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Lake Avernus itself, with its placid waters, and the beautiful shores and gently sloping hills that environ it, seems to agree ill enough with Virgil's description of it, as the jaws of hell, surrounded with gloomy forests, and sending forth noxious exhalations. But there is no reason to believe, that the poet's account of it is drawn wholly from imagination. We must consider the volcanic nature of the district, and the frequent and extensive alterations in the appearance of the ground, caused by the action of subterranean fires. One great convulsion, about three centuries ago, in thirty-six hours, filled up a large portion of the Lucrine lake, and produced a hill of considerable size, now called Monte Nuoro. Only a mile or two from this spot, there is a place called the Solfatara, evidently at some former time the crater of a vol. cano, which might now furnish a poet with some hints for a description of the infernal regions. The ground is strongly impregnated with sulphur, and from every crevice in it arise constantly smoke, steam, and oppressive exhalations. Some of the caverns in the neighbouring hills lead downwards by a narrow and gloomy passage to subterranean reser. voirs of hot mineral waters, the steam of which, constantly pouring from the dark cave, might well suggest the idea of an opening to Pluto's kingdom. Lake Avernus was probably forined in the crater of an extinct volcano, and its waters, though now pure, might once have been impregnated with mineral products, and have sent forth the noxious vapors described by the poet.

It was very natural for the ancients to imagine, that in such a country as this there were direct communications with the nether world. Those who heard of it only at a distance, through exaggerated reports and traditions, would give full reins to their fancy in describing the horrors of the spot, and the supernatural sights and sounds which terrified the visitant. Among the Greeks of Homer's time, who knew little about any country that was not inhabited by some of their own kindred, the wildest stories were current respecting lands situated far to the west. What faint rumors reached them respecting this remarka. ble district in the south of Italy, soon swelled into a grand and indistinct account of a region abounding with flaming mountains, holes in the ground from which issued noxious exhalations, gloomy lakes shut in by hills, and surrounded by interminable forests, and people dwelling in caverns, that were often shaken by fearful quiverings of the solid earth. Here, accordingly, Homer placed the land of the Cimmereans, and sent Ulysses to it to consult the shades of the dead. Oracles were established there, and prophets and Sibyls availed themselves of the popular belief, which assigned to them a direct communication with ihe world of spirits.

Of course, the wildness of these fables was corrected by the lapse of time, the progress of the arts, and the high pitch of civilization attained by the Roman people. Virgil lived in a refined and cultivated age, and, spending a large portion of his life in the immediate vicinity of the spot, was probably an eye-witness of some of those improvements, which deprived ihe country of its real and supposed horrors. The woods, which once gave such a gloomy aspect to the lake of Avernus, were cut down, and a communication opened with the sea, which converted it into a safe and commodious harbour for ships. But the same mythology was yet current, the general features of the country remained unchanged, and popular tradition preserved many curious legends respecting particular spots, and still spoke of the Sibyls who once prophesied there, and of the spirits which there rose from Tartarus. Here were fine materials for the poet, and Virgil made good use of them, in fashioning the most curious and striking portion of his immortal work.

Though, after Æneas descends with the Sibyl through the cavern, all the descriptions apply to places below ground, yet Virgil seems to

have copied the geography of the infernal regions from the aspect of the earth above. At least, tradition points out, even at the present day, all the localities of the imaginary journey through Tartarus. The traveller is still shown the Stygian lake, the rivers of hell, and the Elysian fields, not altâ terrâ et caligine mersas,' but bright and smiling under an Italian sun. The Stygian lake is now called Mare Morto, and is little more than a marsh, though, in the time of the Roman emperors, it was the inner basin of the harbour of Cape Misenum. The Elysian fields extend along its banks, and the great number of tombs found in them makes it probable, that the plain was used at a very remote period as a burial-place. There can be little doubt, that Virgil kept before his eyes these real localities, while painting from imagination the realms below; and some obscure and difficult passages scem lo prove, that at times he confounded, in his own mind, fictitious with actual topography. The whole book is of such a novel and peculiar character, that some preliminary information, more general than what could be given in the notes, seems to be necessary before the pupil can comprehend the design of the poet, or follow with an intelligent eye the thread of his narration.

1-5. 'immittit habenas,' loosed the reins, instead of spread all sail ; Virgil is fond of metaphors taken from races. •Euborcis — oris,' approaches the Eubæan shores of Cume; see “ Geography ” &c. Obvertunt- proras'; the ships were stationed with their prows pointing towards the sea, so that they might quickly put off. fundabat,' slayed, held firmly : 'emicat ardens,' eagerly leaped forth.

