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Title: Handbook of Universal Literature, From the Best and Latest Authorities
Author: Botta, Anne C. Lynch (Anne Charlotte Lynch)
Language: English
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Since the first publication of this work in 1860, many new names have
appeared in modern literature. Japan, hitherto almost unknown to
Europeans, has taken her place among the nations with a literature of her
own, and the researches and discoveries of scholars in various parts of
the world have thrown much light on the literatures of antiquity. To keep
pace with this advance, a new edition of the work has been called for.
Prefixed is a very brief summary of an important and exhaustive History of
the Alphabet recently published.


This work was begun many years ago, as a literary exercise, to meet the
personal requirements of the writer, which were such as most persons
experience on leaving school and "completing their education," as the
phrase is. The world of literature lies before them, but where to begin,
what course of study to pursue, in order best to comprehend it, are the
problems which present themselves to the bewildered questioner, who finds
himself in a position not unlike that of a traveler suddenly set down in
an unknown country, without guide-book or map. The most natural course
under such circumstances would be to begin at the beginning, and take a
rapid survey of the entire field of literature, arriving at its details
through this general view. But as this could be accomplished only by
subjecting each individual to a severe and protracted course of systematic
study, the idea was conceived of obviating this necessity to some extent
by embodying the results of such a course in the form of the following
work, which, after being long laid aside, is now at length completed.

In conformity with this design, standard books have been condensed, with
no alterations except such as were required to give unity to the whole
work; and in some instances a few additions have been made. Where standard
works have not been found, the sketches have been made from the best
sources of information, and submitted to the criticism of able scholars.

The literatures of different nations are so related, and have so
influenced each other, that it is only by a survey of all that any single
literature, or even any great literary work, can be fully comprehended, as
the various groups and figures of a historical picture must be viewed as a
whole, before they can assume their true place and proportions.





1. The Origin of Letters.--2. The Phoenician Alphabet and Inscriptions.--
3. The Greek Alphabet. Its Three Epochs.--4. The Mediaeval Scripts. The
Irish. The Anglo-Saxon. The Roman. The Gothic. The Runic.


1. Chinese Literature.--2. The Language.--3. The Writing.--4. The Five
Classics and Four Books.--5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy. Lao-tsé.
Confucius. Meng-tsé or Mencius.--6. Buddhism.--7. Social Constitution of
China.--8. Invention of Printing.--9. Science, History, and Geography.
Encyclopaedias.--10. Poetry.--11. Dramatic Literature and Fiction.--12.
Education in China.


1. The Language.--2. The Religion.--3. The Literature. Influence of
Women.--4. History.--5. The Drama and Poetry.--6. Geography. Newspapers.
Novels. Medical Science.--7. Position of Woman.


1. The Language.--2. The Social Constitution of India. Brahmanism.--3.
Characteristics of the Literature and its Divisions.--4. The Vedas and
other Sacred Books.--5. Sanskrit Poetry; Epic; the Ramayana and
Mahabharata. Lyric Poetry. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa. Dramatic
Poetry.--6. History and Science.--7. Philosophy.--8. Buddhism.--9. Moral
Philosophy. The Code of Manu.--10. Modern Literatures of India.--11.
Education. The Brahmo Somaj.


1. The Accadians and Babylonians.--2. The Cuneiform Letters.--3.
Babylonian and Assyrian Remains.


The Language.--The Remains.


The Language.--Influence of the Literature in the Eighth and Ninth


1. The Persian Language and its Divisions.--2. Zendic Literature; the
Zendavesta.--3. Pehlvi and Parsee Literatures.--4. The Ancient Religion of
Persia; Zoroaster.--5. Modern Literature.--6. The Sufis.--7. Persian
Poetry.--8. Persian Poets; Ferdusi; Eesedi of Tus; Togray, etc.--9.
History and Philosophy.--10. Education in Persia.


1. Hebrew Literature; its Divisions.--2. The Language; its Alphabet; its
Structure; Peculiarities, Formation, and Phases.--3. The Old Testament.--
4. Hebrew Education.--5. Fundamental Idea of Hebrew Literature.--6. Hebrew
Poetry.--7. Lyric Poetry; Songs; the Psalms; the Prophets.--8. Pastoral
Poetry and Didactic Poetry; the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.--9. Epic and
Dramatic Poetry; the Book of Job.--10. Hebrew History; the Pentateuch and
other Historical Books.--11. Hebrew Philosophy.--12. Restoration of the
Sacred Books.--13. Manuscripts and Translations.--14. Rabbinical
Literature.--15. The New Revision of the Bible, and the New Biblical


1. The Language.--2. The Writing.--3. The Literature.--4. The Monuments.--
5. The Discovery of Champollion.--6. Literary Remains; Historical;
Religious; Epistolary; Fictitious; Scientific; Epic; Satirical and
Judicial.--7. The Alexandrian Period.--8. The Literary Condition of Modern


INTRODUCTION.--1. Greek Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language.--
3. The Religion.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Ante-Homeric Songs and Bards.--2. Poems of Homer; the
Iliad; the Odyssey.--3. The Cyclic Poets and the Homeric Hymns.--4. Poems
of Hesiod; the Works and Days; the Theogony.--5. Elegy and Epigram;
Tyrtaeus; Achilochus; Simanides.--6. Iambic Poetry, the Fable, and Parody;
Aesop.--7. Greek Music and Lyric Poetry; Terpander.--8. Aeolic Lyric
Poets; Alcaeus; Sappho; Anacreon.--9. Doric, or Choral Lyric Poets;
Alcman; Stesichorus; Pindar.--10. The Orphic Doctrines and Poems.--11.
Pre-Socratic Philosophy; Ionian, Eleatic, Pythagorean Schools.--12.
History; Herodotus.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. Literary Predominance of Athens.--2. Greek Drama.--3.
Tragedy.--4. The Tragic Poets; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides.--5.
Comedy; Aristophanes; Menander.--6. Oratory, Rhetoric, and History;
Pericles; the Sophists; Lysias; Isocrates; Demosthenes; Thucydides;
Xenophon.--7. Socrates and the Socratic Schools; Plato; Aristotle.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Origin of the Alexandrian Literature.--2. The
Alexandrian Poets; Philetas; Callimachus; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus.--3.
The Prose Writers of Alexandria; Zenodotus; Aristophanes; Aristarchus;
Eratosthenes; Euclid; Archimedes.--4, Philosophy of Alexandria; Neo-
Platonism.--5. Anti-Neo-Platonic Tendencies; Epictetus; Lucian; Longinus.
--6. Greek Literature in Rome; Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Flavius
Josephus; Polybius; Diodorus; Strabo; Plutarch.--7. Continued Decline of
Greek Literature.--8. Last Echoes of the Old Literature; Hypatia; Nonnus;
Musaeus; Byzantine Literature.--9. The New Testament and the Greek
Fathers. Modern Literature; the Brothers Santsos and Alexander Rangabé.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Roman Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language;
Ethnographical Elements of the Latin Language; the Umbrian; Oscan;
Etruscan; the Old Roman Tongue; Saturnian Verse; Peculiarities of the
Latin Language.--3. The Roman Religion.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Early Literature of the Romans; the Fescennine Songs;
the Fabulae Atellanae.--2. Early Latin Poets; Livius Andronicus, Naevius,
and Ennius.--3. Roman Comedy.--4. Comic Poets; Plautus, Terence, and
Statius.--5. Roman Tragedy.--6. Tragic Poets; Pacuvius and Attius.--7.
Satire; Lucilius.--8. History and Oratory; Fabius Pictor; Cencius
Alimentus; Cato; Varro; M. Antonius; Crassus; Hortensius.--9. Roman
Jurisprudence.--10. Grammarians.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. Development of the Roman Literature.--2. Mimes,
Mimographers, Pantomime; Laberius and P. Lyrus.--3. Epic Poetry; Virgil;
the Aeneid.--4. Didactic Poetry; the Bucolics; the Georgics; Lucretius.
--5. Lyric Poetry; Catullus; Horace.--6. Elegy; Tibullus; Propertius;
Ovid.--7. Oratory and Philosophy; Cicero.--8. History; J. Caesar; Sallust;
Livy.--9. Other Prose Writers.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Decline of Roman Literature.--2. Fable; Phaedrus.--3.
Satire and Epigram; Persius, Juvenal, Martial.--4. Dramatic Literature;
the Tragedies of Seneca.--5. Epic Poetry; Lucan; Silius Italicus; Valerius
Flaccus; P. Statius.--6. History; Paterculus; Tacitus; Suetonius; Q.
Curtius; Valerius Maximus.--7. Rhetoric and Eloquence; Quintilian; Pliny
the Younger.--8. Philosophy and Science; Seneca; Pliny the Elder; Celsus;
P. Mela; Columella; Frontinus.--9. Roman Literature from Hadrian to
Theodoric; Claudian; Eutropius; A. Marcellinus; S. Sulpicius; Gellius;
Macrobius; L. Apuleius; Boethius: the Latin Fathers.--10. Roman


1. European Literature in the Dark Ages.--2. The Arabian Language.--3.
Arabian Mythology and the Koran.--4. Historical Development of Arabian
Literature.--5. Grammar and Rhetoric.--6. Poetry.--7. The Arabian Tales.
--8. History and Science.--9. Education.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Italian Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Dialects.
--3. The Italian Language.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Latin Influence.--2. Early Italian Poetry and Prose.
--3. Dante--4. Petrarch.--5. Boccaccio and other Prose Writers.--6. First
Decline of Italian Literature.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Close of the Fifteenth Century; Lorenzo de'
Medici.--2. The Origin of the Drama and Romantic Epic; Poliziano, Pulci,
Boiardo.--3. Romantic Epic Poetry; Ariosto.--4. Heroic Epic Poetry;
Tasso.--5. Lyric Poetry; Bembo, Molza, Tarsia, V. Colonna.--6. Dramatic
Poetry; Trissino, Rucellai; the Writers of Comedy.--7. Pastoral Drama and
Didactic Poetry; Beccari, Sannazzaro, Tasso, Guarini, Rucellai, Alamanni.
--8. Satirical Poetry, Novels, and Tales; Berni, Grazzini, Firenzuola,
Bandello, and others.--9. History; Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Nardi, and
others.--10. Grammar and Rhetoric; the Academy della Crusca, Della Casa,
Speroni, and others.--11. Science, Philosophy, and Politics; the Academy
del Cimento, Galileo, Torricelli, Borelli, Patrizi, Telesio, Campanella,
Bruno, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and others.--12. Decline of the
Literature in the Seventeenth Century.--13. Epic and Lyric Poetry; Marini,
Filicaja.--14. Mock Heroic Poetry, the Drama, and Satire; Tassoni,
Bracciolini, Anderini, and others.--15. History and Epistolary Writings;
Davila, Bentivoglio, Sarpi, Redi.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Historical Development of the Third Period.--2. The
Melodrama; Rinuccini, Zeno, Metastasio.--3. Comedy; Goldoni, C. Gozzi, and
others.--4. Tragedy; Maffei, Alfieri, Monti, Manzoni, Nicolini, and
others.--5. Lyric, Epic, and Didactic Poetry; Parini, Monti, Ugo Foscolo,
Leopardi, Grossi, Lorenzi, and others.--6. Heroic-Comic Poetry, Satire,
and Fable; Fortiguerri, Passeroni, G. Gozzi, Parini, Ginsti, and others.
--7. Romances; Verri, Manzoni, D'Azeglio, Cantù, Guerrazzi, and others.
--8. History; Muratori, Vico, Giannone, Botta, Colletta, Tiraboschi, and
others.--9. Aesthetics, Criticism, Philology, and Philosophy; Baretti,
Parini, Giordani, Gioja, Romagnosi, Gallupi, Roemini, Gioberti.--From 1860
to 1885.


INTRODUCTION.--1. French Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language

PERIOD FIRST.--1. The Troubadours.--2. The Trouvères.--3. French
Literature in the Fifteenth Century.--4. The Mysteries and Moralities:
Charles of Orleans, Villon, Ville-Hardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Philippe
de Commines.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Renaissance and the Reformation: Marguerite de
Valois, Marot, Rabelais, Calvin, Montaigne, Charron, and others.--2. Light
Literature: Ronsard, Jodelle, Hardy, Malherbe, Scarron, Madame de
Rambouillet, and others.--3. The French Academy.--4. The Drama:
Corneille.--5. Philosophy: Descartes, Pascal; Port Royal.--6. The Rise of
the Golden Age of French Literature: Louis XIV.--7. Tragedy: Racine.--8.
Comedy: Molière.--9. Fables, Satires, Mock-Heroic, and other Poetry: La
Fontaine, Boileau.--10. Eloquence of the Pulpit and of the Bar:
Bourdaloue, Bossuet, Massillon, Fléchier, Le Maitre, D'Aguesseau, and
others.--11. Moral Philosophy: Rochefoucault, La Bruyère, Nicole.--12.
History and Memoirs: Mézeray, Fleury, Rollia, Brantôme, the Duke of Sully,
Cardinal de Retz.--13. Romance and Letter Writing: Fénelon, Madame de

PERIOD THIRD.--1. The Dawn of Skepticism: Bayle, J. B. Rousseau,
Fontenelle, Lamotte.--2. Progress of Skepticism: Montesquieu, Voltaire.
--3. French Literature during the Revolution: D'Holbach, D'Alembert,
Diderot, J. J. Rousseau, Buffon, Beaumarchais, St. Pierre, and others.
--4. French Literature under the Empire: Madame de Staël, Chateaubriand,
Royer-Collard, Ronald, De Maistre.--5. French Literature from the Age of
the Restoration to the Present Time. History: Thierry, Sismondi, Thiers,
Mignet, Martin, Michelet, and others. Poetry and the Drama; Rise of the
Romantic School: Béranger, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and others; Les
Parnassiens. Fiction: Hugo, Gautier, Dumas, Mérimée, Balzac, Sand,
Sandeau, and others. Criticism: Sainte-Beuve, Taine, and others.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Spanish Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Early National Literature; the Poem of the Cid; Berceo,
Alfonso the Wise, Segura; Don Juan Manuel, the Archpriest of Hita, Santob,
Ayala.--2. Old Ballads.--3. The Chronicles.-4. Romances of Chivalry.--5.
The Drama.--6. Provençal Literature in Spain.--7. The Influence of Italian
Literature in Spain.--8. The Cancioneros and Prose Writing.--9. The

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Effect of Intolerance on Letters.--2. Influence of
Italy on Spanish Literature; Boscan, Garcilasso de la Vega, Diego de
Mendoza.--3. History; Cortez, Gomara, Oviedo, Las Casas.--4. The Drama,
Rueda, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca.--5. Romances and Tales;
Cervantes, and other Writers of Fiction.--6. Historical Narrative Poems;
Ercilla.--7. Lyric Poetry; the Argensolas; Luis de Leon, Quevedo, Herrera,
Gongora, and others.--8. Satirical and other Poetry.--9. History and other
Prose Writing; Zurita, Mariana, Sandoval, and others.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. French Influence on the Literature of Spain.--2. The
Dawn of Spanish Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Feyjoo, Isla,
Moratin the elder, Yriarte, Melendez, Gonzalez, Quintana, Moratin the
younger.--3. Spanish Literature in the Nineteenth Century.


1. The Portuguese Language.--2. Early Literature of Portugal.--3. Poets of
the Fifteenth Century; Macias, Ribeyro.--4. Introduction of the Italian
Style; Saa de Miranda, Montemayor, Ferreira.--5. Epic Poetry; Camoëns; the
Lusiad.--6. Dramatic Poetry; Gil Vicente.--7. Prose Writing; Rodriguez
Lobo, Barros, Brito, Veira.--8. Portuguese Literature in the Seventeenth,
Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries; Antonio José, Manuel do Nascimento,
Manuel de Bocage.


1. The Finnish Language and Literature: Poetry; the Kalevala; Lönnrot;
Korhonen.--2. The Hungarian Language and Literature: the Age of Stephen
I.; Influence of the House of Anjou; of the Reformation; of the House of
Austria; Kossuth; Josika; Eötvös; Kuthy; Szigligeti; Petöfi.


The Slavic Race and Languages; the Eastern and Western Stems; the
Alphabets; the Old or Church Slavic Language; St. Cyril's Bible; the
Pravda Russkaya; the Annals of Nestor.


1. The Language.--2. Literature in the Reign of Peter the Great; of
Alexander; of Nicholas; Danilof, Lomonosof, Kheraskof, Derzhavin,
Karamzin.--3. History, Poetry, the Drama: Kostrof, Dmitrief, Zhukoffski,
Krylof, Pushkin, Lermontoff, Gogol.--4. Literature in Russia since the
Crimean War: School of Nature; Turguenieff; Ultra-realistic School:
Science; Mendeleéff.



John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Comenius, and others.


Rey, Bielski, Copernicus, Czartoryski, Niemcewicz, Mickiewicz, and others.


Carmen Sylva.


1. The Language.--2. Dutch Literature to the Sixteenth Century: Maerlant;
Melis Stoke; De Weert; the Chambers of Rhetoric; the Flemish Chroniclers;
the Rise of the Dutch Republic.--3. The Latin Writers: Erasmus; Grotius;
Arminius; Lipsius; the Scaligers, and others; Salmasius; Spinoza;
Boerhaave; Johannes Secundus.--4. Dutch Writers of the Sixteenth Century:
Anna Byns; Coornhert; Marnix de St. Aldegonde; Bor, Visscher, and
Spieghel.--5. Writers of the Seventeenth Century: Hooft; Vondel; Cats;
Antonides; Brandt, and others; Decline in Dutch Literature.--6. The
Eighteenth Century: Poot; Langendijk; Hoogvliet; De Marre; Feitama;
Huydecoper; the Van Harens; Smits; Ten Kate; Van Winter; Van Merken; De
Lannoy; Van Alphen; Bellamy; Nieuwland, Styl, and others.--7. The
Nineteenth Century: Feith; Helmers; Bilderdyk; Van der Palm; Loosjes;
Loots, Tollens, Van Kampen, De s'Gravenweert, Hoevill, and others.


1. Introduction. The Ancient Scandinavians; their Influence on the English
Race.--2. The Mythology.--3. The Scandinavian Languages.--4. Icelandic, or
Old Norse Literature: the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Scalds, the
Sagas, the "Heimskringla." The Folks-Sagas and Ballads of the Middle
Ages.--5. Danish Literature: Saxo Grammaticus and Theodoric; Arreboe,
Kingo, Tycho Brahe, Holberg, Evald, Baggesen, Oehlenschläger, Grundtvig,
Blicher, Ingemann, Heiberg, Gyllenbourg, Winther, Hertz, Müller, Hans
Andersen, Plong, Goldschmidt, Hastrup, and others; Malte Brun, Rask, Rafn,
Magnusen, the brothers Oersted.--6. Swedish Literature: Messenius,
Stjernhjelm, Lucidor, and others. The Gallic period: Dalin, Nordenflycht,
Crutz and Gyllenborg, Gustavus III., Kellgren, Leopold, Oxenstjerna. The
New Era: Bellman, Hallman, Kexel, Wallenberg, Lidner, Thorild, Lengren,
Franzen, Wallin. The Phosphorists: Atterbom, Hammarsköld, and Palmblad.
The Gothic School: Geijer, Tegnér, Stagnelius, Almquist, Vitalis,
Runeberg, and others. The Romance Writers: Cederborg, Bremer, Carlén,
Knorring. Science: Swedenborg, Linnaeus, and others.


INTRODUCTION.--1. German Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Mythology.
--3. The Language.

PERIOD FIRST--1. Early Literature; Translation of the Bible by Ulphilas;
the Hildebrand Lied.--2. The Age of Charlemagne; his Successors; the
Ludwig's Lied; Roswitha; the Lombard Cycle.--3. The Suabian Age; the
Crusades; the Minnesingers; the Romances of Chivalry; the Heldenbuch; the
Nibelungen Lied.--4. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries; the
Mastersingers; Satires and Fables; Mysteries and Dramatic Representations;
the Mystics; the Universities; the Invention of Printing.

PERIOD SECOND.--From 1517 to 1700.--1. The Lutheran Period: Luther,
Melanchthon.--2. Manuel, Zwingle, Fischart, Franck, Arnd, Boehm.--3.
Poetry, Satire, and Demonology; Paracelsus and Agrippa; the Thirty Years'
War.--4. The Seventeenth Century: Opitz, Leibnitz, Puffendorf, Kepler,
Wolf, Thomasius, Gerhard; Silesian Schools; Hoffmannswaldau, Lohenstein.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. The Swiss and Saxon Schools; Gottsched, Bodmer, Rabener,
Gellert, Kästner, and others.--2. Klopstock, Lessing, Wieland, and Herder.
--3. Goethe and Schiller.--4. The Göttingen School: Voss, Stolberg,
Claudius, Bürger, and others.--5. The Romantic School: the Schlegels,
Novalis; Tieck, Körner, Arndt, Uhland, Heine, and others.--6. The Drama:
Goethe and Schiller; the _Power Men_; Müllner, Werner, Howald, and
Grillparzer.--7. Philosophy: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer,
and Hartmann. Science: Liebig, Du Bois-Raymond, Virchow, Helmholst,
Haeckel.--8. Miscellaneous Writings.


INTRODUCTION.--1. _English Literature_. Its Divisions.--2. _The Language_.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. _Celtic Literature_, Irish, Scotch, and Cymric Celts;
the Chronicles of Ireland; Ossian's Poems; Traditions of Arthur; the
Triads; Tales.--2. _Latin Literature_, Bede; Alcuin; Erigena.--3. _Anglo-
Saxon Literature_. Poetry; Prose; Versions of Scripture; the Saxon
Chronicle; Alfred.

PERIOD SECOND.--The Norman Age and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth
Centuries.--1. _Literature in the Latin Tongue_.--2. _Literature in
Norman-French_. Poetry; Romances of Chivalry.--3. _Saxon-English_.
Metrical Remains.--4. _Literature in the fourteenth Century_.--Prose
Writers: Occam, Duns Scotus, Wickliffe, Mandeville, Chaucer. Poetry;
Langland, Gower, Chaucer.--5. _Literature in the Fifteenth Century_.
Ballads.--6. _Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries in
Scotland_. Wyntoun, Harbour, and others.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. _Age of the Reformation_ (1509-1558). Classical,
Theological, and Miscellaneous Literature: Sir Thomas More and others.
Poetry: Skelton, Surrey, and Sackville; the Drama.--2. _The Age of
Spenser, Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton_ (1558-1660). Scholastic and
Ecclesiastical Literature. Translations of the Bible: Hooker, Andrews,
Donne. Hall, Taylor, Baxter; other Prose Writers: Fuller, Cudworth, Bacon,
Hobbes, Raleigh, Milton, Sidney, Selden, Burton, Browne, and Cowley.
Dramatic Poetry: Marlowe and Greene, Shakspeare, Beaumont and Fletcher,
Ben Jonson, and others; Massinger, Ford, and Shirley; Decline of the
Drama. Non-dramatic Poetry: Spenser and the Minor Poets. Lyrical Poets:
Donne, Cowley, Denham, Waller, Milton.--3. _The Age of the Restoration and
Revolution_ (1660-1702). Prose: Leighton, Tillotson, Barrow, Bunyan,
Locke, and others. The Drama: Dryden, Otway. Comedy: Didactic Poetry:
Roscommon, Marvell, Butler, Pryor, Dryden.--4. _The Eighteenth Century_.
The _First_ Generation (1702-1727): Pope, Swift, and others; the
Periodical Essayists: Addison, Steele. The _Second_ Generation (1727-
1760); Theology: Warburton, Butler, Watts, Doddridge. Philosophy: Hume.
Miscellaneous Prose: Johnson; the Novelists: Richardson, Fielding,
Smollett, and Sterne. The Drama; Non-dramatic Poetry: Young, Blair,
Akenside, Thomson, Gray, and Collins. The _Third_ Generation (1760-1800);
the Historians: Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon. Miscellaneous Prose: Johnson,
Goldsmith, "Junius," Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, and Burke, Criticism: Burke,
Reynolds, Campbell, Kames. Political Economy: Adam Smith. Ethics: Paley,
Smith, Tucker. Metaphysics: Reid. Theological and Religious Writers:
Campbell, Paley, Watson, Newton, Hannah More, and Wilberforce. Poetry:
Comedies of Goldsmith and Sheridan; Minor Poets; Later Poems; Beattie's
Minstrel; Cowper and Burns. 5. _The Nineteenth Century_. The Poets:
Campbell, Southey, Scott, Byron; Coleridge and Wordsworth; Wilson,
Shelley, Keats; Crabbe, Moore, and others; Tennyson, Browning, Procter,
and others. Fiction: the Waverley and other Novels; Dickens, Thackeray,
and others. History: Arnold, Thirlwall, Grote, Macaulay, Alison, Carlyle,
Freeman, Buckle. Criticism: Hallam, De Quincey, Macaulay, Carlyle, Wilson,
Lamb, and others. Theology: Poster, Hall, Chalmers. Philosophy: Stewart,
Brown, Mackintosh, Bentham, Alison, and others. Political Economy: Mill,
Whewell, Whately, De Morgan, Hamilton. Periodical Writings: the Edinburgh,
Quarterly, and Westminster Reviews, and Blackwood's Magazine. Physical
Science: Brewster, Herschel, Playfair, Miller, Buckland, Whewell.--Since
1860. I. Poets: Matthew Arnold, Algernon Swinburne, Dante Rossetti, Robert
Buchanan, Edwin Arnold, "Owen Meredith," William Morris, Jean Ingelow,
Adelaide Procter, Christina Rossetti, Augusta Webster, Mary Robinson, and
others. 2. Fiction: "George Eliot," McDonald, Collins, Black, Blackmore,
Mrs. Oliphant, Yates, McCarthy, Trollope, and others. 3. Scientific
Writers: Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Tyndall, Huxley, and others.
4. Miscellaneous.


THE COLONIAL PERIOD.--1. The Seventeenth Century. George Sandys; The Bay
Psalm Book; Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, and Cotton Mather.--2. From 1700
to 1770. Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Cadwallader Colden.

FIRST AMERICAN PERIOD, FROM 1771 TO 1820.--1. Statesmen and Political
Writers: Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton; The Federalist; Jay, Madison,
Marshall, Fisher Ames, and others.--2. The Poets: Freneau, Trumbull,
Hopkinson, Barlow, Clifton, and Dwight.--3. Writers in other Departments:
Bellamy, Hopkins, Dwight, and Bishop White. Rush, McClurg, Lindley Murray,
Charles Brockden Brown. Ramsay, Graydon. Count Rumford, Wirt, Ledyard,
Pinkney, and Pike.

SECOND AMERICAN PERIOD, FROM 1820 TO 1860.--1. History, Biography, and
Travels: Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, Godwin, Ticknor, Schoolcraft,
Hildreth, Sparks, Irving, Headley, Stephens, Kane, Squier, Perry, Lynch,
Taylor, and others.--2. Oratory: Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Everett,
and others.--3. Fiction: Cooper, Irving, Willis, Hawthorne, Poe, Simms,
Mrs. Stowe, and others.--4. Poetry: Bryant, Dana, Halleck, Longfellow,
Willis, Lowell, Allston, Hillhouse, Drake, Whittier, Hoffman, and others.
--5. The Transcendental Movement in New England.--6. Miscellaneous
Writings: Whipple, Tuckerman, Curtis, Brigge, Prentice, and others.--7.
Encyclopaedias, Dictionaries, and Educational Books. The Encyclopaedia
Americana. The New American Cyclopaedia. Allibone, Griswold, Duyckinck,
Webster, Worcester, Anthon, Felton, Barnard, and others.--8. Theology,
Philosophy, Economy, and Jurisprudence: Stuart, Robinson, Wayland, Barnes,
Channing, Parker. Tappan, Henry, Hickok, Haven. Carey, Kent, Wheaton,
Story, Livingston, Lawrence, Bouvier.--9. Natural Sciences: Franklin,
Morse, Fulton, Silliman, Dana, Hitchcock, Rogers, Bowditch, Peirce, Bache,
Holbrook, Audubon, Morton, Gliddon, Maury, and others.--10. Foreign
Writers: Paine, Witherspoon, Rowson, Priestley, Wilson, Agassiz, Guyot,
Mrs. Robinson, Gurowski, and others.--11. Newspapers and Periodicals.
--12. Since 1860.




The following works are the sources from which this book is wholly or
chiefly derived:--

Taylor's History of the Alphabet; Dwight's Philology; Herder's Spirit of
Hebrew Poetry; Lowth's Hebrew Poetry; Asiatic Researches; the works of
Gesenius, De Wette, Ewald, Colebrooke, Sir William Jones, Wilson, Ward;
Schlegel's Hindu Language and Literature; Max Müller's History of Sanskrit
Literature; and What India has taught us; Malcolm's History of Persia;
Richardson on the Language of Eastern Nations; Adelung's Mithridates;
Chodzko's Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia; Costello's Rose
Garden of Persia; Rémusat's Mémoire sur l'Ecriture Chinoise; Davis on the
Poetry of the Chinese; Williams's Middle Kingdom; The Mikado's Empire;
Rein's Travels in Japan; Duhalde's Description de la Chine; Champollion's
Letters; Wilkinson's Extracts from Hieroglyphical Subjects; the works of
Bunsen, Müller, and Lane; Müller's History of the Literature of Ancient
Greece, continued by Donaldson; Browne's History of Roman Classical
Literature; Fiske's Manual of Classical Literature; Sismondi's Literature
of the South of Europe; Goodrich's Universal History; Sanford's Rise and
Progress of Literature; Schlegel's Lectures on the History of Literature;
Schlegel's History of Dramatic Art; Tiraboschi's History of Italian
Literature; Maffei, Corniani, and Ugoni on the same subject; Chambers's
Handbooks of Italian and German Literature; Vilmar's History of German
Literature; Foster's Handbook of French Literature; Nisard's Histoire de
la Littérature Française; Demogeot's Histoire de la Littérature française;
Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature; Talvi's (Mrs. Robinson)
Literature of the Slavic Nations; Mallet's Northern Antiquities; Keyson's
Religion of the Northmen; Pigott's Northern Mythology; William and Mary
Howitt's Literature and Romance of Northern Europe; De s'Gravenweert's Sur
la Littérature Néerlandaise; Siegenbeck's Histoire Littéraire des Pays-
Bas; Da Pontes' Poets and Poetry of Germany; Menzel's German Literature;
Spaulding's History of English Literature; Chambers's Cyclopaedia of
English Literature; Shaw's English Literature; Stedman's Victorian Poets;
Trübner's guide to American Literature; Duyckinck's Cyclopaedia of
American Literature; Griswold's Poets and Prose Writers of America;
Tuckerman's Sketch of American Literature; Frothingham's Transcendental
Movement in New England. French, English, and American Encyclopaedias,
Biographies, Dictionaries, and numerous other works of reference have also
been extensively consulted.



1. The Origin of Letters.--2. The Phoenician Alphabet and Inscriptions.--
3, The Greek Alphabet. Its Three Epochs.--4. The Medieval Scripts. The
Irish. The Anglo-Saxon. The Roman. The Gothic. The Runic.

1. THE ORIGIN OF LETTERS.--Alphabetic writing is an art easy to acquire,
but its invention has tasked the genius of the three most gifted nations
of the ancient world. All primitive people have begun to record events and
transmit messages by means of rude pictures of objects, intended to
represent things or thoughts, which afterwards became the symbols of
sounds. For instance, the letter _M_ is traced down from the
conventionalized picture of an owl in the ancient language of Egypt,
_Mulak_. This was used first to denote the bird itself; then it stood for
the name of the bird; then gradually became a syllabic sign to express the
sound "mu," the first syllable of the name, and ultimately to denote "M,"
the initial sound of that syllable.

In like manner _A_ can be shown to be originally the picture of an eagle,
_D_ of a hand, _F_ of the horned asp, _R_, of the mouth, and so on.

Five systems of picture writing have been independently invented,--the
Egyptian, the Cuneiform, the Chinese, the Mexican, and the Hittite. The
tradition of the ancient world, which assigned to the Phoenicians the
glory of the invention of letters, declared that it was from Egypt that
they originally derived the art of writing, which they afterwards carried
into Greece, and the latest investigations have confirmed this tradition.

2. THE PHOENICIAN ALPHABET.--Of the Phoenician alphabet the Samaritan is
the only living representative, the Sacred Script of the few families who
still worship on Mount Gerizim. With this exception, it is only known to
us by inscriptions, of which several hundred have been discovered. They
form two well-marked varieties, the Moabite and the Sidonian. The most
important monument of the first is the celebrated Moabite stone,
discovered in 1868 on the site of the ancient capital of the land of Moab,
portions of which are preserved in the Louvre. It gives an account of the
revolt of the King of Moab against Jehoram, King of Israel, 890 B.C. The
most important inscription of the Sidonian type is that on the magnificent
sarcophagus of a king of Sidon, now one of the glories of the Louvre.

A monument of the early Hebrew alphabet, another offshoot of the
Phoenician, was discovered in 1880 in an inscription in the ancient tunnel
which conveys water to the pool of Siloam.

3. THE GREEK ALPHABET.--The names, number, order, and forms of the
primitive Greek alphabet attest its Semitic origin. Of the many
inscriptions which remain, the earliest has been discovered, not in
Greece, but upon the colossal portrait statues carved by Rameses the
Great, in front of the stupendous cave temple at Abou-Simbel, at the time
when the Hebrews were still in Egyptian bondage. In the seventh century B.
C., certain Greek mercenaries in the service of an Egyptian king inscribed
a record of their visit in five precious lines of writing, which the dry
Nubian atmosphere has preserved almost in their pristine sharpness.

The legend, according to which Cadmus the Tyrian sailed for Greece in
search of Europa, the damsel who personified the West, designates the
island of Thera as the earliest site of Phoenician colonization in the
Aegean, and from inscriptions found there this may be regarded as the
first spot of European soil on which words were written, and they exhibit
better than any others the progressive form of the Cadmean alphabet. The
oldest inscriptions found on Hellenic soil bearing a definite date are
those cut on the pedestals of the statues which lined the sacred way
leading to the temple of Apollo, near Miletus. Several of those, now in
the British Museum, range in date over the sixth century B.C. They belong,
not to the primitive alphabet, but to the Ionian, one of the local
varieties which mark the second stage, which may be called the epoch of
transition, which began in the seventh and lasted to the close of the
fifth century B.C. It is not till the middle of the fifth century that we
have any dated monuments belonging to the Western types. Among these are
the names of the allied states of Hellas, inscribed on the coils of the
three-headed bronze serpent which supported the gold tripod dedicated to
the Delphian Apollo, 476 B.C. This famous monument was transported to
Byzantium by Constantine the Great, and still stands in the Hippodrome at
Constantinople. Of equal interest is the bronze Etruscan helmet in the
British Museum, dedicated to the Olympian Zeus, in commemoration of the
great victory off Cumae, which destroyed the naval supremacy of the
Etruscans, 474 B.C., and is celebrated in an ode by Pindar.

The third epoch witnessed the emergence of the classical alphabets of
European culture, the Ionian and the Italic.

The Ionian has been the source of the Eastern scripts, Romaic, Coptic,
Slavic, and others. The Italic became the parent of the modern alphabets
of Western Europe.

4. THE MEDIAEVAL SCRIPTS.--A variety of national scripts arose in the
establishment of the Teutonic kingdoms upon the ruins of the Roman Empire.
But the most magnificent of all mediaeval scripts was the Irish, which
exercised a profound influence on the later alphabets of Europe. From a
combination of the Roman and Irish arose the Anglo-Saxon script, the
precursor of that which was developed in the ninth century by Alcuin of
York, the friend and preceptor of Charlemagne. This was the parent of the
Roman alphabet, in which our books are now printed. Among other
deteriorations, there crept in, in the fourteenth century, the Gothic or
black letter character, and these barbarous forms are still essentially
retained by the Teutonic nations though discarded by the English and Latin
races; but from its superior excellences the Roman alphabet is constantly
extending its range and bids fair to become the sole alphabet of the
future. In all the lands that were settled and overrun by the
Scandinavians, there are found multitudes of inscriptions in the ancient
alphabet of the Norsemen, which is called the Runic. The latest modern
researches seem to prove that this was derived from the Greek, and
probably dates back as far as the sixth century B.C.The Goths were early
in occupation of the regions south of the Baltic and east of the Vistula,
and in direct commercial intercourse with the Greek traders, from whom
they doubtless obtained a knowledge of the Greek alphabet, as the Greeks
themselves had gained it from the Phoenicians.


Modern philologists have made different classifications of the various
languages of the world, one of which divides them into three great
classes: the Monosyllabic, the Agglutinated, and the Inflected.

--The _first_, or Monosyllabic class, contains those languages which
consist only of separate, unvaried monosyllables. The words have no
organization that adapts them for mutual affiliation, and there is in
them, accordingly, an utter absence of all scientific forms and principles
of grammar. The Chinese and a few languages in its vicinity, doubtless
originally identical with it, are all that belong to this class. The
languages of the North American Indians, though differing in many
respects, have the same general grade of character.

The _second_ class consists of those languages which are formed by
agglutination. The words combine only in a mechanical way; they have _no_
elective affinity, and exhibit toward each other none of the active or
sensitive capabilities of living organisms. Prepositions are joined to
substantives, and pronouns to verbs, but never so as to make a new form of
the original word, as in the inflected languages, and words thus placed in
juxtaposition retain their personal identity unimpaired.

The agglutinative languages are known also as the Turanian, from Turan, a
name of Central Asia, and the principal varieties of this family are the
Tartar, Finnish, Lappish, Hungarian, and Caucasian. They are classed
together almost exclusively on the ground of correspondence in their
grammatical structure, but they are bound together by ties of far less
strength than those which connect the inflected languages. The race by
whom they are spoken has, from the first, occupied more of the surface of
the earth than either of the others, stretching westward from the shores
of the Japan Sea to the neighborhood of Vienna, and southward from the
Arctic Ocean to Afghanistan and the southern coast of Asia Minor.

The inflected languages form the _third_ great division. They have all a
complete interior organization, complicated with many mutual relations and
adaptations, and are thoroughly systematic in all their parts. Between
this class and the monosyllabic there is all the difference that there is
between organic and inorganic forms of matter; and between them and the
agglutinative languages there is the same difference that exists in nature
between mineral accretions and vegetable growths. The boundaries of this
class of languages are the boundaries of cultivated humanity, and in their
history lies embosomed that of the civilized portions of the world.

Two great races speaking inflected languages, the Semitic and the Indo-
European, have shared between them the peopling of the historic portions
of the earth; and on this account these two languages have sometimes been
called political or state languages, in contrast with the appellation of
the Turanian as nomadic. The term Semitic is applied to that family of
languages which are native in Southwestern Asia, and which are supposed to
have been spoken by the descendants of Shem, the son of Noah. They are the
Hebrew, Aramaeic, Arabic, the ancient Egyptian or Coptic, the Chaldaic,
and Phoenician. Of these the only living language of note is the Arabic,
which has supplanted all the others, and wonderfully diffused its elements
among the constituents of many of the Asiatic tongues. In Europe the
Arabic has left a deep impress on the Spanish language, and is still
represented in the Maltese, which is one of its dialects.

The Semitic languages differ widely from the Indo-European in reference to
their grammar, vocabulary, and idioms. On account of the great
preponderance of the pictorial element in them, they may be called the
metaphorical languages, while the Indo-European, from the prevailing style
of their higher literature, may be called the philosophical languages. The
Semitic nations also differ from the Indo-European in their national
characteristics; while they have lived with remarkable uniformity on the
vast open plains, or wandered over the wide and dreary deserts of their
native region, the Indo-Europeans have spread themselves over both
hemispheres, and carried civilization to its highest development. But the
Semitic mind has not been without influence on human progress. It early
recorded its thoughts, its wants, and achievements in the hieroglyphs of
ancient Egypt; the Phoenicians, foremost in their day in commerce and the
arts, introduced from Egypt alphabetic letters, of which all the world has
since made use. The Jewish portion of the race, long in communication with
Egypt, Phoenicia, Babylonia, and Persia, could not fail to impart to these
nations some knowledge of their religion and literature, and it cannot be
doubted that many new ideas and quickening influences were thus set in
motion, and communicated to the more remote countries both of the East and

The most ancient languages of the Indo-European stock may be grouped in
two distinct family pairs: the Aryan, which comprises two leading
families, the Indian and Iranian, and the Graeco-Italic or Pelasgic, which
comprises the Greek family and its various dialects, and the Italic
family, the chief-subdivisions of which are the Etruscan, the Latin, and
the modern languages derived from the Latin. The other Indo-European
families are the Lettic, Slavic, Gothic, and Celtic, with their various

The word Aryan (Sanskrit, Arya), the oldest known name of the entire Indo-
European family, signifies well-born, and was applied by the ancient
Hindus to themselves in contradistinction to the rest of the world, whom
they considered base-born and contemptible.

In the country called Aryavarta, lying between the Himalaya and the
Vindhya Mountains, the high table-land of Central Asia, more than two
thousand years before Christ, our Hindu ancestors had their early home.
From this source there have been, historically, two great streams of Aryan
migration. One, towards the south, stagnated in the fertile valleys, where
they were walled in from all danger of invasion by the Himalaya Mountains
on the north, the Indian Ocean on the south, and the deserts of Bactria on
the west, and where the people sunk into a life of inglorious ease, or
wasted their powers in the regions of dreamy mysticism. The other
migration, at first northern, and then western, includes the great
families of nations in Northwestern Asia and in Europe. Forced by
circumstances into a more objective life, and under the stimulus of more
favorable influences, these nations have been brought into a marvelous
state of individual and social progress, and to this branch of the human
family belongs all the civilization of the present, and most of that which
distinguishes the past.

The Indo-European family of languages far surpasses the Semitic in
variety, flexibility, beauty, and strength. It is remarkable for its
vitality, and has the power of continually regenerating itself and
bringing forth new linguistic creations. It renders most faithfully the
various workings of the human mind, its wants, its aspirations, its
passion, imagination, and reasoning power, and is most in harmony with the
ever progressive spirit of man. In its varied scientific and artistic
development it forms the most perfect family of languages on the globe,
and modern civilization, by a chain reaching through thousands of years,
ascends to this primitive source.


1. Chinese literature.--2. The Language.--3. The Writing.--4. The five
Classics and four Books.--5. Chinese Religion and Philosophy, Lao-tsé,
Confucius, Meng-tsé or Mencius.--6. Buddhism.--7. Social Constitution of
China.--8. Invention of Printing.--9. Science, History, and Geography.
Encyclopaedias.--10. Poetry.--11. Dramatic Literature and Fiction.--12.
Education in China.

1. CHINESE LITERATURE.--The Chinese literature is one of the most
voluminous of all literatures, and among the most important of those of
Asia. Originating in a vast empire, it is diffused among a population
numbering nearly half the inhabitants of the globe. It is expressed by an
original language differing from all others, it refers to a nation whose
history may be traced back nearly five thousand years in an almost
unbroken series of annals, and it illustrates the peculiar character of a
people long unknown to the Western world.

2. THE LANGUAGE.--The date of the origin of this language is lost in
antiquity, but there is no doubt that it is the most ancient now spoken,
and probably the oldest written language used by man. It has undergone few
alterations during successive ages, and this fact has served to deepen the
lines of demarkation between the Chinese and other branches of the race
and has resulted in a marked national life. It belongs to the monosyllabic
family; its radical words number 450, but as many of these, by being
pronounced with a different accent convey a different meaning, in reality
they amount to 1,203. Its pronunciation varies in different provinces, but
that of Nanking, the ancient capital of the Empire, is the most pure. Many
dialects are spoken in the different provinces, but the Chinese proper is
the literary tongue of the nation, the language of the court and of polite
society, and it is vernacular in that portion of China called the Middle

3. THE WRITING.--There is an essential difference between the Chinese
language as spoken and written, and the poverty of the former presents a
striking contrast with the exuberance of the latter. Chinese writing,
generally speaking, does not express the sounds of the words, but it
represents the ideas or the objects indicated by them. Its alphabetical
characters are therefore ideographic, and not phonetic. They were
originally rude representations of the thing signified; but they have
undergone various changes from picture-writing to the present more
symbolical and more complete system.

As the alphabetic signs represent objects or ideas, it would follow that
there must be in writing as many characters as words in the spoken
language. Yet many words, which have the same sound, represent different
ideas; and these must be represented also in the written language. Thus
the number of the written words far surpasses that of the spoken language.
As far as they are used in the common writing, they amount to 2,425. The
number of characters in the Chinese dictionary is 40,000, of which,
however, only 10,000 are required for the general purposes of literature.
They are disposed under 214 signs, which serve as keys, and which
correspond to our alphabetic order.

The Chinese language is written, from right to left, in vertical columns
or in horizontal lines.

4. THE CLASSICS.--The first five canonical books are "The Book of
Transformations," "The Book of History," "The Book of Rites," "The Spring
and Autumn Annals," and "The Book of Odes"

"The Book of Transformations" consists of sixty-four short essays on
important themes, symbolically and enigmatically expressed, based on
linear figures and diagrams. These cabala are held in high esteem by the
learned, and the hundreds of fortune-tellers in the streets of Chinese
towns practice their art on the basis of these mysteries.

"The Book of History" was compiled by Confucius, 551-470 B. C., from the
earliest records of the Empire, and in the estimation of the Chinese it
contains the seeds of all that is valuable in their political system,
their history, and their religious rites, and is the basis of their
tactics, music, and astronomy. It consists mainly of conversations between
kings and their ministers, in which are traced the same patriarchal
principles of government that guide the rulers of the present day.

"The Book of Rites" is still the rule by which the Chinese regulate all
the relations of life. No every-day ceremony is too insignificant to
escape notice, and no social or domestic duty is beyond its scope. No work
of the classics has left such an impression on the manners and customs of
the people. Its rules are still minutely observed, and the office of the
Board of Rites, one of the six governing boards of Peking, is to see that
its precepts are carried out throughout the Empire. According to this
system, all the relations of man to the family, society, the state, to
morals, and to religion, are reduced to ceremonial, but this includes not
only the external conduct, but it involves those right principles from
which all true politeness and etiquette spring.

The "Book of Odes" consists of national airs, chants, and sacrificial odes
of great antiquity, some of them remarkable for their sublimity. It is
difficult to estimate the power they have exerted over all subsequent
generations of Chinese scholars. They are valuable for their religious
character and for their illustration of early Chinese customs and
feelings; but they are crude in measure, and wanting in that harmony which
comes from study and cultivation.

The "Spring and Autumn Annals" consist of bald statements of historical
facts. Of the Four Books, the first three--the "Great Learning," the "Just
Medium," and the "Confucian Analects"--are by the pupils and followers of
Confucius. The last of the four books consists entirely of the writings of
Mencius (371-288 B. C.). In originality and breadth of view he is superior
to Confucius, and must be regarded as one of the greatest men Asiatic
nations have produced.

The Five Classics and Four Books would scarcely be considered more than
curiosities in literature were it not for the incomparable influence, free
from any debasing character, which they have exerted over so many millions
of minds.

5. CHINESE RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY.--Three periods may be distinguished in
the history of the religious and philosophical progress of China. The
first relates to ancient tradition, to the idea of one supreme God, to the
patriarchal institutions, which were the foundation of the social
organization of the Empire, and to the primitive customs and moral
doctrines. It appears that this religion at length degenerated into that
mingled idolatry and indifference which still characterizes the people of

In the sixth century B.C., the corruption of the ancient religion having
reached its height, a reaction took place which gave birth to the second,
or philosophical period, which produced three systems. Lao-tsé, born 604
B.C., was the founder of the religion of the Tao, or of the external and
supreme reason. The Tao is the primitive existence and intelligence, the
great principle of the spiritual and material world, which must be
worshiped through the purification of the soul, by retirement, abnegation,
contemplation, and metempsychosis. This school gave rise to a sect of
mystics similar to those of India.

Later writers have debased the system of Lao-tsé, and cast aside his
profound speculations for superstitious rituals and the multiplication of
gods and goddesses.

Confucius was the founder of the second school, which has exerted a far
more extensive and beneficial influence on the political and social
institutions of China. Confucius is a Latin name, corresponding to the
original Kung-fu-tsé, Kung being the proper name, and Fu-tsé signifying
reverend teacher or doctor. He was born 551 B.C., and educated by his
mother, who impressed upon him a strong sense of morality. After a careful
study of the ancient writings he decided to undertake the moral reform of
his country, and giving up his high position of prime minister, he
traveled extensively in China, preaching justice and virtue wherever he
went. His doctrines, founded on the unity of God and the necessities of
human nature, bore essentially a moral character, and being of a practical
tendency, they exerted a great influence not only on the morals of the
people, but also on their legislation, and the authority of Confucius
became supreme. He died 479 B.C., at the age of seventy-two, eleven years
before the birth of Socrates. He left a grandson, through whom the
succession has been transmitted to the present day, and his descendants
constitute a distinct class in Chinese society.

At the close of the fourth century B.C., another philosopher appeared by
the name of Meng-tsé, or Mencius (eminent and venerable teacher), whose
method of instruction bore a strong similarity to that of Socrates. His
books rank among the classics, and breathe a spirit of freedom and
independence; they are full of irony on petty sovereigns and on their
vices; they establish moral goodness above social position, and the will
of the people above the arbitrary power of their rulers. He was much
revered, and considered bolder and more eloquent than Confucius.

6. The third period of the intellectual development of the Chinese dates
from the introduction of Buddhism into the country, under the name of the
religion of Fo, 70 A.D. The emperor himself professes this religion, and
its followers have the largest number of temples. The great bulk of
Buddhist literature is of Indian origin. Buddhism, however, has lost in
China much of its originality, and for the mass it has sunk into a low and
debasing idolatry. Recently a new religion has sprung up in China, a
mixture of ancient Chinese and Christian doctrines, which apparently finds
great favor in some portions of the country.

7. SOCIAL CONSTITUTION OF CHINA.--The social constitution of China rests
on the ancient traditions preserved in the canonical and classic books.
The Chinese empire is founded on the patriarchal system, in which all
authority over the family belongs to the _pater familias_. The emperor
represents the great father of the nation, and is the supreme master of
the state and the head of religion. All his subjects being considered as
his children, they are all equal before him, and according to their
capacity are admitted to the public offices. Hence no distinction of
castes, no privileged classes, no nobility of birth; but a general
equality under an absolute chief. The public administration is entirely in
the hands of the emperor, who is assisted by his mandarins, both military
and civil. They are admitted to this rank only after severe examinations,
and from them the members of the different councils of the empire are
selected. Among these the Board of Control, or the all-examining Court,
and the Court of History and Literature deserve particular mention, as
being more closely related to the subject of this work. The duty of this
board consists in examining all the official acts of the government, and
in preventing the enacting of those measures which they may deem
detrimental to the best interests of the country. They can even reprove
the personal acts of the emperor, an office which has afforded many
occasions for the display of eloquence. The courage of some of the members
of this board has been indeed sublime, giving to their words wonderful

The Court of History and Literature superintends public education,
examines those who aspire to the degree of mandarins, and decides on the
pecuniary subsidies, which the government usually grants for defraying the
expenses of the publication of great works on history and science.

8. INVENTION OF PRINTING.--At the close of the sixth century B.C. it was
ordained that various texts in circulation should be engraved on wood to
be printed and published. At first comparatively little use seems to have
been made of the invention, which only reached its full development in the
eleventh century, when movable types were first invented by a Chinese
blacksmith, who printed books with them nearly five hundred years before
Gutenberg appeared.

In the third century B.C., one of the emperors conceived the mad scheme of
destroying all existing records, and writing a new set of annals in his
own name, in order that posterity might consider him the founder of the
empire. Sixty years after this barbarous decree had been carried into
execution, one of his successors, who desired as far as possible to repair
the injury, caused these books to be re-written from a copy which had
escaped destruction.

9. SCIENCE, HISTORY, AND GEOGRAPHY.--Comparing the scientific development
of the Chinese with that of the Western world, it may be said that they
have made little progress in any branch of science. There are, however, to
be found in almost every department some works of no indifferent merit. In
mathematics they begin only now to make some progress, since the
mathematical works of Europe have been introduced into their country.
Astrology still takes the place of astronomy, and the almanacs prepared at
the observatory of Peking are made chiefly by foreigners. Books on natural
philosophy abound, some of which are written by the emperors themselves.
Medicine is imperfectly understood. They possess several valuable works on
Chinese jurisprudence, on agriculture, economy, mechanics, trades, many
cyclopaedias and compendia, and several dictionaries, composed with
extraordinary skill and patience.

To this department may be referred all educational books, the most of them
written in rhyme, and according to a system of intellectual gradation.

The historical and geographical works of China are the most valuable and
interesting department of its literature. Each dynasty has its official
chronicle, and the celebrated collection of twenty-one histories forms an
almost unbroken record of the annals from, the third century B.C. to the
middle of the seventeenth century, and contains a vast amount of
information to European readers. The edition of this huge work, in sixty-
six folio volumes, is to be found in the British Museum. This and many
similar works of a general and of a local character unite in rendering
this department rich and important for those who are interested in the
history of Asiatic civilization. "The General Geography of the Chinese
Empire" is a collection of the statistics of the country, with maps and
tables, in two hundred and sixty volumes. The "Statutes of the Reigning
Dynasty," from the year 1818, form more than one thousand volumes. Chinese
topographical works are characterized by a minuteness of detail rarely

Historical and literary encyclopaedias form a very notable feature in all
Chinese libraries. These works show great research, clearness, and
precision, and are largely drawn upon by European scholars. Early in the
last century one of the emperors appointed a commission to reprint in one
great collection all the works they might think worthy of preservation.
The result was a compilation of 6,109 volumes, arranged under thirty-two
heads, embracing works on every subject contained in the national
literature. This work is unique of its kind, and the largest in the world.

10. POETRY.--The first development of literary talent in China, as
elsewhere, is found in poetry, and in the earliest days songs and ballads
were brought as offerings from the various principalities to the heads of
government. At the time of Confucius there existed a collection of three
thousand songs, from which he selected those contained in the "Book of
Odes." There is not much sublimity or depth of thought in these odes, but
they abound in touches of nature, and are exceedingly interesting and
curious, as showing how little change time has effected in the manners and
customs of this singular people. Similar in character are the poems of the
Tshian-teng-shi, another collection of lyrics published at the expense of
the emperor, in several thousand volumes. Among modern poets may be
mentioned the Emperor Khian-lung, who died at the close of the last

After the time of Confucius the change in Chinese poetry became very
marked, and, instead of the peaceful tone of his day, it reflected the
unsettled condition of social and political affairs. The simple,
monotheistic faith was exchanged for a superstitious belief in a host of
gods and goddesses, a contempt for life, and an uncertainty of all beyond
it. The period between 620 and 907 A.D., was one of great prosperity, and
is looked upon as the golden age.

11. DRAMATIC LITERATURE AND FICTION.--Chinese literature affords no
instance of real dramatic poetry or sustained effort of the imagination.
The "Hundred Plays of the Yuen Dynasty" is the most celebrated collection,
and many have been translated into European languages. One of them, "The
Orphan of China," served as the groundwork of Voltaire's tragedy of that
name. The drama, however, constitutes a large department in Chinese
literature, though there are, properly speaking, no theatres in China. A
platform in the open air is the ordinary stage, the decorations are
hangings of cotton supported by a few poles of bamboo, and the action is
frequently of the coarsest kind. When an actor comes on the stage, he
says, "I am the mandarin so-and-so." If the drama requires the actor to
enter a house, he takes some steps and says, "I have entered;" and if he
is supposed to travel, he does so by rapid running on the stage, cracking
his whip, and saying afterwards, "I have arrived." The dialogue is written
partly in verse and partly in prose, and the poetry is sometimes sung and
sometimes recited. Many of their dramas are full of bustle and abound in
incident. They often contain the life and adventures of an individual,
some great sovereign or general, a history, in fact, thrown into action.
Two thousand volumes of dramatic compositions are known, and the best of
these amount to five hundred pieces. Among them may be mentioned the
"Orphan of the House of Tacho," and the "Heir in Old Age," which have much
force and character, and vividly describe the habits of the people.

The Chinese are fond of historical and moral romances, which, however, are
founded on reason and not on imagination, as are the Hindu and Persian
tales. Their subjects are not submarine abysses, enchanted palaces, giants
and genii, but man as he is in his actual life, as he lives with his
fellow-men, with all his virtues and vices, sufferings and joys. But the
Chinese novelists show more skill in the details than in the conception of
their works; the characters are finished and developed in every respect.
The pictures with which they adorn their works are minute and the
descriptions poetical, though they often sacrifice to these qualities the
unity of the subject. The characters of their novels are principally drawn
from the middle class, as governors, literary men, etc. The episodes are,
generally speaking, ordinary actions of common life--all the quiet
incidents of the phlegmatic life of the Chinese, coupled with the regular
and mechanical movements which distinguish that people. Among the
numberless Chinese romances there are several which are considered
classic. Such are the "Four Great Marvels' Books," and the "Stories of the
Pirates on the Coast of Kiangnan."

12. EDUCATION IN CHINA. Most of the Chinese people have a knowledge of the
rudiments of education. There is scarcely a man who does not know how to
read the hooks of his profession. Public schools are everywhere
established; in the cities there are colleges, in which pupils are taught
the Chinese literature; and in Peking there is an imperial college for the
education of the mandarins. The offices of the empire are only attained by
scholarship. There are four literary degrees, which give title to
different positions in the country. The government fosters the higher
branches of education and patronizes the publication of literary works,
which are distributed among the libraries, colleges, and functionaries.
The press is restricted only from publishing licentious and revolutionary

The future literature of China in many branches will be greatly modified
by the introduction of foreign knowledge and influences.


1. The Language.--2. The Religion.--3. The Literature. Influence of
Women.--4. History.--5. The Drama and Poetry.--6. Geography. Newspapers.
Novels. Medical Science.--7. Position of Woman.

1. THE LANGUAGE.--The Japanese is considered as belonging to the isolated
languages, as philologists have thus far failed to classify it. It is
agglutinative in its syntax, each word consisting of an unchangeable root
and one or several suffixes. Before the art of writing was known, poems,
odes to the gods, and other fragments which still exist had been composed
in this tongue, and it is probable that a much larger literature existed.
During the first centuries of writing in Japan, the spoken and written
language was identical, but with the study of the Chinese literature and
the composition of native works almost exclusively in that language, there
grew up differences between the colloquial and literary idiom, and the
infusion of Chinese words steadily increased. In writing, the Chinese
characters occupy the most important place. But all those words which
express the wants, feelings, and concerns of everyday life, all that is
deepest in the human heart, are for the most part native. If we would
trace the fountains of the musical and beautiful language of Japan, we
must seek them in the hearts and hear them flow from the lips of the
mothers of the Island Empire. Among the anomalies with which Japan has
surprised and delighted the world may be claimed that of woman's
achievements in the domain of letters. It was woman's services, not man's,
that made the Japanese a literary language, and under her influence the
mobile forms of speech crystallized into perennial beauty.

The written language has heretofore consisted mainly of characters
borrowed from the Chinese, each character representing an idea of its own,
so that in order to read and write the student must make himself
acquainted with several thousand characters, and years are required to
gain proficiency in these elementary arts. There also exists in Japan a
syllabary alphabet of forty-seven characters, used at present as an
auxiliary to the Chinese. Within a very recent period, since the
acquisition of knowledge has become a necessity in Japan, a society has
been formed by the most prominent men of the empire, for the purpose of
assimilating the spoken and written language, taking the forty-seven
native characters as the basis.

2. RELIGION.--The two great religions of Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism.
The chief characteristic of the Shinto religion is the worship of
ancestors, the deification of emperors, heroes, and scholars, and the
adoration of the personified forces of nature. It lays down no precepts,
teaches no morals or doctrines, and prescribes no ritual.

The number of Shinto deities is enormous. In its higher form the chief
object of the Shinto faith is to enjoy this life; in its lower forms it
consists in a blind obedience to governmental and priestly dictates.

On the recent accession of the Mikado to his former supreme power, an
attempt was made to restore this ancient faith, but it failed, and Japan
continues as it has been for ten centuries in the Buddhist faith.

The religion of Buddha was introduced into Japan 581 A.D., and has exerted
a most potent influence in forming the Japanese character.

The Protestants of Japanese Buddhism are the followers of Shinran, 1262
A.D., who have wielded a vast influence in the religious development of
the people both for good and evil. In this creed prayer, purity, and
earnestness of life are insisted upon. The Scriptures of other sects are
written in Sanskrit and Chinese which only the learned are able to read,
those of the Shin sect are in the vernacular Japanese idiom. After the
death of Shinran, Rennio, who died in 1500 A.D., produced sacred writings
now daily read by the disciples of this denomination.

Though greatly persecuted, the Shin sect have continually increased in
numbers, wealth, and power, and now lead all in intelligence and
influence. Of late they have organized their theological schools on the
model of foreign countries that their young men may be trained to resist
the Shinto and Christian faiths.

