1902 Encyclopedia > Virgil

Virgil
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
Roman poet
(70-19 BC)




VIRGIL (P.VERGILIUS MARO) enjoyed in ancient times an unquestioned supremacy among Roman poets. His pre-eminence in poetry was as distinctly recognized as that of Cicero in prose ; and among the Romans, as among all nations who have possessed a great poetical and a great prose literature, the superior power of poetry over that of any other mode of artistic expression to embody and perpetuate the true ideal of the national imagination and the deepest vein of national sentiment, was fully recognized. The veneration in which his name was held during the long interval between the overthrow of Western civilization and he revival of letters affords testimony of the depth of the impression which he made on the heart and imagination of the ancient world. The traditional belief in his pre-eminence has been on the whole sustained, though not with absolute unanimity, in modern times. By the scholars and men of letters of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries it was never seriously questioned. Only during the first half of the present century has his right to be ranked among the great poets of the world been disputed by eminent German and English critics. The German mind has always been more in sympathy with the art and genius of Greece than of Rome and Italy ; and during the first half of the present century, when English criticism first came under German influence, there was a strong reaction from the habitual deference paid to those writers who had moulded literary taste in the previous century. The estimation of Virgil, as the most consummate representative of Latin culture, suffered most from this reaction.

In the present day the effect of this reaction shows itself only in a juster estimate Virgil’s relative position among the poets of the world. It is no longer a question whether he or Homer was best entitled to hold that "sceptre" among the great poets of antiquity which Lucretius awards to the older poet. It may still be a matter of individual opinion whether Lucretius himself was not a more powerful and original poetical force, whether he does not speak more directly to the heart and imagination of our own time. But it can hardly be questioned, on a survey of Roman literature, as continuous expression of the national mind, from the age of Naevius to the age of Claudian, that the position of Virgil is central and commanding, while that of Lucretius is in a great measure isolated. If we could imagine the place of Virgil in Roman literature vacant, it would be much the same as if we imagined the place of Dante vacant in modern Italian, and that of Goethe in German literature. The serious efforts of the early Roman literature—the efforts of the older epic and tragic poetry—found their fulfilment in him. The revelation of the power and life of Nature, first made to Lucretius, was able to charm the Roman mind of Virgil, and been brought nearer to the heart of Romans and Italians by association with the industry most congenial to them. And not only does Virgil absorb and supersede much of what when before him ; he anticipates and supersedes much of what came after him. When we have read the Aeneid, we add scarcely anything to our sense of the capacities of the Italian genius and of the Latin language by studying the artificial epics of the empire. It is enough to read any ten lines of them along with any ten lines of Virgil to feel how absolute is his superiority.

Virgil is the only complete representative of the deepest sentiment and highest mood of his countrymen and of his time. In his pastoral and didactic poems he gives a living voice to the whole charm of Italy, in the Aeneid to the whole glory of Rome. He was in the maturity of his powers at the most critical epoch of the national life, one of the most critical epochs in the history of the world. Keeping aloof from the trivial daily life of his contemporaries, he was moved more profoundly than any of them by the deeper currents of emotion in the sphere of government, religion, morals, and human feeling which were then changing the world ; and in uttering the enthusiasm of the hour, and all the new sensibilities that were stirring in his own heart and imagination, he had, in

FOOTNOTE (p. 248)

1 This region includes Europe, Africa north of the Sahara, and Asia north of the Himalayas.



the words of Sainte-Beuve, "divined at a decisive hour of the world what the future would love." He was also by universal acknowledgment the greatest literary artists whom produced. It was an essential condition of Roman more than of any other great literature that it was based on culture and education. Not only the knowledge but the inspiration of Greek poetry—"spiritus Graiae camenae"—was the condition of Roman success in poetry. Virgil and had not only more learning and culture, but had a more catholic sympathy with the whole range of Greek poetry, from Homer and Hesiod to Theocritus and the Alexandrians, than any one else at any period of Roman literature. Greek studies were in his time pursued with greater ardour, completeness, and thoroughness than at any previous period. The effort of the preceding generation to attain to beauty of form ad finished of artistic execution found in him, at the most susceptible period of his life, a ready recipient of is influence. The rude dialect of Latium had been moulded into a powerful and harmonious organ of literary expression by the emotional ardour and vigourous understanding of a long series of orators; the rough and unhewn structure of the Latin hexameter, first shaped by Ennius to meet the wants of his own spirit and of his high argument, ha been smoothed and polished by the congenial labour of Lucretius, and still more perfected by the finer ear and more careful industry of Catallus and his circle ; but neither had yet attained their final development. It was left for Virgil to bring both diction and rhythm to as high a pitch of artistic perfection as has been attained in any literature.

The great work which he accomplished was the result of the steady devotion of his genius, undistracted by pleasure or business, to his appointed task. For the half of his life he prepared himself to be the great poet of his time and country with a high ambition and unresting industry, equalled only by the ambition and industry with which Cicero prepared himself to be the greatest orator and the most accomplished exponent of philosophy among his contemporaries and countrymen. The second half of his career was a religious consecration of all his powers of heart, mind, and spirit to his high office. He was born on the 19th of October in the year 70 B.C., in a farm on the banks of the Mincio, in the district of Andes, not far from the town of Mantua. He thus belonged to a generation about thirty years younger than that to which Lucretius belonged, and about fifteen years younger than that of Catullus : but both these poets were dead before the younger poet was old enough or sufficiently known to have come into personal contact with them. But the literary impulse which gave birth to their poetry was felt in all its force in his early youth, and especially in the district north of the Po, in which a race of more imaginative susceptibility than the people of Latium, who had been the first to received the discipline and feel the enthusiasm of Greek studies, formed part of the Latin-speaking population._ It was favourable to his development as a national poet that he ws born and educated during the interval of comparative calm between the first and second civil wars, and that he belonged to a generation which, as the result of the social war first enjoyed the sense of an Italian nationality. Yet it was only after Virgil had grown to manhood that the province to which he belonged obtained the full rights of Roman citizenship. It is remarkable that the two poets whose imagination seems to have been most powerfully possessed by the spell of Rome,—Ennius and Virgil,— were born outside the pale of Roman citizenship, though belonging to races who had acknowledged the sovereignty without deeply or permanently resenting the hostility of Rome.

