HotFreeBooks.com
A History of Roman Literature - From the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius
by Charles Thomas Cruttwell
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

In a work like this it would be obviously out of place to offer any minute criticism either upon the beauties or the difficulties of the Georgics. We shall conclude this short notice with one or two remarks on that love of nature in Latin poetry of which the Georgics are the most renowned example. Dunlop has called Virgil a landscape painter. [38] In so far as this implies a faithful and picturesque delineation of natural scenes, whether of movement or repose, [39] the criticism is a happy one: Virgil lingers over these with more affection than any previous writer. The absence of a strong feeling for the peaceful or the grand in nature has often been remarked as a shortcoming of the Greek mind, and it does not seem to have been innate even in the Italian. Alpine scenery suggested no associations but those of horror and desolation. Even the more attractive beauties of woods, rills, and flowers, were hailed rather as a grateful exchange from the turmoil of the city than from a sense of their intrinsic loveliness; it is the repose, the comfort, ease, in a word the body, not the spirit of nature that the Roman poets celebrate. [40] As a rule their own retirement was not spent amid really rustic scenes. The villas of the great were furnished with every means of making study or contemplation attractive. Rich gardens, cool porticoes, and the shade of planted trees were more to the poet's taste than the rugged stile or the village green. Their aspirations after rural simplicity spring from the weariness of city unrealities rather than from the necessity of being alone with nature. As a fact the poems of Virgil were not composed in a secluded country retreat, but in the splendid and fashionable vicinity of Naples. [41] The Lake of Avernus, the Sibyl's cave, and the other scenes so beautifully painted in the Aeneid are all near the spot. From his luxurious villa the poet could indulge his reverie on the simple rusticity of his ancestors or the landscapes famous in the scenery of Greek song. At such times his mind called up images of Greek legend that blended with his delineations of Italian peasant life: [42]

"O ubi campi Spercheiosque, et virginibus bacchata Lacaenis Taygeta; o qui me gelidis in vallibus Haemi Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra!"

The very name Tempe, given so often to shady vales, shows the mingled literary and aesthetic associations that entered into the love of rural ease and quiet. The deeper emotion peculiar to modern times, which struggles to find expression in the verse of Shelley or Wordsworth, in the canvass of Turner, in the life of restless travel, often a riddle so perplexing to those who cannot understand its source; the mysterious questionings which ask of nature not only what she says to us, but what she utters to herself; why it is that if she be our mother, she veils her face from her children, and will not use a language they can understand—

"Cur natum crudelis tu quoque falsis Ludis imaginibus? Cur dextrae iungere dextram Non datur, et veras audire et reddere voces?"

feelings like these which—though often but obscurely present, it would indeed be a superficial glance that did not read in much of modern thought, however unsatisfactory, in much of modern art, however imperfect —we can hardly trace, or, if at all, only as lightest ripples on the surface, scarcely ruffling the serene melancholy, deep indeed, but self- contained because unconscious of its depth, in which Virgil's poetry flows.

At what time of his life Virgil turned his thoughts to epic poetry is not known. Probably like most gifted poets he felt from his earliest years the ambition to write a heroic poem. He expresses this feeling in the Eclogues [43] more than once; Pollio's exploits seemed to him worthy of such a celebration. [44] In the Georgics he declares that he will wed Caesar's glories to an epic strain, [45] but though the emperor urged him to undertake the subject, which was besides in strict accordance with epic precedent, his mature judgment led him to reject it. [46] Like Milton, he seems to have revolved for many years the different themes that came to him, and, like him, to have at last chosen one which by mounting back into the distant past enabled him to indulge historical retrospect, and gather into one focus the entire subsequent development. As to his aptitude for epic poetry opinions differ. Niebuhr expresses the view of many great critics when he says, "Virgil is a remarkable instance of a man mistaking his vocation; his real calling was lyric poetry; his small lyric poems show that he would have been a poet like Catullus if he had not been led away by his desire to write a great Graeco-Latin poem." And Mommsen, by speaking of "successes like that of the Aeneid" evidently inclines towards the same view. It must be conceded that Virgil's genius lacked heroic fibre, invention, dramatic power. He had not an idea of "that stern joy that warriors feel," so necessary to one who would raise a martial strain. The passages we remember best are the very ones that are least heroic. The funeral games in honour of Anchises, the forlorn queen, the death of Nisus and Euryalus, owe all their charm to the sacrifice of the heroic to the sentimental. Had Virgil been able to keep rigidly to the lofty purpose with which he entered on his work, we should perhaps have lost the episodes which bring out his purest inspiration. So far as his original endowments went, his mind certainly was not cast in a heroic mould. But the counter-balancing qualifications must not be forgotten. He had an inextinguishable enthusiasm for his art, a heart

"Smit with the love of ancient song,"

a susceptibility to literary excellence never equalled, [47] and a spirit responsive to the faintest echo of the music of the ages. [48] The very faculties that bar his entrance into the circle of creative minds enable him to stand first among those epic poets who own a literary rather than an original inspiration. For in truth epic poetry is a name for two widely different classes of composition. The first comprehends those early legends and ballads which arise in a nation's vigorous youth, and embody the most cherished traditions of its gods and heroes and the long series of their wars and loves. Strictly native in its origin, such poetry is the spontaneous expression of a people's political and religious life. It may exist in scattered fragments bound together only by unity of sentiment and poetic inspiration: or it may be welded into a whole by the genius of some heroic bard. But it can only arise in that early period of a nation's history when political combination is as yet imperfect, and scientific knowledge has not begun to mark off the domain of historic fact from the cloudland of fancy and legend. Of this class are the Homeric poems, the Nibelungen Lied, the Norse ballads, the Edda, the Kalewala, the legends of Arthur, and the poem of the Cid: all these, whatever their differences, have this in common, that they sprang at a remote period out of the earliest traditions of the several peoples, and neither did nor could have originated in a state of advanced civilization. It is far otherwise with the other sort of epics. These are composed amid the complex influences of a highly developed political life. They are the fruit of conscious thought reflecting on the story before it and seeking to unfold its results according to the systematic rules of art. The stage has been reached which discerns fact from fable; the myths which to an earlier age seemed the highest embodiment of truth, are now mere graceful ornaments, or at most faint images of hidden realities. The state has asserted its dominion over man's activity; science, sacred and profane, has given its stores to enrich his mind; philosophy has led him to meditate on his place in the system of things. To write an enduring epic a poet must not merely recount heroic deeds, but must weave into the recital all the tangled threads which bind together the grave and varied interests of civilized man.

It is the glory of Virgil that alone with Dante and Milton he has achieved this; that he stands forth as the expression of an epoch, of a nation. That obedience to sovereign law, [49] which is the chief burden of the Aeneid, stands out among the diverse elements of Roman life as specially prominent, just as faith in the Church's doctrine is the burden of Mediaevalism as expressed in Dante, and as justification of God's dealings, as given in Scripture, forms the lesson of Paradise Lost, making it the best poetical representative of Protestant thought. None of Virgil's predecessors understood the conditions under which epic greatness was possible. His successors, in spite of his example, understood them still less. It has been said that no events are of themselves unsuited for epic treatment, simply because they are modern or historical. [50] This may be true; and yet, where is the poet that has succeeded in them? The early Roman poets were patriotic men; they chose for subjects the annals of Rome, which they celebrated in noble though unskilled verse. Naevius. Ennius, Accius, Hostius, Bibaculus, and Varius before Virgil, Lucan and Silius after him, treated national subjects, some of great antiquity, some almost contemporaneous. But they failed, as Voltaire failed, because historical events are not by themselves the natural subjects of heroic verse. Tasso chose a theme where history and romance were so blended as to admit of successful epic treatment; but such conditions are rare. Few would hesitate to prefer the histories of Herodotus and Livy to any poetical account whatever of the Persian and Punic wars; and in such preference they would be guided by a true principle, for the domain of history borders on and overlaps, but does not coincide with, that of poetry.

The perception of this truth has led many, epic poets to err in the opposite extreme. They have left the region of truth altogether, and confined themselves to pure fancy or legend. This error is less serious than the first; for not only are legendary subjects well adapted for epic treatment, but they may be made the natural vehicle of deep or noble thought. The Orlando Furioso and the Faery Queen are examples of this. But more often the poet either uses his subject as a means for exhibiting his learning or style, as Statius, Cinna, and the Alexandrines; or loses sight of the deeper meaning altogether, and merely reproduces the beauty of the ancient myths without reference to their ideal truth, as was done by Ovid, and recently by Mr. Morris, with brilliant success, in his Earthly Paradise. This poem, like the Metamorphoses, does not claim to be a national epic, but both, by their vivid realization of a mythology which can never lose its charm, hold a legitimate place among the offshoots of epic song.

Virgil has overcome the difficulties and joined the best results of both these imperfect forms. By adopting the legend of Aeneas, which, since the Punic wars, had established itself as one of the firmest national beliefs, [51] he was enabled without sacrificing reality to employ the resources of Homeric art; by tracing directly to that legend the glorious development of Roman life and Roman dominion, he has become the poet of his nation's history, and through it, of the whole ancient world.

