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N. Introductions to the Eclogues

N. Introductions to the Eclogues

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[2] In secunda egloga mictico stilo utitur. Et Coridon et Alexis et Menalcas inducuntur, et Dametas et Amintas. Virgilius in persona Coridonis,

Cesar in Alexis, Antonius in Menalca, Dametas in Theocriti, Amintas in

Cornificii inimici Virgilii intelligitur. Coridon tractum nomen ex nomine

avis que coridalis dicitur, id est, dulce canens. Alexis quasi sine responsione ac superbum inducit[ur]; est significatus Alexander, servus Asinii Pollionis. Hunc cum Virgilius ad prandium vidisset in ministerio pulchrum,

dilexit eumque dono accepit; et significat Cesarem formosum operibus et

gloria.

[3] Drammatico stilo utitur in tercia et transit in eglogam plenam conviciorum pastoralium et iurgii. Prima vero ocium unius tenet, alterius expulsionem; secunda amantem rusticum exprimit; hec vero lites et contradictiones. Menalcas, Dametas, Palemon inducuntur. Cornificius in Menalca,

Dametas in Virgilio [sic], in Palemone Octavianus intelligitur. Per pecus agri

significantur. Ubi vero dicit ‘‘Ab Iove principium’’ [Eclogues 3.60] etc., amabeo carmine utitur in quo difficilior est pars respondentis que[m] aut maius

aut contrarium aut equiparans respondere oportet. Ubi vero dicit ‘‘tris pateat

celi spacium’’ [Eclogues 3.105] etc., vane quidam dicunt ut voluisset illum

fallere in nomine Celii cuiusdam luxoriosi, cuius sepulchrum tribus ulnis

fuit. Alii volunt puteum significari qui est in Syene parte Egipti; quem valde

altum foderunt ut probarent solum locum esse quem recto intuitu sol irradiaret. Nam VIII Kal. Iul. quando sol in centro est ima putei irradiat. Sed

neutrum est: sed unusquisque puteus debet accipi, in quem cum quis descinderit, tantum spacium celi videt quantum permiserit latitudo poli.

[4] In quarta egloga est argumentum hoc. Hanc eglogam scriptam esse

aiunt in honore Asinii Pollionis vel filii eius Salonini, qui nomen accepit a

Salona civitate quam pater suus debellaverat quia ipse tunc natus est. Hic

etiam primus arrisisse matri sue in die nativitatis dicitur, quod bonum omen

fuit; vel potius de Augusto dicatur. Alii vero dicunt quod risus Salonini

parentibus omen erat infelicitatis, quia dicunt ipsum puerum inter ipsa primordia perisse. Huic ergo puero nunc Virgilius genethicon dictat, hoc est,

generacionis carmen.

[5] In quinta egloga est argumentum hoc, et drammatico stilo utitur in ea.

Menalcas et Mopsus, duo pastores, hic introducuntur se mutuo laudantes et

se invicem remunerantes. Daphnim pastorem filium Mercurii extinctum

laudant[es], et faciunt ei epicedon [sic], quod est carmen alicui ante sepulturam factum; deinde epitaphium, quod fit sepulto; postea apotheosin, quod

fit deificatis sic ut ascendant. Allegorice per Menalcam intelligitur Virgilius,

per Mopsum Emulius Macer Veronensis poeta phisicus vel alius quilibet

amicus Virgilii. Hi laudant Daphnim, id est, Iulium. Est autem epicedon

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[sic] usque ubi dicitur ‘‘Spargite humum foliis, inducite fontibus umbras’’

[Eclogues 5.40]. Incipit autem in eodem versu epitaphium usque ad hunc

versum [fol. 35v] ‘‘Candidus insuetum miratur limen Olimpi’’ [Eclogues

5.56]. Ibi incipit apotheosis.