6-8. quærit – silicis'; a poetical phrase for striking a light, in order to kindle a fire ; seeds of flume instead of sparks. rapit,' cursu' understood; pass hastily through : densa Tecta ferarum, silvas,' the thick forests, the habitations of wild beasts : 'flumina'; their purpose was to find fresh water.

9 - 13. arces — immane,' the mountain height over which lofty Apollo presides, and the remote and private dwelling of the dreadful Sibyl, in a das care : magnam mentem animumque,' an enlightened intellect and lofty spirit : Delius vates '; Apollo. : Triviæ,' of Hecate; this grove was on the side of the hill, the top of which was crowned with the temple of Apollo.

14. Dædalus, as the report goes, flying from the kingdom of Minos. This famous artist, an Athenian by birth, resided long in Crete, where he built the labyrinth for king Minos. But, by ministering to the passions of Pasiphaë, he incurred the displeasure of that king, who shut up him and his son Icarus in a tower. But Dædalus made wings out of wax and feathers, and they both flew away. Icarus, flying too high, the heat of the sun melted his wings, and he dropped into that part of the Mediterranean, afterwards called from him the Icarian sea. Dæda. lus directed his course towards the cold north, and alighted at Cumæ, where he built this temple to Apollo

16 - 9. enavit,' fleuo; the similarity between flying and swimming is noted again in the phrase • Remigium alarum,' instead of "alas.' • Chalcidică arce,' on the Chalcidian summit, from Chalcis, a city of Eubea, whence the colonists of Cume came.

20 – 2. • In — Androgei,' on the doors was sculptured the death of Androgeus ; he was a son of Minos, and being often victorious at the Grecian games, the jealous Athenians slew him. For this cause, they were attacked and vanquished by Minos, who sentenced them to pay a yearly tribute of seven Athenian youths, and as many maidens, who were sent to Crete to be devoured in the labyrinth by the Minotaur. • Cecropidæ'; the Athenians were thus called from their first king Ce. crops : septena quotannis,' seden each year : Corpora natorum, for .natos': 'stat - urna'; the victims were selected by lot.


23 – 6. Contrà,' on the other fold of the door: 'respondet,' answer. ing, or corresponding to the sculptures on the first side : Gnosia tellus'; see note to Book III. 115. "supposta furto,' submitted to it by deceit; by a contrivance of Dædalus, the horrible passion of Pasiphač - see note to Ecl. VI. 46 — was gratified. The product of the union was the Minotaur, a monster, half man half bull : Veneris — nefandæ,' the memorial of the wicked amour.

27. ·Hic - domus,' here this puzzle of a building, also, was represented in sculpture ; see note to Book V. 588.

28-9. Theseus, the son of the king of Athens, volunteered to be one of the seven youths sent to Crete. On his arrival there, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with him, and, wishing to save him from death, applied for aid to Dedalus. He gave Theseus a ball of thread, fastening one end of which to the entrance of the labyrinth, and unrolling it as he went along, after he had met and slain the Mind

was able to find his way out again. reginæ, the royal maiden Ariadne : 'sed - miseratus,' but Dadalus aided her, for pitying, &c. : 'ambages,' the winding ways : 'resolvit,' gare a clue to.

31 - 3. All the tenderness of the poet shines out in these lines. The paternal feelings of Dedalus overpower his skill as a sculptor, when he attempts to represent the death of his son. sineret,' haberes'; the imperfect for the pluperfect; would have had, if grief had permitted. . oinnia'; a dissyllable; Gr. § 306.

34 - 6.' Perlegerent,' they would have surveyed : 'ni-Glauci,' if Achates, who had been already sent in advance, had not returned, and with him the priestess of Apollo and Hecate, Deïphobe, the daughter of Glaucus. Holdsworth thinks, that the priestess here spoken of was not the Sibyl herself, but her attendant; that the prophetess is always called 'vates' and dea,' while the subordinate is styled 'sacerdos.' The latter, he maintains, is the person speaking as far as line 55; then the Sibyl speaks from line 82 to 155; then the priestess again at 244, and afterwards the Sibyl, from 258 to the end. This is an ingenious hypothesis, and solves some difficulties in the text; but it is contradicted by line 45 et seqq., and is wholly untenable. Æneas sees but one female, and that is the Sibyl herself, Deiphobe.

