a1 University of Glasgow
If the Bucolics as a whole ‘ look on us with dark enigmatical eyes,’ for long no more impenetrable darkness and no more compelling enigma could be found than that of the fourth poem in the collection. But Skutsch, the authors of Virgil's Messianic Eclogue, and more recently Mr. Royds in his Virgil and Isaiah, have done much to solve its many mysteries. Their efforts, however, were mainly directed towards the problems of fact contained in the Eclogue, and so far little attention seems to have been given to an equally interesting point, that of its metrical arrangement. It is plain that we must consult the Sibyll for help: if it is not plain, that is not Virgil's fault. I hope to be able to show here that Virgil himself has left in this poem certain unmistakeable signs for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, besides his own rather casual reference to the Cumaeum carmen, and incidentally to dispose anew of the theory which reads in that expression an allusion not to the Sibyl but to Hesiod.