3. THE LITERATURE. INFLUENCE OF WOMEN.--Previous to the fourteenth century
learning in Japan was confined to the court circle. The fourteenth,
fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries are the dark ages when military
domination put a stop to all learning except with, a few priests. With the
seventeenth century begins the modern period of general culture. The
people are all fond of reading, and it is very common to see circulating
libraries carried from house to house on the backs of men.

As early as the tenth century, while the learned affected a pedantic style
so interlarded with Chinese as to be unintelligible, the cultivation of
the native tongue was left to the ladies of the court, a task which they
nobly discharged. It is a remarkable fact, without parallel in the history
of letters, that a very large proportion of the best writings of the best
ages was the work of women, and their achievement in the domain of letters
is one of the anomalies with which Japan has surprised and delighted the
world. It was their genius that made the Japanese a literary language. The
names and works of these authoresses are quoted at the present day.

4. HISTORY.--The earliest extant Japanese record is a work entitled
"Kojiki," or book of ancient traditions. It treats of the creation, the
gods and goddesses of the mythological period, and gives the history of
the Mikados from the accession of Jimmu, year 1 (660 B.C.), to 1288 of the
Japanese year. It was supposed to date from the first half of the eighth
century, and another work "Nihonghi," a little later, also treats of the
mythological period. It abounds in traces of Chinese influence, and in a
measure supersedes the "Kojiki." These are the oldest books in the
language. They are the chief exponents of the Shinto faith, and form the
bases of many commentaries and subsequent works.

The "History of Great Japan," composed in the latter part of the
seventeenth century, by the Lord of Mito (died 1700), is the standard
history of the present day. The external history of Japan, in twenty-two
volumes, by Rai Sanyo (died 1832), composed in classical Chinese, is most
widely read by men of education.

The Japanese are intensely proud of their history and take great care in
making and preserving records. Memorial stones are among the most striking
sights on the highways and in the towns, villages, and temple yards, in
honor of some noted scholar, ruler, or benefactor. Few people are more
thoroughly informed as to their own history. Every city, town, and village
has its annals. Family records are faithfully copied from generation to
generation. Almost every province has its encyclopaedic history, and every
high-road its itineraries and guide-books, in which famous places and
events are noted. In the large cities professional story-tellers and
readers gain a lucrative livelihood by narrating both legendary and
classical history, and the theatre is often the most faithful mirror of
actual history. There are hundreds of child's histories in Japan. Many of
the standard works are profusely illustrated, are models of style and
eloquence, and parents delight to instruct their children in the national
laws and traditions.

5. THE DRAMA.--The theatre is a favorite amusement, especially among the
lower classes; the pieces represented are of a popular character and
written in colloquial language, and generally founded on national history
and tradition, or on the lives and adventures of the heroes and gods; and
the scene is always laid in Japan. The play begins in the morning and
lasts all day, spectators bringing their food with them. No classical
dramatic author is known.

Poetry has always been a favorite study with the Japanese. The most
ancient poetical fragment, called a "Collection of Myriad Leaves," dates
from the eighth century. The collection of "One Hundred Persons" is much
later, and contains many poems written by the emperors themselves. The
Japanese possess no great epic or didactic poems, although some of their
lyrics are happy examples of quaint modes of thought and expression. It is
difficult to translate them into a foreign tongue.

6. GEOGRAPHY. NEWSPAPERS AND NOVELS.--The largest section of Japanese
literature is that treating of the local geography of the country itself.
These works are minute in detail and of great length, describing events
and monuments of historic interest.

Before the recent revolution bat one newspaper existed in Japan, but at
present the list numbers several hundred. Freedom of the press is unknown,
and fines and imprisonment for violation of the stringent laws are very

Novels constitute a large section of Japanese literature. Fairy tales and
story books abound. Many of them are translated into English; "The Royal
Ronans" and other works have recently been published in New York.

Medical science was borrowed from China, but upon this, as upon other
matters, the Japanese improved. Acupuncture, or the introduction of
needles into the living tissues for remedial purposes, was invented by the
Japanese, as was the moxa, or the burning of the flesh for the same

7. POSITION OF WOMAN.--Women in Japan are treated with far more respect
and consideration than elsewhere in the East. According to Japanese
history the women of the early centuries were possessed of more
intellectual and physical vigor, filling the offices of state and
religion, and reaching a high plane of social dignity and honor. Of the
one hundred and twenty-three Japanese sovereigns, nine have been women.
The great heroine of Japanese history and tradition was the Empress Jingu,
renowned for her beauty, piety, intelligence, and martial valor, who,
about 200 A.D., invaded and conquered Corea.

The female children of the lower classes receive tuition in private
schools so generally established during the last two centuries throughout
the country, and those of the higher classes at the hands of private
tutors or governesses; and in every household may be found a great number
of books exclusively on the duties of women.


1. The Language.--2. The Social Constitution of India. Brahmanism.--3.
Characteristics of the Literature and its Divisions.--4. The Vedas and
other Sacred Books.--5. Sanskrit Poetry; Epic; The Ramayana and
Mahabharata. Lyric Poetry. Didactic Poetry; the Hitopadesa. Dramatic
Poetry.--6.. History and Science.--7. Philosophy. 8. Buddhism.--9. Moral
Philosophy. The Code of Manu.--10. Modern Literatures of India.--11.
Education. The Brahmo Somaj.

1. THE LANGUAGE.--Sanskrit is the literary language of the Hindus, and for
two thousand years has served as the means of learned intercourse and
composition. The name denotes _cultivated_ or _perfected_, in distinction
to the Prakrit or _uncultivated_, which sprang from it and was
contemporary with it.

The study of Sanskrit by European scholars dates less than a century back,
and it is important as the vehicle of an immense literature which lays
open the outward and inner life of a remarkable people from a remote epoch
nearly to the present day, and as being the most ancient and original of
the Indo-European languages, throwing light upon them all. The Aryan or
Indo-European race had its ancient home in Central Asia. Colonies migrated
to the west and founded the Persian, Greek, and Roman civilization, and
settled in Spain and England. Other branches found their way through the
passes of the Himalayas and spread themselves over India. Wherever they
went they asserted their superiority over the earlier people whom they
found in possession of the soil, and the history of civilization is
everywhere the history of the Aryan race. The forefathers of the Greek and
Roman, of the Englishman and the Hindu, dwelt together in India, spoke the
same language, and worshiped the same gods. The languages of Europe and
India are merely different forms of the original Aryan speech. This is
especially true of the words of common family life. _Father, mother,
brother, sister_, and _widow_, are substantially the same in most of the
Aryan languages, whether spoken on the banks of the Ganges, the Tiber, or
the Thames. The word _daughter_, which occurs in nearly all of them, is
derived from the Sanskrit word signifying _to draw milk_, and preserves
the memory of the time when the daughter was the little milkmaid in the
primitive Aryan household.

It is probable that as late as the third or fourth century B.C. it was
still spoken. New dialects were engrafted upon it which at length
superseded it, though it has continued to be revered as the sacred and
literary language of the country. Among the modern tongues of India, the
Hindui and the Hindustani may be mentioned; the former, the language of
the pure Hindu population, is written in Sanskrit characters; the latter
is the language of the Mohammedan Hindus, in which Arabic letters are
used. Many of the other dialects spoken and written in Northern India are
derived from the Sanskrit. Of the more important among them there are
English grammars and dictionaries.

2. SOCIAL CONSTITUTION OF INDIA.--Hindu literature takes its character
both from the social and the religious institutions of the country. The
social constitution is based on the distinction of classes into which the
people, from the earliest times, have been divided, and which were the
natural effect of the long struggle between the aboriginal tribes and the
new race which had invaded India. These castes are four: 1st. The Brahmins
or priests; 2d. The warriors and princes; 3d. The husbandmen; 4th. The
laborers. There are, besides, several impure classes, the result of an
intermingling of the different castes. Of these lower classes some are
considered utterly abominable--as that of the Pariahs. The different
castes are kept distinct from each other by the most rigorous laws; though
in modern times the system has been somewhat modified.


In the period of the Vedas the religion of the Hindus was founded on the
simple worship of Nature. But the Pantheism of this age was gradually
superseded by the worship of the one Brahm, from which, according to this
belief, the soul emanated, and to which it seeks to return. Brahm is an
impersonality, the sum of all nature, the germ of all that is. Existence
has no purpose, the world is wholly evil, and all good persons should
desire to be taken out of it and to return to Brahm. This end is to be
attained only by transmigration of the soul through all previous stages of
life, migrating into the body of a higher or lower being according to the
sins or merits of its former existence, either to finish or begin anew its
purification. This religion of the Hindus led to the growth of a
philosophy the precursor of that of Greece, whose aims were loftier and
whose methods more ingenious.

From Brahm, the impersonal soul of the universe, emanated the personal and
active Brahma, who with Siva and Vishnu constitute the Trimurti or god
under three forms.

Siva is the second of the Hindu deities, and represents the primitive
animating and destroying forces of nature. His symbols relate to these
powers, and are worshiped more especially by the Sivaites--a numerous sect
of this religion. The worshipers of Vishnu, called the Preserver, the
first-born of Brahma, constitute the most extensive sect of India, and
their ideas relating to this form of the Divinity are represented by
tradition and poetry, and are particularly developed in the great
monuments of Sanskrit literature. The myths connected with Vishnu refer
especially to his incarnations or corporeal apparitions both in men and
animals, which he submits to in order to conquer the spirit of evil.

These incarnations are called Avatars, or descendings, and form an
important part of Hindu epic poetry. Of the ten Avatars which are
attributed to Vishnu, nine have already taken place; the last is yet to
come, when the god shall descend again from heaven, to destroy the present
world, and to restore peace and parity. The three forms of the Deity,
emanating mutually from each other, are expressed by the three symbols, A
U M, three letters in Sanskrit having but one sound, forming the mystical
name _Om_, which never escapes the lips of the Hindus, but is meditated on
in silence. The predominant worship of one or the other of these forms
constitutes the peculiarities of the numerous sects of this religion.

There are other inferior divinities, symbols of the forces of nature,
guardians of the world, demi-gods, demons, and heroes, whose worship,
however, is considered as a mode of reaching that divine rest, immersion
and absorption in Brahm. To this end are directed the sacrifices, the
prayers, the ablutions, the pilgrimages, and the penances, which occupy so
large a place in the Hindu worship.

the Sanskrit literature, which counts its works by thousands, still
remains in manuscript. It was nearly all composed in metre, even works of
law, morality, and science. Every department of knowledge and every branch
of inquiry is represented, with the single exception of history, and this
forms the most striking general characteristic of the literature, and one
which robs it of a great share of worth and interest. Its place is in the
intellectual rather than in the political history of the world.

The literary monuments of the Sanskrit language correspond to the great
eras in the history of India. The first period reaches back to that remote
age, when those tribes of the Aryan race speaking Sanskrit emigrated to
the northwestern portion of the Indian Peninsula, and established
themselves there, an agricultural and pastoral people. That was the age in
which were composed the prayers, hymns, and precepts afterwards collected
in the form of the Vedas, the sacred books of the country. In the second
period, the people, incited by the desire of conquest, penetrated into the
fertile valleys lying between the Indus and the Ganges; and the struggle
with the aboriginal inhabitants, which followed their invasion, gave birth
to epic poetry, in which the wars of the different races were celebrated
and the extension of Hindu civilization related. The third period embraces
the successive ages of the formation and development of a learned and
artistic literature. It contains collections of the ancient traditions,
expositions of the Vedas, works on grammar, lexicography, and science; and
its conclusion forms the golden age of Sanskrit literature, when, the
country being ruled by liberal princes, poetry, and especially the drama,
reached its highest degree of perfection.

The chronology of these periods varies according to the systems of
different orientalists. It is, however, admitted that the Vedas are the
first literary productions of India, and that their origin cannot be later
than the fifteenth century B.C. The period of the Vedas embraces the other
sacred books, or commentaries founded upon them, though written several
centuries afterwards. The second period, to which belong the two great
epic poems, the "Ramayana" and the "Mahabharata," according to the best
authorities ends with the sixth or seventh century B.C. The third period
embraces all the poetical and scientific works written from that time to
the third or fourth century B.C., when the language, having been
progressively refined, became fixed in the writings of Kalidasa, Jayadeva,
and other poets. A fourth period, including the tenth century A.D., may be
added, distinguished by its erudition, grammatical, rhetorical, and
scientific disquisitions, which, however, is not considered as belonging
to the classical age. From the Hindu languages, originating in the
Sanskrit, new literatures have sprung; but they are essentially founded on
the ancient literature, which far surpasses them in extent and importance,
and is the great model of them all. Indeed, its influence has not been
limited to India; all the poetical and scientific works of Asia, China,
and Japan included, have borrowed largely from it, and in Southern Russia
the scanty literature of the Kalmucks is derived entirely from Hindu
sources. The Sanskrit literature, known to Europe only recently, through
the researches of the English and German orientalists, has now become the
auxiliary and foundation of all philological studies.

4. THE VEDAS AND OTHER SACRED BOOKS.--The Vedas (knowledge or science) are
the Bible of the Hindus, the most ancient book of the Aryan family, and
contain the revelation of Brahm which was preserved by tradition and
collected by Vyasa, a name which means compiler. The word Veda, however,
should be taken, as a collective name for the sacred literature of the
Vedic age which forms the background of the whole Indian world. Many works
belonging to that age are lost, though a large number still exists.

The most important of the Vedas are three in number. First, The "Rig-
Veda," which is the great literary memorial of the settlement of the
Aryans in the Punjaub, and of their religious hymns and songs. Second, The
"Yajur-Veda." Third, The "Sama-Veda."

Each Veda divided into two parts: the first contains prayers and
invocations, most of which are of a rhythmical character; the second
records the precepts relative to those prayers and to the ceremonies of
the sacrifices, and describes the religious myths and symbols.

There are many commentaries on the Vedas of an ancient date, which are
considered as sacred books, and relate to medicine, music, astronomy,
astrology, grammar, philosophy, jurisprudence, and, indeed, to the whole
circle of Hindu science.

They represent a period of unknown antiquity, when the Aryans were divided
into tribes of which the chieftain was the father and priest, and when
women held a high position. Some of the most beautiful hymns of this age
were composed by ladies and queens. The morals of Avyan, a woman of an
early age, are still taught in the Hindu schools as the golden rule of

India to-day acknowledges no higher authority in matters of religion,
ceremonial, customs, and law than the Vedas, and the spirit of Vedantism,
which is breathed by every Hindu from his earliest youth, pervades the
prayers of the idolater, the speculations of the philosopher, and the
proverbs of the beggar.

The "Puranas" (ancient writings) hold an eminent rank in the religion and
literature of the Hindus. Though of a more recent date than the Vedas,
they possess the credit of an ancient and divine origin, and exercise an
extensive and practical influence upon the people. They comprise vast
collections of ancient traditions relating to theology, cosmology, and to
the genealogy of gods and heroes. There are eighteen acknowledged Puranas,
which altogether contain 400,000 stanzas. The "Upapuranas," also eighteen
in number, are commentaries on the Puranas. Finally, to the sacred books,
and next to the Vedas both in antiquity and authority, belong the
"Manavadharmasastra," or the ordinances of Manu, spoken of hereafter.

5. SANSKRIT POETRY.--This poetry, springing from the lively and powerful
imagination of the Hindus, is inspired by their religious doctrines, and
embodied in the most harmonious language. Exalted by their peculiar belief
in pantheism and metempsychosis, they consider the universe and themselves
as directly emanating from Brahm, and they strive to lose their own
individuality, in its infinite essence. Yet, as impure beings, they feel
their incapacity to obtain the highest moral perfection, except through a
continual atonement, to which all nature is condemned. Hence Hindu poetry
expresses a profound melancholy, which pervades the character as well as
the literature of that people. This poetry breathes a spirit of perpetual
sacrifice of the individual self, as the ideal of human life. The bards of
India, inspired by this predominant feeling, have given to poetry nearly
every form it has assumed in the Western world, and in each and all they
have excelled.

Sanskrit poetry is both metrical and rhythmical, equally free from the
confused strains of unmoulded genius and from the servile pedantry of
conventional rules. The verse of eight syllables is the source of all
other metres, and the _sloka_ or double distich is the stanza most
frequently used. Though this poetry presents too often extravagance of
ideas, incumbrance of episodes, and monstrosity of images, as a general
rule it is endowed with simplicity of style, pure coloring, sublime ideas,
rare figures, and chaste epithets. Its exuberance must be attributed to
the strange mythology of the Hindus, to the immensity of the fables which
constitute the groundwork of their poems, and to the gigantic strength of
their poetical imaginations. A striking peculiarity of Sanskrit poetry is
its extensive use in treating of those subjects apparently the most
difficult to reduce to a metrical form--not only the Vedas and Manu's code
are composed in verse, but the sciences are expressed in this form. Even
in the few works which may be called prose, the style is so modulated and
bears so great a resemblance to the language of poetry as scarcely to be
distinguished from it. The history of Sanskrit poetry is, in reality, the
history of Sanskrit literature.

The subjects of the epic poems of the Hindus are derived chiefly from
their religious tenets, and relate to the incarnations of the gods, who,
in their human forms, become the heroes of this poetry. The idea of an
Almighty power warring against the spirit of evil destroys the possibility
of struggle, and impairs the character of epic poetry; but the Hindu
poets, by submitting their gods both to fate and to the condition of men,
diminish their power and give them the character of epic heroes.

The Hindu mythology, however, is the great obstacle which must ever
prevent this poetry from becoming popular in the Western world. The great
personifications of the Deity have not been softened down, as in the
mythology of the Greeks, to the perfection of human symmetry, but are here
exhibited in their original gigantic forms. Majesty is often expressed by
enormous stature; power, by multitudinous hands; providence, by countless
eyes; and omnipresence, by innumerable bodies.

In addition to this, Hindu epic poetry departs so far from what may be
called the vernacular idiom of thought and feeling, and refers to a people
whose political and religious institutions, as well as moral habits, are
so much at variance with our own, that no labor or skill could render its
associations familiar.

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the most important and sublime
creations of Hindu literature, and the most colossal epic poems to be
found in the literature of the world. They surpass in magnitude the Iliad
and Odyssey, the Jerusalem Delivered and the Lusiad, as the pyramids of
Egypt tower above the temples of Greece.

The Ramayana (_Rama_ and _yana_, expedition) describes the exploits of
Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, and the son of Dasaratha, king of Oude.
Ravana, the prince of demons, bad stolen from the gods the privilege of
being invulnerable, and had thus acquired an equality with them. He could
not be overcome except by a man, and the gods implored Vishnu to become
incarnate in order that Ravana might be conquered. The origin and the
development of this Avatar, the departing of Rama for the battlefield, the
divine signs of his mission, his love and marriage with Sita, the daughter
of the king Janaka, the persecution of his step-mother, by which the hero
is sent into exile, his penance in the desert, the abduction of his bride
by Ravana, the gigantic battles that ensue, the rescue of Sita, and the
triumph of Rama constitute the principal plot of this wonderful poem, full
of incidents and episodes of the most singular and beautiful character.
Among these may be mentioned the descent of the goddess Ganga, which
relates to the mythological origin of the river Ganges, and the story of
Yajnadatta, a young penitent, who through mistake was killed by Dasaratha;
the former splendid for its rich imagery, the latter incomparable for its
elegiac character, and for its expression of the passionate sorrow of
parental affection.

The Ramayana was written by Valmiki, a poet belonging to an unknown
period. It consists of seven cantos, and contains twenty-five thousand
verses. The original, with its translation into Italian, was published in
Paris by the government of Sardinia about the middle of this century.

The Mahabharata (the great Bharata) has nearly the same antiquity as the
Ramayana. It describes the greatest Avatar of Vishnu, the incarnation of
the god in Krishna, and it presents a vast picture of the Hindu religion.
It relates to the legendary history of the Bharata dynasty, especially to
the wars between the Pandus and Kurus, two branches of a princely family
of ancient India. Five sons of Pandu, having been unjustly exiled by their
uncle, return, after many wonderful adventures, with a powerful army to
oppose the Kurus, and being aided by Krishna, the incarnated Vishnu,
defeat their enemies and become lords of all the country. The poem
describes the birth of Krishna, his escape from the dangers which
surrounded his cradle, his miracles, his pastoral life, his rescue of
sixteen thousand young girls who had become prisoners of a giant, his
heroic deeds in the war of the Pandus, and finally his ascent to heaven,
where he still leads the round dances of the spheres. This work is not
more remarkable for the grandeur of its conceptions than for the
information it affords respecting the social and religious systems of the
ancient Hindus, which are here revealed with majestic and sublime
eloquence. Five of its most esteemed episodes are called the Five Precious
Stones. First among these may be mentioned the "Bhagavad-Gita," or the
Divine Song, containing the revelation of Krishna, in the form of a
dialogue between the god and his pupil Arjuna. Schlegel calls this episode
the most beautiful, and perhaps the most truly philosophical, poem that
the whole range of literature has produced.

The Mahabharata is divided into eighteen cantos, and it contains two
hundred thousand verses. It is attributed to Vyasa, the compiler of the
Vedas, but it appears that it was the result of a period of literature
rather than the work of a single poet. Its different incidents and
episodes were probably separate poems, which from the earliest age were
sung by the people, and later, by degrees, collected in one complete work.
Of the Mahabharata we possess only a few episodes translated into English,
such as the Bhagavad-Gita, by Wilkins.

At a later period other epic poems were written, either as abridgments of
the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, or founded on episodes contained in
them. These, however, belong to a lower order of composition, and cannot
be compared with the great works of Valmiki and Vyasa.

In the development of lyric poetry the Hindu bards, particularly those of
the third period, have been eminently successful; their power is great in
the sublime and the pathetic, and manifests itself more particularly in
awakening the tender sympathies of our nature. Here we find many poems
full of grace and delicacy, and splendid for their charming descriptions
of nature. Such are the "Meghaduta" and the "Ritusanhara" of Kalidasa, the
"Madhava and Radha" of Jayadeva, and especially the "Gita-Govinda" of the
same poet, or the adventures of Krishna as a shepherd, a poem in which the
soft languors of love are depicted in enchanting colors, and which is
adorned with all the magnificence of language and sentiment.

Hindu poetry has a particular tendency to the didactic style and to embody
religious and historical knowledge; every subject is treated in the form
of verse, such as inscriptions, deeds, and dictionaries. Splendid examples
of didactic poetry may be found in the episodes of the epic poems, and
more particularly in the collections of fables and apologues in which the
Sanskrit literature abounds. Among these the Hitopadesa is the most
celebrated, in which Vishnu-saima instructs the sons of a king committed
to his care. Perhaps there is no book, except the Bible, which has been
translated into so many languages as these fables. They have spread in two
branches over nearly the whole civilized world. The one, under the
original name of the Hitopadesa, remains almost confined to India, while
the other, under the title of "Calila and Dimna," has become famous over
all western Asia and in all the countries of Europe, and has served as the
model of the fables of all languages. To this department belong also the
"Adventures of the Ten Princes," by Dandin, which, in an artistic point of
view, is far superior to any other didactic writings of Hindu literature.

The drama is the most interesting branch of Hindu literature. No other
ancient people, except the Greeks, has brought forth anything so admirable
in this department. It had its most flourishing period probably in the
third or fourth century B.C. Its origin is attributed to Brahm, and its
subjects are selected from the mythology. Whether the drama represents the
legends of the gods, or the simple circumstances of ordinary life; whether
it describes allegorical or historical subjects, it bears always the same
character of its origin and of its tendency. Simplicity of plot, unity of
episodes, and purity of language, unite in the formation of the Hindu
dramas. Prose and verse, the serious and the comic, pantomime and music
are intermingled in their representations. Only the principal characters,
the gods, the Brahmins, and the kings, speak Sanskrit; women and the less
important characters speak Prakrit, more or less refined according to
their rank. Whatever may offend propriety, whatever may produce an
unwholesome excitement, is excluded; for the hilarity of the audience,
there is an occasional introduction on the stage of a parasite or a
buffoon. The representation is usually opened by an apologue and always
concluded with a prayer.

Kalidasa, the Hindu Shakespeare, has been called by his countrymen the
Bridegroom of Poetry. His language is harmonious and elevated, and in his
compositions he unites grace and tenderness with grandeur and sublimity.
Many of his dramas contain episodes selected from the epic poems, and are
founded on the principles of Brahmanism. The "Messenger Cloud" of this
author, a monologue rather than a drama, is unsurpassed in beauty of
sentiment by any European poet. "Sakuntala," or the Fatal Ring, is
considered one of the best dramas of Kalidasa. It has been translated into
English by Sir W. Jones.

Bhavabhuti, a Brahmin by birth, was called by his contemporaries the Sweet
Speaking. He was the author of many dramas of distinguished merit, which
rank next to those of Kalidasa.

6. HISTORY AND SCIENCE.--History, considered as the development of mankind
in relation to its ideal, is unknown to Sanskrit literature. Indeed, the
only historical work thus far discovered is the "History of Cashmere," a
series of poetical compositions, written by different authors at different
periods, the last of which brings down the annals to the sixteenth century
A.D., when Cashmere became a province of the Mogul empire.

In the scientific department, the works on Sanskrit grammar and
lexicography are models of logical and analytical research. There are also
valuable works on jurisprudence, on rhetoric, poetry, music, and other
arts. The Hindu system of decimal notation made its way through the Arabs
to modern nations, our usual figures being, in their origin, letters of
the Sanskrit alphabet. Their medical and surgical knowledge is deserving
of study.

7. PHILOSOPHY.--The object of Hindu philosophy consists in obtaining
emancipation from metempsychosis, through the absorption of the soul into
Brahm, or the universal being. According to the different principles which
philosophers adopt in attaining this supreme object, their doctrines are
divided into the four following systems: 1st, Sensualism; 2d, Idealism;
3d, Mysticism; 4th, Eclecticism.

Sensualism is represented in the school of Kapila, according to whose
doctrine the purification of the soul must be effected through knowledge,
the only source of which lies in sensual perception. In this system,
nature, eternal and universal, is considered as the first cause, which
produces intelligence and all the other principles of knowledge and
existence. This philosophy of nature leads some of its followers to seek
their purification in the sensual pleasures of this life, and in the loss
of their own individuality in nature itself, in which they strive to be
absorbed. Materialism, fatalism, and atheism are the natural consequences
of the system of Kapila.

Idealism is the foundation of three philosophical schools: the Dialectic,
the Atomic, and the Vedanta. The Dialectic school considers the principles
of knowledge as entirely distinct from nature; it admits the existence of
universal ideas in the human mind; it establishes the syllogistic form as
the complete method of reasoning, and finally, it holds as fundamental the
duality of intelligence and nature. In this theory, the soul is considered
as distinct from Brahm and also from the body. Man can approach Brahm, can
unite himself to the universal soul, but can never lose his own

The Atomic doctrine explains the origin of the world through the
combination of eternal, simple atoms. It belongs to Idealism, for the
predominance which it gives to ideas over sensation, and for the
individuality and consciousness which it recognizes in man.

The Vedanta is the true ideal pantheistic philosophy of India. It
considers Brahm in two different states: first, as a pure, simple,
abstract, and inert essence; secondly, as an active individuality. Nature
in this system is only a special quality or quantity of Brahm, having no
actual reality, and he who turns away from ail that is unreal and
changeable and contemplates Brahm unceasingly, becomes one with it, and
attains liberation.

Mysticism comprehends all doctrines which deny authority to reason, and
admit no other principles of knowledge or rule of life than supernatural
or direct revelation. To this system belong the doctrines of Patanjali,
which teach that man must emancipate himself from metempsychosis through
contemplation and ecstasy to be attained by the calm of the senses, by
corporeal penance, suspension of breath, and immobility of position. The
followers of this school pass their lives in solitude, absorbed in this
mystic contemplation. The forests, the deserts, and the environs of the
temples are filled with these mystics, who, thus separated from external
life, believe themselves the subjects of supernatural illumination and
power. The Bhagavad-Gita, already spoken of, is the best exposition of
this doctrine.

The Eclectic school comprises all theories which deny the authority of the
Vedas, and admit rational principles borrowed both from sensualism and
idealism. Among these doctrines Buddhism is the principal.

8. BUDDHISM.--Buddhism is so called from Buddha, a name meaning deified
teacher, which was given to Sakyamuni, or Saint Sakya, a reformer of
Brahmanism, who introduced into the Hindu religion a more simple creed,
and a milder and more humane code of morality. The date of the origin of
this reform is uncertain. It is probably not earlier than the sixth
century B.C. Buddhism, essentially a proselyting religion, spread over
Central Asia and through the island of Ceylon. Its followers in India
being persecuted and expelled from the country, penetrated into Thibet,
and pushing forward into the wilderness of the Kalmucks and Mongols,
entered China and Japan, where they introduced their warship under the
name of the religion of Fo. Buddhism is more extensively diffused than any
other form of religion in the world. Though it has never extended beyond
the limits of Asia, its followers number over four hundred millions.

As a philosophical school, Buddhism partakes both of sensualism and
idealism; it admits sensual perception as the source of knowledge, but it
grants to nature only an apparent existence. On this universal illusion,
Buddhism founded a gigantic system of cosmogony, establishing an infinity
of degrees in the scale of existences from that of pure being without form
or quality to the lowest emanations. According to Buddha, the object of
philosophy, as well as of religion, is the deliverance of the soul from
metempsychosis, and therefore from all pain and illusion. He teaches that
to break the endless rotation of transmigration the soul must be prevented
from being born again, by purifying it even from the desire of existence.
He denied the authority of the Vedas, and abolished or ignored the
division of the people into castes, admitting whoever desired it to the
priesthood. Notwithstanding the doctrine of metempsychosis, and the belief
that life is only an endless round of birth and death, sin and suffering,
the most sacred Buddhistic books teach a pure and elevated morality, and
that the highest happiness is only to be reached through self-abnegation,
universal benevolence, humility, patience, courage, self-knowledge, and
contemplation. Much has been added to the original doctrines of Buddha in
the way of mythology, sacrifices, penances, mysticism, and hierarchy.

Buddhism possesses a literature of its own; its language and style are
simple and intelligible to the common people, to whom it is particularly
addressed. For this reason the priests of this religion prefer to write in
the dialects used by the people, and indeed some of their principal works
are written in Prakrit or in Pali. Among these are many legends, and
chronicles, and books on theology and jurisprudence. The literary men of
Buddhism are generally the priests, who receive different names in
different countries. A complete collection of the sacred books of Buddhism
forms a theological body of one hundred and eight volumes.

9. MORAL PHILOSOPHY.--The moral philosophy of India is contained in the
Sacred Book of Manavadharmasastra, or Code of Manu. This embraces a
poetical account of Brahma and other gods, of the origin of the world and
man, and of the duties arising from the relation of man towards Brahma and
towards his fellow-men. Whether regarded for its great antiquity and
classic beauty, or for its importance as being considered of divine
revelation by the Hindu people, this Code must ever claim the attention of
those who devote themselves to the study of the Sanskrit literature.
Though inferior to the Vedas in antiquity, it is held to be equally
sacred; and being more closely connected with the business of life, it has
done so much towards moulding the opinions of the Hindus that it would be
impossible to comprehend the literature or local usages of India without
being master of its contents.

It is believed by the Hindus that Brahma taught his laws to Manu in one
hundred thousand verses, and that they were afterwards abridged for the
use of mankind to four thousand. It is most probable that the work
attributed to Manu is a collection made from various sources and at
different periods.

Among the duties prescribed by the laws of Manu man is enjoined to exert a
full dominion over his senses, to study sacred science, to keep his heart
pure, without which sacrifices are useless, to speak only when necessity
requires, and to despise worldly honors. His principal duties toward his
neighbor are to honor old age, to respect parents, the mother more than a
thousand fathers, and the Brahmins more than father or mother, to injure
no one, even in wish. Woman is taught that she cannot aspire to freedom, a
girl is to depend on her father, a wife on her husband, and a widow on her
son. The law forbids her to marry a second time.

The Code of Manu is divided into twelve books or chapters, in which are
treated separately the subjects of creation, education, marriage, domestic
economy, the art of living, penal and civil laws, of punishments and
atonements, of transmigration, and of the final blessed state. These
ordinances or institutes contain much to be admired and much to be
condemned. They form a system of despotism and priestcraft, both limited
by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, though with mutual
checks. A spirit of sublime elevation and amiable benevolence pervades the
whole work, sufficient to prove the author to have adored not the visible
sun, but the incomparably greater light, according to the Vedas, which
illuminates all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must
return, and which alone can irradiate our souls.

10. MODERN LITERATURES OF INDIA.--The literature of the modern tongues of
the Hindus consists chiefly of imitations and translations from the
Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and from European languages. There is, however,
an original epic poem, written in Hindui by Tshand, under the title of the
"Adventures of Prithivi Raja," which is second only to the great Sanskrit
poems. This work, which relates to the twelfth century A.D., describes the
struggle of the Hindus against their Mohammedan conquerors. The poem of
"Ramayana," by Tulsi-Das, and that of the "Ocean of Love," are extremely
popular in India. The modern dialects contain many religious and national
songs of exquisite beauty and delicacy. Among the poets of India, who have
written in these dialects, Sauday, Mir-Mohammed Taqui, Wali, and Azad are
the principal.

The Hindi, which dates from the eleventh century A.D., is one of the
languages of Aryan stock still spoken in Northern India. One of its
principal dialects is the Hindustani, which is employed in the literature
of the northern country. Its two divisions are the Hindi and Urdu, which
represent the popular side of the national culture, and are almost
exclusively used at the present day; the first chiefly by writers not
belonging to the Brahminical order, while those of the Urdu dialect follow
Persian models. The writings in each, though numerous, and not without
pretension, have little interest for the European reader.

11. EDUCATION IN INDIA.--For the education of the Brahmins and of the
higher classes, there was founded, in 1792, a Sanskrit College at Benares,
the Hindu capital. The course of instruction embraces Persian, English,
and Hindu law, and general literature. In 1854 universities were
established at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay. Of late public instruction
has become a department of the government, and schools and colleges for
higher instruction have been established in various parts of the country,
and books and newspapers in English and in the vernacular are everywhere
increasing. As far back as 1824 the American and English missionaries were
the pioneers of female education. The recent report of the Indian
Commission of Education deals particularly with this question, and
attributes the wide difference between the extent of male and female
acquirements to no inferiority in the mental capacities of women; on the
contrary, they find their intellectual activity very keen, and often
outlasting the mental energies of men. According to the traditions of
pre-historic times, women occupied a high place in the early civilization
of India, and their capacity to govern is shown by the fact, that at the
present day one of the best administered States has been ruled by native
ladies during two generations, and that the most ably managed of the great
landed properties are entirely in the hands of women. The chief causes
which retard their education are to be found in the social customs of the
country, the seclusion in which women live, the appropriation of the
educational fund to the schools for boys, and the need of trained

Notwithstanding all these disadvantages, the first Asiatic writer in the
languages of the West who has made a literary fame in Europe is a young
Hindu girl, Tora Dutt (1856-1877), whose writings in prose and verse in
English, as well as in French, have called forth admiration and
astonishment from the critics, and a sincere lament for her early death.

12. THE BRAMO-SOMAJ.--In 1830, under this name (Worshiping Assembly),
Rammohun Roy founded a religious society in India, of which, after him,
Keshub Chunder Sen (died 1884) was the most eminent member. Their aim is
to establish a new religion for India and the world, founded on a belief
in one God, which shall be freed from all the errors and corruptions of
the past. They propose many important reforms, such as the abolition of
caste, the remodeling of marriage customs, the emancipation and education
of women, the abolition of infanticide and the worship of ancestors, and a
general moral regeneration. Their chief aid to spiritual growth may be
summed up in four words, self-culture, meditation, personal purity, and
universal beneficence. Their influence has been already felt in the
legislative affairs of India.


1. The Accadians and Babylonians.--2. The Cuneiform Letters.--3.
Babylonian and Assyrian Remains.

1. ACCADIANS AND BABYLONIANS.--Geographically, as well as historically and
ethnographically, the district lying between the Tigris and Euphrates
forms but one country, though the rival kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia
became, each in turn, superior to the other. The primitive inhabitants of
this district were called Accadians, or Chaldeans, but little or nothing
was known of them until within the last fifteen or twenty years. Their
language was agglutinative, and they were the inventors of the cuneiform
system of writing. The Babylonians conquered this people, borrowed their
signs, and incorporated their literature. Soon after their conquest by the
Babylonians, they established priestly caste in the state and assumed the
worship, laws, and manners of their conquerors. They were devoted to the
science of the stars, and determined the equinoctial and solstitial
points, divided the ecliptic into twelve parts and the day into hours. The
signs, names, and figures of the Zodiac, and the invention of the dial are
some of the improvements in astronomy attributed to this people. With the
decline of Babylon their influence declined, and they were afterwards
known to the Greeks and Romans only as astrologers, magicians, and

2. THE CUNEIFORM LETTERS.--These characters, borrowed by the Semitic
conquerors of the Accadians, the Babylonians, and Assyrians, were
originally hieroglyphics, each denoting an object or an idea, but they
were gradually corrupted into the forms we see on Assyrian monuments. They
underwent many changes, and the various periods are distinguished as
Archaic, hieratic, Assyrian, and later Babylonian.

3. BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN REMAINS.--The origin and history of this
civilization have only been made known to us by the very recent
decipherment of native monuments. Before these discoveries the principal
source of information was found in the writings of Borosus, a priest of
Babylon, who lived about 300 B.C., and who translated the records of
astronomy into Greek. Though his works have perished, we have quotations
from them in Eusebius and other writers, which have been strikingly
verified by the inscriptions. The chief work on astronomy, compiled for
Sargon, one of the earliest Babylonian monarchs, is inscribed on seventy
tablets, a copy of which is in the British Museum. The Babylonians
understood the movements of the heavenly bodies, and Calisthenes, who
accompanied Alexander on his eastern expedition, brought with him on his
return the observations of 1903 years. The main purpose of all Babylonian
astronomical observation, however, was astrological, to cast horoscopes,
or to predict the weather. Babylon retained for a long time its ancient
splendor after the conquest by Cyrus and the final fall of the empire, and
in the first period of the Macedonian sway. But soon after that time its
fame was extinguished, and its monuments, arts, and sciences perished.

Assyria was a land of soldiers and possessed little native literature. The
more peaceful pursuits had their home in Babylonia, where the universities
of Erech and Borsippa were renowned down to classical times. The larger
part of this literature was stamped in clay tablets and baked, and these
were numbered and arranged in order. Papyrus was also used, but none of
this fragile material has been preserved.

In the reign of Sardanapalus (660-647 B.C.) Assyrian art and literature
reached their highest point. In the ruins of his palace have been found
three chambers the floors of which were covered a foot deep with tablets
of all sizes, from an inch to nine inches long, bearing inscriptions many
of them so minute as to be read only by the aid of a magnifying glass.
Though broken they have been partially restored and are among the most
precious cuneiform inscriptions. They have only been deciphered within the
present century, and thousands of inscriptions are yet buried among the
ruins of Assyria. The most interesting of these remains yet discovered are
the hymns to the gods, some of which strikingly resemble the Hebrew
Psalms. Of older date is the collection of formulas which consists of
omens and hymns and tablets relating to astronomy. Later than the hymns
are the mythological poems, two of which are preserved intact. They are
"The Deluge" and "The Descent of Istar into Hades." They form part of a
very remarkable epic which centred round the adventures of a solar hero,
and into which older and independent lays were woven as episodes. Copies
are preserved in the British Museum. The literature on the subject of
these remains is very extensive and rapidly increasing.


The Language.--The Remains.

The Phoenician language bore a strong affinity to the Hebrew, through
which alone the inscriptions on coins and monuments can be interpreted,
and these constitute the entire literary remains, though the Phoenicians
had doubtless their archives and written laws. The inscriptions engraved
on stone or metal are found chiefly in places once colonies, remote from
Phoenicia itself. The Phoenician alphabet forms the basis of the Semitic
and Indo-European graphic systems, and was itself doubtless based on the
Egyptian hieratic writing. Sanchuniathon is the name given as that of the
author of a history of Phoenicia which was translated into Greek and
published by Philo, a grammarian of the second century A.D. A considerable
fragment of this work is preserved in Eusebius, but after much learned
controversy it is now believed that it was the work of Philo himself.


The Language.--Influence of the Literature In the Eighth and Ninth

THE LANGUAGE.--The Aramaic language, early spoken in Syria and
Mesopotamia, is a branch of the Semitic, and of this tongue the Chaldaic
and Syriac were dialects. Chaldaic is supposed to be the language of
Babylonia at the time of the captivity, and the earliest remains are a
part of the Books of Daniel and Ezra, and the paraphrases or free
translations of the Old Testament. The Hebrews having learned this
language during the Babylonian exile, it continued in use for some time
after their return, though the Hebrew remained the written and sacred
tongue. Gradually, however, it lost this prerogative, and in the second
century A.D. the Chaldaic was the only spoken language of Palestine. It is
still used by the Nestorians and Maronites in their religious services and
in their literary works. The spoken language of Syria has undergone many
changes corresponding to the political changes of the country.

The most prominent Syriac author is St. Ephraem, or Ephraem Syrus (350
A.D.), with whom begins the best period of Syriac literature, which
continued until the ninth century. A great part of this literature has
been lost, and what remains is only partially accessible. Its principal
work was in the eighth and ninth centuries in introducing classical
learning to the knowledge of the Arabs. In the seventh century, Jacob of
Edessa gave the classical and sacred dialect its final form, and from this
time the series of native grammarians and lexicographers continued
unbroken to the time of its decline. The study of Syriac was introduced
into Europe in the fifteenth century. Valuable collections of MSS., in
this language, are to be found in the British Museum, and grammars and
dictionaries have been published in Germany and in New York.


1. The Persian language and its Divisions.--2. Zendic Literature; The
Zendavesta.--3. Pehlvi and Parsee Literatures.--4. The Ancient Religion of
Persia; Zoroaster.--5. Modern Literature.--6. The Sufis.--7. Persian
Poetry.--8. Persian Poets; Ferdasi; Essedi of Tus; Togray, etc.--9.
History and Philosophy.--10. Education in Persia.

1. THE PERSIAN LANGUAGE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--The Persian language and its
varieties, as far as they are known, belong to the great Indo-European
family, and this common origin explains the affinities that exist between
them and those of the ancient and modern languages of Europe. During
successive ages, four idioms have prevailed in Persia, and Persian
literature may be divided into four corresponding periods.

First. The period of the Zend (living), the most ancient of the Persian
languages; it was from a remote, unknown age spoken in Media, Bactria, and
in the northern part of Persia. This language partakes of the character
both of the Sanskrit and of the Chaldaic. It is written from right to
left, and it possesses, in its grammatical construction and its radical
words, many elements in common with the Sanskrit and the German languages.

Second. The period of the Pehlvi, or language of heroes, anciently spoken
in the western part of the country. Its alphabet is closely allied with
the Zendic, to which it bears a great resemblance. It attained a high
degree of perfection under the Parthian kings, 246 B.C. to 229 A.D.

Third. The period of the Parsee or the dialect of the southwestern part of
the country. It reached its perfection under the dynasty of the
Sassanides, 229-636 A.D. It has great analogy with the Zend, Pehlvi, and
Sanskrit, and is endowed with peculiar grace and sweetness.

Fourth. The period of the modern Persian. After the conquest of Persia,
and the introduction of the Mohammedan faith in the seventh century A.D.,
the ancient Parsee language became greatly modified by the Arabic. It
adopted its alphabet, adding to it, however, four letters and three
points, and borrowed from it not only words but whole phrases, and thus
from the union of the Parsee and the Arabic was formed the modern Persian.
Of its various dialects, the Deri is the language of the court and of

2. ZENDIC LITERATURE.--To the first period belong the ancient sacred books
of Persia, collected under the name of _Zendavesta_ (living word), which
contain the doctrines of Zoroaster, the prophet and lawgiver of ancient
Persia. The Zendavesta is divided into two parts, one written in Zend, the
other in Pehlvi; it contains traditions relating to the primitive
condition and colonization of Persia, moral precepts, theological dogmas,
prayers, and astronomical observations. The collection originally
consisted of twenty-one chapters or treatises, of which only three have
been preserved. Besides the Zendavesta there are two other sacred books,
one containing prayers and hymns, and the other prayers to the Genii who
preside over the days of the month. To this first period some writers
refer the fables of Lokman, who is supposed to have lived in the tenth
century B.C., and to have been a slave of Ethiopic origin; his apologues
have been considered the model on which Greek fable was constructed. The
work of Lokman, however, existing now only in the Arabic language, is
believed by other writers to be of Arabic origin. It has been translated
into the European languages, and is still read in the Persian schools.
Among the Zendic books preserved in Arabic translations may also be
mentioned the "Giavidan Kird," or the Eternal Reason, the work of Hushang,
an ancient priest of Persia, a book full of beautiful and sublime maxims.

3. PEHLVI AHD PARSEE LITERATURES.--The second period of Persian literature
includes all the books written in Pehlvic, and especially all the
translations and paraphrases of the works of the first period. There are
also in this language a manual of the religion of Zoroaster, dictionaries
of Pehlvi explained by the Parsee, inscriptions, and legends.

When the seat of the Persian empire was transferred to the southern states
under the Sassanides, the Pehlvi gave way to the Parsee, which became the
prevailing language of Persia in the third period of its literature. The
sacred books were translated into this tongue, in which many records,
annals, and treatises on astronomy and medicine were also written. But all
these monuments of Persian literature were destroyed by the conquest of
Alexander the Great, and by the fury of the Mongols and Arabs. This
language, however, has been immortalized by Ferdusi, whose poems contain
little of that admixture of Arabic which characterizes the writings of the
modern poets of Persia.

4. THE ANCIENT RELIGION OF PERSIA.--The ancient literature of Persia is
mainly the exposition of its religion. Persia, Media, and Bactria
acknowledged as their first religious prophet Honover, or Hom, symbolized
in the star Sirius, and himself the symbol of the first eternal word, and
of the tree of knowledge. In the numberless astronomical and mystic
personifications under which Hom was represented, his individuality was
lost, and little is known of his history or of his doctrines. It appears,
however, that he was the founder of the magi (priests), the conservators
and teachers of his doctrine, who formed a particular order, like that of
the Levites of Israel and of the Chaldeans of Assyria. They did not
constitute a hereditary caste like the Brahmins of India, but they were
chosen from among the people. They claimed to foretell future events. They
worshiped fire and the stars, and believed in two principles of good and
evil, of which light and darkness were the symbols.

Zoroaster, one of these magi, who probably lived in the eighth century
B.C., undertook to elevate and reform this religion, which had then fallen
from its primitive purity. Availing himself of the doctrines of the
Chaldeans and of the Hebrews, Zoroaster, endowed by nature with
extraordinary powers, sustained by popular enthusiasm, and aided by the
favor of powerful princes, extended his reform throughout the country, and
founded a new religion on the ancient worship. According to this religion
the two great principles of the world were represented by Ormuzd and
Ahriman, both born from eternity, and both contending for the dominion of
the world. Ormuzd, the principle of good, is represented by light, and
Ahriman, the principle of evil, by darkness. Light, then, being the body
or symbol of Ormuzd, is worshiped in the sun and stars, in fire, and
wherever it is found. Men are either the servants of Ormuzd, through
virtue and wisdom, or the slaves of Ahriman, through folly and vice.
Zoroaster explained the history of the world as the long contest of these
two principles, which was to close with the conquest of Ormuzd over

The moral code of Zoroaster is pure and elevated. It aims to assimilate
the character of man to light, to dissipate the darkness of ignorance; it
acknowledges Ormuzd as the ruler of the universe; it seeks to extend the
triumph of virtue over the material and spiritual world.

The religion of Zoroaster prevailed for many centuries in Persia. The
Greeks adopted some of its ideas into their philosophy, and through the
schools of the Gnostics and Neo-Platonists, its influence extended over
Europe. After the conquest of Persia by the Mohammedans, the Fire-
worshipers were driven to the deserts of Kerman, or took refuge in India,
where, under the name of Parsees or Guebers, they still keep alive the
sacred fire, and preserve the code of Zoroaster.

5. MODERN LITERATURE.--Some traces of the modern literature of Persia
appeared shortly after the conquest of the country by the Arabians in the
seventh century A.D.; but the true era dates from the ninth or tenth
century. It may be divided into the departments of Poetry, History, and

6. THE SUFIS.--After the introduction of Mohammedanism into Persia, there
arose a sect of pantheistic mystics called Sufis, to which most of the
Persian poets belong. They teach their doctrine under the images of love,
wine, intoxication, etc., by which, with them, a divine sentiment is
always understood. The doctrines of the Sufis are undoubtedly of Hindu
origin. Their fundamental tenets are, that nothing exists absolutely but
God; that the human soul is an emanation from his essence and will finally
be restored to him; that the great object of life should be a constant
approach to the eternal spirit, to form as perfect a union with the divine
nature as possible. Hence all worldly attachments should be avoided, and
in all that we do a spiritual object should be kept in view. The great end
with these philosophers is to attain to a state of perfection in
spirituality and to be absorbed in holy contemplation, to the exclusion of
all worldly recollections or interests.

7. PERSIAN POETRY.--The Persian tongue is peculiarly adapted to the
purposes of poetry, which in that language is rich in forcible
expressions, in bold metaphors, in ardent sentiments, and in descriptions
animated with the most lively coloring. In poetical composition there is
much art exercised by the Persian poets, and the arrangement of their
language is a work of great care. One favorite measure which frequently
ends a poem is called the Suja, literally the _cooing of doves_.

The poetical compositions of the Persians are of several kinds; the gazel
or ode usually treats of love, beauty, or friendship. The poet generally
introduces his name in the last couplet. The idyl resembles the gazel,
except that it is longer. Poetry enters as a universal element into all
compositions; physics, mathematics, medicine, ethics, natural history,
astronomy, grammar--all lend themselves to verse in Persia.

The works of favorite poets are generally written on fine, silky paper,
the ground of which is often powdered with gold or silver dust, the
margins illuminated, and the whole perfumed with some costly essence. The
magnificent volume containing the poem of Tussuf and Zuleika in the public
library at Oxford affords a proof of the honors accorded to poetical
composition. One of the finest specimens of caligraphy and illumination is
the exordium to the life of Shah Jehan, for which the writer, besides the
stipulated remuneration, had _his mouth stuffed with pearls_.

There are three principal love stories in Persia which, from the earliest
times, have been the themes of every poet. Scarcely one of the great
masters of Persian literature but has adopted and added celebrity to these
beautiful and interesting legends, which can never be too often repeated
to an Oriental ear. They are, the "History of Khosru and Shireen," the
"Loves of Yussuf and Zuleika," and the "Misfortunes of Mejnoun and Leila."
So powerful is the charm attached to these stories, that it appears to
have been considered almost the imperative duty of all the poets to
compose a new version of the old, familiar, and beloved traditions. Even
down to a modern date, the Persians have not deserted their favorites, and
these celebrated themes of verse reappear, from time to time, under new
auspices. Each of these poems is expressive of a peculiar character. That
of Khosru and Shireen may be considered exclusively the Persian romance;
that of Mejnoun the Arabian; and that of Yussuf and Zuleika the sacred.
The first presents a picture of happy love and female excellence in
Shireen; Mejnoun is a representation of unfortunate love carried to
madness; the third romance contains the ideal of perfection in Yussuf
(Joseph) and the most passionate and imprudent love in Zuleika (the wife
of Potiphar), and exhibits in strong relief the power of love and beauty,
the mastery of mind, the weakness of overwhelming passion, and the
victorious spirit of holiness.

8. PERSIAN POETS.--The first of Persian poets, the Homer of his country,
is Abul Kasim Mansur, called Ferdusi or "Paradise," from the exquisite
beauty of his compositions. He flourished in the reign of the Shah Mahmud
(940-1020 A.D.). Mahmud commissioned him to write in his faultless verse a
history of the monarchs of Persia, promising that for every thousand
couplets he should receive a thousand pieces of gold. For thirty years he
studied and labored on his epic poem, "the Shah Namah," or Book of Kings,
and when it was completed he sent a copy of it, exquisitely written, to
the sultan, who received it coldly, and treated the work of the aged poet
with contempt. Disappointed at the ingratitude of the Shah, Ferdusi wrote
some satirical lines, which soon reached the ear of Mahmud, who, piqued
and offended at the freedom of the poet, ordered sixty thousand small
pieces of money to be sent to him, instead of the gold which he had
promised. Ferdusi was in the public bath when the money was given to him,
and his rage and amazement exceeded all bounds when he found himself thus
insulted. He distributed the paltry sum among the attendants of the bath
and the slaves who brought it.

He soon after avenged himself by writing a satire full of stinging
invective, which he caused to be transmitted to the favorite vizier who
had instigated the sultan against him. It was carefully sealed up, with
directions that it should be read to Mahmud on some occasion when his mind
was perturbed with affairs of state, and his temper ruffled, as it was a
poem likely to afford him entertainment. Ferdusi having thus prepared his
vengeance, quitted the ungrateful court without leave-taking, and was at a
safe distance when news reached him that his lines had fully answered
their intended purpose. Mahmud had heard and trembled, and too late
discovered that he had ruined his own reputation forever. After the satire
had been read by Shah Mahmud, the poet sought shelter in the court of the
caliph of Bagdad, in whose honor he added a thousand couplets to the poem
of the Shah Namah, and who rewarded him with the sixty thousand gold
pieces, which had been withheld by Mahmud. Meantime, Ferdusi's poem of
Yussuf, and his magnificent verses on several subjects, had received the
fame they deserved. Shah Mahmud's late remorse awoke. Thinking by a tardy
act of liberality to repair his former meanness, he dispatched to the
author of the Shah Namah the sixty thousand pieces he had promised, a robe
of state, and many apologies and expressions of friendship and admiration,
requesting his return, and professing great sorrow for the past. But when
the message arrived, Ferdusi was dead, and his family devoted the whole
sum to the benevolent purpose he had intended,--the erection of public
buildings, and the general improvement of his native village, Tus. He died
at the age of eighty. The Shah Namah contains the history of the kings of
Persia down to the death of the last of the Sassanide race, who was
deprived of his kingdom by the invasion of the Arabs during the caliphat
of Omar, 636 A.D. The language of Ferdusi may be considered as the purest
specimen of the ancient Parsee: Arabic words are seldom introduced. There
are many episodes in the Shah Namah of great beauty, and the power and
elegance of its verse are unrivaled.

Essedi of Tus is distinguished as having been the master of Ferdusi, and
as having aided his illustrious pupil in the completion of his great work.
Among many poems which he wrote, the "Dispute between Day and Night" is
the most celebrated.

Togray was a native of Ispahan and contemporary with Ferdusi. He became so
celebrated as a writer, that the title of Honor of Writers was given him.
He was an alchemist, and wrote a treatise on the philosopher's stone.

Moasi, called King of Poets, lived about the middle of the eleventh
century. He obtained his title at the court of Ispahan, and rose to high
dignity and honor. So renowned were his odes, that more than a hundred
poets endeavored to imitate his style.

Omar Kheyam, who was one of the most distinguished of the poets of Persia,
lived toward the close of the eleventh century. He was remarkable for the
freedom of his religious opinions and the boldness with which he denounced
hypocrisy and intolerance. He particularly directed his satire against the
mystic poets.

Nizami, the first of the romantic poets, flourished in the latter part of
the twelfth century A.D. His principal works are called the "Five
Treasures," of which the "Loves of Khosru and Shireen" is the most
celebrated, and in the treatment of which he has succeeded beyond all
other poets.

Sadi (1194-1282) is esteemed among the Persians as a master in poetry and
in morality. He is better known in Europe than any other Eastern author,
except Hafiz, and has been more frequently translated. Jami calls him the
nightingale of the groves of Shiraz, of which city he was a native. He
spent a part of his long life in travel and in the acquisition of
knowledge, and the remainder in retirement and devotion. His works are
termed the salt-mine of poets, being revered as unrivaled models of the
first genius in the world. His philosophy enabled him to support all the
ills of life with patience and fortitude, and one of his remarks, arising
from the destitute condition in which he once found himself, deserves
preservation: "I never complained of my condition but once, when my feet
were bare, and I had not money to buy shoes; but I met a man without feet,
and I became contented with my lot." The works of Sadi are very numerous,
and are popular and familiar everywhere in the East. His two greatest
works are the "Bostan" and "Gulistan" (Bostan, the rose garden, and
Gulistan, the fruit garden). They abound in striking beauties, and show
great knowledge of human nature.

Attar (1119-1233) was one of the great Sufi masters, and spent his life in
devotion and contemplation. He died at the advanced age of 114. It would
seem that poetry in the East was favorable to human life, so many of its
professors attained to a great age, particularly those who professed the
Sufi doctrine. The great work of Attar is a poem containing useful moral

Roumi (1203-1272), usually called the Mulah, was an enthusiastic follower
of the doctrine of the Sufis. His son succeeded him at the head of the
sect, and surpassed his father not only in the virtues and attainments of
the Sufis, but by his splendid poetical genius. His poems are regarded as
the most perfect models of the mystic style. Sir William Jones says,
"There is a depth and solemnity in his works unequaled by any poet of this
class; even Hafiz must be considered inferior to him."

Among the poets of Persia the name of Hafiz (d. 1389), the prince of
Persian lyric poets, is most familiar to the English reader. He was born
at Shiraz. Leading a life of poverty, of which he was proud, for he
considered poverty the companion of genius, he constantly refused the
invitation, of monarchs to visit their courts. There is endless variety in
the poems of Hafiz, and they are replete with surpassing beauty of
thought, feeling, and expression. The grace, ease, and fancy of his
numbers are inimitable, and there is a magic in his lays which few even of
his professed enemies have been able to resist. To the young, the gay, and
the enthusiastic his verses are ever welcome, and the sage discovers in
them a hidden mystery which reconciles him to their subjects. His tomb,
near Shiraz, is visited as a sacred spot by pilgrims of all ages. The
place of his birth is held in veneration, and there is not a Persian whose
heart does not echo his strains.

Jami (d. 1492) was born in Khorassan, in the village of Jam, from whence
he is named,--his proper appellation being Abd Arahman. He was a Sufi, and
preferred, like many of his fellow-poets, the meditations and ecstasies of
mysticism to the pleasures of a court. His writings are very voluminous;
he composed nearly forty volumes, all of great length, of which twenty-two
are preserved at Oxford. The greater part of them treat of Mohammedan
theology, and are written in the mystic style. He collected the most
interesting under the name of the "Seven Stars of the Bear," or the "Seven
Brothers," and among these is the famous poem of Yussuf and Zuleika. This
favorite subject, which every Persian poet has touched with more or less
success, has never been so beautifully rendered as by Jami. Nothing can
exceed the admiration which this poem inspires in the East.

Hatifi (d. 1520) was the nephew of the great poet Jami. It was his
ambition to enter the lists with his uncle, by composing poems on similar
subjects. Opinions are divided as to whether he succeeded as well as his
master, but none can exceed him in sweetness and pathos. His version of
the sad tale of Mejnoun and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East, is
confessedly superior to that of Nizami.

The lyrical compositions of Sheik Feizi (d. 1575) are highly valued. In
his mystic poems he approaches to the sublimity of Attar. His ideas are
tinged with the belief of the Hindus, in which he was educated. When a boy
he was introduced to the Brahmins by the Sultan Mohammed Akbar, as an
orphan of their tribe, in order that he might learn their language and
obtain possession of their religions secrets. He became attached to the
daughter of the Brahmin who protected him, and she was offered to him--in
marriage by the unsuspecting parent. After a struggle between inclination
and honor, the latter prevailed, and he confessed the fraud. The Brahmin,
struck with horror, attempted to put an end to his own existence, fearing
that he had betrayed his oath and brought danger and disgrace on his sect.
Feizi, with tears--and protestations, besought him to forbear, promising
to submit to any command he might impose on him. The Brahmin consented to
live, on condition that Feizi should take an oath never to translate the
Vedas nor to repeat to any one the creed of the Hindus. Feizi entered into
the desired obligations, parted with his adopted father, bade adieu to his
love, and with a sinking heart returned home. Among his works the most
important is the "Mahabarit," which contains the chronicles of the Hindu
princes, and abounds in romantic episodes.

The most celebrated recent Persian poet is Blab Phelair (1729-1825). He
left many astronomical, moral, political, and literary works. He is called
the Persian Voltaire.

Among the collections of novels and fables, the "Lights of Canope" may be
mentioned, imitated from the Hitopadesa. Persian literature is also
enriched by translations of the standard works in Sanskrit, among which
are the epic poems of Valmiki and Vyasa.

9. HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY.--Among the most celebrated of the Persian
historians is Mirkhond, who lived in the middle of the fifteenth century.
His great work on universal history contains an account of the origin of
the world, the life of the patriarchs, prophets, and philosophers of
Persia, and affords valuable materials, especially for the history of the
Middle Ages. His son, Khondemir, distinguished himself in the same branch
of literature, and wrote two works which, for their historical correctness
and elegance of style, are in great favor among the Persians. Ferischta,
who flourished in the beginning of the seventeenth century, is the author
of a valuable history of India. Mirgholah, a historian of the eighteenth
century, gives a contemporary history of Hindustan and of his own country,
under the title of "A Glance at Recent Affairs," and in another work he
treats of the causes which, at some future time, will probably lead to the
fall of the British power in India. The "History of the Reigning Dynasty"
is among the principal modern historical works of Persia.

