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A History of Roman Literature - From the Earliest Period to the Death of Marcus Aurelius
by Charles Thomas Cruttwell
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"Non ego laudari curo: mea Delia, tecum Dummodo sim quaeso segnis inersque vocer. Te spectem suprema mihi cum venerit hora: Te teneam moriens deficiente manu." [16]

Here is the same "linked sweetness long drawn out" which gives such a charm to Gray's elegy. In other elegies, particularly those which take the form of idylls, giving images of rural peace and plenty, [17] we see the quiet retiring nature that will not be drawn into the glare of Rome. Tibullus is described as of great personal beauty, and of a candid [18] and affectionate disposition. Notwithstanding his devotion Delia was faithless, and the poet sought distraction in surrendering to the charms of another mistress. Horace speaks of a lady named Glycera in this connection; it is probable that she is the same as Nemesis; [19] the custom of erotic poetry being to substitute a Greek name of similar scansion for the original Latin one; if the original name were Greek the change was still made, hence Glycera might well stand for Nemesis. The third book was first seen by Niebuhr to be from another and much inferior poet. It is devoted to the praises of Neaera, and imitates the manner of Tibullus with not a little of his sweetness but with much less power. Who the author was it is impossible to say, but though he had little genius he was a man of feeling and taste, and the six elegies are a pleasing relic of this active and yet melancholy time. The fourth book begins with a short epic on Messala, the work of a poetaster, extending over 200 lines. It is followed by thirteen most graceful elegidia ascribed to the lovers Cerinthus and Sulpicia of which one only is by Cerinthus. It is not certain whether this ascription is genuine, or whether, as the ancient life of Tibullus in the Parisian codex asserts, the poems were written by him under the title of Epistolae amatoriae. Their finished elegance and purity of diction are easily reconcilable with the view that they are the work of Tibullus. They abound in allusions to Virgil's poetry. [20] At the same time the description of Sulpicia as a poetess [21] seems to point to her as authoress of the pieces that bear her name, and from one or two allusions we gather that Messala was paying her attentions that were distasteful but hard to refuse. [22] The materials for coming to a decision are so scanty, that it seems best to leave the authorship an open question.

The rhythm of Tibullus is smooth, easy, and graceful, but tame. He generally concludes his period at the end of the couplet, and closes the couplet with a dissyllable; but he does not like Ovid make it an invariable rule. The diction is severely classical, free from Greek constructions and antiquated harshness. In elision he stands midway between Catullus and Ovid, inclining, however, more nearly to the latter.

SEX. AURELIUS PROPERTIUS, an Umbrian, from Mevania, Ameria, Assisi, or Hispellum, it is not certain which, was born 58 B.C. or according to others 49 B.C., and lost his father and his estate in the same year (41 B.C.) under Octavius's second assignation of land to the soldiers. He seems to have begun life at the bar, which he soon deserted to play the cavalier to Hostia (whom he celebrates under the name Cynthia), a lady endowed with learning and wit as well as beauty, to whom our poet remained constant for five years. The chronology of his love-quarrels and reconciliations has been the subject of warm disputes between Nobbe, Jacob, and Lachmann; but even if it were of any importance, it is impossible to ascertain it with certainty.

He unquestionably belonged to Maecenas's following, but was not admitted into the inner circle of his intimates. Some have thought that the troublesome acquaintance who besought Horace to introduce him was no other than Propertius. The man, it will be remembered, expresses himself willing to take a humble place: [23]

"Haberes Magnum adiutorem posset qui ferre secundas Hunc hominem velles si tradere. Dispeream ni Submosses omnes."

And as Propertius speaks of himself as living on the Esquiliae, [24] some have, in conformity with this view, imagined him to have held some domestic post under Maecenas's roof. A careful reader can detect in Propertius a far less well-bred tone than is apparent in Tibullus or Horace. He has the air of a parvenu, [25] parading his intellectual wares, and lacking the courteous self-restraint which dignifies their style. But he is a genuine poet, and a generous, warm-hearted man, and in our opinion by far the greatest master of the pentameter that Rome ever produced. Its rhythm in his hands rises at times almost into grandeur. There are passages in the elegy on Cornelia (which concludes the series) whose noble naturalness and stirring emphasis bespeak a great and patriotic inspiration; and no small part of this effect is due to his vigorous handling of a somewhat feeble metre. [26] Mechanically speaking, he is a disciple in the same school as Ovid, but his success in the Ovidian distich is insignificant; for he has nothing of the epigrammatist in him, and his finest lines all seem to have come by accident, or at any rate without effort. [27] His excessive reverence for the Alexandrines Callimachus and Philetas, has cramped his muse. With infinitely more poetic fervour than either, he has made them his only models, and to attain their reputation is the summit of his ambition. It is from respect to their practice that he has loaded his poems with pedantic erudition; in the very midst of passionate pleading he will turn abruptly into the mazes of some obscure myth, often unintelligible [28] to the modern reader, whose patience he sorely tries. There is no good poet so difficult to read through; his faults are not such as "plead sweetly for pardon;" they are obtrusive and repelling, and have been more in the way of his fame than those of any extant writer of equal genius. He was a devoted admirer of Virgil, whose poems he sketches in the following graceful lines: [29]—

"Actia Virgilio custodit (deus) litora Phoebi, Caesaris et fortes dicere posse rates: Qui nunc Aeneae Troianaque suscitat arma, Iactaque Lavinis moenia litoribus. Cedite Romani seriptores, cedite Graii, Nescio quid maius nascitur Iliade! Tu canis umbrosi subter pineta Galesi Thyrsin et attritis Daphnin arundinibus, Utque decera possint corrumpere mala puellas, Missus et impressis haedus ab uberibus. Felix qui viles pomis mercaris amores! Huic licet ingratae Tityrus ipse canat. Felix intactum Corydon qui tentat Alexin Agricolae domini carpere delicias. Quamvis ille sua lassus requiescat avena, Laudatur faciles inter Hamadryadas. Tu canis Ascraei veteris praecepta poetae, Quo seges in campo, quo viret uva iugo. Tale facis carmen, docta testudine quale Cynthius impositis temperat articulis."

The elegies that show his characteristics best are the second of the first book, where he prays his lady to dress modestly; the seventeenth, where he rebukes himself for having left her side; the twentieth, where he tells the legend of Hylas with great pictorial power and with the finest triumphs of rhythm; the beautiful lament for the death of Paetus; [30] the dream in which Cynthia's shade comes to give him warning; [31] and the patriotic elegy which begins the last book. Maecenas, [32] it appears, had tried to persuade him to attempt heroic poetry, from which uncongenial task he excuses himself, much as Horace had done.

In reading these poets we are greatly struck by the free and easy way in which they borrow thoughts from one another. A good idea was considered common property, and a happy phrase might be adopted without theft. Virgil now and then appropriates a word from Horace, Horace somewhat oftener one from Virgil, Tibullus from both. Propertius, who is less original, has many direct imitations, and Ovid makes free with some of Virgil and Tibullus's finest lines. This custom was not thought to detract from the writer's independence, inasmuch as each had his own domain, and borrowed only where he would be equally ready to give. It was otherwise with those thriftless bards so roughly dealt with by Horace in his nineteenth Epistle—

"O imitatores, servum pecus! ut mihi saepe Bilem, saepe iocum movistis."

the Baviad and Maeviad of the Roman poet-world. These lay outside the charmed sphere, and the hands they laid on the works of those who wrought within it were sacrilegious. In the next age we shall see how imitation of these great masters had become a regular department of composition, so that Quintilian gives elaborate rules for making a proper use of it. At this time originality consisted in introducing some new form of Greek song. Virgil made Theocritus and Hesiod speak in Latin. Horace had brought over the old Aeolian bards; Propertius, too, must make his boast of having enticed Callimachus to the Tiber's banks—

"Primus ego ingredior puro de fonte sacerdos Itala per Graios orgia ferre chores." [33]

In the Middle Ages he was almost lost; a single copy, defaced with mould and almost illegible, was found in a wine cellar in Italy, 1451 A.D. Quintilian tells us there were some in his day who preferred him to Tibullus.

The same critic's remark on the brilliant poet who now comes before us, P. OVIDIUS NASO, is as follows: "Ovidius utroque lascivior" and he could not have given a terser or more comprehensive criticism. Of all Latin poets, not excepting even Plautus, Ovid possesses in the highest degree the gift of facility. His words probably express the literal truth, when he says—

"Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos, Et quod tentabam scribere versus erat."