[6] In sexta egloga est argumentum hoc. Gentilius Varus rogavit Virgilium ut sibi narraret quomodo duo iuvenes Chromus et Mnasilus rogaverunt quendam senem poetam nomine Silenum discipulum Phebi, qui audivit omnia verba que locutus est Apollo de constitucione mundi et de aliis

quam plurimis, ut et illis ea indicaret. Egloga talis est ‘‘Prima Syracosio’’

[Eclogues 6.1].

[7] Septima egloga est ‘‘Forte sub arguta’’ [Eclogues 7.1] etc. Egloga hec

pene Theocriti est. Nam et istam transtulit et ad eam multa de aliis congessit.

[8] In octavam eglogam que est ‘‘Pastorum Musam Damonis et Alphesibei’’ [Eclogues 8.1] etc. nichil inveni.

[9] In nona egloga que est ‘‘Quo te Meri pedes’’ [Eclogues 9.1] etc. tale est

argumentum. Virgilius postquam ab Arrio centurione pene occisus est, Romam revertens mandavit procuratoribus suis ut tuerentur agros et ad presens obsequerentur Arrio. Modo ergo Meris procurator eius secundum preceptum Virgilii portat hedos Mantuam, quos Arrio offerat. Quem sequitur

pastor et interrogat quo pergat. Ille iam suas deflet miserias, et hinc iam

varie prestantur ex hoc casu cantilene.

[10] In decima egloga que est ‘‘Extremum’’ [Eclogues 10.1] etc. est argumentum hoc. Gallus ante omnes primus prefectus fuit poeta bonus. Hic

Gallus amavit Citheridem meretricem libertam Volumnii, que eo spreto Antonium euntem ad Gallias est secuta; propter quod dolorem Galli nunc videtur consolari Virgilius. Tamen ea consolatio altius intuenti vituperatio est.

Nam et Galli inpaciencia turpis amoris ostenditur, et Antonius a parte [aperte Servius] carpitur inimicus Augusti, quem contra Romanum morem Citheris est in castris comitata. Aliter conquestio cum Gallo est de agris in hac

egloga.



[1] The author employs the dramatic style in the first Eclogue. In the first

Eclogue two shepherds are introduced: one carefree, the other complaining

about an injustice. In addition Virgil is signified by Tityrus, but not everywhere.

[2] In the second Eclogue he uses a mictic [allegorical] style. Corydon and

Alexis and Menalcas are introduced, as well as Damoetas and Amyntas. Virgil

is understood in the person of Corydon, Caesar of Alexis, Antony of Menalcas,

Damoetas of Theocritus, Amyntas of Cornificius, the enemy of Virgil. The

name Corydon has been taken from the name of the bird that was called

N. INTRODUCTIONS TO THE ECLOGUES



709



coridalis, that is, sweet-singing. Alexis is introduced as it were ‘‘without response,’’ as if proud; Alexander, the servant of Asinius Pollio, is signified.

When Virgil saw this beautiful man serving at dinner, he desired him and

accepted him as a gift; it also signifies Caesar, handsome in deeds and glory.

[3] He employs the dramatic style in the third and passes into an eclogue

replete with the insulting speech of shepherds and with strife. Indeed the first

has the ease of one and the expulsion of the other; the second shows a rustic

lover; but this one shows quarrels and objections. Menalcas, Damoetas, and

Palaemon are introduced. Cornificius is understood in Menalcas, Virgil in

Damoetas, and Octavian in Palaemon. Fields are signified through herds. But

where he says ‘‘began from Jove’’ and so forth, he uses amoebaean poetry, in

which the more di≈cult part is that of the responder, who is required to give a

greater, opposite, or similar answer. But where he says: ‘‘What place reveals the

space of three ells of celi [heaven],’’ some vainly say that he had wanted to

conceal in the word the name of a certain voluptuary Celius [or ‘‘Caelius’’],

whose tomb was three ells large. Others want a well in Syene, a part of Egypt,

to be signified, which they dug to a great depth to show that it was the only

place that the sun illuminated from straight overhead. For on June 24, when

the sun is in the center [of the sky], it illuminates the bottom of the well. But it

is neither: rather, every well could be meant in which, when one descends, he

will see as much space of heaven as the width of the opening will allow.