The elements which enter into the plan of the Aeneid are so numerous as to have caused very different conceptions of its scope and meaning. Some have regarded it as the sequel and counterpart of the Iliad, in which Troy triumphs over her ancient foe, and Greece acknowledges the divine Nemesis. That this conception was present to the poet is clear from many passages in which he reminds Greece that she is under Rome's dominion, and contrasts the heroes or achievements of the two nations. [52] But it is by no means sufficient to explain the whole poem, and indeed is in contradiction to its inner spirit. For in the eleventh Aeneid [53] Diomed declares that after Troy was taken he desires to have no more war with the Trojan race; and in harmony with this thought Virgil conceives of the two nations under Rome's supremacy as working together by law, art, and science, to advance the human race. [54] Roman talent has made her own all that Greek genius created, and fate has willed that neither race should be complete without the other. The germs of this fine thought are found in the historian Polybius, who dwelt on the grandeur of such a joint influence, and perhaps through his intercourse with the Scipionic circle, gave the idea currency. It is therefore rather the final reconciliation than the continued antagonism that the Aeneid celebrates, though of course national pride dwells on the striking change of relations that time had brought.

Another view of the Aeneid makes it centre in Augustus. Aeneas then becomes a type of the emperor, whose calm calculating courage was equalled by his piety to the gods, and care for public morals. Turnus represents Antony, whose turbulent vehemence (violentia) [55] mixed with generosity and real valour, makes us lament, while we accept his fate. Dido is the Egyptian queen whose arts fell harmless on Augustus's cold reserve, and whose resolve to die eluded his vigilance. Drances, [56] the brilliant orator whose hand was slow to wield the sword, is a study from Cicero; and so the other less important characters have historical prototypes. But there is even less to be said for this view than for the other. It is altogether too narrow, and cannot be made to correspond with, the facts of history, nor do the characters on a close inspection resemble their supposed originals. [57] Beyond doubt the stirring scenes Virgil had as a young man witnessed, suggested points which he has embodied in the story, but the Greek maxim that "poetry deals with universal truth," [58] must have been rightly understood by him to exclude all such dressing-up of historical facts.

There remains the view to which many critics have lent their support, that the Aeneid celebrates the triumph of law and civilization over the savage instincts of man; and that because Rome had proved the most complete civilizing power, therefore it is to her greatness that everything in the poem conspires. This view has the merit of being in every way worthy of Virgil. No loftier conception could guide his verse through the long labyrinth of legend, history, religious and antiquarian lore, in which for ten years of patient study his muse sought inspiration. Still it seems somewhat too philosophical to have been by itself his animating principle. It is true, patriotism had enlarged its basis; the city of Rome was already the world, [59] and the growth of Rome was the growth of human progress. Hence the muse, while celebrating the imperial state, transcends in thought the limits of space and time, and swells, as it were, the great hymn of humanity. But this represents rather the utmost reach of the poet's flight after he has thrown himself into the empyrean than the original definitely conceived goal on which he fixed his mind. We should supplement this view by another held by Macrobius and many Latin critics, and of which Mr. Nettleship, in a recent admirable pamphlet [60] recognises the justice, viz. that the Aeneid was written with a religious object, and must be regarded mainly as a religious poem. Its burning patriotism glows with a religious light. Its hero is "religious" (pius), not "beautiful" or "brave." [61] At the sacrifice even of poetical effect his religious dependence on the gods is brought into prominence. The action of the whole poem hinges on the Divine will, which, is not as in Homer, a mere counterpart of the human, far less is represented as in conflict with resistless destiny, but, cognizant of fate and in perfect union with it, as overruling all lower impulses, divine or human, towards the realization of the appointed end. This Divine Power is Jupiter, whom in the Aeneid he calls by this name as a concession to conventional beliefs, but in the Georgics prefers to leave nameless, symbolised under the title Father. [62] Jupiter is not the Author, but he is the Interpreter and Champion of Destiny (Fata), which lies buried in the realm of the unknown, except so far as the father of the gods pleases to reveal it. [63] Deities of sufficient power or resource may defer but cannot prevent its accomplishment. Juno is represented doing this—the idea is of course from Homer. But Jupiter does not desire to change destiny, even if he could, though he feels compassion at its decrees (e.g. at the death of Turnus). The power of the Divine fiat to overrule human equity is shown by the death of Turnus who has right, and of Dido who has the lesser wrong, on her side. Thus punishment is severed from desert, and loses its higher meaning; the instinct of justice is lost in the assertion of divine power; and while in details the religion of the Aeneid is often pure and noble, its ultimate conceptions of the relation of the human and divine are certainly no advance on those of Homer. The verdict of one who reads the poem from this point of view will surely be that of Sellar, who denies that it enlightens the human conscience. Every form of the doctrine that might is right, however skilfully veiled, as it is in the Aeneid by a thousand beautiful intermediaries, must be classed among the crude and uncreative theories which mark an only half-reflecting people. But when we pass from the philosophy of religion to the particular manifestation of it as a national worship, we find Virgil at his greatest, and worthy to hold the position he held with later ages as the most authoritative expounder of the Roman ritual and creed. [64] He shared the palm of learning with Varro, and sympathy inclined towards the poet rather than the antiquarian. The Aeneid is literally filled with memorials of the old religion. The glory of Aeneas is to have brought with him the Trojan gods, and through perils of every kind to have guarded his faith in them, and scrupulously preserved their worship. It is not the Trojan race as such that the Romans could look back to with pride as ancestors; they are the bis capti Phryges, who are but heaven-sent instruments for consecrating the Latin race to the mission for which it is prepared. "Occidit" says Juno, "occideritque sinas cum nomine Troja:" [65] and Aeneas states the object of his proposal in these words—

"Sacra deosque dabo; socer arma Latinas habeto." [66]

This then being the lofty origin, the immemorial antiquity of the national faith, the moral is easily drawn, that Rome must never cease to observe it. The rites to import which into the favoured land cost heaven itself so fierce a struggle, which have raised that land to be the head of all the earth, must not be neglected now that their promise has been fulfilled. Each ceremony embodies some glorious reminiscence; each minute technicality enshrines some special national blessing.

Here, as in the Georgics, Cato and Varro live in Virgil, but with far less of narrow literalness, with far more of rich enthusiasm. We can well believe that the Aeneid was a poem after Augustus's heart, that he welcomed with pride as well as gladness the instalments which, before its publication, he was permitted to see, [67] and encouraged by unreserved approbation so thorough an exponent of his cherished views. To him the Aeneid breathed the spirit of the old cult. Its very style, like that of Milton from the Bible, was borrowed in countless instances from the Sacred Manuals. When Aeneas offers to the gods four prime oxen (eximios tauros) the pious Roman recognised the words of the ritual. [68] When the nymph Cymodoce rouses Aeneas to be on his guard against danger with the words "Vigilas ne deum gens? Aenea, vigila!" [69] she recalls the imposing ceremony by which, immediately before a war was begun, the general struck with his lance the sacred shields, calling on the god "Mars, vigila!" These and a thousand other allusions caused many of the later commentators to regard Aeneas as an impersonation of the pontificate. This is an error analogous to, but worse than, that which makes him represent Augustus; he is a poetical creation, imperfect no doubt, but still not to be tied to any single definition.

Passing from the religious to the moral aspect of the Aeneid, we find a gentleness beaming through it, strangely contradicted by some of the bloody episodes, which out of deference to Homeric precedent Virgil interweaves. Such are the human sacrifices, the ferocious taunts at fallen enemies, and other instances of boasting or cruelty which will occur to every reader, greatly marring the artistic as well as the moral effect of the hero. Tame as he generally is, a resigned instrument in the divine hands, there are moments when Aeneas is truly attractive. As Conington says, his kindly interest in the young shown in Book V. is a beautiful trait that is all Virgil's own. His happy interview with Evander, where, throwing off the monarch, he chats like a Roman burgess in his country house; his pity for young Lausus whom he slays, and the mournful tribute of affection he pays to Pallas, are touching scenes, which without presenting Aeneas as a hero (which he never is), harmonise far better with the ideal Virgil meant to leave us. But after all said, that ideal is a poor one for purposes of poetry. Aeneas is uninteresting, and this is the great fault of the poem. Turnus enlists our sympathy far more, he is chivalrous and valiant; the wrong he suffers does not harden him, but he lacks strength of character. The only personage who is "proudly conceived" [70] is Mezentius, the despiser of the gods. The absence of restraint seems to have given the poet a more masculine touch; the address of the old king to his horse, his only friend, is full of pathos. Among female characters Camilla is perhaps original; she is graceful without being pleasing. Amata and Juturna belong to the class virago, a term applied to the latter by Virgil himself. [71] Lavinia is the modest maiden, a sketch, not a portrait. Dido is a character for all time, the chef d'oeuvre of the Aeneid. Among the stately ladies of the imperial house —a Livia, a Scribonia, an Octavia, perhaps a Julia—Virgil must have found the elements which he has fused with such mighty power, [72] the rich beauty, the fierce passion, the fixed resolve. Dido is his greatest effort: and yet she is not an individual living woman like Helen or Ophelia. Like Racine, Virgil has developed passions, not created persons. The divine gift of tender, almost Christian, feeling that is his, cannot see into those depths where the inner personality lies hidden. Among the traditional characters few call for remark. The gods maintain on the whole their Homeric attributes, only hardened by time and by a Roman moulding. Venus is, however, touched with magic skill; it may be questioned whether words ever carried such suggestions of surpassing beauty as those in which, twice in the poem, her mystic form [73] is veiled rather than pourtrayed. The characters of Ulysses and Helen bear the debased, unheroic stamp of the later Greek drama; the last spark of goodness has left them, and even his careful study of Homer, seems to have had no effect in opening the poet's eyes to the gross falsification. Where Virgil did not feel obliged to create, he was to the last degree conventional.

