Imatges de pÓgina

wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice."

παρακύπτων διὰ τῶν θυρίδων, ἐκκύπτων

διὰ τῶν δικτύων.

Theocrit. Idyll. iii. v. 7. "Why dost thou not, peeping out from the grotto, call me thy love?"

τί μ' οὐκέτι τοῦτο κατ ̓ ἄντρον

παρκύπτοισα καλεῖς τὸν ἐρωτύλον ;

4.-Song of Solomon, chap. ii. v. 11. "The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear in the earth.”—And again, chap. vi. v. 10. "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning?"

Theocrit. Idyll. xviii. v. 26. "As the rising morning displays her fair face distinguished above night, when winter sends us the white or serene spring, so the golden Helen shone distinguished among us.' In whatever manner we may correct the text of Theocritus in this place, I think I have given the fair meaning of the passage.

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5. Song of Solomon, chap. iv. v. 11. Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb: honey and milk are under thy tongue." Theocrit. Idyll. xx. v. 26. My mouth was sweeter than curdled milk, and from my mouth my voice flowed sweeter than the honeycomb."

6. Song of Solomon, chap. viii. v. 14. "Be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices."

Theocrit. Idyll. xi. v. 21. "More frisky than a calf."-Idyll. xii. v. 6. "As a fawn (or young hart) has more agility than a calf.”

7.-Song of Solomon, chap. vii. v. 7. "Thy breasts (are like) to clusters of grapes."

Theocrit. Idyll. xi. v. 21. “Galatea, more shining than an unripe grape."

8. Some passages in the 28th Idyllium, called "The Distaff," have a resemblance to some touches in the celebrated and noble encomium on a virtuous woman in the last chapter of the Proverbs.

Proverbs, ch. xxxi. v. 13. "She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." Ver. 19. "She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." V. 21. as it is in the Septuagint : "Her husband is not anxious about those in the house, for they are clothed by her." V. 22. "She has made two garments (or double garments) for her husband, and for herself raiments of fine flax (or silk) and of purple." V. 26. "She openeth her mouth wisely, opus." V. 27. "She eateth not the bread of idleness."

Theocritus in Idyllium xxviii. addresses the ivory distaff which he brings with him to Miletus, as a present for Theugenis, the wife of his amiable friend Necias.

1 See also Idyll. I. v. 146, and Idyll. VIII. v. 83.


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V. 1, 2. "O distaff delighting in tasks of wool, present of the blue-eyed Minerva,"

"Wives that do good to their houses, have a mind (or skill) to manage thee"

V. 10. "With her (Theugenis) thou shalt perform many works for the robes of men, and spin many such (vdáriva ßpáкn) glossy (or purple, or water-colored) mantles as women wear. For people would wish to have the soft fleeces of the sheep, shorn twice in the same year, on account of Theugenis with beautiful ankles: she is so industrious she loves the maxims of (σaóppoves) wise women. I did not propose to make a present of thee to an idle house, where they make no use of the distaff” (or where they dress not wool).

Before we quit this subject of the distaff, we may observe, that the present and the verses give us a very favorable idea of Theocritus himself, as an agreeable man who had a just sense of the small, but amiable, attentions of life.

After a pretty diligent perusal of Theocritus, I have selected the above passages, which some may think must amount to an absolute proof that he imitated the writings of Solomon. If it is so, he is not to be blamed; for though I have no undue or irrational predilection for the oriental poetry, yet I esteem the Song of Solomon as unequalled for softness, delicacy, and warm description, considered merely as a love poem. There is yet one other passage of Theocritus, where the imitation appears to me very striking.

Song of Solomon, ch. 11. v. "Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes," (or, our vines Kvπρížovσι, bud, as it is in the Septuagint).

Theocrit. Idyll. V. v. 108. "Ye locusts that leap over my hedge, do not injure my vines, for they are young ones."

Again, at v. 112. "I hate the brush-tailed foxes, which always in the evening frequent the vines of Mycon and destroy the grapes."

That eminent commentator, Matthew Poole, in his Synopsis, is decidedly of opinion that Theocritus borrowed from the writings of Solomon.

To show how easily we may be imposed upon in fixing the charge of imitation on poets, I shall here notice an instance which is naturally suggested by the subject. I think we may lay it down as certain, that Anacreon never read the Song of Solomon. Yet let us observe the coincidence of thoughts.

