I HAVE found it noted in a certain commentary that the following lines were first read and published by Virgil in this form: 1 [p. 83]
Such is the soil that wealthy Capua ploughsThat afterwards Virgil asked the people of Nola to allow him to run their city water into his estate, which was near by, but that they refused to grant the favour which he asked; that thereupon the offended poet erased the name of their city from his poem, as if consigning it to oblivion, changing Nola to ora (region) and leaving the phrase in this form:
And Nola near Vesuvius' height.
The region near Vesuvius' height.With the truth or falsity of this note I am not concerned; but there is no doubt that ora has a more agreeable and musical sound than Nola. For the last vowel in the first line and the first vowel in the following line being the same, the sound is prolonged by an hiatus that is at the same time melodious and pleasing. Indeed, it is possible to find in famous poets many instances of such melody, which appears to be the result of art rather than accident; but in Homer they are more frequent than in all other poets. In fact, in one single passage he introduces a number of sounds of such a nature, and with such an hiatus, in a series of successive words; for example: 2
The other fountain e'en in summer flows,and similarly in another place: 4 5 [p. 85]
Like unto hail, chill snow, or crystal ice,
Boy, who servest old Falernian,although he might have said ebrio, and used acinum in the neuter gender, as was more usual, nevertheless through love of the melody of that Homeric hiatus he said ebria, because it blended with the following a. But those who think that Catullus wrote ebriosa or ebrioso—for that incorrect reading is also found—have unquestionably happened upon editions copied from corrupt texts.
Pour out stronger cups for me,
Following queen 6 Postumia's mandate,
Tipsier she than tipsy grape,