[4] This is the argument of the fourth Eclogue. They say the following

eclogue was written in honor of Asinius Pollio or of his son Saloninus, who

was named after the city of Salona, which his father had subdued, because he

was born there. He is also said to have first smiled at his mother on the day of

his birth, which was a good omen; or rather it should be said of Augustus.

Others, however, say that Saloninus’s smiling at his parents was an omen of

misfortune, because they say this very boy died in his earliest days. Therefore,

Virgil now dictates a genethliacon to this boy, that is, a birthday poem.

[5] The following is the argument of the fifth Eclogue, and he uses the

dramatic style in it as well. Menalcas and Mopsus, two shepherds, are here

introduced praising each other and rewarding each other in turn. They praise

the dead shepherd Daphnis, the son of Mercury, and they perform for him an

epicedium, which is a poem performed for someone before burial; then the

epitaph, which is performed at the burial; afterward, the apotheosis, which is

performed for those deified just as they ascend. Virgil is understood allegorically as Menalcas; as Mopsus, Emulius Macer of Verona, the poet and

natural philosopher, or some other friend of Virgil. They praise Daphnis, that

is, Julius. It is an epicedium until the point where it says: ‘‘strew the ground

with leaves and draw a shadow over the fountains.’’ The epitaph begins in the

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same verse up to this verse: ‘‘Dazzling, he stands rapt before Olympus’s gate,

which he had never seen before.’’ There the apotheosis begins.

[6] The following is the argument of the sixth Eclogue. Gentilius Varus asked

Virgil to tell him how two young men, Chromis and Mnasyllos, asked a certain

old poet named Silenus, a student of Phoebus who heard all the words that

Apollo spoke about the creation of the world and about as many other things as

possible also, to tell them these things. Such is the eclogue, ‘‘First in Syracusan.’’

[7] The seventh Eclogue is ‘‘Perhaps beneath the rustling’’ and so forth. This

eclogue is almost by Theocritus, for Virgil both translated his and added much

to it from others.

[8] I have found nothing on the eighth Eclogue, which is ‘‘Of the shepherds

Damon and Alphesiboeus’’ and so forth.

[9] Such is the argument of the ninth Eclogue, which is ‘‘Where are you

going, Moeris’’ and so forth. Virgil, returning to Rome after he was almost

killed by the centurion Arrius, ordered his agents to protect the fields and, for

the time being, to obey Arrius. Then, therefore, Moeris, the agent of Virgil,

according to his request, takes the kids to Mantua to o√er them to Arrius. The

shepherd follows him and asks him where he is going. He then bewails his

troubles, and hence then various songs are produced from this misfortune.

[10] The following is the argument of the tenth Eclogue, which is ‘‘The latest’’

and so forth. Gallus, the first prefect [of Egypt] before anyone else, was a good

poet. This Gallus loved Cytheris, a prostitute and freed ex-slave of Volumnius.

After she spurned Gallus, she followed Antony, who was going to Gaul; and

Virgil now seems to console this grief of Gallus. Yet that consolation, in a higher

understanding, is a censure. For the impatience of Gallus is shown as that of base

love; and Antony, the enemy of Augustus, is openly [Servius: aperte] slandered,

who, against Roman custom, was accompanied by Cytheris in camp. In another

way, in this eclogue there is a lament with Gallus about the lands. (MS)



2. Accessus

This text is a Virgilian accessus found in MS. Pal. lat. 1695, folios 35v–36r, with

readings from two additional manuscripts. The accessus, or introduction, to an

author was a standard way of approaching texts by the twelfth century (see

above, IV.M). Not only did it sketch the author’s life and works, but it also

showed how those works fitted into the wider course of studies. Much of the

material here is drawn from many sources, including Servius’s commentaries

(see above, IV.B) and the vitae of Virgil (see above, II.A). (Text: Brown, 84–

85) (MS)

[fol. 35v] In hoc opere requiruntur VIII: titulus, materia, ordo materiei, qualitas operis, intencio, utilitas, cui parti philosophie subponatur, vita poete.

