The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


colouring which pervades it, and the great amount of antiquarian learning which he has scattered through it, make the Aeneid a study for the his­torian of Rome. Virgil's good sense and taste are always conspicuous, and make up for the defect of originality. As a whole, the Aeneid leaves no strong impression, which arises from the fact that it is not really a national poem, like the Iliad or the Odyssey, the monument of an age of which we have no other literary monument ; it is a learned poem, the production of an age in which it docs not appear as an embodiment of the national feeling, but as a monument of the talent and in­dustry of an individual. The Aeneid contains many obscure passages, which a long series of commentators have laboured to elucidate. Virgil has the merit of being the best of the Roman epic poets, superior both to Ennius who preceded him, and on whom he levied contributions, and to Lu-can, Silius Italicus, and Valerius Flaccus, who belong to a later age. The passion for rhetorical display, which characterises all the literature of Rome, is much less offensive in Virgil than in those who followed him in the line of epic poetry.

The larger editions of Virgil contain some short poems, which are attributed to him, and may have been among his earlier works. The Culex or Gnat is a kind of Bucolic poem in 413 hexame­ters, often very obscure ; the Ciris, or the mythus of Scylla the daughter of Nisus, king of Megara, in 541 hexameters, has been attributed to Cor­nelius Gallus and others, but Scaliger maintains that it is by Virgil; the Moretum, in 123 verses, the name of a compound mess, is a poem in hex­ameters, on the daily labour of a cultivator, but it contains only the description of the labours of the first part of the day, which consist in preparing the Moretum : the female servant of the rustic Simulus is a negress ; none was ever better de­scribed,

" Afra genus, tota patriam testante figura, Torta comam, labroque tumens et fusca colo-


Pectore lata, jaceris mammis, eompressior alvo, Cruribus exilis, spatiosa prodiga planta."

The Copa, in elegiac verse, is an invitation by a female tavern keeper or servant attached to a Caupona, to passengers to come in and enjoy them­selves. There are also fourteen short pieces in various metres, classed under the general name of Catalecta. That addressed w Ad Venerem," shows that the writer, whoever he was, had a talent for elegiac poetry.

The first edition of Virgil, a small folio, was printed at Rome about A. d. 1469 by Sweynheym and Pannartz, and dedicated to Pope Paul II. This rare edition was reprinted in 1471, but it is of no great value. The Virgil printed by Aldus at Venice in 1501, 8vo, is also very scarce. At the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the six­teenth centuries there were many prints of Virgil., with the commentary of Servius and others. Tie edition of J. L. de la Cerda, which is valued for the commentary, appeared at Madrid in 3 vols. folio, 1608—1617. The valuable edition of Nic. Hein-sius was published at Amsterdam in 1676. The well printed edition of P. Masvicius, Leeuwarden, 17'27, 2 vols. 4to, contains the complete commen­taries of Servius, Philargyrius, and Pierius, with the " Index Erythraei," the Life of Virgil by



Tib. Claudius Donatus, an " Index absolutissimus in Mauri Servii Honorati Commentaries in Vir-gilium,'" and an " Index Auctorum in Servii Com-mentariis citatomm." All these matters make the edition of Masvicius very useful. P. Burmann's edition appeared at Amsterdam, 1746, 4 vols. 4to. C. G. Heyne bestowed great labour on his edition of Virgil, 1767—1775, Leipzig, 4 vols. 8vo, with a copious index: it was reprinted with improve­ments in 1788. In the fourth edition of Heyne's Virgil, by G. P. E. Wagner, Leipzig, 1830, 4 vols. 8vo, the text has been corrected after the best MSS., the punctuation improved, and the ortho­graphy altered or amended. The text of this edition is also published separately in a single volume with the title " Publii Vergilii Maronis Carmina ad pristinam Orthographiam quoad ejus fieri potuit revocata, edidit P. Wagner, Leipzig, 1831, 8vo." It also contains the " Orthographia Vergiliana," or remarks on the orthography of many words in Virgil, arranged in alphabetical order.

The works of Virgil have been more fortunate than those of most of the writers of antiquity, for there are many very old MSS. of his poems. That which is called the Medicean, may probably have been written before the downfal of the Roman empire. An exact fac-simile of it was published by Foggini at Florence, 1741, 4to. The Codex Vaticanus, which is also of great antiquity, was published by Bottari, Rome, 1741, folio ; but it is said not to be so accurate a copy as the fac-simile of Foggini. Wagner in his Praefatio has briefly discussed the relative ages of these two MSS. ; but there seem to be no grounds for deciding the question, They are both undoubtedly very old.

The editions of the several parts of Virgil and the school editions are very numerous. The " Hand-buch der Classischen Bibliographic " of Schweigger, ii. pp. 1145—1258, contains a long list. The edi­tion of A. Forbiger, 3 vols. 8vo, Leipzig, 1836, and a second edition, 1845—1846, contains a sufficiently copious commentary for ordinary use, which is composed of selections from the commen­tators and his own notes.

The Bucolica were translated into German verse by J. H. Voss with useful notes ; and a second edition by A. Voss, appeared at Altona, 1830. J. H. Voss's poetical translation of the Georgics is highly esteemed. His complete translation of Virgil appeared at Brunswick in 3 vols. 8vo, 1799. Martyn, professor of Botany at Cambridge, pub­lished a prose version of the Georgica, London, 1741, and of the Georgica, 1749, with many va­luable notes. The commentary of Martyn on the Georgiea is perhaps the best that has appeared for the elucidation of the matter of the poem. Gavvin Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld, translated the Aeneid into Scottish verse, London, 1553. Ogilby's verse translation was published at London, 1649 and 1650 ; and Dryden's was published by Tonson, London, 1697. The blank verse translation of Dr. J. Trapp is very poor. The Aeneid translated by C. Pitt, and the Bucolica and Georgica by Joseph Warton, were published by Dodsley, Lon­don, 1783, 4 vols. 8vo. Sotheby's poetic version of the Georgica contains the original text and the versions of De Lille, Soave, Guzman, and Voss.

The chief authority for the Life of Virgil is the Life by Donatus, which, though not a critical per­formance, is undoubtedly founded on good ma­terials. It is printed in Wagner's edition of Viigil

4 m 2

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of