A most interesting feature in the Aeneid—and with it we conclude our sketch—is its incorporation of all that was best in preceding poetry. All Roman poets had imitated, but Virgil carried imitation to an extent hitherto unknown. Not only Greek but Latin writers are laid under contribution in every page. Some idea of his indebtedness to Homer may be formed from Conington's commentary. Sophocles and the other tragedians, Apollonius Rhodius and the Alexandrines are continually imitated, and almost always improved upon. And still more is this the case with his adaptations from Naevius, Ennius, Lucretius, Hostius, Furius, &c. whose works he had thoroughly mastered, and stored in his memory their most striking rhythms or expressions. [74] Massive lines from Ennius, which as a rule he has spared to touch, leaving them in all their rugged grandeur planted in the garden of his verse, to point back like giant trees to the time when that garden was a forest, bear witness at once to his reverence for the old bard and to his own wondrous art. It is not merely for literary effect that the old poets are transferred into his pages. A nobler motive swayed him. The Aeneid was meant to be, above all things, a National Poem, carrying on the lines of thought, the style of speech, which National Progress had chosen; it was not meant to eclipse so much us to do honour to the early literature. Thus those bards who like Naevius and Ennius had done good service to Rome by singing, however rudely, her history, find their Imagines ranged in the gallery of the Aeneid. There they meet with the flamens and pontiffs unknown and unnamed, who drew up the ritual formularies, with the antiquarians and pious scholars who had sought to find a meaning in the immemorial names, [75] whether of places or customs or persons; with the magistrates, moralists, and philosophers, who had striven to ennoble or enlighten Roman virtue; with the Greek singers and sages, for they too had helped to rear the towering fabric of Roman greatness. All these meet together in the Aeneid as if in solemn conclave, to review their joint work, to acknowledge its final completion, and predict its impending fall. This is beyond question the explanation of the wholesale appropriation of others' thought and language, which otherwise would be sheer plagiarism. With that tenacious sense of national continuity which had given the senate a policy for centuries, Virgil regards Roman literature as a gradually expanded whole; coming at the close of its first epoch, he sums up its results and enters into its labours. So far from hesitating whether to imitate, he rather hesitated whom not to include, if only by a single reference, in his mosaic of all that had entered into the history of Rome. His archaism is but another side of the same thing. Whether it takes the form of archaeological discussion, [76] of antiquarian allusion, [77] of a mode of narration which recalls the ancient source, [78] or of obsolete expressions, forms of inflection, or poetical ornament, [79] we feel that it is a sign of the poet's reverence for what was at once national and old. The structure of his verse, while full of music, often reminds us of the earlier writers. It certainly has more affinity with that of Lucretius than with that of Lucan. A learned Roman reading the Aeneid would feel his mind stirred by a thousand patriotic associations. The quaint old laws, the maxims and religious formulae he had learnt in childhood would mingle with the richest poetry of Greece and Rome in a stream flowing evenly, and as it would seem, from a single spring; and he who by his art had effected this wondrous union would seem to him the prophet as well as the poet of the era. That art, in spite of its occasional lapses, for we must not forget the work was unfinished, is the most perfect the world has yet seen. The poet's exquisite sense of beauty, the sonorous language he wielded, the noble rivalry of kindred spirits great enough to stimulate but not to daunt him, and the consciousness of living in a new time big with triumphs, as he fondly hoped, for the useful and the good, all united to make Virgil not only the fairest flower of Roman literature, but as the master of Dante, the beloved of all gentle hearts, and the most widely- read poet of any age, to render him an influential contributor to some of the deepest convictions of the modern world.

APPENDIX.

Note I.—Imitations of Virgil in Propertius, Ovid, and Manilius.

The prestige of Virgil made him a subject for imitation even during his lifetime. Just as Carlyle, Tennyson, and other vigorous writers soon create a school, so Virgil stamped the poetical dialect for centuries. But he offered two elements for imitation, the declamatory or rhetorical, which is most prominent in his speeches, and in the second and sixth books; and detached passages showing descriptive imagery, touches of pathos, similes, &c. These last might he imitated without at all unduly influencing the individuality of the imitator's style. In this way Ovid is a great imitator of Virgil; so to a less extent are Propertius, Manilius, and Lucan. Statius and Silius base their whole poetical art on him, and therefore particular instances of imitation throw no additional light on their style. We shall here notice a few of the points in which the Augustan poets copied him:—

(1) In Facts.—Beside the great number of early historical points on which he was followed implicitly, we find even his errors imitated, e.g. the confusion which perhaps in Virgil is only apparent between Pharsalia and Philippi, has, as Merivale remarks, been adopted by Propertius (iv. 10,40), Ovid (M. xv, 824), Manilius (i. 906), Lucan (vii. 854), and Juvenal (viii. 242); not so much from ignorance of the locality as out of deference to Virgilian precedent. The lines may be quoted—Virgil (G. i. 489), Ergo inter se paribus concurrere telis Romanas acies iterum videre Philippi; Propertius, Una Philippeo sanguine inusta nota; Ovid, Emathiaque iterum madefient caede Philippi; Manilius, Arma Philippeos implerunt sanguine campos. Vixque etiam sicca miles Romanus arena Ossa virum lacerosque prius superastitit artus; Lucan, Scelerique secundo Praestatis nondum siccos hoc sanguine campos; Juvenal, Thessaliae campis Octavius abstulit ... famam.... This is analogous to the way in which the satirists use the names consecrated by Lucilius or Horace as types of a vice, and repeat the same symptoms ad nauseam, e.g. the miser who anoints his body with train oil, who locks up his leavings, who picks up a farthing from the road, &c. The veiled allusion to the poet Anser (Ecl. ix. 36) is perhaps recalled by Prop. iii. 32, 83, sqq. So the portents described by Virgil as following on the death of Caesar are told again by Manilius at the end of Bk. I. and referred to by Lucan (Phars. i.) and Ovid. Again, the confusion between Inarime and ein Arimois, into which Virgil falls, is borrowed by Lucan (Phars. v. 101).

(2) In Metre. As regards metre, Ovid in the Metamorphoses is nearest to him, but differs in several points, He imitates him (a) in not admitting words of four or more syllables, except very rarely, at the end of the line; (b) in rhythms like vulnificus sus (viii. 358), and the not unfrequent spondetazontes; (c) in keeping to the two caesuras as finally established by him, and avoiding beginnings like scilicet omnibus est, &c. In all these points Manilius is a little less strict than Ovid, e.g. (i. 35) et veneranda, (iii. 130) sic breviantur, (ii. 716) altribuuntur. He also follows Virgil in alliteration, which Ovid does not. They differ from Virgil in (a) a much more sparing employment of elision. The reason of this is that elision marks the period of living growth; as soon as the language had become crystallised, each letter had its fixed force, the caprices of common pronunciation no longer influencing it; and although no correct writer places the unelided m before a vowel, yet the great rarity of elision not only of m but of long and even short vowels (except que) shows that the main object was to avoid it, if possible. The great frequency of elision in Virgil must be regarded as an archaism. (b) In a much lesser variety of rhythm. This is, perhaps, rather an artistic defect, but it is designed. Manilius, however, has verses which Virgil avoids, e.g. Delcetique sacerdotes (i. 47), probably as a reminiscence of Lucretius.

Imitations in language are very frequent. Propertius gives ah pereat! qui (i. 17, 13), from the Copa. Again, Sit licet et saxo patientior illa Sicano (i. 16, 29), from the Cyclopia saxa of Aeneid, i. 201; cum tamen (i. 1, 8) with the indic. as twice in Virgil; Umbria me genuit (i. 23, 9), perhaps from the Mantua me genuit of Virgil's epitaph. These might easily be added to. Ovid in the Metamorphoses has a vast number of imitations of which we select the most striking; Plebs habitat diversa locis (i. 193); Navigat, hic summa, &c. (i. 296); cf. Naviget, haec summa est, in the 4th Aeneid; similisque roganti (iii. 240), amarunt me quoque Nymphae (iii. 454); Arma manusque meae, mea, nate, potentia, dixit (v. 365); Heu quantum haec Niobe Niobe distabat ab illa (vi. 273); leti discrimine parvo (vi. 426); per nostri foedera lecti, perque deos supplex oro superosque neosque, Per si quid merui de te bene (vii. 852); maiorque videri (ix. 269). These striking resemblances, which are selected from hundreds of others, show how carefully he had studied him. Of all other poets I have noticed but two or three imitations in him, e.g. multi illum pueri, multae cupiere puellae (iii. 383), from Catullus; et merito, quid enim...? (ix. 585) from Propertius (i. 17). Manilius also imitates Virgil's language, e.g. acuit mortalia corda (i. 79), Acherunta movere (i. 93), molli cervice reflexus (i. 334), and his sentiments in omnia conando docilis solertia vicit (i. 95), compared with labor omnia vicit improbus: invictamque sub Hectore Troiam (i. 766), with decumum quos distulit Hector in annum of the Aeneid; cf. also iv. 122, and litora litoribus regnis contraria regna (iv. 814); cf. also iv. 28, 37.

NOTE II.—On the shortening of final o in Latin poetry.