N. INTRODUCTIONS TO THE ECLOGUES



711



[1] Titulus est bucolicon vel -ca, quod ita intitulatum est apo ton boykolon, id est, a boum curali custodia, licet hic maxime agatur de ovibus et

capris. Maluit enim a bubus scilicet a digniori possessione rusticorum, qui

bubus et pastoribus nichil habent utilius, intitulari.

Unde autem scribendorum bucolicorum usus primum inoleverit diversi

diversa referunt. Nam quidam dicunt [quod] cum Xerses rex Babilonie per

Grecorum humida sicco transiret vestigio et per sicca navigaret, tanta obsidione eos constrinxit ut sacrificiis Diane vacare non possent. Lacedemones vero accepta occasione in montes Laconas cum pastoribus ascendentes ymnos quosdam in honorem eius decantabant. Unde bucolicorum

usus primum inolevit. Alii dicunt quod cum Horestes et Pylades simulacrum Diane de Taurica terra sublatum in Siciliam navigio detulissent, pastoribus congregatis, tales ymnos in honorem eius decantabant. Unde item

inolevit bucolicorum usus. Alii non Diane sed Apollini consecratum hoc

carmen ferunt. Nam cum Apollo deitate spoliatus armenta Admeti iuxta

Amphrisum fluvium pasceret, multa cum pastoribus et cantabat et docuit.

Unde item mos bucolicorum inolevit. Alii asserunt hoc carmen omnibus

rusticis numinibus consecratum, scilicet Pani, faunis, satyris, nimphis etc.,

in quorum honorem usus huius carminis inolevit.

[2] Materia sunt humiles persone, sed hic aliter persona accipitur quam

in Tullio, qui dicit: ‘‘Persona est que ducitur vel vocatur in iudicium, cuius

dictum factumve reprehenditur vel laudatur’’ [recte Boethius, De topicis differentiis 4]. Hic vero sic diffinitur: persona est rationalis substantia congruis

proprietatibus informata. Proprietates autem alie separabiles, alie inseparabiles. Inseparabiles sunt ut substantiales differentie, que sunt rationabilitas, risibilitas; separabiles ut cantatio, rixacio, de quibus hic tantum agitur.

[3] Ordo materiei talis est, quod in prima egloga introducit duos pastores,

alterum cantantem in pacis delectatione et alterum conquerentem de sui

expulsione, in secunda amantes, in tertia rixantes, etc. Lector consideret.

[4] Qualitas operis tribus consideratur modis: ex modo scribendi, ex

modo recitandi, ex modo carminis.

Ex modo scribendi sive scribat humili sive mediocri sive grandiloquo

stilo, quorum quisque finitimum vitium habet. Humilis enim habet aridum

et exsangue, ubi neque vires sentenciarum neque pondera sunt verborum.

Mediocris fluctuans et dissolutum: fluctuans ut in dubiis sentenciis, dissolutum ut sine continuacionibus. Grandiloqus [sic] turgidum et inflatum,

ut pomposis verbis se nimis aliquis extollit vel magna dicturum se promittit, ut ‘‘Fortunam Priami cantabo et nobile bellum’’ [Horace, Ars poetica 137].

Quos tales irridens Oracius ait, ‘‘Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus’’



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[Ars poetica 139]. Que omnia vicia Virgilius his omnibus stilis usus sollerter

devitavit, scilicet in Bucolicis humili utens stilo, in Georgicis mediocri, in

Eneide grandiloquo.

