Sivut kuvina
PDF

had a, secret meaning in each of these superstitious precepts, and that they arc not to betook literally, but a* so many allegories. In answer to them, we may as well imagine all the Talmud and Levitical laws to be the lame. They might as well have said, that the poet would not have us piss towards the fun for fcai w: should hurt our eyes. I know not whether these and the following precepts favour most of the age os the poet, or of the puet's old age.

Ver. 49 i. This doubtless is a part of the super

stition ns the age, though the Scholiast would give us a physical reason for abstinence at that time; which is, lest the melancholy of the mind should affect the fn it of the enjoyment. Indeed, the next lines seem to savour this conjecture; and perhaps the poet endeavoured, while he was laying down a religious precept, to strengthen it by philosophy.

Ver. 530. These verses are rejected by Plutarch, whose authority Proclus makes ulc of, as not of our poet. Cuietui.

BOOK III *

THE ARGUMENT.

The poet here distinguishes holidays from others, and what are propitious and what not, for Jifserent works ■ and concludes with a short recommendation of religion and morality.

i Our servants to a just observance train
Of days as Heav'n and human rire» ordain;
Great Jove with wisdom o'er the year presides,
Directs the seasons, and the moments guides.

Of eVry niont! , the most propitious day, ~)
The thirtieth, choose your labours to survey; >
And the due wa^ti to your servants pay. j
The fust of tv'ty moon, we fa red deem.
Alike the fourth throughout the year esteem;
And in the seventh Apollo we adore, IO
In which the golden god Latona bore;
Two days succeeding these extend your cares,
Uninterrupted in your own affairs;
■ Nor in the next two days, but one, d(. lay
The work in hand, the bus'nefs of the day,
Of which th* eleventh we propitious hold
To reap the corn, the twelfth to sheer the fold;
And then behold, with her industrious tram,
The ant, wife reptile, gathtr in the grain;
Then you may ieu suspended in the air, lt>
The careful spider his domain prepare;
And while the artist spins the cobweb dome,
The natron cheerful plic- the loom ac home.
Forget not in the thirteenth to refrain
From sowing, lest your work mould prove in vain,
Though then the gram may find a barren loii,
The day is gratclul to the planter's toil.

* The precepts laid down in this icsi, concerning she difference ofdays, from the motion of the moon seem to be founded partly on nature, and partly on the superstition of the times in •which they were writ. 'ths tvbole is but a furt of n almanack in vets, and afford* little room for poetry Our author, 1 think, hat jumbled hit days too negligently together; which confupon^ Valia, in bis translations has prevented, by Tanging the days in propersuccession; a liberty 1 was fearful to take, as a translator, because almost every line must have been transposedft am the original deposition: 1 have therefore, at the end of the notes, drawn a table of days in their successive order%

Not so the sixteenth to the planter's care;
A day unlucky to the new-born fair,
Alike unhappy to the marry'd then; 3»
A day propitn us to the birth of men:
The sixth, the fame both to the man and maid;
Then secret vows are made, and nymphs betray'd;
The fair by loothing words are captives led;
The pomp's tale is told, detraction spread;
The kid of castrate, and the ram, we hold
Propitious now; alike to pen the fold.
Geld in th- eighth the goat, and lowing steer;
Nor in the twelfth to geld the mule-colt fear.
I" he offspring male born in the twenty'th prize, 40
1 fin a great day, he (hall be early wife.
Happy the man-child in the tenth day born;
Happy the virgin in the fourteenth morn;
Vhen train the mule obedient to your hand,
\nd teach tht snarling cur his lord's command;
t h<n makethi bleating stocks their mister know.
And be.id the horned oxen to the plough.
What t:i the 'wenty-f urth you do beware;
A..d the f'Ut h day requires an equal care;
I'hcD, then, l e circumspect in all your ways, 53
Wees, complicated woes, attend the days.
WlKn, refolnre to change a single life.
You wed, on he fourth day lead horn- yo.ir wife;
But sir!t observe the feat her'd race that fly,
Remarking well the hapry ang <ry.
The stfths o! ev'ry month your care require,
Days full of trouble, and afflictions dire:
For then the furies take thtir round 'tin said,
And heap their vengeance on the perjur'd head.
In the scv'ntertith prepare the level floor; 6<J
And then ol Ctrcs thresh the sacred store;
In the same day, and when the timber's good,
fell, for the bed-poll and the ship,the wood.
The v-fsel, suffering by the sea and air,
Survey all o'er, and in the fourth repair.
In the nineteenth *tis better to delay,
Till afternoon, the bus'nefs of the day.

