« VorigeDoorgaan »
A Quarterly Journal Published by the
The study of Vergil's life-story, chronicled as it has been by many hands and at many times through almost two millenniums, yields results which far transcend antiquarian or pedantic interests. The figure of the poet may be used as a kind of constant by which to measure the progress of human thought. Every age has tended to fashion a Vergil after its own image, as it were.
Modern rationalism has played sad havoc with the picturesque coloring worked by the medieval man into his portraits of the poet. Gone forever is the likeness of the prophet-bard, "the sea of all wisdom," him whose pages formed a veritable oracle for the guidance of human life; gone, also, is the figure of the Neapolitan thaumaturge, the story of whose deeds and escapades was so widely circulated in the Middle Ages and even in the early Renaissance by poets and chroniclers. The sophistication on which modernity prides itself has its penalties. Readers of this paper, which essays to present an outline of the criticism expended on the biography of Vergil from the Renaissance down to this gray age when alchemy is obsolete and
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
will be confronted with material very sober and very prosaic compared with that found in the fascinating pages of Comparetti. And yet, in my eyes at least, all romance was not immediately shorn from our subject when the world emerged from medievalism. At all events, the history of modern biographical criticism of Vergil has its piquant chapters, and is by no means devoid of