This incorrigibly immoral but inexpressibly graceful poet was born at Sulmo in the Pelignian territory 43 B.C. of wealthy parents, whose want of liberality during his youthful career he deplores, but by which he profited after their death. Of equestrian rank, with good introductions and brilliant talents, he was expected to devote himself to the duties of public life. At first he studied for the bar; but so slight was his ambition and so unfitted was his genius for even the moderate degree of severe reasoning required by his profession, that he soon abandoned it in disgust, and turned to the study of rhetoric. For some time he declaimed under the first masters, Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro, [34] and acquired a power of brilliant improvisation that caused him to be often quoted in the schools, and is evidenced by many reminiscences in the writings of the elder Seneca. [35] A short time was spent by him, according to custom, at Athens, [36] and while in Greece he took the opportunity of visiting the renowned cities of Asia Minor. He also spent some time in Sicily, and returned to Rome probably at the age of 23 or 24, where he allowed himself to be nominated triumvir capitalis, decemvir litibus iudicandis, and centumvir, in quick succession. But in spite of the remonstrances of his friends he finally gave up all active work, and began that series of love-poems which was at once the cause of his popularity and of his fall, His first mistress was a lady whom he calls Corinna, but whose real name is not known. That she was a member of the demi-monde is probable from this fact; as also from the poet's strong assertion that he had never been guilty of an intrigue with a married woman. The class to which she belonged were mostly Greeks or Easterns, beautiful and accomplished, often poetesses, and mingling with these seductive qualities the fickleness and greed natural to their position, of which Ovid somewhat unreasonably complains. To her are dedicated the great majority of the Amores, his earliest extant work. These elegant but lascivious poems, some of which perhaps were the same which he recited to large audiences as early as his twenty-second year, were published 13 B.C., and consisted at first of five books, which he afterwards reduced to three. [37] No sooner were they before the public than they became universally popular, combining as they do the personal experiences already made familiar to Roman audiences through Tibullus and Propertius, with a levity, a dash, a gaiety, and a brilliant polish, far surpassing anything that his more serious predecessors had attained. During their composition he was smitten with the desire (perhaps owing to his Asiatic tour) to write an epic poem on the wars of the gods and giants, but Corinna, determined to keep his muse for herself, would not allow him to gratify it. [38]

The Heroides or love-letters from mythological heroines to their (mostly) faithless spouses, are declared by Ovid to be an original importation from Greece. [39.] They are erotic suasoriae, based on the declamations of the schools, and are perhaps the best appreciated of all his compositions. They present the Greek mythology under an entirely new phase of treatment. Virgil had complained [40] that its resources were used up, and in Propertius we already see that allusive way of dealing with it which savours of a general satiety. But in Ovid's hands the old myths became young again, indeed, younger than ever; and people wonder they could ever have lost their interest. His method is the reverse of Virgil's or Livy's. [41] They take pains to make themselves ancient; he, with wanton effrontery, makes the myths modern. Jupiter, Juno, the whole circle of Olympus, are transformed into the hommes et femmes galantes of Augustus's court, and their history into a chronique scandaleuse. The immoral incidents, round which a veil of poetic sanctity had been cast by the great consecrator time, are here displayed in all their mundane pruriency. In the Metamorphoses Jupiter is introduced as smitten with the love of a nymph, Dictynna; some compunctions of conscience seize him, and the image of Juno's wrath daunts him, but he finally overcomes his fear with these words—

"Hoc furtum certe coniux mea nesciet (inquit); Aut si rescierit, sunt O sunt iurgia tanti?"

So, in the Heroides, the idea of the desolate and love-lorn Ariadne writing a letter from the barren isle of Naxos is in itself ridiculous, nor can all the pathos of her grief redeem the irony. Helen wishes she had had more practice in correspondence, so that she might perhaps touch her lover's chilly heart. Ovid using the language of mythology, reminds us of those heroes of Dickens who preface their communications by a wink of intelligence.

His next venture was of a more compromising character. Intoxicated with popularity, he devoted three long poems to a systematic treatment of the Art of Love, on which he lavished all the graces of his wayward talent, and a combination of mythological, literary, and social allusion, that seemed to mark him out for better things. He is careful to remark at the outset that this poem is not intended for the virtuous. The frivolous gallants, whose sole end in life is dissipation, with the objects of their licentious passion, are the readers for whom he caters. But he had overshot his mark; The Amores had been tolerated, for they had followed precedent. But even they had raised him enemies. The Art of Love produced a storm of indignation, and without doubt laid the foundations of that severe displeasure on the part of Augustus, which found vent ten years later in a terrible punishment. For Ovid was doing his best to render the emperor's reforms a dead letter. It was difficult enough to get the laws enforced, even with the powerful sanction of a public opinion guided by writers like Horace and Virgil. But here was a brilliant poet setting his face right against the emperor's will. The necessity of marriage had been preached with enthusiasm by two unmarried poets; a law to the same effect had been passed by two unmarried consuls; [42] a moral regime had been inaugurated by a prince whose own morals were or had been more than dubious. All this was difficult; but it had been done. And now the insidious attractions of vice were flaunted in the most glowing colours in the face of day. The young of both sexes yielded to the charm. And what was worse, the emperor's own daughter, whom he had forced to stay at home carding wool, to wear only such garments as were spun in the palace, to affect an almost prudish delicacy, the proud and lovely Julia, had been detected in such profligacy as poured bitter satire on the old monarch's moral discipline, and bore speaking witness to the power of an inherited tendency to vice. The emperor's awful severity bespoke not merely the aggrieved father but the disappointed statesman. Julia had disgraced his home and ruined his policy, and the fierce resentment which rankled in his heart only waited its time to burst forth upon the man who had laboured to make impurity attractive. [43] Meanwhile Ovid attempted, two years later, a sort of recantation in the Remedia Amoris, the frivolity of which, however, renders it as immoral as its predecessor though less gross; and he finished his treatment of the subject with the Medicamina Faciei, a sparkling and caustic quasi-didactic treatise, of which only a fragment survives. [44] During this period (we know not exactly when) was composed the tragedy of Medea, which ancient critics seem to have considered his greatest work. [45] Alone of his writings it showed his genius in restraint, and though we should probably form a lower estimate of its excellence, we may regret that time has not spared it. Among other works written at this time was an elegy on the death of Messala (3. A.D.), as we learn from the letters from Pontus. [46] Soon after he seems, like Prince Henry, to have determined to turn over a new leaf and abandon his old acquaintances. Virgil, Horace, and Tibullus, were dead; there was no poet of eminence to assist the emperor by his pen. Ovid was beyond doubt the best qualified by his talent, but Augustus had not noticed him. He turned to patriotic themes in order to attract favourable notice, and began his great work on the national calendar. Partly after the example of Propertius, partly by his own predilection, he kept to the elegiac metre, though he is conscious of its betraying him into occasional frivolous or amatory passages where he ought to be grave. [47] "Who would have thought (he says) that from a poet of love I should have become a patriotic bard?" [48] While writing the Fasti he seems to have worked also at the Metamorphoses, a heroic poem in fifteen books, entirely devoted to mythological stories, mostly of transformations caused by the love or jealousy of divine wooers, or the vengeance of their aggrieved spouses. There are passages in this long work of exceeding beauty, and a prodigal wealth of poetical ornament, which has made it a mine for modern poets. Tasso, Ariosto, Guarini, Spenser, Milton, have all drunk deep of this rich fountain. [49] The skill with which the different legends are woven into the fabric of the composition is as marvellous as the frivolous dilettantism which could treat a long heroic poem in such a way. The Metamorphoses were finished before 7 A.D.; the Fasti were only advanced to the end of the sixth book, when all further prosecution of them was stopped by the terrible news, which struck the poet like a thunderbolt, that he was ordered to leave Rome forever. The cause of his exile has been much debated. The ostensible ground was the immorality of his writings, and especially of the Art of Love, but it has generally been taken for granted that a deeper and more personal reason lay behind. Ovid's own hints imply that his eyes had been witness to something that they should not, which he calls a crimen (i.e. a crime against the emperor). [50] The most probable theory is that Augustus took advantage of Ovid's complicity in the younger Julia's misconduct to wreak the full measure of his long-standing indignation against the poet, whose evil counsels had helped to lead astray not only her but his daughter also. He banished him to Tomi, an inhospitable spot not far from the mouth of the Danube, and remained deaf to all the piteous protestations and abject flatteries which for ten years the miserable poet poured forth.

This punishment broke Ovid's spirit. He had been the spoilt child of society, and he had no heart for any life but that of Rome. He pined away amid the hideous solitudes and the barbarous companionship of Goths and Sarmatians. His very genius was wrecked. Not a single poem of merit to be compared with those of former times now proceeded from his pen. Nevertheless he continued to write as fluently as before. Now that he was absent from his wife—for he had been thrice married—this very undomestic poet discovered that he had a deep affection for her. He wrote her endearing letters, and reminded her of their happy hours. As she was a lady of high position and a friend of the Empress Livia, he no doubt hoped for her good offices. But her prudence surpassed her conjugal devotion. Neither she, nor the noble and influential friends [51] whom he implored in piteous accents to intercede for him, ever ventured to approach the emperor on a subject on which he was known to be inexorable. And when Augustus died and Tiberius succeeded, the vain hopes that had hitherto buoyed up Ovid seem to have quite faded away. From such a man it was idle to expect mercy. So, for two or three years the wretched poet lingered on, still solacing himself with verse, and with the kindness of the natives, who sought by every means to do him honour and soothe his misfortune, and then, in the sixtieth year of his age, 17 A.D., he died, and was buried in the place of his dreary exile.

Much as we may blame him, the severity of his punishment seems far too great for his offence, since Ovid is but the child of his age. In praising him, society praised itself; as he says with natural pride, "The fame that others gain after death, I have known in my lifetime." He was of a thoroughly happy, thoughtless, genial temper; before his reverse he does not seem to have known a care. His profligacy cost him no repentance; he could not see that he had done wrong; indeed, according to the lax notions of the time, his conduct had been above rather than below the general standard of dissipated men. The palliations he alleges in the second book of the Tristia, which is the best authority for his life, are in point of fact, unanswerable. To regard his age as wicked or degenerate never entered into his head. He delighted in it as the most refined that the world had ever known; "It is," he says jokingly, "the true Golden Age, for every pleasure that exists may be got for gold." So wedded was he to literary composition that he learnt the Sarmatian language and wrote poems in it in honour of Augustus, the loss of which, from a philological point of view, is greatly to be regretted. His muse must be considered as at home in the salons find fashionable coteries of the great. Though his style is so facile, it is by no means simple. On the contrary, it is one of the most artificial ever created, and could never have bea attained at all but by a natural aptitude, backed by hard study, amid highly-polished surroundings from childhood. These Ovid had, and he wielded his brilliant instrument to perfection. What euphuism was to the Elizabethan courtiers, what the langue galante was to the court of Louis XIV., the mythological dialect was to the gay circles of aristocratic Rome. [5]

It was select, polished, and spiced with a flavour of profanity. Hence, Ovid could never be a popular poet, for a poet to be really popular must be either serious or genuinely humorous; whereas Ovid is neither. His irony, exquisitely ludicrous to those who can appreciate it, falls flat upon less cultivated minds, and the lack of strength that lies beneath his smooth exterior [53] would unfit him, even if his immorality did not stand in the way, for satisfying or even pleasing the mass of mankind.

