The Works of Virgil (Dryden)/Notes
Notes and Observations
PAstoral 1. Line 6. There first the Youth of Heavenly Birth I view'd.Virgil means Octavius Cæsar: Heir to Julius: who perhaps had not arriv'd to his Twentieth Year, when Virgil saw him first. Vide his Life. Of Heavenly Birth or Heavenly Blood; because the Julian Family was derived from Julus, Son to Æneas, and Grand-Son to Venus.
Pastoral 2d. Line 65.The Short Narcissus, That is, of short continuance.
Pastoral 3d. Line 95.For him, the God of Shepherds and their Sheep, Phœbus, not Pan, is here call'd the God of Shepherds: The Poet alludes to the same Story, which he touches in the beginning of the Second Georgic, where he calls Phœbus the Amphrysian Shepherd, because he fed the Sheep and Oxen of Admetus (with whom he was in Love) on the Hill Amphrysus.
Pastoral 4th. Line 73. Begin Auspicious Boy, &c. In Latin thus. Incipe parve Puer, risu cognoscere Matrem, &c. I have Translated the Passage to this Sense; that the Infant smiling on his Mother, singles her out from the rest of the Company about him. Erythraeus, Bembus, and Joseph Scaliger, are of this Opinion. Yet they and I may be mistaken. For immediately after, we find these words, Cui non risere Parentes, which imply another Sense, as if the Parents smil'd on the New-born Infant: And that the Babe on whom they vouchsaf'd not to smile, was born to ill Fortune. For they tell a Story, that when Vulcan, the only Son of Jupiter and Juno came into the World, he was so hard favour'd, that both his Parents frown'd on him: And Jupiter threw him out of Heaven; he fell on the Island Lemnos, and was Lame ever afterwards. The last Line of the Pastoral seems to justify this Sense, Nec Deus hunc Mensâ, Dea nec dignata Cubili est. For though he married Venus, yet his Mother Juno was not present at the Nuptials to bless them; as appears by his Wife's Incontinence. They say also, that he was banish'd from the Banquets of the Gods: If so, that Punishment could be of no long continuance, for Homer makes him present at their Feasts; and composing a Quarrel betwixt his Parents, with a Bowl of Nectar. The matter is of no great Consequence; and therefore I adhere to my Translation, for these two Reasons: First, Virgil has this following Line. Matri longa docem tulerunt fastidia Menses, as if the Infants smiling on his Mother, was a Reward to her for bearing him ten Months in her Body, four Weeks longer than the usual time. Secondly, Catullus is cited by Joseph Scaliger, as favouring this Opinion, in his Epithalamium of Manlius Torquatus.
Torquatus, volo parvolus
Matris è gremio suæ
Porrigens teneras Manus
Dulcè rideat ad Patrem, &c.
What if I shou'd steer betwixt the two Extreams, and conclude, that the Infant, who was to be happy, must not only smile on his Parents, but also they on him? For Scaliger notes that the Infants who smil'd not at their Birth, were observ'd to be [...], or sullen (as I have Translated it) during all their Life: And Servius, and almost all the Modern Commentators affirm, that no Child was thought Fortunate on whom his Parents smil'd not, at his Birth. I observe farther, that the Ancients thought the Infant who came into the World at the end of the Tenth Month, was Born to some extraordinary Fortune, good or Bad. Such was the Birth of the late Prince of Condé, of whom his Mother was not brought to Bed, 'till almost Eleven Months were expir'd after his Fathers Death: Yet the College of Physicians at Paris, concluded he was Lawfully begotten. My Ingenious Friend, Anthony Henley Esq desir'd me to make a Note on this Passage of Virgil: Adding what I had not Read; that the Jews have been so Superstitious, as to observe not only the first Look or Action of an Infant, but also the first Word which the Parent, or any of the Assistants spoke after the Birth: And from thence they gave a Name to the Child alluding to it.
Pastoral 6. My Lord Roscommon's Notes on this Pastoral, are equal to his excellent Translation of it; and thither I refer the Reader.
The Eighth and Tenth Pastorals are already Translated to all manner of advantage, by my excellent Friend, Mr. Stafford. So is the Episode of Camilla, in the Eleventh Æneid.
This Eight Pastoral is Copied by our Author from two Bucolicks of Theocritus. Spencer has follow'd both Virgil and Theocritus, in the Charms which he employs for Curing Britomartis of her Love. But he had also our Poet's Ceiris in his Eye: For there not only the Inchantments are to be found; but also the very Name of Britomartis.
In the Ninth Pastoral, Virgil has made a Collection of many scattering Passages, which he had Translated from Theocritus: And here he has bound them into a Nosegay.
Georgic the First. The Poetry of this Book is more sublime than any part of Virgil, if I have any Taste. And if ever I have Copied his Majestick Stile 'tis here. The Compliment he makes Augustus almost in the beginning, is ill imitated by his Successors Lucan and Statius. They Dedicated to Tyrants; and their Flatteries are gross and fulsome. Virgil's Address is both more lofty and more just. In the three last Lines of this Georgic, I think I have discover'd a secret Compliment to the Emperour, which none of the Commentators have observ'd. Virgil had just before describ'd the Miseries which Rome had undergone betwixt the Triumvirs and the Commonwealth-Party: In the close of all, he seems to excuse the Crimes committed by his Patron Caesar, as if he were constrain'd against his own Temper to those violent Proceedings, by the necessity of the Times in general, but more particularly by his two Partners, Anthony and Lepidus. Fertur Equis Auriga, nec audit Currus habenas. They were the Head-strong Horses, who hurried Octavius, the trembling Charioteer along, and were deaf to his▪ reclaiming them. I observe farther; that the present Wars, in which all Europe, and part of Asia are ingag'd at present; are wag'd in the same places here describ'd: Atque hinc Euphrates, illinc Germania Bellum, &c. As if Virgil had Prophecy'd of this Age.