The fact that in Latin the accent was generally thrown back caused a strong tendency to shorten long final vowels. The one that resisted this tendency best was o, but this gradually became shortened as poetry advanced, and is one of the very few instances of a departure from the standard of quantity as determined by Ennius. There is one instance even in him: Horrida Romuleum certamina pango duellum. The words ego and modo, which from their frequent use are often shortened in the comedians, are generally long in Ennius; Lucretius uses them as common, but retains homo, which after him does not appear. Catullus has one short o, Virro (89, 1), but this is a proper name. Virgil has sci0 (Aen. iii. 602), but ego, homo, when in the arsis, are always elided, e.g. Pulsus ego? aut; Graius homo, infectos. Spondeo which used to be read (Aen. ix, 294), is now changed to sponde. Pollio is elided by Virgil, shortened by Horace (O. II. i. 14). He also has mentio and dixero in the Satires (I. iv. 93, 104). A line by Maecenas, quoted in Suetonius, has diligo. Ovid has cito, puto (Am. iii. vii. 2), but only in such short words; in nouns, Naso often, origo, virgo, once each. Tibullus and Propertius are stricter in this respect, though Propertius has findo (iii. or iv. 8 or 9, 35); Manilius has leo, Virgo (i. 266), Lucan Virgo (ii. 329), pulmo (iii. 644), and a few others. Gratius first gives the imperative reponito (Cyn. 56); Calpurnius, in the the time of Nero, the false quantities quando ambo, the latter (ix. 17) perhaps in a spurious eclogue; so expecto. In Statius no new licenses appear. Juvenal, however, gives vigilando (iii. 232), an improper quantity repeated by Seneca (Tro. 264) vincendo, Nemesianus (viii. 53) mulcendo, (ix. 80), laudano. Juvenal gives also sumito, octo, ergo. The dat. and abl. sing. are the only terminations that were not affected. We see the gradual deterioration of quantity, and are not surprised that even before the time of Claudian a strict knowledge of it was confined to the most learned poets.

NOTE III.—On parallelism in Virgil's poetry.

There is a very frequent feature in Virgil's poetry which we may compare to the parallelism well known as the chief characteristic of Hebrew verse. In that language the poet takes a thought and either repeats it, or varies it, or explains it, or gives its antithesis in a corresponding clause, as evenly as may be balancing the first. As examples we may take—

(1) A mere iteration:

"Why do the nations so furiously rage together? And why do the people imagine a vain thing?"

(2) Contrast:

"A wise son maketh a glad father: But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

This somewhat rude idea of ornament is drawn no doubt from the simplest attempts to speak with passion or emphasis, which naturally turned to iteration or repetition as the obvious means of gaining the effect. Roman poetry, as we have already said, rests upon a primitive and rude basis, the Greek methods of composition being applied to an art arrested before its growth was complete. The fondness for repetition is very prominent. Phrases like somno gravidi vinoque sepulti; indu foro lato, sanctoque senatu, occur commonly in Ennius; and the trick of composition of which they are the simplest instances, is perpetuated throughout Roman poetry. It is in reality rather rhetorical than poetical, and abounds in Cicero. It scarcely occurs in Greek poetry, but is very common in Virgil, e.g. :

"Ambo florentes aetatibus, Arcades ambo, Et cantare pares, et respondere parati."

Similar to this is the introduction of corresponding clauses by the same initial word, e.g. ille (Ecl. i. 17):

"Namque erit ille mihi semper deus: illius aram Saepe tener nostris ab ovilibus imbuet agnus. Ille meas errare boves..."

Instances of this construction will occur to every reader. Frequently the first half of the hexameter expresses a thought obscurely which is expressed clearly in the latter half, or vice versa, e.g. (G. iv. 103):

"At quum incerta volant, caeloque examina ludunt."

Again (Aen. iv. 368):

"Nam quid dissimulo, aut quae me ad maiora reservo?"

at times this parallelism is very useful as helping us to find out the poet's meaning, e.g. (Aen. ii. 121):

"Cui fata parent, quem poseat Apollo."

Here interpretations vary between fata, n. to parent, and acc. after it. But the parallelism decides at once in favour of the former "for whom the fates are making preparations; whom Apollo demands." To take another instance (Aen. i. 395):

"Nunc terras ordine longo Aut capere, aut captas, iam despectare videntur."

This passage is explained by its parallelism with another a little further on (v. 400):

"Puppesque tuae plebesque tuorum Aut portum tenet aut pleno subit ostia velo."

Here the word capere is fixed to mean "settling on the ground" by the words portum tenet. Once more in Aen. xii. 725:

"Quem damnet labor, aut quo vergat pondere letum,"

the difficulty is solved both by the iteration in the line itself, by which damnet labor = vergat letum; and also by its close parallelism with another (v. 717), which is meant to illustrate it:

"Mussantque iuvencae Quis nemori imperitet quem tota armenta sequantur."

This feature in Virgil's verse, which might be illustrated at far greater length, reappears under another form in the Ovidian elegiac. There the pentameter answers to the second half of Virgil's hexameter verse, and rings the changes on the line that has preceded in a very similar way. A literature which loves the balanced clauses of rhetoric will be sure to have something analogous. Our own heroic couplet is a case in point. So perhaps is the invention of rhyme which tends to confine the thought within the oscillating limits of a refrain, and that of the stanza, which shows the same process in a much higher stage of complexity.

NOTE IV.—On the Legends connected with Virgil.

Side by side with the historical account of this poet is a mythical one which, even within the early post-classical period, began to gain credence. The reasons of it are to be sought not so much in his poetical genius as in the almost ascetic purity of his life, which surrounded him with a halo of mysterious sanctity. Prodigies are said, in the lives that have come down to us, to have happened at his birth; his mother dreamt she gave birth to a laurel-branch, which grew apace until it filled the country. A poplar planted at his birth suddenly grew into a stately tree. The infant never cried, and was noted for the preternatural sweetness of its temper. When at Naples he is said to have studied medicine, and cured Augustus's horses of a severe ailment. Augustus ordered him a daily allowance of bread, which was doubled on a second instance of his chirurgical knowledge, and trebled on his detecting the true ancestry of a rare Spanish hound! Credited with supernatural knowledge, though he never pretended to it, he was consulted privately by Augustus as to his own legitimacy. By the cautious dexterity of his answer, he so pleased the emperor that he at once recommended him to Pollio as a person to be well rewarded. The mixture of fable and history here is easily observed. The custom of making pilgrimages to his tomb, and in the case of Silius Italicus (and doubtless others too), of honouring it with sacrifices, seems to have produced the belief that he was a great magician. Even as early as Hadrian the Sortes Virgilianae were consulted from an idea that there was a sanctity about the pages of his book; and, as is well known, this superstitious custom was continued until comparatively modern times.

Meanwhile plays were represented from his works, and amid the general decay of all clear knowledge a confused idea sprung up that these stories were inspired by supernatural wisdom. The supposed connection of the fourth Eclogue with the Sibylline Books, and through them, with the sacred wisdom of the Hebrews, of course placed Virgil on a different level from other heathens. The old hymn, "Dies irae dies illa Solvet saeclum cum favilla Teste David cum Sibylla," shows that as early as the eighth century the Sibyl was well established as one of the prophetic witnesses; and the poet, from the indulgence of an obscure style, reaped the great reward of being regarded almost as a saint for several centuries of Christendom. Dante calls him Virtu summa, just as ages before Justinian had spoken of Homer as pater omnis virtutis. But before Dante's time the real Virgil had been completely lost in the ideal and mystic poet whose works were regarded as wholly allegorical.

The conception of Virgil as a magician as distinct from an inspired sage is no doubt a popular one independent of literature, and had originally a local origin near Naples where his tomb was. Foreign visitors disseminated the legend, adding striking features, which in time developed almost an entire literature.

In the Otia Imperialia of Gervasius of Tilbury, we see this belief in formation; the main point in that work is that he is the protector of Naples, defending it by various contrivances from war or pestilence. He was familiarly spoken of among the Neapolitans as Parthenias, in allusion to his chastity. It was probably in the thirteenth century that the connection of Virgil with the Sibyl was first systematically taught, and the legends connected with him collected into one focus. They will be found treated fully in Professor Comparetti's work. We append here a very short passage from the Gesta Romanorum (p. 590), showing the necromantic character which surrounded him:—

"Refert Alexander Philosophus de natura rerum, quod Vergilius in civitate Romana nobile construxit palatium, in cuius medio palatii stabat imago, quae Dea Romana vocabatur. Tenebat enim pomum aureum in manu sua. Per circulum palatii erant imagines cuiuslibet regionis, quae subiectae erant Romano imperio, et quaelibet imago campanam ligneam in manu sua habebat. Cum vero aliqua regio nitebatur Romanis insidias aliquas imponere, statim imago eiusdem regionis campanam suam pulsavit, et miles exivit in equo aeneo in summitate predicti palatii, hastam vibravit, et predictam regionem inspexit. Et ab instanti Romani hoc videntes se armaverunt et predictam regionem expugnaverunt.

"Ista civitas est Corpus Humanum: quinque portae sunt quinque Sensus: Palatium est Anima rationalis, et aureum pomum Similitudo cum Deo. Tria regna inimica sunt Caro, Mundus, Diabolus, et eius imago Cupiditas, Voluptas, Superbia."

The above is a good instance both of the supernatural powers attributed to the poet, and the supernatural interpretation put upon his supposed exercise of them. This curious mythology lasted throughout the fourteenth century, was vehemently opposed in the fifteenth by the partisans of enlightened learning, and had not quite died out by the middle of the sixteenth.



CHAPTER III.

HORACE (65-8 B.C.).

