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[268] A few MSS. (including Gud. a m. p.) give ‘obscura soli,’ which, as Heyne remarks, would be the more ordinary distribution of the epithets. ‘Obscurus’ of persons concealed 2. 135, G. 4. 424. For ‘solus’ applied to things where persons are really thought of, comp. G. 3. 249; though in each case there is of course a certain propriety in the epithet as applied to the thing. Heins. restored ‘umbram’ for ‘umbras’ (Gud. a m. s. &c.).

[269] Vacuas and ‘inania’ both give the notion of empty space, indicating that the mansions of the dead are capable of receiving all comers, and that their present inmates are unsubstantial, so that earthly travellers there would feel a sense of desolation, the same which has been already expressed by ‘sola sub nocte.’ Hom. makes the unburied Patroclus say ἀλλ᾽ αὔτως ἀλάλημαι ἀν᾽ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος δῶ, Il. 23. 74. With ‘inania regna’ Taubm. well comp. “domus exilis Plutonia” Hor. 1 Od. 4. 17. “Locus inanis” is applied to Avernus by Lucr. 6.832 in a different sense, the inability of the birds to exist there being accounted for by the supposition that there is no atmosphere.

[270] Per incertam lunam answers to ‘per umbram,’ v. 268, ‘sub luce maligna’ to ‘sola sub nocte.’ The moonlight is looked upon as a medium through which they pass. Comp. 2. 255, “per amica silentia lunae,” ib. 340 “oblati per lunam,” though in both cases the expression is somewhat less harsh: see also G. 4. 59, “nare per aestatem liquidam.” Henry is rather hypercritical in objecting to the ordinary view of ‘incertam lunam’ as “the struggling moonbeam's misty light,” like “incertos soles” 3. 203, though the epithet doubtless includes the sense which he maintains, ‘unsure, not to be depended on,’ a general attribute of moonlight as compared with sunlight. Serv. mentions a reading ‘inceptam,’ still found in some MSS., and apparently supported by Donatus, who explains “in ipsis initiis positam,” though Serv. thinks the two words mean the same thing, as it must be the new moon that is spoken of. ‘Maligna’ churlish or niggardly, as in G. 2. 179.

[271] “‘In silvis,’ quae etiam exignum illud lucis sua densitate possunt eripere.” Donatus. There is also of course a reference to the difficulty of picking one's way where there is no road. Comp. the description of Nisus and Euryalus 9. 381 foll.: also Hor. 2 S. 3. 48, “velut silvis, ubi passim Palantis error certo de tramite pellit.

[272] Iuppiter, as the god of the sky, E. 7. 60. ‘Colorem:’ the early commentators discuss this doctrine of the removal of colour by night. Serv. says “Hoc et videmus, et tractatur ab Epicureis, rebus tollere noctem colorum varietatem: unde et apud inferos omnia nigra esse dicuntur. Contra hos Academici una repugnant: nam squamas piscium lucere per noctem comprobatur.” Comp. the exposition of Lucr. 2.730—841.

[273] “Vestibulum ante ipsum primoque in limine” 2. 469, where see note on the meaning of ‘vestibulum.’ ‘Primis faucibus’ is distinguished from ‘vestibulum’ by Gell. 16. 5, who reports Sulpicius Apollinaris as explaining it as “iter angustum, per quod ad vestibulum adiretur;” but it would seem more simple to understand the two expressions as poetically equivalent. Comp. G. 4. 467, “Taenarias fauces, alta ostia Ditis.” Orcus, the god of the dead, is here as elsewhere used for the place, like Ἅιδης. Donatus remarks of the assemblage of personified evils that follows, “In hoc erant omnia quae cruciant vivos aut defunctos affligunt.” Germ. refers very happily to a bold personification in Lucr. 3.65 foll., which not improbably suggested this mythological picture to Virg., and at any rate furnishes an admirable comment on it: “Turpis enim ferme contemptus, et acris egestas
Semota ab dulci vita stabilique videntur,
Et quasi iam leti portas cunctarier ante.

We may well be reminded also of such pasages as Psalm lxxxviii. 2 foll., “For my soul is full of trouble, and my life draweth nigh unto hell. . . Free among the dead, like unto them that are wounded and lie in the grave, who are out of remembrance, and are cut away from thy hand.”