The scenery familiar to his childhood, which he recalls with affection both in the Eclogues and the Georgics, was that of the green banks and slow windings of the Mincio and the rich pastures in its neighbourhood. Like his friend and contemporary Horace, and unlike the poets of the preceding generation, who were members either of the aristocracy or of the class closely associated with it, he sprung from the class of yeomen, whose state he pronounces the happiest allotted to man and most conducive to virtue and piety. Virgil, as well as Horace, was fortunate in having a father who, though probably uneducated himself, discerned his genius and spared no pains in nourishing it with the highest and richest culture then obtainable in the world. At the age of twelve he was taken for his education to Cremona, an old Latin colony, and from an expression in one of the minor poems attributed to him, about the authenticity of which there cannot be any reasonable doubt, it may be inferred that his father accompanied him thither as Horace’s father accompanied him to Rome for the same purpose. He assumed the toga virilis on his sixteenth birthday, the day, according to Donatus, on which Lucretius died ; and shortly afterwards he removed to Milan, where he continued engaged in study till he went to Rome two years later. The time of his removal to Rome must have nearly coincided with the publication of the poem, of Lucretius and of the collected poems of Catullus, the first really poems produced in the Latin language. A powerful stimulus must have been given to a youth of genius from a northern province by his arrival in the metropolis of the world at such a crisis in the national literature. The impression produced on his imagination on his first coming to Rome may be recalled to memory in the lines he puts into the mouth of Tityrus in the first eclogue.

"Urbem quam dicunt Romam Melibaee putavi," &c.

After studying under a rhetorician, who was, probably about the same time, the teacher of the future emperor, he proceeded to the study of philosophy under Siron the Epicurean, who, in common with other teachers of that sect, appears to have had the gift of inspiring enthusiasm for his subject and affection for himself. One of the minor poems written about this time in the scazon metre, which had recently been brought to the highest possible perfection by Catullus, tells of his delight at the immediate prospect of entering on the study of philosophy, and of the first stirring of that enthusiasm for philosophical investigation which haunted him through the whole of his life, but never obtained complete realization. At the end of the poem, the real master-passion of his life, the charm of the Muses—"dulces ante omnia Musae"—reasserts itself.

Our next knowledge of him is derived from allusions to his circumstances and state of feeling contained in the Eclogues, and belongs to a period nine or ten years later. Of what happened to him in the interval, during which the first civil war took place and Julius Caesar was assassinated, we have no indication from ancient testimony or from his writings. We might conjecture that this was a time of studious leisure passed in his father’s house in the country, as the life of Milton was passed after leaving Cambridge. In 42 B.C., the year of the battle of Philippi, when he was in his 28th year, we find him leading such a life, "cultivating his woodland Muse," and enjoying the protection of Asinius Pollio, the governor of the district north of the Po. In the following year the famous confiscations of land for the benefit of the soldiers of the triumvirs took place. Of the impression produced on Virgil by these confiscations, and of the effect they had on his fortunes, we have a vivid record in the poem which stands first in his collected works. Mantua, in consequence of its vicinity to Cremona, which had been faithful to the cause of the republic, was involved in this calamity ; and Virgil’s father was driven from the farm which he had acquired by the thrift and industry of his early years. By the influence of his powerful friends, and by personal application to the young Octavianus, already practically master of the Western world, Virgil obtained the restitution of his land ; but, on attempting to resume possession of it he was exposed to imminent danger, and had to swim across the river to escape from the violence of the soldier to whom it had been allotted. Immediately afterwards he took his father and family with him to the small country house of his old teacher Siron.

("Villula quae Sironis eras, et pauper agelle," &c., Catal., x.), which may have become his own by gift or inheritance. Soon afterwards we hear of him living in Rome, enjoying, in addition to the patronage of Pollio, the favour of Maecenas, intimate with Varius, who was at first regarded as the rising poet of the new era, and soon afterwards with Horace, who had just returned from his unfortunate adventure with the army of Brutus. His friendship with Gallus, for whom he indicates a warmer affection and more enthusiastic admiration than for any one else, was formed before his second residence in Rome, in the Cisalpine province, with which Gallus also was connected both by birth and office. The pastoral poems, or "eclogues," as they are usually called, though that name is never given to them by himself, commenced in his native district, were finished and published in Rome, probably in 37 B.C. Soon afterwards he withdrew from habitual residence in Rome, and lived chiefly in Campania, either at Naples or in a country house in the neighbourhood of Nola. He resided also for some time in Sicily ; and there is in the fourth Georgic distinct evidence of his familiarity with the neighbourhood of Tarentum. He was one of the companions of Horace in the famous journey to Brundisium ; and it seems not unlikely that, sometime before 23 B.C., he made the voyage to Athens which forms the subject of the third ode of the first book of the Odes of Horace.

The seven years from 37 to 30 B.C. were devoted to the composition of the Georgics. In the following year he read the poem to Augustus, on his return from Asia. The remaining years of his life were spent on the composition of the Aeneid. In the course of its composition, in 23 B.C., the year of the death of the young Marcellus, he read three books, the 2nd, 4th, and 6th, to the emperor and the members of the imperial family. In 19 B.C., after the Aeneid was finished but not finally corrected, he set out for Athens, intending to pass three years in Greece and Asia, and to devote that time to perfecting the workmanship of the poem. At Athens he met Augustus and was persuaded by him to return with him to Italy. While visiting Megara under a burning sun, he was seized with illness, and, as he continued his voyage without interruption, he grew rapidly worse, and died on the 21st of September, in his fifty-first year, a few days after landing at Brundisium. In his last illness he called for the cases containing his manuscripts, with the intention of burning the Aeneid. He had previously left directions in his will that his literary executors, Varius and Tucca, should publish nothing of his which had not already been given to the world by himself. This pathetic desire that the work to which he had given so much care, and of which such great expectations were formed, should not survive him has been used as an argument to prove his own dissatisfaction with the poem. A passage from a letter of his to Augustus is also quoted, in which he speaks as if he felt that the undertaking of the work had been a mistake. Virgil does not indeed show that sanguine confidence in the result of his labours which Horace expresses on the completion of the three books of lyrical poetry to which he devoted the best years of his life ; but the lines (Aen., ix. 444, &c.),

"Fortunati ambo si quid mea carmina possunt," &c.,

though with less self-assertion, imply a similar assurance that his work would endure as long as the Roman state and empire. The dissatisfaction with his work, increased by the depression of his last illness and the fatigue of the long tension of mind, heart, and imagination upon it, may more probably be ascribed to his passionate craving for a perfection of workmanship which death prevented him from attaining than to any sense either of the unworthiness of his subject or of his own inadequacy to do justice to it. The commands of Augustus fortunately intervened to prevent the loss of some of the noblest poetry of antiquity and of the most enduring monument of the greatness and glory of Rome.