The Persians possess numerous works on rhetoric, geography, medicine,
mathematics, and astronomy, few of which are entitled to much
consideration. In philosophy may be mentioned the "Essence of Logic," an
exposition in the Arabic language of the doctrines of Aristotle on logic;
and the "Moral System of Nasir," published in the thirteenth century A.D.,
a valuable treatise on morals, economy, and politics.

10. EDUCATION IN PERSIA.--There are established, in every town and city,
schools in which the poorer children can be instructed in the rudiments of
the Persian and Arabic languages. The pupil, after he has learned the
alphabet, reads the Koran in Arabic; next, fables in Persian; and lastly
is taught to write a beautiful hand, which is considered a great
accomplishment. The Persians are fond of poetry, and the lowest artisans
can read or repeat the finest passages of their most admired poets. For
the education of the higher classes there are in Persia many colleges and
universities where the pupils are taught grammar, the Turkish and Arabic
languages, rhetoric, philosophy, and poetry. The literary men are
numerous; they pursue their studies till they are entitled to the honors
of the colleges; afterwards they devote themselves to copying and
illuminating manuscripts.

Of late many celebrated European works have been translated and published
in Persia.


1. Hebrew Literature; its Divisions.--2. The Language; its Alphabet; its
Structure; Peculiarities, Formation, and Phases.--3. The Old Testament.--
4. Hebrew Education.--5. Fundamental Idea of Hebrew Literature.--6. Hebrew
Poetry.--7. Lyric Poetry; Songs; the Psalms; the Prophets.--8. Pastoral
Poetry and Didactic Poetry; the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.--9. Epic and
Dramatic Poetry; the Book of Job.--10. Hebrew History; the Pentateuch and
other Historical Books.--11. Hebrew Philosophy.--12. Restoration of the
Sacred Books.--13. Manuscripts and Translations.--14. Rabbinical
Literature.--15. The New Revision of the Bible, and the New Biblical

1. HEBREW LITERATURE.--In the Hebrew literature we find expressed the
national character of that ancient people who, for a period of four
thousand years, through captivity, dispersion, and persecution of every
kind, present the wonderful spectacle of a race preserving its
nationality, its peculiarities of worship, of doctrine, and of literature.
Its history reaches back to an early period of the world, its code of laws
has been studied and imitated by the legislators of all ages and
countries, and its literary monuments surpass in originality, poetic
strength, and religious importance those of any other nation before the
Christian era.

The literature of the Hebrews may be divided into the four following

The first, extending from remote antiquity to the time of David, 1010
B.C., includes all the records of patriarchal civilization transmitted by
tradition previous to the age of Moses, and contained in the Pentateuch or
five books attributed to him after he had delivered the people from the
bondage of Egypt.

The second period extends from the time of David to the death of Solomon,
1010-940 B.C., and to this are referred some of the Psalms, Joshua, the
Judges, and the Chronicles.

The third period extends from the death of Solomon to the return from the
Babylonian captivity, 940-532 B.C., and to this age belong the writings of
most of the Prophets, The Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the
books of Samuel, of Kings, and of Ruth.

The fourth period extends from their return from the Babylonian Captivity
to the present time, and to this belong some of the Prophets, the
Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, the final completion of the Psalms,
the Septuagint translation of the Bible, the writings of Josephus, of
Philo of Alexandria, and the rabbinical literature.

2. THE LANGUAGE.--The Hebrew language is of Semitic origin; its alphabet
consists of twenty-two letters. The number of accents is nearly forty,
some of which distinguish the sentences like the punctuation of our
language, and others serve to determine the number of syllables, or to
mark the tone with which they are to be sung or spoken.

The Hebrew character is of two kinds, the ancient or square, and the
modern or rabbinical. In the first of these the Scriptures were originally
written. The last is deprived of most of its angles, and is more easy and
flowing. The Hebrew words as well as letters are written from right to
left in common with, the Semitic tongues generally, and the language is
regular, particularly in its conjugations. Indeed, it has but one
conjugation, but with seven or eight variations, having the effect of as
many different conjugations, and giving great variety of expression. The
predominance of these modifications over the noun, the idea of time
contained in the roots of almost all its verbs, so expressive and so
picturesque, and even the scarcity of its prepositions, adjectives, and
adverbs, make this language in its organic structure breathe life, vigor,
and emotion. If it lacks the flowery and luxuriant elements of the other
oriental idioms, no one of these can be compared with the Hebrew tongue
for the richness of its figures and imagery, for its depth, and for its
majestic and imposing features.

In the formation, development, and decay of this language, the following
periods may be distinguished:--

First. From Abraham to Moses, when the old stock was changed by the
infusion of the Egyptian and Arabic. Abraham, residing in Chaldea, spoke
the Chaldaic language, then traveling through Egypt, and establishing
himself in Canaan or Palestine, his language mingled its elements with the
tongues spoken by those nations, and perhaps also with that of the
Phoenicians, who early established commercial intercourse with him and his
descendants. It is probable that the Hebrew language sprung from the
mixture of these elements.

Second. From Moses and the composition of the Pentateuch to Solomon, when
it attained its perfection, not without being influenced by the
Phoenician. This is the Golden Age of the Hebrew language.

Third. From Solomon to Ezra, when, although increasing in beauty and
sweetness, it became less pure by the adoption of foreign ideas and

Fourth. From Ezra to the end of the reign of the Maccabees, when it was
gradually lost in the Aramaean or Chaldaic tongue, and became a dead

The Jews of the Middle Ages, incited by the learning of the Arabs in
Spain, among whom they received the protection denied them by Christian
nations, endeavored to restore their language to something of its original
purity, and to render the Biblical Hebrew again a written language; but
the Chaldaic idioms had taken too deep root to be eradicated, and besides,
the ancient language was found insufficient for the necessities of an
advancing civilization. Hence arose a new form of written Hebrew, called
rabbinical from its origin and use among the rabbins. It borrowed largely
from many contemporary languages, and though it became richer and more
regular in its structure, it retained little of the strength and purity of
the ancient Hebrew.

3. THE OLD TESTAMENT.--The literary productions of the Hebrews are
collected in the sacred books of the Old Testament, in which, according to
the celebrated orientalist, Sir William Jones, we can find more eloquence,
more historical and moral truth, more poetry,--in a word, more beauties
than we could gather from all other books together, of whatever country or
language. Aside from its supernatural claims, this book stands alone among
the literary monuments of other nations, for the sublimity of its
doctrine, as well as for the simplicity of its style.

It is the book of all centuries, countries, and conditions, and affords
the best solution of the most mysterious problems concerning God and the
world. It cultivates the taste, it elevates the mind, it nurses the soul
with the word of life, and it has inspired the best productions of human

4. HEBREW EDUCATION.--Religion, morals, legislation, history, poetry, and
music were the special objects to which the attention of the Levites and
Prophets was particularly directed. The general education of the people,
however, was rather simple and domestic. They were trained in husbandry,
and in military and gymnastic exercises, and they applied their minds
almost exclusively to religious and moral doctrines and to divine worship;
they learned to read and write their own language correctly, but they
seldom learned foreign languages or read foreign books, and they carefully
prevented strangers from obtaining a knowledge of their own.

5. FUNDAMENTAL IDEA OF HEBREW LITERATURE.--Monotheism was the fundamental
idea of the Hebrew literature, as well as of the Hebrew religion,
legislation, morals, politics, and philosophy. The idea of the unity of
God constitutes the most striking characteristic of Hebrew poetry, and
chiefly distinguishes it from that of all mythological nations. Other
ancient literatures have created their divinities, endowed them with human
passions, and painted their achievements in the glowing colors of poetry.
The Hebrew poetry, on the contrary, makes no attempt to portray the Deity
by the instruments of sensuous representation, but simple, majestic, and
severe, it pours forth a perpetual anthem of praise and thanksgiving. The
attributes of God, his power, his paternal love and wisdom, are described
in the most sublime language of any age or nation. His seat is the
heavens, the earth is his footstool, the heavenly hosts his servants; the
sea is his, and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land.

Placed under the immediate government of Jehovah, having with Him common
objects of aversion and love, the Hebrews reached the very source of
enthusiasm, the fire of which burned in the hearts of the prophets so
fervently as to cause them to utter the denunciations and the promises of
the Eternal in a tone suited to the inspired of God, and to sing his
attributes and glories with a dignity and authority becoming them, as the
vicegerents of God upon earth.

6. HEBREW POETRY.--The character of the people and their language, its
mission, the pastoral life of the patriarchs, the beautiful and grand
scenery of the country, the wonderful history of the nation, the feeling
of divine inspiration, the promise of a Messiah who should raise the
nation to glory, the imposing solemnities of the divine worship, and
finally, the special order of the prophets, gave a strong impulse to the
poetical genius of the nation, and concurred in producing a form of poetry
which cannot be compared with any other for its simplicity and clearness,
for its depth and majesty.

These features of Hebrew poetry, however, spring from its internal force
rather than from any external form. Indeed, the Hebrew poets soar far
above all others in that energy of feeling, impetuous and irresistible,
which penetrates, warms, and moves the very soul. They reveal their
anxieties as well as their hopes; they paint with truth and love the
actual condition of the human race, with its sorrows and consolations, its
hopes and fears, its love and hate. They select their images from the
habitual ideas of the people, and personify inanimate objects--the
mountains tremble and exult, deep cries unto deep. Another characteristic
of Hebrew poetry is the strong feeling of nationality it expresses. Of
their two most sublime poets, one was their legislator, the other their
greatest king.

7. LYRIC POETRY.--In their national festivals the Hebrews sang the hymns
of their lyric poets, accompanied by musical instruments. The art of
singing, as connected with poetry, flourished especially under David, who
instituted twenty-four choruses, composed of four thousand Levites, whose
duty it was to sing in the public solemnities. It is generally believed
that the Hebrew lyric poetry was not ruled by any measure, either of
syllables or of time. Its predominant form was a succession of thoughts
and a rhythmic movement, less of syllables and words than of ideas and
images systematically arranged. The Psalms, especially, are essentially
symmetrical, according to the Hebrew ritual, their verses being sung
alternately by Levites and people, both in the synagogues and more
frequently in the open air. The song of Moses after the passage of the Bed
Sea is the most sublime triumphal hymn in any language, and of equal merit
is his song of thanksgiving in Deuteronomy. Beautiful examples of the same
order of poetry may be found in the song of Judith (though not canonical),
and the songs of Deborah and Balaam. But Hebrew poetry attained its
meridian splendor in the Psalms of David. The works of God in the creation
of the world, and in the government of men; the illustrious deeds of the
House of Jacob; the wonders and mysteries of the new Covenant are sung by
David in a fervent out-pouring of an impulsive, passionate spirit, that
alternately laments and exults, bows in contrition, or soars to the
sublimest heights of devotion. The Psalms, even now, reduced to prose,
after three thousand years, present the best and most sublime collection
of lyrical poems, unequaled for their aspiration, their living imagery,
their grand ideas, and majesty of style.

When at length the Hebrews, forgetful of their high duties and calling,
trampled on their institutions and laws, prophets were raised up to recall
the wandering people to their allegiance. ISAIAH, whether he foretells the
future destiny of the nation, or the coming of the Messiah, in his
majestic eloquence, sweetness, and simplicity, gives us the most perfect
model of lyric poetry. He prophesied during the reigns of Azariah and
Hezekiah, and his writings bear the mark of true inspiration.

JEREMIAH flourished during the darkest period in the history of the
kingdom of Judah, and under the last four kings, previous to the
Captivity. The Lamentations, in which he pours forth his grief for the
fate of his country, are full of touching melancholy and pious
resignation, and, in their harmonious and beautiful tone, show his ardent
patriotism and his unshaken trust in the God of his fathers. He does not
equal Isaiah in the sublimity of his conceptions and the variety of his
imagery, but whatever may be the imperfections of his style, they are lost
in the passion and vehemence of his poems.

DANIEL, after having straggled against the corruptions of Babylon, boldly
foretells the decay of that empire with terrible power. His conceptions
and images are truly sublime; but his style is less correct and regular
than that of his predecessors, his language being a mixture of Hebrew and

Such is also the style of EZEKIEL, who sings the development of the
obscure prophesies of his master. His writings abound in dreams and
visions, and convey rather the idea of the terrible than of the sublime.

These four, from the length of their writings, are called the Greater
Prophets, to distinguish them from the twelve Minor Prophets: HOSEA, JOEL,
ZECHARIAH, and MALACHI, all of whom, though endowed with different
characteristics and genius, show in their writings more or less of that
fire and vigor which can only be found in writers who were moved and
warmed by the very spirit of God.

8. PASTORAL POETRY AND DIDACTIC POETRY.--The Song of Solomon and the
history of Ruth are the best specimens of the Hebrew idyl, and breathe all
the simplicity of pastoral life.

The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain treatises on moral
philosophy, or rather, are didactic poems. The Proverb, which is a maxim
of wisdom, greatly used by the ancients before the introduction of
dissertation, is, as the name indicates, the prevalent form of the first
of these books. In Ecclesiastes we have described the trials of a mind
which has lost itself in undefined wishes and in despair, and the
efficacious remedies for these mental diseases are shown in the pictures
of the vanity of the world and in the final divine judgment, in which the
problem of this life will have its complete solution. SOLOMON, the author
of these works, adds splendor to the sublimity of his doctrines by the
dignity of his style.

9. EPIC AND DRAMATIC POETRY.--The Book of Job may be considered as
belonging either to epic or to dramatic poetry. Its exact date is
uncertain; some writers refer it to the primitive period of Hebrew
literature, and others to a later age; and, while some contend that Job
was but an ideal, representing human suffering, whose story was sung by an
anonymous poet, others, with more probability, regard him as an actual
person, exposed to the trials and temptations described in this wonderful
book. However this may be, it is certain that this monument of wisdom
stands alone, and that it can be compared to no other production for the
sublimity of its ideas, the vivacity and force of its expressions, the
grandeur of its imagery, and the variety of its characters. No other work
represents, in more true and vivid colors, the nobility and misery of
humanity, the laws of necessity and Providence, and the trials to which
the good are subjected for their moral improvement. Here the great
straggle between evil and good appears in its true light, and human virtue
heroically submits itself to the ordeal of misfortune. Here we learn that
the evil and good of this life are by no means the measure of morality,
and here we witness the final triumph of justice.

10. HEBREW HISTORY.--Moses, the most ancient of all historians, was also
the first leader and legislator of the Hebrews. When at length the
traditions of the patriarchs had become obscured and confused among the
different nations of the earth, Moses was inspired to write the history of
the human race, and especially of the chosen people, in order to bequeath
to coming centuries a memorial of revealed truths and of the divine works
of eternal Wisdom. Thus in the first chapters of Genesis, without aiming
to write the complete annals of the first period of the world, he summed
up the general history of man, and described, more especially, the
genealogy of the patriarchs and of the generations previous to the time of
the dispersion.

The subject of the book of Exodus is the delivery of the people from the
Egyptian bondage, and it is not less admirable for the importance of the
events which it describes, than for the manner in which they are related.
In this, and in the following book of Numbers, the record of patriarchal
life gives place to the teachings of Moses and to the history of the
wanderings in the deserts of Arabia.

In Leviticus the constitution of the priesthood is described, as well as
the peculiarities of a worship.

Deuteronomy records the laws of Moses, and concludes with his sublime hymn
of thanksgiving.

The historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra,
etc., contain the history of the Hebrew nation for nearly a thousand
years, and relate the prosperity and the disasters of the chosen people.
Here are recorded the deeds of Joshua, of Samson, of Samuel, of David, and
of Solomon, the building of the Temple, the division of the tribes into
two kingdoms, the prodigies of Elijah and Elisha, the impieties of Ahab,
the calamities of Jedekiah, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the first
Temple, the dispersion and the Babylonish captivity, the deliverance under
Cyrus, and the rebuilding of the city and Temple under Ezra, and other
great events in Hebrew history.

The internal evidence derived from the peculiar character of each of the
historical books is decisive of their genuineness, which is supported
above all suspicion of alteration or addition by the scrupulous
conscientiousness and veneration with which the Hebrews regarded their
sacred writings. Their authenticity is also proved by the uniformity of
doctrine which pervades them all, though written at different periods, by
the simplicity and naturalness of the narrations, and by the sincerity of
the writers.

These histories display neither vanity nor adulation, nor do they attempt
to conceal from the reader whatever might be considered as faults in their
authors or their heroes. While they select facts with a nice judgment, and
present the most luminous picture of events and of their causes, they
abstain from reasoning or speculation in regard to them.

11. HEBREW PHILOSOPHY.--Although the Hebrews, in their different sacred
writings, have transmitted to us the best solution of the ancient
philosophical questions on the creation of the world, on the Providence
which rules it, on monotheism, and on the origin of sin, yet they have
nowhere presented us with a complete system of philosophy.

During the Captivity, their doctrines were influenced by those of
Zoroaster, and later, when many of the Jews established themselves in
Egypt, they acquired some knowledge of the Greek philosophy, and the
tenets of the sects of the Essenes bear a strong resemblance to the
Pythagorean and Platonic schools. This resemblance appears most clearly in
the writings of Philo of Alexandria, a Jew, born a few years before the
birth of our Saviour. Though not belonging to the sect of the Essenes, he
followed their example in adopting the doctrines of Plato and taking them
as the criterion in the interpretation of the Scriptures. So, also,
Flavius Josephus, born in Jerusalem, 37 A.D., and Numenius, born in Syria,
in the second century A.D., adopted the Greek philosophy, and by its
doctrines amplified and expanded the tenets of Judaism.

12. RESTORATION OF THE SACRED BOOKS.--One of the most important eras in
Hebrew literature is the period of the restoration of the Mosaic
institutions, after the return from the Captivity. According to tradition,
at that time Ezra established the great Synagogue, a college of one
hundred and twenty learned men, who were appointed to collect copies of
the ancient sacred books, the originals of which had been lost in the
capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and Nehemiah soon after placed
this, or a new collection, in the Temple. The design of these reformers to
give the people a religious canon in their ancient tongue induces the
belief that they engaged in the work with the strictest fidelity to the
old Mosaic institutions, and it is certain that the canon of the Old
Testament, in the time of the Maccabees, was the same as that which we
have at present.

13. MANUSCRIPTS AND TRANSLATIONS.--Of the canonical books of the Old
Testament we have Hebrew manuscripts, printed editions, and translations.
The most esteemed manuscripts are those of the Spanish Jews, of which the
most ancient belong to the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The printed
editions of the Bible in Hebrew are numerous. The earliest are those of
Italy. Luther made his German translation from the edition of Brescia,
printed in 1494. The earliest and most famous translation of the Old
Testament is the Septuagint, or Greek translation, which was made about
283 B.C. It may, probably, be attributed to the Alexandrian Jews, who,
having lost the knowledge of the Hebrew, caused the translation to be made
by some of their learned countrymen for the use of the Synagogues of
Egypt. It was probably accomplished under the authority of the Sanhedrim,
composed of seventy elders, and therefore called the Septuagint version,
and from it the quotations in the New Testament are chiefly taken. It was
regarded as canonical by the Jews to the exclusion of other books written
in Greek, but not translated from the Hebrew, which we now call, by the
Greek name, the Apocrypha.

The Vulgate or Latin translation, which has official authority in the
Catholic Church, was made gradually from the eighth to the sixteenth
century, partly from an old translation which was made from the Greek in
the early history of the Church, and partly from translations from the
Hebrew made by St. Jerome.

The English version of the Bible now in use in England and America was
made by order of James I. It was accomplished by forty-seven distinguished
scholars, divided into six classes, to each of which a part of the work
was assigned. This translation occupied three years, and was printed in

14. RABBINICAL LITERATURE.--Rabbinical literature includes all the
writings of the rabbins, or teachers of the Jews in the later period of
Hebrew letters, who have interpreted and developed the literature of the
earlier ages. The language made use of by them has its foundation in the
Hebrew and Chaldaic, with various alterations and modifications in the use
of words, the meaning of which they have considerably enlarged and
extended. They have frequently borrowed from the Arabic, Greek, and Latin,
and from those modern tongues spoken where they severally resided.

The Talmud, from the Hebrew word signifying _he has learned_, is a
collection of traditions illustrative of the laws and usages of the Jews.
The Talmud consists of two parts, the Mishna and the Gemara. The Mishna,
or _second law_, is a collection of rabbinical rules and precepts made in
the second century. The Gemara (_completion_ or _doctrine_) was composed
in the third century. It is a collection of commentaries and explanations
of the Mishna, and both together formed the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Babylonian rabbins composed new commentaries on the Mishna, and this
formed the Babylonian Talmud. Both Talmuds were first committed to writing
about 500 A.D. At the period of the Christian Era, the civil constitution,
language, and mode of thinking among the Jews had undergone a complete
revolution, and were entirely different from what they had been in the
early period of the commonwealth. The Mosaic books contained rules no
longer adapted to the situation of the nation, and many difficult
questions arose to which their law afforded no satisfactory solution. The
rabbins undertook to supply this defect, partly by commentaries on the
Mosaic precepts, and partly by the composition of new rules.

The Talmud requires that wherever twelve adults reside together in one
place, they shall erect a synagogue and serve the God of their fathers by
a multitude of prayers and formalities, amidst the daily occupations of
life. It allows usury, treats agricultural pursuits with contempt, and
requires strict separation from the other races, and commits the
government to the rabbins. The Talmud is followed by the Rabbinites, to
which sect nearly all the European and American Jews belong. The sect of
the Caraites rejects the Talmud and holds to the law of Moses only. It is
less numerous, and its members are found chiefly in the East, or in Turkey
and Eastern Russia.

The Cabala, or oral tradition, is, according to the Jews, a perpetual
divine revelation, preserved among the Jewish people by secret
transmission. It sometimes denotes the doctrines of the prophets, but most
commonly the mystical philosophy, which was probably introduced into
Palestine from Egypt and Persia. It was first committed to writing in the
second century A.D. The Cabala is divided into the symbolical and the
real, of which the former gives a mystical signification to letters. The
latter comprehends doctrines, and is divided into the theoretical and
practical. The first aims to explain the Scriptures according to the
secret traditions, while the last pretends to teach the art of performing
miracles by an artificial use of the divine names and sentences of the
sacred Scriptures.

The Jews of the Middle Ages acquired great reputation for learning,
especially in Spain, where they were allowed to study astronomy,
mathematics, and medicine in the schools of the Moors. Granada and Cordova
became the centres of rabbinical literature, which was also cultivated in
France, Italy, Portugal, and Germany. In the sixteenth century the study
of Hebrew and rabbinical literature became common among Christian
scholars, and in the following centuries it became more interesting and
important from the introduction of comparative philology in the department
of languages. Rabbinical literature still has its students and
interpreters. In Padua, Berlin, and Metz there are seminaries for the
education of rabbins, which supply with able doctors the synagogues of
Italy, Germany, and France. There is also a rabbinical school in
Cincinnati, Ohio. The Polish rabbins and Talmudists, however, are the most

15. THE NEW REVISION OF THE BIBLE.--The convocation of the English House
of Bishops, which met at Canterbury in 1870, recommended a revised version
of the Scriptures, and appointed a committee for the work of sixty-seven
members from various ecclesiastical bodies of England, to which an
American committee of thirty-five was added, and by their joint labors the
revised edition of the New Testament was issued in 1881. The revised Old
Testament is expected to appear during 1884. The advantages claimed for
these new versions are: a more accurate rendering of the text, a
correction of the errors of former translations, the removal of misleading
archaisms and obsolete terms, better punctuation, arrangement in sections
as well as chapters and verses, the metrical arrangement of poetry, and an
increased number of marginal readings.

In 1875, Bryennios, a metropolitan of the Greek Church, discovered in the
library of the Most Holy Sepulchre at Constantinople a manuscript
belonging to the second century A.D., which contains, among other valuable
and interesting documents, one on the "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,"
many points of which bear on the usages of the church, such as the mode of
baptism, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the orders of the ministry.
It was at first considered authentic and highly important, but more
deliberate study tends to discredit its authority.


1. The Language.--2. The Writing.--3. The Literature.--4. The Monuments.
--5. The Discovery of Champollion.--6. Literary Remains; Historical;
Religious; Epistolary; Fictitious; Scientific; Epic; Satirical and
Judicial.--7. The Alexandrian Period.--8. The Literary Condition of Modern

1. THE LANGUAGE.--From the earliest times the language of Egypt was
divided into three dialects: the Memphitic, spoken in Memphis and Lower
Egypt; the Theban, or Sahidic, spoken in Upper Egypt; and the Bashmuric, a
provincial variety belonging to the oases of the Lybian Desert.

The Coptic tongue, which arose from a union of ancient Egyptian with the
vulgar vernacular, later became mingled with Greek and Arabic words, and
was written in the Greek alphabet. It was used in Egypt until the tenth
century A.D., when it gave way to the Arabic; but the Christians still
preserve it in their worship and in their translation of the Bible. By
rejecting its foreign elements Egyptologists have been enabled to study
this language in its purity, and to establish its grammar and
construction. It is the exclusive character of the Christian Egyptian
literature, and marks the last development and final decay of the Egyptian

2. THE WRITING.--Four distinct graphic systems were in use in ancient
Egypt: the hieroglyphic, the hieratic, the demotic, and Coptic. The first
expresses words partly by representation of the object and partly by signs
indicating sounds, and was used chiefly for inscriptions. The hieratic
characters presented a flowing and abbreviated form of the hieroglyphic,
and were used more particularly in the papyri. The great body of Egyptian
literature has reached us through this character, the reading of which can
only be determined by resolving it into its prototype, hieroglyphics.

The demotic writing indicates the rise of the vulgar tongue, which took
place about the beginning of the seventh century B.C. It was used to
transcribe hieroglyphic and hieratic inscriptions and papyri into the
common idiom until the second century A.D., when the Coptic generally
superseded it.

3. THE LITERATURE.--The literary history of ancient Egypt presents a
remarkable exception to that of any other country. While the language
underwent various modifications, and the written characters changed, the
literature remained the same in all its principal features. This
literature consists solely of inscriptions painted or engraved on
monuments, or of written manuscripts on papyrus buried in the tombs or
beneath the ruins of temples. It is so deficient in style, and so
unsystematic in its construction, that it has taxed the labors of the
ablest critics for the last fifty years to construct a whole from its
disjointed materials, and these are so imperfect that many periods of
Egyptian history are complete literary blanks. In the great period of the
Rameses, novels or works of amusement predominated; under the Ptolemies,
historical records, and in the Coptic or Christian stage, homolies and
church rituals prevailed; but through every epoch the same general type
appears. Notwithstanding these deficiencies, however, Egypt offers a most
attractive field for the archaeologist, and new discoveries are constantly
adding to our knowledge of this interesting country.

4. THE MONUMENTS.--The monuments of Egypt are religious, as the temples,
sepulchral, as the necropoles, or triumphal, as the obelisks. The temples
were the principal structures of the Egyptian cities, and their splendid
ruins, covered with inscriptions, are among the most interesting remains
of antiquity. Life after death, the leading idea of the religion of Egypt,
was expressed in the construction of the tombs, so numerous in the
vicinity of all the large cities. These necropoles, excavated in the rocks
or hillsides, or built within the pyramids, consist of rows of chambers
with halls supported by columns, which, with the walls, are often covered
with paintings, historical or monumental, representing scenes from
domestic or civil life. The great pyramids were probably built for the
sepulchres of kings and their families, and the smaller ones for persons
of inferior rank.

The most magnificent of the triumphal monuments are the obelisks, gigantic
monoliths of red or white granite, some of which are more than two hundred
feet high, covered with inscriptions, and bearing the image of the
triumphant king, painted or engraved. The splendid obelisk in the Place de
la Concorde, at Paris, celebrates the glories of Rameses II.

The obelisk now in New York is one of a pair erected at Heliopolis, before
the Temple of the Sun, about 1600 B.C. In the reign of Augustus both were
removed to Alexandria, and were known in modern times as Cleopatra's
Needles. One was presented by the Khedive to the city of London in 1877,
and the other to the city of New York the same year. The shaft on the
latter bears two inscriptions, one celebrating Thothmes III., and the
other Rameses II.

One of the most characteristic monuments of Egypt is the statue of the
Sphinx, so often found in the temples and necropoles. It is a recumbent
figure, having a human head and breast and the body of a lion. Whatever
idea the Egyptians may have attached to this symbol, it represents most
truly the character of that people and the struggle of mind to free itself
from the instincts of brutal nature.

5. THE DISCOVERY OF CHAMPOLLION.--During the expedition into Egypt, in
1799, in throwing up some earthworks near Rosetta, a town on the western
arm of the Nile, an officer of the French army discovered a block or
tablet of black basalt, upon which were engraved inscriptions in Egyptian
and Greek characters. This tablet, called the Rosetta Stone, was sent to
France and submitted to the orientalists for interpretation. The
inscription was found to be a decree of the Egyptian priests in honor of
Ptolemy Epiphanes (196 B.C.), which was ordered to be engraved on stone in
sacred (hieroglyphic), common (demotic), and in Greek characters. Through
this interpretation, Champollion (1790-1832), after much study, discovered
and established the alphabetic system of Egyptian writing, and applying
his discovery more extensively, he was able to decipher the names of the
kings of Egypt from the Roman emperors back, through the Ptolemies, to the
Pharaohs of the elder dynasties. This discovery was the key to the
interpretation of all the ancient monuments of Egypt; by it the history of
the country was thrown open for a period of twenty-six centuries, the
annals of the neighboring nations were rendered more intelligible, the
religion, arts, sciences, life, and manners of the ancient Egyptians were
revealed to the modern world, and the obelisks, the innumerable papyri,
and the walls of the temples and tombs were transformed into inexhaustible
mines of historical and scientific knowledge.

SCIENTIFIC; EPIC; SATIRICAL AND JUDICIAL.--The Egyptian priests from the
earliest times must have preserved the annals of their country, though
obscured by myths and symbols. These annals, however, were destroyed by
Cambyses (500 B.C.), who, during his invasion of the country, burned the
temples where they were preserved, although they were soon rewritten,
according to the testimony of Herodotus, who visited Egypt 450 B.C. In the
third century B.C., Manetho, a priest and librarian of Heliopolis, wrote
the succession of kings, and though the original work was lost, important
fragments of it have been preserved by other writers. There seem to have
been four periods in this history of ancient Egypt, marked by great
changes in the social and political constitution of the country. In the
first epoch, under the rule of the gods, demigods, and heroes, according
to Manetho, it was probably colonized and ruled by the priests, in the
name of the gods. The second period extends from Menes, the supposed
founder of the monarchy, to the invasion of the Shepherd Kings, about 2000
B.C. In the third period, under this title, the Phoenicians probably ruled
Egypt for three centuries, and it was one of these kings or Pharaohs of
whom Joseph was the prime minister. In the fourth period, from 1180 to 350
B.C., the invaders were expelled and native rule restored, until the
country was again conquered, first by the Persians, about 500 B.C., and
again by the Greeks under Alexander, 350 B.C. From that time to the
present no native ruler has sat on the throne of that country. After the
conquest by Alexander the Great, who left it to the sway of the Ptolemies,
it was successively conquered by the Romans, the Saracens, the Mamelukes,
and the Turks. Since 1841 it has been governed by a viceroy under nominal
allegiance to the Sultan of Turkey. In 1865 the title of khedive was
substituted for that of viceroy.

Early Egyptian chronology is in a great measure merely conjectural, and
new information from the monuments only adds to the obscurity. The
historical papyri are records of the kings or accounts of contemporary
events. These, as well as the inscriptions on the monuments, generally in
the form of panegyric, are inflated records of the successes of the heroes
they celebrate, or explanations of the historical scenes painted or
sculptured on the monuments.

The early religion of Egypt was founded on a personification of the laws
of Nature, centred in a mysterious unity. Egyptian nature, however,
supplied but few great objects of worship as symbols of divine power,
the desert, a natural enemy, the fertilizing river, and the sun, the
all-pervading presence, worshiped as the source of life, the lord of time,
and author of eternity. Three great realms composed the Egyptian cosmos; the
heavens, where the sun, moon, and stars paced their daily round, the abode
of the invisible king, typified by the sun and worshiped as Ammon Ra, the
earth and the under-world, the abode of the dead. Here, too, reigned the
universal lord under the name of Osiris, whose material manifestation, the
sun, as he passed beneath the earth, lightened up the under-world, where
the dead were judged, the just recompensed, and the guilty punished.

Innumerable minor divinities, which originally personified attributes of
the one Supreme Deity, were represented under the form of such animals as
were endowed with like qualities. Every god was symbolized by some animal,
which thus became an object of worship; but by confounding symbols with
realities this worship soon degenerated into gross materialism and

The most important religious work in this literature is the "Book of the
Dead," a funeral ritual. The earliest known copy is in hieratic writing of
the oldest type, and was found in the tomb of a queen, who lived probably
about 3000 B.C. The latest copy is of the second century A.D., and is
written in pure Coptic. This work, consisting of one hundred and sixty-six
chapters, is a collection of prayers of a magical character, an account of
the adventures of the soul after death, and directions for reaching the
Hall of Osiris. It is a marvel of confusion and poverty of thought. A
complete translation may be found in "Egypt's Place in Universal History,"
by Bunsen (second edition), and specimens in almost every museum of
Europe. There are other theological remains, such as the Metamorphoses of
the gods and the Lament of Isis, but their meaning is disguised in
allegory. The hymns and addresses to the sun abound in pure and lofty

The epistolary writings are the best known and understood branch of
Egyptian literature. From the Ramesid era, the most literary of all, we
have about eighty letters on various subjects, interesting as
illustrations of manners and specimens of style. The most important of
these is the "Anastasi Papyri" in the British Museum, written about the
time of the Exodus.

Two valuable and tolerably complete relics represent the fictitious
writing of Egyptian literature; they are "The Tale of Two Brothers," now
in the British Museum, and "The Romance of Setna," recently discovered in
the tomb of a Coptic monk. The former was evidently intended for the
amusement of a royal prince. One of its most striking features is the low
moral tone of the women introduced. "The Romance of Setna" turns upon the
danger of acquiring possession of the sacred books. The opening and date
of the story are missing.

Fresh information is being constantly acquired as to the knowledge of
science possessed by the ancient Egyptians. Geometry originated with them,
or from remote ages they were acquainted with the principles of this
science, as well as with those of hydrostatics and mechanics, as is proved
by the immense structures which remain the wonder of the modern world.
They cultivated astronomy from the earliest times, and they have
transmitted to us their observations on the movements of the sun, the
stars, the earth, and other planets. The obelisks served them as sun
dials, and the pyramids as astronomical observatories. They had great
skill in medicine and much knowledge of anatomy. The most remarkable
medical papyri are to be found in the Berlin Museum.

The epics and biographical sketches are narratives of personal adventure
in war or travel, and are distinguished by some effort at grace of style.
The epic of Pentaur, or the achievements of Rameses II., has been called
the Egyptian Iliad. It is several centuries older than the Greek Iliad,
and deserves admiration for its rapid narrative and epic unity.

The history of Mohan (by some thought to be Moses) has been called the
Egyptian Odyssey, in contrast to the preceding. Mohan was a high official,
and this narrative describes his travels in Syria and Palestine. This
papyrus is in the British Museum, and both epics have been translated.

The satirical writings and beast fables of the Egyptians caricature the
foibles of all classes, not sparing the sacred person of the king, and are
often illustrated with satirical pictures. Besides these strictly literary
remains, a large number of judicial documents, petitions, decrees, and
treaties has been recovered.

7. THE ALEXANDRIAN PERIOD.--Egypt, in its flourishing period, having
contributed to the civilization of Greece, became, in its turn, the pupil
of that country. In the century following the age of Alexander the Great,
under the rule of the Ptolemies, the philosophy and literature of Athens
were transferred to Alexandria. Ptolemy Philadelphus, in the third century
B.C., completed the celebrated Alexandrian Library, formed for the most
part of Greek books, and presided over by Greek librarians. The school of
Alexandria had its poets, its grammarians, and philosophers; but its
poetry lacked the fire of genius, and its grammatical productions were
more remarkable for sophistry and subtlety, than for soundness and depth
of research. In the philosophy of Alexandria, the Eastern and Western
systems combined, and this school had many distinguished disciples.

In the first century of the Christian era, Egypt passed from the Greek
kings to the Roman emperors, and the Alexandrian school continued to be
adorned by the first men of the age. This splendor, more Grecian than
Egyptian, was extinguished in the seventh century by the Saracens, who
conquered the country, and, it is believed, burned the great Alexandrian
Library. After the wars of the immediate successors of Mohammed, the
Arabian princes protected literature, Alexandria recovered its schools,
and other institutions of learning were established; but in the conquest
of the country by the Turks, in the thirteenth century, all literary light
was extinguished.

8. LITERARY CONDITION OF MODERN EGYPT.--For more than nine hundred years
Cairo has possessed a university of high rank, which greatly increased in
importance on the accession of Mehemet Ali, in 1805, who established many
other schools, primary, scientific, medical, and military, though they
were suffered to languish under his two successors. In 1865, when Ismail-
Pacha mounted the throne as Khedive (tributary king), he gave powerful aid
to the university and to public instruction everywhere. The number of
students at the University of Cairo advanced to eleven thousand. The wife
of the Khedive, the Princess Cachma-Afet, founded in 1873, and maintained
from her privy purse, a school for the thorough instruction of girls,
which led to the establishment of a similar institution by the Ministry of
Public Instruction. This princess is the first in the history of Islam
who, from the interior of the harem, has exerted her influence to educate
and enlighten her sex.

When the Khedive was driven into exile in 1879, the number of schools,
nearly all the result of his energetic rule, was 4,817 and of pupils
170,000. Since the European intervention and domination the number of both
has sensibly diminished, and a serious retrograde movement has taken

The higher literature of Egypt at the present time is written in pure
Arabic. The popular writing in magazines, periodicals, etc., is in Arabic
mixed with Syriac and Egyptian dialects. Newspaper literature has greatly
increased during the past eight years.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Greek Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language.--
3. The Religion.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Ante-Homeric Songs and Bards.--2. Poems of Homer; the
Iliad; the Odyssey.--3. The Cyclic Poets and the Homeric Hymns.--4. Poems
of Hesiod; the Works and Days; the Theogony.--5. Elegy and Epigram;
Tyrtaeus; Archilochus; Simonides.--6. Iambic Poetry, the Fable, and
Parody; Aesop.--7. Greek Music and Lyric Poetry; Terpander.--8. Aeolic
Lyric Poets; Alcasus; Sappho; Anacreon.--9. Doric, or Choral Lyric Poets;
Alcman; Stesichorus; Pindar.--10. The Orphic Doctrines and Poems.--11.
Pre-Socratic Philosophy; Ionian, Eleatic, Pythagorean Schools.--12.
History; Herodotus.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. Literary Predominance of Athens.--2. Greek Drama.--3.
Tragedy.--4. The Tragic Poets; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides.--5.
Comedy; Aristophanes; Menander.--6. Oratory, Rhetoric, and History;
Pericles; the Sophists; Lysias; Isocrates; Demosthenes; Thucydides;
Xenophon.--7. Socrates and the Socratic Schools; Plato; Aristotle.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Origin of the Alexandrian Literature.--2. The
Alexandrian Poets; Philetas; Callimachus; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus.--3.
The Prose Writers of Alexandria; Zenodotus; Aristophanes; Aristarchus;
Eratosthenes; Euclid; Archimedes.--4. Philosophy of Alexandria; Neo-
Platonism.--5. Anti-Neo-Platonic Tendencies; Epictetus; Lucian; Longinus.
--6. Greek Literature in Rome; Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Flavius
Josephus; Polybius; Diodorus; Strabo; Plutarch.--7. Continued Decline of
Greek Literature.--8. Last Echoes of the Old Literature; Hypatia; Nonnus;
Musaeus; Byzantine Literature.--9. The New Testament and the Greek
Fathers. Modern Literature; the Brothers Santsos and Alexander Rangabé.


1. GREEK LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--The literary histories thus far
sketched, with the exception of the Hebrew, occupy a subordinate position,
and constitute but a small part of the general and continuous history of
literature. As there are states whose interests are so detached from
foreign nations and so centred in themselves that their history seems to
form no link in the great chain of political events, so there are bodies
of literature cut off from all connection with the course of general
refinement, and bearing no relation to the development of mental power in
the most civilized portions of the globe. Thus, the literature of India,
with its great antiquity, its language, which, in fullness of expression,
sweetness of tone, and regularity of structure, rivals the most perfect of
those Western tongues to which it bears such an affinity, with all its
affluence of imagery and its treasures of thought, has hitherto been
destitute of any direct influence on the progress of general literature,
and China has contributed still less to its advancement. Other branches of
Oriental literature, as the Persian and Arabian, were equally isolated,
until they were brought into contact with the European mind through the
medium of the Crusaders and of the Moorish empire in Spain.

We come now to speak of the literature of the Greeks; a literature whose
continuous current has rolled down from remote ages to our own day, and
whose influence has been more extensive and lasting than that of any other
nation of the ancient or modern world. Endowed with profound sensibility
and a lively imagination, surrounded by all the circumstances that could
aid in perfecting the physical and intellectual powers, the Greeks early
acquired that essentially literary and artistic character which became the
source of the greatest productions of literature and art. This excellence
was, also, in some measure due to their institutions; free from the system
of castes which prevailed in India and Egypt, and which confined all
learning by a sort of hereditary right to the priests, the tendency of the
Greek mind was from the first liberal, diffusive, and aesthetic. The
manifestation of their genius, from the first dawn of their intellectual
culture, was of an original and peculiar character, and their plastic
minds gave a new shape and value to whatever materials they drew from
foreign sources. The ideas of the Egyptians and Orientals, which they
adopted into their mythology, they cast in new moulds, and reproduced in
more beautiful forms. The monstrous they subdued into the vast, the
grotesque they softened into the graceful, and they diffused a fine spirit
of humanity over the rude proportions of the primeval figures. So with the
dogmas of their philosophy, borrowed from the same sources; all that could
beautify the meagre, harmonize the incongruous, enliven the dull, or
convert the crude materials of metaphysics into an elegant department of
literature, belongs to the Greeks themselves. The Grecian mind became the
foundation of the Roman and of all modern literatures, and its master-
pieces afford the most splendid examples of artistic beauty and perfection
that the world has ever seen.

The history of Greek literature may be divided into three periods. The
first, extending from remote antiquity to the age of Herodotus (484 B.C.),
includes the earliest poetry of Greece, the ante-Homeric and the Homeric
eras, the origin of Greek elegy, epigram, iambic, and lyric poetry, and
the first development of Greek philosophy.

The second, or Athenian period, the golden age of Greek literature,
extends from the age of Herodotus (484 B.C.) to the death of Alexander the
Great (323 B.C.), and comprehends the development of the Greek drama in
the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and of political
oratory, history, and philosophy, in the works of Demosthenes, Thucydides,
Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle.

The third, or the period of the decline of Greek literature, extending
from the death of Alexander the Great (323 B.C.) to the fall of the
Byzantine empire (1453 A.D.), is characterized by the removal of Greek
learning and literature from Athens to Alexandria, and by its gradual
decline and extinction.

2. THE LANGUAGE.--Of all known languages none has attained so high a
degree of perfection as that of the Greeks. Belonging to the great Indo-
European family, it is rich in significant words, strong and elegant in
its combinations and phrases, and extremely musical, not only in its
poetry, but in its prose. The Greek language must have attained great
excellence at a very early period, for it existed in its essential
perfection in the time of Homer. It was, also, early divided into
dialects, as spoken by the various Hellenic tribes that inhabited
different parts of the country. The principal of these found in written
composition are the Aeolic, Doric, Ionic, and Attic, of which the Aeolic,
the most ancient, was spoken north of the Isthmus, in the Aeolic colonies
of Asia Minor, and in the northern islands of the Aegean Sea. It was
chiefly cultivated by the lyric poets. The Doric, a variety of the Aeolic,
characterized by its strength, was spoken in Peloponnesus, and in the
Doric colonies of Asia Minor, Lower Italy, and Sicily. The Ionic, the most
soft and liquid of all the dialects, belonged to the Ionian colonies of
Asia Minor and the islands of the Archipelago. It was the language of
Homer, Hesiod, and Herodotus. The Attic, which was the Ionic developed,
enriched, and refined, was spoken in Attica, and prevailed in the
flourishing period of Greek literature.

After the fall of Constantinople, in 1453, the Greek language, which had
been gradually declining, became entirely extinct, and a dialect, which
had long before sprung up among the common people, took the place of the
ancient, majestic, and refined tongue. This popular dialect in turn
continued to degenerate until the middle of the last century. Recently
institutions of learning have been established, and a new impulse given to
improvement in Greece. Great progress has been made in the cultivation of
the language, and great care is taken by modern Greek writers to avoid the
use of foreign idioms and to preserve the ancient orthography. Many
newspapers, periodicals, original works, and translations are published
every year in Greece. The name Romaic, which has been applied to modern
Greek, is now almost superseded by that of Neo-Hellenic.

3. THE RELIGION.--In the development of the Greek religion two periods may
be distinguished, the ante-Homeric and the Homeric. As the heroic age of
the Greek nation was preceded by one in which the cultivation of the land
chiefly occupied the attention of the inhabitants, so there are traces and
remnants of a state of the Greek religion, in which the gods were
considered as exhibiting their power chiefly in the changes of the
seasons, and in the operations and phenomena of outward nature.
Imagination led these early inhabitants to discover, not only in the
general phenomena of vegetation, the unfolding and death of the leaf and
flower, and in the moist and dry seasons of the year, but also in the
peculiar physical character of certain districts, a sign of the
alternately hostile or peaceful, happy or ill-omened interference of
certain deities. There are still preserved in the Greek mythology many
legends of charming and touching simplicity, which had their origin at
this period, when the Greek religion bore the character of a worship of
the powers of nature.

Though founded on the same ideas as most of the religions of the East, and
particularly of Asia Minor, the earliest religion of the Greeks was richer
and more various in its forms, and took a loftier and a wider range. The
Grecian worship of nature, in all the various forms which it assumed,
recognized one deity, as the highest of all, the head of the entire
system, Zeus, the god of heaven and light; with him, and dwelling in the
pure expanse of ether, is associated the goddess of the earth, who, in
different temples, was worshiped under different names, as Hera, Demeter,
and Dione. Besides this goddess, other beings are united with the supreme
god, who are personifications of certain of his energies powerful deities
who carry the influence of light over the earth, and destroy the opposing
powers of darkness and confusion as Athena, born from the head of her
father, and Apollo, the pure and shining god of light. There are other
deities allied with earth and dwelling in her dark recesses; and as life
appears not only to spring from the earth, but to return whence it sprung,
these deities are, for the most part, also connected with death; as
Hermes, who brings up the treasures of fruitfulness from the depths of the
earth, and Cora, the child, now lost and now recovered by her mother,
Demeter, the goddess both of reviving and of decaying nature. The element
of water, Poseidon, was also introduced into this assemblage of the
personified powers of nature, and peculiarly connected with the goddess of
the earth; fire, Hephaestus, was represented as a powerful principle
derived from heaven, having dominion over the earth, and closely allied
with the goddess who sprang from the head of the supreme god. Other
deities form less important parts of this system, as Dionysus, whose
alternate joys and sufferings show a strong resemblance to the form which
religious notions assumed in Asia Minor. Though not, like the gods of
Olympus, recognized by all the races of the Greeks, Dionysus exerted an
important influence on the spirit of the Greek nation, and in sculpture
and poetry gave rise to bold flights of imagination, and to powerful
emotions, both of joy and sorrow.

These notions concerning the gods must have undergone many changes before
they assumed the form under which they appear in the poems of Homer and
Hesiod. The Greek religion, as manifested through them, reached the second
period of its development, belonging to that time when the most
distinguished and prominent part of the people devoted their lives to the
affairs of the state and the occupation of arms, and in which the heroic
spirit was manifested according to these ideas. On Olympus, lying near the
northern boundary of Greece, the highest mountain of that country, whose
summit seems to touch the heavens, there rules the assembly or family of
the gods; the chief of which, Zeus, summons at his pleasure the other gods
to council, as Agamemnon summons the other princes. He is acquainted with
the decrees of fate, and able to control them, and being himself king
among the gods, he gives the kings of the earth their powers and dignity.
By his side his wife, Hera, whose station entitles her to a large share of
his rank and dominion; and a daughter of masculine character, Athena, a
leader of battles and a protectress of citadels, who, by her wise
counsels, deserves the confidence which her father bestows on her; besides
these, there are a number of gods with various degrees of kindred, who
have each their proper place and allotted duty on Olympus. The attention
of this divine council is chiefly turned to the fortunes of nations and
cities, and especially to the adventures and enterprises of the heroes,
who being themselves, for the most part, sprung from the blood of the
gods, form the connecting link between them and the ordinary herd of
mankind. At this stage the ancient religion of nature had disappeared, and
the gods who dwelt on Olympus scarcely manifested any connection with
natural phenomena. Zeus exercises his power as a ruler and a king; Hera,
Athena, and Apollo no longer symbolize the fertility of the earth, the
clearness of the atmosphere, and the arrival of the serene spring;
Hephaestus has passed from the powerful god of fire in heaven and earth
into a laborious smith and worker of metals; Hermes is transformed into
the messenger of Zeus; and the other deities which stood at a greater
distance from the affairs of men are entirely forgotten, or scarcely
mentioned in the Homeric mythology.

These deities are known to us chiefly through the names given to them by
the Romans, who adopted them at a later period, or identified them with
deities of their own. _Zeus_ was called by them Jupiter; _Hera_; Juno;
_Athena_, Minerva; _Ares_, Mars; _Artemis_, Diana; _Hermes_, Mercury;
_Cora_, Proserpine; _Hephaestus_, Vulcan; _Poseidon_, Neptune;
_Aphrodite_, Venus; _Dionysus_, Bacchus.



1. ANTE-HOMERIC SONGS AND BARDS.--Many centuries must have elapsed before
the poetical language of the Greeks could have attained the splendor,
copiousness, and fluency found in the poems of Homer. The first
outpourings of poetical enthusiasm were, doubtless, songs describing, in
few and simple verses, events which powerfully affected the feelings of
the hearers. It is probable that the earliest were those that referred to
the seasons and their phenomena, and that they were sung by the peasants
at their corn and wine harvests, and had their origin in times of ancient
rural simplicity. Songs of this kind had often a plaintive and melancholy
character. Such was the song "Linus" mentioned by Homer, which was
frequently sung at the grape-picking. This Linus evidently belongs to a
class of heroes or demi-gods, of which many instances occur in the
religions of Asia Minor. Boys of extraordinary beauty and in the flower of
youth were supposed to have been drowned, or devoured by raging dogs, and
their death was lamented at the harvests and other periods of the hot
season. According to the tradition, Linus sprang from a divine origin,
grew up with the shepherds among the lambs, and was torn in pieces by wild
dogs, whence arose the festival of the lambs, at which many dogs were
slain. The real object of lamentation was the tender beauty of spring,
destroyed by the summer heat, and other phenomena of the same kind which
the imagination of those times invested with a personal form, and
represented as beings of a divine nature. Of similar meaning are many
other songs, which were sung at the time of the summer heat or at the
cutting of the corn. Such was the song called "Bormus" from its subject, a
beautiful boy of that name, who, having gone to fetch water for the
reapers, was, while drawing it, borne down by the nymphs of the stream.
Such were the cries for the youth Hylas, swallowed up by the waters of a
fountain, and the lament for Adonis, whose untimely death was celebrated
by Sappho.

The Paeans were songs originally dedicated to Apollo, and afterwards to
other gods; their tune and words expressed hope and confidence to
overcome, by the help of the god, great and imminent danger, or gratitude
and thanksgiving for victory and safety. To this class belonged the vernal
Paeans, which were sung at the termination of winter, and those sung in
war before the attack on the enemy. The Threnos, or lamentations for the
dead, were songs containing vehement expressions of grief, sung by
professional singers standing near the bed upon which the body was laid,
and accompanied by the cries and groans of women. The Hymenaeos was the
joyful bridal song of the wedding festivals, in which there were
ordinarily two choruses, one of boys bearing burning torches and singing
the hymenaeos to the clear sound of the pipe, and another of young girls
dancing to the notes of the harp. The Chorus originally referred chiefly
to dancing. The most ancient sense of the word is a _place for dancing_,
and in these choruses young persons of both sexes danced together in rows,
holding one another by the hand, while the citharist, or the player on the
lyre, sitting in their midst, accompanied the sound of his instrument with
songs, which took their name from the choruses in which they were sung.

Besides these popular songs, there were the religious and heroic poems of
the bards, who were, for the most part, natives of that portion of the
country which surrounds the mountains of Helicon and Parnassus,
distinguished as the home of the Muses. Among the bards devoted to the
worship of Apollo and other deities, were Marsyas, the inventor of the
flute, Musaeus and Orpheus. Many names of these ancient poets are
recorded, but of their poetry, previous to Homer, not even a fragment

The bards or chanters of epic poetry were called Rhapsodists, from the
manner in which they delivered their compositions; this name was applied
equally to the minstrel who recited his own poems, and to him who
declaimed anew songs that had been heard a thousand times before. The form
of these heroic songs, probably settled and fixed by tradition, was the
hexameter, as this metre gave to the epic poetry repose, majesty, a lofty
and solemn tone, and rendered it equally adapted to the pythoness who
announced the decrees of the deity, and to the rhapsodist who recited the
battles of heroes. The bards held an important post in the festal
banquets, where they flattered the pride of the princes by singing the
exploits of their forefathers.

2. POEMS OF HOMER.--Although seven cities contended for the honor of
giving birth to Homer, it was the prevalent belief, in the flourishing
times of Greece, that he was a native of Smyrna. He was probably born in
that city about 1000 B.C. Little is known of his life, but the power of
his transcendent genius is deeply impressed upon his works. He was called
by the Greeks themselves, _the poet_; and the Iliad and the Odyssey were
with them the ultimate standard of appeal on all matters of religious
doctrine and early history. They were learned by boys at school, and
became the study of men in their riper years, and in the time of Socrates
there were Athenians who could repeat both poems by heart. In whatever
part of the world a Greek settled, he carried with him a love for the
great poet, and long after the Greek people had lost their independence,
the Iliad and the Odyssey continued to maintain an undiminished hold upon
their affections. The peculiar excellence of these poems lies in their
sublimity and pathos, in their tenderness and simplicity, and they show in
their author an inexhaustible vigor, that seems to revel in an endless
display of prodigious energies. The universality of the powers of Homer is
their most astonishing attribute. He is not great in any one thing; he is
greatest in all things. He imagines with equal ease the terrible, the
beautiful, the mean, the loathsome, and he paints them all with equal
force. In his descriptions of external nature, in his exhibitions of human
character and passion, no matter what the subject, he exhausts its
capabilities. His pictures are true to the minutest touch; his men and
women are made of flesh and blood. They lose nothing of their humanity for
being cast in a heroic mould. He transfers himself into the identity of
those whom he brings into action; masters the interior springs of their
spiritual mechanism; and makes them move, look, speak, and do exactly as
they would in real life.

In the legends connected with the Trojan war, the _anger of Achilles_ and
the _return of Ulysses_, Homer found the subjects of the Iliad and
Odyssey. The former relates that Agamemnon had stolen from Achilles,
Briseis, his beloved slave, and describes the fatal consequences which the
subsequent anger of Achilles brought upon the Greeks; and how the loss of
his dearest friend, Patroclus, suddenly changed his hostile attitude, and
brought about the destruction of Troy and of Hector, its magnanimous
defender. The Odyssey is composed on a more artificial and complicated
plan than the Iliad. The subject is the return of Ulysses from a land
beyond the range of human knowledge to a home invaded by bands of insolent
intruders, who seek to kill his son and rob him of his wife. The poem
begins at that point where the hero is considered to be farthest from his
home, in the central portion of the sea, where the nymph Calypso has kept
him hidden from all mankind for seven years. Having by the help of the
gods passed through innumerable dangers, after many adventures he reaches
Ithaca, and is finally introduced into his own house as a beggar, where he
is made to suffer the harshest treatment from the suitors of his wife, in
order that he may afterwards appear with the stronger right as a terrible
avenger. In this simple story a second was interwoven by the poet, which
renders it richer and more complete, though more intricate and less
natural. It is probable that Homer, after having sung the Iliad in the
vigor of his youthful years, either composed the Odyssey in his old age,
or communicated to some devoted disciple the plan of this poem.

In the age immediately succeeding Homer, his great poems were doubtless
recited as complete wholes, at the festivals of the princes; but when the
contests of the rhapsodists became more animated, and more weight was laid
on the art of the reciter than on the beauty of the poem he recited, and
when other musical and poetical performances claimed a place, then they
were permitted to repeat separate parts of poems, and the Iliad and
Odyssey, as they had not yet been reduced to writing, existed for a time
only as scattered and unconnected fragments; and we are still indebted to
the regulator of the poetical contests (either Solon or Pisistratus) for
having compelled the rhapsodists to follow one another according to the
order of 'the poem, and for having thus restored these great works to
their pristine integrity. The poets, who either recited the poems of Homer
or imitated him in their compositions, were called Homerides.

3. THE CYCLIC POETS AND THE HOMERIC HYMNS.--The poems of Homer, as they
became the foundation of all Grecian literature, are likewise the central
point of the epic poetry of Greece. All that is most excellent in this
line originated from them, and was connected with them in the way of
completion or continuation. After the time of Homer, a class of poets
arose who, from their constant endeavor to connect their poems with those
of this master, so that they might form a great cycle, were called the
Cyclic Poets. They were probably Homeric rhapsodists by profession, to
whom the constant recitation of the ancient Homeric poems would naturally
suggest the idea of continuing them by essays of their own. The poems
known as Homeric hymns formed an essential part of the epic style. They
were hymns to the gods, bearing an epic character, and were called
_proemia_, or preludes, and served the rhapsodists either as introductory
strains for their recitation, or as a transition from the festivals of the
gods to the competition of the singers of heroic poetry.

4. POEMS OF HESIOD.--Nothing certain can be affirmed respecting the date
of Hesiod; a Boeotian by birth, he is considered by some ancient
authorities as contemporary with Homer, while others suppose him to have
flourished two or three generations later. The poetry of Hesiod is a
faithful transcript of the whole condition of Boeotian life. It has
nothing of that youthful and inexhaustible fancy of Homer which lights up
the sublime images of a heroic age and moulds them into forms of
surpassing beauty. The poetry of Hesiod appears struggling to emerge out
of the narrow bounds of common life, which he strives to ennoble and to
render more endurable. It is purely didactic, and its object is to
disseminate knowledge, by which life may be improved, or to diffuse
certain religious notions as to the influence of a superior destiny. His
poem entitled "Works and Days" is so entirely occupied with the events of
common life, that the author would not seem to have been a poet by
profession, but some Boeotian husbandman whose mind had been moved by
circumstances to give a poetical tone to the course of his thoughts and
feelings. The unjust claim of Perses, the brother of Hesiod, to the small
portion of their father's land which had been allotted to him, called
forth this poem, in which he seeks to improve the character and habits of
Perses, to deter him from acquiring riches by litigation, and to incite
him to a life of labor, as the only source of permanent prosperity. He
points out the succession in which his labors must follow if he determines
to lead a life of industry, and gives wise rules of economy for the
management of a family; and to illustrate and enforce the principal idea,
he ingeniously combines with his precepts mythical narratives, fables, and
descriptions. The "Theogony" of Hesiod is a production of the highest
importance, as it contains the religious faith of Greece. It was through
it that Greece first obtained a religious code, which, although without
external sanction or priestly guardians and interpreters, must have
produced the greatest influence on the religious condition of the Greeks.

5. ELEGY AND EPIGRAM.--Until the beginning of the seventh century B.C.,
the epic was the only kind of poetry cultivated in Greece, with the
exception of the early songs and hymns, and the hexameter the only metre
used by the poets. This exclusive prevalence of epic poetry was doubtless
connected with the political state of the country. The ordinary subjects
of these poems must have been highly acceptable to the princes who derived
their race from the heroes, as was the case with all the royal families of
early times. The republican movements, which deprived these families of
their privileges, were favorable to the stronger development of each man's
individuality, and the poet, who in the most perfect form of the epos was
completely lost in his subject, now came before the people as a man with
thoughts and objects of his own, and gave free vent to the emotions of his
soul in elegiac and iambic strains. The word _elegeion_ means nothing more
than the combination of a hexameter and a pentameter, making together a
distich, and an elegy is a poem of such verses. It was usually sung at the
Symposia or literary festivals of the Greeks; in most cases its main
subject was political; it afterwards assumed a plaintive or amatory tone.
The elegy is the first regularly cultivated branch of Greek poetry, in
which the flute alone and neither the cithara nor lyre was employed. It
was not necessary that lamentations should form the subject of it, but
emotion was essential, and excited by events or circumstances of the time
or place the poet poured forth his heart in the unreserved expression of
his fears and hopes.

