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Ad Salsillum, Poctam Romanum, Ægrotantem.
native king, fond of agriculture and cattle-breeding, and afterwards worshipped as the God of Fields; and Evander, a refugee Greek king from Arcadia, who came into Latium, helped to civilize it, and led a mild and hospitable reign there. Thus, of Evander, Ovid, Fasti, v. 91–96:
“ Exsul ab Arcadiis Latios Evander in agros
Venerat, impositos attuleratque deos.
Et paucæ pecudes, et casa rara fuit.
Nam locus imperii rus erit istud,' ait." There was a sacred oracular grove of Faunus on the Aventine hill, where also Evander had an altar.-Mr. Keightley notes that, though there are vineyards on the Roman hills, they are not famed for wine.
33–35. “Ipse inter atros emirabitur lucos Numa, ubi," &c. Warton's note on the passage is as follows :—“Very near the city of Rome, in the middle of a gloomy grove, is a romantic cavern with a spring, where Numa is fabled to have received the Roman laws from his wife Egeria, one of Diana's nymphs . . . When Numa died, Egeria is said to have retired thither, to lament his death ... On these grounds Milton builds the present beautiful fiction, that Numa, still living in this dark grove, in the perpetual contemplative enjoyment of his Egeria, from thence will listen with wonder to the poetry of the neighbouring bard. This place is much frequented in sultry weather by the people of Rome, as a cool retreat . . . Milton might have visited it while at Rome.”. The Grove or Valley of Egeria was one of the famous spots about Rome in the time of the Empire ; and Juvenal has a passage (Sat. III. 12—20) complaining that the place had been let out to the Jews, and its natural beauty spoilt by a litter of panniers and hay where there ought to have been pure green turf.— It appears to be disputed now whether the place pointed out by Roman ciceroni to tourists as the Valley of Egeria is the actual place so distinguished by the old Romans and referred to by Juvenal. See Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman Geog., 11. 820 (Art. Roma). 38, 39.
“ Nec in sepulchris ibit obsessum reges,
Nimiùm sinistro laxus irruens loro." Inundations of the Tiber were frequent; and Milton has here in view Horace's description of one such in his Ode 1. ii. :
"Vidimus flavum Tiberim, retortis
Littore Etrusco violenter undis,
"curvi . . . Portumni." Mr. Keightley does not see why the epithet curvus should be applied to Portumnus; but, as that god of harbours stands here for the open sea, may not the curves or windings of his shores be signified ?—There was a temple to Portumnus at the mouth of the Tiber.
1, 2. “ Hæc quoque," &c. Because, as Warton notes, these verses of Milton were but an addition to the numerous poetical testimonies already received by Manso. More than fifty poets, according to the Italian literary historian Quadrio, had written in his honour.
4.“ Post Galli cineres, et Mecanatis Etrusci." Caius Cornelius Gallus, who died B.C. 26, at the age of about forty, was distinguished as a general, and also as a poet and orator, and was the intimate friend of Virgil, Ovid, and all the other eminent writers of the Augustan age; by whose affectionate references to him he is now chiefly remembered. Of the Etruscan Mæcenas, and his celebrity in literature, nothing needs be said. He died B.C. 8.
6. “ Victrices hederas inter laurosque sedebis.” A line transferred from the Verses Ad Patrem. See line 102 of that poem, and note there.
7-10.“ Te pridem . . concordia Tasso junxit ... Mox tibi ... Musa Marinum tradidit." For Manso's relations with Tasso and Marini see Introd., II. 368, 369. II, 12.
“ Dum canit Assyrios divům prolixus amores,” &c. The reference is to Marini's poem L’Adone, which is suitably characterized.
16. “ Vidimus arridentem operoso ex ære poetam": Marini's monument at Naples. “ Amborum genus
describis," &c. See Introd., II. 369. 22, 23. “ Æmulus illius . . . qui," &c. : i.e. Herodotus, born at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, not far from Mount Mycale, and supposed to be the author of the Life of Homer still extant, but now named “ Pseudo-Herodotean.” 24.