38-9. grege de intacto, from the herd yet untouched by the yoke : • Præstiterit,' it would be better.

41. 'viri’; the attendants of Æneas, who prepare the sacrifices required. 'alta in templa,' into the lofty temple. It appears from line 45, 'Ventum erat,' that there was some space to be passed over between the temple where Æneas had stopped, and the cave.

42-4. The great side of the Eubaan rock — the Cumæan hill — was cut out in the manner of a carern; into which a hundred broad passages, a hundred apertures, lead. The cave had many apartments and wind. ing passages, and the rock partitions between them being pierced with many holes, the response of the Sibyl from the inmost chamber, sound. ing through these different apertures, seemed like so many distinct voices,- totidem voces.' .

45-51. 'ad limen,' to the entrance of the cave : - Poscere fata,' to ask for a response, a declaration of the fates that were to come. The description that follows, of the Sibyl, when the fit of inspiration comes upon her, is very grand. deus, adest' understood. Cui — fanti, as she thus spoke : unus,' in the sense of idem'; her countenance changed: sed — sonans, but her panting bosom and untamed heart swell with inspiration, her stature seemed to dilate, and her voice sounded superhuman : propiore numine,' by the present power : 'in vota,' for ' facere vota'; do you delay your pows?

53. • Attonita domūs'; for the cavern; the terror of the moment is represented as affecting even inanimate objects. "ora,' the doors would not open till the prayer was uttered.

56 - 60. graves — labores,' who hast always pitied the great sufferings of the Trojans ; Apollo, through the whole war, took part against the Greeks. • direxti,' by syncope, for direxisti'; Paris killed Achilles by shooting him with an arrow in the heel, Apollo directing his aim.

manus,' the hands that drew the bow. obeuntia,' encompassing, flov. ing round : te duce,' under thy guidance : 6 repôstas ' ; see Book III. 364. prætenta Syrtibus,' lying around the Syrtes ; see note to Book IV. 41.' Massylam'; see note to Book IV. 132.

62. Thus far the adverse fortune of Troy may have followed us ; “ may it follow us no farther” ; 'Hâc - tenus,' by tmesis.

64. quibus — Ilium,' who were inimical to Troy; you may well spare us now, since you have succeeded in destroying Ilium.

66 - 7. da — Teucros,' grant that the Trojans may obtain a home in Latium ; I ask for a kingdom that is due - that has been promised to me by the fates.

70-4. And I will appoint festal days, called after the name of Apollo; the Romans held solemn games, called ludi Apollinares,' to which Virgil refers. penetralia,' sanctuary, referring to the place under the temple of Apollo at Rome, where the Sibylline books were kept. • Te manent,' await you, shall be built for you. The Romans consulted these books on all great emergencies, in order to ascertain the future; hence, · Hic - ponam,' here I will place your oracles, the secret fates appointed to my people. The books were confided to fifteen persons, called the · Quindecemviri,' who are the lectos viros,' here spoken of. “Alma,' 'vates' understood. 'Foliis'; see note to Book III. 444.

76. Ipsa canas'; see note to Book III. 457.

77 -80. Again the fit of inspiration is described, as if the rapt Sibyl were struggling against the god, like a wild steed contending with its rider. nondum patiens,' not yet subdued by the divine influence : • Bacchatur,' wanders about in a frenzy: Excussisse,' to shake off*:

fatigat - premendo,' curbs her furious mouth, subdues her raging heart, and by restraining it adapts it to his purpose.

83 -4.0 – manent,' 0 thou who hast at length passed through the great dangers of the sea! Greater peril awaits you on land. • Lavinî'; see note to Book I. 258.

86. “Sed — volent,' but they will wish they never had come, so great trials are in store for them. In what solemn and fearful terms the fate of the Trojans is announced !

88-92. All the scenes of the Trojan war shall be renewed in Italy; the rivers, like the Siniors and the Xanthus formerly, shall run with Trojan blood. "alius – deâ,' another Achilles is ready in Latium, who also, like his prototype, is the son of a goddess. Turnus, the chief opponent of Æneas in Italy, is here referred to. He was the son of the nymph Venilia. Teucris - Juno,' Juno ever present and hostile to the Trojans. (in urbes,' in your distress, what people o

in your distress, what people of Italy, which of its cities will you not entreat for aid ?

93-4. A woman also will be the cause of this war, just as Helen was of the former one. Lavinia, who became the wife of Æneas, though once promised to Turnus, is here intended.