If Virgil is the most representative, Horace is the most original poet of Rome. This great and varied genius, whose exquisite taste and deep knowledge of the world have made him the chosen companion of many a great soldier and statesman, suggesting as he does reflections neither too ideal nor too exclusively literary for men of affairs, was born at or near Venusia, on the borders of Lucania and Apulia, December 8, 65 B.C. [1] His father was a freedman of the Horatia gens, [2] but set free before the poet's birth. [3] We infer that he was a tax-gatherer, or perhaps a collector of payments at auctions; for the word coactor, [4] which Horace uses, is of wide application. At any rate his means sufficed to purchase a small farm, where the poet passed his childhood. Horace was able to look back to this time with fond and even proud reminiscences, for he relates how prodigies marked him even in infancy as a special favourite of the gods. [5] At the age of twelve he was brought by his father to Rome and placed under the care of the celebrated Orbilius Pupillus. [6] The poet's filial feeling has left us a beautiful testimony to his father's affectionate interest in his studies. The good man, proud of his son's talent, but fearing the corruptions of the city, accompanied him every day to school, and consigned him in person to his preceptor's charge, [7] a duty usually left to slaves called paedagogi, who appear to have borne no high character for honesty, [8] and at best did nothing to improve those of whom they had the care. From the shrewd counsels of his father, who taught by instances not by maxims, [9] and by his own strict example, Horace imbibed that habit of keen observation and that genial view of life which distinguish him above all other satirists. He also learnt the caution which enabled him to steer his course among rocks and shoals that would have wrecked a novice, and to assert his independence of action with success even against the emperor himself.

The life of Horace is so well known that it is needless to retrace it here. We shall do no more than summarise the few leading events in it, alluding more particularly to those only which affect his literary position. After completing his education so far in the capital, he went for a time, as was customary, to study philosophy at Athens. [10] While he was there the death of Caesar and the events which followed roused the fierce party spirit that had uneasily slumbered. Horace, then twenty-two years of age, was offered a command by Brutus on his way to Macedonia, which he accepted, [11] and apparently must have seen some hard service. [12] He shared the defeat of the Republicans at Philippi, [13] and as the territory of Venusium, like that of Cremona, was selected to be parcelled out among the soldiery, Horace was deprived of his paternal estate, [14] a fact from which we learn incidentally that his father was now dead.

Thrown upon his own resources, he sought and obtained permission to come to Rome, where he obtained some small post as a notary [15] attached to the quaestors. Poverty drove him to verse-making, [16] but of what kind we do not certainly know. Probably epodes and satires were the first fruits of his pen, though some scholars ascribe certain of the Odes (e.g. i. 14) to this period. About this time he made the acquaintance of Virgil, which ripened at least on Horace's part into warm affection. Virgil and Varius introduced him to Maecenas, [17] who received the bashful poet with distant hauteur, and did not again send for him until nine months had elapsed. Slow to make up his mind, but prompt to act when his decision was once taken, Maecenas then called for Horace, and in the poet's words bade him be reckoned among his friends; [18] and very shortly afterwards we find them travelling together to Brundisium on a footing of familiar intimacy (39 B.C.). This circumspection of Maecenas was only natural, for Horace was of a very different stamp from Varius and Virgil, who were warm admirers of Octavius. Horace, though at first a Platonist, [19] then an Epicurean, [20] then an Eclectic, was always somewhat of a "free lance." [21] His mind was of that independent mould which can never be got to accept on anybody's authority the solution of problems which interest it. Even when reason convinced him that imperialism, if not good in itself, was the least of all possible evils, ho did not become a hearty partisan; he maintained from first to last a more or less critical attitude. Thus Maecenas may have heard of his literary promise, of his high character, without much concern. It was the paramount importance of enlisting so able a man on his own side that weighed with the shrewd statesman. For Horace, with the recklessness that poverty inspires, had shown a disposition to attack those in power. It is generally thought that Maecenas himself is ridiculed under the name Malthinus. [22] It is nevertheless clear that when he knew Maecenas he not only formed a high opinion of his character and talent, but felt a deep affection for him, which expresses itself in the generous language of an equal friend, with great respect, indeed, but totally without unworthy complaisance. The minister of monarchy might without inconsistency gain his goodwill; with the monarch it was a different matter. For many years Horace held aloof from Augustus. He made no application to him; he addressed to him no panegyric. Until the year 29, when the Temple of Janus was closed, he showed no approval of his measures. All his laudatory odes were written after that event. He indeed permitted the emperor to make advances to him, to invite him to his table, and maintain a friendly correspondence. But he refused the office of secretary which Augustus pressed upon him. He scrupulously abstained from pressing his claims of intimacy, as the emperor wished him to do; and at last he drew forth from him the remorseful expostulation, "Why is it that you avoid addressing me of all men in your poems? Is it that you are afraid posterity will think the worse of you for having been a friend of mine?" [23]

This appeal elicited from the poet that excellent epistle which traces the history and criticises the merits of Latin poetry. From all this we may be sure that when Augustus's measures are celebrated, as they are in the third book of the Odes and other places, with emphatic commendation, though the language may be that of poetical exaggeration, the sentiment is in the main sincere. It is a greater honour to the prudent ruler to have won the tardy approval of Horace, than to have enlisted from the outset the enthusiastic devotion of Virgil.

We left Horace installed as one of Maecenas's circle. This position naturally gained him many enemies; nor was his character one to conciliate his less fortunate rivals. He was choleric and sensitive, prompt to resent an insult, though quite free from malice or vindictiveness. He had not yet reached that high sense of his position when he could afford to treat the envious crowd with contempt. [24] He records in the satires which he now wrote, painting with inimitable humour each incident that arose, the attempts of the outsiders to obtain from him an introduction to Maecenas, [25] or some of that political information of which he was supposed to be the confidant. [26] At this period of his career he lived a good deal with his patron both in Rome and at his Tiburtine villa. Within a few years, however (probably 31 B.C.), he was put in possession of what he had always desired, [27] a small competence of his own. This was the Sabine estate in the valley of Ustica, not far from Tivoli, given him by Maecenas, the subject of many beautiful allusions, and the cause of his warmest gratitude. [28] Here he resided during some part of each year [29] in the enjoyment of that independence which was to him the greatest good; and during the seven years that followed he wrote, and at their close published, the first three books of the Odes. [30] The death of Virgil, which happened when Horace was forty-six years of age, and soon afterwards that of Tibullus, threw his affections once more upon his early patrons. He now resided more frequently at Rome, and was often to be seen at the palace. How he filled the arduous position of a courtier may be gathered from many, of the Epistles of the first book. The one which introduces Septimus to Tiberius is a masterpiece; [31] and those to Scaeva and Lellius [32] are models of high-bred courtesy. No one ever mingled compliment and advice with such consummate skill. Horace had made his position at court for himself, and though he still loved the country best, [33] he found both interest and profit in his daily intercourse with the great.

In the year 17 B.C. Augustus found an opportunity of testifying his regard for Horace. The secular games, which were celebrated in that year, included the singing of a hymn to Apollo and Diana by a chorus of 27 boys and the same number of girls, selected from the highest families in the state. The composition of this hymn was intrusted to Horace, much to his own legitimate pride, and to our instruction and pleasure, for not only is it a poem of high intrinsic excellence, but it is the only considerable extant specimen of the lyrical part of Roman worship. Some scholars include under it besides the Carmen Saeculare proper, various other odes, some of which unquestionably bear on the same subject, though, there is no direct evidence of their having been sung together. [34] Whether Horace had any Roman models in this style before him is not very clear. We have seen that Livius Andronicus was selected to celebrate the victory of Sena, [35] and there is an ode of Catullus [36] which seems to refer to some similar occasion. Doubtless the main lines in which the composition moved were indicated by custom; but the treatment was left to the individual genius of the poet. In this case we observe the poet's happy choice of a metre. Of all the varied lyric rhythms none, at least to our ears, lends itself so readily to a musical setting as the Sapphic; and the many melodies attached to odes in this metre by the monks of the Middle Ages attest its special adaptability to choir-singing. Augustus was highly pleased with the poet's performance, and two years' afterwards he commanded him to celebrate the victory of his step-sons Drusus and Tiberius over the Rhaeti and Vindelici. [37] This circumstance turned his attention once more to lyric poetry, which for six years he had quite discontinued. [38] It is not conclusively proved that he wrote all the odes which compose the fourth book at this period; two or three bear the impress of an earlier date, and were doubtless improved by re-writing or revision, but the majority were the production of his later years, and present to us the fruits of his matured judgment and taste. They show no diminution of lyric power, but the reverse; nor is there any ode in the first three books which surpasses or even equals the fourth poem in this collection. Horace's attention was, during the last few years of his life, given chiefly to literary subjects; the treatise on poetry and the epistle to Julius Florus were written probably between 14 and 11 B.C. That to Augustus is the last composition that issued from his pen; we may refer it to 10 B.C. two years before his death.

Horace's health had long been the reverse of strong. Whether from early delicacy, or from exposure to hardships in Asia, his constitution was never able to respond to the demands made upon it by the society of the capital. The weariness he expresses was often the result of physical prostration. The sketch he has left of himself [39] suggests a physique neither interesting nor vigorous. He was at 44 short, fat, and good- natured looking (rallied, we learn, by Augustus on his obesity), blear- eyed, somewhat dyspeptic, and prematurely grey; and ten years, we may be sure, had not improved the portrait. In the autumn of 8 B.C. Maecenas, who had long been himself a sufferer, succumbed to the effects of his devoted and arduous service. His last message confided Horace to the Emperor's care: "Horatii flacci ut mei esto memor." But the legacy was not long a burden. The prophetic anticipations of affection that in death the poet would not be parted from his friend [40] were only too faithfully realised. Within a month of Maecenas's death Horace was borne to his rest, and his ashes were laid beside those of his patron on the Esquiline (November 29, 8 B.C.).

