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INTRODUCTION.

DIALOGUE III. OF J. SPENCE'S POLYMETIS, VOL. I. PAGE 17.

ON THE POLITICAL CHARACTER OF THE AENEID, AND FLOURISHING STATE OF POETRY AMONG THE ROMANS.

THE first age was only as the dawning of the Roman Poetry, in comparison of the clear full light that opened all at once afterwards, under Augustus Caesar. The state, which had been so long tending towards a monarchy, was quite settled down to that form by this prince. When he had no longer any dangerous opponents, he grew mild; or, at least, concealed the cruelty of his temper. He gave peace and quiet to the people that were fallen into his hands; and looked kindly on the improvement of all the arts and elegancies of life among them. He had a minister, too, under him, who (though a very bad writer himself) knew how to encourage the best: and who admitted the best poets, in particular, into a very great share of friendship and intimacy with him. Virgil was one of the foremost in this list; who at his first setting out grew1 soon

NOTES.

1 Phyllidis hic idem tenerosque Ama-
ryllidis ignes

Bucolicis juvenis luserat ante modis.
Ovid. Trist. L. 2. v. 538.

Forte epos acer
Ut nemo Varius ducit: molle atque
facetum
Virgilio annuerunt gaudentes rure
Camoenae.

Hor. L. I. Sat. 10. v. 45.

I should take "molle" here, to be meant of the sweetness of Virgil's versification in his pastorals: and "facetum," of the elegance of his style and manner of writing. All writers of pastorals may be divided into two classes; the rural, and the rustic; or, if you will, the genteel and the homely. This character of facetus marks out Virgil's excelling in the genteel pastoral.

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their most applauded writer for genteel pastorals; then gave them the most beautiful and most correct poem that ever was wrote in the Roman language, in his rules of agriculture (so beautiful, that some of the antients seem to accuse Virgil of having studied beauty too much in that piece): and last of all undertook a political poem, in support of the new establishment. I have thought this to be the intent of the Aeneid, ever since I first read Bossu; and the more one considers it, the more I think one is confirmed in that opinion. Virgil is said to have begun this poem the very year that Augustus was free from his great rival, Antony: the government of the Roman empire was to be wholly in him; and though he chose to be called their Father*, he was, in every thing but the name, their King. This monarchical form of government must naturally be apt to displease the people. Virgil seems to have laid the plan of his poem to reconcile them to it. He takes advantage of this religious turn, and of some old prophecies that must have been very flattering to the Roman people, as promising them the empire of the whole world. He weaves this in with the most *probable account of their origin; that of their being descended from the Trojans. To be a little more particular; Virgil, in his Aeneid, shews that Aeneas was called into their country by

NOTES.

2 As Pliny and Seneca in particular. "Sed nos obliterata quoque scrutabi66 mur; nec deterrebit quarundam 66 rerum humilitas. Quanquam vide66 mus Virgilium, praecellentissimum 66 vatem, eâ de causâ hortorum dotes "fugisse; tantisque quae retulit, flores 66 modò rerum decerpisse." Pliny, L. 14. Proem. "Virgilius noster, qui non "quid verissimè, sed quid decentissimè "diceretur, aspexit; nec agricolas "docere voluit, sed legentes delec"tare." Seneca, L. 13. Epist. 87.

5 By de la Rue, in his life of Virgil. 4 Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immobile Saxum

Accolet; imperiumque pater Romanus habebit.

Virg. Aen. 9. v. 449.

"Non aliud discordantis patriae reme"dium fuisse, quin ut ab uno regeretur: non regno tamen, neque dictaturâ,

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"sed principis nomine constitutam rempublicam." Tacit. Annal. L. I., where he is speaking for Augustus. Princeps here signifies much the same with princeps Senatus; and so falls in with the title of Pater; the Senator by way of eminence, or the ruling Senator; which was a title as modest as his power was exorbitant.

He had the title of Pater Patriae, too, given him by all the three orders of the state; in the strongest manner that could be.

Sancte pater patriae, tibi plebes, tibi
curia nomen

Hoc dedit, hoc dedimus nos tibi nomen
eques.
Ovid. Trist. 2. v. 126.

5 Plutarch, in his life of Julius Caesar.

6 As being that of Dionysius Halicarnasseus, and some of the best Roman historians.

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the express order of the Gods; that he was made King of it by the will of heaven; and by all the human rights that could be; that there was an uninterrupted succession of Kings from him to Romulus; that his heirs were to reign there for ever;

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NOTES.

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Tot responsa secuti,
Quae Superi Manesque dabant,—
Italiam petiere.

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Aen. 10. v. 32-34.

The divine right appears from what is said in the note before: Virgil takes care to join all the civil rights to it that can be. He has an hereditary claim from Dardanus and Jasius. Aen. 3. v. 168. He has a right by conquest. Aen. 12. v. 1.-He has a right by compact. Aen. 12. v. 175 to 225.-And he has a right by marrying the only daughter of the then King. Aen. 12. v. 937; and 7. v. 50-52. (

9 Aeneas succeeds Latinus. Aen. 1. v. 265. Iülus succeeds Aeneas. Aen. 1. v. 269. His race (which is therefore called the Trojan line by Virgil, Aen. 1. v. 273.) reign for the next three hundred years; then follows Romulus, Aen. 1. v. 276, still of the Trojan line, as grandson of Aeneas Sylvius. Aen. 6. v. 778.

Romulus Assaraci quem sanguinis Ilia
Aen. 6. v. 780.

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