Immagini della pagina

and Frenzel (Archiv für Philol. u. Paedog., Vol. I. p. 139) proves that male pinguis means non pinguis, infecundae.

108. supercilio clivosi tramitis, from the brow of a sloping channel; i. e. "from the brow of a hill by constructing a channel down its side."

111. Quid (dicam de eo), qui.

112. It is not an uncommon practice with farmers of the present day, to feed down their corn with sheep when it grows too rank and luxuriant.

113. Quum mum sulcos; as soon as the corn is grown high enough to make the surface of the ridges even.

114. There are two ways in which this drainage may have been effected; either by digging trenches to carry off the water into some sandy place, where it was absorbed, or by laying a dressing of sand upon the marsh to soak up the moisture.

115. In the spring and autumn months the weather is most uncertain; the former is probably here meant.

117. sudant, "reek," or 66 steam."

119. improbus anser, probus (a prohibus) is literally one who restrains himself, who keeps within due bounds, is moderate and just; improbus is the reverse of all these, unrestrained, intemperate, or "greedy."

120. Strymoniaeque grues; this epithet had been bestowed upon cranes by the Greek poets, because cranes on the approach of winter migrated from the river Strymon, on the borders of Thrace, to Greece. - intuba, see Georg. IV. 120, note.

121. Pater ipse, i. e. Jupiter.

127. in medium quaerebant; they sought (the necessaries of life, and contributed them) to a common stock.

129. atris, "terrible."

130. moveri, "to be agitated" by storms.

131. The discovery of the method of producing fire is the origin of all the arts, and the commencement of human civilization. Jupiter accordingly "removed" it out of the knowledge of man, in order that he might apply himself to invention. In the age of Saturn mankind must have possessed fire.

134. frumenti herbam, for herbam frumentaceam.

136. The first rude vessels were made from the hollow trunks of trees. 137. numeros et nomina fecit; he determined the number of stars which were to form the different constellations, and gave them names.

138. Arcton; Arctos, the daughter of Lycaon, was raised by Jupiter into the heavens and became the constellation of the greater Bear.

139. Birds must either be included among ferae, or must be understood after fallere.

140. Inventum, scil. est.

142. Alta petens, seeking the deep part, i. e. the middle of the stream. ―lina, “the fishing-lines."

145, 146. Labor improbus, "severe" or excessive "toil." See note to v. 119.

150. labor (like Tóvos in Greek) signifies "toil" and "care."

151. Esset, from edere.-segnis,


"should bristle."

useless," " 'unproductive." — horreret, 153. Lappae, "burrs."— tribuli, the tribulus tenestris, or "land-caltrops." 155. Quod, on account of which, "wherefore "; in the sense of the Greek ő, κaðó. — terram, the reading of Heyne; but the Medicean and several other manuscripts have herbam.

156. ruris opaci; ground thickly planted with trees, here put for the trees themselves.

157. premes, "check" or "prune."

158. Concussa quercu; not only will he have to eat acorns, but even these will be so scarce, that he will have to shake the oaks to obtain them. 163. Tarda volventia, for tarde volventia. Eleusinae matris, because all the implements of agriculture were in a manner dedicated to the service of Ceres. - plaustra; carts which consisted of the wheels and axle and a pole, to the hinder part of which was fastened a table of wooden planks; sometimes a large wicker basket was tied upon this table. The wheels were generally solid, made by sawing the trunk of a tree across, and nearly a foot in thickness.

164. Tribula, traheaeque; two kinds of drags, the former of which consisted of a thick wooden board, which was armed underneath with pieces of iron, and drawn over the corn by a yoke of oxen for the purpose of separating the grain and cutting the straw. The latter was either made of stone or of the trunk of a tree.

165. Celei; Celeus, king of Eleusis, was the father of Triptolemus, whom Ceres instructed in the art of husbandry. — vilis, “cheap."

166. vannus lacchi; the rites of Bacchus, as well as those of Ceres, having a continual reference to the occupations of rural life, the vannus (winnowingfan or sieve), was borne in the processions celebrated in honor of both these deities.



169-174. A great many different theories have been formed respecting the exact form of the plough which Virgil describes in these lines. The clearest account is given by F. Th. Schulz (De Aratri Romani Forma et Compositione); the following illustration is taken from that work, and shows the different parts of the plough which are mentioned in this and other passages of Virgil.