As regards the date of publication of his several books, several theories have been propounded, for which the student is referred to the many excellent editions of Horace that discuss the question. We shall content ourselves with assigning those dates which seem to us the most probable. All agree in considering the first book of the Satires to have been his earliest effort. This may have been published in 34 B.C.; and in 29 B.C. the two books of Satires together, and perhaps the Epodes. In 24 B.C. probably appeared the first two books of Odes, which open and close with a dedication to Maecenas, and in 23 B.C. the three books of Odes complete; though some suppose that all appeared at once and for the first time in this later year. In 21 B.C. perhaps, but more probably in 20, the first book of the Epistles was published; in 14 B.C. the fourth book of the Odes, though it is possible that the last ode of that book was written at a later date. The second book of Epistles, in which may have been included the Ars Poetica, could not have appeared before 10 B.C. It is clear that the latter poem is not complete, but whether Horace intended to finish it more thoroughly it is impossible to say.

In approaching the criticism of Horace, the first thing which strikes us is, that in him we see two different poets. There is the lyricist winning renown by the importation of a new kind of Greek song; and there is the observant critic and man of the world, entrusting to the tablets, his faithful companions, his reflections on men and things. The former poet ran his course through the Epodes to the graceful pieces which form the great majority of his odes, and culminated in the loftier vein of lyric inspiration that characterises his political odes. The latter began with a somewhat acrimonious type of satire, which he speedily deserted for a lighter and more genial vein, and finally rested in the sober, practical, and healthy moralist and literary critic of the Epistles. It was in the former aspect that he assumed the title of poet; with characteristic modesty he relinquishes all claim to it with regard to his Epistles and Satires. We shall consider him briefly under these two aspects.

No writer believed so little in the sufficiency of the poetic gift by itself to produce a poet. Had he trusted the maxim Poeta nascitur, non fit, he would never have written his Odes. Looking back at his early attempts at verse we find in them few traces of genuine inspiration. Of the Epodes a large number are positively unpleasing; others interest us from the expression of true feeling; a few only have merits of a high order. The fresh and enthusiastic, though somewhat diffuse, descriptions of country enjoyments in the second and sixteenth Epodes, and the vigorous word-painting in the fifth, bespeak the future master; and the patriotic emotion in the seventh, ninth, and sixteenth, strikes a note that was to thrill with loftier vibrations in the Odes of the third and fourth books. But as a whole the Epodes stand far below his other works. Their bitterness is quite different from the genial irony of the Satires, and, though occasionally the subjects of them merited the severest handling, [41] yet we do not like to see Horace applying the lash. It was not his proper vocation, and he does not do it well. He is never so unlike himself as when he is making a personal attack. Nevertheless to bring himself into notice, it was necessary to do something of the kind. Personal satire is always popular, and Horace had to carve his own way to fame. It is evident that the series of sketches of which Canidia is the heroine, [42] were received with unanimous approval by the beau monde. This wretched woman, singled out as the representative of a class which was gaining daily influence in Rome, [43] he depicts in colours detestable and ignominious, which do credit to his talent but not to his courteous feeling. Horace has no true respect for woman. Nothing in all Latin poetry is so unpleasant as his brutal attacks on those hetaerae (the only ladies of whom he seems to have had any knowledge) whose caprice or neglect had offended him. [44] This is the one point in which he did not improve. In all other respects his constant self-culture opened to him higher and ever widening paths of excellence.

The glimpses of real feeling which the Epodes allow us to gain are as a rule carefully excluded from the Odes. This is at first sight a matter for surprise. Our idea of a lyric poem is that of a warm and passionate outpouring of the heart. Such are those of Burns; such are those of nearly all the writers who have gained the heart of modern times. In the grand style of dithyrambic song, indeed, the bard is rapt into an ideal world, and soars far beyond his subjective emotions or desires; but to this Pindaric inspiration Horace made no pretension. He was content to be an imitator of Alcaeus and Sappho, who had attuned to the lyre their own hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of their own chequered life. But in imitating their form he has altogether changed their spirit. Where they indulged feeling, he has controlled it; what they effect by intensity of colour, he attains by studied propriety of language. He desires not to enlist the world to sympathy with himself, but to put himself in sympathy with the world. Hence the many-sidedness, the culture, the broad human stand-point after which he ceaselessly strives. If depth must be sacrificed to attain this, he is ready to sacrifice it. He finds a field wide enough in the network of aims, interest, and feelings, which give society its hold on us, and us our union with society. And he feels that the writer who shall make his poem speak with a living voice to the largest number of these, will meet with most earnest heed, and be doing best the poet's true work. At the same time we must not forget that Horace's public was not our public. The unwieldy mass of labouring millions, shaken to its depths by questionings of momentous interest, cannot be drawn to listen except by an emotion vast as its own; but the society for whom Horace wrote was homogeneous in tone, limited in number, cultivated in intellect, and deeply absorbed in a race of ambition, some of whose prizes, at least, each might hope to win. He was, has been, and intended himself to be, the poet of men of the world.

Among such men at all times, and to an immeasurably greater extent in antiquity than now, staunch friendship has been considered one of the chief of virtues. Whatever were Horace's relations to the other sex, no man whom he had once called a friend had any cause to complain. Admirable indeed in their frankness, their constancy, their sterling independence, are the friendships it has delighted him to record. From the devoted, almost passionate tribute to Maecenas—

"Ibimus ibimus Uteunque praecedes supremum Carpere iter comites parati,"

to the raillery so gracefully flung at an Iccius or Xanthias, for whom yet one discerns the kindest and tenderest feeling, these memorials of Roman intercourse place both giver and receiver in a truly amiable light. We can understand Augustus's regret that he had not been honoured with a regard of which he well knew the value. For the poet was rich who could dispense gifts like these.

Interspersed with the love-odes, addresses to friends and pieces de circonstance, we observe, even in the earlier books, lyrics of a more serious cast. Some are moral and contemplative, as the grand ode to Fortune [45] and that beginning

"Non ebur neque aureum Mea renidet in domo lacunar." [46]

Others are patriotic or political, as the second, twelfth, and thirty- seventh of Book I. (the last celebrating the downfall of Cleopatra), and the fifteenth of Book II. which bewails the increase of luxury. In these Horace is rising to the truly Roman conception that poetry, like other forces, should be consecrated to the service of the state. And now that he could see the inevitable tendency of things, could gauge the emperor's policy and find it really advantageous, he arose, no longer as a half- unwilling witness, but as a zealous co-operator to second political by moral power. The first six and the twenty-fourth Odes of the third book show us Horace not indeed at his best as a poet, but at his highest as a writer. They exhibit a more sustained manliness of tone than is perhaps to be found in any passages of equal length from any other author. Heathen ethics have no nobler portrait than that of the just man tenacious of his purpose, with which the third ode begins; and Roman patriotism no grander witness than the heart-stirring narrative of Regulus going forth to Carthage to meet his doom. Whether or not the third ode was written to dissuade Augustus from his rumoured project of transferring the seat of empire from Rome to Troy, it expresses most strongly the firm conviction of those best worth consulting, and, if the emperor really was in doubt, must, in conjunction with Virgil's emphatic repetition of the same sentiment, [47] have effectually turned him from his purpose. For these odes carried great authority. In them the poet appears as the authorised voice of the state, dispensing verba et voces [48] "the charm of poesy" to allay the moral pestilence that is devouring the people.

No one can read the odes without being struck with certain features wherein they differ from his other works. One of these is his constant employment of the Olympian mythology. Whatever view we may hold as to their appearance in the Aeneid, there can he no doubt that in the Odes these deities have a purely fictitious character. With the single exception of Jupiter, the eternal Father, without second or equal even among the Olympian choir, [49] whom he is careful not to name, none of his allusions imply, but on the contrary implicitly disown, any belief in their existence. In the satires and epistles he never employs this conventional ornament. The same thing is true of his language to Augustus. Assuming the poet's license, he depicts him as the son of Maia, [50] the scion of kindly deities, [51] and a living denizen of the ethereal mansions. [52] But in the epistles he throws off this adulatory tone, and accosts the Caesar in a way befitting their mutual relations; for in declaring that altars are raised to him and men swear by his name, [53] he is not using flattery, but stating a fact. Another point of difference is his fondness in the Odes for commonplaces, e.g. the degeneracy of the age, [54] the necessity of enjoying the moment, [55] which he enforces with every variety of illustration. Neither of these was the result of genuine conviction. On the former he gives us his real view (a very noble and rational one) in the third Satire of the first book, [56] and in the Ars Poetica, as different as possible from the desponding pessimism of ode and epode. And the Epicurean maxims which in them he offers as the sum of wisdom, are in his Epistles exchanged for their direct opposites: [56]

"Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum, Sperne voluptates; nocet empta dolore voluptas."

It is clear then that in the Odes, for the most part, he is an artist not a preacher. We must not look to them for his deepest sentiments, but for such, and such only, as admitted an effective lyric treatment.

As regards their form, we observe that they are moulded strictly upon the Greek, some of those on lighter themes being translations or close imitations. But in naturalising the Greek metres, he has accommodated them with the rarest skill to the harmonies of the Latin tongue. The Virgilian movement differs not more from the Homeric, than does the Horatian sapphic or alcaic from the same metres as treated by their Greek inventors. The success of Horace may be judged by comparing his stanzas with the sapphics of Catullus on the one hand, and the alcaics of Statius on the other. The former struggle under the complicated shackles of Greek prosody; the latter move on the stilts of school-boy imitation. In language he is singularly choice without being a purist; agreeably to their naturalised character he has interspersed the odes with Greek constructions, some highly elegant, others a little forced and bordering upon experiments on language. [57] The poetry of his language consists not so much in its being imaginative, as in its employing the fittest words in the fittest places. Its general level is that of the best epistolary or oratorical compositions, according to the elevation of the subject. He loves not to soar into the empyrean, but often checks Pegasus by a strong curb, or by a touch of irony or an incongruous allusion prevents himself or his reader being carried away. [58] This mingling of irony and earnest is thoroughly characteristic of his genius. To men of realistic minds it forms one of the greatest of its charms.