He was buried at Naples, where his tomb, was long regarded with religious veneration, and visited as a temple. That veneration was survival of the feeling with which he was regarded in his lifetime, and is greater than what we find attaching to the actual memory of any other ancient poet, though the mystery connected with the personality of Homer excited a greater curiosity. Horace is our most direct witness of the affection which he inspired among his contemporaries. The qualities by which he gained their love were, according to his testimony, "candor,"—that sincerity of nature and goodness of heart which, along with "fides’ or loyalty, the Romans valued most among the qualities which they prized above all personal qualities. The statement of his biographer, that he was known in Naples by the name "Parthenias," is a testimony to the exceptional purity of his life in an age of licence. These direct testimonies are confirmed by the indirect testimony of his works. Scarcely any poet in any age seems to deserve so high a rank among those whom he himself characterizes as "pii vates et Phoebo dign locuti." The seclusion of his life and his devotion to his art touched the imagination of his countrymen as the finer qualities of is nature touched the heart of his friends. It had been, from the time of Cicero,_ the ambition of the men of finest culture and most original genius in Rome to produce a national literature which might rival that of Greece ; and the feeling that at last a poem was about to appear which would equal or surpass the greatest among all the works of Greek genius found a voice in the lines of Propertius—

"Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Graii;

Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliade."

The feeling which his countrymen and contemporaries entertained towards him seems justified by the personal impression which he produces on modern readers,—an impression of sanctity, as of one who habitually lived in a higher and serener sphere than that of this world. The reverential love inspired by him is something distinct from the affection felt for Horace as a familiar friend, a wise

FOOTNOTE (p. 250)

1 Cf. Tusc. Disp., ii. 2 : "Quamobrem hortor omnes qui facere id possunt, ut hujus quoque generis laudem jam languenti Graeciae eripiant," &c. These words apply specially to philosophical literature, but other passages in the same and in order works imply that Cicero thought that the Romans had equal aptitudes for other departments of literature ; and the practice of the Augustan poets in each appropriating to himself a special province of Greek literary art seems to indicate the same ambition.

counsellor, and genial companion, sharing the ordinary interests and pleasures of life, liable to the same weakness and endeared by the same social charm as those who are best liked in the intercourse of our own day.





Virgil’s fame as a poet rests on the three acknowledged works of his early and mature manhood—the pastoral poems or Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid—all written in that hexameter verse which he received from his immediate predecessors, still lacking something in variety and smoothness of cadence, and which he left to the world, in the words of a poet, who, if any one, is entitled to speak with authority on such a subject.

"The noblest metre ever moulded by the lips of man."

But other poems were attributed to him in ancient times, and have been incorporated with his acknowledged works. These are (1) a collection of short poems, under the name "Catalepton," most of them in the style of the short poems of Catullus, and composed in various forms of the iambic metre (chiefly the scazon), and in elegiacs ; and (i2) some longer poems, the Culex, Ciris, Copa, Moretum, to which sometimes the Aetna with Dirae are added all with one exception written in hexameters. As the younger Pliny mentions Virgil among the men of grave character by whose authority he justifies his own occasional indulgence in the composition of slight, playful, and somewhat indecorous verses, it is quite possible that two ort three pieces of that kind found in the Catalepton may have been written by Virgil when fresh from the first reading of Catullus. The fifth written in the couplet most used in the Epodes of Horace, and the most bitter in tone and coarsest in expression, it is impossible to attribute to him. But there are others among them of which there is no reason to question the authenticity, and which are interesting as an immediate expression of the poet’s personal feelings at various periods of his life. Of the longer poems attribute to him in ancient times it is clear from internal evidence that the Ciris and Dirae, though belonging to the Augustan age, are not his. The Aetna has been shown to have been written in the age of Nero. The Moretum and the Copa are interesting as graphic and sharply defined pictures from common or homely life. But they have nothing to common with the idealizing art of Virgil, and the tone and sentiment of the Copa especially are quite alien from the tone and sentiment of his acknowledged work. But there has been more controversy about the authenticity of the Culex. The ambitious saying, not to apply to it a harsher epithet, attribute by his biography to Lucan, "et quantum mihi restat ad Culicem," shows that in his time it was believed that Virgil had written a poem of that name. Martial (xiv. 185) writes of a Culex as the undoubted work of a Culex as the undoubted work of Virgil. He believes in it as unhesitatingly as he does in the "Passer Catulli," and speaks as it were only the patronage of Maecenas that enabled Virgil to rise to higher themes. Virgil’s biographer speaks of the poem as having been written by him at the age of sixteen, though the saying of Lucan seems to imply that he supposed it to have been written when he was ten years older. The poem has no trace of the charm and variety of Virgil’s style and rhythm, and is even less like the style and metre of the Eclogues than of his later poems. On the other hand, there is a technical correctness and regularity in the metre which was not possible until after the art of Virgils had made the knack of writing hexameters as attainable by all educated men as the art of Pope made the writing of the heroic couplet ; and the writing of such verse seems to have become a regular part of a liberal education. It is to be remembered that in the same soil and under the same air under which the genius of Virgil and Horace expanded to such stately proportions, there was a great under growth of minor poets who are the frequent butts of Horace’s good-natured satire. Descriptions of nature to which they were trained by the reading of Lucretius and Virgil, and mythological commonplace, were apparently the chief materials of their was exercise. The descriptions in the Culex show the careful study both of Lucretius and of the Ecloques and Georgics, and, though too diffuse and diluted, are not without a real perception of, and feeling for, Italian nature. Bu it is very difficult to believe that the poem was ever edited by or acknowledged by Virgil in his lifetime. Nothing is more alien to his character than such immature ambition. It is difficult also to believe that it is a crude effort of his boyhood, accidentally preserved, and given to the world after his death by an authorized editor. It seems more probable that it is the composition of some young and enthusiastic admirer of Virgil, who, some time after his death, and perhaps, after the death of his immediate contemporaries, succeeded in palming off his own imitative concoction as an early composition of the great master. The dedication to the "reversed Octavius," if the person addressed is the "young Augustus," and not the poet and historian mentioned by Horace, and the lines—

"Posterius graviore sono tibi musa loquetur

Nostra, dabunt cum maturos mihi tempora fructus"—

Seem like not very ingenious artifices to secure acceptance for the poem, and to represent Virgil as already in boyhood closely connected with the future emperor, and conscious of his own genius and of the great future that awaited both himself and the young friend whom he addresses as "sancte puer."