Ex modo [fol. 36r] recitandi aliter, nam recitacio alia exaggematica, id est,

narrativa, alia mictica, id est, micta, alia drammatica, id est, activa. Exaggematicum est ubi tantummodo sub persona actoris aliquid recitatur, ut in

Georgicis; micticon ubi aliquando auctor aliquando inducta persona recitat;

drammaticon ubi nichil auctor sed tantum introducte persone agentes recitant. Omnes autem hi modi recitandi in hoc opere inveniuntur: exaggematicon, ut ‘‘Sicilides mihi’’ [Eclogues 4.1 Sicelides]; micticon, ‘‘Formosum pastor’’ [Eclogues 2.1]; drammaticon, ‘‘Dic mihi Dametas’’ [Eclogues 3.1 Damoeta].

Ex modo carminis aliter, nam carmina alia sunt heroica, alia elegiaca, et

cetera. Heroicum autem constat ex deis et humanis rebus continens vera cum

falsis, constans ex dactilis, sed propter difficultatem assumpsit spondeum,

in fine trocheum.

[5] Intencio est publica et privata: publica, laudare Augustum et Romanos principes allegorice sub pastorali carmine; privata, ut agros suos

repeteret quos perdiderat. Nam postquam Augustus Marcum Antonium devicit, agros Cremonensium suis divisit quia faverant Antonio. Cumque illi

non sufficerent, addidit agros Mantuanorum pro vicinitate. Unde Virgilius:

‘‘Mantua ve misere nimium vicina Cremone’’ [Eclogues 9.28].

[6] Utilitas et communis et privata est: communis, discere in humilibus

personis et potentes notare allegorice; privata, agrorum suorum consecucio, quos cum iterum possideret duce quodam triumviro, vix evasit manus

cuiusdam Arrii centurionis qui illos possederat.

[7] Ethice subponitur quia de moralitate agit tam potencium quam pastorum.

[8] Vita poete. Civis erat Mantuanus. Diversis locis studuit, scilicet Neapoli, Cremone, Mediolani. Eratque probate vite per omnia nisi quod incontinens erat libidinis, sed adeo inde verecundus erat ut nominaretur Parthenias, id est, virginalis. Secundum quosdam etiam Virgilius, sed secundum

alios a virga etc., secundum alios a patre Virgilio. Hic tandem studii gratia

profectus in Greciam, in brevi tanta sapientia promotus est ut reversus apud

Mantuam magistratum obtineret donec occiso M. Antonio de prediis suis, ut

dictum est, expelleretur. Expulsusque tandem receptus est in amiciciam

duorum principum, scilicet Pollionis et Mecenatis. Qui cum aliquando deambularet in palacio Augusti Cesaris, hos versus inscripsit:

Nocte pluit tota; redeunt spectacula mane.

Divisum imperium cum Iove Cesar habes. [AL 1.1, 212, no. 256]



N. INTRODUCTIONS TO THE ECLOGUES



713



His lectis et laudatis a Cesare Augusto quesitus est auctor. Quod dum sibi

Cornificius usurpasset, magnifice remuneratus est. Videns autem Virgilius

alii premium laboris sui cessisse, hos subscripsit versus:

Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honorem.

Sic vos non vobis

Sic vos non vobis. [AL 1.1, 212, no. 257]



Quod cum Augustus vidisset, iussit Cornificium semiplenos perficere. Quo

deficiente Virgilius a [rogatu] Pollionis et Mecenatis perfecit sic:

vellera fertis oves.

mellificatis apes.



Unde magnifice receptus est in amiciciam Cesaris. De Virgilii probitate tantam Romani poete habuerunt invidiam ut septem ex eis in Greciam profecti

septem liberalibus studerent artibus, singuli in singulis, ut omnes solum

vincerent. Sed ille reversos devicit, quemlibet in sua arte. Multa quoque

scripsit que ideo non habentur quia Rome non scripsit. Rome dicitur scripsisse Bucolica maxime rogatu Pollionis et Vari Quintilii, quos laudat in hoc

opere, sed maxime Augustum; que tribus annis edidit et correxit et recitavit.

