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Title: History of Roman Literature from its Earliest Period to the Augustan - Age. Volume I
Author: Dunlop, John
Language: English
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                          *ROMAN LITERATURE,*


                          *ITS EARLIEST PERIOD*

                            THE AUGUSTAN AGE.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                              John Dunlop,




                       _James Kay, Jun. Printer,_
                 _S. E. Corner of Race & Sixth Streets,_


   Livius Andronicus
   Cneius Nævius
   Luscius Lavinius
   Titus Lucretius Carus
   Caius Valerius Catullus
   Valerius Ædituus
   Publius Syrus
Transcriber’s note


There are few subjects on which a greater number of laborious volumes have
been compiled, than the History and Antiquities of ROME. Everything
connected with its foreign policy and civil constitution, or even with the
domestic manners of its citizens, has been profoundly and accurately
investigated. The mysterious origin of Rome, veiled in the wonders of
mythological fable—the stupendous increase of its power, rendered yet more
gigantic by the mists of antiquity—its undaunted heroes, who seem to us
like the genii of some greater world—its wide dominion, extended over the
whole civilized globe—and, finally, its portentous fall, which forms, as
it were, the separation between ancient and modern times, have rendered
its civil and military history a subject of prevailing interest to all
enlightened nations. But, while its warlike exploits, and the principles
of its political institutions, have been repeatedly and laboriously
investigated, less attention, perhaps, has been paid to the history of its
literature, than to that of any other country, possessed of equal
pretensions to learning and refinement; and, in the English language at
least, no connected view of its Rise, its Progress, and Decline, has been
as yet presented to us. When the battles of Rome have been accurately
described, and all her political intrigues minutely developed—when so much
inquiry and thought have been bestowed, not only on the wars, conquests,
and civil institutions of the Romans, but on their most trivial customs,
it is wonderful that so little has been done to exhibit the intellectual
exertions of the fancy and the reason, of their most refined and exalted

It cannot, indeed, be denied, that the civil history of Rome, and her
military operations, present our species in a lofty aspect of power,
magnanimity, and courage—that they exhibit the widest range and utmost
extent of the human powers in enterprize and resources—and that statesmen
or philosophers may derive from them topics to illustrate almost every
political speculation. Yet, however vast and instructive may be the page
which unfolds the eventful history of the foreign hostilities and internal
commotions of the Roman people, it can hardly be more interesting than the
analogies between their literary attainments and the other circumstances
of their condition;—the peculiarities of their literature, its peculiar
origination, and the peculiar effects which it produced. The literature of
a people may indeed, in one sense, be regarded as the most attractive
feature of its history. It is at once the effect of leisure and
refinement, and the means of increasing and perpetuating the civilization
from which it springs. Literature, as a late writer has powerfully and
eloquently demonstrated, possesses an extensive moral agency, and a close
connection with glory, liberty, and happiness(1); and hence the _history_
of literature becomes associated with all that concerns the fame, the
freedom, and the felicity of nations. “There is no part of history,” says
Dr Johnson, “so generally useful, as that which relates the progress of
the human mind—the gradual improvement of reason—the successive advances
of science—the vicissitudes of learning and ignorance, which are the light
and darkness of thinking beings—the extinction and resuscitation of arts,
and the revolutions of the intellectual world. If accounts of battles and
invasions are peculiarly the business of princes, the useful or elegant
arts are not to be neglected(2).” If, then, in the literary history of
Rome, we do not meet with those dazzling events, and stupendous results,
which, from their lustre and magnitude, still seem, as it were, placed at
the summit of human affairs, we shall find in it more intelligence and
order, in consequence of its progress being less dependent on passion and
interest. The trophies, too, of the most absolute power, and the most
unlimited empire, seem destined, as if by a moral necessity, to pass away:
But the dominion which the writers of Rome exercise over the human mind,
will last as long as the world, or at least as long as its civilization—

  “Alas, for Tully’s voice, and Virgil’s lay,
  And Livy’s pictured page!—But these shall be
  Her resurrection; all beside—decay(3).”

There are chiefly two points of view, in which literary history may be
regarded as of high utility and importance. The _first_ is the
consideration of the powerful effect of literature on the manners and
habits of the people among whom it flourishes. It is noble, indeed, in
itself, and its productions are glorious, without any relative
considerations. An ingenious literary performance has its intrinsic
merits, and would delight an enthusiastic scholar, or contemplative
philosopher, in perfect solitude, even though he himself were the only
reader, and the work the production of a Being of a different order from
himself. But what renders literature chiefly interesting, is the influence
which it exercises on the dignity and happiness of human nature, by
improving the character, and enlarging the capacity, of our species. A
stream, however grand or beautiful in itself, derives its chief interest
from a consideration of its influence on the landscape it adorns; and, in
this point of view, literature has been well likened to “a noble lake or
majestic river, which imposes on the imagination by every impression of
dignity and sublimity. But it is the moisture that insensibly arises from
them, which, gradually mingling with the soil, nourishes all the
luxuriance of vegetation, and fructifies and adorns the surface of the

Literature, however, has not in all ages denoted, with equal accuracy, the
condition of mankind, or been equally efficacious in impelling their
progress, and contributing to their improvement. In the ancient empires of
the East, where monarchies were despotic, and priests the only scholars,
learning was regarded by those who were possessed of it rather as a means
of confirming an ascendancy over the vulgar, than of improving their
condition; and they were more desirous to perpetuate the subjection, than
contribute to the melioration of mankind. Accordingly, almost every trace
of this confined and perverted learning has vanished from the world. In
the freer states of antiquity, as the republics of Greece and Rome,
letters found various outlets, by which their improving influence was
imparted, more or less extensively, to the bulk of the citizens. Dramatic
representations were among the most favourite amusements, and oratorical
displays excited among all classes the most lively interest. Such public
exhibitions established points of contact, from which light was elicited.
The mind of the multitude was enriched by the contemplation of superior
intellect, and mankind were, to a certain extent, united by the reception
of similar impressions, and the excitement of similar emotions.

Still, however, the history of any part of ancient literature is, in
respect of its influence on the condition of states, far less important
than that of modern nations. From the high price and scarcity of books, a
restriction was imposed on the diffusion of knowledge. “A bulwark existed
between the body of mankind and the reflecting few. They were distinct
nations inhabiting the same country; and the opinions of the one, speaking
comparatively with modern times, had little influence on the other(5).”
The learned, in those days, wrote only or chiefly for the learned and the
great. They neither expected nor cultivated the approbation of the mass of
mankind. An extensive and noisy celebrity was interdicted. It was only
with the more estimable part of his species that the author was united by
that sympathy which we term the Love of Fame. He was the head, not of a
numerous, but of a select community. By nothing short of the highest
excellence could he hope for the approbation of judges so skilful, or
expect an immortality so difficult to be preserved. While this may,
perhaps, have contributed to the polish and perfection of literary works,
it is obvious that the general influence of letters must have been less
humanizing, and must have had less tendency to unite and assimilate
mankind. Even philosophers, whose peculiar business was the instruction of
their species, had no mode of disseminating or perpetuating their
opinions, except by the formation of sects and schools, which created for
the masters, pupils who were the followers of his creed, and the
depositaries of his claims to immortality.

It is the invention of the art of printing which has at length secured the
widest diffusion, and an unlimited endurance, to learning and
civilization. As a stone thrown into the sea agitates (it has been said)
more or less every drop in the expanse of ocean, so every thought that is
now cast into the fluctuating but ceaseless tide of letters, will more or
less affect the human mind, and influence the human condition, throughout
all the habitable globe, and “to the last syllable of time.”

It is this, and not the height to which individual genius has soared, that
forms the grand distinction between ancient and modern literature. The
triumph of modern literature consists not in the point of elevation to
which it has attained, but in the extent of its conquests—the extent to
which it has refined and quickened the mass of mankind. It would be
difficult to adjust the intellectual precedence of Newton and
Archimedes—of Bacon and Aristotle—of Shakspeare and Homer—of Thucydides
and Hume: But it may be declared with certainty, that the people of modern
nations, in consequence of literature being more widely diffused, have
become more civilized and enlightened. The Indus and Oronoko, rolling amid
woods and deserts their waste of waters, may seem superior to the Thames
in the view of the mere admirer of the grandeur and magnificence of
nature; but how inferior are they in the eye of the philosopher and

With regard to the Romans, in particular, they are allowed to have been a
civilized nation, powerfully constituted, and wisely governed, previous to
the existence of any author in the Latin language. Their character was
formed before their literature was created: their moral and patriotic
dignity, indeed, had reached its highest perfection, in the age in which
their literature commenced—the age of Lælius and Africanus. Except in the
province of the drama, it always continued a patrician attribute; and
though intellectual improvement could not have facilitated the inroads of
vice and guilty ambition, it certainly proved inadequate to stem the tide
of moral corruption, to mitigate the sanguinary animosities of faction, or
to retard the establishment of despotism.

Literary history is, _secondly_, of importance, as being the index of the
character and condition of a people—as holding up a mirror, which reflects
the manners and customs of remote or ancient nations. The less influence,
however, which literature exercises, the less valuable will be its picture
of life and manners. It must also be admitted, that from a separate cause,
the early periods, at least, of Roman literature, possess not in this
point of view any peculiar attractions. When literature is indigenous, as
it was in Greece, where authors were guided by no antecedent system, and
their compositions were shaped on no other model than the objects
themselves which they were occupied in delineating, or the living passions
they portrayed, an accurate estimate of the general state of manners and
feeling may be drawn from works written at various epochs of the national
history. But, at Rome, the pursuit of literature was neither a native nor
predominant taste among the people. The Roman territory was always a
foreign soil for letters, which were not the produce of national genius,
but were naturalized by the assiduous culture of a few individuals reared
in the schools of Greece. Indeed, the early Roman authors, particularly
the dramatic, who, of all others, best illustrate the prevalent ideas and
sentiments of a nation, were mere translators from the Greek. Hence, those
delineations, which at first view might appear to be characteristic
national sketches, are in fact the draught of foreign manners, and the
mirror of customs which no Roman adopted, or of sentiments in which,
perhaps, no Roman participated.

Since, then, the literature of Rome exercised but a limited influence on
the conduct of its citizens, and as it reciprocally reflects but a partial
light on their manners and institutions, its history must, in a great
measure, consist of biographical sketches of _authors_—of critical
accounts of their _works_—and an examination of the _influence_ which
these works have exercised on modern literature. The _authors_ of Rome
were, in their characters, and the events of their lives, more interesting
than the writers of any ancient or modern land. The authors who flourished
during the existence of the Roman Republic, were Cato the Censor, Cicero,
and Cæsar; men who (independently of their literary claims to celebrity)
were unrivalled in their own age and country, and have scarcely been
surpassed in any other. I need not here anticipate those observations
which the _works_ of the Roman authors will suggest in the following
pages. Though formed on a model which has been shaped by the Greeks, we
shall perceive through that spirit of imitation which marks all their
literary productions, a tone of practical utility, derived from the
familiar acquaintance which their writers exercised with the business and
affairs of life; and also that air of nationality, which was acquired from
the greatness and unity of the Roman republic, and could not be expected
in literary works, produced where there was a subdivision of states in the
same country, as in Greece, modern Italy, Germany, and Britain. We shall
remark a characteristic authority of expression, a gravity,
circumspection, solidity of understanding, and dignity of sentiment,
produced partly by the moral firmness that distinguished the character of
the Romans, their austerity of manners, and tranquillity of temper, but
chiefly by their national pride, and the exalted name of Roman citizen,
which their authors bore. And, finally, we shall recognise that love of
rural retirement which originated in the mode of life of the ancient
Italians, and was augmented by the pleasing contrast which the undisturbed
repose and simple enjoyments of rural existence presented to the bustle of
an immense and agitated capital. In the last point of view that has been
alluded to—the _influence_ which these works have exercised on modern
letters—it cannot be denied that the literary history of Rome is
peculiarly interesting. If the Greeks gave the first impulse to
literature, the Romans engraved the traces of its progress deeper on the
world. “The earliest writers,” as has been justly remarked, “took
possession of the most striking objects for description, and the most
probable occurrences for fiction, and left nothing to those that followed,
but transcriptions of the same events, and new combinations of the same
images(6).” The great author from whom these reflections are quoted, had
at one time actually “projected a work, to show how small a quantity of
invention there is in the world, and that the same images and incidents,
with little variation, have served all the authors who have ever
written(7).” Had he prosecuted his intention, he would have found the
notion he entertained fully confirmed by the history both of dramatic and
romantic fiction; he would have perceived the incapacity of the most
active and fertile imagination greatly to diversify the common characters
and incidents of life, which, on a superficial view, one might suppose to
be susceptible of infinite combinations; he would have found, that while
Plautus and Terence servilely copied from the Greek dramatists, even
Ariosto scarcely diverged in his comedies from the paths of Plautus.

                              * * * * * * *

But whatever may be the advantages or imperfections of a literary subject
in its own nature, it is evident that it can never be treated with effect
or utility, unless sufficient materials exist for compilation.
Unfortunately, there was no historian of Roman literature among the Romans
themselves. Many particulars, however, with regard to it, as also
judgments on productions which are now lost, may be collected from the
writings of Cicero; and many curious remarks, as well as amusing
anecdotes, may be gathered from the works of the latter Classics; as
Pliny’s _Natural History_, the _Institutes_ of Quintilian, the _Attic
Nights_ of Aulus Gellius, and the _Saturnalia_ of Macrobius.

Among modern authors who have written on the subject of Roman literature,
the first place is unquestionably due to Tiraboschi, who, though a cold
and uninteresting critic, is distinguished by soundness of judgment and
labour of research. The first and second volumes of his great work, _Della
Letteratura Italiana_, are occupied with the subject of Roman literature;
and though not executed with the same ability as the portion of his
literary history relating to modern Italy, they may safely be relied on
for correctness of facts and references.

The recent French work of Schoell, entitled, _Histoire __Abregée__ de la
Litterature Romaine_, is extremely succinct and unsatisfactory on the
early periods of Roman literature. Though consisting of four volumes, the
author, at the middle of the first volume of the book, has advanced as far
as Virgil. It is more complete in the succeeding periods, and, like his
_Histoire de la Litterature Grecque_, is rather a history of the decline,
than of the progress and perfection of literature.

A number of German works, (chiefly, however, bibliographical,) have lately
appeared on the subject of Roman literature. I regret, that from
possessing but a recent and limited acquaintance with the language, I have
not been able to draw so extensively as might have been wished from these
sources of information.

                              * * * * * * *

The composition of the present volumes was not suggested by any of the
works which I have mentioned on the subject of Roman literature; but by
the perusal of an elegant, though somewhat superficial production, on “The
Civil and Constitutional History of Rome, from its Foundation to the Age
of Augustus(8).” It occurred to me that a History of Roman _Literature_,
during the same period, might prove not uninteresting. There are three
great ages in the literary history of Rome—that which precedes the æra of
Augustus—the epoch which is stamped with the name of that emperor—and the
interval which commenced immediately after his death, and may be
considered as extending to the destruction of Rome. Of these periods, the
first and second run into each other with respect to dates, but the
difference in their spirit and taste may be easily distinguished. Although
Cicero died during the triumvirate of Octavius, his genius breathes only
the spirit of the Republic; and though Virgil and Horace were born during
the subsistence of the commonwealth, their writings bear the character of
monarchical influence.

The ensuing volumes include only the first of these successive periods.
Whether I shall hereafter proceed to investigate the history of the
others, will depend on the reception which the present effort may obtain,
and on other circumstances which I am equally unable to anticipate.

                              * * * * * * *

MEANWHILE, I have made considerable alterations, and, I trust,
improvements, in the present edition. These, however, are so much
interwoven with the body of the work, that they cannot be specified—except
some additional Translations from the Fragments of the older Latin poets—a
Dissertation on the _Tachygraphy_, or short-hand writing of the Romans,
introduced at the commencement of the Appendix—and a Critical Account of
Cicero’s Dialogue _De Republica_, which, though discovered, had not issued
from the press when the former edition was published.



                         *ROMAN LITERATURE, &C.*

             “Parva quoque, ut ferme principia omnia, et ea ipsa peregrina
                                                               res fuit.”
                                                     LIVY, lib. vii. c. 2.



                         *ROMAN LITERATURE, &c.*

In tracing the Literary History of a people, it is important not only to
ascertain whence their first rudiments of knowledge were derived, but even
to fix the origin of those tribes, whose cultivation, being superior to
their own, acted as an incentive to literary exertion. The privilege,
however, assumed by national vanity, _miscendi humana divinis_, has
enveloped the antiquities of almost every country in darkness and mystery:
But there is no race whose early history is involved in greater obscurity
and contradiction than the first inhabitants of those Italian states,
which finally formed component parts of the Roman republic. The origin of
the five Saturnian, and twelve Etruscan cities, is lost in the mist of
ages; and we may as well hope to obtain credible information concerning
the monuments of Egypt or India, as to investigate their inscrutable
antiquities. At the period when light is first thrown, by authentic
documents, on the condition of Italy, we find it occupied by various
tribes, which had reached different degrees of civilization, which spoke
different dialects, and disputed with each other the property of the lands
whence they drew their subsistence. All before that time is founded on
poetical embellishment, the speculations of theorists, or national vanity
arrogating to itself a Trojan, a Grecian, or even a divine original.

The happy situation of Italy, imbosomed in a sea, which washed not only
the coast of all the south of Europe, but likewise the shores of Africa
and Asia, afforded facilities for communication and commerce with almost
every part of the ancient world. It is probable, that a country gifted
like this peninsula, with a fertile soil, incomparable climate, and
unusual charms of scenery, attracted the attention of its neighbours, and
sometimes allured them from less favoured settlements. “Il semble,” says a
recent French writer, “que les Dieux aient lancé l’Italie au milieu du
vaste océan comme un Phare immense qui appelle les navigateurs des pays
les plus eloignés”(9). The customs, and even names, which were prevalent
in Egypt, Phœnicia, and Greece, were thus introduced into Italy, and
formed materials from which the framers of systems have constructed
theories concerning its first colonization by the Egyptians, the Pelasgi,
or whatever nation they chose. There is scarcely, however, an ancient
history or document entitled to credit, and recording the arrival of a
colony in Italy, which does not also mention that the new-comers found
prior tribes, with whom they waged war, or intermixed.

The ample lakes and lofty mountains, by which Italy is intersected,
naturally divided its inhabitants into separate and independent nations.
Of these by far the most celebrated were the Etruscans. The origin of this
remarkable people, called Tyrrhenians by the Greeks, and Thusci, or
Etrusci, by the Latins, has been a subject of endless controversy among
antiquarians; and, indeed, had perplexed the ancients no less than it has
puzzled the moderns. Herodotus, the earliest authentic historian whose
works are now extant, represents them as a colony of Lydians, who were
themselves a tribe of the vagrant Pelasgi. In the reign of Atys, son of
Menes, the Lydian nation being driven to extremity by famine, the king
divided it into two portions, one of which was destined to remain in Asia,
and the other to emigrate under the conduct of his son Tyrrhenus. The
inhabitants who composed the latter division leaving their country,
repaired to Smyrna, where they built vessels, and removed in search of new
abodes. After touching on various shores, they penetrated into the heart
of Italy, and at length settled in Umbria. There they constructed
dwellings, and called themselves Tyrrhenians, from the name of their
leader(10). Some of the circumstances which Herodotus relates as having
occurred previous to the emigration of the Lydian colony appear fabulous,
as the invention of games, in order to appease the sensation of hunger,
and the fasting every alternate day for a space of eighteen years; and it
would, perhaps, be too much to assert, that before the Lydians, no other
tribe had ever set foot in Umbria or Etruria. But the account of the
departure of the colony is itself plausible, and its truth appears to be
corroborated, if not confirmed, by certain resemblances in the language,
religion, and pastimes of the Lydians, and of the ancient Etruscans(11).
The manners, too, and customs of the Lydians, did not differ essentially
from those of the Greeks; and the princes of Lydia, like the sovereigns of
Persia, being accustomed to employ Phœnician or Egyptian sailors, the
colony of Lydians, which settled in Italy, might thus contain a mixture of
such people, and present those appearances which have led some
antiquarians to consider the Etruscans as Phœnicians or Egyptians, while
others have regarded them as Greeks. The writers of antiquity, though
varying in particulars, have followed, in general, the tradition delivered
by Herodotus concerning the descent of the Etruscans. Cicero, Strabo(12),
Velleius Paterculus(13), Seneca, Pliny, Plutarch(14), and Servius, all
affirm that they came from Lydia; and to these may be added Catullus, who
calls the lake Benacus _Lydiæ lacus undæ_, obviously because he considered
the ancient Etruscans, within whose extended territory it lay, as of
Lydian origin. It is evident, too, that the Etruscans themselves believed
that they had sprung from the Lydians, and that they inculcated this
belief on others. Tacitus informs us, that, in the reign of Tiberius, a
contest concerning their respective antiquity arose among eleven cities of
Asia, which were heard by their deputies in presence of the Emperor. The
Sardians rested their claims on an alleged affinity to the Etruscans, and,
in support of their pretensions, produced an ancient decree, in which that
people declared themselves descended from the followers of Tyrrhenus, who
had left their native country of Lydia, and founded new settlements in

Hellanicus of Lesbos, a Greek historian, nearly contemporary with
Herodotus, and quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, asserted that the
Etruscans were a tribe of Pelasgi, not from Lydia, but from Greece, who
being driven out of their country by the Hellenes, sailed to the mouth of
the Po, and leaving their ships in that river, built the inland town of
Cortona, whence advancing, they peopled the whole territory afterwards
called Tyrrhenia(16).

Dionysius of Halicarnassus holds the account of those authors, who
maintain that the Etruscans were descended from the Lydians, to be utterly
fabulous, principally on the ground that Xantus, the chief historian of
Lydia, says nothing of any colony having emigrated thence to Italy; and he
is of opinion, that those also are mistaken, who, like Hellanicus of
Lesbos, believed the Etruscans and Pelasgi to be the same people. He
conceives them to have been Aborigines, or natives of the country, as they
radically agreed with no other nation, either in their language or manner
of life. He admits, however, that a tribe of Pelasgi passed from Thessaly
to the mouth of the Po many ages previous to the Trojan war, and directing
their course to the south, occupied a considerable portion of the heart of
Italy. Soon after their arrival, they assisted the aboriginal Etruscans in
their wars with the Siculi, whom they forced to seek refuge in Sicily, the
seat of the ancient Sicani. Subsequent to this alliance, they were again
dispersed in consequence of disease and famine; but a few still remained
behind, and being incorporated with the original inhabitants, bestowed on
them whatever in language or customs appeared to be common to the
Etruscans, with other nations of Pelasgic descent(17).

Several eminent writers among the moderns have partly coincided with
Dionysius. Dempster seems to think that there was an indigenous population
in Etruria, but that it was increased both by the Lydian emigration and by
colonies of Pelasgi from Greece(18). Bochart is nearly of the same
opinion; only he farther admits of a direct intercourse between the
Etruscans and Phœnicians, whence the former may have received many
Oriental fables and customs. He denies, however, that there was any
resemblance in the languages of these two people; and the Etruscan arts he
believes to have been chiefly derived from Greece(19). The opinion of
Bochart on these latter points is so much the more entitled to weight, as
his prepossessions would have led him to maintain an opposite system could
it have been plausibly supported. Gibbon also declares in favour of
Dionysius; and, as to the relation of Herodotus, he says, “L’opinion
d’Herodote, qui les fait venir de la Lydie, ne peut convenir qu’aux
poetes”(20). Several recent Italian writers likewise have maintained,
that, previous to the arrival of any Lydian or Pelasgic colony, there
existed what they term an indigenous population, by which they do not
merely signify a population whose origin cannot be traced, since they hint
pretty broadly, that Etruria had its Adam and Eve as much as Eden(21).

Gorius derives every thing Etruscan from Egypt or Phœnicia. These
countries he considers as the original seats of the Pelasgi, who, being
driven out of them, settled in Achaia, Thrace, Arcadia, and Lydia, and
from these regions gradually, and at different times, passed into

A similar system has been adopted by Lord Monboddo.—From a resemblance in
their letters and language to those of the Greeks, he believes the
Etruscans to have been a very ancient colony of the roaming Pelasgi who
left Arcadia in quest of new settlements. These Pelasgi, however, he
maintains, were not themselves indigenous in Arcadia, as they issued
originally from Egypt, where there was a district and a city of the name
of Arcadia(23).

Mazzochi follows the oriental theory, but does not venture to determine
from what eastern region the Etruscans emigrated. He merely affirms, that
they spread from the east, under which term he includes regions very
remote from each other—Assyria, Armenia, Canaan, and Egypt(24). He also
thinks that they came directly from the east, without having previously
passed through Lydia or Arcadia: For, if they had, the monuments of these
latter countries would exhibit (which they do not) still stronger remains
of oriental antiquity than those of the Etruscans. This descent Mazzochi
attempts to confirm by the most fanciful derivations of words and proper
names of the Etruscan nation from the eastern languages, especially from
the Hebrew and Syriac. Thus one of the most extensive plains in Italy, and
the spot where, in all probability, the oriental colony first landed, is
near the æstuary of the Po. This plain they naturally called Paddan, one
of the names of the level Mesopotamia, and the appellation of the district
soon came to be transferred to the river Padus or Po, by which it was
bounded. It occurred to the author, however, that the Eridanus was the
more ancient name of the Po; but this only furnishes him with a new
argument. Eraz, it seems, signifies in Hebrew, a cedar, or any sort of
resinous tree, and the orientals, finding a number of trees of this nature
on the banks of the Po, and Z being a convertible letter with D, they
could not fail to call the river, near which they grew in such abundance,
the Eridanus(25).

Bonarota has deduced the origin of the Etruscans from Egypt—a theory which
has chiefly been grounded on the resemblance of the remains of their arts
with the monuments of the ancient Egyptians(26).

Maffei brings them directly from Canaan, and supposes them to have been
the race expelled from that region by the Moabites, or children of Lot.
The river Arnon, (whence Arno,) flowed not far from that part of Canaan,
where Lot and Abram first sojourned; one of its districts was called
Etroth, (whence Etruria); and on the banks of the Arnon stood the city Ar,
a syllable which is a frequent compound in Etruscan appellatives. The
Etruscans erected their places of worship on hills or high places—they
formed corporeal images of their divine beings like the idolatrous race
from whom they sprung—but above all, their divinations and profession of
augury, identified them with those original inhabitants of Canaan, of whom
it is said, “that they hearkened unto observers of times and unto

By far the most voluminous, but at the same time one of the most fanciful
writers concerning the Etruscans, is Guarnacci, who maintains, that they
came directly from the east, and were stragglers who had been dispersed by
Noah’s flood, or, at the very latest, by the confusion at Babel. The Umbri
and Aborigines, according to him, were the same people, under a different
denomination, as the Etruscans: They gradually spread themselves over all
Italy, and some tribes of them, called, from their wandering habits,
Pelasgi, at length emigrated to Greece and Lydia; so that, whatever
similarity has been traced in the language, religion, manners, or arts, of
the Greeks and Etruscans, is the consequence of the Etruscan colonization
of Greece, and not, as is generally supposed, of Italy having been peopled
by Pelasgic colonies from Arcadia or Peloponnesus(28).

In general, the oriental system has been maintained in opposition to all
other theories, chiefly on the ground that the Etruscans, like many
eastern nations, wrote from right to left, and that, like the Hebrews,
they often marked down only the consonants, leaving the reader to supply
the auxiliary vowels.

The oriental theory, in all its modifications, has been strenuously
opposed by a number of learned Italian, French, and German antiquaries,
who have contended for the northern and Celtic origin of the Etruscans,
and have ridiculed the opinions of their predecessors as if they
themselves were about to promulgate a more rational system. Bardetti,
while he admits a colonization of Italy from foreign quarters, prior even
to the Trojan war, maintains, that it was inhabited by a primitive
population long before the landing of the Lydians or Pelasgi: That
previous to the arrival of the latter tribe at the mouth of the Po, which
happened 300 years before the siege of Troy, there had been no navigation
to Italy from Egypt, or any other country: That, therefore, this primitive
population must have come by land, and could have been no other than bands
of Celts who were the immediate posterity of Japheth, and who, having
originally settled in Gaul, descended to Italy from the Alps by Rhetium,
Tirol, and Trent. Their first seats were the regions along the banks of
the Po; the earliest tribes of their population were called Ligurians and
Umbrians, and from them sprung the Etrurians, and all the other ancient
nations of Italy(29).

A system nearly similar has been followed by Pelloutier(30), Freret(31),
and Funccius(32), and has been adopted, with some modifications, by
Adelung, and also by Heyne(33), who, however, admits that other tribes
besides the Gallic race, may have contributed to the population of

This theory, whether deducing the Etruscans from the Celts of Gaul or from
the Teutonic tribes of Germany, is too often supported by remote and
fanciful etymologies; and, so far as depends on authority, it chiefly
rests on an ambiguous passage of the ancient historian Boccus, (quoted by
Solinus,) where it is said, _Gallorum veterum propaginem Umbros esse_, and
taken in connection with this, the assertion of Pliny, _Umbrorum gens
antiquissima Italiæ existimatur_(35).


The most learned and correct writer on the subject of the Etruscans is
Lanzi. In his elaborate work(36), (in which he has followed out and
improved on a system first started by Ulivieri,) he does not pretend to
investigate the origin of this celebrated race, though he seems to think
that they were Lydians, augmented from time to time by tribes of the
Pelasgi. But he has tried to prove that whatever may have been their
descent, the religion, learning, language, and arts of the Etruscans must
be referred to a Greek origin, and he refutes Gori and Caylus, who,
deceived by a few imperfect analogies, ascribed them to the Egyptians. The
period of Etruscan perfection in the arts, and formation of those vases
and urns which we still admire, was posterior, he maintains, to the
subjugation of Etruria by the Romans, and at a time when an intercourse
with Greece had rendered the Etruscans familiar with models of Grecian
perfection. As to the language, he does not indeed deny that all languages
came originally from the east, and that many Greek words sprung from
Hebrew roots; but there are in the Etruscan tongue, he asserts, such clear
traces of Hellenism, particularly in the names of gods and heroes, that it
is impossible to ascribe its origin to any other source. In particular, he
attempts to show from the inscriptions on the Eugubian tables, that the
Etruscan language was the Æolic Greek, since it has neither the
monosyllables characteristic of northern tongues, nor the affixes and
suffixes peculiar to oriental dialects(37).

From whatever nation originally sprung, the Etruscans at an early period
attained an enviable height of prosperity and power. Etruria Proper, or
the most ancient Etruria, reached from the Arno to the Tiber, being nearly
bounded all along by these rivers, from their sources to their junction
with the Tyrrhenian sea. Soon, however, the Etruscans passed those narrow
limits;—to the north, they spread their conquests over the Ligurians, who
inhabited the region beyond the Arno, and to this territory the conquerors
gave the name of New Etruria. To the south, they crossed the Tiber, made
allies or tributaries of the Latins, and introduced among them many of
their usages and rites. Having thus opened a way through Latium, they
drove the Osci from the fertile plains of Campania, and founded the city
of Capua, about fifty years before the building of Rome. Colonies, too,
were sent out by them to spots beyond their immediate sway, till at length
the Italian name was nearly sunk in that of the Etruscans. Their minds,
however, were not wholly bent on conquest and political aggrandizement;
their attention was also directed to useful institutions, and to the
cultivation of the fine arts. The twelve confederated cities of Etruria
were embellished with numberless monuments of architecture; wholesome laws
were enacted, commerce was extended along all the shores of the
Mediterranean: and, in short, by their means the general progress of
civilization in Italy was prodigiously accelerated. The glory and
prosperity of the Etruscans were at their height before Rome yet possessed
a name. But their government, like that of all other republics, contained
the seeds of decay. Each state had the choice of remaining as a
commonwealth, or electing a king; but the Kings, or Lucumons, as they were
usually called, were only the priests and presidents of the different
cities of the confederation. There was no monarch of the whole realm; and
it is the series of these Lucumons that has swelled the confused list of
kings presented by Etruscan antiquaries. Each state had also the privilege
of separately declaring war or concluding peace; and each appears, on all
occasions, to have been more anxious for its own safety, than for the
general interests of the union. Hence, rivalships and dissensions
prevailed in the general assemblies of the twelve states. A confederate
government, thus united by a link of political connection, almost as
feeble as the Amphictyonic council of Greece, afforded no such compact
resistance as could oppose an adequate barrier to the _unica vis_ of the
intrepid enemies with whom the Etruscans had now to contend. At sea they
were assailed by the Syracusans and Carthaginians; the Umbrians retook
several of their ancient possessions; they were forced to yield the plains
which lie between the Alps and Apennines to the valour of the Gauls; and
the Samnites expelled them from the yet more desirable and delicious
regions of Campania.

While the Etruscans were thus again confined almost within the territory
which still bears their name, and extends from the Tiber northward to the
Apennines, a yet more formidable foe than any they had hitherto
encountered appeared on the political theatre of Italy. It was Latium,
which had the singular fortune to see one of its towns rise to the supreme
dominion of Italy, and finally of the world. This city, which Dionysius of
Halicarnassus represents as a respectable colony, fitted out from Alba
under the escort of Romulus, and thence supplied with money, provisions,
and arms; but which was more probably composed of outlaws from the Equi,
Marsi, Volsci, and other Latian tribes, had gradually acquired strength,
while the power of the Etruscans had decayed. Enervated by opulence and
luxury(38), they were led to despise the rough unpolished manners of the
Romans; but during centuries of almost incessant warfare, they were daily
taught to dread their military skill and prowess. The fall of Veii was a
tremendous warning, and they now sought to preserve their independence
rather by stratagem than force of arms. At length, in an evil hour, they
availed themselves of the difficulties of their enemy; and, while the
rival republic was pressed on the south by the Samnites, they leagued with
those northern hordes which descended from the Alps to the anticipated
conquest of Rome. Before they had fully united with the Gauls, the Consul
Dolabella annihilated, near the Lake Vadimona, the military population of
Etruria, and the feeble remains of the nation received the imperious
conditions of peace, dictated by the victors, which left them nothing but
the shadow of a great name,—the glory of attending the Roman march to the
conquest of the world, and the vestiges of arts destined to attract the
curiosity and research of the latest posterity.

The vicinity of the Etruscans to Rome, from which their territories were
separated only by the Tiber,—the alliance of their leader, Cœlius, with
Romulus, and the habitation assigned them on the Cœlian Mount,—the
accession to the Roman sovereignty of the elder Tarquin, who was descended
from a Greek family which had fixed its residence in Etruria,—the
settlement of a number of Etruscan prisoners, four years after the
expulsion of the kings, in a street called the _Vicus Tuscus_, in the very
heart of the city;—and, finally, the intercourse produced by the long
period of warfare and political intrigue which subsisted between the
rising republic and their more polished neighbours before they were
incorporated into one state, would be sufficient to account for the Roman
reception of the customs and superstitions of Etruria, as also for the
interchange of literary materials. It does not seem that the hostility of
rival nations prevents the reciprocal adoption of manners and literature.
The romantic gallantry and learning of the Arabs in the south of Spain
soon passed the limits of their splendid empire; and long before the
conquest of Wales the Cambrian fables and traditions concerning Arthur and
his host of heroes were domesticated in the court of England. Accordingly,
we find that the Romans were indebted to the Etruscans for the form of the
robes which invested their magistrates, the pomp that attended their
triumphs, and even the music that animated their legions. The purple vest,
the sceptre surmounted by an eagle, the curule chair, the fasces and
lictors, were the ensigns and accompaniments of supreme authority among
the Etruscans; while the triumphs and ovations, the combats of gladiators
and Circensian games, were common to them and the Romans.

The simple and rustic divinities of Etruria and Latium were likewise the
objects of Roman idolatry, long before the introduction of that more
imposing and elegant mythology which had been embellished by the
conceptions of Homer and the hand of Phidias. Saturn, the reformer of
civil life, though afterwards confounded with the Kronos of the Greeks,
was not of Greek origin. Janus, the _Deorum Deus_ of the Salian verses, to
whom the Romans offered their first sacrifices, and addressed their first
prayers, and whom system-framers have identified with Noah(39), the Indian
Ganesa(40), the Egyptian Oannes(41), and the Ion of the Scandinavians(42),
or have represented as a symbolic type of all things in nature, was truly
an Italian God:—

  “Nam tibi par nullum Græcia numen habet(43).”

Faunus and Picus, Bona Dea and Marica, were Etruscan or Latian divinities
of the Saturnian family. Italy was also filled with many local deities, in
consequence of those wonderful natural phænomena which it so abundantly
exhibited, and which its early inhabitants ascribed to invisible powers. A
sulphuric lake was the residence of the Nymph Albunea, and the medicinal
founts of Abano were the acknowledged abodes of a beneficent
genius.—“Nullus lucus sine fonte, nullus fons non sacer, propter
attributos illis deos, qui fontibus præesse dicuntur(44).” All nature was
thus linked by a continued chain of consecrated existence, from the God of
Thunder to the simple Faun. The Vacunia and Feronia of the Sabines were
naturalized by Numa, and the Vejove of Etruria presided in Rome at the
general council of the twelve greater gods, long before a knowledge of the
Grecian Mars or Jupiter. In all their mythology we may remark the grave
and austere character of the ancient Italians(45). Their deities resembled
not the obscene and vicious gods of Greece. They presided over
agriculture, the rights of property, conjugal fidelity, truth and justice;
and in like manner in early Rome,

  “Cana Fides et Vesta; Remo cum fratre Quirinus
  Jura dabant.” ——

Dionysius of Halicarnassus particularly points out the difference between
the religion of the Greeks and the Romans. The latter, he informs us, “did
not admit into their creed those impious stories told by the Greeks of the
castration of their gods, or of destroying their own children, of their
wars, wounds, bonds, and slavery, and such like things as are not only
altogether unworthy of the divine nature, but disgrace even the human.
They had no wailing and lamentations for the sufferings of their gods, nor
like the Greeks, any Bacchic orgies, or vigils of men and women together
in the temples. And if at any time they admitted such foreign pollutions,
as they did with regard to the rites of Cybele and the Idæan goddess, the
ceremonies were performed under the grave inspection of Roman magistrates;
nor even now does any Roman disguise himself to act the mummeries
performed by the priests of Cybele(46)”. Dionysius, who refers every thing
to Greece, thinks that the early Roman was just the Greek religion
purified by Romulus, to whom, in fact, his country was more indebted than
to Numa for its sacred institutions. In reality, however, this superior
purity of rites and worship was not occasioned by any such lustration of
the Greek fables, but from their being founded on Italian, and not on
Grecian superstitions.

But although the Etruscan mythology may have been more pure, and its rites
more useful, than those of Greece, its fables were not so ingenious and
alluring. Ora, the goddess of health and youth, was less elegant than
Hebe; and even the genius of Virgil, who has chosen the Italian _Myths_
for the machinery of the Æneid, could hardly bestow grace or dignity on
the prodigy of the swarm of bees that hung in clusters from the Laurentian
Laurel—on the story of the robber Cacus vomiting flames, the ships
metamorphosed into nymphs, the sow which farrowed thirty white pigs, and
thereby announced that the town of Alba would be built in thirty years,
the puerile fiction of the infancy of Camilla, or the hideous harpy which
hovered round the head of Turnus, and portended his death. Accordingly,
when the Romans were allured by the arts of Greece, the rude and simple
traditions of Italian mythology yielded to the enticing and voluptuous
fictions of a more polished people(47). The tolerant spirit of Polytheism
did not restrict the number of gods, and the ministers of superstition
seemed always ready to reconcile the most discordant systems. Hence the
poet interwove the national traditions with the Greek fables, and
concentrated in one the attributes of different divinities. Thus, the
Greek Kronos was identified with Saturn; the rustic deities, Sylvanus and
Faunus, peculiar to Latium, being confounded with Pan, the Satyrs, and
Silenus, were associated with the train of Bacchus; Portumnus was
converted into Palemon—a deity whom the Greeks had received from Phœnicia;
Bona Dea was transformed to Hecate, and Libitina to Proserpine; and the
Camesnæ, or Camenæ, of the family of Janus, who prophesied in Saturnian
verse on the summit of Mount Janiculum, were metamorphosed into Muses(48).
Hercules, Jupiter, and Venus, gods of power and pleasure, occupied, with
their splendid temples, the place of the peaceful and pastoral deities of
Numa. Still, however, the national religion was in some measure retained,
and Apollo and Bacchus, in particular, continued to be decorated with the
characteristic emblems of Etruria.

The Etruscans do not seem to have believed, like the Greeks, that they
were possessed of those interpretations of passing events or revelations
of futurity which were obtained by immediate inspiration, whether
delivered from the hill of Dodona, or the Delphian shrine. Their
divination was supposed to be the result of experience and observation;
and though not destitute of divine direction or concurrence, depended
chiefly on human contrivance. Among them peculiar families, like the tribe
of Levi, the Peruvian Incas, and the descendants of Thor and Odin, were
depositaries of the secrets and ceremonies of religion. Their prognostics
were taken from the flight of birds(49), the entrails of animals, and
observations on thunder. In the early ages of Rome, a band of Patrician
youths was sent to Etruria, to be initiated in the mysteries of its
religious rites(50). The constant practice of consulting the gods on all
enterprizes, public or private,—the belief, that prodigies manifested the
will of heaven, and that the deities could be appeased, and their
vengeance averted by expiations or sacrifices, were common to the Tuscan
and Roman creeds. In short, the fervent spirit of Etrurian superstition
passed undiminished to the Romans, who owed to its influence much of their
valour, temperance, and patriotism. To this, Cicero in a great degree
ascribes their political supremacy. The Romans, says he, were not superior
in numbers to the Spaniards, in strength or courage to the Gauls, in
address to the Carthaginians, in tactics to the Macedonians; but we
surpass all nations in that prime wisdom by which we have learned that all
things are governed and directed by the immortal gods.

To the same singular people from whom they derived their customs and
superstitions, the Romans were much indebted for their majestic language.
As their writers in a great measure owe their immortality to the lofty
tones and commanding accents of the Latin tongue, it would be improper
entirely to neglect its origin in entering on the literary history of

The supporters of the various systems with regard to the first peopling of
Etruria, of course discover the elements of the Etruscan language in that
of the different nations by whom they believe it to have been colonized.
Lord Monboddo, for example, deduces both the Latin and Etruscan from the
old Pelasgic; which language, he asserts, was first brought into Italy by
a colony of Arcadians, seventeen generations before the Trojan war. He
considers the Latin as the most ancient dialect of the Greek; and he
remarks, that as it came off from the original stock earlier than the
Doric, or Æolic, or any other Greek dialect now known, it has more of the
roughness of the primitive Hebrew, from which he believes the Pelasgic to
be derived(51). Lanzi also thinks that both the Latin and Etruscan flowed
from the Greek, and that the resemblance between the Etruscan and Latin
was not occasioned by the derivation of the latter from the former, but
was the necessary consequence of both having sprung from a common source.

It certainly is not easy to discover the primary elements of the Latin or
any other language; but its immediate origin may easily be traced. The
inscriptions on the most ancient monuments which have been discovered,
from the Alps to Calabria, shew that, from the time of the Etruscan
supremacy, there was an universal language in Italy, varied, indeed, by
dialects, but announcing a common origin in the inflections of words and
the forms of characters. The language of the Etruscans had been so widely
spread by their conquests, that it might almost be regarded as the general
tongue of Italy, and the Latian, Oscan, and Sabine idioms, were in a great
measure the same with the Etruscan. From these the early Latin language
was chiefly formed; and what little Greek existed in its original
composition came through these languages from the Pelasgic colonies, which
in the remotest periods had intermixed with the Etruscans, and with the
inhabitants of ancient Latium. “It is a great mistake,” says Horne Tooke,
“into which the Latin etymologists have fallen, to suppose that all the
Latin must be found in the Greek, for the fact is otherwise. The bulk and
foundation of the Latin language is Greek; but great part of the Latin is
the language of our northern ancestors grafted on the Greek; and to our
northern languages the etymologist must go for that part of the Latin
which the Greek will not furnish(52).” This author is correct, in
affirming that all the Latin cannot be found in the Greek; but he is far
in error if he mean to maintain that any part of the Latin came directly
from the language of the Celts, or that their uncouth jargon was grafted
on the Greek. The northern tongues, however, whether Celtic or Sclavonic,
may have contributed to form those dialects of Italy which composed the
original elements of the imperial language, and were exhibited in great
variety of combinations for five centuries with little admixture of the
Greek. The eminent grammarian is still farther mistaken in declaring that
the foundation of the Latin language is Greek. That much of the Augustan
Latin is derived from the Greek, is true. Gataker, who strenuously
contends for the Greek origin of the whole Latin language, has, as a
specimen, attempted to shew, that every word in the first five lines of
Virgil’s Eclogues is drawn from the Greek(53); and though part of his
etymologies are fanciful, yet in a very considerable portion of them he
has been completely successful. But the case is totally different with the
ancient remnants of the Latin language previous to the capture of
Tarentum. In the song of the _Fratres Arvales_, the oldest specimen of the
language extant, there seem to be only two words which have any analogy to
the Greek—_sal_ from ἅλς and _sta_ from ἱστημι. That there was little
Greek incorporated with the Latin during the first ages of the Republic,
is evident from the circumstance, that the Latin inscriptions of a former
period were unintelligible to the historian Polybius, and the most learned
Romans of his age. Now, as he himself was a Greek, and as the most learned
Romans, by his time, had become good Greek scholars, any Grecisms in the
ancient inscriptions would have been perfectly intelligible. It is
evident, therefore, that the difficulty arose from the words of the old
Italian dialects occurring instead of the new Greek terms, suddenly
introduced after the capture of Tarentum, and to which the Romans having
by that time become habituated, could not understand the language of a
preceding generation. Besides, when Rome was originally filled with Latian
bands—when the Etruscans and Oscans were immediately beyond the walls of
Rome,—when, as early as the time of Romulus, the Sabines were admitted
within them,—when all the women then in Rome were Sabines, (from which it
may be presumed that much of the conversation was carried on in the Sabine
dialect,) and, above all, when the Romans, for many centuries, had little
intercourse with any other people than the Italian nations, it is not to
be supposed that they would borrow their colloquial language from the
Celts, on the other side of the Alps, or the Greeks, from whom they were
separated by the Adriatic Gulf, and who, as yet, had established only
remote, insignificant, and scattered colonies, in Italy. Varro, too, has
shewn the affinity between the Sabine and the Latin languages(54). That
the Oscan resembled the old Latin, is proved from its being constantly
employed in the most popular dramatic representations at Rome, and from
the circumstance that almost every word of its few relics which remain, is
the root of some equivalent Latin term. Thus Akeru produced acerra—Anter,
inter—Phaisnam, fanum—Tesaur, Thesaurus—Famel, famulus—Multa,
mulcta—Solum, (totus,) solus—Facul, Facultas—Cael, cœlum—Embratur,
imperator.(55) The copious admixture of Greek only took place after the
taking of Tarentum, when the poets of Magna Græcia settled at Rome, and
were imitated by native writers,

       “—— Cum lingua Catonis _et Enni_
  Sermonem patrium ditaverit, et nova rerum
  Nomina protulerit.”

So far, then, from the Latin language being composed of Celtic grafted on
the Greek, it appears to me to have been formed from the Greek, grafted on
those various dialects of the Etruscan tongue, which prevailed in Italy at
the period of the building of Rome.

It would have been singular, when the Romans derived so much from their
Etruscan neighbours, if they had not also acquired a portion of those arts
which were the chief boast of Etruria. Among the Etruscans, the arts
certainly had not the imposing character they assumed in Egypt, or the
elegance they exhibited in Greece(56); but in their vases, tombs, and
altars, which have recently been brought to light, we possess abundant
proofs of their taste and ingenuity. In these—domestic occupations,
marriages, spectacles, masquerades, contests in the Circus, equestrian
exercises, the chase, triumphs, mysteries, funeral rites, Lares, Lamiæ,
Lemures, and deities of every description,—in short, all ancient Etruria
passes in review before the eye, which, in many instances, must admire the
boldness of the attitudes, the elegance of the draperies, and justness of
the proportions. The art of modelling, or sculpture, appears to have been
that in which the Etruscans chiefly excelled. The statues of the first
kings erected at Rome, in the reign of the elder Tarquin, were of their
workmanship, as well as that of Horatius Cocles, and the equestrian statue
of Clelia. The Jupiter of the Capitol was also Tuscan; and the
four-wheeled chariot placed in his temple, received its last polish from
Etruscan hands, under the first Roman consuls.

In the course of the 5th century of Rome, not fewer than 2000 Etruscan
statues, which were probably little figures in bronze, were carried to
that city from Volsinium, (now Bolsena,) which the Romans were accused of
having besieged, in order to plunder it of these treasures. Architecture
was unknown in Rome until the Tarquins came from Etruria: hence the works
of the kings, some of which still remain, were built in the Etruscan
style, with large and regular, but uncemented blocks(57). The most ancient
and stupendous architectural monuments of Rome, were executed by Etruscan
artists. Theirs were the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the Circus, and
Cloaca Maxima, which showed such a wonderful anticipation of the future
magnitude of Rome(58), and which Livy pronounces equal to anything which
had been produced by modern magnificence. Painting, too, was introduced at
Rome from the Etruscans, about the middle of the fifth century, by one of
the Fabian family, who had long resided in Etruria, and who himself
painted in _fresco_, after his return, the interior of the Temple of
Salus, and transmitted the sirname of _Pictor_ to his descendants.

The excellence to which the Etruscans had attained in sculpture and
architecture, forms a presumption of their proficiency in those sciences
which are essential to eminence in the arts. As not a vestige of their
writings remains, it is impossible to judge of the merits of their
literary compositions. I suspect, however, that, like the ancient
Egyptians, they had made much less progress in literature than in arts or
science. What books they had, were extant, and well known, at Rome; yet
Cicero and other Latin writers, who have the Greek authors perpetually in
their mouths, scarcely ever allude to any works of the Etruscans, except
treatises on augury or divination; and the only titles of the books,
recorded by Roman writers, are the Libri Fatales, Libri Haruspicinæ, Sacra
Acherontia, Fulgurales et Rituales Libri. It is said, indeed, that the
Etruscans cultivated a certain species of poetry, sung or declaimed during
the pomp of sacrifices, or celebration of marriages(59). Such verses were
first employed in Fescennia, a city of Etruria, whence the ancient nuptial
hymns of the Romans were called Fescennine. It is evident, however, that
these Etruscan songs, or hymns, were of the very rudest description, and
probably never were reduced into writing. They were a kind of
_impromptus_, composed of scurrilous jests, originally recited by the
Italian peasants at those feasts of Ceres, which celebrated the conclusion
of their harvests; and they resembled the verses described in the
well-known lines of Horace—

  “Agricolæ prisci, fortes, parvoque beati,
  Condita post frumenta, levantes tempore festo
  Corpus, et ipsum animum spe finis dura ferentem,
  Cum sociis operum pueris, et conjuge fidâ,
  Tellurem porco, Sylvanum lacte piabant,
  Floribus et vino Genium, memorem brevis ævi;
  Fescennina per hunc inventa licentia morem
  Versibus alternis opprobria rustica fudit(60).”

It appears, also, that some of the ancient rustic oracles and prophecies
of the Etruscans, were delivered in a rugged sort of verse called
Saturnian—a measure which was adopted from them by the earliest Latin

               “Scripsere alii rem
  Versibus quos olim Fauni vatesque canebant(61).”

Censorinus informs us, on the authority of Varro, that this ancient people
was not without its chroniclers and historians—_In Tuscis Historiis quæ
octavo eorum sæculo scripta sunt_(62). But this eighth century of the
Etruscans, according to the chronology followed by Lanzi, would be as late
as the sixth century of Rome(63); and, besides, it is evident from the
context of Censorinus, that these pretended _histories_ were, in fact,
mere registers of the foundations of cities, and the births and deaths of
individuals. Varro also mentions Etruscan tragedies composed by
Volumnius(64). No date to his productions, however, is specified, and
Lanzi is of opinion, that he did not write in Etruria till after the
dramatic art had made considerable progress at Rome; and it certainly may
at least be doubted, if, previous to that period, the Etruscan stage had
ever reached higher than extemporary recitations, or pantomimic
entertainments of music and dancing.

But whatever the literature of the Etruscans may have been, it certainly
had no influence on the progress of learning among the Romans. Neither the
intercourse of the two nations, nor the capture of Veii, though followed
by the final subjugation of the Etruscans, was attended with any literary
improvement on the part of their unpolished neighbours. In fact, few
nations have been more completely illiterate than the Romans were, during
five centuries, from the commencement of their history; and of all the
nations which have figured in the annals of mankind, none certainly
attained the same height of power and grandeur, and civil wisdom, with
equal ignorance of literature or the fine arts. For the pretended
acquaintance of the elder Brutus with the Pythagorean philosophy, it would
be difficult, I suspect, to find any better authority than the romance of
Clelia; and the learned academy, which some writers(65) have found in
Numa’s College of Pontiffs, must be classed, I fear, with Vockerodt’s
literary societies, which existed before the flood(66).

It is not difficult to account for this ignorance of the Romans during the
first ages of their history. Rome was not, as has been asserted by
Dionysius, a regular colony sent out from a well-regulated state, but was
formed from a mixture of all kinds of people unacquainted with social
life. It consisted of Romulus’ own troop, and a confluence of banditti
inured to lawless acts, and subsisting by rapine, who were called from
their fastnesses by the proclamation of a bold, cunning, and hardy
adventurer(67). This desperate band would not be much softened or
humanized by their union with the tribe of Sabines, who, in the time of
Romulus, became incorporated with the state, if we may judge of Sabine
civilization from the story of Tarpeia. Numa did much for the domestic
melioration of his people: He subdivided them into classes, impressed
their minds with reverence for religion, and encouraged agriculture; but
there was no germ of literature which he could foster. For more than three
centuries after his death, the persevering hostilities of neighbouring
states, and the furious irruptions of the Gauls, scarcely allowed a moment
of repose or tranquillity. The safety of Rome depended on its military
preparations, and every citizen necessarily became a soldier. Learning and
arts may flourish amid the wars and commotions of a mighty empire, because
every individual is not essentially or actively involved in the struggle;
but in a petty state, surrounded by foes, all are in some shape or other
personally engaged in the conflict, and the result, perhaps, is viewed
with intenser interest. The enemies of Rome were repeatedly at her gates,
and once within her walls; and while the city thus resounded with martial
alarms, literary leisure could neither be enjoyed nor accounted among the

  “Vitam quæ faciunt beatiorem.”

The exercise of arms, which commenced in order to preserve the new-founded
city from destruction, was continued for the sake of conquest and
dominion; so that the whole pride of the Romans was still placed in valour
and military success. At the first formation of their theatre, they were
propitiated by the address, _Belli duellatores optimi_(68). Whatever time
could be snatched from warlike occupations, was devoted to agriculture.
Each individual had two acres allotted to him, which he was obliged to
till for the maintenance of his family. While thus labouring for
subsistence, he had little leisure to cultivate literature or the arts,
and could find no inclination for such pursuits. Indeed, he was not
allowed the choice of his occupations. The law of Romulus which consigned
as ignominious all sedentary employments to foreigners or slaves, leaving
only in choice to citizens and freemen the arts of agriculture and arms,
long continued in undiminished respect and observance. Romulus, says
Dionysius, ordered the same persons to exercise the employments both of
husbandmen and soldiers. He taught them the duty of soldiers in time of
war, and accustomed them in time of peace to cultivate the land(69).

During this period the Romans had nothing which can properly be termed, or
which would now be considered as poetry—the shape in which literature
usually first expands amongst a rude people. The verses which have come
down to us under the character of Sibylline oracles, are not genuine.
There probably at one time existed a few rude lines uttered by pretended
prophetesses, and which were doubtless a political instrument, usefully
employed in a state subject to popular commotions. The book delivered to
Tarquin, and which was supposed to contain those ancient oracles, perished
amid the conflagration in the Capitol, during the civil wars of Marius and
Sylla. Even those collected in Greece, and the municipal states of Italy,
in order to supply their place, and which were deposited in the temple of
Apollo, on Mount Palatine, were burned by Stilicho in the reign of the
Emperor Honorius. There is still extant, however, the hymn sung by the
_Fratres Arvales_, a college of priests instituted by Romulus, for the
purpose of walking in procession through the fields in the commencement of
spring, and imploring from the gods a blessing on agriculture. Of a
similar description were the rude Saturnian verses prescribed by Numa, and
which were chaunted by the Salian priests, who carried through the streets
those sacred shields, so long accounted the Palladium of Rome.

About the end of the fourth century from the building of the city, when it
was for the first time afflicted with a plague, the Senate having
exhausted without effect their own superstitious ceremonies, and run over
the whole round of supplications, decreed that _histrions_ or players
should be summoned from Etruria, in order to appease the wrath of the gods
by scenic representations. These chiefly exhibited rude dances and
gesticulations, performed to the sound of the flute(70). There was no
dialogue or song, but the pantomime did not consist merely of unmeaning
gestures: It had a certain scope, and represented a connected plot or
story(71); but what kind of action or story was represented, is utterly
unknown. This whimsical sort of expiation seems to have attracted the
fancy of the Roman youths, who imitated the Etruscan actors; but they
improved on the entertainment, by rallying each other in extemporary and
jocular lines. The Fescennine verses, originally employed in Etruria at
the harvest-homes of the peasants, were about the same period applied by
the Romans to marriage ceremonies and public diversions.

There were also songs of triumph in a rude measure, which were sung by the
soldiers at the ovations of their leaders. As early as the time of
Romulus, when that chief returned triumphant to Rome after his victory
over the Ceninenses and Antemnates, his soldiers followed him in military
array, singing hymns in honour of their gods, and extemporary verses in
praise of their commander(72). Of this description, too, were the Pæans,
with which the victorious troops accompanied the chariot of Cincinnatus,
after he subdued the Equi(73), and with which they celebrated a spirited
enterprize of Cossus, a tribune of the soldiers(74). Sometimes these
laudatory songs were seasoned with coarse jokes and camp jests, like those
introduced at the triumph of C. Claudius, and of M. Livius(75).

The triumphal hymns were not altogether confined to the ceremony performed
on the streets of Rome. Cicero informs us, on the authority of Cato’s
_Origines_, that at feasts and entertainments, it was usual for the guests
to celebrate the praises of their native heroes to the sound of the
flute(76). Valerius Maximus says, that the verses were sung by the older
guests, in order to excite the youth to emulation(77); and Varro, that
they were chaunted by ingenuous youths(78). The difference, however,
between the two authors, is easily reconciled. The former speaks of the
original composition of these ballads(79), while Varro, though the passage
is imperfect, seems to refer to a later period, when they were brought out
anew for the entertainment of the guests. Valerius talks of them as poems
or ballads of considerable extent. It was many generations, however,
before the age of Cato, that this practice existed; and by the time of
Cicero, these national and heroic productions, if they ever had been
reduced to writing, were no longer extant(80). This is all that can be
collected concerning these legends, from the ancient Roman writers, who
had evidently very imperfect notions and information on the subject.
Niebuhr, however, and M. Schlegel, seem as well acquainted with their
contents as we are with Chevy Chase, and talk as if these precious relics
were lying on their shelves, or as if they had been personally present at
the festivals where they were recited. They expressed, it seems, feelings
purely patriotic—they contained no inconsiderable admixture of the
marvellous—but even the propensity for what was incredible was exclusively
national in its character—and the Roman fablers indulged themselves in the
creation of no wonders, which did not redound in some measure to the
honour of their ancestors. They were founded on the oldest traditions
concerning the kings and heroes of the infant city, and the establishment
of the republican form of government. “The fabulous birth of Romulus,”
says Schlegel, “the rape of the Sabine women, the most poetical combat of
the Horatii and Curiatii, the pride of Tarquin, the misfortunes and death
of Lucretia, and the establishment of liberty by the elder Brutus—the
wonderful war with Porsenna, and steadfastness of Scævola, the banishment
of Coriolanus, the war which he kindled against his country, the
subsequent struggle of his feelings, and the final triumph of his
patriotism at the all-powerful intercession of his mother;—these and the
like circumstances, if they be examined from the proper point of view,
cannot fail to be considered as relics and fragments of the ancient heroic
traditions and heroic poems of the Romans(81).” Niebuhr, not contented
with insulated ballads, has imagined the existence of a grand and complete
Epopee, commencing with the accession of Tarquinius Priscus, and ending
with the battle of Regillus(82). This is a great deal more information
than Cicero or Varro could have afforded us on the subject.

However numerous or extensive these ballads may have been, they soon sunk
into oblivion; and in consequence of the overpowering influence of Greek
authors and manners, they never formed the groundwork of a polished system
of national poetry. The manifold witcheries of the Odyssey, and the
harmony of the noble Hexameter, made so entire a conquest of the fancy and
ears of the Romans, as to leave no room for an imitation, or even an
affectionate preservation, of the ancient poems of their country, and led
them, as we shall soon see, exclusively to adopt in their stead, the
thoughts, the recollections, and the poetry of the Greeks. Cicero, in his
_Tusculan Disputations_, mentions a poem by Appius Claudius Cæcus, who
flourished in the fifth century of Rome(83); but he does not say what was
the nature or subject of this production, except that it was Pythagorean;
and this is the solitary authentic notice transmitted to us of the
existence of any thing which can be supposed to have been a regular or
continued poem, during the first five centuries that elapsed from the
building of the city.

Since, then, we can discover, during this period, nothing but those feeble
dawings of dramatic, satiric, and heroic poetry, which never brightened to
a perfect day, the only history of Roman literature which can be given
during the long interval, consists in the progress and improvement of the
Latin language. In the course of these five centuries, it was extremely
variable, from two causes.—1st, Although their policy in this respect
afterwards changed, one of the great principles of aggrandizement among
the Romans in their early ages, was incorporating aliens, and admitting
them to the rights of citizens. Hence, there was a constant influx to Rome
of stranger tribes; and the dissonance within its walls was probably
greater than had yet been any where heard since the memorable confusion at
Babel.—2d, The Latin was merely a spoken language, or at least had not
received stability by literary composition—writing at that time being
confined, (in consequence of the want of materials for it,) to treaties,
or short columnar inscriptions. So remarkable was the fluctuation produced
by these causes, even during a very short period, that Polybius, speaking
of a treaty concluded between the Carthaginians and Romans in the 245th
Year of the City, during the Consulship of Publius Valerius and Marcus
Horatius, declares, that the language used in it was so different from the
Latin spoken in his time, that the most learned Romans could not explain
its text(84).

Of this changeable tongue, the earliest specimen extant, and which is
supposed to be as ancient as the time of Romulus, is the hymn chaunted by
the _Fratres Arvales_, the college of priests above-mentioned, who were
called _Fratres_, from the first members of the institution being the sons
of Acca Laurentia, the nurse of Romulus. This song was inscribed, during
the time of the Emperor Heliogabalus(85), on a stone, which was discovered
on opening the foundations of the Sacristy at St Peter’s, in the year
1778. It is in the following words:—

  “Enos Lases juvate,
  Neve luerve Marmar sinis incurrer in pleoris.
  Satur fufere Mars: limen sali sta berber:
  Semones alternei advocapit cunctos.
  Enos Marmor juvate,
  Triumpe! triumpe!”

These words have been thus interpreted by Herman: “Nos Lares juvate, neve
luem Mamuri sinis incurrere in plures. Satur fueris Mars: limen (_i. e._
postremum) sali sta vervex: Semones alterni jam duo capit cunctos. Nos
Mamuri juvato—Triumphe! Triumphe”(86)! There are just sixteen letters used
in the above inscription; and it appears from it, that at this early
period the letter _s_ was frequently used instead of _r_—that the final
_e_ was struck out, or rather, had not yet been added—the rich diphthong
_ei_ was employed instead of _i_, and the simple letter _p_, in words
where _f_ or _ph_ came afterwards to be substituted.

Of the _Carmen Saliare_, sung by the Salian priests, appointed under Numa,
for the protection of the _Ancilia_, or Sacred Shields, there remain only
a few words, which have been cited by Varro, who remarks in them, what has
already been noticed with regard to the Hymn of the _Fratres Arvales_,
that the letter _s_ often occurs in words where his contemporaries placed
_r_—as Melios, for melior—Plusima, for plurima—Asena, for arena—Janitos,
for janitor(87). The _Carmen Saliare_, however, can scarcely be taken as a
fair specimen of the state of the Roman language at the time it was
composed. Among the nations adjacent to Rome, there were Salian priests,
who had their hymns and solemn forms of invocation(88), which are said to
have been, in part at least, adopted by Numa(89). So that his _Carmen
Saliare_ probably approaches nearer to the Tuscan and Oscan dialects, than
the Latin language did, even at that early period of the monarchy.

The fragments of a few laws, attributed to Numa, have been preserved by
ancient jurisconsults and grammarians, and restored by Festus, with much
pains, to their proper orthography, which had not been sufficiently
attended to by those who first cited passages from this _Regiam
Majestatem_ of the Romans. One of these laws, as restored by him, is in
the following terms:—“Sei cuips hemonem lobsum dolo sciens mortei duit
pariceidad estod. sei im imprudens se dolo malod occisit pro capited
oceisei et nateis eiius endo concioned arietem subicitod,” which law may
be thus interpreted: “Si quis hominem liberum dolo sciens morti dederit
parricida esto: Si cum imprudens, sine dolo malo, occiderit, pro capite
occisi et natis ejus in concionem arietem subjicito.” A law, ascribed to
Servius Tullius, has been thus given by Festus:—“Sei parentem puer
verberit ast oloe plorasit, puer diveis parentum sacer esto—sei nurus
sacra diveis parentum esto,”—which means, “Si parentem puer verberet, at
ille ploraverit, puer divis parentum sacer esto; si nurus, sacra divis
parentum esto”(90).

From the date of these _Leges Regiæ_, no specimen of the Latin language is
now extant, till we come down to the Twelve Tables, enacted in the
commencement of the fourth century of Rome. These celebrated institutions
have descended to us in mutilated fragments, and their orthography has
probably been in some respects modernised: yet they bear stronger marks of
antiquity than the above-recited law of Servius Tullius, or even than
those of Numa. The Latin writers themselves by whom they are quoted did
not very well understand them, owing to the change which had taken place
in the language. Accordingly, Cicero, and the early grammarians who cite
them, have attempted rather to give the meaning than the precise words of
the Decemvirs. Terrasson has endeavoured to bring them back to the old
Oscan language, in which he supposes them to have been originally written;
but his emendations are in a great measure conjectural, and his attempt is
one of more promise than fulfilment. On the whole, they have been so much
corrupted by modernising them, and by subsequent attempts to restore them
to the ancient readings, that they cannot be implicitly relied on as
specimens of the Roman language during the period in which they were
promulgated. The laws themselves are very concise, and free from that
tautology, which seems the characteristic of the enactments of nations
farther advanced in refinement. The first law is, “S’ in jus vocat queat,”
which is extremely elliptical in its expression, and means, “Si quis
aliquem in jus vocet, vocatus eat.” In some respects the language of the
_Leges Regiæ_, and twelve tables, possesses a richness of sound, which we
do not find in more modern Latin, particularly in the use of the diphthong
_ai_ for _æ_, as vitai for vitæ, and of the diphthong _ei_ for _i_, as sei
for si. Horace might perhaps be well entitled to ridicule the person,

  “Sic fautor veterum, ut tabulas peccare vetantes,
  Quæ bisquinque viri sanxerunt, fœdera regum
  Vel Gabiis, vel cum rigidis æquata Sabinis,
  Pontificum libros, annosa volumina vatum,
  Dictitet Albano Musas in monte loquutas:”

Yet he would have done well to have considered, if, amid the manifold
improvements of the Augustan poets, they had judged right in rejecting
those rich and sonorous diphthongs of the _tabulæ peccare vetantes_, which
still sound with such strength and majesty in the lines of Lucretius.

There is scarcely a vestige of the Latin language remaining during the two
centuries which succeeded the enactment of the twelve tables. At the end
of that long period, and during the first Punic war, a celebrated
inscription, which is still extant, recorded the naval victory obtained by
the Consul Duillius, in 492, over the Carthaginians. The column on which
it was engraved, and which became so famous by the title of the _Columna
Rostrata_, was, as Livy(91) informs us, struck down by lightning during
the interval between the second and third Punic wars. It remained buried
among the ruins of Rome, till, at length, in 1565, its base, which
contained the inscription, was dug up in the vicinity of the Capitol. So
much, however, was it defaced, that many of the letters were illegible.
These have been restored in the following manner by the conjectures of the

“C. D(92). exemet leciones maximosque magistratus _no_vem castreis
exfociunt. Macel_lam_ _pu_cnandod cepet enque eodem macis_tratu_ rem
navebos marid consol primos _ceset_ clasesque navales primos ornavit
cumque eis navebos claseis pœnicas om_nes_ sumas copias Cartaciniensis
præesente _d_ictatored olorum in altod marid puc_nandod_ _vicit_
trigintaque na_veis_ _cepet_ cum socieis septe_m_ triremosque naveis XX
captum numei DCC. captom æs navaled prædad poplom(93).”

In modern Latin the above inscription would run thus.—“Caius Duillius
exemit: legiones, maximusque magistratus novem castris effugiunt. Macellam
pugnando cepit; inque eodem magistratu, rem navibus mari Consul primus
gessit, classesque navales primus ornavit; cumque iis navibus classes
Punicas omnes summas copias Carthaginienses, præsente dictatore illorum,
in alto mari pugnando vicit: Trigintaque naves cepit cum sociis septem,
triremosque naves decem. Captum nummi, captum æs navali præda, populo

There are also extant two inscriptions, which were engraved on the
tombstones of Lucius Scipio Barbatus and his son Lucius Scipio, of which
the former was somewhat prior, and the latter a year subsequent to the
date of the Duillian inscription. The epitaph on Barbatus was discovered
in 1780, in the vault of the Scipian family, between the Via Appia and Via
Latina. Mr Hobhouse informs us that it is inscribed on a handsome but
plain sarcophagus, and he adds, “that the eloquent simple inscription
becomes the virtues and fellow-countrymen of the deceased, and instructs
us more than a chapter of Livy in the style and language of the Republican

“Cornelius Lucius Scipio Barbatus Gnaivod patre prognatus fortis vir
sapiensque quoius forma virtutei parisuma fuit. Consol Censor Aidilis quei
fuit apud vos Taurasia Cisauna Samnio cepit subicit omne Loucana
opsidesque abdoucit.”

The above may be converted into modern Latin, as follows:

“C. L. Scipio Barbatus, Cneio patre prognatus, fortis vir sapiensque,
cujus forma virtuti par fuit. Consul, Censor, Ædilis qui fuit apud vos,
Taurasiam, Cisaunam, Samnio cepit; subjecit omnem Lucaniam obsidesque
abducit.” The other Scipian epitaph had been discovered long before the
above, on a slab which was found lying near the Porta Capena, having been
detached from the family vault. Though a good many years later as to the
date of its composition, the epitaph on the son bears marks of higher
antiquity than that on the father:—

“Honc oino ploirume consentiunt duonoro optumo fuise viro Lucium Scipione.
Filios Barbati Consol Censor Ædilis hec fuit. Hec cepit Corsica Aleriaque
urbe: dedit tempestatibus aide mereto;” which means, “Hunc unum plurimi
consentiunt Romæ bonorum optimum fuisse virum Lucium Scipionem. Filius
Barbati, Consul, Censor, Ædilis his fuit. Hic cepit Corsicam Aleriamque
urbem: dedit tempestatibus ædem merito”.

The celebrated Eugubian tables were so called from having been found at
Eugubium (Gubbio) a city in ancient Umbria, near the foot of the
Apennines, where they were dug up in 1444. When first discovered, they
were believed to be in the Egyptian language; but it was afterwards
observed that five of the seven tables were in the Etruscan character and
language, or rather in the Umbrian dialect of that tongue, and the other
two in Roman letters, though in a rustic jargon, between Latin and
Etruscan, with such mixture of each, as might be expected from an
increased intercourse of the nations, and the subjugation of the one by
the other.(95) The two tables in the Latin character were written towards
the close of the sixth century of Rome, and those in the Etruscan letters
a short while previous. So little, however, was the Etruscan language
fixed or understood, even in the middle of last century, when the Etruscan
rage was at its height in Italy, that Bonarota believed that those tables
contained treaties of the ancient Italian nations—Gori, an Oscan poem, and
Maffei, legal enactments, till Passerius at length discovered that they
consisted solely of ordinances for the performance of sacred rites and
religious ceremonies.(96)

On comparing the fragments of the _Leges Regiæ_ with the Duillian and
Scipian inscriptions, it does not appear that the Roman language, however
greatly it may have varied, had either improved or approached much nearer
to modern Latin in the fifth century than in the time of the kings. Short
and mutilated as these laws and inscriptions are, they still enable us to
draw many important conclusions with regard to the general state of the
language during the existence of the monarchy, and the first ages of the
republic. It has already been mentioned that the diphthong _ai_ was
employed where _ae_ came to be afterwards substituted, as aide for æde;
_ei_ instead of _i_, as castreis for castris; and _oi_ in place of _œ_, as
coilum for cœlum. The vowel _e_ is often introduced instead of _o_, as
hemo for homo, while, on the other hand, _o_ is sometimes used instead of
_e_, as vostrum for vestrum; and Scipio Africanus is said to have been the
first who always wrote the _e_ in such words(97). _U_ is frequently
changed into _o_, as honc for hunc, sometimes into _ou_, as abdoucit for
abducit, and sometimes to _oi_, as oino for uno. On the whole, it appears
that the vowels were in a great measure used indiscriminately, and often,
especially in inscriptions, they were altogether omitted, as bne for bene,
though sometimes, again, an _e_ final was added, as face for fac, dice for
dic. As to the consonants,—_b_ at the beginning of a word was _du_, as
duonorum for bonorum, and it was _p_ at the middle or end, as opsides for
obsides. The letter _g_ certainly does not appear in those earliest
specimens of the Latin language—the hymn of the _Fratres Arvales_, and
_Leges Regiæ_, where _c_ is used in its place. Plutarch says, that this
letter was utterly unknown at Rome during the space of five centuries, and
was first introduced by the grammarian Spurius Carvillius in the year
540(98). It occurs, however, in the epitaph of Scipio Barbatus, which was
written at least half a century before that date; and, what is remarkable,
it is there placed in a word where _c_ was previously and subsequently
employed, Gnaivo being written for Cnæo. The Letter _r_ was not, as has
been asserted, unknown to the ancient Romans, but it was chiefly used in
the beginning and end of words—_s_ being employed instead of it in the
middle, as lases for lares. Frequently the letters _m_ and _s_ were
omitted at the end of words, especially, for the sake of euphony, when the
following word began with a consonant—thus we have Aleria cepit, for
Aleriam cepit. The ancient Romans were equally careful to avoid a hiatus
of vowels, and hence they wrote sin in place of si in. Double consonants
were never seen till the time of Ennius(99); and we accordingly find in
the old inscriptions sumas for summas: _er_ was added to the infinitive
passive, as darier for dari, and _d_ was subjoined to words ending with a
vowel, as in altod, marid, pucnandod. It likewise appears that the Romans
were for a long period unacquainted with the use of aspirates, and were
destitute of the _phi_ and _chi_ sounds of the Greek alphabet. Hence they
wrote triumpe for triumphe, and pulcer for pulcher(100). We also meet with
a good many words, particularly substantives, which afterwards became
altogether obsolete, and some are applied in a sense different from that
in which they were subsequently used. Finally, a difference in the
conjugation of the same verb, and a want of inflection in nouns,
particularly proper names of countries or cities, where the nominative
frequently occurs instead of the accusative, show the unsettled state of
the language at that early period(101).

It is unnecessary to prosecute farther the history of Roman inscriptions,
since, immediately after the erection of the Duillian column in 494, Latin
became a written literary language; and although the diphthongs _ai_ and
_ei_ were retained for more than a century longer, most of the other
archaisms were totally rejected, and the language was so enriched by a
more copious admixture of the Greek, that, while always inferior to that
tongue, in ease, precision, perspicuity, and copiousness, it came at
length to rival it in dignity of enunciation, and in that lofty accent
which harmonized so well with the elevated character of the people by whom
it was uttered.

This sudden improvement in language, as well as the equally sudden
revolution in taste and literature by which it was accompanied, must be
entirely and exclusively attributed to the conquest of Magna Græcia, and
the intercourse opened to the Romans with the Greek colonies of Sicily.
Their minds were, no doubt, in some measure prepared, during the five
centuries which had followed the foundation of the city, for receiving the
seeds of learning. The very existence of social life for so long a period
must have in some degree reclaimed them from their native barbarism. Freed
from hourly alarms excited by the attacks of foes whose territories
reached almost to the gates of the city, it was now possible for them to
enjoy those pleasures which can only be relished in tranquillity; but
their genius, I believe, would have remained unproductive and cold for
half a millennium longer, had it not been kindled by contact with a more
polished and animated nation, whose compositions could not be read without
enthusiasm, or imitated without advantage.

However uncertain may be the story concerning the arrival of Œnotrus in
the south of Italy, the passage of the Pelasgi from Epirus to the Po,
seventeen generations before the Trojan war, or the settlement of the
Arcadian Evander in Latium, there can be no doubt, that, about the
commencement of the Roman æra, the dissensions of the reigning families of
Greece, the commotions which pervaded its realms, the suggestions of
oracles, the uncertain tenure of landed property, the restless spirit of
adventure, and seasons of famine, all co-operated in producing an
emigration of numerous tribes, chiefly Dorians and Achæans of
Peloponnesus, who founded colonies on the coasts of Asia, the Ægean
islands, and Italy. In this latter country, (which seems in all ages to
have been the resort and refuse of a redundant or unfortunate population,)
the Greek strangers first settled in a southern district, then known by
the ancient name of Iapygia, and since denominated Calabria. Serenity of
climate, joined to the vigour of laws, simplicity of manners, and the
energy peculiar to every rising community, soon procured these colonies an
enviable increase of prosperity and power. They gradually drove the native
inhabitants to the interior of the country, and formed a political state,
which assumed the magnificent name of Magna Græcia—an appellation which
was by degrees applied to the whole coast which bounds the bay of
Tarentum. On that shore, about half a century after the foundation of
Rome, arose the flourishing and philosophic town of Crotona, and the
voluptuous city of Sybaris. These were the consolidated possessions of the
Grecian colonies; but they had also scattered seats all along the western
coast of the territory which now forms the kingdom of Naples.

As in most other states, corruption of manners was the consequence of
prosperity and the cause of decay. Towards the close of the third century
of Rome, Pythagoras had in some measure succeeded in reforming the morals
of Crotona, while the rival state of Sybaris, like the Moorish Grenada,
hastened to destruction, amid carousals and civil dissensions; and though
once capable, as is said, (but probably with some exaggeration,) of
bringing three hundred thousand soldiers into the field(102), it sunk,
after a short struggle, under the power of Crotona. The other independent
states were successively agitated by the violence of popular revolution,
and crushed by the severity of despotism. As in the mother country, they
had constant dissensions among themselves. This rivalship induced them to
call in the assistance of the Sicilians—a measure which prepared the way
for their subjection to the vigorous but detestable sway of the elder
Dionysius, and of Agathocles. Tarentum, founded about the same time with
Sybaris and Crotona, was the most powerful city of the Grecian colonies
toward the conclusion of their political existence, and the last
formidable rival to the Romans in Italy. Like the neighbouring states, it
was chiefly ruined by the succour of foreign allies. Unsuccessfully
defended by Alexander Molossus, oppressed by the Syracusan tyrants, and
despoiled by Cleomenes of Sparta, neither the genius of Pyrrhus, nor the
power of Carthage, could preserve it from the necessity of final
submission to the Romans.

In all their varieties of fortune, the Grecian colonies had maintained the
manners and institutions of the mother country, which no people ever
entirely relinquish with the soil they have left. A close political
connection also subsisted between them; and, about the year 300 of Rome,
the Athenians sent to the assistance of Sybaris a powerful expedition,
which, on the decay of that city, founded the town of Thurium in the
immediate vicinity. This constant intercourse cherished and preserved the
literary spirit of the colonies of Magna Græcia. Herodotus, the father of
history, and Lysias, whose orations are the purest models of the simple
Attic eloquence, were, in early youth, among the original founders of the
colony of Thurium(103), and the latter held a share in its government till
an advanced period of life. The Eleatic school of philosophy was founded
in Magna Græcia; and the impulse which the wisdom of Pythagoras had given
to the mind, promoted also the studies of literature. Plato visited
Tarentum during the consulship of Lucius Camillus and Appius
Claudius(104), which was in the 406th year of Rome, and Zeuxis was invited
from Greece to paint at Crotona the magnificent temple of Juno, which had
been erected in that city(105). History and poetry were cultivated with a
success which did not dishonour the Grecian name. Lycus of Rhegium was the
civil, and Glaucus of the same city was the literary historian of Magna
Græcia. Orpheus of Crotona was the author of a poem on the expedition of
the Argonauts, attributed to an elder Orpheus. The lyric productions of
Ibicus of Rhegium rivalled those of Anacreon and Alcæus. Two hundred and
fifty-five comedies, written by Alexis of Thurium, the titles of which
have been collected by Meursius, and a few fragments of them by Stephens,
are said to have been composed in the happiest vein of the middle comedy
of the Greeks, which possessed much of the comic force of Aristophanes and
Cratinus, without their malignity. In his Meropis and Ancylio, this
dramatist is supposed to have carped at Plato; and his comedy founded on
the life of Pythagoras, was probably in a similar vein of satire.
Stephano, the son of Alexis, and who, according to Suidas, was the uncle
of Menander, became chiefly celebrated for his tragedies; but his comedies
were also distinguished by happy pictures of life, and uncommon harmony of

War, which had so long retarded the progress of literature at Rome, at
length became the cause of its culture. The Romans were now involved in a
contest with the civilized colonies of Magna Græcia. Accordingly, when
they garrisoned Thurium, in order to defend it against the Samnites, and
when in 482 they obtained complete possession of Magna Græcia, by the
capture of Tarentum, which presented the last resistance to their arms,
they could not fail to catch a portion of Grecian taste and spirit, or at
least to admire the beautiful creations of Grecian fancy. Many of the
conquerors remained in Magna Græcia, while, on the other hand, all the
inhabitants of its cities, who were most distinguished for literary
attainments, fixed their residence at Rome.

The first Carthaginian war, which broke out in 489, so far from retarding
the literary influence of these strangers, accelerated the steps of
improvement. Unlike the former contests of the Romans, which were either
with neighbouring states, or with barbarous nations who came to attack
them in their own territories, it was not attended with that immediate
danger which is utterly inconsistent with literary leisure. In its
prosecution, too, the Romans for the first time carried their arms beyond
Italy. Literature, indeed, was not one of those novelties in which the
western part of Africa was fruitful, but, with the exception of Greece
itself, there was no country where it flourished more luxuriantly than in
Sicily; and that island, as is well known, was the principal scene of the
first great struggle between Rome and Carthage. None of the Grecian
colonies shone with such splendour as Syracuse, a city founded by the
Dorians of Corinth, in the 19th year of Rome. This capital had attained
the summit both of political and literary renown long before the first
Carthaginian war. Æschylus passed the concluding years of his life in
Sicily, and wrote, it is said, his tragedy of _The Persians_, to gratify
the curiosity of Hiero I. King of Syracuse, who was desirous to see a
representation of the celebrated war which the Greeks had waged against
Xerxes. Epicharmus, retained in the same elegant court, was the first who
rejected, on the stage, the ancient mummeries of the satires, and composed
dramas on that regular elaborate plan, which was reckoned worthy of
imitation by Plautus—

   “Dicitur ————————————
  Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi(106).”

Dionysius, the tyrant, was also a patron of learning, and was himself a
competitor in the fields of literature. Philistus, the historian, was the
friend of the elder, and Plato of the younger Dionysius. Aristippus and
Æschines passed some time in the court of these tyrants. Theocritus, and
other poets of the Alexandrian constellation, resided in Sicily before
they partook in Egypt of the splendid patronage of the Ptolemies. The
Syracusans, who put to death so many of their Athenian prisoners in cold
blood, and with frightful tortures, spared those of them who could recite
the verses of Euripides. Scenic representations were peculiarly popular in
Sicily: Its towns were crowded with theatres, and its dramatists were
loaded with honours. The theatrical exhibitions which the Roman invaders
of Sicily must have witnessed, and the respect there paid to distinguished
poets, would naturally awaken literary emulation. During a contest of
nearly twenty-four years between Rome and Carthage, Hiero II., King of
Syracuse, was the zealous and strenuous ally of the Romans. At the
conclusion of peace between these rival nations, in the year 512, part of
Sicily was ceded to the Romans, and the intercourse which consequently
arose with the inhabitants of this newly-acquired territory, laid the
foundation of those studies, which were afterwards brought to perfection
by the progress of time, and by direct communication with Greece

Accordingly, it is in the end of the fifth, and beginning of the sixth
century, from the building of Rome, that we find among its inhabitants the
earliest vestiges of literature. Poetry, as with most other nations, was
the first of the liberal arts which was cultivated among the Romans; and
dramatic poetry, founded on the school of Greece, appears to have been
that which was earliest preferred. We have seen, indeed, that previous to
this period, and in the year 392, when the city was afflicted with a
plague, the Senate decreed that players should be summoned from Etruria to
appease the wrath of the gods by scenic representations, and that the
Roman youth imitated these expiatory performances, by rallying each other
in extemporary verses. This by some has been considered as a dawning of
the drama, since the characters probably bore a resemblance to the
Arlequin and Scaramouch of the Italian farces. But

                            LIVIUS ANDRONICUS,

A native of Magna Græcia, was the first who attempted to establish at Rome
a regular theatre, or to connect a dramatic fable, free from the
mummeries, the _ballet_, and the melodrama of the ancient satires(108).
Tiraboschi asserts, that when his country was finally subdued by the
Romans, in 482, Livius was made captive and brought to Rome(109). It is
generally believed that he there became the slave, and afterwards the
freedman of Livius Salinator, from whom he derived one of his names: these
facts, however, do not seem to rest on any authority more ancient than the
Eusebian Chronicle(110). The precise period of his death is uncertain; but
in Cicero’s Dialogue _De Senectute_, Cato is introduced saying, that he
had seen old Livius while he was himself a youth(111). Now Cato was born
in 519, and since the period of youth among the Romans was considered as
commencing at fifteen, it may be presumed that the existence of Livius was
at least protracted till the year 534 of the city. It has been frequently
said, that he lived till the year 546(112), because Livy(113) mentions
that a hymn composed by this ancient poet was publicly sung in that year,
to avert the disasters threatened by an alarming prodigy; but the
historian does not declare that it was written for the occasion, or even
recently before.

The earliest play of Livius was represented in 513 or 514, about a year
after the termination of the first Punic war. Osannus, a modern German
author, has written a learned and chronological dissertation on the
question, in which of these years the first Roman play was performed(114);
but it is extremely difficult for us to come to any satisfactory
conclusion on a subject which, even in the time of Cicero, was one of
doubt and controversy(115). Like Thespis, and other dramatists in the
commencement of the theatrical art, Livius was an actor, and for a
considerable time the sole performer in his own pieces. Afterwards,
however, his voice failing, in consequence of the audience insisting on a
repetition of favourite passages, he introduced a boy who relieved him, by
declaiming in concert with the flute, while he himself executed the
corresponding gesticulations in the monologues, and in the parts where
high exertion was required, employing his own voice only in the
conversational and less elevated scenes(116). It was observed that his
action grew more lively and animated, because he exerted his whole
strength in gesticulating, while another had the care and trouble of
pronouncing. “Hence,” continues Livy, “the practice arose of reciting
those passages which required much modulation of the voice, to the gesture
and action of the comedian. Thenceforth the custom so far prevailed, that
the comedians never pronounced anything except the verses of the
dialogues(117):” And this system, which one should think must have
completely destroyed the theatric illusion, continued, under certain
modifications, to subsist on the Roman stage during the most refined
periods of taste and literature.

The popularity of Livius increasing from these performances, as well as
from a propitiatory hymn he had composed, and which had been followed by
great public success, a building was assigned to him on the Aventine hill.
This edifice was partly converted into a theatre, and was also inhabited
by a troop of players, for whom Livius wrote his pieces, and frequently
acted along with them(118).

It has been disputed whether the first drama represented by Livius
Andronicus at Rome was a tragedy or comedy(119). However this may be, it
appears from the names which have been preserved of his plays, that he
wrote both tragedies and comedies. These titles, which have been collected
by Fabricius and other writers, are, _Achilles_, _Adonis_, _Ægisthus_,
_Ajax_, _Andromeda_, _Antiopa_, _Centauri_, _Equus Trojanus_, _Helena_,
_Hermione_, _Ino_, _Lydius_, _Protesilaodamia_, _Serenus_, _Tereus_,
_Teucer_, _Virgo_(120). Such names also evince that most of his dramas
were translated or imitated from the works of his countrymen of Magna
Græcia, or from the great tragedians of Greece. Thus, Æschylus wrote a
tragedy on the subject of Ægisthus: There is still an Ajax of Sophocles
extant, and he is known to have written an Andromeda: Stobæus mentions the
Antiopa of Euripides: Four Greek dramatists, Sophocles, Euripides,
Anaxandrides, and Philæterus, composed tragedies on the subject of Tereus;
and Epicharmus, as well as others, chose for their comedies the story of
the Syrens.

Little, however, except the titles, remains to us, from the dramas of
Livius. The longest passage we possess in connection, extends only to four
lines. It forms part of a hymn to Diana, recited by the chorus, in the
tragedy of _Ino_, and contains an animated exhortation to a person about
to proceed to the chase:—

  “Et jam purpureo suras include cothurno,
  Baltheus et revocet volucres in pectore sinus;
  Pressaque jam gravida crepitent tibi terga pharetra:
  Dirige odorisequos ad cæca cubilia canes(121).”

This passage testifies the vast improvement effected by Livius on the
Latin Tongue; and indeed the polish of the language and metrical
correctness of these hexameter lines, have of late led to a suspicion that
they are not the production of a period so ancient as the age of
Livius(122), or at least that they have been modernised by some later
hand. With this earliest offspring of the Latin muse, it may be curious to
compare a production from her last age of decrepitude. Nemesianus, in his
_Cynegeticon_, has closely imitated this passage while exhorting Diana to
prepare for the chase:

  “Sume habitus, arcumque manu; pictamque pharetram
  Suspende ex humeris; sint aurea tela, sagittæ;
  Candida puniceis aptentur crura cothurnis:
  Sit chlamys aurato multum subtemine lusa,
  Corrugesque sinus gemmatis baltheus artet
  Nexibus ——”

As the above-quoted verses in the chorus of the _Ino_ are the only passage
among the fragments of Livius, from which a connected meaning can be
elicited, we must take our opinion of his poetical merits from those who
judged of them while his writings were yet wholly extant. Cicero has
pronounced an unfavourable decision, declaring that they scarcely deserved
a second perusal(123). They long, however, continued popular in Rome, and
were read by the youths in schools even during the Augustan age of poetry.
It is evident, indeed, that during that golden period of Roman literature,
there prevailed a taste corresponding to our black-letter rage, which led
to an inordinate admiration of the works of Livius, and to the bitter
complaints of Horace, that they should be extolled as perfect, or held up
by old pedants to the imitation of youth in an age when so much better
models existed:

  “Non equidem insector, delendaque carmina Livi
  Esse reor, memini quæ plagosum mihi parvo
  Orbilium dictare; sed emendata videri,
  Pulchraque, et exactis minimum distantia, miror:
  Inter quæ verbum emicuit si forte decorum, et
  Si versus paulo concinnior unus et alter;
  Injuste totum ducit venditque poema(124).”

But although Livius may have been too much read in the schools, and too
much admired in an age, which could boast of models so greatly superior to
his writings, he is at least entitled to praise, as the inventor among the
Romans of a species of poetry which was afterwards carried by them to much
higher perfection. By translating the Odyssey, too, into Latin verse, he
adopted the means which, of all others, was most likely to foster and
improve the infant literature of his country—as he thus presented it with
an image of the most pure and perfect taste, and at the same time with
those wild and romantic adventures, which are best suited to attract the
sympathy and interest of a half-civilized nation. This happy influence
could not be prevented even by the use of the rugged Saturnian verse,
which led Cicero to compare the translation of Livius to the ancient
statues, which might be attributed to Dædalus(125).

The Latin Odyssey commenced—

  “Virum mihi, Camena, insece versutum.”

There have also been three lines preserved by Festus, which are translated
from the 8th Book, expressing the effects produced on the mind by a

  —— “Namque nilum pejus
  Macerat hemonem quamde mare sævom: vires quoi
  Sunt magnæ, topper confringent importunæ undæ(126).”

From the æra in which the dramatic productions of Livius appeared,
theatrical representations formed the object of a peculiar art. The more
regular drama, founded on that of Magna Græcia, or Sicily, being divided
into tragedy and comedy, became, in a great measure, the province of
professional players or authors, while the Roman youths of distinction
continued to amuse themselves with the _Fabulæ Atellanæ_, and _Exodia_, a
species of satirical medley, derived from the ancient Etruscans, or from
the Osci, the nature and progress of which I shall hereafter have occasion
more particularly to examine.

                              CNEIUS NÆVIUS,

A native of Campania, was the first imitator of the regular dramatic works
which had been produced by Livius Andronicus. He served in the first Punic
war, and his earliest plays were represented at Rome in the year 519(127).
The names of his tragedies, from which as few fragments remain as from
those of Livius, are still preserved:—_Alcestis_, (from which there is yet
extant a description of old age in rugged and barbarous verse)—_Danae_,
_Dulorestes_, _Hesiona_, _Hector_, _Iphigenia_, _Lycurgus_, _Phœnissæ_,
_Protesilaus_, and _Telephus_. All these were translated, or closely
imitated from the works of Euripides, Anaxandrides, and other Greek
dramatists. Cicero commends a passage in the _Hector_, one of the
above-mentioned tragedies(128), where the hero of the piece, delighted
with the praises which he had received from his father Priam, exclaims—

    “—— Lætus sum
  Laudari me abs te, pater, laudato viro(129).”

Nævius, however, was accounted a better comic than tragic poet. Cicero has
given us some specimens of his jests, with which that celebrated wit and
orator appears to have been greatly amused; but they consist rather in
unexpected turns of expression, or a play of words, than in genuine
humour. One of these, recorded in the second Book _De Oratore_, has found
its way into our jest-books; and though one of the best in Cicero, it is
one of the worst of Joe Miller. It is the saying of a knavish servant,
“that nothing was shut up from him in his master’s house”.—“Solum esse,
cui domi nihil sit nec obsignatum, nec occlusum: Quod idem,” adds Cicero,
“in bono servo dici solet, sed hoc iisdem etiam verbis.”

Unfortunately for Nævius, he did not always confine himself in his
comedies to such inoffensive jests. The dramas of Magna Græcia and Sicily,
especially those of Epicharmus, were the prototypes of the older Greek
comedy; and accordingly the most ancient Latin plays, particularly those
of Nævius, which were formed on the same school, though there be no
evidence that they ridiculed political events, partook of the personal
satire and invective which pervaded the productions of Aristophanes. If,
as is related, the comedies of Nævius were directed against the vices and
corporal defects of the Consuls and Senators of Rome, he must have been
the most original of the Latin comic poets, and infinitely more so than
Plautus or Terence; since although he may have parodied or copied the
dramatic fables of the ancient Greek or Sicilian comedies, the spirit and
colouring of the particular scenes must have been his own. The elder
Scipio was one of the chief objects of his satiric representations, and
the poetic severity with which Aristophanes persecuted Socrates or
Euripides, was hardly more indecent and misdirected than the sarcasms of
Nævius against the greatest captain, the most accomplished scholar, and
the most virtuous citizen of his age. Some lines are still extant, in
which he lampooned Scipio on account of a youthful amour, in which he had
been detected by his father—

  “Etiam qui res magnas manu sæpe gessit gloriose,
  Cujus facta viva nunc vigent, qui apud gentes solus
  Præstat, eum suus pater, cum pallio uno, ab amicâ abduxit.”

The conqueror of Hannibal treated these libels with the same indifference
with which Cæsar afterwards regarded the lines of Catullus. Nævius,
however, did not long escape with impunity. Rome was a very different sort
of republic from Athens: It was rather an aristocracy than a democracy,
and its patricians were not always disposed to tolerate the taunts and
insults which the chiefs of the Greek democracy were obliged to endure.
Nævius had said in one of his verses, that the patrician family of the
Metelli had frequently obtained the Consulship before the age permitted by
law, and he insinuated that they had been promoted to this dignity, not in
consequence of their virtues, but the cruelty of the Roman fate:

  “Fato Metelli Romæ fiunt Consules.”

