Pensieri di varia filosofia e di bella letteratura/4446

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Pagina 4446

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4445 4447

[p. 379 modifica]

*   Ib., sezione intitolata Aeneas and the Trojans in Latium, p. 166-7. These wars Virgil describes, effacing discrepancies and altering and accelerating the succession of events, in the latter half of the Aeneid. Its contents were certainly national; yet it is scarcely credible that even Romans, if impartial, should have received sincere delight from these tales. We feel but too unpleasantly how little the poet succeeded in raising these shadowy names (degli eroi di quelle guerre), for which he was forced to invent a character, into living beings, like the heroes of Homer. Perhaps it is a problem that cannot be solved, to form an epic poem out of an argument which has not lived for centuries in popular songs and tales as common national property, so that the cycle of stories which comprises it, and all the persons who act a part in it, are familiar to every one. Vedi p. 4475 - Assuredly the [p. 380 modifica]problem was not to be solved by Virgil, whose genius was barren for creating, great as was his talent for embellishing. That he felt this himself, and did not disdain to be great in the way adapted to his endowments, is proved by his very practice of imitating and borrowing, by the touches he introduces of his exquisite and extensive erudition, so much admired by the Romans, now so little appreciated. He who puts together elaborately and by piecemeal, is aware of the chinks and crevices, which varnishing and polishing conceal only from the unpractised eye, and from which the work of the master, issuing at once from the mould, is free. Accordingly Virgil, we may be sure, felt a misgiving, that all the foreign ornament with which he was decking his work, though it might enrich the poem, was not his own wealth, and that this would at last be perceived by posterity. That