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is required to separate the dross from the pure metal. Those who would imitate his Doric rusticity; ought to write in Greek: for it is not to be imitated in any other language. We have no dialect peculiar to the country people: for though many words are used, which are known in cities; yet they are various in different counties fome being peeuliar to the East, others to the West, others to the North, and others to the South. A Pastoral therefore, written in any of our rustick dialects, would be almost unintelligible, except in two or three counties: and the phrases of the most rude and stupid of our people, instead of giving an air of innocence and fimplicity to a Poem, disgust the reader by their grofsness and absurdity.
To conclude; whosoever would excel in Paftoral poetry, máy find plenty of ore in the rich mine of Theocritus: but the art of refining and purifying it must be learned from Virgil
HE History of the Lives of most of the famous persons of Antiquity has been so ob
scured by fi&tion, that the very existence of many of them has been rendered doubtful." This is not entirely the case of Virgil; for we know, that there was such a person ; and are at no loss to difcover his age and country. But so many improbable and fabulous stories, have been told concerning him, by the old Grammarians ; that it is very hard, at this distance of time, to distinguish between truth and fallhood. We shall therefore con tent ourselves with relating only what is certain, o probable ; and return the idle and improbable fic
tions to the inventors of them, Year of PUBLIUS VIRGILIUS MARO was bor Rome
at a village called Andes (a), now Petuļa (a la 684.
to be about three miles from Mantua, on the id (C) of fifteenth day of October, in the year of Ron
29114568 ka D Euseb. Chron. Donát. (c) Ουιργίλιος Μάρων του &c.
ητής εγεννήθη τούτου του έ(0) Ray's Observations, &c. sidois 'Oxto@picos. Phlegon a
given rise to a gross mistake of fome later writers ;,
684, when Pompey and Craffus were Consuls (d). Year of It is agreed, that his mother's name was Maia: but Rome there is some dispute about the very name and qua
684. lity of his Father. Donatus, or the writer of Virgil's life under that name, says it was Maro;' and Servius and Probus affirm that it was Virgil. The latter seems to have been in the right; for, 'as Ruaets jártly obferves, if the father's name had been Maro, the son's would have been Publius Maro Virgilius, according to the custom of the Romans, instead of Publius Virgilius Maro. . Probus says he was a countryman; Donatus tells us, that some re port
him to have been a potter; though many are of opinion that he was at first a hired servant of one Magus or Magius, who gave him his daughter as a reward for his industry, and intrusted him with the care of his farm and flocks, and that he increased his small fortune, by buying woods, and managing bees. Ruaeus thinks, and not without reason, that if the daughter's name was. Maia, as all agree, the father's name must have been Maius, and not Ma. gus or Magius. He observes farther, that this corruption of the name of Virgil's grandfather has
that the old man was a Magician, and that he instructed his grandson in magical rites, which seems to be confirmed by the incantations mentioned in the seventh Eclogue. Servius affirms, that Virgil was a citizen of Mantua, which seems very proMajae Mercurium creaftis Idus. (d) OI. CLXXVII. 3. VirAugustis redit Idibus Diana. gilius Maro in pago, qui AnO&obres Maroconfecravit Idus. des dicitur, haud procul a ManIdus saepe colas, et has et illás, tua nascitur, Pompeio et CrafQui magni celebras Maronis lo Confulibus. Eufeb. Chron. Idus.
Thus also most of the GramMart. Lib. XII. Ep. 67. marians.
Year of bable; and indeed, the politeness of his manners, Rome and his intimacy with some of the greatest men of 684.
that jage, even in his younger days seem so intimate, that his birth was not to mean, as it is gene
rally represented (e) 689. When Virgil was five years old, his innmate
friend, and contemporary poet, Horace, was bpra di 691. and-two years afterwards. ($), his great patron Auz 696. gustus. At the age of twelve years, he was sent po
ftudy at Cremona (b), where he couunued till, he put, on his manly gown, which, according to the cuftom of the Romans, was in the seventeenth
Donatus tells us some at the same time. We may igie hories of prodigies attend- conclude from the sudden, and ing the birth of Virgil
. ' His great thriving of the poplar mother, when she was with that the ditch was not a dry child of him, dreamed The was one, and consequently not delivered of a branch of a bay- very commodious lying-ir tree, which no sooner touched chamber. This famous tree, the ground, than it took root, seems, was consecrated by th and grew up into a fair tree, name of Virgil's tree, and the adorned with flowers and fruits. breeding women used to mak One would have thought, that vows under it for their safe de this denoted 'rather, that the livery." child would become a great (f) Ol. CLXXVIII. 4. H. Conqueroś. The grandeur of ratius Flaccus, Satyricus et L this omen feems however to be ricus Poëta, libertino patre V
little diminished; for the nufi nascitur. Eufeb. Chron. next day, as the good woman (g) Natus eft Auguftus, was' trudging along the road Tullio Cicerotie et "Anton with her husband, she was de- Coff, ix. Cal. Octobr., pau livetedi of our Poet'in a ditch. ante folis exuitum. Nastiet The child did not cry, and had Aug. c. 5. 161? fo sweet a countenance, that it (h) Olymp.-CLXXX. was not doubted but he woulu Virgilius Cremonae Itudiis e come to good fortune. A twig ditur. Eufeb. Chron." of a poplar was stuck immedi
Donatus fays, he ftudied ately in the place, which foot Cremona, tilthis feventh ye outgrow all that were planted « Initia aetatis, id eft, uf
(2). Soon after he went to Milan (k), where Year of having Itaid but a short time, he proceeded to Na- Rome ples, as Donatus tells us; but, according to Euse-. 700. bius, to Rome. That;. he Nudied some time at Naples, is affirmed also by Servius : so that we maỹ venture to believe Donatus, that he spent some time there, in the study of Roman and Greek literature, Physick and Mathematicks, before, he went to Rome (1). It is not easy to determine, at what
« ad septimum annum, Cre- must be wrong; I believe the
monae egit.” Jofeph Sca- mistake lies in the Consuls, and liger reads sedecimum instead of that the age is right, being acseptimum; and takes the liberty. cording to the Roman custom. to amend the whole passage Probably he put, on the gown
“Initia aetatis, id eft,' at the completion of his sevena xiii usque ad fedecimum teenth year, which was at the
Cremonae egit, et latter end of 700, and went at " xvii anno virilem togam the beginning of the following « fumpsit.” But, as this Cric year to Milan, which agrees tick adds a xiii, to make Do- with what Eufebius has said. natus agree with Eufebius, and (k) Ol. CLXXXI. 4. Virgin changes septimum into Jedeci- lius, sumta toga, Mediolanum mum, without the authority of tranfgreditur : et polt breve any manufcript; it seems more tempus Romam pergit. Eusebi reasonable to believe that this Chron. passage, in the life of Virgil, Virgilius Cremona Medioafcribed to Donatus, is erro- lanum, et inde paullo poft Neneous, like many others. apolim tranfiit.
(1) Donatus fays this was in (1) Here Donatus tells a heap the seventeenth year of Vir- of most improbable and filly gil's life, when the fame per- stories. Virgil, it seems, hava fons were Consuls, under whoming spent a confiderable time in he was born. This cannot his studies at Cremona, Mipoffibly be true; for Virgil lan, and Naples, and" haying could but enter his fixteenth acquired a considerable know year, about two months before ledge in Phyfick and Philosothe expiration of the second phy, went to Rome, and fet Consulship of Pompey and up for a Horse-doctor, Hegot Craffus. Therefore either the himself recommended to the age of Virgil, or the Confuls master of Augustus’s stables,