ITaiaterrupteJ in the ninth put sue
The vrork in hand, a day propitious through;
Thearselees the planters prosp'rous then employ;
To either sex. in birth, a day of joy; 71

THe twenty-ninth is best, observe the rule,

■Rj»owr bat to few, to yoke the ox and mule;

1 r» proper then to yoke the flying steed;

Bat (ew,tiu! these wholesome truth* can read;

Thea yoa any fill 'he cask, nor fill in vain;

Ties drewtbe swift ship to the sable main.

To pierce the cask till the fourteenth delay,
Osatfotcu (used next the twenty'th day;
Alter the twenty'th day sew of the rest 8b

We Laid deem, os that the morn is best.

NOTES ON THE THIRD BOOK OF THE WORKS AND DAYS. OBSERVATIONS ON THE ANCIENT GREEK MONTH.

[ocr errors]

These are the days of which th1 observance caa Bring great advantage) to the race-of man; The rest unnam'd indiff rent pass away, And nought important marks the vulgar day: .Some one commend, and some another praise, But most by guess, for sew are wise in days; One cruel as a stepmother we find, And one as an indulgent mother kind.

O happy mortal V happy he, and bless'd, 99 Whose wisdom here it by his acts confess'd; Who lives all blameless to immortal eyes, Who prudently consults the auguries, Nor by transgression works his neighbour pain, Nor ever gives him reason to complain.

of opinion that the ant is a creature capable of distinction from a fense cf the winds, and the influence of the moon: he likewise tell- ut, from Pliny, that the ant J employ themselves all the time of the full of the moon, and cease at the change.

Ver. 14. Melancthon and It,Cms tell us it is wrong to sow at this time of the lunar month, because of the excessive moisture, which is hurtful to the corn-seed, aid advantageous to plants just planted.

Ver. 54. I translate it," the seather'd race that fly," to distinguish what kind of augury the poet means. Tzetzes tell* us, two crows, the halcyon, or king's-sifher,thedark-col..urcd hern, a single turtle, and a swallow, &c. are inauspicious , the peacock, and such birds as do no mischief, auspicious. I suppose he does not place the turtle as one of the mischievous kind, but would have the misfortune be in seeing but one.

Ver. 60. He advises to thresh the corn at the time of the full mi.on, because the air is drier than at other times; and the corn that is sacked, or put up in vessels, while dry, will keep the longer; but if the grain is moist, it will soon grow mouldy and useless.

In the preceding book, the poet tells us the proper month to fell wood in, and in this, the proper day of the m mh. MrlmBbtn andFri/tiu.

Ver. 91. It is worth observing, that the poet begins and ends his poem with piety towards the gods; the only way to make ourselves acceptable to whom, fays he, is by adhering to religion; and, to use the phrase of Scripture, by " eschewing evil."

I Believe it will be necessary, for the better understanding the fallowing table, to set in a clear light the ancient Greek month, as we may reasonably conclude it stood in the days of Hesiod, confining ourselves to the last book of his Works and Days.

