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· ECLOGUE VIII.-PHARMACEUTRIA.
DURING the march of Pollio, A. U.C. 715, into Illyricum, where
he obtained a triumph for his victory over the Parthians, Virgil addressed his Pharmaceutria, another exquisitely beautiful imitation of Theocritus (cf. v. 25, &c., 42, 45–51, 53, 73, 74, 93, 104, 106, 117, 123), to that noble person ; most probably “ framed at his bidding.” It seems to have been the poet's especial favourite. The first part contains the complaints of a shepherd despised by his mistress; the second the incantations used by a sorceress to regain the lost affections of her lover.
The tale of love Alphesibæus sung, And Damon, when the heifer wondering hung (Forgetful of her food) upon the strain, And headlong torrents paused, nor sought the main; And lynxes couch'd, to list the lay divine
5 That tale to give posterity be mine.
O Pollio ! whether now thou bend'st thy way Where huge Timavus glitters on the day, comparison as follows: “ Corydon, in his first Amebæan, begins with piety to the gods; Thyrsis, with rage against his adversary. In the second, Corydon invokes Diana, a chaste goddess; Thyrsis, Priapus. In the third, Corydon is mild; Thyrsis imprecatory. In the rest, Corydon's subjects are generally pleasing; those of Thyrsis the contrary.”
7 It should be remarked, that though Martyn agrees with Joseph Scaliger and De la Rue in supposing this Eclogue to be addressed to Pollio, Servius (and after him most of the commentators) considers it as dedicated to Augustus Cæsar.-See Martyn in loc.
8 The saxa Timavi, like the fons Timavi in the first Æneid, relates to the mountains where that river rises, which it was necessary to surmount in passing from Italy into Illyricum
Or tread'st Illyrian strands: when, when will be
Scarce from the sky had night's cold shadow fled, When herds delighted crop the dewy mead; Propp'd on his staff, sad Damon thus begun :
Rise, Phosphor, and lead on the lingering sun ; 20 While duped by Nisa's love, I mourn in vain, And to the gods of broken faith complain : For not a god, who witness'd, heals the wrong! Yet, yet to them my parting strains belongBegin with me, my pipe, the soft Mænalian song. 25
Still blooms on Mænalus the rustling grove, And vocal pines resound the shepherd's love: Still Pan is heard its echoing bowers among ; Pan, who first bade the reed its notes prolongBegin with me, my pipe, the soft Mænalian song. 30
*To Mopsus now is faithful Nisa given : What may not lovers dread from angry Heaven! Henceforth shall blend the griffin with the steed, And dogs and trembling deer together feed.
12 This line furnishes a strong proof that Pollio is the person addressed, as he was an eminent writer of tragedies. This we know on the authority of Horace; whereas Augustus's “ Ajax" appears to have been, even in the opinion of Suetonius himself, only a sorry composition. Sophocles was the first who introduced the cothurnus, or "buskin," a kind of boot reaching to the sura, or calf of the leg, and having thick soles of cork, in order to give increased height to the wearer.
19 Martyn interprets the incumbens tereti olive, “leaning against the round olive-tree;" as deeming the image of the olivestaff too humble even for a shepherd.
26 Mænalus was a high mountain in Arcadia, sacred to Pan, and abounding with pines. 33 The “griffin” is a fabulous monster, said to have the body
Prepare thy torches, Mopsus, thou art wed; 35
“Well worthy, Nisa, of thy conquer'd swain,
“First didst thou to these doting eyes appear 45
of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle-to be occupied
As when a griffin through the wilderness
The guarded gold.
55 The Garamantes were a savage people of Africa, living as far southward (it was thought) as the earth was habitable, and therefore called extremi.
Not to our nature does the boy belong-
" Love taught the mother barbarous lore and wild, To plunge the dagger in her guiltless child : 60 - savage mother, who such lore couldst learn! o, boy, too savage, teaching lore so stern! Savage alike who urged, and did, the wrongBegin with me, my pipe, the soft Mænalian song.
“Fly now, ye hungry wolves, th’unguarded fold, 65 And glow each oak with vegetable gold; All gay with daffodils let alders tower, And lowliest tamarisks weep their amber shower: Vie owls with swans : let Tityrus Orpheus be; Orpheus amid the woods, or in the sea
70 Arion, sovereign of the dolphin throng Begin with me, my pipe, the soft Mænalian song.
“ Be earth one wat'ry waste ! ye woods, farewell! Headlong, amid the sweeping surges' swell
, From some sky-piercing cliff I'll spring to death: 75 Accept these strains, thy lover's latest breath, His dying legacy, withheld too long !Cease now, o cease, my pipe, the soft Mænalian
song." Thus Damon: next Alphesibæus' strain Record, ye Muses! for our powers are vain. 80
Bring water, and with fleecy fillet wreathe
59 The “mother” here alluded to was Medea, who when Jason married Creusa, murdered her children.
66 Swans were erroneously supposed by the ancients to sing sweetly, especially just before their death. The story of Arion of Corinth, who captivated a dolphin by his music, when he was on the point of being thrown overboard by some sailors, and was borne safely by it to shore, is told by Herodotus.
81 Alphesibæus assumes the person of a sorceress engaged in magical incantations.
Those spells, unseconded, will stamp his doom- 85
home. “First, these three threads, in mystic union join'd, Three-colour'd, I around his image bind; And with that image circle thrice the shrine 95 (Uneven numbers please the powers divine) : So may he at my potent summons comeBring from the city, bring, ye charms, my Daphnis
home. “ In threefold knot now, Amaryllis, tie The triple threads : and still, in tightening, cry, 100 • With these, love's knots, I knit him ne'er to roam'Bring from the city, bring, ye charms, my Daphnis
home. " As shrivels in one fire this moulded clay, And melts the wax, so Daphnis melt away! So shrivels in my love! The salted meal 105 Now sprinkle ; burn the crackling bay: I feel
85 Spells. The carmen, where our word “ charm," means here a particular form of words used in these superstitious ceremonies; probably the recurring line, or formula, " Bring from the city," &c.
103 This was continued ever in later times. James I., in his “Dæmonologie,” says, “ To some others at these times he (the devil) teacheth how to make pictures of waxe or claye, that by the roasting thereof, the persons that they beare the name of may be continually melted, or dried away by continual sick. nesse,
105 The “meal” salted, parched, and kneaded (molita) was called mola, and sprinkled on the foreheads of the victims, &c.; whence our term * immolation."