With the assistance of the other patricians, the Metelli retorted his
sarcasms in a Saturnian stanza, not unlike the measure of some of our old
ballads, in which they threatened to play the devil with their witty

  “Et Nævio Poetæ,
  Cum sæpe læderentur,
  Dabunt malum Metelli,
  Dabunt malum Metelli,
  Dabunt malum Metelli.”

The Metelli, however, did not confine their vengeance to this ingenious
and spirited satire, in the composition of which, it may be presumed that
the whole Roman Senate was engaged. On account of the unceasing abuse and
reproaches which he had uttered against them, and other chief men of the
city, he was thrown into prison, where he wrote his comedies, the
_Hariolus_ and _Leontes_. These plays being in some measure intended as a
recantation of his former invectives, he was liberated by the tribunes of
the people.(130) He soon, however, relapsed into his former courses, and
continued to persecute the nobility in his dramas and satires with such
implacable dislike, that he was at length driven from Rome by their
influence, and having retired to Utica(131), he died there, in the year
550, according to Cicero(132); but Varro fixes his death somewhat later.
Before leaving Rome, he had composed the following epitaph on himself,
which Gellius remarks is full of Campanian arrogance; though the import of
it, he adds, might be allowed to be true, had it been written by

  “Mortales immortales flere si foret fas,
  Flerent divæ Camœnæ Nævium poetam;
  Itaque postquam est Orcino traditus thesauro,
  Oblitei sunt Romæ loquier Latina lingua(134).”

Besides his comedies and the above epitaph, Nævius was also author of the
Cyprian Iliad, a translation from a Greek poem, called the _Cyprian Epic_.
Aristotle, in the 23d chapter of his Poetics, mentions the original work,
(τα κυπρια,) which, he says, had furnished many subjects for the drama.
Some writers, particularly Pindar, have attributed this Greek poem to
Homer; and there was long an idle story current, that he had given it as a
portion to his daughter Arsephone. Herodotus, in his second Book,
concludes, after some critical discussion, that it was not written by
Homer, but that it was doubtless the work of a contemporary poet, or one
who lived shortly after him. Heyne thinks it most probable, that it was by
a poet called Stasinus, a native of the island of Cyprus, and that it
received its name from the country of its author(135). Whoever may have
written this Cyprian Epic, it contained twelve books, and was probably a
work of amorous and romantic fiction. It commenced with the nuptials of
Thetis and Peleus—it related the contention of the three goddesses on
Mount Ida—the fables concerning Palamedes—the story of the daughters of
Anius—and the love adventures of the Phrygian fair during the early period
of the siege of Troy—and it terminated with the council of the gods, at
which it was resolved that Achilles should be withdrawn from the war, by
sowing dissension between him and Atrides(136).

A metrical chronicle, which chiefly related the events of the first Punic
war, was another, and probably the last work of Nævius, since Cicero says,
that in writing it he filled up the leisure of his latter days with
wonderful complacency and satisfaction(137). It was originally undivided;
but, after his death, was separated into seven books(138).—Although the
first Punic war was the principal subject, as appears from its

  “Qui terräi Latiäi hemones tuserunt
  Vires fraudesque Poinicas fabor;”

yet it also afforded a rapid sketch of the preceding incidents of Roman
history. It commenced with the flight of Æneas from Carthage, in a ship
built by Mercury(139); and the early wars of the Romans were detailed in
the first and second books. To judge by the fragments which remain, the
whole work appears to have been full of mythological machinery. Macrobius
informs us, that some lines of this production described the Romans tost
by a tempest, and represented Venus complaining of the hardships which
they suffered to Jupiter, who consoles her by a prospect of their future
glory—a passage which probably suggested those verses in the first book of
the Æneid, where Venus, in like manner, complains to Jupiter of the danger
experienced by her son in a storm, and the god consoles her by assurances
of his ultimate prosperity(140). Cicero mentions, that Ennius, too, though
he classes Nævius among the fauns and rustic bards, had borrowed, or, if
he refused to acknowledge his obligations, had pilfered, many ornaments
from his predecessor(141). In the same passage, Cicero, while he admits
that Ennius was the more elegant and correct writer, bears testimony to
the merit of the older bard, and declares, that the Punic war of this
antiquated poet afforded him a pleasure as exquisite as the finest statue
that was ever formed by Myron. To judge, however, from the lines which
remain, though in general too much broken to enable us even to divine
their meaning, the style of Nævius in this work was more rugged and remote
from modern Latin than that of his own plays and satires, or the dramas of
Livius Andronicus.

The whole, too, is written in the rough, unmodulated, Saturnian verse—a
sort of irregular iambics, said to have been originally employed by Faunus
and the prophets, who delivered their oracles in this measure. To such
rude and unpolished verses Ennius alludes in a fragment of his Annals,
while explaining his reasons for not treating of the first Punic war—

  —— “Scripsere alii rem
  Versibus, quos olim Fauni, vatesque canebant;
  Cum neque Musarum scopulos quisquam superarat,
  Nec dicti studiosus erat.”

As this was the most ancient species of measure employed in Roman poetry,
as it was universally used before the melody of Greek verse was poured on
the Roman ear, and as, from ancient practice, the same strain continued to
be repeated till the age of Ennius, by whom the heroic measure was
introduced, it would not be suitable to omit some notice of its origin and
structure in an account of Roman literature and poetry.

Several writers have supposed that the Saturnian measure was borrowed by
the Romans from the Greeks(142), having been used by Euripides, and
particularly by Archilochus; but others have believed that it was an
invention of the ancient Italians(143). It was first employed in the
Carmen Saliare, songs of triumph, supplications to the gods, or monumental
inscriptions, and was afterwards, as we have seen, adopted in the works of
Livius Andronicus and Nævius. In consequence of the fragments which remain
of the Saturnian verses being so short and corrupted, it is extremely
difficult to fix their regular measure, or reduce them to one standard of
versification. Herman seems to consider a Saturnian line as having
regularly consisted of two iambuses, an amphibrachys, and three trochaës—

  ˘ _ | ˘ _ | ˘ _ ˘ | _ ˘ | _ ˘ | _ ˘

A dactyl, however, was occasionally admitted into the place of the first
or second trochaë, and a spondee was not unfrequently introduced
indiscriminately. It also appears that a Saturnian line was sometimes
divided into two—the first line consisting of the two iambuses and
amphibrachys, and the second of the trochaës, whence the Saturnian verse
has been sometimes called iambic, and at others trochaic.

The Hexameter verse, which had been invented by the Greeks, was first
introduced into Latium, or at least, was first employed in a work of any
extent, by


  —— “Qui primus amœno
  Detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam,
  Per gentes Italas hominum quæ clara clueret.”

This poet, who has generally received the glorious appellation of the
Father of Roman Song, was a native of Rudiæ, a town in Calabria, and lived
from the year of Rome 515 to 585(144). In his early youth he went to
Sardinia; and, if Silius Italicus may be believed, he served in the
Calabrian levies, which, in the year 538, followed Titus Manlius to the
war which he waged in that island against the favourers of the
Carthaginian cause(145). After the termination of the campaign, he
continued to live for twelve years in Sardinia(146). He was at length
brought to Rome by Cato, the Censor, who, in 550, visited Sardinia, on
returning as quæstor from Africa(147). At Rome he fixed his residence on
the Aventine hill, where he lived in a very frugal manner, having only a
single servant maid as an attendant(148). He instructed, however, the
Patrician youth in Greek, and acquired the friendship of many of the most
illustrious men in the state. Being distinguished (like Æschylus, the
great father of Grecian tragedy) in arms as well as letters, he followed
M. Fulvius Nobilior during his expedition to Ætolia in 564(149); and in
569 he obtained the freedom of the city, through the favour of Quintus
Fulvius Nobilior, the son of his former patron, Marcus(150). He was also
protected by the elder Scipio Africanus, whom he is said to have
accompanied in all his campaigns:

  “Hærebat doctus lateri, castrisque solebat
  Omnibus in medias Ennius ire tubas(151).”

It is difficult, however, to see in what expeditions he could have
attended this renowned general. His Spanish and African wars were
concluded before Ennius was brought from Sardinia to Rome; and the
campaign against Antiochus was commenced and terminated while he was
serving under Fulvius Nobilior in Ætolia(152). In his old age he obtained
the friendship of Scipio Nasica; and the degree of intimacy subsisting
between them has been characterised by the well-known anecdote of their
successively feigning to be from home(153). He is said to have been
intemperate in drinking(154), which brought on the disease called _Morbus
Articularis_, a disorder resembling the gout, of which he died at the age
of seventy, just after he had exhibited his tragedy of Thyestes:

  “Ennius ipse pater dum pocula siccat iniqua,
  Hoc vitio tales fertur meruisse dolores(155).”

The evils, however, of old age and indigence were supported by him, as we
learn from Cicero, with such patience, and even cheerfulness, that one
would almost have imagined he derived satisfaction from circumstances
which are usually regarded, as being, of all others, the most dispiriting
and oppressive(156). The honours due to his character and talents were, as
is frequently the case, reserved till after his death, when a bust of him
was placed in the family tomb of the Scipios(157), who, till the time of
Sylla, continued the practice of burying, instead of burning, their dead.
In the days of Livy, the bust still remained near that sepulchre, beyond
the _Porta Capena_, along with the statues of Africanus and Scipio
Asiaticus.(158) The tomb was discovered in 1780, on a farm situated
between the Via Appia and Via Latina. The slabs, which have been since
removed to the Vatican, bear several inscriptions, commemorating different
persons of the Scipian family. Neither statues, nor any other memorial,
then existed of Africanus himself, or of Asiaticus(159); but a laurelled
bust of Pepperino stone, which was found in this tomb, and which now
stands on the Sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus in the Vatican, is supposed
to be that of Ennius(160). There is also still extant an epitaph on this
poet, reported to have been written by himself(161), strongly
characteristic of that overweening conceit and that high estimation of his
own talents, which are said to have formed the chief blemish of his

  “Aspicite, O cives, senis Ennî imaginis formam;
  Hic vestrum panxit maxuma facta patrum.
  Nemo me lacrumis decoret, nec funera fletu
  Faxit—cur? volito vivus per ora virûm(162).”

The lines formerly quoted(163), which were written by Nævius for his
tomb-stone, express as high a sense of his own poetical merits as the
above verses; but there is in them something plaintive and melancholy,
quite different from the triumphant exultation in the epitaph of Ennius.

To judge by the fragments of his works which remain, Ennius greatly
surpassed his predecessors, not only in poetical genius, but in the art of
versification. By his time, indeed, the best models of Greek composition
had begun to be studied at Rome. Ennius particularly professed to have
imitated Homer, and tried to persuade his countrymen that the soul and
genius of that great poet had revived in him, through the medium of a
peacock, according to the process of Pythagorean transmigration. It is to
this fantastic genealogy that Persius has alluded in his 6th satire:—

  “Cor jubet hoc Enni, postquam destertuit esse
  Mæonides Quintus, pavone ex Pythagoreo.”

From the following lines of Lucretius it would appear, that Ennius
somewhere in his works had feigned that the shade of Homer appeared to
him, and explained to him the nature and laws of the universe:—

  “Etsi præterea tamen esse Acherusia Templa
  Ennius æternis exponit versibus edens;
  Quo neque permanent animæ, neque corpora nostra,
  Sed quædam simulacra modis pallentia miris:
  Unde, sibi exortam, semper florentis Homeri
  Commemorat speciem, lacrumas effundere salsas
  Cœpisse, et rerum naturam expandere dictis.”

Accordingly, we find in the fragments of Ennius many imitations of the
Iliad and Odyssey. It is, however, the Greek tragic writers whom Ennius
has chiefly imitated; and indeed it appears from the fragments which
remain, that all his plays were rather translations from the dramas of
Sophocles and Euripides, on the same subjects which he has chosen, than
original tragedies. They are founded on the old topics of Priam and Paris,
Hector and Hecuba; and truly Ennius, as well as most other Latin
tragedians, seems to have anticipated Horace’s maxim—

  “Rectus Iliacum carmen deducis in actus,
  Quamsi proferres ignota indictaque primus.”

But although it be quite clear that all the plays of Ennius were
translated, or closely imitated, from the Greek, there is occasionally
some difficulty in fixing on the drama which was followed, and also in
ascertaining whether there be any original passage whatever in the Latin
imitation. This difficulty arises from the practice adopted by the Greek
dramatists, of new modelling their tragedies. Euripides, in particular,
sometimes altered his plays after their first representation, in order to
accommodate them to the circumstances of the times, and to obviate the
sarcastic criticisms of Aristophanes, who had frequently exposed whole
scenes to ridicule. With such views, considerable changes were made on
_Iphigenia in Aulis_, the _Hippolytus_, and _Medea_. Euripides is the
author from whom Ennius has chiefly borrowed the fables of his tragedies;
and when Sophocles and Euripides have treated the same subject, the latter
poet has been uniformly preferred. Not one of the dramas of Ennius has
been imitated from Æschylus. The reason of this is sufficiently obvious:
The plays of Æschylus have little involution of plot, and are rather what
we should now term dramatic sketches, than tragedies. The plots of
Sophocles are more complex than those of Æschylus; but the tragedies of
Euripides are the most involved of all. Now, it may be presumed, that a
tragedy crowded with action, and filled with the bustle of a complicated
fable, was best adapted to the taste of the Romans, because we _know_ that
this was their taste in comedy. Plautus combined two Greek comedies to
form one Latin; and the representation of the Hecyra of Terence, the only
Latin play formed on the simple Greek model, was repeatedly abandoned by
the people before it was concluded, for the sake of amusements of more
tumult and excitement.

Of _Achilles_, which, in alphabetical order, is the first of the plays of
Ennius, there are just extant seven lines, which have been preserved by
Nonius and Festus; and from such remains it is impossible to know what
part of the life or actions of the Grecian hero Ennius had selected as the
subject of his plot. There were many Greek tragedies on the story of
Achilles, of which, one by Aristarchus of Tegea, was the most celebrated,
and is supposed to have been that from which Ennius copied.

_Ajax_. Sophocles was author of two tragedies founded on the events of the
life of Ajax;—_Ajax Flagellifer_, and _Ajax Locrensis_. The first turns on
the phrensy with which the Grecian hero was seized, on being refused the
arms of Achilles, and it may be conjectured, from a single fragment,
apparently at the very close of the tragedy by Ennius, and which describes
the attendants raising the body of Ajax, streaming with blood, that this
was the piece translated by the Roman poet.

_Alcmæon_. This play, of which the fable closely resembles the story of
Orestes, has by some been attributed to the Latin poet Quintus Catulus.
The transports of Alcmæon had been frequently exhibited on the Greek
stage(164). The drama of Ennius was taken from a tragedy of Euripides,
which is now lost, but its subject is well known from the Thebaid of
Statius. The soothsayer Amphiaraus, foreseeing that he would perish at the
siege of Thebes, concealed himself from the crimps of those days; but his
wife, Eryphile, who alone knew the place of his retreat, being bribed by
the gift of a mantle and necklace, revealed the secret to one of the
“Seven before Thebes,” who compelled him to share in the expedition.
Before death, the prophet enjoined his son, Alcmæon, to avenge him on his
faithless wife. The youth, in compliance with this pious command, slew his
mother, and was afterwards tormented by the Furies, who would only be
appeased by a gift of the whole _paraphernalia_ of Eryphile, which were
accordingly hung up in their temple. As soon as their persecution ceased,
he married the fair Calirrhoe, daughter of Achelous, and precipitately
judging that the consecrated necklace would be better bestowed on his
beautiful bride than on the beldame by whom he had so long been haunted,
he contrived, on false pretences, to purloin it from the place where it
was deposited; but the Furies were not to be so choused out of their
perquisites, and in consequence of his rash preference, Alcmæon was
compelled to suffer a renewed phrensy, and to undergo a fresh course of
expiatory ceremonies(165).

_Alexander_ (_Paris_). The plot of this play hinges on the destruction of
Troy. The passages which remain are a heavenly admonition to Priam on the
crimes of his son, a lamentation for the death of Hector, and a prediction
of Cassandra concerning the wooden horse. Planck, in his recent edition of
the _Medea_ of Ennius, while he does not deny that our poet may have
written a tragedy with the title of _Alexander_, is of opinion that the
fragments quoted as from this play in the editions of Ennius belong
properly to his _Alexandra_ (_Cassandra_), to which subject they are
perfectly applicable. This German critic has also collected a good many
fragments belonging to the _Cassandra_, which had been omitted in Columna
and Merula’s editions of Ennius. The longest of these passages, delivered
by Cassandra in the style of a prophecy, seems to refer to events previous
to the Trojan war—the judgment of Paris, and arrival of Helen from Sparta.

_Andromache_. It is uncertain from what Greek writer this tragedy has been
translated. It seems to be founded on the lamentable story of Andromache,
who fell, with other Trojan captives, to the share of Neoptolemus, and saw
her only son, Astyanax, torn from her embraces, to be precipitated from
the summit of a tower, in compliance with the injunctions of an oracle.
Among the fragments of this play, we possess one of the longest passages
extant of the works of Ennius, containing a pathetic lamentation of
Andromache for the fall and conflagration of Troy, with a comparison
between its smoking ruins and former splendour. This passage Cicero
styles, “Præclarum Carmen!”—“Est enim,” he adds, “et rebus, et verbis, et
modis lugubre(166).”

                 —— “Quid petam
  Præsidi aut exsequar? quo nunc aut exilio aut fuga freta sim?
  Arce et urbe orba sum; quo accidam? quo applicem?
  Cui nec aræ patriæ domi stant; fractæ et disjectæ jacent,
  Fana flamma deflagrata; tosti alti stant parietes.
      O Pater, O Patria, O Priami domus;
      Septum altisono cardine templum:
      Vidi ego te, adstante ope barbarica,
      Tectis cælatis, laqueatis,
      Auro, ebore instructum regifice.
      Hæc omnia vidi inflammari,
      Priamo vi vitam evitari,
      Jovis aram sanguine turpari(167).”

_Andromache Molottus_ is translated from the _Andromache_ of Euripides,
and is so called from Molottus, the son of Neoptolemus and Andromache.

_Andromeda_. Livius Andronicus had formerly written a Latin play on the
well-known story of Perseus and Andromeda, which was translated from
Sophocles. The play of Ennius, however, on the same subject, was a version
of a tragedy of Euripides, now chiefly known from the ridicule cast on it
in the fifth act of Aristophanes’ _Feasts of Ceres_. That Ennius’ drama
was translated from Euripides, is sufficiently manifest, from a comparison
of its fragments with the passages of the Greek Andromeda, preserved by

_Athamas_. There is only one short fragment of this play now extant.

_Cresphontes_. Merope, believing that her son Cresphontes had been slain
by a person who was brought before her, discovers, when about to avenge on
him the death of her child, that she whom she had mistaken for the
murderer is Cresphontes himself.

_Dulorestes_. Of this play there is only one line remaining, and of course
it is almost impossible to ascertain from what Greek original it was
borrowed. Even this single verse has by several critics been supposed to
be falsely attributed to Ennius, and to belong, in fact, to the Dulorestes
of Pacuvius(168).

_Erectheus_. There is just enough of this play extant to have satisfied
Columna, one of the editors of Ennius, that it was taken from a tragedy of
the same name by Euripides. As told by Hyginus, the fable concerning
Erectheus, King of Attica, was, that he had four daughters, who all
pledged themselves not to survive the death of any one of their number.
Eumolpus, son of Neptune, being slain at the siege of Athens, his father
required that one of the daughters of Erectheus should be sacrificed to
him in compensation. This having been accomplished, her sisters slew
themselves as a matter of course, and Erectheus was soon afterwards struck
by Jupiter with thunder, at the solicitation of Neptune. The longest
passage preserved from this tragedy is the speech of Colophonia, when
about to be sacrificed to Neptune by her father.

_Eumenides_. This play, translated from Æschylus, exhibited the phrensy of
Orestes, and his final absolution from the vengeance of the Furies.

_Hectoris Lytris vel Lustra_, so called from λυω, _solvo_, turned on the
redemption from Achilles by Priam, of the body of Hector. It appears,
however, from the fragments, that the combat of Hector, and the brutal
treatment of his corpse by Achilles, had been represented or related in
the early scenes of the piece.

_Hecuba_. This is a free translation from the Greek _Hecuba_, perhaps the
most tragic of all the dramas of Euripides. From the work of Ennius, there
is still extant a speech by the shade of Polydorus, announcing in great
form his arrival from Acheron. This soliloquy, which is a good deal
expanded from the original Greek, always produced a great sensation in the
Roman theatre, and is styled by Cicero, _Grande Carmen_(169).—

  “Adsum, atque advenio Acherunte, vix via alta, atque ardua,
  Per speluncas saxeis structas aspereis pendentibus
  Maxumeis; ubi rigida constat et crassa caligo inferûm;
  Unde animæ excitantur obscura umbra, aperto ostio
  Alti Acheruntis, falso sanguine imagines mortuorum(170).”

A speech of Hecuba, on seeing the dead body of Polydorus, and in which she
reproaches the Greeks as having no punishment for the murder of a parent
or a guest, seems to have been added by Ennius himself, at least it is not
in the Greek original of Euripides. On the whole, indeed, the _Hecuba_ of
Ennius appears, so far as we can judge from the fragments, to be the least
servile of his imitations. In Columna’s edition of Ennius, an opportunity
is afforded by corresponding quotations from the Greek _Hecuba_, of
comparing the manner in which the Latin poet has varied, amplified, or
compressed the thoughts of his original. In Euripides, Hecuba, while
persuading Ulysses to intercede for Polixena, says—

  “Τὸ δ’ αξίωμα, καν κακως λέγῃς, τὸ σόν
  Πείσει. Λόγος γαρ ἔκ τ’ αδοξούντων ἰων,
  Και ’κ των δοκούντων αὐτὸς, οὐ ταυτὸν σθένει.”

Ennius imitates this as follows:

  “Hæc tu, etsi perverse dices, facile Achivos flexeris;
  Namque opulenti cum loquuntur pariter atque ignobiles,
  Eadem dicta, eademque oratio æqua non æque valent.”

This has been copied by Plautus, and from him by Moliere in his

  “Tous les discours sont des sottises
  Partant d’un homme sans eclat;
  Ce seroient paroles exquisses,
  Si c’etoit un grand qui parlàt.”

The last link in this chain of imitation, is Pope’s well-known lines—

  “What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
  In some starved hackney sonnetteer or me!
  But let a lord once own the happy lines,
  How the wit brightens, how the style refines!”

_Iliona sive Polydorus_.—Priam, during the siege of Troy, had entrusted
his son Polydorus to the care of Polymnestor, King of Thrace, who was
married to Iliona, daughter of Priam, and slew his guest, in order to
possess himself of the treasure which had been sent along with him. The
only passage of the play which remains, is one in which the shade of
Polydorus calls on Hecuba to arise and bury her murdered son.

_Iphigenia_.—Ennius, as already mentioned, appears invariably to have
translated from Euripides, in preference to Sophocles, when the same
subject had been treated by both these poets. Sophocles had written a
tragedy on the topic of the well-known _Iphigenia in Aulis_ of Euripides;
but it is the latter piece which has been adopted by the Roman poet.

Boeckius has shown, in a learned dissertation, that Euripides wrote two
_Iphigenias in Aulis_(171). From the first, which has perished,
Aristophanes parodied the verses introduced in his _Frogs_; and it was on
this work that Ennius formed his Latin _Iphigenia_. The _Iphigenia_ now
extant, and published in the editions of Euripides, is a _recension_ of
the original drama, which was undertaken on account of the ridicule thrown
on it by Aristophanes, and was not acted till after the death of its
author. Boeckius, indeed, thinks, that it was written by the younger
Euripides, the nephew of the more celebrated dramatist; hence some of the
lines of Ennius, which, on comparison with the _Iphigenia_ now extant,
appear to us original, were probably translated from the first written
_Iphigenia_. Such, perhaps, are the jingling verses concerning the
disadvantages of idleness, which are supposed, not very naturally, to be
sung while weather-bound in Aulis, by the Greek soldiers, who form the
chorus of this tragedy instead of the women of Chalcis in the play of

  “Otio qui nescit uti, plus negoti habet,
  Quam quum est negotium in negotio;
  Nam cui quod agat institutum est, in illo negotio
  Id agit; studet ibi, mentem atque animum delectat suum.
  Otioso in otio animus nescit quid sibi velit.
  Hoc idem est; neque domi nunc nos, nec militiæ sumus:
  Imus huc, hinc illuc; quum illuc ventum est, ire illinc lubet.
  Incerte errat animus—(172).”

_Medea_.—This play is imitated from the _Medea_ of Euripides. Since the
time of Paulus Manutius(173), an idea has prevailed that Ennius was the
author of two plays on the subject of Medea—one entitled _Medea_, and the
other _Medea Exsul_, both imitated from Greek originals of Euripides. This
opinion was formed in consequence of there being several passages of the
_Medea_ of Ennius, to which corresponding passages cannot be found in the
_Medea_ of Euripides, now extant; and it was confirmed by the grammarians
sometimes quoting the play by the title _Medea_, and at others by that of
_Medea Exsul_. Planck, however, in his recent edition of the fragments of
the Latin tragedy, conjectures that there was only one play, and that this
play was entitled by Ennius the _Medea Exsul_, which name was appropriate
to the subject; but that when quoted by the critics and old grammarians,
it was sometimes cited, as was natural, by its full title, at others
simply _Medea_. The lines in the Latin play, to which parallel passages
cannot be found in Euripides, he believes to be of Ennius’ own invention.
Osannus thinks, that neither the opinion of Manutius, nor of Planck, is
quite accurate. He believes that Euripides wrote a _Medea_, which he
afterwards revised and altered, in order to obviate the satiric criticisms
of Aristophanes. The Greek _Medea_, which we now have, he supposes to be
compounded of the original copy and the recension,—the ancient grammarians
having interpolated the manuscripts. Ennius, he maintains, employed the
original tragedy; and hence in the Latin play, we now find translations of
lines which were omitted both in the recension and in the compound
tragedy, which is at present extant(174).

The _Medea_ of Ennius was a popular drama at Rome, and was considered one
of the best productions of its author. Cicero asks, if there be any one
such a foe to the Roman name, as to reject or despise the _Medea_ of
Ennius. From the romantic interest of the subject, Medea was the heroine
of not less than four epic poems; and no fable, of Greek antiquity, was
more frequently dramatized by the Latin poets. Attius, Varro, Ovid, and
Seneca, successively imitated the tragedy of Ennius, and improved on their

_Phœnix_.—There were two persons of this name in mythological story. One
the son of Agenor, and brother of Cadmus, who gave name to Phœnicia; the
other the preceptor of Achilles, who accompanied that hero to the Trojan
war. The only reason for supposing that the tragedy of Ennius related to
this latter person is, that a play founded on some part of his life was
written by Euripides, from whom the Roman poet has borrowed so much.

_Telamon_.—This play, of which no Greek original is known, seems to have
been devoted to a representation of the misfortunes of Telamon,
particularly the concluding period of his life, in which he heard of the
death of his eldest son Ajax, and the exile of his second son Teucer. To
judge from the fragments which remain, it must have been by far the finest
drama of Ennius. He thus happily versifies the celebrated sentiment of
Anaxagoras, and puts it into the mouth of Telamon, when he hears of the
death of his son—

  “Ego quom genui, tum moriturum scivi, et ei rei sustuli;
  Præterea ad Trojam quom misi ad defendendam Græciam,
  Scibam me in mortiferum bellum, non in epulas mittere(175).”

Ennius being an inhabitant of _Magna Græcia_, probably held the Tuscan
soothsayers and diviners in great contempt. There is a long passage cited
by the grammarians as from this tragedy, (but which, I think, must rather
have belonged to his satires,) directed against that learned body, and
calculated to give them considerable offence—

  “Non habeo denique nauci Marsum augurem,
  Non vicanos haruspices, non de circo astrologos,
  Non Isiacos conjectores, non interpretes somniûm:
  Non enim sunt ii, aut scientiâ, aut arte divinei;
  Sed superstitiosi vates, impudentesque hariolei,
  Aut inertes, aut insanei, aut quibus egestas imperat:
  Qui sibi semitam non sapiunt, alteri monstrant viam;
  Quibus divitias pollicentur ab iis drachmam ipsei petunt:
  De his divitiis sibi deducant drachmam; reddant cætera(176).”

There is a good deal of wit and archness in the two concluding lines, and
the whole breathes a spirit of free-thinking, such as one might expect
from the translator of Euhemerus. In another passage, indeed, but which, I
presume, was attributed to an impious character, or one writhing under the
stroke of recent calamity, it is roundly declared that the gods take no
concern in human affairs, for if they did, the good would prosper, and the
wicked suffer, whereas it is quite the contrary:

  “Ego Deûm genus esse semper dixi, et dicam cœlitum;
  Sed eos non curare opinor, quid agat humanum genus;
  Nam si curent, bene bonis sit, male malis; quod nunc abest(177).”

_Telephus_ is probably taken from a lost play of Euripides, ridiculed by
Aristophanes in his _Acharnenses_, from a scene of which it would seem
that Telephus had appeared on the stage in tattered garments. The passages
of the Latin play which remain, exhibit Telephus as an exile from his
kingdom, wandering about in ragged habiliments. The lines of Horace, in
his Art of Poetry, (a work which is devoted to the subject of the Roman
drama,) are probably in allusion to this tragedy:

  “Telephus et Peleus, cum pauper et exsul, uterque
  Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.”

_Thyestes_.—The loose and familiar numbers in which the tragedy of
Telephus was written, were by no means suitable to the atrocious subject
of the Supper of Thyestes. Ennius accordingly has been censured by Cicero,
in a passage of his _Orator_, for employing them in this drama.—“Similia
sunt quædam apud nostros; velut illa in Thyeste,

  ‘Quemnam te esse dicam! qui tarda in senectute,’

Et quæ sequuntur: quæ, nisi cum tibicen accesserit, orationi sunt solutæ
simillima.” There can therefore be little doubt that the passage in
Horace’s Art of Poetry, in which a tragedy on the subject of Thyestes is
blamed as flat and prosaic, and hardly rising above the level of ordinary
conversation in comedy, alluded to the work of Ennius—

  “Indignatur item privatis, ac prope socco
  Dignis carminibus, narrari cœna Thyestæ.”

Yet this spiritless tragedy, was very popular in Rome, and continued to be
frequently represented, till Varius treated the same subject in a manner,
as we are informed by Quintilian, equal to the Greeks(178).

It thus appears that Ennius has little claim to originality or invention
as a tragic author. Perhaps it may seem remarkable, that a poet of his
powerful genius did not rather write new plays, than copy servilely from
the Greeks. But nothing is ever invented where borrowing will as well
serve the purpose. Rome had few artists, in consequence of the facility
with which the finest specimens of the arts were procured by plundering
the towns of Sicily and Greece. Now, at the period in which Ennius
flourished, the productions of Grecian literature were almost as new to
the Romans as the most perfectly original compositions. Thus, the dramatic
works of Ennius were possessed of equal novelty for his audience as if
wholly his own; while a great deal of trouble was saved to himself. The
example, however, was unfortunate, as it communicated to Roman literature
a character of servility, and of imitation, or rather of translation, from
the Greek, which so completely pervaded it, that succeeding poets were
most faultless when they copied most closely, and at length, when they
abandoned the guides whom they had so long followed, they fell into
declamation and bombast. Probably, had the compositions of Ennius been
original, they would have been less perfect, than by being thus imitated,
or nearly translated, from the masterpieces of Greece. But the literature
of his country might ultimately have attained a higher eminence. The
imitative productions of Ennius may be likened to those trees which are
transplanted when far advanced in growth. Much at first appears to have
been gained; but it is certain, that he who sets the seedling is more
useful than the transplanter, and that, while the trees removed from their
native soil lose their original beauty and luxuriance without increase in
magnitude, the seedling swells in its parent earth to immensity of
size—fresh, blooming, and verdant in youth, vigorous in maturity, and
venerable in old age.

Nor, although Ennius was the first writer who introduced satiric
composition into Rome, are his pretensions, in this respect, to
originality, very distinguished. He adapted the ancient satires of the
Tuscan and Oscan stage to the closet, by refining their grossness,
softening their asperity, and introducing railleries borrowed from the
Greek poets, with whom he was familiar. His satires thus appear to have
been a species of _centos_ made up from passages of various poems, which,
by slight alterations, were humorously or satirically applied, and chiefly
to the delineation of character: “Carmen,” says Diomedes the grammarian,
“quod ex variis poematibus constabat satira vocabatur, quale scripserunt
Pacuvius et Ennius.” The fragments which remain of these satires are too
short and broken to allow us even to divine their subject. That entitled
_Asotus_ vel _Sotadicus_, is the representation of a luxurious, dissolute
man, and was so termed from Sotades, a voluptuous Cretan poet. Quintilian
also mentions, that one of his satires contained a Dialogue between Life
and Death, contending with each other, a mode of composition suggested
perhaps by the celebrated allegory of Prodicus. We are farther informed by
Aulus Gellius, that he introduced into another satire, with great skill
and beauty, Æsop’s fable of the Larks(179), now well known through the
imitation of Fontaine(180). The lark having built her nest among some
early corn, feared that it might be reaped before her young ones were fit
to take wing. She therefore desired them to report to her whatever
conversation they might hear in the fields during her absence. They first
informed her, that the husbandman had come to the spot, and desired his
son to summon their neighbours and friends to assist in cutting the crop
the next morning. The lark, on hearing this, declares, that there is no
occasion to be in any haste in removing. On the following day, it is again
reported, that the husbandman had desired that his relations should be
requested to assist him; and the lark is still of opinion that there is no
necessity to hurry away. At length, however, the young larks relate, that
the husbandman had announced that he would execute the work himself. On
hearing this, the old lark said it was now time to be gone. She
accordingly removed her younglings, and the corn was immediately cut down
by the master. From this tale Ennius deduces as the moral,

  “Hoc erit tibi argumentum semper in promptu situm;
  Ne quid expectes amicos, quod tute agere possis.”

It is certainly much to be regretted that we possess so scanty fragments
of these satires, which would have been curious as the first attempts at a
species of composition which was carried to such perfection by succeeding
Latin poets, and which has been regarded as almost peculiar to the Romans.

The great work, however, of Ennius, and of which we have still
considerable remains, was his Annals, or metrical chronicles, devoted to
the celebration of Roman exploits, from the earliest periods to the
conclusion of the Istrian war. These Annals were written by our poet in
his old age; at least, Aulus Gellius informs us, on the authority of
Varro, that the twelfth book was finished by him in his sixty-seventh

It may perhaps appear strange, that, when the fabulous exploits, the
superstitions, the characters and the manners, of the heroic ages, were so
admirably adapted for poetical imagery, and had been so successfully
employed in Greece, the chief work of the Father of Roman Song should have
been a sort of versified newspaper, like the _Henriade_ of Voltaire, or
the _Araucana_ of Alonco de Ercilla: For in other countries poetry has
been earliest devoted to the decoration of those marvels in which the
_amantes mira Camœnæ_ chiefly rejoice. In most lands, however, the origin
of poetry was coeval with the rise of the nation, and every thing seems
wondrous to an ignorant and timid race. The Greeks, in their first
poetical age, peopled every grove and lake with fauns and naiads, or
personified the primeval powers of nature. They sung the fables concerning
their gods, and the exploits of heroes, in those ancient verses which have
been combined in the Theogony attributed to Hesiod, and those immortal
rhapsodies which have formed the basis of the Homeric poems. The
marvellous vision of Dante was the earliest effort of the Italian muse;
and some of the first specimens of verse in France and England were wild
adventures in love or arms, interspersed with stories of demons and
enchanters. But in Rome, though the first effort of the language was in
poetry, five hundred years had elapsed from the foundation of the city
before this effort was made. At that period, the Romans were a rude but
rational race. The locks of Curius were perhaps uncombed; but though the
Republic had as yet produced no character of literary elegance, she had
given birth to Cincinnatus, and Fabricius, and Camillus. Her citizens had
neither been rendered timid nor indolent by their superstitions, but were
actively employed in agriculture or in arms. They were a less
contemplative and imaginative race than the Greeks. Their spirit was
indeed sufficiently warlike; but that peculiar spirit of adventure, (which
characterised the early ages of Greece, and the middle ages of modern
Europe,) had, if it ever existed, long ago ceased in Rome. By this time,
the Roman armies were too well disciplined, and the system of warfare too
regular, to admit a description of the picturesque combats of the Greek
and Trojan charioteers. Poetry was thus too late in its birth to take a
natural flight. In such circumstances, the bard, however rich or lofty
might be his conceptions, would not listen to his own taste or
inspiration, but select the theme which was likely to prove most popular;
and the Romans, being a national and ambitious people, would be more
gratified by the jejune relation of their own exploits, than by the
_speciosa miracula_ of the most sublime or romantic invention.

The Annals of Ennius were partly founded on those ancient traditions and
old heroic ballads, which Cicero, on the authority of Cato’s _Origines_,
mentions as having been sung at feasts by the guests, many centuries
before the age of Cato, in praise of the heroes of Rome(182). Niebuhr has
attempted to show, that all the memorable events of Roman history had been
versified in ballads, or metrical chronicles, in the Saturnian measure,
before the time of Ennius; who, according to him, merely expressed in the
Greek hexameter, what his predecessors had delivered in a ruder strain,
and then maliciously depreciated these ancient compositions, in order that
he himself might be considered as the founder of Roman poetry(183). The
devotion of the Decii, and death of the Fabian family,—the stories of
Scævola, Cocles, and Coriolanus,—Niebuhr believes to have been the
subjects of romantic ballads. Even Fabius Pictor, according to this
author, followed one of these old legends in his narrative concerning Mars
and the Wolf, and his whole history of Romulus. Livy, too, in his account
of the death of Lucretia, has actually transcribed from one of these
productions; since what Sextus says, on entering the chamber of Lucretia,
is nearly in the Saturnian measure:—

  “Tace, Lucretia, inquit, Sextus Tarquinius sum,
  Ferrum in manu est, moriere si emiseris vocem(184).”

But the chief work, according to Niebuhr, from which Ennius borrowed, was
a romantic epopee, or chronicle, made up from these heroic ballads about
the end of the fourth century of Rome, commencing with the accession of
Tarquinius Priscus, and ending with the battle of Regillus. The arrival,
says Niebuhr, of that monarch under the name of Lucumo—his exploits and
victories—his death—then the history of Servius Tullius—the outrageous
pride of Tullia—the murder of the lawful monarch—the fall of the last
Tarquin, preceded by a supernatural warning—Lucretia—Brutus and the truly
Homeric battle of Regillus—compose an epic, which, in poetical incident,
and splendour of fancy, surpasses everything produced in the latter ages
of Rome(185). The battle of Regillus, in particular, as described by the
annalists, bears evident marks of its poetical origin. It was not a battle
between two hosts, but a struggle of heroes. As in the fights painted in
the Iliad, the champions meet in single combat, and turn by individual
exertions the tide of victory. The dictator Posthumius wounds King
Tarquin, whom he had encountered at the first onset. The Roman knight
Albutius engages with the Latin chief Mamilius, but is wounded by him, and
forced to quit the field. Mamilius then nearly breaks the Roman line, but
is slain by the Consul Herminius, which decides the fate of the day. After
the battle of Regillus, all the events are not so completely poetical; but
in the siege of Veii we have a representation of the ten years war of
Troy. The secret introduction of the troops by Camillus into the middle of
the city resembles the story of the wooden horse, and the Etruscan statue
of Juno corresponds to the Trojan Palladium(186).

Any period of history may be thus exhibited in the form of an epic cycle;
and, though there can be little doubt of the existence of ancient
Saturnian ballads at Rome, I do not think that Niebuhr has adduced
sufficient proof or authority for his magnificent epopee, commencing with
the accession of Tarquin, and ending with the battle of Regillus. With
regard to the accusation against Ennius, of depreciating the ancient
materials which he had employed, it is founded on the contempt which he
expresses for the verses of the Fauns and the Prophets. His obligations,
if he owed any, he has certainly nowhere acknowledged, at least in the
fragments which remain; and he rather betrays an anxiety, at the
commencement of his poem, to carry away the attention of the reader from
the Saturnian muses, and direct it to the Grecian poets,—to Pindus, and
the nymphs of Helicon.

He begins his Annals with an invocation to the nine Muses, and the account
of a vision in which Homer had appeared to him, and related the story of
the metamorphosis already mentioned:—

        “Visus Homerus adesse poeta:
  Hei mihi qualis erat, quantum mutatus ab illo!
  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  Septingenti sunt, paulo plus vel minus, anni
  Quom memini fieri me pavom.”

Ennius afterwards invokes a great number of the Gods, and then proceeds to
the history of the Alban kings. The dream of the Vestal Virgin Ilia, which
announced her pregnancy by Mars, and the foundation of Rome, is related in
verses of considerable beauty and smoothness, by Ilia to her sister

  “Talia commemorat lacrumans, exterrita somno;
  ‘Euridica prognata, pater quam noster amavit,
  Vivens vita meum corpus nunc deserit omne.
  Nam me visus homo polcer per amœna salicta
  Et ripas raptare, locosque novos: ita sola
  Post illa, germana soror, errare videbar;
  Tardaque vestigare, et quærere, neque posse
  Corde capessere: semita nulla pedem stabilibat.
  Exin compellare pater me voce videtur
  Heis verbis—O gnata, tibi sunt antegerendæ
  Ærumnæ; post ex fluvio fortuna resistet.
  Hæc pater ecfatus, germana, repente recessit;
  Nec sese dedit in conspectum corde cupitus:
  Quamquam multa manus ad cœli cærula Templa
  Tendebam lacrumans, et blanda voce vocabam.
  Vix ægro tum corde meo me somnus reliquit(187).’”

In these lines there is considerable elegance and pathos; and the contest
which immediately succeeds between Romulus and Remus for the sovereignty
of Rome, is as remarkable for dignity and animation:

  “Curanteis magnâ cum curâ, concupienteis
  Regnei, dant operam simul auspicio, augurioque:
  Hinc Remus auspicio se devovet, atque secundam
  Solus avem servat: at Romolus polcer in alto
  Quærit Aventino, servans genus altivolantum.
  Omnis cura vireis, uter esset Endoperator.
  Exspectant, veluti consol, quom mittere signum
  Volt, omneis avidei spectant ad carceris oras,
  Qua mox emittat picteis ex faucibus currus.
  Sic exspectabat populus, atque ore timebat
  Rebus, utrei magnei victoria sit data regnei.
  Interea Sol albus recessit in infera noctis:
  Exin Candida se radiis dedit icta foras lux:
  Et simol ex alto longe polcerrima præpes
  Læva volavit avis: simol aureus exoritur sol.
  Cedunt ter quatuor de cælo corpora sancta
  Avium, præpetibus sese, polcreisque loceis dant.
  Conspicit inde sibei data Romolus esse priora,
  Auspicio regni stabilita scamna, solumque(188).”

The reigns of the kings, and the contests of the republic with the
neighbouring states previous to the Punic war, occupy the metrical annals
to the end of the sixth book(189), which concludes with the following
noble answer of Pyrrhus to the Roman ambassadors, who came to ransom the
prisoners taken from them by that prince in battle:—

  “Nec mî aurum posco, nec mî pretium dederitis;
  Nec cauponantes bellum, sed belligerantes;
  Ferro, non auro, vitam cernamus utrique,
  Vosne velit, an me regnare Hera; quidve ferat sors
  Virtute experiamur; et hoc simol accipe dictum:
  Quorum virtutei belli fortuna pepercit,
  Horumdem me libertatei parcere certum est:
  Dono ducite, doque volentibus cum magneis Dîs(190).”

Cicero, in his _Brutus_, says, that Ennius did not treat of the first
Punic war, as Nævius had previously written on that subject(191); to which
prior work Ennius thus alludes:—

              “Scripsere alii rem,
  Versibus, quos olim Faunei, vatesque canebant.”

P. Merula, however, who edited the fragments of Ennius, is of opinion,
that this passage of Cicero can only mean that he had not entered into
much detail of its events, as he finds several lines in the seventh book,
which, he thinks, evidently apply to the first Carthaginian war,
particularly the description of naval preparations, and the building of
the first fleet with which the Carthaginians were attacked by the Romans.
In some of the editions of Ennius, the character of the friend and
military adviser of Servilius, generally supposed to be intended as a
portrait of the poet himself(192), is ranged under the seventh book:—

  “Hocce locutus vocat, quicum bene sæpe libenter
  Mensam, sermonesque suos, rerumque suarum
  Comiter impertit; magna quum lapsa dies jam
  Parte fuisset de parvis summisque gerendis,
  Consilio, induforo lato, sanctoque senatu;
  Cui res audacter magnas, parvasque, jocumque
  Eloqueret, quæ tincta maleis, et quæ bona dictu
  Evomeret, si quid vellet, tutoque locaret.
  Quocum multa volup ac gaudia clamque palamque.
  Ingenium cui nulla malum sententia suadet,
  Ut faceret facinus; lenis tamen, haud malus; idem
  Doctus, fidelis, suavis homo, facundus, suoque
  Contentus, scitus, atque beatus, secunda loquens in
  Tempore commodus, et verborum vir paucorum.
  Multa tenens antiqua sepulta, et sæpe vetustas
  Quæ facit, et mores veteresque novosque tenentem
  Multorum veterum leges, divumque hominumque
  Prudentem, qui multa loquive, tacereve possit.
  Hunc inter pugnas compellat Servilius sic(193).”

The eighth and ninth books of these Annals, which are much mutilated,
detailed the events of the second Carthaginian war in Italy and Africa.
This was by much the most interesting part of the copious subject which
Ennius had chosen, and a portion of it on which he would probably exert
all the force of his genius, in order the more to honour his friend and
patron Scipio Africanus. The same topic was selected by Silius Italicus,
and by Petrarch for his Latin poem _Africa_, which obtained him a
coronation in the Capitol. “Ennius,” says the illustrious Italian, “has
sung fully of Scipio; but, in the opinion of Valerius Maximus, his style
is harsh and vulgar, and there is yet no elegant poem which has for its
subject the glorious exploits of the conqueror of Hannibal.” None of the
poets who have chosen this topic, have done full justice to the most
arduous struggle in which two powerful nations had ever engaged, and which
presented the most splendid display of military genius on the one hand,
and heroic virtue on the other, that had yet been exhibited to the world.
Livy’s historical account of the second Punic war possesses more real
poetry than any poem on the subject whatever.

The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth books of the Annals of Ennius, contained
the war with Philip of Macedon. In the commencement of the thirteenth,
Hannibal excites Antiochus to a war against the Romans. In the fourteenth
book, the Consul Scipio, in the prosecution of this contest, arrives at
Ilium, which he thus apostrophizes:

  “O patria! O divûm domus Ilium, et incluta bello

Several Latin writers extol the elegant lines of Ennius immediately
following, in which the Roman soldiers, alluding to its magnificent
revival in Rome, exclaim with enthusiasm, that Ilium could not be

  “Quai neque Dardaneeis campeis potuere perire,
  Nec quom capta capei, nec quom combusta cremari(194);”

a passage which has been closely imitated in the seventh book of Virgil:

        “Num Sigeis occumbere campis,
  Num capti potuere capi: num incensa cremavit
  Troja viros?”

The fifteenth book related the expedition of Fulvius Nobilior to Ætolia,
which Ennius himself is said to have accompanied. In the two following
books he prosecuted the Istrian war; which concludes with the following
animated description of a single hero withstanding the attack of an armed

  “Undique conveniunt, velut imber, tela Tribuno.
  Configunt parmam, tinnit hastilibus umbo,
  Æratæ sonitant galeæ: sed nec pote quisquam
  Undique nitendo corpus discerpere ferro.
  Semper abundanteis hastas frangitque, quatitque;
  Totum sudor habet corpus, moltumque laborat;
  Nec respirandi fit copia præpete ferro.
  Istrei tela manu jacientes sollicitabant.
  Occumbunt moltei leto, ferroque lapique,
  Aut intra moeros, aut extra præcipi casu(195).”

The concluding, or eighteenth, book seems to have been in a great measure
personal to the poet himself. It explains his motive for writing:—

  —— “Omnes mortales sese laudarier optant;” ——

and he seemingly compares himself to a Courser, who rests after his
triumphs in the Olympic games:—

  “Sic ut fortis Equus, spatio qui sæpe supremo
  Vicit Olumpiaco, nunc senio confectus quiescit(196).”

Connected with his Annals, there was a poem of Ennius devoted to the
celebration of the exploits of Scipio, in which occurs a much-admired
description of the calm of Evening, where the flow of the versification is
finely modulated to the still and solemn imagery:—

  “Mundus cœli vastus constitit silentio,
  Et Neptunus sævus undeis aspereis pausam dedit:
  Sol equeis iter repressit unguleis volantibus,
  Constitere amneis perenneis—arbores vento vacant(197).”

With this first attempt at descriptive poetry in the Latin language, it
may be interesting to compare a passage produced in the extreme old age of
Roman literature, which also paints, by nearly the same images, the
profound repose of Nature:—

  —— “Tacet omne pecus, volucresque feræque,
  Et simulant fessos curvata cacumina somnos;
  Nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus; occidit horror
  Æquoris, et terris maria acclinata quiescunt.”

Horace, in one of his odes, strongly expresses the glory and honour which
the Calabrian muse of Ennius had conferred on Scipio by this poem, devoted
to his praise:

  “Non incendia Carthaginis impiæ,
  Ejus qui domita nomen ab Africa
  Lucratus rediit, clarius indicant
  Laudes quam Calabræ Pierides(198).”

The historical poems of Ennius appear to have been written without the
introduction of much machinery or decorative fiction; and whether founded
on ancient ballads, according to one opinion(199), or framed conformably
to historical truth, according to another(200), they were obviously
deficient in those embellishments of imagination which form the
distinction between a poem and a metrical chronicle. In the subject which
he had chosen, Ennius wanted the poetic advantages of distance in place or
of time. It perhaps matters little whether the ground-work of a heroic
poem be historical or entirely fictitious, if free scope be given for the
excursions of fancy. But, in order that it may sport with advantage, the
event must be remote in time or in place; and if this rule be observed,
such subjects as those chosen by Camoens or Tasso admit of as much
colouring and embellishment as the _Faery Queen_. It is in this that Lucan
and Voltaire have erred; and neither the soaring genius of the one, nor
brilliancy of the other, could raise their themes, splendid as they were,
from the dust, or steep the mind in those reveries in which we indulge on
subjects where there is no visible or known bound to credulity and
imaginings. Still the Annals of Ennius, as a national work, were highly
gratifying to a proud ambitious people, and, in consequence, continued
long popular at Rome. They were highly relished in the age of Horace and
Virgil; and, as far down as the time of Marcus Aurelius, they were recited
in theatres and other public places for the amusement of the people(201).
The Romans, indeed, were so formed on his style, that Seneca called them
_populus Ennianus_—an Ennian race,—and said, that both Cicero and Virgil
were obliged, contrary to their own judgment, to employ antiquated terms,
in compliance with the reigning prejudice(202). From his example, too,
added to the national character, the historical epic became in future
times the great poetical resource of the Romans, who versified almost
every important event in their history. Besides the _Pharsalia_ of Lucan,
and _Punica_ of Silius Italicus, which still survive, there were many
works of this description which are now lost. Varro Atacinus chose as his
subject Cæsar’s war with the Sequani—Varius, the deeds of Augustus and
Agrippa—Valgius Rufus, the battle of Actium—Albinovanus, the exploits of
Germanicus—Cicero, those of Marius, and the events of his own consulship.

We have already seen Ennius’s imitation of the Greeks in his tragedies and
satires; and even in the above-mentioned historical poems, though devoted
to the celebration of Roman heroes and subjects exclusively national, he
has borrowed copiously from the Greek poets, and has often made his Roman
consuls fight over again the Homeric battles. Thus the description of the
combat of Ajax, in the 16th Book of the Iliad, beginning Αιας δ’ ουκετ’
ἐμιμνε, has suggested a passage, above quoted, from the fragments of the
Istrian war; and the picture of a steed breaking from his stall, and
ranging the pastures, is imitated from a similar description, in the 6th
Book of the Iliad—

  “Et tunc sicut Equus, qui de præsepibus actus,
  Vincla sua magneis animeis abrumpit, et inde
  Fert sese campi per cœrula, lætaque prata;
  Celso pectore, sæpe jubam quassat simul altam:
  Spiritus ex animâ calidâ spumas agit albas(203).”

Homer’s lines are the following:—

  “Ὡς δ’ ὁτε τις στατος ἱππος, ακοςησας επι φατνῃ
  Δεσμον απορρηξας θειει πεδιοιο κροαινων,
  Ἐιωθως λουεσθαι εὐρρειος ποταμοιο,
  Κυδιοων· ὑψου δε καρη ἐχει, αμφι δε χαιται
  Ὡμοις αισσονται. ὁ δ’ αγλαιηφι πεποιθως,
  Ριμφα ἑ γουνα φερει μετα τ’ ἠθεα και νομον ιππων(204).”

In order to afford an opportunity of judging of Ennius’s talents for
imitation, I have subjoined from the two poets, who carried that art to
the greatest perfection, corresponding passages, which are both evidently
founded on the same Greek original—

  “Qualis, ubi abruptis fugit præsepia vinclis,
  Tandem liber, Equus, campoque potitus aperto;
  Aut ille in pastus armentaque tendit equarum,
  Aut, assuetus aquæ perfundi flumine noto,
  Emicat, arrectisque fremit cervicibus alte
  Luxurians; luduntque jubæ per colla, per armos(205).”

The other parallel passage is in Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered—

  “Come Destrier, che dalle reggie stalle,
  Ove al uso dell’ arme si riserba,
  Fugge, e libero alfin, per largo calle
  Va tra gli armenti, o al fiume usato, o all’ erba;
  Scherzan sul collo i crini, e sulle spalle:
  Si scuote la cervice alta e superba:
  Suonano i pie nel corso, e par ch’avvampi,
  Di sonori nitriti empiendo i campi(206).”

To these parallel passages may be added a very similar, though perhaps not
a borrowed description, from the earliest production of the most original
of all poets, in which the horse of Adonis breaks loose during the
dalliance of Venus with his master:—

      “The strong-necked steed, being tied unto a tree,
      Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.
  Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
    And now his woven girts he breaks asunder,
  The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
    Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven’s thunder.
  His ears up-prick’d, his braided hanging mane,
    Upon his compass’d crest, now stands an end;
  His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
    As from a furnace, vapours doth he send.
      His eye which glisters scornfully, like fire,
      Shows his hot courage and his high desire(207).”

The poem of Ennius, entitled _Phagetica_, is curious,—as one would hardly
suppose, that in this early age, luxury had made such progress, that the
culinary art should have been systematically or poetically treated. All
that we know, however, of the manner in which it was prepared or served
up, is from the _Apologia_ of Apuleius. It was, which its name imports, a
didactic poem on eatables, particularly fish, as Apuleius testifies.—“Q.
Ennii _edes_ phagetica, quæ versibus scripsit, innumerabilia piscium
genera enumerat, quæ scilicet curiose cognorat.” It is well known, that
previous to the time of Ennius, this subject had been discussed both in
prose and verse by various Greek authors(208), and was particularly
detailed in the poem of Archestratus the Epicurean—

          “—— The bard
  Who sang of poultry, venison, and lard,
  Poet and cook ——”

It appears from the following passage of Apuleius, that the work of Ennius
was a digest of all the previous books on this subject,—“Alios etiam
multis versibus decoravit, et ubi gentium quisque eorum inveniatur,
ostendit qualiter assus, aut jussulentus optime sapiat; nec tamen ab
eruditis reprehenditur.” The eleven lines which remain, and which have
been preserved by Apuleius, mention the places where different sorts of
fish are found in greatest perfection and abundance—

  “Brundusii Sargus bonus est; hunc, magnus erit si,
  Sume: Apriclum piscem scite, primum esse Tarenti;
  Surrentei fac emas Glaucum,” &c.

Another poem of Ennius, entitled _Epicharmus_, was so called because it
was translated from the Greek work of Epicharmus, the Pythagorean, on the
Nature of Things, in the same manner as Plato gave the name of _Timæus_ to
the book which he translated from Timæus the Locrian. This was the same
Epicharmus who invented Greek comedy, and resided in the court of Hiero of
Syracuse. The fragments of this work of Ennius are so broken and
corrupted, that it is impossible to follow the plan of his poem, or to
discover the system of philosophy which it inculcated. It appears,
however, to have contained many speculations concerning the elements of
which the world was primarily composed, and which, according to him, were
water, earth, air, and fire(209); as also with regard to the preservative
powers of nature. Jupiter seems merely to have been considered by him as
the air, the clouds, and the storm:

  “Isteic is est Jupiter, quem dico, Græci vocant
  Aera; quique ventus est, et nubes, imber postea,
  Atque ex imbre frigus; ventus post fit, aer denuo:
  Istæc propter Jupiter sunt ista, quæ dico tibei,
  Qui mortales urbeis, atque belluas omneis juvat(210).”

This system, which had been previously adopted by the Etruscans, and had
been promulgated in some of the Orphic hymns, nearly corresponds with that
announced by Cato, in Lucan’s _Pharsalia_—

  “Jupiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris;”

and is not far different from the Spinozism, in Pope’s Essay on Man—

  “Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
  Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
  Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
  Spreads undivided, operates unspent.”

Ennius, however, whose compositions thus appear to have been formed
entirely on Greek originals, has not more availed himself of these
writings than Virgil has profited by the works of Ennius. The prince of
Latin Poets has often imitated long passages, and sometimes copied whole
lines, from the Father of Roman Song. This has been shown, in a close
comparison, by Macrobius, in his _Saturnalia_(211).

          ENNIUS, Book 1.
  “Qui cœlum versat stellis fulgentibus aptum.”
          VIRGIL, Book 6.
  “Axem humero torquet stellis ardentibus aptum.”
          ENNIUS, 1.
  “Est locus Hesperiam quam mortales perhibebant.”
          VIRGIL, 1.
  “Est locus Hesperiam Graii cognomine dicunt.”
          ENNIUS, 12.
  “Unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem;
  Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem.
  Ergo postque magisque viri nunc gloria claret(212).”
          VIRGIL, 6.
  “Unus qui nobis cunctando restituis rem.”
          ENNIUS, 5.
  “Quod per amœnam urbem leni fluit agmine flumen.”
          VIRGIL, 2.
  “Inter opima virum leni fluit agmine Tybris.”
          ENNIUS, 1.
  “Hei mihi qualis erat quantum mutatus ab illo.”
          VIRGIL, 2.
  “Hei mihi qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab illo.”
  —— “Postquam discordia tetra
  Belli ferratos postes portasque refregit(213).”
          VIRGIL, 7.
  “Impulit ipsa manu portas, et cardine verso
  Belli ferratos rupit Saturnia postes.”

In the longer passages, Virgil has not merely selected the happiest
thoughts and expressions of his predecessor, but in borrowing a great deal
from Ennius, he has added much of his own. He has thrown on common images
new lights of fancy; he has struck out the finest ideas from ordinary
sentiments, and expunged all puerile conceits and absurdities.

Lucretius and Ovid have also frequently availed themselves of the works of
Ennius. His description of felling the trees of a forest, in order to fit
out a fleet against the Carthaginians, in the seventh book, has been
imitated by Statius in the tenth book of the _Thebaid_. The passage in his
sixth satire, in which he has painted the happy situation of a parasite,
compared with that of the master of a feast, is copied in Terence’s
Phormio(214). The following beautiful lines have been imitated by
innumerable poets, both ancient and modern:

  “Jupiter hic risit, tempestatesque serenæ
  Riserunt omnes risu Jovis omnipotentis(215).”

Near the commencement of his _Annals_, Ennius says,

  “Audire est operæ pretium, procedere recte
  Qui rem Romanam Latiumque augescere vultis;”

which solemn passage has been parodied by Horace, in the second satire of
the first book:

  “Audire est operæ pretium, procedere recte
  Qui mœchis non vultis, ut omni parte laborent.”

Thus it appears that Ennius occasionally produced verses of considerable
harmony and beauty, and that his conceptions were frequently expressed
with energy and spirit. It must be recollected, however, that the lines
imitated by Virgil, and the other passages which have been here extracted
from the works of Ennius, are very favourable specimens of his taste and
genius. Sometimes poems, which have themselves been lost, and of which
only fragments are preserved, in the citations of contemporary or
succeeding authors, are now believed to have been finer productions than
they perhaps actually were. It is the best passages which are quoted, and
imitated, and are thus upborne on the tide of ages, while the grosser
parts have sunk and perished in the flood. We are in this manner led to
form an undue estimate of the excellence of the whole, in the same manner
as we doubtless conceive an exaggerated idea of the ancient magnificence
of Persepolis or Palmyra, where, while the humble dwellings have mouldered
into dust, the temples and pyramids remain, and all that meets the eye is
towering and majestic. A few, however, even of the verses of Ennius which
have been preserved, are very harsh, and defective in their mechanical
construction; others are exceedingly prosaic, as,

  “Egregie cordatus homo Catus Ælius Sextus;”

and not a few are deformed with the most absurd conceits, not so much in
the idea, as in a jingle of words and extravagant alliteration. The
ambiguity of the celebrated verse,

  “Aio te Æacida Romanos vincere posse,”

may be excused as oracular, but what can be said for such lines as,

  “Haud doctis dictis certantes sed maledictis.
  O Tite tute Tate tibi tanta tyranne tulisti.
  Stultus est qui cupida cupiens cupienter cupit.”

This species of conceit was rejected by the good taste of subsequent Latin
poets, even in the most degraded periods of literature; and I know no
parallel to it, except in some passages of Sidney’s Arcadia. Nothing can
be a greater mistake, than to suppose that false taste and jingle are
peculiar to the latter ages of poetry, and that the early bards of a
country are free from _concetti_.

On the whole, the works of Ennius are rather pleasing and interesting, as
the early blossoms of that poetry which afterwards opened to such
perfection, than estimable from their own intrinsic beauty. To many
critics the latter part of Ovid’s observation,

  “Ennius ingenio maximus—arte rudis,”

has appeared better founded than the first. Scaliger, however, has termed
him, “Poeta antiquus magnifico ingenio: Utinam hunc haberemus integrum, et
amisissemus Lucanum, Statium, Silium Italicum, _et tous ces garcons
la_(216).” Quintilian has happily enough compared the writings of Ennius
to those sacred groves hallowed by their antiquity, and which we do not so
much admire for their beauty, as revere with religious awe and dread(217).
Hence, if we cannot allow Ennius to be crowned with the poetical laurel,
we may at least grant the privilege conceded to him by Propertius—

  “Ennius hirsutâ cingat sua tempora quercu.”

Politian, in his _Nutricia_, has recapitulated the events of the life of
Ennius, and has given perhaps the most faithful summary of his character,
both as a man and a poet—

  “Bella horrenda tonat Romanorumque triumphos,
  Inque vicem nexos per carmina degerit annos:
  Arte rudis, sed mente potens, parcissimus oris,
  Pauper opum, fidens animi, morumque probatus,
  Contentusque suo, nec bello ignarus et armis.”

But whatever may have been the merits of the works of Ennius, of which we
are now but incompetent judges, they were at least sufficiently various.
Epic, dramatic, satiric, and didactic poetry, were all successively
attempted by him; and we also learn that he exercised himself in lighter
sorts of verse, as the epigram and acrostic(218). For this novelty and
exuberance it is not difficult to account. The fountains of Greek
literature, as yet untasted in Latium, were to him inexhaustible sources.
He stood in very different circumstances from those Greek bards who had to
rely solely on their own genius, or from his successors in Latin poetry,
who wrote after the best productions of Greece had become familiar to the
Romans. He was placed in a situation in which he could enjoy all the
popularity and applause due to originality, without undergoing the labour
of invention, and might rapidly run with success through every mode of the
lyre, without possessing incredible diversity of genius.

The above criticisms apply to the poetical productions of Ennius; but the
most curious point connected with his literary history is his prose
translation of the celebrated work of Euhemerus, entitled, Ἱερα Αναγραφη.
Euhemerus is generally supposed to have been an inhabitant of Messene, a
city of Peloponnesus. Being sent, as he represented, on a voyage of
discovery by Cassander, King of Macedon, he came to an island called
Panchaia, in the capital of which, Panara, he found a temple of the
Tryphilian Jupiter, where stood a column inscribed with a register of the
births and deaths of many of the gods. Among these, he specified Uranus,
his sons Pan and Saturn, and his daughters Rhea and Ceres; as also
Jupiter, Juno, and Neptune, who were the offspring of Saturn. Accordingly,
the design of Euhemerus was to show, by investigating their actions, and
recording the places of their births and burials, that the mythological
deities were mere mortal men, raised to the rank of gods on account of the
benefits which they had conferred on mankind,—a system which, according to
Meiners and Warburton, formed the grand secret revealed at the initiation
into the Eleusinian mysteries(219). The translation by Ennius, as well as
the original work, is lost; but many particulars concerning Euhemerus, and
the object of his history, are mentioned in a fragment of Diodorus
Siculus, preserved by Eusebius. Some passages have also been saved by St.
Augustine; and long quotations, have been made by Lactantius, in his
treatise _De Falsa Religione_. These, so far as they extend, may be
regarded as the truest and purest sources of mythological history, though
not much followed in our modern _Pantheons_.

Plutarch, who was associated to the priesthood, and all who were
interested in the support of the vulgar creed, maintained, that the whole
work of Euhemerus, with his voyage to Panchaia, was an impudent fiction;
and, in particular, it was urged, that no one except Euhemerus had ever
seen or heard of the land of Panchaia(220): that the Panchaia Tellus had
indeed been described in a flowery and poetical style, both by Diodorus
Siculus and Virgil—

  “Totaque thuriferis Panchaia pinguis arenis(221).”

but not in such a manner as to determine its geographical position.

The truth, however, of the relation contained in the work of Euhemerus,
has been vindicated by modern writers; who have attempted to prove that
Panchaia was an island of the Red Sea, which Euhemerus had actually
visited in the course of his voyage(222). But whether Euhemerus merely
recorded what he had seen, or whether the whole book was a device and
contrivance of his own, it seems highly probable that the translation of
Ennius gave rise to the belief of many Roman philosophers, who maintained,
or insinuated, their conviction of the mortality of the gods, and whose
writings have been so frequently appealed to by Farmer, in his able
disquisition on the prevalence of the Worship of Human Spirits.

It is clear, that notwithstanding their observance of prodigies and
religious ceremonies, there prevailed a considerable spirit of
free-thinking among the Romans in the age of Ennius. This is apparent, not
merely from his translation of Euhemerus, and definition of the nature of
Jupiter, in his _Epicharmus_, but from various passages in dramas adapted
for public representation, which deride the superstitions of augurs and
soothsayers, as well as the false ideas entertained of the worshipped
divinities. Polybius, too, who flourished shortly after Ennius, speaks of
the fear of the gods, and the inventions of augury, merely as an excellent
political engine, at the same time that he reprehends the rashness and
absurdity of those who were endeavouring to extirpate such useful

The dramatic career which had been commenced by Livius Andronicus and
Ennius, was most successfully prosecuted by


who availed himself, still more even than his predecessors, of the works
of the Greeks. The Old Greek comedy was excessively satirical, and
sometimes obscene. Its subjects, as is well known, were not entirely
fictitious, but in a great measure real; and neither the highest station,
nor the brightest talents, were any security against the unrestrained
invectives of the comic muse in her earliest sallies. Cratinus, Eupolis,
and Aristophanes, were permitted to introduce on the stage the
philosophers, generals, and magistrates of the state with their true
countenances, and as it were in _propria persona_; a license which seems,
in some measure, to have been regarded as the badge of popular freedom. It
is only from the plays of Aristophanes that we can judge of the spirit of
the ancient comedy. Its genius was so wild and strange, that it scarcely
admits of definition: and can hardly be otherwise described, than as
containing a great deal of allegorical satire on the political measures
and manners of the Athenians, and parodies on their tragic poets.

When in Athens the people began to lose their political influence, and
when the management of their affairs was vested in fewer hands than
formerly, the oligarchical government restrained this excessive license;
but while the poets were prohibited from naming the individuals whose
actions they exposed, still they represented real characters so justly,
though under fictitious appellations, that there could be no mistake with
regard to the persons intended. This species of drama, which comprehends
some of the later pieces of Aristophanes,—for example, his Plutus,—and is
named the Middle comedy, was soon discovered to be as offensive and
dangerous as the old. The dramatists being thus at length forced to invent
their subjects and characters, comedy became a general yet lively
imitation of the common actions of life. All personal allusion was
dropped, and the Chorus, which had been the great vehicle of censure and
satire, was removed. The new comedy was thus so different in its features
from the middle or the old, that Schlegel has been induced to think, that
it was formed on the model of the latest tragedians, rather than on the
ancient comedy(224). In the productions of Agathon, and even in some
dramas of Euripides, tragedy had descended from its primeval height, and
represented the distresses of domestic life, though still the domestic
life of kings and heroes. Though Euripides was justly styled by Aristotle
the most tragic of all poets, his style possessed neither the energy and
sublimity of Æschylus, nor the gravity and stateliness of Sophocles, and
it was frequently not much elevated above the language of ordinary
conversation. His plots, too, like the _Rudens_ of Plautus, often hinge on
the fear of women, lest they be torn from the shrines or altars to which
they had fled for protection; and what may be regarded as a confirmation
of this opinion is, that Euripides, who had been so severely satirized by
Aristophanes, was extravagantly extolled by Philemon, in his own age the
most popular writer of the new comedy.

While possessing, perhaps, both less art and fire than the old satirical
drama, produced in times of greater public freedom, the new comedy is
generally reputed to have been superior in delicacy, regularity, and
decorum. But although it represented the characters and manners of real
life, yet in these characters and manners—to judge at least from the
fragments which remain, and from the Latin imitations—there does not
appear to have been much variety. There is always an old father, a lover,
and a courtezan; as if formed on each other, like the Platonic and
licentious lover in the Spanish romances of chivalry. “Their plots,” says
Dryden, “were commonly a little girl, stolen or wandering from her
parents, brought back unknown to the city,—there got with child by some
one, who, by the help of his servant, cheats his father,—and when her time
comes to cry Juno Lucina, one or other sees a little box or cabinet which
was carried away with her, and so discovers her to her friends;—if some
god do not prevent it, by coming down in a machine, and taking the thanks
of it to himself. By the plot you may guess much of the characters of the
persons; an old father, who would willingly before he dies see his son
well married; a debauched son, kind in his nature to his mistress, but
miserably in want of money; and a servant, or slave, who has so much art
as to strike in with him, and help to dupe his father; a braggadocio
captain; a parasite; a lady of pleasure. As for the poor honest maid, on
whom the story is built, and who ought to be one of the principal actors
in the play, she is commonly mute in it. She has the breeding of the old
Elizabeth way: which was, for maids to be seen and not to be heard.”
Sometimes, however, her breeding appears in being heard and not seen; and
Donatus remarks, that invocations of Juno behind the scenes were the only
way in which the _severity_ of the _Comœdia palliata_ allowed young
gentlewomen to be introduced. Were we to characterize the ancient drama by
appellations of modern invention, it might be said, that the ancient
comedy was what we call a comedy of character, and the modern a comedy of

Nævius, while inventing plots of his own, had tried to introduce on the
Roman stage the style of the _old_ Greek comedy; but his dramas did not
succeed, and the fate of their author deterred others from following his
dangerous career. The government of Athens, which occupies a chief part in
the old comedy, was the most popular of all administrations; and hence not
only oratory but comedy claimed the right of ridiculing and exposing it.
The first state in Greece became the subject of merriment. In one play,
the whole body of the people was represented under the allegorical
personage of an old doting driveller; and the pleasantry was not only
tolerated but enjoyed by the members of the state itself. Cleon and
Lamachus could not have repressed the satire of Aristophanes, as the
Metelli checked the invectives of Nævius. Under pretence of patriotic
zeal, the Greek comic writers spared no part of the public
conduct,—councils, revenues, popular assemblies, judicial proceedings, or
warlike enterprizes. Such exposure was a restraint on the ambition of
individuals,—a matter of importance to a people jealous of its liberties.
All this, however, was quite foreign to the more serious taste, and more
aristocratic government, of the Romans, to their estimation of heroes and
statesmen, to their respect for their legitimate chiefs, and for the
dignity even of a Roman citizen. The profound reverence and proud
affection which they entertained for all that exalted the honour of their
country, and their extreme sensibility to its slightest disgrace, must
have interdicted any exhibition, in which its glory was humbled, or its
misfortunes held up to mockery. They would not have laughed so heartily at
the disasters of a Carthaginian, as the Athenians did at those of a
Peloponnesian or Sicilian war. The disposition which led them to return
thanks to Varro, after the battle of Cannæ, that he had not despaired of
the republic, was very different from the temper which excited such
contumelious laughter at the promoters of the Spartan war, and the
advisers of the fatal expedition to Syracuse(225). When the Roman people
were seriously offended, the Tarpeian rock, and not the stage, was the
spot selected for their vengeance.

Accordingly, Plautus found it most prudent to imitate the style of the new
comedy, which had been brought to perfection, about half a century before
his birth, by Menander. All his comedies, however, are not strictly formed
on this model, as a few partake of the nature of the middle comedy: not
that, like Nævius, he satirized the senators or consuls; but I have little
doubt that many of his _dramatis personæ_, such as the miser and braggart
captain, were originally caricatures of citizens of Athens. In borrowing
from the Greek, he did not, like modern writers of comedy who wish to
conceal their plagiarisms, vary the names of his characters, the scene of
action, and other external circumstances, while the substance of the drama
remained the same; on the contrary, he preserved every circumstance which
could tend to give his dramatic pieces a Greek air:—

  “Atque hoc poetæ faciunt in comœdiis;
  Omnes res gestas esse Athenis autumant,
  Quo illud vobis Græcum videatur magis.”

Plautus was the son of a freedman, and was born at Sarsina, a town in
Umbria, about the year 525. He was called Plautus from his splay feet, a
defect common among the Umbrians. Having turned his attention to the
stage, he soon realized a considerable fortune by the popularity of his
dramas; but by risking it in trade, or spending it, according others, on
the splendid dresses which he wore as an actor, and theatrical amusements
being little resorted to, on account of the famine then prevailing at
Rome, he was quickly reduced to such necessity as forced him to labour at
a hand-mill for his daily support(226) an employment which at Rome, was
the ordinary punishment of a worthless slave. Many of his plays were
written in these unfavourable circumstances, and of course have not
obtained all the perfection which might otherwise have resulted from his
knowledge of life, and his long practice in the dramatic art.

Of the performances of Plautus, the first, in that alphabetical order in
which, for want of a better, they are usually arranged, is,

_Amphitryon_.—Personal resemblances are a most fertile subject of comic
incidents, and almost all nations have had their Amphitryon. The Athenians
in particular gladly availed themselves of this subject, as it afforded an
opportunity of throwing ridicule on the dull Bœotians. It is not certain,
however, from what Greek author the play of Plautus was taken. Being
announced as a tragi-comedy, some critics(227) have conjectured that it
was most probably imitated from an Amphitryon mentioned by Athenæus,(228)
which was the work of Rhinton, a poet of Tarentum, who wrote
mock-tragedies and tragi-comedies styled _Rhintonica_ or _Hilarotragœdiæ_.
M. Schlegel, however, alleges that it was borrowed from a play of
Epicharmus the Sicilian. The subjects indeed of the ancient Greek comedy,
particularly in the hands of Epicharmus, its inventor, were frequently
derived from mythology. Even in its maturity, these topics were not
renounced, as appears from the titles of several lost pieces of
Aristophanes and his contemporaries. Such fabulous traditions continued
sometimes to occupy the scenes of the middle comedy, and it was not till
the new was introduced that the sphere of the comic drama was confined to
the representation of private and domestic life. Euripides also is said to
have written a play entitled _Alcmena_, on the story of Amphitryon, but
how far Plautus may have been indebted to him for his plot cannot be now
ascertained. It is probable enough, however, that some of the serious
parts may have been copied from the _Alcmena_ of Euripides. The
catastrophe of Plautus’s _Amphitryon_ is brought about by a storm; and we
learn from the _Rudens_, another play of Plautus, that a tempest was
introduced by the Greek tragedian—

  “Non ventus fuit, verum Alcmena Euripidis.”

The Latin play is introduced by a prologue which is spoken by the God
Mercury, and was explanatory to the audience of the circumstances
preceding the opening of the piece, and the situation of the principal
characters. The term _prologue_ has been very arbitrarily used. In one
sense it merely signified the induction to the dramatic action, which
informed the spectator of what was necessary to be known for duly
understanding it. Aristotle calls that part of a tragedy the prologue,
which precedes the first song of the chorus.(229) In the Greek tragedies,
the prologue was often a long introductory and narrative monologue.
Sophocles, however, so _dialogued_ this part of the drama, that it has no
appearance of a contrivance to instruct, but seems a natural conversation
of the _dramatis personæ_. Euripides, on the other hand, fell more into
the style of the formal narrative prologue, since, before entering on the
action or dialogue, one of the persons destined to bear a part in the
drama frequently explained to the audience, in a continued discourse, what
things seemed essential for understanding the piece. Sometimes, however,
in the Greek tragedies, the speaker of this species of prologue is not a
person of the drama. In general, these artificial prologues of explanatory
narration are addressed directly to the spectators, and hence approach
nearly to the prologue, in our acceptation of the term. The poets of the
ancient comedy, as we see from Aristophanes, usually adopted, like
Sophocles, the mode of explaining preliminary circumstances in the course
of the action, whence it has been considered that the old Greek comedies
have no prologue; and they certainly have none in the strict modern sense,
though the method of Euripides has been employed to a certain degree in
the _Wasps_ and _Birds_, in the former of which Xanthias, interrupting the
dialogue with Sosias, turns abruptly to the spectators, and unfolds the
argument of the fable. The poets of the middle and new comedy, while
departing from Aristophanes in many things, followed him in the form of
the prologue; and, as they improved in refinement, interwove still closer
the requisite exposition of the fable with its action. The Romans thus
found among the Greeks, prologues in a continued narrative, and prologues
where the exposition was mixed with the action. From these models they
formed a new species, peculiar to themselves, which is entirely separated
from the action of the drama, and which generally contains an explanation
of circumstances and characters, with such gentle recommendation of the
piece as suited the purpose of the author. We shall find that the Latin
prologues, dressed up in the form of narrative, sometimes preceded the
dramatic induction of the action, and at other times, as in the _Miles
Gloriosus_, followed it. The prologue of the _Mostellaria_ is on the plan
adopted by Aristophanes, and that of the _Cistellaria_ is conformable to
the practice of our own theatre. To other plays, such as the _Epidicus_
and _Bacchides_, there were originally no prologues, but they were
prefixed after the death of the author, in order to explain the reasons
for bringing them forward anew. It thus appears that in his prologues
Plautus approached nearer to Euripides than to those comic writers whom in
his argument and all other respects he chiefly followed. The prologues of
Terence, again, seldom announce the subject. In the manner of the Greeks,
his induction is laid in the first scene of the play, and the prologues
seem chiefly intended to acknowledge the Greek original of his drama, and
to explain matters personal to himself. They rather resemble the choruses
of Aristophanes, which in the _Wasps_ and other plays directly address the
audience in favour of the poet, and complain of the unjust reception which
his dramas occasionally experienced.

In the prologue to the _Amphitryon_, Plautus calls his play a
tragi-comedy(230); probably not so much that there is any thing tragical
in the subject, (although the character of Alcmena is a serious one,) as,
because it is of that mixed kind in which the highest as well as lowest
characters are introduced. The plot is chiefly founded on the well-known
mythological incident of Jupiter assuming the figure of Amphitryon,
general of the Thebans, during his absence with the army, and by that
means imposing on his wife Alcmena. The play opens while Jupiter is
supposed to be with the object of his passion. Sosia, the servant of
Amphitryon, who had been sent on before by his master, from the port to
announce his victory and approach, is introduced on the stage, proceeding
towards the palace of Amphitryon. While expressing his astonishment at the
length of the night, he is met, in front of his master’s house, by
Mercury, who had assumed his form, and who, partly by blows and threats,
and partly by leading him to doubt of his own identity, succeeds in
driving him back. This gives Jupiter time to prosecute his amour, and he
departs at dawn. The improbable story related by Sosia is not believed by
his master, who himself now advances towards his house, from which Alcmena
comes forth, lamenting the departure of her supposed husband; but seeing
Amphitryon, she expresses her surprise at his speedy return. The jealousy
of Amphitryon is thus excited, and he quits the stage, in order to bring
evidence that he had never till that time quitted his army. Jupiter then
returns, and Amphitryon is afterwards refused access to his own house by
Mercury, who pretends that he does not know him. At length Jupiter and
Amphitryon are confronted. They are successively questioned as to the
events of the late war by the pilot of the ship in which Amphitryon had
returned. As Jupiter also stands this test of identity, the real
Amphitryon is wrought up to such a pitch of rage and despair, that he
resolves to wreak vengeance on his whole family, and is provoked even to
utter blasphemies, by setting the gods at defiance. He is supposed
immediately after this to have been struck down by lightning, as, in the
next scene, Bromia, the attendant of Alcmena, rushes out from the house,
alarmed at the tempest, and finds Amphitryon lying prostrate on the earth.
When he has recovered, she announces to him that during the storm Alcmena
had given birth to twins:—

  “_Amph._ Ain’ tu Geminos? _Brom._ Geminos. _Amph._ Dii me servent.”

Jupiter then, _in propria persona_, reveals the whole mystery, and
Amphitryon appears to be much flattered by the honour which had been paid

In this play the jealousy and perplexity of Amphitryon are well portrayed,
and the whole character of Alcmena is beautifully drawn. She is
represented as an affectionate wife, full of innocence and simplicity, and
her distress at the suspicions of the real Amphitryon is highly
interesting. The English translator of Plautus has remarked the great
similarity of manners between her and Desdemona, while placed in similar
circumstances. Both express indignation at being suspected, but love for
their husbands makes them easily reconciled. The reader, however, feels
that Amphitryon and Alcmena remain in an awkward situation at the
conclusion of the piece. It must also be confessed, that the Roman
dramatist has assigned a strange part to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, at whose
festivals this play is said to have been usually performed; but, as
Voltaire has remarked, “Il n’y a que ceux qui ne savent point combien les
hommes agissent peu consequemment, qui puissent etre surpris, qu’on se
moqua publiquement au theatre des memes dieux qu’on adorait dans les

Mistakes are a most fruitful subject of comic incident, and never could
there be such mistakes as those which arise from two persons being
undistinguishable: but then, in order to give an appearance of
verisimilitude on the stage, it was almost necessary that the play should
be represented with masks, which could alone exhibit the perfect
resemblance of the two Amphitryons and the two Sosias; and even with this
advantage, such errors, in order to possess dramatic plausibility, must
have been founded on some mythological tradition. The subject, therefore,
is but an indifferent one for the modern stage. Accordingly, Ludovico
Dolce, who first imitated this comedy in his play entitled _Marito_, has
grossly erred in transporting the scene from Thebes to Padua, and
assigning the parts of Jupiter and Amphitryon to Messer Muzio and
Fabrizio, two Italian citizens, who were so similar in appearance, that
the wife of one of them, though a sensible and virtuous woman, is deceived
night and day, during her husband’s absence, by the resemblance, and the
deception is aided by the still more marvellous likeness of their
domestics. In place of Jupiter appearing in the clouds, and justifying
Alcmena, the Italian has introduced a monk, called Fra Girolamo, who is
bribed to persuade the foolish husband that a spirit (Folletto) had one
night transported him to Padua, during sleep, which satisfactorily
accounts to him for the situation in which he finds his wife on his return

These absurdities have been in a great measure avoided in the imitation by
Rotrou, who may be regarded as the father of the French drama, having
first exploded the bad taste which pervades the pieces of Hardy. His
comedy entitled _Les Deux Sosies_, is completely framed on the Amphitryon
of Plautus, only the prologue is spoken by the inveterate Juno, who
declaims against her rivals, and enumerates the labours which she has in
store for the son of Alcmena.

But by far the most celebrated imitation of Plautus is the _Amphitrion_ of
Moliere, who has managed with much delicacy a subject in itself not the
most decorous. He has in general followed the steps of the Roman
dramatist, but where he has departed from them, he has improved on the
original. Instead of the dull and inconsistent prologue delivered by
Mercury, which explains the subject of the piece, he has introduced a
scene between Mercury and Night, (probably suggested by the Dialogues of
Lucian between Mercury and the Sun on the same occasion,) in which Mercury
announces the state of matters while requesting Night to prolong her stay
on earth for the sake of Jupiter. At the commencement of the piece,
Plautus has made Sosia repeat to himself a very minute, though picturesque
account of the victory of the Thebans, as preparatory to a proper
description of it to Alcmena. This Moliere has formed into a sort of
dialogued soliloquy between Sosia and his Lantern, which rehearses the
answers anticipated from Alcmena, till the discourse is at length
interrupted by the arrival of Mercury, when the speaker has lost himself
among the manœuvres of the troops. In the Latin _Amphitryon_, Mercury
threatens Sosia, and he replies to his rodomontade by puns and quibbles,
which have been omitted by the French poet, who makes the spectators laugh
by the excessive and ridiculous terror of Sosia, and not by pleasantries
inconsistent with his feelings and situation. Moliere has copied from
Plautus the manner in which Sosia is gradually led to doubt of his own
identity: his consequent confusion of ideas has been closely imitated, as
also the ensuing scenes of the quarrel and reconciliation between Jupiter
and Alcmena. He has added the part of Cleanthes, the wife of Sosia,
suggested to him by a line put into the mouth of Sosia by Plautus—

  “Quid me expectatum non rere amicæ meæ venturum.”

It was certainly ingenious to make the adventures of the slave a parody on
those of his master, and this new character produces an agreeable scene
between her and Mercury, who is little pleased with the caresses of this
antiquated charmer. On the other hand, the French dramatist has omitted
the examination of the double Amphitryons, and nearly introduces them in
the presence of two Thebans: Amphitryon brings his friends to avenge him,
by assaulting Jupiter, when that god appears in the clouds and announces
the future birth of Hercules. Through the whole comedy, Moliere has given
a different colour to the behaviour of Jupiter, from that thrown over it
by Plautus. In the Latin play he assumes quite the character of the
husband; but with Moliere he is more of a lover and gallant, and pays
Alcmena so many amorous compliments, that she exclaims,

      “Amphitrion, en verité,
  Vous vous moquez de tenir ce langage!”

Moliere evidently felt that Alcmena and Amphitryon were placed in an
awkward situation, in spite of the assurances of Jupiter—

     “Alcmene est toute a toi, quelque soin qu’on employe;
     Et ce doit a tes feux etre un objet bien doux,
     De voir, que pour lui plaire, il n’est point d’autre voie,
          Que de paraitre son epoux.
  _Sosie_. Le seigneur Jupiter sait dorer sa pilule.”

In these, and several other lines, Moliere has availed himself of the old
French play of Rotrou. The lively expression of Sosia,

  “Le veritable Amphitryon est l’Amphitryon ou l’on dine,”

which has passed into a sort of proverb, has been suggested by a similar
phrase of Rotrou’s Sosia—

  “Point point d’Amphitryon ou l’on ne dine point;”

and the lines,

  “J’etais venu, je vous jure,
  Avant que je fusse arrivé,”

are nearly copied from Rotrou’s

  “J’etais chez-nous avant mon arrivé;”

and Sosia’s boast, in the older French play,

  “Il m’est conforme en tout—il est grand, il est fort,”

has probably suggested to Moliere the lines,

  “Des pieds, jusqu’ a la tete il est comme moi fait,
  Beau, l’air noble, bienpris, les manieres charmantes.”

The _Amphitrion_ of Moliere was published in 1668, so that Dryden, in his
imitation of Plautus’s _Amphitryon_, which first appeared in 1690, had an
opportunity of also availing himself of the French piece. But, even with
this assistance, he has done Plautus less justice than his predecessor. He
has sometimes borrowed the scenes and incidents of Moliere; but has too
frequently given us ribaldry in the low characters, and bombast in the
higher, instead of the admirable grace and liveliness of the French
dramatist. His comedy commences earlier than either the French or Latin
play. Phœbus makes his appearance at the opening of the piece. The first
arrival of Jupiter in the shape of Amphitryon is then represented,
apparently in order to introduce Phædra, the attendant of Alcmena,
exacting a promise from her mistress, before she knew, who had arrived,
that they should that night be bed-fellows as usual since Amphitryon’s
absence. To this Phædra, Dryden has assigned an amour with Mercury, to the
great jealousy of Sosia’s wife, Bromia; and has mixed up the whole play
with pastoral dialogues and _rondeaus_, to which, as he informs us in his
dedication, “the numerous choir of fair ladies gave so just an applause.”
The scenes of a higher description are those which have been best managed.
The latest editor, indeed, of the works of Dryden, thinks that in these
parts he has surpassed both the French and Roman dramatist. “The sensation
to be expressed,” he remarks, “is not that of sentimental affection, which
the good father of Olympus was not capable of feeling; but love of that
grosser and subordinate kind, which prompted Jupiter in his intrigues, has
been expressed by none of the ancient poets in more beautiful verse, than
that in which Dryden has clothed it, in the scenes between Jupiter and
Alcmena.” Milbourne, who afterwards so violently attacked the English
poet, highly compliments him on the success of this effort of his dramatic

  “Not Phœbus could with gentler words pursue
  His flying Daphne; not the morning dew
  Falls softer, than the words of amorous Jove,
  When melting, dying, for Alcmena’s love.”

The character, however, of Alcmena is, I think, less interesting in the
English than in the Latin play. She is painted by Plautus as delighted
with the glory of her husband. In the second scene of the second act,
after a beautiful complaint on account of his absence, she consoles
herself with the thoughts of his military renown, and concludes with an
eulogy on valour, which would doubtless be highly popular in a Roman
theatre during the early ages of the Republic—

  —— “Virtus præmium est optimum,
  Virtus omnibus rebus anteit profecto.
  Libertas, salus, vita, res, parenteis,
  Patria, et prognati tutantur, servantur:
  Virtus omnia in se habet; omnia adsunt bona, quem pen’est virtus.”

Dryden’s Alcmena is represented as quite different in her sentiments: She
exclaims, on parting with Jupiter,

  “Curse on this honour, and this public fame!
  Would you had less of both, and more of love!”

Lady M. W. Montague gives a curious account, in one of her letters, of a
German play on the subject of Amphitryon, which she saw acted at
Vienna.—“As that subject had been already handled by a Latin, French, and
English poet, I was curious to see what an Austrian author could make of
it. I understand enough of that language to comprehend the greatest part
of it; and, besides, I took with me a lady that had the goodness to
explain to me every word. I thought the house very low and dark; but the
comedy admirably recompensed that defect. I never laughed so much in my
life. It began with Jupiter falling in love out of a peep-hole in the
clouds, and ended with the birth of Hercules. But what was most pleasant
was, the use Jupiter made of his metamorphosis; for you no sooner saw him
under the figure of Amphitryon, but, instead of flying to Alcmena with the
raptures Dryden puts into his mouth, he sends for Amphitryon’s tailor, and
cheats him of a laced coat, and his banker of a bag of money—a Jew of a
diamond ring, and bespeaks a great supper in his name; and the greatest
part of the comedy turns upon poor Amphitryon’s being tormented by these
people for their debts. Mercury uses Sosia in the same manner; but I could
not easily pardon the liberty the poet had taken of larding his play with
not only indecent expressions, but such gross words as I do not think our
mob would suffer from a mountebank.”

In nothing can the manners of different ages and countries be more
distinctly traced, than in the way in which the same subject is treated on
the stage. In Plautus, may be remarked the military enthusiasm and early
rudeness of the Romans—in the _Marito_ of L. Dolce, the intrigues of the
Italians, and the constant interposition of priests and confessors in
domestic affairs—in Dryden, the libertinism of the reign of Charles the
Second—and in Moliere, the politeness and refinement of the court of

_Asinaria_, is translated from the Greek of Demophilus, a writer of the
Middle comedy. The subject is the trick put on an ass-driver by two
roguish slaves, in order to get hold of the money which he brought in
payment of some asses he had purchased from their master, that they might
employ it in supplying the extravagance of their master’s son. The old
man, however, is not the dupe in this play: On the contrary, he is a
confederate in the plot, which was chiefly devised against his wife, who,
having brought her husband a great portion, imperiously governed his house
and family. By this means the youth is restored to the possession of a
mercenary mistress, from whom he had been excluded by a more wealthy
rival. The father stipulates, as a reward for the part which he had acted
in this stratagem, that he also should have a share in the favours of his
son’s mistress; and the play concludes with this old wretch being detected
by his wife, carousing at a nocturnal banquet, a wreath of flowers on his
head, with his son and the courtezan. It would appear, from the concluding
address to the spectators, that neither the moral sense of the author, nor
of his audience, was very strong or correct, as the bystanders on the
stage, so far from condemning these abandoned characters, declare that the
most guilty of the three had done nothing new or surprising, or more than
what was customary:

  “_Grex._ Hic senex, si quid, clam uxorem, suo animo fecit volup,
  Neque novum, neque mirum fecit, nec secus quam alii solent:
  Nec quisqua’st tam in genio duro; nec tam firmo pectore,
  Quin ubi quicquam occasionis sit, sibi faciat bene.”

Lucilius, while remarking in one of his fragments, that the Chremes of
Terence had preserved a just medium in morals by his obliging demeanour
towards his son, had ample grounds for observing, that the Demænetus of
Plautus had run into an extreme—

  “Chremes in medium, in summum ire Ademænetus(231).”

However exceptionable in point of morals, this play possesses much comic
vivacity and interest of character. The courtezan and the slaves are
sketched with spirit and freedom, and the rapacious disposition of the
female dealer in slave-girls, is well developed.

It is curious that this immoral comedy should have been so frequently
acted in the Italian convents. In particular, a translation in _terza
rima_ was represented in the monastery of St Stefano at Venice, in
1514(232). It was not of a nature to be often imitated by modern writers,
but Moliere, who has borrowed so many of the plots of other plays of
Plautus, has extracted from this drama several situations and ideas.
Cleæreta, in the third scene of the first Act of the _Asinaria_, gives, as
her advice, to a gallant—

  “Neque ille scit quid det, quid damni faciat: illi rei studet;
  Vult placere sese amicæ, vult mihi, vult pedissequæ,
  Vult famulis, vult etiam ancillis; et quoque catulo meo
  Sublanditur novus amator.”

In like manner, in the _Femmes Savantes_, Henriette, while counselling
Clitandre to be complaisant, says—

  “Un amant fait sa cour ou s’attache son cœur,
  Il veut de tout le monde y gagner la faveur;
  Et pour n’avoir personne a sa flamme contraire,
  Jusqu’au chien du logis il s’efforce de plaire.”

