« PreviousContinue »
Scottish School-Book Association.
New Series, No. XXIV.
ENEID OF VIRGIL,
THE FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, AND SIXTH BOOKS.
WITH EXAMINATION QUESTIONS, NOTES,
AND A VOCABULARY.
PUBLISHED FOR THE ASSOCIATION BY
WILLIAM COLLINS, SONS, & COMPANY,
Price Two Shillings.
In publishing the following Selections from the Eneid of Virgil, the SCOTTISH SCHOOL-BOOK ASSOCIATION have had in view to supply a want in their Series of School Books. The text is that of the late Professor Hunter of St. Andrews, whose erudition and far-famed classical scholarship will be a sufficient guarantee for its accuracy. The book is intended to be a sequel to Caesar, lately published by the Association, and has been compiled in a great measure on the same model. The information required for the Questions will, it is presumed, be obtained as in Caesar, from the Notes, the Vocabulary, and the Association's Rudiments. The Notes, for the size of the Work, will be found pretty copious; and various improvements, not attended to in works of the same size and pretensions, have been introduced in the Vocabulary. The Synonyms referred to in the Questions are all explained and compared, and when there is any difference in the meanings of the words, the proper translation is given and reference made by figures to the passage in the text where it occurs. Another useful feature in the Work, is that the whole of the First Book is scanned by means of a table. It may be that errors have crept in while the Work was going through the press, and in that case, Teachers will confer a favour on the Publishers, if they will communicate the same to them.
LIFE OF VIRGIL.
PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS MARO was born at Andes, near Mantua, B.C. 70, five years before the birth of Horace, and seven before that of Augustus. There is some doubt regarding the social position of his father, but it is probable that he was in possession of a farm on the banks of the Mincius. His easy circumstances enabled him to give his son a good education. The course of instruction usually imparted to the Roman youth consisted of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, the critical study of their classical writers, sometimes supplemented by those of Greece, together with practice in Composition and Rhetoric. Virgil studied these subjects at the neighbouring towns of Cremona and Mediolanum. He assumed the "Toga virilis" on the day on which he entered his sixteenth year, the same day on which the poet Lucretius died. Instead of adopting a profession, he seems to have proceeded to Neapolis to prosecute still further his favourite studies. Here he became the pupil of the Greek Parthenius, an author of considerable popularity, under whom he studied the language and literature of Greece, and amassed that wonderful store of learning which is so conspicuous in all his writings. He also frequented the school of Syron, the Epicurean philosopher (probably at Rome), having for a fellow-pupil that Alphenus Varus whom he celebrates in the sixth Eclogue. Medicine and Mathematics are said to have had peculiar charms for him. Probably his feeble health might have turned his attention to the first of these. After thus far completing his education, it does not appear that he applied himself to any of those pursuits which were the speediest roads to fame and fortune. The practice of oratory and arms in his time and for some centuries later, were the only two professions deemed worthy of the noble Roman. Virgil's weak health and awkward speech might possibly have disqualified him from attaining eminence in either of these; but it is more probable that he felt a natural repugnance to both, and preferred to retire to his comfortable patrimony on the banks of the Mincius, where he could enjoy his favourite Theocritus, and pay his court to the rustic muse at his ease. It is generally believed that at this period he wrote some of the Eclogues and the other small pieces usually ascribed to
In the midst of these pleasing pursuits his rural enjoyment was rudely disturbed by the consequences of the victory of Octavianus (afterwards Augustus) over Brutus and Cassius, at Philippi, B.C. 42. This battle had given the supremacy to the triumvirs over the republican party, and they immediately thereafter partitioned the Roman world among themselves. Africa fell to Lepidus, the East to Antonius, and Octavianus returned to Italy to reward his veterans with the lands he had promised them. Besides other districts the lands of Cremona and Mantua, where Brutus had met with some support, were allotted to the soldiers, and among others Virgil was deprived of his farm. The contemporary poets Horace, Tibullus, and Propertius, suffered a similar misfortune. The literary talents