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124. Homer the author of the "Iliad," and the greatest epic poet of antiquity. Seven Grecian cities contended for the honor of having given him birth.

129. Mantuan Muse: Virgil, who was born near Mantua, 70 B.C. After Homer, the greatest poet of antiquity. His full name was Publius Virgilius Maro, the latter part of which appears in the next line. It is said that before writing the “Æneid,” he contemplated a poem on Alban and Roman affairs, but found the subject beyond his powers.




133. But

138. Stagirite

Aristotle. He was born at Stagira, a town in Macedonia; hence the name Stagirite,

142. Happiness 158. Prospects

fortuitous elegance or felicity of expression. landscapes.

183. Secure from flames, etc. "The poet here alludes to the four principal causes of the ravage among ancient writings. The destruction of the Alexandrine and Palatine libraries by fire, the fiercer rage of Zoilus, Mavius, and their followers, against wit; the irruption of the Barbarians into the empire; and the long reign of ignorance and superstition in the cloisters.” - WARTON.

186. Paans = a song of rejoicing, among the ancients, in honor of Apollo. 216. Pierian pertaining to the Muses. From Mount Pierus, in Thessaly, sacred to the Muses.

218. Drinking largely is the subject of sobers.

237. That maligant dull delight, that is, of seeking to find slight faults.

the dome of St. Peter's, designed by

248. Even thine, O Rome! Michael Angelo.

265. Notions

judgments, opinions.

267. La Mancha's Knight = Don Quixote, the hero of a work written by Cervantes, a Spanish author, in 1605.

270. Dennis a mediocre author, born in 1657. For an account of his literary quarrels, see the sketch of Pope. 286. Curious difficult to please. — Nice: please.

over-scrupulous, hard to











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289. Conceit
308. Content
322. Sort suit, fit.

328. Fungoso = a character in one of Ben Jonson's plays, who assumed the dress and tried to pass himself off for another.

gay, showy men.

329. Sparks 337. Most 344. These:

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odd, fanciful notion, affected conception.
acquiescence without examination.

most persons or critics.

these persons.

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356. Alexandrine = a verse consisting of twelve syllables; so called from a French poem on the life of Alexander written in that measure. next line is an Alexandrine.


361. Sir John Denham was born at Dublin in 1615, and died in 1668. His poems contain here and there an expression of considerable force. Edmund Waller was born in 1606 and died in 1687. See reference to Waller in preceding pages.

366. Zephyr = strictly the west wind; but poetically, any soft, gentle


= a hero of the Trojan war, represented by Homer as, next to Achilles, the bravest and handsomest of the Greeks.

370. Ajax


372. Camilla - Queen of the Volscians, an army of whom she led to battle against Æneas. She was so remarkable for her swiftness that she is described by the poets as flying over the corn without bending the stalks, and skimming over the surface of the water without wetting her feet.

374. Timotheus = a celebrated musician of Thebes in Boeotia. Invited to attend the nuptials of Alexander the Great, he is said to have animated that monarch in so powerful a degree that he started up and seized his Dryden made use of the incident in his celebrated ode, "Alexander's



376. Son of Libyan Jove = a title assumed by Alexander. 394. Some is the subject of despise understood. foreign writers."


400. Sublimes


404. Each qualifies age understood.

415. Quality=high rank, superior birth or station.

418. Madrigal = a short lyrical poem, adapted to the quaint and terse expression of some pleasant thought, generally on the subject of love.

424. The vulgar : the common people.

440. School-divines school-men; that is, philosophers and divines of the Middle Ages, who adopted the principles of Aristotle, and spent much time on points of abstract speculation, sometimes ridiculous in character. 441. Sentences =

passages from recognized authorities in the church.


444. Scotists followers of Duns Scotus, one of the most famous schoolmen of the fourteenth century. He taught at Oxford and Paris. He was distinguished for the zeal and ability with which he defended the immaculate conception of the Virgin- -a doctrine that was, in 1854, declared by papal authority to be a necessary article of the Roman Catholic faith. At the Renaissance the Scotists opposed the new learning, and added the word dunce, that is, a Dunsman, to our language. Thomists followers of Thomas Aquinas, one of the ablest school-men of the thirteenth century. He taught at Paris, Rome, Bologna, and Pisa. He denied the immaculate conception.


"Some (despise)


The works of these authors abounded, not in useful knowledge, but in finespun theories and argumentation.

445. Duck Lane = a place in London where old books were sold.

447. "What wonder [is it that] modes in wit," etc.

449. Ready keen, prompt. Understand to be after proves.

459. Parsons, critics, beaux. — Referring to Jeremy Collier, and the

Duke of Buckingham.

463. Blackmores = Sir Richard Blackmore, one of the court physicians in the reigns of William III. and Anne, and characterized " as the most voluminous and heavy poetaster of his own or any other age."- Millbourn Rev. Luke Millbourn, who criticised Dryden with much justice.

465. Zoilus: a grammarian and sophist of Amphipolis, who rendered himself known by his severe criticisms on the poems of Homer, for which he received the nickname, "Chastiser of Homer." See note on line 183.