_Aulularia_.—It is not known from what Greek author this play has been
taken; but there can be no doubt that it had its archetype in the Greek
drama. The festivals of Ceres and Bacchus, which in their origin were
innocent institutions, intended to celebrate the blessings of harvest and
vintage, having degenerated by means of priestcraft, became schools of
superstition and debauchery. From the adventures and intrigues which
occurred at the celebration of religious mysteries, the comic poets of
Greece frequently drew the incidents of their dramas(233), which often
turned on damsels having been rendered, on such occasions, the mothers of
children, without knowing who were the fathers. In like manner, the
intrigue of the _Aulularia_ has its commencement in the daughter of Euclio
being violated during the celebration of the mysteries of Ceres, without
being aware from whom she had received the injury. The _Aulularia_,
however, is principally occupied with the display of the character of a
Miser. No vice has been so often pelted with the good sentences of
moralists, or so often ridiculed on the stage, as avarice; and of all the
characters that have been there represented, that of the miser in the
_Aulularia_ of Plautus, is perhaps the most entertaining and best
supported. Comic dramas have been divided into those of intrigue and
character, and the _Aulularia_ is chiefly of the latter description. It is
so termed from _Aula_, or _Olla_, the diminutive of which is _Aulula_,
signifying the little earthen pot that contained a treasure which had been
concealed by his grandfather, but had been discovered by Euclio the miser,
who is the principal character of the play. The prologue is spoken by the
_Lar Familiaris_ of the house; and as the play has its origin in the
discovery of a treasure deposited under a hearth, the introduction of this
imaginary Being, if we duly consider the superstitions of the Romans, was
happy and appropriate. The account given by the _Lar_ of the successive
generations of misers, is also well imagined, as it convinces us that
Euclio was a genuine miser, and of the true breed. The household god had
disclosed the long-concealed treasure, as a reward for the piety of
Euclio’s daughter, who presented him with offerings of frankincense and of
wine, which, however, it is not very probable the miser’s daughter could
have procured, especially before the discovery of the treasure. The story
of the precious deposit, of which the spectators could not possibly have
been informed without this supernatural interposition, being thus related,
we are introduced at once to the knowledge of the principal character,
who, having found the treasure, employs himself in guarding it, and lives
in continual apprehension, lest it should be discovered that he possesses
it. Accordingly, he is brought on the stage driving off his servant, that
she may not spy him while visiting this hoard, and afterwards giving
directions of the strictest economy. He then leaves home on an errand very
happily imagined—an attendance at a public distribution of money to the
poor. Megadorus now proposes to marry his daughter, and Euclio comically
enough supposes that he has discovered something concerning his newly
acquired wealth; but on his offering to take her without a portion, he is
tranquillized, and agrees to the match. Knowing the disposition of his
intended father-in-law, Megadorus sends provisions to his house, and also
cooks, to prepare a marriage-feast, but the miser turns them out, and
keeps what they had brought. At length his alarm for discovery rises to
such a height, that he hides his treasure in a grove, consecrated to
Sylvanus, which lay beyond the walls of the city. While thus employed, he
is observed by the slave of Lyconides, the young man who had violated the
miser’s daughter. Euclio coming to recreate himself with the sight of his
gold, finds that it is gone. Returning home in despair, he is met by
Lyconides, who, hearing of the projected nuptials between his uncle and
the miser’s daughter, now apologizes for his conduct; but the miser
applies all that he says concerning his daughter to his lost treasure.
This play is unfortunately mutilated, and ends with the slave of Lyconides
confessing to his master that he has found the miser’s hoard, and offering
to give it up as the price of his freedom. It may be presumed, however,
that, in the original, Lyconides got possession of the treasure, and by
its restoration to Euclio, so far conciliated his favour, that he obtained
his daughter in marriage. This conclusion, accordingly, has been adopted
by those who have attempted to finish the comedy in the spirit of the
Latin dramatist. It is completed on this plan by Thornton, the English
translator of Plautus, and by Antonius Codrus Urceus, a professor in the
University of Bologna, who died in the year 1500. Urceus has also made the
miser suddenly change his nature, and liberally present his new son-in-law
with the restored treasure.

The restless inquietude of Euclio, in concealing his gold in many
different places—his terror on seeing the preparations for the feast, lest
the wine brought in was meant to intoxicate him, that he might be robbed
with greater facility—his dilemma at being obliged to miss the
distribution to the poor—are all admirable traits of extreme and habitual
avarice. Even his recollection of the expense of a rope, when, in despair
at the loss of his treasure, he resolves to hang himself, though a little
overdone, is sufficiently characteristic. But while the part of a
confirmed miser has been comically and strikingly represented in these
touches, it is stretched in others beyond all bounds of probability. When
Euclio entreats his female servant to spare the cobwebs—when it is said,
that he complains of being pillaged if the smoke issue from his house—and
that he preserves the parings of his nails—we feel this to be a species of
hoarding which no miser could think of or enjoy(234).

One of the earliest imitations of the _Aulularia_ was, _La Sporta_, a
prose Italian comedy, printed at Florence in 1543, under the name of
Giovam-Battista Gelli, but attributed by some to Machiavel. It is said,
that the great Florentine historian left this piece, in an imperfect
state, in the hands of his friend Bernardino di Giordano of Florence, in
whose house his comedies were sometimes represented, whence it passed into
the possession of Gelli, a writer of considerable humour, who prepared it
for the press; and, according to a practice not unfrequent in Italy at
different periods, published it as his own production(235). The play is
called _Sporta_, from the basket in which the treasure was contained. The
plot and incidents in Plautus have been closely followed, in so far as was
consistent with modern Italian manners; and where they varied, the
circumstances, as well as names, have been adapted by the author to the
customs and ideas of his country. Euclio is called Ghirorgoro, and
Megadorus, Lapo; the former being set up as a satire on avarice, the
latter as a pattern of proper economy.

The principal plot of _The case is altered_, a comedy attributed to Ben
Jonson, has been taken, as shall be afterwards shown from the _Captivi_ of
Plautus; but the character of Jaques is more closely formed on that of
Euclio, than any miser on the modern stage. Jaques having purloined the
treasure of a French Lord Chamont, whose steward he had been, and having
also stolen his infant daughter, fled with them to Italy. The girl, when
she grew up, being very beautiful, had many suitors; whence her reputed
father suspects it is discovered that he possesses hidden wealth, in the
same manner as Euclio does in the scene with Megadorus. We have a
representation of his excessive anxiety lest he lose this treasure—his
concealment of it—and his examination of Juniper, the cobbler, whom he
suspects to have stolen it; which corresponds to Euclio’s examination of
Strobilus. Most other modern dramatists have made their miser in love; but
in the breast of Jaques all passions are absorbed in avarice, which is
exhibited to us not so much in ridiculous instances of minute domestic
economy, as in absolute adoration of his gold:

  “I’ll take no leave, sweet prince, great emperor!
  But see thee every minute, king of kings!”

It is thus he feasts his senses with his treasure: and the very ground in
which it is hidden is accounted hallowed:

  “This is the palace, where the god of gold
  Shines like the sun of sparkling majesty!”

But the most celebrated imitation of the _Aulularia_ is Moliere’s _Avare_,
one of the best and most wonderful imitations ever produced. Almost
nothing is of the French dramatist’s own invention. Scenes have been
selected by him from a number of different plays, in various languages,
which have no relation to each other; but every thing is so well
connected, that the whole appears to have been invented for this single
comedy. Though chiefly indebted to Plautus, he has not so closely followed
his original as in the _Amphitryon_. One difference, which materially
affects the plots of the two plays and characters of the misers, is, that
Euclio was poor till he unexpectedly found the treasure. He was not known
to be rich, and lived in constant dread of his wealth being discovered.
When any thing was said about riches, he applied it to himself; and when
well received or caressed by any one, he supposed that he was ensnared.
Harpagon, on the other hand, had amassed a fortune, and was generally
known to possess it, which gives an additional zest to the humour, as we
thus enter into the merriment of his family and neighbours; whereas the
penury of Euclio could scarcely have appeared unreasonable to the
bystanders, who were not in the secret of the acquired treasure. Moliere
has also made his miser in love, or at least resolved to marry, and amuses
us with his anxiety, in believing himself under the necessity of giving a
feast to his intended bride; which is still better than Euclio’s
consternation at the supper projected by his intended son-in-law. Euclio
is constantly changing the place where he conceals his casket; Harpagon
allows it to remain, but is chiefly occupied with its security. The idea,
however, of so much incident turning on a casket, is not so happily
imagined in the French as in the Latin comedy; since, in the latter, it
was the whole treasure of which the miser was possessed, and there was at
that time no mode of lending it out safely and to advantage. Harpagon
gives a collation, but orders the fragments to be sent back to those who
had provided it; Euclio retains the provisions, which had been procured at
another’s expense. From the restraint imposed by modern manners, and the
circumstance of Harpagon being known to be rich, Moliere has been forced
to omit the amusing dilemmas in which Euclio is placed with regard to his
attendance on the distributions to the poor. In recompense, he has
wonderfully improved the scene about the dowry, as also that in which the
miser applies what is said concerning his daughter to his lost treasure;
and, on the whole, he has displayed the passion of avarice in more of the
incidents and relations of domestic life than the Latin poet. Plautus had
remained satisfied with exhibiting a miser, who deprived himself of all
the comforts of life, to watch night and day over an unproductive
treasure; but Moliere went deeper into the mind. He knew that avarice is
accompanied with selfishness, and hardness of heart, and falsehood, and
mistrust, and usury; and accordingly, all these vices and evil passions
are amalgamated with the character of the French miser.

The _Aulularia_ being a play of character, I have been led to compare the
most celebrated imitations of it rather in the exhibition of the miserly
character than in the incidents of the piece. Many of the latter which
occur in the _Avare_, have not been borrowed from Plautus, yet are not of
Moliere’s invention. Thus he has added from the _Pedant Joué_ of Cyrano
Bergerac that part of the plot which consists in the love of the miser and
his son for the same woman, as also that which relates to Valere, a young
gentleman in love with the miser’s daughter, who had got into his service
in disguise, and who, when the miser lost his money, which his son’s
servant had stolen, was accused by another servant of having purloined it.
Moliere’s notion of the miser’s prodigal son borrowing money from a
usurer, and the usurer afterwards proving to be his father, is from _La
Belle Plaideuse_, a comedy of Bois-Robert. In an Italian piece, _Le Case
Svaligiate_, prior to the time of Moliere, and in the harlequin taste,
Scapin persuades Pantaloon that the young beauty with whom he is
captivated returns his love, that she sets a particular value on old age,
and dislikes youthful admirers, whence Pantaloon is induced to give his
purse to the flatterer. Frosine attacks the vanity of Harpagon in the same
manner, but he, though not unmoved by the flattery, retains his money.
Moliere has availed himself of a number of other Italian dramas of the
same description for scattered remarks and situations. The name of
Harpagon has been suggested to him by the continuation of Codrus Urceus,
where Strobilus says that the masters of the present day are so
avaricious, that they may be called Harpies or Harpagons:

  “Tenaces nimium dominos nostra ætas
  Tulit, quos Harpagones vocare soleo.”

I do not know where Moliere received the hint of the _denouement_ of his
piece. The conclusion of the _Aulularia_, as already mentioned, is not
extant, but it could not have been so improbable and inartificial as the
discovery of Valere and Marianne for the children of Thomas D’Alburci,
who, under the name of Anselme, had courted the miser’s daughter.

Shadwell, Fielding, and Goldoni, enjoyed the advantage of studying
Moliere’s Harpagon for their delineations of Goldingham, Lovegold, and
Ottavio. In the miser of Shadwell there is much indecency indeed of his
own invention, and some disgusting representations of city vulgarity and
vice; but still he is hardly entitled to the praise of so much originality
as he claims in his impudent preface.—“The foundation of this play,” says
he, “I took from one of Moliere’s, called L’Avare, but that having too few
persons, and too little action for an English theatre, I added to both so
much, that I may call more than half of this play my own; and I think I
may say, without vanity, that Moliere’s part of it has not suffered in my
hands. Nor did I ever know a French comedy made use of by the worst of our
poets that was not bettered by them. It is not barrenness of art or
invention makes us borrow from the French, but laziness; and _this_ was
the occasion of my making use of _L’Avare_.”

Fielding’s _Miser_, the only one of his comedies which does him credit, is
a much more agreeable play than Shadwell’s. The earlier scenes are a close
imitation of Moliere, but the concluding ones are somewhat different, and
the _denouement_ is perhaps improved. Mariana is in a great measure a new
character, and those of the servants are rendered more prominent and
important than in the French original.

The miser Ottavio, in Goldoni’s _Vero Amico_, is entirely copied from
Plautus and Moliere. In the Italian play, however, the character is in a
great measure episodical, and the principal plot, which gives its title to
the piece, and corresponds with that of Diderot’s _Fils Naturel_, has been
invented by the Italian dramatist.

On the whole, Moliere has succeeded best in rendering the passion of
avarice hateful: Plautus and Goldoni have only made it ridiculous. The
profound and poetical avarice of Jaques possesses something plaintive in
its tone, which almost excites our sympathy, and never our laughter; he is
represented as a worshipper of gold, somewhat as an old Persian might be
of the sun, and he does not raise our contempt by the absurdities of
domestic economy. But Harpagon is thoroughly detestable, and is in fact
detested by his neighbours, domestics, and children. All these dramatists
are accused of having exhibited rather an allegorical representation of
avarice, than the living likeness of a human Being influenced by that
odious propensity. “Plautus,” says Hurd, “and also Moliere, offended in
this, that for the picture of the avaricious man they presented us with a
fantastic unpleasing draught of the passion of avarice—I call it a
fantastic draught, because it hath no archetype in nature, and it is
farther an unpleasing one; from being the delineation of a simple passion,
unmixed, it wants

  ‘The lights and shades, whose well accorded strife
  Gives all the strength and colour of our life.’”

This may in general be true, as there are certainly few unmingled
passions; but I suspect that avarice so completely engrosses the soul,
that a simple and unmixed delineation of it is not remote from nature.
“The Euclio of Plautus,” says King, in his _Anecdotes_, “the Avare of
Moliere, and Miser of Shadwell, have been all exceeded by persons who have
existed within my own knowledge(236).”

_Bacchides_:—is so called from two sisters of the name of Bacchis, who are
the courtezans in this play. In a prologue, which is supposed to be spoken
by Silenus, mounted on an ass, it is said to be taken from a Greek comedy
by Philemon. This information, however, cannot be implicitly relied on, as
the prologue was not written in the time of Plautus, and is evidently an
addition of a comparatively recent date. Some indeed have supposed that it
was prefixed by Petrarch; but at all events the following lines could not
have been anterior to the conquest of Greece by the Romans:—

  “Samos quæ terra sit, nota est omnibus:
  Nam maria, terras, monteis, atque insulas
  Vostræ legiones reddidere pervias.”

The leading incident in this play—a master’s folly and inadvertence
counteracting the deep-laid scheme of a slave to forward his interest, has
been employed by many modern dramatists for the groundwork of their plots;
as we find from the _Inavertito_ of Nicolo Barbieri, sirnamed Beltramo,
the _Amant Indiscret_ of Quinault, Moliere’s _Etourdi_, and Dryden’s _Sir
Martin Mar-all_.

The third scene of the third act of this comedy, where the father of
Pistoclerus speaks with so much indulgence of the follies of youth, has
been imitated in Moliere’s _Fourberies de Scapin_, and the fifth scene of
the fourth act has suggested one in _Le Marriage Interrompu_(237), by
Cailhava. If it could be supposed that Dante had read Plautus, the
commencement of Lydus’ soliloquy before the door of Bacchis, might be
plausibly conjectured to have suggested that thrilling inscription over
the gate of hell, in the third Canto of the _Inferno_—

  “Pandite, atque aperite propere januam hanc Orci, obsecro!
  Nam equidem haud aliter esse duco; quippe cui nemo advenit,
  Nisi quem spes reliquere omnes ——

  Per me si va nella città dolente:
  Per me si va nell eterno dolore:
  Per me si va tra la perduta gente.
    *  *  *  *  *  *
  Lasciate ogni speranza, voi, che entrate.”

_Captivi_.—The subject and plot of the _Captivi_ are of a different
description from those of Plautus’ other comedies. No female characters
are introduced; and, as it is said in the epilogue, or concluding address
to the spectators,

  —— “Ad pudicos mores facta hæc fabula est:
  Neque in hâc subagitationes sunt, ullave amatio,
  Nec pueri suppositio, nec argenti circumductio;
  Neque ubi amans adolescens scortum liberet, clam suum patrem.”

Though no females are introduced in it, the _Captivi_ is the most tender
and amiable of Plautus’ plays, and may be regarded as of a higher
description than his other comedies, since it hinges on paternal affection
and the fidelity of friendship. Many of the situations are highly
touching, and exhibit actions of generous magnanimity, free from any
mixture of burlesque. It has indeed been considered by some critics as the
origin of that class of dramas, which, under the title of _Comedies
Larmoyantes_, was at one time so much admired and so fashionable in
France(238), and in which wit and humour, the genuine offspring of Thalia,
are superseded by domestic sentiment and pathos.

Hegio, an Ætolian gentleman, had two sons, one of whom, when only four
years old, was carried off by a slave, and sold by him in Elis. A war
having subsequently broken out between the Elians and Ætolians, Hegio’s
other son was taken captive by the Elians. The father, with a view of
afterwards ransoming his son, by an exchange, purchased an Elian prisoner,
called Philocrates, along with his servant Tyndarus; and the play opens
with the master, Philocrates, personating his slave, while the slave,
Tyndarus, assumes the character of his master. By this means Tyndarus
remains a prisoner under his master’s name, while Hegio is persuaded to
send the true Philocrates, under the name of Tyndarus, to Elis, in order
to effect the exchange of his son. The deception, however, is discovered
by Hegio before the return of Philocrates; and the father, fearing that he
had thus lost all hope of ransoming his child, condemns Tyndarus to labour
in the mines. In these circumstances, Philocrates returns from Elis with
Hegio’s son, and also brings along with him the fugitive slave, who had
stolen his other son in infancy. It is then discovered that Tyndarus is
this child, who, having been sold to the father of Philocrates, was
appointed by him to wait on his son, and had been gradually admitted to
his young master’s confidence and friendship.

There has been a great dispute among critics and commentators, whether the
dramatic unities have been strictly observed in this comedy. M. De Coste,
in the preface to his French translation of the _Captivi_, maintains, that
the unities of place, and time, and action, have been closely attended to.
Lessing, who translated the play into German, adopted the opinion of De
Coste with regard to the observance of the unities, and he has farther
pronounced it the most perfect comedy that, in his time, had yet been
represented on the stage(239). A German critic, whose letter addressed to
Lessing is published in that author’s works(240), has keenly opposed these
opinions, discussing at considerable length the question of the unities of
action, time, and place, as also pointing out many supposed
inconsistencies and improbabilities in the conduct of the drama. He
objects, in point of verisimilitude, to the long and numerous _aparts_—the
soliloquies of the parasite, which begin the first three acts,—the
frequent mention of the market-places and streets of Rome, while the scene
is laid in a town of Greece,—and the sudden as well as unaccountable
appearance of Stalagmus, the fugitive slave, at the end of the drama. The
most serious objection, however, is that which relates to the violation of
the dramatic unity of time. The scene is laid in Calydon, the capital of
Ætolia; and, at the end of the second act, Philocrates proceeds from that
city to Elis, transacts there a variety of affairs, and returns before the
play is concluded. Between these two places the distance is fifty miles;
and in going from one to the other it was necessary to cross the bay of
Corinth. It is therefore impossible (contends this critic,) that De Coste
can be accurate in maintaining that the duration of the drama is only
seven or eight hours. Allowing the poet, however, the greatest poetical
license, and giving for his play the extended period of twenty-four hours,
it is scarcely possible that the previous parts of the drama could have
been gone through, and the long voyage accomplished, in this space of
time. But it farther appears, that Plautus himself did not wish to claim
this indulgence, and intended to crowd the journey and all the preceding
dramatic incidents into twelve hours at most. He evidently means that the
action should be understood as commencing with the morning: Hegio says, in
the second scene of the first act,

  “Ego ibo ad fratrem, ad alios captivos meos,
  Visum ne nocte hâc quippiam turbaverint;”

and it is evident that the action terminates with the evening meal, the
preparations for which conclude the fourth act. To all this Lessing
replied, that there was no reason to suppose that the scene was laid in
Calydon, or that the journey was made to the town of Elis, and that it
might easily have been accomplished within the time prescribed by the
dramatic rule of unities, if nearer points of the Ætolian and Elian
territories be taken than their capitals.

Some of the characters in the _Captivi_ are very beautifully drawn. Hegio
is an excellent representation of a respectable rich old citizen: He is
naturally a humane good-humoured man, but his disposition is warped by
excess of paternal tenderness. There is not in any of the comedies of
Plautus, a more agreeable and interesting character than Tyndarus: and no
delineation can be more pleasing than that of his faithful attachment to
Philocrates, by whom he was in return implicitly trusted, and considered
rather in the light of a friend than a slave. In this play, as in most
others of Plautus, the parasite is a character somewhat of an episodical
description: He goes about prowling for a supper, and is associated to the
main subject of the piece only by the delight which he feels at the
prospect of a feast, to honour the return of Hegio’s son. The parasites of
Plautus are almost as deserving a dissertation as Shakspeare’s clowns.
Parasite, as is well known, was a name originally applied in Greece to
persons devoted to the service of the gods, and who were appointed for the
purpose of keeping the consecrated provisions of the temples. Diodorus of
Sinope, as quoted by Athenæus(241), after speaking of the dignity of the
sacred parasites of Hercules, (who was himself a noted _gourmand_,)
mentions that the rich, in emulation of this demi-god, chose as followers
persons called parasites, who were not selected for their virtues or
talents, but were remarkable for extravagant flattery to their superiors,
and insolence to those inferiors who approached the persons of their
patrons. This was the character which came to be represented on the stage.
We learn from Athenæus(242), that a parasite was introduced in one of his
plays by Epicharmus, the founder of the Greek comedy. The parasite of this
ancient dramatist lay at the feet of the rich, eat the offals from their
tables, and drank the dregs of their cups. He speaks of himself as of a
person ever ready to dine abroad when invited, and when any one is to be
married, to go to his house without an invitation—to pay for his good
cheer by exciting the merriment of the company, and to retire as soon as
he had eat and drunk sufficiently, without caring whether or not he was
lighted out by the slaves(243). In the most ancient comedies, however,
this character was not denominated parasite, and was first so called in
the plays of Araros, the son of Aristophanes, and one of the earliest
authors of the middle comedy. Antiphanes, a dramatist of the same class,
has given a very full description of the vocation of a parasite. The part,
however, did not become extremely common till the introduction of the new
comedy, when Diphilus, whose works were frequently imitated on the Roman
stage, particularly distinguished himself by his delineation of the
parasitical character(244). In the Greek theatre, the part was usually
represented by young men, dressed in a black or brown garb, and wearing
masks expressive of malignant gaiety. They carried a goblet suspended
round their waists, probably lest the slaves of their patrons should fill
to them in too small cups; and also a vial of oil to be used at the bath,
which was a necessary preparation before sitting down to table, for which
the parasite required to be always ready at a moment’s warning(245).

It was thus, too, that the character was represented on the Roman stage;
and it would farther appear, that the parasites, in the days of Plautus,
carried with them a sort of Joe Miller, as a manual of wit, with which
they occasionally refreshed their vivacity. Thus the parasite, in the
_Stichus_, says,

  “Ibo intro ad libros, et discam de dictis melioribus;”

and again—

  “Libros inspexi, tam confido, quam potest,
  Me meum obtenturum ridiculis meis.”

The parasite naturally became a leading character of the Roman stage. In
spite of the pride and boasted national independence of its citizens, the
whole system of manners at Rome was parasitical. The connection between
patron and client, which was originally the cordial intercourse of
reciprocal services, soon became that of haughty superiority on the one
side, and sordid adulation on the other. Every client was in fact the
parasite of some patrician, whose litter he often followed like a slave,
conforming to all his caprices, and submitting to all his insults, for the
privilege of being placed at the lowest seat of the patron’s table, and
there repaying this indelicate hospitality by the most servile flattery.
On the stage, the principal use of the parasite was to bring out the other
characters from the canvass. Without Gnatho, the Thraso of Terence would
have possessed less confidence; and without his flatterer, Pyrgopolinices
would never have recollected breaking an elephant’s thigh by a blow of his

The parasite, in the _Captivi_, may be considered as a fair enough
representative of his brethren in the other plays of Plautus. He submits
patiently to all manner of ignominious treatment(246)—his spirits rise and
sink according as his prospects of a feast become bright or clouded—he
speaks a great deal in soliloquies, in which he talks much of the jests by
which he attempted to recommend himself as a guest at the feasts of the
Great, but we are not favoured with any of these jests. In such
soliloquies, too, he rather expresses what would justly be thought of him
by others, than what even a parasite was likely to say of himself.

The parasite is not a character which has been very frequently represented
on the modern stage. It is not one into which an Italian audience, who are
indifferent to good cheer, would heartily enter. Accordingly, the parasite
is not a common character in the native drama of Italy, and is chiefly
exhibited in the old comedies of Ariosto and Aretine, which are directly
imitated from the plays of Plautus or Terence; but even in them this
character does not precisely coincide with the older and more genuine
school of parasites. Ligurio, who is called the parasite in the
_Mandragora_ of Machiavel, rather corresponds to the intriguing slave than
to the parasite of the Roman drama; or at least he resembles the more
modern parasites, who, like the Phormio of Terence, ingratiated themselves
with their patrons by serviceable roguery, rather than by flattery.
Ipocrito, who, in Aretine’s comedy of that name, is also styled the
parasite, is a sort of Tartuffe, with charitable and religious maxims
constantly in his mouth. He does not insinuate himself into the confidence
of his patrons by a gaping admiration of their foolish sayings, but by
extolling their virtues, and smoothing over their vices; and so far from
being treated with any sort of contumely, he is held in high
consideration, and interposes in all domestic arrangements.

It is still more difficult to find a true parasite on the English stage.
Sir John Falstaff, though something of a parasite, is as original as he is
inimitable. Lazarillo, the hungry courtier in Beaumont and Fletcher’s
_Woman Hater_, and Justice Greedy, in Massinger’s _New Way to Pay Old
Debts_, to whom Sir Giles Overreach gives the command of the kitchen, and
absolute authority there, in respect of the entertainment, are rather
epicures in constant quest of delicacies, than hungry parasites, who
submit to any indignity for the sake of a meal. Lazarillo’s whole intrigue
consists of schemes for being invited to dine where there was an umbrana’s
head, and we are told that

  —— “He hath a courtly kind of hunger,
  And doth hunt more for novelty than plenty;”

and Justice Greedy’s delight is placed in rich canary, a larded pheasant,
or a red deer baked in puff paste. Mosca, in Ben Jonson’s _Volpone_, who
grasps at presents made to him by the legacy-hunters of his patron, and
who at length attempts to defraud the patron himself, is a parasite of
infinitely greater artifice and villainy than any of those in Plautus; and
in the opinion of the late editor of Jonson, outweighs the aggregate merit
of all Plautus’s parasites. Colax, who, in the _Muses’ Looking-Glass_ of
Randolph, chimes in with the sentiments of each character, approving, by
an immense variety of subtle arguments, every extreme of vice and folly,
appears to flatter all those allegorical representations of the passions
exhibited in this drama, rather from courtesy than want. He tells us,
indeed, that

  “’Tis gold gives Flattery all her eloquence;”

but this part of his character is not brought prominently forward, nor is
he represented as a glutton or epicure. Perhaps the character which comes
nearest to the parasite of the _Captivi_ is in a play not very generally
known, the _Canterbury Guests_, by Ravenscroft.

But although it might be difficult to find a precise copy in modern times
of the parasite of the _Captivi_, its principal plot has been repeatedly
imitated, particularly in an old English drama, _The Case is altered_,
supposed to have been written by Ben Jonson, and published in some
editions of his works. Count Ferneze, a nobleman of Vicenza, and who
corresponds to Hegio, lost a son called Camillo, when Vicenza was taken by
the French. His other son, Paulo, is afterwards made prisoner by the same
enemies. Chamont, the French general, and Camillo Ferneze, who, under the
name of Gaspar, had entered into the French service, are taken prisoners
by the Italians; and while in captivity they agree to change names, and
apparent situations. Camillo, who passes for Chamont, is carefully
retained in confinement at Vicenza, while that general is despatched by
the Count Ferneze to procure the ransom of his son Paulo. The Count having
subsequently detected the imposture, Camillo is put in fetters and ordered
for execution. Chamont, however, returns with Paulo, whom he had now
redeemed, and the Count afterwards discovers, by means of a tablet hanging
round his neck, that the youth Camillo, whom he was treating with such
severity, was the son whom he had lost during the sack of Vicenza.

The _Captivi_ is also the foundation of _Les Captifs_, a comedy of Rotrou,
where a father, afflicted by the captivity of a son, purchases all the
slaves exposed to sale in Ætolia, in the hope of recovering his child. The
interest and vivacity of the play, which is one of the best of its author,
are supported by the pleasantries of a parasite, and a variety of
ingenious incidents. Ginguené has mentioned, in the _Histoire Litteraire
d’Italie_, that the _Captivi_ must also have suggested the _Suppositi_, a
comedy by the author of the _Orlando Furioso_. Ariosto, however, has made
the incidents of the _Captivi_ subservient to a love intrigue, and not to
the deliverance of a prisoner. Whilst Erostrato, a young gentleman, acts
the part of a domestic in the house of his mistress’s father, his servant,
Dulippo, personates his master, and studies in his place at the university
of Ferrara. At the conclusion of the piece, Dulippo is discovered to be
the son of an old and rich doctor of laws, who was the rival in love of
Erostrato. There is a parasite in this play as in the _Captivi_, but the
character of the doctor is new, and the scenes chiefly consist of the
schemes which are laid by the master and servant to disappoint his views
as to the lady of whom Erostrato is enamoured.

_Casina_. This play is so called from the name of a female slave, on whom,
though she does not once appear on the stage, the whole plot of the drama
hinges. It is said in the prologue to have been translated from Diphilus,
a Greek writer of the new comedy, by whom it was called Κληρουμενοι, the
Lot Drawers. Diphilus was a contemporary of Menander; he was distinguished
by his comic wit and humour and occasionally by the moral sententious
character of his dramas, of which he is said to have written a hundred,
and from which larger fragments have been preserved than from any Greek
plays belonging to the new comedy. Notwithstanding what is said in the
Delphine Plautus, it is evident from its terms, that the prologue could
not have been prefixed by the dramatist himself, but must have been
written a good many years after his death, on occasion of a revival of the
_Casina_. It would appear from it that the plays of Plautus had rather
gone out of fashion immediately after his death; but the public at length,
tired with the new comedies, began to call for the reproduction of those
of Plautus—

  “Nam, nunc novæ quæ prodeunt comœdiæ,
  Multo sunt nequiores, quam nummi novi,
  Nos postquam rumores populi intelleximus,
  Studiose expetere vos Plautinas fabulas,
  Antiquam ejus edimus comœdiam.”

From the same prologue it would seem that this play, when first
represented, had surpassed in popularity all the dramatic productions of
the time—

  “Hæc quum primùm acta est, vicit omnes fabulas.”

It cannot, indeed, be denied, that, in the _Casina_, the unities of time
and place are rigidly observed, and, in point of humour, it is generally
accounted inferior to none of Plautus’s dramas. The nature, however, of
the subject, will admit only of a very slight sketch. The female slave,
who gives name to the comedy, is beloved by her master, Stalino, and by
his son, Euthynicus,—the former of whom employs Olympio, his bailiff in
the country, and the latter his armour-bearer, Chalinus, to marry Casina,
each being in hopes, by this contrivance, to obtain possession of the
object of his affections. Cleostrata, Stalino’s wife, suspecting her
husband’s designs, supports the interests of her son, and, after much
dispute, it is settled, that the claims of the bailiff and armour-bearer
should be decided by lot. Fortune having declared in favour of the former,
Stalino obtains the loan of a neighbour’s house for the occasion, and it
is arranged, that its mistress should be invited for one evening by
Cleostrata; but the jealous lady counteracts this plan by declining the
honour of the visit. At length all concur in making a dupe of the old man.
Chalinus is dressed up in wedding garments to personate Casina, and the
play concludes with the mortification of Stalino, at finding he had been
imposed on by a counterfeit bride.

The plan here adopted by Stalino for securing possession of Casina, is
nearly the same with that pursued by the Count Almaviva, in Beaumarchais’
prose comedy, _Le Marriage de Figaro_; where the Count, with similar
intentions, plans a marriage between Suzanne and his valet-de-chambre,
Figaro, but has his best-laid schemes invariably frustrated. The
concluding part of the _Casina_ has probably, also, suggested the whole of
the _Marescalco_, a comedy of the celebrated Aretine, which turns on the
projected nuptials of the character who gives name to the piece, and whose
supposed bride is discovered, during the performance of the marriage
ceremony, to be a page of the Duke of Mantua, dressed up in wedding
garments, in a frolic of the Duke’s courtiers, in order to impose on the
Marescalco. Those scenes in the _Ragazzo_ of Lodovico Dolce, where a
similar deception is practised and where Giacchetto, the disguised youth,
minutely details the event of the trick of which he was made the chief
instrument, have also been evidently drawn from the same productive

The closest imitation, however, of the _Casina_, is Machiavel’s comedy
_Clitia_. Many of its scenes, indeed, have been literally translated from
the Latin, and the incidents are altered in very few particulars. The
Stalino of Plautus is called Nicomaco, and his wife Sofronia: their son is
named Cleandro, and the dependents employed to court Clitia for behoof of
their masters, Eustachio and Pirro. The chief difference is, that the
young lover, who is supposed to be absent in the _Casina_, is introduced
on the stage by the Italian author, and the object of his affections is a
young lady, brought up and educated by his parents, and originally
intrusted to their care by one of their friends, which makes the proposal
of her marrying either of the servants offered to her choice more absurd
than in the Latin original. The bridal garments, too, are not assumed by
one of the rival servants, but by a third character, introduced and
employed for the purpose. This comedy of Machiavel, his _Mandragola_, and
the renowned tale of Belfegor, were the productions with which that
profound politician and historian, who established a school of political
philosophy in the Italian seat of the Muses—who applied a fine analysis to
the Roman history, and a subtler than Aristotle to the theory of
government—attempted, as he himself has so beautifully expressed it,

    “Fare il suo tristo tempo piu soave;
    Perche altrove non have,
    Dove voltare il viso,
    Che gli è stato interciso
  Mostrar con altre imprese altra virtute.”

_Cistellaria_, (the Casket.)—The prologue to this play is spoken by the
god _Auxilium_, at the end of the first act. It explains the subject of
the piece—compliments the Romans on their power and military glory—and
concludes with exhorting them to overcome the Carthaginians, and punish
them as they deserve. Hence it is probable, that this play was written
during the second Punic war, which terminated in the year 552; and as
Plautus was born in the year 525, it may be plausibly conjectured, that
the _Cistellaria_ was one of his earliest productions. This also appears
from its greater rudeness when compared with his other plays, and from the
shortness and simplicity of the plot. But though the argument is trite and
sterile, it is enlivened by a good deal of comic humour, particularly in
the delineation of some of the subordinate characters. Like many others of
Plautus’s plays, it turns on the accidental recognition of a lost child by
her parents, in consequence of the discovery of a casket, containing some
toys, which had been left with her when exposed, and by means of which she
is identified and acknowledged.

In ancient times these recognitions, so frequently exhibited on the stage,
were not improbable. The customs of exposing children, and of reducing
prisoners of war to slavery—the little connection or intercourse between
different countries, from the want of inns or roads—and the consequent
difficulty of tracing a lost individual—rendered such incidents, to us
apparently so marvellous, of not unusual occurrence in real life. In
Greece, particularly, divided as it was into a number of small states, and
surrounded by a sea infested with pirates, who carried on a commerce in
slaves, free-born children were frequently carried off, and sold in
distant countries. By the laws of Athens, marriage with a foreigner was
null; or, at least, the progeny of such nuptials were considered as
illegitimate, and not entitled to the privileges of Athenian citizens.
Hence, the recognition of the supposed stranger was of the utmost
importance to herself and lover. In real life, this recognition may have
been sometimes actually aided by ornaments and trinkets. Parents
frequently tied jewels and rings to the children whom they exposed, in
order that such as found them might be encouraged to nourish and educate
them, and that they themselves might afterwards be enabled to discover
them, if Providence took care for their safety(248). Plots, accordingly,
which hinged on such circumstances, were invented even by the writers of
the old Greek comedy. One of the later pieces of Aristophanes, now lost,
entitled _Cocalus_, is said to have presented a recognition; and nearly
the same sort of intrigue was afterwards employed by Menander, and, from
his example, by Plautus and Terence. From imitation of the Greek and Latin
comedies, similar incidents became common both in dramatic and romantic
fiction. The pastoral romance of Longus hinges on a recognition of this
species; and those elegant productions, in which the Italians have
introduced the characters and occupations of rural life into the drama,
are frequently founded on the exposure of children, who, after being
brought up as shepherds by reputed fathers, are recognised by their real
parents, from ornaments or tokens fastened to their persons when abandoned
in infancy or childhood.

The _Cistellaria_ has been more directly imitated in _Gli Incantesimi_ of
Giovam-Maria Cecchi, a Florentine dramatist of the sixteenth century. That
part, however, of the plot which gives name to the piece, has been
invented by the Italian author himself.

_Curculio_.—The subject of this play, turns on a recognition similar to
that which occurs in the _Cistellaria_. It derives its title from the name
of a parasite, who performs the part usually assigned by Plautus to an
intriguing slave; and he is called Curculio, from a species of worm which
eats through corn.

It is worthy of observation, that in the fourth act of this play, the
Choragus, who was master of the Chorus, and stage-manager, or leader of
the band, is introduced, expressing his fear lest he should be deprived of
the clothes he had lent to Curculio, and addressing to the spectators a
number of satirical remarks on Roman manners.

Vossius has noticed the inadvertency or ignorance of Plautus in this
drama, where, though the scene is laid in Epidaurus, he sends the parasite
to Caria, and brings him back in four days. This part of the comedy he
therefore thinks has been invented by Plautus himself, since a Greek poet,
to whom the geography of these districts must have been better known,
would not have carried the parasite to so great a distance in so short a

_Epidicus_.—This play is so called from the name of a slave who sustains a
principal character in the comedy, and on whose rogueries most of the
incidents depend. Its most serious part consists in the discovery of a
damsel, who proves to be sister to a young man by whom she has been
purchased as a slave. The play has no prologue; but, at the beginning, a
character is introduced, which the ancients called _persona
protatica_,—that is, a person who enters only once, and at the
commencement of the piece, for the sake of unfolding the argument, and
does not appear again in any part of the drama. Such are Sosia, in the
_Andria_ of Terence, and Davus, in his _Phormio_. This is accounted rather
an inartificial mode of informing the audience of the circumstances
previous to the opening of the piece. It is generally too evident, that
the narrative is made merely for the sake of the spectators; as there
seldom appears a sufficient reason for one of the parties being so
communicative to the other. Such explanations should come round, as it
were, by accident, or be drawn involuntarily from the characters
themselves in the course of the action.

The _Epidicus_ is said to have been a principal favourite of the author
himself; and, indeed, one of the characters in his _Bacchides_ exclaims,

  “Etiam Epidicum, quam ego fabulam æque ac me ipsum amo.”

But, though popular in the ancient theatre, the _Epidicus_ does not appear
to be one of the plays of Plautus which has been most frequently imitated
on the modern stage. There was, however, a very early Italian imitation of
it in the _Emilia_, a comedy of Luigi da Groto, better known by the
appellation of Cieco D’Adria, one of the earliest romantic poets of his
country. The trick, too, of Epidicus, in persuading his master to buy a
slave with whom his son was in love, has suggested the first device fallen
on by Mascarelle, the valet in Moliere’s _Etourdi_, in order to place the
female slave Celie at the disposal of her lover, by inducing his master to
purchase her.

_Menæchmi_—hinges on something of the same species of humour as the
_Amphitryon_—a doubt and confusion with regard to the identity of
individuals. According to the Delphin Plautus, it was taken from a lost
play of Menander, entitled Διδυμοι; but other commentators have thought,
that it was more probably derived from Epicharmus, or some other Sicilian

In this play, a merchant of Syracuse had two sons, possessing so strong a
personal resemblance to each other, that they could not be distinguished
even by their parents. One of these children, called Menæchmus, was lost
by his father in a crowd on the streets of Syracuse, and, being found by a
Greek merchant, was carried by him to Epidamnum, (Dyracchium,) and adopted
as his son. Meanwhile the brother, (whose name, in consequence of this
loss, had been changed to Menæchmus,) having grown up, had set out from
Syracuse in quest of his relative. After a long search he arrived at
Epidamnum, where his brother had by this time married, and had also
succeeded to the merchant’s fortune. The amusement of the piece hinges on
the citizens of Epidamnum mistaking the Syracusan stranger for his
brother, and the family of the Epidamnian brother falling into a
corresponding error. In this comedy we have also the everlasting parasite;
and the first act opens with a preparation for an entertainment, which
Menæchmus of Epidamnum had ordered for his mistress Erotium, and to which
the parasite was invited. The Syracusan happening to pass, is asked to
come in by his brother’s mistress, and partakes with her of the feast. He
also receives from her, in order to bear it to the embroiderer’s, a robe
which his brother had carried off from his wife, with the view of
presenting it to this mistress. Afterwards he is attacked by his brother’s
jealous wife, and her father; and, as his answers to their reproaches
convince them that he is deranged, they send straightway for a physician.
The Syracusan escapes; but they soon afterwards lay hold of the
Epidamnian, in order to carry him to the physician’s house, when the
servant of the Syracusan, who mistakes him for his master, rescues him
from their hands. The Epidamnian then goes to his mistress with the view
of persuading her to return the robe to his wife. At length the whole is
unravelled by the two Menæchmi meeting; when the servant of the Syracusan,
surprised at their resemblance, discovers, after a few questions to each,
that Menæchmus of Epidamnum is the twin-brother of whom his master had
been so long in search, and who now agrees to return with them to

The great number of those Latin plays, where the merriment consists in
mistakes arising from personal resemblances, must be attributed to the use
of masks, which gave probability to such dramas; and yet, if the
resemblance was too perfect, the humour, I think, must have lost its
effect, as the spectators would not readily perceive the error that was

No play has been so repeatedly imitated as the Menæchmi on the modern
stage, particularly the Italian, where masks were also frequently
employed. The most celebrated Italian imitation of the _Menæchmi_ is _Lo
Ipocrito_ of Aretine, where the twin-brothers, Liseo and Brizio, had the
same singular degree of resemblance as the Menæchmi. Brizio had been
carried off a prisoner in early youth during the sack of Milan, and
returns to that city, after a long absence, in the first act of the play,
in quest of his relations. Liseo’s servants, and his parasite, Lo
Ipocrito, all mistake Brizio for their patron, and his wife takes him to
share an entertainment prepared at her husband’s house, and also intrusts
him with the charge of some ornaments belonging to her daughter; while, on
the other hand, Brizio’s servant mistakes Liseo for his master. The
interest of the play arises from the same sort of confusion as that which
occurs in the _Menæchmi_; and from the continual astonishment of those who
are deceived by the resemblance, at finding an individual deny a
conversation which they were persuaded he had held a few minutes before.
The play is otherwise excessively involved, in consequence of the
introduction of the amours and nuptials of the five daughters of Liseo.
The plot of the Latin comedy has also been followed in _Le Moglie_ of
Cecchi, and in the _Lucidi_ of Agnuolo Firenzuola; but the incidents have
been, in a great measure, adapted by these dramatists to the manners of
their native country. Trissino, in his _Simillimi_, has made little change
on his original, except adding a chorus of sailors; as, indeed, he has
himself acknowledged, in his dedication to the cardinal, Alessandro
Farnese. In _Gli due Gemelli_, which was long a favourite piece on the
Italian stage, Carlini acted both brothers; the scenes being so contrived
that they were never brought on the stage together—in the same manner as
in our farce of _Three and the Deuce_, where the idea of giving different
characters and manners to the three brothers, with a perfect personal
resemblance, by creating still greater astonishment in their friends and
acquaintances, seems an agreeable addition.

The _Menæchmi_ was translated into English towards the end of the
sixteenth century, by William Warner, the author of _Albion’s England_.
This version, which was first printed in 1595, and is entitled, “Menæchmi,
a pleasaunt and fine conceited comedy, taken out of the most excellent
wittie poet Plautus, chosen purposely, as least harmefull, yet most
delightful,” was unquestionably the origin of Shakspeare’s _Comedy of
Errors_. The resemblance of the two Antipholis’, and the other
circumstances which give rise to the intrigue, are nearly the same as in
Plautus. Some of the mistakes, too, which occur on the arrival of
Antipholis of Syracuse at Ephesus, have been suggested by the Latin play.
Thus, the Syracusan, on coming to Ephesus, dines with his brother’s wife.
This lady had under repair, at the goldsmith’s, a valuable chain, which
her husband resolves to present to his mistress, but the goldsmith gives
it to the Syracusan. At length the Ephesian is believed insane by his
friends, who bring Doctor Pinch, a conjurer, to exorcise him. Shakspeare
has added the characters of the twin Dromios, the servants of the
Antipholis’s, who have the same singular resemblance to each other as
their masters, which has produced such intricacy of plot that it is hardly
possible to unravel the incidents.

The _Comedy of Errors_ is accounted one of the earliest, and is certainly
one of the least happy efforts of Shakspeare’s genius. I cannot agree with
M. Schlegel, in thinking it better than the Menæchmi of Plautus, or even
than the best modern imitation of that comedy—_Les Menechmes, ou Les
Jumeaux_, of the French poet Regnard, which is, at least, a more lively
and agreeable imitation. All the scenes, however, have been accommodated
to French manners; and the plot differs considerably from that of Plautus,
being partly formed on an old French play of the same title, by Rotrou,
which appeared as early as 1636. One chief distinction is, that the
Chevalier Menechme knows of the arrival of his brother from the country,
and knows that he had come to Paris in order to receive an inheritance
bequeathed to him by his uncle, as also to marry a young lady of whom the
Chevalier was enamoured. The Chevalier avails himself of the resemblance
to prosecute his love-suit with the lady, and to receive the legacy from
the hands of an attorney, while his brother is in the meantime harassed by
women to whom the Chevalier had formerly paid addresses, and is arrested
for his debts. It was natural enough, as in Plautus, that an infant,
stolen and carried to a remote country, should have transmitted no account
of himself to his family, and should have been believed by them to be
dead; but this can with difficulty be supposed of Regnard’s Chevalier, who
had not left his paternal home in Brittany till the usual age for entering
on military service, and had ever since resided chiefly at Paris. The
Chevalier finds, from letters delivered to him by mistake, that his
brother had come to town to receive payment of a legacy recently
bequeathed to him: But, unless it was left to any one who bore the name of
Menechme, it is not easy to see how the attorney charged with the payment,
should have allowed himself to be duped by the Chevalier. Nor is it likely
that, suspicious as the elder Menechme is represented, he should trust so
much to his brother’s valet, or allow himself to be terrified in the
public street and open day into payment of a hundred louis d’or. It is
equally improbable that Araminte should give up the Chevalier to her
niece, or that the elder Menechme should marry the old maid merely to get
back half the sum of which his brother had defrauded him. That all the
adventures, besides, should terminate to the advantage of the Chevalier,
has too much an air of contrivance, and takes away that hazard which ought
to animate pieces of this description, and which excites the interest in
Plautus, where the incidents prove fortunate or unfavourable
indiscriminately to the two brothers.

In Plautus, the robe which Menæchmus of Epidamnum carries off from his
wife, suffices for almost the whole intrigue. It alone brings into play
the falsehood and avarice of the courtezan, the inclination of both the
Menæchmi for pleasure, the gluttony of the parasite, and rage of the
jealous wife: But in the French _Menechmes_,—trunks, letters, a portrait,
promises of marriage, and presents, are heaped on each other, to produce
accumulated mistakes. Regnard has also introduced an agreeable variety, by
discriminating the characters of the brothers, between whom Plautus and
Shakspeare have scarcely drawn a shade of difference. The Chevalier is a
polished gentleman—very ingenious; but, I think, not very honest: His
brother is blunt, testy, and impatient, and not very wise. The difference,
indeed, in their language and manners, is so very marked, that it seems
hardly possible, whatever might be the personal resemblance, that the
Chevalier’s mistress could have been deceived. These peculiarities of
disposition, however, render the mistakes, and the country brother’s
impatience under them, doubly entertaining—

  “Faudra-t-il que toujours je sois dans l’embarras
  De voir une furie attachée a mes pas?”

And when assailed by Araminte, the old maid to whom his brother had
promised marriage—

  “Esprit, demon, lutin, ombre, femme, ou furie,
  Qui que tu sois, enfin laisse moi, je te prie.”

When his brother is at last discovered, and indubitably recognized, he

  “Mon frere en verité—Je m’en rejouis fort,
  Mais j’avais cependant compté sur votre mort.”

Boursault’s comedy, _Les Menteurs qui ne mentent point_, though somewhat
different in its fable from the Latin _Menæchmi_, is founded on precisely
the same species of humour—the exact resemblance of the two Nicandres
occasioning ludicrous mistakes and misunderstandings among their valets
and mistresses.

The most recent French imitation of the play of Plautus is the _Menechmes
Grecs_, by Cailhava, in which the plot is still more like the Latin comedy
than the _Menechmes_ of Regnard; but the characters are new. This piece
has been extremely popular on the modern French stage.—“Le public,” says
Chenier, “s’est empressé de rendre justice a la peinture piquante de mœurs
de la Grece, a la verité des situations, au naturel du dialogue, au merite
rare d’une gaité franche, qui ne degenere pas en bouffonnerie(249).”

_Miles Gloriosus_, (the Braggart Captain.) This was a character of the new
Greek comedy, introduced and brought to perfection by Philemon and
Menander. These dramatists wrote during the reigns of the immediate
successors of Alexander the Great. At that period, his generals who had
established sovereignties in Syria and Egypt, were in the practice of
recruiting their armies by levying mercenaries in Greece. The soldiers who
had thus served in the wars of the Seleucidæ and Ptolemies, were in the
habit, when they returned home to Greece after their campaigns, of
astonishing their friends with fabulous relations of their exploits in
distant countries. Having been engaged in wars with which Athens had no
immediate concern or interest, these partizans met with little respect or
sympathy from their countrymen, and their lies and bravadoes having made
them detested in Athenian society(250), they became the prototypes of that
dramatic character of which the constant attributes were the most absurd
vanity, stupidity, profusion, and cowardice. This overcharged character,
along with that of the slave and parasite, were transferred into the
dramas of Plautus, the faithful mirrors of the new Greek comedy. The first
act of the _Miles Gloriosus_ has little to do with the plot: It only
serves to acquaint us with the character of the Captain Pyrgopolinices;
and it is for this purpose alone that Plautus has introduced the parasite,
who does not return to the stage after the first scene. The boasts of this
captain are quite extravagant, but they are not so gross as the flatteries
of the parasite: indeed it is not to be conceived that any one could
swallow such compliments as that he had broken an elephant’s thigh with
his fist, and slaughtered seven thousand men in one day, or that he should
not have perceived the sarcasms of the parasite intermixed with his
fulsome flattery. Previous, however, to the invention of gunpowder, more
could be performed in war by the personal prowess of individuals, than can
be now accomplished; and hence the character of the braggart captain may
not have appeared quite so exaggerated to the ancients as it seems to us.
One man of peculiar strength and intrepidity often carried dismay into the
hostile squadrons, as Goliah defied all the armies of Israel, and, with a
big look, and a few arrogant words, struck so great a terror, that the
host fled before him.

Most European nations being imbued with military habits and manners for
many centuries after their first rise, the part of a boasting coward was
one of the broadest, and most obviously humorous characters, that could be
presented to the spectators. Accordingly, the braggart Captain, though he
has at length disappeared, was one of the most notorious personages on the
early Italian, French, and English stage.

Tinca, the braggart Captain in _La Talanta_, a comedy by Aretine, is a
close copy of Thraso, the soldier in Terence, the play being taken from
the _Eunuchus_, where Thraso is a chief character. But Spampana, the
principal figure in the _Farsa Satira Morale_, a dramatic piece of the
fifteenth century, by Venturino of Pesaro, was the original and genuine
Capitano Glorioso, a character well known, and long distinguished in the
Italian drama. He was generally equipped with a mantle and long rapier;
and his personal qualities nearly resembled those of the Count di Culagna,
the hero of Tassoni’s mock heroic poem _La Secchia Rapita_:—

  “Quest’ era un Cavalier bravo e galante,
  Ch’era fuor de perigli un Sacripante.
  Ma ne perigli un pezzo di polmone:
  Spesso ammazzato avea qualche gigante,
  E si scopriva poi, ch’era un cappone.”

This military poltroon long kept possession of the Italian stage, under
the appellations of Capitan Spavento and Spezzafer, till about the middle
of the sixteenth century, when he yielded his place to the Capitano
Spagnuolo, whose business was to utter Spanish rodomontades, to kick out
the native Italian Captain in compliment to the Spaniards, and then
quietly accept of a drubbing from Harlequin. When the Spaniards had
entirely lost their influence in Italy, the Capitan Spagnuolo retreated
from the stage, and was succeeded by that eternal poltroon, Scaramuccio, a
character which was invented by Tiberio Fiurilli, the companion of the
boyhood of Louis XIV(251).

In imitation of the Italian captain, the early French dramatists
introduced a personage, who patiently received blows while talking of
dethroning emperors and distributing crowns. The part was first exhibited
in _Le Brave_, by Baif, acted in 1567; but there is no character which
comes so near to the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, as that of Chasteaufort
in Cyrano Bergerac’s _Pedant Joué_. In general, the French captains have
more rodomontade and solemnity, with less buffoonery, than their Italian
prototypes. The captain Matamore, in Corneille’s _Illusion Comique_,
actually addresses the following lines to his valet:—

  “II est vrai que je rêve, et ne saurois resoudre,
  Lequel des deux je dois le premier mettre en poudre,
  Du grand Sophi de Perse, ou bien du grand Mogol.”

And again—

  “Le seul bruit de mon nom renverse les murailles,
  Defait les escadrons, et gagne les batailles;
  D’un seul commandement que je fais aux trois Parques,
  Je depeuple l’état des plus heureux monarques.”

Corneille’s Matamore also resembles the Miles Gloriosus, in his
self-complacency on the subject of personal beauty, and his belief that
every woman is in love with him. Pyrgopolinices declares—

  “Miserum esse pulchrum hominem nimis.”

And in like manner, Matamore—

  “Ciel qui sais comme quoi j’en suis persecuté.
  Un peu plus de repos avec moins de beaute.
  Fais qu’un si long mepris enfin la desabuse.”

Scarron, who was nearly contemporary with Corneille, painted this
character in Don Gaspard de Padille, the _Fanfaron_, as he is called, of
the comedy _Jodelet Duelliste_. Gaspard, however, is not a very important
or prominent character of the piece. Jodelet himself, the valet of Don
Felix, seems intended as a burlesque or caricature of all the braggarts
who had preceded him. Having received a blow, he is ever vowing vengeance
against the author of the injury in his absence, but on his appearance,
suddenly becomes tame and submissive.

The braggart captains of the old English theatre have much greater merit
than the utterers of these nonsensical rhapsodies of the French stage.
Falstaff has been often considered as a combination of the characters of
the parasite and Miles Gloriosus; but he has infinitely more wit than
either; and the liberty of fiction in which he indulges, is perhaps
scarcely more than is necessary for its display. His cheerfulness and
humour are of the most characteristic and captivating sort, and instead of
suffering that contumely with which the parasite and Miles Gloriosus are
loaded, laughter and approbation attend his greatest excesses. His
boasting speeches are chiefly humorous; jest and merriment account for
most of them, and palliate them all. It is only subsequent to the robbery
that he discovers the traits of a Miles Gloriosus. Most of the ancient
braggarts bluster and boast of distant wars, beyond the reach of knowledge
or evidence—of exploits performed in Persia and Armenia—of storms and
stratagems—of falling pell-mell on a whole army, and putting thousands to
the sword, till, by some open and apparent fact, they are brought to shame
as cowards and liars; but Falstaff’s boasts refer to recent occurrences,
and he always preserves himself from degradation by the address with which
he defies detection, and extricates himself from every difficulty. His
character, however, in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, has some affinity to
the captains of the Roman stage, from his being constantly played on in
consequence of his persuasion that women are in love with him. The
swaggering Pistol in _King Henry IV._, is chiefly characterized by his
inflated language, and is, as Doll calls him, merely “a fustian rascal.”
Bessus, in Beaumont and Fletcher’s _King and No King_, is said by Theobald
to be a copy of Falstaff; but he has little or none of his humour. Bessus
was an abusive wretch, and so much contemned, that no one called his words
in question; but, afterwards, while flying in battle, having accidentally
rushed on the enemy, he acquired a reputation for valour; and being now
challenged to combat by those whom he had formerly traduced, his great aim
is to avoid fighting, and yet to preserve, by boasting, his new character
for courage. However fine the scene between Bessus and Arbaces, at the
conclusion of the third act, the darker and more infamous shades of
character there portrayed ought not to have been delineated, as our
contemptuous laughter is converted, during the rest of the play, or, on a
second perusal, into detestation and horror. Bobadil, in Ben Jonson’s
_Every Man in his Humour_, has generally been regarded as a copy of the
Miles Gloriosus; but the late editor of Jonson thinks him a creation _sui
generis_, and perfectly original. “The soldiers of the Roman stage,” he
continues, “have not many traits in common with Bobadil. Pyrgopolinices,
and other captains with hard names, are usually wealthy—all of them keep
mistresses, and some of them parasites—but Bobadil is poor. They are
profligate and luxurious—but Bobadil is stained with no inordinate vice,
and is so frugal, that a bunch of radishes, and a pipe to close the
orifice of his stomach, satisfy all his wants. Add to this, that the
vanity of the ancient soldier is accompanied with such deplorable
stupidity, that all temptation to mirth is taken away, whereas Bobadil is
really amusing. His gravity, which is of the most inflexible nature,
contrasts admirably with the situations into which he is thrown; and
though beaten, baffled, and disgraced, he never so far forgets himself as
to aid in his own discomfiture. He has no soliloquies, like Bessus and
Parolles, to betray his real character, and expose himself to unnecessary
contempt: nor does he break through the decorum of the scene in a single
instance. He is also an admirer of poetry, and seems to have a pretty
taste for criticism, though his reading does not appear very extensive;
and his decisions are usually made with somewhat too much promptitude. In
a word, Bobadil has many distinguishing traits, and, till a preceding
braggart shall be discovered, with something more than big words and
beating, to characterize him, it may not be amiss to allow Jonson the
credit of having depended on his own resources.” The character of the
braggart captain was continued in the Bernardo of Shadwell’s _Amorous
Bigot_, and Nol Bluff, in Congreve’s _Old Bachelor_. These are persons who
apparently would destroy every thing with fire and sword; but their
mischief is only in their words, and they “will not swagger with a Barbary
hen, if her feathers turn back with any show of resistance.” The
braggarts, indeed, of modern dramatists, have been universally represented
as cowardly, from Spampana down to Captain Flash. But cowardice is not a
striking attribute of the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus, at least it is not
made the principal source of ridicule as with the moderns. We have
instead, a vain conceit of his person, and his conviction that every woman
is in love with him.

This feature in the character of the Miles Gloriosus, produces a principal
part in the intrigue of this amusing drama, which properly commences at
the second act, and is said, in a prologue there introduced, to have been
taken from the Greek play Αλαζων. While residing at Athens, the captain
had purchased from her mother a young girl, (whose lover was at that time
absent on an embassy,) and had brought her with him to his house at
Ephesus. The lover’s slave entered into the captain’s service, and, seeing
the girl in his possession, wrote to his former master, who, on learning
the fate of his mistress, repaired to Ephesus. There he went to reside
with Periplectomenes, a merry old bachelor, who had been a friend of his
father, and now agreed to assist him in recovering the object of his
affections. The house of Periplectomenes being immediately adjacent to
that of the captain, the ingenious slave dug an opening between them; and
the keeper, who had been intrusted by the captain with charge of the
damsel, was thus easily persuaded by her rapid, and to him unaccountable,
transition from one building to the other, that it was a twin sister,
possessing an extraordinary resemblance to her, who had arrived at the
house of Periplectomenes. Afterwards, by a new contrivance, a courtezan is
employed to pretend that she is the wife of Periplectomenes, and to
persuade the captain that she is in love with him. To facilitate this
amour, he allows the girl, whom he had purchased at Athens, to depart with
her twin sister and her lover, who had assumed the character of the master
of the vessel in which she sailed. The captain afterwards goes to the
house of Periplectomenes to a supposed assignation, where he is seized and
beat, but does not discover how completely he had been duped, till the
Athenian girl had got clear off with her lover.

This play must, in the representation, have been one of the most amusing
of its author’s productions. The scenes are full of action and bustle,
while the secret communication between the two houses occasions many
lively incidents, and forms an excellent _jeu de theatre_.

With regard to the characters, the one which gives title to the play is,
as already mentioned, quite extravagant; and no modern reader can enjoy
the rodomontade of the Miles Gloriosus, or his credulity in listening with
satisfaction to such monstrous tales of his military renown and amorous
success. Flattery for potential qualities may be swallowed to any extent,
and a vain man may wish that others should be persuaded that he had
performed actions of which he is incapable; but no man can himself hearken
with pleasure to falsehoods which he knows to be such, and which in the
recital are not intended to impose upon others. Pleusides, the lover in
this drama, is totally insipid and uninteresting, and we are not impressed
with a very favourable opinion of his mistress from the account which is
given of her near the beginning of the play:—

  “Os habet, linguam, perfidiam, malitiam, atque audaciam,
  Confidentiam, confirmitatem, fraudolentiam:
  Qui arguet se, eum contra vincat jurejurando suo.
  Domi habet animum falsiloquum, falsificum, falsijurium.”

The principal character, the one which is best supported, and which is
indeed sustained with considerable humour, is that of Periplectomenes, who
is an agreeable old man, distinguished by his frankness, jovial
disposition, and abhorrence of matrimony. There is one part of his
conduct, however, which I wish had been omitted, as it savours too much of
cunning, and reminds us too strongly of Ben Jonson’s Volpone. Talking of
his friends and relations, he says—

  —— “Me ad se, ad prandium, ad cœnam vocant.
  Ille miserrimum se retur, minimum qui misit mihi.
  Illi inter se certant donis; ego hæc mecum mussito:
  Bona mea inhiant: certatim dona mittunt et munera.”

I have often thought that the character of Durazzo, in Massinger’s
_Guardian_, was formed on that of Periplectomenes. Like him, Durazzo is a
jovial old bachelor, who aids his nephew Caldoro in his amour with
Calista. When the lover in Plautus apologizes to his friend for having
engaged him in an enterprize so unsuitable to his years, he replies—

  “Quid ais tu? itane tibi ego videor oppido Acheronticus,
  Tam capularis; tamne tibi diu vita vivere?
  Nam equidem haud sum annos natus præter quinquaginta et quatuor,
  Clare oculis video, pernix sum manibus, sum pedes mobilis.”

In like manner Durazzo exclaims—

           “My age! do not use
  That word again; if you do, I shall grow young,
  And swinge you soundly. I would have you know,
  Though I write fifty odd, I do not carry
  An almanack in my bones to predeclare
  What weather we shall have; nor do I kneel
  In adoration at the spring, and fall
  Before my doctor.” ——

Periplectomenes boasts of his convivial talents, as also of his amorous
disposition, and his excellence at various exercises—

  “Et ego amoris aliquantum habeo, humorisque meo etiam in corpore:
  Nequedum exarui ex amœnis rebus et voluptariis.
    *  *  *  *
  Tum ad saltandum non Cinædus magis usquam saltat quam ego.”

This may be compared with the boast of Durazzo—

           “Bring me to a fence school,
  And crack a blade or two for exercise;
  Ride a barbed horse, or take a leap after me,
  Following my hounds or hawks, and, (by your leave,)
  At a gamesome mistress, you shall confess
  I’m in the May of my abilities.”

It may be perhaps considered as a confirmation of the above conjecture
concerning Massinger’s imitation of Plautus, that the cook in the
_Guardian_ is called Cario, which is also the name of the cook of

There is, however, a coincidence connected with this drama of Plautus,
which is much more curious and striking than its resemblance to the
_Guardian_ of Massinger. The plot of the _Miles Gloriosus_ is nearly the
same with the story of the _Two Dreams_ related in the _Seven Wise
Masters_, a work originally written by an Indian philosopher, long before
the Christian æra, and which, having been translated into Greek under the
title of _Syntipas_, became current during the dark ages through all the
countries of Europe, by the different names of _Dolopatos_, _Erastus_, and
_Seven Wise Masters_,—the frame remaining substantially the same, but the
stories being frequently adapted to the manners of different nations. In
this popular story-book the tale of the Two Dreams concerns a knight, and
a lady who was constantly confined by a jealous husband, in a tower almost
inaccessible. Having become mutually enamoured, in consequence of seeing
each other in dreams, the knight repaired to the residence of the husband,
by whom he was hospitably received, and was at length allowed to build a
habitation on his possessions, at no great distance from the castle in
which his wife was inclosed. When the building was completed, the knight
secretly dug a communication under ground, between his new dwelling and
the tower, by which means he enjoyed frequent and uninterrupted interviews
with the object of his passion. At length the husband was invited to an
entertainment prepared at the knight’s residence, at which his wife was
present, and presided in the character of the knight’s mistress. During
the banquet the husband could not help suspecting that she was his wife,
and in consequence he repaired, after the feast was over, to the tower,
where he found her sitting composedly in her usual dress. This, and his
confidence in the security of the tower, the keys of which he constantly
kept in his pocket, dispelled his suspicions, and convinced him that the
Beauty who had done the honours of the knight’s table, had merely a
striking resemblance to his own lovely consort. Being thus gradually
accustomed to meet her at such entertainments, he at last complied with
his friend’s request, and kindly assisted at the ceremony of the knight’s
marriage with his leman. After their union, he complacently attended them
to the harbour, and handed the lady to the vessel which the knight had
prepared for the elopement. This story also coincides with Le Chevalier a
la Trappe, one of the Fabliaux of the Norman Trouveurs(252), with a tale
in the fourth part of the Italian _Novellino_ of Massuccio Salernitano,
and with the adventures of the _Vieux Calender_, in Gueulette’s _Contes

_Mercator_—is one of the plays for which Plautus was indebted to Philemon,
the contemporary and the successful rival of Menander, over whom he
usually triumphed by the theatrical suffrages, while contending for the
prize of comedy. The Roman critics unanimously concur in representing
these popular decisions as unjust and partial. But Quintilian, while he
condemns the perverted judgment of those who preferred Philemon to
Menander, acknowledges that he must be universally admitted to have
merited the next place to his great rival.—“Qui ut pravis sui temporis
judiciis Menandro sæpe prælatus est, ita consensu tamen omnium meruit
credi secundus(253).”

An interesting account of Philemon is given in the _Observer_, by
Cumberland, who has also collected the strange and inconsistent stories
concerning the manner of his death. He is represented to us as having been
a man of amiable character, and cheerful disposition, seldom agitated by
those furious passions which distracted the mind of Menander. He lived to
the extraordinary age of a hundred and one, during which long period he
wrote ninety comedies. Of these, the critics and grammarians have
preserved some fragments, which are generally of a tender and sentimental,
sometimes even of a plaintive cast. Apuleius, however, informs us, that
Philemon was distinguished for the happiest strokes of wit and humour, for
the ingenious disposition of his plots, for his striking and well managed
discoveries, and the admirable adaptation of his characters to their
situations in life(254). To judge by the Latin Mercator, imitated or
translated from the Εμπορος of Philemon, it is impossible not to consider
him as inferior to those other Greek dramatists from whom Plautus borrowed
his _Amphitryon_, _Aulularia_, _Casina_, and _Miles Gloriosus_; yet it
must be recollected, that those are the best comedies which suffer most by
a transfusion into another language. The English Hypocrites and Misers
would indeed be feeble records of the genius of Moliere. Of one point,
however, we may clearly judge, even through the mist of translation.
Notwithstanding what is said by Apuleius concerning the purity of
Philemon’s dramas, in none of the plays of Plautus is greater moral
turpitude represented. A son is sent abroad by his father, with the view
of reclaiming him from the dissolute course of life which he had followed.
The youth, however, is so little amended by his travels, that he brings a
mistress home in the ship with him. The father, seeing the girl, falls in
love with her. His son, in order to conceal his passion, proposes to sell
its object, but engages one of his acquaintances to purchase her for him.
By some mismanagement, she is bought by a friend whom the father had
employed for this purpose, and is carried, as had been previously
arranged, to the purchaser’s house. The friend’s wife, however, being
jealous of this inmate, her husband is obliged to explain matters for her
satisfaction, and the old debauchee, in consequence, incurs, before the
conclusion of the comedy, merited shame and reproach.

An old libertine may be a very fit subject for satire and ridicule, but in
this play there is certainly too much latitude allowed to the debaucheries
of youth. The whole moral of the drama is contained in three lines near
the conclusion:—

  “Neu quisquam posthac prohibeto adolescentem filium
  Quin amet, et scortum ducat; quod bono fiat modo:
  Si quis prohibuerit, plus perdet clam, quam si præhibuerit palam.”

Nothing can be more ridiculous than the delays and trifling of the persons
in this piece, under circumstances which must naturally have excited their
utmost impatience. Examples of this occur in the scene which occupies
nearly the whole of the first act, between Charinus and his slave
Acanthio, and the equally tedious dialogue in the fifth act between
Eutychus and Charinus.

The _Mercator_ of Plautus is the origin of _La Stiava_, an Italian comedy
by Cecchi; and in the second scene of the second act, there are two lines
which have a remarkable resemblance to the conclusion of the celebrated
speech of Jaques, “All the world’s a stage,” in _As you Like it_.

  “Senex cum extemplo est jam nec sentit, nec sapit.
  Aiunt solere eum rursum repuerascere.”

_Mostellaria_,—which the English translator of Plautus has rendered the
Apparition,—represents a young Athenian, naturally of a virtuous
disposition, who, during the absence of his father on a trading voyage, is
led into every sort of vice and extravagance, partly by his inordinate
love for a courtezan, and partly by the evil counsels of one of his
slaves, called Tranio. During an entertainment, which the youth is one day
giving in his father’s mansion, he is suddenly alarmed by the accounts
which Tranio brings, of the unexpected return of the old man, whom he had
just seen landing near the harbour. At the same time, however, the slave
undertakes to prevent his entering the house. In prosecution of this
design he there locks up his young master and his guests, and, on the
approach of the old gentleman, gravely informs him that the house was now
shut up, in consequence of being haunted by the apparition of an
unfortunate man, long since murdered in it by the person from whom it had
been last purchased. Tranio has scarcely prevailed on the father to leave
the door of the dwelling, when they unluckily meet a money-lender, who had
come to crave payment of a large debt from the profligate son; but the
ingenious slave persuades the father, that the money had been borrowed to
pay for a house which was a great bargain, and which his son had bought in
place of that which was haunted. A new dilemma, however, arises, from the
old gentleman’s asking to see the house: Tranio artfully obtains leave
from the owner, who being obliged to go to the Forum, nothing is said on
this occasion with regard to the sale. He examines the house a second time
along with the owner, but Tranio had previously begged him, as from
motives of delicacy, to say nothing concerning his purchase; and the whole
passes as a visit, to what is called a Show-house. The old man highly
approves of the bargain; but at length the whole deception is discovered,
by his accidentally meeting an attendant of one of his son’s companions,
who is just going into the haunted house to conduct his master home from
that scene of festivity. He has thus occasion to exercise all his patience
and clemency in forgiveness of the son by whom he has been almost ruined,
and of the slave by whom he had been so completely duped.

In this play, the character of the young man might have been rendered
interesting, had it been better brought out; but it is a mere sketch. He
is a grave and serious character, hurried into extravagance by bad
example, evil counsel, and one fatal passion. A long soliloquy, in which
he compares human life to a house, reminds us, in its tone of feeling and
sentiment, of “All the world’s a stage.” The father seems a great deal too
foolish and credulous, and the slave must have relied much on his
weakness, when he ventured on such desperate expedients, and such palpable
lies. Slaves, it will already have been remarked, are principal characters
in many of the dramas of Plautus; and a curious subject of inquiry is
presented in their insolence, effrontery, triumphant roguery, and habitual
familiarity with their masters at one moment, while at the next they are
threatened with the lash or crucifixion. In Athens, however, where the
prototype of this character was found, the slave was treated by his master
with much more indulgence than the Spartan Helot, or any other slaves in
Greece. The masters themselves, who were introduced on the ancient stage,
were not in the first ranks of society; and the vices which required the
assistance of their slaves reduced them to an equality. Besides, an
Athenian or Roman master could hardly be displeased with the familiarity
of those who were under such complete subjection; and the striking
contrast of their manners and situation would render their sallies as
poignant as the spirited remarks of Roxalana in the seraglio of the
Sultan. The character, too, gave scope for those jests and scurrilities,
which seem to have been indispensable ingredients in a Roman comedy, but
which would be unsuitable in the mouths of more dignified persons. They
were, in fact, the buffoons of the piece, who avowed without scruple their
sensual inclinations and want of conscience; for not only their impudence,
but their frauds and deceptions, seem to have been highly relished by the
spectators. It is evident that both the Greeks and Romans took peculiar
pleasure in seeing a witty slave cheat a covetous master, and that the
ingenuity of the fraud was always thought sufficient atonement for its
knavery. Perhaps this unfortunate class of men derived so few advantages
from society, that they were considered as entitled, at least on the
stage, to break through its ties. The character of a saucy and impudent
slave had been already portrayed in the old Greek comedy. In the _Plutus_
of Aristophanes, Carion, the slave of Chremylus, is the most prominent
character, and is distinguished by freedom of remark and witty impudence.
To these attributes there was added, in the new comedy, a spirit of
roguery and intrigue: and in this form the character was almost
universally adopted by the Latin dramatists. The slaves of Plautus
correspond to the valets—the Crispins, and Merlins of the French theatre,
whose race commenced with Merlin, in Scarron’s _Marquis Ridicule_. They
were also introduced in Moliere’s earliest pieces, but not in his best;
and were in a great measure dropped by his successors, as, in fact, they
had ceased to be the spring of any important event or intrigue in the
world. Indeed, I agree with M. Schlegel, in doubting if they could ever
have been introduced as happily on the modern as the ancient stage. A
wretch who was born in servitude, who was abandoned for life to the
capricious will of a master, and was thus degraded below the dignity of
man, might excite laughter instead of indignation, though he did not
conform to the strictest precepts of honesty. He was placed in a state of
warfare with his oppressor, and cunning became his natural arms.

The French dramatist who has employed the character of the intriguing
valet to most advantage, is Regnard; to whom, among many other agreeable
pieces, we are indebted for a delightful imitation of the _Mostellaria_ of
Plautus, entitled, _Le Retour Imprevu, comedie en prose, et en une acte_.

In this play, the incidents of the _Mostellaria_ have been in general
adopted, though they have been somewhat transposed. We have the imposture
of Merlin, who corresponds with Plautus’s Tranio, as to the haunted house,
and his subterfuge when the usurer comes to claim the money which he had
lent. In place, however, of asking to see the new house, the father
proposes to deposit some merchandise in it. Merlin then persuades him,
that the lady to whom it formerly belonged, and who had not yet quitted
it, was unfortunately deprived of reason, and, having been in consequence
interdicted by her relations from the use of her property, the house had
been exposed to sale. At the same time, the artful valet finds an
opportunity of informing the real owner, that the old man had gone mad in
consequence of having lost all his merchandise at sea. Accordingly, when
they meet, neither of them pays the smallest attention to what each
considers the raving of the other. Instead of a courtezan, Regnard has
introduced a young lady, with whom Clitandre is in love; but he has given
her the manners rather of a courtezan, than a young lady. There is one
incident mentioned in the _Mostellaria_ which is omitted in the _Retour
Imprevu_, and of which even Plautus has not much availed himself, though
it might have been enlarged on, and improved to advantage: the old man
mentions, that he had met the person from whom he had bought the haunted
house, and that he had taxed him with the murder of his guest, whose
apparition still walked, but that he had stoutly denied the charge.

The _Fantasmi_ of Ercole Bentivoglio, an Italian comedy of the sixteenth
century, is formed on the same original as the _Retour Imprevu_. The
_Mostellaria_ has likewise suggested the plot of an old tragi-comedy by
Heywood, printed in 1633, and entitled _The English Traveller_. Fielding’s
_Intriguing Chambermaid_ is also derived from the _Mostellaria_, but
through the medium of Regnard’s comedy. Indeed, it may be considered as
almost a translation from the French; except that the author has most
absurdly assigned the part of the Latin Tranio, and French Merlin, to a
chambermaid, whom he calls Mrs Lettice, and has added a great number of
songs and _double entendres_.

It has been said, that the last act of Ben Johnson’s _Alchemist_, where
Face, in order to conceal the iniquities committed in his master’s house
during his absence, tries to persuade him, that it was shut up on account
of being visited by an apparition, has been suggested by the
_Mostellaria_(255); but, as there is no resemblance between the two plays
in other incidents, we cannot be assured that the _Mostellaria_ was at all
in the view of the great English dramatist.

_Persa_.—In this play, which belongs to the lowest order of comedy, the
characters are two slaves, a foot-boy of one of these slaves, a parasite,
a pander, and a courtezan, with her waiting-maid. The manners represented
are such as might be expected from this respectable group. The incidents
are few and slight, hinging almost entirely on a deceit practised against
the pander, who is persuaded to give a large sum for a free woman, whom
the slaves had dressed up as an Arabian captive, and whom he was obliged
to relinquish after having paid the money. The fable is chiefly defective
from the trick of the slaves being intended to serve their own purposes.
But such devices are interesting only when undertaken for the advantage of
higher characters; a comedy otherwise must degenerate into farce.

_Pœnulus_, (the Carthaginian,) is one of the longest, and, I think, on the
whole, the dullest of Plautus’ performances. It turns on the discovery of
a lost child, who had been stolen from her Carthaginian parents in
infancy, and had been carried to Greece. In none of those numerous plays
which turn on the recognition of lost children, has Plautus ever exhibited
an affecting interview, or even hit on an expression of natural
tenderness. The characters are either not brought on the stage at the
conclusion, and we are merely told by some slave or parasite that the
discovery had taken place: or, as in the instance of Hanno and his
daughter in the present drama, the parties most interested teaze and
torment each other with absurd questions, instead of giving way to any
species of emotion. It is a high example, however, of the noble and
generous spirit of the Romans, that Hanno, the Carthaginian introduced in
this play, which was represented in the course of the Punic wars, is more
amiable than almost any other character in Plautus. It is evident, from
his quibbles and obscene jests, that the Latin dramatist adapted his plays
to the taste of the vulgar; and if the picture of a villainous or
contemptible Carthaginian could have pleased the Roman public, as the Jew
of Malta gratified the prejudices of an English mob, Plautus would not
have hesitated to accommodate himself to such feelings, and his Hanno
would doubtless have appeared in those hateful colours in which the Jews,
or in that ridiculous light in which the French, have usually been
exhibited on the British stage.

The employment of different dialects, or idioms, which has been so great a
resource of the modern comic muse, particularly on the Italian stage, had
been early resorted to in Greece. Aristophanes, in one of his comedies,
introduced the jargon of a woman of Lacedæmon, where the Doric dialect was
spoken in its rudest form. Plautus, in a scene of the _Pœnulus_, has made
his Carthaginian speak in his native language; and as the Carthaginian
tongue was but little known in Greece, it may be presumed that this scene
was invented by Plautus himself.

Those remains of the Punic language which have been preserved, (though
probably a good deal corrupted,) are regarded as curious vestiges of
philological antiquity, and have afforded ample employment for the
critics, who have laboured to illustrate and restore them to the right
readings. Commentators have found in them traces of all the ancient
tongues, according to their own fancy, or some favourite system they had
adopted. Joseph Scaliger considered them as little removed from the purity
of original Hebrew(256); and Pareus, in his edition of Plautus, printed
them in Hebrew characters, as did Bochart, in his _Phaleg et Canaan_(257).
Others, from the resemblance of single letters, or syllables, have found
in different words the Chinese, Ethiopian, Persian, or Coptic
dialects(258). Plautus, it is well known, had considerable knowledge of
languages. Besides writing his own with the greatest purity, he was well
acquainted with Greek, Persian, and Punic. The editor of the Delphin
Plautus has a notable conjecture on this point: He supposes that in the
mill in which Plautus laboured, (as if it had been a large mill on the
modern construction,) there was a Carthaginian, a Greek, and a Persian
slave, from whom alternately he acquired a knowledge of these tongues in
the hours of relaxation from work!

_Pseudolus_—is one of those plays of Plautus which hinge on the
contrivance of a slave in behalf of his young master, who is represented
at the commencement of the play, as in despair at not having money
sufficient to redeem his mistress, just then sold by Ballio, a
slave-dealer, to a Macedonian captain for twenty _minæ_. Fifteen of these
had been paid, and the girl was to be delivered up to him as soon as he
sent the remaining five, along with an impression of a seal-ring, which
the captain had left behind as a pledge. Pseudolus, the slave, having
encountered the captain’s messenger, on his way to deliver a letter
containing the token and the balance of the stipulated price, personates
the pander’s servant, and is in consequence intrusted with the letter.
While the messenger is refreshing himself at a tavern, Pseudolus persuades
one of his fellow-slaves to assume the character of the captain’s
emissary, and to present the credentials (which Pseudolus places in his
possession) to the pander, who immediately acknowledges their
authenticity, and, without hesitation, delivers up the girl in return.
When the real messenger afterwards arrives, the slave-merchant treats him
as an impostor hired by Pseudolus.

Next to the slave, the principal character in this comedy is that of the
pander, which is sketched with the strong pencil of a master, and is an
admirable representation of that last stage of human depravity and
wretchedness, in which even appearances cease to be preserved with the
world, and there exists no longer any feeling or anxiety concerning the
opinion of others. Calidorus, the lover of the girl, upbraids him for his
breach of faith—

  “Juravistine te illam nulli venditurum nisi mihi?
  _Ballio._ Fateor. _Cal._ Nempe conceptis verbis. _Bal._ Etiam consultis
  _Cal._ Perjuravisti, sceleste. _Bal._ At argentum intro condidi:
  Ego scelestus nunc argentum promere possum domo.”

M. Dacier, however, is of a different opinion with regard to the merit of
this character. He thinks that the _Pseudolus_, though mentioned by Cato
in Cicero’s Dialogue _De Senectute_, as a finished piece which greatly
delighted its author(259), and though called, by one of his commentators,
_Ocellus Fabularum Plauti_(260) was chiefly in Horace’s view when he
spoke, in his _Epistles_, of Plautus’ want of success in the characters of
a young passionate lover, a parsimonious father, and a cunning pimp,—

            —— “Aspice, Plautus
  Quo pacto partes tutetur amantis ephebi,
  Ut patris attenti, lenonis ut insidiosi.”

These three characters all occur in this comedy; and Dacier maintains that
they are very poorly supported by the poet.—Calidorus is a young lover,
but his character (says the critic,) is so cold and lifeless, that he
hardly deserves the name. His father, Simo, corresponds as little to the
part of the _Patris attenti_; for he encourages the slave to deceive
himself, and promises him a recompense if he succeed in over-reaching the
slave-merchant, and placing in the hands of his son the girl on whom he
doated. Ballio, the slave-dealer, so far from sustaining the character
_lenonis insidiosi_, who should deceive every one, very foolishly becomes
the dupe of a lying valet(261).

The scene between Calidorus and the pander, from which some lines are
extracted above, and that by which it is preceded, where Ballio gives
directions to his slaves, seem to have suggested two scenes in Sir Richard
Steele’s comedy of the _Funeral_. The play has been more closely imitated
by Baptista Porta, the celebrated author of the Magia Naturalis in _La
Trappolaria_, one of the numerous plays with the composition of which he
amused his leisure, after the mysteries and chimeras of his chief work had
excited the suspicion of the court of Rome, and he was in consequence
prohibited from holding those assemblies of learned men, who repaired to
his house with their newly discovered secrets in medicine and other arts.
His play, which was first printed at Bergamo in 1596, is much more
complicated in its incidents than the Latin original. Trappola, the
Pseudolus of the piece, feigns himself, as in Plautus, to be the pander’s
slave, and persuades a parasite to act the part of the pander himself: By
this stratagem, the parasite receives from the captain’s servant the
stipulated money and tokens, but delivers to him in return his ugly wife
Gabrina, as the Beauty he was to receive; and there follows a comical
scene, produced by the consequent amazement and disappointment of the
captain. The parasite then personates the captain’s servant, and, by means
of the credentials of which he had possessed himself, obtains the damsel
Filesia, whom he carries to her lover. With this plot, chiefly taken from
Plautus, another series of incidents, invented by the Italian dramatist,
is closely connected. The father of the young lover, Arsenio, had left his
wife in Spain; and also another son, who had married there, and exactly
resembled his brother in personal appearance. Arsenio being ordered by his
father to sail from Naples, where the scene is laid, for Spain, in order
to convey home his relatives in that country, and being in despair at the
prospect of this separation from his mistress, the father is persuaded, by
a device of the cheat Trappola, that he had not proceeded on the voyage,
as his brother had already arrived. Availing himself of his resemblance,
Arsenio personates his Spanish brother, and brings his mistress as his
wife to his father’s house, where she remains protected, in spite of the
claims of the captain and pander, till the whole artifice is discovered by
the actual arrival of the old lady from Spain. Arsenio’s mistress being
then strictly questioned, proves to be a near connection of the family,
who had been carried off in childhood by corsairs, and she is now, with
the consent of all, united to her lover.

There is also a close imitation of the incidents of the _Pseudolus_ in
Moliere’s _Etourdi_, which turns on the stratagems of a valet to place a
girl in possession of his master Lelie. His first device, as already
mentioned, was suggested by the Epidicus(262); but this having failed, he
afterwards contrives to get into the service of his master’s rival,
Leander, who, having purchased the girl from the proprietor, had agreed to
send a ring as a token, at sight of which she was to be delivered up. The
valet receives the ring for this very purpose, carries it to the owner,
and by such means is just on the point of obtaining possession of the
girl, when his stratagem, as usual, is defeated by the _etourderie_ of his
master. This notion of the valet’s best-laid plans being always
counteracted, was probably suggested by the _Bacchides_ of Plautus, where
Mnesilochus repeatedly frustrates the well-contrived schemes of his slave
Chrysalus; though, perhaps through the medium of the _Inavertito_ of the
Italian dramatist, Nicolo Barbieri, printed in 1629, or Quinault’s _Amant
Indiscret_, which was acted four years before Moliere’s _Etourdi_, and is
founded on the same plan with that drama. In the particular incidents the
_Etourdi_ is compounded of the tricks of Plautus’ slaves; but Moliere has
shown little judgment in thus heaping them on each other in one piece.
Such events might occur once, but not six or seven times, to the same
person. In fact, the valet is more of an _Etourdi_ than his master, as he
never forewarns him of his plans; and we feel as we advance, that the play
could not be carried on without a previous concert among the characters to
connive at impossibilities, and to act in defiance of all common sense or

_Rudens_.—This play, which is taken from a Greek comedy of Diphilus, has
been called _Rudens_ by Plautus, from the rope or cable whereby a
fisherman drags to shore a casket which chiefly contributes to the
solution of the fable. In the prologue, which is spoken by Arcturus, we
are informed of the circumstances which preceded the opening of the drama,
and the situation in which the characters were placed at its commencement.
Plautus has been frequently blamed by the critics for the fulness of his
preliminary expositions, as tending to destroy the surprise and interest
of the succeeding scenes. But I think he has been unjustly censured, even
with regard to those prologues, where, as in that of the _Pœnulus_, he has
anticipated the incidents, and revealed the issue of the plot. The
comedies of Plautus were intended entirely for exhibition on the public
stage, and not for perusal in the closet. The great mass of the Roman
people in his age was somewhat rude: They had not been long accustomed to
dramatic representations, and would have found it difficult to follow an
intricate plot without a previous exposition. This, indeed, was not
necessary in tragedies. The stories of Agamemnon and Œdipus, with other
mythical subjects, so frequently dramatized by Ennius and Livius
Andronicus, were sufficiently known; and, as Dryden has remarked, “the
people, as soon as they heard the name of Œdipus, knew as well as the poet
that he had killed his father by mistake, and committed incest with his
mother; that they were now to hear of a great plague, an oracle, and the
ghost of Laius(263).” It was quite different, however, in those new
inventions which formed the subjects of comedies, and in which the
incidents would have been lost or misunderstood without some introductory
explanation. The attention necessary to unravel a plot prevents us from
remarking the beauties of sentiment or poetry, and draws off our attention
from humour or character, the chief objects of legitimate comedy. We often
read a new play, or one with which we are not acquainted, before going to
see it acted. Surprise, which is everything in romance, is the least part
of the drama. Our horror at the midnight murders of Macbeth, and our
laughter at the falsehoods and facetiousness of Falstaff, are not
diminished, but increased, by knowing the issue of the crimes of the one,
and the genial festivity of the other. In fact, the sympathy and pleasure
so often derived from our knowledge outweighs the gratification of
surprise. The Athenians were well aware that Jocasta, in the celebrated
drama of Sophocles, was the mother of Œdipus; but the knowledge of this
fact, so far from abating the concern of the spectators, as Dryden
supposes(264), must have greatly contributed to increase the horror and
interest excited by the representation of that amazing tragedy. The
celebrated scene of _Iphigenia in Tauris_, between Electra and Orestes,
the masterpiece of poetic art and tragic pathos, would lose half its
effect if we were not aware that Orestes was the brother of Electra, and
if this were reserved as a discovery to surprise the spectators. Indeed,
so convinced of all this were the Greek dramatists, that, in many of their
plays, as the _Hecuba_ and _Hippolytus_ of Euripides, the issue of the
drama is announced at its commencement.

But, be this as it may, the prologue itself, which is prefixed to the
_Rudens_, is eminently beautiful. Arcturus descends as a star from heaven,
and opens the piece, somewhat in the manner of the Angel who usually
delivers the prologue in the ancient Italian mysteries—of the Mercury who
frequently recites it in the early secular dramas, and the Attendant
Spirit in the Masque of Comus, who, by way of prologue, declares his
office, and the mission which called him to earth. In a manner more
consistent with oriental than with either Greek or Roman mythology,
Arcturus represents himself as mingling with mankind during day, in order
to observe their actions, and as presenting a record of their good and
evil deeds to Jupiter, whom the wicked in vain attempt to appease by

  “Atque hoc scelesti in animum inducunt suum,
  Jovem se placare posse donis, hostiis:
  Et operam et sumptum perdunt.” ——

Arcturus having thus satisfactorily accounted for his knowledge of the
incidents of the drama, proceeds to unfold the situation of the principal
characters. Dæmones, before whose house in Cyrene the scene is laid, had
formerly resided at Athens, where his infant daughter had been kidnapped,
and had been afterwards purchased by a slave merchant, who brought her to
Cyrene. A Greek youth, then living in that town, had become enamoured of
her, and having agreed to purchase her, the merchant had consented to meet
him and fulfil the bargain at an adjacent temple. But being afterwards
persuaded that he could procure a higher price for her in Sicily, the
slave-dealer secretly hired a vessel, and set sail, carrying the girl
along with him. The ship had scarcely got out to sea when it was overtaken
by a dreadful tempest over which Arcturus is figured as presiding. The
play opens during the storm, in a manner eminently beautiful and
romantic—an excellence which none of the other plays of Plautus possess.
Dæmones and his servant are represented as viewing the tempest from land,
and pointing out to each other the dangers and various vicissitudes of a
boat, in which were seated two damsels who had escaped from the ship, and
were trying to gain the shore, which, after many perils, they at length
reached. The decorations of this scene are said to have been splendid, and
disposed in a very picturesque manner. Madame Dacier conjectures, “that at
the farther end of the stage was a prospect of the sea, intersected by
many rocks and cliffs, which projected considerably forward on the stage.
On one side the city of Cyrene was represented as at a distance; on the
other, the temple of Venus, with a court before it, in the centre of which
stood an altar. Adjacent to the temple, and on the same side, was the
house of Dæmones, with some scattered cottages in the back ground.”
Pleusidippus, the lover, comes forward to the temple during the storm, and
then goes off in search of Labrax, the slave-merchant, who had likewise
escaped from the shipwreck. The damsels, whose situation is highly
interesting, having now got on shore, appear among the cliffs, and after
having deplored their misfortunes, they are received into the temple by
the priestess of Venus, who reminds them, however, that they should have
come clothed in white garments and bringing victims! Here they are
discovered by the slave of Pleusidippus, who goes to inform his master.
Labrax then approaches to the vicinity of the temple of Venus, and having
discovered that the damsels who had saved themselves from the wreck were
secreted there, he rushes in to claim and seize them. Thus far the play is
lively and well conducted, but the subsequent scenes are too long
protracted. They are full of trifling, and are more loaded than those of
any other comedy of Plautus, with quaint conceits, the quibbling
witticisms, and the scurrilities of slaves. The scene in which Labrax
attempts to seize the damsels at the altar, and Dæmones protects them, is
insufferably tedious, but terminates at length with the pander being
dragged to prison. After this, the fisherman of Dæmones is introduced,
congratulating himself on having found a wallet which had been lost from
the pander’s ship, and contained his money, as well as some effects
belonging to the damsels. The ridiculous schemes which he proposes, and
the future grandeur he anticipates in consequence of his good fortune, is
an excellent satire on the fantastic projects of those who are elevated
with a sudden success. Having been observed, however, by the servant of
Pleusidippus, who suspected that this wallet contained articles by which
Palæstra might discover her parents, a long contest for its possession
ensues between them, which might be amusing in the representation, but is
excessively tiresome in perusal. This may be also remarked of the scene
where their dispute is referred to the arbitration of Dæmones, who
apparently is chosen umpire for no other reason than because this was
necessary to unravel the plot. Dæmones discovers, from the contents of the
wallet, that Palæstra is his daughter. The principal interest being thus
exhausted, the remaining scenes become more and more tedious. We feel no
great sympathy with the disappointment of the fisherman, and take little
amusement in the bargain which he drives with the pander for the
restoration of the gold, or his stipulation with his master for a reward,
on account of the important service he had been instrumental in rendering

This play has been imitated by Ludovico Dolce, in his comedy _Il
Ruffiano_, which was published in 1560, and which, the author says in his
prologue, was “_vestita di habito antico, e ridrizzato alla forma
moderna_.” The _Ruffiano_ is not a mere translation from the Latin: the
language and names are altered, and the scenes frequently transposed.
There is likewise introduced the additional character of the old man
Lucretio, father to the lover; also his lying valet Tagliacozzo, and his
jealous wife Simona. Lucretio comes from Venice to the town where the
scene of the play is laid, to recover a son who had left home in quest of
a girl in the possession of Secco the Ruffiano. The first act is occupied
with the details of Lucretio’s family misfortunes, and it is only in the
commencement of the second act that the shipwreck and escape of the
damsels are introduced, so that the play opens in a way by no means so
interesting and picturesque as the _Rudens_ of Plautus. The women having
taken refuge in a church, Lucretio offers them shelter in his own house,
which exposes them to the rage of his jealous wife Simona. By the
assistance, however, of one of these girls, he discovers his lost son, who
was her lover; and the recognition of the damsel herself as daughter of
Isidoro, who corresponds to the Dæmones of Plautus, is then brought about
in the same manner as in the Latin original, and gives rise to the same
tedious and selfish disputes among the inferior characters. Madame
Riccoboni has also employed the _Rudens_ in her comedy _Le Naufrage_.

_Stichus_—is so called from a slave, who is a principal character in the
comedy. The subject is the continued determination of two ladies to
persist in their constancy to their husbands, who, from their long
absence, without having been heard of, were generally supposed to be dead.
In this resolution they remain firm, in spite of the urgency of their
fathers to make them enter into second marriages, till at length their
conjugal fidelity is rewarded by the safe arrival of their consorts. It
would appear that Plautus had not found this subject sufficient to form a
complete play; he has accordingly filled up the comic part of the drama
with the carousal of Stichus and his fellow slaves, and the stratagems of
the parasite Gelasimus, in order to be invited to the entertainments which
the husbands prepared in honour of their return.

_Trinummus_—is taken from the _Thesaurus_ of Philemon; but Plautus has
changed the original title into Trinummus—a jocular name given to himself
by one of the characters hired to carry on a deception, for which he had
received three pieces of money, as his reward. The prologue is spoken by
two allegorical personages, Luxury, and her daughter Want, the latter of
whom had been commissioned by her mother to take up her residence in the
house of the prodigal youth Lesbonicus. The play is then opened by a
Protatick person, as he is called, who comes to chide his friend Callicles
for behaviour which appeared to him in some points incomprehensible; in
consequence of which the person accused explains his conduct at once to
the spectators and his angry monitor. It seems Charmides, an Athenian,
being obliged to leave his own country on business of importance,
intrusted the guardianship of his son and daughter to his friend
Callicles. He had also confided to him the management of his affairs,
particularly the care of a treasure which was secreted in a concealed part
of his dwelling. Lesbonicus, the son of Charmides, being a dissolute
youth, had put up the family mansion to sale, and his guardian, in order
that the treasure entrusted to him might not pass into other hands, had
purchased the house at a low price. Meanwhile a young man, called
Lysiteles, had fallen in love with the daughter of Charmides, and obtained
the consent of her brother to his marriage. Her guardian was desirous to
give her a portion from the treasure, but does not wish to reveal the
secret to her extravagant brother. The person calling himself Trinummus is
therefore hired to pretend that he had come as a messenger from the
father—to present a forged letter to the son and to feign that he had
brought home money for the daughter’s portion. While Trinummus is making
towards the house, to commence performance of his part, Charmides arrives
unexpectedly from abroad, and seeing this Counterfeit approaching his
house, immediately accosts him. A highly comic scene ensues, in which the
hireling talks of his intimacy with Charmides, and also of being entrusted
with his letters and money; and when Charmides at length discovers
himself, he treats him as an impostor. The entrance of Charmides into his
house is the simple solution of this plot, of which the _nodus_ is neither
very difficult nor ingenious. This meagre subject is filled up with an
amicable contest between Lesbonicus and his sister’s lover, concerning her
portion,—the latter generously offering to take her without dowry, and the
former refusing to give her away on such ignominious terms.