[blocks in formation]

Fig. I.1. dentalia, the frame to which the ploughshare was fastened. 2. buris, the beam, forming the trunk of the plough.

3. temo, the pole.

4. stiva, the handle.

5. manicula, the cross bar, which enabled the laborer to guide the plough more easily.

6. vomer, the share.

7. jugum, the yoke. a. funiculus.

b. clavus.

c. collare.

d. lora subjugia.

Fig. II. The common ploughshare.

Fig. III. The dentalia alone.

Fig. IV. A plough with mould-boards; aratrum auritum.

7, 7. aures, the mould-boards.

173, 174. fagus stivaque, for stiva faginea. Compare Ecl. VIII. 95, note. 174. currus imos; these words have led Voss and other commentators to suppose that the plough described by Virgil had wheels; but such, it is well ascertained, was not the case. Wagner reads cursus; but this word does not seem applicable to the motion of a plough. Catullus applies currus even to a ship, and it may here be used for the plough itself, or for the lower part of it, which is, as it were, the body of a vehicle.

175. explorat," searches," i. e. penetrates every part so as thoroughly to season them.

178. Area; "the threshing-floor" was a raised place in the open air; great pains were taken to harden it, and it was sometimes covered with lees of oil, which prevented insects from injuring it, and grass from growing on it.

180. fatiscat, "crumble."

183. oculis capti; a person or animal is said to be captus (captivus) in any limb, who is held captive as to that member, i. e. prevented from using it. Servius remarks that Virgil improperly applies the term to moles, inasmuch as it is legitimately used only of such as have enjoyed and lost the use of the limb in question.

nux, "the almond

187. Contemplator, "watch," "examine attentively.". tree."

187, 188. se plurima induet in florem, i. e. plurimum se induet flore.
189. Si superant fetus, "if it makes a great show of fruit."
192. Nequidquam pingues palea, "uselessly rich in chaff."

196. Servius and Heyne connect this line with the preceding, and place a full stop at the end of it; properata maderent then means that they may boil quickly, i. e. when they are to be eaten as a vegetable. But this seems altogether out of place, nor does madere, strictly speaking, mean "to boil," but

to be soaked " Virgil has been speaking of the practice of steeping the seeds which they are about to sow in nitre and lees of oil; he now mentions another custom, (one still very prevalent,) of soaking them in tepid water, in order to hasten the germination, but says that seeds thus treated, however carefully selected, are apt to degenerate.

200. ruere, referri; the infinitive absolute, which is commonly, but somewhat incorrectly, termed the historical infinitive, is frequently used to express that which is wont to happen.

202. After remisit, retro sublapsus refertur must be supplied from v. 200. 203. rapit; Warton adduces this and several other sentences in which Virgil has made use of the perfect and the present in the same sentence, in order to prove that these two tenses coincide. But the change of tense in all these passages proceeds in fact from the effort which language makes to adapt itself to the rapidity of thought. In the picture here presented to us,

we see a rower who for a moment has relaxed his efforts, and immediately the stream is hurrying him along.

204-207. Some attention to astronomy is as useful to farmers as to sailors.

206. vectis; as the Latin language has no present passive participle, the perfect passive participle is not unfrequently used in a present sense.

207. Abydos is even now celebrated for its oysters.

208. " When (the sun being in) the sign of Libra has made the hours of the day and of the night (somnus for nox) equal in length"; the sun is in the sign of Libra at the time of the autumnal equinox.

211. extremum brumae imbrem, for extremae brumae imbrem; because the winter solstice (bruma) occurred at the close of the year.

215. Medica, "lucern"; introduced into Greece by the Persians, whence it obtained its name.

217. On the 17th of April the sun entered into the sign of Taurus, and wet weather generally set in. Candidus, "bright."—auratis cornibus; the horns of Taurus are marked by two bright stars.

218. adverso astro; Sirius in setting has its face directed towards Taurus, and is therefore said to be giving way to adversum astrum, the constellation turned towards or facing it.

219. farra; far, a kind of grain resembling wheat, a variety of "spelt"; its modern botanical name is "Triticum speltum "; on account of this being the grain most commonly employed, far is used for corn generally. — robusta,




221. Eoae Atlantides; the morning Pleiades; i. e. when they set in the morning, which was about the 24th or 28th of October.