“ Cliâs.” See note, Ad Patrem, 14. 29.“ Imprudens Italas,” &c. Perhaps an allusion to the things he had written in Italy—his Italian Sonnets, the Epigrams Ad Leonoram and the Scazons to Salzilli; or perhaps by “Musa" he only means himself, the poet.
30—33. “Nos etiam in nostro modulantes flumine cygnos," &c. "I believe it is an old tradition,” says Warton, “ that, if swans sing, it is in
the darkest and coldest nights of winter." The Thames has always been famous for its swans; and Ben Jonson had this in mind when he wrote of Shakespeare
“ Sweet swan of Avon ! what a sight it were
To see thee in our water yet appear,
“ Tityrus." By Tityrus Milton is supposed here to mean Chaucer, who had visited Italy about 1373 and seen Petrarch (Prologue to the Clerke's Tale). In Spenser's Pastorals Tityrus is a fancy-name for Chaucer. See February Eclogue in Shepherd's Calendar; and the opening of Colin Clout's Come Home Again, where Spenser speaks of himself as
“ The Shepheard's boy (best knowen by that name)
That after Tityrus first sung his lay.'
36, 37: "Qud plaga septeno mundi sulcata Trione ... Boöten.” See note, Eleg. V. 35.
38—48. Nos etiam colimus Phæbum, nos munera Phæbo .. misimus,” &c. There is a reference here, as Warton pointed out, to the belief that Apollo was worshipped by the ancient Britons. The belief is argued, with some minuteness, by Selden, in his notes to Drayton's Polyolbion (Songs viii. and ix.), where he shows how Belin, or Belinus, the “All healing Deity" of the Druids, and the chief object of their worship, might, by antiquarian ingenuity, be identified with Apollo. Assuming this belief, Milton, in the present passage, goes farther, and ventures to claim as native British Druidesses those Hyperborean nymphs who, according to Herodotus (IV. 35), brought from their far country offerings to Apollo and Artemis in Delos. Herodotus gives but two of these nymphs, and names them Upis and Arge; but Milton, as Warton noted, takes as his authority Callimachus, Hymn. Del. 292:
« Ούπις τε, Λοξώ τε, και ευαίων Εκαέργη,
, the companion of Brutus (see note, Lycidas, 156—162); Upis a famous prophetess; and Hecaerge yellow-haired. Moreover, he supposes all the three British beauties to have been stained, after the fashion of their country, with the Caledonian woad ; and, not content with this, he feigns that the tradition of their visit had been preserved in Delos, so that the Greek girls there still had songs about Upis, Hecaerge, and Loxo. Altogether, the passage is a piece of scholarship finely turned into poetry.
" At non
49. “ Fortunate senex ! ergo quacunque per orbem.” An adaptation, as Mr. Keightley notes, of Virgil's line (Ecl. 1. 47):
* Fortunate senex, ergo tua rura manebunt." 52. “ Tu quoque in ora frequens venies plausumque virorum." From Propertius, 11. ix. 32, as Bowle noted :
"Et venies tu quoque in ora virûm." Todd quotes also Virgil, Georg. I. 9
Victorque virûm volitare per ora." 56–69.