The English translators of Plautus have remarked, that the art of the
dramatist in the conduct of this comedy is much to be admired:—“The
opening of it,” they observe, “is highly interesting; the incidents
naturally arise from each other, and the whole concludes happily with the
reformation of Lesbonicus, and the marriage of Lysiteles. It abounds with
excellent moral reflections, and the same may be said of it with equal
justice as of the _Captives_:—

  ‘Ad pudicos mores facta est hæc fabula.’ ”

On the other hand, none of Plautus’ plays is more loaded with
improbabilities of that description into which he most readily falls. Thus
Stasimus, the slave of Lesbonicus, in order to save a farm which his
master proposed giving as a portion to his sister, persuades the lover’s
father that a descent to Acheron opened from its surface,—that the cattle
which fed on it fell sick,—and that the owners themselves, after a short
period, invariably died or hanged themselves. In order to introduce the
scene between Charmides and the Counterfeit, the former, though just
returned from a sea voyage and a long absence, waits in the street, on the
appearance of a stranger, merely from curiosity to know his business; and
in the following scene the slave Stasimus, after expressing the utmost
terror for the lash on account of his tarrying so long, still loiters to
propound a series of moral maxims, inconsistent with his character and

The plot of the _Dowry_ of Giovam-maria Cecchi is precisely the same with
that of the _Trinummus_; but that dramatist possessed a wonderful art of
giving an air of originality to his closest imitations, by the happy
adaptation of ancient subjects to Italian manners. The _Tresor Caché_ of
Destouches is almost translated from the _Trinummus_, only he has brought
forward on the stage Hortense, the Prodigal’s sister, and has added the
character of Julie, the daughter of the absent father’s friend, of whom
the Prodigal himself is enamoured. In this comedy the character of the two
youths are meant to be contrasted, and are more strongly brought out in
the imitation, from both of them being in love. A German play, entitled
_Schatz_, by the celebrated dramatist Lessing, is also borrowed from this
Latin original. The scene, too, in _Trinummus_, between Charmides and the
counterfeit messenger, has given rise to one in the _Suppositi_ of
Ariosto, and through that medium to another in Shakspeare’s _Taming of the
Shrew_, where, when it is found necessary for the success of Lucentio’s
stratagem at Padua, that some one should personate his father, the
_pedant_ is employed for this purpose. Meanwhile, the father himself
unexpectedly arrives at Padua, and a comical scene in consequence passes
between them.

_Truculentus_—is so called from a morose and clownish servant, who, having
accompanied his master from the country to Rome, inveighs against the
depraved morals of that city, and especially against Phronesium, the
courtezan by whom his master had been enticed. His churlish disposition,
however, is only exhibited in a single scene. On the sole other occasion
on which he is introduced, he is represented as having become quite mild
and affable. For this change no reason is assigned, but it is doubtless
meant to be understood that he had meanwhile been soothed and wheedled by
the arts of some courtezan. The characters, however, of the Truculentus
and his rustic master, have little to do with the main plot of the drama,
which is chiefly occupied with the fate of the lovers, whom Phronesium
enticed to their ruin. When she had consumed the wealth of the infatuated
Dinarchus, she lays her snares for Stratophanes, the Babylonian captain,
to whom she pretends to have borne a son, in order that she may prey on
him with more facility. This drama is accordingly occupied with her
feigned pregnancy, her counterfeited solicitude, and her search for a
supposititious child, to which she persuades her dupe that she had given
birth, but which afterwards proves to be the child of her former lover
Dinarchus, by a young lady to whom he had been betrothed.

In the first act of this play an account is given of the mysteries of a
courtezan’s occupation, which, with a passage near the commencement of the
_Mostellaria_, and a few fragments of Alexis, a writer of the middle
comedy, gives us some insight into the practices by which they entrapped
and seduced, their lovers, by whom they appear to have been maintained in
prodigious state and splendour. In a play of Terence, one of the
characters, talking of the train of a courtezan, says,

                 “Ducitur familia tota,
  Vestispicæ, unctor, auri custos, flabelliferæ, sandaligerulæ,
  Cantrices, cistellatrices, nuncii, renuncii(265).”

The Greek courtezan possessed attainments, which the more virtuous of her
sex were neither expected nor permitted to acquire. On her the education
which was denied to a spotless woman, was carefully bestowed. To sing, to
dance, to play on the lyre and the lute, were accomplishments in which the
courtezan was, from her earliest years, completely instructed. The habits
of private life afforded ample opportunity for the display of such
acquirements, as the charm of convivial meetings among the Greeks was
thought imperfect, unless the enjoyments were brightened by a display of
the talents which belonged exclusively to the Wanton. But though these
refinements alone were sufficient to excite the highest admiration of the
Greek youth, unaccustomed as they were to female society, and often
procured a splendid establishment for the accomplished courtezan, some of
that class embraced a much wider range of education; and having added to
their attainments in the fine arts, a knowledge of philosophy and the
powers of eloquence, they became, thus trained and educated, the
companions of orators, statesmen, and poets. The arrival of Aspasia at
Athens is said to have produced a change in the manners of that city, and
to have formed a new and remarkable epoch in the history of society. The
class to which she belonged was of more political importance in Athens
than in any other state of Greece; and though I scarcely believe that the
Peloponnesian war had its origin in the wrongs of Aspasia, the Athenian
courtezans, with their various interests, were often alluded to in grave
political harangues, and they were considered as part of the establishment
of the state. Above all, the comic poets were devoted to their charms,
were conversant with their manners, and often experienced their rapacity
and infidelity; for, being unable to support them in their habits of
expense, an opulent old man, or dissolute youth, was in consequence
frequently preferred. The passion of Menander for Glycerium is well known,
and Diphilus, from whom Plautus borrowed his _Rudens_, consorted with
Gnathena, celebrated as one of the most lively and luxurious of Athenian
Charmers(266). Accordingly, many of the plays of the new comedy derive
their names from celebrated courtezans; but it does not appear, from the
fragments which remain, that they were generally represented in a
favourable light, or in their meridian splendour of beauty and
accomplishments(267). In the Latin plays, the courtezans are not drawn so
highly gifted in point of talents, or even beauty, as might be expected;
but it was necessary to paint them as elegant, fascinating, and expensive,
in order to account for the infatuation and ruin of their lovers. The
Greeks and Romans were alike strangers to the polite gallantry of Modern
Europe, and to the enthusiastic love which chivalry is said to have
inspired in the middle ages. Thus their hearts and senses were left
unprotected, to become the prey of such women as the Phronesium of the
_Truculentus_, who is a picture of the most rapacious and debauched of her
class, and whose vices are neither repented of, nor receive punishment, at
the conclusion of the drama. Dinarchus may be regarded as a representation
of the most profligate of the Greek or Roman youth, yet he is not held up
to any particular censure; and, in the end, he is neither reformed nor
adequately punished. The portion, indeed, of the lady whom he had
violated, and at last agrees to espouse, is threatened by her father to be
diminished, but this seems merely said in a momentary fit of resentment.

This play, with all its imperfections, is said to have been a great
favourite of the author(268); and was a very popular comedy at Rome. It
has descended to us rather in a mutilated state, which may, perhaps, have
deprived us of some fine sentences or witticisms, which the ancients had
admired; for, as a French translator of Plautus has remarked, their
approbation could scarcely have been founded on the interest of the
subject, the disposition of the incidents, or the moral which is

The character of Lolpoop, the servant of Belfond Senior, in Shadwell’s
_Squire of Alsatia_, has been evidently formed on that of the Truculentus,
in this comedy. His part, however, as in the original, is chiefly
episodical; and the principal plot, as shall be afterwards shown, has been
founded on the _Adelphi_ of Terence.

The above-mentioned plays are the twenty dramas of Plautus, which are
still extant. But, besides these, a number of comedies, now lost, have
been attributed to him. Aulus Gellius(269) mentions, that there were about
a hundred and thirty plays, which, in his age, passed under the name of
Plautus; and of these, nearly forty titles, with a few scattered
fragments, still remain. From the time of Varro to that of Aulus Gellius,
it seems to have been a subject of considerable discussion what plays were
genuine; and it appears, that the best informed critics had come to the
conclusion, that a great proportion of those comedies, which vulgarly
passed for the productions of Plautus, were spurious. Such a vast number
were probably ascribed to him, from his being the head and founder of a
great dramatic school; so that those pieces, which he had perhaps merely
retouched, came to be wholly attributed to his pen. As in the schools of
painting, so in the dramatic art, a celebrated master may have disciples
who adopt his principles. He may give the plan which they fill up, or
complete what they have imperfectly executed. Many paintings passed under
the name of Raphael, of which Julio Romano, and others, were the chief
artists. “There is no doubt,” says Aulus Gellius, “but that those plays,
which seem not to have been written by Plautus, but are ascribed to him,
were by certain ancient poets, and afterwards retouched and polished by
him(270).” Even those comedies which were written in the same taste with
his, came to be termed _Fabulæ Plautinæ_, in the same way as we still
speak of Æsopian fable, and Homeric verse. “Plautus quidem,” says
Macrobius, “ea re clarus fuit, ut post mortem ejus, comœdiæ, quæ incertæ
ferebantur, Plautinæ tamen esse, de jocorum copia, agnoscerentur(271).” It
is thus evident, that a sufficient number of jests stamped a dramatic
piece as the production of Plautus in the opinion of the multitude. But
Gellius farther mentions, that there was a certain writer of comedies,
whose name was Plautius, and whose plays having the inscription “Plauti,”
were considered as by Plautus, and were named Plautinæ from Plautus,
though in fact they ought to have been called Plautianæ from Plautius. All
this sufficiently accounts for the vast number of plays ascribed to
Plautus, and which the most learned and intelligent critics have greatly
restricted. They have differed, however, very widely, as to the number
which they have admitted to be genuine. Some, says Servius, maintain, that
Plautus wrote twenty-one comedies, others forty, others a hundred(272).
Gellius informs us, that Lucius Ælius, a most learned man, was of opinion
that not more than twenty-five were of his composition(273). Varro wrote a
work, entitled _Quæstiones Plautinæ_, a considerable portion of which was
devoted to a discussion concerning the authenticity of the plays commonly
assigned to Plautus, and the result of his investigation was, that
twenty-one were unquestionably to be admitted as genuine. These were
subsequently termed Varronian, in consequence of having been separated by
Varro from the remainder, as no way doubtful, and universally allowed to
be by Plautus. The twenty-one Varronian plays are the twenty still extant,
and the _Vidularia_. This comedy appears to have been originally subjoined
to the Palatine MS. of the still existing plays of Plautus, but to have
been torn off, since, at the conclusion of the _Truculentus_, we find the
words “Vidularia incipit(274):” And Mai has recently published some
fragments of it, which he found in an Ambrosian MS. Such, it would appear,
had been the high authority of Varro, that only those plays, which had
received his indubitable sanction, were transcribed in the MSS. as the
genuine works of Plautus; yet it would seem that Varro himself had, on
some occasion, assented to the authenticity of several others, induced by
their style of humour corresponding to that of Plautus. He had somewhere
mentioned, that the _Saturio_ (the Glutton,) and the _Addictus_, (the
Adjudged,) were written by Plautus during the period in which he laboured
as a slave at the hand-mill. He was also of opinion, that the _Bœotia_ was
by Plautus; and Aulus Gellius concurs with him in this(275), citing
certain verses delivered by a hungry parasite, which, he says, are
perfectly Plautinian, and must satisfy every person to whom Plautus is
familiar, of the authenticity of that drama. From this very passage,
Osannus derives an argument unfavourable to the authenticity of the play.
The parasite exclaims against the person who first distinguished hours,
and set up the sun-dials, of which the town was so full. Now, Osannus
maintains, that there were no sun-dials at Rome in the time of Plautus,
and that the day was not then distributed into hours, but into much larger
portions of time(276). The _Nervolaria_ was one of the disputed plays in
the time of Au. Gellius; and also the _Fretum_, which Gellius thinks the
most genuine of all(277). Varro, in the first Book of his _Quæstiones
Plautinæ_ gives the following words of Attius, which, I presume, are
quoted from his work on poetry and poets, entitled _Didascalica_. “For
neither were the _Gemini_, the _Leones_, the _Condalium_, the _Anus
Plauti_, the _Bis Compressa_, the _Bœotia_, or the _Commorientes_, by
Plautus, but by M. Aquilius.” It appears, however, from the prologue to
the _Adelphi_ of Terence, that the _Commorientes_ was written by Plautus,
having been taken by him from a Greek comedy of Diphilus(278). In
opposition to the above passage of Attius, and to his own opinion
expressed in the _Quæstiones Plautinæ_, Varro, in his treatise on the
Latin Language, frequently cites, as the works of Plautus, the plays
enumerated by Attius, and various others; but this was probably in
deference to common opinion, or in agreement with ordinary language, and
was not intended to contradict what he had elsewhere delivered, or to
stamp with the character of authenticity productions, which he had more
deliberately pronounced to be spurious(279).

From the review which has now been given of the comedies of Plautus,
something may have been gathered of their general scope and tenor. In each
plot there is sufficient action, movement, and spirit. The incidents never
flag, but rapidly accelerate the catastrophe. Yet, if we regard his plays
in the mass, there is a considerable, and perhaps too great, uniformity in
their fables. They hinge, for the most part, on the love of some dissolute
youth for a courtezan, his employment of a slave to defraud a father of a
sum sufficient to supply his expensive pleasures, and the final discovery
that his mistress is a free-born citizen. The charge against Plautus of
uniformity in his characters, as well as in his fables, has been echoed
without much consideration. The portraits of Plautus, it must be
remembered, were drawn or copied at a time when the division of labour and
progress of refinement had not yet given existence to those various
descriptions of professions and artists—the doctor, author, attorney—in
short, all those characters, whose habits, singularities, and whims, have
supplied the modern Thalia with such diversified materials, and whose
contrasts give to each other such relief, that no caricature is required
in any individual representation. The characters of Alcmena, Euclio, and
Periplectomenes, are sufficiently novel, and are not repeated in any of
the other dramas; but there is ample range and variety even in those which
he has most frequently employed—the avaricious old man—the debauched young
fellow—the knavish slave—the braggart captain—the rapacious courtezan—the
obsequious parasite—and the shameless pander. On most of these parts some
observations have been made, while mentioning the different comedies in
which they are introduced. The severe father and thoughtless youth, are
those in which he has best succeeded, or at least they are those with
which we are best pleased. The captain always appears to us exaggerated,
and the change which has taken place in society and manners prevents us,
perhaps, from entering fully into the characters of the slave, the
parasite, and pander; but in the fathers and sons, he has shown his
knowledge of our common nature, and delineated them with the truest and
liveliest touches. In the former, the struggles of avarice and severity,
with paternal affection, are finely wrought up and blended. Even when
otherwise respectable characters, they are always represented as disliking
their wives, which was not inconsistent with the manners of a Grecian
state, in which marriage was merely regarded as a duty; and was a feature
naturally enough exhibited on the theatre of a nation, one of whose most
illustrious characters declared in the Senate, as a received maxim, that
Romans married, not for the sake of domestic happiness, but to rear up
soldiers for the republic.

The Latin style of Plautus excels in briskness of dialogue, as well as
purity of expression, and has been highly extolled by the learned Roman
grammarians, particularly by Varro, who declares, that if the Muses were
to speak Latin they would employ his diction(280); but as M. Schlegel has
remarked, it is necessary to distinguish between the opinion of
philologers, and that of critics and poets. Plautus wrote at a period when
his country as yet possessed no written or literary language. Every phrase
was drawn from the living source of conversation. This early simplicity
seemed pleasing and artless to those Romans, who lived in an age of
excessive refinement and cultivation; but this apparent merit was rather
accidental than the effect of poetic art. Making, however, some allowance
for this, there can be no doubt that Plautus wonderfully improved and
refined the Latin language from the rude form in which it had been moulded
by Ennius. That he should have effected such an alteration is not a little
remarkable. Plautus was nearly contemporary with the Father of Roman
song—according to most accounts he was born a slave—he was condemned,
during part of his life, to the drudgery of the lowest manual labour—and,
so far as we learn, he was not distinguished by the patronage of the
Great, or admitted into Patrician society. Ennius, on the other hand, if
he did not pass his life in affluence, spent it in the exercise of an
honourable profession, and was the chosen familiar friend of Cato, Scipio
Africanus, Fulvius Nobilior, and Lælius, the most learned as well as
polished citizens of the Roman republic, whose conversation in their
unrestrained intercourse must have bestowed on him advantages which
Plautus never enjoyed. But perhaps the circumstance of his Greek original,
which contributed so much to his learning and refinement, and qualified
him for such exalted society, may have been unfavourable to that native
purity of Latin diction, which the Umbrian slave imbibed from the unmixed
fountains of conversation and nature.

The chief excellence of Plautus is generally reputed to consist in the wit
and comic force of his dialogue; and, accordingly, the lines in Horace’s
_Art of Poetry_, in which he derides the ancient Romans for having
foolishly admired the “_Plautinos sales_,” has been the subject of much
reprehension among critics(281). That the wit of Plautus often degenerates
into buffoonery, scurrility, and quibbles,—sometimes even into
obscenity,—and that, in his constant attempts at merriment, he too often
tries to excite laughter by exaggerated expressions, as well as by
extravagant actions, cannot, indeed, be denied. This, I think, was partly
owing to the immensity of the Roman theatres, and to the masks and
trumpets of the actors, which must have rendered caricature and grotesque
inventions essential to the production of that due effect, which, with
such scenic apparatus, could not be created, unless by overstepping the
modesty of nature. It must be always be recollected, that the plays of
Plautus were written solely to be represented, and not to be read. Even in
modern times, and subsequently to the invention of printing, the greatest
dramatists—Shakspeare, for example—cared little about the publication of
their plays; and in every age or country, in which dramatic poetry has
flourished, it has been intended for public representation, and has been
adapted to the taste of a promiscuous audience. It is the most social of
all sorts of composition; and he who aims at popularity or success in it,
must leave the solitudes of inspiration for the bustle of the world.

The contemplative poet may find his delight, and his reward, in the mere
effort of imagination, but the poet of the drama must seek them in the
applause of the multitude. He must stoop to men—be the mover of human
hearts—and triumph by the living and hourly passions of our nature. Now,
in the days of Plautus, the smiles of the polite critic were not enough
for a Latin comedian, because in those days there were few polite critics
at Rome; he required the shouts and laughter of the multitude, who could
be fully gratified only by the broadest grins of comedy. Accordingly, many
of the jests of Plautus are such as might be expected from a writer
anxious to accommodate himself to the taste of the times, and naturally
catching the spirit of ribaldry which prevailed.

During the age of Plautus, and indeed long after it, the general character
of Roman wit consisted rather in a rude and not very liberal satire, than
a just and temperate ridicule, restrained within the bounds of decency and
good manners. A favourite topic, for example, of ancient raillery, was
corporal defects;—a decisive proof of coarseness of humour, especially as
it was recommended by rule, and enforced by the authority of the greatest
masters, as one of the most legitimate sources of ridicule.—“Est
deformitatis et corporis vitiorum satis bella materies ad jocandum,” says
Cicero, in his treatise _De Oratore_(282). The innumerable jests there
recorded as having produced the happiest effects at the bar, are the most
miserable puns and quibbles, coarse practical jokes, or personal
reflections. The cause of this defect in elegance of wit and raillery, has
been attributed by Hurd to the free and popular constitution of Rome.
This, by placing all its citizens, at least during certain periods, on a
level, and diffusing a general spirit of independence, took off those
restraints of civility which are imposed by the dread of displeasing, and
which can alone curb the licentiousness of ridicule. The only court to be
paid was from the orators to the people, in the continual and immediate
applications to them which were rendered necessary by the form of
government. On such occasions, the popular assemblies had to be
entertained with those gross banters, which were likely to prove most
acceptable to them. Design growing into habit, the orators, and after them
the nation, accustomed themselves to coarse ridicule at all times, till
the humour passed from the rostrum, or forum, to the theatre, where the
amusement and laughter of the people being the direct and immediate aim,
it was heightened to still farther extravagance. This taste, says Hurd,
was also fostered and promoted at Rome by the festal license which
prevailed in the seasons of the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia(283).
Quintilian thinks, that, with some regulation, those days of periodical
license might have aided the cultivation of a correct spirit of raillery;
but, as it was, they tended to vitiate and corrupt it. The Roman muse,
too, had been nurtured amid satiric and rustic exhibitions, the
remembrance of which was still cherished, and a recollection of them kept
alive, by the popular _Exodia_ and _Fabulæ Atellanæ_.

Such being the taste of the audience whom he had to please, and who
crowded to the theatre not to acquire purity of taste, but to relax their
minds with merriment and jest, it became the great object of Plautus to
make his audience laugh; and for this he sacrificed every other
consideration. “Nec quicquam,” says Scaliger, “veritus est, modo auditorem
excitaret risu.” With this view, he must have felt that he was more likely
to succeed by emulating the broader mirth of the old or middle comedy,
than by the delicate railleries and exquisite painting of Menander.
Accordingly, though he generally borrowed his plots from the writers of
the new comedy, his wit and humour have more the relish of the old, and
they have been classed by Cicero as of the same description with the
drollery which enlivened its scenes(284). The audience, for whom the plays
of Plautus were written, could understand or enjoy only a representation
of the manners and witticisms to which they were accustomed. To the
fastidious critics of the court of Augustus, an admirer of Plautus might
have replied in the words of Antiphanes, a Greek dramatist of the middle
comedy, who being commanded to read one of his plays to Alexander the
Great, and finding that the production was not relished by the royal
critic, thus addressed him: “I cannot wonder that you disapprove of my
comedy, for he who could be entertained by it must have been present at
the scenes it represents. _He must be acquainted with the public humours
of our vulgar ordinaries_—have been familiar with the impure manners of
our courtezans—a party in the breaking up of many a brothel—and a
sufferer, as well as actor, in those unseemly riots. Of all these things
you are not informed; and the fault lies more in my presumption in
intruding them on your hearing, than in any want of fidelity with which I
have portrayed them(285).”

Indeed, this practice of consulting the tastes of the people, if it be a
fault, is one which is common to all comic writers. Aristophanes, who was
gifted with far higher powers than Plautus, and who was no less an elegant
poet than a keen satirist, as is evinced by the lyric parts of his
_Frogs_, often prostituted his talents to the lowest gratifications of the
multitude. Shakspeare regarded the drama as entirely a thing for the
people, and treated it as such throughout. He took the popular comedy as
he found it; and whatever enlargements or improvements he introduced on
the stage, were still calculated and contrived according to the spirit of
his predecessors, and the taste of a London audience. When, in Charles’s
days, a ribald taste became universal in England, “unhappy Dryden” bowed
down his genius to the times. Even in the refined age of Louis XIV., it
was said of the first comic genius of his country, that he would have
attained the perfection of his art,

  “_Si moins ami du peuple_ en ses doctes peintures,
  Il n’eût point fait souvent grimacer ses figures,
  Quitte, pour le bouffon, l’agreable et le fin,
  Et, sans honte, a Terence allié Tabarin.”

Lopez de Vega, in his _Arte de hacer Comedias_, written, in 1609, at the
request of a poetical academy, and containing a code of laws for the
modern drama, admits, that when he was about to write a comedy, he laid
aside all dramatic precepts, and wrote solely for the vulgar, who had to
pay for their amusement:

  “Quando he de escribir una comedia,
  Encierro los preceptos con seis llaves;
  Saco a Terencio y Plauto de mi studio
  Para que no den voces, porque suele
  Dar gritos la verdad en libios mudos;
  Y escribo por el arte que inventaron
  Los que el vulgar aplauso pretendieron,
  Porque como los paga el vulgo, es justo
  Hablarle in necio para darle gusto.”

His indulgent conformity, however, to the unpolished taste of his age,
ought not to be admitted as an excuse for the obscenities which Plautus
has introduced. But though it must be confessed, that he is liable to some
censure in this particular, he is not nearly so culpable as has been
generally imagined. The commentators, indeed, have been often remarkably
industrious in finding out allusions, which do not consist very clearly
with the plain and obvious meaning of the context. The editor of the
Delphin Plautus has not rejected above five pages from the twenty plays on
this account; and many passages even in those could hardly offend the most
scrupulous reader. Some of the comedies, indeed, as the _Captivi_ and
_Trinummus_, are free from any moral objection; and, with the exception of
the _Casina_, none of them are so indelicate as many plays of Massinger
and Ford, in the time of James I., or Etheridge and Shadwell, during the
reigns of Charles II. and his successor.

It being the great aim of Plautus to excite the merriment of the rabble,
he, of course, was little anxious about the strict preservation of the
dramatic unities; and it was a more important object with him to bring a
striking scene into view, than to preserve the unity of place. In the
_Aulularia_, part of the action is laid in the miser’s dwelling, and part
in the various places where he goes to conceal his treasure: in the
_Mostellaria_ and _Truculentus_, the scene changes from the street to
apartments in different houses.

But, notwithstanding these and other irregularities, Plautus so enchanted
the people by the drollery of his wit, and the buffoonery of his scenes,
that he continued the reigning favourite of the stage long after the more
correct plays of Cæcilius, Afranius, and even Terence, were first


who was originally a slave, acquired this name with his freedom, having
been at first called by the servile appellation of Statius(286). He was a
native of Milan, and flourished towards the end of the sixth century of
Rome, having survived Ennius, whose intimate friend he was, about one
year, which places his death in 586. We learn from the prologue to the
_Hecyra_ of Terence, spoken in the person of Ambivius, the principal
actor, or rather manager of the theatre, that, when he first brought out
the plays of Cæcilius, some were hissed off the stage, and others hardly
stood their ground; but knowing the fluctuating fortunes of dramatic
exhibitions, he had again attempted to bring them forward. His
perseverance having obtained for them a full and unprejudiced hearing,
they failed not to please; and this success excited the author to new
efforts in the poetic art, which he had nearly abandoned in a fit of
despondency. The comedies of Cæcilius, which amounted to thirty, are all
lost, so that our opinion of their merits can be formed only from the
criticisms of those Latin authors who wrote before they had perished.
Cicero blames the improprieties of his style and language(287). From
Horace’s Epistle to Augustus, we may collect what was the popular
sentiment concerning Cæcilius—

  “Vincere Cæcilius gravitate—Terentius arte.”

It is not easy to see how a comic author could be more grave than Terence;
and the quality applied to a writer of this cast appears of rather
difficult interpretation. But the opinion which had been long before given
by Varro affords a sort of commentary on Horace’s expression—“In
argumentis,” says he, “Cæcilius palmam poscit; in ethesi Terentius.” By
_gravitas_, therefore, as applied to Cæcilius, we may properly enough
understand the grave and affecting plots of his comedies; which is farther
confirmed by what Varro elsewhere observes of him—“_Pathe_ Trabea,
Attilius, et Cæcilius facile moverunt.” Velleius Paterculus joins him with
Terence and Afranius, whom he reckons the most excellent comic writers of
Rome—“Dulcesque Latini leporis facetiæ per Cæcilium, Terentiumque, et
Afranium, sub pari ætate, nituerunt(288).”

A great many of the plays of Cæcilius were taken from Menander; and Aulus
Gellius informs us that they seemed agreeable and pleasing enough, till,
being compared with their Greek models, they appeared quite tame and
disgusting, and the wit of the original, which they were unable to
imitate, totally vanished(289). He accordingly contrasts a scene in the
_Plocius_ (or Necklace,) of Cæcilius, with the corresponding scene in
Menander, and pronounces them to be as different in brightness and value
as the arms of Diomed and Glaucus. The scenes compared are those where an
old husband complains that his wife, who was rich and ugly, had obliged
him to sell a handsome female slave, of whom she was jealous. This chapter
of Aulus Gellius is very curious, as it gives us a more perfect notion
than we obtain from any other writer, of the mode in which the Latin comic
poets copied the Greeks. To judge from this single comparison, it appears
that though the Roman dramatists imitated the incidents, and caught the
ideas of their great masters, their productions were not entirely
translations or slavish versions: A different turn is frequently given to
a thought—the sentiments are often differently expressed, and sometimes
much is curtailed, or altogether omitted.


though he chose Roman subjects, whence his comedies were called _Togatæ_,
was an imitator of the manner of Menander—

  “Dicitur Afranî toga convenisse Menandro.”

Indeed he himself admits, in his _Compitales_, that he derived many even
of his plots from Menander and other Greek writers—

  “Fateor, sumpsi non a Menandro modo,
  Sed ut quisque habuit, quod conveniret mihi;
  Quod me non posse melius facere credidi.”

Cicero(290) calls Afranius an ingenious and eloquent writer. Ausonius, in
one of his epigrams, talks “_facundi Afrani_.” He is also praised by
Quintilian, who censures him, however, for the flagitious amours which he
represented on the stage(291), on account of which, perhaps, his writings
were condemned to the flames by Pope Gregory I. The titles of forty-six of
his plays have been collected by Fabricius, and a few fragments have been
edited by Stephens. One of these, in the play entitled _Sella_, where it
is said that wisdom is the child of experience and memory, has been
commended by Aulus Gellius, and is plausibly conjectured(292) to have been
introduced in a prologue spoken in the person of Wisdom herself—

  “Usus me genuit, mater peperit Memoria:
  Sophiam vocant me Graii; vos Sapientiam.”

The following lines from the _Vopiscum_ have also been frequently quoted:

  “Si possent homines delinimentis capi,
  Omnes haberent nunc amatores anus.
  Ætas, et corpus tenerum, et morigeratio,
  Hæc sunt venena formosarum mulierum(293).”

                            LUSCIUS LAVINIUS,

also a follower of Menander, was the contemporary and enemy of Terence,
who, in his prologues, has satirized his injudicious translations from the

  “Qui bene, vertendo et eas describendo male,
  Ex Græcis bonis, Latinas fecit non bonas(294).”

In particular, we learn from the prologue to the _Phormio_, that he was
fond of bringing on the stage frantic youths, committing all those
excesses of folly and distraction which are supposed to be produced by
violent love. Donatus has afforded us an account of the plot of his
_Phasma_, which was taken from Menander. A lady, who, before marriage, had
a daughter, the fruit of a secret amour with a person now living in a
house adjacent to her husband’s, made an opening in the wall of her own
dwelling, in order to communicate with that in which her former paramour
and daughter resided. That this entrance might appear a consecrated spot
to her husband’s family, she decked it with garlands, and shaded it with
branches of trees. To this passage she daily repaired as if to pay her
devotions, but in fact, to procure interviews with her illegitimate
daughter. Her husband also had, by a former wife, a son, who dwelt in his
father’s house, and who, having one day accidentally peeped through the
aperture, beheld the girl; and, as she was possessed of almost
supernatural beauty, he was struck with awe, as at the sight of a Spirit
or divinity, whence the play received the name of _Phasma_. The young man,
discovering at length that she is a mortal, conceives for her a violent
passion, and is finally united to her, with the consent of his father, and
to the great satisfaction of the mother. There is another play of
Menander, which has also been closely imitated by Luscius Lavinius.
Plautus, we have seen, borrowed his _Trinummus_ from the _Thesaurus_ of
Philemon. But Menander also wrote a _Thesaurus_, which has been copied by
Lavinius. An old man, by his last will, had commanded, that, ten years
after his death, his son should carry libations to the monument under
which he was to be interred. The youth, having squandered his fortune,
sold the ground on which this monument stood to an old miser. At the end
of ten years, the prodigal sent a servant to the tomb with due offerings,
according to the injunctions of his deceased father. The servant applied
to the new proprietor to assist him in opening the monument, in which they
discovered a hoard of gold. The miserly owner of the soil seized the
treasure, and retained it on pretence of having deposited it there for
safety during a period of public commotion. It is claimed, however, by the
young man, who goes to law with him; and the plot of the comedy chiefly
consists in the progress of the suit(295)—the dramatic management of which
has been ridiculed by Terence, in the prologue to the _Eunuchus_, since,
contrary to the custom and rules of all courts of justice, the author had
introduced the defendant pleading his title to the treasure before the
plaintiff had explained his pretensions, and entered on the grounds of his
demand. Part of the old Scotch ballad, The Heir of Linne, has a curious
resemblance to the plot of this play of Luscius Lavinius.

Turpilius, Trabea, and Attilius, were the names of comic writers who lived
towards the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh century, from
the building of Rome. Of these, and other contemporary dramatists, it
would now be difficult to say more than that their works have perished,
and to repeat a few scattered incidental criticisms delivered by Varro or
Cicero. To them probably may be attributed the _Baccharia_, _Cæcus_,
_Cornicularia_, _Parasitus_, and innumerable other comedies, of which the
names have been preserved by grammarians. Of such works, once the
favourites of the Roman stage, few memorials survive, and these only to be
found separate and imperfect in the quotations of scholiasts. Sometimes
from a single play numerous passages have been preserved; but they are so
detached, that they neither give us any insight into the fable to which
they appertain, nor enable us to pronounce on the excellence of the
dramatic characters. In general, they comprise so small a portion of
uninterrupted dialogue, that we can scarcely form a judgment even of the
style and manner of the poet, or of the beauty of his versification. All
that is now valuable in these fragments is a few brief moral maxims, and
some examples of that _vis comica_, which consists in an ingenious and
forcible turn of expression in the original language.

It is not difficult to account for the vast number of dramatic productions
which we thus see were brought forward at Rome in the early ages of the
Republic. There are two ways in which literature may be supported,—By the
patronage of distinguished individuals, as it was in the time of Mæcenas
and the age of Lorenzo de Medici; or, By the encouragement of a great
literary public, as it is now rewarded in modern Europe. But, in Rome,
literature as yet had not obtained the protection of an emperor or a
favourite minister; and previous to the invention of printing, which alone
could give extensive circulation to his productions, a poet could hardly
gain a livelihood by any means, except by supplying popular entertainments
for the stage. These were always liberally paid for by the Ædiles, or
other directors of the public amusements. To this species of composition,
accordingly, the poet directed his almost undivided attention; and a
prodigious facility was afforded to his exertions by the inexhaustible
dramatic stores which he found prepared for him in Greece.


The plays of Quintus Trabea, supposed to belong chiefly to the class
called _Togatæ_, are frequently cited by the grammarians, and are
mentioned with approbation by Cicero. He in particular commends the lines
where this poet so agreeably describes the credulity and overweening
satisfaction of a lover—

  “Tantâ lætitiâ auctus sum ut mihi non constem:
  Nunc demum mihi animus ardet.
  Lena, delinita argento, nutum observabit meum—
  Quid velim quid studeam: adveniens digito impellam januam:
  Fores patebunt—de improviso Chrysis, ubi me aspexit,
  Alacris obviam mihi veniet, complexum exoptans meum;
  Mihi se dedet.—Fortunam ipsam anteibo fortunis meis(296).”

The name of Trabea was made use of in a well known deception practised on
Joseph Scaliger by Muretus. Scaliger piqued himself on his faculty of
distinguishing the characteristic styles of ancient writers. In order to
entrap him, Muretus showed him some verses, pretending that he had
received them from Germany, where they had been transcribed from an
ancient MS. attributed to Q. Trabea—

  “Here, si querelis, ejulatu, fletibus,
  Medicina fieret miseriis mortalium,
  Auro parandæ lachrymæ contra forent:
  Nunc hæc ad minuenda mala non magis valent
  Quam Nænia præficæ ad excitandos mortuos:
  Res turbidæ consilium, non fletum, expetunt(297).”

Scaliger was so completely deceived, that he afterwards cited these
verses, as lines from the play of _Harpace_, by Q. Trabea, in the first
edition of his Commentary on Varro’s Dialogues _De Re Rustica_, in order
to illustrate some obscure expression of his author—“Quis enim,” says he,
“tam aversus a Musis, tamque humanitatis expers, qui horum publicatione
offendatur.” Muretus, not content with this malicious trick, afterwards
sent him some other verses, to which he affixed the name of Attius,
expressing, but more diffusely, the same idea. Scaliger, in his next
edition of Varro, published them, along with the former lines, as
fragments from the _Œnomaus_, a tragedy by Attius, and a plagiarism from
Trabea—observing, at the end of his note, “Fortasse de hoc nimis.” Muretus
said nothing for two years; but, at the end of that period, he published a
volume of his own Latin poems, and, along with them, under the title
_Afficta Trabeæ_, both sets of verses which he had thus palmed on Scaliger
for undoubted remnants of antiquity. The whole history of the imposture
was fully disclosed in a note: Both poems, it was acknowledged, were
versions of a fragment, attributed by some to Menander, and by others to
Philemon, beginning,—Ει τα δακρυα ἡμιν, κ.τ.λ. They have been also
translated into Latin by Naugerius(298).

The progress of time, the ravages of war, and the intervention of a period
of barbarism, which have deprived us of so many dramatic works of the
Romans, have fortunately spared six plays of


which are perhaps the most valuable remains that have descended to us
among the works of antiquity. This celebrated dramatist, the delight and
ornament of the Roman stage, was born at Carthage, about the 560th year of
Rome. In what manner he came or was brought thither is uncertain. He was,
in early youth, the freedman of one Terentius Lucanus in that city, whose
name has been perpetuated only by the glory of his slave. After he had
obtained his freedom, he became the friend of Lælius, and of the younger
Scipio Africanus(299). His _Andria_ was not acted till the year 587—two
years, according to the Eusebian Chronicle, after the death of Cæcilius;
which unfortunately throws some doubt on the agreeable anecdote recorded
by Donatus, of his introduction, in a wretched garb, into the house of
Cæcilius, in order to read his comedy to that poet, by whom, as a mean
person, he was seated on a low stool, till he astonished him with the
matchless grace and elegance of the _Andria_, when he was placed on the
couch, and invited to partake the supper of the veteran dramatist. Several
writers have conjectured, it might be to another than to Cæcilius that
Terence read his comedy(300); or, as the _Andria_ is not indisputably his
first comedy, that it might be one of the others which he read to
Cæcilius(301). Supposing the Eusebian Chronicle to be accurate in the date
which it fixes for the death of Cæcilius, it is just possible, that
Terence may have written and read to him his _Andria_ two years previous
to its representation. After he had given six comedies to the stage,
Terence left Rome for Greece, whence he never returned. The manner of his
death, however, is altogether uncertain. According to one report, he
perished at sea, while on his voyage from Greece to Italy, bringing with
him an hundred and eight comedies, which he had translated from Menander:
according to other accounts, he died in Arcadia for grief at the loss of
those comedies, which he had sent before him by sea to Rome. In whatever
way it was occasioned, his death happened when he was at the early age of
thirty-four, and in the year 594 from the building of the city.

_Andria_,—acted in 587, is the first in point of time, and is usually
accounted the first in merit, of the productions of Terence. Like most of
his other comedies, it has a double plot. It is compounded of the
_Andrian_ and _Perinthian_ of Menander; but it does not appear, that
Terence took his principal plot from one of those Greek plays, and the
under-plot from the other. He employed both to form his chief fable; and
added the characters, on which the under plot is founded, from his own
invention, or from some third play now unknown to us.

At the commencement of the play, Simo, the father of Pamphilus, informs
Sosia of his son’s love for Glycerium. In consequence of a report of this
attachment spreading abroad, Chremes refuses his daughter, who had
previously been promised to Pamphilus in marriage: Simo, however, still
pretends to make preparations for the nuptials, in order more accurately
to ascertain the state of his son’s affections. Charinus, the lover of
Chremes’ daughter, is in despair at the prospect of this union; but he is
comforted by the assurances of Pamphilus, that he would do every thing in
his power to retard it. By this time, Davus, the slave of Pamphilus,
discovers, that it is not intended his master’s marriage should in reality
proceed; and, perceiving it is a pretext, he advises Pamphilus to declare
that he is ready to obey his father’s commands. Glycerium, meanwhile,
gives birth to a child; but Simo believes, that her reported delivery was
a stratagem of Davus, to deter Chremes from acceding to his daughter’s
marriage with Pamphilus. Simo, however, at length prevails on him to give
his consent. Pamphilus is thus placed in a most perplexing dilemma with
all parties. His mistress, Glycerium, and her attendants, believe him to
be false; while Charinus thinks that he had deceived him; and, as he had
given his consent to the marriage, he can form no excuse to his father or
Chremes for not concluding it. Hence his rage against Davus, and new
stratagems on the part of the slave to prevent the nuptials. He contrives
that Chremes should overhear a conversation between him and Mysis,
Glycerium’s attendant, concerning the child which her mistress bore to
Pamphilus, and Chremes in consequence instantly breaks off from his
engagement. In this situation, Crito arrives to claim heirship to Chrysis,
the reputed sister of Glycerium. He discloses, that Glycerium having been
shipwrecked in infancy, had been preserved by his kinsman, the father of
Chrysis; and, from his detail, it is discovered, that she is the daughter
of Chremes. There is thus no farther obstacle to her marriage with
Pamphilus; and the other daughter of Chremes is of course united to

The long narrative with which the _Andria_, like several other plays of
Terence, commences, and which is a component part of the drama itself, is
beautiful in point of style, and does not fail to excite our interest
concerning the characters. We perceive the compassion and even admiration
of Simo for Glycerium, and we feel that, if convinced of her respectable
birth and character, he would have preferred her to all others, even to
the daughter of Chremes. Glycerium, indeed, does not appear on the stage;
but her actual appearance could scarcely have added to the interest which
her hapless situation inspires. Simo is the model of an excellent father.
He is not so easily duped by his slaves as most of the old men in Plautus;
and his temper does not degenerate, like that of many other characters in
the plays of Terence, either into excessive harshness, or criminal
indulgence. His observations are strikingly just, and are the natural
language of age and experience. Chremes, the other old man, does not
divide our interest with Simo; yet we see just enough of his good
disposition, to make us sympathize with his happiness in the discovery of
a daughter. Pamphilus is rendered interesting by his tenderness for
Glycerium, and respect for his father. Davus supports the character of a
shrewd, cunning, penetrating slave; he is wholly devoted to the interests
of Pamphilus, but is often comically deterred from executing his
stratagems by dread of the lash of his old master. The part of Crito, too,
is happily imagined: His apprehension lest he be suspected of seeking an
inheritance to which he has no just title, and his awkward feelings on
coming to claim the wealth of a kinswoman of suspicious character, are
artfully unfolded. Even the gossip and absurd flattery of the midwife,
Lesbia, is excellent. The poet has also shewn considerable address in
portraying the character of Chrysis, who was supposed to be the sister of
Glycerium, but had died previous to the commencement of the action. In the
first scene, he represents her as having for a long while virtuously
struggled with adverse fortune, and having finally been precipitated into
vice rather by pressure of poverty than depravity of will; and afterwards,
in the pathetic account which Pamphilus gives of his last conference with
her, we insensibly receive a pleasing impression of her character, and
forget her errors for the sake of her amiable qualities. All this was
necessary, in order to prevent our forming a disadvantageous idea of
Glycerium, who had resided with Chrysis, but was afterwards to become the
wife of Pamphilus, and to be acknowledged as the daughter of Chremes.

This play has been imitated in the _Andrienne_ of Baron, the celebrated
French actor. The Latin names are preserved in the _dramatis personæ_, and
the first, second, and fifth acts, have been nearly translated from
Terence. In the fourth, however, instead of the marriage being interrupted
by Davus’s stratagem, Glycerium, hearing a report of the falsehood of her
lover, rushes on the stage, throws herself at the feet of Chremes, and
prevails on him to break off the intended match between his daughter and
Pamphilus. But, though the incidents are nearly the same, the dialogue is
ill written, and is very remote from the graceful ease and simplicity of

Steele’s _Conscious Lovers_ is the best imitation of the _Andria_. The
English play, it will be remembered, commences in a similar manner with
the Latin comedy, by Sir John Bevil relating to an old servant, that he
had discovered the love of his son for Indiana, an unknown and stranger
girl, by his behaviour at a masquerade. The report of this attachment
nearly breaks off an intended marriage between young Bevil and Lucinda,
Sealand’s daughter. Young Bevil relieves the mind of Myrtle, the lover of
Lucinda, by assuring him that he is utterly averse to the match. Still,
however, he pretends to his father, that he is ready to comply with his
wishes; and, meanwhile, writes to Lucinda, requesting that she would
refuse the offer of his hand. Myrtle, hearing of this correspondence
having taken place, without knowing its import, is so fired with jealousy
that he sends Bevil a challenge. Sealand, being still pressed by Sir John
to bestow his daughter in marriage, waits on Indiana, in order to discover
the precise nature of her relations with Bevil. She details to him her
story; and, on his alluding to the probability of the projected nuptials
being soon concluded, she tears off, in a transport of passion, a
bracelet, by which Sealand discovers, that she is a daughter whom he had
lost, and who, while proceeding to join him in the East Indies, had been
carried into a French harbour, where she first met with young Bevil.

An English translator of Terence remarks, “That Steele has unfolded his
plot with more art than his predecessor, but is greatly his inferior in
delineation of character. Simo is the most finished character in the Latin
piece, but Sir John Bevil, who corresponds to him, is quite insignificant.
Young Bevil is the most laboured character in the _Conscious Lovers_, but
he is inferior to Pamphilus. His deceit is better managed by Terence than
Steele. Bevil’s supposed consent to marry is followed by no consequence;
and his honest dissimulation, as he calls it, is less reconcilable to the
philosophic turn of his character, than to the natural sensibility of
Pamphilus. Besides, the conduct of the latter is palliated, by being
driven to it by the artful instigations of Davus, who executes the lower
part of the stratagems, whereas Bevil is left entirely to his own
resources.” Bevil, indeed, in spite of his refinement and formality, his
admiration of the moral writers, and, “the charming vision of Mirza
consulted in a morning,” is a good deal of a _Plato-Scapin_. Indiana, who
corresponds to Glycerium, is introduced with more effect than the ladies
in the French plays imitated from Terence. Her tearing off her ornaments,
however, in a fit of despair, at the conclusion, is too violent. It is
inconsistent with the rest of her character; and we feel that she would
not have done so, had not the author found that the bracelet was necessary
for her recognition as the daughter of Sealand. The under plot is perhaps
better managed in the English than in the Latin play. Myrtle sustains a
part more essential to the principal fable than Charinus; and his
character is better discriminated from that of Bevil than those of the two
lovers in the _Andria_. The part of Cimberton, the other lover of Lucinda,
favoured by Mrs Sealand, is of Steele’s own contrivance; and of course,
also, the stratagem devised by Bevil, in which Myrtle and Tom pretend to
be lawyers, and Myrtle afterwards personates Sir Geoffry Cimberton, the
uncle of his rival.

The _Andria_ has also suggested those scenes of Moore’s _Foundling_, which
relate to the love of young Belmont, and the recognition of Fidelia as the
daughter of Sir Charles Raymond.

_Eunuchus_.—Though, in modern times, the _Andria_ has been the most
admired play of Terence, in Rome the _Eunuchus_ was by much the most
popular of all his performances, and he received for it 8000 sesterces,
the greatest reward which poet had ever yet obtained(302). In the
_Andria_, indeed, there is much grace and delicacy, and some tenderness;
but the _Eunuchus_ is so full of vivacity and fire, as almost to redeem
its author from the well-known censure of Cæsar, that there was no _vis
comica_ in his dramas.

The chief part of the _Eunuchus_ is taken from a play of the same title by
Menander; but the characters of the parasite and captain have been
transferred into it from another play of Menander, called _Kolax_. There
was an old play, too, by Nævius, founded on the _Kolax_; but Terence, in
his prologue, denies having been indebted to this performance.

The scenes of the _Eunuchus_ are so arranged, that the main plot is
introduced by that which is secondary, and which at first has the
appearance of being the principal one. Phædria is brought on the stage
venting his indignation at being excluded from the house of the courtezan
Thais, for the sake of Thraso, who is the sole braggart captain exhibited
in the plays of our author. Thais, however, succeeds in persuading Phædria
that she would admit Thraso only for two days, in order to obtain from him
the gift of a damsel who had originally belonged to the mother of Thais,
but after her death had been sold to the captain. Phædria, vying in gifts
with Thraso, presents his mistress with an Ethiopian eunuch. The younger
brother of Phædria, who is called Chærea, having accidentally seen the
maid presented to Thais by Thraso, falls in love with her, and, by a
stratagem of his father’s slave Parmeno, he is introduced as the eunuch to
the house of Thais, where he does not in all respects consistently support
the character he had assumed. After Chærea had gone off, his adventure was
discovered; and Pythias, the waiting maid of Thais, in revenge for
Parmeno’s fraud, tells him that Chærea, having been detected, was about to
be made precisely what he had pretended to be. Parmeno, believing this
report, informs the father of Chærea, who instantly rushes into the house
of Thais, (to which, by this time, his son had ventured to return,) and
being there relieved from his sudden apprehension, he consents the more
readily to the marriage of Chærea with the girl whom he had deluded, and
who is now discovered to be an Athenian citizen, and the sister of
Chremes. In this paroxysm of good humour, he also agrees that Phædria
should retain Thais as his mistress. Thraso and his parasite, Gnatho,
having been foiled in an attack on the house of Thais, enter into terms,
and, at the persuasion of Gnatho, Thraso is admitted into the society of
Phædria, and is allowed to share with him the favours of Thais.

There are thus, strictly speaking, three plots in the _Eunu__chus_, but
they are blended with inimitable art. The quarrel and reconciliation of
Thais and Phædria promote the marriage of Chærea with Pamphila, the girl
presented by Thraso to Thais. This gift again produces the dispute between
Phædria and Thais, and gives room for the imposture of Chærea. It is
unfortunate that the regard in which the ancient dramatists held the unity
of place, interposed between the spectators and the representation of what
would have been highly comical—the father discovering his son in the
eunuch’s habit in the house of Thais, the account of which has been thrown
into narrative. At the conclusion Thraso is permitted, with consent of
Phædria, to share the good graces of Thais; but, as has been remarked by
La Harpe(303) and Colman(304), and as indeed must be felt by every one who
reads the play, this termination is scarcely consistent with the manners
of gentlemen, and it implies the utmost meanness in Phædria to admit him
into his society, or to allow him a share in the favours of his mistress,
merely that he may defray part of the expense of her establishment.

The drama, however, is full of vivacity and intrigue. Through the whole
piece the author amuses us with his pleasantries, and in no scene
discovers that his fund of entertainment is exhausted. Most of the
characters, too, are happily sketched. Under Thais, Menander is supposed
to have given a representation of his own mistress Glycerium. On the
general nature of the parts of the parasite and braggart captain,
something has been said while treating of the dramas of Plautus; but
Terence has greatly refined and improved on these favourite characters of
his predecessor. Gnatho is master of a much more delicate and artful mode
of adulation than former flatterers, and supports his consequence with his
patron, at the same time that he laughs at him and lives on him. He
boasts, in the second scene of the second act, that he is the founder of a
new class of parasites, who ingratiated themselves with men of fortune and
shallow understandings, solely by humouring their fancies and admiring
what they said, instead of earning a livelihood by submitting to blows,
the ridicule of the company, and all manner of indignities, like the
antiquated race of parasites whom Plautus describes as beaten, kicked, and
abused at pleasure:—

  “Et hîc quidem, hercle, nisi qui colaphos perpeti
  Potis parasitus, frangique aulas in caput,
  Vel ire extra portam trigeminam ad saccum libet.”

The new parasite, of whom Gnatho may be considered as the representative,
had been delineated in the characters of Theophrastus, and has more
resemblance to Shakspeare’s Osrick, or to the class of parasites described
by Juvenal as infesting the families of the Great in the latter ages of
Rome(305). Thraso, the braggart captain, in the _Eunuchus_, is ridiculous
enough to supply the audience with mirth, without indulging in the
extravagant bluster of Pyrgopolinices. A scene in the fourth act gives the
most lively representation of the conceit and ridiculous vanity of this
soldier, who, calling together a few slaves, pretends to marshal and draw
them up as if they formed a numerous army, and assumes all the airs of a
general. This part is so contrived, that nothing could have more happily
tended to make him appear ridiculous though he says nothing extravagant,
or beyond what might naturally be expected from the mouth of a coxcomb.
One new feature in Thraso’s character is his fondness for repeating his
jests, and passion for being admired as a wit no less than a warrior.
There is, perhaps, nowhere to be found a truer picture of the fond and
froward passion of love, than that which is given us in the character of
Phædria. Horace and Persius, when they purposely set themselves to expose
and exaggerate its follies, could imagine nothing beyond it. The former,
indeed, in the third satire of his second book, where he has given a
picture of the irresolution of lovers, has copied part of the dialogue
introduced near the commencement of the _Eunuchus_.

The love, however, both of Phædria and Chærea is more that of temperament
than sentiment: Of consequence, the _Eunuchus_ is inferior to the _Andria_
in delicacy and tenderness; but there are not wanting passages which excel
in these higher qualities. Addison has remarked(306), that Phædria’s
request to his mistress, on leaving her for a few days, is inimitably
beautiful and natural—

           “Egone quid velim?
  Cum Milite isto præsens, absens ut sies;
  Dies noctesque me ames: me desideres:
  Me somnies: me expectes: de me cogites:
  Me speres: me te oblectes: mecum tota sis:
  Meus fac sis postremo animus, quando ego sum tuus.”

This demand was rather exorbitant, and Thais had some reason to reply—_Me

There is an Italian imitation of the _Eunuchus_ in _La Talanta_, a comedy
by Aretine, in which the courtezan who gives the name to the play
corresponds with Thais, and her lover Orfinio to Phædria,—the
characteristic dispositions of both the originals being closely followed
in the copy. A youth, from his disguise supposed to be a girl, is
presented to La Talanta by Tinca, the Thraso of the piece, who, being
exasperated at the treatment he had received from the courtezan,
meditates, like Thraso, a military attack on her dwelling-house; and,
though easily repulsed, he is permitted at the conclusion, in respect of
his wealth and bounty, to continue to share with Orfinio the favours of La

There is more _lubricity_ in the _Eunuchus_ of Terence, than in any of his
other performances; and hence, perhaps, it has been selected by Fontaine
as the most suitable drama for his imitation. His _Eunuque_, as he very
justly remarks in his advertisement prefixed, “n’est qu’une mediocre copie
d’un excellent original.” Fontaine, instead of adapting the incidents to
Parisian manners, like Moliere and Regnard, in their delightful imitations
of Plautus, has retained the ancient names, and scene of action. The
earlier part is a mere translation from the Latin, except that the
character of Thais is softened down from a courtezan to a coquette. The
next deviation from the original is the omission of the recital by Chærea,
of the success of his audacious enterprize—instead of which, Fontaine has
introduced his Chærea professing honourable and respectful love to
Pamphile. In the unravelling of the dramatic plot, the French author has
departed widely from Terence. There is nothing of the alarm concerning
Chærea given by Thais’ maid to Parmeno, and by him communicated to the
father: The old man merely solicits Parmeno to prevail on his sons to

  “Il se veut desormais tenir clos et couvert,
  Caresser, les pieds chauds, quelque Bru qui lui plaise,
  Conter son jeune temps, et banqueter a son aise.”

This wish is doubly accomplished, by the discovery that Pamphile is of
reputable birth, and by Phædria’s reconciliation with Thais. While making
such changes on the conclusion, and accommodating it in some measure to
the feelings of the age, I am surprised that the French author retained
that part of the compact with Thraso, by which he is to remain in the
society of Phædria merely to be fleeced and ridiculed.

The _Eunuchus_ is also the origin of _Le Muet_ by Bruyes and Palaprat, who
laboured in conjunction, like our Beaumont and Fletcher, and who have made
such alterations on the Latin drama as they thought advisable in their age
and country. In this play, which was first acted in 1691, a young man, who
feigns to be dumb, is introduced as a page in a house where his mistress
resided. But although an Ethiopian eunuch, which was an article of state
among the ancients, may have attracted the fancy of Thais, it is not
probable that the French countess should have been so desirous to receive
a present of a dumb page. Those scenes in which the credulous father is
made to believe that his son had lost the power of speech, from the
effects of love and sorcery, and is persuaded, by a valet disguised as a
doctor, that the only remedy for his dumbness is an immediate union with
the object of his passion, are improbable and overcharged. The character
of the parasite is omitted, and instead of Thraso we have a rough blunt
sea captain, who had protected Zayde when lost by her parents.

The only English imitation of the _Eunuchus_ is _Bellamira, or the
Mistress_, an unsuccessful comedy by Sir Charles Sedley, first printed in
1687. In this play the scene lies in London, but there is otherwise hardly
any variation in the incidents; and there is no novelty introduced, except
Bellamira and Merryman’s plot of robbing Dangerfield, the braggart captain
of the piece, an incident evidently borrowed from Shakspeare’s Henry IV.

_Heautontimorumenos_. The chief plot of this play, which I think on the
whole the least happy effort of Terence’s imitation, and which, of all his
plays, is the most foreign from our manners, is taken, like the
last-mentioned drama, from Menander. It derives its Greek appellation from
the voluntary punishment inflicted on himself by a father, who, having
driven his son into banishment by excess of severity, avenges him, by
retiring to the country, where he partakes only of the hardest fare, and
labours the ground with his own hands. The deep parental distress,
however, of Menedemus, with which the play opens, forms but an
inconsiderable part of it, as the son, Clinia, returns in the second act,
and other incidents of a comic cast are then interwoven with the drama.
The plan of Clitopho’s mistress being brought to the house both of
Menedemus and his neighbour Chremes, in the character of Clinia’s
mistress, has given rise to some amusing situations: but the devices
adopted by the slave Syrus, to deceive and cheat the two old men, are too
intricate, and much less ingenious than those of a similar description in
most other Latin plays. One of his artifices, however, in order to melt
the heart of Chremes, by persuading him that Clitopho thinks he is not his
son, has been much applauded; particularly the preparation for this
stratagem, where, wisely concluding that one would best contribute to the
imposition who was himself deceived, he, in the first place, makes
Clitopho believe that he is not the son of his reputed father.

Terence himself, in his prologue, has called this play _double_, probably
in allusion to the two plots which it contains. Julius Scaliger absurdly
supposes that it was so termed because one half of the play was
represented in the evening, and the other half on the following
morning(307). It has been more plausibly conjectured, that the original
plot of the Greek play was simple, consisting merely of the character of
the Self-tormentor Menedemus, the love of his son Clinia for Antiphila,
and the discovery of the real condition of his mistress; but that Terence
had added to this single fable, either from his own invention, or from
some other Greek play, the passion of Clitopho for Bacchis, and the
devices of the slave in order to extract money from old Chremes(308).
These two fables are connected by the poet with much art, and form a
double intrigue, instead of the simple argument of the Greek original.

Diderot has objected strongly to the principal subject which gives name to
this play, and to the character of the self-tormenting father. Tragedy, he
says, represents individual characters, like those of Regulus, Orestes,
and Cato; but the chief characters in comedy should represent a class or
species, and if they only resemble individuals, the comic drama would
revert to what it was in its infancy.—“Mais on peut dire,” continues he,
“que ce pere là n’est pas dans la nature. Une grande ville fourniroit a
peine dans un siecle l’example d’une affliction aussi bizarre.” It is
observed in the _Spectator_(309), on the other hand, that though there is
not in the whole drama one passage that could raise a laugh, it is from
beginning to end the most perfect picture of human life that ever was

There has been a great contest, particularly among the French critics,
whether the unities of time and place be preserved in
_Heautontimorumenos_. In the year 1640, Menage had a conversational
dispute, on this subject, with the Abbé D’Aubignac, with whom he at that
period lived on terms of the most intimate friendship. The latter, who
contended for the strictest interpretation of the unities, first put his
arguments in writing, but without his name, in his “Discours sur la
troisieme comedie de Terence; contre ceux qui pensent qu’elle n’est pas
dans les regles anciennes du poeme dramatique.” Menage answered him in his
“Reponse au discours,” &c.; and, in 1650, he published both in his
_Miscellanea_, without leave of the author of the _Discours_. This, and
some disrespectful expressions employed in the _Reponse_, gave mortal
offence to the Abbé, who, in 1655, wrote a reply to the answer, entitled
“Terence Justifié, &c. contre les Erreurs de Maistre Gilles Menage, Avocat
en Parlement.” This designation of _Maistre_, proved intolerable to the
feelings of Menage. Hearing that the tract was full of injurious
expressions, he declared publicly and solemnly, that he never would read
it; but being afterwards urged to peruse it by some good-natured friends,
he consulted the casuists of the Sorbonne, and the College of Jesuits, on
the point of conscience; and having at last read it with their approval,
he wrote a full reply, which was not published till after the death of his

In these various tracts, it was maintained by the Abbé, that unity of time
was most strictly preserved in the _Heautontimorumenos_, as a less period
than twelve hours was supposed to pass during the representation, the
longest space to which, by the rules of the drama, it could be
legitimately prolonged. Of course he adduces arguments and citations,
tending to restrict, as far as possible, the period of the dramatic
action. In the third scene of the second act, it is said _vesperascit_,
and in the first scene of the third act, _Luciscit hoc jam_. Now the Abbé,
giving to the term _vesperascit_ the signification, “It is already night,”
was of opinion, that the action commenced as late as seven or eight in the
evening, when Menedemus returned to Athens from his farm; that the scene
of the drama is supposed to pass during the Pithœgia, or festivals of
Bacchus, held in April, at which season not more than nine hours
intervened between twilight and dawn; that the festival continued the
whole night, and that none of the characters went to bed, so that the
continuity of action was no more broken than the unity of time. Menage, on
the other hand, contended that at least fifteen hours must be granted to
the dramatic action, but that this extension implied no violation of the
dramatic unities, which, according to the precepts of Aristotle, would not
have been broken, even if twenty-four hours had been allotted. He
successfully shews, however, that fifteen hours, at least, must be
allowed. According to him, the play opens early in the evening, while
Menedemus is yet labouring in his field. The festivals were in February;
and he proves, from a minute examination, that the incidents which follow
after it is declared that _luciscit_, must have occupied fully three
hours. Some of the characters, he thinks, retired to rest, but no void was
thereby left in the action, as the two lovers, Bacchis, and the slaves,
sat up arranging their amorous stratagems. Madame Dacier adopted the
opinion of Aubignac, which she fortified by reference to a wood engraving
in a very ancient MS. in the Royal Library, which represents Menedemus as
having quitted his work in the fields, and as bearing away his implements
of husbandry.

The poet being perhaps aware that the action of this comedy was
exceptionable, and that the dramatic unities were not preserved in the
most rigid sense of the term, has apparently exerted himself to compensate
for these deficiencies by the introduction of many beautiful moral maxims:
and by that purity of style, which distinguishes all his productions, but
which shines, perhaps, most brightly in the _Heautontimorumenos_.

That part of the plot of this comedy, where Clitopho’s mistress is
introduced as Clinia’s mistress, into the house of both the old men, has
given rise to Chapman’s comedy, _All Fooles_, which was first printed in
1605, 4to., and was a favourite production in its day. In this play, by
the contrivance of Rynaldo, the younger son of Marc Antonio, a lady called
Gratiana, privately married to his elder brother Fortunio, is introduced,
and allowed to remain for some time at the house of their father, by
persuading him that she is the wife of Valerio, the son of one of his
neighbours, who had married her against his parent’s inclination, and that
it would be an act of kindness to give her shelter, till a reconciliation
could be effected. By this means Fortunio enjoys the society of his bride,
and Valerio, her pretended husband, has, at the same time, an admirable
opportunity of continuing his courtship of Bellonora, the daughter of Marc

_Adelphi_.—The principal subject of this drama is usually supposed to have
been taken from Menander’s _Adelphoi_; but it appears that Alexis, the
uncle of Menander, also wrote a comedy, entitled _Adelphoi_; so that
perhaps the elegant Latin copy may have been as much indebted to the
uncle’s as to the nephew’s performance, for the delicacy of its characters
and the charms of its dialogue. We are informed, however, in the prologue,
that the part of the drama in which the music girl is carried off from the
pander, has been taken from the _Synapothnescontes_ of Diphilus. That
comedy, though the version is now lost, had been translated by Plautus,
under the title of _Commorientes_. He had left out the incidents, however,
concerning the music girl, and Terence availed himself of this omission to
interweave them with the principal plot of his delightful drama—“Minus
existimans laudis proprias scribere quam Græcas transferre.”

The title, which is supposed to be imperfect, is derived from two
brothers, on whose contrasted characters the chief subject and amusement
of the piece depend. Demea, the elder, who lived in the country, had past
his days in thrift and labour, and was remarkable for his severe penurious
disposition. Micio, the younger brother, was, on the contrary,
distinguished by his indulgent and generous temper. Being a bachelor, he
had adopted Æschinus, his brother’s eldest son, whom he brought up without
laying much restraint on his conduct. Ctesipho, the other son of Demea,
was educated with great strictness by his father, who boasted of the
regular and moral behaviour of this child, which, as he thought, was so
strongly contrasted with the excesses of him who had been reared under the
charge of his brother. Æschinus at length carries off a music girl from
the slave-merchant, in whose possession she was. Hence fresh indignation
on the part of Demea, and new self-congratulation on the system of
education he had pursued with Ctesipho: Hence, too, the deepest distress
on the part of an unfortunate girl, to whom Æschinus had promised
marriage; and also of her relations, at this proof of his alienated
affections. At last, however, it is discovered that Æschinus had run off
with the music girl, for the sake, and at the instigation, of his brother
Ctesipho. The play accordingly concludes with the union of Æschinus and
the girl to whom he was betrothed, and the total change of disposition on
the part of Demea, who now becomes so complete a convert to the system of
Micio, that he allows his son to retain the music girl as his mistress.

The plot of the _Adelphi_ may thus be perhaps considered as double; but
the interest which Æschinus takes in Ctesipho’s amour, combines their
loves so naturally, that they can hardly be considered as distinct or
separate; and the details by which the plot is carried on, are managed
with such infinite skill, that the intrigue of at least four acts of the
_Adelphi_ is more artfully conducted than that of any other piece of
Terence. At the commencement of the play, Micio summons his servant
Storax, whom he had sent to find out Æschinus; but as the servant does not
appear, Micio concludes that the youth had not yet returned from the place
where he had supped on the preceding evening, and is in consequence
overwhelmed with all the tender anxiety of a father concerning an absent
son. This alarm gives us some insight into the character of the young man,
and explains the interest Micio takes in his welfare, without shewing too
plainly the art and design of the author. His uneasiness, by naturally
leading him to reflect on the situation of the family, and the doubtful
part he had himself acted, brings in less awkwardly than usual one of
those long soliloquies, in which the domestic affairs of the speaker are
explained by him for the sake of the audience. Demea is then introduced,
having just learned, on his arrival in the city, that Æschinus had carried
off the music girl. His character and predominant feelings are finely
marked in the account which he gives of this outrage, dwelling on every
minute particular, and exaggerating the offences of Æschinus. This
passage, too, acquires additional zest and relish, on a second perusal of
the play, when it is known that the son so much commended is chiefly in
fault. The grief of the mother of the girl, who was betrothed to Æschinus,
and the honest indignation of her faithful old servant Geta, are highly
interesting. The interview of Micio with his adopted son, after he had
discovered the circumstances of this connection, is eminently beautiful.
His delicate reproof for the young man’s want of confidence, in not
communicating to him the state of his heart—the touches of good humour,
mildness, and affection, which may be traced in every line of Micio’s part
of the dialogue, as well as the natural bursts of passion, and ingenuous
shame, in Æschinus, are perhaps more characteristic of the tender and
elegant genius of Terence, than any other scene in his dramas. But the
triumph of comic art, is the gradation of Demea’s anger and distresses—his
perfect conviction of the sobriety of his son, who, he is persuaded by
Syrus, had shewn the utmost indignation at the conduct of Æschinus, and
had gone to the country in disgust, when in fact he was at that moment
seated at a feast—then his perplexity on not finding him at the farm, and
his learning that Æschinus, having violated a free citizen, was about to
be married to her, though she had no portion. Even his meeting Syrus
intoxicated augments his rage, at the general libertinism and extravagance
of the family. At length the climax of events is finally completed, by
discovering that the music girl had been carried off for the sake of his
favourite son, and by finding him at a carousal with his brother’s
dissolute family.

With this incident the fable naturally concludes, and it is perhaps to be
regretted that Terence had not also ended the drama with the third scene
of the fifth act, where Demea breaks in upon the entertainment. The
conversion of Demea, indeed, with which the remaining scenes are occupied,
grows out of the preceding events. He had met, during the course of the
play, with many mortifications—his anger, complaints, and advice, had been
all neglected and slighted—he had seen his brother loved and followed, and
found himself shunned; but such a change in long-confirmed habits could
hardly have been effected in so short a period, or by a single lesson,
however striking and important. His complaisance, too, is awkward, and his
generosity is evidently about to run into profusion.

But if all this be an impropriety, what shall we say of the gross
absurdity of Micio, a bachelor of sixty-five, marrying an old woman, the
mother of Æschinus’ bride, (and whom he had never seen but once,) merely
out of complaisance to his friends, who seemed to have no motive in making
the request, except that she was quite solitary, had nobody to care for
her, and was long past child-bearing—

  —— “Parere jam diu hæc per annos non potest:
  Nec, qui eam respiciat, quisquam est; sola est.”

Micio had all along been represented as possessed of so much judgment,
good sense, and knowledge of the world, that this last piece of
extravagance destroys the interest we had previously felt in the
character. Donatus, who has given us some curious information in his
excellent commentary on Terence, with regard to the manner in which he had
altered his comedies from the original Greek, says, that in the play of
Menander, the old Bachelor has no reluctance at entering into a state of
matrimony.—“Apud Menandrum, Senex de nuptiis non gravatur.” The English
translator of Terence thinks, that the Latin poet, by making Micio at
first express a repugnance to the proposed match, has improved on his
model; but it appears to me, that this only makes his unbounded
complaisance more improbable and ridiculous. Indeed the incongruity and
inconsistence of the concluding scenes of the _Adelphi_, have been
considered so great, that a late German translator of Terence has supposed
that they did not form a component part of the regular comedy, but were in
fact the _Exodium_, a sort of afterpiece, in which the characters of the
preceding play were usually represented in grotesque situations, and with
overcharged colours(310).

So much for the plot of the _Adelphi_, and the incidents by which the
conclusion is brought about. With regard to the characters of the piece,
Æschinus is an excellent delineation of the elegant ease and indifference
of a fine gentleman. In one scene, however, he is represented as a lover,
full of tenderness, and keenly alive to all the anxieties, fears, and
emotions of the passion by which he is affected. In the parts of Demea and
Micio, the author has violated the precept of Horace with regard to a
dramatic character:

            —— “Servetur ad imum
  Qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constet.”

During four acts, however, the churlishness of Demea is well contrasted
with the mildness of Micio, whose fondness and partiality for his adopted
son are extremely pleasing. “One great theatrical resource,” says Gibbon,
“is the opposition and contrast of characters which thus display each
other. The severity of Demea, and easiness of Micio, throw mutual light;
and we could not be so well acquainted with the misanthropy of Alceste,
were it not for the fashionable complaisant character of Philinte(311).”
Accordingly, in the modern drama, we often find, that if one of the lovers
be a gay companion, the other is grave and serious; like Frankly and
Bellamy, in the _Suspicious Husband_, or Absolute and Faulkland in the
_Rivals_. Yet in the _Adelphi_, the contrast, perhaps, is too direct, and
too constantly obtruded on the attention of the audience. It has the
appearance of what is called antithesis in writing, and, in the conduct of
the drama, has the same effect as that figure in composition. Diderot, in
his _Essay on Dramatic Poetry_, also objects to these two contrasted
characters, that, being drawn with equal force, the moral intention of the
drama is rendered equivocal; and that we have something of the same
feeling which every one has experienced while reading the _Misanthrope_ of
Moliere, in which we can never tell whether Alceste or Philinte is most in
the right, or, more properly speaking, farthest in the wrong.—“On diroit,”
continues he, “au commencement du cinquieme acte des _Adelphes_, que
l’auteur, embarassé du contraste qu’il avoit etabli, a été contraint
d’abandonner son but et de renverser l’interet de sa piece. Mais qu’est il
arrivé: c’est qu’on ne scait plus a qui s’interesser; et qu’apres avoit
eté pour Micion contre Demea, on finit sans savoir pour qui l’on est. On
desireroit presque un troisieme pere qui tint le milieu entre ces deux
personnages, et qui en fit connoitre le vice.”

It is not unlikely, however, that this sort of uncertainty was just the
intention of Terence, or rather of Menander. It was probably their design
to show the disadvantages resulting from each mode of education pursued,
and hence, by an easy inference, to point out the golden mean which ought
to be preserved by fathers; for, if Demea be unreasonably severe, the
indulgence of Micio is excessive, and his connivance at the disorders of
Ctesipho, which he even assisted him to support, is as reprehensible, as
the extraordinary sentiment which he utters at the commencement of the

  “Non est flagitium, mihi crede, adolescentulum
  Scortari, neque potare; non est: neque fores effringere.”

This, though the breaking doors was an ordinary piece of gallantry, is, it
must be confessed, rather loose morality. But some of the sentiments in
the drama are equally remarkable for their propriety, and the knowledge
they discover of the feelings and circumstances of mankind; as,

  “Omnes, quibus res sunt minus secundæ, magis sunt, nescio quomodo,
  Suspiciosi: ad contumeliam omnia accipiunt magis;
  Propter suam impotentiam se semper credunt negligi.”

And afterwards,—

  “Ita vita ’st hominum, quasi, quum ludas tesseris;
  Si illud, quod maxime opus est jactu, non cadit,
  Illud, quod cecidit forte, id arte ut corrigas.
    *  *  *  *  *
  Nunquam ita quisquam bene subducta ratione ad vitam fuit,
  Quin res, ætas, usus, semper aliquid adportet novi,
  Aliquid moneat, ut illa, quæ te scire credas, nescias;
  Et quæ tibi putâris prima, in experiundo repudies.”

A play possessing so many excellencies as the _Adelphi_, could scarcely
fail to be frequently imitated by modern dramatists. It has generally been
said, that Moliere borrowed from the _Adelphi_ his comedy _L’Ecole des
Maris_, where the brothers Sganarelle and Ariste, persons of very opposite
dispositions, bring up two young ladies intrusted to their care on
different systems; the one allowing a proper liberty—the other, who wished
to marry his ward, employing a constant restraint, which, however, did not
prevent her from contriving to elope with a favoured lover. The chief
resemblance consists in the characters of the two guardians—in some of the
discussions, which they hold together on their opposite systems of
management—and some observations in soliloquy on each other’s folly. Thus,
for example, Demea, the severe brother in Terence, exclaims:

                —— “O Jupiter,
  Hanccine vitam! hoscine mores! hanc dementiam!
  Uxor sine dote veniet: intus Psaltria est:
  Domus sumptuosa: adolescens luxu perditus:
  Senex delirans. Ipsa, si cupiat, Salus,
  Servare prorsus non potest hanc familiam(312).”

In like manner, Sganarelle, the corresponding character in Moliere:—

  “Quelle belle famille! un vieillard insensé!
  Une fille maitresse et coquette suprême!
  Des valets impudents! Non, la Sagesse même
  N’en viendroit pas à bout, perdroit sens et raison,
  A vouloir corriger une telle maison(313).”

Indeed, were it not for the minute resemblance of particular passages, I
would think it as likely, that Moliere had been indebted for the leading
idea of his comedy to the second tale of the eighth night of Straparola,
an Italian novelist of the sixteenth century, from whom he unquestionably
borrowed the plot of his admirable comedy, _L’Ecole des Femmes_. The
principal amusement, however, in the _Ecole des Maris_, which consists of
Isabelle complaining to her guardian, Sganarelle, of her lover, Valere,
has been suggested by the third novel, in the third day of Boccaccio’s

A much closer imitation of the _Adelphi_ than the _Ecole des Maris_ of
Moliere may be found in the _Ecole des Peres_, by Baron, author of the
_Andrienne_. The genius of this celebrated actor seems to have been
constrained by copying from Terence, which has deprived his drama of all
air of originality, while, at the same time, his alterations are such as
to render it but an imperfect image of the _Adelphi_. It were, therefore,
to be wished, that he had adhered more closely to the Roman poet, or, like
Moliere, deviated from him still farther. His exhibition of Clarice and
Pamphile, the mistresses of the two young men, on the stage, has no better
effect than the introduction of Glycerium in his _Andrienne_. The
characters of Telamon and Alcée are so altered, as to preserve neither the
strength nor delicacy of those of Micio and Demea; while the change of
disposition, which the severe father undergoes in the fifth act, has been
neither rejected nor retained: He accedes to the proposals for his
children’s happiness, but his complaisance is evidently forced and
sarcastic; and he ultimately, in a fit of bad humour, breaks off all
connection with his family:

  “J’abandonne les Brus, les Enfans, et le Frere;
  Je ne saurois deja les souffrir sans horreur,
  Et je les donne tous au diable de bon cœur.”

Diderot had evidently his eye on the characters of Micio and Demea in
drawing those of M. d’Orbesson and Le Commandeur, in his _Comedie
Larmoyante_, entitled _Le Pere de Famille_. The scenes between the Pere de
Famille and his son, St Albin, who had long secretly visited Sophie, an
unknown girl in indigent circumstances, seem formed on the beautiful
dialogue, already mentioned, which passes between Micio and his adopted

The _Adelphi_ is also the origin of Shadwell’s comedy, the _Squire of
Alsatia_. Spence, in his _Anecdotes_(314), says, on the authority of
Dennis the critic, that the story on which the _Squire of Alsatia_ was
built, was a true fact. That the whole plot is founded on fact, I think
very improbable, as it coincides most closely with that of the _Adelphi_.
Sir William and Sir Edward Belfond are the two brothers, while Belfond
senior and junior correspond to Æschinus and Ctesipho. The chief
alteration, and that to which Dennis probably alluded, is the importance
of the part assigned to Belfond senior; who, having come to London, is
beset and cozened by all sorts of bankrupts and cheats, inhabitants of
Alsatia, (Whitefriars,) and by their stratagems is nearly inveigled into a
marriage with Mrs Termagant, a woman of infamous character, and furious
temper. The part of Belfond junior is much less agreeable than that of
Æschinus. His treatment of Lucia evinces, in the conclusion, a
hard-hearted infidelity, which we are little disposed to pardon,
especially as we feel no interest in his new mistress, Isabella. On the
whole, though the plots be nearly the same, the tone of feeling and
sentiment are very different, and the English comedy is as remote from the
Latin original, as the grossest vulgarity can be from the most simple and
courtly elegance. The _Squire of Alsatia_, however, took exceedingly at
first as an occasional play. It discovered the cant terms, that were
before not generally known, except to cheats themselves; and was a good
deal instrumental towards causing the great nest of villains in the
metropolis to be regulated by public authority(315).

In Cumberland’s _Choleric Man_, the chief characters, though he seems to
deny it in his dedicatory epistle to Detraction, have also been traced
after those of the _Adelphi_. The love intrigues, indeed, are different;
but the parts of the half-brothers, Manlove and Nightshade, (the
choleric-man,) are evidently formed on those of Micio and Demea; while the
contrasted education, yet similar conduct, of the two sons of Nightshade,
one of whom had been adopted by Manlove, and the father’s rage on
detecting his favourite son in an amorous intrigue, have been obviously
suggested by the behaviour of Æschinus and Ctesipho.

The philanthropic speeches of Micio have been a constant resource both to
the French dramatists and our own, and it would be endless to specify the
various imitations of his sentiments. Those of Kno’well, in Ben Jonson’s
_Every Man in his Humour_, have a particular resemblance to them. His
speech, beginning—

  “There is a way of winning more by love(316),”

is evidently formed on the celebrated passage in Terence,—

  “Pudore et liberalitate liberos,” &c.

_Hecyra_—Several of Terence’s plays can hardly be accounted comedies, if
by that term be understood, dramas which excite laughter. They are in what
the French call the _genre serieux_, and are perhaps the origin of the
_comedie larmoyante_. The events of human life, for the most part, are
neither deeply distressing nor ridiculous; and, in a dramatic
representation of such incidents, the action must advance by
embarrassments and perplexities, which, though below tragic pathos, are
not calculated to excite merriment. Diderot, who seems to have been a
great student of the works of Terence, thinks the _Hecyra_, or
Mother-in-law, should be classed among the serious dramas. It exhibits no
buffoonery, or tricks of slaves, or ridiculous parasite, or extravagant
braggart captain; but contains a beautiful and delightful picture of
private life, and those distresses which ruffle “the smooth current of
domestic joy.” It was taken from a play of Apollodorus; but, as Donatus
informs us, was abridged from the Greek comedy,—many things having been
represented in the original, which, in the imitation, are only related. In
the _Hecyra_, a young man, called Pamphilus, had long refused to marry, on
account of his attachment to the courtezan Bacchis. He is at length,
however, constrained by his father to choose a wife, whose gentleness and
modest behaviour soon wean his affections from his mistress. Pamphilus
being obliged to leave home for some time, his wife, on pretence of a
quarrel with her mother-in-law, quits his father’s house; and Pamphilus,
on his return home, finds, that she had given birth to a child, of which
he supposed that he could not have been the father. His wife’s mother begs
him to conceal her disgrace, which he promises; and affecting
extraordinary filial piety, assigns as his reason for not bringing her
home, the capricious behaviour of which she had been guilty towards his
mother. That lady, in consequence, offers to retire to the country.
Pamphilus is thus reduced to the utmost perplexity; and all plausible
excuses for not receiving his wife having failed, his father suspects that
he had renewed his intercourse with Bacchis. He, accordingly, sends for
that courtezan, who denies the present existence of any correspondence
with his son; and, being eager to clear the character as well as to secure
the happiness of her former lover, she offers to confirm her testimony
before the family of the wife of Pamphilus. During the interview which she
in consequence obtains, that lady’s mother perceives on her hand a ring
which had once belonged to her daughter, and which Bacchis now
acknowledges to have received from Pamphilus, as one which he had taken
from a girl whom he had violated, but had never seen. It is thus
discovered by Pamphilus, that the lady to whom he had offered this injury
before marriage was his own wife, and that he himself was father of the
child to whom she had just given birth.

The fable of this play is more simple than that of Terence’s other
performances, in all of which he had recourse to the expedient of double
plots. This, perhaps, was partly the reason of its want of success on its
first and second representations. When first brought forward, in the year
589, it was interrupted by the spectators leaving the theatre, attracted
by the superior interest of a boxing-match, and rope-dancers. A combat of
gladiators had the like unfortunate effect when it was attempted to be
again exhibited, in 594. The celebrated actor, L. Ambivius, encouraged by
the success which he had experienced in reviving the condemned plays of
Cæcilius, ventured to produce it a third time on the stage(317), when it
received a patient hearing, and was frequently repeated. Still, however,
most of the old critics and commentators speak of it as greatly inferior
to the other plays of Terence. Bishop Hurd, on the contrary, in his notes
on Horace, maintains, that it is the only one of his comedies which is
written in the true ancient Grecian style; and that, for the genuine
beauty of dramatic design, as well as the nice coherence of the fable, it
must appear to every reader of true taste, the most masterly and exquisite
of the whole collection. Some scenes are doubtless very finely wrought
up,—as that between Pamphilus and his mother, after he first suspects the
disgrace of his wife, and that in which it is revealed to him by his
wife’s mother. The passage in the second scene of the first act,
containing the picture of an amiable wife, who has succeeded in effacing
from the heart of her husband the love of a dissolute courtezan, has been
highly admired. But, notwithstanding these partial beauties, and the
much-applauded simplicity of the plot, there is, I think, great want of
skilful management in the conduct of the fable; and if the outline be
beautiful, it certainly is not so well filled up as might have been
expected from the taste of the author. In the commencement, he introduces
the superfluous part of Philotis, (who has no concern in the plot, and
never appears afterwards,) merely to listen to the narrative of the
circumstances and situation of those who are principal persons in the
drama. It is likewise somewhat singular, that Pamphilus, when told by the
mother of the injury done to his wife, should not have remembered his own
adventure, and thus been led to suspect the real circumstances. This
communication, too, ought, as it probably did in the Greek original, to
have formed a scene between Pamphilus and his wife’s mother; but, instead
of this, Pamphilus is introduced relating to himself the whole discourse
which had just passed between them. At length, the issue of the fable is
disclosed by another long soliloquy from the courtezan. Indeed, all the
plays of Terence abound in soliloquies very inartificially introduced; and
there is none of them in which he has so much erred in this way as in the
_Hecyra_. The wife of Pamphilus, too, the character calculated to give
most interest, does not appear at all on the stage; and the whole play is
consumed in contests between the mother-in-law and the two fathers. The
characters of these old men,—the fathers of Pamphilus and his wife,—so far
from being contrasted, as in the _Adelphi_, have scarcely a shade of
difference. Both are covetous and passionate; very ready to vent their bad
humour on their wives and children, and very ready to exculpate them when
blamed by others. The uncommon and delicate situation in which Pamphilus
is placed, exhibits him in an interesting and favourable point of view. He
wishes to conceal what had occurred, yet is scarcely able to dissemble.
Parmeno, the slave of Pamphilus, a lazy inquisitive character, is
humorously kept, through the whole course of the play, in continual
employment, and total ignorance. Sostrata’s mild character, and the
excellent behaviour of Bacchis, show, that in this play, Terence had
attempted an innovation, by introducing a good mother-in-law, and an
honest courtezan, whose object was to acquire a reputation of not
resembling those of her profession. It appears from the Letters of
Alciphron and from Athenæus, that there actually was a Greek courtezan of
the name of Bacchis, distinguished from others of her class, in the time
of Menander, by disinterestedness, and comparative modesty of demeanour.
This circumstance, added to the fact of Menander having written a play,
entitled _Glycerium_, (which was the name of his mistress,) leads us to
believe that the Greek comedies sometimes represented, not merely the
general character of the courtezan, but individuals of that profession;
and that probably the Bacchis of Apollodorus, and his imitator Terence,
may have been the courtezan of this name, who rejected the splendid offers
of the Persian Satrap, to remain the faithful mistress of the poor

_Phormio_—like the last mentioned play, was taken from the Greek of
Apollodorus, who called it _Epidicazomenos_. Terence named it _Phormio_,
from a parasite whose contrivances form the groundwork of the comedy, and
who connects its double plot. In this play two brothers had gone abroad,
each leaving a son at home, one of whom was called Antipho, and the other
Phædria, under care of their servant Geta. Antipho having fallen in love
with a woman apparently of mean condition, in order that he might marry
her, yet at the same time possess a plausible excuse to his father for his
conduct, persuades Phormio to assume the character of her patron. Phormio
accordingly brings a suit against Antipho, as her nearest of kin, and he,
having made no defence, is ordained in this capacity, according to an
Athenian law, to marry the supposed orphan. About the same time, Phædria,
the other youth, had become enamoured of a music girl; but he had no money
with which to redeem her from the slave merchant. The old men, on their
return home, are much disconcerted by the news of Antipho’s marriage, as
it had been arranged between them that he should espouse his cousin.
Phormio, at the suggestion of Geta, avails himself of this distress, in
order to procure money for redeeming Phædria’s music girl. He consents to
take Antipho’s wife home to himself, provided he gets a portion with her,
which being procured, is immediately laid out in the purchase of Phædria’s
mistress. After these plots are accomplished, it is discovered that
Antipho’s wife is the daughter of his uncle, by a woman at Lemnos, with
whom he had an amour before marriage, and that she had come to Athens
during his absence in search of her father. This is found out at the end
of the third act, but the play is injudiciously protracted, after the
principal interest is exhausted, with the endeavours of the old men to
recover the portion which had been given to Phormio, and the dread of
Chremes lest the story of his intrigue at Lemnos should come to the
knowledge of his wife. The play accordingly languishes after the
discovery, notwithstanding all the author’s attempts to support the
interest of the piece by the force of pleasantry and humour.

The double plot of this play has been said to be united, by both hingeing
on the part of the parasite. But this is not a sufficient union either in
tragedy or comedy. I cannot, therefore, agree with Colman, “that the
construction of the fable is extremely artful,” or that “it contains a
vivacity of intrigue perhaps even superior to that of the Eunuch,
_particularly in the catastrophe_. The diction,” he continues, with more
truth, “is pure and elegant, and the first act as chastely written as that
of the _Self-Tormentor_ itself. The character of Phormio is finely
separated from that of Gnatho, and is better drawn than the part of any
parasite in Plautus. Nausistrata is a lively sketch of a shrewish wife, as
well as Chremes an excellent draught of a hen-pecked husband, and more in
the style of the modern drama than perhaps any character in ancient
comedy, except the miser of Plautus. There are also some particular scenes
and passages deserving of all commendation, as the description of natural
and simple beauty in the person of Fannia, and that in which Geta and
Phædria try to inspire some courage into Antipho, overwhelmed by the
sudden arrival of his father(319).”

It is curious that this play, which Donatus says is founded on passions
almost too high for comedy, should have given rise to the most farcical of
all Moliere’s productions, _Les Fourberies de Scapin_. a celebrated,
though at first, an unsuccessful play, where, contrary to his usual
practice, he has burlesqued rather than added dignity to the incidents of
the original from which he borrowed. The plot, indeed, is but a frame to
introduce the various tricks of Scapin, who, after all, is a much less
agreeable cheat than Phormio: His deceptions are too palpable, and the old
men are incredible fools. As in Terence, there are two fathers, Argante
and Geronte, and during the absence of the former, his son Octave falls in
love with and marries a girl, whom he had accidentally seen bewailing the
death of her mother. At the same time, Leandre, the son of Geronte,
becomes enamoured of an Egyptian, and Scapin, the valet of Octave, is
employed to excuse to the father the conduct of his son, and to fleece him
of as much money as might be necessary to purchase her. The first of these
objects could not well be attained by Terence’s contrivance of the
law-suit; and it is therefore pretended that he had been forced into the
marriage by the lady’s brother, who was a bully, (Spadassin,) and to whom
the father agrees to give a large sum of money, that he might consent to
the marriage being dissolved. It is then discovered that the girl whom
Octave had married is the daughter of Geronte, and the Egyptian is found
out, by the usual expedient of a bracelet, to be the long lost child of
Argante. Many of the most amusing scenes and incidents are also copied
from Terence, as Scapin instructing Octave to regulate his countenance and
behaviour on the approach of his father—his enumeration to the father of
all the different articles for which the brother of his son’s wife will
require money, and the accumulating rage of Argante at each new _item_.
Some scenes, however, have been added, as that where Leandre, thinking
Scapin had betrayed him, and desiring him to confess, obtains a catalogue
of all the _Fourberies_ he had committed since he entered his service,
which is taken from an Italian piece entitled _Pantalone, Padre di
Famiglia_. He has also introduced from the _Pedant Joué_ of Cyrano
Bergerac, the device of Scapin for extorting money from Geronte, which
consists in pretending that his son, having accidentally gone on board a
Turkish galley, had been detained, and would be inevitably carried captive
to Algiers, unless instantly ransomed. In this scene, which is the best of
the play, the struggle between habitual avarice and parental tenderness,
and the constant exclamation, “_Que diable alloit il faire dans cette
galere du Turc_,” are extremely amusing. Boileau has reproached Moliere
for having

  “Sans honte à Terence allié Tabarin,”

in allusion to the scene where Scapin persuades Geronte that the brother,
accompanied by a set of bullies, is in search of him, and stuffs him, for
concealment, into a sack, which he afterwards beats with a stick. This is
compounded of two scenes in the French farces, the _Piphagne_ and the
_Francisquine_ of Tabarin, and, like the originals from which it is
derived, is quite farcical and extravagant:—

  “Dans ce sac ridicule ou Scapin s’enveloppe,
  Je ne reconnois plus l’auteur du Misanthrope(320).”

The chief improvement which Moliere has made on Terence is the reservation
of the discovery to the end; but the double discovery is improbable. The
introduction of Hyacinthe and Zerbinette on the stage, is just as
unsuccessful as the attempt of Baron to present us, in his _Andrienne_,
with a lady corresponding to Glycerium. Moliere’s Hyacinthe is quite
insipid and uninteresting, while Zerbinette retains too much of the
Egyptian, and is too much delighted with the cheats of Scapin, to become
the wife of an honest man.

From the above sketches some idea may have been formed of Terence’s plots,
most of which were taken from the Greek stage, on which he knew they had
already pleased. He has given proofs, however, of his taste and judgment,
in the additions and alterations made on those borrowed subjects; and I
doubt not, had he lived an age later, when all the arts were in full glory
at Rome, and the empire at its height of power and splendour, he would
have found domestic subjects sufficient to supply his scene with interest
and variety, and would no longer have accounted it a greater merit—“Græcas
transferre quam proprias scribere.”

Terence was a more rigid observer than his Roman predecessors of the
unities of time and place. Whatever difference of opinion may be
entertained with regard to the preservation of these unities in tragedy,
since great results are often slowly prepared, and in various quarters,
there can be no doubt that they are appropriate in comedy, which, moving
in a domestic circle, and having no occasion to wander, like the tragic or
epic muse, through distant regions, should bring its intrigue to a rapid
conclusion. Terence, however, would have done better not to have adhered
so strictly to unity of place, and to have allowed the scene to change at
least from the street or portico in front of a house, to the interior of
the dwelling. From his apparently regarding even this slight change as
inadmissible, the most sprightly and interesting parts of the action are
often either absurdly represented as passing on the street, though of a
nature which must have been transacted within doors, or are altogether
excluded. A striking example of the latter occurs in the _Eunuchus_, where
the discovery of Chærea by his father in the eunuch’s garb has been
related, instead of being represented. Plautus, who was of bolder genius,
varies the place of action, when the variation suits his great purpose of
merriment and jest.

But though Terence has perhaps too rigidly observed the unities of time
and place, in none of his dramas, with a single exception, has that of
plot been adhered to. The simplicity and exact unity of fable in the Greek
comedies would have been insipid to a people not thoroughly instructed in
the genuine beauties of the drama. Such plays were of too thin contexture
to satisfy the somewhat gross and lumpish taste of a Roman audience. The
Latin poets, therefore, bethought themselves of combining two stories into
one, and this junction, which we call the double plot, by affording the
opportunity of more incidents, and a greater variety of action, best
contributed to the gratification of those whom they had to please. But of
all the Latin comedians, Terence appears to have practised this art the
most assiduously. Plautus has very frequently single plots, which he was
enabled to support by the force of drollery. Terence, whose genius lay
another way, or whose taste was abhorrent from all sort of buffoonery, had
recourse to the other expedient of double plots; and this, I suppose, is
what gained him the popular reputation of being the most artful writer for
the stage. The _Hecyra_ is the only one of his comedies of the true
ancient cast, and we know how unsuccessful it was in the
representation(321). In managing a double plot, the great difficulty is,
whether also to divide the interest. One thing, however, is clear, that
the part which is episodical, and has least interest, should be unravelled
first; for if the principal interest be exhausted, the subsidiary intrigue
drags on heavily. The _Andrian_, _Self Tormentor_, and _Phormio_, are all
faulty in this respect. On the whole, however, the plots of Terence are,
in most respects, judiciously laid: The incidents are selected with taste,
connected with inimitable art, and painted with exquisite grace and

Next to the management of the plot, the characters and manners represented
are the most important points in a comedy; and in these Terence was
considered by the ancients as surpassing all their comic poets.—“In
argumentis,” says Varro, “Cæcilius palmam poscit, in ethesi Terentius.” In
this department of his art he shows that comprehensive knowledge of the
humours and inclinations of mankind, which enabled him to delineate
characters as well as manners, with a genuine and apparently unstudied
simplicity. All the inferior passions which form the range of comedy are
so nicely observed, and accurately expressed, that we nowhere find a truer
or more lively representation of human nature. He seems to have formed in
his mind such a perfect idea both of his high and low characters, that
they never for a moment forget their age or situation, whether they are to
speak in the easy indifferent tone of polished society, or with the
natural expression of passion. Nor do his paintings of character consist
merely of a single happy stroke unexpectedly introduced: His delineations
are always in the right place, and so harmonize with the whole, that every
word is just what the person might be supposed to say under the
circumstances in which he is placed:—

  “Contemplez de quel air un pere dans Terence,
  Vient d’un fils amoureux gourmander l’imprudence;
  De quel air cet amant ecoute ses leçons,
  Et court chez sa maitresse oublier ces chansons:
  Ce n’est pas un portrait, un image semblable;
  C’est un amant, un fils, un pere veritable(322).”