222. decedat; the constellation Corona, "Ariadne's crown," (called Gnosia from the city of Gnosus in Crete, of which Minos, the father of Ariadne, was king,) did not set, but rise, at this time of the year; many commentators have therefore supposed decedat to mean "depart to a sufficient distance from the sun to be visible. But this interpretation is contrary to the general mode of speaking of the rising and setting of stars. It is probable that Virgil was in error as to the time of the setting of Corona, and that he was misled by a statement of Democritus, which has been preserved in a fragment of one of the works of the grammarian Didymus. According to this fragment, Democritus advised sowing to be made about the setting of Corona, which "in the regions around Phoenicia" is about the 24th of November.

225. Maiae; one of the Pleiades.

227. faselum; a small species of kidney bean, known on the continent of Europe under the name of "Turkish pea"; the pods and the seeds are both eaten, as they were by the Romans; vilem, because very common.

228. Pelusiacae; because lentils were produced in great abundance at Pelusium, in Egypt.

229. Haud obscura; the setting of Bootes is a "certain" sign of the right season for sowing these vegetables.

232. mundi astra, for sidera coeli; the twelve signs of the zodiac.

235. extremae; the most remote, i. e. the two frigid zones.—trahuntur, are extended.

237. aegris, to" wretched " mortals; this epithet enhances the kindness and compassion of the gods.

238. per, "between ; as below, v. 245, per duas Arctos; the ecliptic line touches the two tropics, but does not enter the temperate zones.

239. signorum ordo, the zodiac, through the twelve signs of which the sun passes in its annual course.

240. arces; any very elevated spot was called arr; hence also mountains."

[ocr errors]

241. premitur devexus, " slopes downward."

242. Hic vertex, "this (Arctic) pole."— sublimis, high, so as to be visible. -illum, the Antarctic pole.

243. Sub pedibus Styx, for Styx qui sub pedibus est.

244. Anguis, "the Dragon."

245. per, between; see v. 238.

246. metuentes tingi, for qui nunquam tinguntur, because they never sink below the horizon into the sea. Horace has penna metuente solvi, for penna non solvenda.

247. Illic, at the Antarctic pole. — intempesta, "unseasonable"; this word is used as an epithet for nox, because the dead of night is not a seasonable time for work.

250. Oriens, the sun; the conception of the breath from the horses of the sun's chariot reaching us just before the sun itself becomes visible, is highly poetical. Virgil uses it again, Aen. V. 739.

252. Hinc, from the course of the sun through the signs of the zodiac. - dubio coelo; Heyne interprets this "when storms are impending," and tempestates by "the seasons." The following interpretation is more natural and satisfactory: "from this (knowledge of the position of the sun) we can beforehand, when the appearance of the sky is doubtful, ascertain the weather." 254. marmor, the smooth surface of the sea. So ἅλα μαρμαρέην, Iliad §. 273.

255. armatas classes; one kind of ships is named to describe navigation in general.

256. tempestivam evertere pinum, for pinum tempestive caedere. 257. signorum, i. e. siderum.

259. continet, scil. domi.

260. properanda forent, "would have to be done in a hurry.” 261. Maturare datur, "he can do at leisure."

262. lintres; linter originally means a boat made of the trunk of a tree, but is also applied to troughs used for farming purposes.

263. acervis; the grain was put into sacks or large jars upon which numbers were stamped as marks.

265. Amerina; Ameria, a city of Umbria, near the Tiber, where willows grew in abundance.

267. The corn was slightly scorched in order to facilitate the operation of grinding. It was generally ground in each household in a hand-mill (mola manuaria) made of stone.

269. Fas, "divine laws." ―jura, "human laws." ―rivos deducere; to draw off the streams of water from the fields by clearing the channels.

271. avibus; this must be understood to refer to those birds which injured the crops.

272. salubri; by the jus pontificium it was forbidden to wash sheep on holidays for the purpose of cleaning the wool, but permitted if the health of the animal required it, as for curing the scab.

274, 275. lapidem incusum, a stone, the surface of which was slightly indented for the mola manuaria.

277. Felices operum, i. e. faustos, "lucky," ad opera. Virgil in this account of popular superstitions has imitated Hesiod. By Orcus is probably not meant Pluto, but the "Opkos of Hesiod, who was the son of Eris, and the avenger of perjury.

278. satae, scil. eo die. 280. fratres, the giants.

« IndietroContinua »