The pastoral poems, or Eclogues—a word denoting short selected pieces—were composed between the years 42 and 37 B.C., when Virgil was between the age of twenty-eight and thirty-three. By his invocation to the "Sicelides Musae" and "Arethusa," by the names "Daphnis" and Menalcas," "Thysis" and "Corydon," &c., which he gives to his shepherds, by his mention of "Arcadians" and of "Eurotas," and by many other indications, he avows the purpose of eliciting from the strong Latin language the melody which the "Sicilian shepherd" drew out the "Doric reed," of peopling the familiar plains and river-banks of his native land with the picturesque figures of the old Greek pastoral, and of expressing that tender feeling for the beauty of Italian scenes which Theocritus and expressed for the beauty of Sicily. The position of Virgil indicated in the Ecloques was not unlike that indicated in the idylls of Theocritus,—that of a youth of genius with all the refinement of a rich culture, but with rustic tastes and habits living his life among other young poets of his native province, cultivating his art by friendly rivalry with them, and nourishing his genius by communion with the spirit of nature as revealed in the scenes around him and in the melodies of older poets. It was as natural under these circumstances that he should aspire to be the Italian Theocritus as that Horace, with his more social and Versatile temperament, and with the adventurous experience of his youth, should aspire to be the Roman Alcaeus.

The earliest poems in the series were the second, third, and fifth ; and these, along with the seventh, are the most purely Theocritean in character. The first and ninth, which probably were next in order, are much more Italian in sentiment, are much more an expression of the poet’s own feelings, and have a much more direct reference both to his own circumstances and the circumstances of the time. The first is a true poetical reflex of the distress and confusion which arose out of the new distribution of lands, and blends the poet’s own deep love of his home, and of the sights and sounds familiar to him from chidhood, with his Italian susceptibility to the beauty of nature. The ninth is immediately connected in subject with the first. It contains the lines which seem accurately to describe the site of Virgil’s farm, at the point where the range of hills which accompany the river for some distance from the foot of the Lago id Garda sinks into the plain about 14 or 15 miles abov Mantua—

"Qua se subducere colles

Incipiunt mollique jugum demittere clivo."

The sixth is addressed to Varus, who succeeded Pollio as governor of the Cisalpine district. Its theme is the creation of the world (according to the Epicurean cosmogony), and the oldest tales of mythology._ The fourth and eighth are both closely associated with the name of Virgil’s earliest protector, Pollio. The fourth celebrates the consulship of his patron in 40 B.C., and perhaps also the birth of his son, though it was disputed in antiquity, and still is disputed who was meant by the child whose birth was to be coincident with the advent of the new era, and who, after filling the other great offices of state, was to "rule with his father’s virtues the world at peace." The main purpose of the poem, however, it to express, in connexion with pastoral associations, the longing of the world for a new ear of peace and happiness, of which the treaty of Brundisium seemed to hold out some definite hopes. There is no trace in this poem of Theocritean influence. The rhythm recalls the stately monotonous movement of the longest poem of Catullus, not the vivacity of the idyllic rhythm. The ideas are derived partly, it is supposed, from the later Sibylline prophecies, circulated after the burning in the time of Sulla of the old Sibylline books, and possibly tinged with Jewish ideas. Some of the phraseology of the been an unconscious instrument of inspired prophecy. The date of the eighth is fixed a by a reference to the campaign of Pollic against the Dalmatians in 39 B.C. It is founded on the GREEK of Theocritus, but brings before us, with Italian associations, two love tales of homely Italian life. The tenth reproduces the Daphnis of Theocritus, and is a dirge over the unhappy love of Gallus and Lycoris. As in the other poems, the second and eighth, of which love is the burden, it is to romantic and fantastic melancholy which the passion assumes in certain natures that Virgil gives a voice. Nothing can be more than the association of such a feeling with an ordinary liaison like that of Gallus, the adventurous and ambitious soldier, and Cytheris, the notorious actress and discarded mistress of Antony. But there is no representation in ancient poetry of an ideal and chivalrous passion so tender and true as that of the Gallus of Virgil.

There is no important work in Latin literature, with the exception of the comedy of Terence, so imitative as the Eclogues. But they are not, like the comedies of Terence, purely exotic as well as imitative. They are rather composite, partly Greek and partly

FOOTNOTE (p. 251)

1 In the Georgics also Virgil attempts to combine science with the poetic fancies which filled its place in older times.



Italian, and, as a vehicle for the expression of feeling, hold an undefined place between the objectivity of the Greek idyll and the subjectivity of the Latin elegy. For the most part, they express the sentiment inspired by the beauty of the world, and the kindred sentiment inspired by the charm of human relationships. Virgils’ susceptibility to the beauty of nature was fostered by the sympathetic study of Theocritus, but it was also native to himself. The originality of the representation appears in the truth with which it suggests the charms of Italy—the fresh and tender life of an Italian spring, the grace and delicate hues of the wild flowers, and the quiet beauty of the green pastures and the rich orchards of his hanced by the fidelity and grace with which he has expressed the Italian peasant’s love of his home and all things associated with it. But, whatever, detraction may have to be made from the originality of the substances and form of these poems, the supreme charm of the medium of diction and rhythm through which the poet’s feeling has found utterance is universally recognized. The power of varied harmony is as conspicuous in Virgil’s earliest poems as in the maturer and more elaborate workmanship of the Georgics and Aeneid. The Italian language, without sacrifice of the fulness, strength, and majesty of its tones, acquired a more tender grace and more liquid flow, which reappeared long after in the poets of modern Italy, from the gift—the "molle atque facetum"—which the Muses of country life bestowed on Virgil. But these Muses had a more serious and dignified function to fulfil than that of glorifying the picturesue pastime, the "dolce far niente, " the "otia dia," of rural life. The Italian imagination formed an ideal of the happiness of a country life nobler than that of passive suceptibility to the sights and sounds of the outward world. In the idyllic picture in which Horace enumerates the various delights of the countryman’s condition (Epode 2), while the pleasures to eye and ear are not wanting, more stress is laid on the labours by which man co-operates with nature, and on the joy with which he contemplates the results of his toil. It was the aim of the more serious Roman writers to invest objets which minister to practical utility with the glory and charm of poetry. Suetonius tells us that Augustus valued noting so much in literature as "praecepta et exempla publice vel privatim salubria." It is stated that Maecenas, acting on the principle of employing the poets of the time in favour of the conservative and restorative policy of the new government, directed the genius of Virgil to the subject of the Georgics. From a moral, social, and national point of view, no object could be of more consequence in the eyes of a stateman whose master inherited the policy of the popular leaders than the revival of the great form of national industry, associated with the older and happier memories of Rome, which had fallen into abeyance owing to the long unsettlement of the revolutionary era as well as to other causes. Virgil’s previous life and associations made it natural for him to identify himself with this object, while his genius and artistic accomplishment fitted him to enlist the imagination of his countrymen in favour of so great a practical reform. It would be a most inadequate and false view of his purpose to suppose that, life the Alexandrian poets or the didactive poets of modern times, he desired in erely to make useful information and practical precepts more attractive by the aid of poetical rhythm and diction. His aim was rather under the form of practical instruction to describe with realistic fidelity, and at the same time to surround with an atmosphere of idealizing poetry, the annual round of labour in which the Italian yeoman’s life was passed ; to bring out the intimate relation with the manifold aspects and processes of nature into which man was brought in the course of that life, and to suggest the delight to heart and imagination which he drew from it: to contrast the simplicity, security of the great world ; and to associate the ideal of a life of rustic labour with the varied beauties of Italy and the historic glories of Rome. Thus a speculative and religious, and ethical and patriotic, motive enlarges and supersedes the apparent motive of conveying instruction. This larger conception of the dignity of his subject separates the didactive poem of Virgil from all other didactiv, as distinct from philosophic, poems. He was produced in the Georgics a new type of didactic, as in the Aeneid he has produced a new types of epic, poetry.

