Vergil and literary history
The Eclogues, a series of pastoral poems on Greek models, may have been published around 39-38, and are Vergil's first great acknowledged works. Some time thereafter, Vergil became known to the wealthy patron Maecenas and thus to Octavian, the future emperor Augustus. The fourth of the Eclogues forecasts an age of peace to follow upon the birth of a child. There are many debates about the identity of this child, but he was most probably a member of Octavian's family. The themes of a lost golden age, and the possibility of a return to it, are well-known in pagan Greek and Roman mythology. Hesiod and Ovid, respectively, provide the canonical versions of the "Ages of Man". For various reasons, including the resemblance of his name (Vergilius) to virga, the word for magic wand/staff, our poet's name is often spelled with two "i"s.
The prose selections in both your textbook and Thirty-Eight Latin Stories focus on the "messianic" interpretation of the fourth Eclogue. The child in this poem was understood by the fourth century A.D. to have been Jesus of Nazareth, and such understanding helped to contribute to Vergil's reputation as an "honorary Christian"-a pagan who would surely have chosen to be Christian, had he been born soon enough.
Because the view of Vergil as an extraordinarily good pagan carried forward into the middle ages and because of the cultural importance of the Aeneid, Dante (1265 - 1321) makes Vergil his guide in the underworld in his great epic The Divine Comedy (early 14th century).
Provided here, for your enjoyment, is a translation of Vergil's entire 4th Eclogue along with the Latin text.
Now read the Wheelock selection and answer the comprehension questions; and after that, listen to and read the version in your Thirty-Eight Latin Stories and answer those questions.
In the Wheelock "condensed version" of the fourth Eclogue, you will get a good workout in forms of the passive voice and also see the imagery that led to this interpretation. When you have read the version on p. 139 of your textbook, and are satisfied that you understand it, give yourself the self-assessment below. Answer the first four questions in Latin if you can.
1. Describe the nature and origin of the puer who will bring about the new Golden Age.
2. What will precede the new Golden Age?
3. What coincides with the maturation of the puer into a vir?
4. What will be enough for the author (i.e. what will be sufficient satisfaction/reward for him?)
5. Parse the new passive forms in the story as follows; they happen to come from just one verb:
a) give their line number; translate each form; give tense, person, number, and mood, and identify the conjugation of this particular verb. Give the corresponding plural or singular form, keeping same person and number.
b) give the present passive infinitive of this verb
mittitur, line 1 – mittētur, line 5.
The Golden Age Returns
This condensed adaptation elaborates upon some of the points made in your textbook adaptation. Listen to and read the story and when you are satisfied that you understand it, answer the following questions.
Parse the passive forms and give the present passive infinitive; identify which conjugation these verbs are from (same directions as for the Wheelock adaptation). Numbers refer to the forms’ respective line numbers.
1) nascitur 2) līberābitur 3) vidēbitur 11) relinquentur 13) tangetur
Give a synopsis of accipiet (he will accept, line 3) as follows: present active indicative, imperfect active indicative, and perfect active indicative; present passive indicative, future passive indicative, imperfect passive indicative, and perfect passive indicative. Give as well the present active and the present passive infinitive.