Georgic. 2d. The Praises of Italy, (Translated by the Learned, and every way Excellent Mr. Chetwood) which are Printed in one of my Miscellany Poems, are the greatest Ornament of this Book. Wherein for want of sufficient skill in Gardening, Agriculture, &c. I may possibly be mistaken in some Terms. But concerning Grafting, my Honour'd Friend Sir William Bowyer has assur'd me, that Virgil has shewn more of Poetry than Skill, at least in relation to our more Northern Climates. And that many of our Stocks will not receive such Grafts, as our Poet tells us would Bear in Italy. Nature has consir'd with Art to make the Garden at Denham-Court, of Sir William's own Plantation, one of the most delicious Spots of Ground in England: It contains not above Five Acres, (just the compass of Alcinous his Garden, describ'd in the Odysses:) But Virgil says in this very Georgic, Laudato ingentia Rura; Exiguum colito.
Georgic 3d. Line the 45th. Next him, Niphates with inverted Ʋrn, &c. It has been objected to me, that I understood not this Passage of Virgil, because I call Niphates a River, which is a Mountain in Armenia. But the River arising from the same Mountain, is also called Niphates. And having spoken of Nile before, I might reasonably think, that Virgil rather meant to couple two Rivers, than a River and a Mountain.
Line 224. The Male has done, &c. The transition is obscure in Virgil. He began with Cows, then proceeds to treat of Horses: Now returns to Cows.
Line 476. 'Till the new Ram receives th' Exalted Sun. Astrologers tell us, that the Sun receives his Exaltation in the Sign Aries: Virgil perfectly understood both Astronomy and Astrology.
Georgic 4. Line 27. That when the Youthful Prince. My most Ingenious Friend Sir Henry Shere, has observ'd through a Glass-Hive, that the Young Prince of the Bees, or Heir presumptive of the Crown, approaches the King's Apartment with great Reverence; and for three successive Mornings demands permission, to lead forth a Colony of that Year's Bees. If his Petition be granted, which he seems to make by humble hummings; the Swarm arises under his Conduct: If the Answer be, le Roy s'avisera, that is, if the Old Monarch think it not convenient for the Publick good, to part with so many of his Subjects; the next Morning the Prince is found dead, before the Threshold of the Palace.
Line 477. The Poet here records the Names of Fifty River Nymphs. And for once I have Translated them all. But in the Æneis I thought not my self oblig'd to be so exact; for in naming many Men who were kill'd by Heroes, I have omitted some, which wou'd not sound in English Verse.
Line 660. The Episode of Orpheus and Eurydice begins here. And contains the only Machine which Virgil uses in the Georgics. I have observ'd in the Epistle before the Æneis, that our Author seldom employs Machines but to adorn his Poem: And that the Action which they seemingly perform, is really produc'd without them. Of this Nature is the Legend of the Bees restor'd by Miracle; when the Receipt which the Poet gives, wou'd do the Work without one. The only Beautiful Machine which I remember in the Modern Poets, is in Ariosto. Where God commands St. Michael to take care, that Paris then Besieg'd by the Saracens, should be succour'd by Rinaldo. In order to this, he enjoins the Arch-Angel to find Silence and Discord. The first to Conduct the Christian Army to relieve the Town, with so much secrecy, that their March shou'd not be discover'd; the latter to enter the Camp of the Infidels, and there to sow Dissention among the Principal Commanders. The Heavenly Messenger takes his way to an Ancient Monastery; not doubting there to find Silence in her primitive Abode. But instead of Silence finds Discord: The Monks, being divided into Factions, about the choice of some New Officer, were at Snic and Snee with their drawn Knifes. The Satyr needs no Explanation. And here it may be also observ'd, that Ambition, Jealousie, and Worldly Interest, and point of Honour, had made variance both in the Cloyster and the Camp; and strict Discipline had done the Work of Silence, in Conducting the Christian Army to surprise the Turks.
Aeneid 1. Line 111. ‘And make thee Father of a happy Line.’ This was an obliging Promise to Eolus; who had been so unhappy in his former Children, Macareus and Canacè.
Line 196. The Realms of Ocean, and the Fields of Air Are mine, not his.
Poetically speaking, the Fields of Air, are under the Command of Juno; and her Vicegerent Eolus. Why then does Neptune call them His? I answer, because being God of the Seas, Eolus could raise no Tempests in the Atmosphere above them without his leave. But why does Juno Address to her own Substitute? I answer, He had an immediate Power over the Winds, whom Juno desires to employ on her Revenge. That Power was absolute by Land; which Virgil plainly insinuates: For when Boreas and his Brethren were let loose, he says at first terras turbine perflant: Then adds, Incubuere Mari: To raise a Tempest on the Sea was Usurpation on the Prerogative of Neptune; who had given him no leave, and therefore was inrag'd at his Attempt. I may also add, that they who are in Passion, as Neptune then was, are apt to assume to themselves, more than is properly their due.
