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the Esquiline Hill, which was furnished with an excellent library, and was pleasantly situated near the gardens of Mæcenas. The supposed site, and even ruins of this mansion, were long shown to modern travellers. Yet, however enviable was Virgil's present lot, the bustle and luxury of an immense capital were little suited to his taste, to his early habits, or to the delicacy of his constitution, while the observance and attention he met with were strongly repugnant to the retiring modesty of his disposition. Such was the popularity which he derived from his general character and talents, that on one occasion, when some of his verses were recited in the theatre, the whole audience rose to salute Virgil, who was present, with the same respect which they would have paid to the emperor. And so great was the annoyance which he felt on being gazed at and followed in the streets of Rome that he sought shelter, it is said, in the nearest shops or alleys from public observation. At the period when Virgil enjoyed so much honour and popularity in the capital, Naples was a favourite retreat of illustrious and literary men. Thither he retired about A.U.C. 717, when in the thirty-third year of his age; and he continued, during the remainder of his life, to dwell chiefly in that city, or at a delightful villa which he possessed in the Campania Felix, in the neighbourhood of Nola, ten miles east of Naples. About the time when he first went to reside at Naples, he commenced his Georgics by order of Mæcenas, and continued, for the seven following years, closely occupied with the composition of that inimitable poem.
The genius of Virgil, being attended with some degree of diffidence, seems to have gained, by slow steps, the measure of confidence which at length emboldened him to attempt
epic poetry. He had begun his experience in verse with humble efforts in the pastoral line; though even there we behold his ardent muse frequently bursting the barriers by which she ought naturally to have been restrained. He next undertook the bolder and wider topic of husbandry; and it was not till he had finished this subject with unrivalled success, that he presumed to write the Æneid. This poem, which occupied him till his death, was com menced in A.U.c. 724, the same year in which he had completed his Georgics. After he had been engaged for some time in its composition, the greatest curiosity and interest concerning it began to be felt at Rome. A work, it was generally believed, was in progress, which would eclipse the fame of the Iliad. Augustus himself at length became desirous of reading the poem so far as it had been carried; and, in the year 729, while absent from Rome on a military expedition against the Cantabrians, he wrote to the author from the extremity of his empire, entreating him to be allowed a perusal of it. Macrobius has preserved one of Virgil's answers to Augustus: "I have of late received from you frequent letters. With regard to my Æneas, if, by Hercules, it were worth your listening to, I would willingly send it. But so vast is the undertaking, that I almost appear to myself to have commenced such a work from some defect in judgment or understanding; especially since, as you know, other and far higher studies are required for such a performance." (Sat. i. 24.) Prevailed on, at length, by these importunities, Virgil, about a year after the return of Augustus, recited to him the sixth book, in presence of his sister Octavia, who had recently lost her only son Marcellus, the darling of Rome, and the adopted child of Augustus. The poet, probably, in prospect of this recitation, had inserted the affecting
passage in which he alludes to the premature death of the beloved youth:
O nate, ingentem luctum ne quære tuorum, &c.
But he had skilfully suppressed the name of Marcellus till he came to the line,
Tu Marcellus eris-manibus date lilia plenis.
It may well be believed that the widowed mother of Marcellus swooned away at the pathos of these verses, which no one, even at this day, can read unmoved. Virgil is said to have received from the afflicted parent 10,000 sesterces (dena sestertia) for each verse of this celebrated passage. Having brought the Eneid to a conclusion, but not the perfection which he wished to bestow upon it, Virgil, contrary to the advice and wish of his friends, resolved to travel into Greece, that he might correct and polish this great production at leisure in that land of poetic imagination. It was on undertaking this voyage that Horace addressed to him the affectionate Ode beginning,
Sic te Diva potens Cypri, &c. (i. 3.)
Virgil proceeded directly to Athens, where he commenced the revisal of his epic poem, and added the magnificent Introduction to the third book of the Georgics. He had been thus engaged for some months at Athens, when Augustus arrived at that city, on his return to Italy, from a progress through his eastern dominions. When he embarked for Greece, it had been the intention of Virgil to have spent three years in that country, in the correction of his poem; after which he proposed to pass his days in his native country of Mantua, and devote the rest of his life to the study of philosophy, or to the composition of some great historical poem. The arrival of Augustus, however,
induced him to shorten his stay, and to embrace the opportunity of returning to Italy in the retinue of the emperor. But the hand of death was already upon him. From his youth he had been of a delicate constitution; and, as age advanced, he was afflicted with frequent headaches, asthma, and spitting of blood. Even the climate of Naples could not preserve him from frequent attacks of these maladies, and their worst symptoms had increased during his residence in Greece. The vessel in which he embarked with the emperor touched at Megara, where he was seized with great debility and languor. When he again went on board, his distemper was so increased by the motion and agitation of the vessel, that he expired a few days after he had landed at Brundisium, on the south-eastern coast of Italy. His death happened A.U.c. 734, when he was in the 51st year of his age. When he felt its near approach, he ordered his friends Varius and Plotius Tucca, who were then with him, to burn the Æneid as an imperfect poem. Augustus, however, interposed to save a work which he no doubt saw would at once confer immortality on the poet and on the prince who patronized him. It was accordingly intrusted to Varius and Tucca, with a power to revise and retrench, but with a charge that they should make no additions; a command which they so strictly observed as not to complete even the hemistichs which had been left imperfect. They are said, however, to have struck out twenty-two verses from the second book, where Eneas, perceiving Helen amid the smoking ruins of Troy, intends to slay her, till his design is prevented by his goddess mother. These lines, accordingly, were wanting in many of the ancient manuscripts, but they have been subsequently restored to their place. There was also a report long current, that Varius had made a change, which
still subsists, in the arrangement of two of the books, by transposing the order of the second and third, the latter having stood first in the original manuscript. According to some accounts, the four lines "Ille ego quondam," &c., which are still prefixed to the Æneid in many editions, were expunged by Varius and Tucca; but, according to others, they never were written by Virgil, and are no better than an interpolation of the middle ages. Virgil bequeathed the greater part of his wealth, which was considerable, to a brother. The remainder was divided among his patron Mæcenas, and his friends Varius and Tucca. Before his death, he had also commanded that his bones should be carried to Naples, where he had lived so long and so happily. This order was fulfilled, under charge of Augustus himself. According to the most ancient tradition and the most commonly-received opinion, the tomb of Virgil lies about two miles to the north of Naples, on the slope of the hill of Pausilippo, and over the entrance to the grotto or subterraneous passage which has been cut through its ridge, on the road leading from Naples to Puteoli. Cluverius and Addison, indeed, have placed the tomb on the other side of Naples, near to the foot of Mount Vesuvius; but the other opinion is based upon the common tradition of the country, and accords with the belief of Petrarch, Sannazarius, and Bembo: it may still be cherished, therefore, by the traveller who climbs the hill of Pausilippo, and he may still think that he hails the shade of Virgil on the spot where his ashes repose. Notwithstanding, however, the veneration which the Romans entertained for the works of Virgil, his sepulchre was neglected before the time of Martial, who declares that Silius Italicus first restored its long-forgotten honours. What is at present called the tomb, is in the form of a small,