« السابقةمتابعة »
Spring of Harmony and Nature, would employ the powers it derived from the former to celebrate the beauty and benevolence of the latter.
ACCORDINGLY we find that the most ancient poems treat of agriculture, aftronomy, and other objects within the rural and natural fyftems.
WHAT conftitutes the difference between the Georgic and the Pastoral is love and the colloquial, or dramatic form of compofition peculiar to the latter: this form of compofition is fometimes difpenfed with, and love and rural imagery alone are thought fufficient to distinguish the paftoral. The tender paffion, however, feems to be effential to this fpecies of poetry, and is hardly ever excluded from those pieces that were intended to come under this denomination: even in thofe eclogues of the Amobean
bean kind, whose only purport is a trial of skill between contending fhepherds, love has its ufual fhare, and the praises of their respective miftreffes are the general fubjects of the competitors.
Ir is to be lamented that scarce any oriental compofitions of this kind have furvived the ravages of ignorance, tyranny and time; we cannot doubt that many fuch have been extant, poffibly as far down as that fatal period, never to be mentioned in the world of letters without horrour, when the glorious mo numents of human ingenuity perished in the afhes of the Alexandrian library.
THOSE ingenious Greeks whom we call the parents of paftoral poetry were, probably, no more than imitators of imitators, that derived their harmony from higher and remoter four
ces, and kindled their poetical fires at those then unextinguished lamps which burned within the tombs of oriental genius.
IT is evident that Homer has availed himself of thofe magnificent images and descriptions fo frequently to be met with in the books of the Old Teftament; and why may not Theocritus, Mofchus and Bion have found their archetypes in other eaftern writers, whofe names have perished with their works? yet, though it may not be illiberal to admit fuch a fuppofition, it would, certainly, be invidious to conclude what the malignity of cavillers alone could fuggeft with regard to Homer, that they destroyedthe fources from which they borrowed, and, as it is fabled of the young of the pelican, drained their supporters to death.
As the feptuagint-translation of the Old Teftament was performed at the request, and under the patronage of Ptolemy Phliladelphus, it were not to be wondered if Theocritus, who was entertained at that prince's court, had borrowed fome part of his paftoral imagery from the poetical paffages of those books.—I think it can hardly be doubted that the Sicilian poet had in his eye certain expreffions of the prophet Ifaiah, when he wrote the following lines.
Νυν ία μεν φορεοίlε βατοι, φορεοιτε δ' ἀκανθαι
Let vexing brambles the blue violet bear,
And the bold deer fhall drag the trembling
the caufe, indeed, of these phoenomena is very different in the Greek from what it is in the Hebrew poet; the former employing them on the death, the latter on the Birth of an important perfon but the marks of imitation are nevertheless obvious.
IT might, however, be expected that if Theocritus had borrowed at all from the facred writers, the celebrated pastoral Epitka!amium of Solomon, so much within his own walk of Poetry, would not certainly have escaped his notice. His Epithalamium on the marriage of Helena, moreover, gave him an open field for imitation; therefore, if he has any obligations to the royal bard, we may expect to find them there. The very opening of the poem is in the fpirit of the Hebrew song:
Ουτω δὲ πρωΐζα κατεδραθος, ὦ φιλε γαμβρε;