Rogatu Mecenatis Georgica, que VII annis scripsit, correxit, recitavit. Hec

autem duo volumina preludium sunt Eneidis. Nam in laudem Augusti et

Romanorum principum et populi Eneida scripsit XII annis, sed morte preventus nec correxit nec recitavit; quare iussit ea comburi. Sed ne tam elaboratum opus periret, Augustus Tuccam et Varum corrigere iussit hac lege, ut

superflua demerent, de suo nichil adderent. Unde ibi inveniuntur semipleni

versus. Tanti ergo operis preludium erant Bucolica in X eglogas distincta et

ordinata.



Eight things are investigated in this work: the title, the material, the order

of the material, the nature of the work, the purpose, the usefulness, under

which part of philosophy it should be placed, the life of the poet.

[1] The title is Bucolic or Bucolics, which is so titled apo ton boukolon [from

cowherds], that is, from the custodial guarding of cattle, although here mainly

sheep and goats are considered. Still, he preferred that it be titled after the word

for cattle [bubus [ bos], that is, from the very prized possession of country

people, who regard nothing as more valuable than cattle and herdsmen.

For this reason di√erent people give di√erent explanations of how the custom of writing bucolics first developed. For some say that after Xerxes, the

king of Babylon, went through the wet places of the Greeks with dry feet and

sailed through the dry parts, he held [the Greeks] in check with so great a siege

that they could find no opportunity for the sacrifices to Diana. The Spartans,

however, when an opportunity was given, climbed into the Laconian moun714



I V. C O M M E N T A R Y T R A D I T I O N



tains with shepherds and sang certain hymns in her honor. Hence the use of

bucolics developed for the first time. Others say that after Orestes and Pylades

had carried away the image of Diana taken from among the Tauri to Sicily

by ship, when the herdsmen assembled they sang such hymns in her honor.

Hence likewise the use of bucolics was established. Others say that this poetry

was sacred not to Diana but to Apollo. For when Apollo, stripped of his

divinity, grazed the herd of Admetus on the banks of the river Amphrysus, he

both sang with the shepherds and taught them much. Hence likewise the

custom of bucolics was established. Others claim that this poetry was sacred to

all the country divinities, namely, Pan, fauns, satyrs, nymphs, and so forth, in

whose honor the use of this poetry was established.

[2] Low persons are the material, but here ‘‘person’’ is used in a di√erent

way than in Cicero, who says: ‘‘A person is the one who is led or summoned

into court and whose word or deed is blamed or praised.’’ Here it is indeed

thus defined: a person is a rational substance fashioned with appropriate properties. Some properties are separable, others inseparable. The inseparable ones

are like substantial di√erences, which are rationality, the capacity for laughter;

the separable ones are like singing, quarreling, and so forth, about which alone

treatment is here given.

[3] The order of the material is such that in the first Eclogue he introduces

two shepherds, one singing in the enjoyment of peace and the other bemoaning his expulsion; in the second lovers; in the third quarrelers; and so forth.

The reader should consider.

[4] The nature of the work is considered in three ways: from the way it is

written, from the way it is recited, from the kind of poetry.

From the way it is written: whether one writes in low, middle, or elevated

style, each of which has its concomitant shortcoming. For the low style is dry

and bloodless, where the sententiae have no force and the words no weight.

The middle style is loose and careless: loose in its questionable sententiae and

careless in its lack of transitions. The elevated is turgid and inflated, as when

someone praises himself excessively with pompous words or promises that he

is about to say great things, as, ‘‘I shall sing the fortune of Priam and the noble

war.’’ And Horace, mocking such verse, says: ‘‘Mountains will labor, and a

ridiculous mouse will be born.’’ Virgil, having used all these styles, cleverly

avoided all their shortcomings. More specifically, he used the low style in the

Bucolics, the middle in the Georgics, and the elevated in the Aeneid.