Among the varied excellences of these gems of poetry, we shall select three, as those after which Horace most evidently sought. They are brevity, ease, life. In the first he is perhaps unequalled. It is not only that what he says is terse; in what he omits we recognise the master hand. He knows precisely what to dwell on, what to hint at, what to pass by. He is on the best understanding with his reader. He knows the reader is a busy man, and he says—"Read me! and, however you may judge my work, you shall at least not be bored." We recollect no instance in which Horace is prolix; none in which he can be called obscure; though there are many passages that require weighing, and many abrupt transitions that somewhat task thought. In condensed simplicity he is the first of Latin poets. Who that has once heard can forget such phrases as Nil desperandum, splendide mendax, non omnis moriar, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, and a hundred others? His brevity is equalled by his ease. By this must not be understood either spontaneity of invention or rapidity of execution. We know that he was a slow, nay, a laborious workman.[59] But he has the ars celare artem. What can be more natural than the transition from the praises of young Nero to Hannibal's fine lament? [60] from those of Augustus to the speech of Juno? [61] Yet these are effected with the most subtle skill. And even when the digression appears more forced, as in the well-known instances of Europa [62] and the Danaides, [63] the incongruity is at once removed by supposing that the legend in each case forms the main subject of the poem, and that the occasional introductions are a characteristic form of preamble, perhaps reflected from Pindar. And once more as to his liveliness. This is the highest excellence of the Odes. It never flags. If the poet does not rise to an exalted inspiration, he at least never sinks into heaviness, never loses life. To cite but one ode, in an artistic point of view, perhaps, the jewel of the whole collection— the dialogue between the poet and Lydia; [64] here is an entire comedy played in twenty-four lines, in which the dialogue never becomes insipid, the action never flags. Like all his love odes it is barren of deep feeling, for which reason, perhaps, they have been compared to scentless flowers. But the comparison is most unjust. Aroma, bouquet: this is precisely what they do not lack. Some other metaphor must be sought to embody the deficiency. At the same time the want is a real one; and exquisite as are the Odes, no one knew better than their author himself that they have no power to pierce the heart, or to waken those troubled musings which in their blending of pain and pleasure elevate into something that it was not before, the whole being of him that reads them.

The Satires and Epistles differ somewhat in form, in elaboration, and in metrical treatment, but on the whole they have sufficient resemblance to be considered together. The Horatian satire is sui generis. In the familiar modern sense it is not satire at all. The censorious spirit that finds nothing to praise, everything to ridicule, is quite alien to Horace. Neither Persius nor Juvenal, Boileau nor Pope, bears any real resemblance to him. The two former were satirists in the modern sense; the two latter have caught what we may call the town side of Horace, but they are accomplished epigrammatists and rhetoricians, which he is not, and they entirely lack his strong love for the simple and the rural. Horace is decidedly the least rhetorical of all Roman poets. His taste is as free from the contamination of the basilica [65] as it is from that of Alexandrinism. As in lyric poetry he went straight to the fountain-head, seeking models among the bards of old Greece, so in his prose-poetry, as he calls the Satires, [66] he draws from the well of real experience, departing from it neither to the right hand nor to the left. This is what gives his works their lasting value. They are all gold; in other words, they have been dug for. Refined gold all certainly are not, many of them are strikingly the reverse; for all sorts of subjects are treated by them, bad as well as good. The poet professes to have no settled plan, but to wander from subject to subject, as the humour or the train of thought leads him; as Plato says—

opae an o logos agoi, tautae iteon.

Without the slightest pretence of authority or the right to dictate, he contrives to supply us with an infinite number of sound and healthy moral lessons, to reason with us so genially and with so frank an admission of his own equal frailty, that it is impossible to be angry with him, impossible not to love the gentle instructor. He has been accused of tolerance towards vice. That is, we think, a great error. Horace knew men too well to be severe; his is no trumpet-call, but a still small voice, which pleads but does not accuse. He was no doubt in his youth a lax liver; [67] he had adopted the Epicurean creed and the loose conduct that follows it. But he was struggling towards a purer ideal. Even in the Satires he is only half an Epicurean; in the Epistles he is not one at all: and in proportion as he has outlived the hot blood of youth, his voice becomes clearer and his faith in virtue stronger. The Epistles are to a great extent reflective; he has examined his own heart, and depicts his musings for our benefit. Many of them are moral essays filled with precepts of wisdom, the more precious as having been genuinely thought out by the writer for himself. Less dramatic, less vigorous, perhaps, than the Satires, they embody in choicest language the maturest results of his reflection. Their poetical merits are higher, their diction more chaste, their metre more melodious. With the Georgics they are ranked as the most perfect examples of the modulation of hexameter verse. Their movement is rippling rather than flowing, and satisfies the mind rather than the ear, but it is a delicious movement, full of suggestive grace. The diction, though classical, admits occasional colloquialisms. [68]

Several of the Satires, [69] and the three Epistles which form the second book, are devoted to literary criticism, and these have always been regarded as among the most interesting of Horace's compositions. His opinions on previous and contemporary poetry are given with emphasis, and as a rule ran counter to the opinion of his day. The technical dexterity in versification which had resulted from the feverish activity of the last forty years, had produced a disastrous consequence. All the world was seized with the mania for writing poetry:

"Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim."

The young Pisos were among the number. To them the poet gave this friendly counsel, to lock up their creations for nine years, and then publish, or as we may shrewdly suspect he meant—destroy them. Poetry is the one thing that, if it is to be done at all, must be done well:

"Mediocribus esse poetis Non di, non homines, non concessere columnae."

In Horace's opinion none of the old poetry came up to this standard. When he quotes two lines of Ennius [70] as defying all efforts to make prose of them, we cannot help fancying he is indulging his ironical vein. He never speaks seriously of Ennius. In fact he thoroughly disliked the array of "old masters" that were at once confronted with him whenever he expressed a predilection. It was not only the populace who yawned over Accius's tragedies, or the critics who lauded the style of the Salian hymn, that moved his resentment. These he could afford to despise. It was rather the antiquarian prepossessions of such men as Virgil, Maecenas, and Augustus, that caused him so earnestly to combat the love of all that was old. In his zeal there is no doubt he has outrun justice. He had no sympathy for the untamed vigour of those rough but spirited writers; his fastidious taste could make no allowance for the circumstances against which they had to contend. To reply that the excessive admiration lavished by the multitude demanded an equally sweeping condemnation, is not to excuse Horace. One who wrote so cautiously would never have used exaggeration to enforce his words. The disparaging remarks must be regarded as expressing his real opinion, and we are not concerned to defend it.

His attitude towards the age immediately preceding his own is even less worthy of him. He never mentions Lucretius, though one or two allusions [71] show that he knew and was indebted to his writings; he refers to Catullus only once, and then in evident depreciation, [72] mentioning him and Calvus as the sole literature of a second-rate singer, whom he calls the ape of Hermogenes Tigellius. Moreover his boast that he was the first to introduce the Archilochian iambic [73] and the lyric metres, [74] though perhaps justifiable; is the reverse of generous, seeing that Catullus had treated before him three at least of the metres to which he alludes. Mr. Munro's assertion as to there being indications that the school of Lucretius and Catullus would have necessarily come into collision with that of the Augustan poets, had the former survived to their time, is supported by Horace's attitude. Virgil and Tibullus would have found many points of union, so probably would Gallus; but Horace, Propertius, and Ovid, would certainly have been antagonistic. It is unfortunate that the canons laid down by Horace found no followers. While Virgil had his imitators from the first, and Tibullus and Propertius served as models to young aspirants, Horace, strangely enough, found no disciples. Persius in a later age studied him with care, and tried to reproduce his style, but with such a signal want of success that in every passage where he imitates, he caricatures his master. He has, however, left us an appreciative and beautiful criticism on the Horatian method. [75]

It has often been supposed that the Ars Poetica was writen in the hope of regenerating the drama. This theory is based partly on the length at which dramatic subjects are treated, partly on the high pre-eminence which the critic assigns to that class of poetry. But he can hardly have so far deceived himself as to believe that any efforts of his could restore the popular interest in the legitimate drama which had now sunk to the lowest ebb. It should rather be considered as a deliberate expression of his views upon many important subjects connected with literary studies, written primarily for the young Pisos, but meant for the world at large, and not intended for an exhortation (adhortatio) so much as a treatise. Its admirable precepts have been approved by every age: and there is probably no composition in the world to which so few exceptions have been taken.