The characters, too, of Terence are never overstrained by ridicule, which,
if too much affected, produces creatures of the fancy, which for a while
may be more diverting than portraits drawn from nature, but can never be
so permanently pleasing. This constitutes the great difference between
Plautus and Terence, as also between the new and old comedy of the Greeks.
The old comedy presented scenes of uninterrupted gaiety and raillery and
ridicule, and nothing was spared which could become the object of sarcasm.
The dramatic school which succeeded it attracted applause by beauty of
situation and moral sentiment. In like manner, Terence makes us almost
serious by the interest and affection which he excites for his characters.
In the _Andria_ we are touched with all Pamphilus’ concern, we feel all
his reflections to be just, and pity his perplexity. The characters of
Terence, indeed, are of the same description with those of Plautus; but
his slaves and parasites and captains are not so farcical, nor his panders
and courtezans so coarse, as those of his predecessor. The slave-dealers
in the _Adelphi_ and _Phormio_ are rather merchants greedy of gain than
shameless agents of vice, and are not very different from Madame La
Ressource, in Regnard’s elegant comedy, _Le Joueur_. His courtezans,
instead of being invariably wicked and rapacious, are often represented as
good and beneficent. It was a courtezan who received the dying mother of
the Andrian, and, while expiring herself, affectionately intrusted the
orphan to the generous protection of Pamphilus. It is a courtezan who, in
the _Eunuchus_, discovers the family of the young Pamphila, and, in the
_Hecyra_, brings about the understanding essential to the happiness of
all. From their mode of life, and not interposing much beyond their
domestic circle, the manners of modest women were not generally painted
with any great taste by the ancients; but Terence may perhaps be
considered as an exception. Nausistrata is an excellent picture of a
matron not of the highest rank or dignity, as is also Sostrata in the

The style of wit and humour must of course correspond with that of the
characters and manners. Accordingly, the plays of Terence are not much
calculated to excite ludicrous emotions, and have been regarded as
deficient in comic force. His muse is of the most perfect and elegant
proportions, but she fails in animation, and spirit. It was for this want
of the _vis comica_ that Terence was upbraided by Julius Cæsar, in lines
which, in other respects, bear a just tribute of applause to this elegant

  “Tu quoque tu in summis, O dimidiate Menander,
  Poneris, et merito, puri sermonis amator:
  Lenibus atque utinam scriptis adjuncta foret vis
  Comica, ut æquato virtus polleret honore
  Cum Græcis, neque in hac despectus parte jaceres.
  Unum hoc maceror, et doleo tibi deesse, Terenti.”

From the prologue to the _Phormio_ we learn that a clamour had also been
raised by his contemporaries against Terence, because his dialogue was
insipid, and wanted that comic heightening which the taste of the age

           “Quas fecit fabulas,
  Tenui esse oratione et scriptura levi.”

The plays of Terence, it must be admitted, are not calculated to excite
immoderate laughter, but his pleasantries are brightened by all the charms
of chaste and happy expression—thus resembling in some measure the humour
with which we are so much delighted in the page of Addison, and which
pleases the more in proportion as it is studied and contemplated. There
are some parts of the _Eunuchus_ which I think cannot be considered as
altogether deficient in the _vis comica_, as also Demea’s climax of
disasters in the _Adelphi_, and a scene in the _Andria_, founded on the
misconceptions of Mysis.

The beauties of style and language, I suppose, must be considered as but
secondary excellences in the drama. Were they primary merits, Terence
would deserve to be placed at the head of all comic poets who have written
for the stage, on account of the consummate elegance and purity of his
diction. It is a singular circumstance, and without example in the
literary history of any other country, that the language should have
received its highest perfection, in point of elegance and grace, combined
with the most perfect simplicity, from the pen of a foreigner and a slave.
But it so happened, that the countryman of Hannibal, and the freedman of
Terentius Lucanus, gave to the Roman tongue all those beauties, in a
degree which the courtiers of the Augustan age itself did not surpass. Nor
can this excellence be altogether accounted for by his intimacy with
Scipio and Lælius, in whose families the Latin language was spoken with
hereditary purity, since it could only have been the merit of his dramas
which first attracted their regard; and indeed, from an anecdote above
related, of what occurred while reading his _Andria_ to a dramatic censor,
it is evident that this play must have been written ere he enjoyed the
sunshine of patrician patronage. For this _Ineffabilis amœnitas_, as it is
called by Heinsius, he was equally admired by his own contemporaries and
by the writers in the golden period of Roman literature. He is called by
Cæsar _puri sermonis amator_, and Cicero characterizes him as—

  “Quicquid come loquens, ac omnia dulcia dicens.”

Even in the last age of Latin poetry, and when his pure simplicity was so
different from the style affected by the writers of the day, he continued
to be regarded as the model of correct composition. Ausonius, in his
beautiful poem addressed to his grandson, hails him on account of his
style, as the ornament of Latium—

  “Tu quoque qui Latium lecto sermone, Terenti,
  Comis, et adstricto percurris pulpita socco,
  Ad nova vix memorem diverbia coge senectam(323).”

Among all the Latin writers, indeed, from Ennius to Ausonius, we meet with
nothing so simple, so full of grace and delicacy—in fine, nothing that can
be compared to the comedies of Terence for elegance of dialogue—presenting
a constant flow of easy, genteel, unaffected discourse, which never
subsides into vulgarity or grossness, and never rises higher than the
ordinary level of polite conversation. Of this, indeed, he was so careful,
that when he employed any sentence which he had found in the tragic poets,
he stripped it of that air of grandeur and majesty, which rendered it
unsuitable for common life, and comedy. In reading the dialogue of Simo in
the _Andria_, and of Micio in the _Adelphi_, we almost think we are
listening to the conversation of Scipio Africanus, and the _mitis
sapientia Læli_. The narratives, in particular, possess a beautiful and
picturesque simplicity. Cicero, in his treatise _De Oratore_, has bestowed
prodigious applause on that with which the _Andria_ commences. “The
picture,” he observes, “of the manners of Pamphilus—the death and funeral
of Chrysis—and the grief of her supposed sister, are all represented in
the most delightful colours.”—Diderot, speaking of the style of Terence,
says, “C’est une onde pure et transparente, qui coule toujours egalement,
et qui ne prend de vitesse, que ce qu’elle en reçoit de la pente et du
terrein. Point d’esprit, nul etalage de sentiment, aucune sentence qui ait
l’air epigrammatique, jamais de ces definitions qui ne seroient placées
que dans Nicole ou la Rochefoucauld.”

As to what may be strictly called the poetical style of Terence, it has
been generally allowed that he has used very great liberties in his
versification(324). Politian divided his plays (which in the MSS. resemble
prose) into lines, but a separation was afterwards more correctly made by
Erasmus. Priscian says, that Terence used more licenses than any other
writer. Bentley, after Priscian, admitted every variety of Iambic and
Trochaic measure; and such was the apparent number of irregular
quantities, and mixture of different species of verse, that Westerhovius
declares, that in order to reduce the lines to their original accuracy, it
would be necessary to evoke Lælius and Scipio from the shades. Mr Hawkins,
in his late Inquiry into the Nature of Greek and Latin poetry, has
attempted to show that the whole doctrine of poetical licenses is contrary
to reason and common sense; that no such deviation from the laws of
prosody could ever have been introduced by Terence; and that where his
verses apparently require licenses, they are either corrupt and
ill-regulated, or may be reduced to the proper standard, on the system of
admitting that all equivalent feet may come in room of the fundamental
feet or measures. On these principles, by changing the situation of the
quantities, by allowing that one long syllable may stand for two short, or
_vice versa_, there will not be occasion for a single poetical license,
which is in fact nothing less than a breach of the rules of prosody.

After having considered the plays of Plautus and of Terence, one is
naturally led to institute a comparison between these two celebrated
dramatists. People, in general, are very apt to judge of the talents of
poets by the absolute merits of their works, without at all taking into
view the relative circumstances of their age and situation, or the
progress of improvement during the period in which they lived. No one
recollects that Tasso’s _Rinaldo_ was composed in ten months, and at the
age of seventeen; and, in like manner, we are apt to forget the difference
between writing comedies while labouring at a mill, and basking in the
Alban villa of Scipio or Lælius. The improvement, too, of the times,
brought the works of Terence to perfection and maturity, as much as his
own genius. It is evident, that he was chiefly desirous to recommend
himself to the approbation of a select few, who were possessed of true wit
and judgment, and the dread of whose censure ever kept him within the
bounds of correct taste; while the sole object of Plautus, on the other
hand, was to excite the merriment of an audience of little refinement. If,
then, we merely consider the intrinsic merit of their productions, without
reference to the circumstances or situation of the authors, still Plautus
will be accounted superior in that vivacity of action, and variety of
incident, which raise curiosity, and hurry on the mind to the conclusion.
We delight, on the contrary, to linger on every scene, almost on every
sentence, of Terence. Sometimes there are chasms in Plautus’s fables, and
the incidents do not properly adhere—in Terence, all the links of the
action depend on each other. Plautus has more variety in his exhibition of
characters and manners, but his pictures are often overcharged, while
those of Terence are never more highly coloured than becomes the modesty
of nature. Plautus’s sentences have a peculiar smartness, which conveys
the thought with clearness, and strikes the imagination strongly, so that
the mind is excited to attention, and retains the idea with pleasure; but
they are often forced and affected, and of a description little used in
the commerce of the world; whereas every word in Terence has direct
relation to the business of life, and the feelings of mankind. The
language of Plautus is more rich and luxuriant than that of Terence, but
is far from being so equal, uniform, and chaste. It is often stained with
vulgarity, and sometimes swells beyond the limits of comic dialogue, while
that of Terence is _puro simillimus amni_. The verses of Plautus are, as
he himself calls them, _numeri innumeri_; and Hermann declares, that, at
least as now printed, _omni vitiorum genere abundant_(325). Terence
attends more to elegance and delicacy in the expression of passion—Plautus
to comic expression. In fact, the great object of Plautus seems to have
been to excite laughter among the audience, and in this object he
completely succeeded; but for its attainment he has sacrificed many graces
and beauties of the drama. There are two sorts of humour—one consisting in
words and action, the other in matter. Now, Terence abounds chiefly in the
last species, Plautus in the first; and the pleasantries of the older
dramatist, which were so often flat, low, or extravagant, finally drew
down the censure of Horace, while his successor was extolled by that
poetical critic as the most consummate master of dramatic art. “In short,”
says Crusius, “Plautus is more gay, Terence more chaste—the first has more
genius and fire, the latter more manners and solidity. Plautus excels in
low comedy and ridicule, Terence in drawing just characters, and
maintaining them to the last. The plots of both are artful, but Terence’s
are more apt to languish, whilst Plautus’s spirit maintains the action
with vigour. His invention was greatest; Terence’s, art and management.
Plautus gives the stronger, Terence a more elegant delight. Plautus
appears the better comedian of the two, as Terence the finer poet. The
former has more compass and variety, the latter more regularity and truth,
in his characters. Plautus shone most on the stage; Terence pleases best
in the closet. Men of refined taste would prefer Terence; Plautus diverted
both patrician and plebeian(326).”

Some intimations of particular plays, both of Plautus and Terence, have
already been pointed out; but independently of more obvious plagiarisms,
these dramatists were the models of all comic writers in the different
nations of Europe, at the first revival of the drama. Their works were the
prototypes of the regular Italian comedy, as it appeared in the plays of
Ariosto, Aretine, Ludovico Dolce, and Battista Porta. In these, the
captain and parasite are almost constantly introduced, with addition of
the _pedante_, who is usually the pedagogue of the young _innamorato_.
Such erudite plays were the only printed dramas (though the _Commedie
dell’ Arte_ were acted for the amusement of the vulgar,) till the
beginning of the 17th century, when Flaminio Scala first _published_ his
_Commedie dell’ Arte_. The old Latin plays were also the models of the
earliest dramas in Spain, previous to the introduction of the comedy of
intrigue, which was invented by Lopez de Rueda, and perfected by Calderon.
We find the first traces of the Spanish drama in a close imitation of the
_Amphitryon_, in 1515, by Villalobos, the physician of Charles V., which
was immediately succeeded by a version of Terence, by Pedro de Abril, and
translations of the Portuguese comedies of Vasconcellos(327), which were
themselves written in the manner of Plautus. There is likewise a good deal
of the spirit of Plautus and Terence in the old English comedy,
particularly in the characters. A panegyrist on Randolph’s _Jealous
Lovers_, which was published in 1632, says, “that it should be conserved
in some great library, that if through chance or injury of time, Plautus
and Terence should be lost, their united merit might be recognized. For,
in this play, thou hast drawn the pander, the gull, the jealous lover, the
doating father, the shark, and the crust wife.”

The consideration of the servile manner in which the dramatists, as well
as novelists, of one country, have copied from their predecessors in
another, may be adduced in some degree as a proof of the old philosophical
aphorism, _Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu_; and
also of the incapacity of the most active and fertile imagination, greatly
to diversify the common characters and incidents of life. One would
suppose, previous to examination, that the varieties, both of character
and situation, would be boundless; but on review, we find a Plautus
copying from the Greek comic writers, and, in turn, even an Ariosto
scarcely diverging from the track of Plautus. When we see the same
characters only in new dresses, performing the same actions, and repeating
the same jests, we are tempted to exclaim, that everything is weary,
stale, flat, and unprofitable, and are taught a lesson of melancholy, even
from the Mask of Mirth.

While Plautus, Cæcilius, Afranius, and Terence, raised the comic drama to
high perfection and celebrity, Pacuvius and Attius attempted, with
considerable success, the noblest subjects of the Greek tragedies.


who was the nephew of Ennius(328), by a sister of that poet, was born at
Brundusium, in the year 534. At Rome he became intimately acquainted with
Lælius, who, in Cicero’s treatise _De Amicitiâ_, calls Pacuvius his host
and friend: He also enjoyed, like Terence, the intimacy of Scipio
Africanus; but he did not profit so much as the comic writer by his
acquaintance with these illustrious Romans for the improvement of his
style. There is an idle story, that Pacuvius had three wives, all of whom
successively hanged themselves on the same tree; and that lamenting this
to Attius, who was married, he begged for a slip of it to plant in his own
garden(329); an anecdote which has been very seriously confuted by Annibal
di Leo, in his learned Memoir on Pacuvius. This poet also employed himself
in painting: he was one of the first of the Romans who attained any degree
of eminence in that elegant art, and particularly distinguished himself by
the picture which he executed for the temple of Hercules, in the _Forum
Boarium_(330). He published his last piece at the age of eighty(331);
after which, being oppressed with old age, and afflicted with perpetual
bodily illness, he retired, for the enjoyment of its soft air and mild
winters, to Tarentum(332), where he died, having nearly completed his
ninetieth year(333). An elegant epitaph, supposed to have been written by
himself, is quoted, with much commendation, by Aulus Gellius, who calls it
_verecundissimum et purissimum_(334). It appears to have been inscribed on
a tombstone which stood by the side of a public road, according to a
custom of the Romans, who placed their monuments near highways, that the
spot where their remains were deposited might attract observation, and the
departed spirit receive the valediction of passing travellers:

  “Adolescens, tametsi properas, hoc te saxum rogat,
  Uti ad se aspicias; deinde, quod scriptum est, legas.
  Hic sunt poetæ Marcei Pacuviei sita
  Ossa. Hoc volebam nescius ne esses—Vale(335).”

Though a few fragments of the tragedies of Pacuvius remain, our opinion of
his dramatic merits can be formed only at second hand, from the
observations of those critics who wrote while his works were yet extant.
Cicero, though he blames his style, and characterizes him as a poet _male
loquutus_(336), places him on the same level for tragedy as Ennius for
epic poetry, or Cæcilius for comedy; and he mentions, in his treatise _De
Oratore_, that his verses were by many considered as highly laboured and
adorned.—“Omnes apud hunc ornati elaboratique sunt versus.” It was in this
laboured polish of versification, and skill in the dramatic conduct of the
scene, that the excellence of Pacuvius chiefly consisted; for so the lines
of Horace have been usually interpreted, where, speaking of the public
opinion entertained concerning the different dramatic writers of Rome, he

  “Ambigitur quoties uter utro sit prior: aufert
  Pacuvius docti famam senis, Attius alti.”

And the same meaning must be affixed to the passage in Quintilian,—“Virium
tamen Attio plus tribuitur; Pacuvium videri doctiorem, qui esse docti
adfectant, volunt(337).” Most other Latin critics, though on the whole
they seem to prefer Attius, allow Pacuvius to be the more correct writer.

The names are still preserved of about 20 tragedies of
Pacuvius—_Anchises_, _Antiope_, _Armorum Judicium_, _Atalanta_, _Chryses_,
_Dulorestes_, _Hermione_, _Iliona_, _Medus_, _Medea_, _Niptra_, _Orestes
et Pylades_, _Paulus_, _Peribœa_, _Tantalus_, _Teucer_, _Thyestes_. Of
these the _Antiope_ was one of the most distinguished. It was regarded by
Cicero as a great national tragedy, and an honour to the Roman name.—“Quis
enim,” says he, “tam inimicus pene nomini Romano est, qui Ennii Medeam,
aut Antiopam Pacuvii, spernat, aut rejiciat?” Persius, however, ridicules
a passage in this tragedy, where Antiope talks of propping her melancholy
heart with misfortunes, by which she means, (I suppose,) that she
fortunately had so many griefs all around her heart, that it was well
bolstered up, and would not break or bend so easily as it must have done,
had it been supported by fewer distresses—

  “Sunt quos Pacuviusque et verrucosa moretur
  Antiope, ærumnis cor luctificabile fulta.”

The _Armorum Judicium_ was translated from Æschylus. With regard to the
_Dulorestes_, (Orestes Servus,) there has been a good deal of discussion
and difficulty. Nævius, Ennius, and Attius, are all said to have written
tragedies which bore the title of _Dulorestes_; but a late German writer
has attempted, at great length, to show that this is a misconception; and
that all the fragments, which have been classed with the remains of these
three dramatic poets, belong to the _Dulorestes_ of Pacuvius, who was in
truth the only Latin poet who wrote a tragedy with this appellation. What
the tenor or subject of the play, however, may have been, he admits is
difficult to determine, as the different passages, still extant, refer to
very different periods of the life of Orestes; which, I think, is rather
adverse to his idea, that all these fragments were written by the same
person, and belonged to the same tragedy, unless, indeed, Pacuvius had
utterly set at defiance the observance of the celebrated unities of the
ancient drama. On the whole, however, he agrees with Thomas Stanley, in
his remarks on the _Chœphoræ_ of Æschylus, that the subject of the
_Chœphoræ_, which is the vengeance taken by Orestes on the murderers of
his father, is also that of the _Dulorestes_ of Pacuvius(338). Some of the
fragments refer to this as an object not yet accomplished:—

  “Utinam nunc maturescam ingenio, ut meum patrem
  Ulcisci queam.” ——

The _Hermione_ turned on the murder of Pyrrhus by Orestes at the
instigation of Hermione. Cicero, in his Treatise _De Amicitia_, mentions,
in the person of Lælius, the repeated acclamations which had recently
echoed through the theatre at the representation of the _new play_ of his
friend Pacuvius, in that scene where Pylades and Orestes are introduced
before the king, who, being ignorant which of them is Orestes, whom he had
predetermined should be put to death, each insists, in order to save the
life of his friend, that he himself is the real person in question. Delrio
alleges that the _new play_ here alluded to by Cicero was the _Hermione_;
but that play, as well as the _Dulorestes_, related to much earlier events
than the friendly contest between Pylades and Orestes, which took place at
the court of Thoas, King of Tauris, and was the concluding scene in the
dramatic life of Orestes, being long subsequent to the murder of his
mother, his trial in presence of the Argives, or absolution at Athens
before the Areopagus. Accordingly, Tiraboschi states positively that this
_new play_ of Pacuvius, which obtained so much applause, was his _Pylades
et Orestes_(339).

In the _Iliona_, the scene where the shade of Polydorus, who had been
assassinated by the King of Thrace, appears to his sister Iliona, was long
the favourite of a Roman audience, who seem to have indulged in the same
partiality for such spectacles as we still entertain for the goblins in
_Hamlet_ and _Macbeth_.

All the plays above mentioned were imitated or translated by Pacuvius from
the Greek. His _Paulus_, however, was of his own invention, and was the
first Latin tragedy formed on a Roman subject. Unfortunately there are
only five lines of it extant, and these do not enable us to ascertain,
which Roman of the name of Paulus gave title to the tragedy. It was
probably either Paulus Æmilius, who fell at Cannæ, or his son, whose story
was a memorable instance of the instability of human happiness, as he lost
both his children at the moment when he triumphed for his victory over
Perseus of Macedon.

From no one play of Pacuvius are there more than fifty lines preserved,
and these are generally very much detached. The longest passages which we
have in continuation are a fragment concerning Fortune, in the
_Hermione_—the exclamations of Ulysses, while writhing under the agony of
a recent wound, in the _Niptra_, and the following fine description of a
sea-storm introduced in the _Dulorestes_:—

  “Interea, prope jam occidente sole, inhorrescit mare;
  Tenebræ conduplicantur, noctisque et nimbûm occæcat nigror;
  Flamma inter nubes coruscat, cœlum tonitru contremit,
  Grando, mista imbri largifluo, subita turbine præcipitans cadit;
  Undique omnes venti erumpunt, sævi existunt turbines,
  Fervet æstu Pelagus.” ——

Such lines, however, as these, it must be confessed, are more appropriate
in epic, or descriptive poetry, than in tragedy.

It does not appear that the tragedies of Pacuvius had much success or
popularity in his own age. He was obliged to have recourse for his
subjects to foreign mythology and unknown history. Iphigenia and Orestes
were always more or less strangers to a Roman audience, and the whole
drama in which these and similar personages figured, never attained in
Rome to a healthy and perfect existence. Comedy, on the other hand,
addressed itself to the feelings of all. There were prodigal sons,
avaricious fathers, and rapacious courtezans, in Rome as well as in
Greece(340). But it requires a certain cultivation of mind and tenderness
of heart to enjoy the representation of a regular tragedy. The plebeians
thronged to the theatre for the sake of merriment, and the patricians were
still too much occupied with the projects of their own ambition, to weep
over the woes of Antigone or Electra.

Pacuvius, accordingly, had fewer imitators than Plautus. Indeed, for a
long period he had none of much note, except


or Accius, as he is sometimes, but improperly, called, who brought forward
his first play when thirty years old, in the same season in which
Pacuvius, having reached the age of eighty, gave his last to the
public(341). Now, as Pacuvius would be eighty in 614, Attius, according to
this calculation, must have been born in 584. It has been questioned,
however, if he was born so early, since Valerius Maximus relates a story
of his refusing to rise from his place on the entrance of Julius Cæsar
into the College of Poets, because in that place they did not contest the
prize of birth, but of learning(342),—which disrespect, if he came into
the world in 584, he could not have survived to offer to the dictator,
Julius Cæsar, who was not born till 654. This collector of anecdotes,
however, may probably allude either to some other poet of the name of
Attius, or to some other individual of the Julian family, than the Julius
Cæsar who subverted the liberties of his country. At all events it is
evident, that Attius lived to extreme old age. If born in 584, he must
have been 63 years old at the birth of Cicero, who came into the world in
647. Now, Cicero mentions not only having seen him, but having heard from
his own mouth opinions concerning the eloquence of his friend D. Brutus,
and other speakers of his time(343). Supposing this conversation took
place even when Cicero was so young as seventeen, Attius must have lived
at least to the age of eighty.

It is certain, that Attius had begun to write tragedies before the death
of Pacuvius. Aulus Gellius relates, as a well-known anecdote, that Attius,
while on his way to Asia, was detained, for some time at Tarentum, whither
Pacuvius had retired, and was invited to pass a few days with the veteran
poet. During his stay he read to his host the tragedy of _Atreus_, which
was one of his earliest productions. Pacuvius declared his verses to be
high sounding and lofty, but he remarked that they were a little harsh,
and wanted mellowness. Attius acknowledged the truth of the observation,
which he said gave him much satisfaction; for that genius resembled
apples, which when produced hard and sour, grow mellow in maturity, while
those which are unseasonably soft do not become ripe, but rotten(344). His
expectations, however, were scarcely fulfilled, and the produce of his
more advanced years was nearly as harsh as what he had borne in youth. He
seems, nevertheless, to have entertained at all times a good opinion of
his own poetical talents: for, though a person of diminutive size, he got
a huge statue of himself placed in a conspicuous niche in the Temple of
the Muses(345). Nor does his vanity appear to have exceeded the high
esteem in which he was held by his countrymen. Such was the respect paid
to him, that a player was severely punished for mentioning his name on the
stage(346). Decius Brutus, who was consul in 615, and was distinguished
for his victories in Spain, received him into the same degree of intimacy
to which Ennius had been admitted by the elder, and Terence by the
younger, Scipio Africanus: and such was his estimation of the verses of
this tragedian, that he inscribed them over the entrance to a temple
adorned by him with the spoils of enemies whom he had conquered(347). From
the high opinion generally entertained of the force and eloquence of his
tragedies, Attius was asked why he did not plead causes in the Forum; to
which he replied, that he made the characters in his tragedies speak what
he chose, but that, in the Forum, his adversaries might say things he did
not like, and which he could not answer(348).

Horace, in the same line where he celebrates the dramatic skill of
Pacuvius, alludes to the loftiness of Attius,—

           —— “Aufert
  Pacuvius docti famam senis—Attius alti;”

by which is probably meant sublimity both of sentiment and expression. A
somewhat similar quality is intended to be expressed in the epithet
applied to him by Ovid:—

  “Ennius arte carens, animosique Attius oris,
  Casurum nullo tempore nomen habent.”

It would appear from Ovid likewise, that he generally chose atrocious
subjects for the arguments of his tragedies:—

  “Nec liber indicium est animi, sed honesta voluptas,
    Plurima mulcendis auribus apta ferens:
  Attius esset atrox, conviva Terentius esset,
    Essent pugnaces qui fera bella canunt(349).”

By advice of Pacuvius, Attius adopted such subjects as had already been
brought forward on the Athenian stage; and we accordingly find that he has
dramatized the well-known stories of Andromache, Philoctetes, Antigone,
&c. There are larger fragments extant from these tragedies than from the
dramatic works of Ennius or Pacuvius. One of the longest and finest
passages is that in the _Medea_, where a shepherd discovering, from the
top of a mountain, the vessel which conveyed the Argonauts on their
expedition, thus expresses his wonder and admiration at an object he had
never before seen:—

         —— “Tanta moles labitur
  Fremebunda ex alto, ingenti sonitu et spiritu
  Præ se undas volvit, vortices vi suscitat,
  Ruit prolapsa, pelagus respergit, reflat:
  Ita num interruptum credas nimbum volvier,
  Num quod sublime ventis expulsum rapi
  Saxum, aut procellis, vel globosos turbines
  Existere ictos, undis concursantibus?
  Num quas terrestres pontus strages conciet;
  Aut forte Triton fuscinâ evertens specus,
  Subter radices penitus undanti in freto
  Molem ex profundo saxeam ad cœlum vomit?”

With this early specimen of Latin verse, it may be agreeable to compare a
corresponding passage in one of our most ancient English poets. A
shepherd, in Spenser’s _Epilogue to the Shepherd’s Calendar_, thus
describes his astonishment at the sight of a ship:—

  “For as we stood there waiting on the strand,
    Behold a huge great vessel to us came,
  Dancing upon the waters back to land,
    As if it scorn’d the danger of the same.

  Yet was it but a wooden frame, and frail,
    Glued together with some subtle matter:
  Yet had it arms, and wings, and head, and tail,
    And life, to move itself upon the water.

  Strange thing! how bold and swift the monster was!
    That neither cared for wind, nor hail, nor rain,
  Nor swelling waves, but thorough them did pass
    So proudly, that she made them roar again.”

Among the shorter fragments of Attius we meet with many scattered
sentiments, which have been borrowed by subsequent poets and moral
writers. The expression, “oderint dum metuant,” occurs in the _Atreus_.
Thus, too, in the _Armorum Judicium_,—

  “Nam trophæum ferre me a forti pulchrum est viro;
  Si autem et vincar, vinci a tali, nullum est probrum.”

A line in the same play—

  “Virtuti sis par—dispar fortunis patris,”

has suggested to Virgil the affecting address—

  “Disce, puer, virtutem ex me, verumque laborem;
  Fortunam ex aliis: ——”

This play, which turns on the contest of Ajax and Ulysses for the arms of
Achilles, has also supplied a great deal to Ovid. The tragic poet makes
Ajax say—

  “Quid est cur componere ausis mihi te, aut me tibi.”

In like manner, Ajax, in his speech in Ovid—

  —— “Agimus, prô Jupiter, inquit,
  Ante rates causam, et mecum confertur Ulysses!”

There are two lines in the _Philoctetes_, which present a fine image of
discomfort and desolation—

  “Contempla hanc sedem, in qua ego novem hiemes, saxo stratus, pertuli,
  Ubi horrifer aquilonis stridor gelidas molitur nives(350).”

Most of the plays of Attius, as we have seen, were taken from the Greek
tragedians. Two of them, however, the _Brutus_ and the _Decius_, hinged on
Roman subjects, and were both probably written in compliment to the family
of his patron, Decius Brutus. The subject of the former was the expulsion
of the Tarquins: but the only passage of it extant, is the dream of
Tarquin, and its interpretation, which have been preserved by Cicero in
his work _De Divinatione_. Tarquin’s dream was, that he had been
overthrown by a ram which a shepherd had presented to him, and that while
lying wounded on his back, he had looked up to the sky, and observed that
the sun, having changed his course, was journeying from west to east. The
first part of this dream being interpreted, was a warning, that he would
be expelled from his kingdom by one whom he accounted as stupid as a
sheep; and the solar phenomenon portended a popular change in the
government. The interpreter adds, that such strange dreams could not have
occurred without the purpose of some special manifestation, but that no
attention need be paid to those which merely present to us the daily
transactions of life—

  “Nam quæ in vitâ usurpant homines, cogitant, curant, vident,
  Quæque agunt vigilantes, agitantque, ea si cui in somno accidunt.
  Minus mirum est ——”

In his tragedies, indeed, Attius rather shows a contempt for dreams, and
prodigies, and the science of augury—

  “Nihil credo auguribus qui aures verbis divitant
  Alienas, suas ut auro locupletent domos.”

The argument of Attius’ other drama, founded on a Roman subject, and
belonging to the class called _Prætextatæ_, was the patriotic
self-devotion of Publius Decius, who, when his army could no longer
sustain the onset of the foe, threw himself into the thickest of the
combat, and was despatched by the darts of the enemy. There were at least
two of the family of Decii, a father and son, who had successively devoted
themselves in this manner—the former in a contest with the Latins, the
latter in a war with the Gauls, leagued to the Etruscans, in the year of
Rome 457. No doubt, however, can exist, that it was the son who was the
subject of the tragedy of _Attius_—in the first place, because he twice
talks of following the example of his father—

                      “—— Patrio
  Exemplo dicabo me, atque animam devotabo hostibus.”

And again—

  “Quibus rem summam et patriam nostram quondam adauctavit pater.”

And, in the next place, he refers, in two different passages, to the
opposing host of the Gauls—

  —— “Gallei, voce canora ac fremitu,
  Peragrant minitabiliter ——
    *  *  *  *  *
  Vim Gallicam obduc contra in acie.” ——

Horace, as is well known, bestowed some commendation on those dramatists
who had chosen events of domestic history as subjects for their tragedies—

  “Nec minimum meruere decus, vestigia Græca
  Ausi deserere, et celebrare domestica facta(351).”

Dramas taken from our own annals, excite a public interest, and afford the
best, as well as easiest opportunity of attracting the mind, by frequent
reference to our manners, prejudices, or customs. It may, at first view,
seem strange, that the Romans, who were a national people, and whose epics
were generally founded on events in their own history, should, when they
did make such frequent attempts at the composition of tragedy, have so
seldom selected their arguments from the ancient annals or traditions of
their country. These traditions were, perhaps, not very fertile in
pathetic or mournful incident, but they afforded subjects rich, beyond all
others, in tragic energy and elevation; and even in the range of female
character, in which the ancient drama was most defective, Lucretia and
Virginia were victims as interesting as Iphigenia or Alcestis. The tragic
writers of modern times have borrowed from these very sources many
subjects of a highly poetical nature, and admirably calculated for scenic
representation. The furious combat of the Horatii and Curiatii, the stern
patriotic firmness of Brutus, the internal conflicts of Coriolanus, the
tragic fate of Virginia, and the magnanimous self-devotion of Regulus,
have been dramatized with success, in the different languages of modern
Europe. But those names, which to us sound so lofty, may, to the natives,
have been too familiar for the dignity essential to tragedy. In Rome,
besides the risk of offending great families, the Roman subjects were of
too recent a date to have acquired that venerable cast, which the tragic
muse demands, and time alone can bestow. They were not at sufficient
distance to have dropped all those mean and disparaging circumstances,
which unavoidably adhere to recent events, and in some measure sink the
noblest modern transactions to the level of ordinary life. This seems to
have been strongly felt by Sophocles and Euripides, who preferred the
incidents connected with the sieges of Troy and of Thebes, rendered
gigantic only by the mists of antiquity, to the real and almost living
glories of Marathon or Thermopylæ. But the Romans had no families
corresponding to the race of Atreus or Œdipus—they had no princess endowed
with the beauty of Helen—no monarch invested with the dignity of
Agamemnon—they had, in short, no epic cycle on which to form tragedies,
like the Greeks, whose minds had been conciliated by Homer in favour of
Ajax and Ulysses(352). “The most interesting subjects of tragedies,” says
Adam Smith(353), “are the misfortunes of virtuous and magnanimous kings
and princes;” but the Roman kings were a detested race, for whose rank and
qualities there was no admiration, and for whose misfortunes there could
be no sympathy. Accordingly, after some few and not very successful
attempts to dramatize national incidents, the Latin tragic writers
relapsed into their former practice, as appears from the titles of all the
tragedies which were brought out from the time of Attius to that of

Hence it follows, that those remarks, which have been repeated to satiety
with regard to the subjects of the Greek theatre, are likewise applicable
to those of the Roman stage. There would be the same dignified misfortune
displayed in nobler and imposing attitudes—the same observance of the
unities—the same dramatic phrensy, remorse, and love, proceeding from the
vengeance of the gods, and exhibited in the fate of Ajax, Orestes, and
Phædra—the same struggle against that predominant destiny, which was
exalted even above the gods of Olympus, and by which the ill-fated race of
Atreus was agitated and pursued. The Latin, like the Greek tragedies, must
have excited something of the same feeling as the Laocoon or Niobe in
sculpture; and, indeed, the moral of a large proportion of them seems to
be comprised in the chorus of Seneca’s _Œdipus_—

  “Fatis agimur—cedite fatis:
  Non solicitæ possunt curæ
  Mutare rati stamina fusi.”

M. Schlegel is of opinion, that had the Romans quitted the practice of
Greek translation, and composed original tragedies, these would have been
of a different cast and species from the Greek productions, and would have
been chiefly expressive of profound religious sentiments.—“La tragedie
Grecque avoit montré l’homme libre, combattant contre la destinée; la
tragedie Romaine eut presenté a nos regards l’homme soumis a la Divinité,
et subjugué jusques dans ses penchans les plus intimes, par cette
puissance infinie qui sanctifie les ames, qui les enchaine de ses liens,
et qui brille de toutes parts, a travers le voile de l’univers(354).” His
reasons for supposing that this difference would have existed, are founded
on the difference in the mythological systems of the two
nations.—“L’ancienne croyance des Romains et les usages qui s’y
rapportoient, renfermoient un sens moral, serieux, philosophique,
divinatoire et symbolique, qui n’existoit pas dans la religion des Grecs.”
There can be no doubt, that the Romans were in public life, during the
early periods or their history, a devotedly religious people. Nothing of
moment was undertaken without being assured that the gods approved, and
would favour the enterprise. The utmost order was observed in every step
of religious performance. We see a consul leaving his army, on suspicion
of some irregularity, to hold new auspices—an army inspired with sacred
confidence and ardour, after appeasing the wrath of the gods, by expiatory
lustrations—and a conqueror dedicating at his triumph the temple vowed in
the moment of danger. But notwithstanding all this, it so happens, that a
spirit of free-thinking is one of the most striking characteristics of the
oldest class of Latin poets, particularly the tragedians, and in the
fragments of those very plays which were founded on Roman subjects, there
is everywhere expressed a bitter contempt for augury, and for the _sens
divinatoire et symbolique_, which they evidently considered as quackery:
and the dramatists do not seem to have much scrupled to declare that it
was so, or the people to testify approbation of such sentiments. Even the
almost impious lines of Ennius, that the gods take no concern in the
affairs of mortals, were received, as we learn from Cicero, with vast
applause.—“Noster Ennius, qui magno plausu loquitur, assentiente
populo—Ego Deûm genus(355),” &c. It is probable, however, that a tragedy
purely Roman would have been written in a different spirit from a Greek
drama, because the manners of the two people had little resemblance, and
because the Roman passion for freedom, detestation of tyranny, and
feelings of patriotism, had strong shades of distinction from those of
Greece. The self-devotion of the Decii and Curtius, was of a fiercer
description than that of Leonidas. It was the headlong contempt, rather
than the resolute sacrifice, of existence.

It was probably, too, from a slavish imitation of the Greek dramatists,
that the Latin tragedies acquired what is considered one of their chief
faults—the introduction of aphorisms and moral sentences, which were not
confined to the chorus, the proper receptacle for them, (it being the
peculiar office and character of the chorus to moralize,) but were spread
over the whole drama in such a manner, that the characters appeared to be
_vivendi preceptores_ rather than _rei actores_. Quintilian characterizes
Attius and Pacuvius as chiefly remarkable for this practice.—“Tragœdiæ
scriptores Attius et Pacuvius, clarissimi gravitate sententiarum.” A
question on this point is started by Hurd,—That since the Greek tragedians
moralized so much, how shall we defend Sophocles, and particularly
Euripides, if we condemn Attius and Seneca? Brumoy’s solution is, that the
moral and political aphorisms of the Greek stage generally contained some
apt and interesting allusion to the state of public affairs, easily caught
by a quick intelligent audience, and not a dry affected moral without
farther meaning, like most of the Latin maxims. In the age, too, of the
Greek tragedians, there was a prevailing fondness for moral wisdom; and
schools of philosophy were resorted to for recreation as well as for
instruction. Moral aphorisms, therefore, were not inconsistent with the
ordinary flow of conversation in those times, and would be relished by
such as indulged in philosophical conferences, whereas such speculations
were not introduced till late in Rome, and were never very generally in

On the whole, it may be admitted that the bold and animated genius of Rome
was well suited to tragedy, and that in force of colouring and tragic
elevation the Latin poets presented not a feeble image of their great
originals; but unfortunately their judgment was uninformed, and they were
too easily satisfied with their own productions. Strength and fire were
all at which they aimed, and with this praise they remained contented.
They were careless with regard to the regularity or harmony of
versification. The discipline of correction, the curious polishing of art,
which had given such lustre to the Greek tragedies, they could not bestow,
or held the emendation requisite for dramatic perfection as disgraceful to
the high spirit and energy of Roman genius(356):

  “Turpem putat inscriptis metuitque lituram(357).”

To originality or invention in their subjects, they hardly ever presumed
to aspire, and were satisfied with gathering what they found already
produced by another soil in full and ripened maturity.

It may perhaps appear strange that the Romans possessed so little original
talents for tragedy, and indeed for the drama in general; but the genius
of neighbouring nations, who had equal success in other sorts of poetry,
has often been very different in this department of literature. The
Spaniards could boast of Lopez de Vega, Cervantes, and Calderon, at a time
when the Portuguese had no drama, and were contented with the exhibitions
of strolling players from Castile. Scotland had scarcely produced a single
play of merit in the brightest age of the dramatic glory of England—the
age of Shakspeare, Massinger, and Jonson. While France was delighted with
the productions of Racine, Corneille, and Moliere, the modern Italians, as
if their ancestors’ poverty of dramatic genius still adhered to them,
though so rich and abundant in every other department of literature,
scarcely possessed a tolerable play of their own invention, and till the
time of Goldoni were amused only with the most slavish imitations of the
Latin comedies, the buffooneries of harlequin, or tragedies of accumulated
and unmitigated horrors, which excite neither the interest of terror nor
of pity.

For all this it may not be easy completely to account; but various causes
may be assigned for the want of originality in Roman tragedy, and indeed
in the whole Roman drama. The nation was deficient in that milder humanity
of which there are so many beautiful instances in Grecian history. From
the austere patriotism of Brutus sacrificing every personal feeling to the
love of country,—from the frugality of Cincinnatus, and parsimony of the
Censor, it fell with frightful rapidity into a state of luxury and
corruption without example. Even during the short period which might be
called the age of refinement, it wanted a poetical public. To judge by the
early part of their history, one would suppose that the Romans were not
deficient in that species of sensibility which fits for due sympathy in
theatrical incidents. Most of their great revolutions were occasioned by
events acting strongly and suddenly on their feelings. The hard fate of
Lucretia, Virginia, and the youth Publilius, freed them from the tyranny
of their kings, decemvirs, and patrician creditors. On the whole, however,
they were an austere, stately, and formal people; their whole mode of life
tended to harden the heart and feelings, and there was a rigid uniformity
in their early manners, ill adapted to the free workings of the passions.
External indications of tenderness were repressed as unbecoming of men
whose souls were fixed on the attainment of the most lofty objects. Pity
was never to be felt by a Roman, but when it came in the shape of clemency
towards a vanquished foe, and tears were never to dim the eyes of those
whose chief pride consisted in acting with energy and enduring with
firmness. This self-command, which their principles required of them,—this
control of every manifestation of suffering in themselves, and contempt
for the expression of it in others, tended to exclude tragedy almost
entirely from the range of their literature.

Any softer emotions, too, which the Roman people may have once
experienced—any sentiments capable of being awakened to tragic pathos,
became gradually blunted by the manner in which they were exercised. They
had, by degrees, been accustomed to take a barbarous delight in the most
wanton displays of human violence, and brutal cruelty. Lions and elephants
tore each other in pieces before their eyes; and they beheld, with
emotions only of delight, crowds of hireling gladiators wasting their
energy, valour, and life, on the guilty _arena_ of a Circus. Gladiatorial
combats were first exhibited by Decius and Marcus Brutus, at the funeral
of their father, about the commencement of the Punic wars. The number of
such entertainments increased with the luxury of the times; and those who
courted popular favour found no readier way to gain it than by
magnificence and novelty in this species of expense. Cæsar exhibited three
hundred pairs of gladiators; Pompey presented to the multitude six hundred
lions, to be torn in pieces in the Circus, besides harnessed bears and
dancing elephants; and some other candidate for popular favour, introduced
the yet more refined barbarity of combats between men and wild animals.
These were the darling amusements of all, and chief occupations of many
Romans; and those who could take pleasure in such spectacles, must have
lost all that tenderness of inward feeling, and all that exquisite
sympathy for suffering, without which none can perceive the force and
beauty of a tragic drama. The extension, too, of the military power, and
the increasing wealth and splendour of the Roman republic, accustomed its
citizens to triumphal and gaudy processions. This led to a taste for what,
in modern times, has been called _Spectacle_; and, instead of melting with
tenderness at the woes of Andromache, the people demanded on the stage
such exhibitions as presented them with an image of their favourite

  “Quatuor aut plures aulæa premuntur in horas,
  Dum fugiunt equitum turmæ, peditumque catervæ:
  Mox trahitur manibus regum fortuna retortis;
  Esseda festinant, pilenta, petorrita, naves:
  Captivum portatur ebur, captiva Corinthus(358).”

This sort of show was not confined to the afterpiece or entertainment, but
was introduced in the finest tragedies, which were represented with such
pomp and ostentation as to destroy all the grace of the performance. A
thousand mules pranced about the stage in the tragedy of _Clytemnestra_;
and whole regiments, accoutred in foreign armour, were marshalled in that
of the _Trojan Horse_(359). This taste, so fatal to the genuine excellence
of tragedy or comedy, was fostered and encouraged by the Ædiles, who had
the charge of the public Shows, and, among others, of the exhibitions at
the theatre. The ædileship was considered as one of the steps to the
higher honours of the state; and those who held it could not resort to
surer means of conciliating the favour of their fellow-citizens, or
purchasing their future suffrages, than by sparing no expense in the
pageantry of theatrical amusements.

The language, also, of the Romans, however excellent in other respects,
was at least in comparison with Greek, but ill suited to the expression of
earnest and vivid emotion. It required an artful and elaborate collocation
of words, and its construction is more forced and artificial than that of
most other tongues. Hence passion always seemed to speak the language with
effort; the idiom would not yield to the rapid transitions and imperfect
phrases of impassioned dialogue.

Little attention, besides, was paid to critical learning, and the
cultivation of correct composition. The Latin muse had been nurtured amid
the festivities of rural superstition; and the impure mixture of
licentious jollity had so corrupted her nature, that it long partook of
her rustic origin. Even so late as the time of Horace, the tragic drama
continued to be unsuccessful, in consequence of the illiberal education of
the Roman youth; who, while the Greeks were taught to open all the mind to
glory, were so cramped in their genius by the love of gain, and by the
early infusion of sordid principles, that they were unable to project a
great design, or conduct it to perfection. The consequence was, that the
“_ærugo et cura peculi_” had so completely infected the Roman dramatists,
that lucre was the sole object of their pains. Hence, provided they could
catch popular applause, and secure a high price from the magistrates who
superintended theatrical exhibitions, they felt indifferent to every
nobler view, and more worthy purpose:—

  “Gestit enim nummum in loculos demittere; post hoc
  Securus, cadat, an recto stet fabula tale(360).”

But, above all, the low estimation in which the art of poetry was held,
must be regarded as a cause of its little progress during the periods of
the republic: “Sero igitur,” says Cicero, “a nostris, poetæ vel cogniti
vel recepti. Quo minus igitur honoris erat poetis, eo minora studia
fuerunt(361).” The earliest poets of Rome had not the encouragement of
that court favour which was extended to Chaucer in England, to Marot and
Ronsard in France, and to Dante by the petty princes of Italy. From Livius
Andronicus to Terence, poetry was cultivated only by foreigners and
freedmen. Scipio and Lælius, indeed, are said to have written some scenes
in the plays of Terence; but they did not choose that anything of this
sort should pass under their names. The stern republicans seem to have
considered poetry as an art which captives and slaves might cultivate, for
the amusement of their conquerors, or masters, but which it would be
unsuitable for a grave and lofty patrician to practice. I suspect, the
Romans regarded a poet as a tumbler or rope-dancer, with whose feats we
are entertained, but whom we would not wish to imitate.

The drama in Rome did not establish itself systematically, and by degrees,
as it did in Greece. Plautus wrote for the stage during the time of Livius
Andronicus, and Terence was nearly contemporary with Pacuvius and Attius;
so that everything serious and comic, good and bad, came at once, and if
it was Grecian, found a welcome reception among the Romans. On this
account every species of dramatic amusement was indiscriminately adopted
at the theatre, and that which was most absurd was often most admired. The
Greek drama acquired a splendid degree of perfection by a close imitation
of nature; but the Romans never attained such perfection, because, however
exquisite their models, they did not copy directly from nature, but from
its representative and image.

Had the Romans, indeed, possessed a literature of their own, when they
first grew familiar with the works of the Greek poets, their native
productions would no doubt have been improved by the study and imitation
of the masterpieces of these more accomplished foreigners; yet they would
still have preserved something of a national character. But,
unfortunately, when the Romans first became acquainted with the writings
of the Greeks, they had not even sown the seeds of learning, so that they
remained satisfied with the full-ripened produce imported from abroad.
Several critics have indeed remarked in all the compositions of the
Romans, and particularly in their tragedies, a peculiar severity and
loftiness of thought; but they were all formed so entirely on a Greek
model, that their early poetry must be regarded rather as the production
of art than genius, and as a spark struck by contact and attrition, rather
than a flame spontaneously kindled at the altar of the Muses.

In addition to all this, the Latin poet had no encouragement to invent. He
was not required to look abroad into nature, or strike out a path for
himself. So far from this being demanded, Greek subjects were evidently
preferred by the public—

  “Omnes res gestas Athenis esse autumant,
  Quo vobis illud Græcum videatur magis(362).”

All the works, then, which have been hitherto mentioned, and which, with
exception of the _Annals_ of Ennius, are entirely dramatic, belong
strictly to what may be called the Greek school of composition, and are
unquestionably the least original class of productions in the Latin, or
perhaps any other language. But however little the early dramatists of
Rome may have to boast of originality or invention, they are amply
entitled to claim an unborrowed praise for the genuine purity of their
native style and language.

The style and language of the dramatic writers of the period, on which we
are now engaged, seem to have been much relished by a numerous class of
readers, from the age of Augustus to that of the Antonines, and to have
been equally abhorred by the poets of that time. We have already seen
Horace’s indignation against those who admired the _Carmen Saliare_, or
the poems of Livius, and which appears the bolder and more surprising, as
Augustus himself was not altogether exempt from this predilection(363);
and we have also seen the satire of Persius against his age, for being
still delighted with the fustian tragedies of Attius and the rugged style
of Pacuvius—

  “Est nunc Brisei quem venosus liber Atti,
  Sunt quos Pacuviusque et verrucosa moretur
  Antiope ærumnis cor luctificabile fulta.”

In like manner Martial, in his Epigrams, mimicking the obsolete phrases of
the ancient dramatists—

  “Attonitusque legis _terräi frugiferäi_,
  Attius et quicquid Pacuviusque vomunt.”

Such sentiments, however, as is evident from Horace’s Epistle to Augustus,
proceeded in a great measure from the modern poets being provoked at an
admiration, which they thought did not originate in a real sense of the
merit of these old writers, but in an envious wish to depreciate, by
odious comparison, the productions of the day—

  “Jam Saliare Numæ carmen qui laudat, et illud
  Quod mecum ignorat, solus vult scire videri;
  Ingentis non ille favet, plauditque sepultis,
  Nostra sed impugnat—nos, nostraque lividus odit.”

But although a great proportion of the public may, with malicious designs,
have heaped extravagant commendations on the style of the ancient
tragedians, there can be no doubt that it is full of vigour and richness;
and if inferior to the exquisite refinement of the Augustan age, it was
certainly much to be preferred to the obscurity of Persius, or the
conceits of Martial. “A very imperfect notion,” says Wakefield, in one of
his letters to Fox, “is entertained in general of the copiousness of the
Latin language, by those who confine themselves to what are styled the
Augustan writers. The old comedians and tragedians, with Ennius and
Lucilius, were the great repositories of learned and vigorous expression.
I have ever regarded the loss of the old Roman poets, particularly Ennius
and Lucilius, from the light they would have thrown on the formations of
the Latin language, and its derivation from the Æolian Greek, as the
severest calamity ever sustained by philological learning(364).”
Sometimes, indeed, their words are uncouth, particularly their compound
terms and epithets, in the formation of which they are not nearly so happy
as the Greeks. Livius Andronicus uses _Odorisequos canes_—Pacuvius employs
_Repandirostrum_ and _Incurvicervicum_. Such terms always appear
incongruous and disjointed, and not knit together so happily as _Cyclops_,
and other similar words of the Greeks.

The different classes into which the regular drama of this period may be
reduced, is a subject involved in great contradiction and uncertainty, and
has been much agitated in consequence of Horace’s celebrated line—

  “Vel qui _Prætextas_ vel qui docuere _Togatas_(365).”

On the whole, it seems pretty evident, that the _regular_ drama was
divided into tragedy and comedy. A tragedy on a Greek subject, and in
which Greek manners were preserved, as the Hecuba, Dulorestes, &c. was
simply styled _Tragœdia_, or sometimes _Tragœdia Palliata_. Those
tragedies again, in which Roman characters were introduced, as the Decius
and Brutus of Attius, were called _Prætextatæ_, because the Prætexta was
the habit worn by Roman kings and consuls. The comedy which adopted Greek
subjects and characters, like those of Terence, was termed _Comœdia_, or
_Comœdia Palliata_; and that which was clothed in Roman habits and
customs, was called _Togata_(366). Afranius was the most celebrated writer
of this last class of dramas, which were probably Greek pieces
accommodated to Roman manners, since Afranius lived at a period when Roman
literature was almost entirely imitative. It is difficult, no doubt, to
see how an Athenian comedy could be bent to local usages foreign to its
spirit and genius; but the Latin writers were not probably very nice about
the adjustment; and the _Comœdia Togata_ is so slightly mentioned by
ancient writers, that we can hardly suppose that it comprehended a great
class of national compositions. The _Tabernaria_ was a comedy of a lower
order than the _Comœdia Togata_: It represented such manners as were
likely to be met with among the dregs of the Plebeians; and was so called
from Taberna, as its scene was usually laid in shops or taverns. These, I
think, are the usual divisions of the regular Roman drama; but critics and
commentators have sometimes applied the term _Togata_ to all plays,
whether tragedies or comedies, in which Roman characters were represented,
and _Palliata_ to every drama of Greek origin.

There was, however, a species of irregular dramas, for which the Romans
were not indebted to the Greeks, and which was peculiar to themselves,
called _Fabulæ Atellanæ_. These entertainments were so denominated from
Atella, a considerable town of the Oscans, now St Arpino, lying about two
miles south from Aversa, between Capua and Naples,—the place now named
Atella being at a little distance.

When Livius Andronicus had succeeded in establishing at Rome a regular
theatre, which was formed on the Greek model, and was supported by
professional writers, and professional actors, the free Roman youth, who
were still willing, amid their foreign refinements, occasionally to revive
the recollection of the old popular pastimes of their Italian ancestry,
continued to amuse themselves with the satiric pieces introduced by the
_Histrions_ of Etruria, and with the Atellane Fables which Oscan
performers had first made known at Rome(367). The actors of the regular
drama were not permitted to appear in such representations; and the Roman
youths, to whom the privilege was reserved, were not, as other actors,
removed from their tribe, or rendered incapable of military service(368);
nor could they be called on like them to unmask in presence of the
spectators(369). It has been conjectured, that the popularity of these
spectacles, and the privileges reserved to those who appeared in them,
were granted in consequence of their pleasantries being so tempered by the
ancient Italian gravity, that there was no admixture of obscenity or
indecorum, and hence no stain of dishonour was supposed to be inflicted on
the performers(370).

The Atellane Fables consisted of detached scenes following each other,
without much dramatic connection, but replete with jocularity and
buffoonery. They were written in the Oscan dialect, in the same way as the
Venetian or Neapolitan jargons are frequently employed in the Italian
comedies; and they differed from the Greek satiric drama in this, that the
characters of the latter were Satyrs, while those of the Atellane fables
were Oscan(371). One of these was called Maccus, a grotesque and fantastic
personage, with an immense head, long nose, and hump back, who
corresponded in some measure to the clown or fool of modern pantomime, and
whose appellation of Maccus has been interpreted by Lipsius as _Bardus_,
_fatuus_, _stolidus_(372). In its rude but genuine form this species of
entertainment was in great vogue and constant use at Rome. It does not
appear that the Atellane fables were originally written out, or that the
actors had certain parts prescribed to them. The general subject was
probably agreed on, but the performers themselves filled up the scenes
from their own art or invention(373). As the Roman language improved, and
the provincial tongues of ancient Italy became less known, the Oscan
dialect was gradually abandoned. Quintus Novius, who lived in the
beginning of the seventh century of Rome, and whom Macrobius mentions as
one of the most approved writers of Atellane Fables, was the author who
chiefly contributed to this innovation. He is cited as the author of the
_Virgo Prægnans_, _Dotata_, _Gallinaria_, _Gemini_, and various others.

At length, in the time of Sylla, Lucius Pomponius produced Atellane
Fables, which were written without any intermixture of the Oscan dialect,
being entirely in the Latin language; and he at the same time refined
their ancient buffoonery so much, by giving them a more rational cast,
that he is called by Velleius Paterculus the inventor of this species of
drama, and is characterized by that author as “sensibus celebrem, verbis
rudem(374).” Pomponius was remarkable for his accurate observation of
manners, and his genius has been highly extolled by Cicero and Seneca. The
names of sixty-three of his pieces have been cited by grammarians, and
from all these fragments are still extant. From some of them, however, not
more than a line has been preserved, and from none of them more than a
dozen. It would appear that the Oscan character of Maccus was still
retained in many fables of Pomponius, as there is one entitled _Maccus_,
and others _Macci Gemini_, _Maccus Miles_, _Maccus Sequestris_, in the
same manner as we say Harlequin footman, &c. Pappo, or Pappus, seems also
to have been a character introduced along with Maccus, and, I should
think, corresponded to the Pantaloon of modern pantomime. Among the names
of the Atellanes of Pomponius we find _Pappus Agricola_, and among those
of Novius, _Pappus Præteritus_. This character, however, appears rather to
have been of Greek than of Oscan origin; and was probably derived from
Παππος, the Silenus or old man of the Greek dramatic satire.

The improvements of Pomponius were so well received at Rome, that he was
imitated by Mummius, and by Sylla himself, who, we are told by Athenæus,
wrote several Atellane Fables in his native language(375). In this new
form introduced by Pomponius the Atellane dramas continued to enjoy great
popularity in Rome, till they were in some measure superseded by the Mimes
of Laberius and Publius Syrus.

Along with the Atellane Fables, the Roman youth were in the practice of
acting short pieces called _Exodia_, which were interludes, or
after-pieces, of a yet more loose, detached, and farcical description,
than the Atellanes, being a continuation of the ancient performances
originally introduced by the Histrions of Etruria(376). In these Exodia
the actors usually wore the same masks and habits as in the Atellanes and
tragedies(377), and represented the same characters in a ludicrous point
of view:—

  “Urbicus Exodio risum movet Atellanæ
  Gestibus Autonoes. Hunc diligit Ælia pauper(378).”

Joseph Scaliger, in his Commentary on Manilius, gives his opinion, that
the _Exodia_ were performed at the end of the principal piece, like our
farces, and were so called as being the issue of the entertainment, which
is also asserted by a scholiast on Juvenal(379). But the elder Scaliger
and Salmasius thought that the _exodium_ was a sort of interlude, and had
not necessarily any connection with the principal representation. The
_Exodia_ continued to be performed with much license in the times of
Tiberius and Nero; and when the serious spirit of freedom had vanished
from the empire, they often contained jocular but direct allusions to the
crimes of the portentous monsters by whom it was scourged and afflicted.

It has been much disputed among modern critics, whether the


of the Romans was derived from the Greeks, or was of their own invention.
The former opinion has been maintained by the elder Scaliger(380),
Heinsius(381), Vulpius(382), and, among the most recent German critics, by
Blankenburg(383), Conz, and Flogel(384); the latter theory, which seems to
have been that of the Romans themselves, particularly of Horace and
Quintilian(385), has been supported by Diomedes(386), Joseph Scaliger,
Casaubon(387), Spanheim(388), Rigaltius(389), Dacier(390), and Dryden, and
by Koenig(391), and Manso, among the Germans. Those who suppose that
satire descended directly from the Greeks to the Romans, derive the word
from _Satyrus_, the well-known mythological compound of a man and goat.
Casaubon, on the other hand, and most of those who have followed him,
deduce it from the adjective _Satura_, a Sabine word, originally
signifying a medley, and, afterwards,—full or abundant. To this word the
substantive _Lanx_ was understood, which meant the platter or charger
whereon the first fruits of the earth were offered to Bacchus at his

  “Ergo rite suum Baccho dicemus honorem
  Carminibus patriis, lancesque et liba feremus(392).”

The term _Satura_ thus came to be applied to a species of composition,
originally written in various sorts of verse, and comprehending a
_farrago_ of all subjects,—

  “Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
  Gaudia, discursus(393),” &c.

In the same way, laws were called _Leges Saturæ_, when they consisted of
several heads and titles: and Verrius Flaccus calls a dish, which I
suppose was a sort of _olla podrida_—Satura:—“Satura cibi genus ex variis
rebus conditum.” Dacier, however, though he agrees with Casaubon as to the
Latin origin of satire, derives the term from Saturn; as he believes that
it was at festivals in honour of that ancient god of Italy that those
rustic impromptus, which gave rise to satire, were first recited.

Flogel, in his German _History of Comic Literature_, attempts to show, at
considerable length, that Casaubon has attributed too much to the
derivation of the word satire; since, though the term may be of Latin
origin, it does not follow that the thing was unknown to the Greeks,—and
that he also relies too much on the argument, that the satiric plays of
the Greeks were quite different from the satire of the Romans, which may
be true; while, at the same time, there are other sorts of Greek
compositions, as the lyric satires of Archilochus and the _Silli_, which
have a much nearer resemblance to the Latin didactic satire than any
satirical drama.

In fact, the whole question seems to depend on what constitutes a
sufficient alteration or variety from former compositions, to give a claim
to invention. Now it certainly cannot be pretended, so far as we know,
that _any_ satiric productions of the Greeks had much resemblance to those
of the Romans. The Greek satires, which are improperly so termed, were
divided into what were called tragic and comic. The former were dramatic
compositions, which had their commencement, like the regular tragedy, in
rustic festivals to the honour of Bacchus; and in which, characters
representing Satyrs, the supposed companions of that god, were introduced,
imitating the coarse songs and fantastic dances of rural deities. In their
rude origin, it is probable that only one actor, equipped as a Satyr,
danced or sung. Soon, however, a chorus appeared, consisting of the
bearded and beardless Satyrs, Silenus, and Pappo Silenus; and Histrions,
representing heroic characters, were afterwards introduced. The satiric
drama began to flourish when the regular tragedy had become too refined to
admit of a chorus, or accompaniment of Satyrs, but while these were still
remembered with a sort of fondness, which rendered it natural to recur to
the most ancient shape of the drama. In this state of the progress of the
Greek stage, the satire was performed separately from the tragedy; and out
of respect to the original form of tragedy, was often exhibited as a
continuation or parody of the tragic _trilogy_, or three serious
plays,—thus completing what was called the _tetralogia_. The scene of
these satires was laid in the country, amid woods, caves, and mountains,
or other such places as Satyrs were supposed to inhabit; and the subjects
chosen were those in which Satyrs might naturally be feigned to have had a
share or interest. High mythological stories and fabulous heroes were
introduced, as appears from the names preserved by Casaubon, who mentions
the _Hercules_ of Astydamas, the _Alcmæon_ and _Vulcan_ of Achæus,—each of
which is denominated σατυρικος. These heroic characters, however, were
generally parodied, and rendered fantastic, by the gross railleries of
Silenus and the Fauns. The _Cyclops_ of Euripides, which turns on the
story of Ulysses in the cave of Polyphemus, is the only example entirely
extant of this species of composition. Some fragments, however, remain of
the _Lytiersa_ of Sositheus, an author who flourished about the 130th
Olympiad, which was subsequent to the introduction of the new Greek
comedy. Lytiersa, who gives name to this dramatic satire, lived in
Phrygia. He used to receive many guests, who flocked to his residence from
all quarters. After entertaining them at sumptuous banquets, he compelled
them to go out with him to his fields, to reap his crop or cut his hay;
and when they had performed this labour, he mowed off their heads, with a
scythe. The style of entertainment, it seems, did not prevent his house
from being a place of fashionable resort. Hercules, however, put an end to
this mode of wishing a good afternoon, by strangling the hospitable
landlord, and throwing his body into the Mæander. It is evident, from the
subject of this play, and of the _Cyclops_, that the tragic satires were a
sort of fee-fa-fum performance, like our after-pieces founded on the
stories of _Blue Beard_ and _Jack the Giant Killer_. They were generally
short and simple in their plan: They contained no satire or ridicule
against the fellow-citizens of the author, or any private individuals
whatever; but there was a good deal of jeering by the characters at each
other, and much buffoonery, revelling, and indecency, among the satiric
persons of the chorus.

The Comic Satire began later than the Tragic, subsisted for some time
along with it, and finally survived it. In Greece it was chiefly popular
after the time of Alexander, and it also flourished in the court of the
Egyptian Ptolemies. It was quite different from the Tragic Satire; the
action being laid in cities, or at least not always amid rustic scenes.
Private individuals were often satirized in it, and not unfrequently the
tyrants or rulers of the state. When a mythic story was adopted, the
affairs of domestic life were conjoined with the action, and it never was
of the same enormous or bloody nature as the fables employed in the tragic
satire, but such subjects were usually chosen as that of Amphitryon,
Apollo feeding the flocks of Admetus, &c. Satyrs were not essential
characters, and when they were introduced, private individuals were
generally intended to be ridiculed, under the form of these rustic
divinities. Gluttony, to judge from some fragments preserved by Athenæus,
was one of the chief topics of banter and merriment. Timocles, who lived
about the 114th Olympiad, was the chief author of comic satires.
Lycophron, better known by his _Cassandra_, also wrote one called
_Menedemus_, in which the founder of the Eretric school of philosophy was
exposed to ridicule, under the character of Silenus, and his pupils under
the masks of Satyrs.

Besides their dramatic satires, the Greeks had another species of poem
called _Silli_, which were patched up like the _Cento Nuptialis_ of
Ausonius from the verses of serious writers, and by such means turned to a
different sense from what their original author intended. Thus, in the
_Silli_ attributed to Timon, a sceptic philosopher and disciple of Pyrrho,
who lived in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the lines are copied from
Homer and the tragic poets, but they are satirically applied to certain
customs and systems of philosophy, which it was his object to ridicule.
Some specimens of the _Silli_ may be found in Diogenes Laertius; but the
longest now extant is a passage preserved in Dio Chrysostom, exposing the
mad attachment of the inhabitants of Alexandria to chariot races. To these
_Silli_ may be added the lyric or iambic satires directed against
individuals, like those of Archilochus against Lycambes.

The Roman didactic satire had no great resemblance to any of these sorts
of Greek satire. It referred, as every one knows, to the daily occurrences
of life,—to the ordinary follies and vices of mankind. With the Greek
tragic satire it had scarce any analogy whatever; for it was not in
dialogue, and contained no allusion to the mythological Satyrs who formed
the chorus of the Greek dramas. To the comic satire it had more affinity;
and those writers who have maintained the Greek origin of Roman satire
have done little justice to their argument by not attending to the
distinction between these two sorts of dramatic satire, and treating the
whole question as if it depended on the resemblance to the tragic satire.
In the comic satire, as we have seen, Satyrs were not always nor
necessarily introduced. The subject was taken from ordinary life; and
domestic vice or absurdity was stigmatized and ridiculed, as it was in the
Roman satire, particularly during its earliest ages. Still, however, there
was no incident or plot evolved in a Roman satire; nor was it written in
dialogue, except occasionally, for the sake of more lively sarcasm on life
and manners.

But though the Roman satire took a different direction, it had something
of the same origin as the satiric drama of the Greeks. As the Grecian
holidays were celebrated with oblations to Bacchus and Ceres, to whose
bounty they owed their wine and corn, in like manner the ancient Italians
propitiated their agricultural or rustic deities with appropriate

  “Tellurem porco—Sylvanum lacte piabant(394);”

but as they knew nothing of the Silenus, or Satyrs of the Greeks, a chorus
of peasants, fantastically disguised in masks cut out from the barks of
trees, danced or sung to a certain kind of verse, which they called

  “Nec non Ausonii, Trojâ gens missa, coloni
  Versibus incomtis ludunt, risuque soluto;
  Oraque corticibus sumunt horrenda cavatis:
  Et te, Bacche, vocant per carmina læta, tibique
  Oscilla ex altâ suspendunt mollia pinu(395).”

These festivals had usually the double purpose of worship and recreation;
and accordingly the verses often digressed from the praises of Bacchus to
mutual taunts and railleries, like those in Virgil’s third eclogue, on the
various defects and vices of the speakers.

Such rude lines, originally sung or recited in the Tuscan and Latian
villages, at nuptials or religious festivals, were first introduced at
Rome by _Histrions_, who, as already mentioned, were summoned from
Etruria, in order to allay the pestilence which was depopulating the city.
These Histrions being mounted on a stage, like our mountebanks, performed
a sort of _ballet_, by dancing and gesticulating to the sound of musical
instruments. The Roman youth thus learned to imitate their gestures and
music, which they accompanied with railing verses delivered in extemporary

The jeering, however, which had been at first confined to inoffensive
raillery, at length exceeded the bounds of moderation, and the peace of
private families was invaded by the unrestrained license of personal

  “Libertasque recurrentes accepta per annos
  Lusit amabiliter, donec jam sævus apertam
  In rabiem cœpit verti jocus; et per honestas
  Ire domos impune minax; doluere cruento
  Dente lacessiti; fuit intactis quoque cura
  Conditione super communi(396).” ——

This exposure of private individuals, which alarmed even those who had
been spared, was restrained by a salutary law of the Decemvirs.—“Si quis
occentassit malum carmen, sive condidisit, quod infamiam faxit flagitiumve
alteri, fuste ferito.”

Ennius, perceiving how much the Romans had been delighted with the rude
satires poured forth in extemporary dialogue, thought it might be worth
his pains to compose satires not to be recited but read. He preserved in
them, however, the groundwork of the ancient pleasantry, and the venom of
the ancient raillery, on individuals, as well as on general vices. His
satires related to various subjects, and were written in different sorts
of verses—hexameters being mingled with iambic and trochaic lines, as
fancy dictated.

The satires of Ennius, which have already been more particularly
mentioned, were imitated by Pacuvius, and from his time the word _satire_
came to be applied at Rome only to poems containing either a playful or
indignant censure on manners. This sort of composition was chiefly
indebted for its improvement to


A Roman knight, who was born in the year 605, at Suessa, a town in the
Auruncian territory. He was descended of a good family, and was the
maternal granduncle of Pompey the Great. In early youth he served at the
siege of Numantia, in the same camp with Marius and Jugurtha, under the
younger Scipio Africanus(397), whose friendship and protection he had the
good fortune to acquire. On his return to Rome from his Spanish campaign,
he dwelt in a house which had been built at the public expense, and had
been inhabited by Seleucus Philopater, Prince of Syria, whilst he resided
in his youth as an hostage at Rome(398). Lucilius continued to live on
terms of the closest intimacy with the brave Scipio and wise Lælius,

  “Quin ubi se a vulgo et scenâ in secreta remôrant
  Virtus Scipiadæ et mitis sapientia Lælî,
  Nugari cum illo et discincti ludere, donec
  Decoqueretur olus, soliti(399).” ——

These powerful protectors enabled him to satirize the vicious without
restraint or fear of punishment. In his writings he drew a genuine picture
of himself, acknowledged his faults, made a frank confession of his
inclinations, gave an account of his adventures, and, in short, exhibited
a true and spirited representation of his whole life. Fresh from business
or pleasure, he seized his pen while his fancy was yet warm, and his
passions still awake,—while elated with success or depressed by
disappointment. All these feelings, and the incidents which occasioned
them, he faithfully related, and made his remarks on them with the utmost

  “Ille velut fidis arcana sodalibus olim
  Credebat libris; neque si male gesserat, usquam
  Decurrens aliô, neque si bene: quo fit ut omnis
  Votivâ pateat veluti descripta tabellâ
  Vita senis(400).” ——

Unfortunately, however, the writings of Lucilius are so mutilated, that
few particulars of his life and manners can be gleaned from them. Little
farther is known concerning him, than that he died at Naples, but at what
age has been much disputed. Eusebius and most other writers have fixed it
at 45, which, as he was born in 605, would be in the 651st year of the
city. But M. Dacier and Bayle(401) assert that he must have been much
older, at the time of his death, as he speaks in his satires of the
Licinian law against exorbitant expenditure at entertainments, which was
not promulgated till 657, or 658.

Satire, more than any other species of poetry, is the offspring of the
time in which it has its birth, and which furnishes it with the aliment
whereon it feeds. The period at which Lucilius appeared was favourable to
satiric composition. There was a struggle existing between the old and new
manners, and the freedom of speaking and writing, though restrained, had
not yet been totally checked by law. Lucilius lived amidst a people on
whom luxury and corruption were advancing with fearful rapidity, but among
whom some virtuous citizens were still anxious to stem the tide which
threatened to overwhelm their countrymen. The satires of Lucilius were
adapted to please these staunch “_laudatores temporis acti_,” who stood up
for ancient manners and discipline. The freedom with which he attacked the
vices of his contemporaries, without sparing individuals,—the strength of
colouring with which his pictures were charged,—the weight and asperity of
the reproaches with which he loaded those who had exposed themselves to
his ridicule or indignation,—had nothing revolting in an age when no
consideration compelled to those forbearances necessary under different
forms of society or government(402). By the time, too, in which Lucilius
began to write, the Romans, though yet far from the polish of the Augustan
age, had become familiar with the delicate and cutting irony of the Greek
comedies of which the more ancient Roman satirists had no conception.
Lucilius chiefly applied himself to the imitation of these dramatic
productions, and caught, it is said, much of their fire and spirit:

  “Eupolis, atque Cratinus, Aristophanesque, pöetæ,
  Atque alii, quorum comœdia prisca virorum est,
  Si quis erat dignus describi, quod malus, aut fur,
  Quod mœchus foret, aut sicarius, aut alioqui
  Famosus, multa cum libertate notabant.
  Hinc omnis pendet Lucilius, hosce secutus,
  Mutatis tantum pedibus numerisque(403).” ——

The Roman language, likewise, had grown more refined in the age of
Lucilius, and was thus more capable of receiving the Grecian beauties of
style. Nor did Lucilius, like his predecessors, mix iambic with trochaic
verses. Twenty books of his satires, from the commencement, were in
hexameter verse, and the rest, with exception of the thirtieth, in iambics
or trochaics. His object, too, seems to have been bolder and more
extensive than that of his precursors, and was not so much to excite
laughter or ridicule, as to correct and chastise vice. Lucilius thus
bestowed on satiric composition such additional grace and regularity, that
he is declared by Horace to have been the first among the Romans who wrote
satire in verse:—

  “Primus in hunc operis componere carmina morem.”

But although Lucilius may have greatly improved this sort of writing, it
does not follow that his satires are to be considered as altogether of a
different species from those of Ennius—a light in which they have been
regarded by Casaubon and Ruperti; “for,” as Dryden has remarked, “it would
thence follow, that the satires of Horace are wholly different from those
of Lucilius, because Horace has no less surpassed Lucilius in the elegance
of his writing, than Lucilius surpassed Ennius in the turn and ornament of

The satires of Lucilius extended to not fewer than thirty books; but
whether they were so divided by the poet himself, or by some grammarian
who lived shortly after him, seems uncertain: He was a voluminous author,
and has been satirized by Horace for his hurried copiousness and

  “Nam fuit hoc vitiosus: In horâ sæpe ducentos,
  Ut magnum, versus dictabat, stans pede in uno:
  Garrulus, atque piger scribendi ferre laborem;
  Scribendi recte: nam ut multum, nil moror(404).”

Of the thirty books there are only fragments extant; but these are so
numerous, that though they do not capacitate us to catch the full spirit
of the poet, we perceive something of his manner. His merits, too, have
been so much canvassed by ancient writers, who judged of them while his
works were yet entire, that their discussions in some measure enable us to
appreciate his poetical claims. It would appear that he had great vivacity
and humour, uncommon command of language, intimate knowledge of life and
manners, and considerable acquaintance with the Grecian masters. Virtue
appeared in his draughts in native dignity, and he exhibited his
distinguished friends, Scipio and Lælius, in the most amiable light. At
the same time it was impossible to portray anything more powerful than the
sketches of his vicious characters. His rogue, glutton, and courtezan, are
drawn in strong, not to say coarse colours. He had, however, much of the
old Roman humour, that celebrated but undefined _urbanitas_, which indeed
he possessed in so eminent a degree, that Pliny says it began with
Lucilius in composition(405), while Cicero declares that he carried it to
the highest perfection(406), and that it almost expired with him(407). But
the chief characteristic of Lucilius was his vehement and cutting satire.
Macrobius calls him “Acer et violentus poeta(408);” and the well-known
lines of Juvenal, who relates how he made the guilty tremble by his pen,
as much as if he had pursued them sword in hand, have fixed his character
as a determined and inexorable persecutor of vice. His Latin is admitted
on all hands to have been sufficiently pure(409); but his versification
was rugged and prosaic. Horace, while he allows that he was more polished
that his predecessors, calls his muse “pedestris,” talks repeatedly of the
looseness of his measure, “Incomposito pede currere versus,” and compares
his whole poetry to a muddy and troubled stream:—

  “Cum flueret lutulentus erat quod tollere velles.”

Quintilian does not entirely coincide with this opinion of Horace; for,
while blaming those who considered him as the greatest of poets, which
some persons still did in the age of Domitian, he says, “Ego quantum ab
illis, tantum ab Horatio dissentio, qui Lucilium fluere lutulentum, et
esse aliquid quod tollere possis, putat(410).” The author of the books
_Rhetoricorum_, addressed to Herennius, and which were at one time
attributed to Cicero, mentions, as a singular awkwardness in the
construction of his lines, the disjunction of words, which, according to
proper and natural arrangement, ought to have been placed together, as—

  “Has res ad te scriptas _Luci_ misimus _Æli_.”

Nay, what is still worse, it would appear from Ausonius, that he had
sometimes barbarously separated the syllables of a word—

  “Villa _Lucani_—mox potieris _aco_.
  Rescisso discas componere nomine versum;
  Lucilî vatis sic imitator eris(411).”

As to the learning of Lucilius, the opinions of antiquity were different;
and even those of the same author appear somewhat contradictory on this
point. Quintilian says, that there is “Eruditio in eo mira.” Cicero, in
his treatise _De Finibus_, calls his learning _mediocris_; though,
afterwards, in the person of Crassus, in his treatise _De Oratore_, he
twice terms him _Doctus_(412). Dacier suspects that Quintilian was led to
consider Lucilius as learned, from the pedantic intermixture of Greek
words in his compositions—a practice which seems to have excited the
applause of his contemporaries, and also of his numerous admirers in the
Augustan age, for which they have been severely ridiculed by Horace, who
always warmly opposed himself to the excessive partiality entertained for
Lucilius during that golden period of literature—

  “At magnum fecit, quod verbis Græca Latinis
  Miscuit:—O seri studiorum!”

It is not unlikely that there may have been something of political spleen
in the admiration expressed for Lucilius during the age of Augustus, and
something of courtly complaisance in the attempts of Horace to counteract
it. Augustus had extended the law of the 12 tables respecting libels; and
the people, who found themselves thus abridged of the liberty of
satirizing the Great by name, might not improbably seek to avenge
themselves by an overstrained attachment to the works of a poet, who,
living as they would insinuate, in better times, practised, without fear,
what he enjoyed without restraint(413).

Some motive of this sort doubtless weighed with the Romans in the age of
Augustus, since much of the satire of Lucilius must have been
unintelligible, or at least uninteresting to them. Great part of his
compositions appears to have been rather a series of libels than
legitimate satire, being occupied with virulent attacks on contemporary
citizens of Rome—

            —— “Secuit Lucilius urbem,
  Te Mute, te Lupe, et genuinum fregit in illos(414).”

Douza, who has collected and edited all that remains of the satires of
Lucilius, mentions the names of not fewer than sixteen individuals, who
are attacked by name in the course even of these fragments, among whom are
Quintus Opimius, the conqueror of Liguria, Cæcilius Metellus, whose
victories acquired him the sirname of Macedonianus, and Cornelius Lupus,
at that time _Princeps Senatus_. Lucilius was equally severe on
contemporary and preceding authors; Ennius, Pacuvius, and Attius, having
been alternately satirized by him(415). In all this he indulged with
impunity(416); but he did not escape so well from a player, whom he had
ventured to censure, and who took his revenge by exposing Lucilius on the
stage. The poet prosecuted the actor, and the cause was carried on with
much warmth on both sides before the Prætor, who finally acquitted the

The confidence of Lucilius in his powerful patrons, Scipio and Lælius,
inspired this freedom; and it appears, in fact, to have so completely
relieved him from all fear or restraint, that he boldly exclaims—

      —— “Cujus non audeo dicere nomen?
  Quid refert dictis ignoscat Mutius, an non?”

It is chiefly to such support that the unbridled license of the old Roman
satirists may be ascribed—

            —— “Unde illa priorum
  Scribendi quodcunque animo flagrante liberet
  Simplicitas(418).” ——

The harsh and uncultivated spirit of the ancient Romans also naturally led
to this species of severe and personal castigation; and it was not to be
expected that in that age they should have drawn their pictures with the
delicacy and generality which Horace has given to Offellus.

Lucilius, however, did not confine himself to invectives on vicious
mortals. In the first book of his satires, he appears to have declared war
on the false gods of Olympus, whose plurality he denied, and ridiculed the
simplicity of the people, who bestowed on an infinity of gods the
venerable name of father, which should be reserved for one. Near the
commencement of this book he represents an assembly of the gods
deliberating on human affairs:

  “Consilium summis hominum de rebus habebant.”

And, in particular, discussing what punishment ought to be inflicted on
Rutilius Lupus, a considerable man in the Roman state, but noted for his
wickedness and impiety, and so powerful that it is declared—

  “Si conjuret, populus vix totus satis est.”

Jupiter expresses his regret that he had not been present at a former
council of the gods, called to deliberate on this topic—

  “Vellem concilio vestrûm, quod dicitis, olim,
  Cælicolæ; vellem, inquam, adfuissem priore
  Concilio.” ——

Jupiter having concluded, the subject is taken up by another of the gods,
who, as Lactantius informs us, was Neptune(419); but being puzzled with
its intricacy, this divinity declares it could not be explained, were
Carneades himself (the most clear and eloquent of philosophers) to be sent
up to them from Orcus:

  “Nec si Carneadem ipsum ad nos Orcus remittat.”

The only result of the solemn deliberations of this assembly is a decree,
that each god should receive from mortals the title of father—

  “Ut nemo sit nostrûm, quin pater optumus divûm;
  Ut Neptunus pater, Liber, Saturnu’ pater, Mars,
  Janu’ Quirinu’ pater, nomen dicatur ad unum.”

The third book contains an account of the inconveniences and amusements of
a journey, performed by Lucilius, along the rich coast of Campania, to
Capua and Naples, and thence all the way to Rhegium and the Straits of
Messina. He appears particularly to have described a combat of gladiators,
and the manifold distresses he experienced from the badness of the roads—

  “Præterea omne iter hoc est labosum atque lutosum.”

Horace, in the fifth satire of his first book, has, in imitation of
Lucilius, comically described a journey from Rome to Brundusium, and like
him has introduced a gladiatorial combat. The fourth satire of Lucilius
stigmatizes the luxury and vices of the rich, and has been imitated by
Persius in his third book. Aulus Gellius informs us, that in part of his
fifth satire he exposed, with great wit and power of ridicule, those
literary affectations of using such words in one sentence as terminate
with a similar jingle, or consist of an equal number of syllables. He has
shown how childish such affectations are, in that passage wherein he
complains to a friend that he had neglected to visit him while sick. In
the ninth satire he ridicules the blunders in orthography, committed by
the transcribers of MSS., and gives rules for greater accuracy. Of the
tenth book little remains; but it is said to have been the perusal of it
which first inflamed Persius with the rage of writing satires. The
eleventh seems to have consisted chiefly of personal invectives against
Quintus Opimius, Lucius Cotta, and others of his contemporaries, whose
vices, or rivalship with his patron Scipio, exposed them to his enmity and
vengeance. The sixteenth was entitled _Collyra_, having been chiefly
devoted to the celebration of the praises of Collyra, the poet’s
mistress(420). Of many of the other books, as the 12th, 13th, 18th, 21st,
and four following, so small fragments remain, that it is impossible to
conjecture the subject; for although we may see the scope of insulated
lines, their matter may have been some incidental illustration, and not
the principal subject of the satire. Even in those books, of which there
are a greater number of fragments extant, they are so disjoined that it is
as difficult to put them legibly together as the scattered leaves of the
Sibyl; and the labour of Douza, who has been the most successful in
arranging the broken lines, so as to make a connected sense, is by many
considered as but a conjectural and philological sport. Those few
passages, however, which are in any degree entire, show great force of
satire; as for example, the following account of the life led by the

  “Nunc vero a mane ad noctem, festo atque profesto,
  Totus item pariterque dies, populusque patresque
  Jactare indu foro se omnes, decedere nusquam,
  Uni se atque eidem studio omnes dedere et arti;
  Verba dare ut caute possint, pugnare dolose,
  Blanditia certare, bonum simulare virum se,
  Insidias facere, ut si hostes sint omnibus omnes.”

The verses in which our poet bitterly ridicules the superstition of those
who adored idols, and mistook them for true gods, are written in something
of the same spirit—

  “Terricolas Lamias, Fauni quas, Pompiliique
  Instituere Numæ, tremit has, his omnia ponit:
  Ut pueri infantes credunt signa omnia ahena
  Vivere, et esse homines; et sic isti omnia ficta
  Vera putant: credunt signis cor inesse ahenis—
  Pergula pictorum, veri nihil, omnia ficta(421).”

On this passage Lactantius remarks, that such superstitious fools are much
more absurd than the children to whom the satirist compares them, as the
latter only mistake statues for men, the former for gods. There are two
lines in the 26th book, which every nation should remember in the hour of

  “Ut populus Romanus victus vi, et superatus præliis
  Sæpe est multis; bello vero nunquam, in quo sunt omnia(422).”

But the most celebrated and longest passage we now have from Lucilius, is
his definition of _Virtus_—

  “Virtus, Albine, est, pretium persolvere verum,
  Queis in versamur, queis vivimus rebus, potesse:
  Virtus est homini, scire id quod quæque habeat res;
  Virtus, scire homini rectum, utile, quid sit honestum,
  Quæ bona, quæ mala item, quid inutile, turpe, inhonestum;
  Virtus, quærendæ rei finem scire modumque:
  Virtus, divitiis precium persolvere posse:
  Virtus, id dare quod re ipsa debetur honori;
  Hostem esse atque inimicum hominum morumque malorum,
  Contra, defensorem hominum morumque bonorum,
  Magnificare hos, his bene velle, his vivere amicum:
  Commoda præterea patriæ sibi prima putare,
  Deinde parentûm, tertia jam postremaque nostra(423).”

Lactantius has cavilled at the different heads of this definition(424),
and perhaps some of them are more applicable to what we call wisdom, than
to our term virtue, which, as is well known, does not precisely correspond
to the Latin _Virtus_.

If we possessed a larger portion of the writings of Lucilius, I have no
doubt it would be found that subsequent Latin poets, particularly the
satirists, have not only copied various passages, but adopted the plan and
subjects of many of his satires. It has already been mentioned, that
Horace’s journey to Brundusium is imitated from that of Lucilius to Capua.
His severity recommended him to Persius and Juvenal, who both mention him
with respect. Persius, indeed, professes to follow him, but Juvenal seems
a closer imitator of his manner. The jingle in the two following lines,
from an uncertain book of Lucilius—

  “Ut me scire volo mihi conscius sum, ne
  Damnum faciam. Scire hoc se nescit, nisi alios id scire scierit,”

seems to have suggested Persius’ line—

  “Scire tuum nihil, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.”

The verses, “Cujus non audeo dicere nomen,” &c. quoted above, are copied
by Juvenal in his first satire, but with evident allusion to the works of
his predecessor. A line in the first book—

  “Quis leget hæc? mîn’ tu istud ais? nemo, Hercule, nemo,”

has been imitated by Persius in the very commencement of his satires—

  “O curas hominum! O quantum est in rebus inane!
  Quis leget hæc? mîn’ tu istud ais? nemo, Hercule, nemo.”

Virgil’s phrase, so often quoted, “Non omnia possumus omnes,” is in the
fifth book of Lucilius—

  “Major erat natu; non omnia possumus omnes.”

Were the whole works of Lucilius extant, many more such imitations might
be discovered and pointed out. It is not on this account, however, that
their loss is chiefly to be deplored. Had they remained entire, they would
have been highly serviceable to philological learning. They would have
informed us also of many incidents of Roman history, and would have
presented us with the most complete draught of ancient Roman manners, and
genuine Roman originals, which were painted from life, and at length
became the model of the inimitable satires of imperial Rome.

Besides satirizing the wicked, under which category he probably classed
all his enemies, Lucilius also employed his pen in praise of the brave and
virtuous. He wrote, as we learn from Horace, a panegyric on Scipio
Africanus, but whether the elder or younger is not certain:—

  “Attamen et justum poteras et scribere fortem
  Scipiadam, ut sapiens Lucilius(425).”

Lucilius was also author of a comedy entitled _Nummularia_, of which only
one line remains; but we are informed by Porphyrion, the scholiast on
Horace, that the plot turned on Pythias, a female slave, tricking her
master, Simo, out of a sum of money, with which to portion his daughter.

Lucilius was followed in his satiric career by Sævius Nicanor, the
grammarian, who was the freedman of one Marcius, as we learn from the only
line of his poetry which is extant, and which has been preserved by
Suetonius, or whoever was the author of the work _De Illustribus

  “Sævius Nicanor Marci libertus negabit.”

Publius Terentius Varro, sirnamed Atacinus, from the place of his birth,
also attempted the Lucilian satire, but with no great success as we learn
from Horace:—

  “Hoc erat, experto frustra Varrone Atacino.”

He was more fortunate, it is said, in his geographical poems, and in that
_De Bello Sequanico_(426).

We may range among the satires of this period, the _Diræ_ of the
grammarian, Valerius Cato, who, being despoiled of his patrimony,
especially his favourite villa at Tusculum, during the civil wars of
Marius and Sylla, in order to make way for the soldiery, avenged himself,
by writing poetical imprecations on his lost property. This poem is
sometimes inscribed _Diræ in Battarum_, which is inaccurate, as it gives
an idea that Battarus is the name of the person who had got possession of
the villa, and on whom the imprecations were uttered. There is not,
however, a word of execration against any of those who had obtained his
lands, except in so far as he curses the lands themselves, praying that
they may become barren—that they may be inundated with rain—blasted with
pestiferous breezes, and, in short, laid waste by every species of
agricultural calamity. Joseph Scaliger thinks that Battarus was a river,
and Nic. Heinsius that it was a hill. It seems evident enough from the
poem itself, that Battarus was some well known satiric or invective bard,
whom the author invokes, in order to excite himself to reiterated

  “Rursus et hoc iterum repetamus, Battare, carmen.”

The concluding part of the _Diræ_, as edited by Wernsdorff(428), is a
lamentation for the loss of a mistress, called Lydia, of whom the
unfortunate poet had likewise been deprived. This, however, has been
regarded by others as a separate poem from the _Diræ_. Cato was also
author of a poem called _Diana_, and a prose work entitled _Indignatio_,
in which he related the history of his misfortunes. He lived to an
advanced age, but was oppressed by extreme poverty, and afflicted with a
painful disease, as seems to be implied in the lines of his friend Furius
Bibaculus, preserved in the treatise _De Illustribus Grammaticis_:—

  “Quem tres calculi, et selibra farris,
  Racemi duo, tegula sub unâ,
  Ad summam prope nutriunt senectam(429).”

The stream of Roman poetry appears to have suffered a temporary stagnation
during the period that elapsed from the destruction of Carthage, which
fell in 607, till the death of Sylla, in 674. Lucilius, with whose
writings we have been engaged, was the only poet who flourished in this
long interval. The satirical compositions which he introduced were not
very generally nor successfully imitated. The race of dramatists had
become almost extinct, and even the fondness for regular comedy and
tragedy had greatly diminished. This was a pause, (though for a shorter
period,) like that which was made in modern Italy, from the death of
Petrarch till the rise of its bright constellation of poets, at the end of
the 15th century. But the taste for literature which had been excited, and
the luminous events which occurred, prevented either nation from being
again enveloped in darkness. The ancient Romans could not be electrified
by the fall of Carthage as their descendants were by the capture of
Constantinople. But even the total subjugation of Greece, and extended
dominion in Asia, were slower, at least in their influence on the efforts
of poetry, than might have been anticipated from what was experienced
immediately after the conquest of Magna Græcia. Any retrograde movement,
however, was prevented by the more close and frequent intercourse which
was opened with Greece. There, Athens and Rhodes were the chief allies of
the Roman republic. These states had renounced their freedom, for the
security which flattery and subservience obtained for them; but while they
ceased to be considerable in power, they still continued pre eminent in
learning. A number of military officers and civil functionaries, whom
their respective employments carried to Greece—a number of citizens, whom
commercial speculations attracted to its towns, became acquainted with and
cherished Grecian literature. That contempt which the ancient and severe
republicans had affected for its charms, gave place to the warmest
enthusiasm. The Roman youth were instructed by Greeks, or by Romans who
had studied in Greece. A literary tour in that country was regarded as
forming an essential part in the education of a young patrician. Rhodes,
Mitylene, and Athens, were chiefly resorted to, as the purest fountains
from which the inspiring draughts of literature could be imbibed. This
constant intercourse led to a knowledge of the philosophy and finest
classical productions of Greece. It was thus that Lucretius was enabled to
embody in Roman verse the whole Epicurean system, and Catullus to imitate
or translate the lighter amatory and epigrammatic compositions of the
Greeks. Both these poets flourished during the period on which we are now
entering, and which extended from the death of Sylla to the accession of
Augustus. The former of them,

                          TITUS LUCRETIUS CARUS,

was the most remarkable of the Roman writers, as he united the precision
of the philosopher to the fire and fancy of the poet; and, while he seems
to have had no perfect model among the Greeks, has left a production
unrivalled, (perhaps not to be rivalled,) by any of the same kind in later

Of the life of Lucretius very little is known: He lived at a period
abounding with great political actors, and full of portentous events—a
period when every bosom was agitated with terror or hope, and when it must
have been the chief study of a prudent man, especially if a votary of
philosophy and the Muses, to hide himself as much as possible amid the
shades. The year of his birth is uncertain. According to the chronicle of
Eusebius, he was born in 658, being thus nine years younger than Cicero,
and two or three younger than Cæsar. To judge from his style, he might be
supposed older than either: but this, as appears from the example of
Sallust, is no certain test, as his archaisms may have arisen from the
imitation of ancient writers; and we know that he was a fond admirer of

A taste for Greek philosophy had been excited at Rome for a considerable
time before this era, and Lucretius was sent, with other young Romans of
rank, to study at Athens. The different schools of philosophy in that city
seem, about this period, to have been frequented according as they
received a temporary fashion from the comparative abilities of the
professors who presided in them. Cicero, for example, who had attended the
Epicurean school at Athens, and became himself an Academic, intrusted his
son to the care of Cratippus, a peripatetic philosopher. After the death
of its great founder, the school of Epicurus had for some time declined in
Greece: but at the period when Lucretius was sent to Athens, it had again
revived under the patronage of L. Memmius, whose son was a fellow-student
of Lucretius; as were also Cicero, his brother Quintus, Cassius, and
Pomponius Atticus. At the time when frequented by these illustrious
youths, the Gardens of Epicurus were superintended by Zeno and Phædrus,
both of whom, but particularly the latter, have been honoured with the
panegyric of Cicero. “We formerly, when we were boys,” says he, in a
letter to Caius Memmius, “knew him as a profound philosopher, and we still
recollect him as a kind and worthy man, ever solicitous for our

One of the dearest, perhaps the dearest friend of Lucretius, was this
Memmius, who had been his school-fellow, and whom, it is supposed, he
accompanied to Bithynia, when appointed to the government of that
province(431). The poem _De Rerum Natura_, if not undertaken at the
request of Memmius, was doubtless much encouraged by him; and Lucretius,
in a dedication expressed in terms of manly and elegant courtesy, very
different from the servile adulation of some of his great successors,
tells him, that the much desired pleasure of his friendship, was what
enabled him to endure any toil or vigils—

  “Sed tua me virtus tamen, et sperata voluptas
  Suavis amicitiæ, quemvis ecferre laborem
  Suadet, et inducit nocteis vigilare serenas.”

The life of the poet was short, but happily was sufficiently prolonged to
enable him to complete his poem, though, perhaps, not to give some
portions of it their last polish. According to Eusebius, he died in the
44th year of his age, by his own hands, in a paroxysm of insanity,
produced by a philtre, which Lucilia, his wife or mistress, had given him,
with no design of depriving him of life or reason, but to renew or
increase his passion. Others suppose that his mental alienation proceeded
from melancholy, on account of the calamities of his country, and the
exile of Memmius,—circumstances which were calculated deeply to affect his
mind(432). There seems no reason to doubt the melancholy fact, that he
perished by his own hand.