[274] Luctus is half personified 2. 369. ‘Ultrices Curae’ seems rightly explained by Serv. of the stings of conscience. The commentators refer to the well-known passage in Juv. 13. 192 foll.

[275] “Subeunt morbi tristisque senectus, Et labor et durae rapit inclementia mortisG. 3. 67.

[276] ‘Malesuadus’ occurs in Plaut.: see Forc. The sense is not unlike that which is sometimes borne by ‘inprobus’ in Virg., e. g. 280, 356. Comp. Hom.'s language about the stomach Od. 17. 286 foll. ‘Turpis’ seems to refer to physical unsightliness. ‘Ac’ was restored by Heins. for ‘et.

[277] “Horribili visu portenta” 11. 271. ‘Letum’ appears as if strictly speaking it ought not to have been placed before the gates of Orcus: but it is regarded as one of the many human ills. ‘Labos’ was restored by Heins. for ‘Labor.

[278] As Macrob., Sat. 5. 7, points out from Il. 14. 231, ἔνθ᾽ Ὕπνῳ ξύμβλητο, κασιγνήτῳ Θανάτοιο (comp. Il. 16. 682, where Sleep and Death carry off the dead Sarpedon to Lycia). A critic of this work in the “Reader” finds a difficulty in the introduction of Sleep among these forms of human ill, and suggests that ‘Sopor’ really means lethargy. But though Sleep regarded from one point of view is the restorer of nature, it is quite intelligible that it should be considered as itself a sign of the weakness which it remedies, at the same time that the suspension of consciousness, in which it resembles death, may naturally impress the imagination as an actual evil. That it is not fanciful to attribute such considerations to an ancient poet may be seen by comparing the Sophoclean ὕπνος παντογήρως (Ant. 606), where the feeling is precisely the same, Sleep being regarded as an actual agent in human decay, though it has been lost on several of the later critics, who wish to alter the text. ‘Mala mentis gaudia’ i. q. “malae mentis gaudia.” Sen. Ep. 59 thinks the epithet an improper one, as joy is always a good thing, since none but the wise can feel it. Virg. doubtless means to include evil pleasures of all kinds, as real evils, the end of which is death.

[279] “Adverso in limine” below v. 636. Here it is merely poetical surplusage, saying, what has been said before, that these figures are at the gate fronting those who wished to enter, unless we choose to say with Serv. that war, being the chief cause of death, is placed at the threshold when the others are at the vestibule, or, what would be the same thing, that the thought is repeated in order to call special attention to the case of war. For the personification of War comp. 1. 294., 7. 607, and see Aristoph. Peace 205 &c.

[280] The Furies are mentioned below, vv. 570 foll., as carrying on their work within: so that it has been questioned why they are represented here among the guardians of the gate. It has been replied that the Furies may be distinguished from the Eumenides; that the meaning may be that they sleep here, but work elsewhere, a view somewhat favoured by the form of expression, which speaks of their chambers, not of themselves, though it would naturally stand for the Furies and their chambers; that Virg. has been inconsistent, perhaps following different legends. Either of the two latter views seems probable. Virg. however has doubtless an object in placing the Furies on the threshold, which seems to have been their seat (see on v. 563 below), and there is something of the same inconsistency in his language about the Hydra, vv. 287, 576. The ‘thalami’ are chambers, compared by Heyne to the cells of the porters in some Roman houses (Dict. A. ‘Domus,’ ‘Ianua’). Vulcan's ‘thalamus’ is of gold, 8. 372, where the synizesis “aureo” illustrates ‘ferrei’ here. Another question was raised by Serv. about the propriety of the word as applied to the Furies, ‘thalamus’ generally meaning a bridal chamber: but Cerda shows from Ov. M. 2. 738 &c. that it is attributed to maidens also. ‘Discordia’ had been already personified by Ennius (?) whose words are quoted by Hor. 1 S. 4. 60. So the Homeric Ἔρις.

[281] Virg. represents Discord as a Fury, with snakes for hair. ‘Vipereum crinem’ like “anguino capillo” Catull. 62 (64.) 193. ‘Vipereus’ occurs again 7. 351, 753.

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