The poet makes the month contain thirty days, which thirty days he divides into three parts: the first he calls ira/un, or iruma pmot, in the genitive cafe, because of some other word which is commonly joined requiring it to be of that cafe; she root of which, in/u or iru, signifies I err A, 1 set up, I settle. &c. and Henry Stephens interprets the words Jiawiv fu*ott intvnte mats', the entrance of the month, in which fense the poet uses them; which entrance is the first decade, or first ten days. The second he calls ftitw r?[, which is from pnrf», 1 am in the midst, meaning the middle decade of the month. The third part he calls ffonrif, from {t.tu, which is from or I waste away, meaning the decline, or last decade of the month. Sometimes these words are used in the nominative case.

Before I leave these remarks I shall show the manner os expression of one day in each decade,

from the last book os our poet, which will give a clear idea of all.

Ver. i$.

"The middle sixth is unprofitable to plants." That is the sixth day of the middle decade.

niiQv>.x\t> an 3yu.-j T<f!<>x2' ctX'vSm (fi.rotlte S' tfaMitn TS.

Ver. 33.

"Keep in your mind to fhun[the fourth of the entrance and end" of the month. That is the fourth of the entrance or first decade, and the fourth of the end or last decade.

It is proper to observe, that those days which are blanks, are by our poet called indifferent days, days of no importance, either good or bad. It is likewise remarkable, that he makes some days both holidays and working days, as the fourth, fourteenth, and twentieth; but, to clear this, Le Clerc tells us, from our learned countryman, Selden, that «fo» if**;, though literally a holiday, does not always signify a festival, but often a day propitious to us in our undertakings.

A TABLE OF THE ANCIENT GREEK MONTH.

Al IN THE LAST BOOK Or THE WORSE AND DAYS Or HESIOD.

DECADE I.

i. Day of Decade 1. Holiday.

a.

J

4. Holiday. Propitious for marriage, and for

repairing (hips. A day of troubles, j. In which the furies take their round.

6. Unhappy for the birth of women. Propitious for the birth of men, for gelding the kid and the ram, and for penning the sheep.

7. The birth-day of Apollo. A holiday.

8. Geld the goat and the steer.

9. Propitious quite through. Happy for the birth of both sexes. A day to plant in.

10. Propitious to the birth of men.

DECADE II.

I. Day of Decade II, or nth of the month. To reap.

». For women to ply the loom, for the men to sheer the sheep, and geld the mule.

3. A day to plant in, and not to sow.

4. Propitious for the birth of women. Break the mule and the ox. Teach your dog and your sheep to know you. Pierce the cask. A holiday.

6. A day unlucky for the marriage, and birth of women. Propitious for the birth of men, and to plant.

7. Threlh the com, and fell the wood. 8.

9. Luckiest in the afternoon. 10. Happy for the birth of men. Most propitious in the morning. A holiday.

DECADE III.

1. Day of Decade III- or »lst of the month.

t.

3

4

5

6.

7> 8.

9. Yoke the 01, the mule, and the horse. Fill

the vessels. Launch the ship. 10. Look over the business of the whole month and pay the servants their wages.

[ocr errors]

A VIEW OF THE WORKS AND DAYS.

Stcr. I. Tit Ixlral*amn.

Kf '. ..1

aw we have gone through the Works and D»ts i* "Bay possibly contribute in sonic degree to l>t profit aed deIi£ht*of the reader, to take a view of the poem t» we have it delivered do.vn to us. I *u.~ £r3t coasi Jer it as an ancient piece, and, in thai light, cater into the merit aud esteem that ic rcaioai'iiy obtained among-the ancients: the authors Wm (save been lavish in their commendations «f i: are many; the greatest of the Roman writers ic pT*sc, Cicero, has more than once expressed his K?m ration far the system of morality contained ic it; and the defen-iice the greatest Latin poet has paid to it, I (hall (how in my comparison of the Works and Day* with the Latin Georgic; hor if the encomium paid by Ovid to our poet to be Baited over.

Vive et Ascrcetta, dam mustis uva tumebit,
Doaa cadet incuxva saJce resecla Ceres.

"W-Ar swelling clusters (hall the vintage stain,
A-.i l_:raw'.th rich crops (hall bless the plain,
TV ALraa bard (hall in his verse remain.

