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DIALOGUE III. OF J. SPENCE'S POLYMETIS,
VOL. I. PAGE 17.
ON THE POLITICAL CHARACTER OF THE AENEID, AND FLOU.
RISHING STATE OF POETRY AMONG THE ROMANS.
Tue first age was only as the dawning of the Roman Poetry, in comparison of the clear full light that opened all at once afterwards, under Augustus Caesar. The state, which had been so long tending towards a monarchy, was quite settled down to that form by this prince. When he had no longer any dangerous opponents, he grew mild; or, at least, concealed the cruelty of his temper. He gave peace and quiet to the people that were fallen into his hands; and looked kindly on the improvement of all the arts and elegancies of life among them. He had a minister, too, under him, who (though a very bad writer himself) knew how to encourage the best: and who admitted the best poets, in particular, into a very great share of friendship and intimacy with him. Virgil was one of the foremost in this list; who at his first setting out grew soon
NOTES. Į Phyllidis hic idem tenerosque Ama- I should take “ molle” here, to be ryllidis ignes
meant of the sweetness of Virgil's verBucolicis juvenis luserat ante modis. sification in his pastorals: and “ face
Ovid. Trist. L. 2. v.538. tum,” of the elegance of his style and
manner of writing. All writers of pasUt nemo Varius ducit: molle atque
torals may be divided into two classes;
the rural, and the rustic; or, if you facetum Virgilio annuerunt gaudentes
will, the genteel and the homely. This Camoenae.
character of facetus marks out Virgil's Hor. L. I. Sat. 10. v. 45.
excelling in the genteel pastoral.
their most applauded writer for genteel pastorals; then gave them the most beautiful and most correct poem that ever was wrote in the Roman language, in his rules of agriculture (so beautiful, that some of the antients seem to accuse Virgil of having studied beauty too much in that piece): and last of all undertook a political poem, in support of the new establishment. I have thought this to be the intent of the Aeneid, ever since I first read Bossu ; and the more one considers it, the more I think one is confirmed in that opinion. Virgil is said to have begun this poem the very year that Augustus was free from his great rival, Antony: the government of the Roman empire was to be wholly in him; and though he chose to be called their Father“, he was, in every thing but the name, their King. This monarchical form of government must naturally be apt to displease the people. Virgil seems to have laid the plan of his poem to reconcile them to it. He takes advantage of this religious turn, and of some old prophecies that must have been very flattering to the Roman people, as promising them the empire of the whole world. He weaves this in with the most & probable account of their origin ; that of their being descended from the Trojans. To be a little more particular; Virgil, in his Aeneid, shews that Aeneas was called into their country by
NOTES. ? As Pliny and Seneca in particular. "sed principis nomine constitutam “ Sed nos obliterata quoque scrutabi- rempublicam.” Tacit. Annal. L. I., mur ;
deterrebit quarundam where he is speaking for Augustus. rerum humilitas. Quanquam vide- Princeps here signifies much the same mus Virgilium, praecellentissimum with princeps Senatùs; and so falls vatem, eâ de causâ hortorum dotes in with the title of Pater; the Senator fugisse; tantisque quae retulit, fores by way of eminence, or the ruling modd rerum decerpisse.” Pliny, L. Senator; which was a title as modest 14. Proem. “ Virgilius noster, qui non as his power was exorbitant. “ quid verissimè, sed quid decentissime He had the title of Pater Patriae, “ diceretur, aspexit; nec agricolas too, given him by all the three orders “ docere voluit, sed legentes delec- of the state; in the strongest manner
Seneca, L. 13. Epist. 87. that could be. s By de la Rue, in his life of Virgil.
Sancte pater patriae, tibi plebes, tibi 4 Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immo- curia nomen bile Saxum
Hoc dedit, hoc dedimus nos tibi nomen Accolet; imperiumque pater Romanus
eques. Ovid. Trist. 2. v. 126. habebit.
5 Plutarch, in his life of Julius Virg. Aen. 9. v. 449.
Caesar. “ Non aliud discordantis patriae reme- 6 As being that of Dionysius Halicar"dium fuisse, quin ut ab uno regeretur: nasseus, and some of the best Roman
non regno tamen, neque dictaturâ, historians.
the " express order of the Gods; that he was made King of it by the will of heaven ; and by all the human rights that could
that there was an uninterrupted succession of Kings from him to Romulus; that his heirs were to reign there for ever ;
NOTES, 7 This is marked very strongly
Tot responsa secuti, throughout all the first part of the Quae Superi Manesque dabant, Aeneid. The very night Troy is burnt,
Italiam petiere. Aeneas is ordered to go and build a
Aen. 10. v. 32-34. city in Italy, and to carry his Gods to it, by the spirits of Hector and Creüsa. The divine right appears from what Cassandra had foretold the same fre
is said in the note before: Virgil takes quently to his father before:
care to join all the civil rights to it that can be.
He has an hereditary claim Nunc repeto haec generi portendere from Dardanus and Jasius. Aen. 3. v. debita nostro :
168.-He has a right by conquest. Et saepe Hesperiam, saepe
Aen. 12. v. 1.-He has a right by comvocare. Aen. 3. v. 185.
pact. Aen. 12. v. 175 to 225.-And Apollo orders the same:
he has a right by marrying the only
daughter of the then King. Aen. 12. - Antiquam exquirite matrem.
v. 937; and 7. v. 50-52. Hic domus Aeneae cunctis dominabitur
4 Aeneas succeeds Latinus. Aen. I.
v. 265. lülus succeeds Aeneas. Aen, Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.