of Virgil, however, had procured for him a powerful friend in the person of Asinius Pollio, who had recently been appointed governor of Gallia Transpadana, the district in which Virgil's farm was situated. This Pollio was a man of distinguished literary ability himself, and seems to have been assiduous in promoting literature and befriending literary genius. He has the honour of forming the first public library at Rome, and, besides Virgil, Horace, other poets and writers enjoyed his patronage and generosity. By his advice Virgil repaired to Rome to entreat Augustus for the restoration of his property. Virgil's poetic talent and literary success were a powerful recommendation to the favour and assistance of Augustus. This prince had a great veneration for literary genius, and usually spent his leisure moments in reading the Latin and Greek authors, or in the society of the philosophers, poets, and other writers of the time. Among other measures to promote the cultivation of learning and art, he erected two magnificent public libraries, founded and endowed public schools, and liberally rewarded the labours of the learned. The example of the prince did not fail to communicate itself to other wealthy and influential nobles, and accordingly at no period of Roman history do we find learning so highly respected, and the learned receiving a more generous recompence-a circumstance which has invested the reign of Augustus with so much glory in the eyes of posterity. The most famous of these patrons was Mæcenas, the sagacious minister of Augustus. This distinguished knight, when not engaged with public duties, led a life of sumptuous refinement in his villa on the Esquiline hill. This mansion he had fitted up with all the luxurious appliances which his great wealth could afford. Around his board were daily collected philosophers, orators, poets, actors, representatives of every kind of literary genius, in whose society he delighted. When Virgil came to Rome he was introduced to this brilliant circle through the recommendation of Pollio, or
that of Alphenus Varus, and the recovery of his estate though the first, was by no means the only advantage he gained from it. Maecenas and his imperial master Augustus were not long in discovering the eminent talents of the pastoral bard of Mantua, and he was soon admitted to their intimate friendship and society. Shortly after he had acquired the favour of these illustrious personages, he left the banks of the Mincius, and took up his residence in Rome on the Esquiline hill. He was frequently an honoured guest at the imperial palace; but his favourite resort was the mansion of Mæcenas, where the accomplished guests frequently amused themselves by composing and reciting poems, and sauntering in friendly groups through the beautiful gardens that adjoined the mansion house. His increasing fame and influential friends soon opened up to him the best society of the capital. His popularity became so great that on one occasion, when some of his pieces were read in the theatre, the whole assemblage rose to do him honour. He was too timid and retiring by nature to enjoy the demonstrative admiration which was sometimes accorded him on the streets, and on such occasions he was glad to escape from the vulgar gaze by taking refuge in the nearest house."
It was during this residence at Rome that Virgil became acquainted with Horace, whom he had the privilege of introducing to the notice of his patron. This acquaintanceship ultimately ripened into the closest friendship. The generous protection and encouragement which these bards received, they amply repaid by conferring immortality on the names of their patrons.
The next event in the life of Virgil which has been recorded, is the journey to Brundusium, which Horace describes in one of his satires (Sat. i. 5). Mæcenas and Cocceius had been intrusted with an important commission to that city, and they proceeded thither by easy stages accompanied by the literary friends, Virgil, Horace, Varius, and Plotius. They seem to have enjoyed themselves right merrily on the journey, judging from the description Horace has left of it. There is some doubt regarding the particular date of this journey, but it is most probable that it took place B.c. 40, when a reconciliation was effected between Antonius and Augustus.
As has been already stated, the Eclogues and other small pieces were the first productions of Virgil's intellect. Their merits, however, were sufficient to attract the notice of Pollio, and procure the friendship of Augustus and Mæcenas. These were probably all finished before the year B.C. 37. At the suggestion of Mæcenas he was induced to undertake a poem on agricultural subjects, a work of higher pretensions than any he had hitherto attempted. Whilst engaged on the