Elcg. 15. Bonk I.

And Jaiia Martyr*, one of the most learned ticker* ia the Christian church, extols the Works and Days of our poet, while he expresses his dislike to the Thcogony.

Sect. 1. Of tie first b<xi. The reason why our poet addresses to Pcrses, J haw. ra-Twed in my notes: while-he directs himfe'i to r-» brother, be instructi his countrymen in al that i« useful to know for the regulating their cv-isA, both in the business of agriculture, aod ca tr*eir behaviour to each other. He gives us an servant of the first ages, according to the ogBin received notion among the Gentiles. Tbz ftory of Pandora has all the embellishments c< poetry which we can find in Ovid, with a clearer moral than it generally in the fables of that pore His system of morality is calculated fo perfectly for the good of society, that there is iearer'y any precept omitted that could he properly tr-icjfct of 00 that occasion. There is not one of tx? tra commandments of Moses, which relates to aar iron I duty to each other, that is not ftrocrly recommended by our poet; nor is it ear areb, he thinks, to be observant of what the arii government would oblige you to; but to Wwk yoarielf a good man, you must have such « rraea as Do human laws require of you, as those at leaspcrasce, generosity, &c. These rules are laid

[ocr errors]

down in a most proper manner to captivate the reader; here the beauties of poetry and the force of reason combiie to make him in love with moralicy The poet tells us what effect we are reasonably to expect from such virtues and vices as he mentions; which doctrines are not always to be taken in a positive fense. Is we should say a continuance of intemperance in drinking, and of our commerce with women, would carry us early to the grave, it is morally true, according to the natural course of things; but a man of a strongand uncommon conlcitution.may wanton through. an age of pleasure, and so be an exception to this rule, yet not contradict the moral truth of it. Archbishop Tillo'son has judiciously told us in what fense we are to take all doctiinesof morality ; " Aristotle,'* fays that great divine, " observ"ed lrng since, that moral and proverbial sayings "arc understood to be true gc-ierally, and fur the "most part; aud that is all the truth that is to be "expected ill them ; as when Solomon fays, Train "up a ihild ill the way wherein he ihail go, and "when he is old he will not depart from it. Thi» '* is not to be taken, as if no child that is piously "educated, did ever miscarry afterwards, but that "the good education of children is the best way to '• make jjood nieu."

Sect. J. Of tic stand hoi, lsV.

The second book, which comes next under cur view, will appear with more dignity when we consider in what esteem the art of agriculture was KtId in those days in which it was writ: the Georgic did not then concern the ordinary and middling fort of people only, hut our poet writ for the instruction of princes likewise, who thought it no disgrace to till the ground which they perhaps had conquered. Homer make* Laertes not only plant, but dung his own lands; the best employment he could find for his health, and consolation, in the . absence of his son. The latter part of this book, together with all the third, though too mean tor poetry, are not unjustifiable in our author. Had he made those religious and superstitious precepts ouc eulire subject os verse, it would have been a ridiculous fancy, but,a* they are only a part, and the smallest part, of a regular poem, they are introduces! with a laudable intent. After the poet had I:ii<! don n proper rules for morality,hrfbaiidry, navigation, ar, J the vintage, he knew that.i-i.gioa towards the g* ds, and a due observ.ince of Wha't was held sjered in his age, were yet wanted t*o complete the work. These were subjects, he was icn&ble, incapable of the embdliinmcuu •£

poetry: but as they were necessary to his purpose, he would not omit them. Poetry was not then designed as the empty amusement only of an idle hour, consisting of wanton thoughts, or long and tedious descriptions of nothing, but, by the force of harmony and good fense, to purge the mind of its dregs, to give it a great and virtuous turn of thinking: in short, verse was then but the lure to what was useful; which indeed has been, aud ever will be, the end pursued by all good poets; with this view, Hesiod seems to have writ, and must be allowed, by all true judges, to have wonderfully succeeded in the age in which he rose.

