 his version of "si quid pia numina possunt," or, at so different a passage as G. 1, 79-81 his rendering of the effect given by the position of arida tantum and effetos.
Rome in the age of Cicero throws a flood of light on the historical background of Virgil's poem. The book makes the period of Virgil's earlier manhood with all its human problems live before us, like some familiar landscape seen from a fresh height. It is to be regretted that the same scholar did not perform for the Georgics what he has done for the last half of the Aeneid, in his treatment of which'science' in the shape of profound scholarship works hand in hand with intuition to most fruitful result. I am indebted to Dr Fowler for revising my list of Selections and suggesting several changes which have been carried out.
I have gained much from discussing a number of the passages with a scholar of so wide a range as Professor Grierson. I also owe valuable suggestions to my friend, Mr H. A. Webster, late Librarian to the University of Edinburgh.
Professor Grierson allows me to quote the following from a letter of his which expresses the growing sense of the importance of making the best work of those Latin authors, by whom English writers have been most influenced, easily accessible to the real student of English Literature. It is hoped that these selections may be of some service in this way.
"I read your Introduction to your Selections from Virgil's Georgics with the greatest interest. It is just such a book as I should like to be able to ask my English Honours Students to read and study. I am always being made to feel the need of some more extended and literary study of Classical Literature than most of them bring with them from school. But time is limited and there must be some selection. I believe that both teachers and publishers will have to consider the necessity for focussing classical reading on our own Literature—I mean selecting what is read
in school with a view to what is most instructive and delightful for the student of English writers. Among classical authors read from this point of view Virgil will probably hold the chief place, and of his works the Georgics are as important and interesting as the Aeneid, while selection in their case is more necessary.
'I have on occasion asked my best students to compare the spirit of Virgil's nature-poetry with that of Wordsworth. Only one or two had the reading to attempt it. Translations are a poor substitute for good selections in the original with helpful introduction and notes."
Finally, I must express my thanks to the University Press reader for the care that he has shown in revising the proofs.
August 11, 1921