The Originality of the Georgics: An Interpretation of the End of Book 4
In Virgil's Georgics, the relation between the end of Book 4（the Aristaeus story）and the poem as a whole has often been questioned.
Many scholars have noticed that this story reflects the preceding main themes of the poem: the Aristaeus episode reminds us of the theme of labor, while the Orpheus episode tells about the theme of amor and mors. But how can we understand the relation between these two episodes?
A close analysis of the episodes shows not only how Virgil explains the human condition in the age of Jupiter, but also how he develops the view of Lucretius on civilization, love, and death.
But here arises another question: how can we interpret the fact that the story reflects the significant influence of Homer, with the Orpheus episode at the same time being connected with the Eclogues （esp.Ecl. 6 and l0) ? This fact results in the impression that the story, irrelevant to the preceding didactic part of the poem, is abruptly introduced.
My answer is that the end of the fourth Georgic may hav hidden function of expressing the poet's career as a "primus" poet in Rome. The Orpheus episode, closely united with the theme of amor and mors in the Eclogues, implies that Virgil has written the Eclogues, while the Aristaeus story as a whole shows Virgil's original point of view on the human condition. Further, the impression that the story is closely related to epic poetry suggests Virgil's intention of writing an epic in the future.
This view is confirmed by another similar example found in the epilogue of Book 2 and the proem of Book 3.
First, in 2.475-494, Virgil compares his view of nature and happiness with that of Lucretius, even though the former's view is quite like that of a shepherd in the Eclogues.
Second,through the description of happy farmers, the epilogue of Book 2 expresses the ideal of the Georgics which reflects the theme of labor in the first half of the poem.
Third, in the proem of Book 3, Virgil promises to write an epic which will glorify not only Caesar but also Virgil himself.
In short, this middle part of the poem implies that the poet has already written the Eclogues, and is writing the Georgics now, and will write an epic in the future.
Just as in this middle part, the end of the fourth Georgic not only reflects the preceding main themes but also, as a kind of "sphragis", implies the poet's original poet in Rome.