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We, the subscribers, do approve of the plan adopted by the Rev. J. G. Cooper for a new edition of the Works of Virgil; and, when published, we do hereby recommend his work to those classical students, who may attend our respective Seminaries
Rev. WM. BALLANTINE,
To Professors and Teachers of Classical Literature in the Colleges, Academies, and other Seminaries in the United States:
The very favorable opinion that many of you have expressed, of the plan and execution of this Edition of the works of Virgil, claims my respectful acknowledgments.
Every attempt to facilitate the acquisition of classical literature will, I am persuaded, meet your approbation; I shall, therefore, offer no apology for adding this new edition to the many others, already before the public.
Soon after I commenced the instruction of youth, I became sensible of the impropriety of the use of the editions of Virgil, then in our schools. Those of Ruæus and Davidson were generally, if not exclusively, read; both equally objectionable, the former by affording too little aid to the student in the illustration of the text, the latter by affording him too much. It was at this early period that I formed the plan of the present edition. Except the two last books of the Eneid, it was finished in the year 1815, as you will perceive by the date of several of the recommendations. Since which time, they have been completed, and the whole carefully revised and greatly improved. This delay in the publication gave me a further opportunity to become acquainted with the wants of students, especially in the early course of study, and to collect the opinions of teachers upon this subject. That opinion has uniformly been in favor of my plan; which takes a middle course between the opposite extremes of affording too little, and too much assistance to the student.
The partial ordo is designed to assist him in the more intricate parts of the text; and where recourse otherwise must be had to the teacher. The notes and explanations are copious. They embrace whatever was deemed necessary to elucidate the poet, and to lead the youthful mind to relish his beauties. Some of the more difficult passages I have translated; and, in general, where a word is used out of its common acceptation, I have given its sense and meaning in that particular place: and where commentators are not agreed upon the meaning of a word or phrase, I have given their respective opinions. In the text, I have adopted the reading of Heyne, except in a few instances, where the com mon reading appeared preferable.
To the Bucolics, Georgics, and Æneid, I have given, in the first instance, a general introduction; and to each Eclogue, and book of the Georgics and Eneid, a summary or particular introduction: so that the student, knowing beforehand the subject, and anticipating the beauties and excellences of the poet, will proceed with ease and pleasure, and in a manner catch his spirit. To each I have added a number of questions, to be asked by the teacher, and
answered by the pupil. They may be increased or modified at discretion This method of instruction, by question and answer, will be found useful. It serves to excite inquiry and attention on the part of the student, and affords the teacher a ready method of discovering the degree of knowledge which he has obtained of the subject. In this particular, I acknowledge my obligation to several eminent teachers, who suggested the improvement.
The commentators, to whom I am principally indebted, are Heyne, Ruæus, Dr. Trapp, Davidson, and Valpy. But it will be seen, in the course of the work, that I have not been confined to these alone. Wherever I found any thing useful, tending either to elucidate the poet, or to interest the student, I have taken it.
Throughout the whole, it has been a principal object with me, to render the poet intelligible, and to elucidate those passages which are obscure and intricate. To the whole is added, a table of reference to the notes, where any particular article is considered or passage explained.
To you, gentlemen, I present it, with the humble trust that it will be found to answer the purposes for which it was designed, namely, to lighten the labor of the teacher, and to facilitate the acquisition of a knowledge of the poet.
J. G. COOPER
NEW-YORK, Oct. 1827.
THE LIFE OF VIRGIL.
PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS MARO was born at a village called Andes, about three miles from the city of Mantua, on the 15th day of October, in the year of Rome 684, and 70 years before the Christian era. Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus were consuls.
His parents were in humble circumstances. His father cultivated a small farm for the maintenance of his family. His mother, whose name was Maia, was related to Quintilius Varus, who rose to be proconsul of Syria, and afterwards was appointed to the command of the Roman army in Germany.
The first seven years of his life were passed under his paternal roof: after `which he was removed to Cremona, a town situated upon the banks of the Po, and not far from Mantua. While here, he distinguished himself in those studies suited to his age, and gave presage of his future eminence. In this pleasant retreat he passed ten years, till he assumed the Toga virilis, which, among the Romans, was at the age of 17. At an early period he showed himself to be a favorite of the Muses, and manifested a genius that one day was to rival the author of the Iliad. At this time Pompey and Crassus were in their second consulship.
From Cremona he removed to Mediolanum, a town not far distant, and soon after to Naples. Here he devoted his time to the study of the Greek language, of which he soon became master. By this means he was enabled to read the Greek poets in the original, to enter fully into their spirit, and to discover their beauties and excellencies. This proved of essential service to him in his future labors. With a mind thus stored with literature, and a taste formed by the best models, he entered upon the study of medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. These last, more especially, were his pleasure and delight, as he has intimated in several parts of his works.
He studied the Epicurean philosophy, then in much repute, under one Syro, an eminent teacher. He afterwards composed his Sixth Eclogue, with a view to compliment his preceptor, and to express a grateful remembrance of his instructions. Varus was a pupil with him at the same time. Here they contracted a friendship for each other, which continued during the remainder of their lives. Having finished his studies at Naples, which occupied several years, it is said, he visited Rome; but it is more probable that he returned to Mantua, and retired to his paternal inheritance. Here he acquired that prac tical information which so eminently qualified him for writing the Georgics.
A person of Virgil's extensive attainments, and above all, of his poetic genius, could not long remain in obscurity. His fame reached the ears of Pollio, who was no less distinguished for his love of literature, and of the muse, than for