Here we leave Horace, and conclude the chapter with a very short account of some of his friends who devoted themselves to poetry. The first is C. VALGIUS RUFUS, who was consul in the year 12 B.C. and to whom the ninth Ode of the second book is addressed. Whether from his high position or from his genuine poetical promise, we find great expectations held regarding him. Tibullus (or rather, the author of the poem ascribed to him) [76] says that no other poet came nearer to Homer's genius, and Horace by asking him to celebrate the new trophies of Augustus implies that he cultivated an epic strain. [77] Besides loftier themes he treated erotic subjects in elegiac verse, translated the rhetoric of Apollodorus, [78] and wrote letters on grammar, probably in the form afterwards adopted by Seneca's moral epistles. ARISTIUS FUSCUS to whom the twenty-second Ode of the first book and the tenth Epistle are addressed, was a writer of some pretensions. It is not certain what line he followed, but in all probability the drama. He was an intimate acquaintance of Horace, and, it will be remembered, delivered him from the intrusive acquaintance on the Via Sacra. [79] FUNDANIUS, who is twice mentioned by Horace, and once in very complimentary terms as the best comic poet of the day, [80] has not been fortunate enough to find any biographer. TITUS, one of the younger men to whom so many of the epistles are addressed, was a very ambitious poet. He attempted Pindaric flights from which the genius of Horace shrank, and apparently he cultivated tragedy, but in a pompous and ranting manner. [81] ICCIUS, who is referred to in the ninth Ode of Book I., and in the twelfth Epistle, as a philosopher, may have written poems. JULIUS FLORUS, to whom two beautiful epistles (I. iii. II. ii.) are addressed, is rallied by Horace on his tendency to write love-poems, but apparently his efforts came to nothing. CELSUS ALBINOVANUS was, like Florus, a friend of Tiberius, to whom he acted as private secretary for some time; [82] he was given to pilfering ideas and Horace deals him a salutary caution:—

"Monitus multumque monendus Privatas ut quaerat opes, et tangere vitet Scripta Palatinus quaecunque recepit Apollo." [83]

The last of these friends we shall notice is JULUS ANTONIUS [84] a son of the triumvir, who, according to Acron, [85] wrote twelve excellent books in epic metre on the legends of Diomed, a work obviously modelled on those of Euphorion, whose fourteen books of Heracleia were extremely popular; in a later age Statius attempted a similar task in essaying the history of Achilles. The ode addressed to him by Horace seems to hint at a foolish ambition to imitate Pindar. Besides these lesser known authors Horace knew, though he does not mention, the poets Ovid and Domitius Marsus; probably also Propertius. With Tibullus he was long on terms of friendship, and one epistle and one ode [86] are addressed to him. His gentle nature endeared him to Horace, as his graceful poetry drew forth his commendation.



CHAPTER IV.

THE ELEGIAC POETS—GRATIUS—MANILIUS.

The short artificial elegy of Callimachus and Philetas had, as we have seen, found an imitator in Catullus. But that poet, when he addressed to Lesbia the language of true passion, wrote for the most part in lyric verse. The Augustan age furnishes a series of brilliant poets who united the artificial elegiac with the expression of real feeling; and one of them, Ovid, has by his exquisite formal polish raised the Latin elegiac couplet to a popularity unparalleled in imitative literature. The metre had at first been adapted to short epigrams modelled on the Greek, e.g., triumphal inscriptions, epitaphs, jeux d'esprit, &c., several examples of which have been quoted in these pages. Catullus and his contemporaries first treated it at greater length, and paved the way for the highly specialised form in which it appears in Tibullus, the earliest Augustan author that has come down to us.

There are indications that Roman elegy, like heroic verse, had two separate tendencies. There was the comparatively simple continuous treatment of the metre seen in Catullus and Virgil, who are content to follow the Greek rhythm, and there was the more rhetorical and pointed style first beginning to appear in Tibullus, carried a step further in Propertius, and culminating in the epigrammatic couplet of Ovid. This last is a peculiarly Latin development, unsuited to the Greek, and too elaborately artificial to be the vehicle for the highest poetry, but, when treated by one who is master of his method, admitting of a facility, fluency, and incomparable elegance, which perhaps no other rhythm combines in an equal degree. In almost all its features it may be illustrated by the heroic couplet of Pope. The elegiac line is in the strictest sense a pendant to the hexameter; only rarely does it introduce a new element of thought, and perhaps never a new commencement in narration. It is for the most part an iteration, variation, enlargement, condensation or antithesis of the idea embodied in its predecessor. In the most highly finished of Ovid's compositions this structure is carried to such a point that the syntax is rarely altogether continuous throughout the couplet; there is generally a break either natural or rhetorical at the conclusion of the hexameter or within the first few syllables of the pentameter. [1] The rhetorical as distinct from the natural period, which appears, though veiled with great skill, in the Virgilian hexameter, is in Ovid's verse made the key to the whole rhythmical structure, and by its restriction within the minimum space of two lines offers a tempting field to the various tricks of composition, the turn, the point, the climax, &c. in all of which Ovid, as the typical elegist, luxuriates, though he applies such elegant manipulation as rarely to over-stimulate and scarcely ever to offend the reader's attention. The criticism that such a system cannot fail to awaken is that of want of variety; and in spite of the diverse modes of producing effect which these accomplished writers, and above all Ovid, well knew how to use, one cannot read them long without a sense of monotony, which never attends on the far less ambitious elegies of Catullus, and probably would have been equally absent from those of CORNELIUS GALLUS.

This ill-starred poet, whose life is the subject of Bekker's admirable sketch, was born at Forum Julii (Frejus) 69 B.C., and is celebrated as the friend of Virgil's youth. Full of ambition and endowed with talent to command or conciliate, he speedily rose in Augustus's service, and was the first to introduce Virgil to his notice. For a time all prospered; he was appointed the first prefect of Egypt, then recently annexed as a province, but his haughtiness and success had made him many enemies; he was accused of treasonable conversation, and interdicted the palace of the emperor. To avoid further disgrace he committed suicide, in the 43d year of his age (27 B.C.). His poetry was entirely taken from Alexandria; he translated Euphorion and wrote four books of love-elegies to Cytheris. Whether she is the same as the Lycoris mentioned by Virgil, [2] whose faithlessness he bewails, we cannot tell. No fragments of his remain, [3] but the passionate nature of the man, and the epithet durior applied to his verse by Quintilian, makes it probable that he followed the older and more vigorous style of elegiac writing. [4]

Somewhat junior to him was DOMITIUS MARSUS who followed in the same track. He was a member of the circle of Maecenas, though, strangely enough, never mentioned by Horace, and exercised his varied talents in epic poetry, in which he met with no great success, for Martial says [5]—

"Saepius in libro memoratur Persius uno Quam levis in toto Marsus Amazonide."

From this we gather that Amazonis was the name of his poem. In erotic poetry he held a high place, though not of the first rank. His Fabellae and treatise on Urbanitas, both probably poetical productions, are referred to by Quintilian, and Martial mentions him as his own precursor in treating the short epigram. From another passage of Martial,

"Et Maecenati Maro cum cantaret Alexin Nota tamen Marsi fusca Melaenis erat," [6]

we infer that he began his career early; for he was certainly younger than Horace, though probably only by a few years, as he also received instruction from Orbilius. There is a fine epigram by Marsus lamenting the death of his two brother-poets and friends:

"Te quoque Virgilio comitem non aequa, Tibulle, Mors invenem campos misit ad Elysios. Ne foret aut molles elegis qui fleret amores, Aut caneret forti regia bella pede."

ALBIUS TIBULLUS, to whom Quintilian adjudges the palm of Latin elegy, was born probably about the same time as Horace (65 B.C.), though others place the date of his birth as late as that of Messala (59 B.C.). In the fifth Elegy of the third book [7] occur the words—

"Natalem nostri primum videre parentes Cum cecidit fato consul uterque pari."

As these words nearly reappear in Ovid, fixing the date of his own birth, [8] some critics have supposed them to be spurious here. But there is no occasion for this. The elegy in which they occur is certainly not by Tibullus, and may well be the work of some contemporary of Ovid. They point to the battle of Mutina, 43 B.C., in which Hirtius and Pansa lost their lives. The poet's death is fixed to 19 B.C. by the epigram of Domitius just quoted.

Tibullus was a Roman knight, and inherited a large fortune. This, however, he lost by the triumviral proscriptions, [9] excepting a poor remnant of his estate near Pedum which, small as it was, seems to have sufficed for his moderate wants. At a later period Horace, writing to him in retirement, speaks as though he were possessed of considerable wealth [10]—

"Di tibi divitias dederunt artemque fruendi."

It is possible that Augustus, at the intercession of Messala, restored the poet's patrimony. It was as much the fashion among the Augustan writers to affect a humble but contented poverty, as it had been among the libertines of the Caesarean age to pretend to sanctity of life—another form of that unreality which, after all, is ineradicable from Latin poetry. Ovid is far more unaffected. He asserts plainly that the pleasures and refinements of his time were altogether to his taste, and that no other age would have suited him half so well. [11] Tibullus is a melancholy effeminate spirit. Horace exactly hits him when he bids him "chant no more woeful elegies," [12] because a young and perjured rival has been preferred to him. He seems to have had no ambition and no energy, but his position obliged him to see some military service, and we find that he went on no less than three expeditions with his patron. This patron, or rather friend, for he was above needing a patron, was the great Messala, whom the poet loved with a warmth and constancy testified by some beautiful elegies, the finest perhaps being those where the general's victories are celebrated. [13] But the chief theme of his verse is the love, ill-requited it would seem, which he lavished first on Delia and afterwards on Nemesis. Each mistress gives the subject to a book. Delia's real name as we learn from Apuleius was Plania, [14] and we gather from more than one notice in the poems that she was married [15] when Tibullus paid his addresses to her. If the form of these poems is borrowed from Alexandria, the gentle pathos and gushing feeling redeem them from all taint of artificiality. In no poet, not even in Burns, is simple, natural emotion more naturally expressed. If we cannot praise the character of the man, we must admire the graceful poet. Nothing can give a truer picture of affection than the following tender and exquisitely musical lines:

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15     Next Part
Home - Random Browse