Song of Solomon, chap. v. ver. 2. "I sleep, but my heart waketh ; it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, (saying), open to me, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night."

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Lie subdued by sleep through fatigue,
Then Love coming,

Struck at the latches of my door.
Who, said I, knocks at the door,
Interrupting my slumbers?
But Love says, 'Open,

I am an infant, fear not:

I am wet, and in the moonless
Night I wander.'"

SECTION V. Of the peculiar genius of Theocritus.

In order to form a proper estimate of the genius of Theocritus, we must remember that he did not confine himself entirely to Bucolic poetry, but composed works of a different kind. Yet to judge by those remains of him which have descended to us, we must acknowledge that his principal glory is derived from pastoral poetry; in which he will probably ever remain unrivalled, and wear his ivy crown with never-fading verdure. Under this description I shall without much hesitation class all his idylls, except the fifteenth, or Sicilian Women going to see the rites of Adonis; the sixteenth, or Charites, addressed to Hiero; the seventeeth, or the Encomium on Ptolemy; the twentysecond, or Dioscuri; the twenty-fourth, or the Young Hercules; the twenty-sixth, or Baccha; and the twenty-first, which may be called a piscatory Eclogue. The first six of his epigrams are also in the pastoral strain. If any one, however, should not approve this distribution of his works, I shall not contend with him.

The peculiar and distinguishing excellence of the genius of Theocritus appears to me to be his enthusiastic, but delicate and discriminating, taste for the charms of nature. Happy is the man who possesses this taste. He sees beauties which escape the vulgar eye. Not only the more striking and picturesque objects enchant him; but the slight tints and evanescent shades give him sensible delight. The same scene will afford him a different kind of pleasure in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. The succession of the seasons brings with it for him successive enjoyments in sweetly-blended variety; just as a man, who passes his eye gradually over the series of colors in the celestial bow, finds a new charm in each hue of that glorious mixture. Nature spreads continual entertainment before an uncorrupted and lively imagination. This is a pure and unbought feast for the soul. It is a peculiar happiness for a man of this taste to live in an agreeable country and pleasant climate. Theocritus was in this respect fortunate. Sicily was celebrated for its fertility, for its Hyblæan honey, for its rivers, streams, brooks, and fountains, for its variety of rocks, fruitful hills, and vallies, and for its warm and pleasant climate. Here was a happy mixture of the beauties of nature and cultivation. The mind suffers a kind of ennui amidst uninterrupted and uniform scenes of the highest dress and polish which art can give, and feels a refreshment, and a natural sense of liberty,

among wilder and more romantic objects. From the ornamented plain it flies for relief to the mountain, the grotesque rock, and the native grotto. When tired of the gay garden flowers and the laurels, the apple trees and the figs, it finds a pleasure in the wild thyme, the oaks, the elms, the pines, the juniper, the fern, and even the brambles and thorns. If the mind of Theocritus was at any time satiated with the corn valley and the vineyard, he could turn his eye to Mount Ætna, venerable with trees and half crowned with snow; or to the blue sea dashing against the rocks of his native island, with all its fabled prodigies. There was also a variety of wild as well as tame animals. Wild animals, when properly and naturally introduced in a poem, produce a very striking effect. In this cheerful country the ear of the poet was entertained with the melody of various birds, accompanied with the sound of different pastoral instruments and rural minstrelsy. "The climate of Sicily," says Dr. Warton, in his essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, one of the chastest and most agreeable pieces of criticism in our language, "was delicious, and the face of the country various and beautiful. Its vallies and its precipices, its grottos and cascades were sweetly interchanged, and its flowers and fruits were lavish and luscious. The poet described what he saw and felt; and had no need to have recourse to those artificial assemblages of pleasing objects which are not to be found in nature. The figs and the honey, which he assigns as a reward to a victorious shepherd, were in themselves exquisite, and are therefore assigned with great propriety; and the beauties of that luxurious landscape, so richly and circumstantially delineated in the close of the seventh Idyllium, where

Πάντ ̓ ὦσδεν θέρεος μάλα πίονος, σδε δ' οπώρης. All things smelt of summer and smelt of autumn,—were present and real."