The Ibis and Halieuticon were composed during his exile; the former is a satiric attack upon a person now unknown, the latter a prosaic account of the fish found in the neighbourhood of Tomi.

Appended to Ovid's works are several graceful poems which have put forward a claim to be his workmanship. His great popularity among the schools of the rhetoricians both in Rome and the provinces, caused many imitations to be circulated under his name. The most ancient of these is the Nux elegia, which, if not Ovid's, must be very shortly posterior to him; it is the complaint of a walnut tree on the harsh treatment it has to suffer, sometimes in very difficult verse, [54] but not inelegant. Some of the Priapeia are also attributed to him, perhaps with reason; the Consolatio ad Liviam, on the death of Drusus, is a clever production of the Renaissance period, full of reminiscences of Ovid's verse, much as the Ciris is filled with reminiscences of Virgil. [55]

Ovid was the most brilliant figure in a gay circle of erotic and epic poets, many of whom he has handed down in his Epistles, others have transmitted a few fragments by which we can estimate their power. The eldest was PONTICUS, who is also mentioned by Propertius as an epic writer of some pretensions. Another was MACER, whose ambition led him to group together the epic legends antecedent and subsequent to those narrated in the Iliad and Odyssey. There was a Pompeius Macer, an excellent man, who with his son committed suicide under Tiberius, [56] his daughter having been accused of high treason, and unable to clear herself. The son is probably identical with this friend of Ovid's. SABINUS, another of his intimates, who wrote answers to the Heroides, was equally conspicuous in heroic poetry. The title of his poem is not known. Some think it was Troezen; [57] but the text is corrupt. Ovid implies [58] that his rescripts to the Heroides were complete; it is a misfortune that we have lost them. The three poems that bear the title of A. Sabini Epistolae, and are often bound with Ovid's works, are the production of an Italian scholar of the fifteenth century. TUTICANUS, who was born in the same year with Ovid, and may perhaps have been the author of Tibullus's third book, is included in the last epistle from Pontus [59] among epic bards. CORNELIUS SEVERUS, a better versifier than poet, [60] wrote a Sicilian War, [61] of which the first book was extremely good. In it occurred the verses on the death of Cicero, quoted by the elder Seneca [62] with approbation:

Oraque magnanimum spirantia paene virorum In rostris iacuere suis: sed enim abstulit omnis, Tanquam sola foret, rapti Ciceronis imago. Tunc redeunt animis ingentia consulis acta Iurataeque manus deprensaque foedera noxae Patriciumque nefas extinctum: poena Cethegi Deiectusque redit votis Catilina nefandis. Quid favor aut coetus, pleni quid honoribus anni Profuerant? sacris exculta quid artibus aetas? Abstulit una dies aevi decus, ictaque luctu Conticuit Latiae tristis facundia linguae. Unica sollicitis quondam tutela salusque, Egregium semper patriae caput, ille senatus Vindex, ille fori, legum ritusque togaeque, Publica vox saevis aeternum obmutuit armis. Informes voltus sparsamque cruore nefando Canitiem sacrasque manus operumque ministras Tantorum pedibus civis proiecta superbis Proculcavit ovans nec lubrica fata deosque Respexit. Nullo luet hoc Antonius aevo. Hoc nec in Emathio mitis victoria Perse, Nec te, dire Syphax, non fecerat hoste Philippo; Inque triumphato ludibria cuncta Iugurtha Afuerant, nostraeque cadens ferus Hannibal irae Membra tamen Stygias tulit inviolata sub umbras.

From these it will be seen that he was a poet of considerable power. Another epicist of some celebrity, whom Quintilian thought worth reading, was PEDO ALBINOVANUS; he was also an epigrammatist, and in conversation remarkable for his brilliant wit. There is an Albinus mentioned by Priscian who is perhaps intended for him. Other poets referred to in the long list which closes the letters from Pontus are RUFUS, LARGUS, probably the perfidious friend of Gallus so mercilessly sketched by Bekker, CAMERINUS, LUPUS, and MONTANUS. All these are little more than names for us. The references to them in succeeding writers will be found in Teuffel. RABIRIUS is worth remarking for the extraordinary impression he made on his contemporaries. Ovid speaks of him as Magni Rabirius oris, [63] a high compliment; and Velleius Paterculus goes so far as to couple him with Virgil as the best representative of Augustan poetry! His Alexandrian War was perhaps drawn from his own experience, though, if so, he must have been a very young man at the time.

From an allusion in Ovid [64] we gather that GRATIUS [65] was a poet of the later Augustan age. His work on the chase (Cynegetica) has come down to us imperfect. It contains little to interest, notwithstanding the attractiveness of its subject: but in truth all didactic poets after Virgil are without freshness, and seem depressed rather than inspired by his success. After alluding to man's early attempts to subdue wild beasts, first by bodily strength, then by rude weapons, he shows the gradual dominion of reason in this as in other human actions. Diana is also made responsible for the huntsman's craft, and a short mythological digression follows. Then comes a description of the chase itself, and the implements and weapons used in it. The list of trees fitted for spearshafts (128- 149), one of the best passages, will show his debt to the Georgics—more than half the lines show traces of imitation. Next we have the different breeds of dogs, their training, their diseases, and general supervision discussed, and after a digression or two—the best being a catalogue of the evils of luxury—the poem (as we possess it) ends with an account of the horses best fitted for hunting. The technical details are carefully given, and would probably have had some value; but there is scarcely a trace of poetic enthusiasm, and only a moderate elevation of style.

The last Augustan poet we shall notice is M. MANILIUS, whose dry subject has caused him to meet with very general neglect. His date was considered doubtful, but Jacob has shown that he began to write towards the close of Augustus's reign. The first book refers to the defeat of Varus [66] (7 A.D.), to which, therefore, it must be subsequent, and the fourth book contemplates Augustus as still alive, [67] though Tiberius had already been named as his successor. [68] The fifth book must have appeared after the interval of Augustus's death; and from one passage which seems to allude to the destruction of Pompey's theatre, [69] Jacob argues that it was written as late as 22 A.D. The danger of treating a subject on which the emperor had his own very decided views [70] may have deterred Manilius from completing his work. Literature of all kinds was silent under the tyrant's gloomy frown, and the weak style of this last book seems to reflect the depressed mind of its author.

The birth and parentage of Manilius are not known. That he was a foreigner is probable, both from the uncouthness of his style at the outset, and from the decided improvement in it that can be traced through succeeding books. Bentley thought him an Asiatic; if so, however, his lack of florid ornament would be strange. It is more likely that he was an African. But the question is complicated by the corrupt state of his text, by the obscurity of his subject, and by the very incomplete knowledge of it displayed by the author. It was not considered necessary to have mastered a subject to treat of it in didactic verse. Cicero expressly instances Aratus [71] as a man who, with scarce any knowledge of astronomy, exercised a legitimate poetical ingenuity by versifying such knowledge as he had. These various causes make Manilius one of the most difficult of authors. Few can wade through the mingled solecisms in language and mistakes in science, the empty verbiage that dilates on a platitude in one place, and the jejune abstract that hurries over a knotty argument in another, without regretting that so unreadable a poet should have been preserved. [72]

And yet his book is not altogether without interest. The subject is called Astronomy, but should rather be called Astrology, for more than half the space is taken up with these baseless theories of sidereal influence which belong to the imaginary side of the science. But in the exordia and perorations to the several books, as well as in sundry digressions, may be found matter of greater value, embodying the poet's views on the great questions of philosophy. [73] On the whole he must be reckoned as a Stoic, though not a strictly dogmatic one. He begins by giving the different views as to the origin of the world, and lays it down that on these points truth cannot be attained. The universe, he goes on to say, rests on no material basis, much less need we suppose the earth to need one. Sun, moon, and stars, whirl about without any support; earth therefore may well be supposed to do the same. The earth is the centre of the universe, whose motions are circular and imitate those of the gods. [74] The universe is not finite as some Stoics assert, for its roundness (which is proved by Chrysippus) implies infinity. Lucretius is wrong in denying antipodes; they follow naturally from the globular shape, from which also we may naturally infer that seas bind together, as well as separate, nations. [75] All this system is held together by a spiritual force, which he calls God, governing according to the law of reason. [76] He next describes the Zodiac and enumerates the chief stars with their influences. Following the teaching of Hegesianax, [77] he declares that those which bear human names are superior to those named after beasts or inanimate things. The study of the stars was a gift direct from heaven. Kings first, and after them priests, were guided to search for wisdom, and now Augustus, who is both supreme ruler and supreme pontiff, follows his divine father in cultivating this great science. Mentioning some of the legends which recount the transformations of mortals into stars, he asserts that they must not be understood in too gross a sense. [78] Nothing is more wonderful than the orderly movement of the heavenly bodies. He who has contemplated this eternal order cannot believe the Epicurean doctrine. Human generations pass away, but the earth and the stars abide for ever. Surely the universe is divine. Passing on to the milky way, he gives two fanciful theories of its origin, one that it is the rent burnt by Phaethon through the firmament, the other that it is milk from the breast of Juno. As to its consistency, he wavers between the view that it is a closely packed company of stars, and the more poetical one that it is formed by the white-robed souls of the just. This last theory leads him to recount in a dull catalogue the well-worn list of Greek and Roman heroes. Comets are mysterious bodies, whose origin is unknown. The universe is full of fiery particles ever tending towards conglomeration, and perhaps their impact forms comets. Whether natural or supernatural, one thing is certain—they are never without effect on mankind.

In the second book he begins by a complaint that the list of attractive subjects is exhausted. This incites him to essay an untried path, from which he hopes to reap no stolen laurels [79] as the bard of the universe! [80] He next expounds the doctrine of an ever-present spirit moving the mass of matter, in language reflected from the sixth Aeneid. Men must not seek for mathematical demonstration. Considerations of analogy are enough to awaken conviction. The fact that, e.g., shell-fish are affected by the moon, and that all land creatures depend on solar influence, should forbid us to dissociate earth from heaven, or man's activity from the providence of the gods. How could man have any knowledge of deity unless he partook of its nature? The rest of the book gives a catalogue of the different kinds of stars, their several attributes, and their astrological classification, ending with the Dodecatemorion and Oclotopos.