Line 450.O Virgin———&c.
If as you seem the Sister of the Day,
Or one at least of Chast Diana's Train.
Thus, in the Original.
O Quam te memorem Virgo———
Aut Phœbi Soror, aut Nympharum Sanguinis Una.
This is a Family Complement, which Æneas here bestows on Venus. His Father Anchises had us'd the very same to that Goddess when he Courted her. This appears by that very Ancient Greek Poem, in which that Amour is so beautifully describ'd, and which is thought Homer's: Though it seems to be Written before his Age.
Line 980.Her Princely Guest was next her side.
This, I confess, is improperly Translated; and according to the Modern Fashion of sitting at Table. But the Ancient custom of lying on Beds, had not been understood by the Unlearned Reader.
Æneid the Second.The Destruction of Veii is here shadow'd under that of Troy: Livy in his Description of it, seems to have emulated in his Prose, and almost equal'd the Beauty of Virgil's Verse.
Æneid the 3d. Verse 132.And Childrens Children shall the Crown sustain.
Et Nati Natorum, & qui nascentur ab illis.
Virgil Translated this Verse from Homer: Homer had it from Orpheus; and Orpheus from an Ancient Oracle of Apollo. On this Account it is, that Virgil immediately Subjoins these Words, Haec Phoebus, &c. Eustathius takes notice, that the Old Poets were wont to take whole Paragraphs from one another, which justifies our Poet for what he borrows from Homer. Bochartus in his Letter to Segrais, mentions an Oracle which he found in the fragments of an Old Greek Historian: The Sense whereof is this in English; that when the Empire of the Priamidae should be destroy'd, the Line of Anchises should succeed. Venus therefore, says the Historian, was desirous to have a Son by Anchises, tho' he was then in his decrepid Age: Accordingly she had Aeneas. After this she sought occasion to ruin the Race of Priam; and set on foot the Intrigue of Alexander, (or Paris) with Helena: She being ravish'd, Venus pretended still to favour the Trojans; lest they should restore Helen, in case they should be reduc'd to the last Necessity. Whence it appears, that the Controversie betwixt Juno and Venus, was on no trivial account; but concern'd the Succession to a great Empire.
Æneid the 4th. Li. 945.And must I dye, she said,
And unreveng'd? tis doubly to be dead!
Yet even this Death with pleasure I receive:
On any Terms, tis better than to live.
This is certainly the Sense of Virgil; on which I have paraphras'd, to make it plain. His Words are these; Moriemur Inultæ?
Sed Moriamur ait; sic, sic juvat ire sub Umbras.
———Nulla fides populis nec fœdera sunto.
That Virgil uses in the word sunto a verbum juris, a form of speaking on Solemn and Religious Occasions: Livy does the like. Note also that Dido puts her self into the Habitus Gabinus, which was the girding her self round with one Sleeve of her Vest, which is also according to the Roman Pontifical, in this dreadful Ceremony, as Livy has observ'd: which is a farther confirmation of this Conjecture. So that upon the whole matter, Dido only doubts whether she shou'd die before she had taken her Revenge, which she rather wish'd: But considering that this devoting her self was the most certain and infallible way of compassing her Vengeance, she thus exclaims;
Sic, sic juvat ire sub umbras:
Hauriat hunc oculis ignem crudelis ab alto
Dardanus, & nostrae secum ferat omnia mortis.
Those Flames from far, may the false Trojan view;
Those boding Omens his base Flight pursue.
Which Translation I take to be according to the Sense of Virgil. I should have added a Note on that former Verse.
Infelix Dido, nunc te fata impia tangunt.
Which in the Edition of Heinsius is thus Printed. Nunc te facta impia tangunt? The word facta instead of fata, is reasonably alter'd. For Virgil says afterwards, she dy'd not by Fate, nor by any deserv'd Death. Nec Fato, meritâ nec morte peribat, &c. When I Translated that Passage, I doubted of the Sense: And therefore omitted that Hemystic; Nunc te fata impia tangunt. But Heinsius is mistaken only in making an Interrogation point, instead of a Period. The words facta impia, I suppose are genuine: For she had perjur'd her self in her second Marriage. Having firmly resolv'd, as she told her Sister, in the beginning of this Aeneid, never to love again, after the Death of her first Husband; and had confirm'd this Resolution, by a Curse on her self, if she shou'd alter it.
Sed mihi vel tellus optem, prius ima dehiscat, &c.
Ante, pudor, quàm te violem, aut tua jura resolvam.
Ille meos, primus, qui me sibi junxit, amores,
Abstulit: Ille habeat secum, servetque sepulcro.
Æneid the 5th.A great part of this Book is borrow'd from Apollonius Rhodius. And the Reader may observe the great Judgment and distinction of our Author in what he borrows from the Ancients, by comparing them. I conceive the Reason why he omits the Horse-race in the Funeral Games, was because he shews Ascanius afterwards on Horseback, with his Troops of Boys, and would not wear that Subject thread-bare; which Statius, in the next Age describ'd so happily. Virgil seems to me, to have excell'd Homer in all those Sports, and to have labour'd them the more, in Honour of Octavius, his Patron; who instituted the like Games for perpetuating the Memory of his Uncle Julius. Piety, as Virgil calls it, or dutifulness to Parents, being a most popular Vertue among the Romans.