Tyrtaeus (fl. 694 B.C.), who went from Athens to Sparta, composed the most
celebrated of his elegies on the occasion of the Messenian war, and when
the Spartans were on a campaign, it was their custom after the evening
meal, when the paean had been sung in honor of the gods, to recite these
poems. From this time we find a union between the elegiac and iambic
poetry; the same poet, who employs the elegy to express his joyous and
melancholy emotions, has recourse to the iambus when his cool sense
prompts him to censure the follies of mankind. The relation between these
two metres is observable in Archilochus (fl. 688 B.C.) and Simonides (fl.
664 B.C.). The elegies of Archilochus, of which many fragments are extant
(while of Simonides we only know that he composed elegies), had nothing of
that spirit of which his iambics were full, but they contain the frank
expression of a mind powerfully affected by outward circumstances. With
the Spartans, wine and the pleasures of the feast became the subject of
the elegy, and it was also recited at the solemnities held in honor of all
who had fallen for their country. The elegies of Solon (592-559 B.C.) were
pure expressions of his political feelings. Simonides of Scios, the
renowned lyric poet, the contemporary of Pindar and Aeschylus, was one of
the great masters of elegiac song.

The epigram was originally an inscription on a tombstone, or a votive
offering in a temple, or on any other thing which required explanation.
The unexpected turn of thought and pointedness of expression, which the
moderns consider the essence of this species of composition, were not
required in the ancient Greek epigram, where nothing was wanted but that
the entire thought should be conveyed within the limit of a few distichs,
and thus, in the hands of the early poets, the epigram was remarkable for
the conciseness and expressiveness of its language and differed in this
respect from the elegy, in which full expression was given to the feelings
of the poet.

It was Simonides who first gave to the epigram all the perfection of which
it was capable, and he was frequently employed by the states which fought
against the Persians to adorn with inscriptions the tombs of their fallen
warriors. The most celebrated of these is the inimitable inscription on
the Spartans who died at Thermopylae: "Foreigner, tell the Lacedaemonians
that we are lying here in obedience to their laws." On the Rhodian lyric
poet, Timocreon, an opponent of Simonides in his art, he wrote the
following in the form of an epitaph: "Having eaten much and drank much and
said much evil of other men, here I lie, Timocreon the Rhodian."

6. IAMBIC POETRY, THE FABLE AND PARODY.--The kind of poetry known by the
ancients as Iambic was created among the Athenians by Archilochus at the
same time as the elegy. It arose at a period when the Greeks, accustomed
only to the calm, unimpassioned tone of the epos, had but just found a
temperate expression of lively emotion in the elegy. It was a light,
tripping measure, sometimes loosely constructed, or purposely halting and
broken, well adapted to vituperation, unrestrained by any regard to
morality and decency. At the public tables of Sparta keen and pointed
raillery was permitted, and some of the most venerable and sacred of their
religious rites afforded occasion for their unsparing and audacious jests.
This raillery was so ancient and inveterate a custom, that it had given
rise to a peculiar word, which originally denoted nothing but the jests
and banter used at these festivals, namely, _Iambus_. All the wanton
extravagance which was elsewhere repressed by law or custom, here, under
the protection of religion, burst forth with boundless license, and these
scurrilous effusions were at length reduced by Archilochus into the
systematic form of iambic metre.

Akin to the iambic are two sorts of poetry, the fable and the parody,
which, though differing widely from each other, have both their source in
the turn for the delineation of the ludicrous, and both stand in close
historical relation to the iambic. The fable in Greece originated in an
intentional travesty of human affairs. It is probable that the taste for
fables of beasts and numerous similar inventions found its way from the
East, since this sort of symbolical narrative is more in accordance with
the Oriental than with the Greek character. Aesop (fl. 572 B.C.) was very
far from being regarded by the Greeks as one of their poets, and still
less as a writer. They considered him merely as an ingenious fabulist, to
whom, at a later period, nearly all fables, that were invented or derived
from any other source, were attributed. He was a slave, whose wit and
pleasantry procured him his freedom, and who finally perished in Delphi,
where the people, exasperated by his sarcastic fables, put him to death on
a charge of robbing the temple. No metrical versions of these fables are
known to have existed in early times.

The word "parody" means an adoption of the form of some celebrated poem
with such changes as to produce a totally different effect, and generally
to substitute mean and ridiculous for elevated and poetical sentiments.
"The Battle of the Frogs and Mice," attributed to Homer, but bearing
evident traces of a later age, belongs to this species of poetry.

7. GREEK MUSIC AND LYRIC POETRY.--It was not until the minds of the Greeks
had been elevated by the productions of the epic muse, that the genius of
original poets broke loose from the dominion of the epic style, and
invented new forms for expressing the emotions of a mind profoundly
agitated by passing events; with few innovations in the elegy, but with
greater boldness in the iambic metre. In these two forms, Greek poetry
entered the domain of real life. The elegy and iambus contain the germ of
the lyric style, though they do not themselves come under that head. The
Greek lyric poetry was characterized by the expression of deeper and more
impassioned feeling, and a more impetuous tone than the elegy and iambus,
and at the same time the effect was heightened by appropriate vocal and
instrumental music, and often by the figures of the dance. In this union
of the sister arts, poetry was indeed predominant, yet music, in its turn,
exercised a reciprocal influence on poetry, so that as it became more
cultivated, the choice of the musical measure decided the tone of the
whole poem.

The history of Greek music begins with Terpander the Lesbian (fl. 670
B.C.), who was many times the victor in the musical contests at the
Pythian temple of Delphi. He added three new strings to the cithara, which
had consisted only of four, and this heptachord was employed by Pindar,
and remained long in high repute; he was also the first who marked the
different tones in music. With other musicians, he united the music of
Asia Minor with that of the ancient Greeks, and founded on it a system in
which each style had its appropriate character. By the efforts of
Terpander and one or two other masters, music was brought to a high degree
of excellence, and adapted to express any feeling to which the poet could
give a more definite character and meaning, and thus they had solved the
great problem of their art. It was in Greece the constant endeavor of the
great poets, thinkers, and statesmen who interested themselves in the
education of youth, to give a good direction to this art; they all dreaded
the increasing prevalence of a luxuriant style of instrumental music and
an unrestricted flight into the boundless realms of harmony.

The lyric poetry of the Greeks was of two kinds, and cultivated by two
different schools of poets. One, called the Aeolic, flourished among the
Aeolians of Asia Minor, and particularly in the island of Lesbos; the
other, the Doric, which, although diffused over the whole of Greece, was
at first principally cultivated by the Dorians. These two schools differed
essentially in the subjects, as in the form and style of their poems. The
Doric was intended to be executed by choruses', and to be sung to choral
dances; while the Aeolic was recited by a single person, who accompanied
his recitation with a stringed instrument, generally the lyre.

8. AEOLIC LYRIC POETS.--Alcaeus (fl. 611 B.C.), born in Mytilene in the
island of Lesbos, being driven out of his native city for political
reasons, wandered about the world, and, in the midst of troubles and
perils, struck the lyre and gave utterance to the passionate emotions of
his mind. His war-songs express a stirring, martial spirit; and a noble
nature, accompanied with strong passions, appears in all his poems,
especially in those in which he sings the praises of love and wine, though
little of his erotic poetry has reached our time. It is evident that
poetry was not with him a mere pastime or exercise of skill, but a means
of pouring out the inmost feelings of the soul.  Sappho (fl. 600 B.C.) the
other leader of the Aeolic school of poetry, was the object of the
admiration of all antiquity. She was contemporary with Alcaeus, and in her
verses to him we plainly discern the feeling of unimpeached honor proper
to a free-born and well-educated maiden. Alcaeus testifies that the
attractions and loveliness of Sappho did not derogate from her moral worth
when he calls her "violet-crowned, pure, sweetly smiling Sappho." This
testimony is, indeed, opposed to the accounts of later writers, but the
probable cause of the false imputations in reference to Sappho seems to be
that the refined Athenians were incapable of appreciating the frank
simplicity with which she poured forth her feelings, and therefore they
confounded them with unblushing immodesty. While the men of Athens were
distinguished for their perfection in every branch of art, none of their
women emerged from the obscurity of domestic life. "That woman is the
best," says Pericles, "of whom the least is said among men, whether for
good or for evil." But the Aeolians had in some degree preserved the
ancient Greek manners, and their women enjoyed a distinct individual
existence and moral character. They doubtless participated in the general
high state of civilization, which not only fostered poetical talents of a
high order among women, but produced in them a turn for philosophical
reflection. This was so utterly inconsistent with Athenian manners, that
we cannot wonder that women, who had in any degree overstepped the bounds
prescribed to their sex at Athens, should be represented by the licentious
pen of Athenian comic writers as lost to every sense of shame and decency.
Sappho, in her odes, made frequent mention of a youth to whom she gave her
whole heart, while he requited her love with cold indifference; but there
is no trace of her having named the object of her passion. She may have
celebrated the beautiful and mythical Phaon in such a manner that the
verses were supposed to refer to a lover of her own. The account of her
leap from the Leucadian rock is rather a poetical image, than a real event
in the life of the poetess. The true conception of the erotic poetry of
Sappho can only be drawn from the fragments of her odes, which, though
numerous, are for the most part very short. Among them, we must
distinguish the Epithalamia or hymeneals, which were peculiarly adapted to
the genius of the poetess from the exquisite perception she seems to have
had of whatever was attractive in either sex. From the numerous fragments
that remain, these poems appear to have had great beauty and much of that
expression which the simple and natural manners of the times allowed, and
the warm and sensitive heart of the poetess suggested. That Sappho's fame
was spread throughout Greece, may be seen from the history of Solon, who
was her contemporary. Hearing his nephew recite one of her poems, he said
that he would not willingly die until he had learned it by heart. And,
doubtless, from that circle of accomplished women, of whom she formed the
brilliant centre, a flood of poetic light was poured forth on every side.
Among them may be mentioned the names of Damophila and Erinna, whose poem,
"The Spindle," was highly esteemed by the ancients.

The genius of Anacreon (fl. 540 B.C.), though akin to that of Alcaeus and
Sappho, had an entirely different bent. He seems to consider life as
valuable only so far as it can be spent in wine, love, and social
enjoyment. The Ionic softness and departure from strict rule may also be
perceived in his versification. The different odes preserved under his
name are the productions of poets of a much later date. With Anacreon
ceased the species of lyric poetry in which he excelled; indeed, he stands
alone in it, and the tender softness of his song was soon drowned by the
louder tones of the choral poetry.

The Scolia were a kind of lyric songs sung at social meals, when the
spirit was raised by wine and conversation to a lyrical pitch. The lyre or
a sprig of myrtle was handed round the table and presented to any one who
could amuse the company by a song or even a good sentence in a lyrical

9. DORIC, OR CHORAL LYRIC POETS.--The chorus was in general use in Greece
before the time of Homer, and nearly every variety of the choral poetry,
which was afterwards so brilliantly developed, existed at that remote
period in a rude, unfinished state. After the improvements made by
Terpander and others in musical art, choral poetry rapidly progressed
towards perfection. The poets during the period of progress were Alcman
and Stesichorus, while finished lyric poetry is represented by Ibycus,
Simonides, his disciple Bacchylides and Pindar. These great poets were
only the representatives of the fervor with which the religious festivals
inspired all classes. Choral dances were performed by the whole people
with great ardor and enthusiasm; every considerable town had its poet, who
devoted his whole life to the training and exhibition of choruses.

Alcman (b. 660 B.C.) was a Lydian of Sardis, and an emancipated slave. His
poems exhibit a great variety of metre, of dialect, and of poetic tone. He
is regarded as having overcome the difficulties presented by the rough
dialect of Sparta, and as having succeeded in investing it with a certain
grace. He is one of the poets whose image is most effaced by time, and of
whom we can obtain little accurate knowledge. The admiration awarded him
by antiquity is scarcely justified by the extant remains of his poems.

Stesichorus (fl. 611 B.C.) lived at a time when the predominant tendency
of the Greek mind was towards lyric poetry. His special business was the
training and direction of the choruses, and he assumed the name of
Stesichorus, or leader of choruses, his real name being Tesias. His metres
approach more nearly to the epos than those of Aleman. As Quintilian says,
he sustained the weight of epic poetry with the lyre. His language
accorded with the tone of his poetry, and he is not less remarkable in
himself, than as the precursor of the perfect lyric poetry of Pindar.

Arion (625-585 B.C.) was chiefly known in Greece as the perfecter of the
"Dithyramb," a song of Bacchanalian festivals, doubtless of great
antiquity. Its character, like the worship to which it belonged, was
always impassioned and enthusiastic; the extremes of feeling, rapturous
pleasure, and wild lamentation were both expressed in it.

Ibycus (b. 528 B.C.) was a wandering poet, as is attested by the story of
his death having been avenged by the cranes. His poetical style resembles
that of Stesichorus, as also his subjects. The erotic poetry of Ibycus is
most celebrated, and breathes a fervor of passion far exceeding that of
any similar production of Greek literature.

Simonides (556-468 B.C.) has already been described as one of the great
masters of the elegy and epigram. In depth and novelty of ideas, and in
the fervor of poetic feeling, he was far inferior to his contemporary
Pindar, but he was probably the most prolific lyric poet of Greece.
According to the frequent reproach of the ancients, he was the first that
sold his poems for money. His style was not as lofty as that of Pindar,
hut what he lost in sublimity he gained in pathos.

Bacchylides (fl. 450 B.C.), the nephew of Simonides, devoted his genius
chiefly to the pleasures of private life, love, and wine, and his
productions, when compared with those of Simonides, are marked by less
moral elevation.

Timocreon the Rhodian (fl. 471 B.C.) owes his chief celebrity among the
ancients to the hate he bore to Themistocles in political life, and to
Simonides on the field of poetry.

Pindar (522-435 B.C.) was the contemporary of Aeschylus, but as the causes
which determined his poetical character are to be sought in an earlier
age, and in the Doric and Aeolic parts of Greece, he may properly be
placed at the close of the early period, while Aeschylus stands at the
head of the new epoch of literature. Like Hesiod, Pindar was a native of
Boeotia, and that there was still much love for music and poetry there is
proved by the fact that two women, Myrtis and Corinna, had obtained great
celebrity in these arts during the youth of this poet. Myrtis (fl. 490
B.C.) strove with him for the prize at the public games, and Corinna (fl.
490 B.C.) is said to have gained the victory over him five times. Too
little of the poetry of Corinna has been preserved to allow a judgment on
her style of composition. Pindar made the arts of poetry and music the
business of his life, and his fame soon spread throughout Greece and the
neighboring countries. He excelled in all the known varieties of choral
poetry, but the only class of poems that enable us to judge of his general
style is his triumphal odes. When a victory was gained in a contest at a
festival by the speed of horses, the strength and dexterity of the human
body, or by skill in music, such a victory, which shed honor not only on
the victor, but also on his family, and even on his native city, demanded
a public celebration. An occasion of this kind had always a religious
character, and often began with a procession to an altar or temple, where
a sacrifice was offered, followed by a banquet, and the solemnity
concluded with a merry and boisterous revel. At this sacred and at the
same time joyous festival, the chorus appeared and recited the triumphal
hymn, which was considered the fairest ornament of the triumph. Such an
occasion, a victory in the sacred games and its end, the ennobling of a
ceremony connected with the worship of the gods, required that the ode
should be composed in a lofty and dignified style. Pindar does not content
himself with celebrating the bodily prowess of the victor alone, but he
usually adds some moral virtue which he has shown, and which he recommends
and extols. Sometimes this virtue is moderation, wisdom, or filial love,
more often piety to the gods, and he expounds to the victor his destiny,
by showing him the dependence of his exploits on the higher order of
things. Mythical narratives occupy much space in these odes, for in the
time of Pindar the mythical past was invested with a splendor and
sublimity, of which even the faint reflection was sufficient to embellish
the present.

10. ORPHIC DOCTRINES AND POEMS.--The interval between Homer and Pindar is
an important period in the history of Greek civilization. In Homer we
perceive that infancy of the mind which lives in seeing and imagining, and
whose moral judgments are determined by impulses of feeling rather than by
rules of conduct, while with Pindar the chief effort of his genius is to
discover the true standard of moral government. This great change of
opinion must have been affected by the efforts of many sages and poets.
All the Greek religious poetry, treating of death and of the world beyond
the grave, refers to the deities whose influence was supposed to be
exercised in the dark regions at the centre of the earth, and who had
little connection with the political and social relations of human life.
They formed a class apart from the gods of Olympus; the mysteries of the
Greeks were connected with their worship alone, and the love of
immortality first found support in a belief in these deities. The
mysteries of Demeter, especially those celebrated at Eleusis, inspired the
most animating hopes with regard to the soul after death. These mysteries,
however, had little influence on the literature of the nation; but there
was a society of persons called the followers of Orpheus, who published
their notions and committed them to literary works. Under the guidance of
the ancient mystical poet, Orpheus, they dedicated themselves to the
worship of Bacchus or Dionysus, in which they sought satisfaction for an
ardent longing after the soothing and elevating influences of religion,
and upon the worship of this deity they founded their hopes of an ultimate
immortality of the soul. Unlike the popular worshipers of Bacchus, they
did not indulge in unrestrained pleasure or frantic enthusiasm, but rather
aimed at an ascetic purity of life and manners. It is difficult to tell
when this association was formed in Greece, but we find in Hesiod
something of the Orphic spirit, and the beginning of higher and more
hopeful views of death.

The endeavor to obtain a knowledge of divine and human things was in
Greece slowly and with difficulty evolved from their religious notions,
and it was for a long time confined to the refining and rationalizing of
their mythology. An extensive Orphic literature first appeared at the time
of the Persian war, when the remains of the Pythagorean order in Magna
Graecia united themselves to the Orphic associations. The philosophy of
Pythagoras, however, had no analogy with the spirit of the Orphic
mysteries, in which the worship of Dionysus was the centre of all
religious ideas, while the Pythagorean philosophers preferred the worship
of Apollo and the Muses. In the Orphic theogony we find, for the first
time, the idea of creation. Another difference between the notions of the
Orphic poets and those of the early Greeks was that the former did not
limit their views to the present state of mankind, still less did they
acquiesce in Hesiod's melancholy doctrine of successive ages, each one
worse than the preceding; but they looked for a cessation of strife, a
state of happiness and beatitude at the end of all things. Their hopes of
this result were founded on Dionysus, from the worship of whom all their
peculiar religious ideas were derived. This god, the son of Zeus, is to
succeed him in the government of the world, to restore the Golden Age, and
to liberate human souls, who, according to an Orphic notion, are punished
by being confined in the body as in a prison. The sufferings of the soul
in its prison, the steps and transitions by which it passes to a higher
state of existence, and its gradual purification and enlightenment, were
all fully described in these poems. Thus, in the poetry of the first five
centuries of Greek literature, especially at the close of this period, we
find, instead of the calm enjoyment of outward nature which characterized
the early epic poetry, a profound sense of the misery of human life, and
an ardent longing for a condition of greater happiness. This feeling,
indeed, was not so extended as to become common to the whole Greek nation,
but it took deep root in individual minds, and was connected with more
serious and spiritual views of human nature.

11. PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY.--Philosophy was early cultivated by the
Greeks, who first among all nations distinguished it from religion and
mythology. For some time, however, after its origin, it was as far removed
from the ordinary thoughts and occupations of the people as poetry was
intimately connected with them. Poetry idealizes all that is most
characteristic of a nation; its religion, mythology, political and social
institutions, and manners. Philosophy, on the other hand, begins by
detaching the mind from the opinions and habits in which it has been bred
up, from the national conceptions of the gods and the universe, and from
traditionary maxims of ethics and politics. The philosophy of Greece,
antecedent to the time of Socrates, is contained in the doctrines of the
Ionic, Eleatic, and Pythagorean. schools. Thales of Miletus (639-548
B.C.) was the first in the series of the Ionic philosophers. He was one of
the Seven Sages, who by their practical wisdom nobly contributed to the
flourishing condition of Greece. Thales, Solon, Bion (fl. 570 B.C.),
Cleobulus (fl. 542 B.C.), Periander (fl. 598 B.C.), Pittacus of Mytilene
(579 B.C.), and Chilon (fl. 542 B.C.), were the seven philosophers called
the seven sages by their countrymen. Thales is said to have foretold an
eclipse of the sun, for which he doubtless employed astronomical formulae,
which he had obtained from the Chaldeans. His tendency was practical, and
where his own knowledge was insufficient, he applied the discoveries of
other nations more advanced than his own. He considered all nature as
endowed with life, and sought to discover the principles of external forms
in the powers which lie beneath; he taught that water was the principle of
things. Anaximander (fl. 547 B.C.), and Anaximenes (fl. 548 B.C.) were the
other two most distinguished representatives of the Ionic school. The
former believed that chaotic matter was the principle of all things, the
latter taught that it was air. The Eleatic school is represented by
Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Zeno. As the philosophers of the first school
were called Ionians from the country in which they resided, so these were
named from Elea, a Greek colony of Italy. Xenophanes (fl. 538 B.C.), the
founder of this school, adopted a different principle from that of the
Ionic philosophers, and proceeded upon an ideal system, while that of the
latter was exclusively founded upon experience. He began with the idea of
the godhead, and showed the necessity of considering it as an eternal and
unchanging existence, and represented the anthropomorphic conceptions of
the Greeks concerning their gods as mere prejudices. In his works he
retained the poetic form of composition, some fragments of which he
himself recited at public festivals, after the manner of the rhapsodists.
Parmenides flourished 504 years B.C. His philosophy rested upon the idea
of existence which excluded the idea of creation, and thus fell into
pantheism. His poem on "Nature" was composed in the epic metre, and in it
he expressed in beautiful forms the most abstract ideas. Zeno of Elea (fl.
500 B.C.) was a pupil of Parmenides, and the earliest prose writer among
the Greek philosophers. He developed the doctrines of his master by
showing the absurdities involved in the ideas of variety and of creation,
as opposed to one and universal substance. Other philosophers belonging to
Iona or Elea may be referred to these schools, as Heraclitus, Empedocles,
Democritus, and Anaxagoras, whose doctrines, however, vary from those of
the representatives of the philosophical systems above named. Heraclitus
(fl. 505 B.C.) dealt rather in intimations of important truths than in
popular exposition of them; his cardinal doctrine seems to have been that
everything is in perpetual motion, that nothing has any permanent
existence, and that everything is assuming a new form or perishing: the
principle of this perpetual motion he supposed to be _fixe_, though
probably he did not mean material fire, but some higher and more universal
agent. Like nearly all the philosophers, he despised the popular religion.
Empedocles (fl. 440 B.C.) wrote a doctrinal poem concerning nature,
fragments of which have been preserved. He denied the possibility of
creation, and held the doctrine of an eternal and imperishable existence;
but he considered this existence as having different natures, and admitted
that fire, earth, air, and water were the four elements of all things.
These elements he supposed to be governed by two principles, one positive
and one negative, that is to say, connecting love and dissolving discord.
Democritus (fl. 460 B.C.) embodied his extensive knowledge in a series of
writings, of which only a few fragments have been preserved. Cicero
compared him with Plato for rhythm and elegance of language. He derived
the manifold phenomena of the world from the different form, disposition,
and arrangement of the innumerable elements or atoms as they become
united. He is the founder of the atomic doctrine. Anaxagoras (fl. 456
B.C.) rejected all popular notions of religion, excluded the idea of
creation and destruction, and taught that atoms were unchangeable and
imperishable; that spirit, the purest and subtlest of all things, gave to
these atoms the impulse by which they took the forms of individual things
and beings; and that this impulse was given in circular motion, which kept
the heavenly bodies in their courses. But none of his doctrines gave so
much offence or was considered so clear a proof of his atheism as his
opinion that the sun, the bountiful god Helios, who shines both upon
mortals and immortals, was a mass of red-hot iron. His doctrines tended
powerfully by their rapid diffusion to undermine the principles on which
the worship of the ancient gods rested, and they therefore prepared the
way for the subsequent triumph of Christianity.

The Pythagorean or Italic School was founded by Pythagoras, who is said to
have flourished between 540 and 500 B.C. Pythagoras was probably an Ionian
who emigrated to Italy, and there established his school. His principal
efforts were directed to practical life, especially to the regulation of
political institutions, and his influence was exercised by means of
lectures, or sayings, or by the establishment and direction of the
Pythagorean associations. He encouraged the study of mathematics and
music, and considered singing to the cithara as best fitted to produce
that mental repose and harmony of soul which he regarded as the highest
object of education.

12. HISTORY.--It is remarkable that a people so cultivated as the Greeks
should have been so long without feeling the want of a correct record of
their transactions in war and peace. The difference between this nation
and the Orientals, in this respect, is very great. But the division of the
country into numerous small states, and the republican form of the
governments, prevented a concentration of interest on particular events
and persons, and owing to the dissensions between the republics, their
historical traditions could not but offend some while they flattered
others; it was not until a late period that the Greeks considered
contemporary events as worthy of being thought or written of. But for this
absence of authentic history, Greek literature could never have become
what it was. By the purely fictitious character of its poetry, and its
freedom from the shackles of particular truths, it acquired that general
probability which led Aristotle to consider poetry as more philosophical
than history. Greek art, likewise, from the lateness of the period at
which it descended from the representation of gods and heroes to the
portraits of real men, acquired a nobleness and beauty of form which it
could not otherwise have obtained. This poetical basis gave the literature
of the Greeks a noble and liberal turn.

Writing was probably known in Greece some centuries before the time of
Cadmus of Miletus (fl. 522 B.C.), but it had not been employed for the
purpose of preserving any detailed historical record, and even when,
towards the end of the age of the Seven Sages (550 B.C.), some writers of
historical narratives began to appear, they did not select recent
historical events, but those of distant times and countries; so entirely
did they believe that oral tradition and the daily discussions of common
life were sufficient records of the events of their own time and country.
Cadmus of Miletus is mentioned as the first historian, but his works seem
to have been early lost. To him, and other Greek historians before the
time of Herodotus, scholars have given the name of Logographers, from
Logos, signifying any discourse in prose.

The first Greek to whom it occurred that a narrative of facts might be
made intensely interesting was Herodotus (484-432 B.C.), a native of
Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, the Homer of Greek history. Obliged, for
political reasons, to leave his native land, he visited many countries,
such as Egypt, Babylon, and Persia, and spent the latter years of his life
in one of the Grecian settlements in Italy, where he devoted himself to
the composition of his work. His travels were undertaken from the pure
spirit of inquiry, and for that age they were very extensive and
important. It is probable that his great and intricate plan, hitherto
unknown in the historical writings of the Greeks, did not at first occur
to him, and that it was only in his later years that he conceived the
complete idea of a work so far beyond those of his predecessors and
contemporaries. It is stated that he recited his history at different
festivals, which is quite credible, though there is little authority for
the story that at one of these Thucydides was present as a boy, and shed
tears, drawn forth by his own desire for knowledge and his intense
interest in the narrative. His work comprehends a history of nearly all
the nations of the world at that time known. It has an epic character, not
only from the equable and uninterrupted flow of the narrative, but also
from certain pervading ideas which give a tone to the whole. The principal
of these is the idea of a fixed destiny, of a wise arrangement of the
world, which has prescribed to every being his path, and which allots ruin
and destruction not only to crime and violence, but to excessive power and
riches and the overweening pride which is their companion. In this
consists the envy of the gods so often mentioned by Herodotus, and usually
called by the other Greeks the divine Nemesis. He constantly adverts in
his narrative to the influence of this divine power, the Daemonion, as he
calls it. He shows how the Deity visits the sins of the ancestors upon
their descendants, how man rushes, as it were, wilfully upon his own
destruction, and how oracles mislead by their ambiguity, when interpreted
by blind passion. He shows his awe of the divine Nemesis by his moderation
and the firmness with which he keeps down the ebullitions of national
pride. He points out traits of greatness of character in the hostile kings
of Persia, and shows his countrymen how often they owed their successes to
Providence and external advantages rather than to their own valor and
ability. Since Herodotus saw the working of a divine agency in all human
events, and considered the exhibition of it as the main object of his
history, his aim is totally different from that of a historian who regards
the events of life merely with reference to men. He is, in truth, a
theologian and a poet as well as a historian. It is, however, vain to deny
that when Herodotus did not see himself the events which he describes, he
is often deceived by the misrepresentations of others; yet, without his
single-hearted simplicity, his disposition to listen to every remarkable
account, and his admiration for the wonders of the Eastern world,
Herodotus would never have imparted to us many valuable accounts. Modern
travelers, naturalists, and geographers have often had occasion to admire
the truth, and correctness of the information contained in his simple and
marvelous narratives. But no dissertation on this writer can convey any
idea of the impression made by reading his work; his language closely
approximates to oral narration; it is like hearing a person speak who has
seen and lived through a variety of remarkable things, and whose greatest
delight consists in recalling these images of the past. Though a Dorian by
birth, he adopted the Ionic dialect, with its uncontracted terminations,
its accumulated vowels, and its soft forms. These various elements
conspire to render the work of Herodotus a production as perfect in its
kind as any human work can be.



1. LITERARY PREDOMINANCE OF ATHENS.--Among the Greeks a national
literature was early formed. Every literary work in the Greek language, in
whatever dialect it might be composed, was enjoyed by the whole nation,
and the fame of remarkable writers soon spread throughout Greece. Certain
cities were considered almost as theatres, where the poets and sages could
bring their powers and acquirements into public notice. Among these,
Sparta stood highest down to the time of the Persian war. But when Athens,
raised by her political power and the mental qualities of her citizens,
acquired the rank of the capital of Greece, literature assumed a different
form, and there is no more important epoch in the history of the Greek
intellect than the time when she obtained this pre-eminence over her
sister states. The character of the Athenians peculiarly fitted them to
take this lead; they were Ionians, and the boundless resources and
mobility of the Ionian spirit are shown by their astonishing productions
in Asia Minor and in the islands, in the two centuries previous to the
Persian war; in their iambic and elegiac poetry, and in the germs of
philosophic inquiry and historical composition. The literature of those
who remained in Attica seemed poor and meagre when compared with that
luxuriant outburst; nor did it appear, till a later period, that the
progress of the Athenian intellect was the more sound and lasting. The
Ionians of Asia Minor, becoming at length enfeebled and corrupted by the
luxuries of the East, passed easily under the power of the Persians, while
the inhabitants of Attica, encompassed and oppressed by the manly tribes
of Greece, and forced to keep the sword constantly in their hands, exerted
all their talents and thus developed all their extraordinary powers.

Solon, the great lawgiver, arose to combine moral strictness and order
with freedom of action. After Solon came the dominion of the
Pisistratidae, which lasted from about 560 to 510 B.C. They showed a
fondness for art, diffused a taste for poetry among the Athenians, and
naturalized at Athens the best literary productions of Greece. They were
unquestionably the first to introduce the entire recital of the Iliad and
Odyssey; they also brought to Athens the most distinguished lyric poets of
the time, Anacreon, Simonides, and others. But, notwithstanding their
patronage of literature and art, it was not till after the fall of their
dynasty that Athens shot up with a vigor that can only be derived from the
consciousness of every citizen that he has a share in the common weal.

It is a remarkable fact that Athens produced her most excellent works in
literature and art in the midst of the greatest political convulsions, and
of her utmost efforts for conquest and self-preservation. The long
dominion of the Pisistratids produced nothing more important than the
first rudiments of the tragic drama, for the origin of comedy at the
country festivals of Bacchus falls in the time before Pisistratus. On the
other hand, the thirty years between the expulsion of Hippias, the last of
the Pisistratids, and the battle of Salamis (510-480 B.C.), was a period
marked by great events both in politics and literature. Athens contended
with success against her warlike neighbors, supported the Ionians in their
revolt against Persia, and warded off the first powerful attack of the
Persians upon Greece. During the same period, the pathetic tragedies of
Phrynichus and the lofty tragedies of Aeschylus appeared on the stage,
political eloquence was awakened in Themistocles, and everything seemed to
give promise of future greatness.

The political events which followed the Persian war gradually gave to
Athens the dominion over her allies, so that she became the sovereign of a
large and flourishing empire, comprehending the islands and coasts of the
Aegean and a part of the Euxine sea. In this manner was gained a wide
basis for the lofty edifice of political glory, which was raised by her
statesmen. The completion of this splendid structure was due to Pericles
(500-429 B.C.). Through his influence Athens became a dominant community,
whose chief business it was to administer the affairs of an extensive
empire, flourishing in agriculture, industry, and commerce. Pericles,
however, did not make the acquisition of power the highest object of his
exertions; his aim was to realize in Athens the idea which he had
conceived of human greatness, that great and noble thoughts should pervade
the whole mass of the ruling people; and this was, in fact, the case as
long as his influence lasted, to a greater degree than has occurred in any
other period of history. The objects to which Pericles directed the
people, and for which he accumulated so much power and wealth at Athens,
may be best seen in the still extant works of architecture and sculpture
which originated under his administration. He induced the Athenian people
to expend on the decoration of Athens a larger part of its ample revenues
than was ever applied to this purpose in any other state, either
republican or monarchical. Of the surpassing skill with which he collected
into one focus the rays of artistic genius at Athens, no stronger proof
can be afforded, than the fact that no subsequent period, through the
patronage of Macedonian or Roman princes, produced works of equal
excellence, Indeed, it may be said that the creations of the age of
Pericles are the only works of art which completely satisfy the most
refined and cultivated taste.

But this brilliant exhibition of human excellence was not without its dark
side, nor the flourishing state of Athenian civilization exempt from the
elements of decay. The political position of Athens soon led to a conflict
between the patriotism and moderation of her citizens, and their interests
and passions. From the earliest times, this city had stood in an
unfriendly relation to the rest of Greece, and her policy of compelling so
many cities to contribute their wealth in order to make her the focus of
art and civilization was accompanied with offensive pride and selfish
patriotism. The energy in action, which distinguished the Athenians,
degenerated into a restless love of adventure; and that dexterity in the
use of words, which they cultivated more than the other Greeks, induced
them to subject everything to discussion, and destroyed the habits founded
on unreasoning faith. The principles of the policy of Pericles were
closely connected with the demoralization which followed his
administration. By founding the power of the Athenians on the dominion of
the sea, he led them to abandon land war and the military exercises
requisite for it, which had hardened the old warriors at Marathon. As he
made them a dominant people, whose time was chiefly devoted to the
business of governing their widely-extended empire, it was necessary for
him to provide that the common citizens of Athens should be able to gain a
livelihood by their attention to public business, and accordingly, a large
revenue was distributed among them in the form of wages for attendance in
the courts of justice and other public assemblies. These payments to
citizens for their share in the public business were quite new in Greece,
and many considered the sitting and listening in these assemblies as an
idle life in comparison with the labor of the plowman and vine-grower in
the country, and for a long time the industrious cultivators, the brave
warriors, and the men of old-fashioned morality were opposed, among the
citizens of Athens, to the loquacious, luxurious, and dissolute generation
who passed their whole time in the market-place and courts of justice. The
contests between these two parties are the main subject of the early Attic

Literature and art, however, were not, during the Peloponnesian war,
affected by the corruption of morals. The works of this period exhibit not
only a perfection of form but also an elevation of soul and a grandeur of
conception, which fill us with admiration not only for those who produced
them, but for those who could enjoy such works of art. A step farther, and
the love of genuine beauty gave place to a desire for evil pleasures, and
the love of wisdom degenerated into an idle use of words.

2. THE DRAMA.--The spirit of an age is more completely represented by its
poetry than by its prose composition, and accordingly we may best trace
the character of the three different stages of civilization among the
Greeks in the three grand divisions of their poetry. The epic belongs to
their monarchical period, when the minds of the people were impregnated
and swayed by legends handed down from antiquity. Elegiac, iambic, and
lyric poetry arose in the more stirring and agitated times which
accompanied the development of republican governments, times in which each
individual gave vent to his personal aims and wishes, and all the depths
of the human breast were unlocked by the inspirations of poetry. And now,
when at the summit of Greek civilization, in the very prime of Athenian
power and freedom, we see dramatic poetry spring up as the organ of the
prevailing thoughts and feelings of the time, we are naturally led to ask
how it comes that this style of poetry agreed so well with the spirit of
the age, and so far outstripped its competitors in the contest for public

Dramatic poetry, as its name implies, represents _actions_, which are not,
as in the epos, merely narrated, but seem to take place before the eyes of
the spectator. The epic poet appears to regard the events, which he
relates from afar, as objects of calm contemplation and admiration, and is
always conscious of the great interval between him and them, while the
dramatist plunges with his entire soul into the scenes of human life, and
seems himself to experience the events which he exhibits to our view. The
drama comprehends and develops the events of human life with a force and
depth which no other style of poetry can reach.

If we carry ourselves in imagination back to a time when dramatic
composition was unknown, we must acknowledge that its creation required
great boldness of mind. Hitherto the bard had only sung of gods and
heroes; it was, therefore, a great change for the poet himself to come
forward all at once in the character of the god or hero, in a nation
which, even in its amusements, had always adhered closely to established
usages. It is true that there is much in human nature which impels it to
dramatic representations, such as the universal love of imitating other
persons, and the child-like liveliness with which a narrator, strongly
impressed with his subject, delivers a speech which he has heard or
perhaps only imagined. Yet there is a wide step from these disjointed
elements to the genuine drama, and it seems that no nation, except the
Greeks, ever made this step. The dramatic poetry of the Hindus belongs to
a time when there had been much intercourse between Greece and India; even
in ancient Greece and Italy, dramatic poetry, and especially tragedy,
attained to perfection only in Athens, and here it was exhibited only at a
few festivals of a single god, Dionysus, while epic rhapsodies and lyric
odes were recited on various occasions. All this is incomprehensible, if
we suppose dramatic poetry to have originated in causes independent of the
peculiar circumstances of time and place. If a love of imitation and a
delight in disguising the real person under a mask were the basis upon
which this style of poetry was raised, the drama would have been as
natural and as universal among men as these qualities are common to their

A more satisfactory explanation of the origin of the Greek drama may be
found in its connection with the worship of the gods, and particularly
that of Bacchus. The gods were supposed to dwell in their temples and to
participate in their festivals, and it was not considered presumptuous or
unbecoming to represent them as acting like human beings, as was
frequently done by mimic representations. The worship of Bacchus had one
quality which was more than any other calculated to give birth to the
drama, and particularly to tragedy, namely, the enthusiasm which formed an
essential part of it, and which proceeded from an impassioned sympathy
with the events of nature in connection with the course of the seasons.
The original participators in these festivals believed that they perceived
the god to be really affected by the changes of nature, killed or dying,
flying and rescued, or reanimated, victorious, and dominant. Although the
great changes, which took place in the religion and cultivation of the
Greeks, banished from their minds the conviction that these events really
occurred, yet an enthusiastic sympathy with the god and his fortunes, as
with real events, always remained. The swarm of subordinate beings by whom
Bacchus was surrounded--satyrs, nymphs, and a variety of beautiful and
grotesque forms--were ever present to the fancy of the Greeks, and it was
not necessary to depart very widely from the ordinary course of ideas to
imagine them visible to human eyes among the solitary woods and rocks. The
custom, so prevalent at the festivals of Bacchus, of taking the disguise
of satyrs, doubtless originated in the desire to approach more nearly to
the presence of their divinity. The desire of escaping from self into
something new and strange, of living in an imaginary world, broke forth in
a thousand instances in those festivals. It was seen in the coloring of
the body, the wearing of skins and masks of wood or bark, and in the
complete costume belonging to the character.

The learned writers of antiquity agree in stating that tragedy, as well as
comedy, was originally a choral song. The action, the adventures of the
gods, was presupposed or only symbolically indicated; the chorus expressed
their feelings upon it. This choral song belonged to the class of the
_dithyramb_, an enthusiastic ode to Bacchus, capable of expressing every
variety of feeling excited by the worship of that god. It was first sung
by revelers at convivial meetings, afterwards it was regularly executed by
a chorus. The subject of these tragic choruses sometimes changed from
Bacchus to other heroes distinguished for their misfortunes and suffering.
The reason why the dithyramb and afterwards tragedy was transferred from
that god to heroes and not to other gods of the Greek Olympus, was that
the latter were elevated above the chances of fortune and the alternations
of joy and grief to which both Bacchus and the heroes were subject.

It is stated by Aristotle, that tragedy originated with the chief singers
of the dithyramb. It is probable that they represented Bacchus himself or
his messengers, that they came forward and narrated his perils and
escapes, and that the chorus then expressed their feeling, as at passing
events. The chorus thus naturally assumed the character of satellites of
Bacchus, whence they easily fell into the parts of satyrs, who were his
companions in sportive adventures, as well as in combats and misfortunes.
The name of tragedy, or goat's song, was derived from the resemblance of
the singers, in their character of satyrs, to goats.

Thus far tragedy had advanced among the Dorians, who, therefore,
considered themselves the inventors of it. All its further development
belongs to the Athenians. In the time of Pisistratus, Thespis (506 B.C.)
first caused tragedy to become a drama, though a very simple one. He
connected with the choral representation a regular dialogue, by joining
one person to the chorus who was the _first actor_. He introduced linen
masks, and thus the one actor might appear in several characters. In the
drama of Thespis we find the satyric drama confounded with tragedy, and
the persons of the chorus frequently representing satyrs. The dances of
the chorus were still a principal part of the performance; the ancient
tragedians, in general, were teachers of dancing, as well as poets and

In Phrynichus (fl. 512 B.C.) the lyric predominated over the dramatic
element. Like Thespis, he had only one actor, but he used this actor for
different characters, and he was the first who brought female parts upon
the stage, which, according to the manners of the ancients, could be acted
only by men. In several instances it is remarkable that Phrynichus
deviated from mythical subjects to those taken from contemporary history.

3. TRAGEDY.--The tragedy of antiquity was entirely different from that
which, in progress of time, arose among other nations; a picture of human
life, agitated by the passions, and corresponding as accurately as
possible to its original in all its features. Ancient tragedy departs
entirely from ordinary life; its character is in the highest degree ideal,
and its development necessary, and essentially directed by the fate to
which gods and men were subjected. As tragedy and dramatic exhibitions,
generally, were seen only at the festivals of Bacchus, they retained a
sort of Bacchic coloring, and the extraordinary excitement of all minds at
these festivals, by raising them above the tone of every-day existence,
gave both to the tragic and comic muse unwonted energy and fire.

The Bacchic festal costume, which the actors wore, consisted of long
striped garments reaching to the ground, over which were thrown upper
garments of some brilliant color, with gay trimmings and gold ornaments.
The choruses also vied with each other in the splendor of their dress, as
well as in the excellence of their singing and dancing. The chorus, which
always bore a subordinate part in the action of the tragedy, was in no
respect distinguished from the stature and appearance of ordinary men,
while the actor, who represented the god or hero, required to be raised
above the usual dimensions of mortals. A tragic actor was a strange, and,
according to the taste of the ancients themselves at a later period, a
very monstrous being. His person was lengthened out considerably beyond
the proportions of the human figure by the very high soles of the tragic
shoe, and by the length of the tragic mask, and the chest, body, legs, and
arms were stuffed and padded to a corresponding size; the body thus lost
much of its natural flexibility, and the gesticulation consisted of stiff,
angular movements, in which little was left to the emotion or the
inspiration of the moment. Masks, which had originated in the taste for
mumming and disguises of all sorts, prevalent at the Bacchic festivals,
were an indispensable accompaniment to tragedy. They not only concealed
the individual features of well-known actors, and enabled the spectators
entirely to forget the performer in his part, but gave to his whole aspect
that ideal character which the tragedy of antiquity demanded. The tragic
mask was not intentionally ugly and caricatured like the comic, but the
half-open mouth, the large eye-sockets, and sharply-defined features, in
which every characteristic was presented in its utmost strength, and the
bright and hard coloring were calculated to make the impression of a being
agitated by the emotions and passions of human nature in a degree far
above the standard of common life. The masks could, however, be changed
between the acts, so as to represent the necessary changes in the state or
emotions of the persons.

The ancient theatres were stone buildings of enormous size, calculated to
accommodate the whole free and adult population of a great city at the
spectacles and festal games. These theatres were not designed exclusively
for dramatic poetry; choral dances, processions, revels, and all sorts of
representations were held in them. We find theatres in every part of
Greece, though dramatic poetry was the peculiar growth of Athens.

The whole structure of the theatre, as well as the drama itself, may be
traced to the chorus, whose station was the original centre of the whole
performance. The orchestra, which occupied a circular level space in the
centre of the building, grew out of the chorus or dancing-place of the
Homeric times. The altar of Bacchus, around which the dithyrambic chorus
danced in a circle, had given rise to a sort of raised platform in the
centre of the orchestra, which served as a resting-place for the chorus.

The chorus sang alone when the actors had quitted the stage, or
alternately with the persons of the drama, and sometimes entered into
dialogues with them. These persons represented heroes of the mythical
world, whose whole aspect bespoke something mightier and more sublime than
ordinary humanity, and it was the part of the chorus to show the
impression made by the incidents of the drama on lower and feebler minds,
and thus, as it were, to interpret them to the audience, with whom they
owned a more kindred nature. The ancient stage was remarkably long, and of
little depth; it was called the _proscenium_, because it was in front of
the _scene_. _Scene_ properly means _tent_ or _hut_, such as originally
marked the dwelling of the principal person. This hut at length gave place
to a stately scene, enriched with architectural decorations, yet its
purpose remained the same.

We have seen how a single actor was added to the chorus by Thespis, who
caused him to represent in succession all the persons of the drama.
Aeschylus added a second actor in order to obtain the contrast of two
acting persons on the stage; even Sophocles did not venture beyond the
introduction of a third. But the ancients laid more stress upon the
precise number and mutual relations of these actors than can here be

4. THE TRAGIC POETS.--Aeschylus (525-477 B.C.), like almost all the great
masters of poetry in ancient Greece, was a poet by profession, and from
the great improvements which he introduced into tragedy he was regarded by
the Athenians as its founder. Of the seventy tragedies which he is said to
have written, only seven are extant. Of these, the "Prometheus" is beyond
all question his greatest work. The genius of Aeschylus inclined rather to
the awful and sublime, than to the tender and pathetic. He excels in
representing the superhuman, in depicting demigods and heroes, and in
tracing the irresistible march of fate. The depth of poetical feeling in
him is accompanied with intense and philosophical thought; he does not
merely represent individual tragical events, but he recurs to the greater
elements of tragedy--the subjection of the gods and Titans, and the
original dignity and greatness of nature and of man. He delights to
portray this gigantic strength, as in his Prometheus chained and tortured,
but invincible; and these representations have a moral sublimity far above
mere poetic beauty. His tragedies were at once political, patriotic, and

Sophocles (495-406 B.C.), as a poet, is universally allowed to have
brought the drama to the highest degree of perfection of which it was
susceptible. Indeed, the Greek mind may be said to have culminated in him;
his writings overflow with that indescribable charm which only flashes
through those of other poets. His plots are worked up with more skill and
care than those of either of his great rivals, Aeschylus or Euripides, and
he added the last improvement to the form of the drama by the introduction
of a third actor,--a change which greatly enlarged the scope of the
action. Of the many tragedies which he is said to have written, only seven
are extant. Of these, the "Oedipus Tyrannus" is particularly remarkable
for its skillful development, and for the manner in which the interest of
the piece increases through each succeeding act. Of all the poets of
antiquity, Sophocles has penetrated most deeply into the recesses of the
human heart. His tragedies appear to us as pictures of the mind, as
poetical developments of the secrets of our souls, and of the laws to
which their nature makes them amenable.

In Euripides (480-407 B.C.) we discover the first traces of decline in the
Greek tragedy. He diminished its dignity by depriving it of its ideal
character, and by bringing it down to the level of every-day life. All the
characters of Euripides have that loquacity and dexterity in the use of
words which distinguished the Athenians of his day; yet in spite of all
these faults he has many beauties, and is particularly remarkable for
pathos, so that Aristotle calls him the most tragic of poets. Eighteen of
his tragedies are still extant.

The contemporaries of the three great tragic poets, Aeschylus, Sophocles,
and Euripides, must be regarded for the most part as far from
insignificant, since they maintained their place on the stage beside them,
and not unfrequently gained the tragic prize in competition with them; yet
the general character of these poets must have been deficient in that
depth and peculiar force of genius by which these great tragedians were
distinguished. If this had not been the case, their works would assuredly
have attracted greater attention, and would have been read mere frequently
in later times.

5. COMEDY.--Greek comedy was distinguished as the Old, the Middle, and the
New. As tragedy arose from the winter feast of Bacchus, which fostered an
enthusiastic sympathy with the apparent sorrows of the god of nature,
comedy arose from the concluding feast of the vintage, at which an
exulting joy over the inexhaustible riches of nature manifested itself in
wantonness of every kind. In such a feast, the Comus, or Bacchanalian
procession, was a principal ingredient. This was a tumultuous mixture of
the wild carouse, the noisy song, and the drunken dance; and the meaning
of the word comedy is a comus _song_. It was from this lyric comedy that
the dramatic comedy was gradually produced. It received its full
development from Cratinus, who lived in the age of Pericles. Cratinus and
his younger contemporaries, Eupolis (431 B.C.) and Aristophanes (452-380
B.C.), were the great poets of the old Attic comedy. Of their works, only
eleven dramas of Aristophanes are extant. The chief object of these
comedies was to excite laughter by the boldest and most ludicrous
caricature, and, provided that end was obtained, the poet seems to have
cared little about the justice of the picture. It is scarcely possible to
imagine the unmeasured and unsparing license of attack assumed by these
comedies upon the gods, the institutions, the politicians, philosophers,
poets, private citizens, and women of Athens. With this universal liberty
of subject there is combined a poignancy of derision and satire, a
fecundity of imagination, and a richness of poetical expression such as
cannot be surpassed. Towards the end of the career of Aristophanes,
however, this unrestricted license of the comedy began gradually to

The Old comedy was succeeded by the Middle Attic comedy, in which the
satire was no longer directed against the influential men or rulers of the
people, but was rich in ridicule of the Platonic Academy, of the newly
revived sect of the Pythagoreans, and of the orators, rhetoricians, and
poets of the day. In this transition from the Old to the Middle comedy, we
may discern at once the great revolution that had taken place in the
domestic history of Athens, when the Athenians, from a nation of
politicians, became a nation of literary men; when it was no longer the
opposition of political ideas, but the contest of opposing schools of
philosophers and rhetoricians, which set all heads in motion. The poets of
this comedy were very numerous.

The last poets of the Middle comedy were contemporaries of the writers of
the New, who rose up as their rivals, and who were only distinguished from
them by following the new tendency more decidedly and exclusively.
Menander (342-293 B.C.) was one of the first of these poets, and he is
also the most perfect of them. The Athens of his day differed from that of
the time of Pericles, in the same way that an old man, weak in body but
fond of life, good-humored and self-indulgent, differs from the vigorous,
middle-aged man at the summit of his mental strength and bodily energy.
Since there was so little in politics to interest or to employ the mind,
the Athenians found an object in the occurrences of social life and the
charm of dissolute enjoyment. Dramatic poetry now, for the first time,
centred in love, as it has since done among all nations to whom the Greek
cultivation has descended. But it certainly was not love in those nobler
forms to which it has since elevated itself. Menander painted truly the
degenerate world in which he lived, actuated by no mighty impulses, no
noble aspirations. He was contemporary with Epicurus, and their characters
had much in common; both were deficient in the inspiration of high moral

The comedy of Menander and his contemporaries completed what Euripides had
begun on the tragic stage a hundred years before their time. They deprived
their characters of that ideal grandeur which had been most conspicuous in
the creations of Aeschylus and the earlier poets, and thus tragedy and
comedy, which had started from such different beginnings, here met as at
the same point. The comedies of Menander may be considered as almost the
conclusion of Attic literature; he was the last original poet of Athens;
those who arose at a later period were but gleaners after the rich harvest
of Greek poetry had been gathered.

6. ORATORY, RHETORIC, AND HISTORY.--We may distinguish three epochs in the
history of Attic prose from Pericles to Alexander the Great: first, that
of Pericles and Thucydides; second, that of Lysias, Socrates, and Plato;
and, third, that of Demosthenes and Aeschines. Public speaking had been
common in Greece from the earliest times, but as the works of Athenian
orators alone have come down to us, we may conclude that oratory was
cultivated in a much higher degree at Athens than elsewhere. No speech of
Pericles has been preserved in writing; only a few of his emphatic and
nervous expressions were kept in remembrance; but a general impression of
the grandeur of his oratory long prevailed among the Greeks, from which we
may form a clear conception of his style. The sole object of the oratory
of Pericles was to produce conviction; he did not aim to excite any sudden
or transient burst of passion by working on the emotions of the heart; nor
did he use any of those means employed by the orators of a later age to
set in motion the unruly impulses of the multitude. His manner was
tranquil, with hardly any change of feature; his garments were undisturbed
by any oratorical gesticulations, and his voice was equable and sustained.
He never condescended to flatter the people, and his dignity never stooped
to merriment. Although there was more of reasoning than imagination in his
speeches, he gave a vivid and impressive coloring to his language by the
use of striking metaphors and comparisons, as when, at the funeral of a
number of young persons who had fallen in battle, he used the beautiful
figure, that "the year had lost its spring."

The cultivation of the art of oratory among the Athenians was due to a
combination of the natural eloquence displayed by the Athenian statesmen,
and especially by Pericles, with the rhetorical studies of the sophists,
who exercised a greater influence on the culture of the Greek mind than
any other class of men, the poets excepted. The sophists, as their name
indicates, were persons who made knowledge their profession, and undertook
to impart it to every one who was willing to place himself under their
guidance; they were reproached with being the first to sell knowledge for
money, for they not only demanded pay from those who came to hear their
lectures, but they undertook, for a certain sum, to give young men a
complete sophistical education. Pupils flocked to them in crowds, and they
acquired such riches as neither art nor science had ever before earned
among the Greeks. If we consider their doctrines philosophically, they
amounted to a denial or renunciation of all true science. They were able
to speak with equal plausibility for and against the same position; not in
order to discover the truth, but to show the nothingness of truth. In the
improvement of written composition, however, a high value must be set on
their services. They made language the object of their study; they aimed
at correctness and beauty of style, and they laid the foundation for the
polished diction of Plato and Demosthenes. They taught that the sole aim
of the orator is to turn the minds of his hearers into such a train as may
best suit his own interest; that, consequently, rhetoric is the agent of
persuasion, the art of all arts, because the rhetorician is able to speak
well and convincingly on every subject, though he may have no accurate
knowledge respecting it.

The Peloponnesian war, which terminated in the downfall of Athens, was
succeeded by a period of exhaustion and repose. The fine arts were checked
in their progress, and poetry degenerated into empty bombast. Yet at this
very time prose literature began a new career, which led to its fairest

Lysias and Isocrates gave an entirely new form to oratory by the happy
alterations which they in different ways introduced into the old prose
style. Lysias (fl. 359 B.C.), in the fiftieth year of his age, began to
follow the trade of writing speeches for such private individuals as could
not trust their own skill in addressing a court; for this object, a plain,
unartificial style was best suited, because citizens who called in the aid
of the speech-writer had no knowledge of rhetoric, and thus Lysias was
obliged to originate a style, which became more and more confirmed by
habit. The consequence was, that for his contemporaries and for all ages
he stands forth as the first and in many respects the perfect pattern of a
plain style. The narrative part of the speech, for which he was
particularly famous, is always natural, interesting, and lively, and often
relieved by mimic touches which give it a wonderful air of reality. The
proofs and confutations are distinguished by a clearness of reasoning and
a boldness of argument which leave no room for doubt; in a word, the
speeches are just what they ought to be in order to obtain a favorable
decision, an object in which, it seems, he often succeeded. Of his many
orations, thirty-five have come down to us.

Isocrates (fl. 338 B.C.) established a school for political oratory, which
became the first and most flourishing in Greece. His orations were mostly
destined for this school. Though neither a great statesman nor philosopher
in himself, Isocrates constitutes an epoch as a rhetorician or artist of
language. His influence extended far beyond the limits of his own school,
and without his reconstruction of the style of Attic oratory we could have
had no Demosthenes and no Cicero; through these, the school of Isocrates
has extended its influence even to the oratory of our own day.

The verdict of his contemporaries, ratified by posterity, has pronounced
Demosthenes (380-322 B.C.) the greatest orator that has ever lived, yet he
had no natural advantages for oratory. A feeble frame and a weak voice, a
shy and awkward manner, the ungraceful gesticulations of one whose limbs
had never been duly exercised, and a defective articulation, would have
deterred most men from even attempting to address an Athenian assembly;
but the ambition and perseverance of Demosthenes enabled him to triumph
over every disadvantage. He improved his bodily powers by running, his
voice by speaking aloud as he walked up hill, or declaimed against the
roar of the sea; he practiced graceful delivery before a looking-glass,
and controlled his unruly articulation by speaking with pebbles in his
mouth. His want of fluency he remedied by diligent composition, and by
copying and committing to memory the works of the best authors. By these
means he came forth as the acknowledged leader of the assembly, and, even
by the confession of his deadliest enemies, the first orator of Greece.
His harangues to the people, and his speeches on public and private
causes, which have been preserved, form a collection of sixty-one
orations. The most important efforts of Demosthenes, however, were the
series of public speeches referring to Philip of Macedon, and known as the
twelve Philippics, a name which has become a general designation for
spirited invectives. The main characteristic of his eloquence consisted in
the use of the common language of his age and country. He took great pains
in the choice and arrangement of his words, and aimed at the utmost
conciseness, making epithets, even common adjectives, do the work of a
whole sentence, and thus, by his perfect delivery and action, a sentence
composed of ordinary terms sometimes smote with the weight of a sledge-
hammer. In his orations there is not any long or close train of reasoning,
still less any profound observations or remote and ingenious allusions,
but a constant succession of remarks, bearing immediately on the matter in
hand, perfectly plain, and as readily admitted as easily understood. These
are intermingled with the most striking appeals either to feelings which
all were conscious of, and deeply agitated by, though ashamed to own, or
to sentiments which every man was panting to utter and delighted to hear
thundered forth,--bursts of oratory, which either overwhelmed or relieved
the audience. Such characteristics constituted the principal glory of the
great orator.

The most eminent of the contemporaries of Demosthenes were Isaeus (420-348
B.C.), an artificial and elaborate orator; Lycurgus (393-328 B.C.), a
celebrated civil reformer of Athens; Hypereides, contemporary of Lycurgus;
and, above all, Aeschines (389-314 B.C.), the great rival of Demosthenes,
of whose numerous speeches only three have been preserved. At a later
period we find two schools of rhetoric, the Attic, founded by Aeschines,
and the Asiatic, established by Hegesias of Magnesia. The former proposed
as models of oratory the great Athenian orators, the latter depended on
artificial manners, and produced speeches distinguished rather by
rhetorical ornaments and a rapid flow of diction than by weight and force
of style.

In the historical department, Thucydides (471-391 B.C.) began an entirely
new class of historical writing. While Herodotus aimed at giving a vivid
picture of all that fell under the cognizance of the senses, and
endeavored to represent a superior power ruling over the destinies of
princes and people, the attention of Thucydides was directed to human
action, as it is developed from the character and situation of the
individual. His history, from its unity of action, may be considered as a
historical drama, the subject being the Athenian domination over Greece,
and the parties the belligerent republics. Clearness in the narrative,
harmony and consistency of the details with the general history, are the
characteristics of his work; and in his style he combines the concise and
pregnant oratory of Pericles with the vigorous but artificial style of the
rhetoricians. Demosthenes was so diligent a student of Thucydides that he
copied out his history eight times.

Xenophon (445-391 B.C.) may also be classed among the great historians,
his name being most favorably known from the "Anabasis," in which he
describes the retreat of the ten thousand Greek mercenaries in the service
of Cyrus, the Persian king, among whom he himself played a prominent part.
The minuteness of detail, the picturesque simplicity of the style, and the
air of reality which pervades it, have made it a favorite with every age.
In his memorials of Socrates, he records the conversations of a man whom
he had admired and listened to, but whom he did not understand. In the
language of Xenophon we find the first approximation to the common
dialect, which became afterwards the universal language of Greece. He
wrote several other works, in which, however, no development of one great
and pervading idea can be found; but in all of them there is a singular
clearness and beauty of description.

