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and more artificial, presenting some great idea in a narrative shape, and not merely telling stories for love of the story.

The Aeneid is clearly in the second of these classes: it is a literary epic. The age of Augustus was a time of great literary activity, promoted by the emperor himself: but it is even more remarkable for the high standard of finished and artistic workmanship than for its productiveness. This high standard was owing to various causes, among which the chief was the general study of Greek. There had been Epic poets before, such as Naevius and Ennius: but Vergil, in point of execution, may be said to be centuries in advance of his predecessors.

The subject and purpose of the Poem.

The main idea of the Aeneid is the national greatness of Rome. Several causes combined to make Vergil undertake this work. Augustus himself, who was a munificent patron of literary men, desired him to write a great poem, which should glorify the Empire and stimulate the patriotism of Romans ir the new Era. Again, the new era itself excited a genuine enthusiasm, quite apart from Court influences. After the corruptions and incapacity of the later Republic, and a century of smouldering civil wars, when Augustus had given peace and stable government to the Roman world, everybody felt that 'a good time was come.' And the poet himself was on every ground desirous of achieving the work. He had won himself by the Georgics a first-rate literary position, and he had given his whole life to developing his unrivalled poetic faculty. Thus every influence united to stimulate him to produce a Great National Poem. The people believed in their National Destiny, and imagined a future even greater than their past. The emperor promoted it, both from personal and patriotic grounds: and the poet himself, with his reverence for the Roman religion and antiquities, his matured powers and his strong national enthusiasm, was the man for the task.

The greatness of the destinies of Rome was then the main subject of the Aeneid. Vergil connected it with the story of

Aeneas, partly because the house of the Caesars, the gens Iulia, traced back its origin to Iulus, son of Aeneas; but principally no doubt because it gave him so convenient an opportunity of bringing before his countrymen, in a national dress, the glorious poems of Homer. The battle pieces, the sea adventures, the councils of the gods, the single combats, the royal feasts and funerals, the splendid scenes and similes--all these things, which charmed the educated Romans so much in the Greek epics, Vergil transplanted and naturalised in his own stately and melodious verse. Moreover, by going back to Aeneas and the tale of Troy, he raised the destinies of Rome to the old heroic level in the imaginations of men. But however much of Homer he may give to his readers, he never forgets his main purpose, to impress men with the dignity and greatness of Rome, her significant history, her national unbroken life and growth, and the divine protection which guided her fate.

One aspect of the poem was intimately connected both with the Augustan revival and the poet's own nature: and that was its profoundly religious character. To nothing did Augustus pay more attention than to a revival of the national religion. He rebuilt the temples, restored the worship, paid offerings to the shrines, increased the priestly colleges, and took the office permanently of Pontifex maximus. And the poet himself viewed Rome as a state powerful by the protection of gods, great in its ancient and elaborate ceremonial, and predestined by the divine will to its career of Empire. Hence it is that he is careful to weave into his narrative all manner of religious references, allusions, and associations. Sacred places and customs are mentioned all through; and the background of the poem is the working of the gods themselves, with Fate ordaining all.

Nor should we forget the antiquarian interest. The unity of the race and the greatness of its destiny gave a high significance to all old memories. Accordingly Vergil has collected into his poem a mass of local traditions, old Latin customs, explanations of names, and antiquarian lore of all kinds. He feels that nothing can so stimulate the common patriotism, and

feeling of unity with a great past, as thus to enrich his National Epic with every ancient association that admits of poetic


Outline of the Story.

According to Homer, Aeneas was son of Anchises and Aphrodite (identified with the Roman Venus, goddess of love), and the nephew of Priam king of Troy. At first he takes no part in the Trojan war; but being attacked by Achilles, afterwards performs many heroic deeds for the Trojans. He escapes by help of the gods when Troy is captured, and Homer clearly conceives him as reigning at Troy after the departure of the Greeks.

The later stories recount his wanderings about Europe after the fall of Troy: and these Vergil adopts, making many alterations and additions of his own. One great episode, his landing at Carthage, and the love and desertion of Dido, we have no means of tracing to any traditional source, and it may be Vergil's own invention.