Æneid the 6th. Line 586.
The next in place and Punishment are they,
Who prodigally throw their Lives away, &c.
Proxima sorte tenent mæsti loca, qui sibi letum
Insontes peperere manu, lucemque perosi,
Projecere animas, &c.
This was taken, amongst many other things, from the Tenth Book of Plato de Republicâ: No Commentator besides Fabrini, has taken notice of it. Self-Murther was accounted a great Crime by that Divine Philosopher: But the Instances which he brings, are too many to be inserted in these short Notes. Sir Robert Howard in his Translation of this Æneid, which was Printed with his Poems in the Year 1660; has given us the most Learned, and the most Judicious Observations on this Book, which are extant in our Language.
Line 734.Lo to the secret Shadows I retire,
To pay my Penance, till my Years expire.
These two Verses in English seem very different from the Latin.
Discedam; explebo numerum, reddarque tenebris.
Yet they are the Sense of Virgil; at least, according to the common Interpretation of this place: I will withdraw from your Company; retire to the Shades, and perform my Penance of a Thousand Years. But I must confess the Interpretation of those two words, explebo numerum is somewhat Violent, if it be thus understood, minuam numerum; that is, I will lessen your Company by my departure. For Deiphobus being a Ghost, can hardly be said to be of their Number. Perhaps the Poet means by explebo numerum, absolvam sententiam: As if Deiphobus reply'd to the Sibil, who was angry at his long Visit: I will only take my last leave of Aeneas, my Kinsman and my Friend, with one hearty good-wish for his Health and Well-fare, and then leave you to prosecute your Voyage. That Wish is express'd in the words immediately following. I Decus, I nostrum, &c. Which contain a direct Answer to what the Sibill said before: When she upbraided their long Discourse, Nos flendo ducimus horas. This Conjecture is new, and therefore left to the discretion of the Reader.
L. 981. Know first that Heav'n, and Earth's compacted Frame,
And flowing Waters, and the Starry Flame,
And both the radiant Lights, &c.
Principio Coelum, & terras, composque liquentes,
Lucentemque globum Lunae, Titaniaque Astra, &c.
Here the Sun is not express'd, but the Moon only; though a less, and also a less radiant Light. Perhaps the Copies of Virgil are all false; and that instead of Titaniaque Astra, he writ Titanaque & Astra; and according to those words I have made my Translation. 'Tis most certain, that the Sun ought not to be omitted; for he is frequently call'd the Life and Soul of all the World: And nothing bids so fair for a visible Divinity to those who know no better, than that glorious Luminary. The Platonists call God the Archetypall Sun, and the Sun the visible Deity, the inward vital Spirit in the Center of the Universe, or that Body to which that Spirit is united, and by which-it exerts it self most powerfully. Now it was the receiv'd Hypothesis amongst the Pythagoreans, that the Sun was scituate in the Center of the World: Plato had it from them, and was himself of the same Opinion; as appears by a passage in the Timaeus: From which Noble Dialogue is this part of Virgil's Poem taken.
L. 1157. Great Cato there, for gravity renown'd, &c.
Quis te, Magne Cato, &c.
There is no Question but Virgil here means Cato Major, or the Censor. But the Name of Cato being also mention'd in the Eighth Aeneid, I doubt whether he means the same Man in both places. I have said in the Preface, that our Poet was of Republican Principles; and have given this for one Reason of my Opinion, that he prais'd Cato in that Line,
Secretisque piis, his dantem jura Catonem. And accordingly plac'd him in the Elysian Fields. Montaign thinks this was Cato the Utican, the great Enemy of Arbitrary Power, and a profess'd Foe to Julius Caesar. Ruaeus wou'd perswade us that Virgil meant the Censor. But why shou'd the Poet name Cato twice, if he intended the same person? Our Author is too frugal of his Words and Sense, to commit Tautologies in either. His Memory was not likely to betray him into such an Errour. Nevertheless I continue in the same Opinion, concerning the Principles of our Poet. He declares them sufficiently in this Book: Where he praises the first Brutus for expelling the Tarquins, giving Liberty to Rome, and putting to Death his own Children, who conspir'd to restore Tyranny: He calls him only an unhappy Man, for being forc'd to that severe Action.
Infelix, utcunque ferent ea facta Minores,
Vincet amor Patriae, laudumque immensa Cupido.
Let the Reader weigh these two Verses, and he must be convinc'd that I am in the right: And that I have not much injur'd my Master in my Translation of them.
Line 1140. Embrace again, my Sons; be Foes no more;
Nor stain your Country with her Childrens gore:
And thou the first, lay down thy lawless claim;
Thou of my Blood, who bear'st the Julian Name.
This Note, which is out of its proper place, I deferr'd on purpose, to place it here: Because it discovers the Principles of our Poet more plainly than any of the rest.
Tuque prior, tu parce, genus qui ducis Olympo,
Projice tela manu, Sanguis meus!
Anchises here speaks to Julius Cæsar; and commands him first to lay down Arms; which is a plain condemnation of his Cause. Yet observe our Poet's incomparable Address: For though he shews himself sufficiently to be a Common-wealth's-man; yet in respect to Augustus, who was his Patron, he uses the Authority of a Parent, in the Person of Anchises; who had more right to lay this Injunction on Cæsar than on Pompey; because the latter was not of his Blood. Thus our Author cautiously veils his own opinion, and takes Sanctuary under Anchises; as if that Ghost wou'd have laid the same Command on Pompey also, had he been lineally descended from him. What cou'd be more judiciously contriv'd, when this was the Æneid which he chose to read before his Master?