7. SOCRATES AND THE SOCRATIC SCHOOLS.--Although Socrates (468-399 B.C.)
left no writings behind him, yet the intellect of Greece was powerfully
affected by the principles of his philosophy, and the greatest literary
genius that ever appeared in Hellas owed most of his mental training to
his early intercourse with him. It was by means of conversation, by a
searching process of question and answer, that Socrates endeavored to lead
his pupils to a consciousness of their own ignorance, and thus to awaken
in their minds an anxiety to obtain more exact views. This method of
questioning he reduced to a scientific process, and "dialectics" became a
name for the art of reasoning and the science of logic. The subject-matter
of this method was moral science considered with special reference to
politics. To him may be justly attributed induction and general
definitions, and he applied this practical logic to a common-sense
estimate of the duties of man both as a moral being and as a member of a
community, and thus he first treated moral philosophy according to
scientific principles. No less than ten schools of philosophers claimed
him as their head, though the majority of them imperfectly represented his
doctrines. By his influence on Plato, and through him on Aristotle, he
constituted himself the founder of the philosophy which is still
recognized in the civilized world.

From the doctrine held by Socrates, that virtue was dependent on
knowledge, Eucleides of Megara (fl. 398 B.C.), the founder of the Megaric
school, submitted moral philosophy to dialectical reasoning and logical
refinements; and from the Socratic principle of the union between virtue
and happiness, Aristippus of Cyrene (fl. 396 B.C.) deduced the doctrine
which became the characteristic of the Cyrenian school, affirming that
pleasure was the ultimate end of life and the higher good; while
Antisthenes (fl. 396 B.C.) constructed the Cynic philosophy, which placed
the ideal of virtue in the absence of every need, and hence in the
disregarding of every interest, wealth, honor, and enjoyment, and in the
independence of any restraints of life and society. Diogenes of Sinope
(fl. 300 B.C.) was one of the most prominent followers of this school. He,
like his master, Antisthenes, always appeared in the most beggarly
clothing, with the staff and wallet of mendicancy; and this ostentation of
self-denial drew from Socrates the exclamation, that he saw the vanity of
Antisthenes through the holes in his garments.

Plato (429-348 B.C.) was the only--one of the disciples of Socrates who
represented the whole doctrines of his teacher. We owe to him that the
ideas which Socrates awakened have been made the germ of one of the
grandest systems of speculation that the world has ever seen, and that it
has been conveyed to us in literary compositions which are unequaled in
refinement of conception, or in vigor and gracefulness of style. At the
age of nineteen he became one of the pupils and associates of Socrates,
and did not leave him until that martyr of intellectual freedom drank the
fatal cup of hemlock. He afterwards traveled in Asia Minor, in Egypt, in
Italy, and Sicily, and made himself acquainted with all contemporary
philosophy. During the latter part of his life he was engaged as a public
lecturer on philosophy. His lectures were delivered in the gardens of the
Academia, and they have left proof of their celebrity in the structure of
language, which has derived from them a term now common to all places of
instruction. Of the importance of the Socratic and Pythagorean elements in
Plato's philosophy there can be no doubt; but he transmuted all he touched
into his own forms of thought and language, and there was no branch of
speculative literature which he had not mastered. By adopting the form of
dialogue, in which all his extant works have come down to us, he was
enabled to criticise the various systems of philosophy then current in
Greece, and also to gratify his own dramatic genius, and his almost
unrivaled power of keeping up an assumed character. The works of Plato
have been divided into three classes: first, the elementary dialogues, or
those which contain the germs of all that follows, of logic as the
instrument of philosophy, and of ideas as its proper object; second,
progressive dialogues, which treat of the distinction between
philosophical and common knowledge, in their united application to the
proposed and real sciences, ethics, and physics; third, the constructive
dialogues, in which the practical is completely united with the
speculative, with an appendix containing laws, epistles, etc.

The fundamental principle of Plato's philosophy is the belief in an
eternal and self-existent cause, the origin of all things. From this
divine Being emanate not only the souls of men, which are immortal, but
that of the universe itself, which is supposed to be animated by a divine
spirit. The material objects of our sight, and other senses, are mere
fleeting emanations of the divine idea; it is only this idea itself that
is really existent; the objects of sensuous perception are mere
appearances, taking their forms by participation in the idea; hence it
follows, that in Plato's philosophy all knowledge is innate, and acquired
by the soul before birth, when it was able to contemplate real existences,
and all our ideas of this world are mere reminiscences of their true and
eternal patterns. The belief of Plato in the immortality of the soul
naturally led him to establish a high standard of moral excellence, and,
like his great teacher, he constantly inculcates temperance, justice, and
purity of life. His political views are developed in the "Republic" and in
the "Laws," in which the main feature of his system is the subordination,
or rather the entire sacrifice of the individual to the state.

The style of Plato is in every way worthy of his position in universal
literature, and modern scholars have confirmed the encomium of Aristotle,
that all his dialogues exhibit extraordinary acuteness, elaborate
elegance, bold originality, and curious speculation. In Plato, the powers
of imagination were just as conspicuous as those of reasoning and
reflection; he had all the chief characteristics of a poet, especially of
a dramatic poet, and if his rank as a philosopher had been lower than it
is, he would still have ranked high among dramatic writers for his life-
like representations of the personages whose opinions he wished to combat
or to defend.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) occupies a position among the leaders of human
thought not inferior to that of his teacher, Plato. He was a native of
Stagyra, in Macedonia, and is hence often called the Stagyrite. He early
repaired to Athens, and became a pupil of Plato, who called him the soul
of his school. He was afterwards invited by Philip of Macedon to undertake
the literary education of Alexander, at that time thirteen years old. This
charge continued about three years. He afterwards returned to Athens,
where he opened his school in a gymnasium called the Lyceum, delivering
his lessons as he walked to and fro, and from these saunters his scholars
were called Peripatetics, or saunterers. During this period he composed
most of his extant works. Alexander placed at his disposal a large sum for
his collections in natural history, and employed some thousands of men in
procuring specimens for his museum. After the death of Alexander, he was
accused of blasphemy to the gods, and, warned by the fate of Socrates, he
withdrew from Athens to Chalcis, where he afterwards died.

In looking at the mere catalogue of the works of Aristotle, we are struck
with his vast range of knowledge. He aimed at nothing less than the
completion of a general encyclopedia of philosophy. He was the author of
the first scientific cultivation of each science, and there was hardly any
quality distinguishing a philosopher as such, which he did not possess in
an eminent degree. Of all the philosophical systems of antiquity, that of
Aristotle was the best adapted to the physical wants of mankind. His works
consisted of treatises on natural, moral, and political philosophy,
history, rhetoric, criticism,--indeed, there was scarcely a branch of
knowledge which his vast and comprehensive genius did not embrace. His
greatest claim to our admiration is as a logician. He perfected and
brought into form those elements of the dialectic art which had been
struck out by Socrates and Plato, and wrought them, by his additions, into
so complete a system, that he may be regarded as, at once, the founder and
perfecter of logic as an art, which has since, even down to our own days,
been but very little improved. The style of Aristotle has nothing to
attract those who prefer the embellishments of a work to its subject-
matter and the scientific results which it presents.



1. ORIGIN OF THE ALEXANDRIAN LITERATURE.--As the literary predominance of
Athens was due mainly to the political importance of Attica, the downfall
of Athenian independence brought with it a deterioration, and ultimately
an extinction of that intellectual centralization which for more than a
century had fostered and developed the highest efforts of the genius and
culture of the Greeks. While the living literature of Greece was thus
dying away, the conquests of Alexander prepared a new home for the muses
on the coast of that wonderful country, to which all the nations of
antiquity had owed a part of their science and religious belief. In Egypt,
as in other regions, Alexander gave directions for the foundation of a
city to be called after his own name, which became the magnificent
metropolis of the Hellenic world. This capital was the residence of a
family who attracted to their court all the living representatives of the
literature of Greece, and stored up in their enormous library all the best
works of the classical period. It was chiefly during the reigns of the
first three Ptolemies that Alexandria was made the new home of Greek
literature. Ptolemy Soter (306-285 B.C.) laid the foundations of the
library, and instituted the museum, or temple of the muses, where the
literary men of the age were maintained by endowments. This encouragement
of literature was continued by Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.). He had
the celebrated Callimachus for his librarian, who bought up not only the
whole of Aristotle's great collection of works, but transferred the native
annals of Egypt and Judea to the domain of Greek literature by employing
the priest Manetho to translate the hieroglyphics of his own temple-
archives into the language of the court, and by procuring from the
Sanhedrim of Jerusalem the first part of that celebrated version of the
Hebrew sacred books, which was afterwards completed and known as the
Septuagint, or version of the Seventy. Ptolemy Euergetes (247-222 B.C.)
increased the library by depriving the Athenians of their authentic
editions of the great dramatists. In the course of time the library
founded at Pergamos was transferred to Egypt, and thus we are indebted to
the Ptolemies for preserving to our times all the best specimens of Greek
literature which have come down to us. This encouragement of letters,
however, called forth no great original genius; but a few eminent men of
science, many second-rate and artificial poets, and a host of grammarians
and literary pedants.

2. THE ALEXANDRIAN POETS.--Among the poets of the period, Philetas,
Callimachus, Lycophron, Apollonius, and the writers of idyls, Theocritus,
Bion, and Moschus are the most eminent. The founder of a school of poetry
at Alexandria, and the model for imitation with the Roman writers of
elegiac poetry, was Philetas of Cos (fl. 260 B. C), whose extreme
emaciation of person exposed him to the imputation of wearing lead in the
soles of his shoes, lest he should be blown away. He was chiefly
celebrated as an elegiac poet, in whom ingenious, elegant, and harmonious
versification took the place of higher poetry. Callimachus (fl. 260 B.C.)
was the type of an Alexandrian man of letters, distinguished by skill
rather than genius, the most finished specimen of what might be effected
by talent, learning, and ambition, backed by the patronage of a court. He
was a living representative of the great library over which he presided;
he was not only a writer of all kinds of poetry, but a critic, grammarian,
historian, and geographer. Of his writings, a few poems only are extant.
Next to Callimachus, as a representative of the learned poetry of
Alexandria, stands the dramatist Lycophron (fl. 250 B.C.). All his works
are lost, with the exception of the oracular poem called the "Alexandra,"
or "'Cassandra," on the merits of which very opposite opinions are
entertained. Apollonius, known as the Rhodian (fl. 240 B.C.), was a native
of Alexandria, and a pupil of Callimachus, through whose influence he was
driven from his native city, when he established himself in the island of
Rhodes, where he was so honored and distinguished that he took the name of
the Rhodian. On the death of Callimachus, he was appointed to succeed him
as librarian at Alexandria. His reputation depends on his epic poem, the
"Argonautic Expedition."

Of all the writers of the Alexandrian period, the bucolic poets have
enjoyed the most popularity. Their pastoral poems were called Idyls, from
their pictorial and descriptive character, that is, little pictures of
common life, a name for which the later writers have sometimes substituted
the term Eclogues, that is, _selections_, which is applicable to any short
poem, whether complete and original, or appearing as an extract. The name
of Idyls, however, was afterwards applicable to pastoral poems. Theocritus
(fl. 272 B.C.) gives his name to the most important of these extant
bucolics. He had an original genius for poetry of the highest kind; the
absence of the usual affectation of the Alexandrian school, constant
appeals to nature, a fine perception of character, and a keen sense of
both the beautiful and the ludicrous, indicate the high order of his
literary talent, and account for his universal and undiminished
popularity. The two other bucolic poets of the Alexandrian school were
Bion (fl. 275 B.C.), born near Smyrna, and his pupil Moschus of Syracuse
(fl. 273 B.C.). It appears, from an elegy by Moschus, that Bion migrated
from Asia Minor to Sicily, where he was poisoned. He wrote harmonious
verses with a good deal of pathos and tenderness, but he is as inferior to
Theocritus as he is superior to Moschus, whose artificial style
characterizes him rather as a learned versifier than a true poet.

3. PROSE WRITERS OF ALEXANDRIA.--Many of the most eminent poets were also
prose writers, and they exhibited their versatility by writing on almost
every subject of literary interest. The progress of prose writing
manifested itself from grammar and criticism to the more elaborate and
learned treatment of history and chronology, and to observations and
speculations in pure and mixed mathematics. Demetrius the Phalerian (fl.
295 B.C.), Zenodotus (fl. 279 B.C.), Aristophanes (fl. 200 B.C.), and
Aristarchus (fl. 156 B.C.), the three last of whom were successively
intrusted with the management of the Library, were the representatives of
the Alexandrian school of grammar and criticism. They devoted themselves
chiefly to the revision of the text of Homer, which was finally
established by Aristarchus.

In the historical department may be mentioned Ptolemy Soter, who wrote the
history of the wars of Alexander the Great; Apollodorus (fl. 200 B.C.),
whose "Bibliotheca" contains a general sketch of the mystic legends of the
Greeks; Eratosthenes (fl. 235 B.C.), the founder of scientific chronology
in Greek history; Manetho (fl. 280 B.C.), who introduced the Greeks to a
knowledge of the Egyptian religion and annals; and Berosus of Babylon, his
contemporary, whose work, fragments of which were preserved by Josephus,
was known as the "Babylonian Annals." While the Greeks of Alexandria thus
gained a knowledge of the religious books of the nations conquered by
Alexander, the same curiosity, combined with the necessities of the Jews
of Alexandria, gave birth to the translation of the Bible into Greek,
known under the name of Septuagint, which has exercised a more lasting
influence on the civilized world than that of any book that has ever
appeared in a new tongue. The beginning of that translation was probably
made in the reigns of the first Ptolemies (320-249 B.C.), while the
remainder was completed at a later period.

The wonderful advance, which took place in pure and applied mathematics,
is chiefly due to the learned men who settled in Alexandria; the greatest
mathematicians and the most eminent founders of scientific geography were
all either immediately or indirectly connected with the school of
Alexandria. Euclid (fl. 300 B.C.) founded a famous school of geometry in
that city, in the reign of the first Ptolemy. Almost the only incident of
his life which is known to us is a conversation between him and that king,
who, having asked if there was no easier method of learning the science,
is said to have been told by Euclid, that "there was no royal path to
geometry." His most famous work is his "Elements of Pure Mathematics," at
the present time a manual of instruction and the foundation of all
geometrical treatises. Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) was a native of Syracuse,
in Sicily, but he traveled to Egypt at an early age, and studied
mathematics there in the school of Euclid. He not only distinguished
himself as a pure mathematician and astronomer, and as the founder of the
theory of statics, but he discovered the law of specific gravity, and
constructed some of the most useful machines in the mechanic arts, such as
the pulley and the hydraulic screw. His works are written in the Doric
dialect. Apollonius of Perga (221-204 B.C.) distinguished himself in the
mathematical department by his work on "Conic Elements." Eratosthenes was
not only prominent in the science of chronology, but was also the founder
of astronomical geography, and the author of many valuable works in
various branches of philosophy. Hipparchus (fl. 150 B.C.) is considered
the founder of the science of exact astronomy, from his great work, the
"Catalogue of the Fixed Stars," his discovery of the precession of the
equinoxes, and many other valuable astronomical observations and

4. ALEXANDRIAN PHILOSOPHY.--Athens, which had been the centre of Greek
literature during the second or classical period of its development, had
now, in all respects but one, resigned the intellectual leadership to the
city of the Ptolemies. While Alexandria was producing a series of learned
poets, scholars, and discoverers in science, Athenian literature was
mainly represented by the establishment of certain forms of mental and
moral philosophy founded on the various Socratic schools. Two schools of
philosophy were established at Athens at the time of the death of
Aristotle: that of the Academy, in which he himself had studied, and that
of the Lyceum, which he had founded, as the seat of his peripatetic
system. But the older schools soon reappeared under new names: the
Megarics, with an infusion of the doctrines of Democritus, revived in the
skeptic philosophy of Pyrrhon (375-285 B.C.). Epicurus (342-370 B.C.)
founded the school to which he gave his name, by a similar combination of
Democritean philosophy with the doctrines of the Cyrenaics; the Cynics
were developed into Stoics by Zeno (341-260 B.C.), who borrowed much from
the Megaric school and from the Old Academy; and, finally, the Middle and
New Academy arose from a combination of doctrines which were peculiar to
many of these sects.

Though these different schools, which flourished at Athens, had early
representatives in Alexandria, their different doctrines, coming in
contact with the ancient religious systems of the Persians, Jews, and
Hindus, underwent essential modifications, and gave birth to a kind of
electicism, which became later an important element in the development of
Christian history. The rationalism of the Platonic school and the
supernaturalism of the Jewish Scriptures were chiefly mingled together,
and from this amalgamation sprang the system of Neo-Platonism. When the
early teachers of Christianity at Alexandria strove to show the harmony of
the Gospel with the great principles of the Greco-Jewish philosophy, it
underwent new modifications, and the Neo-Platonic school, which sprang up
in Alexandria three centuries B.C., was completed in the first and second
centuries of the Christian era. The common characteristic of the Neo-
Platonists was a tendency to mysticism. Some of them believed that they
were the subjects of divine inspiration and illumination; able to look
into the future and to work miracles. Philo-Judaeus (fl. 20 B.C.),
Numenius (fl. 150 A.D.), Ammonius Saccas (fl. 200 A.D.), Plotinus (fl, 260
A.D.), Porphyry (fl. 260 A.D.), and several fathers of the Greek Church
are among the principal disciples of this school.

5. ANTI-NEO-PLATONIC TENDENCIES.--While the Neo-Platonism of Alexandria
introduced into Greek philosophy Oriental ideas and tendencies, other
positive and practical doctrines also prevailed, founded on common sense
and conscience. First among these were the tenets of the Stoics, who owed
their system mainly and immediately to the teaching of Epictetus (fl. 60
A.D.), who opposed the Oriental enthusiasm of the Neo-Platonists. He was
originally a slave, and became a prominent teacher of philosophy in Rome,
in the reign of Domitian. He left nothing in writing, and we are indebted
for a knowledge of his doctrines to Arrian, who compiled his lectures or
philosophical dissertations in eight books, of which only four are
preserved, and the "Manual of Epictetus," a valuable compendium of the
doctrines of the Stoics. The Emperor Marcus Aurelius not only lectured at
Rome on the principles of Epictetus, but he left us his private
meditations, composed in the midst of a camp, and exhibiting the serenity
of a mind which had made itself independent of outward actions and warring
passions within. Lucian (fl. 150 A.D.) may be compared to Voltaire, whom
he equaled in his powers both of rhetoric and ridicule, and surpassed in
his more conscientious and courageous love of truth. Though the results of
his efforts against heathenism were merely negative, he prepared the way
for Christianity by giving the death-blow to declining idolatry. Lucian,
as a man of letters, is on many accounts interesting, and in reference to
his own age and to the literature of Greece he is entitled to an important
position both with regard to the religious and philosophical results of
his works, and to the introduction of a purer Greek style, which he taught
and exemplified. Longinus (fl. 230 A.D.), both as an opponent of Neo-
Platonism and as a sound and sensible critic, occupies a position similar
to that of Lucian, in the declining period of Greek literary history.
During a visit to the East, he became known to Zenobia, queen of Palmyra,
who adopted the celebrated scholar as her instructor in the language and
literature of Greece, her adviser and chief minister; and when Palmyra
fell before the Roman power he was put to death by the Roman emperor. To
his treatise on "The Sublime" he is chiefly indebted for his fame. When
France, in the reign of Louis XIV., gave a tone to the literary judgments
of Europe, this work was translated by Boileau, and received by the wits
of Paris as an established manual in all that related to the sublime and

6. GREEK LITERATURE IN ROME.--After the subjugation of Greece by the
Romans, Greek authors wrote in their own language and published their
works in Rome; illustrious Romans chose the idiom of Plato as the best
medium for the expression of their own thoughts; dramatic poets gained a
reputation by imitating the tragedies and comedies of Athens, and every
versifier felt compelled by fashion to revive the metres of ancient
Greece. This naturalization of Greek literature at Rome was due to the
rudeness and poverty of the national literature of Italy, to the influence
exerted by the Greek colonies, and to the political subjugation of Greece.
In Rome, Greek libraries were established by the Emperor Augustus and his
successors; and the knowledge of the Greek language was considered a
necessary accomplishment. Cicero made his countrymen acquainted with the
philosophical schools of Athens, and Rome became more and more the rival
of Alexandria, both as a receptacle for the best Greek writings and as a
seat of learning, where Greek authors found appreciation and patronage.
The Greek poets, who were fostered and encouraged at Rome, were chiefly
writers of epigrams, and their poems are preserved in the collections
called "Anthologies." The growing demand for forensic eloquence naturally
led the Roman orators to find their examples in those of Athens, and to
the study of rhetoric in the Grecian writers.

Among the writers on rhetoric whose works seem to have produced the,
greatest effect at the beginning of the Roman period, we mention Dionysius
of Halicarnassus (fl. 7 B.C.). As a critic, he occupies the first rank
among the ancients. Besides his rhetorical treatises, he wrote a work on
"Roman Archaeology," the object of which was to show that the Romans were
not, after all, barbarians, as was generally supposed, but a pure Greek
race, whose institutions, religion, and manners were traceable to an
identity with those of the noblest Hellenes.

What Dionysius endeavored to do for the gratification of his own
countrymen, by giving them a Greek version of Roman history, an
accomplished Jew, who lived about a century later, attempted, from the
opposite point of view, for his own fallen race, in a work which was a
direct imitation of that just described. Flavius Josephus (fl. 60 A.D.)
wrote the "Jewish Archaeology" in order to show the Roman conquerors of
Jerusalem that the Jews did not deserve the contempt with which they were
universally regarded. His "History of the Jewish Wars" is an able and
valuable work.

At an earlier period, Polybius (204-122 B.C.) wrote to explain to the
Greeks how the power of the Romans had established itself in Greece. His
great work was a universal history, but of the forty books of which it
consisted only five have been preserved; perhaps no historical work has
ever been written with such definiteness of purpose or unity of plan, or
with such self-consciousness on the part of the writer. The object to
which he directs attention is the manner in which fortune or providence
uses the ability and energy of man as instruments in carrying out what is
predetermined, and specially the exemplification of these principles in
the wonderful growth of the Roman power during the fifty-three years of
which he treats. Taking his history as a whole, it is hardly possible to
speak in too high terms of it, though the style has many blemishes, such
as endless digressions, wearisome repetition of his own principles and
colloquial vulgarisms.

Diodorus, a native of Sicily, generally known as the Sicilian (Siculus),
flourished in the time of the first two Caesars. In his great work, the
"Historical Library," it was his object to write a history of the world
down to the commencement of Caesar's Gallic wars. He is content to give a
bare recital of the facts, which crowded upon him and left him no time to
be diffuse or ornamental.

The geography of Strabo (fl. 10 A.D.), which has made his name familiar to
modern scholars, has come down to us very nearly complete. Its merits are
literary rather than scientific. His object was to give an instructive and
readable account of the known world, from the point of view taken by a
Greek man of letters. His style is simple, unadorned, and unaffected.

Plutarch (40-120 A.D.) may be classed among the philosophers as well as
among the historians. Though he has left many essays and works on
different subjects, he is best known as a biographer. His lives of
celebrated Greeks and Romans have made his name familiar to the readers of
every country. The universal popularity of his biographies is due to the
fact that they are dramatic pictures, in which each personage is
represented as acting according to his leading characteristics.

Pausanias (fl. 184 A.D.), a professed describer of countries and of their
antiquities and works of art, in his "Gazetteer of Hellas" has left the
best repertory of information for the topography, local history, religious
observances, architecture, and sculpture of the different states of

Among the scientific men of this period we find Ptolemy, whose name for
more than a thousand years was coextensive with the sciences of astronomy
and geography. He was a native of Alexandria, and flourished about the
latter part of the second century. The best known of his works is his
"Great Construction of Astronomy." He was the first to indicate the true
shape of Spain, Gaul, and Ireland; as a writer, he deserves to be held in
high estimation. Galen (fl. 130 A.D.) was a writer on philosophy and
medicine, with whom few could vie in productiveness. It was his object to
combine philosophy with medical science, and his works for fifteen
centuries were received as oracular authorities throughout the civilized

7. CONTINUED DECLINE OF GREEK LITERATURE.--The adoption of the Christian
religion by Constantine, and his establishment of the seat of government
in his new city of Constantinople, concurred in causing the rapid decline
of Greek literature in the fourth and following centuries. Christianity,
no longer the object of persecution, became the dominant religion of the
state, and the profession of its tenets was the shortest road to influence
and honor. The old literature, with its mythological allusions, became
less and less fashionable, and the Greek poets, philosophers, and orators
of the better periods gradually lost their attractions. Greek, the
official language of Constantinople, was spoken there, with different
degrees of corruption, by Syrians, Bulgarians, and Goths; and thus, as
Christianity undermined the old classical literature, the political
condition of the capital deteriorated the language itself. Other causes
accelerated the decadence of Greek learning: the great library at
Alexandria, and the school which had been established in connection with
it, were destroyed at the end of the fourth century by the edict of
Theodosius, and the conquest of Egypt by the Saracens in the seventh
century only completed the work of destruction. Justinian closed the
schools of Athens, and prohibited the teaching of philosophy; the Arabs
overthrew those established elsewhere, and there remained only the
institutions of Constantinople. But long before the establishment of the
Turks on the ruins of the Byzantine empire, Greek literature had ceased to
claim any original or independent existence. The opposition between the
literary spirit of heathen Greece and the Christian scholarship of the
time of Constantine and his immediate successors, which grew up very
gradually, was the result of the Oriental superstitions which distorted
Christianity and disturbed the old philosophy. The abortive attempt of the
Emperor Julian to create a reaction in favor of heathenism was the cause
of the open antagonism between the classical and Christian forms of
literature. The church, however, was soon enabled not only to dictate its
own rules of literary criticism, but to destroy the writings of its most
formidable antagonists. The last rays of heathen cultivation in Italy were
extinguished in the gloomy dungeon of Boethius, and the period so justly
designated as the Dark Ages began both in eastern and western Europe.

8. LAST ECHOES OF THE OLD LITERATURE--From the time when Christianity
placed itself in opposition to the old culture of heathen Greece and Rome,
down to the period of the revival of classical literature in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries, the classical spirit was nearly extinct both in
eastern and western Europe. In Italy, the triumph of barbarism was more
sudden and complete. In the eastern empire there was a certain literary
activity, and in the department of history, Byzantine literature was
conspicuously prolific.

The imperial family of the Comneni, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
and the Palaeologi, who reigned from the thirteenth century to the end of
the eastern empire, endeavored to revive the taste for literature and
learning. But the echoes of the past became fainter and fainter, and when
Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks, 1453 A.D., the wandering
Greeks who found their way into Italy could only serve as language-masters
to a race of scholars, who thus recovered the learning that had ceased to
exist among the Greeks themselves.

The last manifestations of the old classical learning by the Alexandrian
school, which had done so much in the second and first centuries before
our era, may he divided into three classes. In the first are placed the
mathematical and geographical studies, which had been brought to such
perfection by Euclid, his successors, and after them by Ptolemy. In the
second class we have the substitution of prose romances for the bucolic
and erotic poetry of the Alexandrian and Sicilian writers. In the third
class the revival, by Nonnus and his followers, of a learned epos, of much
the same kind as the poems of Callimachus. Among the representatives of
the mathematical school of Alexandria was Theon, whose celebrity is
obscured by that of his daughter Hypatia (fl. 415 A.D.), whose sex, youth,
beauty, and cruel fate have made her a most interesting martyr of
philosophy. She presided in the public school at Alexandria, where she
taught mathematics and the philosophy of Ammonius and Plotinus. Her
influence over the educated classes of that city excited the jealousy of
the archbishop. She was given up to the violence of a superstitious and
brutal mob, attacked as she was passing through the streets in her
chariot, torn in pieces, and her mutilated body thrown to the flames.

When rhetorical prose superseded composition in verse, the greater
facility of style naturally led to more detailed narratives, and the
sophist who would have been a poet in the time of Callimachus, became a
writer of prose romances in the final period of Greek literature. The
first ascertained beginning of this style of light reading, which occupies
so large a space in the catalogues of modern libraries, was in the time of
the Emperor Trajan, when a Syrian or Babylonian freedman, named
Iamblichus, published a love story called the "Babylonian Adventures."
Among his successors is Longus, of whose work, "The Lesbian Adventure," it
is sufficient to say, that it was the model of the "Diana" of Montemayor,
the "Aminta" of Tasso, the "Pastor Fido" of Guarini, and the "Gentle
Shepherd" of Allan Ramsay.

While the sophists were amusing themselves by clothing erotic and bucolic
subjects in rhetorical prose, an Egyptian boldly revived the epos which
had been cultivated at Alexandria in the earliest days of the Museum.
Nonnus probably flourished at the commencement of the fifth century A.D.
His epic poem, which, in accordance with the terminology of the age, is
called "Dionysian Adventures," is an enormous farrago of learning on the
well-worked subject of Bacchus. The most interesting of the epic
productions of the school of Nonnus is the story of "Hero and Leander," in
340 verses, which bears the name of Musaeus. For grace of diction,
metrical elegance, and simple pathos, this little canto stands far before
the other poems of the same age. The Hero and Leander of Musaeus is the
dying swan-note of Greek poetry, the last distinct note of the old music
of Hellas.

In the Byzantine literature, there are works which claim no originality,
but have a higher value than their contemporaries, because they give
extracts or fragments of the lost writings of the best days of Greece.
Next in value follow the lexicographers, the grammarians, and
commentators. The most voluminous department, however, of Byzantine
literature, was that of the historians, annalists, chroniclers,
biographers, and antiquarians, whose works form a continuous series of
Byzantine annals from the time of Constantine the Great to the taking of
the capital by the Turks. This literature was also enlivened by several
poets, and enriched by some writers on natural history and medicine.

literature would be imperfect without some allusion to a class of writings
not usually included in the range of classical studies. The first of these
works, the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, before mentioned, and
the Greek Apocrypha, may properly be termed Hebrew-Grecian. Their spirit
is wholly at variance with that of pagan literature, and it cannot be
doubted that they exerted great influence when made known to the pagans of
Alexandria. Many of the books termed the Apocrypha were originally written
in Greek, and mostly before the Christian era. Many of them contain
authentic narratives, and are valuable as illustrating the circumstances
of the age to which they refer. The other class of writings alluded to
comprehends the works of the Christian authors. As the influence of
Christianity became more diffused during the first and second centuries,
its regenerating power became visible. After the time of Christ, there
appeared, in both the Greek and Latin tongues, works wholly different in
their spirit and character from all that is found in pagan literature. The
collection of sacred writings contained in the New Testament and the works
of the early fathers constitute a distinct and interesting feature in the
literature of the age in which they appeared. The writings of the New
Testament, considered simply in their literary aspect, are distinguished
by a simplicity, earnestness, naturalness, and beauty that find no
parallel in the literature of the world. But the consideration must not be
overlooked, that they were the work of those men who wrote as they were
moved of the Holy Ghost, that they contain the life and the teachings of
the great Founder of our faith, and that they come to us invested with
divine authority. Their influence upon the ages which have succeeded them
is incalculable, and it is still widening as the knowledge of Christianity
increases. The composition of the New Testament is historical, epistolary,
and prophetic. The first five books, or the historical division, contain
an account of the life and death of our Saviour, and some account of the
first movements of the Apostles. The epistolary division consists of
letters addressed by the Apostles to the different churches or to
individuals. The last, the book of Revelation, the only part that is
considered prophetic, differs from the others in its use of that
symbolical language which had been common to the Hebrew prophets, in the
sublimity and majesty of its imagery, and in its prediction of the final
and universal triumph of Christianity.

The writings of the Apostolic Fathers, or the immediate successors of the
Apostles, were held in high estimation by the primitive Christians. Of
those who wrote under this denomination, the venerable Polycarp and
Ignatius, after they had both attained the age of eighty years, sealed
their faith in the blood of martyrdom. The former was burned at the stake
in Smyrna, and the latter devoured by lions in the amphitheatre of Rome,
In the second and third centuries, Christianity numbered among its
advocates many distinguished scholars and philosophers, particularly among
the Greeks. Their productions may be classed under the heads of biblical,
controversial, doctrinal, historical, and homiletical. Among the most
distinguished of the Greek fathers were Justin Martyr (fl. 89 A.D.), an
eminent Christian philosopher and speculative thinker; Clement of
Alexandria (fl. 190 A.D.), who has left us a collection of works, which,
for learning and literary talent, stand unrivaled among the writings of
the early Christian fathers; Origen (184-253 A.D.), who, in his numerous
works, attempted to reconcile philosophy with Christianity; Eusebius (fl.
325 A.D.), whose ecclesiastical history is ranked among the most valuable
remains of Christian antiquity; Athanasius, famous for his controversy
with Arius; Gregory Nazianzen (329-390 A.D.), distinguished for his rare
union of eloquence and piety, a great orator and theologian; Basil (329-
379 A.D.) whose works, mostly of a purely theological character, exhibit
occasionally decided proofs of his strong feeling for the beauties of
nature; and John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.), the founder of the art of
preaching, whose extant homilies breathe a spirit of sincere earnestness
and of true genius. To these may be added Nemesius (fl. 400 A.D.), whose
work on the "Nature of Man" is distinguished by the purity of its style
and by the traces of a careful study of classical authors, and Synesius
(378-430 A.D.), who maintained the parallel importance of pagan and
Christian literature, and who has always been held in high estimation for
his epistles, hymns, and dramas.


At the time of the fall of Constantinople, ancient Greek was still the
vehicle of literature, and as such it has been preserved to our day. After
the political changes of the present century, however, it was felt by the
best Greek writers that the old forms were no longer fitted to express
modern ideas, and hence it has become transfused with those better adapted
to the clear and rapid expression of modern literature, though at the same
time the body and substance, as well as the grammar, of the language have
been retained.

From an early age, along with the literary language of Greece, there
existed a conversational language, which varied in different localities,
and out of this grew the Modern Greek or Neo-Hellenic.

After the fall of Constantinople, the Greeks were prominent in spreading a
knowledge of their language through Europe, and but few works of
importance were produced. During the eighteenth century a revival of
enthusiasm for education and literature took place, and a period of great
literary activity has since followed. Perhaps no nation now produces so
much literature in proportion to its numbers, although the number of
readers is small and there are great difficulties in publishing. In these
circumstances, the Ralli and other distinguished Greeks have nobly come
forward and published books at their own expense, and great activity
prevails in every department of letters.

Since the establishment of Greek independence, three writers have secured
for themselves a permanent place in literature as men of true genius: the
two brothers Panagiotis and Alexander Santsos, and Alexander Rangabé. The
brothers Santsos threw all their energies into the war for independence
and sang of its glories. Panagiotis (d. 1868) was always lyrical, and
Alexander (d. 1863) always satirical. Both were highly ideal in their
conceptions, and both had a rich command of musical language. The other
great poet of regenerated Greece is Alexander Rangabé, whose works range
through almost every department of literature, though it is on his poems
that his claim to remembrance will specially rest. They are distinguished
by fine poetic feeling, rare command of exquisite and harmonious language,
and singular beauty and purity of thought. His poetical works consist of
hymns, odes, songs, narrative poems, ballads, tragedies, comedies, and
translations. There is no department in prose literature which is not well
represented in modern Greek, and many women have particularly
distinguished themselves.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Roman Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language;
Ethnographical Elements of the Latin Language; the Umbrian; Oscan;
Etruscan; the Old Roman Tongue; Saturnian Verse; Peculiarities of the
Latin Language.--3. The Roman Religion.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Early Literature of the Romans; the Fescennine Songs;
the Fabulae Atellanae.--2. Early Latin Poets; Livius Andronicus, Naevius,
and Ennius.--3. Roman Comedy.--4. Comic Poets; Plautus, Terence, and
Statius.--5. Roman Tragedy.--6. Tragic Poets; Pacuvius and Attius.--7.
Satire; Lucilius.--8. History and Oratory; Fabius Pictor; Cencius
Alimentus; Cato; Varro; M. Antonius; Crassus; Hortensius.--9. Roman
Jurisprudence.--10. Grammarians.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. Development of the Roman Literature.--2. Mimes,
Mimographers, Pantomime; Laberius and P. Lyrus.--3. Epic Poetry; Virgil;
The Aeneid.--4. Didactic Poetry; the Bucolics; the Georgics; Lucretius.--
5. Lyric Poetry; Catullus; Horace.--6. Elegy; Tibullus; Propertius; Ovid.
--7. Oratory and Philosophy; Cicero.--8. History; J. Caesar; Sallust;
Livy.--9. Other Prose Writers.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Decline of Roman Literature.--2. Fable; Phaedrus.--3.
Satire and Epigram; Persius, Juvenal, Martial.--4. Dramatic Literature;
the Tragedies of Seneca.--5. Epic Poetry; Lucan; Silius Italicus; Valerius
Flaccus; P. Statius.--6. History; Paterculus; Tacitus; Suetonius; Q.
Curtius; Valerius Maximus.--7. Rhetoric and Eloquence; Quintilian; Pliny
the Younger.--8. Philosophy and Science; Seneca; Pliny the Elder; Celsus;
P. Mela; Columella; Frontinus.--9. Roman Literature from Hadrian to
Theodoric; Claudian; Eutropius; A. Marcellinus; S. Sulpicius; Gellius;
Macrobius; L. Apuleius; Boethius; the Latin Fathers.--10. Roman


1. ROMAN LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--Inferior to Greece in the genius
of its inhabitants, and, perhaps, in the intrinsic greatness of the events
of which it was the theatre, unquestionably inferior in the fruits of
intellectual activity, Italy holds the second place in the classic
literature of antiquity. Etruria could boast of arts, legislation,
scientific knowledge, a fanciful mythology, and a form of dramatic
spectacle, before the foundations of Rome were laid. But, like the ancient
Egyptians, the Etrurians made no progress in composition. Verses of an
irregular structure and rude in sense and harmony appear to have formed
the highest limit of their literary achievements. Nor did even the opulent
and luxurious Greeks of Southern Italy, while they retained their
independence, contribute much to the glory of letters in the West. It was
only in their fall that they did good service to the cause, when they
redeemed the disgrace of their political humiliation by the honor of
communicating the first impulse towards intellectual refinement to the
bosoms of their conquerors. When, in the process of time, Sicily,
Macedonia, and Achaia had become Roman provinces, some acquaintance with
the language of their new subjects proved to be a matter almost of
necessity to the victorious people; but the first impression made at Rome
by the productions of the Grecian Muse, and the first efforts to create a
similar literature, must be traced to the conquest of Tarentum (272 B.C.).
From that memorable period, the versatile talents which distinguished the
Greeks in every stage of national decline began to exercise a powerful
influence on the Roman mind, which was particularly felt in the
departments of education and amusement. The instruction of the Roman youth
was committed to the skill and learning of Greek slaves; the spirit of the
Greek drama was transferred into the Latin tongue, and, somewhat later,
Roman genius and ambition devoted their united energies to the study of
Greek rhetoric, which long continued to be the guide and model of those
schools, in whose exercises the abilities of Cicero himself were trained.
Prejudice and patriotism were powerless to resist this flood of foreign
innovation; and for more than a century after the Tarentine war,
legislative influence strove in vain to counteract the predominance of
Greek philosophy and eloquence. But this imitative tendency was tempered
by the pride of Roman citizenship. That sentiment breaks out, not merely
in the works of great statesmen and warriors, but quite as strikingly in
the productions of those in whom the literary character was all in all. It
is as prominent in Virgil and Horace as in Cicero and Caesar; and if the
language of Rome, in other respects so inferior to that of Greece, has any
advantage over the sister tongue, it lies in that accent of dignity and
command which seems inherent in its tones. The austerity of power is not
shaded down by those graceful softenings so agreeable to the disposition
of the most polished Grecian communities. In the Latin forms and syntax we
are everywhere conscious of a certain energetic majesty and forcible
compression. We hear, as it were, the voice of one who claims to be
respected, and resolves to be obeyed.

The Roman classical literature may be divided into three periods. The
first embraces its rise and progress, oral and traditional compositions,
the rude elements of the drama, the introduction of Greek literature, and
the construction and perfection of comedy. To this period the first five
centuries of the republic may be considered as introductory, for Rome had,
properly speaking, no literature until the conclusion of the first Punic
war (241 B.C.), and the first period, commencing at that time, extends
through 160 years--that is, to the first appearance of Cicero in public
life, 74 B.C.

The second period ends with the death of Augustus, 14 A.D. It comprehends
the age of which Cicero is the representative as the most accomplished
orator, philosopher, and prose-writer of his time, as well as that of
Augustus, which is commonly called the Golden Age of Latin poetry.

The third and last period terminates with the death of Theodoric, 526 A.D.
Notwithstanding the numerous excellences which distinguished the
literature of this time, its decline had evidently commenced, and, as the
age of Augustus has been distinguished by the epithet "golden," the
succeeding period, to the death of Hadrian, 138 A.D., on account of its
comparative inferiority, has been designated "the Silver Age." From this
time to the close of the reign of Theodoric, only a few distinguished
names are to be found.

2. THE LANGUAGE.--The origin of the Latin language is necessarily
connected with that of the Romans themselves. In the most distant ages to
which tradition extends, Italy appears to have been inhabited by three
stocks or tribes of the great Indo-European family. One of these is
commonly known by the name of Oscans; another consisted of two branches,
the Sabelians or Sabines, and the Umbrians; the third was called Sikeli,
sometimes Vituli or Itali.

The original settlements of the Umbrians extended over the district
bounded on one side by the Tiber, and on the other by the Po. All the
country to the south was in possession of the Oscans, with the exception
of Latium, which was inhabited by the Sikeli. But, in process of time, the
Oscans, pressed upon by the Sabines, invaded the abodes of this peaceful
and rural people, some of whom submitted, and amalgamated with their
conquerors; the rest were driven across the narrow sea into Sicily, and
gave their name to the island.

These tribes were not left in undisturbed possession of their rich
inheritance. More than 1000 B.C. there arrived in the northern part of
Italy the Pelasgians (or dark Asiatics), an enterprising race, famed for
their warlike spirit and their skill in the arts of peace, who became the
civilizers of Italy. They were far advanced in the arts of civilization
and refinement, and in the science of politics and social life. They
enriched their newly acquired country with commerce, and filled it with
strongly fortified and populous cities, and their dominion rapidly spread
over the whole peninsula. Entering the territory of the Umbrians, they
drove them into the mountainous districts, or compelled them to live among
them as a subject people, while they possessed themselves of the rich and
fertile plains. The headquarters of the invaders was Etruria, and that
portion of them who settled there were known as Etrurians. Marching
southward, they vanquished the Oscans and occupied the plains of Latium.
They did not, however, remain long at peace in the districts which they
had conquered. The old inhabitants returned from the neighboring highlands
to which they had been driven, and subjugated the northern part of Latium,
and established a federal anion between the towns of the north, of which
Alba was the capital, while of the southern confederacy the chief city was

At a later period, a Latin tribe, belonging to the Alban federation,
established itself on the Mount Palatine, and founded Rome, while a Sabine
community occupied the neighboring heights of the Quirinal. Mutual
jealousy of race kept them, for some time, separate from each other; but
at length the two communities became one people, called the Romans. These
were, at an early period, subjected to Etruscan rule, and when the
Etruscan dynasty passed away, its influence still remained, and
permanently affected the Roman language.

The Etruscan tongue being a compound of Pelasgian and Umbrian, the
language of Latium may be considered as the result of those two elements
combined with the Oscan, and brought together by the mingling of those
different tribes. These elements, which entered into the formation of the
Latin, may be classified under two heads: the one which has, the other
which has not a resemblance to the Greek. All Latin words which resemble
the Greek are Pelasgian, and all which do not are Etruscan, Oscan, or
Umbrian. From the first of these classes must be excepted those words
which are directly derived from the Greek, the origin of which dates
partly from the time when Rome began to have intercourse with the Greek
colonies of Magna Graecia, partly after the Greeks exercised a direct
influence on Roman literature.

Of the ancient languages of Italy, which concurred in the formation of the
Latin, little is known. The Eugubine Tables are the only extant fragments
of the Umbrian language. These were found in the neighborhood of Ugubio,
in the year 1414 A.D.; they date as early as 354 B.C., and contain prayers
and rules for religious ceremonies. Some of these tables were engraved in
Etruscan or Umbrian characters, others in Latin letters. The remains which
have come down to us of the Oscan language belong to a composite idiom
made up of the Sabine and Oscan, and consist chiefly of an inscription
engraved on a brass plate, discovered in 1793 A.D. As the word Bansae
occurs in this inscription, it has been supposed to refer to the town of
Bantia, which was situated not far from the spot where the tablet was
found, and it is, therefore, called the Bantine Table. The similarity
between some of the words found in the Eugubine Tables and in Etruscan
inscriptions, shows that the Etruscan language was composed of the
Pelasgian and Umbrian, and from the examples given by ethnographers, it is
evident that the Etruscan element was most influential in the formation of
the Latin language.

The old Roman tongue, or _lingua prisca_, as it was composed of these
materials, and as it existed previous to coming in contact with the Greek,
has almost entirely perished; it did not grow into the new, like the
Greek, by a process of intrinsic development, but it was remoulded by
external and foreign influences. So different was the old Roman from the
classical Latin, that some of those ancient fragments were with difficulty
intelligible to the cleverest and best educated scholars of the Augustan

An example of the oldest Latin extant is contained in the sacred chant of
the Fratres Arvales. These were a college of priests, whose function was
to offer prayers for plenteous harvests, in solemn dances and processions
at the opening of spring. Their song was chanted in the temple with closed
doors, accompanied by that peculiar dance which was termed the tripudium,
from its containing three beats. The inscription which embodied this
litany was discovered in Rome in 1778 A.D. The monument belongs to the
reign of Heliogabalus, 218 A.D., but although the date is so recent, the
permanence of religious formulas renders it probable that the inscription
contains the exact words sung by this priesthood in the earliest times.
The "Carmen Saliare," or the Salian hymn, the _leges regiae_, the
Tiburtine inscription, the inscription on the sarcophagus of L. Cornelius
Scipio Barbatus, the great-grandfather of the conqueror of Hannibal, the
epitaph of Lucius Scipio, his son, and, above all, the Twelve Tables, are
the other principal extant monuments of ancient Latin. The laws of the
Twelve Tables were engraven on tablets of brass, and publicly set up in
the comitium; they were first made public 449 B.C.

Most of these literary monuments were written in Saturnian verse, the
oldest measure used by the Latin poets. It was probably derived from the
Etruscans, and until Ennius introduced the heroic hexameter, the strains
of the Italian bards flowed in this metre. The structure of the Saturnian
is very simple, and its rhythmical arrangement is found in the poetry of
every age and country. Macaulay adduces, as an example of this measure,
the following line from the well-known nursery song,----

  "The queén was ín her párlor, | eáting breád and hóney."

From this species of verse, which probably prevailed among the natives of
Provence (the Roman Provincia), and into which, at a later period, rhyme
was introduced as an embellishment, the Troubadours derived the metre of
their ballad poetry, and thence introduced it into the rest of Europe.

A wide gap separates this old Latin from the Latin of Ennius, whose style
was formed by Greek taste; another not so wide is interposed between the
age of Ennius and that of Plautus and Terence, and lastly, Cicero and the
Augustan poets mark another age. But in all its periods of development,
the Latin bears a most intimate relation with the Greek. This similarity
is the result both of their common origin from the primitive Pelasgian and
of the intercourse which the Romans at a later period held with the
Greeks. Latin, however, had not the plastic property of the Greek, the
faculty of transforming itself into every variety of form and shape
conceived by the fancy and imagination; it partook of the spirit of Roman
nationality, of the conscious dignity of the Roman citizen, of the
indomitable will that led that people to the conquest of the world. In its
construction, instead of conforming to the thought, it bends the thought
to its own genius. It is a fit language for expressing the thoughts of an
active and practical, but not of an imaginative and speculative people. It
was propagated, like the dominion of Rome, by conquest. It either took the
place of the language of the conquered nation, or became ingrafted upon
it, and gradually pervaded its composition; hence its presence is
discernible in all European languages.

3. THE RELIGION.--The religion and mythology of Etruria left an indelible
stamp on the rites and ceremonies of the Roman people. At first they
worshiped heaven and earth, personified in Saturn and Ops, by whom Juno,
Vesta, and Ceres were generated, symbolizing marriage, family, and
fertility; soon after, other Etruscan divinities were introduced, such as
Jupiter, Minerva, and Janus; and Sylvanus and Faunus, who delighted in the
simple occupations of rural and pastoral life. From the Etrurians the
Romans borrowed, also, the institution of the Vestals, whose duty was to
watch and keep alive the sacred fire of Vesta; the Lares and Penates, the
domestic gods, which presided over the dwelling and family; Terminus, the
god of property and the rites connected with possession; and the orders of
Augurs and Aruspices, whose office was to consult the flight of birds or
to inspect the entrails of animals offered in sacrifice, in order to
ascertain future events. The family of the Roman gods continued to
increase by adopting the divinities of the conquered nations, and more
particularly by the introduction of those of Greece. The general division
of the gods was twofold,--the superior and inferior deities. The first
class contained the Consentes and the Selecti; the second, the Indigetes
and Semones. The Consentes, so called because they were supposed to form
the great council of heaven, consisted of twelve: Jupiter, Neptune,
Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Vulcan, Juno, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, and
Vesta. The Selecti were nearly equal to them in rank, and consisted of
eight: Saturn, Pluto, Bacchus, Janus, Sol, Genius, Rhea, and Luna. The
Indigites were heroes who were ranked among the gods, and included
particularly Hercules, Castor and Pollux, and Quirinus or Romulus. The
Semones comprehended those deities that presided over particular objects,
as Pan, the god of shepherds; Flora, the goddess of flowers, etc. Besides
these, there were among the inferior gods a numerous class of deities,
including the virtues and vices and other objects personified.

The religion of the Romans was essentially political, and employed as a
means of promoting the designs of the state. It was prosaic in its
character, and in this respect differed essentially from the artistic and
poetical religion of the Greeks. The Greeks conceived religion as a free
and joyous worship of nature, a centre of individuality, beauty, and
grace, as well as a source of poetry, art, and independence. With the
Romans, on the contrary, religion conveyed a mysterious and hidden idea,
which gave to this sentiment a gloomy and unattractive character, without
either moral or artistic influence.


(241-74 B.C.)

1. EARLY LITERATURE OF THE ROMANS.--The Romans, like all other nations,
had oral poetical compositions before they possessed any written
literature. Cicero speaks of the banquet being enlivened by the songs of
bards, in which the exploits of heroes were recited and celebrated. By
these lays national pride and family vanity were gratified, and the
anecdotes, thus preserved, furnished sources of early legendary history.
But these legends must not be compared to those of Greece, in which the
religious sentiment gave a supernatural glory to the effusions of the
bard, painted men as heroes and heroes as deities, and, while it was the
natural growth of the Greek intellect, twined itself around the affections
of the people. The Roman religion was a ceremonial for the priests, and
not for the people, and in Roman tradition there are no traces of elevated
genius or poetical inspiration. The Romans possessed the germs of those
faculties which admit of cultivation and improvement, such as taste and
genius, and the appreciation of the beautiful; but they did not possess
those natural gifts of fancy and imagination which formed part of the
Greek mind, and which made that nation in a state of infancy, almost of
barbarism, a poetical people. With them literature was not of spontaneous
growth; it was chiefly the result of the influence exerted by the
Etruscans, who were their teachers in everything mental and spiritual.

The tendency of the Roman mind was essentially utilitarian. Even Cicero,
with all his varied accomplishments, will recognize but one end and object
of all study, namely, those sciences which will render man useful to his
country, and the law of literary development is modified according to this
ruling principle. From the very beginning, the first cause of Roman
literature will be found to have been a view to utility and not to the
satisfaction of an impulsive feeling.

In other nations, poetry has been the first spontaneous production. With
the Romans, the first written literary effort was history; but even their
early history was a simple record of facts, not of ideas or sentiments,
and valuable only for its truth and accuracy. Their original documents,
mere records of memorable events anterior to the capture of Rome by the
Gauls, perished in the conflagration of the city.

The earliest attempt at versification made by the rude inhabitants of
Latium was satire in a somewhat dramatic form. The Fescennine songs were
metrical, for the accompaniments of music and dancing necessarily
restricted them to measure, and, like the dramatic exhibitions of the
Greeks, they had their origin among the rural population, not like them in
any religious ceremonial, but in the pastimes of the village festival. At
first they were innocent and gay, but liberty at length degenerated into
license, and gave birth to malicious and libelous attacks upon persons of
irreproachable character. This infancy of song illustrates the character
of the Romans in its rudest and coarsest form. They loved strife, both
bodily and mental, and they thus early displayed that taste which, in more
polished ages, and in the hands of cultivated poets, was developed in the
sharp, cutting wit, and the lively but piercing points of Roman satire.

In the Fescennine songs the Etruscans probably furnished the spectacle,
all that which addresses itself to the eye, while the habits of Italian
rural life supplied the sarcastic humor and ready extemporaneous gibe,
which are the essence of the true comic. The next advance in point of art
must be attributed to the Oscans, whose entertainments were most popular
among the Italian nations. They represented in broad caricature national
peculiarities. Their language was, originally, Oscan, as well as the
characters represented. The principal one resembled the clown of modern
pantomime; another was a kind of pantaloon or charlatan, and much of the
rest consisted of practical jokes, like that of the Italian Polincinella.
After their introduction at Rome, they received many improvements; they
lost their native rusticity; their satire was good-natured; their jests
were seemly, and kept in check by the laws of good taste. They were not
acted by common professional performers, and even a Roman citizen might
take part in them without disgrace. They were known by the name of
"Fabulae Atellanae," from Attela, a town in Campania, where they were
first performed. They remained in favor with the Roman people for
centuries. Sylla amused his leisure hours in writing them, and Suetonius
bears testimony to their having been a popular amusement under the empire.

Towards the close of the fourth century, the Etruscan _histriones_ were
introduced, whose entertainments consisted of graceful national dances,
accompanied with the music of the flute, but without either songs or
dramatic action. With these dances the Romans combined the old Fescennine
songs, and the varied metres, which their verse permitted to the vocal
parts, gave to this mixed entertainment the name of Satura (a hodge-podge
or potpourri), from which, in after times, the word satire was derived.

2. EARLY LATIN POETS.--At the conclusion, of the first Punic war, when the
influence of Greek intellect, which had already long been felt in Italy,
had extended to the capital, the Romans were prepared for the reception of
a more regular drama. But not only did they owe to Greece the principles
of literary taste; their earliest poet was one of that nation. Livius
Andronicus (fl. 240 B.C.), though born in Italy, and educated at Rome, is
supposed to have been a native of the Greek colony of Tarentum. He was at
first a slave, probably a captive taken in war, but was finally
emancipated by his master, in whose family he occupied the position of
instructor to his children. He wrote a translation, or perhaps an
imitation of the Odyssey, in the old Saturnian metre, and also a few
hymns. His principal works, however, were tragedies; but, from the few
fragments of his writings extant, it is impossible to form an estimate of
his ability as a poet. According to Livy, Andronicus was the first who
substituted, for the rude extemporaneous effusions of the Fescennine
verse, plays with a regular plot and fable. In consequence of losing his
voice, from being frequently encored, he obtained permission to introduce
a boy to sing the ode or air to the accompaniment of the flute, while he
himself represented the action of the song by his gestures and dancing.

Naevius (fl. 235 B.C.) was the first poet who really deserves the name of
Roman. He was not a servile imitator, but applied Greek taste and
cultivation to the development of Roman sentiments, and was a true Roman
in heart, unsparing in his censure of immorality and his admiration for
heroic self-devotion. His honest principles cemented the strong friendship
between him and the upright and unbending Cato, a friendship which
probably contributed to form the political and literary character of that
stern old Roman. The comedies of Naevius had undoubted pretensions to
originality; he held up to public scorn the vices and follies of his day,
and, being a warm supporter of the people against the encroachments of the
nobility, and unable to resist indulgence in his satiric vein, he was
exiled to Utica, where he died. He was the author of an epic poem on the
Punic war. Ennius and Virgil unscrupulously copied and imitated him, and
Horace writes that in his day the poems of Naevius were in the hands and
hearts of everybody. The fragments of his writings extant are not more
numerous than those of Livius.

Naevius, the last of the older school of writers, by introducing new
principles of taste to his countrymen, altered their standards; and Greek
literature having now driven out its predecessor, a new school of poetry
arose, of which Ennius (239-169 B.C.) was the founder. He earned a
subsistence as a teacher of Greek, was the friend of Scipio, and, at his
death, was buried in the family tomb of the Scipio, at the request of the
great conqueror of Hannibal, whose fame he contributed to hand down to
posterity. Cicero always uses the appellation, "our own Ennius," when he
quotes his poetry. Horace calls him "Father Ennius," a term which implies
reverence and regard, and that he was the founder of Latin poetry. He was,
like his friends Cato the censor, and Scipio Africanus the elder, a man of
action as well as philosophical thought, and not only a poet, but a brave
soldier, with all the singleness of heart and simplicity of manners which
marked the old times of Roman virtue. Ennius possessed great power over
words, and wielded that power skillfully. He improved the language in its
harmony and its grammatical forms, and increased its copiousness and
power. What he did was improved upon, but was never undone; and upon the
foundations he laid, the taste of succeeding ages erected an elegant and
beautiful superstructure. His great epic poem, the "Annals," gained him
the attachment and admiration of his countrymen. In this he first
introduced the hexameter to the notice of the Romans, and detailed the
rise and progress of their national glory, from the earliest legendary
period down to his own times. The fragments of this work which remain are
amply sufficient to show that he possessed picturesque power, both in
sketching his narratives and in portraying his characters, which seem to
live and breathe; his language, dignified, chaste, and severe, rises as
high as the most majestic eloquence, but it does not soar to the sublimity
of poetry. As a dramatic poet, Ennius does not deserve a high reputation.
In comedy, as in tragedy, he never emancipated himself from the Greek

3. ROMAN COMEDY.--The rude comedy of the early Romans made little progress
beyond personal satire, burlesque extravagance and licentious jesting, but
upon this was ingrafted the new Greek comedy, and hence arose that phase
of the drama, of which the representatives were Plautus, Statius, and
Terence. The Roman comedy was calculated to produce a moral result,
although the morality it inculcated was extremely low. Its standard was
worldly prudence, its lessons utilitarian, and its philosophy Epicurean.
There is a want of variety in the plots, but this defect is owing to the
social and political condition of ancient Greece, which was represented in
the Greek comedies and copied by the Romans. There is also a sameness in
the _dramatis personae_, the principal characters being always a morose or
a gentle father, who is sometimes also the henpecked husband of a rich
wife, an affectionate or domineering wife, a good-natured profligate, a
roguish servant, a calculating slave-dealer and some others.

The actors wore appropriate masks, the features of which were not only
grotesque, but much exaggerated and magnified. This was rendered necessary
by the immense size of the theatre and stage, and the mouth of the mask
answered the purpose of a speaking trumpet, to assist in conveying the
voice to every part of the vast building. The characters were known by a
conventional costume; old men wore robes of white, young men were attired
in gay clothes, rich men in purple, soldiers in scarlet, poor men and
slaves in dark and scanty dresses. The comedy had always a musical
accompaniment of flutes of different kinds.

In order to understand the principles which regulated the Roman comic
metres, it is necessary to observe the manner in which the language itself
was affected by the common conversational pronunciation. Latin, as it was
pronounced, was very different from Latin as it is written; this
difference consisted in abbreviation, either by the omission of sounds
altogether, or by the contraction of two sounds into one, and in this
respect the conversational language of the Romans resembled that of modern
nations; with them, as with us, the mark of good taste was ease and the
absence of pedantry and affectation. In the comic writers we have a
complete representation of Latin as it was commonly pronounced and spoken,
and but little trammeled or confined by a rigid adhesion to Greek metrical

4. COMIC POETS.--Plautus (227-184 B.C.) was a contemporary of Ennius; he
was a native of Umbria, and of humble origin. Education did not overcome
his vulgarity, although it produced a great effect upon his language and
style. He must have lived and associated with the people whose manners he
describes, hence his pictures are correct and truthful. The class from
which his representations are taken consisted of clients, the sons of
freedmen and the half-enfranchised natives of Italian towns. He had no
aristocratic friends, like Ennius and Terence; the Roman public were his
patrons, and notwithstanding their faults, his comedies retained their
popularity even in the Augustan age, and were acted as late as the reign
of Diocletian. Life, bustle, surprise, unexpected situations, sharp,
sparkling raillery that knew no restraint nor bound, left his audience no
time for dullness or weariness. Although Greek was the fountain from which
he drew his stores, his wit, thought, and language were entirely Roman,
and his style was Latin of the purest and most elegant kind--not, indeed,
controlled by much deference to the laws of metrical harmony, but full of
pith and sprightliness, bearing the stamp of colloquial vivacity, and
suitable to the general briskness of his scenes. Yet in the tone of his
dialogue we miss all symptoms of deference to the taste of the more
polished classes of society. Almost all his comedies were adopted from the
new comedy of the Greeks, and though he had studied both the old and the
middle comedy, Menander and others of the same school furnished him the
originals of his plots. The popularity of Plautus was not confined to
Rome, either republican or imperial. Dramatic writers of modern times, as
Shakspeare, Dryden, and Molière, have recognized the effectiveness of his
plots, and have adopted or imitated them. About twenty of his plays are
extant, among which the Captivi, the Epidicus, the Cistellaria, the
Aulularia, and the Rudens are considered the best.