The First Book describes how Iuno, wroth against Aeneas and his exiled comrades, prevented them long from landing in Italy. When at length the fleet leave Sicily, Iuno persuades Aeolus, king of the winds, to raise a storm on the sea. This, though checked by Neptune, scatters the fleet and the exiles are cast ashore at Carthage. Venus bewails to Iuppiter their sad case: but he answers her their fate shall be fulfilled, and bids Mercury dispose the Carthaginians to welcome them. Venus in disguise meets Aeneas and tells him who the people and the places are. Aeneas and Achates, rendered invisible by a cloud, approach the rising city of Carthage. On a temple to Iuno they find carved the tale of Troy. Dido comes in and then their lost comrades appear, begging help, which the queen promises. The cloud parts and Aeneas appears in divine beauty and thanks her. She welcomes him too, and invites them all to a royal banquet. Aeneas at the feast summons the boy Ascanius: but in his stead Venus sends her son Cupid, who instils secret

love into the hearts of Aeneas and the Queen. At length after many questions Dido asks Aeneas to repeat to her the whole story of his adventures.

In the second book he accordingly relates the sack of Troy and his escape. In the third he continues the story, recounting all his wanderings since, till he reached Africa.

Book IV. tells of the love, desertion, despair and suicide of the Carthaginian queen.

The fifth book is an interlude, giving an account of games held in Sicily, whither a storm drives them, on their way from Carthage to Italy. At last however Aeneas departs, leaving the weak and half-hearted behind, and reaches the promised land.

One of the most effective portions of the Aeneid is his descent to Hades by the lake of Avernus near Naples, where he meets his dead father, Anchises, who shews him the souls of the future great men of Rome. He then emerges from the realms below and rejoins his fleet.

Reaching at length the coast of Latinum, he discovers by a sign that this is his fated home. He sends to the king Latinus to offer peace, which is at first agreed to, and Aeneas is betrothed to Lavinia, daughter of the king; but difficulties arise, the gods interfere, and Turnus, king of the Rutules, who is a suitor of Lavinia, induces Latinus to join him in war against the Trojans.

Aeneas meanwhile sails up the Tiber, and makes alliance with the Arcadian Euander, who is king of a small tribe on the site of the future Rome.

Euander advises him to seek aid from the Etruscans of Caere, which he does. The war is begun. After much bloodshed, in which Pallas son of Euander, and the terrible Tuscan king Mezentius, are slain, it is at last agreed that the issue shall be decided by single combat between Aeneas and Turnus. Iuno tries to interfere; but at length the heroes meet, and Aeneas grapples and slays Turnus.

Note on the Similes.

The following are the similes in this book:

(1) Line 148 Neptune stills the tempest as a great and good man stills a sedition by look and word.



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430 The busy toil of building Carthage like the busy

toil of a beehive.

497 Dido comes to the temple, like Diana on the hills.

(4) 592 Venus adds beauty to Aeneas, as the artist to ivory, silver, or marble.

In studying these similes we see at once what they add to the poem in the way of ornament or picturesque suggestiveness. The fourth simile excepted, which is given in a passing touch, and not elaborated, the rest are all of them beautiful or impressive pictures.

But in most of these similes the point of the comparison is more or less obvious: a god stilling a storm like a man stilling a tumult (1): the active life of a city like the active life of a hive (2): a beautiful woman advancing like a beautiful goddess (3).

The resemblances are such as easily occur to anyone's mind: the thing compared is prominent, it lies on the surface: the simile is an ornament rather than a true illustration. The art is shewn in the workmanship rather than in the choice of the comparison: in the vividness, beauty, and the truth of its details.

And we must also observe that the details have often no bearing on the comparison. For example in (1) the great citizen is 'reverend for worth and service'-not much like the relation of Neptune to the waves! The riot is stilled by his look, whereas Neptune chides the winds roundly.

So in (2) the details of the hive bear no resemblance (naturally) to the details of the city life: there is nothing in the Carthage-description corresponding to 'leading out the young' or 'packing the honey' or 'driving away the drones?. In (4) even the main point of the comparison is a little obscure and inappropriate: the goddess shedding beauty on the hero

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