Line 1222. A new Marcellus shall arise in thee.
In Virgil thus. Tu Marcellus eris.
How unpoetically and baldly had this been translated; Thou shalt Marcellus be! Yet some of my Friends were of Opinion, that I mistook the Sense of Virgil in my Translation. The French Interpreter, observes nothing on this place; but that it appears by it, the Mourning of Octavia was yet fresh, for the loss of her Son Marcellus, whom she had by her first Husband: And who dyed in the Year aburbe conditâ, 731. And collects from thence that Virgil, reading this Aeneid before her, in the same Year, had just finish'd it: That from this time to that of the Poet's Death, was little more than four Years. So that supposing him to have written the whole Aeneis in eleven Years; the first six Books must have taken up seven of those Years: On which Account the six last, must of necessity be less correct.
Now for the false judgment of my Friends, there is but this little to be said for them; the words of Virgil, in the Verse preceding are these,
————Siqua fata aspera rumpas.
As if the Poet had meant, if you break through your hard Destiny, so as to be born, you shall be call'd Marcellus: But this cannot be the Sense: for though Marcellus was born, yet he broke not through those hard Decrees, which doom'd him to so immature a death. Much less can Virgil mean, you shall be the same Marcellus by the Transmigration of his Soul. For according to the System of our Author, a Thousand Years must be first elaps'd, before the Soul can return into a Humane Body; but the first Marcellus was slain in the second Punick War. And how many hundred Years were yet wanting, to the accomplishing his penance, may with ease be gather'd, by computing the time betwixt Scipio and Augustus. By which 'tis plain, that Virgil cannot mean the same Marcellus; but one of his Descendants; whom I call a new Marcellus; who so much resembled his Ancestor, perhaps in his Features, and his Person, but certainly in his Military Vertues, that Virgil cries out, quantum instar in ipso est! which I have translated,
How like the former, and almost the same.
Two Gates the silent House of Sleep adorn;
Of polish'd Iv'ry this; that of transparent Horn.
Virgil borrow'd this Imagination from Homer, Odysses the 19th. Line 562. The Translation gives the reason, why true Prophetic Dreams are said to pass through the Gate of Horn, by adding the Epithete transparent: Which is not in Virgil; whose Words are only these;
Sunt geminae Somni portae; quarum altera fertur
What is pervious to the Sight is clear; and (alluding to this Property,) the Poet infers such Dreams are of Divine Revelation. Such as pass through the Iv'ry Gate, are of the contrary Nature; polish'd Lies. But there is a better Reason to be giv'n: For the Iv'ry alludes to the Teeth, the Horn to the Eyes. What we see is more credible, than what we only hear; that is, Words that pass through the Portal of the Mouth, or, Hedge of the Teeth: (which is Homer's expression for speaking.)
Aen. the 7th. Li. 109.Strange to relate, the Flames involv'd in Smoke, &c.
Virgil, in this place, takes notice of a great Secret in the Roman Divination: The Lambent Fires, which rose above the Head, or play'd about it, were Signs of Prosperity, such were those which he observ'd in the second Aeneid: which were seen mounting from the Crown of Ascanius,
Ecce levis summo de vertice visus Iuli.
Fundere lumen apex.
Smoky Flames, (or involv'd in Smoke) were of a mix'd Omen; such were those which are here describ'd: For Smoke signifies Tears, because it produces them, and Flames Happiness. And therefore Virgil says that this Ostent was not only mirabile visu, but horrendum.
Line 367.One only Daughter heirs my Crown and State.
This has seem'd to some an odd Passage: That a King shou'd offer his Daughter and Heir, to a Stranger Prince, and a wanderer, before he had seen him, and when he had only heard of his arrival on his Coasts: But these Criticks have not well consider'd the Simplicity of former times; when the Heroines almost courted the Marriage of illustrious Men. Yet Virgil here observes the rule of Decency; Lavinia offers not her self: Tis Latinus, who propounds the Match: And he had been foretold, both by an Augur, and an Oracle, that he should have a foreign Son-in-Law; who was also a Heroe. Fathers, in those ancient Ages, considering Birth and Vertue, more than Fortune, in the placing of their Daughters. Which I cou'd prove by various Examples: The contrary of which being now practis'd, I dare not say in our Nation, but in France, has not a little darken'd the Lustre of their Nobility. That Lavinia was averse to this Marriage, and for what reason, I shall prove in its proper place.
L. 1020.And where Abella sees,
From her high Tow'rs, the Harvest of her Trees.
I observe that Virgil names not Nola, which was not far distant from Abella: perhaps, because that City, (the same in which Augustus dyed afterwards;) had once refus'd to give him entertainment; if if we may believe the Author of his Life. Homer heartily curses another City which had us'd him on the same manner: But our Author thought his Silence of the Nolans a sufficient correction. When a Poet passes by a Place or Person, though a fair Occasion offers of rememb'ring them, tis a sign he is, or thinks himself, much disoblig'd.
Aen. 8. L. 34.So when the Sun by Day, the Moon by Night,
Strike on the polish'd Brass their trembling Light, &c.
