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SECOND BOOK OF WORKS AND DAYS.
Ver. 1. I SHALL first observe that the poet very judiciously begins his instructions with a general direction when to sow and to reap; which rule is contained in the two first lines, but lengthened in the translation into seven. This first main precept is ' to reap when the Pleïades rise, and to plough when they set.'
After this he informs his countrymen in their several duties at home and in the fields. For the poetical and allegorical meaning of the Pleïades, I shall use the words of the scholiast on this passage.
Pleïone bore to Atlas seven daughters; the names of which we find in the Phænomena of Aratus. Alcyone, Merope, Celano, Electre, Sterope, Taygete, and Maia; but six of which, says he, are seen. These being pursued by Orion, who was in love with them, were changed into doves, and afterwards placed by Jupiter in the Zodiac. Thus much for the fabulous. By Atlas, who is said to support the heavens on his shoulders, is meant the pole, which divides and determinates the hemispheres; of whom the Pleiades, or seven stars, and all other stars, are said to be born; because, after the separation of the hemispheres, they appeared. The rising of the Pleiades is from the 9th of May to the 23d of June; the setting of them from the 8th of October to the 9th of December. Tzetz. What our author means by their rising and setting, I have endeavoured to explain in my translation,
Ver. 8. This is (says Tzetzes) partly in April and partly in May; which is occasioned by the vicinity of the sun to the Pleïades at that time. In April he passes through Aries, and in May through Taurus; in the middle of which sign these stars are placed. Some, contrary to Tzetzes, date the rising of these from the beginning of June; to which month, quite through May, say they, the sun passes through Taurus and Gemini.
Ver. 22. It is evident from these and other lines, that though Perses had defrauded his brother of his right, he was soon reduced to want his assistance. It may not be impertinent here to observe, that Hesiod, in several of his moral precepts, had his eye on the present circumstances of his brother; as in the first book, ver. 431, speaking of the wicked,
like a dream his ill got riches fly.
Ver. 59. The wood that is felled at this time of the year may be preserved imputrid; the moisture having been dried away by the heat of the weather, which renders it firm and durable; but if felled with the moisture in the trunk or bole, it rots. Tzetz.
Ver. 60. Some think this was for the same use as a mill: if so, an argument may be brought, from the invention of mills, for the antiquity of Hesiod, who does not mention one in any of his writings.
Ver. 76. On the ploughs here mentioned, auloyvov xaι wyxlov, Grævius has a learned note, from the scholiast of Apollonius Rhodius; the first he and other commentators interpret a plough made of a wood that inclines by nature to a plough-tail: says one, aratrum quod habet dentale solidum et adnatum, non affixum. Tzetzes takes no notice of this passage. See the View.
Ver. 94. The crane is a very fearful and tender bird, and soon sensible of cold and heat, and, through the weight of its body, easily feels the quality of the
upper air, while flying; which occasions her screaming in cold weather, lest she should fall. Tzetz.
Ver. 114. Hesiod keeps up an air of piety quite through his poem, which, as Mr. Addison observes in his Essay on the Georgic, should be always maintained Tzetzes tells us, Ζευς χθόνιος is Bacchus; and the reason for his being joined with Ceres, is because they were in Egypt together, where they instructed men in the art of tillage and planting. It is not unreasonable to iamgine the poet should invoke Bacchus and Ceres, who are the two deities which preside over the harvest and the vintage, two great subjects of this book: but the learned Grævius has put it out of dispute that it is Pluto. Zeus xlovios, says he, is the 'infernal Jupiter,' by xlovia the Greeks meaned xalaxtovia, what is under ground.' This he illustrates by many authorities, and proves XovIOL Eol to be 'infernal gods.' We find many inscriptions, continues he, ΧΘΟΝΙΟΙΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ, in other places θεοις καταχθονίοις. We see in ancient monuments χθονιος Ερμης ‘infernal Mercury;” because he drives the souls of the departed to the shades below. Eschylus calls Pluto Ζευς κεκμηκότων, 6 the Jupiter of the dead;' and Hesiod, likewise, in his Theogony, styles him Jeos Xovios; and the Furies are called by Euripides, lovial Sea infernal goddesses.' Now let us examine why Pluto is invoked by the husbandmen; he was believed to be author of all the riches which come out of the earth. This we have in a hymn to Pluto ascribed to Orpheus:
Πλετοδοτων γενεην βροτεην καρποις ενιαυτων.
