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HomePoems > Kubla Khan > Sources > Virgil                           

 

 

1. Alph, the under-sea river

Virgil

The Aeneid, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, was an icon, a mountain top, a Pantheon that all poets worshipped, and Coleridge's classical training would have included the book in school, as well.

Publius Virgilius Maro wrote his epic first in prose, dividing it into twelve books, and then constructed it a little at a time, doing the sections in any order that appealed to him. 

When he died, he felt the work was not finished, and he asked his friends to burn the manuscript, but they refused. 

The story of the founding of Rome is dramatic history, and effective propaganda for Augustus, as the prince of peace.

Lowes assumes that Coleridge recalls Virgil's reference to the river Alpheus going under the ground, and under the sea, to rise up in a fountain called Arethusa. 

In Dryden's view, this was a love story.  For Lowes, who prefers a more literal translation, the tale is a geography lesson.

So here is another story of Alph, running hidden under the sea, and coming up elsewhere.

Aeneid, Book III, lines 694-696.

Other sources

William Bartram
William Beckford
F. Bernier
James Bruce
Thomas Burnet
William Collins
Herodotus
Athanasius Kircher
Jerome Lobo
Thomas Maurice

John Milton
Pausanias
Samuel Purchas
Major James Rennell
Seneca
Strabo

Mary Wollstonecraft

 

Text

Alpheum fama est huc Elidis amnem
Occultas egisse vias subter mare; qui nunc
Ore, Arethusa, tuo Siculis confunditur undis
Aeneid, III, 694-6

My translation

The story is that this river Alpheus of Greece pours forth
Through hidden paths under the sea, and now
In your fountain, Arethusa, mingles with the Sicilian waves.

Dryden's translation:

Alpheus, as old fame reports, has found
From Greece a secret passage under ground,
By love to beauteous Arethusa led;
And, mingling here, they roll in the same sacred bed.

Word Line # Line Sources for word
Alph

3

Where Alpha, the sacred river, ran

 Pausanias
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2
 Virgil

Fountain

19

A mighty fountain momently was forced

 Bartram 4
 Bartram 5
 Bartram 6

 Bartram 7

 Bartram 8
 Beckford
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 4
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2

 Bruce 3

 Burnet 1
 Herodotus
 Maurice 2
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Virgil
 Wollstonecraft

 

34

From the fountain and the caves

 Bartram 4
 Bartram 5
 Bartram 6

 Bartram 7

 Bartram 8
 Beckford
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 4
 Bruce 1
 Bruce 2

 Bruce 3

 Burnet 1
 Herodotus
 Maurice 2
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Virgil
 Wollstonecraft

Mingled

33

Where was heard the mingled measure

 Collins
 Pausanias
 Virgil

River

3

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 
Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

 

24

It flung up momently the sacred river

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 
Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

 

26

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran

 Bartram 3
 Bartram 6
 Beckford
 Bernier 1
 Bernier 2
 Bernier 3
 Bernier 5

 Bruce 2

 Bruce 4
 Bruce 6

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3
 
Maurice 1
 Milton 4
 Pausanias
 Rennell
 Seneca 1
 Strabo 1
 Strabo 2

 Virgil

Sea

5

Down to a sunless sea

 Burnet 1
 Kircher 1
 Kircher 3

 Milton 2

 Pausanias
 Seneca 1
 Seneca 2
 Strabo 1
 Virgil

Waves

32

Floated midway on the waves;

 Seneca 1
 Seneca 2
 Virgil

 

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