This Similitude is literally taken from Apollonius Rhodius; and 'tis hard to say, whether the Original or the Translation excels. But in the Shield which he describes afterwards in this Aeneid, he as much transcends his Master Homer; as the Arms of Glaucus were richer than those of Diomedes. Χρύεα Χαλχείων.
Lines 115, and 116.Æneas takes the Mother, and her Brood,
And all on Juno's Altar are bestow'd.
The Translation is infinitely short of Virgil, whose Words are these;
———Tibi enim, tibi maxima Juno
Mactat sacra ferens, & cum grege sistit ad aram.
For I cou'd not turn the word Enim into English with any grace. Though it was of such necessity, in the Roman Rites, that a Sacrifice could not be perform'd without it; tis of the same nature, (if I may presume to name that sacred Mystery) in our words of Consecration at the Altar.
Æneid the 9th. Lines 853, 854.At the full stretch of both his Hands, he drew;
And almost join'd the Horns of the tough Eugh.
The first of these Lines, is all of Monosyllables; and both Verses are very rough: But of choice; for it had been easie for me to have smooth'd them. But either my Ear deceives me, or they express the thing which I intended in their Sound: For the stress of a Bow which is drawn to the full extent, is express'd in the harshness of the first Verse, clogg'd not only with Monosyllables, but with Consonants; and these words, the tough Eugh, which conclude the second line, seem as forceful, as they are Unharmonious. Homer and Virgil are both frequent in their adapting Sounds to the thing they signifie. One Example will serve for both; because Virgil borrow'd the following Verses from Homer's Odysses.
Unà Eurusque Notusque ruunt creberque procellis
Africus, & vastos volvunt ad litora fluctus.
Σὑν δ᾽ Ε_ροςε, Νότοςε ἒπεσεν, Ζεφυροςε δυσαὴς;
Και Βερεης αι ζιθρiγενε_ης, μέγα χῦμα χυλίνδων.
Our Language is not often capable of these Beauties: though sometimes I have copied them, of which these Verses are an instance.
Line 1095.His ample Shield———
Is falsify'd; and round with Jav'lins fill'd.
When I read this Æneid to many of my Friends, in company together, most of them quarrel'd at the word falsify'd, as an Innovation in our Language. The fact is confess'd; for I remember not to have read it in any English, Author; though perhaps it may be found in Spencer's Fairy Queen: But suppose it be not there: Why am I forbidden to borrow from the Italian, (a polish'd Language) the word which is wanting in my Native Tongue? Terence has often Grecis'd: Lucretius has follow'd his Example; and pleaded for it; sic quia me cogit patrii Sermonis Egestas. Virgil has confirm'd it by his frequent practice, and even Cicero in Prose, wanting terms of Philosophy in the Latin Tongue, has taken them from Aristotle's Greek. Horace has given us a Rule for Coining Words, si Græco fonte cadunt. Especially when other words are join'd with them, which explain the Sense. I use the word falsifie in this place, to mean that the Shield of Turnus was not of Proof against the Spears and Javlins of the Trojans; which had pierc'd it through and through (as we say) in many places. The words which accompany this new one, make my meaning plain; according to the Precept which Horace gave. But I said I borrow'd the Word from the Italian: Vide Ariosto, Cant. 26.
Ma si l'Usbergo d' Ambi era perfetto
Che mai poter falsarlo in nessun Canto.
Falsar cannot otherwise be turn'd, than by falsify'd; for his shield was falsed, is not English. I might indeed have contented my self with saying his Shield was pierc'd, and board, and stuck with Javelins; Nec sufficit Umbo Ictibus. They who will not admit a new word, may take the old; the matter is not worth dispute.
Aeneid the 10th. A Choir of Nereids, &c. These were transform'd from Ships to Sea-Nymphs: This is almost as violent a Machine, as the death of Aruns by a Goddess in the Episode of Camilla. But the Poet makes use of it with greater Art: For here it carries on the main Design. These new made Divinities, not only tell Aeneas what had pass'd in his Camp during his absence; and what was the present Distress of his Besieg'd People; and that his Horse-men whom he had sent by Land, were ready to join him at his Descent; but warn him to provide for Battel the next day, and fore-tell him good success: So that this Episodical Machine is properly a part of the great Poem; For besides what I have said, they push on his Navy with Celestial Vigour, that it might reach the Port more speedily, and take the Enemy more unprovided to resist the Landing. Whereas the Machine relating to Camilla, is only Ornamental: For it has no effect, which I can find, but to please the Reader, who is concern'd, that her Death shou'd be reveng'd.
Lines 241, 243.Now Sacred Sisters, open all your Spring, The Tuscan Leaders, and their Army sing;
The Poet here begins to tell the Names of the Tuscan Captains who follow'd Aeneas to the War: And I observe him to be very particular in the description of their Persons, and not forgetful of their Manners: Exact also, in the Relation of the Numbers which each of them Command. I doubt not but as in the fifth Book, he gave us the Names of the Champions, who contended for the several Prizes, that he might oblige many of the most Ancient Roman Families, their Descendants; and as in the 7th Book, he Muster'd the Auxiliary Forces of the Latins, on the same Account; so here he gratifies his Tuscan Friends, with the like remembrance of their Ancestors; and above the rest, Mecænas his great Patron: Who being of a Royal Family in Etruria, was probably represented under one of the Names here mention'd, then known among the Romans, though at so great a distance, unknown to us. And for his sake chiefly, as I guess, he makes Aeneas (by whom he always means Augustus) to seek for Aid in the Country of Mecænas, thereby to indear his Protector to his Emperour; as if there had been a former Friendship betwixt their Lines. And who knows, but Mecænas might pretend that the Cilnian Family was deriv'd from Tarchon, the Chief Commander of the Tuscans.