96 - 7. In whatever way your fortune will allow you. The first means of delirerance will be opened to you, in a way which you would least expect, from a Grecian city. Æneas obtained important aid in the Italian war from Evander, a king in Italy, although of Grecian origin, and who could not be expected, therefore, to be friendly to the Trojans.

99-101. 'ambages,' obscure sayings : 'antro remugit,' and cried aloud in the cave. The simile from lines 77-80 is renewed. •Concutit fræna,' directs the reins : "vertit stimulos,' plies the goad.

103 - 5. “Non – peregi,' no new or unexpected kind of trial, o virgin, novo rises before me. I anticipated the whole, and have already gone through with it in mind. 'mi'; Gr. § 133. Rem. 1. The warnings of Helenus and Anchises had prepared Æneas for the Italian war.

107. Dicitur,' esse' understood : et - refuso,' and the gloomy pool that receives the waters from the overflowing Acheron. The Acherusian lake, near Cumæ, is intended, which was supposed to receive the superfluous waters of Acheron, a river of the infernal regions.

109. Contingat,' may it happen, may it be permitted : 'et - pandas,' and open the fearful doors of Hades; pandas ’; Gr. § 260. Rem. 6.

111. «recepi,' I rescued him ; see · receptas,' Book I. 178.

114-6. Debilitated, but firm beyond the strength and the usual lot of old age. Moreover, he gave orders, that I should come as a suppliant to you with this request, and visit your dwelling ; see Book V. 731-7.

117 - 8. nec — Avernis,' nor has Hecate without reason made you preside over the groves of Arernus; since she has given you this power, you are able to open to me the infernal regions.

119 - 23. Since other persons, while living, have been permitted to visit the realms of the dead, this liberty may be accorded lo me also. For the story of Orpheus, see note to Geor. IV. 453. “Manes -- Cod. jugis,' to bring up the spirit of his wife: 'fretus,' relying upon, assisted by. The twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, were the sons of Leda, Tyndarus being the father of the former, and Jupiter of the latter. Pol. lux, consequently, was immortal, and when Castor was killed, he grieved so much, that Jupiter permitted him to share his immortality with his brother, and the two lived, day and day alternately, in heaven and in Hades. Theseus, attended by Pirithous— see note to lice 28went down to Tartarus in order to carry off Proserpina, but his attempt failed. Hercules went there in order to bring up Cerberus, and succeeded. 'et - summo,' what though these heroes were descended from the gods? My parentage also is from great Jore.

124-6. Saras tenebat'; the usual posture of a suppliant. "Sate divam,' ( thou who art descended from the race of the gods. "Averno'; here put for the infernal regions.

123-9. “Sed - est,' but to retrace one's steps and come up again to the upper uir, - this is the difficulty, this the hard task.

131- 3. Dis geniti,' descended from the gods ; connected with · Pauci': potuere,' have been able to do this, – to return from Hades. « Tenent - silvæ,' dark forests occupy all the intervening space between us and Hades. The allusion is to the thick groves round lake Avernas. • Cocytus'; see note to Geor. III. 38. This river, the Styx, and the Acheron are used indifferently for each other. “Quòd — menti,' but if you have so great an inclination.

135 - 8. insano labori,' rash undertaking : Hear what must first be done. A branch with golden leaves and a slender stem lies concealed in the thick wood. "Junoni infernw'; to Proserpina, who was queen of hell, as Juno was of heaven.

140 – 6. No one is allowed to enter the hidden places of the earth, till he has plucked from the tree this golden-leared growth. suum munus ferri sibi,' this appropriate gift to be brought to her. Primo — alter,' the first branch being torn of', another supplies its place. "et - manu,' and when found, pluck it off in due form.

148 - 51. Vincere,' to overcome its adhesion to the tree : 'nec ferro,' nor will you be able to serer it with hard steel. As if to inspire Æneas with conhdence in what she had told him, she now says, that, on his return, he will find one of his friends is dead. incestat funere, pollutes by his death; the presence of a dead body rendered a company unclean. pendes,' tarry to listen.

152-3. "Sedibus — suis,' first carry him to his last resting place. ea --- sunto,' let these be the first propitiatory sacrifices.

154. "invia vivis,' inaccessible to the living.

156 - 8. Æneas returns to the fleet, and finds what the Sibyl had foretold. •lumina,' for • oculos': 'cæcos -- secum,' and revolves in his mind the darkly announced events.

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