The poem of Lucretius, _De Rerum Natura_, which he composed during the
lucid intervals of his malady, is, as the name imports, philosophic and
didactic, in the strictest acceptation of these terms. Poetry, I think,
may chiefly be considered as occupied in three ways.—1. As describing the
passions of men, with the circumstances which give birth to them.—2. As
painting images or scenery.—3. As communicating truth. Of these classes of
poetry, the most interesting is the first, in which we follow the hero
placed at short intervals in different situations, calculated to excite
various sympathies in our heart, while our imagination is at the same time
amused or astonished by the singularity of the incidents which such
situations produce. Those poems, therefore, are the most attractive, in
which, as in the _Odyssey_ and _Orlando_, knights or warriors plough
unknown seas, and wander in strange lands—where, at every new horizon
which opens, we look for countries inhabited by giants, or monsters, or
wizards of supernatural powers—where, whether sailing on the deep, or
anchoring on the shore, the hero dreads—

  “Lest Gorgons, rising from infernal lakes,
  With horrors armed, and curls of hissing snakes,
  Should fix him, stiffened at the monstrous sight,
  A stony image in eternal night.”

These are the themes of surest and most powerful effect: It is by these
that we are most truely moved; and it is the choice of such subjects, if
ably conducted, which chiefly stamps the poet—

  “Humanæ Dominum mentis, cordisque Tyrannum.”

So strongly, indeed, and so universally, has this been felt, that in the
second species of poetry, the _Descriptive_, our sympathy must be
occasionally awakened by the actions or passions of human beings; and, to
ensure success, the poet must describe the effects of the appearance of
nature on our sensations. “In the poem of the _Shipwreck_,” says Lord
Byron, “is it the storm or the ship which most interests?—Both much,
undoubtedly; but without the vessel, what should we care for the
tempest(433)?” Virgil had early felt, that without Lycoris, the _gelidi
fontes_ and _mollia prata_ would seem less refreshing and less smooth—he
had found that the grass and the groves withered at the departure, but
revived at the return of Phyllis. The most soothing and picturesque of the
incidents of a woodland landscape,—the blue smoke curling upwards from a
cottage concealed by the trees, derives half its softening charm, by
reminding us—

  “That in the same did wonne some living wight.”

Of all the three species above enumerated, _Philosophical_ poetry, which
occupies the mind with minute portions of external nature, is the least
attractive. Mankind will always prefer books which move to those which
instruct—_ennui_ being more burdensome than ignorance. In philosophic
poetry, our imagination cannot be gratified by the desert isles, the
boundless floods, or entangled forests, with all the marvels they conceal,
which rise in such rapid and rich succession in the fascinating narrative
of the sea tost Ulysses(434); nor can we there have our curiosity roused,
and our emotions excited, by such lines as those with which Ariosto
awakens the attention of his readers—

  “Non furo iti duo miglia, che sonare
  Odon la selva, che gli cinge intorno,
  Con tal rumor et strepito che pare
  Che tremi la foresta d’ogni intorno.”

Besides, as has been observed by Montesquieu, reason is sufficiently
chained, though we fetter her not with rhyme; and, on the other hand,
poetry loses much of its freedom and lightness, if clogged with the bonds
of reason. The great object of poetry (according to a trite remark,) is to
afford pleasure; but philosophic poetry affords less pleasure than epic,
descriptive, or dramatic. The versifier of philosophic subjects is in
danger of producing a work neither interesting enough for the admirers of
sentiment and imagination, nor sufficiently profound for philosophers. He
will sometimes soar into regions where many of his readers are unable to
follow him, and, at other times, he will lose the suffrage of a few, by
interweaving fictions amid the severe and simple truth.

It is the business of the philosopher to analyze the objects of nature. He
must pay least attention to those which chiefly affect the sense and
imagination, while he minutely considers others, which, though less
striking, are more useful for classification, and the chief purposes he
has in view. The poet, on the other hand, avoiding dry and abstract
definitions, rather combines than analyzes, and dwells more on the
sensible phænomena of nature, than her mysterious and scientific workings.
Thus, what the botanist considers is the number of _stamina_, and their
situation in a flower, while the Muse describes only its colours, and the
influence of its odours—

  “She loves the rose, by rivers loves to dream,
  Nor heeds why blooms the rose, why flows the stream—
  She loves its colours, though she may not know,
  Why sun-born Iris paints the showery bow.”

But though philosophic poetry be, of all others, the most unfavourable for
the exertion of poetical genius, its degree of beauty and interest will,
in a great measure, depend on what parts of his subject the poet selects,
and on the extent and number of digressions of which it admits. It is
evident, that the philosophic poet should pass over as lightly as may be,
all dry and recondite doctrines, and enlarge on the topics most
susceptible of poetical ornament. “Le Tableau de la Nature Physique,” says
Voltaire, “est lui seule d’une richesse, d’une varieté, d’une etendue à
occuper des siécles d’étude; mais tous les details ne sont pas favorable à
la poésie. On n’ exige pas du poete les meditations du physicien et les
calculs de l’astronomie: c’est à l’observateur à déterminer l’attraction
et les mouvemens des corps celestes; c’est au poete à peindre leur
balancement, leur harmonie, et leurs immuables révolutions. L’un
distinguera les classes nombreuses d’etres organisés qui peuplent les
elémens divers; l’autre décririra d’un trait hardi, lumineux et rapide
cette echelle immense et continue, ou les limites des regnes se
confondent. Que le confident de la nature develope le prodige de la greffe
des arbres—c’est assez pour Virgile de l’exprimer en deux beaux vers—

  “Exiit ad cœlum ramis felicibus arbos,
  Miraturque novas frondes et non sua poma(435).”

With regard, again, to digressions, Racine, (le Fils) in speaking of
didactic poetry, says there are two sorts of episodes which may be
introduced into it, and which he terms episodes of narrative and of style,
(_De Recit et de Style_,) meaning by the former the recital of the
adventures of individuals, and by the latter, general reflections
suggested by the subject(436). Without some embellishment of this
description, most philosophic poems will correspond to Quintilian’s
account of the poem of Aratus on astronomy, “Nulla varietas, nullus
affectus, nulla persona, nulla cujusquam, est oratio(437).” From what has
already been said concerning the extreme interest excited by the
introduction of sentient beings, with all their perils around, and all
their passions within them, it follows, that where the subject admits,
episodes of the first class will best serve the purposes of poetry, and if
the poet choose such dry and abstruse topics as cosmogony, or the
generation of the world, he ought to follow the example of Silenus(438),
by embellishing his subject with tales of Hylas, and Philomela, and
Scylla, and the gardens of the Hesperides—the themes which induce us to
listen to the lay of the poet—

  “Cogere donec oves stabulis, numerumque referre,
  Jussit, et invito processit Vesper Olympo.”

It is, however, with the second class of episodes—with declamations
against luxury and vice—reflections on the beauty of virtue—and the
delights of rural retirement, that Lucretius hath chiefly gemmed his

The poem of Lucretius contains a full exposition of the theological,
physical, and moral system of Epicurus. It has been remarked by an able
writer, “that all the religious systems of the ancient Pagan world were
naturally perishable, from the quantity of false opinions, and vicious
habits, and ceremonies that were attached to them.” He observes even of
the barbarous Anglo Saxons, that, “as the nation advanced in its active
intellect, it began to be dissatisfied with its mythology. Many
indications exist of this spreading alienation, which prepared the
northern mind for the reception of the nobler truths of
Christianity(439).” A secret incredulity of this sort seems to have been
long nourished in Greece, and appears to have been imported into Rome with
its philosophy and literature. The more pure and simple religion of early
Rome was quickly corrupted, and the multitude of ideal and heterogeneous
beings which superstition introduced into the Roman worship led to its
total rejection(440). This infidelity is very obvious in the writings of
Ennius, who translated Euhemerus’ work on the Deification of Human
Spirits, while Plautus dramatized the vices of the father of the gods and
tutelary deity of Rome. The doctrine of materialism was introduced at Rome
during the age of Scipio and Lælius(441); and perhaps no stronger proof of
its rapid progress and prevalence can be given, than that Cæsar, though a
priest, and ultimately Pontifex Maximus, boldly proclaimed in the senate,
that death is the end of all things, and that beyond it there is neither
hope nor joy. This state of the public mind was calculated to give a
fashion to the system of Epicurus(442). According to this distinguished
philosopher, the chief good of man is pleasure, of which the elements
consist, in having a body free from pain, and a mind tranquil and exempt
from perturbation. Of this tranquility there are, according to Epicurus,
as expounded by Lucretius, two chief enemies, superstition, or slavish
fear of the gods, and the dread of death(443). In order to oppose these
two foes to happiness, he endeavours, in the first place, to shew that the
world was formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, and that the gods,
who, according to the popular theology, were constantly interposing, take
no concern whatever in human affairs. We do injustice to Epicurus when we
estimate his tenets by the refined and exalted ideas of a philosophy
purified by faith, without considering the superstitious and polluted
notions prevalent in his time. “The idea of Epicurus,” (as is observed by
Dr Drake,) “that it is the nature of gods to enjoy an immortality in the
bosom of perpetual peace, infinitely remote from all relation to this
globe, free from care, from sorrow, and from pain, supremely happy in
themselves, and neither rejoicing in the pleasures, nor concerned for the
evils of humanity—though perfectly void of any rational foundation, yet
possesses much moral charm when compared with the popular religions of
Greece and Rome. The felicity of their deities consisted in the vilest
debauchery; nor was there a crime, however deep its dye, that had not been
committed and gloried in by some one of their numerous objects of
worship(444).” Never, also, could the doctrine, that the gods take no
concern in human affairs, appear more plausible than in the age of
Lucretius, when the destiny of man seemed to be the sport of the caprice
of such a monster as Sylla.

With respect to the other great leading tenet of Lucretius and his
master—the mortality of the soul, still greater injustice is done to the
philosopher and poet. It is affirmed, and justly, by a great Apostle, that
life and immortality have been brought to light by the gospel; and yet an
author who lived before this dawn is reviled because he asserts, that the
natural arguments for the immortality of the soul, afforded by the
analogies of nature, or principle of moral retribution, are weak and
inconclusive! In fact, however, it is not by the truth of the system or
general philosophical views in a poem, (for which no one consults it,)
that its value is to be estimated; since a poetical work may be highly
moral on account of its details, even when its systematic scope is
erroneous or apparently dangerous. Notwithstanding passages which seem to
echo Spinosism, and almost to justify crime(445), the _Essay on Man_ is
rightly considered as the most moral production of our most moral poet. In
like manner, where shall we find exhortations more eloquent than those of
Lucretius, against ambition and cruelty, and luxury and lust,—against all
the dishonest pleasures of the body, and all the turbulent passions of the

In versifying the philosophical system of Epicurus, Lucretius appears to
have taken Empedocles as his model. All the old Grecian bards of whom we
have any account prior to Homer, as Orpheus, Linus, and Musæus, are said
to have written poems on the driest and most difficult philosophical
questions, particularly the generation of the world. The ancients
evidently considered philosophical poetry as of the highest kind, and its
themes are invariably placed in the mouths of their divinest
songsters(446). Whether Lucretius may have been indebted to any such
ancient poems, still extant in his age, or to the subsequent productions
of Palæphatus the Athenian, Antiochus, or Eratosthenes, who, as Suidas
informs us, wrote poems on the structure of the world, it is impossible
now to determine; but he seems to have considerably availed himself of the
work of Empedocles. The poem of that sumptuous, accomplished, and arrogant
philosopher, entitled Περι φυσεως, and inscribed to his pupil Pausanias,
was chiefly illustrative of the Pythagorean philosophy, in which he had
been initiated. Aristotle speaks on the subject of the merits of
Empedocles in a manner which does not seem to be perfectly
consistent(447); but we know that his poem was sufficiently celebrated to
be publicly recited at the Olympic games, along with the works of Homer.
Only a few fragments of his writings remain; from which, perhaps, it would
be as unfair to judge him, as to estimate Lucretius by extracts from the
physical portions of his poem. Those who have collected the detached
fragments of his production(448), think that it had been divided into
three books; the first treating of the elements and universe,—the second
of animals and man,—the third of the soul, as also of the nature and
worship of the gods. His philosophical system was different from that of
Lucretius; but he had discussed almost all the subjects on which the Roman
bard afterwards expatiated. In particular, Lucretius appears to have
derived from his predecessor his notion of the original generation of man
from the teeming earth,—the production, at the beginning of the world, of
a variety of defective monsters, which were not allowed to multiply their
kinds,—the distribution of animals according to the prevalence of one or
other of the four elements over the rest in their composition,—the
vicissitudes of matter between life and inanimate substance,—and the
leading doctrine, “mortem nihil ad nos pertinere,” because absolute
insensibility is the consequence of dissolution(449).

If Lucretius has in any degree benefited by the works of Empedocles, he
has in return been most lavish and eloquent in his commendations. One of
the most delightful features in the character of the Latin poet is, the
glow of admiration with which he writes of his illustrious predecessors.
His eulogy of the Sicilian philosopher, which he has so happily combined
with that of the country which gave him birth, affords a beautiful example
of his manner of infusing into everything a poetic sweetness, _Musæo
contingens cuncta lepore_,—

  “Quorum Agragantinus cum primis Empedocles est:
  Insula quem Triquetris terrarum gessit in oris:
  Quam fluitans circum magnis anfractibus, æquor
  Ionium glaucis aspergit virus ab undis,
  Angustoque fretu rapidum, mare dividit undis
  Æoliæ terrarum oras a finibus ejus:
  Hîc est vasta Charybdis, et hîc Ætnæa minantur
  Murmura, flammarum rursum se conligere iras,
  Faucibus eruptos iterum ut vis evomat igneis,
  Ad cœlumque ferat flammäi fulgura rursum.
  Quæ, quum magna modis multis miranda videtur
  Gentibus humanis regio, visundaque fertur,
  Rebus opima bonis, multa munita virûm vi;
  Nil tamen hoc habuisse viro præclarius in se,
  Nec sanctum magis, et mirum, carumque, videtur.
  Carmina quin etiam divini pectoris ejus
  Vociferantur, et exponunt præclara reperta;
  Ut vix humana videatur stirpe creatus.”—Lib. I. 717.

It was formerly mentioned, that Ennius had translated into Latin verse the
Greek poem of Epicharmus, which, from the fragments preserved, appears to
have contained many speculations with regard to the productive elements of
which the world is composed, as also concerning the preservative powers of
nature. To the works of Ennius our poet seems to have been indebted,
partly as a model for enriching the still scanty Latin language with new
terms, and partly as a treasury or storehouse of words already provided.
Him, too, he celebrates with the most ardent and unfeigned enthusiasm:—

  “Ennius ut noster cecinit, qui primus amæno
  Detulit ex Helicone perenni fronde coronam,
  Per genteis Italas hominum quæ clara clueret.
  Et si præterea tamen esse Acherusia templa
  Ennius æternis exponit versibus edens;
  Quo neque permanent animæ, neque corpora nostra;
  Sed quædam simulacra modis pallentia miris;
  Unde, sibi exortam, semper florentis Homeri
  Commemorat speciem, lacrumas et fundere salsas
  Cœpisse, et RERUM NATURAM expandere dictis.”—I. 122.

These writers, Empedocles and Ennius, were probably Lucretius’ chief
guides; and though the most original of the Latin poets, many of his
finest passages may be traced to the Greeks. The beautiful lamentation,—

  “Nam jam non domus accipiet te læta, neque uxor
  Optuma, nec dulceis occurrent oscula nati
  Præripere, et tacitâ pectus dulcedine tangunt,” ——

is said to be translated from a dirge chaunted at Athenian funerals; and
the passage where he represents the feigned tortures of hell as but the
workings of a guilty and unquiet spirit, is versified from an oration of
Æschines against Timarchus.

In the first and second books, Lucretius chiefly expounds the cosmogony,
or physical part of his system—a system which had been originally founded
by Leucippus, a philosopher of the Eleatic sect, and, from his time, had
been successively improved by Democritus and Epicurus. He establishes in
these books his two great principles,—that nothing can be made from
nothing, and that nothing can ever be annihilated or return to nothing;
and, that there is in the universe a void or space, in which atoms
interact. These atoms he believes to be the original component parts of
all matter, as well as of animal life; and the arrangement of such
corpuscles occasions, according to him, the whole difference in

It cannot be denied, that in these two books particularly, (but the
observation is in some degree applicable to the whole poem,) there are
many barren tracts—many physiological, meteorological, and geological
details—which are at once too incorrect for the philosophical, and too dry
and abstract for the poetical reader. It is wonderful, however, how
Lucretius contrives, by the beauty of his images, to give a picturesque
colouring and illustration to the most unpromising topics. Near the
beginning of his poem, for example, in attempting to prove a very abstract
proposition, he says,—

  “Præterea, quur vere rosam, frumenta calore,
  Viteis auctumno fondi suadente videmus.”

Thus, by the introduction of the rose and vines, bestowing a fragrance and
freshness, and covering, as it were, with verdure, the thorns and briars
of abstract discussion. In like manner, when contending that nothing
utterly perishes, but merely assumes another form, what a lovely rural
landscape does he present to the imagination!

  —— “Pereunt imbres, ubi eos pater Æther
  In gremium matris Terräi præcipitavit:
  At nitidæ surgunt fruges, ramique virescunt
  Arboribus; crescunt ipsæ, fœtuque gravantur.
  Hinc alitur porro nostrum genus atque ferarum;
  Hinc lætas urbeis puerûm florere videmus,
  Frondiferasque novis avibus canere undique sylvas;
  Hinc, fessæ pecudes, pingues per pabula læta,
  Corpora deponunt, et candens lacteus humor
  Uberibus manat distentis; hinc nova proles
  Artubus infirmis teneras lasciva per herbas
  Ludit, lacte mero menteis percussa novellas.”

“Whoever,” says Warton, “imagines, with Tully, that Lucretius had not a
great genius(450), is desired to cast his eye on two pictures he has given
us at the beginning of his poem,—the first, of Venus with her lover Mars,
beautiful to the last degree, and more glowing than any picture painted by
Titian; the second, of that terrible and gigantic figure the Demon of
Superstition, worthy the energetic pencil of Michael Angelo. I am sure
there is no piece by the hand of Guido, or the Carracci, that exceeds the
following group of allegorical personages:

  “It Ver, et Venus; et, veris prænuncius, ante
  Pennatus graditur Zephyrus, vestigia propter,
  Flora quibus Mater, præspargens ante viäi,
  Cuncta coloribus egregiis et odoribus opplet.”

In spite, however, of the powers of Lucretius, it was impossible, from the
very nature of his subject, but that some portions would prove altogether
unsusceptible of poetical embellishment. Yet it may be doubted, whether
these intractable passages, by the charm of contrast, do not add, like
deserts to Oases in their bosom, an additional deliciousness in proportion
to their own sterility. The lovely group above-mentioned by Warton, are
clothed with additional beauty and enchantment, from starting, as it were,
like Armida and her Nymphs, from the mossy rind of a rugged tree. The
philosophical analysis, too, employed by Lucretius, impresses the mind
with the conviction, that the poet is a profound thinker, and adds great
force to his moral reflections. Above all, his fearlessness, if I may say
so, produces this powerful effect. Dryden, in a well-known passage, where
he has most happily characterized the general manner of Lucretius,
observes, “If I am not mistaken, the distinguishing character of
Lucretius—I mean, of his soul and genius—is a certain kind of noble pride,
and positive assertion of his own opinions. He is everywhere confident of
his own reason, and assuming an absolute command, not only over his vulgar
readers, but even his patron, Memmius.... This is that particular
dictatorship which is exercised by Lucretius; who, though often in the
wrong, yet seems to deal _bona fide_ with his reader, and tells him
nothing but what he thinks.... He seems to disdain all manner of replies;
and is so confident of his cause, that he is before-hand with his
antagonists, urging for them whatever he imagined they could say, and
leaving them, as he supposes, without an objection for the future. All
this, too, with so much scorn and indignation, as if he were assured of
the triumph, and need only enter into the lists.” Hence while, in other
writers, the eulogy of virtue seems in some sort to partake of the nature
of a sermon—to be a conventional language, and words of course—we listen
to Lucretius as to one who will fearlessly speak out; who had shut his
ears to the murmurs of Acheron: and who, if he eulogizes Virtue, extols
her because her charms are real. How exquisite, for example, and, at the
same time, how powerful and convincing, his delineation of the utter
worthlessness of vanity and pomp, contrasted with the pure and perfect
delights of simple nature!

  “Si non aurea sunt juvenum simulacra per ædes,
  Lampadas igniferas manibus retinentia dextris,
  Lumina nocturnis epulis ut suppeditentur,
  Nec domus argento fulget auroque renidet,
  Nec citharæ reboant laqueata aurataque tecta;
  Quum tamen inter se, prostrati in gramine molli,
  Propter aquæ rivum, sub ramis arboris altæ,
  Non magnis opibus jucunde corpora curant:
  Præsertim, quum tempestas arridet, et anni
  Tempora conspargunt viridantes floribus herbas:
  Nec calidæ citius decedunt corpore febres,
  Textilibus si in picturis, ostroque rubenti,
  Jaceris, quam si plebeiâ in veste cubandum est.”—II. 24.

The word _Præsertim_, in this beautiful passage, affords an illustration
of what has been remarked above, that the kind of philosophical analysis
employed by Lucretius gives great force to his moral reflections. He
seems, as it were, to be weighing his words; and, which is the only solid
foundation of just confidence, to be cautious of asserting anything which
experience would not fully confirm. One thing very remarkable in this
great poet is, the admirable clearness and closeness of his reasoning. He
repeatedly values himself not a little on the circumstance, that, with an
intractable subject, and a language not yet accommodated to philosophical
discussions, and scanty in terms of physical as well as metaphysical
science, he was able to give so much clearness to his argument(451); which
object it is generally admitted he has accomplished, with little or no
sacrifice of pure Latinity(452). As a proof at once of the perspicuity and
closeness of his reasoning, and the fertility of his mind in inventing
arguments, there might be given his long discussion, in the third book, on
the materiality of the human soul, and its incapability of surviving the
ruin of the corporeal frame. Never were the arguments for materialism
marshalled with such skill—never were the diseases of the mind, and the
decay of memory and understanding, so pathetically urged, so eloquently
expressed. The following quotation contains a specimen of the lucid and
logical reasoning of this philosophic poet; and the two first verses,
perhaps, after all that has been written, comprehend the whole that is
metaphysically or physiologically known upon the subject:

  “Præterea, gigni pariter cum corpore, et unà
  Crescere sentimus, pariterque senescere, mentem.
  Nam, velut infirmo pueri, teneroque, vagantur
  Corpore, sic animi sequitur sententia tenuis;
  Inde, ubi robustis adolevit viribus ætas,
  Consilium quoque majus, et auctior est animî vis.
  Post, ubi jam validis quassatum est viribus ævi
  Corpus, et obtusis ceciderunt viribus artus,
  Claudicat ingenium, delirat linguaque mensque;
  Omnia deficiunt, atque uno tempore desunt:
  Ergo, dissolvi quoque convenit omnem animäi
  Naturam, ceu fumus in altas aëris auras;
  Quandoquidem gigni pariter, pariterque videmus
  Crescere; et, ut docui, simul, ævo fessa, fatisci.”—III. 446.

Lucretius having, by many arguments, endeavoured to establish the
mortality of the soul, proceeds to exhort against a dread of death. The
fear of that “last tremendous blow,” appears to have harassed, and
sometimes overwhelmed, the minds of the Romans(453). To them, life
presented a scene of high duties and honourable labours; and they
contemplated, in a long futurity, the distant completion of their serious
and lofty aims. They were not yet habituated to regard life as a banquet
or recreation, from which they were cheerfully to rise, in due time, sated
with the feast prepared for them; nor had they been accustomed to
associate death with those softening ideas of indolence and slumber, with
which it was the design of Lucretius to connect it. He accordingly
represents it as a privation of all sense,—as undisturbed by tumult or
terror, by grief or pain,—as a tranquil sleep, and an everlasting repose.
How sublime is the following passage, in which, to illustrate his
argument, that the long night of the grave can be no more painful than the
eternity before our birth, he introduces the war with Carthage; and what a
picture does it convey of the energy and might of the combatants!

  “Nil igitur Mors est, ad nos neque pertinet hilum,
  Quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur.
  Et, velut ante acto nil tempore sensimus ægrî,
  Ad confligundum venientibus undique Pœnis;
  Omnia quum, belli trepido concussa tumultu,
  Horrida contremuere sub altis ætheris auris:
  In dubioque fuere, utrorum ad regna cadundum
  Omnibus humanis esset, terràque, màrique.
  Sic, ubi non erimus, quum corporis atque animäi
  Discidium fuerit, quibus e sumus uniter apti;
  Scilicet haud nobis quidquam, qui non erimus tum,
  Accidere omnino poterit, sensumque movere:
  Non si terra mari miscebitur, et mare cœlo.”—III, 842.

From this admirable passage till the close of the third book there is an
union of philosophy, of majesty, and pathos, which hardly ever has been
equalled. The incapacity of the highest power and wisdom, as exhibited in
so many instances, to exempt from the common lot of man, the farewell
which we must bid to the sweetest domestic enjoyments, and the magnificent
_prosopopœia_ of Nature to her children, rebuking their regrets, and the
injustice of their complaints, are altogether exceedingly solemn, and
affecting, and sublime.

The two leading tenets of Epicurus concerning the formation of the world
and the mortality of the soul, are established by Lucretius in the first
three books. A great proportion of the fourth book may be considered as
episodical. Having explained the nature of primordial atoms, and of the
soul, which is formed from the finest of them, he announces, that there
are certain images (_rerum simulacra_,) or effluvia, which are constantly
thrown off from the surface of whatever exists. On this hypothesis he
accounts for all our external senses; and he applies it also to the theory
of dreams, in which whatever images have amused the senses during day most
readily recur. Mankind being prone to love, of all the phantoms which rush
on our imagination during night, none return so frequently as the forms of
the fair. This leads Lucretius to enlarge on the mischievous effects of
illicit love; and nothing can be finer than the various moral
considerations which he enforces, to warn us against the snares of guilty
passion. It must, however, be confessed, that his description of what he
seems to consider as the physical evils and imperfect fruition of sensual
love, forms the most glowing picture ever presented of its delights. But
he has atoned for his violation of decorum, by a few beautiful lines on
connubial happiness at the conclusion of the book:

  “Nam facit ipsa suis interdum femina factis,
  Morigerisque modis et mundo corpore culta,
  Ut facile assuescat secum vir degere vitam.
    Quod super est, consuetudo concinnat amorem;
  Nam, leviter quamvis, quod crebro tunditur ictu,
  Vincitur id longo spatio tamen, atque labascit:
  Nonne vides, etiam guttas, in saxa cadenteis,
  Humoris longo in spacio pertundere saxa?”—IV. 1273.

The principal subject of the fifth book—a composition unrivalled in energy
and richness of language, in full and genuine sublimity—is the origin and
laws of the visible world, with those of its inhabitants. The poet
presents us with a grand picture of Chaos, and the most magnificent
account of the creation that ever flowed from human pen. In his
representation of primeval life and manners, he exhibits the discomfort of
this early stage of society by a single passage of most wild and powerful
imagery,—in which he describes a savage, in the early ages of the world,
when men were yet contending with beasts for possession of the earth,
flying through the woods, with loud shrieks, in a stormy night, from the
pursuit of some ravenous animal, which had invaded the cavern where he
sought a temporary shelter and repose:

            —— “Sæcla ferarum
  Infestam miseris faciebant sæpe quietem;
  Ejecteique domo, fugiebant saxea tecta
  Setigeri suis adventu, validique leonis;
  Atque intempestâ cedebant nocte, paventes,
  Hospitibus sævis instrata cubilia fronde.”—V. 980.

One is naturally led to compare the whole of Lucretius’ description of
primeval society, and the origin of man, with Ovid’s _Four Ages of the
World_, which commence his _Metamorphoses_, and which, philosophically
considered, certainly exhibit the most wonderful of all metamorphoses. In
his sketch of the Golden Age, he has selected the favourable circumstances
alluded to by Lucretius—exemption from war and sea voyages, and
spontaneous production of fruits by the earth. There is also a beautiful
view of early life and manners in one of the elegies of Tibullus(454); and
Thomson, in his picture of what he calls the “prime of days,” has combined
the descriptions of Ovid and the elegiac bard. Most of the poets, however,
who have painted the Golden Age, and Ovid in particular, have represented
mankind as growing more vicious and unhappy with advance of
time—Lucretius, more philosophically, as constantly improving. He has
fixed on connubial love as the first great softener of the human breast;
and neither Thomson nor Milton has described with more tenderness, truth,
and purity, the joys of domestic union. He follows the progressive
improvement of mankind occasioned by their subjection to the bonds of
civil society and government; and the book concludes with an account of
the origin of the fine arts, particularly music, in the course of which
many impressive descriptions occur, and many delicious scenes are

  “At liquidas avium voces imitarier ore
  Ante fuit multo, quam lævia carmina cantu
  Concelebrare homines possent, aureisque juvare.
  Et zephyri, cava per calamorum, sibila primum
  Agrestes docuere cavas inflare cicutas.
  Inde minutatim dulces didicere querelas
  Tibia quas fundit, digitis pulsata canentûm,
  Avia per nemora ac sylvas saltusque reperta,
  Per loca pastorum deserta, atque otia dia.”—V. 1378.

In consequence of their ignorance and superstitions, the Roman people were
rendered perpetual slaves of the most idle and unfounded terrors. In order
to counteract these popular prejudices, and to heal the constant
disquietudes that accompanied them, Lucretius proceeds, in the sixth book,
to account for a variety of extraordinary phænomena both in the heavens
and on the earth, which, at first view, seemed to deviate from the usual
laws of nature:—

  “Sunt tempestates et fulmina clara canenda.”

Having discussed the various theories formed to account for electricity,
water-spouts, hurricanes, the rainbow, and volcanoes, he lastly considers
the origin of pestilential and endemic disorders. This introduces the
celebrated account of the plague, which ravaged Athens during the
Peloponnesian war, with which Lucretius concludes this book, and his
magnificent poem. “In this narrative,” says a late translator of
Lucretius, “the true genius of poetry is perhaps more powerfully and
triumphantly exhibited than in any other poem that was ever written.
Lucretius has ventured upon one of the most uncouth and repressing
subjects to the muses that can possibly be brought forward—the history and
symptoms of a disease, and this disease accompanied with circumstances
naturally the most nauseating and indelicate. It was a subject altogether
new to numerical composition; and he had to strive with all the pedantry
of technical terms, and all the abstruseness of a science in which he does
not appear to have been professionally initiated. He strove, however, and
he conquered. In language the most captivating and nervous, and with ideas
the most precise and appropriate, he has given us the entire history of
this tremendous pestilence. There is not, perhaps, a symptom omitted, yet
there is not a verse with which the most scrupulous can be offended. The
description of the symptoms, and also the various circumstances of horror
and distress attending this dreadful scourge, have been derived from
Thucydides, who furnished the facts with great accuracy, having been
himself a spectator and a sufferer under this calamity. His narrative is
esteemed an elaborate and complete performance; and to the faithful yet
elegant detail of the Greek historian, the Roman bard has added all that
was necessary to convert the description into poetry.”

In the whole history of Roman taste and criticism, nothing appears to us
so extraordinary as the slight mention that is made of Lucretius by
succeeding Latin authors; and, when mentioned, the coldness with which he
is spoken of by all Roman critics and poets, with the exception of Ovid.
Perhaps the spirit of free-thinking which pervaded his writings, rendered
it unsuitable or unsafe to extol even his poetical talents. There was a
time, when, in this country, it was thought scarcely decorous or becoming
to express high admiration of the genius of Rousseau or Voltaire.

The doctrines of Lucretius, particularly that which impugns the
superintending care of Providence, were first formally opposed by the
Stoic Manilius in his Astronomic poem. In modern times, his whole
philosophical system has been refuted in the long and elaborate poem of
the Cardinal Polignac, entitled, _Anti-Lucretius, sive de Deo et Natura_.
This enormous work, though incomplete, consists of nine books, of about
1300 lines each, and the whole is addressed to Quintius, an atheist, who
corresponds to the Lorenzo of the _Night Thoughts_. Descartes is the
Epicurus of the poem, and the subject of many heavy panegyrics. In the
philosophical part of his subject, the Cardinal has sometimes refuted, at
too great length, propositions which are manifestly absurd—at others, he
has impugned demonstrated truths—and the moral system of Lucretius he
throughout has grossly misunderstood. But he has rendered ample justice to
his poetical merit; and, in giving a compendium of the subject of his
great antagonist’s poem, he has caught some share of the poetical spirit
with which his predecessor was inspired:—

  “Hic agitare velit Cytheriam inglorius artem:
  Hic myrtum floresque legat, quos tinxit Adonis
  Sanguine, dilectus Veneri puer; aut Heliconem,
  Et colles Baccho, partim, Phœboque sacratos
  Incolat. Hic, placidi latebris in mollibus antri,
  Silenum recubantem, et amico nectare venas
  Inflatum stupeat titubanti voce canentem;
  Et juvenum cæcos ignes, et vulnera dicat,
  Et vacuæ, pulsis terroribus, otia vitæ,
  Fœcundosque greges, et amæni gaudia ruris:
  Hæc et plura canens, avidè bibat ore diserto
  Pegaseos latices; et nomen grande Poetæ,
  Non Sapientis, amet. Lauro insignire poetam
  Quis dubitet? Primus viridanteis ipse coronas
  Imponam capiti, et meritas pro carmine laudes
  Ante alios dicam.” ——(455)

Entertaining this just admiration of his opponent, the Cardinal has been
studious, while refuting his principles, to imitate as closely as possible
the poetic style of Lucretius; and, accordingly, we find many noble and
beautiful passages interspersed amid the dry discussions of the
_Anti-Lucretius_. In the first book, there is an elegant comparison,
something like that by Wolsey in _Henry VIII._, of a man who had wantoned
in the sunshine of prosperity, and was unprepared for the storms of
adversity, to the tender buds of the fruit-tree blighted by the
north-wind. The whole poem, indeed, is full of many beautiful and
appropriate similes. I have not room to transcribe them, but may refer the
reader to those in the first book, of a sick man turning to every side for
rest, to a traveller following an _ignis fatuus_; in the second, motes
dancing in the sun-beam to the atoms of Epicurus floating in the immensity
of space; in the third, the whole philosophy of Epicurus to the infinite
variety of splendid but fallacious appearances produced by the shifting of
scenery in our theatres, (line 90,) and the identity of matter amid the
various shapes it assumes, to the transformations of _Proteus_. The fourth
book commences with a beautiful image of a traveller on a steep, looking
back on his journey; immediately followed by a fine picture of the
unhallowed triumph of Epicurus, and Religion weeping during the festival
of youths to his honour. In the same book, there is a noble description of
the river Anio, (line 1459,) and a comparison of the rising of sap in
trees during spring to a fountain playing and falling back on itself
(780–845). We have in the fifth book a beautiful argument, that the soul
is not to be thought material, because affected by the body, illustrated
by musical instruments (745). In the sixth book there occurs a charming
description of the sensitive plant; and, finally, of a bird singing to his
mate, to solace her while brooding over her young:—

  “Haud secus in sylvis, ac frondes inter opacas,
  Ingenitum carmen modulatur musicus ales,” &c.

Almost all modern didactic poems, whether treating of theology or physics,
are composed in obvious imitation of the style and manner of Lucretius.
The poem of Aonius Palearius, _De Animi Immortalitate_, though written in
contradiction to the system of Lucretius, concerning the mortality of the
soul, is almost a _cento_ made up from lines or half lines of the Roman
bard; and the same may be said of that extensive class of Latin poems, in
which the French Jesuits of the seventeenth century have illustrated the
various phænomena of nature(456).

Others have attempted to explain the philosophy of Newton in Latin verse;
but the Newtonian system is better calculated to be demonstrated than

  “Ornari res ipsa negat—contenta doceri.”

It is a philosophy founded on the most sublime calculations; and it is in
other lines and numbers than those of poetry, that the book of nature must
now be written. If we attempt to express arithmetical or algebraical
figures in verse, circumlocution is always required; more frequently they
cannot be expressed at all; and if they could, the lines would have no
advantage over prose: nay, would have considerable disadvantage, from
obscurity and prolixity. All this is fully confirmed by an examination of
the writings of those who have attempted to embellish the sublime system
of Newton with the charms of poetry. If we look, for example, into the
poem of Boscovich on Eclipses, or still more, into the work of Benedict
Stay, we shall see, notwithstanding the advantage they possessed of
writing in a language so flexible as the Latin, and so capable of

                “The shifts and turns,
  The expedients and inventions multiform,
  To which the mind resorts in search of terms(457).”

The latter of these writers employs 36 lines in expressing the law of
Kepler, “that the squares of the periodical times of the revolutions of
the planets, are as the cubes of their mean distances from the sun.” These
lines, too, which are considered by Stay himself, and by Boscovich, his
annotator, as the triumph of the philosophic muse, are so obscure as to
need a long commentary. Indeed, the poems of both these eminent men
consist of a string of enigmas, whereas the principal and almost only
ornament of philosophy is perspicuity. After all, only what are called the
round numbers can be expressed in verse, and this is necessarily done in a
manner so obscure and perplexed as ever to need a prose explanation.

With Lucretius and his subject it was totally the reverse. From the
incorrectness of his philosophical views, or rather those of his age, much
of his labour has been employed, so to speak, in embodying straws in
amber. Yet, with all its defects, this ancient philosophy, if it deserve
the name, had the advantage, that its indefinite nature rendered it highly
susceptible of an embellishment, which can never be bestowed on a more
precise and accurate system. Hence, perhaps, it may be safely foretold,
that the philosophical poem of Lucretius will remain unrivalled; and also,
that the prediction of Ovid concerning it will be verified—

  “Carmina sublimis, tunc sunt peritura Lucretî
      Exitio terras cum dabit una dies.”

The refutations and imitations of Lucretius, contained in modern didactic
poems, have led me away from what may be considered as my proper subject,
and I therefore return to those poets who were coeval with that author,
with whose works we have been so long occupied. Of these the most
distinguished was

                         CAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS,

who was nearly contemporary with Lucretius, having come into the world a
few years after him, and having survived him but a short period.

In every part of our survey of Latin Literature, we have had occasion to
remark the imitative spirit of Roman poetry, and the constant analogy and
resemblance of all the productions of the Latian muse to some Greek
original. None of his poetical predecessors was more versed in Greek
literature than Catullus; and his extensive knowledge of its beauties
procured for him the appellation of _Doctus_(458). He translated many of
the shorter and more delicate pieces of the Greeks; an attempt which
hitherto had been thought impossible, though the broad humour of their
comedies, the vehement pathos of their tragedies, and the romantic
interest of the Odyssey, had stood the transformation. His stay in
Bithynia, though little advantageous to his fortune, rendered him better
acquainted than he might otherwise have been with the productions of
Greece, and he was therefore, in a great degree, indebted to this
expedition (on which he always appears to have looked back with
mortification and disappointment) for those felicitous turns of
expression, that grace, simplicity, and purity, which are the
characteristics of his poems, and of which hitherto Greece alone had
afforded models. Indeed, in all his verses, whether elegiac or heroic, we
perceive his imitation of the Greeks, and it must be admitted that he has
drawn from them his choicest stores. His Hellenisms are frequent—his
images, similes, metaphors, and addresses to himself, are all Greek; and
even in the versification of his odes we see visible traces of their
origin. Nevertheless, he was the founder of a new school of _Latin_
poetry; and as he was the first who used such variety of measures, and
perhaps himself invented some(459), he was amply entitled to call the
poetical volume which he presented to Cornelius Nepos, _Lepidum Novum
Libellum_. The beautiful expressions, too, and idioms of the Greek
language, which he has so carefully selected, are woven with such art into
the texture of his composition, and so aptly figure the impassioned ideas
of his amorous muse, that they have all the fresh and untarnished hues of

This elegant poet was born of respectable parents, in the territory of
Verona, but whether at the town so called, or on the peninsula of Sirmio,
which projects into the Lake Benacus, has been a subject of much
controversy. The former opinion has been maintained by Maffei and
Bayle(460), and the latter by Gyraldus(461), Schoell(462), Fuhrmann(463),
and most modern writers.

The precise period, as well as place, of the birth of Catullus, is a topic
of debate and uncertainty. According to the Eusebian Chronicle, he was
born in 666, but, according to other authorities, in 667(464) or 668. In
consequence of an invitation from Manlius Torquatus, one of the noblest
patricians of the state, he proceeded in early youth to Rome, where he
appears to have kept but indifferent company, at least in point of moral
character. He impaired his fortune so much by extravagance, that he had no
one, as he complains,

  “Fractum qui veteris pedem grabati
  In collo sibi collocare possit.”

This, however, must partly have been written in jest, as his finances were
always sufficient to allow him to keep up a delicious villa, on the
peninsula of Sirmio, and an expensive residence at Tibur. With a view of
improving his pecuniary circumstances, he adopted the usual Roman mode of
re-establishing a diminished fortune, and accompanied Caius Memmius, the
celebrated patron of Lucretius, to Bithynia, when he was appointed Prætor
of that province. His situation, however, was but little meliorated by
this expedition, and, in the course of it, he lost a beloved brother, who
was along with him, and whose death he has lamented in verses never
surpassed in delicacy or pathos. He came back to Rome with a shattered
constitution, and a lacerated heart. From the period of his return to
Italy till his decease, his time appears to have been chiefly occupied
with the prosecution of licentious amours, in the capital or among the
solitudes of Sirmio. The Eusebian Chronicle places his death in 696, and
some writers fix it in 705. It is evident, however, that he must have
survived at least till 708, as Cicero, in his Letters, talks of his verses
against Cæsar and Mamurra as newly written, and first seen by Cæsar in
that year(465). The distracted and unhappy state of his country, and his
disgust at the treatment which he had received from Memmius, were perhaps
sufficient excuse for shunning political employments(466); but when we
consider his taste and genius, we cannot help regretting that he was
merely an idler, and a debauchee. He loved Clodia, (supposed to have been
the sister of the infamous Clodius,) a beautiful but shameless woman, whom
he has celebrated under the name of Lesbia(467), as comparing her to the
Lesbian Sappho, her prototype in total abandonment to guilty love. He also
numbered among his mistresses, Hypsithilla and Aufilena, ladies of Verona.
Among his friends, he ranked not only most men of pleasure and fashion in
Rome, but many of her eminent literary and political characters, as
Cornelius Nepos, Cicero, and Asinius Pollio. His enmities seem to have
been as numerous as his loves or friendships, and competition in poetry,
or rivalship in gallantry, appears always to have been a sufficient cause
for his dislike; and where an antipathy was once conceived, he was unable
to put any restraint on the expression of his hostile feelings. His poems
are chiefly employed in the indulgence and commemoration of these various
passions. They are now given to us without any order or attempt at
arrangement: They were distributed, indeed, by Petrus Crinitus, into three
classes, lyric, elegiac, and epigrammatic,—a division which has been
adopted in a few of the earlier editions; but there is no such separation
in the best MSS., nor is it probable that they were originally thus
classed by the author, as he calls his book _Libellum Singularem_; and
they cannot now be conveniently reduced under these heads, since several
poems, as the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis, are written in hexameter
measure. To others, which may be termed occasional poems expressing to his
friends a simple idea, or relating the occurrences of the day, in iambic
or phalangian verse, it would be difficult to assign any place in a
systematic arrangement. Under what class, for instance, could we bring the
poem giving a detail of his visit to the house of the courtezan, and the
conversation which passed there concerning Bithynia? The order, therefore,
in which the poems have been arbitrarily placed by the latest editors and
commentators, however immethodical, is the only one which can be followed,
in giving an account of the miscellaneous productions of Catullus.

1. Is a modest and not inelegant dedication, by the poet, of the whole
volume, to Cornelius Nepos, whom he compliments on having written a
general history, in three books, an undertaking which had not previously
been attempted by any Roman—

  —— “Ausus es unus Italorum
  Omne ævum tribus explicare chartis.”

2. _Ad Passerem Lesbiæ_. This address of Catullus to the favourite sparrow
of his mistress, Lesbia, is well known, and, has been always celebrated as
a model of grace and elegance. Politian(468), Turnebus, and others, have
discovered in this little poem an allegorical signification, which idea
has been founded on a line in an epigram of Martial, _Ad Romam et

  “Quæ si tot fuerint, quot ille dixit,
  _Donabo tibi passerem Catulli_(469).”

That by the _passer Catulli_, however, Martial meant nothing more than an
agreeable little epigram, in the style of Catullus, which he would address
to Dindymus as his reward, is evident from another epigram, where it is
obviously used in this sense—

  “Sic forsan tener ausus est Catullus
  Magno mittere passerem Maroni(470).”

and also from that in which he compares a favourite whelp of Publius to
the sparrow of Lesbia(471). That a real and _feathered_ sparrow was in the
view of Catullus, is also evinced by the following ode, in which he
laments the death of this favourite of his mistress. The erroneous notion
taken up by Politian, has been happily enough ridiculed by Sannazzarius,
in an epigram entitled _Ad Pulicianum_—

  “At nescio quis Pulicianus,” &c.

and Muretus expresses his astonishment, that the most grave and learned
Benedictus Lampridius should have made this happy interpretation by
Politian the theme of his _constant_ conversation, “Hanc Politiani
sententiam in _omni_ sermone approbare solitum fuisse(472).” Why Lesbia
preferred a sparrow to other birds, I know not, unless it was for those
qualities which induced the widow of the Emperor Sigismond to esteem it
more than the turtle-dove(473), and which so much excited the envy of the
learned Scioppius, at Ingolstadt.

3. _Luctus in morte Passeris_. A lamentation for the death of the same

  “Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum,
  Illuc unde negant redire quemquam:
  At vobis male sit, malæ tenebræ
  Orci, quæ omnia bella devoratis.”

The idea in this last line was probably taken from Bion’s celebrated
_Idyllium_—the lamentation of Venus for the death of Adonis, where there
is a similar complaint of the unrelenting Orcus—

  “Το δε παν καλον ἐς σε καταῥρει.”

This poem on the death of Lesbia’s sparrow has suggested many similar
productions. Ovid’s elegy, _In Mortem Psittaci_(474), where he extols and
laments the favourite parrot of his mistress, Corinna, is a production of
the same description; but it has not so much delicacy, lightness, and
felicity of expression. It differs from it too, by directing the attention
chiefly to the parrot, whereas Catullus fixes it more on the lady, who had
been deprived of her favourite. Statius also has a poem on the death of a
parrot, entitled _Psittacus Melioris_(475); and Lotichius, a celebrated
Latin poet, who flourished in Germany about the middle of the 16th
century, has, in his elegies, a similar production on the death of a
dolphin(476). Naugerius, _In Obitum Borgetti Catuli_, nearly copies the
poem of Catullus—

  “Nunc raptus rapido maloque fato,
  Ad manes abiit tenebricosas,” &c.

It has been imitated closely, and with application to a sparrow, by
Corrozet, Durant, and Monnoye, French poets of the 16th century—by Gacon
and Richer, in the beginning, and R. de Juvigny, in the end, of the 18th
century. In all these imitations, the idea of a departure to regions of
darkness, whence no one returns, is faithfully preserved. Most of them are
written with much grace and elegance; and this, indeed, is a sort of
poetry in which the French remarkably excel.

4. _Dedicatio Phaseli_. This is the consecration to Castor and Pollux, of
the vessel which brought the poet safe from Bithynia to the shores of
Italy. By a figure, daring even in verse, he represents the ship as
extolling its high services, and claiming its well-earned dedication to
Castor and Pollux, gods propitious to mariners. From this poem we may
trace the progress of Catullus’s voyage: It would appear that he had
embarked from Pontus, and having coasted Thrace, sailed through the
Archipelago, and then into the Adriatic, whence the vessel had been
brought probably up the course of the Po, and one of its branches, to the
vicinity of Sirmio.

There have been nearly as many parodies of this poem, as imitations of
that last mentioned. The collector of the _Catalecta Virgilii_, has
attributed to Virgil a satire on Ventidius, (under the name of Sabinus,)
who, from a muleteer, became consul, in the reign of Augustus, and which
is parodied from Catullus—

  “Sabinus ille quem videtis hospites,” &c.

Another parody is a Latin poem, entitled _Lycoris_, by Adrien Valois,
published at the end of the _Valesiana_, where a courtezan, retired from
the world, is introduced, boasting of the various intrigues of her former
life. Nicol Heinelius published not less than fifty parodies of this poem,
in a small book entitled “Phaselus Catulli, et ad eundem Parodiarum a
diversis auctoribus scriptarum decades quinque; ex Bibliotheca Nic.
Heinelii, Jurisconsulti, Lips. 1642.” Scaliger has also translated the
_Phaselus_ of Catullus into Greek iambics.

5. _Ad Lesbiam_—

  “Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
  Rumoresque senum severiorum
  Omnes unius æstimemus assis.
  Soles occidere et redire possunt:
  Nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,
  Nox est perpetua una dormienda.
  Da mihi basia mille, deinde centum.”

This sentiment, representing either the pleasure of conviviality, or
delights of love, (and much more so as when here united,) in contrast with
the gloom of death, possesses something exquisitely tender and affecting.
The picture of joy, with Death in the distance, inspires a feeling of
pensive morality, adding a charm to the gayest scenes of life, as the
transientness of the rose enhances our sense of its beauty and fragrance;
and as the cloud, which throws a shade over the horizon, sometimes softens
and mellows the prospect. This opposition of images succeeds even in
painting; and the Arcadian landscape of Poussin, representing the rural
festivity of swains, would lose much of its charm if it wanted the
monument and inscription. An example had been set of such contrasted ideas
in many epigrams of the Greeks, and also in the Odes of Anacreon, who
constantly excites himself and fellow-passengers to unrestrained enjoyment
at every stage, by recalling to remembrance the irresistible speed with
which they are hurried to the conclusion of their journey—

  “Ὁ δ’ Ερως, χιτωνα δησας
  Ὑπερ αυχενος παπυρῳ,
  Μεθυ μοι διηκονειτω.
  Τροχος αρματος γαρ οῖα
  Βιωτος τρεχει κυλισθεις.
  Ὀλιγη δε κεισομεσθα
  Κονις, ὀστεων λυθεντων.”
            Od. IV.

“The ungodly,” says the _Wisdom of Solomon_, “reason with themselves, but
not aright. Our life is short—our time is a very shadow that passeth
away—and, after our end, there is no returning. Come on, therefore, let us
enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the
creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and
ointments, and let no flower of the spring pass by us; let us crown
ourselves with rose-buds, before they be withered. Let none of us go
without his part of our voluptuousness; let us leave tokens of our
joyfulness in every place: For this is our portion, and our lot in

Among the Latin poets no specimen, perhaps, exists so perfect of this
voluptuous yet pensive morality or immorality, as the _Vivamus, mea
Lesbia_, of Catullus. It is a theme, too, in which he has been frequently
followed, if not imitated, by succeeding poets—by Horace, in particular,
who, amid all the delights of love and wine, seldom allows himself to
forget the closing scene of existence. Many of them too, like Catullus,
have employed the argument of the certainty and speediness of death for
the promotion of love and pleasure—

  “Interea, dum fata sinunt, jungamus amores;
      Jam veniet tenebris Mors adoperta caput(478).”

And, in like manner, Propertius—

  “Dum nos fata sinunt, oculos satiemus amore;
      Nox tibi longa venit nec reditura dies.”

There is not much of this in the amatory or convivial poetry of the
moderns. Waller has some traces of it; but a modern prose writer hath most
beautifully, and with greater boldness than any of his predecessors,
represented not merely the thoughts, but the actual image of mortality and
decay, as exciting to a more full and rapid grasp at tangible enjoyments.
Anastasius, while journeying amid the tombs of Scutari, breathing the damp
deadly effluvia, and treading on a swelling soil, ready to burst with its
festering contents, asks himself,—“Shall I, creature of clay like those
here buried—I, who travel through life as I do on this road, with the
remains of past generations strewed around me—I, who, whether my journey
last a few hours, more or less, must still, like those here deposited, in
a short time rejoin the silent tenants of a cluster of tombs—be stretched
out by the side of some already sleeping corpse—and be left to rest, for
the remainder of time, with all my hopes and fears, all my faculties and
prospects, consigned to a cold couch of clammy earth—Shall I leave the
rose to blush along my path unheeded—the purple grape to wither unculled
over my head * * *? Far from my thoughts be such folly! Whatever tempts,
let me take—whatever bears the name of enjoyment henceforth, let me, while
I can, make my own(479).”—The French writers, like Chaulieu and Gresset,
who paint themselves as finding in philosophy and the Muses sufficient
compensation for the dissatisfaction attending worldly pleasures,
frequently urge the shortness of life, not as an argument for indulging in
wantonness or wine, but for enjoying, to the utmost, the innocent delights
of rural tranquillity—

  “Fontenay, lieu délicieux,
  Ou je vis d’abord la lumiere,
  Bientôt au bout de ma carriere
  Chez toi je joindrai mes ayeux.

  “Muses, qui dans ce lieu champêtre
  Avec soin me fites nourrir—
  Beaux arbres qui m’avez vu naître
  Bientôt vous me verrez mourir:

  “Cependant du frais de votre ombre
  Il faut sagement profiter,
  Sans regret pret a vous quitter
  Pour ce Manoir terrible et sombre.”—_Chaulieu._

The united sentiment of enjoying the delights of love, and beauties of
nature, as suggested by the shortness of the period allotted for their
possession, has been happily expressed by Mallet, in his celebrated song
to the Scotch tune, _The Birks of Invermay_:

  “Let us, Amanda, timely wise,
  Like _them_ improve the hour that flies;
  For soon the winter of the year,
  And Age, life’s winter, will appear.
  At this thy living bloom must fade,
  As that will strip the verdant shade:
  Our taste of pleasure then is o’er—
  The feathered songsters love no more:
  And when they droop, and we decay,
  Adieu, the shades of Invermay!”

It will not fail, however, to be remarked, that in the ode of Catullus,
which has recalled these verses to our recollection, there is a double
contrast, from comparing the long, dark, and everlasting sleep—the μακρον,
ατερμονα, νηγρετον ὑπνον, with the quick and constant succession of suns,
by which we are daily enlightened—

  “Soles occidere et redire possunt:
  Nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,
  Nox est perpetua una dormienda.”

Poets, in all ages, have been fond of contrasting the destined course of
human life with the reparation of the sun and moon, and with the revival
of nature, produced by the succession of seasons. The image drawn from the
sun, and here employed by Catullus, is one of the most natural and
frequent. It has been beautifully attempted by several modern Latin poets.
Thus by Lotichius—

  “Ergo ubi permensus cœlum sol occidit, idem
    Purpureo vestit lumine rursus humum:
  Nos ubi decidimus, defuncti munere vitæ,
    Urget perpetua lumina nocte sopor.”

And still more successfully by Jortin—

  “Hei mihi lege ratà sol occidit atque resurgit.
    *  *  *  *
  Nos domini rerum—nos magna et pulchra minati,
  Cum breve ver vitæ robustaque transiit ætas,
  Deficimus; neque nos ordo revolubilis auras
  Reddit in ætherias, tumuli nec claustra resolvit.”

Other modern Latin poets have chosen this ode as a sort of theme or text,
which they have dilated into long poems. Of these, perhaps the most
agreeable is a youthful production of Muretus—

  “Ludamus, mea Margari, et jocemur,” &c.

The most ancient French imitator is the old poet Baif, in a sort of
Madrigal. He was followed by Ronsard, Bellay, Pellisson, La Monnoye, and
Dorat. The best imitation, I think, is that by Simon, which I shall give
at full length, once for all as a fair specimen of the French mode of
imitating the lighter poems of Catullus—

  “Vivens, O ma Julie!
  Jurons d’aimer toujours:
  Le printemps de la vie
  Est fait pour les amours.
  Si l’austère vieillesse
  Condamne nos desirs,
  Laissons lui sa sagesse,
  Et gardons nos plaisirs.

  “L’Astre dont la lumiere
  Nous dispense les jours,
  Au bout de sa carriere
  Recommence son cours.
  Quand le temps, dans sa rage,
  A fletti les appas,
  Les roses du bel âge
  Ne refleurissent pas.

  “D’une pudeur farouche
  Fuis les deguisemens;
  Viens donner à ma bouche
  Cent baisers ravissans—
  Mille autres—Pose encore
  Sur mes lèvres de feu
  Tes lèvres que j’adore—
  Mourons à ce doux jeu.

  “De nos baisers sans nombre
  Le feu rapide et doux
  S’échappe comme l’ombre,
  Et passe loin de nous:
  Mais le sentiment tendre
  D’un heureux souvenir,
  Dans mon cœur vient reprendre,
  La place du plaisir.”

7. _Ad Lesbiam_. His mistress had asked Catullus how many kisses would
satisfy him, and he answers that they must be as numerous as the sands of
the sea—

  “Aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
  Furtivos hominum vident amores.”

These two lines seem to have been in the view of Ariosto, in the 14th
canto of the _Orlando_—

  “E per quanti occhi il ciel le furtive opre
  Degli amatori, a mezza notte, scopre.”

Martial likewise imitates, and refers to this and to the 5th poem of
Catullus, in the 34th epigram of the 6th book—

  “Basia da nobis, Diadumene, pressa: quot? inquis—
    Oceani fluctus me numerare jubes;
  Et maris Ægæi sparsas per littora conchas,
    Et quæ Cecropio monte vagantur apes.
  Nolo quot arguto dedit exorata Catullo
  Lesbia: pauca cupit, qui numerare potest.”

The verses of Catullus have been also imitated in Latin by Sannazzarius,
by Joannes Secundus, of course, in his _Basia_, and by almost all the
ancient amatory poets of France.

8. _Ad Seipsum_. This is quite in the Greek taste: About a third of the
Odes of Anacreon are addressed Εις σεαυτον. Catullus here playfully, yet
feelingly, remonstrates with himself, for still pursuing his inconstant
Lesbia, by whom he had been forsaken.

9. _Ad Verannium_. This is one of the most pleasing of the shorter poems.
Catullus congratulates his friend Verannius on his return from Spain, and
expresses his joy in terms more touching and natural than anything in the
12th Satire of Juvenal, or the 36th Ode of the 1st Book of Horace, which
were both written on similar occasions.

10. _De Varri Scorto_. Catullus gives an account of a visit which he paid
at the house of a courtezan, along with his friend Varrus, and relates, in
a lively manner, the conversation which he had with the lady on the
subject of the acquisitions made by him in Bithynia, from which he had
lately returned. There seems here a hit to have been intended against
Cæsar, of whose conduct in that country some scandalous anecdotes were
afloat. The epigram, however, appears chiefly directed against those
cross-examiners, who are not to be put off with indefinite answers, and in
whose company one must be constantly on guard. In fact, the lady detects
Catullus making an unfounded boast of his Bithynian acquisitions, and he
accordingly exclaims,

  “Sed tu insulsa male, et molesta vivis,
  Per quam non licet esse negligentem.”

11. _Ad Furium et Aurelium_. This ode commences in a higher tone of poetry
than any of the preceding. Catullus addresses his friends, Furius and
Aurelius, who, he is confident, would be ready to accompany him to the
most remote and barbarous quarters of the globe—

  “Furi et Aureli, comites Catulli,
  Sive in extremos penetrabit Indos,
  Littus ut longe resonante Eoà
              Tunditur undâ.”

This verse was no doubt in the view of Horace, in the sixth Ode of the
second Book, where he addresses his friend Septimius, and adopts the
elegant and melodious Sapphic stanza employed by Catullus—

  “Septimi, Gades aditure mecum, et
  Cantabrum indoctum juga ferre nostra, et
  Barbaras Syrtes, ubi Maura semper
              Æstuat unda.”

Horace, however, has closed his ode with a few lines, perhaps the most
beautiful and tender in the whole circle of Latin poetry, and which strike
us the more, as pathos is not that poet’s peculiar excellence—

  “Ille te mecum locus et beati,” &c.

Catullus, on the other hand, after preserving an elevated strain of poetry
for four stanzas, concludes with requesting his friends to deliver a
ridiculous message to his mistress, who

  “Nec meum respectet, ut ante, amorem,
  Qui illius culpa cecidit; velut prati
  Ultimi flos, prætereunte postquam
              Tactus aratro est.”

This last most beautiful image has been imitated by various poets. Virgil
has not disdained to transfer it to his Æneid—

  “Purpureus veluti cum flos succisus aratro
  Languescit moriens(480).”

Fracastoro has employed the same metaphor with hardly less elegance in his
consolatory epistle to Turri, on the loss of his child—

  —— “Jacet ille velut succisus aratro
  Flos tener, et frustra non audit tanta gementem;”

and Ariosto has introduced it in the eighteenth canto of the Orlando—

  “Come purpureo fior languendo muore
  Che ’l vomere al passar tagliato lassa.”

13. _Ad Fabullum_. Our poet invites Fabullus to supper, on condition that
he will bring his provisions along with him—

  —— “Nam tui Catulli
  Plenus sacculus est aranearum.”

On his own part, he promises only a hearty welcome, and the most exquisite
ointments. In the poetry of social kindness and friendship, Catullus is
eminently happy; and we regret to find that this tone, which has so much
prevailed in the preceding odes, subsequently changes into bitter and
gross invective.

The thirteen following poems are chiefly occupied with vehement and
indelicate abuse of those friends of the poet, Furius and Aurelius, who
were men of some quality and distinction, but had wasted their fortunes by
extravagance and debauchery. In a former ode, we have seen him confident
that they would readily accompany him to the wildest or remotest quarters
of the globe: But he had subsequently quarrelled with them, partly because
they had stigmatized his verses as soft and effeminate; and, in revenge
for this affront, he upbraids them with their poverty and vices. Of these
thirteen poems, the last, addressed to Furius, is a striking picture of
the sheltered situation of a villa. In the common editions, the
description refers to the villa of Catullus himself, but Muretus thinks,
it was rather meant to be applied to that of Furius:

  “Furi, villula vostra non ad Austri,” &c.

27. _Ad Pocillatorem puerum_. This address, in which Catullus calls on his
cupbearer to pour out for him copious and unmixed libations of Falernian,
is quite in the spirit of Anacreon: it breathes all his easy and joyous
gaiety, and the enthusiasm inspired by the grape.

28. _Ad Verannium et Fabullum_—

  “Pisonis comites cohors inanis,” &c.

Catullus condoles with these friends on account of the little advantage
they had reaped from accompanying the Prætor Piso to his
province—comparing their situation to the similar circumstances in which
he had himself been placed with Memmius in Bithynia.

There is a parody on this piece of Catullus by the celebrated Huet, Bishop
of Avranches—

  “Bocharti comites cohors inanis.” &c.

In his youth, Huet had accompanied Bochart to Sweden, on the invitation of
Queen Christina, and appears to have been as little gratified by his
northern expedition, as Catullus by his voyage to Bithynia.

29. _In Cæsarem_. Julius Cæsar, while yet but the general of the Roman
republic, had been accustomed, during his stay in the north of Italy, to
lodge at the house of the father of Catullus in Verona. Notwithstanding
the intimacy which in consequence subsisted between Cæsar and his father,
Catullus lampooned the former on more than one occasion. In the present
epigram, he pours on him an unmeasured abuse, chiefly for having bestowed
the plunder of Britain and Gaul on his favourite, the infamous Mamurra,
who appropriated the public money, and the spoils of whole nations, to
support his boundless extravagance. There is a story which has become very
common on the authority of Suetonius, that Cæsar invited Catullus to
supper on the day on which he first read some satirical verses of the poet
against himself and Mamurra, and that he continued to lodge with his
father as before(481). It appears that on one occasion, when some
scurrilous verses by Catullus were shown to him, he supped with Cicero at
his villa near Puteoli. On the 19th, he staid at the house of Philippus
till one in the afternoon, but saw nobody; he then walked on the shore
across to Cicero’s villa—bathed after two o’clock, and heard the verses on
Mamurra read, at which he never changed countenance(482). Now, this was in
the year 708, after the civil war had been ended, by the defeat and death
of the younger Pompey in Spain. It is most likely that this 29th epigram
was the one which was read to him at Cicero’s villa; and the 57th epigram,
also directed against Cæsar and Mamurra, is probably that concerning which
the above anecdote is related by Suetonius. Though it stands last of the
two in the works of Catullus, it was evidently written before the 29th. He
talks in it of Cæsar and Mamurra, as of persons who were still on a
footing of equality—in the other, he speaks of their dividing the spoils
of the provinces, Gaul, Britain, Pontus, and Spain. The coolness and
indifference which Cæsar showed with regard to the first epigram written
against him, and the forgiveness he extended to its author, encouraged
Cicero, who was a gossip and newsmonger, or those who attended him, to
read to him another of the same description while bathing at the Puteolan

31. _Ad Sirmionem Peninsulam_. This heart-soothing invocation, which is
perhaps the most pleasing of all the productions of Catullus, is addressed
to the peninsula of Sirmio, in the territory of Verona, on which the
principal and favourite villa of our poet was situated. Sirmio was a
peninsular promontory, of about two miles circumference, projecting into
the Benacus, now the Lago di Garda—a lake celebrated by Virgil as one of
the noblest ornaments of Italy, and the praises of which have been loudly
re-echoed by the modern Latin poets of that country, particularly by
Fracastoro, who dwelt in its vicinity, and who, while lamenting the
untimely death of his poetical friend, Marc Antonio del Torri, beautifully
represents the shade of Catullus, as still nightly wandering amidst these
favourite scenes—

  “Te ripæ flevere Athesis; te voce vocare
  Auditæ per noctem umbræ, manesque Catulli,
  Et patrios mulcere novâ dulcedine lucos(483).”

Vestiges of the magnificent house supposed to have belonged to Catullus,
are yet shown on this peninsula. Its ruins, which lie near the borders of
the lake, still give the idea of an extensive palace. There are even now,
as we are informed by travellers(484), sufficient remains of mason-work,
pilasters, vaults, walls, and subterraneous passages, to assist the
imagination in representing to itself what the building was when entire,
at least in point of extent and situation. The length of the whole
construction, from north to south, is about 700 feet, and the breadth
upwards of 300. The ground on which it stood does not appear to have been
level, and the fall to the west was supplied by rows of vaults, placed on
each other, the top of which formed a terrace. On the east, the structure
had been raised on those steep and solid rocks which lined the shore; on
the front, which was to the north, and commanded a magnificent view of the
lake, an immense portico seems to have projected from the building: under
the ruins, there are a number of subterraneous vaults, one of which ran
through the middle of the edifice, and along its whole length(485).

The peninsula on which the villa of Catullus was situated, is not
surpassed in beauty or fertility by any spot in Italy. “Sirmione,” says
Eustace(486), “appears as an island, so low and so narrow is the bank that
unites it to the mainland. The promontory spreads behind the town, and
rises into a hill entirely covered with olives. Catullus,” he continues,
“undoubtedly inhabited this spot, and certainly he could not have chosen a
more delightful retreat. In the centre of a magnificent lake, surrounded
with scenery of the greatest variety and majesty, secluded from the world,
yet beholding from his garden the villas of his Veronese friends, he might
have enjoyed alternately the pleasures of retirement, and society; and
daily, without the sacrifice of his connexions, which Horace seemed
inclined to make in a moment of despondency, he might have contemplated
the grandeur and agitation of the ocean, without its terrors and
immensity. Besides, the soil is fertile, and its surface varied; sometimes
shelving in a gentle declivity, at other times breaking in craggy
magnificence, and thus furnishing every requisite for delightful walks and
luxurious baths; while the views vary at every step, presenting rich
coasts or barren mountains, sometimes confined to the cultivated scenes of
the neighbouring shore, and at other times bewildered and lost in the
windings of the lake, or in the recesses of the Alps. In short, more
convenience and more beauty are seldom united(487).” No wonder, then, that
Catullus, jaded and disappointed by his expedition to Bithynia, should, on
his return, have exclaimed with transport, that the spot was not to be
matched in the wide range of the world of waters; or that he should have
unloaded his mind of its cares, in language so perfect, yet simple, that
it could only have flowed from a real and exquisite feeling. No poem in
the Latin language expresses tender feelings more tenderly, and home
feelings more naturally, than the Invocation to Sirmio, in which the
verses soothe and refresh us somewhat in the manner we suppose Catullus
himself to have been, by the trees that shaded the promontory, and by the
waters of the lake below—

  “Quam te libenter, quamque lætus inviso!
  Vix me ipse credens Thyniam, atque Bithynos
  Liquisse campos, et videre te in tuto.
  O quid solutis est beatius curis?
  Cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
  Labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum,
  Desideratoque acquiescimus lecto.
  Hoc est, quod unum est pro laboribus tantis.
  Salve, O venusta Sirmio, atque hero gaude.”

These lines show that the most refined and tender feelings were as
familiar to the bosom of Catullus as the grossest. Nothing can be more
delicate than his description of the emotions of one, who, after many
wanderings and vicissitudes of fortune, returns to his home, and to the
scenes beloved in youth or infancy: Nothing can be more beautiful than his
invocation to the peninsula—his fond request that the delightful
promontory, and the waters by which it was surrounded, should join in
welcoming him home; and, above all, his heartfelt expression of delight at
the prospect of again reclining on his accustomed couch.

It appears to me, however, that the beauty and the pathos of the poem is
in some degree injured by the last verse,—

  “Ridete quicquid est domi cachinnorum,”

which introduces the idea of obstreperous mirth, instead of that tone of
tenderness which pervades the preceding lines of the ode. One would almost
suppose, as probably has happened in some other cases, that a verse had
been subjoined to this which properly belonged to a different ode, where
mirth, and not tenderness, prevailed.

The modern Latin poets of Italy frequently apostrophize their favourite
villas, in imitation of the address to Sirmio. Flaminius, in a poem, _Ad
Agellum suum_, has described his attachment to his farm and home, and the
first lines of it rival the tender and pleasing invocation of Catullus.
Some of the subsequent lines are written in close imitation of the Roman

  —— “Jam libebit in cubiculo
  Molles inire somnulos.
  Gaudete, fontes rivulique limpidi.”

As also the whole of his address to the same villa, commencing—

  “Umbræ frigidulæ, arborum susurri.”

One of the most pleasing features in the works of the modern Latin poets
of Italy, is the descriptions of their villas, their regret at leaving
them, or their invitations to friends to come and witness their happiness.
Hence Fracastoro’s villa, in the vicinity of Verona, Ambra, and
_Pulcherrima Mergellina_, are now almost esteemed classic spots, like
Tusculum or Tibur.

The invocation to the peninsula of Sirmio was evidently written soon after
the return of Catullus from Bithynia; and his next poem worth noticing is
a similar address to his villa near Tibur. The thought, however, in this
poem, is very forced and poor. Catullus having been invited by his friend
Sextius, according to a common custom at Rome, to be one of a party
assembled at his house for the purpose of hearing an oration composed by
their host, had contracted such a cold from its frigidity, that he was
obliged to leave Rome, and retire to this seat, in order to recover from
its effects. For his speedy restoration to health, he now gives thanks to
his salubrious villa. This residence was situated on the confines of the
ancient Latian and Sabine territories, and the villas there, as we learn
from this ode, were sometimes called Tiburtine, from the town of Tibur,
and sometimes Sabine, from the district where they lay; but the former
appellation, it seems, was greatly preferred by Catullus. As long as the
odes of Horace survive, the

  “Domus Albuneæ resonantis,
  Et præceps Anio, et Tiburni lucus, et uda
    Mobilibus pomaria rivis,”

will be remembered as forming one of the most delightful retreats in
Italy, and one which was so agreeable to its poet, that he wished that of
all others it might be the shelter and refuge of his old age. From the
present aspect of Tivoli, the charm of the villas at the ancient Tibur may
be still appreciated. “We ascended,” says Eustace, “the high hill on which
Tivoli stands, passing through groves of olives, till we reached the
summit. This town, the Tibur of the ancients, stands in a delightful
situation, sheltered by Monte Catillo, and a semicircular range of Sabine
mountains, and commanding, on the other side, an extensive view over the
Campagna, bounded by the sea, Rome, Mount Soracte, and the pyramidal hills
of Monticelli and Monte Rotondo, the ancient Eretum. But the pride and
ornament of Tivoli are still, as anciently, the falls and the windings of
the Anio, now Teverone. This river having meandered from its source
through the vales of Sabina, glides gently through Tivoli, till, coming to
the brink of a rock, it precipitates itself in one mass down the steep,
and then boiling for an instant in its narrow channel, rushes headlong
through a chasm in the rock into the caverns below.* * * To enjoy the
scenery to advantage, the traveller must cross the bridge, and follow the
road which runs at the foot of the classic Monte Catillo, and winds along
the banks of the Anio. As he advances he will have on his left the steep
banks covered with trees, shrubs, and gardens, and on his right the bold
but varying swells of the hills shaded with groves of olives. These sunny
declivities were anciently interspersed with splendid villas, the
favourite abodes of the most luxurious and refined Romans. They are now
replaced by two solitary convents, but their site, often conjectural or
traditionary, is sometimes marked by scanty vestiges of ruins, and now and
then by the more probable resemblance of a name(488).” Eustace does not
particularly mention the farm or villa of Catullus. In the travels,
however, which pass under the name of M. Blainville, written in the
beginning of last century, we are informed, that a monastery of the
religious order of Mount Olivet was then established on the spot where
formerly stood the Tiburtine villa of Catullus(489). M. de Castellan fixes
on the same spot, on account of its situation between the Sabine and
Tiburtine territory. “D’ailleurs,” continues he, “il n’est pas d’endroit
plus retiré, mieux garanti des vents, que cet angle rentrant de la vallée,
entouré de tous côtes par de hautes montagnes; ce qui est encore un des
caracteres du local choisi par notre poëte, qui pretendoit y être à l’abri
de tout autre vent que de celui qui l’expose à la vengeance de sa
maitresse(490).” It would appear from Forsyth’s Travels, that a spot is
still fixed on as the site of the residence of Catullus. “The villa of
Catullus,” he says, “is easily ascertained by his own minute description
of the place, by excavated marbles, and by the popular name of Truglia.”
This spot, which is close to the church of St Angelo in Piavola, is on the
opposite side of the Anio from Tibur, about a mile north from that town,
and on the north side of Monte Catillo, or what might be called the back
of that hill, in reference to the situation of Tibur. The Anio divides the
ancient Latian from the Sabine territory, and the villa of Catullus was on
the Sabine side of the river, but was called Tiburtine from the vicinity
of Tibur(491).

The Romans, and particularly the Roman poets, as if the rustic spirit of
their Italian ancestry was not altogether banished by the buildings of
Rome, appear to have had a genuine and exquisite relish for the delights
of the country. This feeling was not inspired by fondness for
field-sports, since, although habituated to violent exercises, the chase
never was a favourite amusement among the Romans, and they preferred
seeing wild animals baited in the amphitheatre, to hunting them down in
their native forests. The country then was not relished as we are apt to
enjoy it, for the sake of exercise or rural pastimes, but solely for its
amenity and repose, and the mental tranquillity which it diffused. With
them it seems to have been truely,

  “The relish for the calm delight
  Of verdant vales and fountains bright;
  Trees that nod on sloping hills,
  And caves that echo tinkling rills.”.

Love of the country among the Romans thus became conjoined with the idea
of a life of pastoral tranquillity and retirement,—a life of friendship,
liberty, and repose,—free from labour and care, and all turbulent
passions. Scenes of this kind delight and interest us supremely, whether
they be painted as what is desired or what is enjoyed. We feel how natural
it is for a mind with a certain disposition to relaxation and indolence,
when fatigued with the bustle of life, to long for security and quiet, and
for those sequestered scenes in which they can be most exquisitely
enjoyed. There is much less of this in the writings of the Greeks, who
were originally a sea-faring and piratical, and not, like the Italians, a
pastoral people. It is thus that, even in their highest state of
refinement, the manners and feelings of nations bear some affinity to
their original rudeness, though that rudeness itself has been
imperceptibly converted into a source of elegance and ornament.

34. _Seculare carmen ad Dianam_. This is the first strictly lyric
production of Catullus which occurs, and there are only three other poems
of a similar class. In Greece, the public games afforded a noble occasion
for the display of lyric poetry, and the sensibility of the Greeks fitted
them to follow its highest flights. But it was not so among the Romans.
They had no solemn festivals of assembled states: Their active and
ambitious life deadened them to the emotions which lyric poetry should
excite; and the gods, whose praises form the noblest themes of the Æolian
lyre, were with them rather the creatures of state policy, than of feeling
or imagination.

45. _De Acme et Septimio_. Here our poet details the mutual blandishments
and amorous expressions of Acme and Septimius, with the approbation
bestowed on them by Cupid. This amatory effusion has been freely
translated by Cowley:—

  “Whilst on Septimius’ panting breast.
  Meaning nothing less than rest,” &c.

49. _Ad M. Tullium_. In this poem, which is addressed to Cicero as the
most eloquent of the Romans, Catullus modestly returns the orator thanks
for some service he had rendered him.

51. _Ad Lesbiam_. This is the translation of the celebrated ode of Sappho,
which has been preserved to us by Longinus, Φαινεται μοι κηνος, &c. The
fourth stanza of the original Greek has not been translated, but in its
place a verse is inserted in all the editions of Catullus, containing a
moral reflection, which one would hardly have expected from this dissolute

  “Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
  Otio exultas, nimiumque gestis;
  Otium reges prius et beatas
            Perdidit urbes.”

This stanza is so foreign from the spirit of high excitation in which the
preceding part of the ode is written, that Maffei suspected it had
belonged to some other poem of Catullus; and Handius, in his
_Observationes Criticæ_, conjectures that the fourth stanza, which
Catullus translated from the original Greek, having been lost, and a chasm
being thus left, some idle librarian or scholiast of the middle ages had
interpolated these four lines of misplaced morality, that no gap might
appear in his manuscript(492). It is not impossible, however, that this
verse may have been intended to express the answer of the poet’s mistress.

Many amatory poets have tried to imitate this celebrated ode; but most of
them have failed of success. Boileau has also attempted this far-famed
fragment; but although he has produced an elegant enough poem, he has not
expressed the vehement passion of the Greek original so happily as
Catullus. How different are the rapidity and emotion of the following

  “Lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
  Flamma dimanat, sonitu suopte
  Tintinant aures—gemina teguntur
            Lumina nocte,”

from the languor of the corresponding lines of the French poet!

  “Une nuage confus se repand sur ma vue,
  Je n’entend plus, je tombe en de douces langueurs,
  Et passe, sans haleine, interdite, perdue;
  Un frisson me saisit—je tremble, je me meurs.”

These lines give us little idea of that furious passion of which Longinus
says the Greek ode expresses all the symptoms. Racine has been much more
happy than Boileau in his imitation of Sappho. Phædra, in the celebrated
French tragedy which bears the name of that victim of love, thus paints
the effects of the passion with which she was struck at her first view of

  “Athènes me montra mon superbe ennemi:
  Je le vis, je rougis, je palis à sa vue—
  Un trouble s’eleva dans mon ame éperdue,
  Mes yeux ne voyoient plus, je ne pouvois parler;
  Je sentis tout mon cœur et transir et brûler(493).”

On this passage Voltaire remarks, “Peut on mieux imiter Sappho? Ces vers,
quoique imites, coulent de source; chaque mot trouble les ames sensibles,
et les penetre; ce n’est point une amplification: c’est le chef d’œuvre de
la nature et de l’art(494).” A translation by De Lille, which has a very
close resemblance to that of Boileau, is inserted in the delightful
chapter of the _Voyage du Jeune Anacharsis_, which treats of Lesbos and
Sappho. Philips, it is well known, attempted a version of the lyric
stanzas of Sappho, which was first printed with vast commendation in the
229th Number of the Spectator, where Addison has also remarked, “that
several of our countrymen, and Dryden in particular, seem very often to
have copied after this ode of Sappho, in their dramatic writings, and in
their poems upon love.”

58. _Ad Cœlium de Lesbia_. In this ode, addressed to one of her former
admirers, Catullus gives an account, both tender and pathetic, of the
debaucheries and degraded condition of Lesbia, to his passion for whom, he
had attributed such powerful effects in the above imitation of Sappho.

61. _In Nuptias Juliæ et Manlii_. We come now to the three celebrated
epithalamiums of Catullus. The first is in honour of the nuptials of Julia
and Manlius, who is generally supposed to have been Aulus Manlius
Torquatus, an intimate friend of the poet, and a descendant of one of the
most noble patrician families in Rome. This poem has been entitled an
Epithalamium in most of the ancient editions, but Muretus contends that
this is an improper appellation, and that it should be inscribed _Carmen
Nuptiale_. “An epithalamium,” he says, “was supposed to be sung by the
virgins when the bride had retired to the nuptial chamber, whereas in this
poem an earlier part of the ceremony is celebrated and described.” This
earlier part, indeed, occupies the greater portion of the poem, but
towards the conclusion the bride is represented as placed in the chamber
of her husband, which may justify its ordinary title:

  “Jam licet venias, Marite;
  Uxor in thalamo est tibi,” &c.

In this bridal song the poet first addresses Hymen; and as the bride was
now about to proceed from her paternal mansion to the house of her
husband, invokes his aid in raising the nuptial hymn. He then describes
the bride:—

  “Floridis velut enitens
  Myrtus Asià ramulis;
  Quos Hamadryades Deæ
  Ludicrum sibi roscido
  Nutriunt humore.”

A similar image is frequent with other poets, and has been adopted by
Pontanus(495) and Naugerius(496).

The praises of Hymen follow next:—

  “Nil potest sine te Venus,
  Fama quod bona comprobet,
  Commodi capere: at potest
  Te volente. Quis huic Deo
  Compararier ausit?

  Nulla quit sine te domus
  Liberos dare, nec parens
  Stirpe jungier: at potest
  Te volente. Quis huic Deo
  Compararier ausit?”

Claudian, in his epithalamium on the nuptials of Palladius and Celerina,
and the German poet Lotichius, extol Hymen in terms similar to those
employed in the first of the above stanzas: and the advantages he confers,
alluded to in the second, have been beautifully touched on by Milton, as
also by Pope, in his chorus of youths and virgins, forming part of the
Duke of Buckingham’s intended tragedy—_Brutus_:

  “But Hymen’s kinder flames unite,
    And burn for ever one,
  Chaste as cold Cynthia’s virgin light,
    Productive as the sun.

  “O source of every social tye,
    United wish and mutual joy,
  What various joys on one attend!
    As son, as father, brother, husband, friend.”

Catullus now proceeds to describe the ceremonies with which the bride was
conveyed to the house of her husband, and was there received. He feigns
that he beholds the nuptial pomp and retinue approaching, and encourages
the bride to come forth, by an elegant compliment to her beauty; as also,
by reminding her of the fair fame and character of her intended husband.
As she approaches, he intimates the freedom of the ancient Fescennine
verses, which were first sung at marriage festivals.

The bride being at length conducted to her new habitation, the poet
addresses the bridegroom, and shuts up the married pair: But before
concluding, in reference to Torquatus, one of the husband’s names, he
alludes, with exquisite delicacy and tenderness, to the most-wished-for
consequence of this happy union:—

  “Torquatus, volo, parvulus
  Matris e gremio suæ
  Porrigens teneras manus,
  Dulce rideat ad patrem,
  Semihiante labello.”

The above verse has been thus imitated in an Epithalamium on the marriage
of Lord Spencer, by Sir William Jones, who pronounces it a picture worthy
the pencil of Domenichino:

  “And soon to be completely blest,
    Soon may a young Torquatus rise,
  Who, hanging on his mother’s breast,
    To his known sire shall turn his eyes,
  Outstretch his infant arms a while,
    Half ope his little lips and smile.”

And thus by Leonard, in his pastoral romance of _Alexis_, where, however,
he has omitted the _semihiante labello_, the finest feature in the

  “Quel tableau! quand un jeune enfant,
  Penché sur le sein de sa mère,
  Avec un sourire innocent
  Etendra ses mains vers son père.”

This nuptial hymn has been the model of many epithalamiums, particularly
that of Jason and Creusa, sung by the chorus in Seneca’s _Medea_, and of
Honorius and Maria, in Claudian. The modern Latin poets, particularly
Justus Lipsius, have exercised themselves a great deal in this style of
composition; and most of them with evident imitation of the work of
Catullus. It has also been highly applauded by the commentators; and more
than one critic has declared that it must have been written by the hands
of Venus and the Graces—“Veneris et Gratiarum manibus scriptum esse.” I
wish, however, they had excepted from their unqualified panegyrics the
coarse imitation of the Fescennine poems, which leaves on our minds a
stronger impression of the prevalence and extent of Roman vices, than any
other passage in the Latin classics. Martial, and Catullus himself
elsewhere, have branded their enemies; and Juvenal, in bursts of satiric
indignation, has reproached his countrymen with the most shocking crimes.
But here, in a complimentary poem to a patron and intimate friend, these
are jocularly alluded to as the venial indulgences of his earliest youth.

62. _Carmen Nuptiale_. Some parts of this epithalamium have been taken
from Theocritus, particularly from his eighteenth Idyl, where the
Lacedæmonian maids, companions of Helen, sing before the bridal-chamber of
Menelaus(497). This second nuptial hymn of Catullus may be regarded as a
continuation of the above poem, being also in honour of the marriage of
Manlius and Julia. The stanzas of the former were supposed to be sung or
recited in the person of the poet, who only exhorted the chorus of youths
and virgins to commence the nuptial strain. But here these bands contend,
in alternate verses; the maids descanting on the beauty and advantages of
a single life, and the lads on those of marriage.

The young men, companions of the bridegroom, are supposed to have left him
at the rising of the evening star of love:—

            —— “Vesper Olympo
  Expectata diu vix tandem lumina tollit.
    *  *  *  *  *
  Hespere, qui cœlo lucet jucundior ignis?”

These lines appear to have been imitated by Spenser in his Epithalamium—

  “Ah! when will this long weary day have done!
  Long though it be, at last I see it gloom,
  And the bright evening star, with golden crest,
                Appear out of the east;
  Fair child of beauty, glorious lamp of love,
  How cheerfully thou lookest from above!”

The maids who had accompanied the bride to her husband’s house, approached
the youths who had just left the bridegroom, and they commence a very
elegant contention concerning the merits of the star, which the chorus of
virgins is pleased to characterize as a cruel planet. They are silenced,
however, by the youths hinting that they are not such enemies to Hesper as
they pretend to be. Then the maids, draw a beautiful, and, with Catullus,
a favourite comparison between an unblemished virgin, and a delicate
flower in a garden:

  “Ut flos in septis secretus nascitur hortis,
  Ignotus pecori, nullo convulsus aratro,
  Quem mulcent auræ, firmat sol, educat imber;
  Multi illum pueri, multæ optavere puellæ.
  Idem cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
  Nulli illum pueri, nullæ optavere puellæ.
  Sic virgo dum intacta manet, tum cara suis; sed
  Cum castum amisit, polluto corpore, florem,
  Nec pueris jucunda manet, nec cara puellis.”

To the sentiment delineated by this image, the youths reply by one
scarcely less beautiful, emblematical of the happiness of the married
state; and as this was a theme in which the maidens were probably not
unwilling to be overcome, they unite in the last stanza with the chorus of
young men, in recommending to the bride to act the part of a submissive

Few passages in Latin poetry have been more frequently imitated, and none
more deservedly, than the above-quoted verses of Catullus, who certainly
excels almost all other writers, in the beauty and propriety of his
similes. The greatest poets have not disdained to transplant this
exquisite flower of song. Perhaps the most successful imitation is one by
the Prince of the romantic bards of Italy, in the first canto of his
_Orlando_, and which it may be amusing to compare with the original:

  “La Verginella è simile alla rosa,
  Che in bel giardin su la nativa spina,
  Mentre sola, e sicura si riposa,
  Nè gregge, nè pastor se le avvicina;
  L’aura soave, e l’alba rugiadosa,
  L’acqua, la terra al suo favor s’inchina:
  Giovini vaghi, e donne innamorate,
  Amano averne e seni, e tempie ornate.

  Ma non si tosto dal materno stelo
  Rimossa viene, e dal suo ceppo verde;
  Che quanto avea dagli uomini, e dal cielo,
  Favor, grazia, e bellezza tutto perde.
  La vergine, che il fior, di che più zelo,
  Che de begli occhi, e della vita, aver dè,
  Lascia altrui corre, il pregio, ch’avea dinanti,
  Perde nel cor de tutti gli altri amanti.”

The reader may perhaps like to see how this theme has been managed by an
old _French_ poet nearly contemporary with Ariosto:

  “La jeune vierge est semblable à la rose,
  Au beau jardin, sur l’épine native,
  Tandis que sûre et seulette repose,
  Sans que troupeau ni berger y arrive;
  L’air doux l’échauffe, et l’Aurore l’arrose,
  La terre, l’eau par sa faveur l’avive;
  Mais jeunes gens et dames amoureuses,
  De la cueillir ont les mains envieuses;
  La terre et l’air, qui la soulaient nourrir,
  La quittent lors et la laissent flétrir(498).”

It is evident that Ariosto has suggested several things to the French
poet, as he has also done to the imitators in our own language, in which
the simile has been frequently attempted, but not with much success. Ben
Jonson has translated it miserably, substituting doggerel verse for the
sweet flow of the Latin poetry, and verbal antithesis and conceit for that
beautiful simplicity of idea which forms the chief charm of the original:

  “Look how a flower that close in closes grows,
  Hid from rude cattle, bruised by no plows,” &c.

One of the best of the numerous English imitations is that in the _Lay of
Iolante_, introduced in Bland’s _Four Slaves of Cythera_:

    “A tender maid is like a flow’ret sweet,
      Within the covert of a garden born;
    Nor flock nor hind disturb the calm retreat,
      But on the parent stalk it blooms untorn,
    Refresh’d by vernal rains and gentle heat,
      The balm of evening, and the dews of morn:
    Youths and enamoured maidens vie to wear
  This flower—their bosoms grace, or twined around their hair.

    “No sooner gathered from the vernal bough,
      Where fresh and blooming to the sight it grew.
    Than all who marked its opening beauty blow,
      Forsake the tainted sweet, and faded hue.
    And she who yields, forgetful of her vow,
      To one but newly loved, another’s due,
    Shall live, though high for heavenly beauty prized,
    By youths unhonoured, and by maids despised.”

One of the lines in the passage of Catullus,

  “Multi illum pueri—multæ optavere puellæ,”

and its converse,

  “Nulli illum pueri—nullæ optavere puellæ,”

have been copied by Ovid in his _Metamorphoses_(499), and applied to

  “Multi illum pueri, multæ cupiere puellæ.
  Sed fuit in tenerâ tam dura superbia formâ,
  Nulli illum juvenes, nullæ tetigere puellæ.”

The origin of the line,

  “Nec pueris jucunda manet, nec cara puellis,”

may be traced to a fragment of the Greek poet Mimnermus:

  “Ἀλλ’ ἐχθρος μεν παισιν, ατιμαστος δε γυναιξιν.”

63. _De Ati_.—The story of Atis is one of the most mysterious of the
mythological emblems. The fable was explained by Porphyry; and the Emperor
Julian afterwards invented and published an allegory of this mystic tale.
According to them, the voluntary emasculation of Atis was typical of the
revolution of the sun between the tropics, or the separation of the human
soul from vice and error. In the literal acceptation in which it is
presented by Catullus, the fable seems an unpromising and rather a
peculiar subject for poetry: indeed, there is no example of a similar
event being celebrated in verse, except the various poems on the fate of
Abelard. It is likewise the only specimen we have in Latin of the
Galliambic measure; so called, because sung by Galli, the effeminate
votaries of Cybele. The Romans, being a more sober and severe people than
the Greeks, gave less encouragement than they to the celebration of the
rites of Bacchus, and have poured forth but few dithyrambic lines. The
genius of their language and of their usual style of poetry, as well as
their own practical and imitative character, were unfavourable to the
composition of such bold, figurative, and discursive strains. They have
left no verses which can be strictly called dithyrambic, except, perhaps,
the nineteenth ode of the second book of Horace, and a chorus in the
_Œdipus_ of Seneca. If not perfectly dithyrambic, the numbers of the
_Atis_ of Catullus are, however, strongly expressive of distraction and
enthusiasm. The violent bursts of passion are admirably aided by the
irresistible torrent of words, and by the cadence of a measure powerfully
denoting mental agony and remorse. In this production, now unexampled in
every sense of the word, Catullus is no longer the light agreeable poet,
who counted the kisses of his mistress, and called on the Cupids to lament
her sparrow. His ideas are full of fire, and his language of wildness: He
pours forth his thoughts with an energy, rapidity, and enthusiasm, so
different from his usual tone, and, indeed, from that of all Latin poets,
that this production has been supposed to be a translation from some
ancient Greek dithyrambic, of which it breathes all the passion and poetic
phrensy. The employment of long compound epithets, which constantly recur
in the _Atis_,—

  “Ubi cerva sylvicultrix, ubi aper nemorivagus,” ——

is also a strong mark of imitation of the Greek dithyrambics; it being
supposed, that such sonorous and new-invented words were most befitting
intoxication or religious enthusiasm(500). Anacreon, in his thirteenth
ode, alludes to the lamentations and transports of Atis, as to a
well-known poetical tradition:

  “Ὁι μεν καλην Κυβηβην
  Τον ἡμιθηλυν Ἀττιν
  Ἐν ὀυρεσιν βοωντα,
  Λεγουσιν έκμανηναι.”

Atis, it appears from the poem of Catullus, was a beautiful youth,
probably of Greece, who, forsaking his home and parents, sailed with a few
companions to Phrygia, and, having landed, hurried to the grove
consecrated to the great goddess Cybele,—

  “Adiitque opaca sylvis redimita loca Deæ,”

There, struck with superstitious phrensy, he qualified himself for the
service of that divinity; and, snatching the musical instruments used in
her worship, he exhorted his companions, who had followed his example, to
ascend to the temple of Cybele. At this part of the poem, we follow the
new votary of the Phrygian goddess through all his wild traversing of
woods and mountains, till at length, having reached the temple, Atis and
his companions drop asleep, exhausted by fatigue and mental distraction.
Being tranquillized in some measure by a night’s repose, Atis becomes
sensible of the misery of his situation; and, struck with horror at his
rash deed, he returns to the sea-shore. There he casts his eyes, bathed in
tears, over the ocean homeward; and comparing his former happiness with
his present wretched condition, he pours forth a complaint unrivalled in
energy and pathos. Gibbon talks of the different emotions produced by the
transition of Atis from the wildest enthusiasm to sober pathetic complaint
for his irretrievable loss(501); but, in fact, his complaint is not
soberly pathetic—to which the Galliambic measure would be little suited:
it is, on the contrary, the most impassioned expression of mental agony
and bitter regret in the wide compass of Roman literature:

  “Abero foro, palæstrâ, stadio et gymnasiis?
  Miser, ah miser! querendum est etiam atque etiam, anime:
  Ego puber, ego adolescens, ego ephebus, ego puer;
  Ego gymnasii fui flos, ego eram decus olei;
  Mihi januæ frequentes, mihi limina tepida,
  Mihi floridis corollis redimita domus erat,
  Linquendum ubi esset, orto mihi Sole, cubiculum.
  Egone Deûm ministra et Cybeles famula ferar?
  Ego Mænas, ego mei pars, ego vir sterilis ero?
  Ego viridis algida Idæ nive amicta loca colam?
  Ego vitam agam sub altis Phrygiæ columinibus,
  Ubi cerva sylvicultrix, ubi aper nemorivagus?
  Jam jam dolet quod egi, jam jamque pœnitet.”

One is vexed, that the conclusion of this splendid production should be so
puerile. Cybele, dreading the defection and escape of her newly acquired
votary, lets loose a lion, which drives him back to her groves,—

  “Ubi semper omne vitæ spatium famula fuit.”

Muretus attempted a Latin Galliambic Address to Bacchus in imitation of
the measure employed in the _Atis_ of Catullus, and he has strenuously
tried to make his poem resemble its model by an affected use of uncouth
compound epithets. Pigna, an Italian poet, has adopted similar numbers in
a Latin poem, on the metamorphosis of the water nymph, Pitys, who was
changed into a fir-tree, for having fled from the embraces of Boreas. In
many of the lines he has closely followed Catullus; but it seems scarcely
possible that any modern poet could excite in his mind the enthusiasm
essential for the production of such works. Catullus probably believed as
little in Atis and Cybele as Muretus, but he lived among men who did; and
though his opinions might not be influenced, his imagination was tinged
with the colours of the age.