Line 662.Nor I, his mighty Syre, cou'd ward the Blow.
I have mention'd this Passage in my Preface to the Æneis; to prove, that Fate was superiour to the Gods; and that Jove cou'd neither defer nor alter its Decrees. Sir Robert Howard has since, been pleas'd to send me the concurrent Testimony of Ovid; tis in the last Book of his Metamorphoses; where Venus complains, that her Descendant, Julius Caesar, was in danger of being Murther'd by Brutus and Cassius, at the head of the Commonwealth-Faction, and desires them to prevent that Barbarous Assassination. They are mov'd to Compassion; they are concern'd for Caesar; but the Poet plainly tells us, that it was not in their power to change Destiny: All they cou'd do, was to testifie their sorrow for his approaching Death, by fore-shewing it with Signs and Prodigies, as appears by the following Lines.
Talia nequicquàm toto Venus aurea Coelo
Verba jacit: Superosque movet: Qui rumpere quanquam
Ferrea non possunt veterum decreta Sororum,
Signa tamen luctus dant haud incerta futuri.
Then she Addresses to her Father Jupiter, hoping Aid from him, because he was thought Omnipotent. But he, it seems, cou'd do as little as the rest, for he answers thus.
—sola insuperabile Fatum
Nata, movere paras? intres licet ipsa sororum
Tecta trium; cernes illic molimine vasto
Ex aere, & solido rerum tabularia ferro:
Quae neque concursum Coeli, neque fulminis iram,
Nec metuunt ullas tuta atque aeterna ruinas.
Invenies illic incisa Adamante perenni
Fata tui Generis, legi ipse, animoque notavi,
Et referam: ne sis etiamnum ignara futuri.
Hic sua complevit; (pro quo Cytherea laboras,)
Tempora, perfectis quos Terrae debuit, annis, &c.
Jupiter you see is only Library-Keeper, or Custos Rotulorum to the Fates: For he offers his Daughter a Cast of his Office, to give her a Sight of their Decrees; which the inferiour Gods were not permitted to read without his leave. This agrees with what I have said already in the Preface; that they not having seen the Records, might believe they were his own Hand-writing; and consequently at his disposing either to blott out, or alter, as he saw convenient. And of this Opinion was Juno in those words, tua qui potes orsa reflectas. Now the abode of those Destinies being in Hell, we cannot wonder why the Swearing by Styx, was an inviolable Oath amongst the Gods of Heaven, and that Jupiter himself should fear to be accus'd of Forgery by the Fates, if he alter'd any thing in their Decrees. Chaos, Night, and Erebus, being the most Antient of the Deities, and instituting those fundamental Laws, by which he was afterwards to govern. Hesiod gives us the Genealogy of the Gods, and I think I may safely infer the rest. I will only add, that Homer was more a Fatalist than Virgil: For it has been observ'd, that the word τυχὴ, or Fortune, is not to be found in his two Poems; but instead of it, always μοιρα.
Æneid the 12. lines 888, and 889.
Sea-born Messapus with Atinas, heads
The Latin Squadrons; and to Battel leads.
The Poet had said, in the preceding lines, that Mnestheus, Seresthus, and Asylas, led on the Trojans, the Tuscans, and the Arcadians: But none of the Printed Copies, which I have seen, mention any Leader of the Rutulians and Latins, but Messapus the Son of Neptune. Ruæus takes notice of this passage, and seems to wonder at it; but gives no Reason, why Messapus is alone without a Coadjutor.
The four Verses of Virgil run thus.
Totæ adeò conversæ acies, omnesque Latini
Omnes Dardanidæ, Mnestheus, acerque Seresthus
Et Messapus equum Domitor, & fortis Asylas,
Tuscorumque Phalanx, Evandrique Arcadis alæ.
I doubt not but the third Line was Originally thus,
Et Messapus equum domitor, & fortis Atinas:
For the two Names of Asylas and Atinas are so like, that one might easily be mistaken for the other by the Transcribers. And to fortify this Opinion, we find afterward, in the relation of Sages to Turnus, that Atinas is join'd with Messapus.
Soli, pro portis, Messapus & acer Atinas
In general I observe, not only in this Æneid, but in all the sixth last Books, that Æneas is never seen on Horse-back, and but once before as I remember, in the Fourth when he hunts with Dido. The Reason of this, if I guess aright, was a secret Compliment which the Poet made to his Country-men the Romans; the strength of whose Armies consisted most in Foot; which, I think, were all Romans and Italians. But their Wings or Squadrons, were made up of their Allies, who were Foreigners.
Æneid the 12th. Lines 100, 101, 102.
At this, a flood of Tears Lavinia shed;
A crimson Blush her beauteous Face o'er-spread;
Varying her Cheeks, by turns, with white and red.