The third book, after a short and offensively allusive description of the labours of preceding poets, sketches the twelve athla or accidents of human life, to each of which is assigned its special guardian influence. It then passes to the horoscope, which it treats at length, giving minute and various directions how to draw it. The extreme importance attached to this process by Tiberius, and the growing frequency with which, on every occasion, Chaldeans and Astrologers were now consulted, made the poet specially careful to treat this subject with clearness and precision. It is accordingly the most readable of all the purely technical parts of the work. The account of the tropics, with which the book closes, is singularly inaccurate, but contains some rather elegant descriptions: [81] at the tropic of Cancer summer always reigns, at Capricorn there is perpetual winter. The book here breaks off quite abruptly; apparently he intended to compose the epilogue at some future time, but had no opportunity of doing it.

The exordium to the fourth book, which sometimes rises into eloquence, glorifies fate as the ultimate divine power, but denies it either will or personality. He fortifies his argument, according to his wont, by a historical catalogue, which exemplifies the harshness that, except in philosophical digressions, rarely leaves his style. Then follow the horoscopic properties of the Zodiacal constellations, the various reasons for desiring to be born under one star rather than another, a sort of horoscopico-zodiacal account of the world, its physical geography, and the properties of the zones. These give occasion for some graphic touches of history and legend; the diction of this book is far superior to that of the preceding three, but the wisdom is questionable which reserves the "good wine" until so late. Passing on to the ecliptic, he drags in the legends of Deucalion, Phaethon, and others, which he treats in a rhetorical way, and concludes the book with an appeal to man's reason, and to the necessity of allowing the mental eye free vision. Somewhat inconsistently with the half-religious attitude of the first and second books, he here preaches once more the doctrine of irresistible fate, which to most of the Roman poets occupies the place of God. The poem practically ends here. He himself implies at the opening of Book V., that most poets would not have pursued the theme further; apparently he is led on by his interest in the subject, or by the barrenness of his invention which could suggest no other. The book, which is unfinished, contains a description of various stars, with legends interspersed in which a more ambitious style appears, and a taste which, though rhetorical and pedantic, is more chastened than in the earlier books.

It will be seen from the above resume that the poem discusses several questions of great interest. Rising above the technicalities of the science, Manilius tries to preach a theory of the universe which shall displace that given by Lucretius. He is a Stoic combating an Epicurean. A close study of Lucretius is evidenced by numerous passages, [82] and the earnestness of his moral conclusions imitates, though it does not approach in impressiveness, that of the great Epicurean. Occasionally he imitates Horace, [83] much more often Virgil, and, in the legends, Ovid. [84] His technical manipulation of the hexameter is good, though tinged with monotony. Occasionally he indulges in licenses which mark a deficient ear [85] or an imperfect comprehension of the theory of quantity. [86] He has few archaisms, [87] few Greek words, considering the exigencies of his subject, and his vocabulary is greatly superior to his syntax; the rhetorical colouring which pervades the work shows that he was educated in the later taste of the schools, and neither could understand nor desired to reproduce the simplicity of Lucretius or Virgil. [88]



CHAPTER V.

PROSE-WRITERS OF THE AUGUSTAN PERIOD.

Public oratory, which had held the first rank among studies under the Republic, was now, as we have said, almost extinct. In the earlier part of Augustus's reign, Pollio and Messala for a time preserved some of the traditions of freedom, but both found it impossible to maintain their position. Messala retired into dignified seclusion; Pollio devoted himself to other kinds of composition. Somewhat later we find MESSALINUS, the son of Messala, noted for his eloquent pleading; but as he inherited none of the moral qualities which had made his father dangerous, Augustus permitted him to exercise his talent. He was an intimate friend of Ovid, from whom we learn details of his life; but he frittered away his powers on trifling jests [1] and extempore versifying. The only other name worthy of mention is Q. HATERIUS, who from an orator became a noted declaimer. The testimonies to his excellence vary; Seneca, who had often heard him, speaks of the wonderful volubility, more Greek than Roman, which in him amounted to a fault. Tacitus gives him higher praise, but admits that his writings do not answer to his living fame, a persuasive manner and sonorous voice having been indispensible ingredients in his oratory. [2] The activity before given to the state was now transferred to the basilica. But as the full sway of rhetoric was not established until quite the close of Augustus's reign, we shall reserve our account of it for the next book, merely noticing the chief rhetoricians who flourished at this time. The most eminent were PORCIUS LATRO, FUSCUS ARELLIUS, and ALBUCIUS SILUS, who are frequently quoted by Seneca; RUTILIUS LUPUS, [3] who was somewhat younger; and SENECA, the father of the celebrated philosopher. [4] Fuscus was an Asiatic, and seems to have been one of the first who declaimed in Latin. Foreign professors had previously exercised their own and their pupils' ingenuity in Greek; Cicero had almost invariably declaimed in that language, and there can be no doubt that this was a much less harmful practice; but now the bombast and glitter of the Asiatic style flaunted itself in the Latin tongue, and found in the increasing number of provincials from Gaul and Spain a body of admirers who cultivated it with enthusiasm. CESTIUS PIUS, a native of Smyrna, espoused the same florid style, and was even preferred by his audience to such men as Pollio and Messala. To us the extracts from these authors, preserved in Seneca, present the most wearisome monotony, but contemporary criticism found in them many grades of excellence. The most celebrated of all was Porcius Latro, who, like Seneca himself, came from Spain. There is a special character about the Spanish literary genius which will be more prominent in the next generation. At present it had not sufficiently amalgamated with the old Latin culture to shine in the higher branches. But in the rhetorical schools it gradually leavened taste by its attractive qualities, and men like Latro must be regarded as wielding immense influence on Roman style, though somewhat in the background, much as Antipho influenced the oratory of Athens.

Annaeus Seneca of Corduba (Cordova), [5] the father of Novatus, Seneca, and Mela the father of Lucan, belonged to the equestrian order, was born probably about 54 B.C. and lived on until after the death of Tiberius. [6] The greater part of this long life, longer even than Varro's, was spent in the profession of eloquence, for which in youth he prepared himself by studying the manner of the most renowned masters. Cicero alone he was not fortunate enough to hear, the civil wars having necessitated his withdrawal to Spain. [7] He does not appear to have visited Rome more than twice, but he shows a thorough knowledge of the rhetoricians of the capital, whence we conclude that his residence extended over some time. [8] The stern discipline of Caesar's wars had taught the Spaniards something of Roman severity, and Seneca seems to have adopted with a good will the maxims of Roman life. [9] He possessed that elan with which young races often carry all before them when, they give the fresh vigour of their understanding to master an existing system; his memory, as he himself tells us, was so prodigious that he could recite 2000 names correctly after once hearing them; [10] and, with the taste for showy ornament which his race has always evinced, he must have launched himself without misgiving into the competition of the schools. Nevertheless, in his old age, when he came to look back on his life, he felt half ashamed of its results. His sons had asked him to write a critical account of the greatest rhetoricians he had known; he gladly acceded to their wish, and has embodied in his work vast numbers of extracts, drawn either from memory or rough notes, specifying the manner in which each professor treated his theme; he then adds his own judgment on their merits, often interspersing the more tedious discussions with bon-mots or literary anecdotes. The most readable portions are the prefaces, where he writes in his own person in the unaffected epistolary style. We learn from them many particulars about the lives of the great rhetores and the state of taste and literary education. But in the preface to the tenth book (the last of the series) he expresses an utter weariness of a subject which not even the reminiscences of happier days could invest with serious interest. There are no indications that Seneca rose to the first eminence. His extraordinary memory, diligence, and virtuous habits gained him respect from his pupils and the intimacy of the great. But there is nothing in his writings to show a man of more than average capacity, who, having been thrown all his life in an artificial and narrowing profession, has lost the power of taking a vigorous interest in things, and acquired the habit of looking at questions from what we might call the examiner's point of view. We have remains of two sets of compositions by him; Controversiae, or legal questions discussed by way of practice for actual cases, divided into ten books, of which about half are preserved; and Suasoriae, or imaginary themes, such as those ridiculed by Juvenal:

"Consilium dedimus Sullae, privatus ut altum Dormiret."

These last are printed first in our editions, because, being abstract in character and not calling for any special knowledge, they were better suited for beginners. The style of the book varies. In the prefaces it is not inelegant, and shows few traces of the decline, but in the excerpts from Latro and Fuscus, (which are perhaps nearly in their own words) we observe the silver Latinity already predominant. Much is written in a very compressed manner, reading like notes of a lecture or a table of contents. There is, however, a geniality about the old man which renders him, even when uninteresting, not altogether unpleasing.