The subject which is unfolded in the four opening lines—

"Quid faciat laetas segetes, quo sidere terram

Vertere, Maecenas, ulmisque adjungere vites

Conveniat ; quae cura boum, qui cultus habendo

Sit pecori, apibus quantua experientia parcis"—



is treated in four books, varying in length from 514 to 566 lines. The first treats of the village of the fields, of the constellations, the rise and setting of which form the farmer’s calendar, and of the signs of the weather, on which the success of his labours largely depends. The second treats of the cultivation of trees, and especially of the vine and olive, tow great staples of the national wealth and industry of Italy ; the third of the rearing of herds and flocks and the breeding of horses ; the fourth of the tending of bees. The treatment of these homely subjects is relieved by various episodes, introduces at various places, but mainly at the end of the different books, which serve to bring out the intimate connexion of his theme with his national and ethical purpose.

As he had found in The Theocritus a model for the form in which his idler fancies were expressed, he turned to an older page in Greek literature for the outline of the form in which his graver interest in rural affairs was to find its outlet ; and, though the Works and Days of Hesiod could supply an adequate mould for the systematic treatment of all the processes of rural industry, and still less for the treatment of the larger ideas to which this systematic treatment of the subject of subsidiary, yet that Virgil considered him as his prototype is shown by the line which concludes one of the cardinal episodes of the poem—

"Ascraeumque cano Romana per oppida carmen."

By the use which he makes of his quaint phraseology Virgil attracts attention to the relation which he wishes to establish between himself and hesiod ; and in the religious spirit with which they each regard man’s labours and condition in the world there is a real affinity between the primitive Boeotian bard and the refined artist of the Augustan age. Virgil accepts also the guidance of other models of the decadence of Greek literature, the Alexandrian poets who treated the science of their day—astronomy, natural history, and geography—in the metre and diction of epic poetry. But, in availing himself of the work of the Alexandrians, Virgil is like a great master making use of mechanical assistants. From the comparison of passages in the Georgics with passages in those authors which suggested them, we learn to appreciate the immeasurable superiority of the poetical language of Rome at the maturity of its development over the exotic diction produced in the decay of Greek creative imagination. But a more powerful influence on the form, ideas, sentiment, and diction of the Georgics was exercised by the great philosophical poem of Lucretius, of which Virgil had probably been a diligent student since the time of its first appearance, and with which, in the phrase of the English editor of the older poet, his mind was "saturated" when he was engaged in the composition of the Georgics. In Virgil we find the spirit of Hesiod in conflict with the spirit of Lucretius. He is at once attaracted and repelled by the genius and attitude of the philosophic poet. He is possessed by his imaginative conception of nature, as a living all-pervading power ; he shares with him the Italian love of the beauty of the world, and the pathetic sympathy with animal as well as human life. He recognizes with enthusiasm his contemplative elevation above the petty interests and passions of life. But he is repelled by his apparent separation from the ordinary beliefs and pleasures, the hopes and fears, of his fellow men. Virgil is in thorough sympathy with the best restorative tendencies—religious, social and national—of his time ; Lucretius was driven into isolation by the anarchic and dissolving forces of his.





So far as any speculative idea underlying the details of the Georgics can be detected, it is one of which the source can be traced to Lucretius—the idea of the struggle of human force with the forces of nature. In Virgil this idea is modified by Italian piety and by the Italian delight in the results of labour. In the general plan of the poem, and the systematic arrangement of his materials, Virgil follows the guidance of Lucretius rather than of any Greek model. The dedication and personal appeals to Maecenas are parallel to those addressed to Memmius. The distinction between a poem addressed to national and one addressed to philosophical sympathies is marked by the prominence assigned to the one poem to Caesar as the supreme personality of the age, in the other to Epicurus as the supreme master in the realms of mind. The invocation to the "Di agrestes," to the old gods of mythology and art, to the living Caesar as the latest power added to the pagan Pantheon, is both a parallel and a contrast to the invocation to the all-pervading principle of life, personified as "Alma Venus." In the systematic treatment of his materials, and the interspersion of episodes dealing with the deeper poetical and human interest of the subject, Virgil adheres to practices of the older poet. He makes use of his connecting links and formulas, such as "principio," "quod superest," "his animadversis," "nunc age," &c. Virgil indeed uses these more sparingly, so as to make the logical mechanism of the poem less rigid, while he still keeps up the liveliness of a personal address. He shows his artistic superiority by passing lightly over details which it is impossible to invest with beauty. All his topics admit of being vitalized by attributing the vivacity of human relationships and sensibility to natural processes, and by association with the joy which the ideal farmer feels in the results of his energy. Much of the argument of Lucretius, on the other hand, is as remote from the genial presence of nature as from human associations. Virgil makes a much larger use than Lucretius or ornament borrowed from older poetry, art, science, and mythology. There is uniformity of chastened excellence in the diction and versification of the Georgics, contrasting with the imaginative force of isolated expressions and the majesty of isolated lines and passages in Lucretius. The "vivida vis" of imagination is more apparent in the older poet ; the artistic perfection of Virgil is even more conspicuous in the Georgics than in the Eclogues or the Aenied.