Terence (193-158 B.C.) was a slave in the family of a Roman senator, and
was probably a native of Carthage. His genius presented the rare
combination of all the fine and delicate qualities which characterized
Attic sentiment, without corrupting the native purity of the Latin
language. The elegance and gracefulness of his style show that the
conversation of the accomplished society, in which he was a welcome guest,
was not lost upon his correct ear and quick intuition. So far as it can be
so, comedy was, in the hands of Terence, an instrument of moral teaching.
Six of his comedies only remain, of which the Andrian and the Adelphi are
the most interesting. If Terence was inferior to Plautus in life, bustle,
and intrigue, and in the delineation of national character, he is superior
in elegance of language and refinement of taste. The justness of his
reflections more than compensates for the absence of his predecessor's
humor; he touches the heart as well as gratifies the intellect.

Of the few other writers of comedy among the Romans, Statius may be
mentioned, who flourished between Plautus and Terence. He was an
emancipated slave, born in Milan. Cicero and Varro have pronounced
judgment upon his merits, the substance of which appears to be, that his
excellences consisted in the conduct of the plot, in dignity, and in
pathos, while his fault was too little care in preserving the purity of
the Latin style. The fragments, however, of his works, which remain are
not sufficient to test the opinion of the ancient critics.

5. ROMAN TRAGEDY.--While Roman comedy was brought to perfection under the
influence of Greek literature, Roman tragedy, on the other hand, was
transplanted from Athens, and, with few exceptions, was never anything
more than translation or imitation. In the century during which, together
with comedy, it flourished and decayed, it boasted of five distinguished
writers, Livius, Naevius, Ennius (already spoken of), Pacuvius, and
Attius. In after ages, Rome did not produce one tragic poet, unless Varius
be considered an exception. The tragedies attributed to Seneca were never
acted, and were only composed for reading and recitation.

Among the causes which prevented tragedy from flourishing at Rome was the
little influence the national legends exerted over the people. These
legends were more often private than public property, and ministered more
to the glory of private families than to that of the nation at large. They
were embalmed by their poets as curious records of antiquity, but they did
not, like the venerable traditions of Greece, twine themselves around the
heart of the nation. Another reason why Roman legends had not the power to
move the affections of the Roman populace is to be found in the changes
the masses had undergone. The Roman people were no longer the descendants
of those who had maintained the national glory in the early period; the
patrician families were almost extinct; war and poverty had extinguished
the middle classes and miserably thinned the lower orders. Into the
vacancy thus caused, poured thousands of slaves, captives in the bloody
wars of Gaul, Spain, Greece, and Africa. These and their descendants
replaced the ancient people, and while many of them by their talents and
energy arrived at wealth and station, they could not possibly be Romans at
heart, or consider the past glories of their adopted country as their own.
It was to the rise of this new element of population, and the displacement
or absorption of the old race, that the decline of patriotism was owing,
and the disregard of everything except daily sustenance and daily
amusement, which paved the way for the empire and marked the downfall of
liberty. With the people of Athens, tragedy formed a part of the national
religion. By it the people were taught to sympathize with their heroic
ancestors; the poet was held to be inspired, and poetry the tongue in
which the natural held communion with the supernatural. With the Romans,
the theatre was merely a place for secular amusement, and poetry only an
exercise of the fancy. Again, the religion of the Romans was not ideal,
like that of the Greeks. The old national faith of Italy, not being rooted
in the heart, soon became obsolete, and readily admitted the ingrafting of
foreign superstitions, which had no hold on the belief or love of the
people. Nor was the genius of the Roman people such as to sympathize with
the legends of the past; they lived only in the present and the future;
they did not look back on their national heroes as demigods; they were
pressing forward to extend the frontiers of their empire, to bring under
their yoke nations which their forefathers had not known. If they regarded
their ancestors at all, it was not in the light of men of heroic stature
as compared with themselves, but as those whom they could equal or even

The scenes of real life, the bloody combats of the gladiators, the
captives, and malefactors stretched on crosses, expiring in excruciating
agonies or mangled by wild beasts, were the tragedies which most deeply
interested a Roman audience.

The Romans were a rough people, full of physical rather than of
intellectual energy, courting peril and setting no value on human life or
suffering. Their very virtues were stern and severe; they were strangers
to both the passions which it was the object of tragedy to excite--pity
and terror. In the public games of Greece, the refinements of poetry
mingled with those exercises which were calculated to invigorate the
physical powers, and develop manly beauty. Those of Rome were sanguinary
and brutalizing, the amusements of a nation to whom war was a pleasure and
a pastime.

It cannot be asserted, however, that tragedy was never to a certain extent
an acceptable entertainment at Rome, but only that it never flourished
there as it did at Athens, and that no Roman tragedies can be compared
with those of Greece.

6. TRAGIC POETS.--Three separate eras produced tragic poets. In the first
flourished Livius Andronicus, Naevius, and Ennius; in the second, Pacuvius
and Attius; in the third, Asinius Pollio wrote tragedies, the plots of
which seem to have been taken from Roman history. Ovid attempted a
"Medea," and even the Emperor Augustus, with other men of genius, tried
his hand, though unsuccessfully, at tragedy.

In the second of the eras mentioned, Roman tragedy reached its highest
degree of perfection simultaneously with that of comedy. While Terence was
successfully reproducing the wit and manners of the new Attic comedy,
Pacuvius (220-130 B.C.) was enriching the Roman drama with free
translations of the Greek tragedians. He was a native of Brundusium and a
grandson of the poet Ennius. At Rome he distinguished himself as a painter
as well as a dramatic poet. His tragedies were not mere translations, but
adaptations of Greek tragedies to the Roman stage. The fragments which are
extant are full of new and original thoughts, and the very roughness of
his style and audacity of his expressions have somewhat of the solemn
grandeur and picturesque boldness which distinguish the father of Attic

Attius (fl. 138 B.C.), though born later than Pacuvius, was almost his
contemporary, and a competitor for popular applause. He is said to have
written more than fifty tragedies, of which fragments only remain. His
taste is chastened, his sentiments noble, and his versification elegant.
With him, Latin tragedy disappeared. The tragedies of the third period
were written expressly for reading and recitation, and not for the stage:
they were dramatic poems, not dramas. Amidst the scenes of horror and
violence which followed, the voice of the tragic muse was hushed. Massacre
and rapine raged through the streets of Rome, itself a theatre where the
most terrible scenes were daily enacted.

7. SATIRE.--The invention of satire is universally attributed to the
Romans, and this is true as far as the external form is concerned, but the
spirit is found in many parts of the literature of Greece. Ennius was the
inventor of the name, but Lucilius (148-102 B.C.) was the father of
satire, in the proper sense. His satires mark an era in Roman literature,
and prove that a love for this species of poetry had already made great
progress. Hitherto, literature, science, and art had been considered the
province of slaves and freedmen. The stern old Roman virtue despised such
sedentary employment as intellectual cultivation, and thought it unworthy
of the warrior and statesman. Some of the higher classes loved literature
and patronized it, but did not make it their pursuit. Lucilius was a Roman
knight, as well as a poet. His satires were comprised in thirty books,
numerous fragments of which are still extant. He was a man of high moral
principle, though stern and stoical; a relentless enemy of vice and
profligacy, and a gallant and fearless defender of truth and honesty.
After the death of Lucilius satire languished, until half a century later,
when it assumed a new garb in the descriptive scenes of Horace, and put
forth its original vigor in the burning thoughts of Persius and Juvenal.

8. HISTORY AND ORATORY.--Prose was far more in accordance with the genius
of the Romans than poetry. As a nation, they had little or no imaginative
power, no enthusiastic love of natural beauty, and no acute perception of
the sympathy between man and the external world. The favorite civil
pursuit of an enlightened Roman was statesmanship, and the subjects akin
to it, history, jurisprudence, and oratory, the natural language of which
was prose, not poetry. And their practical statesmanship gave an early
encouragement to oratory, which is peculiarly the literature of active
life. As matter was more valued than manner by this utilitarian people, it
was long before it was thought necessary to embellish prose composition
with the graces of rhetoric. The fact that Roman literature was imitative
rather than inventive, gave a historical bias to the Roman intellect, and
a tendency to study subjects from an historical point of view. But even in
history, they never attained that comprehensive and philosophical spirit
which distinguished the Greek historians.

The most ancient writer of Roman history was Fabius Pictor (fl. 219 B.C.).
His principal work, written in Greek, was a history of the first and
second Punic war, to which subsequent writers were much indebted.
Contemporary with Fabius was Cincius Alimentus, also an annalist of the
Punic war, in which he was personally engaged. He was a prisoner of
Hannibal, who delighted in the society of literary men, and treated him
with great kindness and consideration, and himself communicated to him the
details of his passage across the Alps. Like Fabius, he wrote his work in
Greek, and prefixed to it a brief abstract of Roman history. Though the
works of these annalists are valuable as furnishing materials for more
philosophical minds, they are such as could have existed only in the
infancy of a national literature. They were a bare compilation of facts--
the mere framework of history--diversified by no critical remarks or
political reflections, and meagre and insipid in style.

The versatility of talent displayed by Cato the censor (224-144 B.C.)
entitles him to a place among orators, jurists, economists, and
historians. His life extends over a wide and important period of literary
history, when everything was in a state of change,--morals, social habits,
and literary taste. Cato was born in Tusculum, and passed his boyhood in
the pursuits of rural life at a small Sabine farm belonging to his father.
The skill with which he pleaded the causes of his clients before the rural
magistracy made his abilities known, and he rose rapidly to eminence as a
pleader. He filled many high offices of state. His energies were not
weakened by advancing age, and he was always ready as the advocate of
virtue, the champion of the oppressed, and the punisher of vice. With many
defects, Cato was morally and intellectually one of the greatest men Rome
ever produced. He had the ability and the determination to excel in
everything which he undertook. His style is rude, unpolished, ungraceful,
because to him polish was superficial, and, therefore, unreal. His
statements, however, were clear, his illustrations striking; the words
with which he enriched his native tongue were full of meaning; his wit was
keen and lively, and his arguments went straight to the intellect, and
carried conviction with them.

Cato's great historical and antiquarian work, "The Origins," was a history
of Italy and Rome from the earliest times to the latest events which
occurred in his own lifetime. It was a work of great research and
originality, but only brief fragments of it remain. In the "De Re
Rustica," which has come down to us in form and substance as it was
written, Cato maintains, in the introduction, the superiority of
agriculture over other modes of gaining a livelihood. The work itself is a
commonplace book of agriculture and domestic economy; its object is
utility, not science: it serves the purpose of a farmer's and gardener's
manual, a domestic medicine, herbal, and cookery book. Cato teaches his
readers, for example, how to plant osier beds, to cultivate vegetables, to
preserve the health of cattle, to pickle pork, and to make savory dishes.

Of the "Orations" of Cato, ninety titles are extant, together with
numerous fragments. In style he despised art. He was too fearless and
upright, too confident in the justness of his cause to be a rhetorician;
he imitated no one, and no one was ever able to imitate him. Niebuhr
pronounces him to be the only great man in his generation, and one of the
greatest and most honorable characters in Roman history.

Varro (116-28 B.C.) was an agriculturist, a grammarian, a critic, a
theologian, a historian, a philosopher, a satirist. Of his miscellaneous
works considerable portions are extant, sufficient to display his
erudition and acuteness, yet, in themselves, more curious than attractive.

Eloquence, though of a rude, unpolished kind, must have been, in the very
earliest times, a characteristic of the Roman people. It is a plant
indigenous to a free soil. As in modern times it has flourished especially
in England and America, fostered by the unfettered freedom of debate, so
it found a congenial home in free Greece and republican Rome. Oratory was,
in Rome, the unwritten literature of active life, and recommended itself
to a warlike and utilitarian people by its utility and its antagonistic
spirit. Long before the art of the historian was sufficiently advanced to
record a speech, the forum, the senate, the battlefield, and the threshold
of the jurisconsult had been nurseries of Roman eloquence, or schools in
which oratory attained a vigorous youth, and prepared for its subsequent

While the legal and political constitution of the Roman people gave direct
encouragement to deliberative and judicial oratory, respect for the
illustrious dead furnished opportunities for panegyric. The song of the
bard in honor of the departed warrior gave place to the funeral oration.
Among the orators of this time were the two Scipios, and Galba, whom
Cicero praises as having been the first Roman who understood how to apply
the theoretical principles of Greek rhetoric.

All periods of political disquiet are necessarily favorable to eloquence,
and the era of the Gracchi was especially so. After a struggle of nearly
four centuries the old distinction of plebeian and patrician no longer
existed. Plebeians held high offices, and patricians, like the Gracchi,
stood forward as champions of popular rights. These stirring times
produced many celebrated orators. The Gracchi themselves were both
eloquent and possessed of those qualities and endowments which would
recommend their eloquence to their countrymen. Oratory began now to be
studied more as an art, and the interval between the Gracchi and Cicero
boasted of many distinguished names; the most illustrious among them are
M. Antonius, Crassus, and Cicero's contemporary and most formidable rival,

M. Antonius (fl. 119 B.C.) entered public life as a pleader, and thus laid
the foundation of his brilliant career; but he was through life greater as
a judicial than as a deliberative orator. He was indefatigable in
preparing his case, and made every point tell. He was a great master of
the pathetic, and knew the way to the heart. Although he did not himself
give his speeches to posterity, some of his most pointed expressions and
favorite passages left an indelible impression on the memories of his
hearers, and many of them were preserved by Cicero. In the prime of life
he fell a victim to political fury, and his bleeding head was placed upon
the rostrum, which was so frequently the scene of his eloquent triumphs.

L. Licinius Crassus was four years younger than Antonius, and acquired
great reputation for his knowledge of jurisprudence, for his eminence as a
pleader, and, above all, for his powerful and triumphant orations in
support of the restoration of the judicial office to the senators. From
among the crowd of orators, who were then flourishing in the last days of
expiring Roman liberty, Cicero selected Crassus to be the representative
of his sentiments in his imaginary conversation in "The Orator." Like Lord
Chatham, Crassus almost died on the floor of the Senate house, and his
last effort was in support of the aristocratic party.

Q. Hortensius was born 114 B.C. He was only eight years senior to the
greatest of all Roman orators. He early commenced his career as a pleader,
and he was the acknowledged leader of the Roman bar, until the star of
Cicero arose. His political connection with the faction of Sylla, and his
unscrupulous support of the profligate corruption which characterized that
administration, both at home and abroad, enlisted his legal talents in
defense of the infamous Verres; but the eloquence of Cicero, together with
the justice of the cause which he espoused, prevailed; and from that time
forward his superiority over Hortensius was established and complete. The
style of Hortensius was Asiatic--more florid and ornate than polished and

9. ROMAN JURISPRUDENCE.--The framework of their jurisprudence the Romans
derived from Athens, but the complete structure was built up by their own
hands. They were the authors of a system possessing such stability that
they bequeathed it, as an inheritance, to modern Europe, and traces of
Roman law are visible in the legal systems of the whole civilized world.

The complicated principles of jurisprudence of the Roman constitution
became, in Rome, a necessary part of a liberal education. When a Roman
youth had completed his studies, under his teacher of rhetoric, he not
only frequented the forum, in order to learn the application of the
rhetorical principles he had acquired, and frequently took some celebrated
orator as a model, but also studied the principles of jurisprudence under
eminent jurists, and attended the consultations in which they gave to
their clients their expositions of law.

The earliest systematic works on Roman law were the "Manual" of Pomponius,
and the "Institutes" of Gaius, who flourished in the time of Hadrian and
the Antonines. Both of these works were, for a long time, lost, though
fragments were preserved in the pandects of Justinian. In 1816, however,
Niebuhr discovered a palimpsest MS., in which the epistles of St. Jerome
were written over the erased "Institutes" of Gaius. From the numerous
misunderstandings of the Roman historians respecting the laws and
constitutional history of their country, the subject continued long in a
state of confusion, until Vico, in his "Scienza nuova," dispelled the
clouds of error, and reduced it to a system; and he was followed so
successfully by Niebuhr, that modern students can have a more
comprehensive and antiquarian knowledge of the subject than the writers of
the Augustan age.

The earliest Roman laws were the "Leges Regiae," which were collected and
codified by Sextus Papirius, and were hence called the Papirian code; but
these were rude and unconnected--simply a collection of isolated
enactments. The laws of the "Twelve Tables" stand next in point of
antiquity. They exhibited the first attempt at regular system, and
embodied not only legislative enactments, but legal principles. So popular
were they that when Cicero was a child every Roman boy committed them to
memory, as our children do their catechism, and the great orator laments
that in the course of his lifetime this practice had become obsolete.

The oral traditional expositions of these laws formed the groundwork of
the Roman civil law. To these were added, from time to time, the decrees
of the people, the acts of the senate, and praetorian edicts, and from
these various elements the whole body of Roman law was composed. So early
was the subject diligently studied, that the age preceding the first two
centuries of our era was rich in jurists whose powers are celebrated in

The most eminent jurists who adorned this period were the Scaevolae, a
family in whom the profession seems to have been hereditary. After them
flourished Aelius Gallus (123-67 B.C.), eminent as a law reformer, C.
Juventius, Sextus Papirius, and L. Lucilius Balbus, three distinguished
jurists, who were a few years senior to Cicero.

10. GRAMMARIANS.--Towards the conclusion of this literary period a great
increase took place in the numbers of those learned men whom the Romans at
first termed _literati_, but afterwards, following the custom of the
Greeks, grammarians. To them literature was under great obligations.
Although few of them were authors, and all of them possessed acquired
learning rather than original genius, they exercised a powerful influence
over the public mind as professors, lecturers, critics, and schoolmasters.
By them the youths of the best families not only were imbued with a taste
for Greek philosophy and poetry, but were also taught to appreciate the
literature of their own country. Livius Andronicus and Ennius may be
placed at the head of this class, followed by Crates Mallotes, C. Octavius
Lampadio, Laelius, Archelaus, and others, most of whom were emancipated
slaves, either from Greece or from other foreign countries.



1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE ROMAN LITERATURE.--Latin literature, at first rude,
and, for five centuries, unable to reach any high excellence, was, as we
have seen, gradually developed by the example and tendency of the Greek
mind, which moulded Roman civilization anew. The earliest Latin poets,
historians, and grammarians were Greeks. The metre which was brought to
such perfection by the Latin poets was formed from the Greek, and the
Latin language more and more assimilated to the Hellenic tongue.

As civilization advanced, the rude literature of Rome was compared with
the great monuments of Greek genius, their superiority was acknowledged,
and the study of them encouraged. The Roman youth not only attended the
schools of the Greeks, in Rome, but their education was considered
incomplete, unless they repaired to those of Athens, Rhodes, and Mytilene.
Thus, whatever of national character existed in the literature was
gradually obliterated, and what it gained in harmony and finish it lost in
originality. The Roman writers imitated more particularly the writers of
the Alexandrian school, who, being more artificial, were more congenial
than the great writers of the age of Pericles.

Roman genius, serious, majestic, and perhaps more original than at a later
period, was manifest even at the time of the Punic wars, but it had not
yet taken form; and while thought was vigorous and powerful, expression
remained weak and uncertain. But, under the Greek influence, and aided by
the vigor imparted by free institutions, the union of thought and form was
at length consummated, and the literature reached its culminating point in
the great Roman orator. The fruits which had grown and matured in the
centuries preceding were gathered by Augustus; but the influences that
contributed to the splendor of his age belong rather to the republic than
the empire, and with the fall of the liberties of Rome, Roman literature

2. MIMES, MIMOGRAPHERS, AND PANTOMIME.--Amidst all the splendor of the
Latin literature of this period, dramatic poetry never recovered from the
trance into which it had fallen, though the stage had not altogether lost
its popularity. Aesopus and Roscius, the former the great tragic actor,
and the latter the favorite comedian, in the time of Cicero, enjoyed his
friendship and that of other great men, and both amassed large fortunes.
But although the standard Roman plays were constantly represented,
dramatic literature had become extinct. The entertainments, which had now
taken the place of comedy and tragedy, were termed _mimes_. These were
laughable imitations of manners and persons, combining the features of
comedy and farce, for comedy represents the characters of a class, farce
those of individuals. Their essence was that of the modern pantomime, and
their coarseness, and even indecency, gratified the love of broad humor
which characterized the Roman people. After a time, when they became
established as popular favorites, the dialogue occupied a more prominent
position, and was written in verse, like that of tragedy and comedy.
During the dictatorship of Caesar, a Roman knight named Laberius (107-45
B.C.) became famous for his mimes. The profession of an actor of mimes was
infamous, but Laberius was a writer, not an actor. On one occasion, Caesar
offered him a large sum of money to enter the lists in a trial of his
improvisatorial skill. Laberius did not submit to the degradation for the
sake of the money, but he was afraid to refuse. The only method of
retaliation in his power was sarcasm. His part was that of a slave; and
when his master scourged him, he exclaimed: "Porro, Quirites, libertatem
perdimus!" His words were received with a round of applause, and all eyes
were fixed on Caesar. The dictator restored him to the rank of which his
act had deprived him, but he could never recover the respect of his
countrymen. As he passed the orchestra, on his way to the stalls of the
knights, Cicero cried out: "If we were not so crowded, I would make room
for you here." Laberius replied, alluding to Cicero's lukewarmness as a
political partisan: "I am astonished that you should be crowded, as you
generally sit on two stools."

Another writer and actor of mimes was Publius Syrus, originally a Syrian
slave. Tradition has recorded a _bon mot_ of his which is as witty as it
is severe. Seeing an ill-tempered man named Mucius in low spirits, he
exclaimed: "Either some ill fortune has happened to Mucius, or some good
fortune to one of his friends!"

The Roman pantomime differed somewhat from the mime. It was a ballet of
action, performed by a single dancer, who not only exhibited the human
figure in its most graceful attitudes, but represented every passion and
emotion with such truth that the spectators could, without difficulty,
understand the story. The pantomime was licentious in its character, and
the actors were forbidden by Tiberius to hold any intercourse with Romans
of equestrian or senatorial dignity.

These were the exhibitions which threw such discredit on the stage, which
called forth the well-deserved attacks of the early Christian fathers, and
caused them to declare that whoever attended them was unworthy of the name
of Christian. Had the drama not been so abused, had it retained its
original purity, and carried out the object attributed to it by Aristotle,
they would have seen it, not a nursery of vice, but a school of virtue;
not only an innocent amusement, but a powerful engine to form the taste,
to improve the morals, and to purify the feelings of a people.

3. EPIC POETRY.--The epic poets of this period selected their subjects
either from the heroic age and the mythology of Greece, or from their own
national history. The Augustan age abounds in representatives of these two
poetical schools, though possessing little merit. But the Romans,
essentially practical and positive in their character, felt little
interest in the descriptions of manners and events remote from their
associations, and poetry, restrained within the limits of their history,
could not rise to that height of imagination demanded by the epic muse.
Virgil united the two forms by selecting his subject from the national
history, and adorning the ancient traditions of Rome with the splendor of
Greek imagination.

Virgil (70-19 B.C.) was born at Andes, near Mantua; he was educated at
Cremona and at Naples, where he studied Greek literature and philosophy.
After this he came to Rome, where, through Maecenas, he became known to
Octavius, and basked in the sunshine of court favor. His favorite
residence was Naples. On his return from Athens, in company with Augustus,
he was seized with an illness of which he died. He was buried about a mile
from Naples, on the road to Pozzuoli; and a tomb is still pointed out to
the traveler which is said to be that of the poet. Virgil was deservedly
popular both as a poet and as a man. The emperor esteemed him and people
respected him; he was constitutionally pensive and melancholy, temperate,
and pure-minded in a profligate age, and his popularity never spoiled his
simplicity and modesty. In his last moments he was anxious to burn the
whole manuscript of the Aeneid, and directed his executors either to
improve it or commit it to the flames.

The idea and plan of the Aeneid are derived from Homer. As the wrath of
Achilles is the mainspring of the Iliad, so the unity of the Aeneid
results from the anger of Juno. The arrival of Aeneas in Italy after the
destruction of Troy, the obstacles that opposed him through the
intervention of Juno, and the adventures and the victories of the hero
form the subject of the poem. Leaving Sicily for Latium, Aeneas is driven
on the coast of Africa by a tempest raised against him by Juno; at
Carthage he is welcomed by the queen, Dido, to whom he relates his past
adventures and sufferings. By his narrative he wins her love, but at the
command of Jupiter abandons her. Unable to retain him, Dido, in the
despair of her passion, destroys herself. After passing through many
dangers, under the guidance of the Sibyl of Cumae, he descends into the
kingdom of the dead to consult the shade of his father. There appear to
him the souls of the future heroes of Rome. On his return, he becomes a
friend of the king of Latium, who promises to him the hand of his
daughter, which is eagerly sought by King Turnus. A fearful war ensues
between the rival lovers, which ends in the victory of Aeneas.

Though the poem of Virgil is in many passages an imitation from the Iliad
and the Odyssey, the Roman element predominates in it, and the Aeneid is
the true national poem of Rome.  There was no subject more adapted to
flatter the vanity of the Romans, than the splendor and antiquity of their
origin. Augustus is evidently typified under the character of Aeneas;
Cleopatra is boldly sketched as Dido; and Turnus as the popular Antony.
The love and death of Dido, the passionate victim of an unrequited love,
give occasion to the poet to sing the victories of his countrymen over
their Carthaginian rivals; the Pythagorean metempsychosis, which he adopts
in the description of Elysium, affords an opportunity to exalt the heroes
of Rome; and the wars of Aeneas allow him to describe the localities and
the manners of ancient Latium with such truthfulness as to give to his
verses the authority of historical quotations. In style, the Aeneid is a
model of purity and elegance, and for the variety and the harmony of its
incidents, for the power of its descriptions, and for the interest of its
plot and episodes, second only to the Iliad. It has been observed that
Virgil's descriptions are more like landscape painting than those of any
of his predecessors, whether Greek or Roman, and it is a remarkable fact,
that landscape painting was first introduced in his time.

4. DIDACTIC POETRY.--The poems, which first established the reputation of
Virgil as a poet, belong to didactic poetry. They are his Bucolics and
Georgics. The Bucolics are pastoral idyls; the characters are Italian in
all their sentiments and feelings, acting, however, the unreal and assumed
part of Greek shepherds. The Italians never possessed the elements of
pastoral life, and could not furnish the poet with originals and models
from which to draw his portraits. When represented as Virgil represents
them in his Bucolics, they are in masquerade, and the drama in which they
form the characters is of an allegorical kind. Even the scenery is
Sicilian, and does not truthfully describe the tame neighborhood of
Mantua. In fact, these poems are imitations of Theocritus; but, divesting
ourselves of the idea of the outward form which the poet has chosen to
adopt, we are touched by the simple narrative of disappointed loves and
childlike woes; we appreciate the delicately-veiled compliments paid by
the poet to his patron; we enjoy the inventive genius and poetical power
which they display, and we are elevated by the exalted sentiments which
they sometimes breathe.

The Georgics are poems on the labors and enjoyments of rural life, a
subject for which Rome offered a favorable field. Though in this style
Hesiod was the model of Virgil, his system is perfectly Italian, so much
so, that many of his rules may be traced in modern Italian husbandry, just
as the descriptions of implements in the Greek poet are frequently found
to agree with those in use in modern Greece. The great merit of the
Georgics consists in their varied digressions, interesting episodes, and
in the sublime bursts of descriptive vigor which are interspersed
throughout them. They have frequently been taken as models for imitation
by the didactic poets of all nations, and more particularly of England.
The "Seasons," for instance, is a thoroughly Virgilian poem.

Lucretius (95-51 B.C.) belongs to the class of didactic poets. He might
claim a place among philosophers as well as poets, for his poem marks an
epoch both in poetry and philosophy. But his philosophy is a mere
reflection from that of Greece, while his poetry is bright with the rays
of original genius. His poem on "The Nature of Things" is in imitation of
that of Empedocles. Its subject is philosophical and its purpose didactic;
but its unity of design gives to it almost the rank of an epic. Its
structure prevents it from being a complete and systematic survey of the
whole Epicurean philosophy, but as far as the form of the poem permitted,
it presents an accurate view of the philosophy which then enjoyed the
highest popularity.

The object of the poem of Lucretius is to emancipate mankind from the
debasing effects of superstition by an exposition of philosophy, and
though a follower of Epicurus, he is not entirely destitute of the
religious sentiment, for he deifies nature and has a veneration for her
laws. His infidelity must be viewed rather in the light of a philosophical
protest against the results of heathen superstition, than a total
rejection of the principles of religious faith.

Lucretius valued the capabilities of the Latin language. He wielded at
will its power of embodying the noblest thoughts, and showed how its
copious and flexible properties could overcome the hard technicalities of
science. The great beauty of his poetry is its variety; his fancy is
always lively, his imagination has always free scope. He is sublime, as a
philosopher who penetrates the secrets of the natural world, and discloses
to the eyes of man the hidden causes of its wonderful phenomena. His
object was a lofty one; for although the absurdities of the national creed
drove him into skepticism, his aim was to set the intellect free from the
trammels of superstition. But besides grandeur and sublimity, we find the
totally different qualities of softness and tenderness. Rome had long
known nothing but war, and was now rent by civil dissension. Lucretius
yearned for peace; and his prayer, that the fabled goddess of all that is
beautiful in nature would heal the wounds which discord had made, is
distinguished by tenderness and pathos even more than by sublimity. He is
superior to Ovid in force, though inferior in facility; not so smooth or
harmonious as Virgil, his poetry always falls upon the ear with a swelling
and sonorous melody. Virgil appreciated his excellence, and imitated not
only single expressions, but almost entire verses and passages; and Ovid
exclaims, that the sublime strains of Lucretius shall never perish until
the world shall be given up to destruction.

5. LYRIC POETRY.--The Romans had not the ideality and the enthusiasm which
are the elements of lyric poetry, and in all the range of their literature
there are only two poets who, greatly inferior to the lyric poets of
Greece, have a positive claim to a place in this department, Catullus and
Horace. Catullus (86-46 B.C.) was born near Verona. At an early age he
went to Rome, where he plunged into all the excesses of the capital, and
where his sole occupation was the cultivation of his literary tastes and
talents. A career of extravagance and debauchery terminated in the ruin of
his fortune, and he died at the age of forty. The works of Catullus
consist of numerous short pieces of a lyrical character, elegies and other
poems. He was one of the most popular of the Roman poets, because he
possessed those qualities which the literary society at Rome most valued,
polish and learning, and because, although an imitator, there was a truly
Roman nationality in all that he wrote. His satire was the bitter
resentment of a vindictive spirit; his love and his hate were both purely
selfish, but his excellences were of the most alluring and captivating
kind. He has never been surpassed in gracefulness, melody, and tenderness.

Horace (65-8 B.C.), like Virgil and other poets of his time, enjoyed the
friendship and intimacy of Maecenas, who procured for him the public grant
of his Sabine farm, situated about fifteen miles from Tivoli. At Rome he
occupied a house on the beautiful heights of the Esquiline. The rapid
alternation of town and country life, which the fickle poet indulged in,
gives a peculiar charm to his poetry. His "Satires" were followed by the
publication of the "Odes" and the "Epistles." The satires of Horace
occupied the position of the fashionable novel of our day. In them is
sketched boldly, but good-humoredly, a picture of Roman social life, with
its vices and follies. They have nothing of the bitterness of Lucilius,
the love of purity and honor that adorns Persius, or the burning
indignation of Juvenal at the loathsome corruption of morals. Vice, in his
day, had not reached that appalling height which it attained in the time
of the emperors who succeeded Augustus. Deficient in moral purity, nothing
would strike him as deserving censure, except such excess as would
actually defeat the object which he proposed to himself, namely, the
utmost enjoyment of life. In the "Epistles," he lays aside the character
of a moral teacher or censor, and writes with the freedom with which he
would converse with an intimate friend. But it is in his inimitable "Odes"
that the genius of Horace as a poet is especially displayed; they have
never been equaled in beauty of sentiment, gracefulness of language, and
melody of versification; they comprehend every variety of subject suitable
to the lyric muse; they rise without effort to the most elevated topics;
and they descend to the simplest joys and sorrows of every-day life.

The life of Horace is especially instructive, as a mirror in which is
reflected a faithful image of the manners of his day. He is the
representative of Roman refined society, as Virgil is of the national
mind. His morals were lax, but not worse than those of his contemporaries.
He looked at virtue and vice from a worldly, not from a moral point of
view, and with him the one was prudence and the other folly.

In connection with Horace, we may mention Maecenas, who, by his good taste
and munificence, exercised a great influence upon literature, and literary
men of Rome were much indebted to him for the use he made of his
friendship with Augustus, to whom, probably, his love of literature and of
pleasure and his imperturbable temper recommended him as an agreeable
companion. He had wealth enough to gratify his utmost wishes, and his mind
was so full of the delights of refined society, of palaces, gardens, wit,
poetry, and art, that there was no room in it for ambition. All the most
brilliant men of Rome were found at his table,--Virgil, Horace,
Propertius, and Varius were among his friends and constant associates. He
was a fair specimen of the man of pleasure and society,--liberal, kind-
hearted, clever, refined, but luxurious, self-indulgent, indolent, and
volatile, with good impulses, but without principle.

6. ELEGY.--Tibullus (b. 54 B.C.) was the father of the Roman elegy. He was
a contemporary of Virgil and Horace. The style of his poems and their tone
of thought are like his character, deficient in vigor and manliness, but
sweet, smooth, polished, tender, and never disfigured by bad taste. He
passed his short life in peaceful retirement, and died soon after Virgil.
The poems ascribed to Tibullus consist of four books, of which only two
are genuine.

Propertius (b. 150 B.C.), although a contemporary and friend of the
Augustan poets, may be considered as belonging to a somewhat different
school of poetry. While Horace, Virgil, and Tibullus imitated the noblest
poets of the Greek age, Propertius, like the minor Roman poets, aspired to
nothing more than the imitation of the graceful, but feeble strains of the
Alexandrian poets. If he excels Tibullus in vigor of fancy, expression,
and coloring, he is inferior to him in grace, spontaneity, and delicacy;
he cannot, also, be compared with Catullus, who greatly surpasses him in
his easy and effective style.

Ovid (43 B.C.-6 A.D.), the most fertile of the Latin poets, not only in
elegy, but also in other kinds of poetry, was enabled by his rank,
fortune, and talents to cultivate the society of men of congenial tastes.
A skeptic and an epicurean, he lived a life of continual indulgence and
intrigue. He was a universal admirer of the female sex, and a favorite
among women. He was popular as a poet, successful in society, and
possessed all the enjoyments that wealth could bestow; but later in life
he incurred the anger of Augustus, and was banished to the very frontier
of the Roman empire, where he lingered for a few years and died in great
misery. The "Epistles to and from Women of the Heroic Age" are a series of
love-letters; with the exception of the "Metamorphoses," they have been
greater favorites than any other of his works. Love, in the days of Ovid,
had in it nothing pure or chivalrous. The age in which he lived was
morally polluted, and he was neither better nor worse than his
contemporaries; hence grossness is the characteristic of his "Art of
Love." His "Metamorphoses" contain a series of mythological narratives
from the earliest times to the translation of the soul of Julius Caesar
from earth to heaven, and his metamorphosis into a star. In this poem
especially may be traced that study and learning by which the Roman poets
made all the treasures of Greek literature their own. "The Fasti," a poem
on the Roman calendar, is a beautiful specimen of simple narrative in
verse, and displays, more than any of his works, his power of telling a
story without the slightest effort, in poetry as well as prose. The five
books of the "Tristia," and the "Epistles from Pontus," were the
outpourings of his sorrowful heart during the gloomy evening of his days.

7. ORATORY AND PHILOSOPHY.--As oratory gave to Latin prose-writing its
elegance and dignity, Cicero (106-43 B.C.) is not only the representative
of the flourishing period of the language, but also the instrumental cause
of its arriving at perfection. He gave a fixed character to the Latin
tongue; showed his countrymen what vigor it possessed, and of what
elegance and polish it was susceptible. The influence of Cicero on the
language and literature of his day was not only extensive, but permanent,
and it survived almost until the language was corrupted by barbarism.
After traveling in Greece and Asia, and holding a high office in Sicily,
he returned to Rome, resumed his forensic practice, and was made consul.
The conspiracy of Catiline was the great event of his consulship. The
prudence and tact with which he crushed this gained him the applause and
gratitude of his fellow-citizens, who hailed him as the father of his
country; but he was obliged, by the intrigues of his enemies, to fly from
Rome; his exile was decreed, and his town and country houses given up to
plunder. He was, however, recalled, and appointed to a seat in the college
of Augurs. In the struggle between Pompey and Caesar, he followed the
fortunes of the former; but Caesar, after his triumph, granted him a full
and free pardon. After the assassination of Caesar, Cicero delivered that
torrent of indignant and eloquent invective, his twelve Philippic
orations, and became again the popular idol; but when the second
triumvirate was formed, and each member gave up his friends to the
vengeance of his colleagues, Octavius did not hesitate to sacrifice
Cicero. Betrayed by a treacherous freedman, he would not permit his
attendants to make any resistance, but courageously submitted to the sword
of the assassins, who cut off his head and hands, and carried them to
Antony, whose wife, Julia, gloated with inhuman delight upon the pallid
features, and in petty spite pierced with a needle the once eloquent
tongue. Cicero had numerous faults; he was vain, vacillating, inconstant,
timid, and the victim of morbid sensibility; but he was candid, truthful,
just, generous, pure-minded, and warm-hearted. Gentle, sympathizing, and
affectionate, he lived as a patriot and died as a philosopher.

The place which Cicero occupies in the history of Roman literature is that
of an orator and philosopher. The effectiveness of his oratory was mainly
owing to his knowledge of the human heart, and of the national
peculiarities of his countrymen. Its charm was owing to his extensive
acquaintance with the stores of literature and philosophy, which his
sprightly wit moulded at will; to the varied learning, which his
unpedantic mind made so pleasant and popular; and to his fund of
illustration, at once interesting and convincing. He carried his hearers
with him; senate, judges, and people understood his arguments, and felt
his passionate appeals. Compared with the dignified energy and majestic
vigor of Demosthenes, the Asiatic exuberance of some of his orations may
be fatiguing to the more sober and chaste taste of modern scholars; but in
order to form a just appreciation, we must transport ourselves mentally to
the excitements of the thronged forum, to the senate, composed of
statesmen and warriors in the prime of life, maddened with the party-
spirit of revolutionary times. Viewed in this light, his most florid
passages will appear free from affectation--the natural flow of a speaker
carried away with the torrent of his enthusiasm. Among his numerous
orations, in which, according to the criticisms of Quintilian, he combined
the force of Demosthenes, the copiousness of Plato, and the elegance of
Isocrates, we mention the six celebrated Verrian harangues, which are
considered masterpieces of Tullian eloquence. In the speech for the poet
Archias, he had evidently expended all his resources of art, taste, and
skill; and his oration in defense of Milo, for force, pathos, and the
externals of eloquence, deserves to be reckoned among his most wonderful
efforts. The oratory of Cicero was essentially judicial; even his
political orations are rather judicial than deliberative. He was not born
for a politician; he did not possess that analytical character of mind
which penetrates into the remote causes of human action, nor the
synthetical power which enables a man to follow them out to their farthest
consequences. Of the three qualities necessary for a statesman, he
possessed only two,--honesty and patriotism; he had not political wisdom.
Hence, in the finest specimens of his political orations, his
Catilinarians and Philippics, we look in vain for the calm, practical
weighing of the subject which is necessary in addressing a deliberative
assembly. Nevertheless, so irresistible was the influence which he
exercised upon the minds of his hearers, that all his political speeches
were triumphs. His panegyric on Pompey carried his appointment as
commander-in-chief of the armies of the East; he crushed in Catiline one
of the most formidable traitors that had ever menaced the safety of the
republic, and Antony's fall followed the complete exposure of his
debauchery in private life, and the factiousness of his public career.

In his rhetorical works, Cicero left a legacy of practical instruction to
posterity. The treatise "On Invention" is merely interesting as the
juvenile production of a future great man. "The Orator," "Brutus, or the
illustrious Orators," and "The Orator to Marius Brutus," are the results
of his matured experience. They form together one series, in which the
principles are laid down, and their development carried out and
illustrated; and in the "Orator" he places before the eyes of Brutus the
model of ideal perfection. In his treatment of that subject, he shows a
mind imbued with the spirit of Plato; he invests it with dramatic
interest, and transports the reader into the scene which he so graphically

Roman philosophy was neither the result of original investigation, nor the
gradual development of the Greek system. It arose rather from a study of
ancient philosophical literature, than from an emanation of philosophical
principles. It consisted in a kind of eclecticism with an ethical
tendency, bringing together doctrines and opinions scattered over a wide
field in reference to the political and social relations of man. Greek
philosophy was probably first introduced into Rome 166 B.C. But although
the Romans could appreciate the majestic dignity and poetical beauty of
the style of Plato, they were not equal to the task of penetrating his
hidden meaning; neither did the peripatetic doctrines meet with much
favor. The philosophical system which first arrested the attention of the
Romans, and gained an influence over their minds, was the Epicurean. That
of the Stoics also, the severe principles of which were in harmony with
the stern old Roman virtues, had distinguished disciples. The part which
Cicero's character qualified him to perform in the philosophical
instruction of his countrymen was scarcely that of a guide; he could give
them a lively interest in the subject, but he could not mould and form
their belief, and train them in the work of original investigation. Not
being devoutly attached to any system of philosophical belief, he would be
cautious of offending the philosophical prejudices of others. He was
essentially an eclectic in accumulating stores of Greek erudition, while
his mind had a tendency, in the midst of a variety of inconsistent
doctrines, to leave the conclusion undetermined. He brought everything to
a practical standard; he admired the exalted purity of stoical morality,
but he feared that it was impractical. He believed in the existence of one
supreme creator, in his spiritual nature, and the immortality of the soul;
but his belief was rather the result of instinctive conviction, than of
proof derived from philosophy.

The study of Cicero's philosophical works is invaluable, in order to
understand the minds of those who came after him. Not only all Roman
philosophy after his time, but a great part of that of the Middle Ages,
was Greek philosophy filtered through Latin, and mainly founded on that of
Cicero. Among his works on speculative philosophy are "The Academics, or a
history and defense of the belief of the new Academy;" "Dialogues on the
Supreme Good, the end of all moral action;" "The Tusculan Disputations,"
containing five treatises on the fear of death, the endurance of pain,
power of wisdom over sorrow, the morbid passions, and the relation of
virtue to happiness. His moral philosophy comprehends the "Duties," a
stoical treatise on moral obligations, and the unequaled little essays on
"Friendship and Old Age." His political works are "The Republic" and "The
Law;" but these remains are fragmentary.

The extent of Cicero's correspondence is almost incredible. Even those
epistles which remain number more than eight hundred. In them we find the
eloquence of the heart, not of the rhetorical school. They are models of
pure Latinity, elegant without stiffness, the natural outpourings of a
mind which could not give birth to an ungraceful idea. In his letters to
Atticus he lays bare the secret of his heart; he trusts his life in his
hands; he is not only his friend but his confidant, his second self. In
the letters of Cicero we have the description of the period of Roman
history, and the portrait of the inner life of Roman society in his day.

8. HISTORY.--In their historical literature the Romans exhibited a
faithful transcript of their mind and character. History at once gratified
their patriotism, and its investigations were in accordance with their
love of the real and the practical. In this department, they were enabled
to emulate the Greeks and to be their rivals, and sometimes their
superiors. The elegant simplicity of Caesar is as attractive as that of
Herodotus; none of the Greek historians surpasses Livy in talent for the
picturesque and in the charm with which he invests his spirited and living
stories; while for condensation of thought, terseness of expression, and
political and philosophical acumen, Tacitus is not inferior to Thucydides.
The catalogue of Roman historians contains many writers whose works are
lost; such as L. Lucretius, the friend and correspondent of Cicero, L.
Lucullus, the illustrious conqueror of Mithridates, and Cornelius Nepos,
of whom only one work was preserved, the "Lives of Eminent Generals." The
authenticity of this work is, however, disputed. But at the head of this
department, as the great representatives of Roman history, stand Julius
Caesar, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus, all of whom, except the last, belong
to the Augustan age.

Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) was descended from one of the oldest among the
patrician families of Rome. He attached himself to the popular party, and
his good taste, great tact, and pleasing manners contributed, together
with his talents, to insure his popularity. He became a soldier in the
nineteenth year of his age, and hence his works display all the best
qualities which are fostered by a military education--frankness,
simplicity, and brevity. His earliest literary triumph was as an orator,
and, according to Quintilian, he was a worthy rival of Cicero. When he
obtained the office of Pontifex Maximus, he diligently examined the
history and nature of the Roman belief in augury, and published his
investigations. When his career as a military commander began, whatever
leisure his duties permitted him to enjoy he devoted to the composition of
his memoirs, or commentaries of the Gallic and civil wars. He wrote, also,
some minor works on different subjects, and he left behind him various
letters, some of which are extant.

But by far the most important of the works of Caesar is his
"Commentaries," which have come down to us in a tolerably perfect state.
They are sketches taken on the spot, in the midst of action, while the
mind was full, and they have all the graphic power of a master-mind and
the vigorous touches of a master-hand. The Commentaries are the materials
for history, notes jotted down for future historians. The very faults
which may justly be found with the style of Caesar are such as reflect the
man himself. The majesty of his character consists chiefly in the
imperturbable calmness and equanimity of his temper; he had no sudden
bursts of energy and alternations of passion and inactivity. The elevation
of his character was a high one, but it was a level table-land. This
calmness and equability pervades his writings, and for this reason they
have been thought to want life and energy. The beauty of his language is,
as Cicero says, statuesque rather than picturesque. Simple and severe, it
conveys the idea of perfect and well-proportioned beauty, while it
banishes all thoughts of human passion. In relating his own deeds, he does
not strive to add to his own reputation by detracting from the merits of
those who served under him. He is honest, generous, and candid, not only
towards them, but also towards his brave enemies. He recounts his
successes without pretension or arrogance, though he has evidently no
objection to be the hero of his own tale. His Commentaries are not
confessions, although he is the subject of them; not a record of a
weakness appears, nor even a defect, except that which the Romans would
readily forgive, cruelty. His savage waste of human life he recounts with
perfect self-complacency. Vanity, the crowning error in his career as a
statesman, though hidden by the reserve with which he speaks of himself,
sometimes discovers itself in the historian.

The Commentaries of Caesar have been compared with the work of the great
soldier-historian of Greece, Xenophon. Both are eminently simple and
unaffected, but there the parallel ends. The severe contempt of ornament,
which characterizes the stern Roman, is totally unlike the mellifluous
sweetness of the Attic writer.

Sallust (85-35 B.C.) was born of a plebeian family, but, having filled the
offices of tribune and quaestor, attained senatorial rank. He was expelled
from the Senate for his profligacy, but restored again to his rank through
the influence of Caesar, whose party he espoused. He accompanied his
patron in the African war, and was made governor of Numidia. While in that
capacity, he accumulated by rapacity and extortion enormous wealth, which
he lavished in expensive but tasteful luxury. The gardens on the Quirinal
which bore his name were celebrated for their beauty; and there,
surrounded by the choicest works of art, he devoted his retirement to
composing the historical records which survived him. As a politician, he
was a mere partisan of Caesar, and therefore a strenuous opponent of the
higher classes and of the supporters of Pompey. The object of his hatred
was not the old patrician blood of Rome, but the new aristocracy, which
had of late years been rapidly rising up and displacing it. That new
nobility was utterly corrupt, and its corruption was encouraged by the
venality of the masses, whose poverty and destitution tempted them to be
the tools of unscrupulous ambition. Sallust strove to place that party in
the unfavorable light which it deserved; but, notwithstanding the
truthfulness of the picture which he draws, selfishness and not patriotism
was the mainspring of his politics; he was not an honest champion of
popular rights, but a vain and conceited man, who lived in an immoral and
corrupt age, and had not the strength of principle to resist the force of
example and temptation. If, however, we make some allowance for the
political bias of Sallust, his histories have not only the charms of the
historical romance, but are also valuable political studies. His
characters are vigorously and naturally drawn, and the more his histories
are read, the more obvious it is that he always writes with an object, and
uses his facts as the means of enforcing a great political lesson.

His first work is on the "Jugurthine War;" the next related to the period
from the consulship of Lepidus to the praetorship of Cicero, and is
unfortunately lost. This was followed by a history of the conspiracy of
Catiline, "The War of Catiline," in which he paints in vivid colors the
depravity of that order of society which, bankrupt in fortune and honor,
still plumes itself on its rank and exclusiveness. To Sallust must be
conceded the praise of having first conceived the notion of a history, in
the true sense of the term. He was the first Roman historian, and the
guide of future historians. He had always an object to which he wished all
his facts to converge, and he brought them forward as illustrations and
developments of principles. He analyzed and exposed the motives of
parties, and laid bare the inner life of those great actors on the public
stage, in the interesting historical scenes which he describes. His style,
although ostentatiously elaborate and artificial, is, upon the whole,
pleasing, and almost always transparently clear. Following Thucydides,
whom he evidently took as his model, he strives to imitate his brevity;
but while this quality with the Greek historian is natural and
involuntary, with the Roman it is intentional and studied. The brevity of
Thucydides is the result of condensation, that of Salust is elliptical

Livy (59-18 B.C.) was born in Padua, and came to Rome during the reign of
Augustus, where he resided in the enjoyment of the imperial favor and
patronage. He was a warm and open admirer of the ancient institutions of
the country, and esteemed Pompey as one of its greatest heroes; but
Augustus did not allow political opinions to interfere with the regard
which he entertained for the historian. His great work is a history of
Rome, which he modestly terms "Annals," in one hundred and forty-two
books, of which thirty-five are extant. Besides his history, Livy is said
to have written treatises and dialogues, which were partly philosophical
and partly historical.

The great object of Livy's history was to celebrate the glories of his
native country, to which he was devotedly attached. He was a patriot: his
sympathy was with Pompey, called forth by the disinterestedness of that
great man, and perhaps by his sad end. He delights to put forth his powers
in those passages which relate to the affections. He is a biographer quite
as much as a historian; he anatomizes the moral nature of his heroes, and
shows the motive springs of their noble exploits. His characters stand
before us like epic heroes, and he tells his story like a bard singing his
lay at a joyous festive meeting, checkered by alternate successes and
reverses, though all tending to a happy result at last. But while these
features constitute his charm as a narrator, they render him less valuable
as a historian. Although he would not be willfully inaccurate, if the
legend he was about to tell was interesting, he would not stop to inquire
whether or not it was true. Taking upon trust the traditions which had
been handed down from generation to generation, the more flattering and
popular they were, the more suitable would he deem them for his purposes.
He loved his country, and he would scarcely believe anything derogatory to
the national glory. Whenever Rome was false to treaties, unmerciful in
victory, or unsuccessful in arms, he either ignores the facts or is
anxious to find excuses. He does not appear to have made researches into
the many original documents which were extant at his time, but he trusted
to the annalists, and took advantage of the investigations of preceding
historians. His descriptions of military affairs are often vague and
indistinct, and he often shows himself ignorant of the localities which he
describes. Such are the principal defects of Livy, who otherwise charms
his readers with his romantic narratives, and his lively, fresh, and
fascinating style.

9. OTHER PROSE WRITERS.--Though the grammarians of this period were
numerous, they added little or nothing to its literary reputation. The
most conspicuous among them were Atteius, a friend of Sallust; Epirota,
the correspondent of Cicero; Julius Hyginus, a friend of Ovid; and
Nigidius Figulus, an orator as well as grammarian. M. Vitruvius Pollio,
the celebrated architect, deserves to be mentioned for his treatise on
architecture. He was probably native of Verona, and served under Julius
Caesar in Africa, as a military engineer. Notwithstanding the defects of
his style, the language of Vitruvius is vigorous, and his descriptions
bold; his work is valuable as exhibiting the principles of Greek
architectural taste and beauty, of which he was a devoted admirer.


(14-526 A.D.).

1. DECLINE OF ROMAN LITERATURE.--With the death of Augustus began the
decline of Roman literature, and a few names only rescue the first years
of this period from the charge of a corrupt and vitiated taste. After a
while, indeed, political circumstances again became more favorable; the
dangers, which paralyzed genius and talent, and prevented their free
exercise under Tiberius and his tyrannical successors, diminished, and a
more liberal system of administration ensued under Vespasian and Titus.
Juvenal and Tacitus then stood forth, as the representatives of the old
Roman independence. Vigor of thought communicated itself to the language;
a taste for the sublime and beautiful, to a certain extent, revived,
although it did not attain to the perfection which shed a lustre over the
Augustan age. Between the ages of Horace and Juvenal, Cicero and Tacitus,
there was a gap of half a century, in which Roman genius was slumbering.
The gradual growth of a spirit of adulation deterred all who were
qualified for the task of the historian from attempting it. Fear, during
the lifetime of Tiberius and Caligula, Claudius and Nero, and hatred,
still fresh after their deaths, rendered all accounts of their reigns
false. And the same causes which silenced the voice of history
extinguished the genius of poetry and oratory. As liberty declined,
natural eloquence decayed; the orator sought only to please the corrupt
taste of his audiences with strange and exaggerated statements; the poet
aimed to win public admiration through a style over-laden with ornament,
and florid and diffuse descriptions. Literature, in order to flourish,
requires the genial sunshine of human sympathy; it needs either the
patronage of the great, or the favor of the people. Immediately after the
death of Augustus, patronage was withdrawn, and there was no public
sympathy to supply its place. In the reign of Nero, literature partially
revived; for, though the bloodiest of tyrants, he had a taste for art and
poetry, and an ambition to excel in refinement.

2. FABLE.--In fable, as in other fields of literature, Rome was an
imitator of Greece, but nevertheless Phaedrus struck out a new line for
himself, and, through his fables, became not only a moral instructor, but
a political satirist. Phaedrus (fl. 16 A.D.), the originator and only
author of Roman fable, though born in the reign of Augustus, wrote when
the Augustan age had passed away. His works are, as it were, isolated; he
had no contemporaries. Nevertheless, his solitary voice was lifted up when
those of the poet, the historian, and the philosopher were silenced. The
moral and political lessons conveyed in his fables were suggested by the
evils of the times in which he lived. Some of them illustrate the danger
of riches and the comparative safety of obscurity and poverty, in an age
when the rich were marked for destruction, in order that the confiscation
of their property might glut the avarice of the emperor and of his
servants; others were suggested by historical events, being nevertheless
satirical strictures on individuals. The style of Phaedrus is pure and
classical, and combines the simple neatness and graceful elegance of the
golden age with the vigor and terseness of the silver one. He has the
facility of Ovid and the brevity of Tacitus. In the construction of his
fables, he displays observation and ingenuity; but he is deficient in
imagination. He makes his animals the vehicles of his wisdom, but he does
not throw himself into them, or identify himself with them; while they
look and act like animals, they talk like human beings. In this consists
the great superiority of Aesop to his Roman imitator; his brutes are a
superior race, but they are still brutes, and it would seem that the
fabulist had lived among them as one of themselves, had adopted their mode
of life, and conversed with them in their own language. In Phaedrus we
have human sentiments translated into the language of beasts, while in
Aesop we have beasts giving utterance to such sentiments as would be
naturally theirs if they were placed in the position of men.

3. SATIRE AND EPIGRAM.--Roman satire, subsequently to Horace, is
represented by Persius and Juvenal. Persius (34-62 A.D.) early attached
himself to the Stoic philosophy. He was pure in mind, and free from the
corrupt taint of an immoral age. Although Lucilius was, to a certain
extent, his model, he does not attack vice with the biting severity of the
old satirist, nor do we find in his writings the enthusiastic indignation
which burns in the verses of Juvenal. His purity of mind and kindliness of
heart disinclined him to portray vice in its hideous and loathsome forms,
and to indulge in that bitterness of invective which the prevalent
enormities of his times deserved. His uprightness and love of virtue are
shown by the uncompromising severity with which he rebukes sins of not so
deep a dye; and the heart which was capable of being moulded by his
example, and influenced by his purity, would have shrunk from the fearful
crimes which deform the pages of Juvenal. The greatest defect in Persius,
as a satirist, is that the Stoic philosophy in which he was educated
rendered him indifferent to the affairs of the world. His contemplative
habits led him to criticise, as his favorite subjects, false taste in
poetry and empty pretensions to philosophy. Horace mingled in the society
of the profligate and considering them as fools, laughed their folly to
scorn. Juvenal looked down upon the corruption of the age from the
eminence of his virtue, and punished it like an avenging deity. Persius,
pure in heart and passionless by education, while he lashes wickedness in
the abstract, almost ignores its existence, and shrinks from probing to
the bottom the vileness of the human heart. His works comprise six
satires, all of which breathe the natural amiability and placid
cheerfulness of his temper.

Juvenal flourished in the reign of Domitian, towards the close of the
first century A.D., a dark period, which saw the utter moral degradation
of the people, and the bloodiest tyranny and oppression on the part of
their rulers. The picture of Roman manners, as painted by his glowing
pencil, is truly appalling. The fabric of society was in ruins, the
popular religion was rejected with scorn, and the creed of natural
religion had not occupied its place. The emperors took part in public
scenes of folly and profligacy, and exposed themselves as charioteers, as
dancers, and as actors. Nothing was respected but wealth, nothing provoked
contempt but poverty. Players and dancers had all honors and offices at
their disposal; the city swarmed with informers, who made the rich their
prey; every man feared his most intimate friend, and the only bond of
friendship was to be an accomplice in crime. The teacher would corrupt his
pupil, and the guardian defraud his ward. Crimes which cannot be named
were common, and the streets of Rome were the constant scene of robbery,
assault, and assassination. The morals of women were as depraved as those
of men, and there was no public amusement so immoral or so cruel as not to
be countenanced by their presence. In this period of moral dearth, the
fountains of genius and literature were dried up. There was criticism,
declamation, panegyric, and verse writing, but no oratory, history, or
poetry. Juvenal, though himself not free from the declamatory affectation
of the day, attacked the false literary taste of his contemporaries as
unsparingly as he did their depraved morality. His sixteen satires exhibit
an enlightened, truthful, and comprehensive view of Roman manners, and of
the inevitable result of such depravity. The two finest of them are those
which Dr. Johnson has thought worthy of imitation.

The historical value of these satires must not be forgotten. Tacitus lived
in the same perilous times as Juvenal, and when they had come to an end
and it was not unsafe to speak, he wrote their public history, which the
poet illustrates by displaying the social and inner life of the Romans.
Their works are parallel, and each forms a commentary upon the other. The
style of Juvenal is vigorous and lucid; his morals were pure in the midst
of a debased age, and his language shines forth in classic elegance, in
the midst of specimens of declining and degenerate taste.

Juvenal closes the list of Roman satirists, properly speaking. The
satirical spirit animates the piquant epigrams of his friend Martial, but
their purpose is not moral or didactic. They sting the individual, and
render him an object of scorn and disgust, but they do not hold up vice
itself to ridicule and detestation.

Martial (43-104 A.D.) was born in Spain. He early emigrated to Rome, where
he became a favorite of Titus and Domitian, and in the reign of the latter
he was appointed to the office of court-poet. During thirty-five years, he
lived at Rome the life of a flatterer and a dependent, and then he
returned to his native town, where his death was hastened by his distaste
for provincial life. Measured by the corrupt standard of morals which
disgraced the age in which he lived, Martial was probably not worse than
most of his contemporaries; for the fearful profligacy, which his powerful
pen describes in such hideous terms, had spread through Rome its loathsome
infection. Had he lived in better times, his talents might have been
devoted to a purer object; as it was, no language is strong enough to
denounce the impurities of his page, and his moral taste must have been
thoroughly depraved not to have turned with disgust from the contemplation
of such subjects. But not all his poems are of this character. Amidst some
obscurity of style and want of finish, many are redolent of Greek
sweetness and elegance. Here and there are pleasing descriptions of the
beauties of nature, and many are kind-hearted and full of varied wit,
poetical imagination, and graceful expression. To the original
characteristics of the Greek epigram, Martial, more than any other poet,
added that which constitutes an epigram in the modern sense of the term:
pointedness either in jest or earnest, and the bitterness of personal

4. DRAMATIC LITERATURE.--Dramatic literature never flourished in Rome, and
still less under the empire. During this period there were not wanting
some imitators of Greece in this noble branch of poetry, but their
productions were rather literary than dramatic; they were poems composed
in a dramatic form, intended to be read, not acted. They contain noble
philosophical sentiments, lively descriptions, and passages full of
tenderness and pathos, but they are deficient in dramatic effect, and
positively offend against those laws of good taste which regulated the
Athenian stage. In the Augustan age, a few writers attained some
excellence in tragedy, at least in the opinion of ancient critics.

