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mus Troes, fuit Ilium :' for, to avoid saying that a man was dead, the Romans said fuit, by an euphemismus.
Cumæum carmen cannot be the poem of Hesiod, for Virgil calls him Ascræum senem, and his poems Ascræum
It must be, as Servius interprets it, Carmen Sibyllinum.
Hence we may suppose, that in Virgil's time there were said to be Sibylline oracles, which mentioned the return of the golden age, and a renovation of happy days: but whether these oracles were forged by a Jew, or by a Pagan, or whether the substance of them were stolen from the holy Scriptures, or whether Virgil borrowed any of his ideas and expressions from these oracles, is a matter of doubt and uncertainty. It cannot be denied, that there is a great resemblance between Virgil's Eclogue and the sacred Prophecies. See Bp. Chandler's Def. p. 10, &c.
Virgil's fourth Eclogue is a continued prophecy; and he must be supposed, for the sake of the decorum, to have acquired this foresight one way or other, else the poem would appear ridiculous. He gives no intimation that he was himself inspired,—I speak of prophetic, not of poetic inspiration ; and father Hesiod was no predicter of future events, so that from him he could not pretend to learn it. Whence then could he feign to have it, but from old oracles, from the Cumæum carmen? If he had set up on this occasion for a prophet, he would have spoiled his compliment; it was better to represent himself as only an interpreter of antient prophecies, which he adorned with the graces of Latin poesy : this gave the Eclogue an air of importance and authority.
He pronounces that the golden age should commence under Augustus, and at the birth of his son, and should be brought to perfection when the young hero should arrive to manhood; and when his father (as the reader was left to suppose) was returned to heaven, and become one of the celestial gods.
Virgil has touched upon the same subject in other places : let us compare them together,
He declares, Georg. i. 24. that Augustus, when he should leave the earth, would become a god; one of the • Düi majorum gentium.'
Tuque adeo, quem mox quæ sint habitura deorum
Jampridem nobis cæli te regia, Cæsar,
He intimates, ver. 500, that Augustus should restore peace and happiness; and that he was intended
everso succurrere sæclo.'
Again, in the vi. Æneis, the Sibyl, the Cumæan virgin and prophetess, leads Æneas to Elysium, where he learns that Augustus should arise and bring with him the golden age. 792.
Hic vir, hic est, tibi quem promitti sæpius audis :
Sæcula qui rursus Latiopromitti, that is, foretold by the gods and their prophets. And again, 799. • Hujus in adventum jam nunc et Caspia regna
Responsis horrent divům.' My inference from these things is, that Virgil by Cumæum carmen meant a Sibylline oracle; but I say not that he took any thing thence, besides a renovation and a golden age.
Virgil certainly paid no sincere regard to the Sibyl, and to her predictions. The Epicurean philosophy, in his days, had debauched the wits and the polite world ; and he, as well as his friend Horace, was infected with it: but Virgil saw plainly that the atheistical system would make a poor figure in heroic poetry, and therefore has introduced it sparingly and obliquely. They who deny his Epicureism are persons with whom it would be a folly to dispute.
Not only the Sibylline oracles are to be rejected, but there is reason to suspect the Orphic verses, and also some few of the fragments of antient poets produced by the fathers, to have been forged or interpolated by Sews or Christians. Such are the Orphic verses cited by Justin. Cohort. S 15, and by others;
Φθέγξομαι οίς θέμις έστι-&c.
Cudworth declared his doubts concerning them, Intell. Syst. p. 200. See also Le Clerc Hist. Eccl. p. 692. • Les peres, au moins Clement Alexandrin, savoient bien que l'on avoit attribué plusieurs choses à Orphée, qui n'en étoient point, et l'on a sujet de doubter qu'ils crussent bien assurément que le passage de l'unité de Dieu fût de lui. Ils ont pu le citer, contre ceux qui pouvoient croire qu'il en étoit effectivement, par un raisonnement, dont les philosophes même se servent, faute de plus propres à persuader ceux, à qui ils ont à faire, et dont ils disent; valeat quantum poterit valere. Le Clerc, Bibl. Chois. xxvii. 438.
In Eusebius Præp. Evang. xii. 12. these Orphic verses are to be found, as they were produced by Aristobulus.