The principal episodes of the poem, in which the true dignity and human interest of the subject are brought out, occur in the first and second books. Other shorter episodes interspersed through the different books add variety to the didactic disquisition. These episodes, as is the case still more with the episodes of Lucretius, are not detached or isolated ornaments, but give a higher unity of the poem, and are the main ground of its permanent hold upon the world. There is indeed one mark exception to this rule. The long episode with which the whole poem ends,—the tale of the shepherd Aristaeus, with which is connected the more poetical fable of Orpheus and Eurydice, has only the slightest connexion with the general ideas and sentiment of the poem. It is altogether at variance with the truthful realism and the Italian feeling which prevade it. If we suppose that Virgil originally thought it necessary to relieve the interest and keep the attention of his readers by appealing to their for those mythological tales, which in an earlier part of the poem he had decried as "omnia jam volgata," it would be difficult to acquit even so great an artist of some forgetfulness of the requirement of unity of impression in a work of art, especially in such a "templum de marmore" as the Georgics. But we are distinctly told that the concluding episode, from the middle till the end of the fourth book, had contained the praises of Gallus, the friend of Virgil’s youth, who, about the time when Virgil was finishing the poem, had gained distinction in the war against Cleopatra, and had in consequence been made the first governor of the new province of Egypt. It is difficult to see how such a statement could have been invented if it were not true. Such a conclusion might well have been in keeping with the main purpose of the poem. As the first book ends with a dirge over the national fortunes before the outbreak of the war with Antony and Cleopatra, the last book might well have ended with a hymn of triumph over the successful end of that war, in which the hero of Virgil’s youthful enthusiasm played so distinguished a part. After the fall of Gallus, owing to his ambitious failure in his Egyptian administration, and his death in 26 B.C., the poet, according to the story, in obedience to the command of the relevant fable of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which he first displayed the narrative skill, the pathos, and the magical power of making the mystery of the unseen world present to the imagination, which characterize the Aeneid.

The cardinal episodes of the poem, as it now stands, are the passages in bk. i. from line 464 to the end, and in bk. ii. from 136 to 176 and from 475 to 542. The first, introduced in connexion with the signs of the weather, recounts the omens which accompanied the death of Julius Caesar, and shows how the misery of Italy and the neglected state of the fields, for which the poem seeks to find a remedy, are the punishment for the great sin of the previous generation. In the second of these passages the true keynote of the poem is struck in the invocation to Italy—

"Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturia tellus, Magna virum.

The thought of the varied beauties of the land, of the abundance and variety of its products, of its ancient cities and mighty works of man, its brave and hardy races, the great men and great families who had fought for her and saved her in old times, and of him, the greatest among her sons, who was then defending Rome against her enemies in the farthest East, inspired the poet, and gives dignity to the trivial details which seem sometimes to clog his high ambition. But a still higher and more catholic interest is given to the subject in the greatest of the episodes,—the most perfect passage in all Latin poetry,—that from line 458, "O fortunatos nimium," to the end. The subject is there glorified by its connexion not only with the national wellbeing but with the highest life and purest happiness of man. An ideal is held up to the imagination in which the old realistic delight in the labours of the field blends with the new delight in the beauty of nature, and is associated with that purity and happiness of family life which was an Italian ideal, with the poetry of those religious beliefs and observances imparted a sense of security, a constantly recurring charm, and a bond of social sympathy to the old rustic life.

The Georgics is not only the most perfect in art, but it is the most native in sentiment and conception of all the works of the ancient Italian genius. It is essentially Italian in idea, in detail, in religious and ethical feeling, in colouring and sentiment, in its solid and massive composition. Though the form was borrowed from the Greek, yet we have to remember that it was only by dignity and the capacity of treating a great theme. Even where he borrows from Greek originals, Virgils, like a conqueror, makes the Greek mind tributary to his national design. The Georgics, the poem of the land, is an essentially Italian as the Odyssey, the poem of the sea, is essentially Greek. Nature is presented to us as she is revealed in the soft and rich luxuriance of Italian landscape, not in the clearly defined forms of Greek scenery. The ethical and religious ideal upheld is an Italian one. As a work of art, while showing in the largest degree the receptivity of the Greek feeling for form and symmetry which was the primary condition of all Roman success in literature, the poem shows equally the Italian susceptibility to the outward world, the dignity and sobriety of the Italian imagination, the firm and enduring structure of all Roman workmanship.

The work which yet remained for Virgil to accomplish was the addition of a great Roman epic to literature. This had been the earliest effort of the national imagination, when it first departed from the more imitative reproduction of Greek originals. The work which had given the truest expression to the genius of Rome before the time of Virgil had been the Annales of Ennius. This work had been supplemented by various historical poems but had never been superseded. It satisfied the national imagination as an expression of the national life in its vigorous prime, but it could not satisfy the newly developed sense of art ; and the expansion of the national life since the days of Ennius, and the changed conditions into which it passed after the battle of Actium, demanded a new and ampler expression. It had been, as we learn both from his biographer and from himself—

"Cum canerem reges et praelia"—

Virgil’s earliest ambition to write an heroic poem founded on the traditions of Alba Longa ; and he had been repeatedly urged by Augustus to celebrate his exploits. The problem before him was to compose a work of art on a large scale, which should represent a great action of the heroic age, and should at the same time embody the most vital ideas and sentiment of the hour,—which in substance should glorify Rome and the present ruler of Rome, while in form it should follow closely the great models of epic poetry and reproduce all their sources of interest. It was his ambition to be the Homer as he had been the Theocritus and Hesiod of his country.

Various objects had thus to be combined in a work of art on the model of the Greek epic:—the revival of interest in the heroic foretime ; the satisfaction of a national and imperial sentiment ; the expression of the enthusiasm and of the deeper currents of emotion of the age ; the personal celebration of Augustus. A new type of epic poetry had to be created, as a new type of didactic poetry had been realized in the Georgics. It was desirable to select a single heroic action which should belong to the cycle of legendary events celebrated in the Homeric poems, and which should be associated with the whole fortunes of Rome and with the supreme interests of the hour. The only subject which in any way satisfied these apparently irreconcilable conditions was that of the wanderings of Aeneas and of his final settlement in Latium. The story, though not of Roman origin but of a composite growth, had been familiar to the Roman from the beginning of their literature, and had been recognized by official acts of senate and people as associated with the national fortunes. The subject enabled Virgil to tell over again and to give novelty to the tale of the fall of Troy, and to tell a tale of sea-adventure similar to that of the wanderings of Odysseus. But the special applicability of his subject to his purposes was determined by the claim which the Julii, a patrician family of Alban origin, made to descent from Iulus, the supposed son of Aeneas and founder of Alba Longa. The personal, as distinct from the national and artistic, motives of the poem could be satisfied by this subject alone.

