CHAPTER V
THE LAND AND THE NATION. -- I. ITALY

Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it, ' Italy,' Such lovers old are I and she: So it always was, so shall ever be. -- BROWNING.

AMONG the most original and significant features of the poetry of Virgil is its conscious appeal to a nation, as we understand the word 'nation' to-day, to a people of one blood living within well-defined but broad limits, a people with various traditions all fusing in one common tradition. It is the poetry of a nation and a country, for the poet will not think of them apart; and it is not the least of his greatness that he has linked them thus closely, and made people and land as a unity so distinct from the rest of the world.

It was a new thing in literature. The Homeric poems are of course addressed to all the Greeks, and all Greeks saw in them a common inheritance, but the underlying idea is quite other than that of Virgil's Italy. Greeks lived here and there in Europe, Asia, and Africa, under every form of government, divided into a thousand independent and often antagonistic communities, conscious indeed of their being of one blood, but resolved never to submit, if possible, to being under one government. Greek sold Greek to the barbarian as uniformly then as in a later age one Christian people in Eastern Europe has betrayed another Christian people to the Moslem. The conception of one Greece and a common citizenship of all Greeks was as impossible from Greek ways of thinking, even in the days of Aristotle, as it was geographically incapable of being realized. If one may use an illustration from Aristophanes with a slight extension

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