An oracle of Apollo, cited by Justin, Cohort. S xi. and by Porphyry, in Eusebius Præp. Evang. ix. 10. says;
Μούνοι Χαλδαίοι σοφίην λάχον, ήδ' άρ' Εβραίοι,
Qui casto æternum venerantur Numen honore.' Here the Pagans and Porphyry were the dupes, who took this for a sacred oracle. Justin and Eusebius seem to use it as an argumentum ad hominem. Justin reads oy autóv.
Some have suspected, but without sufficient reason, this book of Porphyry to be forged. See a Dissertation in Le Clerc, Bibl. Chois. xiii. 178. which well deserves to be perused. The author, whom I take to have been Le Clerc himself, acts the part of a moderator between Fontenelle or Van Dale, and their antagonist; and upon the whole is most inclined to side with the former, though not in every thing. lle blames the latter for using figures of rhetoric instead of reasons, treating Van Dale and Fontenelle as Socinians, setting the mob at them, and such sort of pauvretez. But as great guns are the 'ratio ultima regum,' so these are the ratio ultima disputatorum,' and supply the want of ammunition : and yet it is not altogether fair and honourable war;
it is shooting chewed bullets and glass bottles.
*Cæterum,' says Le Clerc, notatu dignissimum est hoc oraculum, quod neque a Judæo, neque a Christiano, neque etiam ab Ethnico e vulgo fingi potuit.' Oper. Phil. tom. ii. in Indice, Hebræi.
Yet it might be made by some fantastical Pagan, who entertained a favourable opinion of the Chaldæans and of the Jews; or rather by some Jew, who was not very scrupulous, and who might join the Chaldæans to the Jews, thinking it would remove the suspicion that the oracle was framed by a Jew: he might also give this honour to the Chaldæans for the sake of his father Abraham, who was a Chaldæan. Or it might be the work of some old heretic, or of some foolish Christian. It seems to have been forged in the same shop where the Orphic verses before mentioned were fabricated : No one knew God, says this Orpheus;
Ει μη μουνογενής τις απορρώξ φύλου άνωθεν
Ast aliquis tantum Chaldæo a sanguine cretus.' By whom, says Clemens, he means Abraham, or his son, Strom. v. p. 723. · Clemens observes, that Orpheus borrowed his thoughts and expressions from the Scriptures; and so far he is certainly in the right.
An oracle of Apollo in Lactantius De Fals. Rel. i. 7. says,
Ούνομα μηδε λόγο χωρούμενον, εν πυρί ναίων,
Hoc Deus est: modica autem Dei portio angeli nos.'
There are more of the same stamp in Lactantius; and also Sibylline oracles bearing the most manifest marks of imposture.
Justin Cohort. S 16, and others after him, give us these Sibylline verses, which teach the unity of God, and condemn idolatry and sacrifices, and exhort to the love of God; and are altogether in the language of the Scriptures, and carry their own confutation along with them :
Είς Θεός δς μόνος εστίν υπερμεγέθης, αγένητος,
Ημείς δ' αθανάτοιο τρίβους πεπλανημένοι ή μεν,
Είδωλα ξοάνων τε καταφειμένων τ' ανθρώπων.
Ac opera manu facta colebamus stulta mente
Τετραπόδων, βλέψουσι δ' ενος Θεού ές μέγα κύδος.
Quadrupedum; et respicient ad unius Dei magnum decus.' In the fourth line, instead of τρίβους, one might read αθανάτοιο τρίβου, with απο understood; which may be translated, “We have erred from the everlasting path ;' but I rather think that αθανάτοιο τρίβου means • the path of God ;' απο της τρίβου του 'Αθανάτου.
'Εγνώρισας όδους ζωής. Psalm. XV. 11. Τί έπλάνησας ημάς απο της οδού σου ; Isai. 1xiii. 17. Στητε επι ταις οδούς, και ίδετε, και ερωτήσατε τρίτους Κυρίου αιωνίους και ίδετε ποία εστίν η οδος ή αγαθή. Jerem. vi. 16.
Jerem. vi. 16. And the prophetess says in another place,
τρίβον ορθήν Ευθείαν προλιπόντες. Justin in his Dialogue takes no notice of the Sibyl; in his Apology he mentions her as foretelling the conflagration at the last day, and saying many good things; and complains that it was forbidden to read her.
The Cohortatio is
• Rather defunctorum. But I leave the Latin versions usually as
Ι find them, though sometimes they want emendation,