Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sage, in all that Poet's Works, which has more puzzled and gravelled the Criticks, and in which they have been more mistaken, more plainly lost their Way, and overshot the Mark, than this very Place before us. But what is there that Men will not do to serve an Hypothesis ? What Pains will not the Criticks take to maintain a Notion they have received at School, imbibed in their tender Years, and which therefore they are resolved to stick to, and unwilling ever to part with ? as * Horace has judiciously observed,

Turpe putant, &c.
Quæ imberbes didicere senes perdenda fateri.

For this the Names of Provinces shall be changed ; Countries shall be removed from their proper and natural Situation, Places shall be brought to meet which are at the greatest Distance from each other ; and, lastly, for this, for the defending a wrong Notion, because it is an old one, Virgil, who, in point of Licence, is perhaps the most cautious and modest of all the ancient Poets, shall be charged with a very bold Licence ; shall be thought ignorant of one of the most common Points in Geography, or wilfully to have violated and transgressed it. The Notion which Criticks have labour'd to maintain is, that the Poet, in this place, spoke of the two famous Battles, that of Pharsalia between Cesar and Pompey, and that of Philippi between Augustus on the one Side, and Brutus and Cassius on the other.

The first Commentator I shall take notice of is Servius, or rather the Compiler of the Notes that go under his Name, who seems to have been the most unhappy of all in his Remarks upon this place, and to have made no less than three pretty great Mistakes in Geography : For, it, he says, Philippi is a Town in Theffaly, near which first Cefar and Pompey, then Augustus * and Brutus, fought ; which is certainly wrong, since Pharsalia in Thesaly was at least two hundred and forty Miles from Philippi, which lay on the Borders of Macedonia. 2dly, He affirms, that Emathia was the fame as Thessaly, so called from its King Emathius. But that Emathia was either ThefSaly, or indeed any part of it, is what none of the Ancients have ever said, as a learned Man observes but, on the contrary, they have all affirm'd it to be Macedonia, or a Province of it. Lastly, That Commentator asserts, that Hemus is a Mountain in ThesSaly; whereas, according to Mela, and other Geographers, it is a Mountain that lies in the Confines of Thrace and Macedonia ; and by consequence is at a great Distance from Thessaly, or any part of it. I do not take notice of these Mistakes with a Design to reflect upon Servius, who certainly was a very learned as well as a very ancient Commentator, but only upon the Collector and Compiler of his Works; since (as I have observed in another Place) 'tis agreed by the Learned, that the genuine Commentaries of that Writer are loft, and that what we have remaining of his Writings upon Virgil consist only of short Extracts out of him, and those done without Judgment, and full of Errors and Mistakes.

* Hor. Ep. 1. 2. ep. 2. ver, 8;.

then

II. Some Commentators have found a Town in Thessaly called 7 bebes, which was also named Philippi, which they think may have been the Scene and Field of those two famous Actions that determined the Empire of the World. But this is against the Stream and Testimony of all the Writers of that Age, who agree in placing this last Battle between Augustus and Brutus at Philippi upon the Borders of Macedonia.

* Servius is by no means exact, when he speaks of this last Action ; for he faith Philippi was the Place, Ubi Cæjur & Bru

tus cum Casio dimicaverit.Which is fo loosely and ambiguously express’d, as may lead an ignorant and unwary Reader into a Mikake, and make him believe that this Battle was fought between Augustus and Brutus on the one side, and Cofius on the other.

B 2

III. Others

III. Others again are willing to give a larger Extent to the Word Ematbia, so as to make it contain Pharsalia, Macedonia, Philippi, and Mount Hæmus, which they say made up the Kingdom of Macedonia possess’d by Alexander and his Successors. This, no doubt, may be allowed to be the Meaning of the Word Emathia ; and thus I believe it is taken by Lucan, who begins his Poem with singing the Battles fought in Emathian * Plains. But this Extent of the Word cannot be admitted here, because Virgil does not mention Emathia in general as Lucan, but specifies the very Places of Hemus and Philippi, which being at so great a Distance from Thessaly, can have nothing to do with it here, as the learned Ruæus has justly observed. This judicious Editor of the Delphin Virgil has taken abundance of Pains to clear up the Passage before us, and to reconcile it with the Hypothesis of these two famous Battles; but I cannot think he has done it with any great Success. In the second Verse, Romanas acies iterum videre Philippi, he would have iterum refer, not to Philippi, but to the Romanas acies. Then he faith the Sense will be, that Philippi saw the Roman Armies fight twice, first at Pharsalia, and a second time in their own Plains, in that famous Action between Brutus and Augustus; and, to account for the Word bis in the next Verse, he faith it only relates to Emathia, and not at all to Hæmi campos, tho' the Conjunction Copulative and be directly between them ; and he thinks the Şense will be, that Emathia was water'd with Roman Blood, but especially Mount Hæmus. I have set down his own Words of at the Bottom of the Page, and this he is pleased to call sensus planissimus. How plain and clear this Sense is, and how it removes the Difficulties I proposed, I will not pretend to determine, but rather chuse to leave it to your better Judgment.

