Vipers. According to Greek and Roman superstition the female viper, after copulation, bites off the head of the male. Another notion was that young vipers came into the world by gnawing their way through the mother, and killing her.

Else, viper-like, their parents they devour,
For all Power’s children easily covet power.
   —Brooke: Treatie on Human Learning (1554–1628).

Vipont (Sir Ralph de), a knight of St. John. He is one of the knights challengers.—Sir W. Scott: Ivanhoe (time, Richard I.).

Virgil, a Roman poet, author of Eclogues, Georgics, and the best Latin epic poem, in twelve books. English translations of the Æneid: by Connington, 1866; Dryden, 1697; Gawin Douglas, 1513; Kennedy, in 1849; W. Morris, in 1876; by Ogilby, in 1649; by Phaer and Twyne, in 1558-73; by Pitt and Warton, in 1740; by Singleton, in rhythm, 1855-59; by Stonihurst, in 1580; by lord Surrey, in 1553; by Dr. Trapp, in 1731. Literal English prose versions by Davidson, in 1743; by Wheeler, in 1852, etc. (See Epic Poets, p. 326.)

Virgil Travestie. Book i., by C. Cotton (1664). It has passed through fifteen editions.

Virgil, in the Gesta Romanorum, is represented as a mighty but benevolent enchanter, and this is the character that Italian romances give him.

(Similarly, sir Walter Scott is called “The Great Wizard of the North.”)

Virgil the Enchanter. When a young man, Virgil discovered an imp in a hole in a mountain, who promised to teach the enchanter the black art if he would release him. Virgil released him. Virgil released the imp, but after having learned all he wanted, he expressed his surprise how one of such surprising stature could have been squeezed into so small a cavity. The imp, to show Virgil how it was done, wriggled into it, and Virgil dexterously closed up the hole.—Een Schone Historie van Virgilius (1552).

This tale is almost identical with that of “the Fisherman and the Genius” in the Arabian Nights: The fisherman enclosed in his net a small copper vase, and when he opened it a huge giant came forth, who told the fisherman he had vowed to kill any one who released him, but to leave his victim the choice of his death. The fisherman asked the genius if it was really true that he came out of the vase. “Doubtless,” said the genius. “I cannot believe it,” rejoined the fisherman, “for it is not large enough to hold one of your feet.” The genius, to convince the gainsayer, converted himself into smoke and entered the vase; whereupon clapped down the lid, and threw the vase back into the sea.

The same tale is told of Theophrastos, who liberated a demon from the rift of a tree. The tale is told by Görres: Folksbucher, p. 226 (and several others). (See Patrick, St., and the Serpent, p. 813.)

Virgil, in Dantê, is the personification of human wisdom, Beatrice of the wisdom which comes of faith, and St. Bernard of spiritual wisdom. Virgil conducts Dantê through the Inferno and through Purgatory too, till the seven P’s (peccata, “sins”) are obliterated from his brow, when Beatrice becomes his guide. St. Bernard is his guide through a part of Paradise. Virgil says to Dantê—

What reason here discovers, I have power
To show thee; that which lies beyond, expect
From Beatrice—
   —Dante: Purgatory, xviii. (1308).

Virgil’s Epitaph. The inscription on his tomb (said to have been written by himself) was—

Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nune
Parthenope; cecini pascua, rura, duces.
In Mantua was I born; Calabria saw me die;
Of sheep, fields, wars, I sung; and now in Naples lie.

The Christian Virgil, Giacomo Sannazaro (1458–1530).

  By PanEris using Melati.

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