It were easy to adduce instances to prove that Theocritus had a genuine and exquisite relish for rural beauty, and studied nature with care and attention. We find many rural objects, images, and descriptions, in the first, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh Idylliums, and even in the fifth, notwithstanding its nefarious ribaldry. That inimitable simplicity which we admire in Theocritus, was, I doubt not, the result of the most acute observation and exact study of nature.

SECT. VI. The peculiar taste of Theocritus, proved from his sliding into rural descriptions in those poems which are not pastoral.

That this was the peculiar bias of his mind, we may also fairly collect from his sliding imperceptibly into rural description when his subject does not absolutely require it. Thus in the Charites (Idyll. xvi.) when he mentions that the Phoenicians, or Carthaginians, were threatening Sicily with war and invasion, he takes occasion to express his wish for a speedy peace, the happiness of which he describes in this amiable manner :

Αγροὺς δ' ἐργάζοιντο τεθαλότας αἵ τ ̓ ἀνάριθμοι
Μήλων χιλιάδες βοτάναις διαπιανθεῖσαι
Αμπεδίον βλήχοιντο, βόες δ' ἀγεληδὸν ἐς αὖλιν
Ερχόμεναι σκιπναῖον ἐπισπεύδοιεν ὁδίταν·
Νειοὶ δ ̓ ἐκπονέοιντο ποτὶ σπόρον, ἁνίκα τέττιξ
Ποιμένας ἐνδίους πεφυλαγμένος, ἔνδοθι δένδρων

̓Αχεῖ ἐν ἀκρεμονέσσιν· ἀράχνια δ' εἰς ὅπλ ̓ ἀράχναι

Λεπτά διαστήσαιντο

And may they cultivate their blooming fields, and may numberless
Thousands of sheep, fattened with the herbs,

Bleat along the plain, and may the cows in herds

Coming to the stable urge the slow evening-traveller:

And may the fallow-fields be tilled for seed, when the cicada,

Guarding against the shepherds who are out at noon-day, within the trees Sounds on the branches; and may the spiders extend

Their thin webs over martial arms.

When he tells us (Idyll. xiii. v. 12.) that Hercules instructed Hylas from morning to night, instead of saying "night" simply, he marks it by this circumstance;

Οὐδ ̓ ὁπότ' ὀρτάλιχοι μινυροὶ ποτὶ κοῖτον ὁρῷεν,
Σεισαμένας πτερὰ ματρὸς ἐπ' αιθαλόεντι πετεύρῳ.
Nor when the querulous young birds look'd to their place of rest,
When their dam claps her wings over the sooty beam.

In the Hymn to Castor and Pollux (Idyll. xxii. v. 36.) before he proceeds to the ferocious boxing-match, he entertains us with a description of the beautiful scenery round the fountain where they met Amycus, the king of the Bebrycians :

Παντοίην δ' ἐν ὄρει θηεύμενοι ἄγριον ύλην,
Εὗρον ἀένναον κράναν ὑπὸ λισσάδι πέτρῃ
Υδατι πεπληθυῖαν ἀκηράτῳ· αἱ δ' ὑπένερθεν
*Αλλαι κρυστάλλῳ ἠδ ̓ ἀργύρῳ ἰνδάλλοντο
Ἐκ βυθοῦ· ὑψηλαὶ δὲ πεφύκεσαν ἀγχόθι πεῦκαι,
Λευκαί τε, πλάτανοί τε, καὶ ἀκρόκομοι κυπάρισσοι,
*Ανθεά τ' εὐώδη, λασίαις φίλα ἔργα μελίσσαις,
Οσσ ̓ ἔαρος λήγοντος ἐπιβρύει ἂν λειμῶνας.
Hard by, a hill, with waving forests crown'd,
Their eyes attracted; in the dale they found
A spring perennial in a rocky cave,

Full to the margin flow'd their lucid wave: Below, small fountains gush'd, and murmuring near, Sparkled like silver, and as crystal clear: Above, tall pines and poplars quivering play'd, And planes and cypress in dark green array'd; Around, balm-breathing flowers of every hue, The bee's ambrosia, in the meadows grew. In the Baccha (Idyll. xxvi.) where Pentheus is torn to pieces by his own mother; his two aunts, and the other women, celebrating the orgies of Bacchus, Theocritus seems, as it were, to sacrifice the natural benevolence of his heart to superstition, when he vindicates


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