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men proud of their country, on better grounds than the mere glory of its arms and the extent of its conquests. It would be absurd to suppose that Virgil's verses induced any Roman to put his hand to the plough, or to take from his bailiff the management of his own estates; but they served undoubtedly to revive some of the simple tastes and sentiments of the olden time, and to perpetuate, amidst the vices and corruptions of the empire, a pure stream of sober and innocent enjoyments. . . . . To comprehend the moral grandeur of the Georgics, in point of style the most perfect piece of Roman literature, we must regard it as the glorification of Labor. .... On the labors of the husbandman, hard and coarse as they seem to the unpurged vision, Virgil throws all the colors of the radiant heaven of the imagination. Labor improbus, incessant, importunate labor, conquers all things ; subdues the soil, baffles the inclemency of the seasons, defeats the machinations of Nature, that cruel stepmother, and wins the favor and patronage of the gods."*

The concluding lines of the Georgica were written at Naples (Georg. IV. 559), but we can hardly infer that the whole poem was written there, though this is the literal meaning of the words,

Haec super arvorum cultu pecorumque canebam. We may however conclude that it was completed after the battle of Actium, B. C. 31, while Caesar was in the East.

The epic poem of Virgil, the Aeneid, was probably long contemplated by the poet. Like Milton, he appears from a very early period to have had a strong desire of composing an epic poem, and, like him also, to have been long undecided on his subject. He is said to have begun a metrical chronicle of the Alban Kings, but afterwards to have given it up because of the harshness of the names. After the completion of the Georgics, or perhaps somewhat earlier, he laid down the plan of a regular epic on the wanderings of Aeneas, and the Roman destinies; to form a sort of continuation of the Iliad to Roman times, and to combine the features of that poem and the Odyssey. The idea was sufficiently noble, and the poem, long before its publication or even conclusion, had obtained the very highest reputation. While Virgil was at work upon it Propertius wrote with generous admiration (Eleg. II. 34, 65):

Cedite, Romani scriptores ! cedite, Graii !

Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliade ! Augustus, while absent on his Cantabrian campaign, wrote repeatedly to Virgil for extracts from his poem in progress; but the poet declined, on the ground that his work was unworthy the perusal of the prince. The correspondence is recorded by Macrobius (Saturnalia, I.), but its genuineness is very questionable. We may infer

* Merivale, Hist. of the Romans under the Empire, Vol. IV. p. 440.

qua fata

from the passage of Propertius just quoted, and from the allusion in the same elegy to the recent death of Gallus, that Virgil was engaged on his work in B. C. 24. Propertius appears, from other allusions in his elegies, to have been acquainted with the poem of Virgil in its progress; and he may have heard parts of it read. In B. C. 23 died Marcellus, the son of Octavia, Caesar's sister, by her first husband; and as Virgil lost no opportunity of gratifying his patron, he introduced into the sixth book of the Aeneid (v. 883) the well-known allusion to the virtues of this youth, who was cut off by a premature death : Heu miserande puer ! si

aspera rumpas, Tu Marcellus eris. Octavia is said to have been present when the poet was reciting this allusion to her son, and to have fainted from her emotions. She rewarded the poet munificently for his excusable flattery. As Marcellus did not die till B. C. 23, these lines were of course written after his death, but Virgil may have sketched his whole poem, and even finished in a way many parts in the later books before he elaborated the whole of his sixth book. The completion of the great work occupied the few remaining years of his life ; but it never received the finishing touches, and it is said that in his last illness he wished to burn it. But his friends would not allow the poem to be sacrificed to a morbid sensibility. “ Augustus placed it in the hands of Varius and Tucca for the necessary correction, but strictly charged them to make no additions, nor even to complete the few unfinished lines at which the hand of the master had paused or faltered. Great, undoubtedly, is the debt we owe him for this delicate consideration. The Roman epic abounds in moral and poetical defects ; nevertheless it remains the most complete picture of the national mind at its highest elevation, the most precious document of national history, if the history of an age is revealed in its ideas, no less than in its events and incidents. This is the consideration which, with many of us, must raise the interest of the Aeneid above that of any other poem of antiquity, and justify the saying of I know not what Virgilian enthusiast, that if Homer really made Virgil, undoubtedly it was his greatest work.”*

When Augustus was returning from Samos, where he had spent the winter of B. C. 20, he met Virgil at Athens. The poet, it is said, had intended to make a tour of Greece, but he accompanied the emperor to Megara, and thence to Italy. His health, which had been long declining, was now completely broken, and he died soon after his arrival at Brundusium, on the 22d of September, B. C. 19, not having quite completed his fifty-first year. His remains were transferred to Naples, which had been his favorite residence, and placed on the

* Merivale, op. cit. Vol. IV. p. 448.


road (Via Puteolana) from Naples to Puteoli (Pozzuoli), between the first and second milestones from Naples. The monument now called the tomb of Virgil is not on the road which passes through the tunnel of Posilippo; but if the Via Puteolana ascended the hill of Posilippo, as it may have done, the situation of the monument would agree very well with the description of Donatus. The following inscription is said to have been placed on the tomb:

Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc

Parthenope. Cecini pascua, rura, duces. From internal evidence it is improbable that it was written by the poet, though Donatus says that it was.