1. v. 269. His race (which is thereAen. 3. v. 98.
fore called the Trojan line by Virgil, And his domestic Gods, more expressly :
Aen. 1. v. 273.) reign for the next three - Venturos tollemus in astra nepotes,
hundred years; then follows Romulus,
Aen. 1. v. 276, still of the Trojan line, Imperiumque urbi dabimus. In moenia
as grandson of Aeneas Sylvius. Aen. magnis
6. V. 778. Magna para Mutandae sedes. Non haec tibi littora Romulus Assaraci quem sanguinis Ilia suasit
mater Delius, aut Cretae jussit considere Educet
Aen. 6. v. 780. Apollo. Est locus, Hesperiam Graii cognomine Aeneas, Latinus, and the kings before dicunt,
him, resided in old Latium. Aen. 7. v. Hae nobis propriae sedes: hinc Dar- 38 to 49; and 1. v. 265. Tülus removed danus autor, etc.
the royal seat to Alba. Aen. 1. v. 271, Aen. 3. v. 167. etc. Where it continued till Romulus
transferred it to Rome. So that this The same orders are given to Aeneas
continued succession of their kings is whilst at Carthage, by the spirit of his departed father; Aen. 4. v. 351. And,
intimated, too, by Virgil even in the lastly, by the great messenger of the
proposition of his poem; where every chief of all the Gods:
thing that is said ought to be of the
greatest weight. Ipse Deûm tibi me claro demittit What he proposes is, “ to sing the Olympo
great hero who came from Troy, by Regnator, coelum et terras qui numine the order of Heaven, to settle in torquet:
Italy; the difficulties he underwent Ipse haec ferre jubet celeres mandata “ in his voyage; and the wars he susper auras.
“tained before he could found a city, Quid struis, aut quâ spe Lybicis teris
“ and introduce his religion into Latium. otia terris ?
“ Whence sprung, first the Latian line Ascanium surgentem et spes haeredis
“ of kings, then their chiefs at Alba; lüli
and lastly, the powers of Rome, that Respice: củi regnum Italicae Roma
“ raised herself so high among the nanaque tellus
« tions." Debentur.
Aen. 4. v.275.
and that the Romans under them were to obtain the monarchy of the world.
It appears from Virgil", and the other Roman writers, that Julius Caesar was of this royal race; and that Augustus was his sole heir. The natural result of all this is, that the promises made to the Roman people, in and through this race,
NOTES. 10 Homer had said, that Aeneas and Cum domus Assaraci Phthiam clarasque his descendants should be princes for Mycenas ever; or, in the eastern style, from ge- Servitio premet neration to generation.
Says Jupiter, Aen. l. y. 285.
Externí veniunt generi, qui sanguine "οφρα μή άσπερμος γενεή και άφαντος
Nomen in astra ferent; quorumque ab Δαρδάνου, δν Κρονίδης, περί πάντων φίλατο
stirpe nepotes παίδων,
Omnia sub pedibus, quâ sol utrumque Οι εθεν εξεγένοντο γυναικών τε θνητάων. "Ήδη γάρ Πριάμε γενεήν ήχθηρς Κρονίων. Νυν δε δή Αινείαο βίη Τρώεσσιν ανάξει,
Aspicit oceanum, vertique regique vide
bunt. Και παιδες παίδων, τοι κεν μετόπισθε γένωνται:
Faunus' Oracle to Latinus, Homeri, H. 1. 308.
Aen, 7. v. 101. That this prophecy was much insisted 11 Nascetur pulchra Trojanus origine on by Augustus and his favourers, ap- Caesar, pears probable from the early care that
Imperium oceano, famam qui terminet was taken to alter the reading from astris; Τρώεσσιν το Πάντεσσιν, See Ruaeus in
Julius, à magno demissum nomen lülo. Aen. 3. v. 97. Pope, on Il. 20. v. 355.
Aen. I. v. 288. And Bochart's letter to Segrais. Agreeably to which, Virgil, in inserting this
Genus qui ducis Olympo, prophecy in his Aeneid, says, the Tro- Projice tela prior, sanguis meus jan race, or family of Aeneas should
Anchises of Julius Cæsar, reign in Italy, and obtain the universal
Aen. 6. v. 836. empire.
Several of the Roman writers speak
of this high descent of Julius Caesar ; Hic domus Aeneae cunctis dominabitur
and Suetonius in particular, who menoris;
tions a funeral oration made by Julius Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab
Caesar, over one of his relations, in illis.
Aen. 3. v. 97.
which he says were these words; He uses the same, even proverbially:
“ Amitae meae, Juliae, maternum genus
ab regibus ortum; paternum, cum diis Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immobile immortalibus conjunctum est. Nam ab
Anco Martio sunt reges, quo nomine Accolet; imperiumque pater Romanus fuit mater: a Venere,Julii: Cujus gentis habebit.
familia est nostra.” Suet. in Julio, § 6. There are several other passages to
12 His uncle Julius adopted him for the same purpose.
his son: and made him his heir.–Utque
primum occisum eum, haeredemque se Aspera Juno
comperit; urbe repetitâ, haereditatem
adiit: atque ab eo tempore exercitibus Consilia in melius referet, mecumque
comparatis, primum cum M. Antonio fovebit.
Marcoque Lepido, dein tantum cum Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque Antonio, per duodecim fere annos; notogatam.
vissime, per quatuor et quadraginta, Sic placitum. Veniet lustris labenti- solus rempublicam tenuit. --Suetonius bus aetas
in Aug. $ 8.