The Aeneid is thus at once the epic of the national life under its new conditions and an imitative epic of human actions, manners, and character. The true keynote of the poem is struck in the line with which the poem closes—

"Tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem."

The idea which underlies the whole action of the poem is that of the great part played by Rome in the history of the world, that part being from of old determined by divine decree, and carried out through the virtue of her sons. The idea of universal empire is thus the dominant idea of the poem. With this idea that of the unbroken continuity of the national life is intimately associated. The reverence for antiquity, for old customs and the traditions of the past, was a large element in the national sentiment, and has a prominent place in the Aeneid. So too has the feeling of local attachment and of the power of local association over the imagination. This feeling is specially appealed to in the eighth book, which has been called the most purely Roman in the poem. The poem is also characteriscally Roman in the religious belief and observances which it embodies. Behind all the conventional and artistic machinery of the old Olympic gods there is the Roman apprehension of a great inscrutable power, manifesting itself by arbitrary signs, exacting jealously certain observances, alienated for a time by neglect, and again appeased by compliance with its will, working out its own secret purposes through the agency of Roman arms and Roman counsels.

The word by which Virgil recognized this power is Fatum (or Fata in the plural). The hero of he Aeneid is a instrument in their hands, and the living emperor is regarded as fulfilling the same function in the actual world. The predominance of this idea gives coherence to the action, and establishes its relation to the whole national life. The poem is thus a religious as well as a national epic, and this explains the large part played in the development of the action by special revelation, omens, prophecies, ceremonial usages, and prayer. But, while the predominant religious idea of the poem is that of a divine purpose carried out regardlessly of human feeling, in other parts of the poem, and especially in that passage of the sixth book in which Virgil tries to formulate his deepest convictions on individual destiny, the agency of fate seems to yields to that of a spiritual dispensation, awarding to men their portions according to their actions.

The idealization of Augustus is no expressions of serville adulation. It is through the prominence assigned to him that the poem is truly representative of the critical epoch in human affairs at which it was written. The cardinal fact of that epoch was the substitution of personal rule for the rule of the old commonwealth over the Roman world. Virgil shows the imaginative significance of that fact by revealing the emperor as chosen from of old in the counsels of the supreme ruler of the world to fulfil the national destiny, as the descendant of gods and of heroes of old poetic renown, as one, moreover, who, in the actual work done by him, as victor in a great decisive battle between the forces of the Western and the Eastern world, as the organizer of empire and restorer of peace, order, and religion, had rendered better service to mankind than any one of the heroes who in an older time had been raised for their great deeds to the company of the gods.

Virgil’s true and yet idealizing interpretation of the imperial idea of Rome, in its national, religious, and personal significance, is the basis of the monumental greatness of the Aeneid as a representative poem. It is on this representative character and on the excellence of its artistic execution that the claim of the Aeneid to rank as one of the great poems of the world mainly rests. The inferiority of the poem to the Iliad and the Odyssey as a direct representation of human life is so unquestionable that we are in greater danger of underrating than of overrating the real though secondary interest which the poem possesses as in imitative epic of human action, manners, and character. What are the main sources of human interest in the poem can only be briefly indicated. In the first place, the action is chosen not only as suited to embody that idea of Rome and the dominant sentiment of a great and critical epoch in human affairs, but as having a peculiar nobleness and dignity of its own. It brings before us the spectacle, but restored by the light of a romantic imagination cast upon dim traditions, of the destruction of the city of greatest name in poetry or legend, the supposed seat of a prehistoric empire, of the foundation of the imperial city of the Western seas, in which Rome had encountered her most powerful and dangerous antagonist in the whole course of her long struggle for supremacy, and that of the first rude settlement on the hills of Rome itself. The scenes though which the action is carried are familiar, yet full of great memories and associations—Troy and its neighbourhood, the sea and islands of Greece, the coast of Epirus familiar to all travellers between Italy and the East, Sicily, the site of Carthage, Campania, Latium, the Tiber, and all the country within sight of Rome. The personages of the action are prominent in poetry and legend, or by their ethnical names stir the sentiment of national euthusiam,—Aeneas and Anchises, Dido Acestes, Evander, Turnus. The spheres of activity in which they are engaged are war and sea-adventure, the themes of the oldest and greatest of epic poems. The passion of love, which had played a great part in Attic tragedy and in the epic and elegiac poets of Alexandria, is a powerful addition to the older sources of interest which Virgil derives from the Homeric poems. The Aeneid, like the Alexandrian epic, revives, by a conventional compromise between the present and the remote past, some image of the old romance of Greece ; it creates the romance of "that Italy for which Camilla the virgin, Euryalus, and Turnus and Nisus died of wounds." It might be said of the manner of life represented in the Aeneid, that it is no more true to any actual condition of human society than that represented in the Eclogues. But may not the same be said of all idealizing restoration of remote past in an age of advanced civilization? The life represented in the Cedipus Tyrannus or King Lear is not the life of the Periclean nor of the Elizabethan age, nor is it conceivable as the real life of a prehistoric age. The truth of such a representation is to be judged, not by its relation to any actual state of things ever realized in the world, but by its relation to an ideal of the imagination,—the ideal conception of how man, endowed with the gifts and graces of a civilized time, but who had not yet lost the youthful buoyancy of a more primitive age, might play his part under circumstances which would afford scope for the passions and activities of a vigorous personality, and for the refined emotions and subtle reflexion of an era of high intellectual and moral cultivation. The verdict of most readers of the Aeneid will be that Virgil does not satisfy this condition, as it is satisfied by Sophocles and Shakespeare. Yet there is a considerable attraction in the compromise which Virgil has produced between the life which he knew by experience and that which he saw in the past of his imagination. There is an courtesy, dignity, and consideration for the feelings of others in the manners of his chief personages, such as might be exhibited by the noblest and most commanding natures in an age of chivalry and in an age of culture. The charm of primitive simplicity is present in some passages of the Aeneid, the spell of luxurious pomp in others. The actual delight of voyaging past beautiful islands, familiar to travellers in the Augustan age, is enhanced by the suggestion of the adventurous spirit which sent the first explorers abroad in search of unknown settlements. Where Virgil is least real, and least successfully ideal, and where consequently he is most purely imitative, is in the battle-scenes of the later books. They afford scope, however, to his patriotic desire to do justice to the martial energy of the Italian races ; and some of them have a peculiar beauty from the pathos with which the death of some of the more interesting personages of his story is described.