Virgil named as heredes in his testament his half-brother, Valerius Proculus, to whom he left one half of his estate, and also Augustus, Maecenas, L. Varius, and Plotius Tucca. The poet had been enriched by the liberality of his patrons, and he left behind him a considerable property, and a house on the Esquiline Hill near the gardens of Maecenas. He used his wealth liberally, and his library, which was doubtless a good one, was easy of access. He used to send his parents money every year. His father, who became blind, did not die before his son had attained a mature age. Two brothers of Virgil also died before him. Poetry was not the only study of Virgil : he applied himself to medicine and to agriculture, as the Georgica show; and also to what Donatus calls Mathematica, perhaps a jumble of astrology and astronomy. His stature was tall, his complexion dark, and his appearance that of a rustic. He was modest and retiring, and his character is free from reproach, if we except one scandalous passage in Donatus, which may not tell the truth.

In his fortunes and his friends Virgil was a happy man. Munificent patronage gave him ample means of enjoyment and of leisure, and he had the friendship of all the most accomplished men of the day, among whom Horace entertained a strong affection for him. He was an amiable good-tempered man, free from the mean passions of envy and jealousy; and in all but health he was prosperous. His fame, which was established in his lifetime, was cherished after his death as an inheritance in which every Roman had a share. No writer probably ever exercised so wide an influence either in time or space. His works became school-books even before the death of Augustus, and have continued such ever since; they were even translated into Greek; they were commented on by a host of grammarians ; they were the subject of innumerable epigrams; they were formed into centos; they were used for the purposes of divination. They have taken their place among the imperishable offspring of genius, and, while literature lasts, will continue to exercise a powerful influence on the poetical taste of successive generations.





THE ten short poems called Bucolica were the earliest works of Virgil, and probably all written between B. C. 41, and B. C. 37. They are not Bucolica in the same sense as the poems of Theocritus, which have the same title. They have all a Bucolic form and coloring, but some of them have nothing more. Their chief merit consists in their versification, which was smoother and more polished than the hexameters which the Romans had yet seen, and in many natural and simple touches. But as an attempt to transfer the Syracusan muse into Italy, they are certainly a failure; and we read the pastorals of Theocritus and of Virgil with a very different degree of pleasure. The former are distinguished by a simplicity equally remote from epic majesty and sordid rusticity. Every charm of the country has been rifled to adorn them, and almost every deformity carefully concealed. Then, too, the Doric dialect, in which they were written, was peculiarly adapted to pastoral poetry. It at once removed the reader from the town, while it afforded the Muse every facility of utterance. The lordly language of Imperial Rome was ill suited to convey the unpremeditated effusions of unlettered herds

If Virgil, therefore, has fallen very far short of his great prototype, the difficulty of his attempt must not be forgotten. Indeed, he appears not insensible of it himself; and by the nature of the language in which he wrote he has been compelled to abandon his original intention, and to attempt loftier flights than the nature of pastoral poetry strictly justifies.

The publication of the Bucolica created a great sensation in literary Rome. Honors were publicly lavished on the author. They were recited on the stage ; and it is said that, on one occasion, when the poet happened to be present, all the spectators rose and paid him the same marks of respect which they would have shown to Au


gustus. Propertius (II. 34) has celebrated the conclusion and publication of the Bucolics, and Ovid (Amor. I. 12) has foretold their immortality.

The title Bucolica was probably that given to these poems by Virgil himself. It is from a Greek word which signifies pertaining to the shepherd life, pastoral. The title Ecloga is generally supposed to have been added by the critics. It also is from the Greek, and signifies, a selected piece; so that Bucolicon Eclogae means, selections from pastoral poems, Bucolicon being the genitive plural in the Greek form.

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The subject of this Eclogue is Virgil's gratitude to Octavianus for the favor shown him in the restoration of his lands. See Life.

The speakers are two shepherds, one of whom is enjoying rustic life, singing of his love, and seeing his cattle feed undisturbed, when he is encountered by the other, who has been expelled from his homestead, and is driving his goats before him, with no prospect but a cheerless exile. This is simple enough, but it is complicated by an unhappy artifice. The fortunate shepherd is represented as a farm slave who has just worked out his freedom; and this emancipation is used to symbolize the confirmation of the poet in his property. The two events, with their concomitants, are treated as convertible with each other, the story being told partly in the one form, partly in the other.

1. Tityre; a name borrowed from Theocritus. Tu...nos. Gr. 446. A. & S. 209, R. 1 (6). So nos ... tu, v. 4. - 2. Silvestrem Musam =a pastoral tune. The Muse is here put, by metonymy, for that over which she presided. Gr. 705. II. A. & S. 324. 2. Tenui ... avena = on a slender reed-pipe.' Tenui suggests the notion of simplicity and humility, at the same time that it is a nat. ural epithet of the reed, like fragili cicuta, v. 85. Avena by metonymy for fistula. Meditaris

= art practising. The word implies care, repetition, and by some critics is translated “art composing.”

- 3. Nos. Gr. 446. 2. A. & S. 209, R. 7 (6). Patriae=of my paternal estate, farm. Cf. patrios fines, v. 68. 4. Fugimus are banished from. Lentus =

at ease. - 5. Formosam - silvas = thou teachest the woods to re-echo (the name of) the beautiful Amaryllis. Amaryllis is a shepherdess, beloved by Tityrus. Gr. 93. I; 374. 4. A. & S. 80. I. ; 231, R. 3 (6). – 6. Deus ; Octavianus. This

may be mere hyperbole, though this same emperor was actually


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