_Atis_ is the name of one of the tragic operas of Quinault, which, I
believe, was the most popular of his pieces except _Armide_; but it has
little reference to the classic story of the votary of Cybele. The French
Atis is a vehement and powerful lover, who elopes with the nymph Sangaride
on the wings of the Zephyrs, which had been placed by Cybele, who was
herself enamoured of the youth, at the disposal of Atis. It seems a poor
production in itself, (how different from the operas of Metastasio!) but
it was embellished by splendid scenery, and the music of Lulli, adapted to
the chorus of Phrygians, and Zephyrs, and Dreams, and Streams, and

64. _Epithalamium Pelei et Thetidis_.—This is the longest and most
elaborate of the productions of Catullus. It displays much accurate
description, as well as pathetic and impassioned incident. Catullus was a
Greek scholar, and all his commentators seem determined that his best
poems should be considered as of Greek invention. I do not believe,
however, that the whole of this epithalamium was taken from any one poet
of Greece, as the _Coma Berenices_ was from Callimachus; but the author
undoubtedly borrowed a great deal from various writers of that country.
Hesiod wrote an Epithalamium, Ἐις Πηλεα και Θετιν(502), some fragments of
which have been cited by Tzetzes, in his _prolegomena_ to Lycophron’s
_Cassandra_; and judging from these, it appears to have suggested several
lines of the epithalamium of Catullus. The adornment, however, and
propriety of its language, and the usual practice of Catullus in other
productions, render it probable, that he has chiefly selected his beauties
from the Alexandrian poets. Valckenar, in his edition of Theocritus,
(1779,) has shown, that the Idyls of Theocritus, particularly the
_Adoniazusi_, have been of much service to our Latin poet; and a late
German commentator has pointed out more than twenty passages, in which he
has not merely imitated, but actually translated, Apollonius Rhodius(503).

The proper subject of this epithalamium is the festivals held in Thessaly
in honour of the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis; but it is chiefly occupied
with a long episode, containing the story of Ariadne. It commences with
the sailing of the ship Argo on the celebrated expedition to which that
vessel has given name. The Nereids were so much struck with the unusual
spectacle, that they all emerged from the deep; and Thetis, one of their
number, fell in love with Peleus, who had accompanied the expedition, and
who was instantly seized with a reciprocal passion. Little is said as to
the manner in which the courtship was conducted, and the poet hastens to
the preparations for the nuptials. On this joyful occasion, all the
inhabitants of Thessaly flock to its capital, Pharsalia. Every thing in
the royal palace is on a magnificent scale; but the poet chiefly describes
the _stragula_, or coverlet, of the nuptial couch, on which was depicted
the concluding part of the story of Theseus and Ariadne. Ariadne is
represented as standing on the beach, where she had been abandoned, while
asleep, by Theseus, and gazing in fixed despair at the departing sail of
her false lover. Never was there a finer picture drawn of complete mental
desolation. She was incapable of exhibiting violent signs of grief: She
neither beats her bosom, nor bursts into tears; but the diadem which had
compressed her locks—the light mantle which had floated around her
form—the veil which had covered her bosom—all neglected, and fallen at her
feet, were the sport of the waves which dashed the strand, while she
herself, regardless and stupified with horror at her frightful situation,
stood like the motionless statue of a Bacchante,—

  “Saxea ut effigies Bacchantis prospicit Evoe;
  Non flavo retinens subtilem vertice mitram,
  Non contecta levi velatum pectus amictu,
  Non tereti strophio luctantes vincta papillas;
  Omnia quæ toto delapsa e corpore passim
  Ipsius ante pedes fluctus salis alludebant.”

The above passage is thus imitated by the author of the elegant poem
_Ciris_, which has been attributed to Virgil, and is not unworthy of his

  “Infelix virgo tota bacchatur in urbe:
  Non styrace Idæo fragrantes picta capillos,
  Cognita non teneris pedibus Sicyonia servans,
  Non niveo retinens baccata monilia collo.”—v. 167.

Catullus, leaving Ariadne in the attitude above described, recapitulates
the incidents, by which she had been placed in this agonizing situation.
He relates, in some excellent lines, the magnanimous enterprize of
Theseus—his voyage, and arrival in Crete: He gives us a picture of the
youthful innocence of Ariadne, reared in the bosom of her mother, like a
myrtle springing up on the solitary banks of the Euphrates, or a flower
whose blossom is brought forth by the breath of spring. The combat of
Theseus with the Minotaur is but shortly and coldly described. It is
obvious that the poet merely intended to raise our idea of the valour of
Theseus, so far as to bestow interest and dignity on the passion of
Ariadne, and to excuse her for sacrificing to its gratification all
feelings of domestic duty and affection. Having yielded and accompanied
her lover, she was deserted by him, in that forlorn situation, her deep
sense of which had changed her to the likeness of a Bacchante sculptured
in stone. Her first feelings of horror and astonishment had deprived her
of the power of utterance; but she at length bursts into exclamations
against the perfidy of men, and their breach of vows, which

  —— “Cuncta aerii discerpunt irrita venti.
  Jam jam nulla viro juranti femina credat,
  Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles:
  Qui, dum aliquid cupiens animus prægestit apisci,
  Nil metuunt jurare, nihil promittere parcunt.
  Sed simul ac cupidæ mentis satiata libido est,
  Dicta nihil metuêre, nihil perjuria curant.”

This passage has been obviously imitated by Ariosto, in his _Orlando_—

  “Donne, alcuna di voi mai più non sia
  Che a parole d’amante abbia a dar fede.
  L’amante per aver quel che desia,
  Senza curar che Dio tutto ode e vede,
  Avviluppa promesse, e giuramenti,
  Che tutti spargon poi per l’aria i venti.”

After indulging in such general reflections, Ariadne complains of the
cruelty and ingratitude of Theseus in particular, whom she thus

  “Quænam te genuit solâ sub rupe leæna?
  Quod mare conceptum spumantibus exspuit undis?
  Quæ Syrtis, quæ Scylla, vorax quæ vasta Charybdis?”

These lines seem to have been suggested by the address of Patroclus to
Achilles, near the commencement of the sixteenth book of the Iliad—

  “—— Ὀυκ αρα σοι γε πατηρ ἠν ἱπποτα Πηλευς,
  Ὀυδε Θετις μητηρ· γλαυκη δε σε τικτε Θαλασσα,
  Πετραι δ’ ἠλιβατοι, ὁτι τοι νεος ἐστιν απηνης.”

Catullus, having put the expression of this idea in the mouth of a
princess abandoned by her lover, it became a sort of _Formula_ for
deserted heroines among subsequent poets. Thus Ovid, in the eighth book of
his _Metamorphoses_—

  “Non genitrix Europa tibi est, sed inhospita Syrtis,
  Armeniæ tigres, austroque agitata Charybdis;”

and thus Virgil makes Dido address Æneas—

  “Nec tibi Diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
  Perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
  Caucasus, Hyrcanæque admôrunt ubera tigres.”

Tasso, who was a great imitator of the Latin poets, attributes, from the
lips of Armida, a similar genealogy to Rinaldo—

  “Nè te Sofia produsse, e non sei nato
  Dell’ Azzio sangue tu. Te l’onda insana
  Del mar produsse, e ’l Caucaso gelato,
  E le mamme allattar de tigre Ircana.”

Boileau had happily enough parodied those rodomontades in the earlier
editions of the _Lutrin_; but the passage has been omitted in all those
subsequent to that of 1683—

  “Non, ton père à Paris ne fut point boulanger,
  Et tu n’es point du sang de Gervais, l’horloger;
  Ta mère ne fut point la maîtresse d’une coche:
  Caucase dans ses flancs te forma d’une roche,
  Une tigresse affreuse en quelque antre ecarté,
  Te fit sucer son lait avec sa cruauté.”

I do not think the circumstances in which Armida pours forth her
reproaches are judiciously selected. The Ariadne of Catullus vents her
complaints when her betrayer is beyond reach of hearing, and Dido, though
in his presence, before he had taken his departure: But Armida runs after,
and overtakes Rinaldo, in which there is something degrading. She
expresses, however, more tenderness and amorous devotedness amid her
revilings, than any of her predecessors—

  “Struggi la fede nostra; anch’io t’affretto;
  Che dico nostra? Ah non più mia: fedele
  Sono a te solo, idolo mio crudele!”

When she has ended her complaints of the cruelty and ingratitude of
Theseus, Ariadne expresses a very natural wish, that the ship Argo had
never reached her native shores—

  “Jupiter Omnipotens, utinam ne tempore primo
  Gnosia Cecropiæ tetigissent littora puppes.”

Thus, apparently, imitated by Virgil—

  “Felix, heu nimium felix! si littora tantum
  Nunquam Dardaniæ tetigissent nostra carinæ.”

But both these passages, it is probable, were originally drawn from the
beginning of the Medea of Euripides—

  “Ἐιθ’ οφελ’ Αργους μη διαπτασθαι σκαφος
  Κολχων ες αιαν κυανεας συμπληγαδας.”

Catullus proceeds with a much closer imitation of Euripides—

  “Nunc quo me referam? quali spe perdita nitar?
  An patris auxilium sperem, quemne ipsa reliqui?”

which is almost translated from the Medea—

  “Νυν ποι τραπωμαι; ποτερα προς πατρος δομους
  Ὁυς σοι προδουσα και πατραν αφικομην.”

The grief and repentance of Ariadne are at length followed by a sense of
personal danger and hardship; and her pathetic soliloquy terminates with
execrations on the author of her misfortunes, to which—

  “Annuit invicto cœlestûm numine rector;
  Quo tunc et tellus, atque horrida contremuerunt
  Æquora, concussitque micantia sidera mundus,”

an image probably derived from the celebrated description in the Iliad—Ἠ
και κυανεησιν, &c. This promise of Jupiter was speedily accomplished, in
the well-known and miserable fate of Ægeus, the father of Theseus.

We are naturally led to compare with Catullus, the efforts of his own
countrymen, particularly those of Ovid and Virgil, in portraying the
agonies of deserted nymphs and princesses. Both these poets have borrowed
largely from their predecessor. Ovid has treated the subject of Ariadne
not less than four times. In the epistle of Ariadne to Theseus, he has
painted, like Catullus, her disordered person—her sense of desertion, and
remembrance of the benefits she had conferred on Theseus: But the epistle
is a cold production, chiefly because her grief is not immediately
presented before us; and she merely tells that she had wept, and sighed,
and raved. The minute detail, too, into which she enters, is inconsistent
with her vehement passion. She recollects too well each heap of sand which
retarded her steps, and the thorns on the summit of the mountain.
Returning from her wanderings, she addresses her couch, of which she asks
advice, till she becomes overpowered by apprehension for the wild beasts
and marine monsters, of which she presents her false lover with a faithful
catalogue. The simple ideas of Catullus are frequently converted into
conceits, and his natural bursts of passion, into quibbles and artificial
points. In the eighth book of the _Metamorphoses_, the melancholy part of
Ariadne’s story is only recalled, in order to introduce the transformation
of her crown into a star. In the third book of the _Fasti_, she deplores
the double desertion of Theseus and Bacchus. It is in the first book of
the _Art of Love_, that Ovid approaches nearest to Catullus, particularly
in the sudden contrast between the solitude and melancholy of Ariadne, and
the revelry of the Bacchanalians. Some of Virgil’s imitations of Catullus
have been already pointed out: But part of the complaint of Dido is
addressed to her betrayer, and contains a bitterness of sarcasm, and
eloquence of reproof, which neither Catullus nor Ovid could reach.

The desertion of Olimpia by Bireno, related in the tenth canto of the
_Orlando Furioso_, has, in its incidents at least, a strong resemblance to
the poem of Catullus. Bireno, Duke of Zealand, while on a voyage from
Holland to his own country, touches on Frisia; and, being smit with love
for Olimpia, daughter of the king, carries her off with him; but, in the
farther progress of the voyage, he lands on a desert island, and, while
Olimpia is asleep, he leaves her, and sets sail in the darkness of night.
Olimpia awakes, and, finding herself alone, hurries to the beach, and then
ascends a rock, whence she descries, by light of the moon, the departing
sail of her lover. Here, and afterwards while in her tent, she pours forth
her plaints against the treachery of Bireno. In the details of this story,
Ariosto has chiefly copied from Ovid; but he has also availed himself of
several passages in Catullus. As Ariosto, in his story of Olimpia,
principally chose Ovid for his model, so Tasso, in that of Armida, seems
chiefly to have kept his eye on Virgil and Catullus. But Armida is not
like Ariadne, an injured and innocent maid, nor a stately queen, like
Dido; but a voluptuous and artful magician,

  —— “Che nella doglia amara
  Gia tutte non obblia l’arte e le frodi.”

It has been mentioned, that the desertion of Ariadne was represented on
one compartment of the coverlet of the nuptial couch of Peleus—on another
division of it the story of Bacchus and Ariadne was exhibited. The
introduction of Bacchus and his train closes the episode with an animated
picture, and forms a pleasing contrast to the melancholy scenes that
precede it. At the same time, the poet, delicately breaking off without
even hinting at the fair one’s ready acceptance of her new lover, leaves
the pity we feel for her abandonment unweakened on the mind.

65. _Ad Ortalum_. This is the first of the elegies of Catullus, and indeed
the earliest of any length or celebrity which had hitherto appeared in the
Latin language. Elegies were originally written by the Greeks in alternate
hexameter and pentameter lines, “versibus impariter junctis.” This
measure, which was at first appropriated to deplore misfortunes,
particularly the loss of friends, was soon employed to complain of
unsuccessful love, and, by a very easy transition, to describe the
delights of gratified passion:

  —— “Querimonia primùm,
  Post etiam inclusa est voti sententia compos.”

Matters were in this state in the age of Mimnermus, who was contemporary
with Solon, and was the most celebrated elegiac poet of the Greeks. Hence,
from his time every poem in that measure, whatever was the subject, came
to be denominated elegy. The mixed species of verse, however, was always
considered essential, so that the complaint of Bion on the death of
Adonis, or that of Moschus on the loss of Bion, is hardly accounted such,
being written in a different sort of measure. In the strict acceptation of
the term, scarcely any Greek elegy has descended to us entire, except
perhaps a few lines by Callimachus on the death of Heraclitus.

This elegy of Catullus may be considered as a sort of introduction to that
which follows it. Hortalus, to whom it is addressed, had requested him to
translate from Callimachus the poem _De Coma Berenices_. He apologizes for
the delay which had taken place in complying with the wishes of his
friend, on account of the grief he had experienced from the premature
death of his brother, for whom he bursts forth into this pathetic

    “Nunquam ego te, vitâ frater amabilior,
  Aspiciam posthac; at certe semper amabo,
    Semper mœsta tuâ carmina morte canam;
  Qualia sub densis ramorum concinit umbris
    Daulias, absumpti fata gemens Ityli.”

This simile is taken from the 19th book of the Odyssey—

  “Ὡς δ’ ὁτε Πανδαρεου κουρη, χλωρηις αηδων,
  Καλον αειδησιν, έαρος νεον ἰσταμενοιο,
  Δενδρεων ἐν πεταλοισιν καθεζομενη πυκινοισιν
  Παιδ’ ολοφυρομενη Ιτυλον φιλον,”

and it appears in turn to have been the foundation of Virgil’s celebrated

  “Qualis populeâ mœrens Philomela sub umbrâ
  Amissos queritur fœtus,” &c.

This simile has been beautifully varied and adorned by Moschus(504) and
Quintus Calaber(505), among the Greeks; and among the modern Italians by
Petrarch, in his exquisite sonnet on the death of Laura:—

  “Qual Rossignuol che si soave piagne,” &c.

and by Naugerius, in his ode _Ad Auroram_,

  “Nunc ab umbroso simul esculeto,
  Daulias late queritur: querelas
  Consonum circa nemus, et jocosa reddit imago.”

66. _De Coma Berenices_, is the poem alluded to in the former elegy: it is
translated from a production of Callimachus, of which only two distichs
remain, one preserved by Theon, a scholiast, on Aratus, and the other in
the _Scholia_ on Apollonius Rhodius(506).

Callimachus was esteemed by all antiquity as the finest elegiac poet of
Greece, or at least as next in merit to Mimnermus. He belonged to the
poetic school which flourished at Alexandria from the time of Ptolemy
Philadelphus to that of Ptolemy Physcon, and which still sheds a lustre
over the dynasty of the Lagides, in spite of the crimes and personal
deformities with which their names have been sarcastically associated.

After the partition of the Greek empire among the successors of Alexander,
the city to which he had given name became the capital of the literary
world; and arts and learning long continued to be protected even by the
most degenerate of the Ptolemies. But the school which subsisted at
Alexandria was of a very different taste and description from that which
had flourished at Athens in the age of Pericles. In Egypt the Greeks
became a more learned, and perhaps a more philosophical people, than they
had been in the days of their ancient glory at home; but they were no
longer a nation, and with their freedom their whole strength of feeling,
and peculiar tone of mind, were lost. Servitude and royal munificence,
with the consequent spirit of flattery which crept in, and even the
enormous library of Alexandria, were injurious to the elastic and native
spring of poetic fancy. The Egyptian court was crowded with men of
erudition, instead of such men of genius as had thronged the theatre and
_Agora_ of Athens. The courtly _literati_, the academicians, and the
librarians of Alexandria, were distinguished as critics, grammarians,
geographers, or geometricians. With them poetry became a matter of study,
not of original genius or invention, and consequently never reached its
highest flights. Though not without amenity and grace, they wanted that
boldness, sublimity, and poetic enthusiasm by which the bards of the Greek
republics were inspired. When, like Apollonius Rhodius, they attempted
poetry of the highest class, they rose not above an elegant mediocrity; or
when they attained perfection, as in the instance of Theocritus, it was in
the inferior and more delicate branches of the art. Accordingly, these
erudite and ornate poets chiefly selected as the subjects of their muse
didactic topics of astronomy and physics, or obscure traditions derived
from ancient fable. Lycophron immersed himself in such a sea of fabulous
learning, that he became nearly unintelligible, and all of them were
marked with the blemishes of affectation and obscurity, into which learned
poets are most apt to fall. Among the pleiad of Alexandrian poets, none
had so many of the faults and beauties of the school to which he belonged
as Callimachus. He was conspicuous for his profound knowledge of the
ancient traditions of Greece, for his poetic art and elegant
versification, but he was also noted for deficiency of invention and
original genius:—

  “Battiades semper toto cantabitur orbe,
    Quamvis ingenio non valet, arte valet(507).”

The poem of Catullus has some faults, which may be fairly attributed to
his pedantic model—a certain obscurity in point of diction, and that
ostentatious display of erudition, which characterized the works of the
Alexandrian poets. The Greek original, however, being lost, except two
distichs, it is impossible to institute an accurate comparison; but the
Latin appears to be considerably more diffuse than the Greek. One distich,
which is still extant in the _Scholia_ on Apollonius, has been expanded by
Catullus into three lines; and the following preserved by Theon has been
dilated into four:—

  “Ἡ δε Κονων μ’ ἐβλεψεν εν ῆερι τον Βερενικης
  Βοστρυχον, ὁν κεινη πασιν ἐθηκε Θεοις(508)”

  “Idem me ille Conon cœlesti lumine vidit
    E Bereniceo vertice cæsariem,
  Fulgentem clare; quam multis illa Deorum,
    Lævia protendens brachia, pollicita est.”

Here the three words τον Βερενικης βοστρυχον have been extended into “E
Bereniceo vertice cæsariem fulgentem,” and the single word ἐθηκε has
formed a whole Latin line,

  “Lævia protendens brachia, pollicita est(509).”

The Latin poem, like its Greek original, is in elegiac verse, and is
supposed to be spoken by the constellation called _Coma Berenices_. It
relates how Berenice, the queen and sister of Ptolemy, (Euergetes,) vowed
the consecration of her locks to the immortals, provided her husband was
restored to her, safe and successful, from a military expedition on which
he had proceeded against the Assyrians. The king having returned according
to her wish, and her shorn locks having disappeared, it is supposed by one
of those fictions which poetry alone can admit, that Zephyrus, the son of
Aurora, and brother of Memnon, had carried them up to heaven, and thrown
them into the lap of Venus, by whom they were set in the sky, and were
soon afterwards discovered among the constellations by Conon, a court
astronomer. In order to relish this poem, or to enter into its spirit, we
must read it imbued as it were with the belief and manners of the ancient
Egyptians. The locks of Berenice might be allowed to speak and desire,
because they had been converted into stars, which, by an ancient
philosophic system, were supposed to be possessed of animation and
intelligence. Similar honours had been conferred on the crown of Ariadne
and the ship of Isis, and the belief in such transformations was at least
of that popular or traditionary nature which fitted them for the purposes
of poetry. The race, too, of the Egyptian Ptolemies, traced their lineage
to Jupiter, which would doubtless facilitate the reception of the locks of
Berenice among the heavenly orbs. Adulation, however, it must be
confessed, could not be carried higher; the beautiful locks of Berenice,
though metamorphosed into stars, are represented as regretting their
former happy situation, and prefer adorning the brow of Berenice, to
blazing by night in the front of heaven, under the steps of immortals, or
reposing by day in the bosom of Tethys:—

  “Non his tam lætor rebus, quam me abfore semper,
    Abfore me a dominæ vertice discrucior.”

But though the poem of Callimachus may have been seriously written, and
gravely read by the court of Ptolemy, the lines of Catullus often approach
to something like pleasantry or _persiflage_:

  “Invita, O Regina, tuo de vertice cessi ...
    Sed qui se ferro postulet esse parem?
  Ille quoque eversus mons est, quem maximum in oris
    Progenies Phthiæ clara supervehitur;
  Quum Medi properare novum mare, quumque juventus
    Per medium classi barbara navit Athon.
  Quid facient crines, quum ferro talia cedant?”

These lines seem intended is a sort of mock-heroic, and remind us strongly
of the _Rape of the Lock_:

  “Steel could the labours of the gods destroy,
  And strike to dust the imperial towers of Troy;
  Steel could the works of mortal pride confound,
  And hew triumphal arches to the ground.
  What wonder, then, fair nymph! thy hairs should feel
  The conquering force of unresisted steel?”

The _Coma Earini_ of Statius(510), is a poem of the same description as
the _Coma Berenices_. It is written in a style of sufficiently elegant
versification; but what in Callimachus is a courtly, though perhaps rather
extravagant compliment, is in Statius a servile and disgusting adulation
of the loathsome monster, whose vices he so disgracefully flattered.
Antonio Sebastiani, a Latin poet of modern Italy, has imitated Catullus,
by celebrating the locks of a princess of San-Severino. The beauty and
virtues of his heroine had excited the admiration of earth, and the love
of the gods, but with these the jealousy of the goddesses. By their
influence, a malady evoked from Styx threatens the life of the princess,
and occasions the loss of her hair. The gods, indignant at this base
conspiracy, commission Iris to convey the fallen locks to the sky, and to
restore to the princess, along with health, her former freshness and

68. _Ad Manlium_. The principal subject of this elegy, is the story of
Laodamia: The best parts, however, are those lines in which the poet
laments his brother, which are truly elegiac—

  “Tu, mea, tu moriens, fregisti commoda, frater;
    Tecum unà tota est nostra sepulta domus;
  Omnia tecum unà perierunt gaudia nostra,
    Quæ tuus in vita dulcis alebat amor:
  Quojus ego interitu totâ de mente fugavi
    Hæc studia, atque omnes delicias animi.”

Catullus seems to have entertained a sincere affection for his brother,
and to have deeply deplored his loss; hence he generally writes well when
touching on this tender topic. Indeed, the only remaining elegy of
Catullus worth mentioning, is that entitled _Inferiæ ad Fratris Tumulum_,
which is another beautiful and affectionate tribute to the memory of this
beloved youth. Vulpius had said, in a commentary on Catullus, that his
brother died while accompanying him in his expedition with Memmius to
Bithynia. This, however, is denied by Ginguené, who quotes two lines from
the _Inferiæ_—

  “Multas per gentes, et multa per æquora vectus,
    Adveni has miseras, frater, ad inferias,”

in order to show that the poet was at a distance at the time of his
brother’s death, and celebration of his funeral rites. It is possible,
however, that these lines may refer to some subsequent pilgrimage to his
tomb, or, what is most probable, his brother may have died at Troy, while
Catullus was in Bithynia.

None of the remaining poems of Catullus, though written in elegiac verse,
are at all of the description to which we now give the name of elegy. They
are usually termed epigrams, and contain the most violent invectives on
living characters, for the vices in which they indulged, and satire the
most unrestrained on their personal deformities; but few of them are
epigrams in the modern acceptation of the word. An epigram, as is well
known, was originally what we now call a device or inscription, and the
term remained, though the thing itself was changed(511). A Greek anthology
consisting of poems which expressed a simple idea—a sentiment, regret, or
wish, without point or double meaning, had been compiled by Meleager
before the time of Catullus; and hence he had an opportunity of imitating
the style of the Greek epigrams, and occasionally borrowing their
expressions, though generally with application to some of his enemies at
Rome, whom he wished to hold up to the derision or hatred of his
countrymen. Most of these poems were called forth by real occurrences, and
express, without disguise, his genuine feelings at the time: His contempt,
dislike, and resentment, all burst out in poetry. So little is known
concerning the circumstances of his life, or the history of his enmities
or friendships, that some of the lighter productions of Catullus are
nearly unintelligible, while others appear flat and obscure; and in none
can we fully relish the felicity of expression or allusion.

These epigrams of Catullus are chiefly curious and valuable, when
considered as occasional or extemporary productions, which paint the
manners, as well as echo the tone of thought and feeling, which at the
time prevailed in fashionable society at Rome. What chiefly obtrudes
itself on our attention, is the gross personal invective, and indecency of
these compositions, so foreign from anything that would be tolerated in
modern times. The art of rendering others satisfied with themselves, and
consequently with us—the practice of dissembling our feelings, at first to
please, and then by habit,—the custom, if not of flattering our foes, at
least of meeting those we dislike, without reviling them, were talents
unknown in the ancient republic of Rome. The freedom of the times was
accompanied by a frankness and sincerity of language, which we would
consider as rude. Even the best friends attacked each other in the Senate,
and before the various tribunals of justice, in the harshest and most
unmeasured terms of abuse. Philip of Macedon, in an amicable interview
with the Roman general Flaminius, who was accounted the most polite man of
his day, apologized for not having returned an immediate answer to some
proposition which had been made to him, on the ground that none of those
friends, with whom he was in the habit of consulting, were at hand when he
received it; to which Flaminius replied, that the reason he had no friends
near him was, that he had assassinated them all. Matters were little
better in the days of Catullus. At the time he flourished, everything was
made subservient to political advancement; and what _we_ should consider
as the most inexpiable offences, were forgotten, or at least forgiven, as
soon as the interests of ambition required. Accordingly, no person seems
to have blamed the bitter invectives of Catullus; and none of his
contemporaries were surprised or shocked at the unbridled freedom with
which he reviled his enemies. He was merely considered as availing himself
of a privilege, which every one was entitled to exercise. In his days,
ridicule and raillery were oftener directed by malice than by wit: But the
Romans thought no terms unseemly, which expressed the utmost bitterness of
private or political animosity, and an excess of malevolence was received
as sufficient compensation for deficiency in liveliness or humour. As
little were the Romans offended by the obscene images and expressions
which Catullus so frequently employed. Such had not yet been proscribed in
the conversation of the best company. “Among the ancients,” says Porson,
in his review of Brunck’s _Aristophanes_(512), “plain speaking was the
fashion; nor was that ceremonious delicacy introduced, which has taught
men to abuse each other with the utmost politeness, and express the most
indecent ideas in the most modest language. The ancients had little of
this: They were accustomed to call a spade, a spade—to give everything its
proper name. There is another sort of indecency which is infinitely more
dangerous, which corrupts the heart without offending the ear.” Hence the
Muse of light poetry thought not of having recourse to the circumlocutions
or suggestions of modern times. Nor did Catullus suffer in his reputation,
either as an author or man of fashion, from the impurities by which his
poems were poisoned. All this would have been less remarkable in the first
age of Roman literature, as indelicacy of expression is characteristic of
the early poetry of almost every nation. The French epigrams of Regnier,
and his contemporaries Motin and Berthelot, are nearly as gross as those
of Catullus; but at the close of the Roman republic, literature was far
advanced; and if it be true, that as a nation grows corrupted its language
becomes pure, the words and expressions of the Romans, in these last days
of liberty, should have been sufficiently chaste. The obscenities of
Catullus, however, it must be admitted, are oftener the sport of satire,
than the ebullitions of a voluptuous imagination. His sarcastic account of
the debaucheries of Lesbia, is more impure than the pictures of his
enjoyment of her love.

No subject connected with the works of Catullus is more curious than the
different sentiments, which, as we have seen, he expresses with regard to
this woman. His conflict of mind breathes into his poetry every variety of
passion. We behold him now transported with love, now reviling and
despising her as sunk in the lowest abyss of shame, and yet, with this
full knowledge of her abandoned character, her blandishments preserve
undiminished sway over his affections. “At one time,” says a late
translator of Catullus, “we find him upbraiding Lesbia bitterly with her
licentiousness, then bidding her farewell for ever; then beseeching from
the gods resolution to cast her off; then weakly confessing utter
impotence of mind, and submission to hopeless slavery; then, in the
epistle to Manlius, persuading himself, by reason and example, into a
contented acquiescence in her falsehoods, and yet at last accepting with
eagerness, and relying with hope, on her proffered vow of constancy.
Nothing can be more genuine than the rapture with which he depicts his
happiness in her hours of affection; nor than the gloomy despair with
which he is overwhelmed, when he believes himself resolved to quit her for
ever.” And all this, he wrote and circulated concerning a Roman lady,
belonging, it is believed, to one of the first and most powerful families
of the state!

Lesbia, as formerly mentioned, is universally allowed to be Clodia, the
sister of the turbulent Clodius; but there has been a great deal of
discussion and dispute, with regard to the identity of the other
individuals against whom the epigrams are directed. Justus Lipsius(513)
has written a dissertation with regard to Vettius and Cominius. The former
he supposes to be the person mentioned in Cicero’s Letters to Atticus, and
by Suetonius, as having been suborned by Cæsar, to allow himself to be
seized with a weapon on his person, and to confess that he had been
employed by the Chiefs of the Senate to assassinate Pompey—a device
contrived by Cæsar, in order to set Pompey and the Senate at variance.
Cominius was an accuser by profession, and impeached C. Cornelius, whom
Cicero defended(514). Lipsius believes Alphenus to be Pompey, and thinks
that the epigram, directed against him, is supposed to be written in the
person of Cicero. He is of opinion that the poet durst not venture to
mention Pompey’s name, and therefore designed him by an assumed one; but
the epigrams on Julius Cæsar prove that Catullus was neither so scrupulous
nor timid. The greatest number, however, and the most cutting of the
epigrams, are aimed at Gellius, his successful rival in the affections of

  —— “Quem Lesbia malit,
  Quam te cum totâ gente, Catulle, tuâ.”

There were two persons of this name at Rome in the time of Catullus—an
uncle and nephew. The first was a notorious profligate, who had wasted his
patrimony, and afterwards headed mobs in the Forum for hire(515). The
nephew was equally dissolute. After the death of Cæsar, he conspired to
assassinate Cassius in the midst of his army, and, having been pardoned,
deserted to Antony. One of the various crimes of which he was suspected,
identifies him as the Gellius branded by our poet, and whose vices were so

  —— “Quantum non ultima Tethys,
  Non genitor nympharum abluit Oceanus.”

This idea, by the way, of crimes of such crimson dye that they cannot be
washed out by the wide world of waters, seems to have been originally
derived from some verses of the chorus in the Choephoræ of Æschylus—

  —— “ποροι τε παντες ἐκ μιας ὁδου
  Βαινοντες τον χαιρομυσου
  Φονον καθαιροντες ἰουσαν ατην.”

The great successor of Æschylus expressed the same idea, in different
language, in the _Œdipus Tyrannus_—

  “Ὀιμαι γαρ ὀυτ’ αν Ιστρον ὀυτε Φασιν αν
  Νιψαι καθαρμω τηνδε στεγην, ὁσα

Seneca, imitating Catullus, in his _Hercules Furens_, says—

     —— “Arctoum licet
  Mæotis in me gelida transfundat mare,
  Et tota Thetis per meas currat manus,
  Hærebit altum facinus.” ——

There is a remarkable resemblance betwixt this idea and a well-known
passage in _Macbeth_:

  “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
  Clean from my hand?” ——

Much dispute has existed with regard to the comparative merit of the
epigrammatic productions of Catullus, and those of Martial, who sharpened
the Latin epigram, and endeavoured to surprise, by terminating an ordinary
thought with some word or expression, which formed a _point_. Of the three
great triumvirs of Latin literature, Joseph Scaliger, Lipsius, and
Muretus, the last considers Catullus as far superior to his successor, as
the wit of a gentleman to that of a scoffer and buffoon, while the two
former award the palm to Martial. Their respective merits are very well
summed up by Vavassor.—“Catullum quidem, puro ac simplici candore, et
nativa quadam, minimeque adscita, excellere venustate formæ, quæ accedat
quam proxime ad Græcos. Martialem acumine, quod proprium Latinorum, et
peculiare tunc fieri cœpit, valere; adeoque Catullum toto corpore
epigrammatis esse conspicuum, Martialem clausula præcipue, atque ultimo
fine, in quo relinquat, cum delectatione, aculeum spectari(516).”

There can, I think, be no doubt, that, as an epigrammatist, Martial is
infinitely superior to Catullus; but it is not on his epigrams that the
fame of Catullus rests: He owes his reputation to about a dozen pieces, in
which every word, like a note of music, thrills on the heart-strings. It
is this felicitous selection of the most appropriate and melodious
expressions, which seem to flow from the heart without study or
premeditation, which has rendered him the most _graceful_ of poets:—

  —— “Ce naif agrement,
  Ce ton de cœur, ce negligé charmant,
  Qui le rendit le poëte _des Graces_(517).”

Few poets, besides, have shown more freshness in their conceptions—more
truth and nature in their delineations of amatory passion—more heartfelt
tenderness in grief—and none, certainly, ever possessed a more happy art
of embellishing trivial incidents, by the manner in which he treated them.
Indeed, the most exquisite of his productions, in point of grace and
delicacy, are those which were called forth by the most trifling
occasions; while, at the same time, his Epithalamium of Peleus and Thetis
proves, that he was by no means deficient in that warmth of imagination,
energy of thought, and sublimity of conception, which form the attributes
of perfection in those bards who tread the higher paths of Parnassus.
Catullus is a great favourite with all the early critics and commentators
of the 16th century. The elder Scaliger alone has pronounced on him a
harsh and unmerited sentence: “Catullo,” says he, “docti nomen quare sit
ab antiquis attributum, neque apud alios comperi, neque dum in mentem
venit mihi. Nihil enim non vulgare est in ejus libris: ejus autem syllabæ
cùm duræ sint, tum ipse non raro durus; aliquando vero adeo mollis, ut
fluat, neque consistat. Multa impudica, quorum pudet—multa languida,
quorum miseret—multa coacta, quorum piget(518).” In conclusion, the reader
may, perhaps, like to hear the opinion of the pure and saintly Fenelon,
concerning this obscene pagan.—“Catulle, qu’on ne peut nommer sans avoir
horreur de ses obscenitéz, est au comble de la perfection pour une
simplicité passionnée—

  ‘Odi et amo: quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
    Nescio; sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.’

Combien Ovide et Martial, avec leurs traits ingenieux et façonnéz, sont
ils au dessous de ces paroles negligées, ou le cœur saisi parle seul dans
un espéce de désespoir.”

The different sorts of poetry which Catullus, though not their inventor,
first introduced at Rome, were cultivated and brought to high perfection
by his countrymen. Horace followed, and excelled him in Lyric
compositions. The elegiac measure was adopted with success by Ovid,
Tibullus, and Propertius, and applied by them to the expression of amatory
sentiments, which, if they did not reach the refinement, or pure
devotedness of the middle ages(519), were less gross than those of

In his epigrammatic compositions, Catullus was imitated by several of his
own contemporaries, most of whom also ranked in the number of his friends.
Their works, however, have almost entirely perished. Quintus Lutatius
Catulus, who is praised as an orator and historian by Cicero(520), has
left two epigrams—one, _Ad Theotimum_, translated from Callimachus, the
name Theotimus being merely substituted for that of Cephissus—and the
other, _Ad Roscium Puerum_, addressed to the celebrated actor in his
youth, and quoted by Cicero in his treatise, _De Naturâ Deorum_(521)—

  “Constiteram, exorientem Auroram forte salutans;
    Cum subito a lævâ Roscius exoritur.
  Pace mihi liceat, Cœlestes, dicere vestrâ;
    Mortalis visus pulchrior esse deo(522).”

This epigram formed a theme and subject of poetical contest among the
French _beaux esprits_ of the 17th century, who vied with each other in
sonnets and madrigals, entitled _La Belle Matineuse_, written in imitation
of the above verses. One will suffice as a specimen—


  “Le silence régnait sur la terre et sur l’onde,
  L’air devenait serein, et l’Olympe vermeil,
  Et l’amoureux Zephyr affranchi du sommeil
  Ressuscitait les fleurs d’une haleine féconde.
  L’Aurore déployait l’or de sa tresse blonde,
  Et semait de rubis le chemin du soleil.
  Enfin ce Dieu venait au plus grand appareil,
  Qu’il fût jamais venus pour éclairer le monde.
  Quand la jeune Philis au visage riant,
  Sortant de son palais, plus clair que l’Orient,
  Fit voir une lumière et plus vive et plus belle.
  Sacre flambeau de jour, n’en soyez point jaloux;
  Vous parûtes alors aussi peu devant elle,
  Que les feux de la nuit avoient fait devant vous.”

From a vast collection of Italian sonnets on the same subject, I select
one by Annibal Caro, the celebrated translator of Virgil—

  “Eran l’aer tranquillo, e l’onde chiare,
  Sospirava Favonio, e fuggia Clori,
  L’alma Ciprigna innanzi ai primi albori
  Ridendo empia d’amor la terra e ’l mare.

  “La rugiadosa Aurora in ciel più rare
  Facea le stelle; e di più bei colori
  Sparse le nubi, e i monti; uscia già fuori
  Febo, qual più lucente in Delfo appare.

  “Quando altra Aurora un più vezzoso ostello
  Aperse, e lampeggiò sereno, e puro
  Il Sol, che sol m’abbaglia, e mi disface.

  “Volsimi, e ’n contro a lei mi parve oscuro,
  (Santi lumi del ciel, con vostra pace)
  L’Oriente, che dianzi era si bello.”

Licinius Calvus was equally distinguished as an orator and a poet. In the
former capacity he is mentioned with distinction by Cicero; but it was
probably his poetical talents that procured for him the friendship of
Catullus, who has addressed to him two Odes, in which he is commemorated
as a most delightful companion, from whose society he could scarcely
refrain. Calvus was violently enamoured of a girl called Quintilia, whose
early death he lamented in a number of verses, none of which have
descended to us. There only remain, an epigram against Pompey, satirizing
his practice of scratching his head with one finger, and a fragment of
another against Julius Cæsar(523). The sarcasm it contains would not have
been pardonable in the present age; but the dictator, hearing that Calvus
had repented of his petulance, and was desirous of a reconciliation,
addressed a letter to him, with assurances of unaltered friendship(524).
The fragments of his epigrams which remain, do not enable us to judge for
ourselves of his poetical merits. He is classed by Ovid among the
licentious writers(525); but he is generally mentioned along with
Catullus, which shows that he was not considered as greatly inferior to
his friend—

  “Nil præter Calvum et doctus cantare Catullum.”

Pliny, in one of his letters, talking of his friend Pompeius Saturnius,
mentions, that he had composed several poetical pieces in the manner of
Calvus and Catullus(526); and Augurinus, as quoted by Pliny in another of
his epistles, says,

  “Canto carmina versibus minutis
  His olim quibus et meus Catullus,
  Et Calvus ——”(527)

                            VALERIUS ÆDITUUS,

Of Valerius Ædituus, another writer of epigrams and amorous verses in the
time of Catullus, little is known; but the following lines by him, to a
slave carrying a torch before him to the house of his mistress, have been
quoted by Aulus Gellius—

  “Quid faculam præfers, Phileros, qua nil opu’ nobis?
    Ibimus, hoc lucet pectore flamma satis.
  Istam nam potis est vis sæva extinguere venti,
    Aut imber cœlo candidus præcipitans:
  At contra, hunc ignem Veneris, nisi si Venus ipsa,
    Nulla ’st quæ possit vis alia opprimere(528).”

Aulus Gellius has also preserved the following verses of Porcius Licinius—

  “Custodes ovium, teneræque propaginis agnûm,
    Quæris ignem?—Ite huc: quæritis? ignis homo est.
  Si digito attigero, incendam silvam simul omnem,
    Omne pecus: flamma ’st omnia quæ video(529).”

During the period in which the works of Lucretius and Catullus brought the
Latin language to such perfection, the drama, which we have seen so highly
elevated in the days of the Scipios, had sunk into a state of comparative
degradation. National circumstances and manners had never been favourable
to the progress of the dramatic art at Rome; but, subsequently to the
conquest of Carthage, the increasing size and magnificence of the Roman
theatres, some of which held not less than 60,000 people, required
splendid spectacles, or extravagant buffoonery, to fill the eye, and catch
the attention of a crowded, and often tumultuous assembly.

Accordingly, in the long period from the termination of the Punic wars
till the Augustan age, there scarcely appeared a single successor to
Plautus or Pacuvius. That the pieces of the ancient tragic or comic
writers still continued to be occasionally represented, is evident from
the immense wealth amassed, in the time of Cicero, by Æsopus and Roscius,
who never, so far as we know, condescended to appear, except in the
regular drama; but a new tragedy or comedy was rarely brought out. This
deficiency in the fund of entertainment and novelty, in the province of
the legitimate drama, was supplied by the MIMES, which now became
fashionable in Rome.

Though resembling them in name, the Latin Mimes differed essentially from
the Greek Μιμοι, from which they derived their appellation. The Greek
Mimes, of which Sophron of Syracuse was the chief writer, represented a
single adventure taken from ordinary life, and exhibited characters
without any gross caricature or buffoonery. The fifteenth Idyl of
Theocritus is said to be written in the manner of the Greek Mimes(530);
and, to judge from it, they were not so much actions as conversations with
regard to some action which was supposed to be going on at the time, and
is pointed out, as it were, by the one interlocutor to the other, or an
imitation of the action, whence their name has been derived. They
resembled detached or unconnected scenes of a comedy, and required no more
gesticulation or mimetic art, than is employed in all dramatic
representations. On the other hand, mimetic gestures of every species,
except dancing, were essential to the Roman Mimes, as also the exhibition
of grotesque characters, which had often no prototypes in real life. The
Mimes of the Romans, again, differed from their pantomime in this, that,
in the former, most of the gestures were accompanied by recitation,
whereas the pantomimic entertainments, carried to such perfection by
Pylades and Bathyllus, were _ballets_, often of a serious, and never of a
ludicrous or grotesque description, in which everything was expressed by
dumb show, and in which dancing constituted so considerable a part of the
amusement, that the performers danced a poem, a chorus, or whole drama,
(_Canticum saltabant_.)

It is much more difficult to distinguish the Mimes from the _Fabulæ
Atellanæ_, than from the Pantomimes or Greek _Mimi_; and indeed they have
been frequently confounded(531). It appears, however, that the characters
represented in the Atellane dramas were chiefly provincial, while those
introduced in the Mimes were the lowest class of citizens at Rome. Antic
gestures, too, were more employed in the Mimes than the Atellane fables,
and they were more obscene and ludicrous: “Toti,” says Vossius, “erant
ridiculi.” The Atellanes, though full of mirth, were always tempered with
something of the ancient Italian severity, and consisted of a more liberal
and polite kind of humour than the Mimes. In this respect Cicero places
the Mimes and Atellane fables in contrast, in a letter to Papyrius Pætus,
where he says, that the broad jests in which his correspondent had
indulged, immediately after having quoted the tragedy of Œnomaus, reminds
him of the modern method of introducing, at the end of such graver
dramatic pieces, the buffoonery of the Mimes, instead of the more delicate
humour of the old Atellane farces(532).

These Mimes, (which, with the Atellane fables, and regular tragedy and
comedy, form the four great branches of the Roman drama,) were represented
by actors, who sometimes wore masks, but more frequently had their faces
stained like our clowns or mountebanks. There was always one principal
actor, on whom the jests and ridicule chiefly hinged. The second, or
inferior parts, were entirely subservient to that of the first performer:
They were merely introduced to set him off to advantage, to imitate his
actions, and take up his words—

  “Sic iterat voces, et verba cadentia tollit;
  Ut puerum sævo credas dictata magistro
  Reddere, vel partes mimum tractare secundas.”

Some writers have supposed, that a Mime was a sort of _monodrame_, and
that the _partes secundæ_, here alluded to by Horace, meant the part of
the actor who gesticulated(533), while the other declaimed, or that of the
declaimer(534). It is quite evident, however, from the context of the
lines, that Horace refers to the inferior characters of the Mime(535). I
doubt not that the chief performer assumed more than one character in the
course of the piece(536), in the manner in which the Admirable Crichton is
recorded to have performed at the court of Mantua(537); but there were
also subordinate parts in the Mime—a fool or a parasite, who assisted in
carrying on the jests or tricks of his principal:—“C. Volumnius,” says
Festus, “qui ad tibicinem saltârit, secundarum partium fuerit, qui, fere
omnibus Mimis, parasitus inducatur(538);” and to the same purpose
Petronius Arbiter,—

  “Grex agit in scenâ Mimum—Pater ille vocatur,
      Filius hic, nomen Divitis ille tenet(539).”

The performance of a Mime commenced with the appearance of the chief
actor, who explained its subject in a sort of prologue, in order that the
spectators might fully understand what was but imperfectly represented by
words or gestures. This prolocutor, also, was generally the author of a
sketch of the piece; but the actors were not confined to the mere outline
which he had furnished. In one view, the province of the mimetic actor was
of a higher description than that of the regular comedian. He was obliged
to trust not so much to memory as invention, and to clothe in
extemporaneous effusions of his own, those rude sketches of dramatic
scenes, which were all that were presented to him by his author. The
performers of Mimes, however, too often gave full scope, not merely to
natural unpremeditated gaiety, but abandoned themselves to every sort of
extravagant and indecorous action. The part written out was in iambic
verse, but the extemporary dialogue which filled up the scene was in
prose, or in the rudest species of versification. Through the course of
the exhibition, the want of refinement or dramatic interest was supplied
by the excellence of the mimetic part, and the amusing imitation of the
peculiarities or personal habits of various classes of society. The
performers were seldom anxious to give a reasonable conclusion to their
extravagant intrigue. Sometimes, when they could not extricate themselves
from the embarrassment into which they had thrown each other, they
simultaneously rushed off the stage, and the performance terminated(540).

The characters exhibited were parts taken from the dregs of the
populace—courtezans, thieves, and drunkards. The Sannio, or Zany, seems to
have been common to the Mimes and Atellane dramas. He excited laughter by
lolling out his tongue, and making asses’ ears on his head with his
fingers. There was also the Panniculus, who appeared in a party-coloured
dress, with his head shaved, feigning stupidity or folly, and allowing
blows to be inflicted on himself without cause or moderation. That women
performed characters in these dramas, and were often the favourite
mistresses of the great, is evident from a passage in the Satires of
Horace, who mentions a female Mime, called Origo, on whom a wealthy Roman
had lavished his paternal inheritance(541). Cornelius Gallus wrote four
books of _Elegies_ in praise of a Mime called Cytheris, who, as Aurelius
Victor informs us, was also beloved by Antony and Brutus—“Cytheridam
Mimam, cum Antonio et Gallo, amavit Brutus.” It appears from a passage in
Valerius Maximus, that these Mimæ were often required to strip themselves
of their clothes in presence of the spectators(542).

As might be expected from the characters introduced, the Mimes were
appropriated to a representation of the lowest follies and debaucheries of
the vulgar. “Argumenta,” says Valerius Maximus, “majore ex parte,
stuprorum continent actus.” That they were in a great measure occupied
with the tricks played by wives on their husbands, (somewhat, probably, in
the style of those related by the Italian novelists,) we learn from Ovid;
who, after complaining in his _Tristia_ of having been undeservedly
condemned for the freedom of his verses, asks—

  “Quid si scripsissem Mimos obscœna jocantes?
     Qui semper juncti crimen amoris habent;
  In quibus assidue cultus procedit adulter,
     Verbaque dat stulto callida nupta viro(543).”

We learn from another passage of Ovid that these were by much the most
popular subjects,—

  “Cumque fefellit amans aliquâ novitate maritum,
    Plauditur, et magno palma favore datur.”

The same poet elsewhere calls the Mimes, “Imitantes turpia Mimos;” and
Diomedes defines them to be “Sermonis cujuslibet, motûsque, sine
reverentiâ, vel factorum turpium cum lasciviâ imitatio, ita ut ridiculum

These Mimes were originally represented as a sort of afterpiece, or
interlude to the regular dramas, and were intended to fill up the blank
which had been left by omission of the Chorus. But they subsequently came
to form a separate and fashionable public amusement, which in a great
measure superseded all other dramatic entertainments. Sylla (in whom the
gloomy temper of the tyrant was brightened by the talents of a mimic and a
wit) was so fond of Mimes, that he gave the actors of them many acres of
the public land(544); and we shall soon see the high importance which
Julius Cæsar attached to this sort of spectacle. It appears, at first
view, curious, that the Romans—the most grave, solid, and dignified nation
on earth, the _gens togata_, and the _domini rerum_—should have been so
partial to the exhibition of licentious buffoonery on the stage. But,
perhaps, when people have a mind to divert themselves, they choose what is
most different from their ordinary temper and habits, as being most likely
to amuse them. “Strangely,” says Isaac Bey, while relating his adventures
in _France_, “was my poor Turkish brain puzzled, on discovering the
favourite pastime of a nation reckoned the merriest in the world. It
consisted in a thing called tragedies, whose only purpose is to make you
cry your eyes out. Should the performance raise a single smile, the author
is undone(545).”

The popularity and frequent repetition of the Mimes came gradually to
purify their grossness; and the writers of them, at length, were not
contented merely with the fame of amusing the Roman populace by ribaldry.
They carried their pretensions higher; and, while they sometimes availed
themselves of the licentious freedom to which this species of drama gave
unlimited indulgence, they interspersed the most striking truths and
beautiful moral maxims in these ludicrous and indecent farces. This
appears from the Mimes of DECIMUS LABERIUS and PUBLIUS SYRUS, who both
flourished during the dictatorship of Julius Cæsar.


In earlier periods, as has been already mentioned, the writer was also the
chief representer of the Mime. Laberius, however, was not originally an
actor, but a Roman knight of respectable family and character, who
occasionally amused himself with the composition of these farcical
productions. He was at length requested by Julius Cæsar to appear on the
stage after he had reached the age of sixty, and act the Mimes, which he
had sketched or written(546). Aware that the entreaties of a perpetual
dictator are nearly equivalent to commands, he reluctantly complied; but
in the prologue to the first piece which he acted, he complained bitterly
to the audience of the degradation to which he had been subjected—

  “Ego, bis trecenis annis actis, sine notâ,
  Eques Romanus lare egressus meo,
  Domum revertar Mimus. Nimirum hoc die
  Uno plus vixi mihi, quàm vivendum fuit.
  Fortuna, immoderata in bono æque atque in malo,
  Si tibi erat libitum, literarum laudibus
  Floris cacumen nostræ famæ frangere,
  Cur cum vigebam membris præ viridantibus,
  Satisfacere populo, et tali cum poteram viro,
  Non flexibilem me concurvàsti ut caperes?
  Nunc me quo dejicis? quid ad scenam affero,
  Decorem formæ, an dignitatem corporis?
  Animi virtutem, an vocis jucundæ sonum?
  Ut hedera serpens vires arboreas necat;
  Ita me vetustas amplexu annorum enecat(547).”

The whole prologue, consisting of twenty-nine lines, which have been
preserved by Macrobius, is written in a fine vein of poetry, and with all
the high spirit of a Roman citizen. It breathes in every verse the most
bitter and indignant feelings of wounded pride, and highly exalts our
opinion of the man, who, yielding to an irresistible power, preserved his
dignity while performing a part which he despised. It is difficult to
conceive how, in this frame of mind, he could assume the jocund and
unrestrained gaiety of a Mime, or how the Roman people could relish so
painful a spectacle. He is said, however, to have represented the feigned
character with inimitable grace and spirit. But in the course of his
performance he could not refrain from expressing strong sentiments of
freedom and detestation of tyranny. In one of the scenes he personated a
Syrian slave; and, while escaping from the lash of his master, he

  “Porro, Quirites, libertatem perdidimus;”

and shortly after, he added,

  “Necesse est multos timeat, quem multi timent,”

on which the whole audience turned their eyes to Cæsar, who was present in
the theatre(548).

It was not merely to entertain the people, who would have been as well
amused with the representation of any other actor; nor to wound the
private feelings of Laberius, that Cæsar forced him on the stage. His sole
object was to degrade the Roman knighthood, to subdue their spirit of
independence and honour, and to strike the people with a sense of his
unlimited sway. This policy formed part of the same system which
afterwards led him to persuade a senator to combat among the ranks of
gladiators. The practice introduced by Cæsar became frequent during the
reigns of his successors; and in the time of Domitian, the Fabii and
Mamerci acted as _planipedes_, the lowest class of buffoons, who,
barefooted and smeared with soot, capered about the stage in the intervals
of the play for the amusement of the rabble!

Though Laberius complied with the wishes of Cæsar, in exhibiting himself
on the stage, and acquitted himself with ability as a mimetic actor, it
would appear that the Dictator had been hurt and offended by the freedoms
which he used in the course of the representation, and either on this or
some subsequent occasion bestowed the dramatic crown on a Syrian slave, in
preference to the Roman knight. Laberius submitted with good grace to this
fresh humiliation; he pretended to regard it merely as the ordinary chance
of theatric competition, as he expressed to the audience in the following

  “Non possunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore.
  Summum ad gradum cum claritatis veneris,
  Consistes ægre: et citius quam ascendas, decides.
  Cecidi ego—cadet qui sequitur(549).” ——

Laberius did not long survive this double mortification: he retired from
Rome, and died at Puteoli about ten months after the assassination of

The titles and a few fragments of forty-three of the Mimes of Laberius are
still extant; but, excepting the prologue, these remains are too
inconsiderable and detached to enable us to judge of their subject or
merits. It would appear that he occasionally dramatized the passing
follies or absurd occurrences of the day: for Cicero, writing to the
lawyer Trebonius, who expected to accompany Cæsar from Gaul to Britain,
tells him he had best return to Rome quickly, as a longer pursuit to no
purpose would be so ridiculous a circumstance, that it would hardly escape
the drollery of that arch fellow Laberius; and what a burlesque character,
he continues, would a British lawyer furnish out for the Roman stage(551)!
The only passage of sufficient length in connection to give us any idea of
his manner, is a whimsical application of a story concerning the manner in
which Democritus put out his eyes—

  “Democritus Abderites, physicus philosophus,
  Clypeum constituit contra exortum Hyperionis;
  Oculos effodere ut posset splendore æreo.
  Ita, radiis solis aciem effodit luminis,
  Malis bene esse ne videret civibus.
  Sic ego, fulgentis splendore pecuniæ,
  Volo elucificare exitum ætatis meæ,
  Ne in re bonâ esse videam nequam filium(552).”

According to Aulus Gellius, Laberius has taken too much license in
inventing words; and that author also gives various examples of his use of
obsolete expressions, or such as were employed only by the lowest dregs of
the people(553). Horace seems to have considered an admiration of the
Mimes of Laberius as the consummation of critical folly(554). I am far,
however, from considering Horace as an infallible judge of true poetical
excellence. He evidently attached more importance to correctness and
terseness of style, than to originality of genius or fertility of
invention. I am convinced he would not have admired Shakspeare: He would
have considered Addison and Pope as much finer poets, and would have
included Falstaff, and Autolycus, and Sir Toby Belch, the clowns and the
boasters of our great dramatist, in the same censure which he bestows on
the _Plautinos sales_ and the Mimes of Laberius. Probably, too, the
freedom of the prologue, and other passages of his dramas, contributed to
draw down the disapprobation of this Augustan critic, as it already had
placed the dramatic wreath on the brow of

                              PUBLIUS SYRUS.

The celebrated Mime, called Publius Syrus, was brought from Asia to Italy
in early youth, in the same vessel with his countryman and kinsman,
Manlius Antiochus, the professor of astrology, and Staberius Eros, the
grammarian, who all, by some desert in learning, rose above their original
fortune. He received a good education and liberty from his master, in
reward for his witticisms and facetious disposition. He first represented
his Mimes in the provincial towns of Italy, whence, his fame having spread
to Rome, he was summoned to the capital, to assist in those public
spectacles which Cæsar afforded his countrymen, in exchange for their
freedom(555). On one occasion, he challenged all persons of his own
profession to contend with him on the stage; and in this competition he
successively overcame every one of his rivals. By his success in the
representation of these popular entertainments, he amassed considerable
wealth, and lived with such luxury, that he never gave a great supper
without having sow’s udder at table—a dish which was prohibited by the
censors, as being too great a luxury even for the table of

Nothing farther is known of his history, except that he was still
continuing to perform his Mimes with applause at the period of the death
of Laberius.

We have not the names of any of the Mimes of Publius; nor do we precisely
know their nature or subject,—all that is preserved from them being a
number of detached sentiments or maxims, to the number of 800 or 900,
seldom exceeding a single line, but containing reflections of unrivalled
force, truth, and beauty, on all the various relations, situations, and
feelings of human life—friendship, love, fortune, pride, adversity,
avarice, generosity. Both the writers and actors of Mimes were probably
careful to have their memory stored with common-places and precepts of
morality, in order to introduce them appropriately in their extemporaneous
performances. The maxims of Publius were interspersed through his dramas,
but being the only portion of these productions now remaining, they have
just the appearance of thoughts or sentiments, like those of
Rochefoucauld. His Mimes must either have been very numerous, or very
thickly loaded with these moral aphorisms. It is also surprising that they
seem raised far above the ordinary tone even of regular comedy, and appear
for the greater part to be almost stoical maxims. Seneca has remarked that
many of his eloquent verses are fitter for the buskin than the
slipper(557). How such exalted precepts should have been grafted on the
lowest farce, and how passages, which would hardly be appropriate in the
most serious sentimental comedy, were adapted to the actions or manners of
gross and drunken buffoons, is a difficulty which could only be solved had
we fortunately received entire a larger portion of these productions,
which seem to have been peculiar to Roman genius.

The sentiments of Publius Syrus now appear trite. They have become
familiar to mankind, and have been re-echoed by poets and moralists from
age to age. All of them are most felicitously expressed, and few of them
seem erroneous, while at the same time they are perfectly free from the
selfish or worldly-minded wisdom of Rochefoucauld, or Lord Burleigh.

  “Amicos res opimæ pavant, adversæ probant.
  Miserrima fortuna est quæ inimico caret.
  Ingratus unus miseris omnibus nocet.
  Timidas vocat se cautum, parcum sordidus.
  Etiam oblivisci quid scis interdum prodest.
  In nullum avarus bonus, in se pessimus.
  Cuivis dolori remedium est patientia.
  Honestus rumor alterum est patrimonium.
  Tam deest avaro quod habet quam quod non habet.
  O vita misero longa—felici brevis!”

This last sentiment has been beautifully, but somewhat diffusely expressed
by Metastasio:

  “Perchè tarda è mai la morte
  Quando è termine al martir?
  A chi vive in lieta sorte
  E sollecito il morir.”—_Artaserse_.

The same idea is thus expressed by La Bruyere: “La vie est courte pour
ceux qui sont dans les joyes du monde: Elle ne paroit longue qu’a ceux qui
languissent dans l’affliction. Job se plaint de vivre long temps, et
Salomon craint de mourir trop jeune.” La Bruyere, indeed, has interspersed
a vast number of the maxims of the Roman Mime in his writings,—expanding,
modifying, or accommodating them to the manners of his age and country, as
best suited his purpose. One of them only, he quotes to reprehend:

  “Ita amicum habeas, posse ut fieri inimicum putes.”

This sentiment, which Publius had borrowed from the Greeks, and which is
supposed to have been originally one of the sayings of Bias, has been
censured by Cicero, in his beautiful treatise _De Amicitia_, as the bane
of friendship. It would be endless to quote the lines of the different
Latin poets, particularly Horace and Juvenal, which are nearly copied from
the maxims of Publius Syrus. Seneca, too, has availed himself of many of
his reflections, and, at the same time, does full justice to the author
from whom he has borrowed. Publius, says he, is superior in genius both to
tragic and comic writers: Whenever he gives up the follies of the Mimes,
and that language which is directed to the crowd, he writes many things
not only above that species of composition, but worthy of the tragic

Cneius Matius, also a celebrated writer of Mimes, was contemporary with
Laberius and Publius Syrus. Some writers have confounded him with Caius
Matius, who was a correspondent of Cicero, and an intimate friend of
Julius Cæsar. Ziegler, though he distinguishes him from Cicero’s
correspondent, says, that he was the same person as the friend of

Aulus Gellius calls Matius a very learned man, (_homo eruditus et impense
doctus_,) and frequently quotes him for obsolete terms and forms of
expression(560). Like other writers of Mimes, he indulged himself a good
deal in this sort of phraseology, but his diction was considered as
agreeable and highly poetical(561).

The Mimes of Matius were called Mimiambi, because chiefly written in
iambics; but not more than a dozen lines have descended to us. The
following verses have been praised for elegance and a happy choice of

  “Quapropter edulcare convenit vitam,
  Curasque acerbas sensibus gubernare;
  Sinuque amicam recipere frigidam caldo
  Columbatimque labra conserens labris(562).”

The age of Laberius, P. Syrus, and Matius, was the most brilliant epoch in
the history of the actors of Mimes. After that period, they relapsed into
a race of impudent buffoons; and, in the reign of Augustus, were classed,
by Horace, with mountebanks and mendicants(563). Pantomimic actors, who
did not employ their voice, but represented everything by gesticulation
and dancing, became, under Augustus, the idols of the multitude, the
minions of the great, and the favourites of the fair. The _Mimi_ were then
but little patronized on the stage, but were still admitted into convivial
parties, and even the court of the Emperors, to entertain the guests(564),
like the Histrions, Jongleurs, or privileged fools, of the middle ages;
and they were also employed at funerals, to mimic the manners of the
deceased. Thus, the Archimimus, who represented the character of the
avaricious Vespasian, at the splendid celebration of his obsequies,
inquired what would be the cost of all this posthumous parade; and on
being told that it would amount to ten millions of sesterces, he replied,
that if they would give him a hundred thousand, they might throw his body
into the river(565). The audacity, however, of the Mimes was carried still
farther, as they satirized and insulted the most ferocious Emperors during
their lives, and in their own presence. An actor, in one of these pieces
which was performed during the reign of Nero, while repeating the words
“_Vale pater, vale mater_,” signified by his gestures the two modes of
drowning and poisoning, in which that sanguinary fiend had attempted to
destroy both his parents(566). The _Mimi_ currently bestowed on Commodus
the most opprobrious appellation(567). One of their number, who performed
before the enormous Maximin, reminded the audience, that he who was too
strong for an individual, might be massacred by a multitude, and that thus
the elephant, lion, and tiger, are slain. The tyrant perceived the
sensation excited in the Theatre, but the suggestion was veiled in a
language unknown to that barbarous and gigantic Thracian(568).

The Mimes may be traced beyond the age of Constantine, as we find the
fathers of the church reprehending the immorality and licentiousness of
such exhibitions(569). Tradition is never so faithful as in the
preservation of popular pastimes; and accordingly, many of those which had
amused the Romans survived their dominion. The annual celebration of
Carnival prolonged the remembrance of them during the dark ages. Hence,
the Mimes, and the Atellane fables formerly mentioned, became the origin
of the Italian pantomimic parts introduced in the _Commedie dell’ arte_,
in which a subject was assigned, and the scenes were enumerated; but in
which the dialogue was left to the extemporary invention of the actors,
who represented buffoon characters in masks, and spoke the dialect of
different districts. “As to Italy,” says Warburton, in an account given by
him of the Rise and Progress of the Modern Stage, “the first rudiments of
its theatre, with regard to the matter, were profane subjects, and with
regard to the form, a corruption of ancient Mimes and Atellanes.”—Zanni is
one of the names of the Harlequin in the Italian comedies; and Sannio, as
we learn from ancient writers, was a ridiculous personage, who performed
in these Latin farces, with his head shaved(570), his face bedaubed with
soot(571), and clothed in party-coloured garments—a dress universally worn
by the ancient Italian peasantry during the existence of the Roman
Republic(572). The lowest species of mimic actors were called
_planipedes_, because they performed without sock or buskin, and generally
barefooted, whence Harlequin’s flat unsho’d feet. A passage of Cicero, in
which he speaks of the Sannio, seems almost intended to describe the
perpetual and flexible motion of the limbs, the ludicrous gestures, and
mimetic countenance of Harlequin. “Quid enim” says he, “potest tam
ridiculum quam Sannio esse? qui ore, vultu, imitandis motibus, voce,
denique corpore ridetur ipso(573).” Among the Italians, indeed, this
character soon degenerated into a booby and glutton, who became the butt
of his more sharp-sighted companions. In France, Harlequin was converted
into a wit,—sometimes even a moralist; and with us he has been transformed
into an expert magician, who astonishes by sudden changes of the scene:
But none of these was his original, or native character, which, as we have
seen, corresponded to the Sannio of the Mimes and Atellane fables. In the
year 1727, a bronze figure of high antiquity, and of which Quadrio gives
an engraving(574), was found at Rome; and it appears from it, that the
modern Pollicinella of Naples is a lineal descendant of the _Mimus Albus_
of the Atellanes(575). Ficoroni, who, in his work _Larve Sceniche_,
compares his immense collection of Roman masks with the modern Italian
characters, was possessed of an onyx, which represented a Mime with a long
nose and pointed cap, carrying a bag of money in one hand, and two brass
balls in the other, which he sounded, as is supposed, like castanets when
he danced. These appendages correspond to the attributes which
distinguished the Italian dancer of Catana, known by the name of
Giangorgolo. Another onyx exhibits a figure resembling that of Pantalone.
It is also evident from the Antiques collected by Ficoroni, that the Roman
_Mimi_ were fond of representing caricatures of foreign nations, as we
find among these ancient figures the attires of the oriental nations, and
the garb of old Gaul—a species of exhibition in which the _Commedia dell’
arte_ also particularly delighted.

These _Commedie dell’ arte_ were brought to the highest pitch of comic and
grotesque perfection by Ruzzante, an Italian dramatist, who both wrote and
performed a number of them about the middle of the sixteenth century, and
who, in addition to Zany and Pollicinella, peopled the stage with a new
and enlivening crowd of mimetic characters. There appears to be something
so congenial to the Italian taste in these exhibitions, that they long
maintained their ground against the regular dramas, produced by the
numerous successors of Trissino and Bibbiena, and kept supreme possession
of the Italian stage, till at length Goldoni, by introducing beauties
which were incongruous with the ancient masks, gradually refined the taste
of his audience, made them ashamed of their former favourites, and then,
in some of his pieces, ventured to exclude from the stage the whole
grotesque and gesticulating family of Harlequin.


Having said so much (and, I fear, too much) of the Mimes, and other
departments of the Roman drama, it would not be suitable to conclude
without some notice, I. of the mechanical construction of the theatre
where the dramatic entertainments were produced; and, II. of the actors’
declamation, as also of the masks and other attributes of the characters
which were chiefly represented.

I. Such was the severity of the ancient republican law, that it permitted
no places of amusement, except the circus, where games were specially
privileged from having been instituted by Romulus, and exhibited in honour
of the gods. Satiric and dramatic representations, however, as we have
seen, gradually became popular; and, at length, so increased in number and
importance, that a _Theatre_ was required for their performance.

The subject of the construction of the Roman theatre is attended with
difficulty and confusion. While there are still considerable remains of
amphitheatres, scarcely any ruins or vestiges of theatres exist. The
writings of the ancients throw little light on the topic; and there is
much contradiction, or at least apparent inconsistency, in what has been
written, in consequence of the alterations which took place in the
construction of theatres in the progress of time.

Those stages, which were erected in the earliest periods of the Roman
republic, for the exhibitions of dancers and histrions, were probably set
up according to the Etruscan mode, in places covered with boughs of trees,
(Nemorosa palatia,) in tents or booths, or, at best, in temporary and
moveable buildings—perhaps not much superior in dignity or accommodation
to the cart of Thespis.

But, though the Etruscan histrions probably constructed the stage on which
they were to perform, according to the fashion of their own country, the
Greek was the model of the regular Roman theatre, as much as the pieces of
Euripides and Menander were the prototypes of the Latin tragedies and
comedies. The remains of a playhouse believed to be Etruscan, were
discovered at Adria about the middle of the seventeenth century. But there
was a wider difference between it and the Roman theatre, than between the
Roman and the Greek. The Greeks had a large orchestra, and a very limited
stage—the Romans, a confined orchestra, and extensive stage; while in the
Adrian theatre, the orchestra was larger even than in the Greek(576).

The first regular theatre at Rome was that constructed for Livius
Andronicus on the Aventine Hill. This building, however, was but
temporary, and probably existed no longer than the distinguished dramatist
and actor for whose accommodation it was erected. In the year 575, M.
Æmilius Lepidus got a theatre constructed adjacent to the temple of
Apollo(577); but it also was one of those occasional buildings, which were
removed after the series of dramatic exhibitions for which they had been
intended were concluded. A short while before the commencement of the
third Punic war, a playhouse, which the censors were fitting up with seats
for the convenience of the spectators, was thrown down by a decree of the
senate, as prejudicial to public morals; and the people continued for some
time longer to view the representations standing, as formerly(578). At
length, M. Æmilius Scaurus built a theatre capable of containing 80,000
spectators, and provided with every possible accommodation for the public.
It was also adorned with amazing magnificence, and at almost incredible
expense. Its stage had three lofts or stories, rising above each other,
and supported by 360 marble columns. The lowest floor was of marble—the
second was incrusted with glass; and the third was formed of gilded boards
or planks. The pillars were thirty-eight feet in height: and between them
were placed bronze statues and images, to the number of not fewer than
3000. There was besides an immense superfluity of rich hangings of cloth
of gold; and painted tablets, the most exquisite that could be procured,
were disposed all around the _pulpitum_ and scenes(579).

Curio, being unable to rival such profuse and costly decoration,
distinguished himself by a new invention, which he introduced at the
funeral entertainments given by him in honour of his father’s memory. He
constructed two large edifices of wood adjacent to each other, and
suspended on hinges so contrived that the buildings could be united at
their centre or separated, in such a manner as to form a theatre or
amphitheatre, according to the nature of the exhibition. In both these
fabrics he made stage plays be acted in the early part of the day—the
semicircles being placed back to back, so that the declamation, music, and
applauses, in the one, did not reach the other; and then, having wheeled
them round in the afternoon, so that, by completing the circle, they
formed an amphitheatre, he exhibited combats of gladiators(580). All these
changes were performed without displacing the spectators, who seem to have
fearlessly trusted themselves to the strength of the machinery, and skill
of the artist.

The theatres of Scaurus and Curio, though they far surpassed in extent and
sumptuous decoration all the permanent theatres of modern times: yet,
being built of wood, and being only destined for a certain number of
representations during certain games or festivals, were demolished when
these were concluded. The whole furnishings and costly materials of the
theatre of Scaurus were immediately removed to his private villa, where
they were burned, it is said, by his servants, in a transport of
indignation at the extravagant profusion of their master(581).

Pompey was the first person who erected a permanent theatre of stone.
After the termination of the Mithridatic war, he made a coasting voyage
along the shores and islands of Greece. In the whole of his progress he
showed the attention of a liberal and cultivated mind to monuments of art.
The theatre of Mitylene particularly pleased him, both in its outward
form, and interior construction. He carried away with him a model of this
building, that he might erect at Rome a theatre similar to it(582), but on
a larger scale. The edifice which he built on the plan of this theatre,
after his return to Rome, was situated in the field of Flora, near the
temple of Venus Victrix, and held just one half of the number of
spectators which the playhouse of Scaurus contained(583). It was completed
during Pompey’s second consulship, in the year 698. On the day on which it
was opened, Æsopus, the great tragic actor, appeared for the last time in
one of his favourite characters, but his strength and voice failed him,
and he was unable to finish the part.

The construction of this theatre was speedily followed by the erection of
others. But all the Roman theatres which were built towards the close of
the republic, and commencement of the empire, were formed, in most
respects, on the model of the Greek theatre, both in their external plan
and interior arrangement. They were oblong semicircular buildings, forming
the half of an amphitheatre; and were thus rounded at one end, and
terminated on the other by a long straight line. The interior was divided
into three parts—1. The place for the spectators; 2. The orchestra; and,
3. The stage(584).

1. The universal passion of the Roman people for all sorts of exhibitions,
rendered the places from which they were to view them a matter of
competition and importance. Originally there were no seats in the
theatres, and the senators stood promiscuously with the people; yet, such
in those days was the reverence felt by the plebeians for their dignified
superiors, that, notwithstanding their rage for spectacles, they never
pushed before a senator(585). It was in the year 559, during the
consulship of the elder Scipio Africanus with Sempronius Longus, that the
former carried a law, by which separate places were assigned to the
senators(586). This regulation was renewed from time to time, as
circumstances of political confusion removed the line of distinction which
had been drawn. Scipio lost much of his popularity by this aristocratic
innovation, and is said to have severely repented of the share he had
taken in it(587). By the law of Scipio, part of the orchestra, (which, in
the Greek theatre, was occupied by the chorus,) was appropriated to the
senators. The knights and plebeians, however, continued to sit
promiscuously for more than 100 years longer; but at length, in 685, a
regulation of the tribune, Roscius Otho, allotted to the knights,
tribunes, and persons of a certain _census_, fourteen rows of circular
benches immediately behind the orchestra. This was a still more unpopular
measure than that introduced by the edict of Africanus. Otho, during the
consulship of Cicero, having entered the theatre, was hissed by the
multitude, while Roscius was acting one of his principal parts; but Cicero
presently called them out to the temple of Bellona, where he delivered a
harangue, which appeased their fury and reconciled them to the
tribune(588). Henceforth the senators held undisputed possession of the
orchestra; and the knights, with the better classes, retained the fourteen
rows of seats immediately surrounding it.

The seats for the senators, arranged in the orchestra, were straight
benches, placed at equal distances from each other, and were not
fixed(589). The other benches, which were assigned to the knights and
people, were semicircularly disposed around the circumference of the
theatre, and spread from the orchestra to the rounded end of the building
The extremities of the seats joined the orchestra, and they were carried
one above another, sloping, till they reached the remotest part, and
ascended almost to the ceiling. Thus the benches which were lowest and
most contiguous to the orchestra, described a smaller circumference than
those which spread more towards the outer walls of the theatre(590). Over
the higher tier of seats a portico was constructed, the roof of which
ranged with the loftiest part of the scene, in order that the voice
expanding equally, might be carried to the uppermost seats, and thence to
the top of the building(591). The benches, which were gently raised above
each other, were separated into three sets or tiers: each tier, at least
in most theatres, consisting of seven benches. According to some writers,
the separation of these tiers was a passage, or gallery, which went quite
round them for facility of communication; according to others, it was a
belt, or precinction, which was twice the height, and twice the breadth of
the seats(592). It would appear, however, from a passage in Vitruvius,
that both a raised belt, and a gallery or corridore, surrounded each tier
of seats(593). One of the precinctions formed the division between the
places of the knights and those of the people(594). In a different and
angular direction, the tiers and ranges of seats were separated by stairs,
making so many lines in the circumference of the seats, and leading from
the orchestra to the doors of the theatre. The benches were cut by the
stairs into the form of wedges. The steps of the stairs were always a
little lower than the seats; but the number of stairs varied in different
theatres. Pompey’s theatre had fifteen, that of Marcellus only seven(595).
As luxury increased at Rome, these stairs were bedewed with streams of
fragrant water, for the purposes of coolness and refreshment. At the top
of each flight of steps were doors called _vomitoria_, which gave egress
from the theatre, and communicated directly with the external

In the ancient temporary Roman theatres, the body of the building, or
place where the spectators sat, was open at top to receive the light. But
Quintus Catulus, during the entertainments exhibited at his dedication of
the Capitol, introduced the luxury of canvass, which was drawn partially
or completely over the theatre at pleasure(597). This curtain was at first
of simple unornamented wool, and was merely used as a screen from the sun,
or a protection from rain; but, in process of time, silken hangings of
glossy texture and splendid hues waved from the roof, flinging their
gorgeous tints on the _proscenium_ and spectators:—

  “Et vulgo faciunt id lutea russaque vela,
  Et ferrugina, quum, magnis intenta theatris,
  Per malos vulgata trabesque, trementia fluctant.
  Namque ibi consessum caveai subter, et omnem
  Scenalem speciem, patrum, matrumque, deorumque,
  Inficiunt, coguntque suo fluitare colore(598).”

2. _The Orchestra_ was a considerable space in the centre of the theatre,
part of which was allotted for the seats of the senators. The remainder
was occupied by those who played upon musical instruments, whose office it
was, in the performance both of tragedies and comedies, to give to the
actors and audience the tone of feeling which the dramatic parts demanded.
In tragedies, the music invariably accompanied the Chorus. It was not,
however, confined to the Chorus; but appears to have been also in the
monologues, and perhaps in some of the most impassioned parts of the
dialogue; for Cicero tells of Roscius, that he said, when he grew older,
he would make the music play slower, that he might the more easily keep up
with it(599). I do not, however, believe, that comedy was a musical
performance throughout: Mr Hawkins, after quoting a number of authorities
to this purpose, concludes, “that comedy had no music but between the
acts, except, perhaps, occasionally in the case of marriages and
sacrifices, if any such were represented on the stage(600).”

Every play had its own musical prelude, which distinguished it from
others, and from which many of the audience at once knew what piece was
about to be performed(601). The chief musical instruments employed in the
theatre were the _tibiæ_, or flutes, with which the comedies of Terence
are believed to have been represented. The _Andria_ is said to have been
acted, “Tibiis paribus, dextris et sinistris;”—the _Eunuch_, “Tibiis
duabus dextris;”—the _Heautontimorumenos_, on its first appearance,
“Tibiis imparibus;” on its second, “Duabus dextris;”—the _Adelphi_,
“Tibiis sarranis;”—the _Hecyra_, “Tibiis paribus,”—and the _Phormio_,
“Tibiis imparibus.” It thus appears, that the theatrical flutes were
classed as “dextræ et sinistræ,” and also as “pares et impares,” and that
there were likewise “Tibiæ Serranæ,” or “Sarranæ,” to which, it is
believed, the Phrygiæ were opposed. There has been much dispute, however,
as to what constituted the distinction between these different sets of
pipes. Scaliger thinks, that the “Tibiæ dextræ et sinistræ” were formed by
cutting the reed into two parts: that portion which was next to the root
making the left, and that next to the top the right flute.—whence the
notes of the former were more grave, and those of the latter more
acute(602). Mad. Dacier, however, is of opinion, that flutes were
denominated right and left from the valves, in playing, being stopped with
the right or left hand. There is still more difficulty with regard to the
“Tibiæ pares et impares.” Some persons conjecture, that the Tibiæ pares
were a set of two or more pipes of the same pitch in the musical scale,
and Impares such as did not agree in pitch(603). The opinion, that flutes
were called Pares when they had an even, and Impares when an odd number of
valves, is not inconsistent with this notion; nor with that adopted by
Dempster(604), that the difference depended on their being equal or
unequal distances between the valves. It may be also reconciled with the
idea of Salmasius, that when the same set of flutes were employed, as two
right or two left, a play was said to be acted Tibiis paribus; and, when
one or more right with one or more left were used, it was announced as
performed Tibiis imparibus. This idea, however, of Salmasius, is
inconsistent with what is said as to the _Andria_ being acted with equal
flutes right and left; unless, indeed, we suppose, with Mad. Dacier, that
this is to be understood of different representations, and that the flutes
were of the same description at each performance, but were sometimes a set
of right, and at other times a set of left flutes.

As to the Tibiæ Serranæ, some have supposed that they were so called from
Serra, since they produced the sharp grating sound occasioned by a
saw(605); some, that they were denominated Sarranæ from Sarra, a city in
Phœnicia, where such flutes are believed to have been invented(606); and
others, that they derived their name from Sero to lock; because in these
flutes, there were valves or stops which opened and shut alternately(607).
It is only farther known, that the Tibiæ Serranæ belonged to the class
called Pares, and the Phrygiæ, to which they were opposed, to that styled

All flutes, of whatever denomination, were extremely simple in the
commencement of the dramatic art at Rome. Their form was plain, and they
had but few notes. In progress of time, however, they became more complex,
and louder in their tones(608).

Several chorded instruments were also used in the orchestra, as the lyre
and harp, and in later times an hydraulic organ was introduced. This
instrument, which is described in the _Organon_ of Pub. Optatianus,
emitted a sound which was produced from air created by the concussion of
water. Cornelius Severus, in his poem of _Ætna_, alludes to it, under the
name of _Cortina_—

  “Carmineque irriguo magni Cortina Theatri
  Imparibus numerosa modis canit arte regentis,
  Quæ tenuem impellens animam subremigat undam(609).”

3. _The Stage_. The front area of the stage was a little elevated above
that part of the orchestra where the musicians were placed, and was called
the _Proscenium_. On the proscenium a wooden platform, termed the
_pulpitum_, was raised to the height of five feet(610). This the actors
ascended to perform their characters; and here all the dramatic
representations of the Romans were exhibited(611), except the Mimes, which
were acted on the lower floor of the proscenium. Certain architectural
proportions were assigned to all these different parts of the theatre.

The whole space or area behind the pulpitum was called the _Scena_,
because the scenery appropriate to the piece was there exhibited. “The
three varieties of scenes,” says Vitruvius, “are termed tragic, comic, and
satyric, each of which has a style of decoration peculiar to itself. In
the tragic scene columns are represented, with statues, and other
embellishments suitable to palaces and public buildings. The comic scene
represents the houses of individuals, with their balconies and windows
arranged in imitation of private dwellings. The satyric is adorned with
groves, dens, and mountains, and other rural objects.” The rigid adherence
of the ancients to the unity of place, rendered unnecessary that frequent
shifting of scenes which is required in our dramas. When the side scenes
were changed, the frames, or painted planks, were turned by machinery, and
the scene was then called _versatilis_, or revolving: When it was
withdrawn altogether, and another brought forward, it was called
_ductilis_, or, sliding. There were also trapdoors in the floor of this
part of the theatre, by which ghosts and the Furies ascended when their
presence was required; and machines were disposed above the scene, as also
at its sides, by which gods and other superior beings were suddenly
brought upon the stage.

At the bottom of the scene, or end most remote from the spectators, there
was a curtain of painted canvass, which was first used after the tapestry
of Attalus had been brought to Rome(612). It was dropped when the play
began, remained down during the performance, and was drawn up when the
representation concluded. This was certainly the case during the existence
of the republic; but I imagine that an alteration took place in the time
of the emperors, and that the curtain, being brought more forward on the
scene, was then, as with us, raised at the commencement, and dropped at
the end of the piece:—

  “Mox ubi ridendas inclusit pagina partes,
  Vera redit facies, dissimulata perit(613).”

At each side of the _scena_ there were doors called _Hospitalia_, by which
the actors entered and made their exits.

That part of the theatre which comprehended the stage and scene was
originally covered with branches of trees, which served both for shelter
and ornament. It was afterwards shut in with planks, which were painted
for the first time in the year 654. About the same period the scene was
enriched with gold and silver hangings, and the proscenium was decorated
with columns, statues, and altars to the god in whose honour, or at whose
festival, the stage plays were represented.

II. In turning our attention to the _actors_ who appeared on the
_pulpitum_ of the Roman stage, the point which first attracts our notice
is that supposed separation of the dramatic labour, by which one performer
gesticulated while the other declaimed. This division, however, did not
take place at all in comedy, or in the ordinary dialogue (_Diverbia_) of
tragedy; as is evinced by various passages in the Latin authors, which
show that Æsopus, the chief tragic actor, and Roscius, the celebrated
comedian, both gesticulated and declaimed. Cicero informs us, that Æsopus
was hissed if he was in the least degree hoarse(614); and he also mentions
one remarkable occasion, on which, having returned to the stage after he
had long retired from it, his voice suddenly failed him just as he
commenced an adjuration in the part he represented(615). This evinces that
Æsopus declaimed; and the same author affords us proof that he
gesticulated: For, in the treatise _De Divinatione_, he introduces his
brother Quintus, declaring, that he had himself witnessed in Æsopus such
animation of countenance, and vehemence of gesture, that he seemed carried
beside himself by some irresistible power(616). Roscius, indeed, is
chiefly talked of for the gracefulness of his gestures(617), but there are
also passages which refer to the modulation of his voice(618). It may
perhaps, however, be said, that the above citations only prove that the
same actor gesticulated in some characters, and declaimed in others; it
seems, however, much more probable that Æsopus went through the whole
dramatic part, than that he appeared in some plays merely as a
gesticulating, and in others as a declaiming, performer.

There was thus no division in the ordinary dialogue, or _diverbium_, as it
was called, and it was employed only in the monologues, and those parts of
high excitement and pathos, which were declaimed somewhat in the tone of
_recitativo_ in an Italian opera, and were called _Cantica_, from being
accompanied either by the flutes or by instrumental music. That one actor
should have recited, and another performed the corresponding gestures in
the scenes of a tragedy, and that, too, in parts of the highest
excitement, and in which theatric illusion should have been rendered most
complete, certainly appears the most incongruous and inexplicable
circumstance in the history of the Roman Drama. This division did not
exist on the Greek stage, but it commenced at Rome as early as the time of
Livius Andronicus, who, being _encored_, as we call it, in his monologues,
introduced a slave, who declaimed to the sound of the flute, while he
himself executed the corresponding gesticulations(619). To us nothing can
seem at first view more ridiculous, and more injurious to theatric
illusion, than one person going through a dumb show or pantomime, while
another, who must have appeared a supernumerary on the pulpitum, recited,
with his arms across, the corresponding verses, in tones of the utmost
vehemence and pathos(620). It must, however, be recollected, that the
Roman theatres were larger and worse lighted than ours; that the mask
prevented even the nearest spectators from perceiving the least motion of
the lips, and they thus heard only the words without knowing whether they
proceeded from him who recited or gestured; and, finally, that these
actors were so well trained, that they agreed precisely in their
respective parts. We are informed by Cicero, that a comedian who made a
movement out of time was as much hissed as one who mistook the
pronunciation of a word or quantity of a syllable in a verse(621). Seneca
says, that it is surprising to see the attitudes of eminent comedians on
the stage overtake and keep pace with speech, notwithstanding the velocity
of the tongue(622).

So much importance was attached to the art of dramatic gesticulation, that
it was taught in the schools; and there were instituted motions as well as
natural. These artificial gestures, however, of arbitrary signification,
were chiefly employed in pantomime, where speech not being admitted, more
action was required to make the piece intelligible: And it appears from
Quintilian, that comedians who acted with due decorum, never, or but very
rarely, made use of instituted signs in their gesticulation(623). The
movements suited to theatrical declamation were subdivided into three
different sorts. The first, called _Emmelia_, was adapted to tragic
declamation; the second, _Cordax_, was fitted to comedies; and the third,
_Sicinnis_, was proper to satiric pieces, as the Mimes and _Exodia_(624).

The recitation was also accounted of high importance, so that the player
who articulated took prodigious pains to improve his voice, and an almost
whimsical care to preserve it(625). Nearly a third part of Dubos’ once
celebrated work on Poetry and Painting, is occupied with the theatric
declamation of the Roman actors. The art of framing the declamation of
dramatic pieces was, he informs us, the object of a particular study, and
indeed profession, at Rome. It was composed and signified in notes, placed
over each verse of the play, to direct the tones and inflection of voice
which were to be observed in recitation. There were a certain number of
accents in the Latin language, and the composer of a declamation marked
each syllable requiring to be accented, the grave or the acute accent
which properly belonged to it, while on the remaining syllables, he noted,
by means of conventional marks, a tone conformable to the tenor of the
discourse. The declamation was thus not a musical song, but a recitation
subject to the direction of a noted melody. Tragic declamation was graver
and more harmonious than comic, but even the comic was more musical and
varied than the pronunciation used in ordinary conversation(626). This
system, it might be supposed, would have deprived the actors of much
natural fire and enthusiasm, from the constraint to which they were thus
subjected; but the whole dramatic system of the ancients was more
artificial than ours, and something determinate and previously arranged,
as to quantities and pauses, was perhaps essential to enable the
gesticulating actor to move in proper concert with the reciter. The whole
system, however, of noted declamation, is denied by Duclos and Racine, who
think it impossible that accentuated tones of passion could be devised or

Both the actor who declaimed, and he who gesticulated, wore _masks_; and,
before concluding the subject of the Roman theatre, it may not be improper
to say a few words concerning this singular dramatic contrivance, as also
concerning the attire of the performers.

From the opportunity which they so readily afforded, of personally
satirizing individuals, by representing a caricatured resemblance of their
features, masks were first used in the old Greek comedy, which assumed the
liberty of characterizing living citizens of Athens. It is most probable,
however, that the hint of dramatic masks was given to the Romans by the
Etruscans(628). That they were employed by the histrions of that latter
nation, can admit of no doubt. The actors represented on the Etruscan
vases are all masked, and have caps on their heads(629). We also know,
that in some of the satirical exhibitions of the ancient Italians, they
wore masks made of wood:

  “Nec non Ausonii, Trojâ gens missa, coloni
  Versibus incomptis ludunt, risuque soluto
  Oraque corticibus sumunt horrenda cavatis(630).”

Originally, and in the time of L. Andronicus, the actors on the Roman
stage used only caps or beavers(631), and their faces were daubed and
disguised with the lees of wine, as at the commencement of the dramatic
art in Greece. The increased size, however, of the theatres, and
consequent distance of the spectators from the stage, at length compelled
the Roman players to borrow from art the expression of those passions
which could no longer be distinguished on the living countenance of the

Most of the Roman masks covered not merely the face, but the greater part
of the head(632), so that the beard and hair were delineated, as well as
the features. This indeed is implied in one of the fables of Phædrus,
where a fox, after having examined a tragic mask, which he found lying in
his way, exclaims, “What a vast shape without brains(633)!”—An observation
obviously absurd, if applied to a mere vizard for the face, which was not
made, and could not have been expected, to contain any brains. Addison, in
his _Travels in Italy_, mentions, that, in that country, he had seen
statues of actors, with the _larva_ or mask. One of these was not merely a
vizard for the face; it had false hair, and came over the whole head like
an helmet. He also mentions, however, that he has seen figures of Thalia,
sometimes with an entire head-piece in her hand, and a friz running round
the edges of the face; but at others, with a mask merely for the
countenance, like the modern vizards of a masquerade.

The masks of the regular theatre were made of chalk, or pipe-clay, or
terra cotta. A few were of metal, but these were chiefly the masks of the
Mimes. The chalk or clay masks were so transparent and artfully prepared,
that the play of the muscles could be seen through them; and it appears
that an opening was frequently left for the eyes, since Cicero informs us
expressly, that in parts of high pathos or indignation, the actor’s eyes
were often observed to sparkle under the vizard(634). From a vast
collection of Roman masks engraved in the work of Ficoroni, _De Larvis
Scenicis_, it appears that most of them represented features considerably
distorted, and enlarged beyond the natural proportions. A wide and gaping
mouth is one of their chief characteristics. The mask being in a great
measure contrived to prevent the dispersion of the voice, the mouth was so
formed, and was so incrusted with metal, as to have somewhat the effect of
a speaking-trumpet—hence the Romans gave the name of _persona_ to masks,
because they rendered the articulation of those who wore them more
distinct and sonorous(635). There are, however, a few figures in the work
of Ficoroni, carrying in their hands masks which are not unnaturally
distorted, and which have, in several instances, a resemblance to the
actor who holds them. M. Boindin, on the authority of a passage in
Lucian’s _Dialogue on Dancing_, thinks that these less hideous masks were
employed by dancers, or pantomimic actors, who, as they did not speak, had
no occasion for the distended mouth(636).

Roscius, who had some defect in his eyes, is said to have been the first
actor who used the Greek mask(637): but it was not invariably worn even by
him, as appears from a passage of Cicero.—“All,” says that author,
“depends upon the face, and all the power of the face is centred in the
eyes. Of this our old men are the best judges, for they were not lavish of
their applause even to Roscius in a mask(638).”

The different characters who chiefly appeared on the Roman stage—the
father, the lover, the parasite, the pander, and the courtezan, were
distinguished by their appropriate masks. A particular physiognomy was
considered as so essential to each character, that it was thought, that
without a proper mask, a complete knowledge of the personage could not be
communicated. “In tragedies,” says Quintilian, “Niobe appears with a
sorrowful countenance—and Medea announces her character by the fierce
expression of her physiognomy—stern courage is painted on the mask of
Hercules, while that of Ajax proclaims his transport and phrensy. In
comedies, the masks of slaves, pimps, and parasites—peasants, soldiers,
old women, courtezans, and female slaves, have each their particular
character(639).” Julius Pollux, in his _Onomasticon_, has given a minute
description of the mask appropriate to every dramatic character(640). His
work, however, was written in the reign of the Emperor Commodus, and his
observations are chiefly formed on the practice of the Greek theatre, so
that there may have been some difference between the various masks he
describes, and those of the Roman stage, towards the end of the republic.
The matron, virgin, and courtezan, he informs us, were particularly
distinguished from each other by the manner in which their hair was
arranged and braided. The mask of the parasite had brown and curled hair:
That of the braggart captain had black hair, and a swarthy
complexion(641); and it farther appears from the engravings of masks in
Ficoroni, that he had a distended or inflated countenance. The masks,
likewise, distinguished the severe from the indulgent father—the Micio
from the Demea—and the sober youth from the debauched rake(642). If, in
the course of the comedy, the father was to be sometimes pleased, but
sometimes incensed, one of the brows of his vizard was knit, and the other
smooth; and the actor was always careful, during the course of the
representation, to turn to the spectators, along with the change of
passion, the profile which expressed the feeling predominant at the
time(643). Julius Pollux has also described the dresses suited to each
character: The youth was clad in purple, the parasite in black, slaves in
white, the pander in party-coloured garments, and the courtezan in flowing
yellow robes(644).

It would introduce too long discussion, were I to enter on the
much-agitated question concerning the advantages and disadvantages of
masks in theatric representations. The latter are almost too apparent to
be enlarged on or recapitulated. It is obvious to remark, that though
masks might do very well for a Satyr and Cyclops, who have no resemblance
to human features, they are totally unsuitable for a flatterer, a miser,
or the like characters, which abound in our own species, in whom the
expression of countenance is more agreeable even than the action, and
forms a considerable part of the histrionic art. Could we suppose that a
vizard represented ever so naturally the general humour of a character, it
can never be assimilated with the variety of passions incident to each
person, in the whole course of a play. The grimace may be proper on some
occasions, but it is too fixed and steady to agree with all. In
consequence, however, of the great size of the ancient theatres, there was
not so much lost by the concealment of the living countenance, as we are
apt at first to suppose. It was impossible that those alterations of
visage, which are hidden by a mask, could have been distinctly perceived
by one-tenth of the 40,000 spectators of a Roman play. The feelings
portrayed in the ancient drama were neither so tender nor versatile as
those in modern plays, and the actors did not require the same flexibility
of features—there were fewer flashes of joy in sorrow, fewer gleams of
benignity in hatred. Hercules, the Satyrs, the Cyclops, and other
characters of superhuman strength or deformity, were more frequently
introduced on the ancient than the modern stage, and, by aid of the mask,
were more easily invested with their appropriate force or ugliness. By
means, too, of these masks, the dramatists introduced foreign nations on
the stage with their own peculiar physiognomy, and among others, the _Rufi
persona Batavi_. Their use, besides, prevented the frequenters of the
theatre from seeing an actor, far advanced in years, play the part of a
young lover, since the vizard, under which the performer appeared, was
always, to that extent at least, agreeable to the character he assumed. In
addition to all this, by concealing the mouth it prevented the spectators
from observing whence the sound issued, and thus palliated the absurdity
of one actor declaiming, and the other beating time, as it were by
gestures. Finally, as the tragic actor was elevated by his _cothurnus_, or
buskin, above the ordinary stature of man, it became necessary, in order
to preserve the due proportions of the human form, that his countenance
also should be enlarged to corresponding dimensions.