Under the tyrant Nero, dramatic literature reappeared, specimens of which
are extant in the ten tragedies attributed to Seneca. But the genius of
the author never grasps, in their wholeness, the characters which he
attempts to copy; they are distorted images of the Greek originals, and
the shadowy grandeur of the godlike heroes of Aeschylus stands forth in
corporeal vastness, and appears childish and unnatural, like the giants of
a story-book. The Greeks believed in the gods and heroes whose agency and
exploits constituted the machinery of tragedy, but the Romans did not, and
we cannot sympathize with them, because we see that they are insincere.

An awful belief in destiny, and the hopeless yet patient struggle of a
great and good man against this all-ruling power, are the mainspring of
Greek tragedy. This belief the Romans did not transfer into their
imitations, but they supplied its place with the stern fatalism of the
Stoics. The principle of destiny entertained by the Greek poets is a
mythological, even a religious one. It is the irresistible will of God.
God is at the commencement of the chain of causes and effects, by which
the event is brought about which God has ordained; his inspired prophets
have power to foretell, and mortals cannot resist or avoid. It is rather
predestination than destiny. The fatalism of the Stoics, on the other
hand, is the doctrine of practical necessity. It ignores the almighty
power of the Supreme Being, and although it does not deny his existence,
it strips him of his attributes as the moral governor of the universe.
These doctrines, expressed equally in the writings of Seneca the
philosopher, and in the tragedies attributed to him, lead to the
probability, amounting almost to certainty, that he was their author. But
whatever be the case in regard to their authorship, it is certain that,
notwithstanding their false rhetorical taste and the absence of all ideal
and creative genius, they have found many admirers and imitators in modern
times. The French school of tragic poets took them for their model;
Corneille evidently considered them the ideal of tragedy, and Racine
servilely imitated them.

5. EPIC POETRY.--At the head of the epic poets who flourished during the
Silver Age, stands Lucan (39-66 A.D.). He was born at Cordova, in Spain,
and probably came to Rome when very young, where his literary reputation
was soon established. But Nero, who could not bear the idea of a rival,
forbade him to recite his poems, then the common mode of publication.
Neither would he allow him to plead as an advocate. Smarting under this
provocation, he joined in a conspiracy against the emperor's life. The
plot failed, but Lucan was pardoned on condition of pointing out his
confederates, and in the vain hope of saving himself from the monster's
vengeance, he actually impeached his mother. This noble woman was
incapable of treason. Tacitus says, "the scourge, the flames, the rage of
the executioners who tortured her the more savagely, lest they should be
scorned by a woman, were powerless to extort a false confession." Lucan
never received the reward which he purchased by treachery. When the
warrant for his death was issued, he caused his veins to be cut asunder,
and expired in the twenty-seventh year of his age.

The only one of his works which survives is the "Pharsalia," an epic poem
on the subject of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. It bears
evident marks of having been left unfinished; it has great faults and at
the same time great beauties. The sentiments contained in this poem
breathe a love of freedom and an attachment to the old Roman
republicanism. Its subject is a noble one, full of historic interest, and
it is treated with spirit, brilliancy, and animation. The characters of
Caesar and Pompey are masterpieces; but while some passages are scarcely
inferior to any written by the best Latin poets, others have neither the
dignity of prose, nor the melody of poetry. Description forms the
principal feature in the poetry of Lucan; in fact, it constitutes one of
the characteristic features of Roman literature in its decline, because
poetry had become more than ever an art, and the epoch one of erudition.

Silius Italicus (fl. 54 A.D.) was the favorite and intimate of two
emperors, Nero and Vitellius. He left a poem, the "Punica," which contains
the history in heroic verse of the second Punic war. The Aeneid of Virgil
was his model, and the narrative of Livy furnished his materials. It is
considered the dullest and most tedious poem in the Latin language though
its versification is harmonious, and will often, in point of smoothness,
bear comparison with that of Virgil.

Valerius Flaccus flourished in the reign of Vespasian. He is author of the
"Argonautica," an imitation and in some parts a translation of the Greek
poem of Apollonius Rhodius on the same subject. He evidently did not live
to complete his original design. In the Argonautica there are no glaring
faults or blemishes, but there is also no genius, no inspiration. He has
some talents as a descriptive poet; his versification is harmonious and
his style graceful.

P. Statius (61-95 A.D.) was the author of the Silviae, Thebaid, and
Achilleid. The "Silviae" are the rude materials of thought springing up
spontaneously in all their wild luxuriance, from the rich, natural soil of
the imagination of the poet. The subject of the "Thebaid" is the ancient
Greek legend respecting the war of the Seven against Thebes, and the
"Achilleid" was intended to embrace all the exploits of Achilles, but only
two books were completed. The poems of Statius contain many poetical
incidents, which might stand by themselves as perfect fugitive pieces. In
these we see his natural and unaffected elegance, his harmonious ear, and
the truthfulness of his perceptions. But, as an epic poet, he has neither
grasp of mind nor vigor of conception; his imaginary heroes do not inspire
and warm his imagination; and his genius was unable to rise to the highest
departments of art.

6. HISTORY.--For the reasons already stated, Rome for a long period could
boast of no historian; the perilous nature of the times, and the personal
obligations under which learned men frequently were to the emperors,
rendered contemporary history a means of adulation and servility. To this
class of historians belongs Paterculus (fl. 30 A.D.), who wrote a history
of Rome which is partial, prejudiced, and adulatory. He was a man of
lively talents, and his taste was formed after the model of Sallust, of
whom he was an imitator. His style is often overstrained and unnatural.

Under the genial and fostering influence of the Emperor Trajan, the fine
arts, especially architecture, flourished, and literature revived. The
same taste and execution which are visible in the bas-reliefs on the
column of Trajan adorn the literature of his age as illustrated by its two
great lights, Tacitus and the younger Pliny. There is not the rich,
graceful manner which invests with such a charm the writers of the Golden
Age, but the absence of these qualities is amply compensated by dignity,
gravity, and honesty. Truthfulness beams throughout the writings of these
two great contemporaries, and incorruptible virtue is as visible in the
pages of Tacitus as benevolence and tenderness are in the letters of
Pliny. They mutually influenced each other's characters and principles;
their tastes and pursuits were similar; they loved each other dearly,
corresponded regularly, corrected each other's works, and accepted
patiently and gratefully each other's criticism.

Tacitus (60-135 A.D.) was of equestrian rank, and served in several
important offices of the empire. His works now extant are a life of his
father-in-law, Agricola, a tract on the manners and nations of the
Germans, a small portion of a voluminous work entitled "Histories," about
two thirds of another historical work, entitled "Annals," and a dialogue
on the decline of eloquence. The life of Agricola, though a panegyric
rather than a biography, is a beautiful specimen of the vigor and force of
expression with which this greatest painter of antiquity could throw off
any portrait which he attempted. Even if the likeness be somewhat
flattered, the qualities which the writer possessed, his insight into
character, his pathetic power, and his affectionate heart, render this
short piece one of the most attractive biographies extant. The treatise on
the "Geography, Manners, and Nations of Germany," though containing
geographical descriptions often vague and inaccurate, and accounts
evidently founded on mere tales of travelers, bears the impress of truth
in the salient points and characteristic features of the national manners
and institutions of Teutonic nations. The "Histories," his earliest
historical work, of which only four books and a portion of the fifth are
extant, extended from the year 69 to 96 A.D., and it was his intention to
include the reigns of Nero and Trajan. In this work he proposed to
investigate the political state of the commonwealth, the feeling of its
armies, the sentiments of its provinces, the elements of its strength and
weakness, and the causes and reasons for each historical phenomenon. The
principal fault which diminishes the value of his history as a record of
events is his too great readiness to accept evidence unhesitatingly, and
to record popular rumors without taking sufficient pains to examine into
their truth. His incorrect account of the history, constitution, and
manners of the Jewish people is one among the few instances of this fault,
scattered over a vast field of faithful history. The "Annals" consist of
sixteen books; they begin with the death of Augustus, and conclude with
that of Nero (14-68 A.D.). The object of Tacitus was to describe the
influence which the establishment of tyranny on the ruins of liberty
exercised for good or for evil in bringing out the character of the
individual. In the extinction of freedom there still existed in Rome
bright examples of heroism and courage, and instances not less prominent
of corruption and degradation. In the annals of Tacitus these individuals
stand out in bold relief, either singly or in groups upon the stage, while
the emperor forms the principal figure, and the moral sense of the reader
is awakened to admire instances of patient suffering and determined
bravery, or to witness abject slavery and remorseless despotism.

Full of sagacious observation and descriptive power, Tacitus engages the
most serious attention of the reader by the gravity of his condensed and
comprehensive style, as he does by the wisdom and dignity of his
reflections. Living amidst the influences of a corrupt age, he was
uncontaminated. By his virtue and integrity, and his chastened political
liberality, he commands our admiration as a man, while his love of truth
is reflected in his character as a historian. In his style, the form is
always subordinate to the matter; his sentences are suggestive of far more
than they express, and his brevity is enlivened by copiousness, variety,
and poetry; his language is highly figurative; his descriptions of scenery
and incidents are eminently picturesque, his characters dramatic, and the
expression of his own sentiments almost lyrical.

Suetonius was born about 69 A.D. His principal extant works are the "Lives
of the Twelve Caesars," "Notices of Illustrious Grammarians and
Rhetoricians," and the Lives of the Poets Terence, Horace, Persius, Lucan,
and Juvenal. The use which he makes of historical documents proves that he
was a man of diligent research, and, as a biographer, industrious and
careful. He indulges neither in ornament of style nor in romantic
exaggeration. The pictures which he draws of some of the Caesars are
indeed terrible, but they are fully supported by the contemporary
authority of Juvenal and Tacitus. As a historian, Suetonius had not that
comprehensive and philosophical mind which would qualify him for taking an
enlarged view of his subject; he has no definite plan or method, and
wanders at will from one subject to another just as the idea seizes him.

Curtius is considered by some writers as belonging to the Silver Age, and
by others to a later period. His biography of Alexander the Great is
deeply interesting. It is a romance rather than a history. He never loses
an opportunity, by the coloring which he gives to historical facts, of
elevating the Macedonian conqueror to a super-human standard. His florid
and ornamented style is suitable to the imaginary orations which are
introduced in the narrative, and which constitute the most striking
portions of the work.

Valerius Maximus flourished during the reign of Tiberius. His work is a
collection of anecdotes entitled "Memorable Sayings and Deeds," the object
of which was to illustrate by examples the beauty of virtue and the
deformity of vice. The style is prolix and declamatory, and characterized
by awkward affectation and involved obscurity.

7. RHETORIC AND ELOQUENCE.--Under the empire, schools of rhetoric were
multiplied, as harmless as tyranny could desire. In these the Roman youth
learned the means by which the absence of natural endowments could be
compensated. The students composed their speeches according to the rules
of rhetoric; they were then corrected, committed to memory, and recited,
partly with a view to practice, partly in order to amuse an admiring
audience. Nor were these declamations confined to mere students. Public
recitations had, since the days of Juvenal, been one of the crying
nuisances of the times. Seneca, the father of the philosopher of the same
name, a famous rhetorician himself, left two works containing a series of
exercises in oratory, which show the hollow and artificial system of those
schools. He was born in Cordova in Spain (61 A.D.), and as a professional
rhetorician amassed a considerable fortune.

Quintilian (40-118 A.D.) was the most distinguished teacher of rhetoric of
this age. He attempted to restore a purer and more classical taste, but,
although to a certain extent he was successful, the effect which he
produced was only temporary. For the instruction of his elder son he wrote
his great work, "Institutes of Oratory," a complete system of instruction
in the art of oratory; and in it he shows himself far superior to Cicero
as a teacher, though he was inferior to him as an orator.

His work is divided into twelve books, in which he traces the progress of
the orator from the very cradle until he arrives at perfection. In this
monument of his taste and genius he fully and completely exhausted the
subject, and left a text-book of the science and art of nations, as well
as a masterly sketch of the eloquence of antiquity.

The disposition of Quintilian was as affectionate and tender as his genius
was brilliant and his taste pure; few passages throughout the whole range
of Latin literature can be compared to that in which he mourns the loss of
his wife and children. It is the touching eloquence of one who could not
write otherwise than gracefully.

Among the pupils of Quintilian, Pliny the younger took the highest place
in the literature of his age. He was born in Como, 61 A.D., and adopted
and educated by his maternal uncle, the elder Pliny. He attained great
celebrity as a pleader, and stood high in favor with the emperor. His
works consist of a panegyric on Trajan, and a collection of letters in ten
books. The panegyric is a piece of courtly flattery in accordance with the
cringing and fawning manners of the times. The letters are very valuable,
not only for the insight which they give into his own character, but also
into the manners and modes of thought of his illustrious contemporaries,
as well as the politics of the day. For liveliness, descriptive power,
elegance, and simplicity of style, they are scarcely inferior to those of
Cicero, whom he evidently took for his model. These letters show how
accurate and judicious was the mind of Pliny, how prudent his
administration in the high offices which he filled under the reign of
Trajan, and how refined his taste for the beautiful. The tenth book, which
consists of the letters to Trajan, together with the emperor's rescripts,
will be read with the greatest interest. The following passages from his
dispatch respecting the Christians, written while he was procurator of the
province of Bithynia, and the emperor's answer, are worthy of being
transcribed, both because reference is so often made to them, and because
they throw light upon the marvelous and rapid propagation of the gospel,
the manners of the early Christians, the treatment to which their
constancy exposed them, and the severe jealousy with which they were

"It is my constant practice, sire, to refer to you all subjects on which I
entertain doubt. For who is better able to direct my hesitation, or to
instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the trials of
Christians, and, therefore, I do not know in what way, or to what extent
it is usual to question or to punish them. I have also felt no small
difficulty in deciding whether age should make any difference, or whether
those of the tenderest and those of mature years should be treated alike;
whether pardon should be accorded to repentance, or whether, where a man
has once been a Christian, recantation should profit him; whether, if the
name of Christian does not imply criminality, still the crimes peculiarly
belonging to the name should be punished. Meanwhile, in the case of those
against whom informations have been laid before me, I have pursued the
following line of conduct: I have put to them, personally, the question
whether they were Christians. If they confessed, I interrogated them a
second and third time, and threatened them with punishment. If they still
persevered, I ordered their commitment; for I had no doubt whatever, that
whatever they confessed, at any rate, dogged and inflexible obstinacy
deserved to be punished. There were others who displayed similar madness;
but, as they were Roman citizens, I ordered them to be sent back to the
city. Soon, persecution itself, as is generally the case, caused the crime
to spread, and it appeared in new forms. An anonymous information was laid
against a large number of persons, but they deny that they are, or ever
have been, Christians. As they invoked the gods, repeating the form after
me, and offered prayer with incense and wine, to your image, which I had
ordered to be brought together with those of the deities, and besides,
cursed Christ, while those who are true Christians, it is said, cannot be
compelled to do any one of these things, I thought it right to set them at
liberty. Others, when accused by an informer, confessed that they were
Christians, and soon after denied the fact. They said they had been, but
had ceased to be, some three, some more, not a few even twenty years
previously. All these worshiped your image and those of the gods, and
cursed Christ. But they affirmed that the sum-total of their fault, or
their error, was that they were accustomed to assemble on a fixed day,
before dawn, and sing an antiphonal hymn to Christ as God; that they bound
themselves by an oath, not to the commission of any wickedness, but to
abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery; never to break a promise, or to
deny a deposit, when it was demanded back. When these ceremonies were
concluded, it was their custom to depart, and again assemble together to
take food harmlessly and in common. That after my proclamation, in which,
in obedience to your command, I had forbidden associations, they had
desisted from this practice. For these reasons, I the more thought it
necessary to investigate the real truth, by putting to the torture two
maidens who were called deaconesses; but I discovered nothing, but a
perverse and excessive superstition. I have, therefore, deferred taking
cognizance of the matter until I had consulted you; for it seemed to me a
case requiring advice, especially on account of the number of those in
peril. For many of every age, sex, and rank are, and will continue to be
called in question. The infection, in fact, has spread not only through
the cities, but also through the villages and open country; but it seems
that its progress can be arrested. At any rate, it is clear that the
temples, which were almost deserted, begin to be frequented; and solemn
sacrifices, which had been long intermitted, are again performed, and
victims are being sold everywhere, for which, up to this time, a purchaser
could rarely be found. It is, therefore, easy to conceive that crowds
might be reclaimed, if an opportunity for repentance were given."

Trajan to Pliny: "In sifting the cases of those who have been indicted on
the charge of Christianity, you have adopted, my dear Secundus, the right
course of proceeding; for no certain rule can be laid down which will meet
all cases. They must not be sought after, but if they are informed
against, and convicted, they must be punished; with this proviso, however,
that if any deny that he is a Christian, and proves the point by offering
prayers to our deities, notwithstanding the suspicions under which he has
labored, he shall be pardoned on his repentance. On no account should any
anonymous charges be attended to, for it would be the worst possible
precedent, and is inconsistent with the habits of our time."

8. PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE.--Philosophy, and particularly moral philosophy,
became a necessary study at this time, when the popular religion had lost
its influence. In the general ruin of public and private morals, virtuous
men found in this science a guide in the dangers by which they were
continually threatened, and a consolation in all their sorrows. The Stoic
among the other schools met with most favor from this class of men, for it
offered better security against the evils of life, and taught men how to
take shelter from baseness and profligacy under the influence of virtue
and courage. The doctrines of the Stoics suited the rigid sternness of the
Roman character. They embodied that spirit of self-devotion and self-
denial with which the Roman patriot, in the old times of simple republican
virtue, threw himself into his public duties, and they enabled him to meet
death with a courageous spirit in this degenerate age, in which many of
the best and noblest willingly died by their own hands, at the imperial
mandate, in order to save their name from infamy, and their inheritance
from confiscation.

Seneca, (12-69 A.D.), a native of Cordova in Spain, was the greatest
philosopher of this age. He early displayed great talent as a pleader, but
in the reign of Claudius he was banished to Corsica, where he solaced his
exile with the study of the Stoic philosophy; and though its severe
precepts exercised no moral influence on his conduct, he not only
professed himself a Stoic, but imagined that he was one. A few years
after, he was recalled by Agrippina, to become tutor to her son Nero. He
was too unscrupulous a man of the world to attempt the correction of the
vicious propensities of his pupil, or to instill into him high principles.
After the accession of Nero, he endeavored to arrest his depraved career,
but it was too late. Seneca had, by usury and legacy-hunting, amassed one
of those large fortunes of which so many instances are met with in Roman
history; feeling the dangers of wealth, he offered his property to Nero,
who refused it, but resolved to rid himself of his former tutor, and
easily found a pretext for his destruction. In adversity the character of
Seneca shone with brighter lustre. Though he had lived ill, he could die
well. He met the messengers of death without trembling. His noble wife,
Paulina, determined to die with him. The veins of both were opened at the
same time, but the little blood which remained in his emaciated frame
refused to flow. He suffered excruciating agony. A warm bath was tried,
but in vain; and a draught of poison was equally ineffectual. At last he
was suffocated by the vapor of a stove.

Seneca lived in a perilous atmosphere. He had not firmness to act up to
the high moral standard which he proposed to himself. He was avaricious,
but avarice was the great sin of his times. The education of one who was a
brute rather than a man was a task to which no one would have been equal;
he therefore retained the influence which he had not the uprightness to
command, by miserable and sinful expedients. He had great abilities, and
some of the noble qualities of the old Romans; and had he lived in the
days of the republic, he would have been a great man.

Seneca was the author of twelve ethical treatises, the best of which are
entitled, "On Providence," "On Consolation," and "On the Perseverance of
Wise Men." He cared little for abstract speculation, and delighted to
inculcate precepts rather than to investigate principles. He was always a
favorite with Christian writers, and some of his sentiments are truly
Christian. There is even a tradition that he was acquainted with St. Paul.
He may unconsciously have imbibed some of the principles of Christianity.
The gospel had already made great and rapid strides over the civilized
world, and thoughtful minds may have been enlightened by some of the rays
of divine truth dispersed by the moral atmosphere, just as we are
benefited by the light of the sun, even when its disk is obscured by
clouds. His epistles, of which there are one hundred and twenty-four, are
moral essays, and are the most delightful of his works. They are evidently
written for the public eye; they are rich in varied thought, and their
reflections flow naturally, and without effort. They contain a free and
unconstrained picture of his mind, and we see in them how he despised
verbal subtleties, the external badges of a sect or creed, and insisted
that the great end of science is to learn how to live and how to die. The
style of Seneca is too elaborate to please. It is affected, often florid,
and bombastic; there is too much sparkle and glitter, too little repose
and simplicity.

Pliny the elder (A.D. 23-79) was born probably at Como, the family
residence. He was educated at Rome, where he practiced at the bar, and
filled different civil offices. He perished a martyr to the cause of
science, in the eruption of Vesuvius, which took place in the reign of
Titus, the first of which there is any record in history. The
circumstances of his death are described by his nephew, Pliny the younger,
in two letters to Tacitus. He was at Misenum, in command of the fleet,
when, observing the first indications of the eruption, and wishing to
investigate it more closely, he fitted out a light galley, and sailed
towards the villa of a friend at Stabiae. He found his friend in great
alarm, but Pliny remained tranquil and retired to rest. Meanwhile, broad
flames burst forth from the volcano, the blaze was reflected from the sky,
and the brightness was enhanced by the darkness of the night. Repeated
shocks of an earthquake made the houses rock to and fro, while in the air
the fall of half burnt pumice-stones menaced danger. He was awakened, and
he and his friend, with their attendants, tied cushions over their heads
to protect them from the falling stones, and walked out to see if they
might venture on the water. It was now day, but the darkness was denser
than the darkest night, the sea was a waste of stormy waters, and when at
last the flames and the sulphureous smell could no longer be endured,
Pliny fell dead, suffocated by the dense vapor.

The natural history of Pliny is an unequaled monument of studious
diligence and persevering industry. It consists of thirty-seven books, and
contains 20,000 facts (as he believed them to be) connected with nature
and art, the result not of original research, but, as he honestly
confessed, culled from the labors of other men.

Owing to the extent of his reading, his love of the marvelous, and his
want of judgment in comparing and selecting, he does not present us with a
correct view of the science of his own age. He reproduces errors evidently
obsolete and inconsistent with facts and theories which had afterwards
replaced them. With him, mythological traditions appeared to have almost
the same authority as modern discoveries; the earth teems with monsters,
not exceptions to the regular order of nature, but specimens of her
ingenuity. His peculiar pantheistic belief prepared him to consider
nothing incredible, and his temper inclined him to admit all that was
credible as true.

He tells us of men whose feet were turned backwards, of others whose feet
were so large as to shade them when they lay in the sun; others without
mouths, who fed on the fragrance of fruits and flowers. Among the lower
animals, he enumerates horned horses furnished with wings; the mantichora,
with the face of a man, three rows of teeth, a lion's body, and a
scorpion's tail; the basilisk, whose very glance is fatal; and an insect
which cannot live except in the midst of the flames. But notwithstanding
his credulity and his want of judgment, this elaborate work contains many
valuable truths and much entertaining information. The prevailing
character of his philosophical belief, though tinctured with the stoicism
of the day, is querulous and melancholy. Believing that nature is an all-
powerful principle, and the universe instinct with deity, he saw more of
evil than of good in the divine dispensation, and the result was a gloomy
and discontented pantheism.

Celsus probably lived in the reign of Tiberius. He was the author of many
works, on various subjects, of which one, in eight books, on medicine, is
now extant. The independence of his views, the practical, as well as the
scientific nature of his instructions, and above all, his knowledge of
surgery, and his clear exposition of surgical operations, have given his
work great authority; the highest testimony is borne to its merits by the
fact of its being used as a text-book, even in the present advanced state
of medical science. The taste of the age in which he lived turned his
attention also to polite literature, and to that may be ascribed the
Augustan purity of his style.

Pomponius Mela lived in the reign of Claudius. He is considered as the
representative of the Roman geographers. Though his book, "The Place of
the World," is but an epitome of former treatises, it is interesting for
the simplicity of its style and the purity of its language.

Columella flourished in the reigns of Claudius and Nero. He is author of
an agricultural work, "De Re Rustica," in which he gives, in smooth and
fluent, though somewhat too diffuse a style, the fullest and completest
information on practical agriculture among the Romans in the first century
of the Christian era.

Frontinus (fl. 78 A.D.) left two valuable works, one on military tactics,
the other a descriptive architectural treatise on those wonderful
monuments of Roman art, the aqueducts. Besides these, there are extant
fragments of other works on surveying, and on the laws and customs
relating to landed property, which assign Frontinus an important place in
the estimation of the students of Roman history.

death of Augustus, Roman literature had gradually declined, and though it
shone forth for a time with classic radiance in the writings of Persius,
Juvenal, Quintilian, Tacitus, and the Plinies, with the death of freedom,
the extinction of patriotism, and the decay of the national spirit,
nothing could avert its fall. Poetry had become declamation; history had
degenerated either into fulsome panegyric or the fleshless skeletons of
epitomes; and at length the Romans seemed to disdain the use of their
native tongue, and wrote again in Greek, as they had in the infancy of the
national literature. The Emperor Hadrian resided long at Athens, and
became imbued with a taste and admiration for Greek; and thus the
literature of Rome became Hellenized. From this epoch the term classical
can no longer be applied to it, for it no longer retained its purity. To
Greek influence succeeded the still more corrupting one of foreign
nations. With the death of Nerva, the uninterrupted succession of emperors
of Roman or Italian birth ceased. Trajan himself was a Spaniard, and after
him not only foreigners of every European race, but even Orientals and
Africans were invested with the imperial purple, and the huge empire over
which they ruled was one unwieldy mass of heterogeneous materials. The
literary influence of the capital was not felt in the interior portions of
the Roman dominions. Schools were established in the very heart of nations
just emerging from barbarism; and though the blessings of civilization and
intellectual culture were thus distributed far and wide, still literary
taste, as it flowed through the minds of foreigners, became corrupted, and
the language of the imperial city, exposed to the infecting contact of
barbarous idioms, lost its purity.

The Latin authors of this age were numerous, but few had taste to
appreciate and imitate the literature of the Augustan age. They may be
classified according to their departments of poetry, history, grammar and
oratory, philosophy and science.

The brightest star of the poetry of this period was Claudian (365-404
A.D.), in whom the graceful imagination of classical antiquity seems to
have revived. He enjoyed the patronage of Stilicho, the guardian and
minister of Honorius, and in the praise and honor of him and of his pupil,
he wrote "The Rape of Proserpine," the "War of the Giants," and several
other poems.

His descriptions indicate a rich and powerful imagination, but, neglecting
substance for form, his style is often declamatory and affected. Among the
earliest authors of Christian hymns were Hilarius and Prudentius, Those of
the former were expressly designed to be sung, and are said to have been
set to music by the author himself. Prudentius (fl. 348 A.D.) wrote many
hymns and poems in defense of the Christian faith, more distinguished for
their pious and devotional character than for their lyric sublimity or
parity of language. To this age belong also the hymns of Damasus and of

Among the historians are Flavius Eutropius, who lived in the fourth
century, and by the direction of the Emperor Valens composed an "Epitome
of Roman History," which was a favorite book in the Middle Ages. Ammianus
Marcellinus, his contemporary, wrote a Roman history in continuation of
Tacitus and Suetonius. Though his style is affected and often rough and
inaccurate, his work is interesting for its digressions and observations.
Severus Sulpicius wrote the history of the Hebrews, and of the four
centuries of the church. His "Sacred History," for its language and style,
is one of the best works of that age.

In the department of oratory may be mentioned Cornelius Fronto, who
flourished under Domitian and Nerva, and was endowed with a rich
imagination and a mind stored with vast erudition in Greek and Latin
literature, Symmachus, distinguished for his opposition to Christianity,
and Cassiodorus, minister and secretary of the Emperor Theodoric.

In the decline of Roman, as of Greek literature, grammarians took the
place of poets and of historians; they commented on and interpreted the
ancient classics, and transmitted to us valuable information concerning
the Augustan writers. Among the most important works of this kind are the
"Attic Nights" of Gellius, who was born in Rome, and lived under Hadrian
and the Antonines. In this work are preserved many valuable passages of
the classics which would otherwise have been lost. Macrobius, who
flourished in the middle of the fifth century, was the author of different
works in which the doctrines of the Neo-Platonic school are expounded. His
style, however, is very defective.

A striking characteristic of the writings, both in Greek and Latin, of the
last ages of the empire, is the prevalence of principles and opinions
imported from the East. The Neo-Platonic school, imbued with Oriental
mysticism, had diffused the belief in spirits and magic, and the
philosophy of this age was a mixture of ancient wisdom with new
superstitions belonging to the ages of transition between the decadence of
the ancient faith and the development of a new religion. The best
representative of the philosophy of this age is Apuleius, born in Africa
in the reign of Hadrian. After having received his education in Carthage
and Athens, he came to Rome, where he acquired great reputation as a
literary man, and as the possessor of extraordinary supernatural powers.
To this extensive philosophical knowledge and immense erudition he united
great polish of manner and remarkable beauty of person. He wrote much on
philosophy; but his most important work is a romance known as
"Metamorphoses, or the Golden Ass," containing his philosophical and
mystic doctrines. In this book, the object of which is to encourage the
belief in mysticism, the writer describes the transformation of a young
man into an ass, who is allowed to take his primitive human form only
through a knowledge of the mysteries of Isis. The story is well told, and
the romance is full of interest and sprightliness; but its style is
incorrect, florid, and bombastic.

Boethius (470-524), the last of the Roman philosophers, was the descendant
of an illustrious family. He made Greek philosophy the principal object of
his meditations. He was raised to the highest honors and offices in the
empire by Theodoric, but finally, through the artifices of enemies who
envied his reputation, he lost the favor of his patron, was imprisoned,
and at length beheaded. Of his numerous works, founded on the peripatetic
philosophy, that which has gained him the greatest celebrity is entitled
"On the Consolations of Philosophy," composed while he was in prison. It
is in the form of a dialogue, in which philosophy appears to console him
with the idea of Divine Providence. The poetical part of the book is
written with elegance and grace, and his prose, though not pure, is fluent
and full of tranquil dignity. The work of Boethius, which is known in all
modern languages, was translated into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred, 900 A.D.

The fathers of the church followed more particularly the philosophy of
Plato, which was united and adapted to Christianity. St. Augustine is the
most illustrious among the Christian Platonists.

The most eloquent orators and writers of this period were found among the
advocates of Christianity; and among the most celebrated of these Latin
fathers of the Christian church we may mention the following names.
Tertullian (160-285), in his apology for the Christians, gives much
information on the manners and conduct of the early Christians; his style
is concise and figurative, but harsh, unpolished, and obscure. St. Cyprian
(200-258), beheaded at Carthage for preaching the gospel contrary to the
orders of the government, wrote an explanation of the Lord's Prayer, which
affords a valuable illustration of the ecclesiastical history of the time.
Arnobius (fl. 300) refuted the objections of the heathen against
Christianity with spirit and learning, in his "Disputes with the
Gentiles," a work rich in materials for the understanding of Greek and
Roman mythology. Lactantius (d. 335), on account of his fine and eloquent
language, is frequently called the Christian Cicero; his "Divine
Institutes" are particularly celebrated. St. Ambrose (340-397) obtained
great honor by his conduct as Bishop of Milan, and his writings bear the
stamp of his high Christian character. St. Augustine (360-430) was one of
the most renowned of all the Latin fathers. Though others may have been
more learned or masters of a purer style, none more powerfully touched and
warmed the heart towards religion. His "City of God" is one of the great
monuments of human genius. St. Jerome (330-420) wrote many epistles full
of energy and affection, as well as of religious zeal. He made a Latin
version of the Old Testament, which was the foundation of the Vulgate, and
which gave a new impulse to the study of the Holy Scriptures. Leo the
Great (fl. 440) is the first pope whose writings have been preserved. They
consist of sermons and letters. His style is finished and rhetorical.

10. ROMAN JURISPRUDENCE.--In the period which followed, from the death of
Augustus to the time of the Antonines, Roman civilians and legal writers
continued to be numerous, and as a professional body they seem to have
enjoyed high consideration until the close of the reign of Alexander
Severus, 385* A.D. After that time they were held in much less estimation,
as the science fell into the hands of freedmen and plebeians, who
practiced it as a sordid and pernicious trade. With the reign of
Constantine, the credit of the profession revived, and the youth of the
empire were stimulated to pursue the study of the law by the hope of being
ultimately rewarded by honorable and lucrative offices, the magistrates
being almost wholly taken from the class of lawyers. Two jurists of this
reign, Gregorianus and Hermogenianus, are particularly distinguished as
authors of codes which are known by their names, and which were recognized
as standard authorities in courts of justice. The "Code of Theodosius" was
a collection of laws reduced by that emperor, and promulgated in both
empires 438 A.D. It retained its authority in the western empire until its
final overthrow, 476 A.D., and even after this, though modified by the
institutions of the conquerors. In the eastern empire, it was only
superseded by the code of Justinian. This emperor undertook the task of
reducing to order and system the great confusion and perplexity in which
the whole subject of Roman jurisprudence was involved. For this purpose he
employed the most eminent lawyers, with the celebrated Tribonian at their
head, to whom he intrusted the work of forming and publishing a complete
collection of the preceding laws and edicts, and who devoted several years
of unwearied labor and research to this object. They first collected and
reduced the imperial constitutions from the time of Hadrian downwards,
which was promulgated as the "Justinian Code." Their next labor was to
reduce the writings of the jurisconsults of the preceding ages, especially
those who had lived under the empire, and whose works are said to have
amounted to two thousand volumes. This work was published 533 A.D., under
the title of "Pandects," or "Digest," the former title referring to their
completeness as comprehending the whole of Roman jurisprudence, and the
latter to their methodical arrangement. At the same time, a work prepared
by Tribonian was published by the order of the emperor, on the elements or
first principles of Roman law, entitled "Institutes," and another
collection consisting of constitutions and edicts, under the title of
"Novels," chiefly written in Greek, but known to the moderns by a Latin
translation. These four works, the Code, the Pandects, the Institutes, and
the Novels, constituted what is now called the Body of Roman Law.

The system of jurisprudence established by Justinian remained in force in
the eastern empire until the taking of Constantinople, 1453 A.D. After the
fall of the western empire, these laws had little sway until the twelfth
century, when Irnerius, a German lawyer who had studied at Constantinople,
opened a school at Bologna, and thus revived and propagated in the West a
knowledge of Roman civil law. Students flocked to this school from all
parts, and by them Roman jurisprudence, as embodied in the system of
Justinian, was transmitted to most of the countries of Europe.

During the fourth and fifth centuries, the process of the debasement of
the Roman tongue went on with great rapidity. The influence of the
provincials began what the irruptions of the northern tribes consummated.
In many scattered parts of the empire it is probable that separate Latin
dialects arose, and the strain upon the whole structure of the tongue was
prodigious, when the Goths poured into Italy, established themselves in
the capital, and began to speak and write in a language previously foreign
to them. With the close of the reign of Theodoric the curtain falls upon
ancient literature.


1. European Literature in the Dark Ages.--2. The Arabian language.--3.
Arabian Mythology and the Koran.--4. Historical Development of Arabian
Literature.--5. Grammar and Rhetoric.--6. Poetry.--7. The Arabian Tales.--
8. History and Science.--9. Education.

1. EUROPEAN LITERATURE IN THE DARK AGES.--The literature, arts, and
sciences of the Arabs formed the connecting link between the civilizations
of ancient and modern times. To them we owe the revival of learning in
Western Europe, and many of the inventions and useful arts perfected by
later nations.

From the middle of the sixth century A.D. to the beginning of the
eleventh, the interval between the decline of ancient and the development
of modern literature is known in history as the Dark Ages. The sudden rise
of the Arabian Empire and the rapid development of its literature were the
great events which characterize the period.

At the beginning of this epoch classical genius was already extinct, and
the purity of the classical tongues was yielding rapidly to the
corruptions of the provinces and of the new dialects. Many other causes
conspired to work great changes in the fabric of society, and in the
manifestations of human intellect. Throughout this period the treasures of
Greek and Latin literature, exposed to the danger of perishing and
impaired by much actual loss, exerted no influence on the minds of those
who still used the tongues to which they belong. Greek letters, as we have
seen, decayed with the Byzantine power, and the vital principle in both
became extinct long before the sword of the Turkish conqueror inflicted
the final blow. The fate of Latin literature was not less deplorable. When
province after province of the Roman dominions was overrun by the northern
hordes, when the imperial schools were suppressed and the monuments of
ancient genius destroyed, an enfeebled people and a debased language could
not withstand such adverse circumstances. During the seventh and eighth
centuries Latin composition degenerated into the rudeness of the monkish
style. The care bestowed by Charlemagne upon education in the ninth
century produced some purifying effect upon the writings of the cloister;
the tenth was distinguished by an increased zeal in the task of
transcribing the classical authors, and in the eleventh the Latin works of
the Normans display some masculine force and freedom. Latin was the
repository of such knowledge as the times could boast; it was used in the
service of the church, and in the chronicles that supplied the place of
history, but it was not the vehicle of any great production stamped with
true genius and impressing the minds of posterity. Still, genius was not
altogether extinguished in every part of Europe. The north, which sent out
its daring tribes to change the aspect of civil life, furnished a fresh
source of mental inspiration, which was destined, with the recovered
influence of the classic spirit and other prolific causes, to give birth
to some of the best portions of modern literature.

At the memorable epoch of the overthrow of the Roman dominion in the West
(476 A.D.), the seats of the Teutonic race extended from the banks of the
Rhine and the Danube to the rock-bound coasts of Norway. The victorious
invaders who occupied the southern provinces of Europe speedily lost their
own forms of speech, which were broken down, together with those of the
vanquished, into a jargon unfit for composition. But in Germany and
Scandinavia, where the old language retained its purity, song continued to
flourish. There, from the most distant eras described by Tacitus and other
Latin writers, the favorite attendants of kings and chiefs were those
celebrated bards who preserved in their traditionary strains the memory of
great events, the praises of the gods, the glory of warriors, and the laws
and customs of their countrymen. Intrusted, like the Grecian heroic
minstrelsy, to oral recitation, it was not until the propitious reign of
Charlemagne that these verses were collected. But, through the bigotry of
his successor or the ravages of time, not a fragment of this collection
remains. We are enabled, however, to form an idea of the general tone and
tenor of this early Teutonic poetry from other interesting remains. The
"Nibelungen-Lied" (_Lay of the Nibelungen_) and "Heldenbuch" (_Book of
Heroes_) may be regarded as the Homeric poems of Germany. After an
examination of their monuments, the ability of the ancient bards, the
honor in which they were held, and the enthusiasm which they produced,
will not be surprising.

Equally distinguished were the Scalds of Scandinavia. Ever in the train of
princes and gallant adventurers, they chanted their rhymeless verse for
the encouragement and solace of heroes. Their oldest songs, or sagas, are
mostly of a historical import. In the Icelandic Edda, however, the richest
monument of this species of composition, the theological element of their
poetry is shadowed out in the most picturesque and fanciful legends.

Such was the intellectual state of Europe down to the age of Charlemagne.
While in the once famous seats of arts and arms scarcely a ray of native
genius or courage was visible, the light of human intellect still burned
in lands whose barbarism had furnished matter for the sarcasm of classical

Charlemagne encouraged learning, established schools, and filled his court
with men of letters; while in England, the illustrious Alfred, himself a
scholar and an author, improved and enriched the Anglo-Saxon dialect, and
exerted the most beneficial influence on his contemporaries.

The confusion and debasement of language in the south of Europe has
already been alluded to. But the force and activity of mind, that formed
an essential characteristic of the conquering race, were destined
ultimately to evolve regularity and harmony out of the concussion of
discordant elements. The Latin and Teutonic tongues were blended together,
and hence proceeded all the chief dialects of modern Europe. Over the
south, from Portugal to Italy, the Latin element prevailed; but even where
the Teutonic was the chief ingredient, as in the English and German, there
has also been a large infusion of the Latin. To these two languages, and
to the Provençal, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, called, from
their Roman origin, the Romance or Romanic languages, all that is
prominent and precious in modern letters belongs. But it is not until the
eleventh century that their progress becomes identified with the history
of literature. Up to this period there had been little repose, freedom, or
peaceful enjoyment of property. The independence and industry of the
middle classes were almost unknown, and the chieftain, the vassal, and the
slave were the characters which stood out in the highest relief.
Throughout the whole of the eleventh century, the social chaos seemed
resolving itself into some approach to order and tranquillity. The gradual
abolition of personal servitude, hardly accomplished in three successive
centuries, now began. A third estate arose. The rights of cities, and the
corporation-spirit, the result of the necessity that drove men to combine
for mutual defense, led to intercourse among them and to consequent
improvement in language. Chivalry, also, served to mitigate the
oppressions of the nobles, and to soften and refine their manners. From
the date of the first crusade (1093 A.D.) down to the close of the twelfth
century, was the golden age of chivalry. The principal thrones of Europe
were occupied by her foremost knights. The East formed a point of union
for the ardent and adventurous of different countries, whose courteous
rivalry stimulated the growth of generous sentiments and the passion for
brave deeds. The genius of Europe was roused by the passage of thousands
of her sons through Greece into Asia and Egypt, amidst the ancient seats
of art, science, and refinement; and the minds of men received a fresh and
powerful impulse. It was during the eleventh century that the brilliancy
of the Arabian literature reached its culminating point, and, through the
intercourse of the Troubadours with the Moors of the peninsula, and of the
Crusaders with the Arabs in the East, began to influence the progress of
letters in Europe.

2. THE ARABIAN LANGUAGE.--The Arabian language belongs to the Semitic
family; it has two principal dialects--the northern, which has, for
centuries, been the general tongue of the empire, and is best represented
in literature, and the southern, a branch of which is supposed to be the
mother of the Ethiopian language. The former, in degenerated dialects, is
still spoken in Arabia, in parts of western Asia, and throughout northern
Africa, and forms an important part of the Turkish, Persian, and other
Oriental languages. The Arabic is characterized by its guttural sounds, by
the richness and pliability of its vowels, by its dignity, volume of
sound, and vigor of accentuation and pronunciation. Like all Semitic
languages, it is written from right to left; the characters are of Syrian
origin, and were introduced into Arabia before the time of Mohammed. They
are of two kinds, the Cufic, which were first used, and the Neskhi, which
superseded them, and which continue in use at the present day. The Arabic
alphabet was, with a few modifications, early adopted by the Persians and

3. ARABIAN MYTHOLOGY AND THE KORAN.--Before the time of Mohammed, the
Arabians were gross idolaters. They had some traditionary idea of the
unity and perfections of the Deity, but their creed embraced an immense
number of subordinate divinities, represented by images of men and women,
beasts and birds. The essential basis of their religion was Sabeism, or
star-worship. The number and beauty of the heavenly luminaries, and the
silent regularity of their motions, could not fail deeply to impress the
minds of this imaginative people, living in the open air, under the clear
and serene sky, and wandering among the deserts, oases, and picturesque
mountains of Arabia. They had seven celebrated temples dedicated to the
seven planets. Some tribes exclusively reverenced the moon; others the
dog-star. Some had received the religion of the Magi, or fire-worshipers,
while others had become converts to Judaism.

Ishmael is one of the most venerated progenitors of the nation; and it is
the common faith that Mecca, then an arid wilderness, was the spot where
his life was providentially saved, and where Hagar, his mother, was
buried. The well pointed out by the angel, they believe to be the famous
Zemzem, of which all pious Mohammedans drink to this day. To commemorate
the miraculous preservation of Ishmael, God commanded Abraham to build a
temple, and he erected and consecrated the Caaba, or sacred house, which
is still venerated in Mecca; and the black stone incased within its walls
is the same on which Abraham stood.

Mohammed (569-632 A.D.) did not pretend to introduce a new religion; his
professed object was merely to restore the primitive and only true faith,
such as it had been in the days of the patriarchs; the fundamental idea of
which was the unity of God. He made the revelations of the Old and New
Testaments the basis of his preaching. He maintained the authority of the
books of Moses, admitted the divine mission of Jesus, and he enrolled
himself in the catalogue of inspired teachers. This doctrine was
proclaimed in the memorable words, which for so many centuries constituted
the war-cry of the Saracens,--_There is no God but God, and Mohammed is
his prophet_. Mohammed preached no dogmas substantially new, but he
adorned, amplified, and adapted to the ideas, prejudices, and inclinations
of the Orientals, doctrines which were as old as the race. He enjoined the
ablutions suited to the manners and necessities of hot climates. He
ordained five daily prayers, that man might learn habitually to elevate
his thoughts above the outward world. He instituted the festival of the
Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca, and commanded that every man should
bestow in alms the hundredth part of his possessions; observances which,
for the most part, already existed in the established customs of the

The Koran (Reading), the sacred book of the Mohammedans, is, according to
their belief, the revelation of God to their prophet Mohammed. It contains
not only their religious belief, but their civil, military, and political
code. It is divided into 114 chapters, and 1,666 verses. It is written in
rhythmical prose, and its materials are borrowed from the Jewish and
Christian scriptures, the legends of the Talmud, and the traditions and
fables of the Arabian and Persian mythologies. Confusion of ideas,
obscurity, and contradictions destroy the unity and even the interest of
this work. The chapters are preposterously distributed, not according to
their date or connection, but according to their length, beginning with
the longest, and ending with the shortest; and thus the work becomes often
the more unintelligible by its singular arrangement. But notwithstanding
this, there is scarcely a volume in the Arabic language which contains
passages breathing more sublime poetry, or more enchanting eloquence; and
the Koran is so far important in the history of Arabian letters, that when
the scattered leaves were collected by Abubeker, the successor of Mohammed
(635 A.D.) and afterwards revised, in the thirtieth year of the Hegira,
they fixed at once the classic language of the Arabs, and became their
standard in style as well as in religion.

This work and its commentaries are held in the highest reverence by the
Mohammedans. It is the principal book taught in their schools; they never
touch it without kissing it, and carrying it to the forehead, in token of
their reverence; oaths before the courts are taken upon it; it is learned
by heart, and repeated every forty days; many believers copy it several
times in their lives, and often possess one or more copies ornamented with
gold and precious stones.

The Koran treats of death, resurrection, the judgment, paradise, and the
place of torment, in a style calculated powerfully to affect the
imagination of the believer. The joys of paradise, promised to all who
fall in the cause of religion, are those most captivating to an Arabian
fancy. When Al Sirat, or the Bridge of Judgment, which is as slender as
the thread of a famished spider, and as sharp as the edge of a sword,
shall be passed by the believer, he will be welcomed into the gardens of
delight by black-eyed Houris, beautiful nymphs, not made of common clay,
but of pure essence and odors, free from all blemish, and subject to no
decay of virtue or of beauty, and who await their destined lovers in rosy
bowers, or in pavilions formed of a single hollow pearl. The soil of
paradise is composed of musk and saffron, sprinkled with pearls and
hyacinths. The walls of its mansions are of gold and silver; the fruits,
which bend spontaneously to him who would gather them, are of a flavor and
delicacy unknown to mortals. Numerous rivers flow through this blissful
abode; some of wine, others of milk, honey, and water, the pebbly beds of
which are rubies and emeralds, and their banks of musk, camphor, and
saffron. In paradise the enjoyment of the believers, which is subject
neither to satiety nor diminution, will be greater than the human
understanding can compass. The meanest among them will have eighty
thousand servants, and seventy-two wives. Wine, though forbidden on earth,
will there be freely allowed, and will not hurt or inebriate. The
ravishing songs of the angels and of the Houris will render all the groves
vocal with harmony, such as mortal ear never heard. At whatever age they
may have died, at their resurrection all will be in the prime of manly and
eternal vigor. It would be a journey of a thousand years for a true
Mohammedan to travel through paradise, and behold all the wives, servants,
gardens, robes, jewels, horses, camels, and other things, which belong
exclusively to him.

The hell of Mohammed is as full of terror as his heaven is of delight. The
wicked, who fall into the gulf of torture from the bridge of Al Sirat,
will suffer alternately from cold and heat; when they are thirsty, boiling
water will be given them to drink; and they will be shod with shoes of
fire. The dark mansions of the Christians, Jews, Sabeans, Magians, and
idolaters are sunk below each other with increasing horrors, in the order
of their names. The seventh or lowest hell is reserved for the faithless
hypocrites of every religion. Into this dismal receptacle the unhappy
sufferer will be dragged by seventy thousand halters, each pulled by
seventy thousand angels, and exposed to the scourge of demons, whose
pastime is cruelty and pain.

It is a portion of the faith inculcated in the Koran, that both angels and
demons exist, having pure and subtle bodies, created of fire, and free
from human appetites and desires. The four principal angels are Gabriel,
the angel of revelation; Michael, the friend and protector of the Jews;
Azrael, the angel of death; and Izrafel, whose office it will be to sound
the trumpet at the last day. Every man has two guardian angels to attend
him and record his actions, good and evil. The doctrine of the angels,
demons, and jins or genii, the Arabians probably derived from the Hebrews.
The demons are fallen angels, the prince of whom is _Eblis_; he was at
first one of the angels nearest to God's presence, and was called
_Azazel_. He was cast out of heaven, according to the Koran, for refusing
to pay homage to Adam at the time of the creation. The genii are
intermediate creatures, neither wholly spiritual nor wholly earthly, some
of whom are good and entitled to salvation, and others infidels and
devoted to eternal torture. Among them are several ranks and degrees, as
the _Peris_, or fairies, beautiful female spirits, who seek to do good
upon the earth, and the _Deev_, or giants, who frequently make war upon
the Peris, take them captive, and shut them up in cages. The genii, both
good and bad, have the power of making themselves invisible at pleasure.
Besides the mountain o£ Kaf, which is their chief place of resort, they
dwell in ruined cities, uninhabited houses, at the bottom of wells, in
woods, pools of water, and among the rocks and sandhills of the desert.
Shooting stars are still believed by the people of the East to be arrows
shot by the angels against the genii, who transgress these limits and
approach too near the forbidden regions of bliss. Many of the genii
delight in mischief; they surprise and mislead travelers, raise
whirlwinds, and dry up springs in the desert. The _Ghoul_ lives on the
flesh of men and women, whom he decoys to his haunts in wild and barren
places, in order to kill and devour them, and when he cannot thus obtain
food, he enters the graveyards and feeds upon the bodies of the dead.

The fairy mythology of the Arabians was introduced into Europe in the
eleventh century by the Troubadours and writers of the romances of
chivalry, and through them it became an important element in the
literature of Europe. It constituted the machinery of the _Fabliaux_ of
the Trouvères, and of the romantic epics of Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso,
Spenser, Shakspeare, and others.

The three leading Mohammedan sects are the Sunnees, the Sheahs, and the
Wahabees. The Sunnees acknowledge the authority of the first Caliphs, from
whom most of the traditions were derived. The Sheahs assert the divine
right of Ali to succeed to the prophet; consequently they consider the
first Caliphs, and all their successors, as usurpers. The Wahabees are a
sect of religious reformers, who took their name from Abd al Wahab (1700-
1750), the Luther of the Mohammedans. They became a formidable power in
Arabia, but they were finally overcome by Ibrahim Pacha in 1816.

the Arabians has, properly speaking, but one period; although from remote
antiquity poetry was with them a favorite occupation, and long before the
time of Mohammed the roving tribes of the desert had their annual
conventions, where they defended their honor and celebrated their heroic
deeds. As early as the fifth century A.D., at the fair of Ochadh, thirty
days every year were employed not only in the exchange of merchandise, but
in the nobler display of rival talents. A place was set apart for the
competitions of the bards, whose highest ambition was to conquer in this
literary arena, and the victorious compositions were inscribed in golden
letters upon Egyptian paper, and suspended upon the doors of the Caaba,
the ancient national sanctuary of Mecca. Seven of the most famous of these
ancient poets have been celebrated by Oriental writers under the title of
the Arabian Pleiades, and their songs, still preserved, are full of
passion, manly pride, and intensity of imagination and feeling. These and
similar effusions constituted the entire literature of Arabia, and were
the only archives of the nation previous to the age of Mohammed.

The peninsula of Arabia, hitherto restricted to its natural boundaries,
and peopled by wandering tribes, had occupied but a subordinate place in
the history of the world. But the success of Mohammed and the preaching of
the Koran were followed by the union of the tribes who, inspired by the
feelings of national pride and religious fervor, in less than a century
made the Arabian power, tongue, and religion predominant over a third part
of Asia, almost one half of Africa, and a part of Spain; and, from the
ninth to the sixteenth century, the literature of the Arabians far
surpassed that of any contemporary nation.

After the fall of the Roman empire in the fifth century A.D., when the
western world sank into barbarism, and the inhabitants, ever menaced by
famine or the sword, found full occupation in struggling against civil
wars, feudal tyranny, and the invasion of barbarians; when poetry was
unknown, philosophy was proscribed as rebellion against religion, and
barbarous dialects had usurped the place of that beautiful Latin language
which had so long connected the nations of the West, and preserved to them
so many treasures of thought and taste, the Arabians, who by their
conquests and fanaticism had contributed more than any other nation to
abolish the cultivation of science and literature, having at length
established their empire, in turn devoted themselves to letters. Masters
of the country of the magi and the Chaldeans, of Egypt, the first
storehouse of human science, of Asia Minor, where poetry and the fine arts
had their birth, and of Africa, the country of impetuous eloquence and
subtle intellect--they seemed to unite in themselves the advantages of all
the nations which they had thus subjugated. Innumerable treasures had been
the fruit of their conquests, and this hitherto rude and uncultivated
nation now began to indulge in the most unbounded luxury. Possessed of all
the delights that human industry, quickened by boundless riches, could
procure, with all that could flatter the senses and attach the heart to
life, they now attempted to mingle with these the pleasures of the
intellect, the cultivation of the arts and sciences, and all that is most
excellent in human knowledge. In this new career, their conquests were not
less rapid than they had been in the field; nor was the empire which they
founded less extended. With a celerity equally surprising, it rose to a
gigantic height, but it rested on a foundation no less insecure, and it
was quite as transitory in its duration.

The Hegira, or flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, corresponds with
the year 622 of our era, and the supposed burning of the Alexandrian
library by Amrou, the general of the Caliph Omar, with the year 641. This
is the period of the deepest barbarism among the Saracens, and this event,
doubtful as it is, has left a melancholy proof of their contempt for
letters. A century had scarcely elapsed from the period to which this
barbarian outrage is referred, when the family of the Abassides, who
mounted the throne of the Caliphs in 750, introduced a passionate love of
art, of science, and of poetry. In the literature of Greece, nearly eight
centuries of progressive cultivation succeeding the Trojan war had
prepared the way for the age of Pericles. In that of Rome, the age of
Augustus was also in the eighth century after the foundation of the city.
In French literature, the age of Louis XIV. was twelve centuries
subsequent to Clovis, and eight after the development of the first
rudiments of the language. But, in the rapid progress of the Arabian
empire, the age of Al Mamoun, the Augustus of Bagdad, was not removed more
than one hundred and fifty years from the foundation of the monarchy. All
the literature of the Arabians bears the marks of this rapid development.

Ali, the fourth Caliph from Mohammed, was the first who extended any
protection to letters. His rival and successor, Moawyiah, the first of the
Ommyiades (661-680), assembled at his court all who were most
distinguished by scientific acquirements; he surrounded himself with
poets; and as he had subjected to his dominion many of the Grecian islands
and provinces, the sciences of Greece under him first began to obtain any
influence over the Arabians.

After the extinction of the dynasty of the Ommyiades, that of the
Abassides bestowed a still more powerful patronage on letters. The
celebrated Haroun al Raschid (786-809) acquired a glorious reputation by
the protection he afforded to letters. He never undertook a journey
without carrying with him at least a hundred men of science in his train,
and he never built a mosque without attaching to it a school.

But the true protector and father of Arabic literature was Al Mamoun, the
son of Haroun al Raschid (813-833), who rendered Bagdad the centre of
literature. He invited to his court from every part of the world all the
learned men with whose existence he was acquainted, and he retained them
by rewards, honors, and distinctions of every kind. He exacted, as the
most precious tribute from the conquered provinces, all the important
books and literary relics that could be discovered. Hundreds of camels
might be seen entering Bagdad, loaded with nothing but manuscripts and
papers, and those most proper for instruction were translated into Arabic.
Instructors, translators, and commentators formed the court of Al Mamoun,
which appeared to be rather a learned academy, than the seat of government
in a warlike empire. The Caliph himself was much attached to the study of
mathematics, which he pursued with brilliant success. He conceived the
grand design of measuring the earth, which was accomplished by his
mathematicians, at his own expense. Not less generous than enlightened, Al
Mamoun, when he pardoned one of his relatives who had revolted against
him, exclaimed, "If it were known what pleasure I experience in granting
pardon, all who have offended against me would come and confess their

The progress of the Arabians in science was proportioned to the zeal of
the sovereign. In every town of the empire schools, colleges, and
academies were established. Bagdad was the capital of letters as well as
of the Caliphs, but Bassora and Cufa almost equaled that city in
reputation, and in the number of celebrated poems and treatises that they
produced. Balkh, Ispahan, and Samarcand were equally the homes of science.
Cairo contained a great number of colleges; in the towns of Fez and
Morocco the most magnificent buildings were appropriated to the purposes
of instruction, and in their rich libraries were preserved those precious
volumes which had been lost in other places.

What Bagdad was to Asia, Cordova was to Europe, where, particularly in the
tenth and eleventh centuries, the Arabs were the pillars of literature. At
this period, when learning found scarcely anywhere either rest or
encouragement, the Arabians were employed in collecting and diffusing it
in the three great divisions of the world. Students traveled from France
and other European countries to the Arabian schools in Spain, particularly
to learn medicine and mathematics. Besides the academy at Cordova, there
were established fourteen others in different parts of Spain, exclusive of
the higher schools. The Arabians made the most rapid advancement in all
the departments of learning, especially in arithmetic, geometry, and
astronomy. In the various cities of Spain, seventy libraries were opened
for public instruction at the period when all the rest of Europe, without
books, without learning, without cultivation, was plunged in the most
disgraceful ignorance. The number of Arabic authors which Spain produced
was so prodigious, that many Arabian bibliographers wrote learned
treatises on the authors born in particular towns, or on those among the
Spaniards who devoted themselves to a single branch of study, as
philosophy, medicine, mathematics, or poetry. Thus, throughout the vast
extent of the Arabian empire, the progress of letters had followed that of
arms, and for five centuries this literature preserved all its brilliancy.

5. GRAMMAR AND RHETORIC.--The perfection of the language was one of the
first objects of the Arabian scholars, and from the rival schools of Cufa
and Bassora a number of distinguished men proceeded, who analyzed with the
greatest subtlety all its rules and aided in perfecting it. As early as in
the age of Ali, the fourth Caliph, Arabian literature boasted of a number
of scientific grammarians. Prosody and the metric art were reduced to
systems. Dictionaries of the language were composed, some of which are
highly esteemed at the present day. Among these may be mentioned the "Al
Sehah," or Purity, and "El Kamus," or the Ocean, which is considered the
best dictionary of the Arabian language. The study of rhetoric was united
to that of grammar, and the most celebrated works of the Greeks on this
art were translated and adapted to the Arabic. After the age of Mohammed
and his immediate successors, popular eloquence was no longer cultivated.
Eastern despotism having supplanted the liberty of the desert, the heads
of the state or army regarded it beneath them to harangue the people or
the soldiers; they called upon them only for obedience. But though
political eloquence was of short duration among the Arabians, on the other
hand they were the inventors of that species of rhetoric most cultivated
at the present day, that of the academy and the pulpit. Their philosophers
in these learned assemblies displayed all the measured harmony of which
their language was susceptible. Mohammed had ordained that his faith
should be preached in the mosques;--many of the harangues of these sacred
orators are still preserved in the Escurial, and the style of them is very
similar to that of the Christian orators.

6. POETRY.--Poetry still more than eloquence was the favorite occupation
of the Arabians from their origin as a nation. It is said that this people
alone have produced more poets than all others united. Mohammed himself,
as well as some of his first companions, cultivated this art, but it was
under Haroun al Raschid and his successor, Al Mamoun, and more especially
under the Ommyïades of Spain that Arabic poetry attained its highest
splendor. But the ancient impetuosity of expression, the passionate
feeling, and the spirit of individual independence no longer characterized
the productions of this period, nor is there among the numerous
constellations of Arabic poets any star of distinguished magnitude. With
the exception of Mohammed and a few of the Saracen conquerors and
sovereigns, there is scarcely an individual of this nation whose name is
familiar to the nations of Christendom.

The Arabians possess many heroic poems composed for the purpose of
celebrating the praises of distinguished men, and of animating the courage
of their soldiers. They do not, however, boast of any epics; their poetry
is entirely lyric and didactic. They have been inexhaustible in their love
poems, their elegies, their moral verses,--among which their fables may be
reckoned,--their eulogistic, satirical, descriptive, and above all, their
didactic poems, which have graced even the most abstruse science, as
grammar, rhetoric, and arithmetic. But among all their poems, the
catalogue alone of which, in the Escurial, consists of twenty-four
volumes, there is not a single epic, comedy, or tragedy.

