« PredošláPokračovať »
The hymn shall Ægon and Damætas sound,
Mops. A strain so soft what recompense shall
Mops. And thou, what oft Antigenes in vain 106 Solicited, but I refused to give (Fair though he was), this jointed crook receive : With polish'd brass its knobs all equal shine ; 'Tis elegantly wrought, and it is thine.
of that island. Dancing, we may add, was much used in reli. gious ceremonies, not only by idolatrous nations, but also by the Jews.
89-91 At the two seasons, winter and summer, of sacrificing to the Nymphs within doors, and the Ambarvalia in the open fields.
CÆSAR having restored Virgil to his lands, the poet now, A. U.C.
714, seems to have seized the opportunity of fulfilling the promise which he had made to Q. Atius Varus (Ecl. ix. 32), that he would exalt his name to the “ bright stars," if he would preserve Mantua. This he performed in his Silenus, one of his finest Eclogues,
which is dedicated to that distinguished personage. See a long note by Martyn on nunc ego, v. 6 of the original. It was probably written not "unbidden" of him; as Virgil himself obviously was anxious to make “kings and war's achievements” the subjects of his poetry. Varus was, it may be believed, an Epicurean: and hence the poet makes that philoso. phy the subject of his pastoral ; which, however, as it would have been incongruous to the simplicity of a shepherd's love, he dexterously puts into the mouth of the demi-god Silenus. Accordingly, the “long-promised strain” gives a succinct account of the natural and moral doctrines of Epicurus, the formation of the world from atoms, and the necessity of avoiding perturbations of the mind. It includes a fine compliment to Cornelius Gallus, vv. 72–83, who had about this time written a poem on “Gryneum's grove" in the style of Hesiod, and was also, like Varus, a great favourite of Cæsar.
FIRST breathed my Muse the Syracusan strain, Nor blush'd to dwell amid the woodland train, When, rashly bold, I struck the lyre to kings, And war's achievements flutter'd' o'er my strings, With friendly caution Phæbus touch'd mine ear; 5 “ Tityrus, to shepherds still their flocks be dear: Still shrink the rural bard from lofty themes: His modest pipe a lowlier lay beseems."
8 Lowlier ; literally a “drawn out” lay. The metaphor is taken from wool, which is spun thinner.
Still, then, that lay be mine! There yet will be,
Proceed, sweet maids. Within a cavern wide 15
day: Slipp'd from his brow, unburst, his wreath was here; There his huge goblet hung, with well-worn ear. 20 Oft cheated with the promise of a strain, They seize him; and his chaplet forms his chain. Ægle, the fairest of the Naiad throng, Ægle the tremblers joins, who press the song ; And, as the wondering captive opes his eyes, 25 With ruddy mulberries his temples dies. Why bind me, boys?” at last with smiles he
cried : “ Loose me ; suffice a demi-god descried ! The lay ye ask be yours; the lay to you, To her another recompense is due.”
30 He sings! In measured step you then might see Fauns and fierce beasts frisk to the minstrelsy, And knotted oaks their tops in rapture nod: Not with such glee Parnassus hails its god;
20 The cantharus, a "goblet,” was a sort of drinking vesser with ears or handles, sacred to Bacchus, the pupil of Silenus. Both Pliny and Valerius Maximus heavily eensure Marius for having presumed, after his victory over the Cimbri, to drink out of such a vessel; as thus insinuating that his own actions might vie with the victories of the god of wine.
26 This hue was added, not to make a jest of the tipsy deity, but to render him more propitious, red being the colour sacred to the gods. So Pan, in Ecl. x. 32, has his “vermil die."
32 The “Fauns” are “rural deities, so called a fando, because they speak personally to men.”-Martyn.
Less, when the Muses breathe from Orpheus' shell,
35 Feel Rhodope and Ismarus the spell!.
He sang, how from the void immense combined Their seeds, earth, ocean, fire, and ether join'd; And how, no more in wild disorder hurld, Sprang from these elements the nascent world. 40 Its firmness how the soil, the sea its bed, Received, and gradual vegetation spread: How the new sun o'er wondering lands arose, And buoyant clouds their liquid wealth disclose: How rising woods first cast their little shade, 45 And few the beasts o'er unknown mountains stray'd: The stones of Pyrrha, Saturn's golden time, Prometheus' penal vulture, and his crime: And Hylas, whom his messmates loud deplore, While Hylas ! Hylas !" rings froni all the shore.
50 Happy had herds ne'er been, Pasiphäe next He soothes, with love of her white steer perplext, Ah, wretched fair! what madness fires thy brain? Though Pretus' maids with lowings niock'd the
plain, None ever coveted such foul embrace;
55 Oft though they feard the plough, and o'er their
face Trembling essay'd the sprouting horn to trace.
36 Rhodope and Ismarus were mountains of Thrace.
47-49, &c. Of Pyrrha and Prometheus, the “miser-maid” Atalanta, and the “ sad sisters of Phaëton,” the reader can hardly require an account; but he may be less acquainted with Hylas, the young companion of Hercules in the Argonautic expedition, who was lost in a fountain where he went to draw water. Hence he was said to have been carried off by a Naiad. The Argonauts called for him a long time, but in vain. See Theocr. Idyl ziii. Pasiphäe and the daughters of Prøtus are better left in silence. Gortyna, however it may be geographically remarked), was a city of Crete, near which the remains of the famous labyrinth, it is said, are still to be seen ; including col umns of marble, granite, and red and white jasper.
Ah, wretched fair! thy heart in absence pines :
the groves :
And now his verse laments the miser-maid,
among), Cried, “ Take this reed, the Muses’ gift, before To Hesiod given; with this 'twas his, of yore, 'Mid Ascra's glades to charm the hours away, 80 When woods their hills forsook to list his lay. With this to hymn Gryneum's grove be thine, Nor seem there bower to Phæbus more divine."
Why should I tell, how Scylla's deed he sungScylla the false, of royal Nisus sprung ;
85 Or her, who girt with howling monsters shook Ulysses' keels, and as the surges broke
82 See Martyn in loc.; as also for the fables (here slightly Teferred to in the close of Silenus's song) of Scylla “of royal Nisus sprung," and Tereus, v. 85-90. Dulichium, whence “Ulysses' keels” are in the original called “ Dulichian," was one of the Echinades, islands in the Ionian Sea, subject to the chief. tain of Ithaca.