'The giver of riches to human race in annual fruits.' and Cicero, de Natura Deorum, thus accounts for it, quod recidant omnia in terras, et oriuntur é terris, 'because all things must be reduced to, and arise from, the earth.' Thus far Grævius; and Valla, in
his translation, has took it in the same sense: Plu
tonem, in primis, venerare.
Ver. 128. Ει τελος αυτος οπιθεν Ολύμπιος εθλον oralo, is one line in the original; the construction of which is, if Heaven shall afterwards grant you a good end.' The natural interpretation of which is, that proper pains may be taken for the tillage; but if an unlucky season should happen, the labour of the husbandman is frustrated.
Ver. 137. After the poet has taught his countrymen what seasons to plough and sow in, he teaches them what to avoid; which are all the days in the winter tropic, or what the Latins call solstice. From the setting of Sagitta, and the rising of Equus, to the rising of the Pleïades, which is from the eighth degree of Aries to the seventh of Cancer, the vernal equinox begins and ends. From the rising of the Pleïades, which is from the eighth degree of Cancer, to the rising of Arcturus and Capricorn, is the summer solstice, of one hundred and twenty-four days. From the rising of Arcturus and Capricorn, to the setting of the Pleiades and Orion, is the autumn equinox, of fifty-six days. From the setting of the Pleiades and Orion, to the setting of Sagitta, and the rising of Equus, is the winter solstice of a hundred days. Tzetz.
Ver. 164. Grævius changes the common Latin translation of this passage, Æneam sedem, into officinam ærariam, or ferrariam; which is apparently right to all who understand the author. These forges, with the exal, were places always open to poor people, where they used to sleep. Proclus, in his remarks on this verse, says, 6 at one time in Athens were three hundred and sixty of these public places.' Θωκος is the same with δομος; in this sense our poet uses it in another place: Φευγειν δε oxiɛpas Swнas, 'fly the open houses,' or shady
places:' hence Swxay signifies to loiter, or gossip in any place;' and hence wxɛi, xabŋlai, and oμidei, become synonymous. Dicæarchus gives this character of the Athenians: A people,' says he, 'much inclined to vain prating; a lurking, sycophantic crew, very inquisitive after the affairs of other people.' Thus much from Grævius. These places, in one sense, are not unlike the tonstrina, or 'barbers' shops' of the Romans, where all the idle people assembled; which were once remarkable, and are now, in several places among us, for being the rendezvous of idle folks. In this sense, Frisius seems to take this passage: fabrorum vitato focos, nugasque calentes, &c. This same custom of loitering and gossiping at a barber's shop, was notorious too at Athens, as we may learn from the Plutus of Aristophanes.
Και τοι λογος γ' ην νη, τ' Ηρακλέα, πολυς
'By Hercules, I would not believe it, if it was the common talk among the idle fellows in the barbers' shops.' [The last part of this note, from Aristophanes, by Mr. Theobald.]
Ver. 175. Here begins a lively and poetical description. The coming of the north wind, the effect it has on the land, water, woods, man, and beast, is naturally and beautifully painted. The incidents of the sheep, and the virgin, are ridiculed by Mr. Addison, in his‘Essay on the Georgic,' as mean. I must beg leave to dissent from that great writer. The representation of their comfortable condition serves to enliven the picture of the distress of the other creatures, who are more exposed to the inclemency of the weather. All this is carried on with great judgment: the poet goes not out of the country for images; he tells us not of the havoc that is made in towns by