479. Patriarch-wits the antediluvians.

495. Brings: = causes.

begin or appear to be.

· Charles II.

496. Its refers to wit or genius. 509. Commence 536. Easy monarch 545. Socinus. Faustus and Lælius Socinus were Italian theologians of the sixteenth century, who denied the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the personality of the devil, the native and total depravity of man, the vicarious atoncment, and the eternity of future punishment.

fabled giants of ancient mythology, who made war against


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552. Titans the gods.

564. Sense = judgment. The same also in line 566. 585. Appius Dennis. See sketch of Pope for an account of the terary quarrel of the two poets. 599. So long to such an extent.


606. "Run on [as] poets," etc.

617. Durfey =Thomas D'Urfey, a writer of plays and poems in the reign of Charles II., with whom he was a favorite for his wit, liveliness, and songs. He is best remembered for his collection of songs, entitled "Pills to Purge Melancholy,” the tales here referred to by Pope.

619. Garth Sir Samuel Garth, an eminent physician and poet of some reputation, born in 1660. His professional skill was associated with great conversational powers. His best-known work is "The Dispensary," a poetical satire on the apothecaries and those physicians who sided with them in opposing the project of giving medicine gratuitously to the sick poor.

623. Paul's Churchyard = headquarters of the London booksellers before the great fire. 645. Stagirite.

See note on line 138.



648. Mæonian star Homer, who is supposed by some to have been born in Mæonia, a district in Asia Minor. Aristotle derived many of his elements of criticism from Homer.

652. Who conquered nature= Aristotle, the greatest naturalist of his day. He wrote a Natural History, Physics, and Astronomy, in addition to his metaphysical treatises.


665. Dionysius was a learned critic and rhetorician, as well as historian. He was born at Halicarnassus, about 50 B.C., but came to Rome in early manhood, where he spent the remainder of his life. Among his critical works the principal are Censura Veterum Scriptorum, Ars Rhetorica, and De Compositione Verborum, which are said to possess high literary merit.

667. Petronius = a Roman voluptuary at the court of Nero, whose profligacy is said to have been of the most elegant description. He had charge of the royal entertainments. He is the author, it is believed, of a work entitled Petronii Arbitri Satyricon, which gives a horrible picture of the depravity of the times.

669. Quintilian = a celebrated teacher of rhetoric and oratory at Rome. He was born in Spain in 40 A.D. His chief work, entitled De Institutione Oratoria, is a complete system of rhetoric. He stood high in the favor of the Emperor Domitian.

675. Longinus a Platonic philosopher and famous rhetorician, who was born, according to some, in Syria, and, according to others, in Athens, about 213 A.D. His knowledge was so extensive that he was called a “living library" and a "walking museum;" hence Pope speaks of him as inspired of all the nine Muses. He was probably the best critic of antiquity. The only work that has come down to us is a treatise "On the Sublime.” 692. Goths = a powerful Germanic nation that had no small part in the destruction of the Roman Empire.


693. Erasmus = a distinguished scholar of the period of the Reformation. He was born at Rotterdam in 1467. He became a monk, but afterwards was absolved from his monastic vows by the pope. He did much to promote the revival of learning. His best-known work is his Colloquia, which contains a vigorous denunciation of monastic life, festivals, and pilgrimages. The best scholar, perhaps, of his day.

696. Vandals monks. The Vandals were a famous race of European barbarians, probably of Germanic origin. They successively overran Gaul, Spain, and Italy. In 455 A.D. they plundered Rome; and the manner in which they mutilated and destroyed the works of art in the city has originated the term vandalism.

697. Leo

Leo X., who reigned as pope from 1513 to 1521.

He was

a patron of learning and art, and his court was the meeting-point of all the

scholars of Italy and the world. During his pontificate the Reformation began, which he at first described as "a squabble among the friars."

704. Raphael was born in 1483, and died in 1520. He is ranked almost by universal opinion as the greatest of painters. He was employed by Leo X., who kept his great powers constantly in exercise. The great frescoes of the Vatican are his work. Vida was a learned Latinist and profound scholar, as well as poet. He was born at Cremona, near Mantua, the birthplace of Virgil, in 1485. Among his best-known works is De Arte Poetica, to which the poet here refers. 714. Boileau = an illustrious French poet, born near Paris in 1636. As a sage critic, he exerted an immense influence upon French literature. taire pronounced him "the legislator of Parnassus.” In 1674 he published L'Art Poétique, which Pope has imitated in the present poem.


723. Such was the muse, etc. A reference to the Duke of Buckingham's


Essay on Poetry."

725. Roscommon the Earl of Roscommon, born in Ireland in 1634. He wrote an "Essay on Translated Verse," and rendered Horace's Ars Poetica into English blank verse.

729. Walsh William Walsh, a poet, man of fashion, and member of Parliament. He was a friend of both Dryden and 1691, a Dialogue concerning Women," in prose. for an account of their relationship.

Pope. He published, in
See the sketch of Pope




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