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That where yon hills slope gently to the plain,
10 Their shatter'd tops where those old beeches raise, Menalcas had protected by his lays.
Mær. So were you told, and fame so blazed abroad:
20 With thee, Menalcas, all thy soothing verse! For who the nymphs' soft wailings would rehearse ;
Scatter the ground with leaves,' or 'round each spring Bid wreathed flowers their sacred freshness fling?! Who those sweet lines repeat I slily heard,
25 As to my Amaryllis you repair’d?
• Till I return my flock, kind Tityrus, feed
Mær. Or (sung to Varus) that unfinish'd strain ;
9 It is generally believed that the poet in this line describes the actual position of his estate, between the foot of the hills and the Mincio. The old beeches’ are too particular for a fictitious scene. In the first eclogue, vv. 56, 57, the lands of Tityrus are partly' shingly,' and partly · fenny, which agrees very well with the site here referred to.
12 Most probably, as before observed, by the Daphnis. 22-24 Alludes perhaps to Eclog. v. 24. 48. &c.
27—30 An imitation of Theocritus, as is likewise v. 38. 45 -52.71.76.
Lyc. So may thy bees the poisonous yew forego ; 35 Thy cows, on trefoil fed, with milk o'erflow! Begin, if aught thy memory retain : Me, too, the Muses taught the sylvan strain ; I have my songs; and many a swain avers A bard I am : but far their judgment errs ! Unfit with Varius or with Cinna I, As gabbling geese with sweetest swans, to vie.
Mær. Much I in silence have revolved, and long To call to mind—'tis no ignoble song* Hither to land, O Galatea, haste :
45 What joy can florish ʼmid the wat’ry waste? Here bright-robed spring with verdure decks the
bowers, And every streamlet's brink is strew'd with flowers; Here the white poplar quivers o’er each cave, And curling vines their shady foliage wave.
50 Hither, O Galatea, haste to land, And let the surge rave idly on the strand.' Lyc. One moonlight night, thou sung'st too—such
a strain ! The words forgotten, I the air retain.
Mær. “Why on old constellations, Daphnis, gaze? 55 See, where its beams the Julian star displays ; A star, whence fields draw fatness as it rolls, And grapes grow duskier on their
sunny knolls. Plant, Daphnis, for the rising race thy pears :' -Ah!. age, which pilfers all, not e’en the memory spares !
60 Oft when, a careless boy, I trod the mead, The lingering sun I caroll’d to his bed : Now, every lay is vanish'd from my head.
56 In reference to this phenomenon Augustus caused the statue of Julius Cæsar in the Forum to be adorned by the addition of a star.-See Martyn on Georg. i. 488.
His very voice has hapless Moris lost;
Lyc. My wish but grows with your apology.
Mær. Press me no more, but onward let us go : Sprightlier the strain, when He returns, will flow.
63 It was the superstitious belief of the ancient Italians that if a wolf saw any man first, it for a time deprived him of the power of speech.-See Plin. Nat. Hist. viii. 22.
71 Sepulchres were anciently placed near the highways, whence their inscriptions are frequently addressed to travellers.' Bianor, surnamed Ocnus (son, as we learn from the tenth Æneid, of the Tiber by the prophetess Manto, the daughter of Tiresias), is said to have fortified Mantua, and to have given it a name derived from that of his mother.
79 This seems to prove that He (Menalcas, or Virgil) was then at Rome.
As the Silenus appears to have been begun at the command of
Varus, and the Pharmaceutria at that of Pollio, we have
some reason to believe that this Eclogue, a fine imitation of Theocritus (in reference to whom he invokes the Sicilian nymph Arethusa), was undertaken A. U. C. 717, at the request of Gallus, whose hapless love it records : thus extending the period occupied in writing the Eclogues over seven years, from A. U. C.710 to 717. The order of them appears to have been (different from their usual location) Alexis, Palamon, Daphnis, Tityrus, Mæris, Silenus, Pollio, Pharmaceutria, Melibæus, and Gallus.
This closing effort, Arethusa, aid ;
5 Her wave no bitter sea-nymph blend with thine !
Begin : record we Gallus, love's sad prey ; Our goats, meanwhile, will browse the tender spray. Nor sing we to the deaf: the woods reply, And bear the strains of sadness to the sky.
Nymphs, o'er what lawns, what forests did ye rove, When Gallus faded in disastrous love?
3 So Pope, in his · Windsor Forest ;'
What muse for Granville can refuse to sing ? The same poet has also in his second Pastoral happily imitated vv. 9, 10.
Lycoris is supposed to have been Cytheris, an actress of those times.
The old mythology states, that Alpheus, a river of Peloponnesus, fell in love with the nymph Årethusa ; who flying from his pursuit, was metamorphosed by Diana into a fountain, and made her escape under the sea to Ortygia, an island near Sicily.-See Æneid ix.
11 Imitated from Theocritus, and by Pope, as likewise by Milton in his “Lycidas ;' Where were ye, nymphs,' &c.
For then nor Pindus nor the Phocian mount
25 And, “Whence this frenzy, Gallus ? She, thy flame Lycoris for another swain,' he cries, • Braves barbarous camps and winter's dreary skies.' With woodland wreath came old Sylvanus crown's, Fennel and largest lilies nodding round.
30 Pan, too, we saw : th’ Arcadian god appear'd With vermil dye and elder-berries smear'd; ' And yet this grief?” he asks. • In vain it flows : No glut of tears insatiate Cupid knows. Sooner shall herbage moisture cease to love, 35 The bee his trefoil, goats the budding grove.'
- But you; Arcadians, deign (sad Gallus cried)
40 If by your simple reeds my suffering be exprest.
“Ah! had I, one of you, your flocks or fed,
30. 32 On the · fennel' and ' elder,' see Martyn in loc..