We pass from rhetoric to history, and here we meet with one of the great names of Roman letters, the most eloquent of all historians, TITUS LIVIUS PATAVINUS. The exact date of his birth is disputed, but may be referred to 59 or 57 B.C. at Pataviam (Padua), a populous and important town, no less renowned for its strict morals than for its opulence. [11] Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been of noble birth; his relative, C. Cornelius, took the auspices at Pharsalia, and the aristocratic tinge which pervades his work would lead to the same inference. Padua was a bustling place, where public-speaking was rife, and aptitude for affairs common; thus Livy was nursed in eloquence and in scenes of human activity. Nothing tended to turn his mind to the contemplation of nature—at least we see no signs of it in his work,—his conceptions of national development were uncomplicated by reference to the share that physical conditions have in moulding it; man alone, and man as in all respects self-determining, has interest for him. His gifts are pre-eminently those of an orator; the talent for developing an idea, for explaining events as an orderly sequence, for establishing conclusions, for moving the feelings, for throwing himself into a cause, for clothing his arguments in noble language, shine conspicuous in his work, while he has the good faith, sincerity, and patriotism which mark off the orator from the mere advocate. For some years he remained at Padua studying philosophy [12] and practising as a teacher of rhetoric, declaiming after the manner of Seneca and his contemporaries. Reference is made to these declamations by Seneca and Quintilian, and no doubt they were worth preserving as a grade in his intellectual progress and as having helped to produce the artistic elaborateness of his speeches. In 31 B.C. or thereabouts, he came to Rome, where he speedily rose into favour. But though a courtier, he was no flatterer. He praised Brutus and Cassius, [13] he debated whether Caesar was useful to the state, [14] his whole history is a praise of the old Republic, his preface states that Rome can neither bear her evils, nor the remedy that has been applied to them (by which it is probable he means the Empire), and we know that Augustus called him a Pompeian, though, at the same time, he cannot have been an imprudent one, otherwise he could hardly have retained the emperor's friendship. As regards the date of his work, Professor Seeley decides that the first decade was written between 27 and 20 B.C., the very time during which the Aeneid was in process of composition. The later decades were thrown off from time to time until his death at Patavium in 17 A.D. Indications exist to show that they were not revised by him after publication, e.g., the errors into which he had been led by trusting to Valerius Antias were not erased; but he was careful not to rely on his authority afterwards. That he enjoyed a high reputation is clear from the fact recorded by Pliny the younger, that a man journeyed to Rome from Cadiz for the express purpose of seeing him, and, having succeeded, returned at once. [15] The elder Pliny [16] draws a picture of him at an advanced age studying with undiminished zeal at his great work. The "old man eloquent" used to say that he had written enough for glory, and had now earned rest; but his restless mind fed on labour and would not lie idle. When completed, his book at once became the authoritative history of Rome, after which nothing was left but to abridge or comment upon it.

The state of letters at Rome, while unfavourable to strictly political history, was ripe for the production of a work like Livy's. Augustus, Agrippa, and Pollio, had founded public libraries in which the older works were accessible. The emperor took a keen interest in all studies; he encouraged not merely poets but philologians and scientific writers, and he was not indisposed to protect historical study, if only it were treated in the way he approved. Rabirius, Pedo Albinovanus, and Cornelius Severus had written poems on the late wars, Ovid and Propertius on the legends embodied in the calendar; the rival jurists Labeo and Capito had wrought the Juris Responsa into a body of legal doctrine; Strabo was giving the world the result of his travels in a universal geography; Pompeius Trogus, Labienus, Pollio, and the Greeks Dionysius, Dion, and Timagenes, had all treated Roman history; Augustus had published a volume of his own Gesta; all things seem to demand a comprehensive dramatic account of the growth of the Roman state, which should trace the process by which the world became Roman, and Rome became united in the hands of Caesar.

Hitherto Roman history had been imperfectly treated. It is unfortunate that such crude conceptions of its nature prevailed. Even Cicero says, opus hoc unum maxime oratorium. [17] It had been either a register of events kept by aristocratic pontiffs from pride of race, or a series of pictures for the display of eloquence. Neither the flexible imagination, nor the patient sagacity, nor the disinterested view of life necessary for a great historian, was to be found among the Romans. There was no true criticism. For instance, while Juvenal depicts the first inhabitants of the city, according to tradition, as rude marauders, [18] Cicero commends their virtues and extols the wisdom of the early kings as the Athenian orators do that of Solon; and in his Cato Maior makes of the harsh censor a refined country gentleman and a student of Plato! Varro had amassed a vast collection of facts, a formidable array of authorities; Dionysius had spent twenty years in studying the monuments of Rome, and yet had so little intelligence of her past that he made Romulus a philosopher of the Sophistic type! Caesar and Sallust gave true narratives of that which they had themselves known, but they did little more. No ancient writer, unless perhaps Thucydides, has grasped the truth that history is an indivisible whole, and that humanity marches according to fixed law towards a determinate end. The world is in their eyes a stage on which is played for ever the same drama of life and death, whose fate moves in a circle bounded by the catastrophes of cities mortal as their inhabitants, without man's becoming by progress of time either better or more powerful. In estimating, then, the value of Livy's work, we must ask, How far did he possess the qualifications necessary for success? We turn to his preface and find there the moralist, the patriot, and the stylist; and we infer that his fullest idea of history is of a book in which he who runs can read the lesson of virtue; and, if he be a lawgiver, can model his legislation upon its high precedents, and, if he be a citizen, can follow its salutary precepts of conduct. An idea, which, however noble, is certainly not exhaustive. It may entitle its possessor to be called a lofty writer, but not a great historian. This is his radical defect. He treats history too little as a record, too little as a science, too much as a series of texts for edification.

How far is he faithful to his authorities? In truth, he never deserts them, never (or almost never) advances an assertion without them. [19] His fidelity may be inferred from the fact that when he follows Polybius alone, he adds absolutely nothing, he merely throws life into his predecessor's dead periods. Moreover, he writes, after the method of the old annalists, of events year by year; he rarely conjectures their causes or traces their connexion, he is willing to efface himself in the capacity of exponent of what is handed down. Whole passages we cannot doubt, especially in the early books, are inserted from Fabius and the other ancients, only just enough changed to make them polished instead of rude; and it is astonishing how slight the changes need be when the hand that makes them is a skilful one. So far as we can judge he never alters the testimony of a witness, or colours it by interested presentation. His chief authorities for the early history are Licinius Macer, Claudius Quadrigarius, Gn. Gellius, [20] Sempronius Tuditanus, Aelius Tubero, Cassius Hemina, Calpurnius Piso, Valerius Antias, Acilius Glabrio, [21] Porcius Cato, Cincius, and Pictor. [22] These writers, or at least the most ancient of them, Cato and Pictor, founded their investigations on such, records as treaties, public documents—e.g. the annals, censors' and pontiffs' commentaries, augural books, books relating to civil procedure kept by the pontiffs, &c.; [23] laws, lists of magistrates, [24] Libri Lintei kept in the temple of Juno Moneta; all under the reservation noticed before, that the majority perished in the Gallic conflagration. [25] These Professor Seeley classes as pure sources. The rest, which he calls corrupt, are the funeral orations, inscriptions in private houses placed under the Imagines, [26] poems of various kinds, both gentile and popular, in all of which, there was more or less of intentional misrepresentation. For the history after the first decade new authorities appear. The chief are Polybius, Silenus the Sicilian a friend of Hannibal, Caelius Antipater, Sisenna, Caecilius, Rutilius, and the Fasti, which are now almost or quite continuous; and still further on he followed Posidonius, and perhaps for the Civil Wars Asinius Pollio, Theophanes, and others. There is evidence that these were carefully digested, but by instalments. For instance, he did not read Polybius until he came to write the Punic wars. Hence he missed several antiquarian notices (e.g. the treaty with Carthage) which would have helped him in the first decade. Still he uses the authors he quotes with moderation and fidelity. When the Fasti omit or confuse the names of the consuls, he tells us so; [27] when authorities differ as to whether the victory lay with the Romans or Samnites, [28] he notes the fact. In the early history he is reticent, where Dionysius is minute; he is content with the broad legendary outline, where Dionysius constructs a whole edifice of probable but utterly uncertified particulars. In the important task of sifting authorities Livy follows the plan of selecting the most ancient, and those who from their position had best access to facts. In complicated cases of divergence he trusts the majority, [29] the earliest, [30] or the most accredited, [31] particularly Fabius and Piso. [32] He does not analyse for us his method of arriving at a conclusion. "Erudition is for him a mine from which the historian should draw forth the pure gold, leaving the mud where he found it." Many of his conclusions are reached by a sort of instinct, which by practice divines truth, or rather verisimilitude, which is but too often its only available substitute.

So far as enthusiasm serves (and without it criticism, though it may succeed in destroying, is helpless to construct), Livy penetrates to the spirit of ancient times. He says himself, in a very celebrated passage where he bewails the prevailing scepticism, [33] "Non sum nescius ab eadem neglegentia qua nihil portendere deos volgo nunc credunt neque nuntiari admodum ulla prodigia in publicum neque in annales referri. Ceterum et mihi vetustas res scribenti nescio quo pacto antiquus fit animus et quaedam religio tenet, quae illi prudentissimi viri publice suscipienda curarint, ea pro indignis habere quae in meos annales referam." This "antiquity of soul" is not criticism, but it is an important factor in it. In the history of the kings he is a poet. If we read the majestic sentence in which the end of Romulus is described, [34] we must admit that if the event is told at all this is the way in which it should be told. We meet, however, here and there, with genuine insertions from antiquity which spoil the beauty of the picture. Take, e.g., the law of treason, [35] terrible in its stern accents, "Duumviri perduellionem iudicent: si a duumviris provocarit, provocatione certato: si vincent, caput obnubito: infelici arbori reste suspendito: verberato vel intra pomoerium vel extra pomoerium," where, as the historian remarks, the law scarcely hints at the possibility of an acquittal. In the struggles of the young Republic one traces the risings of political passion, not of individuals as yet, but of parties in the state. After the Punic wars have begun individual features predominate, and what has been a rich canvass becomes a speaking portrait. Constitutional questions, in which Livy is singularly ill informed, are hinted at, [36] but generally in so cursory and unintelligent a way, that it needs a Niebuhr to elicit their meaning. And Livy is throughout led into fallacious views by his confusion of the mob (faex Romuli, as Cicero calls it) which represented the sovereign people in his day, with the sturdy and virtuous plebs, whose obstinate insistance on their right forms the leading thread of Roman constitutional development. Conformably with his promise at the outset he traces with much more effect the gradually increasing moral decadence. It is when Rome comes into contact with Asia that her virtue, already tried, collapses almost without a struggle. The army, once so steady in its discipline, riots in revelry, and marches against Antiochus with as much recklessness as if it were going to butcher a flock of sheep. [37] The soldiers even disobey orders in pillaging Phocaea; they become cowards, e.g., the Illyrian garrison surrenders to Perseus; and before long the abominable and detested oriental orgies gain a permanent footing in Rome. Meanwhile, the senate falls from its old standard, it ceases to keep faith, its generals boast of perfidy, [38] and the corrupted fathers have not the face to check them. [39] The epic of decadence proceeds to its denouement, and if we possessed the lost books the decline would be much more evident. It must be admitted that in this department of his subject Livy paints with a master's hand. But nothing can atone for his signal deficiency in antiquarian and constitutional knowledge. He had (it has been said) a taste for truth, but not a passion for it. Had he gone into the Aedes Nympharum, he might have read on brass the so-called royal and tribunician laws; he might have read the treaties with the Sabines, with Gabii and Carthage; the Senatus Consulta and the Plebi Scita. Augustus found in the ruined temple of Jupiter Fucinus [40] the spolia opima of Cossus, who was there declared to have been consul when he won them. All the authorities represented him as military tribune. Livy, it seems, never took the trouble to examine it. When he professes to cite an ancient document, it is not the document itself he cites but its copy in Fabius. He seems to think the style of history too ornate to admit such rugged interpositions, [41] and when he inserts them he offers a half apology for his boldness. This dilettante way of regarding his sources deserves all the censure Niebuhr has cast on it. If it were not for the fidelity with which he has incorporated without altering his better-informed predecessors, the investigations of Niebuhr and his successors would have been hopelessly unverifiable. The student who wishes to learn the value of Livy for the history of the constitution should read the celebrated Lectures (VII. and VIII.) of Niebuhr's history. Their publication dethroned him, nor has he yet been reinstated. But it must be remembered that this censure does not attach to him in other aspects, for instance as a chronicler of Rome's wars, or a biographer of her worthies. As a geographer, however, he is untrustworthy; his description of Hannibal's march is obscure, and many battles are extremely involved. It is evident he was a clear thinker only on certain points; his preface, e.g., is intricate both in matter and manner.