The way it is recited is another matter; for some recitation is exegematic, that

is, narrative; some is mictic [allegorical], that is, mixed; and some dramatic,

that is, active. Exegematic is where something is spoken only in the person of

the author, as in the Georgics; mictic, where sometimes the author, sometimes

N. INTRODUCTIONS TO THE ECLOGUES



715



an introduced character, speaks; dramatic, where the author says nothing, but

only introduced characters taking part in the action speak. Moreover, all these

ways of reciting are found in this work: the exegematic, as ‘‘Sicilian Muses’’;

mictic or mixed, ‘‘Beautiful shepherd’’; dramatic, ‘‘Tell me, Damoetas.’’

The kind of poetry is also another matter, for some poems are epic, others

elegiac, and so forth. Indeed, epic consists of gods and the a√airs of men, and it

contains truths with falsehoods; it is composed of dactyls, but, because of the

di≈culty, it adopted the spondee, and the trochee at the end.

[5] The intention is public and private. The public intention is to praise

Augustus and the Roman leaders allegorically in the guise of pastoral poetry;

the private is to win back his fields, which he had lost. For after Augustus

defeated Mark Antony, he distributed the farmland of the Cremonans among

his own people because the Cremonans had favored Antony. When that was

not enough, he added the farmlands of the Mantuans because they were near.

That is why Virgil [wrote]: ‘‘Alas, Mantua, all too near pitiable Cremona.’’

[6] The usefulness is both common [public] and private. The common

usefulness is to learn from low persons and to indicate powerful ones allegorically; the private is obtaining his fields. Although he regained possession

of them thanks to a leader of the triumvirate, he barely escaped the hands of a

certain centurion named Arrius, who had held them.

[7] It is subsumed under ethics because it concerns the morality both of the

powerful and of shepherds.

[8] The life of the poet. He was a Mantuan citizen. He studied in several

places, namely, Naples, Cremona, and Milan. He also had a virtuous life in all

things, except that he was immoderately lustful, but he was then so modest

that he was called Parthenias, that is, virginal. According to some [this is also

why] he was Virgil [from virgo, virgin], but according to others from virga

[rod] and so forth, according to still others from his father Virgil. At length he

went to Greece to study and in a short time advanced to such wisdom that,

when he returned to Mantua, he held the magistracy until, after the death of

Mark Antony, he was expelled from his land, as we said. Having been expelled,

he was at last received in friendship by two powerful men, namely, Pollio and

Maecenas. And once, when Virgil was strolling in the palace of Augustus

Caesar, he wrote these verses:

It rained all night, the games return with the morning:

Caesar has joint rulership with Jove.



When Caesar Augustus read and praised these, the author was sought. And

because Cornificius then called them his, he was magnificently paid. So Virgil,

seeing that the reward for his labor had gone to another, wrote these verses:

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I made these little verses, another took the honor.

So, it is not for yourselves that you . . .

So, it is not for yourselves that you . . .



And when Augustus had seen them, he ordered Cornificius to finish the incomplete lines. When he could not, Virgil, at the request of Pollio and Maecenas, finished them thus:

. . . bear wool, sheep.

. . . make honey, bees.



For this he was magnificently befriended by Caesar. Roman poets were so

envious of Virgil’s virtue that seven of them went to Greece to study the seven

liberal arts, one for each, so that all of them could conquer a single man. But he

[Virgil] defeated them after they returned, each in his own subject. He also

wrote many things that we do not have today because he did not write them at

Rome. He is said to have written the Bucolics at Rome, primarily at the request

of Pollio and Varus Quintilius, whom he praises in this work, but primarily

[he praises] Augustus. And for three years he circulated it, corrected it, and

recited it. At the request of Maecenas [he is said to have written] the Georgics,

which he wrote, corrected, and recited in seven years. These two volumes,

however, are a rehearsal for the Aeneid. For he wrote the Aeneid in praise of

Augustus and of the Roman leaders and people in twelve years, but he was

prevented by his death from correcting it and reciting it, for which reason he

ordered it to be burned. But so that such a finely wrought work should not

perish, Augustus ordered Tucca and Varus to correct it according to this rule:

that they should remove the superfluous and add nothing of their own. That is

why half lines are found there. The Bucolics, divided and arranged in ten

eclogues, were therefore the rehearsal for such a great work. (MS)

