« السابقةمتابعة »
stronger instance than his. I should think there does not exist a poet, who has gone such lengths in imitation as Virgil ; for to pass over his pastoral and bucolic poems, which are evidently drawn from Theocritus and Hesiod, with the affistance of Aratus in every thing that relates to the scientific part of the signs and seasons, it is supposed that, his whole narrative of the destruction of Troy, with the incident of the wooden horse and the episode of Sinon, are an almost literal translation of Pifander the epic poet, who in his turn perhaps might copy his account from the Ilias Minor; (but this last is mere suggestion). As for the Æneid, it does little else but reverse the order of Homer's epic, making Æneas's voyage precede his wars in Italy, whereas the voyage of Ulyfies is subsequent to the operations of the Iliad. As Apollo is made hostile to the Greeks, and the cause of his offence is introduced by Homer in the opening of the Iliad, lo Juno in the Æneid stands in his place with every
circumstance of imitation. It would be an endless talk to trace the various instances throughout the
Æneid, where scarce a single incident can be found which is not copied from Homer : Neither is there greater originality in the executive parts of the poem, than in the conitructive; with this difference only, that he has c« pied pafiages from various authors, Ronan as well as Greek, though from Homer the most. Amongst the Greeks, the dramatic poets Æschylus, Sophocles, and principally Euripides, have had the greatest share of his attention ; Ariftophanes, Menander, and other comic authors, Callimachus and some of the lyric writers, also may be traced in his imitations. A vast collection of passages from Ennius chiefly, from Lucretius, Furius, Lucilius, Pacuvius, Suevius, Nævius, Varius, Catullus, Accius and others of his own nation, has been made by Macrobius in his Saturnalia, where Virgil has done little else but put their sentiments into more elegant verse; so that in strictness of speaking we may say of the Æneid, “ that it is a miscellaneous
compilation of poetical passages, compof• ing all together an epic poem, formed upon the model of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey ; abounding in beautiful versifi
“cation, and justly to be admired for the “ fine acquired taste of its author, but de“ void of originality either of construction “ or execution.” Besides its general inferiority as being a copy from Homer, it particularly falls off from its original in the conception and preservation of character: It does not reach the sublimity and majesty of its model, but it has in a great degree adopted the simplicity, and entirely avoided the rusticity of Homer.
Lucan and Claudian in later ages were perhaps as good versifiers as Virgil, but far inferior to him in that fine acquired taste, which he excelled in : They are ingenious, but not simple; and execute better than they contrive. A. paffage from Claudian, which I shall beg the reader's leave to compare with one from Virgil (where he personifies the evil passions and plagues of mankind, and posts them at the entrance of hell, to which Æneas is descending) will exemplify what I have said, for at the same time that it will bear a dispute, whether Claudian's description is not even superior to Virgil's in poetical merit, yet the judicious manner of introducing it in one case, and the evident want of judgment in the other, will help to thew, that the reason why we prefer Virgil to Claudian, is more on account of his superiority of taste than of talents.
Claudian's description stands in the very front of his poem on Ruffinus; Virgil's is woven into his fable, and will be found in the sixth book of his Æneid, as fol. lows:
Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus orci,
Yuft in the gates, and in the jaws of Hell,
Protinus infernas ad limina tetra forores Concilium deforme vocat; glomerantur in unum Innumeræ peftes Erebi, quafcunque finiftro Nox genuit fætu: Nutrix Discordia belli; Imperiosa Fames; leto vicina Senectus ; Impatiensque fui Morbus; Livorque fecundis Arxius, eft fcislo Mærens velamine Lučius, Et Timor, et cæco præceps Audacia vultu ; Et luxus populator opum ; cui femper adhærens Infelix humili grelu comitatur Egestas ; Fædaque Avaritiæ complexæ pectora matris Infomnes longo veniunt examine Curæ.
• The infernal council, at Alecto's call “ Conven'd, afsemble in the Stygian hall; 66 Myriads of ghaftly plagues, that thun the light, ;!
Daughters of Erebus and gloomy Night: “ Strife war-compelling; Famine's wasting rage; “ And Death just hovering o'er decrepid Age; • Envy, Prosperity's repining foe, “ Restless Disease, and self-dishevell’d Woe, "Rashness, and Fear, and Poverty, that steals “ Clofe as his shadow at the Spendthrift's heels; “ And Cares, that clinging to the Mifer's brealt, 6 Forbid his furdid soul to taste of rest."
The productions of the human genius will borrow their complexion from the times in which they originate. Ben Jonson says, that the players often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespear, that in his writing (whatsoever VOL. III, F