... cælo fugitivus Apollo," &c. Another passage of mythological poetry. Apollo, when he was banished from heaven, came to the domain of Admetus, King of Pheræ in Thessaly, son of Pheres (hence named Pheretiades), the same who had previously received the great Hercules (Alcides) as his guest. For nine years the god kept the herds of this king Admetus, whose hospitality he at length rewarded in various ways, but especially by obtaining for him the favour that he should not die if he could find anyone else to die for him-a boon afterwards leading to the touching story of his wife Alcestis (note, Sonnet XIII.). But, while the god was in this service, it was his wont, when he would be at leisure for music, to retire to the cave of the gentle and cultivated centaur Cheiron (notes, Eleg. IV. 23—28, and In ob. Proc. Med. 25, 26), which was in the same Thessalian region, deep in woods, and near the river Peneus. And O what music the god would make in those leafy retreats, the friendly Centaur sitting beside him and listening! The banks of the valley reeled, the deepest stone-blocks were stirred, with the ravishment; the Trachinian rock (Mount Eta) nodded its vast weight of woods; the ash-trees came in troops from the hills; the spotted lynxes gathered to gaze, lured from their forest haunts! In all this Milton recollects the Chorus in the Alcestis of Euripides, describing Apollo's music while he kept the herds of king Admetus (570 et seq.); and several of the phrases in the passage are waifs from Virgil, Ovid, and Horace. He has not, however, studied minute geographical consistency; for, though Mount Pelion, where the Centaur had his cave, is near Pheræ, it is at a considerable distance from the river Peneus on one side, and from Mount (Eta on the other. It was enough for the poet to keep his range within Thessaly. The purport of the whole passage, as regards Manso, is that he in Naples had been to Tasso and Marini what the hospitable king Admetus of Phera and the good centaur Cheiron of Mount Pelion had been to Apollo in his Thessalian banishment.
72." Atlantisque nepos": i.e. the god Mercury, who was the grandson of the Titan Atlas, being the son of Jupiter by Maia, one of the daughters of Atlas.
73 magno favisse poetæ.” Tasso must be especially meant. 75.
“ Æsonios lucratur vivida fusos." See Elcgia Secunda, line 8, and note there. Mr. Keightley notes that the phrase "lucratur Æsonios fusos," "has the benefit of Æsonian spindles,” is an odd one, and not classic.
76. “Nondum deciduos scrvans tibi frontis honores." This compliment to Manso, on his keeping his hair even in his old age, is irreconcilable with a most precise statement in the sketch given of Manso in the Pinacotheca of Janus Nicius Erythræus. In the Third Part of that interesting collection of biographic portraits of eminent men who had died within the lifetime of the author (this Third Part dated 1648, while the two preceding parts had appeared in 1645), Manso forms the subject of Article xu. (pp. 56-58); and there, after much in commendation of Manso, this passage occurs in illustration of his affability and pleasant manners in private society : “ As he excelled in all the Christian
virtues, so he was found most of all remarkable in what we call humility; “that is, in lowliness of mind and modesty. Wherefore he would not
willingly listen to any praises of himself, would detract from his own merits, and attribute all good to others; and, as is the fashion in the
club-meetings of the Blessed Virgin, in which he was ranked as one “of the members (ut mos est in sodalitiis B. Virginis, in quibus ille "numerabatur), he would good-humouredly bear to have his defects “publicly exposed. If bid lick the ground with his mouth, or kiss the “ feet of his club-fellows, he would not refuse, or escape the authority “ of the master of the revels ; nor was he less obedient if he were "ordered to snatch from his head the periwig with which he concealed his “ baldness (caliendrum e capite quo calvitiem occultabat), but immediately “ did as he was ordered, and made no scruple about exhibiting, amid “the great laughter of the beholders, his perfectly bald head (neque “dubitabat, magno intuentium cum risu, caput pilis nudum ostendere)." Either, therefore, Erythræus is wrong in this part of his sketch of Manso (which is not likely), or the old nobleman's wig was a good one, and he had worn it carefully when Milton and he were together.
80-84. “Siquando indigenas revocabo in carmina reges, Arturumque," &c. On the autobiographical significance of this passage, as the first announcement of Milton's intention to write a poem on the subject of Arthur and the British Legends, see Introd. to Par. Lost, I. 41, 42. Compare also Epitaph. Dam. 162-171. He had probably talked of this scheme to Manso; and, from his way of mentioning it, it does not appear to have taken exact shape in his mind. Was Arthur but to come in as one of the legendary British kings; or was he to be the central figure, and was the time of the story to be that of his wars with the Saxons ?"Etiam sub terris ” has reference to Arthur's retreat to Faery-land; the “invicta mensa” is, of course, the Round Table. Todd,