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Borrowed probably from the Canticles, viii. 6,7. The ori. ginal is:
Ευνον τοισιν ερωσι το φαρμακον ενθα το λαθο.. .
The Septuagint: Κραταια ως θανατών αγαση, Cκλης© ως αδης ζηλG• σεριστερα αυτης περιστερα συρG, φλογές αυτης.
Υδως πολυ και δυνησεται σβεσαι την αγασης και σολαμοι και ζυγκλυ
• Love is strong as death; Jealoufy is cruel as the grave: The coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a moft vehement * flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the • foods drown it.'
And NemesiaNUS, Ecl. 4:
72. He fell, and crush'd her in the fountain wave, There is fome resemblance in the fate of CALLIMACHUS's youth, Epig. 11. DUNCOMBE hath thus translated the epigram;
A youth who thought his father's wife
When falling, sudden, on bis head,
IDYLLIUM the TWENTY-FOURTH.
But it certainly contains imagery and sentiment, which have not a feature of their genius, and far, indeed, surpass their powers. There is surely no reason for refusing it a place among the Idyllia of our poet. In some parts THEOCRITUS rises above his usual tenor, and foars to the heights of epic poetry. PHILOSTRATUS the younger hath drawn a fine picture of this ftory, where the artist had, probably, a view to the poem before
Thus too the painter of POLYPHEMUs and GALATEA might have copied, in a great degree, the Cyclops of THEOCRITUS. There is no doubt, indeed, but the ancient painters were much indebted to poetry, for the subjects and embellishments of their art. Homer himself hath been styled by Lucian the “ first of.
painters.” If we consider his shield of Achilles, we may be inclined to think that he borrowed his ideas from picture; so perspicuous and beautiful is the disposition of his imagery: But we are well assured, that ZeuxIS, POLYGNOTUS, and APELLES, were very afliduous in translating his beauties into colors.
Soon as ALÇMENA bade her pleasing care,
Walh'd, and with milk well fed, for rest prepare. We see the first ladies among the ancients—even princesses, by no means superior to nature. They were not placed in so elevated a situation, as to license their contempt of humanity,
But our modern ladies may view themselves (enviable pre-emi. nence indeed !) above life's comforts-shall we add its failings too! The translator, however, begs he may not be misunderstood. He is not influenced by a blind veneration for the ancients; nor would he insinuate a dislike to modern usages or manners. Though, in the times of primitive fimplicity, the Princess Alcmena might walh her children with, propriety and decorum, such an office in a lady of distinction, might possibly at the present day, be unbecoming and revolting. Yet are the great lines of parental duty indelible, either by custom or fashion. They are equally visible to the unjaundiced eye, in every age and country. Through the false media, indeed, of
corruption and luxury, these lines have been dimly seen by the ancients as well as ourselves. A CORNELIA, an AURELIA, or an ATTIA, might have adorned their distinguished stations by an unremitted attention to the education of their children : But we have on record many unamiable examples of females, who, corrupted by the vitiating fashions, had little claim to the name of mothers. The philosopher PHAVORINUS (as Aulus GELLIUS informs us) reprimanded the wife of a senator, for making the unnatural resolution—not to nurse her own child. From this sacred duty, prompted by instinct, and enforced by reason, no ftation, however eminent, can exempt the.parent. It is a duty whose obligation is indispensable from the wife of a peasant to the consort of a king—though more meritorious in a personage of high rank, while opposed by fashionable folly, than in the mother of an infant Hercules, while according with primæval fimplicity.
Bristled their azure scales o'er
many The appearance of the serpent hath been a noble subject for poetic description, among the Greek authors, from the Argonautics of Orpheus, to the Herculiscus of THEOCRITUS. ORPHEUS finely paints the serpent that guarded the golden fleece. (Argon, 1. 925.) Pindar, in his first Nemean ode, relates the story
before us in a very animating manner. The ferpents of VIRGIL, that devoured LAOCOON's sons, are more striking than
other which the Roman writers have presented to us.
LINE 28. And through the room a steady splendor broke Perhaps (says Mr. Warton) the fiery eyes of the serpents may be supposed to be the cause of this light. But he prefers, with the translator, the idea of a supernatural illumination. See Dissertation. Such imagery hath a ftrong effect on the fancynot unlike the horror we feel amidst the enchanted scenes of Tasso or ARIOSTO.
LINE 47. And see what light o'er all the chamber falls. Does not this appear to be imitated from Homer--where TELEMACHUS and Ulysses are surveying by night the armoury of of the Royal Palace! See Odyssey, b. xix. 1. 37. Compare SOPHOCLES, Trachin. 1. 880.
LINE.66. Flung the dead monsters at his father's feet. This is a fine stroke of the poet. We have been terrified at the marvellous atchievements of the infant Hercules. But here our sensations become mixed. While he throws the ferpents at his father's feet, we have still a shade of terror on our minds; but his engaging manner, so natural to his age, recalls our preconceptions of the child; and tempers our fear with the feelings of affection.
LINE 87. The days shall come, when many a maid of Greece, &c.
The predictions of the seers were, in general, no better than casual conjectares. Such venerable personages, indeed, as TIRESIAS, might have possessed, from long experience and observation,
a degree of fagacity and foresight, very nearly approaching the prophetic fpirit. But of all the heathen writers of antiquity, who have affumed the style and manner of the prophet, the poet Seneca is the most happy in his oracles. The following prediction is clear and beautiful: it is free from all oracular ambiguity:
Medea, Act, 2. No one will hesitate in the application of these lines to the discovery of America. Yet they were written near fifteen hun. dred years before the event took place.
With respect to the particular passage before us in the prophecy of TIRESIAS, we may remark, that the Greeks not only celebrated their heroes and heroines in popular songs (which hath been common enough in all countries) but were probably accustomed to recite and fing, at their festivals, those long heroic poems, the compositions of their first-rate writers. APOLLONIUS RHODIUS, Argon. 4. very plainly alludes to this usage, while he predicts, in triumph, the fate of his poems, to be sung at each succeeding festival, with increasing pleasure and applause. Homer is said to have chaunted his own verses—which, perhaps, may be collected from himself. Hymn to Apollo, l. 169.
Partly WARTON. The modern Greek ladies are said to be equally as much attached to historic songs or tales as the ancient. They love • fables and romances: the matrons are fond of relating, and the
young women plume themselves on their adroitness in repeat*ing those they have learnt, or can compose from such incidents as happen within their knowledge. These ftories are told, • and ditties chaunted, during the occupation of spinning or • embroidery. The latter, indeed, is the chief employment of