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Dam. And dare you, then, a match in singing
make ? This heifer on my “wretched strain” I stake: Two calves she nurses, twice is milk'd each dayWhat will you bet of equal value? Say.
Men. No wager dare I offer from my fold; For, twice a day, both sheep and kids are told 40 By my strict sire and stepmother severe: But what yourself must own a stake more dear, Since on this madman's match your heart is set, Two beechen cups (Alcimedon's) I'll bet ; Carved round whose rims flows gracefully a vine, 45
With leaves that mixl'mid clustering ivy twine. ✓ Congn their
sides adorns, and—who was he,
44 “Beechen cups," as we learn from Pliny, were anciently held in great esteem. This pair is beautifully described, after the first Idyl of Theocritus.
47 Conon was probably the mathematical friend of Archimedes, who mentions his theorems, his profound science, and his death. He is recorded also with honour by Callimachus and Catullus, and more slightly by Propertius. The alter, with such a happiness of pastoral simplicity left unnamed, remains still unascertained whether Aratus, or Hesiod (to one of whom Martyn inclines), or Archimedes himself. Aratus, we know, “ traced the skies,” or constellations, and “for the scythe and plough assign'd their days."
48 The radius, here translated “circling line,” was the staff or rod used by the ancient mathematicians in describing the various parts of the heavens and the earth, and in drawing figures on sand.
50 This commendation is to be found in both the sixteenth iliad and Theocritus's first Idyl.
Pure have I kept them from the lip and gaze ; 55 But, with the heifer match'd, they claim no praise.
Men. Not so your challenge shall you'scape to-day. I close with it: who passes, judge our lay! -And lo, Palæmon !- I will teach your tongue, Henceforth, less will to dare in taunt or song,
Dam. Come on, then, if of music aught be thine : I nor the challenge nor the judge decline Your best attention, good Palæmon, pay (The stake's no trifle) to our rival lay. Palæmon. Begin : since here the turf supplies our seat,
65 And the soft mead 'strews flowers beneath our feet ; And forest-glades their greenest livery wear, And nature's freshest beauties deck the year You first, Damætas; then, Menalcas, prove Your skill : alternate strains the Muses love 70
Dam. “Begin we, Muse, from Jove; through all
he reigns ; Fattens the earth, nor e'en my verse disdains."
Men.“ To Phæbus, too, I'm dear, and all he loves, The bay and hyacinth, adorn my groves.”
Dam. “Me Galatea pelts with apples green ; 75 Then flies, but hopes she does not fly unseen.
Men.“ To me my flame has ever joyous flown; Not to my dogs my Dian better known.”
Dam. “Gifts to my Venus welcome, I have got; The ring-dove's nest-I mark'd the secret spot.” 80 Men. "To mine ten pomegranates—'twas all my
storel'ye sent: and will to-morrow send ten more."
58 i. e. “I accept your first proposal, and (notwithstanding my father and stepmother) agree to stake a heifo- • *o assured do I feel of victory.”
61 “Come on, then-:" so also Theocris; of whom like. wise close imitations are to be found in vv. 33, 35, 69, 71, 73, 75–78, 79–82, 91-94, 107, 108, 111, 113, &c. &c.
81 Pomegranates grow even in the woods of Italy, as we are told by Matthioli, and are of a golden or yeilowish colour, pullendo cortice (Ov, Met. v.).
Dam. “ How oft has Galatea charm'd my ear! Winds, waft her words to heaven, that gods may
hear!" Men. “ Naught it avails me that Amyntas smiles ; If, while he hunts, I still must watch the toils.” 86
Dam. “ lölas, 'tis my birthday; Phyllis send: When bleeds my harvest-calf, yourself attend."
Phyllis I love: for grieved when I with
drew, • Adieu ! she wept and cried, ' a long adieu !'” 90 Dam. “Wolves hurt the flocks, and showers the
ripen'd corn, And storms the woods; and me my fair one's scorn."
