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under the violence of the rougher and more horrid. M. Voltaire says,

Virgile orne mieux la raison,

A plus d'art, autant d'harmonie ;
Mais il s' epuise avec Didon,

Et rate à la fin Lavinie. But this ingenious man did not consider, that the Episode of Dido and Æneas, was not given to ornament his poem

with an amusing tale of a love adventure, but to expose the public mischiefs which arise from Rulers indulging themselves in this voluptuous weakness, while they become

Regnorum immemores, turpique cupidine captos. The Poet therefore had defeated his own design, if when he had recovered his Hero from this weakness, and made him say of his destined Empire in Italy,

- hic Amor, hæc Patria est if when he had perfected his Character, and brought him to the end of his labours, he had still drawn him struggling with this impotent and unruly passion.

Nor is the view, in which we place this poem, less serviceable to the vindication of the Poet's other characters. The learned author of the Enquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer, will allow me to differ from him, in thinking that those uniform manners in the Æneis, which he speaks of, was the effect of design, not, as - he would have it, of custom and habit : “ Virgil, says he, had seen much of the splendor of

a court, the magnificence of a palace, and the

grandeur of a royal equipage: accordingly his repre“sentations of that part of life, are more august and

stately than Homer's. He has a greater regard to

“ decency,

(6

decency, and those polished manners, that render

men so much of a piece, and make them all resemble " one another in their conduct and behaviour *.” For the Æneis being a system of Politics, what this writer calls the eternity of a government, the form of a magistrature, and plan of dominion, must needs be familiar with the Roman poet; and nothing could be more to his purpose, than a representation of polished manners; it being the Legislator's office to tame and break men to humanity; and to make them disguise, at least, if they cannot be brought to lay aside, their savage habits.

But this key to the Æneis not only clears up many passages obnoxious to the critics, but adds infinite beauty to a great number of incidents throughout the whole poem; of which take the following instances, the one, in Religion, and the other, in civil Policy.

1. Æneas, in the eighth book, goes to the Court of Evander, in order to engage him in a confederacy against the common enemy. He finds the king and his people busied in the celebration of an annual sacrifice. The purpose of the voyage is dispatched in a few lines, and the whole episode is taken up in a matter altogether foreign to it, that is to say, the sacrifice, the feast, and a long history of Hercules's adventure with Cacus. But it is done with great art and propriety; and in order to introduce, into this political poem, that famous institute of Cicero, (in his book Of Laws) designed to moderate the excess of labouring superstition, the ignotæ ceremonia, as he calls them, which at that time so much abounded in Roine “ Diros & eos, qui cælestes semper habiti, colunto, “ & ollos, QUOS ENDO CELO MERITA VOCAVERINT, “ HERCULEM, Liberum, Æsculapium, Castorem, Pollucem, Quirinum”—Thus copied by Virgil, in the beginning of Evander's speech to Æneas,

* Page 325;

Rex Evandrus ait: Non hæc solemnia nobis,
Has ex more dapes, hanc tanti numinis aram
VANA SUPERSTITIO VETERUMQUE IGNARA DÉ-

ORUM

Imposuit. Sævis, hospes Trojane, periclis

Servati facimus, MERITOSQUE novamus HONORESA lesson of great importance to the pagan Lawgiver. This Vana superstitio ignara veterum deorum was, as we have shewn, a matter he took much care to rectify in the Mysteries; not by destroying that species of idolatry, the worship of dead men, which was indeed his own invention, but by shewing why they paid that worship; namely, for benefits done to the whole race of mankind, by those deified Heroes. Quare agite, o juvenes! tantarum in munere lau

dum, &c. The conclusion of Evander's speech, COMMUNEMQUE VOCATE DEUM, & date vina vo

lentes, alludes to that other institute of Cicero, in the same book Of Laws. " SEPARATIM nemo habessit Deos :

neve novos, neve advenas, nisi publice adscitos,

PRIVATIM colunto.” Of which he gives the reason in his comment, suosque Deos, aut Novos aut

Alienigenas coli, confusionem habet religionum, & “ ignotas ceremonias."

[graphic]

Nor should we omit to observe a further beauty in this episode; and, in imitation, still, of Cicero; who, in bis book Of Laws, hath taken the best of the Roman Institutes, for the foundation of his system : For the worship of HERCULES, as introduced by Evander, and administered by the Potitii on the altar called the ARA MAXIMA, was, as Dion. Hal. and Livy tell us, the oldest establishment in Rome; and continued for many ages in high veneration. To this the following lines allude,

Hanc ARAM luco statuit, quæ MAXIMA semper, &c.

-Jamque sacerdotes, primusque Potitius, ibant. But Virgil was so learned in all that concerned the Roman ritual, that it was a common saying, (as we collect from Macrobius) Virgilius noster Pontifex maximus videtur: And that writer not apprehending the reason of so exact an attention to sacred things, being ignorant of the nature of the poem, says, MIRANDUM est hujus poetæ et circa nostra et circa externa sacra doctrinam *

2. In the ninth book we have the fine episode of Nisus and Euryalus ; which presents us with many new graces, when considered (which it ought to be) as a representation of one of the most famous and singular of the Grecian Institutions. CRETE, that ancient and celebrated School of legislation, had a civil custom, which the Spartans first, and afterwards all the principal cities of Greece , borrowed from them, forRevery man of distinguished valour or wisdom to adopt a favourite youth, for whose education he was answerable,

* Saturn. 1. iii. c. 6.
+ See note [U] at the end of this Book.

and

and whose manners he had the care of forming. Hence Nisus is said to be

ACERRIMUS ARMIS,
Hyrtacides;
And Euryalus,

Comes Euryalus, quo PULCHRIOR alter Non fuit Æneadum, Trojana neque induit arma;

Ora PUER prima signans INTONSA JUVENTA. The LOVERS (as they were called) and their YOUTHS always served and fought together; —so Virgil of these :

His amor unus erat, pariterque in bella ruebant,

Tum quoque communi portam statione tenebant. The Lovers used to make presents to their favourite youths.-So Nisus tells his friend :

Si, TIBI, quæ Posco promittunt (nam mihi facti

Fama sat est) &c. The states of Greece, where this Institution prevailed, reaped so many advantages from it, that they gave it the greatest encouragement by their laws: so that Cicero, in his book Of a republic, observed,“ oppro“ brio fuisse adolescentibus si amatores non haberent?" Virgil has been equally intent to recommend it by all the charms of poetry and eloquence. The amiable character, the affecting circumstance, the tenderness of distress, are all inimitably painted.

The youth so educated, were found to be the best bulwark of their country, and most formidable to the enemies of civil liberty. On which account, the Tyrants, wherever they prevailed, used all their arts to

suppress

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