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Virgil's magic, as the keynote of the music which he draws out of life, the expression of "the tears of things," lacrimae rerum. In those half-lines of his, of which Newman wrote with a delicacy of appreciation that is like Virgil's own, this is the accent which recurs constantly. It is "the voice of Nature herself," but a human voice which reaches above and beyond Nature. It is present like a haunting music, playing round and interpreting the transitoriness, the brief sweetness of life breve et inreparabile tempus; veluti cum flos succisus aratro; the shadowiness of fame — si qua est ea gloria; longa oblivia potant; the weight of gigantic superhuman forces - stat sua cuique dies; dis aliter visum; ineluctabile fatum; the longing for rest — nos alias hinc ad lacrimas; vobis parta quies; felix morte tua neque in hunc servata dolorem; the sorrow of departing and the keener grief over the departed - dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos; fleti ad superos belloque caduci; salve aeternum mihi aeternumque vale; the greatness of the human soul-sancta ad vos anima descendam; vixi et quem dederat cursum Fortuna peregi, et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago; the flickering light of an inextinguish
able hope-ripae ulterioris amore; aut videt aut vidisse putat; coniunx ubi pristinus illi respondet curis aequatque Sychaeus amorem. In no other poetry are the chords of human sympathy so delicately touched, its tones so subtly interfused. In none is there so deep a sense of the beauty and sorrow of life, of keen remembrance and shadowy hope, and, enfolding all, of infinite pity.
X. THE ITALO-ROMAN IDEAL
IRGIL owed his immediate acceptance
as the prince of Latin poets, and still owes his place among the supreme poets of the world, not merely to his insight into the life of man and nature, his majesty and tenderness, and the melodious perfection of his verse. Over and above all these, he was the interpreter, we may even call him the creator, of a great national ideal. That ideal was at once political, social and religious. The supremacy of Rome took in his hands the aspect of an ordinance of Providence, towards which all previous history had been leading up under divine guidance. It meant the establishment of an empire to which no limit of time or space was set, and in which the human race should find ordered peace, settled government, material prosperity, the reign of law and the commonwealth of freedom. His ego nec metas rerum nec tempora pono, such is the decree of the Lord of Heaven. The mission of "the Roman," of the Roman race envisaged
as a single undying personality, is not only regere imperio populos, but paci imponere morem, to establish peace as the habit and usage of the world. This is to be effected by fusion of Roman strength with Italian piety, by the incorporation or consubstantiation of Rome with Italy.
The canonization of Rome, as a sort of living being, Roma mater, was effected, just at the same time, by the genius of Livy. Beyond that, Livy does not go; and his History has been called a funeral oration delivered, by the most loving and most eloquent of her children, over the grave of the Republic. Virgil's view reached still further, his aim was still higher. Rome was to reincarnate herself, and the Italo-Roman ideal, realized and established, was to be the light and life of the world.
To bring out this all-important point more clearly, some recapitulation is desirable, and we must extend our view over Virgil's whole work from beginning to end. As we have seen, Virgil was born midway in the process of fusion. A few years earlier, there had been a general Italian revolt against Rome. An Italian government, the first in history, had been set up, with the rival capital of Italica. It was an
attempt, such as has been repeatedly and always disastrously made since, to create a unified Italy from which Rome should be excluded. During the time of Virgil's youth, the whole of Italy had been included in the Roman citizenship. But the spiritual union was harder to effect. Neither then, nor through nearly two thousand years thereafter, has it wholly been compassed.
Faintly and uncertainly in the Eclogues, clearly and fully in the Georgics, Virgil has this ideal of an Italian Rome and a Roman Italy before him. Latin was already the universal Italian speech. In the Georgics, the triumphant Roman language, wrought into a new splendour and sweetness, is consecrated to the Praises of Italy. Of set purpose, Virgil uses the terms Italus and Romanus interchangeably. The keynote of the Georgics, repeated and re-emphasized in the Aeneid, is their coalescence. The elect survivor of fallen Troy is sent forth to found a new city and nation in the West. His seven years of wandering are a pilgrimage, a crusade, through which the goal is slowly approached, and in the course of which his mission is gradually revealed to him by prophecies and portents, by divine communica