It remains to consider him shortly as a philosophic and as an artistic historian. On these points some excellent remarks are made by M. Taine. [42] When we read or write a history of Rome we ask, Why was it that Rome conquered the Samnites, the Carthaginians, the Etruscans? How was it that the plebeians gained equal rights with the patricians? The answer to such questions satisfies the intelligent man of the world who desires only a clear and consistent view. But philosophy asks a yet further why? Why was Rome a conquering state? why these never-ceasing wars? why was her cult of abstract deities a worship of the letter which never rose to a spiritual idea? In the resolution of problems like these lies the true delight of science; the former is but information; this is knowledge. Has Livy this knowledge? It does not follow that the philosophic historian should deduce with mathematical precision; he merely narrates the events in their proper order, or chooses from the events those that are representative; he groups facts under their special laws, and these again under universal laws, by a skilful arrangement or selection, or else by flashes of imaginative insight. Livy is no more a philosopher than a critic; he discovers laws, as he verifies facts, imperfectly. The treatment of history known to the ancients did not admit of separate discussions summing up the results of previous narrative; for philosophic views we are as a rule driven to consult the inserted speeches. Livy's speeches often reveal considerable insight; Manlius's account of the Gauls in Asia, [43] and Camillus's sarcastic description of their behaviour round Rome, [44] go to the root of their national character and lay bare its weakness. The Samnites are criticised by Decius in terms which show that Livy had analysed the causes of their fall before Rome. [45] Hannibal arraigns the narrow policy of his country as his true vanquisher. These and the like are as effectual means of inculcating a general truth as a set discussion. To these numerous and perhaps more striking passages bearing on the internal history might be added. [46] But a historian should have his whole subject under command. It is not enough to illuminate it by flashes. The speeches, besides being in the highest degree unnatural and unhistoric, are far too eloquent, moving the feelings instead of the judgment. [47] "For an annalist," to quote Niebuhr, "a clear survey is not necessary; but in a work like Livy's, it is of the highest importance, and no great author has this deficiency to such an extent as he. He neither knew what he had written nor what he was going to write, but wrote at hap-hazard." To put all facts on an equal footing is to be like a child threading beads. To know how to select representative facts, to arrange according to representative principles is an indispensable requisite, as its absence is an irremediable defect in a writer who aspires to instruct the world.

To turn to his artistic side. In this he has been allowed to stand on the highest pinnacle of excellence. Whether he paints the character of a nation or an individual; whether he paints it by pausing to reflect on its elements, as in the beautiful studies of Cato and Cicero, [48] or by describing it in action, which is the poetical and dramatic mode, or by making it express itself in speech, which is the method the orator favours most, he is always great. He was a Venetian, and Niebuhr finds in him the rich colouring of the Venetian school; he has also the darker shadow which that colouring necessitates, and the bold delineation of form which renders it not meretricious but noble. When he makes the old senators speak, we recognise men with the souls of kings. Manlius regards the claim of the Latins for equal rights as an outrage and a sacrilege against Capitoline Jupiter, with a truly Roman arrogance which would be grotesque were it not so grand. [49] The familiar conception we form in childhood of the great Roman worthies, where it does not come from Plutarch, is generally drawn from Livy.

The power of his style is seen sometimes in stately movement, sometimes in lightning-like flashes. When Hannibal at the foot of the Alps sees his men dispirited, he cries out, "You are scaling the walls of Rome!" When the patricians shrink in fear from the dreaded tribunate, the consuls declare that their emblems of office are a funeral pageant. [50] All readers will remember pithy sentences like these: "Hannibal has grown old in Campania;" [51] "The issue of war will show who is in the right." [52]

His rhetorical training discovers itself in the elaborate exactness with which he disposes of all the points in a speech. The most artificial of all, perhaps, and yet at the same time the most effective, is the pleading of old Horatius for his son. [53] It might have come from the hands of Porcius Latro, or Arellius Fuscus. The orator treats truth as a means; the historian should treat it as an end. Livy wishes us not so much to know as to admire his heroes.

His language was censured by Pollio as exhibiting a Patavinitas, but what this was we know not. To us he appears as by far the purest writer subsequent to Cicero. Of the great orator he was a warm admirer. He imitated his style, and bade his son-in-law read only Cicero and Demosthenes, or other writers in proportion as they approached these two. He models his rhythm on the Ciceronian period so far as their different objects permit. But poetical phrases have crept in, [54] marring its even fabric; and other indications of too rich a colouring betray the near advent of the Silver Age.

As the book progresses the style becomes more fixed, until in the third decade it has reached its highest point; in the later books, as we know from testimony as well as the few specimens that are extant, it had become garrulous, like that of an old man. His work was to have consisted of fifteen decades, but as we have no epitome beyond Book CXLII., it was probably never finished. Perhaps the loss of the last part is not so serious as it seems. We have thirty books complete and the greater part of five others; but no more, except a fragment of the ninety-first book, has been discovered for several centuries, and in all probability the remainder is for ever lost. Livy was so much abridged and epitomized that during the Middle Ages he was scarcely read in any other form. Compilers like Florus, Orosius, Eutropius, &c. entirely supplied his place.

A word should perhaps be said about POMPEIUS TROGUS, who about Livy's time wrote a universal history in forty-four books. It was called Historiae Philippicae, and was apparently arranged according to nations; it began with Ninus, the Nimrod of classical legend, and was brought down to about 9 A.D. We know the work from the epitomes of the books and from Justin's abridgment, which is similar to that of Florus on Livy. Who Justin was, and where he lived, are not clearly ascertained. He is thought to have been a philosopher, but if so, he was anything but a talented one; most scholars place his floruit under the Antonines. He seems to have been a faithful abbreviator, at least as far as this, that he has added nothing of his own. Hence we may form a conception, however imperfect, of the value of Trogus's labours. Trogus was a scientific man, and seems to have desired the fame of a polymath. In natural science he was a good authority, [55] but though his history must have embodied immensely extended researches, it never succeeded in becoming authoritative.

Among the writers on applied science, one of considerable eminence has descended to us, the architect VITRUVIUS POLLIO. He is very rarely mentioned, and has been confounded with Vitruvius Cerdo, a freedman who belongs to a later date, and whose precepts contradict in many particulars those of the first Vitruvius. His birth-place was Formiae; he served in the African War (46 B.C.) under Caesar, so that he was born at least as early as 64 B.C. [56] The date of his work is also uncertain, but it can be approximately fixed, for in it he mentions the emperor's sister as his patroness, and as by her he probably means Octavia, who died 11 B.C., the book must have been written before that year. As, moreover, he speaks of one stone theatre only as existing in Rome, whereas two others were added in 13 B.C., the date is further thrown back to at least 14 B.C. As he expressly tells us it was written in his old age, and he must have been a young man in 46 B.C., when he served his first campaign, the nearer we bring its composition to the latest possible date (i.e. 14) the more correct we shall probably be. He was of good birth and had had a liberal education; but it is clear from the style of his work that he had either forgotten how to write elegantly, or had advanced his literary studies only so far as was necessary for a professional man. [57] His language is certainly far from good.

He began life as a military engineer, but soon found that his personal defects prevented him from succeeding in his career. [58] He therefore seems to have solaced himself by setting forward in a systematic form the principles of his art, and by finding fault with the great body of his professional brethren. [59] The dedication to Augustus implies that he had a practical object, viz. to furnish him with sound rules to be applied in building future edifices and, if necessary, for correcting those already built. He is a patient student of Greek authors, and adopts Greek principles unreservedly; in fact his work is little more than a compendium of Greek authorities. [60] His style is affectedly terse, and so much so as to be frequently obscure. The contents of his book are very briefly as follows:—

Book I. General description of the science—education of the architect—best choice of site for a city-disposition of its plan, fortifications, public buildings, &c.

" II. On the proper materials to be used in building, preceded, like several of Pliny's books, by a quasi-philosophical digression on the origin and early history of man—the progress of art—Vitruvius gives his views on the nature of matter.

" III. IV. On temples—an account of the four orders, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite.

