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For the Literary Magazine.

virgil's mornings.

THESE great natural exhibi-
tions, evening and morning, have
always been thought peculiarly sus-
ceptible of poetical description and
embellishment. As I turned over
the pages of the Mantuan bard late-
ly, it occurred to me to enquire how
he had pictured the morning: for
often as I have read this my favour-
ite poet, I should not have been able
to give any account of his poetry in
this particular. I was surprised to
perceive, that the morning did not
appear to be a favourite object of
attention with him, for I did not
meet with it once in the Eclogues,
and only once in the Georgics. In

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the Æneid, which, as a narrative
conducted through many successive
days, would naturally require the
morning to be frequently introduced,
it occurs, I believe, only eleven
times, which is at the rate of less
than once in each book. The par-
ticular allusion or description ex-
tends to the length of two lines only
in two instances, and in three cases
the same identical line is repeated.
Three times does he repeat

Titheni croceum linguens Aurora cubile.

This is a very plain and concise
allusion to an old story, of Aurora
being enamoured of a Trojan prince,
Tithonus. Virgil seems to have been
very fond of this image, in which, I
must acknowledge, I cannot discover
either much propriety or beauty. It
seems with him a sort of technical
or customary description of the
morning, always proper, and always
at hand, when he was too lazy or
too barren for any other picture.
By the way, it is a literal translation
from Homer.

In the following passage he makes
an allusion to another mythological

Nonamque serena
Auroram Phaetonthis equi jam luce vehe-

This passage contains nothing
properly characteristic or descrip-
tive of the morning.

The ancients were much accus-
tomed to consider the sun as a deity,
riding in, or rather driving a cha-
riot, with sometimes two and some-
times four horses. The tale of
Phaeton, which is founded upon this
belief, is well known. Virgil, like the
other poets of his age and nation,
naturally fell into this allusion, as in
the following lines:

Puniceis invecta rotis Aurora rubebat.
Ethere ab alto
Aurora in roseis fulgebat lutea bigis.

That is, in the first of these pas-
sages, “Aurora, carried upon pur-
ple wheels,
reddens in the sky.” In
the second, “The yellow Aurora
shines in rosy traces.” In the first
case, the wheels, and in the second,
the yoke, or coupling, forms the
principal image.

In the following lines the poet
drops his mythological incumbran-
ces, and describes the natural ap-
without the least circuity
or ornament.

Jamque rubescebat radiis mare—Auro-
Jamque rubescebat stellis Aurora fugatis.
Aurora radiis retexerat orbem.
Humentamque Aurora polo dimoverat

In the following lines he returns a
little into the customary tract, and
speaks like his countrymen, as if the
earth was only an island in a flat

Oceanum interia surgens Aurora reliquit.

The following is the only passage
I have met with in which the mor-
ning is described, not with its phy-
but its moral accompaniments.
Sad, however, and strangely gloomy
is the garb in which the pensive
poet has arrayed her. He views
the dawn of day, not as the rural or
picturesque enthusiast, who is en-
chanted with its tints, or animated
with its cheerful promises, but like
the busy or slavish classes of man-
kind, to whom each rising day only
brings a renewal of labour and of

Aurora interia miseris mortalibus almam
Extulerat lucem referens opera atque la-

Virgil will, I think, appear not to
have shone very eminently in this
department of poetical description.
Many of our English poets, and
principally Spenser and Shakes-
peare, have described the morning

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in colours and with circumstances
far more picturesque, splendid, va-
rious, and rich, than any of the
Greek or Roman poets.


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