Amata, ever partial to the Cause of Turnus, had just before desir'd him, with all manner of earnestness, not to ingage his Rival in single Fight; which was his present Resolution. Virgil, though in favour of his Heroe, he never tells us directly, that Lavinia preferr'd Turnus to Æneas, yet has insinuated this preference twice before. For mark in the 7th Æneid, she left her Father, who had promis'd her to Æneas without asking her consent: And follow'd her Mother into the Woods, with a Troop of Bacchanals, where Amata sung the Marriage Song, in the Name of Turnus; which if she had dislik'd, she might have oppos'd. Then in the 11th. Æneid, when her Mother went to the Temple of Pallas, to invoke her Aid against Æneas; whom she calls by no better Name than Phrygius Praedo, Lavinia sits by her in the same Chair or Litter, juxtaque Comes Lavinia Virgo,—Oculos dejecta decoros. What greater sign of Love, than Fear and Concernment for the Lover? In the lines which I have quoted she not only sheds Tears but changes Colour. She had been bred up with Turnus, and Æneas was wholly a Stranger to her. Turnus in probability was her first Love; and favour'd by her Mother, who had the Ascendant over her Father. But I am much deceiv'd, if (besides what I have said) there be not a secret Satire against the Sex, which is lurking under this Description of Virgil, who seldom speaks well of Women: Better indeed of Camilla, than any other; for he commends her Beauty and Valour: Because he wou'd concern the Reader for her Death. But Valour is no very proper Praise for Womankind; and Beauty is common to the Sex. He says also somewhat of Andromache, but transiently: And his Venus is a better Mother than a Wife, for she owns to Vulcan she had a Son by another Man. The rest are Juno's, Diana's, Dido's, Amata's, two mad Prophetesses, three Harpies on Earth, and as many Furies under ground. This Fable of Lavinia includes a secret Moral; that Women in their choice of Husbands, prefer the younger of their Suitors to the elder; are insensible of Merit, fond of Handsomness; and generally speaking, rather hurried away by their Appetite, than govern'd by their Reason.
L. 1191, & 1192.This let me beg; (and this no Fates withstand) Both for my self, and for your Fathers Land, &c.
The words in the Original are these, pro Latio obtestor, pro Majestate tuorum. Virgil very artfully uses here the word Majestas; which the Romans lov'd so well, that they appropriated it to themselves. Majestas Populi Ramani. this Title apply'd to Kings, is very Modern, and that is all I will say of it at present: Though the word requires a larger Note. In the word tuorum, is included the sense of my Translation, Your Father's Land: Because Saturn the Father of Jove, had govern'd that part of Italy, after his expulsion from Crete. But that on which I most insist, is the Address of the Poet, in this Speech of Juno. Virgil was sufficiently sensible, as I have said in the Preface, that whatever the common Opinion was, concerning the Descent of the Romans from the Trojans; yet the Ancient Customs, Rites, Laws, and Habits, of those Trojans were wholly lost, and perhaps also that they had never been: And for this Reason, he introduces Juno in this place; requesting of Jupiter, that no Memory might remain of Troy, (the Town she hated) that the People hereafter should not be called Trojans, nor retain any thing which belong'd to their Predecessors. And why might not this also be concerted betwixt our Author and his Friend Horace, to hinder Augustus from Re-building Troy, and removing thither the Seat of Empire, a design so unpleasing to the Romans? But of this, I am not positive, because I have not consulted d'Acier, and the rest of the Criticks, to ascertain the time in which Horace writ the Ode relating to that Subject.
L. 1224, & 1225.Deep in the dismal Regions, void of Light,
Three Sisters, at a Birth, were born to Night.
The Father of these, (not here mention'd) was Acheron: the Names of the three, were Alecto, Maegera, and Tysiphone. They were call'd Furies in Hell, on Earth Harpies, and in Heaven Dirae: Two of these assisted at the Throne of Jupiter, and were employed by him, to punish the wickedness of Mankind. These two must be Megaera, and Tysiphone: Not Alecto: For Juno expresly commands her to return to Hell, from whence she came; and gives this Reason.
Te super Aetherias errare licentius auras,
Haud Pater ipse velit summi Regnator Olympi:
Probably this Dira, un-nam'd by the Poet in this Place; might be Tysiphone, for though we find her in Hell, in the sixth Æneid, employ'd in the punishment of the damn'd,
Continuo sontes, Ultrix accincta flagello
Tysiphone quatit insultans, &c.
Yet afterwards she is on Earth in the Tenth Æneid, and amidst the Battel, Pallida Tisiphone media inter Millia sævit. Which I guess to be Tysiphone, the rather, by the Etimology of her Name; which is compounded of Τίω, ulciscor; and φονιε cædes. Part of her Errand being to affright Turnus, with the Stings of a guilty Conscience; and denounce Vengeance against him for breaking the first Treaty, by refusing to yield Lavinia to Æneas, to whom she was promis'd by her Father, and consequently, for being the Author of an unjust War; and also for violating the second Treaty, by declining the single combat, which he had stipulated with his Rival, and call'd the Gods to witness before their Altars. As for the Names of the Harpies, (so call'd on Earth) Hesiod tells us they were Iris, Aello, and Ocypete. Virgil calls one of them Celæno: This I doubt not was Alecto; whom Virgil calls in the third Æneid, Furiarum maxima: And in the sixth again, by the same Name——Furiarum maxima, juxta accubat. That she was the chief of the Furies, appears by her description in the seventh Æneid: To which, for haste, I refer the Reader.