" V. On other public buildings.

" VI. On the arrangement and plan of private houses.

" VII. On the internal decoration of houses.

" VIII. On water supply—the different properties of different waters—the way to find them, test them, and convey them into the city.

" IX. On sun dials and other modes of measuring time.

" X. On machines of all kinds, civil and military.

As will be seen from this analysis, the work is both comprehensive and systematic; it was of great service in the Middle Ages, when it was used in an abridged form (sufficiently ancient, however,) which we still possess.

Antiquarian research was carried on during this period with much zeal. Many illustrious scholars are mentioned, none of whose works have come down to us, except in extremely imperfect abridgments. FENESTELLA (52 B.C.-22 A.D.) wrote on various legal and religious questions, on miscellaneous topics, as literary history, the art of good living, various points in natural history, &c. for which he is quoted as an authority by Pliny. His greatest work seems to have been Annales, which were used by Plutarch. It is probable, however, that in these he showed his special aptitude for archaeological research, and passed over the history in a rapid sketch. Special grammatical studies were carried on by VERRIUS FLACCUS, a freedman, whose great work, De Verborum Significatu, the first Latin lexicon conducted on an extensive scale, we possess in an abridgment by Festus. Its size may be conjectured from the fact that the letter A occupied four books, P five, and so on; and that Festus's abridgment consisted of twenty large volumes. [61] It was a rich storehouse of knowledge, the loss of which is much to be lamented. Another freedman, C. JULIUS HYGINUS (64 B.C.-16 A.D.?), who was also keeper of Augustus's library on the Palatine, manifested an activity scarcely less encyclopaedic than that of Varro. Of his multifarious works we possess two short treatises which pass under his name, the first on mythology, called Fabulae, a series of extracts from his Genealogiae, which we have in an abridgment; the second on astronomy, extending, though this is also in an abridged form, to four books. A few details of his life are given by Suetonius. He was a Spaniard by birth, though some believed him to be an Alexandrian, since Caesar brought him to Rome after the Alexandrine War; he attended at Rome the lectures of the grammarian Cornelius Alexander, surnamed Polyhistor. He was an intimate acquaintance of Ovid, [62] and is said to have died in great poverty. It is doubtful whether the works we possess were written by him in his youth, or are the production of an imperfectly educated abbreviator. Bursian, quoted by Teuffel, [63] thinks it probable that in the second half of the second century of the Christian era, a grammarian made a very brief abridgment of Hyginus's work entitled Genealogiae, and to this added a treatise on the whole mythology so far as it concerned poetical literature, compiled from good sources. This mythology, which retained the name of Hyginus and the title of Genealogiae, came to be generally used in the schools of the grammarians.

The demand for school-books was now rapidly increasing; and as the great classical authors published their works, an abundant supply of material was given to the ingenious and learned. The grammaticae tribus, whom Horace mentions with such disdain, [64] were already asserting their right to dispense literary fame. They were not as yet so compact or popular a body as the rhetoricians, but they had begun to cramp, as the others had begun to corrupt, literature. Dependence on the opinion of a clique is the most hurtful state possible, even though the clique be learned; and Horace showed wisdom as well as spirit in resisting it. The endeavour to please the leading men of the world, which Horace professed to be his object, is far less narrowing; such men, though unable to appraise scientific merit, are the best judges of general literature.

The careful methods of exact inquiry, were, as we have said, directed also to law, in which Labeo remained the highest authority. Capito abated principle in favour of the imperial prerogative. They did not, however, affect philosophy, which retained its original colouring as an ars vivendi. Many of Horace's friends, as we learn from the Odes, gave their minds to speculative inquiry, but, like the poet himself, they seem to have soon deserted it. At least we hear of no original investigations. Neither a metaphysic nor a psychology arose; only a loose rhetorical treatment of physical questions, and a careful collection of ethical maxims for the most part eclectically obtained.

SEXTIUS PYTHAGOREUS—there were two born of this name, father and son— wrote in Greek, reproducing the oracular style of Heraclitus. The gnuomai, which were translated and christianised by Rufinus, were stamped with a strongly theistic character. A few inferior thinkers are mentioned by Quintilian and Seneca, as PAPIRIUS FABIANUS, SERGIUS FLAVIUS, and PLOTIUS CRISPINUS. Of these, Papirius treated some of the classificatory sciences, which now first began to attract interest in Rome. Botany and zoology were the favourites. Mineralogy excited more interest on its commercial side with regard to the value and history of jewels; it was also treated in a mystic or imaginative way.

From this rapid summary it will be seen that real learning still flourished in Rome. Despotism had not crushed intellectual energy, nor enforced silence on all but flatterers. The emperor had nevertheless grown suspicious in his old age, and given indications of that tyranny which was soon to be the rule of government; he had interdicted Timagenes from his palace, banished Ovid, burnt the works of Labienus, exiled Severus, and shown such severity towards Albucius Silo that he anticipated further disgrace by a voluntary death. His reign closed in 14 A.D., and with it ceases for near a century the appearance of the highest genius in Rome.

APPENDIX

NOTE I.—A fragment translated from Seneca's Suasoriae, showing the style of expression cultivated in the schools.

The subject (Suas. 2) debated is whether the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, seeing themselves deserted by the army, shall remain or flee. The different rhetors declaim as follows, making Leonidas the speaker:—

Arellius Fuscus.—What! are our picked ranks made up of raw recruits, or spirits likely to be cowed, or hands likely to shrink from the unaccustomed steel, or bodies enfeebled by wounds or decay? How shall I speak of us as the flower of Greece? Shall I bestow that name on Spartans or Eleans? or shall I rehearse the countless battles of our ancestors, the cities they sacked, the nations they spoiled? and do men now dare to boast that our temples need no walls to guard them? Ashamed am I of our conduct ashamed to have entertained even the idea of flight. But then, you say, Xerxes comes with an innumerable host. O Spartans! and Spartans matched against barbarians, have you no reverence for your deeds, your grandsires, your sires, from whose example your souls from infancy gather lofty thoughts? I scorn to offer Spartans such exhortations as these. Look! we are protected by our position. Though he bring with him the whole East, and parade his useless numbers before our craven eyes, this sea which spreads its vast expanse before us is pressed into a narrow compass, is beset by treacherous straits which scarce admit the passage of a single row-boat, and then by their chopping swell make rowing impossible; it is beset by unseen shallows, wedged between deeper bottoms, rough with sharp rocks, and everything that mocks the sailor's prayer. I am ashamed (I repeat it) that Spartans, and Spartans armed, should even stop to ask how it is they are safe. Shall I not carry home the spoil of the Persians? Then at least I will fall naked upon it. They shall know that we have yet three hundred men who thus scorn to flee, who thus mean to fall. Think of this: we can perhaps conquer; with all our effort we cannot be conquered. I do not say you are doomed to death—you to whom I address these words; but if you are, and yet think that death is be feared, you greatly err. To no living thing has nature given unending life; on the day of birth the day of death is fixed. For heaven has wrought us out of a weak material; our bodies yield to the slightest stroke, we are snatched away unwarned by fate. Childhood and youth lie beneath the same inexorable law. Most of us even long for death, so perfect a rest does it offer from the struggle of life. But glory has no limits, and they who fall like us rise nearest to the gods. Even women often choose the path of death which leads to glory. What need to mention Lycurgus, those heroes handed down by history, whom no peril could appal? to awake the spirit of Othryades alone, would be to give example enough, and more than enough, for us three hundred men!

Triarius.—Are not Spartans ashamed to be conquered, not by blows but by rumours? 'Tis a great thing to be born a scion of valour and a Spartan. For certain victory all would wait; for certain death none but Spartans. Sparta is girt with no walls, her walls are where her men are. Better to call back the army than to follow them. What if the Persian bores through mountains, makes the sea invisible? Such proud felicity never yet stood sure; the loftiest exaltation is struck to earth through its forgetfulness of the instability of all things human. You may be sure that power which has given rise to envy has not seen its last phase. It has changed seas, lands, nature itself; let us three hundred die, if only that it may here find something it cannot change. If such madmen's counsel was to be accepted, why did we not flee with the crowd?

Porcius Latro.—This then is what we have waited for, to collect a band of runaways. You flee from a rumour; let us at least know of what sort it is. Our dishonour can hardly be wiped out even by victory; bravely as we may fight, successful as we may be, much of our renown is already lost; for Spartans have debated whether or not to flee. O that we may die! For myself, after this discussion, the only thing I fear is to return home. Old women's tales have shaken the arms out of our hands. Now, now, let us fight, among the thirty thousand our valour might have lain hid. The rest have fled. If you ask my opinion, which I utter for the honour of ourselves and Greece, I say they have not deserted us, they have chosen us as their champions.

Marillus.—This was our reason for remaining, that we might not be hidden among the crowd of fugitives. The army has a good excuse to offer for its conduct: "We knew Thermopylae would be safe since we left Spartans to guard it."

Cestius Pius.—You have shown, Spartans, how base it were to fly by so long remaining still. All have their privilege. The glory of Athens is speech, of Thebes religion, of Sparta arms. 'Tis for this Eurotas flows round our state that its stream may inure our boys to the hardships of future war; 'tis for this we have our peaks of Taygetus inaccessible but to Spartans; 'tis for this we boast of a Hercules who has won heaven by merit; 'tis for this that arms are our only walls. O deep disgrace to our ancestral valour! Spartans are counting their numbers, not their manhood. Let us see how long the list is, that Sparta may have, if not brave soldiers, at least true messengers. Can it be that we are vanquished, not by war, but by reports? that man, i' faith, has a right to despise everything at whose very name Spartans are afraid. If we may not conquer Xerxes, let us at least be allowed to see him; I would know what it is I flee from. As yet I am in no way like an Athenian, either in seeking culture, or in dwelling behind a wall; the last Athenian quality that I shall imitate will be cowardice.