O. ‘‘MASTER ANSELM’’

(possibly Anselm of Laon, early twelfth century)

The literal emphasis of the Servian tradition was massively more influential

than allegorical interpretations of the Aeneid. The literal approach is evident in

the most widespread of the high medieval commentaries on Virgil, probably

from the early twelfth century, sometimes attributed to the biblical commentator and theologian Anselm of Laon (died 1117). This attribution is shaky,

based on a single note that refers to what ‘‘Master Anselm used to say’’; yet the

bulk of the commentary, moving phrase by phrase through the text, is not

inconsistent with the kind of biblical commentary we know was practiced at

Laon, which resulted in the great Glossa ordinaria (Ordinary Gloss) on the

Bible. ‘‘Master Anselm’’ wrote commentaries on the Eclogues, Georgics, and

O. ‘‘MASTER ANSELM’’



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Aeneid; they are known in at least twenty-two manuscripts, among which the

Aeneid commentary is most frequent. As with Servius, the presence of additional selected notes in the margins of many Virgil manuscripts suggests even

wider circulation.

‘‘Master Anselm’’ draws a great deal of the substance and method of his

commentary from Servius (see above, IV.B), often omitting Servius’s quotations from other Roman writers. He also mentions other late-classical grammarians such as Priscian (see above, IV.E). He names and explains more

rhetorical figures than does Servius, and occasionally explains details of meter

as well. He provides helpful historical context for events in the Aeneid by

mentioning contemporary episodes in biblical history, a habit derived from

the early Christian historian Eusebius of Caesarea (see above, in II.A.2.a). For

instance, he says (in a note to Aeneid 1.265–71) that the fall of Troy occurred

when Moses led the Israelites from Egypt. He even explains changes in the

usage of certain words between Virgil’s time and his own. Despite this mostly

literal emphasis in his teaching, ‘‘Master Anselm’’ occasionally introduces

theological issues such as fate and free will. Further, the commentary shows

some signs of contact with incipient allegorical readings of the Aeneid, as when

he interprets the golden bough (Aeneid 6.136–37), comparing it to the Pythagorean Y (that much from Servius), then linking it to moral and spiritual

choices.

‘‘Master Anselm’’ begins his Aeneid commentary with the introduction

(usually called an accessus by medieval writers) that is translated below. He

wrote a much longer introduction (see above, II.A.10) at the beginning of his

notes on the Eclogues, presumably because they come at the beginning of any

manuscript of Virgil’s complete works. Yet the surviving manuscripts suggest

that the accessus to the Aeneid would have been better known. ‘‘Master Anselm’’

loosely organizes his introduction under seven quite traditional topics, deriving ultimately from Servius, which he lists at the beginning of his Eclogues

commentary: life of the poet, title of the work, genre of the poem, intention of

the writer, number of books, their order, and interpretation of the text. All

these topics will be seen below, though not in this exact order. Instead, ‘‘Master Anselm’’ divides his introduction into five capitula (sections) and assumes

that his readers will recognize the topics they cover. His concern with Virgil’s

historical background, both literary and political, is in keeping with the literal

concerns of the main school tradition. This does not preclude a certain selective attention, though: ‘‘Master Anselm’s’’ attention to both Virgil and Aeneas

in relation to Augustus and empire leaves the heroine of the early books, Dido,

entirely aside. (Discussion: VME 63–68) (Text: VME 313–14; compare VV

268–72, where this text is identified as Expositio Monacensis III) (CB)

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