Young grain likes moisture; kids the bud
ding grove; Lithe osiers teeming cows; I but Amyntas love." Dam. “ Rude though it be, kind Pollio bears my
95 A heifer, Muses, for your votary feed.".
Men. “ Pollio, himself a bard, a bull demands, Who threatens with his horns and spurns the sands." Dam. “Who loves thee, Pollio, may he be as
thou: For him drop honey, spice on brambles grow!" 100 Men. “Love Mævius he who, Bavius, hates thee
not"; And yoke the fox, and milk the rank he-goat!”
97 Tölas, addressed by both the competitors, was probably the father of Phyllis. The ancients used to celebrate their birthdays with great conviviality. To this Phyllis is invited by Damoetas; Tölas to a more solemn festival, the Amtarvalia, when a sacrifice was offered by them with peculiar rites for the success of their corn.-See Georg. i. 339.
93 Literally, “ weaned kids the arbute or strawberry-tree.”
95 Pollio, as we learn from Horace (Od. ii. 1), was a writer of tragedies, and an orator, as well as a successful general. He was also an historian, and a bountiful patron of poets, especially of Virgil and of Horace.-See Martyn in loc., as likewise for various theories on the purport and the objects of the contrasted sacrifices of the “heifer" and the “bull,” vv. 96, 97. 101 Or Bavius we know only that he was a wretched poet,
Dam. Hence, boys, who gather berries in the
brake, And woodland flowers ! There lurks the chilly
snake.” Men. 66
Ewes, tread with caution near that treacherous pool:
105 Sce, where the ram still dripping dries his wool!" Dam. “ Tityrus, your goats restrain from that
deep wave: Them will I soon in shallower waters lave." Men. “Boys, fold your flocks : if heat the ewes
distress, In vain, as late, our hands their teats shall press.” 110 Dam. “How lean that bull o'er clover-pastures
strays! Love on the herd, as on the master, preys.” Men. “ Love has not struck my lambs; yet worse
they seem, Scathed by some unknown eye's malignant beam !" Dam. “Say, in what lands and be my Phebus crown'
115 By three short ells yon spacious heavens are bound.”
Say, in what lands those wondrous flowers
are grown, Which bear the names of kings—and Phyllis be
and died in Cappadocia, A.U. C. 720 : with Mævius Horace has made us a little, and but a little, better acquainted in one of his epodes. He, if not Bavius also, was probably an adversary of Pollio.
111 Ervum is properly a kind of vetch, said by Aristotle, Columella, and Pliny to fatten cattle.
116-118 For the long, various, and doubtful solutions of these two puzzles, the reader is referred to Martyn in loc. I will only add, that of the sundry answers of the first, a well is the most popular with the commentators; and the martagon lily, spotted occasionally with ferruginous dots resembling AI, AI (the notes of lamentation for the death of Hyacinthus, and half the name of Ajax), is generally regarded as best fulfilling the conditions of the second
Pal. Not mine your tuneful struggle to decide : Ye both deserve the prize for which ye’ye vied; 120 [And whoso or shall dread love's sweet control, Or feel his shaft deep rankling in the soul.] -Close, boys, the streams: enough has flow'd to
feed The swelling green, and saturate the mead.
That this celebrated Eclogue was a genethliacal* poem in
honour of Octavius (subsequently Augustus) Cæsar, written A.C. 39, A. U. C. 715, when he had recently laid the foundation of his sovereign power by the peace of Brundusium, has been proved in an acute and elegant volume by Mr. Granville Penn; who shows that the whole of it, with the exception of its first four lines, is to be interpreted as proceeding out
of the mouth, not of Virgil, but of the Cumæan Sibyl. Of its two earliest expositors, Constantine the Great and Ser
vius, the former assumed that it contained a true prophecy of the coming and final kingdom of the Messiah! while the latter pronounced it a fictitious prophecy of the fortunes of some Roman infant then about to be born—perhaps one of the sons of his patron C. Asinius Pollio (who had been consul the year before), and that probably the younger Saloninus, with a
123 This may either literally refer to the usage of rocky and warm countries, where rills of water are diverted from their courses to refresh the parched fields; or it may metaphorically mean, “put an end to your contest : I have received sufficient pleasure in hearing you:” as good poetry is compared in the fifth Eclogue to the quenching of thirst. Consult also Deut. Xxxii. 2.
* For much and exact astrological learning, see Penn's Observations in illustration of this Eclogue, p. 227, ei seq.