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1875, Sept. 25,
Gift of

Prof. William Everett,
of Cambridge.
(H. U. 1859)

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VOLUME THE

CONTAINING

The ENEID.

THIRD.

Book V.

Book VI.

Book VII.

Book VIII.

A DISSERTATION on the SIXTH Book of VIRGIL's ENEIS.

Obfervations on the SHIELD of NEAS.

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VIRGIL's ENEIS.

By WILLIAM WARBURTON, Lord Biskop of GLOUCESTER.

Taken from the Divine Legation, &c. Book II. Sect. 4.

T

HE purpose of this difcourfe is to fhew, that Eneas's adventure to the INFERNAL SHADES, is no other than a figurative defcription of his INITIATION INTO THE MYSTERIES: and particularly a very exact one of the SPECTACLES of the ELEUSINIAN.

To understand the propriety of the author's purpose in the ufe of this fine epifode, it will be proper to confider the nature of the NEIS.

Homer's two poems had each a plain and entire ftory, to convey as perfect a moral: And in this he is justly esteemed excellent. The Roman poet

VOL. III.

B

COS

could make no improvements here: The Greek was complete and perfect; fo that the patrons of Virgil, even Scaliger himfelf, are forced to feek for his fuperior advantages in his epifodes, defcriptions, fimiles, and in the chastity and correctness of his thoughts and diction: In the mean time, they have all overlooked the principal advantage he had over his great examplar.

Virgil found the epic poem in the first rank of human compofitions; but this was too narrow a foundation for his enlarged ambition: He was not content that its fubject fhould be to inftruct the world in MORALS, much less did he think of PHYSICS, though he was fond of natural enquiries, and Homer's allegories had opened a backdoor to let in the philofopher with the poet; but he afpired to make it a SYSTEM OF POLITICS. On this plan he wrote the Æneis; which is indeed as perfectly fuch, in verse, by EXAMPLE, as the Republics of Plato and Tully were in profe, by PRECEPT. Thus he added a new province to epic poefy. But though every one faw that Augustus was fhadowed in the perfon of Æneas, yet it being supposed that thofe political inftructions, which the poet defigned for the fervice of mankind, were for the fole use of his mafter, they miffed of the true nature of the poem. And in this ignorance, the fucceeding epic writers, following a poem whose genius they did not understand, wrote worfe than if they had only taken Homer, and his simpler plan, for their direction. A great modern poet, and beft judge of their merit, affures us of this fact; and what hath been faid will help us to explain the reason of it: The epic poets, says this admirable writer, have used the fame practice (that of Virgil,ofrunningtwo fables into one) but generally car

ried

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