This advantage more arises to us from the Writings of so old an author: we are pleased with those monuments of antiquity, such parts of the ancient Grecian history, as we find in them.

Sect. 4. A comparison betwixt HifioJ and Virgil, IS**.

I shall now endeavour to show how far Virgil may properly be said to imitate our poet in his Georgic, and to point out some of those passages in which he has either paraphrased, or literally translated, from the Works and Days. It is plain he wa« a sincere admirer of our poet, and of this poem in particular, of which he twice makes honourable mention, and where it could be only to express the veneration that he bore to the author. The first is in his third pastoral. In medio duo signa, Conon, et qois suit alter, Descripsit, radio, totum qui gentibus orbem, Tempera qux messor, que curvui arator, haberet? Two sigures on the sides emboss'd appear, Conon, and what's his name who made

sphere, And show'd the seasons of the sliding year

Dryuen

Notwithstanding the commentators have all disputed whom this interrogation should mean, I am convinced that Virgil had none but Hesiod in his eye. In the next passage I propose to quote the greatest honour that was ever paid by one poet to another is paid to ours. Virgil, in his sixth pastoral, makes Silenui, among other things, relate how Gallus was conducted by a muse to Helicon, where Apollo, and all the muses arose to welcome him; and Linui, approaching him, addressed him in this manner:

[ocr errors]

hos tibi dant calamos, en, occipe, mufx,

Ascrxa quos ante Seni; quibus illc solebat
Cantaudu rigidat deduccre montibus omen.
Receive this presmr, by the muses made,
The pipe on which th" Astnan pastor play'd;
With which, of old, he charm'd the savage train.
And call'd the mountain ashes to the plain.

D«TDE!».

The greatest compliment which Virgil thought lie could pay his friend and patron, Gallus, was, after all that pompons introductim to the choir of Apollo, to make the muses peeseut him, from the Aanda of Linus, with the pipe, or calomos, Afitw*

ami ante fen!, which they had formerly presented to Hesiod; which part of the compliment to our poet, Dryden has omitted in his translation.

To return to the Georgic. Virgil can be said to imitate Hesiod in his first and second books only: in the first is scarcely any thing relative to the Georgic itself, the hint of which is not taken from the Works and Days; nay more, in some places, whole lines are paraphrased, and some literally translated. It must indeed be acknowledged, that the Latin poet has sometimes explained, in his translation, what was difficult in the Greek, as where our poet gives directions for two ploughs:

beta $1 St'Jui aotreo: vnurMpiMf x-ara $tMn
Aurayutt xtti xitx-rov.

by avreytm he means that which grows naturally into the shape of a plough, and by ■«»> that made by art. Virgil, in his advice to have two ploughs always at hand, has this explanation of xvrtyun:

Continuo in sylvis magna vi slexa dom'.tur In burini, et cuivi sormam accipit ulmus aratxi.

Gconc. I.

Young elms, with early force, in copses bow,
Fit for the figure of the crooked plough.

Damn*. Thus we find him imitating the Greek poet in the most minute precepts. Hesiod gives directions for making a plough; Virgil does the fame. Even that which has been the subject of ridicule to many critics, viz. " plough and sow naked," is translated in the Georgic; n\Jui arajere nudui. Before I proceed any farther, I shall endeavour to obviate the objection which has been frequently made against this precept. Hesiod means to insinuate, that ploughing and sowing are labours which require much industry and application; and he had doubtless this physical reason for his advice, that where snch toil ii required it is unhealthfoj, as well as impossible, to go through with the fame quantity of clothes as in works of les» fatigue. Virgil doubtless saw this reason, or one of equal furce, in this rule, or he would not have translated it. In short, we may find him a strict follower of our poet in most of the precepts of husbandry in the Works and Days. I shall give but one instance more, and that in liia superstitious observance of days:

quintum fugas; pallidus Orcus,

Eumcnidesque sate, &c.

[blocks in formation]
« EdellinenJatka »