*

[ocr errors]

Bella

per

Emathios plusquam civilia campos. Lucan. l. 1. v. 1. of Quafi dicat bis fanguine Romano rigata fuit Emathia, fed præsertim semel Hæmus mons. Ruæus.

IV. And

IV. And, lastly, Emmenesius, the accurate Editor of the Variorum Notes, does not go about to defend Virgil, but plainly gives up the Cause in these Words." It is well known (faith he) that the “ Poets are not very exact and accurate in Geogra

phy and Situation of Places, and often commit

pretty great Errors and Mistakes.” Therefore, he thinks, Allowance ought to be made to those Poets; so likewise to Florus, who has also asserted, that the two famous Battles of Pharsalia and Philippi were fought on the same Spot of Ground.

As for the last of these, * I can by no means think he ought to be excused; for whatever Liberties Poets may claim, and we may grant them, yet such as these are utterly unworthy of an Historian. He, of all Men, must be modest and correct, he must take care, of all things, to be exact in Chronology and Geography, the two Eyes and Directors of History. But yet I cannot think so hard of Virgil, who, in other Cafes, is so careful and exact ; nor believe that he really took this Liberty that is laid to his Charge, especially in the Georgicks, a Book allow'd by learned Men to be the most correct and finish'd of any of his Works. I cannot therefore imagine that he would have indulg’d himfelf in a Licence of this kind, especially speaking of two Actions which had so lately happend in the Roman Empire, the first not above thirty, the last not above twenty-four Years before his Death. I am sure we should think a Poet in our Days very careless and unexact, and an Historian much more fo, that should tell us that the two famous Battles of Blenheim and Ramellies were fought by the Duke of Marlborough upon the fame Spot of Ground. I should therefore be glad if I could set the Matter in another Light, and clear and vindicate Virgil in this Particular. To give you then my Thoughts, Sir, upon this Head, I cannot think the Poet had in his Eye the two famous Battles I have already named ; * Florus.

I ra

B 3

I rather believe, that he had Regard to the two A&tions that passed between the Romans in the Plains of Philippi, in the first of which Brutus got the better ; but Cafius, who thought all was loft, destroy'd himself thrcugh Despair. In the other Battle fought there, at some distance of Time (Ruæus thinks it was about a Month after) Brutus was defeated by Augustus; and, to avoid falling into the Hands of his Enemies, desired his Friends to take away his Life. For this I have the Authority of the best Writers of those Times. I shall mention but two of them here, who, I hope, you will think make the Matter clear and plain. The first is Suetonius, who, tho' he is very short in the military Affairs of Augustus, yet expresly speaks of two separate Battles, and faith that in the first that Emperor was worsted, drove out of his Camp, and had much ado to reach the Wing commanded by Antony. It may, perhaps, be faid this Passage of Suetonius is not full and express; and that the Duplici Prælio in this place may not imply two distinct Battles, but only a double Charge, or two Attacks in one and the fame Action. But the other Voucher I have to produce cannot be fo eluded, comes home to the Point, and sets the Matter beyond Dispute. The Writer I mean is Velleius Paterculus, who expresly mentions two distinct Batiles fought at two different Times, in the first of which Cassius was defeated ; and, thinking that Brutus was fo too, was drove to Despair, and ordered his Servant to lay violent Hands upon him : and then he adds, that + fome Days after Brutus

encoun* Inità cum Antonio & Lepido societate, Philippense quoque Bellum, quamquam invalidus atque æger, Duplici Prælio transegit, quorum priore Caftris exutus vix ad Antonii cornu fugâ evaferat,

Sueton. in Augufto. c. 13. Sub. Init. † Cæsar & Antonius apud urbem Philippos cum Marco Bruto Callioque acie concurrerunt. Cornu, cui Brutus præerat, impulsis Hoftibus, Caftra Cæsaris cepit.—Id autem, in quo Caffius fuerat, fugatum ac malè multatum in altiora fe receperat loca. Tam Cassius, ex suâ Fortunâ eventum Collegæ existimans, cum dimisisset evoca cum, jufiiffetque nunciare Gbi quæ effet multitudo ac vis hominum

qua

« AnteriorContinuar »