I shall here close the first Volume of the HISTORY OF ROMAN LITERATURE, in
which I have treated of the Origin of the Romans—the Progress of their
Language, and the different Poets by whom their Literature was
illustrated, till the era of Augustus. At that period Virgil beautifully
acknowledges the superiority of the Greeks in statuary, oratory, and
science; but he might, with equal justice, (and the avowal would have come
from him with peculiar propriety,) have confessed that the Muses loved
better to haunt Pindus and Parnassus, than Soracte or the Alban Hill. From
the days of Ennius downwards, the literature and poetry of the Romans was,
with exception, perhaps, of satire, and some dramatic entertainments of a
satiric description, wholly Greek—consisting merely of imitations, and, in
some instances, almost of translations from that language. We may compare
it to a tree transplanted in full growth to an inferior soil or climate,
and which, though still venerable or beautiful, loses much of its verdure
and freshness, sends forth no new shoots, is preserved alive with
difficulty, and, if for a short time neglected, shrivels and decays.

                             END OF VOLUME I.

_James Kay, Jun. Printer,_
_S. E. Corner of Race & Sixth Streets_


      Afranius, his Comedies, vol. i. p. 170.
      Agriculture, advantages of Italy for, ii. 6–11.
      Antias, Q. Valerius, Latin Annalist, ii. 74.
      Antipater, Cælius, Latin Annalist, ii. 72.
      Antonius, Marcus, character of his eloquence, ii. 117.
            His death, 119.
      Arcesilaus founds the New Academy, ii. 208.
      Asellio, Sempronius, Latin Annalist, ii. 73.
      Atellane Fables, i. 229.
      Attius, his Tragedies, i. 214.

      Brutus, his Historical Epitomes, ii. 107.

      Cæcilius, his Comedies, i. 168.
      Cæcina, his history, ii. 108.
      Cæsar compared with Xenophon, ii. 94.
            His Commentaries, 95–101.
            His Ephemeris, whether the same work with his Commentaries,
            His Anticatones, 102.
            His Analogia, 103.
      Calvus, Licinius, his Epigrams, i. 322.
            His orations, ii. 131.
      Carmen Saliare, i. 43.
      Carneades teaches the Greek philosophy at Rome, ii. 211.
      Cato, the Censor, his work on Agriculture, ii. 12–16.
            His Orations, 16.
            His work De Originibus, 18.
            On Medicine, 20–21.
      Catullus, i. 271–320.
      Cethegus, Marcus, an orator, ii. 110.
      Cicero, his Orations, ii. 152.
            Compared with Demosthenes, 192.
            His works on Rhetoric, 193.
            De Oratore, 195.
            Brutus, 198.
            The Orator, 199.
            Topica, 200.
            Rhetorica ad Herennium, inquiry concerning the author of, 202.
            His philosophical works—De Legibus, 223.
            De Finibus, 229.
            Academica, 232.
            Tusculanæ Disputationes, 236.
            De Naturâ Deorum, 243.
            De Officiis, 257.
            De Senectute, 259.
            De Republica, 263.
            His Epistles, 278.
      Columna Rostrata, inscription on the, i. 46.
      Cotta, his style of oratory, ii. 122.
      Crassus, Lucius, character of his eloquence, ii. 120.
            His death, ibid.
            Compared with Antony, 121.

      Decemviral Laws, ii. 134.
      Dialogue, remarks on this species of composition, ii. 194.

      Eloquence, Roman, commencement of, ii. 109.
      Ennius, his tragedies, i. 67.
            Annals, 78.
            Translation of Euhemerus, 94.
      Etruscans, their origin, i. 20.
            Their conquests, 26.
            Religion, 29.
            Arts, 35.
      Eugubian Tables, i. 47.

      Fabius Pictor, Latin Annalist, ii. 67–71.
      Fratres Arvales, hymn of the, i. 43.

      Galba, Sergius, an orator, ii. 110.
      Gracchi, oratory of the, ii. 113.

      Hirtius, his continuation of Cæsar’s Commentaries, ii. 105.
      History, Roman, uncertainty of, ii. 57–67.
      Hortensius, his luxury and magnificence, ii. 124.
            His villas at Tusculum, Bauli, and Laurentum, 124, 125.
            Character of his eloquence, 127.
            His descendants, 130, Note.

      Jurisconsults, Roman, account of, ii. 138.

      Laberius, i. 328.
      Lælius, his oratory compared with that of Scipio, ii. 111.
      Latin Language, its origin, i. 32.
            Its changes, 48.
      Laws, Roman, ii. 133–138.
      Leges Regiæ, ii. 133.
      Livius Andronicus, i. 54–58.
      Lucceius, his History of the Social War, ii. 107.
      Lucilius, i. 238–248.
      Lucretius, i. 250–271.
      Lucullus, his patronage of learning, ii. 51.
      Luscius Lavinius, i. 171.

      Magna Græcia, its settlements, i. 50.
      Mimes, their origin and subjects, i. 324.

      Nævius, i. 58–62.

      Pacuvius, i. 209.
      Plautus, i. 96–168.
      Philosophy, Greek, introduction of, at Rome, ii. 209.
      Plebiscita, account of the, ii. 136.
      Prætor, account of the office of, ii. 141.
      Publius Syrus, i. 332.

      Quadrigarius, Claudius, Latin Annalist, ii. 73.

      Sallust, his character, ii. 82.
            His Gardens, ibid.
            His conspiracy of Catiline, and Jugurthine war, 84–88.
            His Roman History, 92.
      Satire, Roman, origin of, i. 232.
      Senatusconsultum, what, ii. 137.
      Sisenna, Roman Annalist, ii. 75.
      Sulpicius, his worthless character, ii. 121.
            His style of oratory, 122.
      Sylla, his library, ii. 50.
            His Memoirs of his Life, 77.
            His character, 78.

      Terence, i. 175–206.
            Compared with Plautus, 206.
      Theatre, Roman, its construction, i. 337–353.
      Tyrannio, his library, ii. 52.
      Trabea, i. 173.

      Varro, his farms and villas, ii. 25.
            His work on Agriculture, 28–34.
            De Lingua Latina, 34.
            Other works of Varro, 40.


    1 Mad. de Staël, _De la Litterature_, Tom. I.

_    2 Rasselas_.

_    3 Childe Harolde_, c. IV.

_    4 Vindiciæ Gallicæ_.

_    5 Vindiciæ Gallicæ_.

_    6 Rasselas_.

    7 Boswell’s _Life of Johnson_, Vol. IV.

_    8 Civil and Constitutional History of Rome, from its Foundation to
      the Age of Augustus_, by Henry Bankes, Esq. M. P. ed. London, 1818,
      2 vol. 8vo.

_    9 Voyage de Polyclete_, Lettre 2. 3 Tom. Paris, 1820.

_   10 Herod. Clio._ c. 94.

_   11 Herculanensia_, Dissert. V. Lond. 1810.

_   12 Geograph._ Lib. V. c. 2.

_   13 Histor. Roman._ Lib. I. c. 1.

_   14 Quæstiones Romanæ_.

_   15 Annal._ Lib. IV. c. 55.

_   16 Antiquitates Romanæ_. Lib. I. p. 22. Ed. Sylburg, 1586.

_   17 Antiquitates Romanæ_. Lib. I. p. 22, &c.

_   18 De Etruria Regali_. Lib. I. Ed. Florent. 1723. 2 tom. fol.

_   19 Geographia Sacra_, De Coloniis Phœnicum. Lib. I. tom. I. p. 582,
      &c. _Oper._ Lugd. Bat. 1712.

_   20 Miscellaneous Works_, Vol. IV. p. 184. Ed. 8vo. 1814.

   21 Micali, _L’Italia avanti il Dominio dei Romani_. Ed. Firenz. 1810.
      Bossi, _Istoria d’Italia_. Ed. 1819.

_   22 Museum Etruscum_.

_   23 Origin and Progress of Language_, vol. V. book i. c. 3. See also
      Swinton, _De Lingua Etruriæ Vernacula_.

   24 At the end of his Dissertation he alludes to a future work, in which
      he is to settle the particular district and time of the Etruscan
      emigration; but I do not know whether or not he ever accomplished
      this undertaking.

   25 “Confesso ingenuamente,” says the author, “che questa Etimologia
      della voce Eridano mi è sempre piaciuta assai.”—_Dissertaz. sopra
      l’Origine de Terreni, nell Saggi di Dissert. dell Acad. Etrusca_.
      Tom. III. p. 1.

_   26 Supplem. ad Monument. Etrusc. Dempst._ c. 47. See also Riccobaldi
      del Bava, _Dissertaz. sopra L’Origine dell’ Etrusca Nazione_.

   27 Deutoronomy, c. 18, v. 14. _Ragionament. degl’ Itali primitivi. in
      Istoria Diplomatica_. Ed. Mantua, 1727.

_   28 Origini Italiche_. 3 Tom. folio. Lucca, 1767–72.

_   29 De Primi Abitatori dell Italia_. Ed. Modena, 1769. 3 Tom. 4to.

_   30 Histoire des Celtes_. Paris, 1770.

_   31 Recherches sur l’Origine des Differens Peuples d’Italie_, in
      _l’Hist. de l’Acad. des Inscriptions_. Tom. XVIII.

_   32 De Origine Latinæ Linguæ_. Ed. 1720.

   33 Heyne, _Opuscula Academica_, Tom. V. See also Court de Gebelin,
      _Monde Primitif_.

   34 Non enim Etruscorum stirpem ab una gente nec ab una turba deductam;
      sed temporum successu plurium populorum propagines in eum populum,
      qui tandem Etruscum nomen terris his allevit confluxisse arbitror.
      _Nov. Comment. Soc. Reg. Gotting._ Tom. III.

_   35 Nat. Hist._ Lib. III. c. 14. Ed. Hardouin.

   36 Visconti, who has since become so celebrated by his _Iconographie
      Grecque et Romaine_, says in the _Approvazione_ of the work of
      Lanzi, which he had perused in his official capacity,—“Il saggio di
      lingua Etrusca, che ho letto per commissione del Rmo. P. M. del S.
      P. A., mi è sembrato assolutamente il miglior libro che sia stato
      sinora scritto su questo difficile e vasto argomento.” This opinion,
      so early formed, has been confirmed by that of all writers who have
      subsequently touched on the subject.

_   37 Saggio di Lingua Etrusca_. Rom. 1789. 3 Tom. 8vo.

   38 Diodorus Siculus—Athenæus.

   39 Guarnacci, _Origini Italiche_.

   40 Sir William Jones, _On the Gods of Italy and India_.

_   41 Herculanensia_, Dissert. V.

_   42 Hermes Scythicus_, p. 90.

   43 Ovid. _Fast._ I. 90.

   44 Servius, ad Æneid. VII. 84.

           45 L’Olympe de Numa fut plus majestueux,
        Mercure moins fripon, Mars moins voluptueux;
        Jupiter brula moins d’une flamme adultere,
        Venus meme reçut une culte plus severe.
                      _De Lille._ _Imagination_. Ch. vi.

_   46 Antiquitat. Roman._ Lib. II. c. 19.

   47 Beaufort is of opinion that the gradual introduction of the Greek
      mythology at Rome commenced as early as the reign of Tarquinius
      Priscus. _La Republique Romaine. Discours Preliminaire_. Ed. 1766. 2
      Tom. 4to.

   48 Heyne, Excurs. V. lib. vii. ad Æneid.

   49 Bentley, however, is of opinion that the College of Augurs, whose
      divination was made from observations of birds, was of Roman
      institution, being founded by Numa, and that the skill and province
      of the Haruspices of Etruria reached to three things, _exta,
      fulgura, et ostenta_, entrails of cattle, thunders, and monstrous
      births, but did not include auguries from the flight of birds. “It
      often happened,” he adds, “that this pack of Etruscan soothsayers
      gave their answers quite cross to what the Roman augurs had given,
      so that the two disciplines clashed.”—(_Remarks on a late Discourse
      of Freethinking_, p. 241, Lond. 1737.)

   50 Valerius Maximus, Lib. I. c. i. Ed. 1533. Cicero, _De Divinatione_,
      Lib. I. c. 41. Ed. Schütz.

_   51 Origin, &c. of Language_. Part I. book iii. c. 11.

_   52 Diversions of Purley_. Part II. c. iv. Wakefield and Horne Tooke
      had undertaken in conjunction a division and separation of the Latin
      language into two parts, placing together, in one division, all that
      could be clearly shewn to be Greek, and in the other, all that could
      be clearly shewn to be of northern extraction, including, I presume,
      both Teutonic and Celtic originals. This design, we are informed,
      was frustrated “by the persecution of that virtuous and harmless
      good man, Mr Gilbert Wakefield.”—_Divers. Purley_, II. 4. See also
      on the origin of the Latin Language, Ginguené, _Hist. Littéraire
      d’Italie_, Tom. I.

_   53 De Novi Instrumenti Stylo_, c. 1. London, 1648.

_   54 De Lingua Latina_, lib. IV. c. 10.

   55 Remondini, _Dissertaz. sopra una iscrizione Osca_, p. 49. ed. 1760,
      Genoa. Some writers have even asserted, that the Twelve tables were
      originally written in the Oscan dialect. Terrasson, _Hist. de la
      Jurisprudence Romaine_. Baron de Theis, _Voyage de Polyclete_, let.

   56 It would be foreign to the object of this work to enter into the
      inquiry, whether the Etruscan arts were the result of indigenous
      taste and cultivation, or were derived from the Greeks. The latter
      proposition has been maintained by Winckelman and Lanzi—the former
      by Tiraboschi and Pignotti. (_Storia di Toscana_, T. 1. Ed. Pisa,

   57 Forsyth’s _Remarks on Italy_, p. 141.

   58 “La grandeur de Rome,” says Montesquieu, “parût bientòt dans ses
      edifices publics. Les ouvrages qui ont donné, et qui donnent encore
      aujourd’hui la plus haute idée de sa puissance ont été faits sous
      les Rois. On commençoit déjà a batir la Ville eternelle.” _Grandeur
      et Decadence des Romains_, c. 1.

   59 Dempster, _Etruria Regalis_, Lib. III. c. 80.

   60 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. Ep. 1.

   61 Ennius, _Annal._

_   62 De Die Natali_, c. 5.

_   63 Saggio di Ling. Etrusc._ Tom. II. p. 567.

_   64 De Ling. Lat._ Lib. IV. c. 9.

   65 Orgival, _Considerat. sur l’Origine et Progrés des Belles Lettres
      chez les Romains_.

_   66 Comment. de Erudit. Societat._

           67 Romulus ut saxo locum circumdedit alto,
          Cuilibet huc, inquit, confuge tutus erit.

   68 Plautus, _Captivi Prol._

_   69 Antiquitat. Roman._ Lib. II.

   70 Livy. Lib. VII. c. 2. Sine carmine ullo, sine imitandorum carminum
      actu, ludiones ex Etruria acciti, ad tibicinis modos saltantes, haud
      indecoros motus more Tusco dabant.

   71 Flogel, _Geschichte der Komisch. Litteratur_. Tom. IV. p. 82.

   72 Dionys. Halic. Lib. II. c. 34.

   73 Livy, Lib. III. c. 29. Epulantesque, cum carmine triumphali et
      solennibus jocis, commissantium modo, currum secuti sunt.

   74 Ibid. Lib. IV. c. 20. In eum milites carmina incondita, æquantes eum
      Romulo, canere.

   75 Ibid. Lib. XXVIII. c. 9.

_   76 Tusc. Disput._ Lib. I. c. 2. and lib. IV. c. 2. _Brutus_, c. 19.

   77 Lib. II. c. 1.

_   78 De Vita Populi Romani_, ap. Nonium, c. ii. sub voce, Assa.

   79 Majores natu in conviviis ad tibias egregia superiorum opera,
      carmine comprehensa, pangebant.

   80 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 19. The passage rather seems to imply that they
      had been in writing, “Utinam _extarent illa carmina_, quæ multis
      sæculis ante suam ætatem in epulis esse cantata a singulis convivis
      de clarorum virorum laudibus, in Originibus scriptum reliquit Cato”!

_   81 Lectures on Literature_, Lect. III.

_   82 Romische Geschichte_. Berlin, 1811. 2 Tom. 8vo.

   83 Lib. IV. c. 2.

   84 Lib. III. c. 22.

   85 Bossi, _Storia de Italia_, Tom. VI. p. 375.

_   86 Elementa Doctrinæ Metricæ_, Lib. III. c. 9. Lanzi, (_Saggio di
      Ling. Etrusc._) Schoell, (_Hist. Abregée de la Litterature Romaine_,
      Tom. I. p. 42. introduct.) and Eustace (_Classical Tour in Italy_,
      Vol. III. p. 416.) give a somewhat different interpretation.
      Pleores, they render flores, and not plures, in which they seem
      right—Satur, fufere Mars, (you shall be full, O Mars!) they make
      Ator, or ador fieri, Mars, (Let there be food, O Mars!) which is
      evidently erroneous. The following will give some general notion of
      the import of the verses:—

        Ye Lares, aid us! Mars, thou God of Might!
        From murrain shield the flocks—the flowers from blight.
        For thee, O Mars! a feast shall be prepared;
        Salt, and a wether chosen from the herd:
        Invite, by turn, each Demigod of Spring—
        Great Mars, assist us! Triumph! Triumph sing!

   87 Varro, _De Ling. Lat._ Lib. VI. c. 1 and 3.

   88 Servius _ad Æneid._ Lib. VIII.

   89 Cannegieter, _Dissert. Philol. Jurid. ad legem Numæ_.

   90 Funccius, _De Pueritia Latin. Ling._ c. III. § 6 and 8.

   91 Lib. XLII. c. 20

   92 The letters which have been supplied are here printed in Italics.

   93 Ciacconius, however, is of opinion that this is not precisely what
      was inscribed on the base of the column in the time of Duillius, for
      that the inscription, having been greatly effaced, was repaired, or
      rather engraved anew, after the time of Julius Cæsar. _In Colum.
      Rost. Explic._

_   94 Illustrations of Childe Harold_, p. 169.

   95 This sort of rustic Latin has by some writers been supposed to be
      the origin of the modern Italian.

   96 Omnino ad jura pontificalia pertinere videntur. _In Dempsteri libros
      Paralipomena_. Ed. Luca, 1767. It was on these Eugubian tables that,
      in modern times, the alphabet of the Etruscan language was first
      found. At the earliest attempt it was very imperfect and
      contradictory; Maffei maintaining that these tables were in Hebrew,
      and Gori that they were in Greek characters; but at length in 1732,
      M. Bourguet, a Frenchman, by comparing the tables in the Roman with
      those in the Etruscan character, found that the former was a
      compendium of the latter, and that many words in the one
      corresponded with words in the other. Having got this key, he was
      enabled, by comparing word with word, and letter with letter, to
      form an alphabet, which, though not perfect, was much more complete
      than any previously produced, and was found to be the same with that
      of the Pelasgi, and not very different from the alphabet
      communicated to the Greeks by Cadmus. _Dissertaz. dell Academia
      Etrusca_. T. I. p. 1. 1742.

   97 Quintilian, _Institut._ Lib. I. c. 7.

_   98 Quæstiones Romanæ_.

   99 Festus, voce _Solitaurilia_.

  100 For a fuller detail of these variations see Funccius _de Pueritia
      Ling. Lat._ c. 5. Id. _de Adolescentia Ling. Lat._ c. 7. and
      Terrasson, _Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine_. Part I. par. 8.

  101 For a fuller detail of these variations see Funccius _de Pueritia
      Ling. Lat._ c. 5. Id. _de Adolescentia Ling. Lat._ c. 7. and
      Terrasson, _Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine_. Part I. par. 8.

  102 This numeration, which rests on the authority of Diodorus Siculus,
      (Lib. XII.) and Strabo, (Lib. VI.) has been a subject of
      considerable discussion and controversy in modern times. (See
      Wallace on the numbers of Mankind, Hume’s Essay on Populousness of
      Ancient Nations, and Gibbon’s Miscellaneous Works, vol. III. p.
      178.) In all MSS. of ancient authors, the numbers are corrupt and

  103 Plutarch, _De Exilio_. Id. _Vit. decem. Orator._ Strabo, _Geog._
      Lib. XIV.

  104 Cicero, _Cato Major, seu de Senectute_, c. 12.

_  105 Rhetoricorum_, Lib. II. c. 1.

  106 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. ep. 1. v. 58.

  107 See Micali, _Italia avant. il Domin. dei Romani_. Raoul-Rochette,
      _Hist. de l’Etablissement des Colonies Grecques_. Heyne, _Opusc.
      Academ._ Nogarolæ, _Epist. de Italis qui Græce scripserunt_. ap.
      Fabricius, _Supplem. ad Vossium De Histor. Lat._

  108 Ausus est primus argumento fabulam serere. Livy, Lib. VII. c. 2.

  109 Tiraboschi, _Stor. __dell.__ Letteratura Italiana_. Parte III. Lib.
      II. c. 1.

  110 Hieronym. in _Euseb. Chron._ p. 37. In Scaliger, _Thesaurus
      Temporum_, ed. Amstel. 1658.

  111 Vidi etiam senem Livium, qui usque ad adolescentiam meam processit
      ætate. _De Senectute_, c. 14.

  112 Signorelli, _Storia de Teatri_, Tom. II.

  113 Lib. XXVII. c. 37.

_  114 Analecta Critica poesis Romanorum Scænicæ Reliquias lllustrantia_,
      c. 3. ed. Berlin, 1816.

  115 Est enim inter scriptores de numero annorum controversia. Cicero,
      _Brutus_, c. 18. Cicero, however, fixes on the year 514, following,
      as he says, the account of his friend Atticus.

  116 Livy, Lib. VII. c. 2. Quum sæpius revocatus vocem obtudisset, veniâ
      petitâ, puerum ad canendum ante tibicinem quum statuisset, canticum
      egisse, aliquanto magis vigente motu, quia nihil vocis usus

  117 Inde ad manum cantari histrionibus cœptum, diverbiaque tantum
      ipsorum voci relicta.—_Ibid._

  118 Festus, voce _Scribas_.

  119 Osannus, _Analecta Critica_, c. 3.

_  120 Bibliotheca Latina_, Tom. III. Lib. IV. c. 1.

          121 “Let the red buskin now your limbs invest,
        And the loose robe be belted to your breast;
        The rattling quiver let your shoulders bear—
        Throw off the hounds which scent the secret lair.”

  122 Jos. Scaliger, _Lectionibus Ausonianis_, where the lines are
      attributed to Lævius. ap. Sagitarius, _de Vita L. Andronici_, c. 8.
      Osannus, _Analecta Critica_, c. 2. p. 36. Some verses in the _Carmen
      de Arte Metrica_ of Terentianus Maurus, are the chief authority for
      these hexameters being by Livius:—

        “Livius ille vetus Grajo cognomine, suæ
        Inserit Inonis versu, puto, tale docimen,
        Præmisso heroo subjungit namque μειουρον,
        Hymno quando Chorus festo canit ore Triviæ—
        ‘Et jam purpureo,’ ” &c.

  123 Livianæ fabulæ non satis dignæ quæ iterum legantur. _Brutus_, c. 18.

_  124 Epist._ Lib. II. Ep. 1. v. 69.

_  125 Brutus_, c. 18.

          126 —— “Nought worse can be
        For wearing out a man than the rough sea;
        Even though his force be great, and heart be brave,
        All will be broken by the vexing wave.”

  127 Au. Gellius, Lib. XVII. c. 21. Ed. Lugd. Bat. 1666.

_  128 Tuscul. Disput._ Lib. IV. c. 31.

                129 “—— My spirits, sire, are raised,
        Thus to be praised by one the world has praised.”

  130 Au. Gellius. Lib. III. c. 3. Vossius. _De Historicis Latinis_, Lib.
      I. c. 2.

  131 Hieronym. _Chronicum Eusebianum_, p. 37, ut supra.

  132 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 15.

  133 Au. Gellius, Lib. I. c. 24.

          134 “If blest immortals mortals might bemoan,
        Each heavenly Muse would Nævius’ loss deplore:
        Soon as his spirit to the shades had flown,
        In Rome the Roman tongue was heard no more.”

  135 Heyne, _Excurs._ 1. ad Lib. II. _Æneid._

  136 Id. ad Æneid. The Cyprian Iliad had long been almost universally
      ascribed to Nævius, and lines were quoted from it as his by all the
      old grammarians. Several modern German critics, however, think that
      it was the work of Lævius, a poet who lived some time after Nævius,
      since the lines preserved from the Cyprian Iliad are hexameters,—a
      measure not elsewhere used by Nævius, nor introduced into Italy,
      according to their supposition, before the time of Ennius. Osannus,
      _Analecta Critica_, p. 36. Herman, _Elementa Doctrinæ Metricæ_, p.
      210. Ed. Glasg. 1817.

_  137 De Senectute_. c. 14.

  138 Suetonius, _De Illust. Grammat._

  139 Servius, _Ad Æneid._ Lib. 1.

_  140 Saturnalia_, Lib. VI. c. 2. Ed. Lugduni, 1560. I am anxious to take
      this opportunity of remarking, that the books and chapters of the
      _Saturnalia_ of Macrobius are differently divided in different
      editions. The same observation applies to many of the books most
      frequently referred to in the course of this work, as Pliny’s
      Natural History, Aulus Gellius, and Cicero. This difference in the
      division of chapters, I fear, has led to a suspicion with regard to
      the accuracy of a few of my references, which, however, have been
      uniformly verified on some edition or other, though I cannot pretend
      that I have always had access to the best.

_  141 Brutus_, c. 19.

  142 Fortunatianus. Edit. Putsch. p. 2679. Bentley, _Dissert. on
      Phalaris_, p. 162. Hawkins, _Inquiry into the Nature of Latin
      Poetry_, p. 452. Ed. Lond. 1817.

  143 Merula, Ed. Ennii Fragm. p. 88. Herman, _Elementa Doct. Met._ p.

  144 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 18. Id. _De Senect._ c. 5.

  145 Sil. Ital. Lib. XII.

  146 Aurelius Victor says he taught Cato Greek in Sardinia, (In præturâ
      Sardiniam subegit, ubi ab Ennio Græcis literis institutus;) but this
      is inconsistent with what is related by Cicero, that Cato did not
      acquire Greek till old age. (_De Senectute_, c. 8.)

  147 Cornelius Nepos, _In Vita Catonis_.

  148 Hieron. _Chron. Euseb._ p. 37.

  149 Cicero, _Pro Archia_, c. 10. _Tusc. Disput._ Lib. I. c. 2.

  150 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 20.

  151 Claudian, _de Laud. Stilichonis_, Lib. III. Præf.

  152 Müller thinks it was in Sardinia he served under Africanus.
      _Einleitung zu Kentniss Lateinischen Schriftsteller_, Tom. I. p.
      378. Ed. Dresden, 1747–51.

  153 Cicero, _De Orat._ Lib. II. c. 68.

  154 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. I. Ep. 19. v. 7.

  155 Ser. Sammonicus, _de Medicina_, c. 37.

  156 Annos septuaginta natus, ita ferebat duo, quæ maxima putantur onera,
      paupertatem et senectutem, ut iis pæne delectari videretur. _De
      Senectute_, c. 5.

  157 Cicero, _pro Archia_, c. 9. Valerius Maximus, Lib. VIII. c. 15. § 1.

  158 Lib. XXXVIII. c. 56.

  159 Bankes, _Civil History of Rome_, Vol. I. p. 357. Hobhouse,
      _Illustrations of Childe Harold_, p. 167.

_  160 Rome in the 19th Century_, Letter 36.

  161 Cicero, _Tuscul. Disput._ Lib. I. c. 15.

          162 “Romans, the form of Ennius here behold,
        Who sung your fathers’ matchless deeds of old.
        My fate let no lament or tear deplore,
        I live in fame, although I breathe no more.”

  163 See above, p. 61.

  164 Alcmæon olim tragicorum pulpita lassavit cum furore suo. Ba. _in
      Statium_. Tom. II.

  165 Those who wish more particulars concerning the necklace may consult
      Bayle, Art. _Calirhoe_.

_  166 Tuscul. Disput._ Lib. III. c. 19.

          167 “Where shall I refuge seek or aid obtain?
        In flight or exile can I safety gain?—
        Our city sacked—even scorched the walls of stone.
        Our fanes consumed, and altars all o’erthrown.
        O Father—country—Priam’s ruined home;
        O hallowed temple with resounding dome,
        And vaulted roof with fretted gold illumed—
        All now, alas! these eyes have been consumed:
        Have seen the foe shed royal Priam’s blood,
        And stain Jove’s altar with the crimson flood.”

  168 This subject is fully discussed in Eberhardt, _Zustand der
      __Schönen__ Wissenschaften bei den __Römern_, p. 38. Ed. Altona,

_  169 Tuscul. Disput._ Lib. I. c. 16.

          170 “I come—retraced the paths profound that lead
        Through rugged caves, from mansions of the dead:
        Mid these huge caverns Cold and Darkness dwell,
        And Shades pass through them from the gates of Hell—
        When roused from rest, by blood of victims slain,
        The Sorcerer calls them forth with rites obscene.”

_  171 Græcæ Tragœdiæ principum Æschyli, &c. num ea quæ supersunt genuina
      omnia sunt_. Ed. Heidelberg, 1808.

          172 “Who knows not leisure to enjoy,
        Toils more than those whom toils employ;
        For they who toil with purposed end,
        Mid all their labours pleasure blend—
        But they whose time no labours fill,
        Have in their minds nor wish nor will:
        ’Tis so with us, called far from home,
        Nor yet to fields of battle come—
        We hither haste, then thither go,
        Our minds veer round as breezes blow.”

  173 Comment. ad Cic. _Ep. ad Fam._ VII. 6. See also Scaliger, Vossius,

  174 Osannus, _Analecta Critica_, c. 5.

          175 “I rear’d him, subject to death’s equal laws,
        And when to Troy I sent him in our cause,
        I knew I urged him into mortal fight,
        And not to feasts or banquets of delight.”

          176 “For no Marsian augur (whom fools view with awe,)
        Nor diviner nor star-gazer, care I a straw;
        The Egyptian quack, an expounder of dreams,
        Is neither in science nor art what he seems;
        Superstitious and shameless, they prowl through our streets,
        Some hungry, some crazy, but all of them cheats.
        Impostors! who vaunt that to others they’ll show
        A path, which themselves neither travel nor know.
        Since they promise us wealth, if we pay for their pains,
        Let them take from that wealth, and bestow what remains.”

          177 “Yes! there are gods; but they no thought bestow
        On human deeds—on mortal bliss or woe—
        Else would such ills our wretched race assail?
        Would the good suffer?—would the bad prevail?”

_  178 Instit. Orator._ Lib. X. c. 1.

_  179 Noctes Atticæ_, Lib. II. c. 29.

  180 Lib. IV. Fab. 22. _L’Alouette et ses petits avec le maitre d’un

_  181 Noct. Attic._ Lib. XVII. c. 21. Quibus consulibus natum esse Q.
      Ennium poetam, M. Varro, in primo _de Poetis_ libro, scripsit:
      eumque quum septimum et sexagesimum annum ageret duodecimum Annalem
      scripsisse: idque ipsum Ennium in eodem libro dicere.

  182 See above, p. 40.

_  183 Romische Geschichte_, Tom. I. p. 179.

_  184 Romische Geschichte_, Tom. I. p. 318.

  185 Id. Tom. I. p. 178.

_  186 Romische Geschichte_, Tom. I. p. 364, &c.

          187 “‘Eurydice, my sister,’ thus she spoke,
        When roused from sleep she, weeping, silence broke—
        ‘Thou whom my father loved! of life bereft,
        Though yet alive, all sense this frame hath left.
        A form endowed with more than mortal grace,
        Mysterious led me, and with hurried pace,
        ’Mid ever varying scenes, as wild as new,
        O’er banks and meads where pliant osiers grew.
        Then left to wander pathless and alone,
        I vainly sought thee amid scenes unknown.
        My father called, his child forlorn address’d,
        And in these words prophetic thoughts express’d:
        ‘O Daughter, many sorrows yet abide,
        Ere fortune’s stream upbears thee on its tide.’
        Thus spoke my father; but his form withdrew;
        No longer offered to my eager view.
        Though oft in vain with soothing voice I call,
        And stretch my hands to heaven’s cerulean hall.
        Oppressed, and struggling, and with sick’ning heart.
        At once the vision and my sleep depart.’”

          188 “With ceaseless care, eager alike to reign,
        Both anxious watch some favouring sign to gain,
        Remus with prescient gaze observes the sky
        Apart, and marks where birds propitious fly.
        His godlike brother on the sacred height,
        Observant traced the soaring eagle’s flight:
        And now the anxious tribes expect from fate
        The future monarch of their infant state;
        Even as the crowd await at festal games
        The consul’s signal, which the sports proclaims.
        Their eyes directed to the painted goal,
        Eager to see the rival chariots roll.
        Meanwhile the radiant sun sinks down to night,
        But soon he sheds again the yellow light;
        And while the golden orb ascends the sky,
        The fowls of heaven on wing propitious fly.
        Twelve sacred birds, which gods as omens send,
        With flight precipitate on earth descend.
        The sign, Quirinus knew, to him alone
        Presaged dominion, and the Roman throne.”

  189 The Annals were not separated by Ennius himself into books; but were
      so divided, long after his death, by the grammarian Q.
      Vargunteius.—(Suet. _de Illust. Gram._ c. 2.) The fragments of them
      are arranged under different books in different editions. In the
      passages quoted, I have followed the distribution in the edition of
      Merula, Lugd. Bat. 1574.

          190 “Nor gift I seek, nor shall ye ransom yield;
        Let us not trade, but combat in the field:
        Steel and not gold our being must maintain,
        And prove _which_ nation Fortune wills to reign.
        Whom chance of war, despite of valour, spared,
        I grant them freedom, and without reward.
        Conduct them then, by all the mighty Gods!
        Conduct them freely to their own abodes.”

  191 Cap. 19.

  192 Gaddius, _de Script. Latinis non Ecclesiast._ Tom. 1. p. 171.

          193 “His friend he called—who at his table fared,
        And all his counsels and his converse shared;
        With whom he oft consumed the day’s decline
        In talk of petty schemes, or great design,—
        To him, with ease and freedom uncontrouled,
        His jests and thoughts, or good or ill, were told:
        Whate’er concerned his fortunes was disclosed,
        And safely in that faithful breast reposed.
        This chosen friend possessed a stedfast mind,
        Where no base purpose could its harbour find;
        Mild, courteous, learned, with knowledge blest, and sense;
        A soul serene, contentment, eloquence;
        Fluent in words or sparing, well he knew
        All things to speak in place and season due;
        His mind was amply graced with ancient lore,
        Nor less enriched with modern wisdom’s store:
        Him, while the tide of battle onward pressed,
        Servilius called, and in these words addressed.”

          194 “Sacked, but not captive,—burned, yet not consumed;
        Nor on the Dardan plains to moulder doomed.”

          195 “From every side the javelins as a shower
        Rush, and unerring on the Tribune pour;
        Struck by the spears his helm and shield resound,
        Though pierced his shield, no shaft inflicts a wound.
        Their missile darts th’ embattled Istrians throw,
        But all are hurled in vain against their foe;
        He pants, and sweats, and labours o’er the field,
        The flying shafts no pause for breathing yield;
        Smote by his sword or sling, th’ assailants fall
        Within, or headlong thrust beyond the wall.”

          196 “Even as the generous Steed, whose youthful force
        Was oft victorious in th’ Olympic course,
        Unfit, from age, to triumph in such fields,
        At length to rest his time-worn members yields.”

          197 “O’er Heaven’s wide arch a solemn silence reigned,
        And the fierce Ocean his wild waves restrained:
        The Sun repressed his steeds’ impetuous force;
        The winds were hushed; the streams all stayed their course.”

  198 Lib. IV. Ode 8.

  199 Niebuhr, _Romische Geschichte_.

  200 Vossius, _de Historicis Latinis_, Lib. I. c. 2.

  201 Au. Gellius, _Noct. Attic._ Lib. XVIII. c. 5.

  202 Ibid. Lib. XII. c. 2.

          203 “Even as the generous steed, with reins unbound,
        Bursts from the stall, and scours along the ground,
        With lofty chest he seeks the joyous plain,
        And oft, exulting, shakes his crested mane;
        The fiery spirit in his breast prevails,
        And the warm heart in sprinkling foam exhales.”

  204 Iliad, Lib. VI. v. 506.

  205 Æneid, Lib. XI.

  206 C. ix. st. 75.

_  207 Venus and Adonis_, p. 13. Shakespeare’s Poems, Ed. 1773.

_  208 Voyage d’Anacharsis_. T. II. c. 25.

  209 Varro, _De Re Rustica_, Lib. I. c. 4. Ed. Gesner.

          210 This is the Jupiter whom all revere,
        Whom I name Jupiter, and Greeks call Air:
        He also is the Wind, the Clouds, the Rain;
        Cold, after Showers, then Wind and Air again:
        All these are Jove, who social life maintains,
        And the huge monsters of the wild sustains.

  211 Lib. VI. c. 1. & 2.

          212 “He first restored the state by wise delay,
        Heedless of what a censuring world might say;
        Hence time has hallow’d his immortal name,
        And, as the years succeed, still spreads his fame.”

      The line of Ennius, “Unus homo,” &c. was applied, with an alteration
      of the word _cunctando_ into _vigilando_, by Augustus, in a
      complimentary letter to Tiberius, on his good conduct in restoring
      affairs in Germany, after the unfortunate defeat of Varus. (Sueton.
      _in Tiberio_. c. 21.)

  213 It is of these two lines of Ennius that Horace says, the _disjecta
      membra poetæ_, that is, the poetical force and spirit, would remain,
      though the arrangement of the words were changed, and the measure of
      the verse destroyed; which, he admits, would not be the case with
      his own satires, or those of Lucilius.

  214 Act. II. sc. 2.

          215 “The Olympian Father smiled; and for a while
        Nature’s calmed elements returned the smile.”

_  216 Scaligerana_, p. 136. Ed. Cologne, 1695.

_  217 Institut. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1.

  218 Cicero, _De Divinatione_, Lib. II. c. 54.

_  219 Divine Legation of Moses_.

_  220 De Iside et Osiride_.

_  221 Georg._ Lib. II. v. 139.

_  222 Mem. de l’Acad. des Inscriptions_, Tom. XV.

  223 Polyb. Lib. V.

_  224 Cours de Litterature Dramatique_, Tom. I.

  225 In this feature of their character the Athenians had a considerable
      resemblance to the French, during their most brilliant and courtly
      era. “Comment,” said a French courtier of the age of Louis XIV., on
      hearing of a good joke which had been uttered on occasion of a great
      national calamity;—“Comment, ne serait on charmé des grands
      evenemens, des bouleversemens mêmes qui font dire de si jolis
      mots.”—“On suivit,” says Chamfort, “cette idée, on repassa les mots,
      les chansons, faites sur tous les desastres de la France. La chanson
      sur la bataille de Hochstet fut trouvée mauvaise, et quelques uns
      dirent à ce sujet: Je suis faché de la perte de cette bataille; la
      chanson ne vaut rien.”—_Maximes, Pensées, &c._ par Chamfort, p. 190.

  226 Au. Gellius, _Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 3.

  227 Signorelli, _Storia di Teatri_. Tom. II. p. 32.

  228 Lib. III.

_  229 Poet._ XII.

          230 “Faciam ut commixta sit tragico comœdia;
        Nam me perpetuo facere ut sit comœdia,
        Reges quo veniant et Dii, non par arbitror.
        Quid igitur? quoniam hic servus quoque parteis habet,
        Faciam sit, proinde ut dixi, tragi-comœdia.”

_  231 Sat._ Lib. XXVIII.

  232 Walker’s _Essay on the Revival of the Drama in Italy_.

  233 Fabricius, _Biblioth. Græc._ Lib. II. c. 22.

  234 A Latin prose comedy, entitled _Querulus seu Aulularia_, having been
      found in one of the most ancient MSS. of Plautus discovered in the
      Vatican, was by some erroneously attributed to that dramatist;
      though, in his prologue, its author quotes Cicero, and expressly
      declares, that he purposed to imitate Plautus! It was first edited
      in 1564 by Peter Daniel; and is now believed to have been written in
      the time of the Emperor Theodosius. In some respects it has an
      affinity to the genuine _Aulularia_ of Plautus. The prologue is
      spoken by the _Lar Familiaris_; and a miser, called Euclio, on going
      abroad, had concealed a treasure, contained in a pot, in some part
      of his house. While dying, in a foreign land, he bequeathed to a
      parasite, who had there insinuated himself into his favour, one half
      of his fortune, on condition that he should inform his son Querulus,
      so called from his querulous disposition, of the place where his
      treasure was deposited. The parasite proceeds to the miser’s native
      country, and attempts, though unsuccessfully, to defraud the son of
      the whole inheritance.

      From a curious mistake, first pointed out by Archbishop Usher, in
      his _Ecclesiastical Antiquities_, this drama was attributed to
      Gildas, the British Jeremiah, as Gibbon calls him; who entitled one
      of his complaints concerning the affairs of Britain,
      _Querulus_.—Vossius, _de Poet. Lat._ Lib. I. c. 6. § 9.

  235 Walker’s _Essay on the Italian Drama_, p. 224.

  236 P. 106. Ed. 1819.—I have often wondered, that while the character of
      a Miser has been exhibited so frequently, and with such success, on
      the stage, it should scarcely have been well delineated, so far as I
      remember, in any novel of note, except, perhaps, in the person of
      Mr. Briggs, in _Cecilia_.

  237 Act II. sc. 7.

  238 Cailhava, _L’Art de la Comedie_, Liv. II. c. 9. Ed. Paris, 1772.

_  239 Beytrage, zur Historie und Aufnahme des Theaters_.

_  240 Samtliche Schriften_, Tom. XXII. p. 316.

  241 Lib. VI. c. 9.

  242 Id. Lib. VI. c. 7.

  243 The best notion of the Greek parasite is to be got in the fragments
      of the Greek poets quoted by Athenæus, and in the Letters of
      Alciphron, a great number of which are supposed to be addressed by
      parasites to their brethren, and relate the particulars of the
      injurious treatment which they had received at the tables of the

  244 Athenæus, Lib. VI. c. 17.

  245 Jul. Pollux, _Onomasticon_, Lib. IV. c. 18

  246 Huic denique manducanti barba vellitur; illi bibenti sedilia
      subtrahuntur; hic ligno scissili, ille fragili vitro pascitur.

  247 See Act ii. sc. 2. and Act iv. sc. 1.

  248 Potter’s _Antiquities of Greece_. Book IV. c. 14.

_  249 Tableau de la Litterature __Francoise_.

  250 Alciphron, _Epist._

  251 Walker’s _Essay on the Revival of the Drama in Italy_.

  252 Le Grand, _Contes et Fabliaux_, Tom. III. p. 157.

  253 Quintil. _Inst. Orat._ Lib. X, c. 1.

  254 Reperias, apud illum, multos sales, argumenta lepide inflexa,
      agnatos lucide explicatos, personas rebus competentes; joca non
      infra Soccum—seria non usque ad Cothurnum. Raræ apud illum
      corruptelæ; et uti errores concessi amores.—Apuleius, _Florid._ p.

  255 Müller, _Einleitung zu Kenntniss der alten Lateinischen
      Schriftsteller_, Tom. II. p. 38.

_  256 Epist._ 362.

_  257 Opera_, Vol. I. p. 721.

  258 See on this subject three German Programmata by M. Bellermann,
      published 1806, 7, 8; also Schoell, _Hist. Abregée de la Litter.
      Rom._ Tom. I. p. 123.—Col. Vallancey, in his _Essay on the Antiquity
      of the Irish Language_, (which attracted considerable attention on
      its first publication, and has been recently reprinted,) attempted
      to show the affinity between these Punic remains and the old Irish
      language,—both, according to him, having been derived from the
      Phœnician, which was itself a dialect of the Hebrew.

  259 C. 14.

  260 G. Dousa, _Centur._ Lib. III. c. 2.

_  261 Œuvres D’Horace, par Dacier_, Tom. IX. p. 93. Ed. 1727

  262 See above, p. 129.

_  263 Essay on Dramatic Poetry_.

_  264 Essay on Dramatic Poetry_.

_  265 Heautontim._ Act III. sc. 2.

  266 Athenæus, Lib. XIII. Alciphron’s _Epist._

  267 De Pauw, _Recherches Philosophiques sur les Grecs_, Vol. I. p. 188.

  268 Cicero, _de Senectute_, c. 14.

_  269 Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 3.

_  270 Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 3.

_  271 Satur._ Lib. II. c. 1.

  272 Nam Plautum alii dicunt scripsisse Fabulas XXI. alii XL. alii C.
      Serv. _Ad Virg. Æneid._ Init.

_  273 Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 3.

  274 Fabricius, _Bib. Latina_, Lib. I. c. 1. Osannus, _Analecta Critica_,
      c. 8.

_  275 Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 3.

_  276 Analect. Critic._ c. 8.

_  277 Noct. Att._ Lib. III. c. 2.

_  278 Sunapothneskontes_ Diphili Comœdia ’st: Eam Commorientes Plautus
      fecit Fabulam.

  279 We have the opinions of Varro concerning the plays of Plautus only
      at second hand. The work in which they are delivered, is lost; but
      they are minutely reported in his _Attic Nights_, by Aulus Gellius.

  280 Ap. Quintilian, _Inst. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1.

  281 “Immo illi proavi,” says Camerarius, (_Dissert. de Comœd. Plauti_,)
      “meritò, et recte, ac sapienter Plautum laudarunt et admirati
      fuerunt: tuque ad Græcitatem, omnia, quasi regulam, poemata gentis
      tuæ exigens, immerito, et perperam, atque incogitanter culpas.”—(See
      also J. C. Scaliger and Lipsius, _Antiq. Lect._ Lib. II. c. 1.;
      Turnebus, _Advers._ XXV. 16.; Flor. Sabinus, _Adversus Calumniatores
      Plauti_, Basil, 1540.) Dan. Heinsius attempted to defend the
      sentiment of Horace, in his _Dissertatio ad Horatii de Plauto et
      Terentio judicium_, printed at Amsterdam, 1618, with his edition of
      _Terence_; and was answered by Benedict Fioretti, in his _Apologia
      pro Plauto, opposita sævo judicio Horatiano et Heinsiano_.—See,
      finally, D. J. Tr. Danz, _De Virtute Comica Plauti_, in _Dissert.
      Philolog._ Jenæ, 1800.

  282 Lib. II. c. 58.

  283 Hurd’s _Horace_. Gibbon’s _Miscellaneous Works_, Vol. IV.

  284 “Duplex omnino est jocandi genus; unum illiberale, petulans,
      obscœnum, alterum elegans, urbanum, ingeniosum, facetum; quo genere
      non modo Plautus noster, et Atticorum antiqua comœdia, sed etiam
      Philosophorum Socraticorum libri sunt referti.”—_De Officiis_, Lib.
      I. c. 29.

  285 Athenæus, Lib. XIII. c. 1.

  286 Au. Gellius, _Noct. Att._ Lib. IV. c. 20.

_  287 Brutus_, c. 74. Cæcilium et Pacuvium male locutos videmus.

_  288 Histor. Roman._ Lib. I. c. 17.

_  289 Noct. Attic._ Lib. II. c. 23.

_  290 Brutus_, c. 45. L. Afranius poeta, homo perargutus; in fabulis
      quidem etiam, ut scitis, disertus.

_  291 Instit. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1. To this charge Ausonius also alludes,
      though with little reprehension,

        “Præter legitimi genitalia fœdera cœtûs,
        Repperit obscænas veneres vitiosa libido;
        Herculis heredi quam Lemnia suasit egestas,
        Quam toga facundi scenis agitavit Afranî.”
                      _Epigram._ 71.

  292 Spence’s _Polymetis_.

          293 “Could men to love be lured by magic rites,
        Each crone would with a lover sooth her nights:
        A tender form, and youth, and gentle smiles,
        Are the sweet potion which the heart beguiles.”

  294 Eunuchus, _Prolog._

  295 Donatus, _Comment. in Terent. Eunuch. Prolog._

          296 “I swell with such gladness my brain almost turns,
        And my bosom with thoughts of my happiness burns.
        The portress compliant—the way cleared before—
        A touch of my finger throws open the door:
        Then, Chrysis—fair Chrysis, will rush to my arms,
        Will court my caresses, and yield all her charms.
        Such transport will seize me when this comes to pass,
        I’ll Fortune herself in good fortune surpass.”

          297 “O, could complaints or tears avail
        To cure those ills which life assail,
        Even gold would not be price too dear
        At which to win a healing tear.
        But, since the tears by sorrow shed
        Are vain as dirge to wake the dead,
        In prudent care, and not in grief,
        All human ills must find relief.”

_  298 Carmina_, 45. Ed. 1718.

  299 Donatus, _Vit. Terent._

  300 Tiraboschi, _Storr. Dell. Lett. Ital._ Part III. Lib. II. c. 1.
      Arnaud, _Gazette Litteraire_, 1765.

  301 Goujet, _Bib. Franc._ Tom. IV. Sulzer relates this story of Terence
      and the ædile Cerius, to whose review the _Andria_ had been
      subjected.—_Theorie der Schönen Künste_, Tom. IV. _Terenz_.

  302 Donatus, _Vit. Terent._

_  303 Cours de Litterature_.

  304 Colman’s _Terence_.

_  305 Satir._ III.

_  306 Spectator_, No. 170.

_  307 Poet._ Lib. VI. c. 3.

  308 Signorelli, _Storia de Teatri_, Tom. II. p. 129.

  309 No. 562.

  310 Schmieder—Terenz. Halle, 1794.

_  311 Miscellaneous Works_, Vol. IV. p. 140.

_  312 Adelph._ Act 4. sc. 7.

_  313 Ecole des Maris_, Act 1. sc. 2.

  314 Page 115.

  315 Spence’s _Anec._ p. 115.

  316 Act 1. sc. 1.

_  317 Prolog. in Hecyr._ and Donati _Comment._

  318 Alciphron, _Epistolæ_.

  319 Act 1. sc. 2.

  320 Boileau.

  321 Hurd’s _Horace_, Vol. II.

  322 Boileau.

_  323 Protrepticon. Eidyll._ IV. v. 58.

  324 See Blankenburg’s _Zusätze zu Sulzer’s Theorie der Schönen

_  325 Element. Doct. Met._ Lib. II. c. 14.

  326 “Plus est,” says Erasmus, “exacti judicii in unâ comœdiâ Terentianâ
      quam in Plautinis omnibus,” (B. 28. Epist. 20.) Naugerius, in his
      fourth Epistle, has instituted a comparison between Plautus and
      Terence, much to the advantage of the latter, and has expressed
      himself in terms of strong indignation at the well-known verses of
      Volcatius Sedigitus, assigning the second place among the Latin
      comic poets to Plautus, and the sixth to Terence.

_  327 Hist. de la Litterature Espagnole_, traduite de l’Allemand de
      Bouterweck. Vol. I. p. 339. Ed. 1812.

  328 Plinius, _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXV. c. 4.

  329 This story is told of a Sicilian by Cicero, (_De Orat._ II.)

  330 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXV. c. 4.

  331 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 63.

_  332 Noct. Attic._ Lib. XIII. c. 2.

  333 Hieron. _Chron._ p. 39. ed. ut supra.

_  334 Noct. Att._ Lib. I. c. 24.

          335 “O, youth! though haste should urge thee hence away,
        To read this stone thy steps one moment stay:
        That here Pacuvius’ bones are laid to tell
        I wished, that thou might’st know it—Fare thee well.”

      Dr Johnson has laid it down as the first rule in writing epitaphs,
      that the name of the deceased should not be omitted; but it seems
      rather too much to occupy four lines with nothing but this

_  336 Brutus_, c. 74.

_  337 Inst. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1.

  338 Eberhardt, _Zustand der __Schönen__ Wissenschaften, bei den Römern_,
      p. 35 &c. Ed. Altona, 1801.

_  339 Stor. dell. Litterat. Ital._ Part III. Lib. II. c. 1. § 20.

          340 “Dum fallax servus, durus pater, improba lena
           Vivent, dum meretrix blanda, Menandrus erit.”
                  OVID, _Amor._ Lib. I.

  341 Cicero, _Brutus_, c. 63.

  342 Lib. III. c. 7.

_  343 Brutus_, c. 28.

_  344 Noct. Att._ Lib. XIII. c. 2.

  345 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXIV. c. 5.

_  346 Rhetoric. ad Herennium_, Lib. I. c. 14, and Lib. II. c. 13.

  347 Cicero, _pro Archia_, c. 10. Valer. Maxim. Lib. VIII. c. 15.

  348 Quintilian, _Inst. Orat._ Lib. V. c. 13.

  349 Ovid, _Trist._ Lib. II.

          350 “This dwelling of nine winters’ grief behold,
        Where stretch’d on rock my sad sojourn I hold.
        Around the boisterous north-wind ceaseless blows.
        And, while it rages, drifts the gelid snows.”

_  351 Ars Poetica_, v. 286.

  352 Torq. Baden, in a small tract, entitled _De Causis neglectæ apud
      Romanos tragœdiæ_, (Gœtting. 1790,) almost entirely attributes the
      deficiency of the Romans in tragedy to their want of a set of
      heroes, who were poetically consecrated by any epic productions,
      like those by which Homer had so highly elevated the Grecian chiefs.

_  353 Theory of Moral Sentiments_, Part VI. c. 1.

_  354 Cours de Litter. Dramat._ Leçon. VIII.

_  355 De Divinat._ Lib. II. c. 50.

  356 Hurd’s _Horace_, Vol. II.

  357 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. Ep. 1. v. 67.

  358 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. ep. 1.

  359 Cicero.—_Epistolæ familiares_, Lib. VII. ep. 1. Ed. Schütz.

  360 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. 1.

_  361 Tuscul. Disput._ Lib. I, c. 2.

  362 Plautus—_Menæchmi_. Prolog.

  363 Delectabatur veteri comœdia, et sæpe eam exhibuit publicis
      spectaculis. Suetonius, _In August._ c. 89.

_  364 Correspondence_, &c. p. 205. Lond. 1813.

_  365 Ars Poetica_, v. 288.

  366 See Dubos, _Reflex. sur la Poésie_. Jul. Pollux, _Onomasticon_.

  367 Livy, Lib. VII. c. 2.

  368 Ibid.

  369 Jul. Pollux, _Onomasticon_. Festus ap. _Vossius de Poet. Lat._ Lib.
      II. c. 35, § 8.

  370 Casaubon, _de Satyrica Poes._ Lib. II. c. 1. Signorelli, _Stor. de
      Teat._ Tom. II. p. 14. This, however, is not very likely. The
      deference was probably paid, because young patricians chose to act
      in the Atellanes: It could not otherwise have been thought more
      creditable to personate the clown or fool of a semi-barbarous race,
      than to perform the parts of Œdipus and Agamemnon.

  371 Diomed. de _Poem. Gen._ Lib. III.

_  372 Epist. Quæst._ Lib. XI. _Quæst._ 22.

  373 Du Bos, _Reflex. Critiques_, Tom. I. p. 154.

  374 Lib. II. c. 9.

  375 Lib. VI. c. 17.

  376 Conferta fabellis potissimum Atellanis sunt. Livy, Lib. VII. c. 2.

  377 Sulzer, _Theorie der Schönen __Künste_, Lib. I. p. 520.

  378 Juvenal, _Sat._ VI.

  379 Exodiarius apud veteres in fine ludorum intrabat, quod ridiculus
      foret, ut, quidquid lachrymarum atque tristitiæ coegissent, ex
      tragicis affectibus, hujus spectaculi risus detergeret.—_Ad Juvenal.
      Satir. III._ v. 175.

_  380 Poetices Libri_.

_  381 De Sat. Horat._

_  382 De Sat. Latin._

_  383 Ad. Sulzer._

_  384 Geschichte der komischen Litteratur_.

  385 Satira tota nostra est.

  386 Lib. III.

_  387 De Satir. Poes._

_  388 Dissertation sur les Cesars de Julien_.

_  389 De Sat. Juvenalis_.

_  390 Pref. sur les Sat. d’Horace_.

_  391 De Sat. Romanâ_.

  392 Virgil, _Georg._ Lib. II.

  393 Juvenal. _Satir._ Lib. I. We shall afterwards see reason to
      conclude, that the famous _Satira Menippea_ of Varro seems not to
      have been Satyra, but Satura, a hodge-podge, or medley.

  394 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. ep. 1.

_  395 Georg._ Lib. II. v. 385.

  396 Horat. _Epist._ Lib. II. ep. 1.

  397 Velleius Paterc. _Histor._ Lib. II. 9.

  398 Ascon. Pedianus in _Comment. in Orat. Ciceronis cont. L. Pisonem_.

  399 Horat. _Sat._ Lib. II. 1. v. 71.

  400 Ibid. v. 30.

_  401 Dict. Hist. Lucil. G._

  402 Schoell, _Hist. Abregée de la Litterat. Romaine_, Tom. I.

  403 Horat. _Sat._ Lib. I. _Sat._ 4. v. 1. &c.

_  404 Satir._ Lib. I. Sat. 4. v. 9.

_  405 Præf. Hist. Nat._

_  406 De Finibus_, Lib. I.

_  407 Epist. Familiares_, Lib. IX. 15.

_  408 Satur._ Lib. III. c. 16.

  409 Lucilius vir apprime linguæ Latinæ sciens. Au. Gellius, _Noct.
      Attic._ Lib. XVIII. c. 5. Horat. _Sat._ Lib. I. 10.

        —— “Fuerit Lucilius, inquam,
        Comis et urbanus; fuerit limatior idem
        Quam rudis, et Græcis intacti carminis auctor:—
        Quamque poetarum seniorum turba.”

_  410 Instit. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1.

  411 Auson. _in Epist._ 5. ad Theonem.

  412 Lib. I. c. 16, and Lib. II. Caius Lucilius homo _doctus_ et

  413 Gifford’s _Juvenal_, Preface, p. xlii.

  414 Persius, _Sat._ I.

  415 Au. Gellius, XVII. 21.

  416 Horat. _Sat._ Lib. II. 1.

_  417 Rhetoric. ad Herennium_, Lib. II. c. 13.

_  418 Juvenal_, _Sat._ Lib. I. v. 153.

_  419 Divin. Instit._ Lib. V. c. 15.

  420 Porphyrion, _In Horat._ Lib. I. Ode 20.

          421 “They dread hobgoblins hatch’d in folly’s brain,
        The idle phantoms of old Numa’s reign.
        As infant children sculptured forms believe
        To be live men—so they themselves deceive—
        To whom vain forms of superstition’s dream
        Of Life and truth the real figures seem.
        Fools! they as well might think there stirs a heart,
        Of vital power, in images of art.”

          422 “In various fights the Roman arms have failed;
        Still in the war the Roman power prevailed.”

          423 “Virtue, Albinus, is—A constant will
        The claims of duty ably to fulfil—
        Virtue is knowledge of the just, sincere,
        The good, the ill, the useless, base, unfair.
        What we should wish to gain, for what to pray,
        This virtue teaches, and each vow to pay;
        Honour she gives to whom it may belong,
        But hates the base, and flies from what is wrong—
        A bold protector of the just and pure,
        She feels for such a friendship fond and sure—
        Her country’s good commands her warmest zeal.
        Kindred the next, and latest private weal.”

_  424 Div. Instit._ Lib. VI. c. 5 and 6.

  425 Horat. _Sat._ Lib. II. 1.

  426 Concerning Varro Atacinus, see Wernsdorff, _Poet. Lat. Minor._ Tom.
      VI. p. 1385, &c. Ed. Altenburg, 1780.

  427 Wernsdorff, _Poet. Lat. Minores_, _Præf._ Tom. III. p. LIV. &c.

  428 Ibid. p. 1.

          429 “On half a pound three grains of barley bread,
        With two small bunches of dried grapes, he fed,
        And met old age beneath a paltry shed.”

_  430 Epist. Famil._ Lib. XIII.

  431 Good’s _Lucretius. Pref._ p. XXXVI.

          432 “Nam neque nos agere hoc patriäi tempore iniquo
        Possumus æquo animo,” &c.—Lib. I. v. 42.

_  433 Letter on Bowles’s Strictures on Pope_.

          434 “Ἐιδον γαρ σκοπιην ἐς παιπαλοεσσαν ἀνελθων,
        Νησον, την περι ποντος απειριτος ἐστεφανωται·
        Ἀυτη δε χθαμαλη κεῖται καπνον δ’ ενι μεσσῃ
        Εδρακον οφθαλμοῖσι δια δρυμα πυκνα και ὑλην.”
                      Οδυσ. Κ.

_  435 Encyclopédie Methodique_.

_  436 Reflexions sur la Poésie_. _Œuvres_, Tom. V.

_  437 Inst. Orat._ Lib. X. c. 1.

  438 Virgil. _Eclog._ 6.

  439 Turner’s _History of the Anglo Saxons_, Vol. III. pp. 311, 356, ed.
      London, 1820, where proofs are given.

  440 Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ Lib. II. 7.

  441 “Neque enim assentior iis,” says Lælius, in Cicero’s Dialogue, _De
      Amicitia_, “qui hæc nuper disserere cœperunt, cum corporibus simul
      animos interire, atque omnia morte deleri.” (c. 4.)

  442 “Priscarum religionum metus,” says Heyne, talking of the time of the
      civil wars of Sylla, “jam adeo dispulsus erat, ut ne ipsa quidem
      Loyolæ cohors immissa, novas tenebras, novos terrores offundere
      animis potuisset.” (_Opuscula_, Tom. IV.)

  443 Lib. II. v. 43, 44, 45–60. It is well known what a clamour was
      excited against Epicurus, founded on the ambiguity of the word which
      has been translated pleasure, but which would be more accurately
      interpreted happiness. A similar outcry was, in later ages, raised
      by one of his opponents against Malebranche, who, like Epicurus,
      lived not merely temperately, but abstemiously. “Regis,” (says
      Fontenelle,) “attaqua Malebranche sur ce qu’il avoit avancé que _le
      plaisir rend heureux_. Ainsi malgré sa vie plus que philosophique et
      tres chrêtienne il se trouva le protecteur de plaisirs. A la verité
      la question devint si subtile et si metaphysique, que leurs plus
      grands partizans auroient mieux aimés y renoncer pour toute leur
      vie, que d’etre obligés à les soutenir comme lui.” _Eloges,

_  444 Literary Hours_, Vol. I. p. 11. Dr Drake wrote two essays, to
      announce and recommend the translation of Lucretius by his friend Mr
      Good. The latter, in his notes, displays a prodigious extent of
      reading in almost all languages; but neither of them is very
      accurate. Dr Drake, for example, remarks, “that the _Alieuticon_ and
      _Cynegeticon_ of Oppian, though conveying precepts in verse, can
      with scarce any probability be considered as furnishing a model for
      the philosophic genius of the Roman.” (P. 3.) Oppian wrote towards
      the close of the second century of the Christian æra. Mr Good also
      makes Suetonius appeal for some fact to Athenæus. (Vol. I. p. 25.)

  445 As a specimen of rank Spinosism, we find—

        “All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
        Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;” ——

      and for an apparent justification of crime,—

        “If plagues and earthquakes break not Heaven’s design,
        Why, then, a Borgia or a Catiline.
          *  *  *  *
        In spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
        One truth is clear,—Whatever is, is right.”

  446 Apollonius Rhodius, Lib. I. Virgil, _Æneid_, Lib. I.

  447 ap. Eichstadt. Lucret. p. lxxxvii. ci. cii. ed. Lips. 1801.

  448 The fragments of Empedocles have been chiefly preserved by
      Simplicius, in a Greek commentary on Aristotle, written about the
      middle of the sixth century. This commentary, with the verses of
      Empedocles which it comprehended, was translated into Latin in the
      thirteenth century; and at the revival of literature, the original
      Simplicius having disappeared, it was as happened to various other
      works retranslated from the Latin into Greek, and in this form was
      printed by Aldus, in 1526. Sturz published the _Remains of
      Empedocles_ from this Aldine edition, with a great literary
      apparatus, at Leipsic, in 1805, but with some remodelling, to force
      them into accurate verse, which they had lost in their successive
      transmutations. Subsequent, however, to this attempt, Professor
      Peyron discovered, in the Ambrosian library at Milan, the original
      Greek of Simplicius, with the genuine verses of Empedocles, which
      have been reprinted at Leipsic, in 1810, from the Italian edition.

  449 Sturz, _Empedoclis Fragmenta_. Cicero, _De Finibus_, Lib. II.

  450 “To those,” says Warton, (_Essay on the Writings and Genius of
      Pope_, Vol. II. p. 402, note), “that know the number of thoughts
      that breathe, and words that burn, in this animated writer, it seems
      surprising, that Tully could speak of him in so cold and tasteless a
      manner.” The opinion of Cicero, however, has been rendered
      unfavourable, only by the interpolation of the word _non_, contrary
      to the authority of all MSS. His words, in a letter to his brother
      Quintus, are “Lucretii poemata ut scribis ita sunt; multis luminibus
      ingenii, multæ tamen artis. (Lib. II. Epist. 11.)—The poems of
      Lucretius are as you write; with many beams of genius, yet also with
      much art.”

          451 “Nec me animi fallit, Graiorum obscura reperta,
        Difficile inlustrare Latinis versibus esse;
        Multa novis verbis præsertim quum sit agendum,
        Propter egestatem linguæ et rerum novitatem.
          *  *  *
        Deinde, quod obscurâ de re tam lucida pango
        Carmina, Musæo contingens cuncta lepore.”

  452 “In Lucretio maxime puritas Latinæ linguæ, copiaque apparet.”—P.
      Victorius. _Var. Lect._ Lib. XVII. c. 16. “Lucretius Latinitatis
      author optimus.”—Casaubon, _Not. in Johan._ cap. 5.

          453 “Who combats bravely, is not therefore brave;
        He dreads a death-bed like a common slave.”

  454 Lib. I. El. iii. v. 37.

  455 Lib. V. 24.

  456 C. Nocet, _Iris_ and _Aurora Borealis_—Le Febre, _Terræ
      Motus_—Souciet, _Cometæ_—Malapertus, _De Ventis_. These, and many
      other poems of a similar description, are published in the _Poemata
      Didascalica_. 3 Tom. Paris, 1813.

  457 Cowper.

  458 Barthii _Adversaria_, l. 38. c. 7. Funccius, _de Virili Ætate, Ling.
      Lat._ c. 3. Some critics, however, are of opinion that he was called
      Doctus from the correctness and purity of his Latin style. “Latinæ
      puritatis custos fuit religiosissimus, unde et _docti_ cognomen
      meruit.” (Car. Stephen.) Müller, a German writer, has a notable
      conjecture on this subject. He says, we will come nearest the truth,
      if we suppose that Ovid, while mentioning Catullus, applied to him
      the epithet _doctus_ merely to fill up the measure of a line, and
      that his successors took up the appellation on trust.—(_Einleit. zur
      Kenntniss der Lateinisch. Schriftsteller_, T. II. p. 265.) Mr Elton
      thinks that the epithet did not mean what we understand by learned,
      but rather knowing and accomplished—what the old English authors
      signify by cunning, as cunning in music and the
      mathematics.—(_Specimens of the Classics_.) This conjecture seems to
      be in some measure confirmed by Horace’s application of the term
      _doctus_ to the actor Roscius:—

        “Quæ gravis Æsopus, quæ doctus Roscius egit.”

      The recent translator of Catullus conceives that the title of
      learned never belonged peculiarly to him, but was merely conferred
      on him in common with all poets, as it is now bestowed on all

  459 Catullus, in his miscellaneous poems, has employed not fewer than
      thirteen different sorts of versification.

      1. That which is most frequently used is the Phalæcian
      hendecasyllable, consisting of a spondee, dactyl, and three

        “Cui do | no lepi | dum no | vum li | bellum.”

      This sort of measure has been adopted by Catullus in thirty-nine

      2. Trimeter iambus, consisting of six feet, which are generally all

        “Ait | fuis | se na | vium | celer | rimus;”

      but a spondee sometimes forms the first, third, and fifth feet. Four
      poems are in this measure—the fourth, twentieth, twenty-ninth, and

      3. Choliambus or scazon, which is the same with the last mentioned,
      except that the concluding foot of the line is always a spondee.

        “Fulse | re quon | dam can | didi | tibi | soles.”

      This metre is used seven times, being employed in the eighth,
      twenty-second, thirty-first, thirty-seventh, thirty-ninth,
      forty-fourth, and fifty-ninth poems.

      4. Trochaic Stesichian, consisting of six feet—choreus or spondee, a
      dactyl, a cretic, a choreus or spondee, a dactyl, and lastly a

        “Alter | parva fe | rens manu | semper | munera | larga.”

      This measure appears only in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and
      nineteenth poems.

      5. Iambic tetrameter catalectic, formed of seven feet and a cæsura
      at the close of the line. It occurs in the twenty-fifth poem.

      6. Choriambus. This also is employed but once, being used only in
      the thirtieth. It consists of five feet,—a spondee, three choriambi,
      and a pyrrhichius.

        “Ventos | irrita fer | et nebulas | aerias | sinis.”

      7. A sort of Phalæcian, consisting of two spondees and three chorei.

        “Quas vul | tu vi | di ta | men se | reno.”

      But it sometimes consists of a spondee and four chorei. This measure
      is adopted in some lines of the fifty-fifth ode.

      8. Glyconian, generally made up of a spondee and two dactyles.

        “Jam ser | vire Tha | lassio.”

      but sometimes of a trochæus and two dactyles.

        “Cinge | tempora | floribus.”

      This sort of verse occurs, but mixed with other measures in the
      thirty-fourth ode, addressed to Diana, and also in the sixtieth.

      9. Pherecratian, consisting of three feet, a trochee, spondee, or
      iambus in the first place, followed by a dactyl and spondee.

        Exer | ceto ju | ventam
        Frige | rans Aga | nippe
        Hymen | O Hyme | næe.

      This is used in the thirty-fourth and sixtieth, mingled with
      glyconian verse.

      10. Galliambic. This is employed only in the poem of Atys, which
      indeed is the sole specimen of the galliambic measure, in the Latin
      language. It consists of six feet, which are used very loosely and
      indiscriminately. The first seems to be at pleasure, an anapæst,
      spondee, or tribrachys; second, an iambus, tribrachys, or dactyl;
      third, iambus or spondee; fourth, dactyl or spondee; fifth, a
      dactyl, or various other feet; sixth, generally an anapæst, but
      sometimes an iambus.

        “Super alta vectus Atys celeri rate maria.”

      The remaining three species of measure employed by Catullus, are the
      sapphic stanza, used in the seventh and fifty-first odes; the
      hexameter lines, which we have in the epithalamium of _Peleus_ and
      _Thetis_; and the pentameter lines, used alternately with the
      hexameters, and thereby constituting elegiac verse, which is
      employed in all the elegies of Catullus. Of these three measures,
      the structure is well known.—(Vulpius, _Diatribe de Metris

_  460 Verona Illustrata_, Parte II. c. 1. _Dict. Hist. Art. Catullus_.

_  461 De Poet._ Dial. x.

  462 Schoell, _Hist. Abreg. de la Litt. Rom._ T. I. p. 310.

_  463 Handbuch der Classischen Litt._ T. I. p. 187.

_  464 Saxii Onomasticon_, T. I. p. 148.

_  465 Ep. ad Att._ XIII. 52.

          466 O blame not the bard, if he fly to the bowers,
        Where Pleasure lies carelessly smiling at Fame;
        He was born for much more, and in happier hours
        His soul might have glowed with a holier flame.

  467 Apuleius, _In Apologia_.

_  468 Centur. Miscell._ I. c. 6.

  469 Lib. XI. Ep. 7.

  470 Lib. IV. Ep. 14.

  471 Lib. I. Ep. 110.

  472 Muret. _in Catull. Comment._

  473 Bayle, _Dict. Hist._ Art. _Barbara_.

_  474 Amor._ Lib. II. eleg. 6.

_  475 Sylv._ II. 3.

  476 Lib. II. eleg. 7.

  477 C. II.

  478 Tibullus, Lib. I. El. 1.

  479 Vol. III. p. 14, 2d. ed.

  480 Lib. IX. v. 435.

  481 Valerium Catullum, a quo sibi versiculis de Mamurrâ perpetua
      stigmata imposita non dissimulaverat, satisfacientem, _eâdem die_
      adhibuit cœnæ, hospitioque patris ejus, sicut consueverat, uti
      perseveravit.—Sueton. _In Cæsar._ c. 73.

  482 Cicero, _Epist. ad Attic._ XIII. 52. Inde ambulavit in littore. Post
      horam viii. in balneum; tum audivit de Mamurrâ; vultum non mutavit;
      unctus est; accubuit.

_  483 Syphilis_, Lib. I.

  484 Colt Hoare’s Continuat. of Eustace’s Travels.

  485 Henin, _Journal du Siege de Peschiera_.

_  486 Classical Tour_, Vol. I. c. 5. 8vo edition.

  487 In the year 1797, Buonaparte, who was at that time
      commander-in-chief of the army of Italy, visited in person this
      spot, which, during the life of Catullus, had been his retreat and
      sanctuary, even from the despotism of Cæsar. While travelling from
      Milan to Perseriano, to conclude the treaty of Campo Formio, he
      turned off from the road, between Brescia and Peschiera, to visit
      the peninsula of Sirmio. About two years afterwards, the French
      officers employed at the siege of Peschiera, which is eight miles
      distant from Sirmio, gave a brilliant _fête champêtre_ in this
      classic retirement, in honour of Catullus, as soon as their military
      operations against Peschiera had been brought to a successful
      conclusion. General St Michel, who had conducted them, invited all
      the Polish officers who were present at the siege, and some of the
      inhabitants of Sirmio—particularly the dramatic poet, Anelli. During
      the repast, this bard, and the French generals, Lacombe and St
      Michel, sung and recited in turn verses of their own composition;
      and which flowed spontaneously, it is said by one who was present,
      from the inspiration of scenes so rich in poetic remembrances. The
      toasts were—_The Memory of Catullus_, the most elegant of Latin
      poets—_Buonaparte_, who honours great men amid the tumult of
      arms—who celebrated Virgil at Mantua, and paid homage to Catullus,
      by visiting the peninsula of Sirmio—_General Miollis_, the protector
      of sciences and fine arts in Italy. The festivities were here
      unpleasantly interrupted by the arrival of all the uninvited
      inhabitants of Sirmio, who came to complain of having been pillaged
      by the detachment of French troops which had replaced the Austrian
      garrison. General Chasseloup received them with his accustomed
      urbanity; and, from respect to Catullus, the troops were marched
      from that canton to another district, which had not yet been
      plundered, and had not the good fortune to have been the residence
      of a licentious poet.—(Henin, _Jour. Historique des Operat.
      Militaires du Siege de Peschiera_.)

_  488 Classical Tour_, Vol. II. c. 7.

_  489 Travels through Holland, &c. but especially Italy_, Vol. II. chap.

_  490 Lettres sur l’Italie_, Tom. II. let. 36. Paris, 1819.

  491 Nibby, in his _Viaggio Antiquario ne contorni di Roma_, (Ed. 1819. 2
      Tom. 8vo,) in opposition to all previous authority, has denied that
      this was the site of the villa of Catullus, which he has removed to
      a spot due east from Tibur, between the Acque Albule and Ponte
      Lucano. His opinion, however, is rested on the 26th poem of
      Catullus, of which he has totally misunderstood the meaning,—

        “Furi, Villula nostra non ad Austri
        Flatus opposita est, nec ad Favoni,
        Nec sævi Boreæ, aut Apeliotæ;
        Verum ad millia quindecim et ducentos—
        O ventum horribilem atque pestilentem.”

      Nibby strangely supposes that the fourth line of the above verses
      means that the villa is 15 miles 200 paces from Rome, and,
      therefore, that it cannot be at St Angelo in Piavola, the distance
      of which from Rome is not 15 miles 200 paces.—“Questi versi,” says
      he, “non solo non sono così decisìvi per situarla precisamente a St
      Angelo, piu tosto che in altri luoghi di questi contorni; ma
      assolutamente la escludono, poichè la stabaliscono quindìci miglia,
      e duecento passi vicino a Roma.”—T. I. p. 166.

      Now, in the first place, according to Muretus and the best
      commentators, this ode does not at all refer to the villa of
      Catullus, but of Furius, whom he addresses, since the correct
      reading in the first line is not Villula _nostra_, but _Vostra_.
      Allowing, however, that it should be _nostra_, it is quite
      impossible to extort from the fourth line any proof that the villa
      was 15 miles 200 paces from Rome. Translated _verbatim_, it is as
      follows:—“Furius, our (your) villa is not exposed or liable to the
      blasts of Auster or Favonius, or the sharp Boreas, or the Apeliot
      wind, but to fifteen thousand and two hundred—O horrible and
      pestilent wind!” Now, the question is, to _what_ 15,000,200 is the
      villa exposed? (_opposita_). Every commentator whom I have
      consulted, supplies sesterces, or other pieces of money; that is to
      say, it was mortgaged or pledged for that sum, which would sweep it
      away more effectually than any wind. Nibby’s interpretation, that it
      is not exposed to Auster or Boreas, &c. but is 15 miles 200 paces
      distant from Rome, is not many miles, or even paces, distant from
      absolute nonsense; and, moreover, quindecim millia, is not good
      Latin for 15 miles.

_  492 Observ. Crit. in Catulli Carmina_.

  493 Acte I. sc. 3.

_  494 Dict. Philos._ Art. _Amplification_.

  495 Ad Fauniam.

_  496 Genethliacon pueri nobilis_.

  497 See also Moschus, Idyl 7.

  498 Gohorry.

  499 Lib. III.

  500 Aristotle, _Rhetor._ Lib. III. c. 3.

_  501 Decline and fall of the Rom. Emp._ c. 23.

  502 Fabricius, _Bib. Lat._

  503 Mitscherlichius, _in Lect. ad Catull._

  504 Eidul. IV. v. 21.

  505 Lib. XII. v. 489.

  506 Muretus, _Comment. in Catull._

  507 Ovid, _Amor._ Lib. I. el. 15, v. 14.

  508 [Transcriber’s note: Note missing in original.]

  509 Müller, _Einleitung_, T. II. p. 261.

_  510 Sylvæ_, Lib. III.

  511 Facile intelligimus, mansisse vocem, mutata significatione et
      potestate vocis. Vavassor, _De Epigrammate_, c. 3.

_  512 Tracts_, p. 13.

_  513 Var. Lect._ Lib. III. c. 5.

_  514 Brutus_, c. 78.

  515 Cicero, _Orat. pro Sextio_, c. 51.

_  516 De Ludicrâ Dictione_.

  517 Gresset.

_  518 Poetic._ Lib. VI. c. 7.

  519 There is more tenderness and delicacy in a single love-verse of an
      old Troubadour, than in all the amatory compositions of the Greeks
      and Romans. What is there in Anacreon or Ovid, to compare to these
      verses of Thibault, King of Navarre?—

        “Las! Si j’avois pouvoir d’oublier,
        Sa beaulté—son bien dire,
        Et son très doulx regarder,
        Finirois non martyre.

        “Mais las! Comment oublier
        Sa beaulté, son bien dire,
        Et son très doulx regarder!
        Mieux aime mon martyre.”

_  520 Brutus_, c. 35.

  521 “Hic illi, (Catulo) Deo pulchrior,” says Cicero, “at erat, sicut
      hodie est, perversissimis oculis.” Lib. I. c. 28.

          522 “I stood, and to the Dawn my vows addressed,
        When Roscius rose refulgent in the west.
        Forgive, ye Powers! A mortal seemed more bright,
        Than the bright god who darts the shafts of light.”

  523 Sueton. _In Jul. Cæsare_, c. 49.

  524 Ibid. c. 73.

  525 Ovid. _Tristia_, Lib. II.

_  526 Epist._ Lib. I. ep. 16.

_  527 Epist._ Lib. IV. ep. 27.

          528 “Why Phileros, a torch before me bear?—
        A heart on fire all other light may spare.
        _That_ feeble flame can ill resist the power
        Of the keen tempest and the headlong shower;
        But _this_ still glows whatever storms may drench,
        What Venus kindles, she alone can quench.”

          529 “Ye guardians of the tender flock, retire,
        Why seek ye flames, when man himself is fire?
        Whate’er I touch bursts forth in sudden blaze,
        And the woods kindle with my scorching gaze.”

_  530 Theorie_, Tom. I. _Comödie_.

  531 “Non ignoro,” says Salmasius, in his Notes to Vopiscus’ Life of
      Aurelian, “quid distent Atellanæ et Mimi; recentiores, tamen,
      confudisse videntur.” F. Vopiscus, _Vit. Aurel._ c. 42. ap. _Histor.
      August. Script._

  532 Cicero, _Epist. Familiar._ Lib. IX. ep. 16.

  533 Flogel, _Geschichte der komisch. Litter._ T. IV. p. 101. Müller,

  534 Donatus, _Præf. in Terent._

  535 Hoffmanni, _Lexicon, voce Mimus_. Ziegler, _De Mimis Romanorum_, p.
      21, ed. Gotting. 1789.

  536 Manilius, _De Astronomic._ Lib. V. v. 472.

  537 Tytler’s _Life of Crichton_, p. 45. 1st ed.

  538 Festus in _Salva res est_.

_  539 Satyricon_, c. 80. See also Suetonius, _Caligula_, c. 57.

  540 “Mimi ergo est jam exitus,” says Cicero, “non Fabulæ: In quo, cum
      clausula non invenitur, fugit aliquis e manibus; deinde scabella
      concrepant, aulæum tollitur.”—_Orat. pro Cælio_, c. 27.

_  541 Sat._ Lib. I. 2. v. 55.

  542 Lib. II. c. 5.

_  543 Tristia_, Lib. II. v. 497.

  544 Athenæus, _Deipnos._ Lib. VI.

_  545 Anastasius_, Vol. II. p. 385. 2d ed.

  546 Macrobius, _Saturnalia_, Lib. II. c. 7.

          547 “For threescore years since first I saw the light,
        I lived without reproach—A ROMAN KNIGHT.
        As such I left my sacred home; but soon
        Shall there return an actor and buffoon.
        Since stretch’d beyond the point where honour ends,
        One day too long my term of life extends.
        Fortune, extreme alike in good and ill,
        Since thus to blast my fame has been thy will;
        Why didst thou not, ere spent my youthful race,
        Bend me yet pliant to this dire disgrace?
        While power remain’d, with yet unbroken frame,
        HIM to have pleased, and earn’d the crowd’s acclaim:
        But now why drive me to an actor’s part,
        When nought remains of all the actor’s art;
        Nor life, nor fire, which could the scene rejoice,
        Nor grace of form, nor harmony of voice?
        As fades the tree round which the ivy twines,
        So in the clasp of age my strength declines.”

  548 Macrobius, _Saturnalia_, Lib. II. c. 7.

          549 “All are not always first—few have been known
        To rest long on the summit of renown.
        In fame we faster fall than we ascend:
        I fall—who follows, thus his course must end.”

_  550 Chron. Euseb. ad Olymp._ 184.

_  551 Epist. Famil._ Lib. VII. ep. 11.

          552 “Democritus, the philosophic sage
        Of Abdera, deep read in Nature’s page,
        Opposed a brazen shield of polish bright
        To full-orbed Phœbus’ mid-day shafts of light,
        That the round mirror, having catched the rays,
        Might blast his vision with the dazzling blaze;
        Thus his extinguished eyes could ne’er behold
        The wicked prosper. O that thus my gold
        Might, with the lustre of its yellow light,
        Dim through my closing years these orbs of sight,
        Whose darkness would not see a thriftless son
        Waste the fair fortune which his fathers won!”

_  553 Noct. Attic._ Lib. XVI. c. 7.

_  554 Satir._ Lib. I. 10.

  555 Macrobius, _Saturnal._ Lib. II. c. 7.

  556 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. VIII. c. 51.

  557 Ep. viii.

  558 Senec. _Epist._

_  559 De Mimis Romanorum_, p. 66.

_  560 Noct. Attic._ Lib. XV. c. 25. Lib. X. c. 24.

  561 Terent. Maurus, _De Metris_; Ziegler, _De Mim. Rom._ p. 66 and 67.

          562 “Tis fit that we the means employ,
        To sweeten life, and life enjoy.
        Let pleasure lay your cares to rest,
        And clasp the fair one to your breast,
        Give and receive the melting kiss,
        Like doves in hours of amorous bliss.”

_  563 Satir._ Lib. I. 2.

  564 Vopiscus. _Vit. Aurel._ c. 42.

  565 Suetonius, _In Vespas._ c. 19.

  566 Id. _In Nerone_, c. 29.

  567 Appellatus est a Mimis quasi obstupratus.—Lampridius, _Vit.
      Commodi_. c. 3.

  568 Jul. Capitolinus, _In Maximin._ c. 9.

  569 Tertullian, _De Spectac._ c. 17.—Lactantius. _Div. Inst._ Lib. VI.
      c. 20.—Walker on the _Italian Drama_, p. 3.

  570 Rasis capitibus. Vossius, _Institut. Poetic._ Lib. II. c. 32. § 4.

  571 Diomed. _De Orat._ Lib. III.

  572 Celsus, _De Re Rustica_, Lib. I. c. 8.

_  573 De Oratore_, Lib. II. c. 61.

_  574 Storia D’Ogni Poesia_, Tom. V. p. 220.

  575 Riccoboni, _Hist. de Theatre Italien_. Tom. I. p. 21.

_  576 Dissert. dell Academ. Etrusc._ Tom. III.

  577 Livy, Lib. XL. c. 51. Theatrum et proscenium ad Apollinis ædem Jovis
      in Capitolio, columnasque circa poliendas albo locavit.

  578 Livy, _Epitom._ Lib. XLVIII. Quum locatum a censoribus theatrum
      exstrueretur; P. C. Nasica auctore, tanquam inutile, et nociturum
      publicis moribus, ex senatusconsulto destructum est: populusque
      aliquandiu stans ludos spectavit.

  579 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXVI. c. 15.

_  580 Ibid._

  581 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXVI. c. 15.

  582 Plutarch, _In Pompeio_.

  583 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XXXVI. c. 15.

  584 Vitruvius, Lib. V. c. 6.

  585 Alexander ab Alexandro, _Dies Geniales_, Lib. V. c. 16.

_  586 Ibid._

  587 Alexander ab Alexandro, _Dies Geniales_, Lib. V. c. 16.

  588 Schütz, _ad Fragment. Oper. Ciceronis_, Tom. XVI.

  589 Wilkins’ _Vitruvius_, Vol. II. p. 185.

_  590 Ibid._ Lib. V. c. 8.

_  591 Ibid._ Lib. V. c. 7.

  592 Montfaucon, _L’Antiquité Devoilé_, Liv. II. c. 1.

  593 Lib. V. c. 3.

  594 Montfaucon, Liv. II. c. 3.

  595 Montfaucon, Liv. II. c. 1.

  596 Ibid. and Macrobius, _Saturnalia_, Lib. VI. c. 4.

  597 Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XIX. c. 1.

  598 Lucretius, Lib. IV.

_  599 De Oratore_, Lib. I. c. 60.

  600 Hawkins’ _Inquiry into Greek and Latin Poetry_, § xiii.

  601 Cicero, _Academica_, Lib. II. c. 7.—“Primo inflatu tibicinis,
      Antiopam esse aiunt, aut Andromacham.”

_  602 Poet._ Lib. I. c. 20.—See also Theophrastus ap. Bartholinus, _De
      Tibiis Veterum_, Lib. I. c. 4, and Plin. _Hist. Nat._ Lib. XVI. c.

  603 Hawkins’ _Inquiry into Lat. Poet._ p. 184.

_  604 Antiquitates Romanæ_.

  605 Turnebus, _Advers._ Lib. XXVIII. c. 34.

  606 Servius ap. Bartholin. _De Tibiis Veter._

  607 Hawkins’ _Inquiry_, p. 187.

  608 Horat. _Art. Poet._ v. 202.

  609 v. 295. On the subject of the Hydraulicon, see Wernsdorff, _Poet.
      Lat. Min._ Tom. II. p. 394; and Busby’s _History of Music_.

  610 Vitruvius, Lib. V. c. 6. Montfaucon, Liv. II. c. 1.

  611 Ibid.

  612 Stephens, _De Theatris_.

  613 Pet. Arbiter, _Satyric._ c. 80.

  614 Æsopum, si paullum irrauserit, explodi. _De Oratore_, Lib. I. c. 60.

  615 Noster Æsopus, jurare quum cœpisset, vox eum defecit in illo loco
      “Si sciens fallo.” _Epist. Famil._ Lib. VII. ep. 1. Ed. Schütz.

  616 Vidi in Æsopo familiari tuo, tantum ardorem vultuum atque motuum, ut
      eum vis quædam abstraxisse a sensu mentis videretur. c. 37

  617 Cicero, _pro Archia_, c. 8. Valer. Maxim. Lib. VIII. c. 7

  618 Cicero, _De Legibus_, Lib. I. c. 4.

  619 Livy, Lib. VII. c. 2.

  620 I at one time was inclined to think that the reciting actor was
      concealed behind the pulpitum, which was elevated on the stage about
      the height of a man, and hence that the spectators saw only the
      gesticulating actor. If this plan was actually adopted, the
      representation may have been conducted without any apparent
      incongruity or violation of the scenic illusion. In Lord
      Gardenstoun’s “_Travelling Memorandums_,” we have an account of a
      play which he saw acted at Paris, where, in order to elude a
      privilege, the actors who appeared on the stage did not speak one
      word. “Their lips,” continued his lordship, “move, and they go on
      with corresponding action and attitudes. But every word of the play
      is uttered with surprising propriety and character by persons behind
      the scenes. The play was nearly over before this singularity was
      discovered to me and others of our party. The whole was so strangely
      managed, that we could have sworn the visible actors were also the
      speakers.” (Vol. I. p. 24.) I have not, however, been able to
      discover any ancient authority, from which it can be inferred that
      the representation of a Roman play was conducted in this manner by
      the reciting actor being placed either behind the scenes or
      pulpitum; and all authorities concur as to this strange division of
      dramatic labour, at least in the monologues of tragedies.

  621 Cicero, _Paradox._ III. c. 2.

_  622 Epist._ 121.

_  623 Inst. Orat._ Lib. XI. c. 3.

  624 Athenæus, Lib. I. Dubos, _Reflexions sur la Poésie_, Lib. III. c.

  625 Cicero, _De Oratore_, Lib. I.

  626 Quintil. _Instit. Orat._ Lib. II. c. 10.

_  627 Mem. de l’Acad. des Inscriptions_, T. 21.

  628 Bonarota, _Addit. ad Dempster. Etruria Regalis_, § 36.

_  629 Dissert. dell’ Acad. Etrusc._ T. III.

  630 Virgil. _Georg._ Lib. II.

  631 Berger, _Comment. de Personis_, Lib. II. sect. 9.

  632 Au. Gellius, _Noct. Attic._ Lib. V. c. 7.

  633 Lib. I. Fab. 7. “O quanta species, inquit,” &c.

_  634 De Oratore_, Lib. II. c. 47.

_  635 Noct. Attic._ Lib. V. c. 7.

_  636 Mem. de l’Academ. des Inscriptions_, &c. Tom. IV.

  637 Athenæus, Lib. XIV. Pitiscus, Lexicon, voce _Persona_. Berger,
      _Comment. De Personis_, c. II. § 9.

_  638 De Oratore_, Lib. III. c. 59. “Nostri illi senes personatum ne
      Roscium quidem magnopere laudabant.” This passage, however, is of
      somewhat doubtful interpretation. It may mean that these old men,
      having been accustomed to the natural countenance, did not applaud
      even so great an actor as Roscius, because he was invariably masked:
      or it may signify, that they did not greatly admire him when masked,
      and only applauded him when he appeared in his natural aspect. As
      some authorities say that Roscius _invariably_ used the mask, the
      former interpretation may, perhaps, appear the most probable.

_  639 Institut. Orator._ Lib. XI. c. 3.

  640 Lib. IV. c. 19.

_  641 Onomasticon_, Lib. IV. c. 19. See also Scaliger, _Poet._ Lib. I. c.
      14, 15, 16.

  642 Quintil. _Instit. Orator._ Lib. XI. c. 3.

  643 Ibid.

_  644 Onomasticon_, Lib. IV. c. 18. See also Stephens, _De Theatris_.

                            TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

The table of contents has been added in the electronic version. The index
has been repeated from the second volume.

On page 49, the second footnote is referenced twice; on page 312, a
footnote is missing.

The book has many inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization or
punctuation, especially in the quotations from foreign languages, where
sometimes diacritical signs are missing or wrong. They were not corrected
or modernized, except in the following places which can be regarded as
printing errors.

      page vi, “it” changed to “its”
      page xiii, “Abregee” changed to “Abregée”
      page 21, “antient” changed to “ancient”
      page 24, “harkened” changed to “hearkened”
      page 27, “agrandizement” changed to “aggrandizement”
      page 28, “Estruscans” changed to “Etruscans”
      page 29, “Guarnicci” changed to “Guarnacci”
      page 30, “vitious” changed to “vicious”
      page 32, “Schutz” changed to “Schütz”
      page 33, comma added following “Ginguené”
      page 37, “licenta” changed to “licentia”
      page 45, “feodera” changed to “fœdera”
      page 46, “the the” changed to “the”
      page 46, “Gnavoid” changed to “Gnaivod”
      page 47, “Estruscan” changed to “Etruscan”
      page 48, “dipthong” changed to “diphthong”
      page 54, period added following “dell”
      page 55, italics removed from “Cicero”
      page 55, “coeptum” changed to “cœptum”
      page 57, “where” changed to “were”
      page 60, “democrary” changed to “democracy”
      page 61, “Cyrian” changed to “Cyprian”
      page 64, “questor” changed to “quæstor”
      page 65, “Muller” changed to “Müller”
      page 65, “furtur” changed to “fertur”
      page 66, “stongly” changed to “strongly”
      page 68, “translaed” changed to “translated”
      page 70, “Schonen” changed to “Schönen” and “Romern” to “Römern”
      page 71, “corse” changed to “corpse”
      page 72, “Hiedelberg” changed to “Heidelberg”
      page 87, “Gelius” changed to “Gellius”
      page 87, “Attacinus” changed to “Atacinus”
      page 88, quote added before “Even”
      page 90, quote added following “Glaucum,”
      page 91, “.” changed to “,” following “Ennius”
      page 96, “conprehends” changed to “comprehends”
      page 101, “and and” changed to “and”
      page 153, “picturesqe” changed to “picturesque”
      page 154, “Lucretio.” changed to “Lucretio,”
      page 169, quote added following “nituerunt.”
      page 170, “coetûs” changed to “cœtûs”
      page 180, “enuuch” changed to “eunuch”
      page 190, “Schmeider” changed to “Schmieder”
      page 185, single quote changed to double quote added following
      page 201, 319, 333 and 351, “appropiate” changed to “appropriate”
      page 212, “Schönem” changed to “Schönen”
      page 216, quote added following “again.”
      page 216, “oderunt dum metuunt” changed to “oderint dum metuant”
      page 227, quote added before “Attonitusque”
      page 228, double “and” removed before “epithets”
      page 231, period added following “c”
      page 231, “Kunste” changed to “Künste”
      page 236, quote added following “piabant;”
      page 249, “Praef.” changed to “Præf.”
      page 257, “Cynogeticon” changed to “Cynegeticon”
      page 261, “Hine” changed to “Hinc”
      page 263, quote added following “cubandum est.”
      page 273, “16.” changed to “10.”
      page 278, “eumdem” changed to “eundem”
      page 290, “teritories” changed to “territories”
      page 291, “vestages” changed to “vestiges”
      page 295, “powful” changed to “powerful”
      page 305, quote removed following “libido est,”
      page 312, “verti” changed to “vertice”
      page 342, “woof” changed to “wool”
      page 344, “entremely” changed to “extremely”

Some variant spellings were not changed (e. g. “truly” and “truely”,
“obscænus” and “obscœnus”, “groundwork” and “ground-work”, “tombstone” and

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