But the adverse criticisms of the Aeneid are chiefly based on Virgil’s supposed failure in the crucial test of a great pronounced to be in the protagonist of the poem, the "pious Aeneas." Is this charge true? Is Aeneas a worthy and interesting hero of a great poem of action? Not, certainy, according to the ideals realized in Achilles and Odysseus, nor according to the modern ideal of gallant and advernturous heroism. A blameless character, patiently enduring much suffering, cannot arouse the same personal interest as a more energetic and impulsive character, relying on his own resources, and stirred by ordinary human passions. It is well said of Aeneas by a French critic—"Sa vertu doit être une haute et froide impersonalité, qui fasse de lui non un de lui non un homme mais un instrument des dieux." Virgil wishes to hold up in Aeneas an ideal of pious obedience, steadfast endurance, persistent purpose,— a religious ideal belonging to the ages of faith combined with the humane and self-sacrificing qualities belonging to an era of moral enlightenment. The virtues of the natural man—chivalry and daring courage—he represents in Turnus. His own sympathy is with his religious ideal rather than with which better satisfies modern sentiment, nursed on the traditions of chivalrous romance. Yet that there was in his own imagination, more than in that of any other Roman writer, a chord responsive to the chivalrous emotion of a later time is seen in the love and pathos which he has thrown into his delineations of Pallas, Lausus, and Camilia. But, with all his sympathies with the "Itala virtus"—the martial virtues of the old Italian race and the martial prowess of Rome,—he felt that the deepest need of his time was not military glory, but peace, reconciliation, that restoration of law, order, an piety.

Among the personages of the Aeneid the only one which entitles Virgil to rank among great creators is Dido, an ideal of a true queen and a true woman. She is the sole creation which Roman poetry has added to the great of men and women filled by the imaginative art of different times and peoples. There are the outlines of a great creation in Mazentius ;but Dido alone is a life-like and completed picture. On the episode of which she is the heroine the most passionate human interest is concentrated. It has been objected that Virgil does not really sympathize with his own creation, that he gives his approval tot e cold desertion of her by her "false friend." Whether he sympathizes with his own creation or not, he is entirely possessed by it. If he does not condemn his hero, he sees in the desertion and death of Dido a great tragic issue in which a noble and generous nature is sacrificed to the larger purpose of the gods. But that Virgil really sympathized with the creation of his imagination appears, not only in the sympathy which she still inspires, but in the part which he assigns her in that shadowny realm in which he conceives that the "world’s great wrongs" are at last righted—

"Conjunx ubi pristinus illi

Respondet curis, aequatque Sychaeus amorem."

Even those who have been insensible to the representative and to the human interest of the Aeneid have generally recognized the artistic excellence of the poem. This is conspicuous both in the conception of the action and the arrangement of its successive stages and in the workmanship of details. In variety of interest and finish of execution the first eight books are superior to the last four. Each of the former has a large and distinct sphere of interest, and they each contribute to the impression of the work as a whole. In the first book we have the interest of the storm, of the prophecy of Jove, and of the building of Carthage ; in the second the spectacle of the destruction of Troy ; in the third the voyage among the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean ; in the fourth of Dido ; in the fifth the rest in the Sicilian bay, at the foot of Mount Eryx ; in the sixth the revelation of the spiritual world of Virgils’ imagination, and of the souls of those who built up the greatness of Rome in their pre-existent state, in their shadowy dwelling-place; in the seventh the arrival of the Trojans at the mouth of the Tiber and the gathering of the Italian clans ; in the eighth the first sight of the hills of Rome, and the prophetic representation of the great crises in Roman history, leading up to the greatest of them all, the crowning victory of Actium. Among these books we may infer that Virgil assigned the palm to the second, the fourth, and the sixth, as he selected them to read to Augustus and the members of the imperial family. The interest flags in the last four ; nor is it possible to fell that culminating sympathy with the final combat between Turnus and Aeneas that we feel with the combat between Hector and Achilles. Yet a personal interest is awakened in the adventures and fate of Pallas, Lausus, and Camilla. Virgil may himself have become weary of the succession of battle-scenes—"eadem horrida bella,"—which the requirement of epic poetry rather than the impulses of his own genius or the taste of his readers called upon him to pourtray ; and this may partly account for the sense of discouragement which he is supposed to have felt at the end of his labours. There is not only a less varied interest, there is greater inequality of workmanship in the later books, owing to the fact that they had not received their author’s final revisal. Yet in them there are many lines and passages of great power, pathos, and beauty. Virgil brought the two great instruments of varied and continuous harmony and of a rich, chastened, and noble style to the highest perfection of which the Latin tongue was capable. The rhythm and style of the Aeneid is more unequal than the rhythm and style of the Georgics, but is a larger and more varied instrument. The note of his supremacy among all the poetic artists of his country is that subtic fusion of the music and the meaning of language with touches the deepest and most secret springs of emotions. He touches especially the emotions of reverence and of a yearning for a higher spiritual life, and the sense of nobleness in human affairs, in great institutions, and great natures ; the sense of the sanctity of human affections, of the imaginative spell exercised by the past, of the mystery of the unseen world. This is the secret of the power which his words have had over some of the deepest and greatest natures both in the ages of faith and in more positive times. No words more subtly and truly express the magic of his style than those in which Dr Newman characterizes "his single words and phrases, his pathetic half-lines, giving utterance as the voice of nature herself to that pain and weariness, yet hope of better things, which is the experience of her children in every age."

The most important of the recent editions of Virgil are those of Heyne and the revised edition by Wagner, that of Forbiger, of Ribbeck, of E. Benoist, and of Conington. Among recent works bearing on the literary criticism of Virgil are Sainte-Beuve’s Étude sur Virgile, M.G. Boissier’s La Religion Romaine d’ Auguste aux Antonins, Comparetti’s Virgilio nel Medio Evo, Vergil und die epische Kunst, by Theodor Plüss, various works by Prof. Nettleship, and Prof. Sellar’s Roman Poets of the Augustan Age. The best critical estimate of the genius and art of Virgil in English is that of Mr F. Myers. Among recent translations of the Aeneid are those of Conington, Mr W. Morris, and Lord Justice Bowen in verse, and of Conington and MR J. W. Mackall in prose. (W. Y. S.)




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