Pompeius Silo.—Xerxes leads many with him, Thermopylae can hold but few. We shall be the most timid of the brave, the slowest of cowards. No matter how great nations the East has poured into our hemisphere, how many peoples Xerxes brings with him; as many as this place will hold, with those is our concern.

Cornelius Hispanus.—We have come for Sparta; let us stay for Greece; let us vanquish the foe as we have already vanquished our friends; let this arrogant barbarian learn that nothing is so difficult as to cut an armed Spartan down. For my part, I am glad the rest have gone; they have left Thermopylae for us; there will now be nothing to mingle or compare itself with our valour; no Spartan will be hidden in the crowd; wherever Xerxes looks he will see none but Spartans.

Blandus.—Shall I remind you of your mother's command—"Either with your shield or on it?" and yet to return without arms is far less base than to flee under arms. Shall I remind you of the words of the captive?—"Kill me, I am no slave!" To such a man to escape would not have been to avoid capture. Describe the Persian terrors! We heard all that when we were first sent out. Let Xerxes see the three hundred, and learn at what rate the war is valued, what number of men the place is calculated to hold. We will not return even as messengers except after the fight is over. Who has fled I know not; these men Sparta has given me for comrades. I am thankful that the host has fled; they had made the pass of Thermopylae too narrow for me to move in.

S On the other side.

Cornelius Hispanus.—I hold it a great disgrace to our state if Xerxes see no Greeks before he sees the Spartans. We shall not even have a witness of our valour; the enemy's account of us will be believed. You have my counsel, it is the same as that of all Greece. If any one advise differently, he wishes you to be not brave men but ruined men.

Claudius Marcellus.—They will not conquer us; they will overwhelm us. We have been true to our renown, we have waited till the last. Nature herself has yielded before we.

The above Suasoria is by no means one of the most brilliant; on the contrary, it is a decidedly a tame one, but it is a good instance of an ordinary declamation of the better sort, and gives passages from most of the rhetoricians to whom reference is made in the text.

NOTE II.—A few Observations on the Treatment of Rhetorical Questions, taken from the Third Book of Quintilian.

"The division of the departments of rhetoric, or to use a more correct term, the classification of causes, is three-fold: They are either laudatory, deliberative, or judicial. This is a division according to the subject matter, not according to the artistic treatment. Correspondingly, there are three requisites for pleading well, nature, art, and practice; and three objects which the orator must set before him, to teach, to move, and to delight. Every question turns either on things or on words; or as it may be expressed in other language, is either indefinite or definite. The indefinite is in the form of a universal proposition (Oesis) which Cicero calls propositum, others quaestio universalis civilis, others quaestio philosopho conveniens, and Athenaeus pars causae. This again is divided under the heads of knowledge and action respectively; of knowledge, e.g. Is the world ruled by Providence? of action, e.g., Is political activity a duty? The definite question regards things, persons, times, circumstances: it is called upothesis in Greek, causa in Latin. It always depends on an indefinite question, e.g., Ought Cato to marry? depends on the wider one, is marriage desirable? Hence it may be a suasoria. And this is true even of cases in which no person is specially mentioned, e.g., the question, Ought a man to hold office under a tyranny? depends on the wider one, Ought a man to hold office at all? And this question refers of necessity to some special tyrant, though it may not mention him by name. This is the same division as that into general and special questions. Thus every special includes a general. It is true that generals often bear only remotely on practice, and sometimes are altogether neutralised by peculiar circumstances, e.g., the question, Is political activity a duty? becomes inapplicable to a chronic invalid. Still, all are not of this kind, e.g., Is virtue the end of man? is equally applicable to every human being, whatever his capacity. Cicero in his earlier treatises disapproved of these questions being discussed by the orator; he wished to leave them to the philosopher; but as he grew in experience he changed his mind.

"A cause is defined by Valgius, after Apollodorus, as negotium omnibus suis partibus spectans ad quaestionem, or as negotium cuius finis est controversia. The negotium (or business in hand) is thus defined, congregatio personarum locorum temporum causarum modorum casuum factorum instrumentorum sermonum scriptorum et non scriptorum. The cause, therefore, corresponds to the Greek upostasis (subject), the negotium to peristasis (surroundings). These are of course closely connected; and many have defined the cause as though it were identical with its surroundings or conditions.

"In every discussion three things are the objects of inquiry, an sit, Is it so? quid sit, If so, what is it? quale sit, of what kind is it? For first, there must be something, about which the discussion has arisen. Till this is made clear no discussion as to what it is can arise; far less can we determine what its qualities are, until this second point is ascertained. These three objects of inquiry are exhaustive; on them every question, whether definite or indefinite, depends. The accuser will try to establish, first, the occurrence of the act in dispute, then its character; and, lastly, its criminality. The advocate will, if possible, deny the fact; if he cannot do that he will prove that it is not what the accuser states it to be; or, thirdly, he may contend—and this is the most honourable kind of defence—that it was rightly done. As a fourth alternative, he may take exception to the legality of the prosecution. All these, and every other conceivable division of questions, come under the two general heads (status) of rational and legal. The rational is simple enough, depending only on the contemplation of nature; thus it is content with exhibiting conjecture, definition, and quality. The legal is extremely complex, laws being infinite in number and character. Sometimes the letter is to be observed, sometimes the spirit. Sometimes we get at its meaning by comparison, or induction; sometimes its meaning is open to the most contradictory interpretations. Hence there is room for a far greater display of diverse kinds of excellence in the legal than in the rational department. Thus the declamatory exercises called suasoriae, which are confined to rational considerations, are fittest for young students whose reasoning powers are acute, but who have not the knowledge of law necessary for enabling them to treat controversiae which hinge on legal questions. These last are intended as a preparation for the pleading of actual causes in court, and should be regularly practised even by the most accomplished pleader during the spare moments that his profession allows him."



BOOK III.

THE DECLINE. FROM THE ACCESSION OF TIBERIUS TO THE DEATH OF M. AURELIUS (14-180 A.D.)

CHAPTER I

THE AGE OF TIBERIUS (14-37 A.D.).

Augustus was not more unlike his gloomy successor than were the writers who flourished under him to those that now come before us. The history of literature presents no stronger contrast than between the rich fertility of the last epoch and the barrenness of the present one. The age of Tiberius forms an interval of silence during which the dead are buried, and the new generation prepares itself to appear. Under Nero it will have started forth in all its panoply of tinsel armour; at present the seeds that will produce it are being sown by the hand of despotism. [1]

The sudden collapse of letters on the death of Augustus is easily accounted for. As long as the chief of the state encouraged them labourers in every field were numerous. When his face was withdrawn the stimulus to effort was removed. Thus, even in Augustus's time, when ill health and disappointment had soured his nature and disposed him to arbitrary actions, literature had felt the change. The exile of Ovid was a blow to the muses. We have seen how it injured his own genius, a decline over which he mourns, knowing the cause but impotent to overcome it. [2] We have seen also how it was followed up by other harsh measures, stifling the free voice of poets and historians. And when we reflect how the despotism was entwining itself round the entire life of the nation, gathering by each new enactment food for future aggression, and only veiled as yet by the mildness or caution of a prince whose one object was to found a dynasty, our surprise is lessened at the spectacle of literature prostrate and dumb, threatened by the hideous form of tyranny now no longer in disguise, offering it with brutal irony the choice between submission, hypocrisy, and death. Tiberius (whose portrait drawn by Tacitus in colours almost too dark for belief, is nevertheless rendered credible by the deathlike silence in which his reign was passed) had in his youth shown both taste and proficiency in liberal studies. He had formed his style on that of Messala, but the gloomy bent of his mind led him to contract and obscure his meaning to such a degree that, unlike most Romans, he spoke better extempore [3] than after preparation. In the art of perplexing by ambiguous phrases, of indicating intentions without committing himself to them, he was without a rival. In point of language he was a purist like Augustus; but unlike him he mingled archaisms with his diction. While at Rhodes he attended the lectures of Theodorus; and the letters or speeches of his referred to by Tacitus indicate a nervous and concentrated style. Poetry was alien from his stern character. Nevertheless, Suetonius tells us he wrote a lyric poem and Greek imitations of Euphorion, Rhianus, and Parthenius; but it was the minute questions of mythology that chiefly attracted him, points of useless erudition like those derided by Juvenal: [4]

"Nutricem Anchisae, nomen patriamque novercae Anchemoli, dicat quot Acestes vixerit annos, Quot Siculus Phrygibus vini donaverit urnas."

In maturer life he busied himself with writing memoirs, which formed the chief, almost the only study of Domitian, and of which we may regret that time has deprived us. The portrait of this arch dissembler by his own able hand would be a good set off to the terrible indictment of Tacitus. Besides the above he was the author of funeral speeches, and, according to Suidas, of a work on the art of rhetoric.

With these literary pretensions it is clear that his discouragement of letters as emperor was due to political reasons. He saw in the free expression of thought or fancy a danger to his throne. And as the abominable system of delations made every chance expression penal, and found treason to the present in all praise of the past, the only resource open to men of letters was to suppress every expression of feeling, and, by silent brooding, to keep passion at white heat, so that when it speaks at last it speaks with the concentrated intensity of a Juvenal or a Tacitus.

We might ask how it was that authors did not choose subjects outside the sphere of danger. There were still forms of art and science which had not been worked out. The Natural History of Pliny shows how much remained to be done in fields of great interest. Neither philosophy nor the lighter kinds of poetry could afford matter for provocation. But the answer is easy. The Roman imagination was so narrow, and their constructive talent so restricted, that they felt no desire to travel beyond the regular lines. It seemed as if all had been done that could be done well. History, national and universal, [5] science [6] and philosophy, [7] Greek poetry in all its varied forms, had been brought to perfection by great masters whom it was hopeless to rival. The age of literary production seemed to have been rounded off, and the self-consciousness that could reflect on the new era had not yet had time to arise. Rhetoric, as applied to the expression of political feeling, was the only form which literature cared to take, and that was precisely the form most obnoxious to the government.

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