In those branches of poetry which they cultivated they displayed
surprising subtlety and great refinement of thought, but the fame of their
compositions rests, in some degree, on their bold metaphors, their
extravagant allegories, and their excessive hyperboles. The Arabs despised
the poetry of the Greeks, which appeared to them timid, cold, and
constrained, and among all the books, which, with almost superstitious
veneration, they borrowed from them, there is scarcely a single poem which
they judged worthy of translation. The object of the Arabian poets was to
make a brilliant use of the boldest and most gigantic images, and to
astonish the reader by the abruptness of their expressions. They burdened
their compositions with riches, under the idea that nothing which was
beautiful could be superfluous. They neglected natural sentiment, and the
more they could multiply the ornaments of art, the more admirable in their
eyes did the work appear.

The nations who possessed a classical poetry, in imitating nature, had
discovered the use of the epic and the drama, in which the poet endeavors
to express the true language of the human heart. The people of the East,
with the exception of the Hindus, never made this attempt--their poetry is
entirely lyric; but under whatever name it may be known, it is always
found to be the language of the passions. The poetry of the Arabians is
rhymed like our own, and the rhyming is often carried still farther in the
construction of the verse, while the uniformity of sound is frequently
echoed throughout the whole expression. The collection made by Aboul Teman
(fl. 845 A.D.) containing the Arabian poems of the age anterior to
Mohammed, and that of Taoleti, which embraces the poems of the subsequent
periods, are considered the richest and most complete anthologies of
Arabian poetry. Montanebbi, a poet who lived about 1050, has been compared
to the Persian Hafiz.

7. THE ARABIAN TALES.--If the Arabs have neither the epic nor the drama,
they have been, on the other hand, the inventors of a style of composition
which is related to the epic, and which supplies among them the place of
the drama. We owe to them those tales, the conception of which is so
brilliant and the imagination so rich and varied: tales which have been
the delight of our infancy, and which at a more advanced age we can never
read without feeling their enchantment anew. Every one is acquainted with
the "Arabian Nights Entertainments;" but in our translation we possess but
a very small part of the Arabian collection, which is not confined merely
to books, but forms the treasure of a numerous class of men and women,
who, throughout the East, find a livelihood in reciting these tales to
crowds, who delight to forget the present, in the pleasing dreams of
imagination. In the coffee-houses of the Levant, one of these men will
gather a silent crowd around him, and picture to his audience those
brilliant and fantastic visions which are the patrimony of Eastern
imaginations. The public squares abound with men of this class, and their
recitations supply the place of our dramatic representations. The
physicians frequently recommend them to their patients in order to soothe
pain, to calm agitation, or to produce sleep; and these story-tellers,
accustomed to sickness, modulate their voices, soften their tones, and
gently suspend them as sleep steals over the sufferer.

The imagination of the Arabs in these tales is easily distinguished from
that of the chivalric nations. The supernatural world is the same in both,
but the moral world is different. The Arabian tales, like the romances of
chivalry, convey us to the fairy realms, but the human personages which
they introduce are very dissimilar. They had their birth after the
Arabians had devoted themselves to commerce, literature, and the arts, and
we recognize in them the style of a mercantile people, as we do that of a
warlike nation in the romances of chivalry. Valor and military
achievements here inspire terror but no enthusiasm, and on this account
the Arabian tales are often less noble and heroic than we usually expect
in compositions of this nature. But, on the other hand, the Arabians are
our masters in the art of producing and sustaining this kind of fiction.
They are the creators of that brilliant mythology of fairies and genii
which extends the bounds of the world, and carries us into the realms of
marvels and prodigies. It is from them that European nations have derived
that intoxication of love, that tenderness and delicacy of sentiment, and
that reverential awe of women, by turns slaves and divinities, which have
operated so powerfully on their chivalrous feelings. We trace their
effects in all the literature of the south, which owes to this cause its
mental character. Many of these tales had separately found their way into
the poetic literature of Europe, long before the translation of the
Arabian Nights. Some are to be met with in the old _fabliaux_, in
Boccaccio, and in Ariosto, and these very tales which have charmed our
infancy, passing from nation to nation through channels frequently
unknown, are now familiar to the memory and form the delight of the
imagination of half the inhabitants of the globe.

The author of the original Arabic work is unknown, as is also the period
at which it was composed. It was first introduced into Europe from Syria,
where it was obtained, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, by
Galland, a French traveler, who was sent to the East by the celebrated
Colbert, to collect manuscripts, and by him first translated and

8. HISTORY AND SCIENCE.--As early as the eighth century A.D., history
became an important department in Arabian literature. At later periods,
historians who wrote on all subjects were numerous. Several authors wrote
universal history from the beginning of the world to their own time; every
state, province, and city possessed its individual chronicle, Many, in
imitation of Plutarch, wrote the lives of distinguished men; and there was
such a passion for every species of composition, and such a desire to
leave no subject untouched, that there was a serious history written of
celebrated horses, and another of camels that had risen to distinction.
They possessed historical dictionaries, and made use of all those
inventions which curtail labor and dispense with the necessity of
research. Every art and science had its history, and of these this nation
possessed a more complete collection than any other, either ancient or
modern. The style of the Arabian historians is simple and unadorned.

Philosophy was passionately cultivated by the Arabians, and upon it was
founded the fame of many ingenious and sagacious men, whose names are
still revered in Europe. Among them were Averrhoes of Cordova (d. 1198),
the great commentator on the works of Aristotle, and Avicenna (d. 1037), a
profound philosopher as well as a celebrated writer on medicine. Arabian
philosophy penetrated rapidly into the West, and had greater influence on
the schools of Europe than any branch of Arabic literature; and yet it was
the one in which the progress was, in fact, the least real. The Arabians,
more ingenious than profound, attached themselves rather to the subtleties
than to the connection of ideas; their object was more to dazzle than to
instruct, and they exhausted their imaginations in search of mysteries.
Aristotle was worshiped by them, as a sort of divinity. In their opinion
all philosophy was to be found in his writings, and they explained every
metaphysical question according to the scholastic standard.

The interpretation of the Koran formed another important part of their
speculative studies, and their literature abounds with exegetic works on
their sacred book, as well as with commentaries on Mohammedan law. The
learned Arabians did not confine themselves to the studies which they
could only prosecute in their closets; they undertook, for the advancement
of science, the most perilous journeys, and we owe to Aboul Feda (1273-
1331) and other Arabian travelers the best works on geography written in
the Middle Ages.

The natural sciences were cultivated by them with great ardor, and many
naturalists among them merit the gratitude of posterity. Botany and
chemistry, of which they were in some sort the inventors, gave them a
better acquaintance with nature than the Greeks or Romans ever possessed,
and the latter science was applied by them to all the necessary arts of
life. Above all, agriculture was studied by them with a perfect knowledge
of the climate, soil, and growth of plants. From the eighth to the
eleventh century, they established medical schools in the principal cities
of their dominions, and published valuable works on medical science. They
introduced more simple principles into mathematics, and extended the use
and application of that science. They added to arithmetic the decimal
system, and the Arabic numerals, which, however, are of Hindu origin; they
simplified the trigonometry of the Greeks, and gave algebra more useful
and general applications. Bagdad and Cordova had celebrated schools of
astronomy, and observatories, and their astronomers made important
discoveries; a great number of scientific words are evidently Arabic, such
as algebra, alcohol, zenith, nadir, etc., and many of the inventions,
which at the present day add to the comforts of life, are due to the
Arabians. Paper, now so necessary to the progress of intellect, was
brought by them from Asia. In China, from all antiquity, it had been
manufactured from silk, but about the year 30 of the Hegira (649 A.D.) the
manufacture of it was introduced at Samarcand, and when that city was
conquered by the Arabians, they first employed cotton in the place of
silk, and the invention spread with rapidity throughout their dominions.
The Spaniards, in fabricating paper, substituted flax for cotton, which
was more scarce and dear; but it was not till the end of the thirteenth
century that paper mills were established in the Christian states of
Spain, from whence the invention passed, in the fourteenth century only,
to Treviso and Padua. Tournaments were first instituted among the
Arabians, from whom they were introduced into Italy and France. Gunpowder,
the discovery of which is generally attributed to a German chemist, was
known to the Arabians at least a century before any trace of it appeared
in European history. The compass, also, the invention of which has been
given alternately to the Italians and French in the thirteenth century,
was known to the Arabians in the eleventh. The number of Arabic
inventions, of which we enjoy the benefit without suspecting it, is

Such, then, was the brilliant light which literature and science displayed
from the ninth to the fourteenth century of our era in those vast
countries which had submitted to the yoke of Islamism. In this immense
extent of territory, twice or thrice as large as Europe, nothing is now
found but ignorance, slavery, terror, and death. Few men are there capable
of reading the works of their illustrious ancestors, and few who could
comprehend them are able to procure them. The prodigious literary riches
of the Arabians no longer exist in any of the countries where the Arabians
or Mussulmans rule. It is not there that we must seek for the fame of
their great men or for their writings. What has been preserved is in the
hands of their enemies, in the convents of the monks, or in the royal
libraries of Europe.

9. EDUCATION.--At present there is little education, in our sense of the
word, in Arabia. In the few instances where public schools exist, writing,
grammar, and rhetoric sum up the teaching. The Bedouin children learn from
their parents much more than is common in other countries. Great attention
is paid to accuracy of grammar and purity of diction throughout the
country, and of late literary institutions have been established at
Beyrout, Damascus, Bagdad, and Hefar.

Such is the extent of Arabic literature, that, notwithstanding the labors
of European scholars and the productions of native presses, in Boulak and
Cairo, in India, and recently in England, where Hassam, an Arabian poet,
has devoted himself to the production of standard works, the greater part
of what has been preserved is still in manuscript and still more has


INTRODUCTION.--1. Italian Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Dialects.
--3. The Italian Language.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Latin Influence.--2. Early Italian Poetry and Prose.--3.
Dante.--4. Petrarch.--5. Boccaccio and other Prose Writers.--6. First
Decline of Italian Literature.

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Close of the Fifteenth Century; Lorenzo de'
Medici.--2. The Origin of the Drama and Romantic Epic; Poliziano, Pulci,
Boiardo.--3. Romantic Epic Poetry; Ariosto.--4. Heroic Epic Poetry;
Tasso.--5. Lyric Poetry; Bembo, Molza, Tarsia, V. Colonna.--6. Dramatic
Poetry; Trissino, Rucellai; the Writers of Comedy.--7. Pastoral Drama and
Didactic Poetry; Beccari, Sannazzaro, Tasso, Guarini, Rucellai, Alamanni.
--8. Satirical Poetry, Novels, and Tales; Berni, Grazzini, Firenzuola,
Bandello, and others.--9. History; Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Nardi, and
others.--10. Grammar and Rhetoric; the Academy della Crusca, Della Casa,
Speroni, and others.--11. Science, Philosophy, and Politics; the Academy
del Cimento, Galileo, Torricelli, Borelli, Patrizi, Telesio, Campanella,
Bruno, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and others.--12. Decline of the
Literature in the Seventeenth Century.--13. Epic and Lyric Poetry; Marini,
Filicaja.--14. Mock Heroic Poetry, the Drama, and Satire; Tassoni,
Bracciolini, Andreini, and others.--15. History and Epistolary Writings;
Davila, Bentivoglio, Sarpi, Redi.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. Historical Development of the Third Period.--2. The
Melodrama; Rinuccini, Zeno, Metastasio.--3. Comedy; Goldoni, C. Gozzi, and
others.--4. Tragedy; Maffei, Alfieri, Monti, Manzoni, Nicolini, and
others.--5. Lyric, Epic, and Didactic Poetry; Parini, Monti, Ugo Foscolo,
Leopardi, Grossi, Lorenzi, and others.--6. Heroic-Comic Poetry, Satire,
and Fable; Fortiguerri, Passeroni, G. Gozzi, Parini, Giusti, and others.
--7. Romances; Verri, Manzoni, D'Azeglio, Cantù, Guerrazzi, and others.
--8. History; Muratori, Vico, Giannone, Botta, Colletta, Tiraboschi, and
others.--9. Aesthetics, Criticism, Philology, and Philosophy; Baretti,
Parini, Giordani, Gioja, Romagnosi, Gallupi, Rosmini, Gioberti.--From 1860
to 1885.


1. ITALIAN LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--The fall of the Western Empire,
the invasions of the northern tribes, and the subsequent wars and
calamities, did not entirely extinguish the fire of genius in Italy. As we
have seen, the Crusades had opened the East and revealed to Europe its
literary and artistic treasures; the Arabs had established a celebrated
school of medicine in Salerno, and had made known the ancient classics; a
school of jurisprudence was opened in Bologna, where Roman law was
expounded by eminent lecturers; and the spirit of chivalry, while it
softened and refined human character, awoke the desire of distinction in
arms and poetry. The origin of the Italian republics, giving scope to
individual agency, marked another era in civilization; while the
appearance of the Italian language quickened the national mind and led to
a new literature. The spirit of freedom, awakened as early as the eleventh
century, received new life in the twelfth, when the Lombard cities,
becoming independent, formed a powerful league against Frederick
Barbarossa. The instinct of self-defense thus developed increased the
necessity of education. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
Italian literature acquired its national character and rose to its highest
splendor, through the writings of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, whose
influence has been more or less felt in succeeding centuries.

The literary history of Italy may be divided into three periods, each of
which presents two distinct phases, one of progress and one of decline.
The first period, extending from 1100 to 1475, embraces the origin of the
literature, its development through the works of Dante, Petrarch, and
Boccaccio, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and its first
decline in the fifteenth, when it was supplanted by the absorbing study of
the Greek and Latin classics.

The second period, commencing 1475, embraces the age of Lorenzo de' Medici
and Leo X., when literature began to revive; the age of Ariosto, Tasso,
Machiavelli, and Galileo, when it reached its meridian splendor; its
subsequent decline, through the school of Marini; and its last revival
towards the close of the seventeenth century.

The third period, extending from the close of the seventeenth century to
the present time, includes the development of Italian literature, its
decline under French influence, and its subsequent national tendency,
through the writings of Metastasio, Goldoni, Alfieri, Parini, Monti,
Manzoni, and Leopardi.

2. THE DIALECTS.--The dialects of the ancient tribes inhabiting the
peninsula early came in contact with the rustic Latin, and were moulded
into new tongues, which, at a later period, were again modified by the
influence of the barbarians who successively invaded the country. These
tongues, elaborated by the action of centuries, are still in use,
especially with the lower classes, and many of them have a literature of
their own, with grammars and dictionaries. The more important of these
dialects are divided into three groups: 1st. The Northern, including the
Ligurian, Piedmontese, Lombard, Venetian, and Emilian. 2d. The Central,
containing the Tuscan, Umbrian, the dialects of the Marches and of the
Roman Provinces. 3d. The Southern, embracing those of the Neapolitan
provinces and of Sicily. Each is distinguished from the other and from the
true Italian, although they all rest on a common basis, the rustic Latin,
the plebeian tongue of the Romans, as distinct from the official and
literary tongue.

3. THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE.--The Tuscan or Florentine dialect, which early
became the literary language of Italy, was the result of the natural
development of the popular Latin and a native dialect probably akin to the
rustic Roman idiom. Tuscany suffering comparatively little from foreign
invasion, the language lost none of its purity, and remained free from
heterogeneous elements. The great writers, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio,
who appeared so early, promoted its perfection, secured its prevailing
influence, and gave it a national character. Hence, in the literature
there is no old Italian as distinct from the modern; the language of Dante
continues to be that of modern writers, and becomes more perfect the more
it approaches the standard fixed by the great masters of the fourteenth
century. Of this language it may he said that for flexibility,
copiousness, freedom of construction, and harmony and beauty of sound, it
is the most perfect of all the idioms of the Neo-Latin or Romanic tongues.



1. LATIN INFLUENCE.--During the early part of the Middle Ages Latin was
the literary language of Italy, and the aim of the best writers of the
time was to restore Roman culture. The Gothic kingdom of Ravenna,
established by Theodoric, was the centre of this movement, under the
influence of Cassiodorus, Boethius, and Symmachus. It was due to the
prevailing affection for the memories of Rome, that through all the Dark
Ages the Italian mind kept alive a spirit of freedom unknown in other
countries of Europe, a spirit active, later, in the establishment of the
Italian republics, and showing itself in the heroic resistance of the
communes of Lombardy to the empire of the Hohenstaufens. While the
literatures of other countries were drawn almost exclusively from sacred
and chivalric legends, the Italians devoted themselves to the study of
Roman law and history, to translations from the philosophers of Greece,
and, above all, to the establishment of those great universities which
were so powerful in extending science and culture throughout the

While the Latin language was used in prose, the poets wrote in Provençal
and in French, and many Italian troubadours appeared at the courts of

2. EARLY ITALIAN POETRY AND PROSE.--The French element became gradually
lessened, and towards the close of the thirteenth century there arose the
Tuscan school of lyric poetry, the true beginning of Italian art, of which
Lapo Gianni, Guido Cavalcanti, Cino da Pistoia, and Dante Alighieri were
the masters. It is mainly inspired by love, and takes a popular courtly or
scholastic form. The style of Gianni had many of the faults of his
predecessors. That of Cavalcanti, the friend and precursor of Dante,
showed a tendency to stifle poetic imagery under the dead weight of
philosophy. But the love poems of Cino are so mellow, so sweet, so
musical, that they are only surpassed by those of Dante, who, as the
author of the "Vita Nuova," belongs to this lyric school. In this book he
tells the story of his love for Beatrice, which was from the first a high
idealization in which there was apparently nothing human or earthly.
Everything is super-sensual, aerial, heavenly, and the real Beatrice melts
more and more into the symbolic, passing out of her human nature into the

Italian prose writing is of a later date, and also succeeded a period when
Italian authors wrote in Latin and French. It consists chiefly of
chronicles, tales, and translations.

3. DANTE (1265-1331).--No poet had yet arisen gifted with absolute power
over the empire of the soul; no philosopher had pierced into the depths of
feeling and of thought, when Dante, the greatest name of Italy and the
father of Italian literature, appeared in the might of his genius, and
availing himself of the rude and imperfect materials within his reach,
constructed his magnificent work. Dante was born in Florence, of the noble
family of Alighieri, which was attached to the papal, or Guelph party, in
opposition to the imperial, or Ghibelline. He was but a child when death
deprived him of his father; but his mother took the greatest pains with
his education, placing him under the tuition of Brunetto Latini, and other
masters of eminence. He early made great progress, not only in an
acquaintance with classical literature and politics, but in music,
drawing, horsemanship, and other accomplishments suitable to his station.
As he grew up, he pursued his studies in the universities of Padua,
Bologna, and Paris. He became an accomplished scholar, and at the same
time appeared in public as a gallant and high-bred man of the world. At
the age of twenty-five, he took arms on the side of the Florentine
Guelphs, and distinguished himself in two battles against the Ghibellines
of Arezzo and Pisa. But before Dante was either a student or a soldier, he
had become a lover; and this character, above all others, was impressed
upon him for life. At a May-day festival, when only nine years of age, he
had singled out a girl of his own age, by the name of Bice, or Beatrice,
who thenceforward became the object of his constant and passionate
affection, or the symbol of all human wisdom and perfection. Before his
twenty-fifth year she was separated from him by death, but his passion was
refined, not extinguished by this event; not buried with her body but
translated with her soul, which was its object. On the other hand, the
affection of Beatrice for the poet troubled her spirit amid the bliss of
Paradise, and the visions of the eternal world with which he was favored
were a device of hers for reclaiming him from sin, and preparing him for
everlasting companionship with herself.

At the age of thirty-five he was elected prior, or supreme magistrate of
Florence, an honor from which he dates all his subsequent misfortunes.
During his priorship, the citizens were divided into two factions called
the Neri and Bianchi, as bitterly opposed to each other as both had been
to the Ghibellines. In the absence of Dante on an embassy to Rome, a
pretext was found by the Neri, his opponents, for exciting the populace
against him. His dwelling was demolished, his property confiscated,
himself and his friends condemned to perpetual exile, with the provision
that, if taken, they should be burned alive. After a fruitless attempt, by
himself and his party, to surprise Florence, he quitted his companions in
disgust, and passed the remainder of his life in wandering from one court
of Italy to another, eating the bitter bread of dependence, which was
granted him often as an alms. The greater part of his poem was composed
during this period; but it appears that till the end of his life he
continued to retouch the work.

The last and most generous patron of Dante was Guido di Polenta, lord of
Ravenna, and father of Francesca da Rimini, whose fatal love forms one of
the most beautiful episodes of this poem. Polenta treated him, not as a
dependent but as an honored guest, and in a dispute with the Republic of
Venice he employed the poet as his ambassador, to effect a reconciliation;
but he was refused even an audience, and, returning disappointed and
broken-hearted to Ravenna, he died soon after at the age of fifty-six,
having been in exile nineteen years.

His fellow-citizens, who had closed their hearts and their gates against
him while living, now deeply bewailed his death; and, during the two
succeeding centuries, embassy after embassy was vainly sent from Florence
to recover his honored remains. Not long after his death, those who had
exiled him and confiscated his property provided that his poem should be
read and expounded to the people in a church. Boccaccio was appointed to
this professorship. Before the end of the sixteenth century, the "Divine
Comedy" had gone through sixty editions.

The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest monuments of human genius. It is
an allegory conceived in the form of a vision, which was the most popular
style of poetry at that age. At the close of the year 1300 Dante
represents himself as lost in a forest at the foot of a hill, near
Jerusalem. He wishes to ascend it, but is prevented by a panther, a lion,
and a she-wolf which beset the way. He is met by Virgil, who tells him
that he is sent by Beatrice as a guide through the realm of shadows, hell,
and purgatory, and that she will afterwards lead him up to heaven. They
pass the gates of hell, and penetrate into the dismal region beyond. This,
as represented by Dante, consists of nine circles, forming an inverted
cone, of the size of the earth, each succeeding circle being lower and
narrower than the former, while Lucifer is chained in the centre and at
the bottom of the dreadful crater. Each circle contains various cavities,
where the punishments vary in proportion to the guilt, and the suffering
increases in intensity as the circles descend and contract. In the first
circle were neither cries nor tears, but the eternal sighs of those who,
having never received Christian baptism, were, according to the poet's
creed, forever excluded from the abodes of bliss. In the next circle,
appropriated to those whose souls had been lost by the indulgence of
guilty love, the poet recognizes the unhappy Francesca da Rimini, whose
history forms one of the most beautiful episodes of the poem. The third
circle includes gluttons; the fourth misers and spendthrifts; each
succeeding circle embracing what the poet deems a deeper shade of guilt,
and inflicting appropriate punishment. The Christian and heathen systems
of theology are here freely interwoven. We have Minos visiting the Stygian
Lake, where heretics are burning; we meet Cerberus and the harpies, and we
accompany the poet across several of the fabulous rivers of Erebus. A
fearful scene appears in the deepest circle of the infernal abodes. Here,
among those who have betrayed their country, and are entombed in eternal
ice, is Count Ugolino, who, by a series of treasons, had made himself
master of Pisa. He is gnawing with savage ferocity the skull of the
archbishop of that state, who had condemned him and his children to die by
starvation. The arch-traitor, Satan, stands fixed in the centre of hell
and of the earth. All the streams of guilt keep flowing back to him as
their source, and from beneath his threefold visage issue six gigantic
wings with which he vainly struggles to raise himself, and thus produces
winds which freeze him more firmly in the marsh.

After leaving the infernal regions, and entering purgatory, they find an
immense cone divided into seven circles, each of which is devoted to the
expiation of one of the seven mortal sins. The proud are overwhelmed with
enormous weights; the envious are clothed in garments of horse-hair, their
eye-lids closed; the choleric are suffocated with smoke; the indolent are
compelled to run about continually; the avaricious are prostrated upon the
earth; epicures are afflicted with hunger and thirst; and the incontinent
expiate their crimes in fire. In this portion of the work, however, while
there is much to admire, there is less to excite and sustain the interest.
On the summit of the purgatorial mountain is the terrestrial paradise,
whence is the only assent to the celestial. Beatrice, the object of his
early and constant affection, descends hither to meet the poet. Virgil
disappears, and she becomes his only guide. She conducts him through the
nine heavens, and makes him acquainted with the great men who, by their
virtuous lives, have deserved the highest enjoyments of eternity. In the
ninth celestial sphere, Dante is favored with a manifestation of divinity,
veiled, however, by three hierarchies of attending angels. He sees the
Virgin Mary, and the saints of the Old and New Testament, and by these
personages, and by Beatrice, all his doubts and difficulties are finally
solved, and the conclusion leaves him absorbed in the beatific vision.

The allegorical meaning of the poem is hidden under the literal one.
Dante, traveling through the invisible world, is a symbol of mankind
aiming at the double object of temporal and eternal happiness. The forest
typifies the civil and religious confusion of society deprived of its two
judges, the pope and the emperor. The three beasts are the powers which
offered the greatest obstacles to Dante's designs, Florence, France, and
the papal court. Virgil represents reason and the empire, and Beatrice
symbolizes the supernatural aid, without which man cannot attain the
supreme end, which is God.

But the merit of the poem is that for the first time classic art is
transferred into a Romance form. Dante is, above all, a great artist.
Whether he describes nature, analyzes passions, curses the vices, or sings
hymns to the virtues, he is always wonderful for the grandeur and delicacy
of his art. He took his materials from mythology, history, and philosophy,
but more especially from his own passions of hatred and love, breathed
into them the breath of genius and produced the greatest work of modern

The personal interest that he brings to bear on the historical
representation of the three worlds is that which most interests and stirs
us. The Divine Comedy is not only the most lifelike drama of the thoughts
and feelings that moved men at that time, but it is also the most
spontaneous and clear reflection of the individual feelings of the poet,
who remakes history after his own passions, and who is the real chastiser
of the sins and rewarder of the virtues. He defined the destiny of Italian
literature in the Middle Ages, and began the great era of the Renaissance.

4. PETRARCH.--Petrarch (1304-1374) belonged to a respected Florentine
family. His father was the personal friend of Dante, and a partaker of the
same exile. While at Avignon, then the seat of the papal court, on one
occasion he made an excursion to the fountain of Vaucluse, taking with him
his son, the future poet, then in the tenth year of his age. The wild and
solitary aspect of the place inspired the boy with an enthusiasm beyond
his years, leaving an impression which was never afterwards effaced, and
which affected his future life and writings. As Petrarch grew up, unlike
the haughty, taciturn, and sarcastic Dante, he seems to have made friends
wherever he went. With splendid talents, engaging manners, a handsome
person, and an affectionate and generous disposition, he became the
darling of his age, a man whom princes delighted to honor. At the age of
twenty-three, he first met Laura de Sade in a church at Avignon. She was
only twenty years of age, and had been for three years the wife of a
patrician of that city. Laura was not more distinguished for her beauty
and fortune than for the unsullied purity of her manners in a licentious
court, where she was one of the chief ornaments. The sight of her beauty
inspired the young poet with an affection which was as pure and virtuous
as it was tender and passionate. He poured forth in song the fervor of his
love and the bitterness of his grief. Upwards of three hundred sonnets,
written at various times, commemorate all the little circumstances of this
attachment, and describe the favors which, during an acquaintance of
fifteen or twenty years, never exceeded a kind word, a look less severe
than usual, or a passing expression of regret at parting. He was not
permitted to visit at Laura's house; he had no opportunity of seeing her
except at mass, at the brilliant levees of the pope, or in private
assemblies of beauty and fashion: but she forever remained the dominant
object of his existence. He purchased a house at Vaucluse, and there, shut
in by lofty and craggy heights, the river Sorgue traversing the valley on
one side, amidst hills clothed with umbrageous trees, cheered only by the
song of birds, the poet passed his lonely days. Again and again he made
tours through Italy, Spain, and Flanders, during one of which he was
crowned with the poet's laurel at Rome, but he always returned to
Vaucluse, to Avignon, to Laura. Thus years passed away. Laura became the
mother of a numerous family, and time and care made havoc of her youthful
beauty. Meanwhile, the sonnets of Petrarch had spread her fame throughout
France and Italy, and attracted many to the court of Avignon, who were
surprised and disappointed at the sight of her whom they had believed to
be the loveliest of mortals. In 1347, during the absence of the poet from
Avignon, Laura fell a victim to the plague, just twenty-one years from the
day that Petrarch first met her. Now all his love was deepened and
consecrated, and the effusions of his poetic genius became more
melancholy, more passionate, and more beautiful than ever. He declined the
offices and honors that his countrymen offered him, and passed his life in
retirement. He was found one morning by his attendants dead in his
library, his head resting on a book.

The celebrity of Petrarch at the present day depends chiefly on his
lyrical poems, which served as models to all the distinguished poets of
southern Europe. They are restricted to two forms: the sonnet, borrowed
from the Sicilians, and the canzone, from the Provençals. The subject of
almost all these poems is the same--the hopeless affection of the poet for
the high-minded Laura. This love was a kind of religious and enthusiastic
passion, such as mystics imagine they feel towards the Deity, or such as
Plato believes to be the bond of union between elevated minds. There is no
poet in any language more perfectly pure than Petrarch--more completely
above all reproach of laxity or immorality. This merit, which is equally
due to the poet and to his Laura, is the more remarkable, considering the
models which he followed and the court at which Laura lived. The labor of
Petrarch in polishing his poems did much towards perfecting the language,
which through him became more elegant and more melodious. He introduced
into the lyric poetry of Italy the pathos and the touching sweetness of
Ovid and Tibullus, as well as the simplicity of Anacreon.

Petrarch attached little value to his Italian poems; it was on his Latin
works that he founded his hopes of renown. But his highest title to
immortal fame is his prodigious labor to promote the study of ancient
authors. Wherever he traveled, he sought with the utmost avidity for
classic manuscripts, and it is difficult to estimate the effect produced
by his enthusiasm. He corresponded with all the eminent literati of his
day, and inspired them with his own tastes. Now for the first time there
appeared a kind of literary republic in Europe united by the magic bond of
Petrarch's influence, and he was better known and exercised a more
extensive and powerful influence than many of the sovereigns of the day.
He treated with various princes rather in the character of an arbitrator
than an ambassador, and he not only directed the tastes of his own age,
but he determined those of succeeding generations.

5. BOCCACCIO AND OTHER PROSE WRITERS.--The fourteenth century forms a
brilliant era in Italian literature, distinguished beyond any other period
for the creative powers of genius which it exhibited. In this century,
Dante gave to Europe his great epic poem, the lyric muse awoke at the call
of Petrarch, while Boccaccio created a style of prose, harmonious,
flexible, and engaging, and alike suitable to the most elevated and to the
most playful subjects.

Boccaccio (1313-1875) was the son of a Florentine merchant; he early gave
evidence of superior talents, and his father vainly attempted to educate
him to follow his own profession. He resided at Naples, where he became
acquainted with a lady celebrated in his writings under the name of
Fiammetta. It was at her desire that most of his early pieces were
written, and the very exceptionable moral character which attaches to them
must be attributed, in part, to her depraved tastes. The source of
Boccaccio's highest reputation, and that which entitles him to rank as the
third founder of the national literature, is his "Decameron," a collection
of tales written during the period when the plague desolated the south of
Europe, with a view to amuse the ladies of the court during that dreadful
visitation. The tales are united under the supposition of a party of ten
who had retired to one of the villas in the environs of Naples to strive,
in the enjoyment of innocent amusement, to escape the danger of contagion.
It was agreed that each person should tell a new story during the space of
ten days, whence the title Decameron. The description of the plague, in
the introduction, is considered not only the finest piece of writing from
Boccaccio's pen, but one of the best historical descriptions that have
descended to us. The stories, a hundred in number, are varied with
considerable art, both in subject and in style, from the most pathetic and
sportive to the most licentious. The great merit of Boccaccio's
composition consists in his easy elegance, his _naïveté_, and, above all,
in the correctness of his language.

The groundwork of the Decameron has been traced to an old Hindu romance,
which, after passing through all the languages of the East, was translated
into Latin as early as the twelfth century; the originals of several of
these tales have been found in the ancient French _Fabliaux_, while others
are believed to have been borrowed from popular recitation or from real
occurrences. But if Boccaccio cannot boast of being the inventor of all,
or even any of these tales, he is still the father of this class of modern
Italian literature, since he was the first to transplant into the world of
letters what had hitherto been only the subject of social mirth. These
tales have in their turn been repeated anew in almost every language of
Europe, and have afforded reputations to numerous imitators. One of the
most beautiful and unexceptionable tales in the Decameron is that of
"Griselda," the last in the collection. It is to be regretted that the
author did not prescribe to himself the same purity in his images that he
did in his phraseology. Many of these tales are not only immoral but
grossly indecent, though but too faithful a representation of the manners
of the age in which they were written. The Decameron was published towards
the middle of the fourteenth century; and, from the first invention of
printing, it was freely circulated in Italy, until the Council of Trent
proscribed it in the middle of the sixteenth century. It was, however,
again published in 1570, purified and abridged.

Boccaccio is the author of two romances, one called "Fiammetta," the other
the "Filocopo;" the former distinguished for the fervor of its expression,
the latter for the variety of its adventures and incidents. He wrote also
two romantic poems, in which he first introduced the _ottava rima_, or the
stanza composed of six lines, which rhyme interchangeably with each other,
and are followed by a couplet. In these he strove to revive ancient
mythology, and to identify it with modern literature. His Latin
compositions are voluminous, and materially contributed to the advancement
of letters.

While Boccaccio labored so successfully to reduce the language to elegant
and harmonious forms, he strove like Petrarch to excite his contemporaries
to the study of the ancient classics. He induced the senate of Florence to
establish a professorship of Greek, entered his name among the first of
the students, and procured manuscripts at his own expense. Thus Hellenic
literature was introduced into Tuscany, and thence into the rest of

Boccaccio, late in life, assumed the ecclesiastical habit, and entered on
the study of theology. When the Florentines founded a professorship for
the reading and exposition of the Divine Comedy, Boccaccio was made the
first incumbent. The result of his labors was a life of Dante, and a
commentary on the first seventeen cantos of the Inferno. With the death of
Petrarch, who had been his most intimate friend, his last tie to earth was
loosed; he died at Certaldo a few months later, in the sixty-third year of
his age. His dwelling is still to be seen, situated on a hill, and looking
down on the fertile and beautiful valley watered by the river Elsa.

Of the other prose writers of the fourteenth century the most remarkable
are the three Florentine historians named Villani, the eldest of whom
(1310-1348) wrote a history of Florence, which was continued afterwards by
his brother and by his nephew; a work highly esteemed for its historical
interest, and for its purity of language and style; and Franco Sacchetti
(1335-1400), who approaches nearest to Boccaccio. His "Novels and Tales"
are valuable for the purity and eloquence of their style, and for the
picture they afford of the manners of his age.

Among the ascetic writers of this age St. Catherine of Siena occupies an
important place, as one who aided in preparing the way for the great
religious movement of the sixteenth century. The writings of this
extraordinary woman, who strove to bring back the Church of Rome to
evangelical virtue, are the strongest, clearest, most exalted religious
utterance that made itself heard in Italy in the fourteenth century.

6. THE FIRST DECLINE OF ITALIAN LITERATURE.--The passionate study of the
ancients, of which Petrarch and Boccaccio had given an example, suspended
the progress of Italian literature in the latter part of the fourteenth
century, and through almost all the fifteenth. The attention of the
literary men of this time was wholly engrossed by the study of the dead
languages, and of manners, customs, and religious systems equally extinct.
They present to our observation boundless erudition, a just spirit of
criticism, and nice sensibility to the beauties and defects of the great
authors of antiquity; but we look in vain for that true eloquence which is
more the fruit of an intercourse with the world than of a knowledge of
books. They were still more unsuccessful in poetry, in which their
attempts, all in Latin, are few in number, and their verses harsh and
heavy, without originality or vigor. It was not until the period when
Italian poetry began to be again cultivated, that Latin verse acquired any
of the characteristics of genuine inspiration.

But towards the close of the fifteenth century the dawn of a new literary
era appeared, which soon shone with meridian light. At this time, the
universities had become more and more the subjects of attention to the
governments; the appointment of eminent professors, and the privileges
connected with these institutions, attracted to them large numbers of
students, and the concourse was often so great that the lectures were
delivered in the churches and in public squares. Those republics which
still existed, and the princes who had risen on the ruins of the more
ephemeral ones, rivaled each other in their patronage of literary men; the
popes, who in the preceding ages had denounced all secular learning, now
became its munificent patrons; and two of them, Nicholas V. and Pius II.,
were themselves scholars of high distinction. The Dukes of Milan, and the
Marquises of Mantua and Ferrara, surrounded themselves in their capitals
with men illustrious in science and letters, and seemed to vie with each
other in the favors which they lavished upon them. In the hitherto free
republic of Florence, which had given birth to Dante, Petrarch, and
Boccaccio, literature found support in a family which, at no distant
period, employed it to augment their power, and to rule the city with an
almost despotic sway. The Medici had been long distinguished for the
wealth they had acquired by commercial enterprise, and for the high
offices which they held in the republic. Cosmo de' Medici had acquired a
degree of power which shook the very foundations of the state. He was
master of the moneyed credit of Europe, and almost the equal of the kings
with whom he negotiated; but in the midst of the projects of his ambition
he opened his palace as an asylum to the scholars and artists of the age,
turned its gardens into an academy, and effected a revolution in
philosophy by setting up the authority of Plato against that of Aristotle.
His banks, which were scattered over Europe, were placed at the service of
literature as well as commerce. His agents abroad sold spices and bought
manuscripts; the vessels which returned to him from Constantinople,
Alexandria, and Smyrna were often laden with volumes in the Greek, Syriac,
and Chaldaic languages. Being banished to Venice, he continued his
protection of letters, and on his return to Florence he devoted himself
more than ever to the cause of literature. In the south of Italy, Alphonso
V., and, indeed, all the sovereigns of that age, pursued the same course,
and chose for their chancellors and ambassadors the same scholars who
educated their sons and expounded the classics in their literary circles.

This patronage, however, was confined to the progress of ancient letters,
while the native literature, instead of redeeming the promise of its
infancy, remained at this time mute and inglorious. Yet the resources of
poets and orators were multiplying a thousand fold. The exalted
characters, the austere laws, the energetic virtues, the graceful
mythology, the thrilling eloquence of antiquity, were annihilating the
puerilities of the old Italian rhymes, and creating purer and nobler
tastes. The clay which was destined for the formation of great men was
undergoing a new process; a fresh mould was cast, the forms at first
appeared lifeless, but ere the end of the fifteenth century the breath of
genius entered into them, and a new era of life began.



1. THE CLOSE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.--The first man who contributed to
the restoration of Italian poetry was Lorenzo de' Medici (1448-1492), the
grandson of Cosmo. In the brilliant society that he gathered around him, a
new era was opened in Italian literature. Himself a poet, he attempted to
restore poetry to the condition in which Petrarch had left it; although
superior in some respects to that poet, he had less power of
versification, less sweetness, and harmony, but his ideas were more
natural, and his style was more simple. He attempted all kinds of poetical
composition, and in all he displayed the versatility of his talents and
the exuberance of his imagination. But to Lorenzo poetry was but an
amusement, scarcely regarded in his brilliant political career. He
concentrated in himself all the power of the republic--he was the arbiter
of the whole political state of Italy, and from the splendor with which he
surrounded himself, and his celebrity, he received the title of Lorenzo
the Magnificent. He continued to collect manuscripts, and to employ
learned men to prepare them for printing. His Platonic Academy extended
its researches into new paths of study. The collection of antique
sculpture, the germ of the gallery of Florence, which had been established
by Cosmo, he enriched, and gave to it a new destination, which was the
occasion of imparting fresh life and vigor to the liberal arts. He
appropriated a part of his gardens to serve as a school for the study of
the antique, and placed his statues, busts, and other models of art in the
shrubberies, terraces, and buildings. Young men were liberally paid for
the copies which they made while pursuing their studies. It was this
institution that kindled the flame of genius in the breast of Michael
Angelo, and to it must be attributed the splendor which was shed by the
fine arts over the close of the fifteenth century, and which extended
rapidly from Florence throughout Italy, and over a great part of Europe.
Among the friends of Lorenzo may be mentioned Pico della Mirandola (1463-
1494), one of the most prominent men of his age, who left in his Latin and
Italian works monuments of his vast erudition and exuberant talent.

The fifteenth century closed brightly on Florence, but it was otherwise
throughout Italy. Some of its princes still patronized the sciences, but
most of them were engaged in the intrigues of ambition; and the storms
which were gathering soon burst on Florence itself. Shortly after the
death of Lorenzo, nearly the whole of Italy fell under the rule of Charles
VIII., and the voice of science and literature was drowned in the clash of
arms; military violence dispersed the learned men, and pillage destroyed
or scattered the literary treasures. Literature and the arts, banished
from their long-loved home, sought another asylum. We find them again at
Rome, cherished by a more powerful and fortunate protector, Pope Leo X.,
the son of Lorenzo (1475-1521). Though his patronage was confined to the
fine arts and to the lighter kinds of composition, yet owing to the
influence of the newly-invented art of printing, the discovery of
Columbus, and the Reformation, new energies were imparted to the age, the
Italian mind was awakened from its slumber, and prepared for a new era in

individuals in the circle of Lorenzo, the highest rank may be assigned to
Poliziano (1454-1494). He revived on the modern stage the tragedies of the
ancients, or rather created a new kind of pastoral tragedy, on which Tasso
did not disdain to employ his genius. His "Orpheus," composed within ten
days, was performed at the Mantuan court in 1483, and may be considered as
the first dramatic composition in Italian. The universal homage paid to
Virgil had a decided influence on this kind of poetry. His Bucolics were
looked upon as dramas more poetical than those of Terence and Seneca. The
comedies of Plautus were represented, and the taste for theatrical
performances was eagerly renewed. In these representations, however, the
object in view was the restoration of the classics rather than the
amusement of the public; and the new dramatists confined themselves to a
faithful copy of the ancients. But the Orpheus of Poliziano caused a
revolution. The beauty of the verse, the charm of the music, and the
decorations which accompanied its recital, produced an excitement of
feeling and intellect that combined to open the way for the true dramatic

At the same time, several eminent poets devoted their attention to that
style of composition which was destined to form the glory of Ariosto. The
trouvères chose Charlemagne and his paladins as the heroes of their poems
and romances, and these, composed for the most part in French in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were early circulated in Italy. Their
origin accorded with the vivacity of the prevailing religious sentiment,
the violence of the passions and the taste for adventures which
distinguished the first crusades; while from the general ignorance of the
times, their supernatural agency was readily admitted. But at the close of
the fifteenth century, when the poets possessed themselves of these old
romances, in order to give a variety to the adventures of their heroes,
the belief in the marvelous was much diminished, and they could not be
recounted without a mixture of mockery. The spirit of the age did not
admit in the Italian language a subject entirely serious. He who made
pretensions to fame was compelled to write in Latin, and the choice of the
vulgar tongue was the indication of a humorous subject. The language had
developed since the time of Boccaccio a character of _naïveté_ mingled
with satire, which still remains, and which is particularly remarkable in

The "Morgante Maggiore" of Pulci (1431-1470) is the first of these
romantic poems. It is alternately burlesque and serious, and it abounds
with passages of great pathos and beauty. The "Orlando Innamorato" of
Boiardo (1430-1494) is a poem somewhat similar to that of Pulci. It was,
however, remodeled by Berni, sixty years after the death of the author,
and from the variety and novelty of the adventures, the richness of its
descriptions, the interest excited by its hero, and the honor rendered to
the female sex, it excels the Morgante.

3. ROMANTIC EPIC POETRY.--The romances of chivalry, which had been thus
versified by Pulci and Boiardo, were elevated to the rank of epic poetry
by the genius of Ariosto (1474-1533). He was born at Reggio, of which
place his father was governor. As the means of improving his resources, he
early attached himself to the service of Cardinal D'Este, and afterwards
to that of the Duke of Ferrara. At the age of thirty years he commenced
his "Orlando Furioso," and continued the composition for eleven years.
While the work was in progress, he was in the habit of reading the cantos,
as they were finished, at the courts of the cardinal and duke, which may
account for the manner in which this hundred-fold tale is told, as if
delivered spontaneously before scholars and princes, who assembled to
listen to the marvelous adventures of knights and ladies, giants and
magicians, from the lips of the story-teller. Ariosto excelled in the
practice of reading aloud with distinct utterance and animated elocution,
an accomplishment of peculiar value at a time when books were scarce, and
the emoluments of authors depended more on the gratuities of their patrons
than the sale of their works. In each of the four editions which he
published, he improved, corrected, and enlarged the original. No poet,
perhaps, ever evinced more fastidious taste in adjusting the nicer points
that affected the harmony, dignity, and fluency of his composition, yet
the whole seems as natural as if it had flowed extemporaneously from his
pen. Throughout life it was the lot of Ariosto to struggle against the
difficulties inseparable from narrow and precarious circumstances. His
patrons, among them Leo X., were often culpable in exciting expectations,
and afterwards disappointing them. The earliest and latest works of
Ariosto, though not his best, were dramatic. He wrote also some satires in
the form of epistles. He died in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and his
ashes now rest under the magnificent monument in the new church of the
Benedictines in Ferrara. The house in which the poet lived, the chair in
which he was wont to study, and the inkstand whence he filled his pen, are
still shown as interesting memorials of his life and labors.

Ariosto, like Pulci and Boiardo, undertook to sing the paladins and their
amours at the court of Charlemagne, during the fabulous wars of this
emperor against the Moors. In his poem he seems to have designedly thrown
off the embarrassment of a unity of action. The Orlando Furioso is founded
on three principal narratives, distinct but often intermingled; the
history of the war between Charlemagne and the Saracens, Orlando's love
for Angelica, his madness on hearing of her infidelity, and Ruggiero's
attachment to Bradamante. These stories are interwoven with so many
incidents and episodes, and there is in the poem such a prodigious
quantity of action, that it is difficult to assign it a central point.
Indeed, Ariosto, playing with his readers, seems to delight in continually
misleading them, and allows them no opportunity of viewing the general
subject of the poem. This want of unity is essentially detrimental to the
general impression of the work, and the author has succeeded in throwing
around its individual parts an interest which does not attach to it as a
whole. The world to which the poet transports his readers is truly poetic;
all the factitious wants of common life, its cold calculations and its
imaginary distinctions, disappear; love and honor reign supreme, and the
prompting of the one and the laws of the other are alone permitted to
stimulate and regulate a life, of which war is the only business and
gallantry the only pastime. The magic and sorcery, borrowed from the East,
which pervade these chivalric fictions, lead us still farther from the
world of realities. Nor is it the least charm that all the wonders and
prodigies here related are made to appear quite probable from the
apparently artless, truthful style of the narration. The versification of
the Orlando is more distinguished for sweetness and elegance than for
strength; but, in point of harmony, and in the beauty, pathos, and grace
of his descriptions, no poet surpasses Ariosto.

4. HEROIC EPIC POETRY.--While, in the romantic epic of the Middle Ages,
unity of design was considered unnecessary, and truthfulness of detail,
fertility of imagination, strength of coloring, and vivacity of narration
were alone required, heroic poetry was expected to exhibit, on the most
extensive scale, those laws of symmetry which adapt all the parts to one
object, which combine variety with unity, and, as it were, initiate us
into the secrets of creation, by disclosing the single idea which governs
the most dissimilar actions, and harmonizes the most opposite interests.
It was reserved to Torquato Tasso to raise the Italian language to this
kind of epic poetry.

Tasso (1544-1595) was born in Sorrento, and many marvels are told by his
biographers of the precocity of his genius. Political convulsions early
drove his father into exile. He went to Rome and sent for his son, then
ten years of age. When the exiles were no longer safe at Rome, an asylum
was offered them at Pesaro by the Duke of Urbino. Here young Tasso pursued
his studies in all the learning and accomplishments of the age. In his
seventeenth year he had completed the composition of an epic poem on the
adventures of Rinaldo, which was received with passionate admiration
throughout Italy. The appearance of this poem proved not only the
beginning of the author's fame, but the dawn of a new day in Italian
literature. In 1565, Tasso was nominated by the Cardinal D'Este as
gentleman of his household, and his reception at the court was in every
respect most pleasing to his youthful ambition. He was honored by the
intimate acquaintance of the accomplished princesses Lucretia and Leonora,
and to this dangerous friendship must be attributed most of his subsequent
misfortunes, if it be true that he cherished a secret attachment for

During this prosperous period of his life, Tasso prosecuted his great epic
poem, the "Jerusalem Delivered," and as canto after canto was completed
and recited to the princesses, he found in their applause repeated
stimulus to proceed. While steadily engaged in his great work, his fancy
gave birth to numerous fugitive poems, the most remarkable of which is the
"Aminta." After its representation at the court of Ferrara, all Italy
resounded with the poet's fame. It was translated into all the languages
of Europe, and the name of Tasso would have been immortal even though he
had never composed an epic. The various vexations he endured regarding the
publication of his work at its conclusion, the wrongs he suffered from
both patrons and rivals, together with disappointed ambition, rendered him
the subject of feverish anxiety and afterwards the prey of restless fear
and continual suspicion. His mental malady increased, and he wandered from
place to place without finding any permanent home. Assuming the disguise
of a shepherd, he traveled to Sorrento, to visit his sister; but soon,
tired of seclusion, he obtained permission to return to the court of
Ferrara. He was coldly received by the duke, and was refused an interview
with the princesses. He left the place in indignation, and wandered from
one city of Italy to another, reduced to the appearance of a wretched
itinerant, sometimes kindly received, sometimes driven away as a vagabond,
always restless, suspicious, and unhappy. In this mood he again returned
to Ferrara, at a moment when the duke was too much occupied with the
solemnities of his own marriage to attend to the complaints of the poet.
Tasso became infuriated, retracted all the praises he had bestowed on the
house of Este, and indulged in the bitterest invectives against the duke,
by whose orders he was afterwards committed to the hospital for lunatics,
where he was closely confined, and treated with extreme rigor. If he had
never been insane before, he certainly now became so. To add to his
misfortune, his poem was printed without his permission, from an imperfect
copy, and while editors and printers enriched themselves with the fruit of
his labors, the poet himself was languishing in a dungeon, despised,
neglected, sick, and destitute of the common conveniences of life, and
above all, deafened by the frantic cries with which the hospital
continually resounded. When the first rigors of his imprisonment were
relaxed, Tasso pursued his studies, and poured forth his emotions in every
form of verse. Some of his most beautiful minor poems were composed during
this period. After more than seven years' confinement, the poet was
liberated at the intercession of the Duke of Mantua. Prom this time he
wandered from city to city; the hallucinations of his mind never entirely
ceased. Towards the close of the year 1594 he took up his residence at
Rome, where he died at the age of fifty-two.

Tasso was particularly happy in choosing the most engaging subject that
could inspire a modern poet--the struggle between the Christians and the
Saracens. The Saracens considered themselves called on to subjugate the
earth to the faith of Mohammed; the Christians to enfranchise the sacred
spot where their divine founder suffered death. The religion of the age
was wholly warlike. It was a profound, disinterested, enthusiastic, and
poetic sentiment, and no period has beheld such a brilliant display of
valor. The belief in the supernatural, which formed a striking
characteristic of the time, seemed to have usurped the laws of nature and
the common course of events.

The faith against which the crusaders fought appeared to them the worship
of the powers of darkness. They believed that a contest might exist
between invisible beings as between different nations, and when Tasso
armed the dark powers of enchantment against the Christian knights, he
only developed and embellished a popular idea.

The scene of the Jerusalem Delivered, so rich in recollections and
associations with all our religious feelings, is one in which nature
displays her riches and treasures, and where descriptions, in turn the
most lovely and the most austere, attract the pen of the poet. All the
nations of Christendom send forth their warriors to the army of the cross,
and the whole world thus becomes his patrimony. Whatever interest the
taking of Troy might possess for the Greeks, or the vanity of the Romans
might attach to the adventures of AEneas, whom they adopted as their
progenitor, it may be asserted that neither the Iliad nor the Aeneid
possesses the dignity of subject, the interest at the same time divine and
human, and the varied dramatic action which are peculiar to the Jerusalem

The whole course of the poem is comprised in the campaign of 1093, when
the Christian army, assembled on the plain of Tortosa, marched towards
Jerusalem, which they besieged and captured. From the commencement of the
poem, the most tender sentiments are combined with the action, and love
has been assigned a nobler part than had been given to it in any other
epic poem. Love, enthusiastic, respectful, and full of homage, was an
essential characteristic of chivalry and the source of the noblest
actions. While with the heroes of the classic epic it was a weakness, with
the Christian knights it was a devotion. In this work are happily combined
the classic and romantic styles. It is classic in its plan, romantic in
its heroes; it is conceived in the spirit of antiquity, and executed in
the spirit of medieval romance. It has the beauty which results from unity
of design and from the harmony of all its parts, united with the romantic
form, which falls in with the feelings, the passions, and the
recollections of Europeans. Notwithstanding some defects, which must be
attributed rather to the taste of his age than to his genius, in the
history of literature Tasso may be placed by the side of Homer and Virgil.

5. LYRIC POETRY.--Lyric poetry, which had been brought to such perfection
by Petrarch in the fourteenth century, but almost lost sight of in the
fifteenth, was cultivated by all the Italian poets of this period.
Petrarch became the model, which every aspirant endeavored to imitate.
Hence arose a host of poetasters, who wrote with considerable elegance,
but without the least power of imagination. We must not, however, confound
with the servile imitators of Petrarch those who took nothing from his
school but purity of language and elegance of style, and who consecrated
the lyre not to love alone, but to patriotism and religion. First of these
are Poliziano and Lorenzo de' Medici, in whose ballads and stanzas the
language of Petrarch reappeared with all its beauty and harmony. Later,
Cardinal Bembo (1470-1547), Molza (1489-1544), Tarsia (1476-1535),
Guidiccioni (1480-1541), Della Casa (1503-1556), Costanzo (1507-1585), and
later still, Chiabrera (1552-1637), attempted to restore Italian poetry to
its primitive elegance. Their sonnets and canzoni contributed much to the
revival of a purer style, although their elegance is often too elaborate
and their thoughts and feelings too artificial. Besides these, Ariosto,
Tasso, Machiavelli, and Michael Angelo, whose genius was practiced in more
ambitious tasks, did not disdain to shape and polish such diminutive gems
as the canzone, the madrigal, and the sonnet.

This reform of taste in lyric composition was also promoted by several
women, among whom the most distinguished at once for beauty, virtue, and
talent was Vittoria Colonna (1490-1547). She was daughter of the high
constable of Naples, and married to the Marquis of Pescara. Early left a
widow, she abandoned herself to sorrow. That fidelity which made her
refuse the hand of princes in her youth, rendered her incapable of a
second attachment in her widowhood. The solace of her life was to mourn
the loss and cherish the memory of Pescara. After passing several years in
retirement, Vittoria took up her residence at Rome, and became the
intimate friend of the distinguished men of her time. Her verses, though
deficient in poetic fancy, are full of tenderness and absorbing passion.
Vittoria Colonna was reckoned by her contemporaries as a being almost more
than human, and the epithet divine was usually prefixed to her name. By
her death-bed stood Michael Angelo, who was considerably her junior, but
who enjoyed her friendship and regarded her with enthusiastic veneration.
He wrote several sonnets in her praise. Veronica Gambara, Tullia
d'Aragona, and Giulia Gonzaga may also be named as possessing superior
genius to many literary men of their time.

6. DRAMATIC POETRY.--Tragedy, in the hands of the Romans, had exhibited no
national characteristics, and disappeared with the decline of their
literature. When Europe began to breathe again, the natural taste of the
multitude for games and spectacles revived; the church entertained the
people with its representations, which, however, were destitute of all
literary character. At the commencement of the fourteenth century we find
traces of Latin tragedies, and these, during the fifteenth century, were
frequently represented, as we have seen, more as a branch of ancient art
and learning than as matter of recreation. After the "Orpheus" of
Poliziano had appeared on the stage, the first drama in the Italian
tongue, Latin tragedies and comedies were translated into the Italian, but
as yet no one had ventured beyond mere translation.

Leo X. shed over the dramatic art the same favor which he bestowed on the
other liberal arts, and the theatricals of the Vatican were of the most
splendid description. During his pontificate, Trissino (1478-1550)
dedicated to him the tragedy of "Sofonisba," formed on the Greek model,
the first regular tragedy which had appeared since the revival of letters.
Its subject is found entire in the work of Livy, and the invention of the
poet has added little to the records of the historian. The piece is not
divided into acts and scenes, and the only repose given to the action is
by the chorus, who sing odes and lyric stanzas. The story is well
conducted, the characters are all dramatic, and the incidents arise
spontaneously out of each other; but the style of the tragedy has neither
the sublimity nor the originality which becomes this kind of composition,
and which distinguished the genius of the dramatic poets of Athens.

The example of Trissino was followed by Rucellai (1475-1525), who left two
dramas, "Rosamunda" and "Orestes," written in blank verse, with a chorus,
much resembling the Greek tragedies. This poet used much more license with
his subject than Trissino; his plot is less simple and pathetic, but
abounds in horror, and his style is florid and rhetorical. Tasso, Speroni
(1500-1588), Giraldi (1504-1573), and others, attempted also this species
of composition, and their dramas are considered the best of the age.

As the tragic poets of this century servilely imitated Sophocles and
Euripides, the comic writers copied Plautus and Terence. The comedies of
Ariosto, of which there are five, display considerable ingenuity of
invention and an elegant vivacity of language. The dramatic works of
Machiavelli approach more nearly to the middle comedy of the Greeks. They
depict and satirize contemporaneous rather than obsolete manners, but the
characters and plots awaken little interest.

Bentivoglio (1506-1573), Salviati (1540-1589), Firenzuola (1493-1547),
Caro (1507-1566), Cardinal Bibiena, (1470-1520), Aretino (1492-1556), and
others, are among the principal comic writers of the age, who displayed
more or less dramatic talent. Of all the Italian comedies composed in the
sixteenth century, however, scarcely one was the work of eminent genius. A
species of comic drama, known under the name of _Commedia dell' arte_,
took its rise in this century. The characteristic of these plays is that
the story only belongs to the poet, the dialogue being improvised by the
actors. The four principal characters, denominated masks, were
_Pantaloon_, a merchant of Venice, a doctor of laws from Bologna, and two
servants, known to us as _Harlequin_ and _Columbine_. When we add to these
a couple of sons, one virtuous and the other profligate; a couple of
daughters, and a pert, intriguing chambermaid, we have nearly the whole
_dramatis personae_ of these plays. The extempore dialogue by which the
plot was developed was replete with drollery and wit, and there was no end
to the novelty of the jests.

7. PASTORAL DRAMA AND DIDACTIC POETRY.--The pastoral drama, which
describes characters and passions in their primitive simplicity, is thus
distinguished from tragedy and comedy. It is probable that the idyls of
the Greeks afforded the first germ of this species of composition, but
Beccari, a poet of Ferrara (1510-1590), is considered the father of the
genuine pastoral drama. Before him Sannazzaro (1458-1530) had written the
"Arcadia," which, however, bears the character of an eclogue rather than
that of a drama. It is written in the choicest Italian; its versification
is melodious, and it abounds with beautiful descriptions; as an imitation
of the ancients, it is entitled to the highest rank. The beauty of the
Italian landscape and the softness of the Italian climate seem naturally
fitted to dispose the poetic soul to the dreams of rural life, and the
language seems, by its graceful simplicity, peculiarly adapted to express
the feelings of a class of people whom we picture to ourselves as
ingenuous and infantine in their natures. The manners of the Italian
peasantry are more truly pastoral than those of any other people, and a
bucolic poet in that fair region need not wander to Arcadia. But
Sannazzaro, like all the early pastoral poets of Italy, proposed to
himself, as the highest excellence, a close imitation of Virgil; he took
his shepherds from the fabulous ages of antiquity, borrowed the mythology
of the Greeks, and completed the machinery with fauns, nymphs, and satyrs.
Like Sannazzaro, Beccari places his shepherds in Arcadia, and invests them
with ancient manners; but he goes beyond mere dialogue; he connects their
conversations by a series of dramatic actions. The representation of one
of these poems incited Tasso to the composition of his "Aminta," the
success of which was due less to the interest of the story than to the
sweetness of the poetry, and the soft voluptuousness which breathes in
every line. It is written in flowing verse of various measures, without
rhyme, and enriched with lyric choruses of uncommon beauty.

The imitations of the Aminta were numerous, but, with one exception, which
has disputed the palm with its model, they had an ephemeral existence.
Guarini (1537-1612) was the author of the "Pastor Fido," which is the
principal monument of his genius; its chief merit lies in the poetry in
which the tale is embodied, the simplicity and clearness of the diction,
the tenderness of the sentiments, and the vehement passion which gives
life to the whole. This drama was first performed in 1585, at Turin,
during the nuptial festivities of the Prince of Savoy. Its success was
triumphant, and Guarini was justly considered as second only to Tasso
among the poets of the age. Theatrical music, which was now beginning to
be cultivated, found its way into the acts of the pastoral drama, and in
one scene of the Pastor Fido it is united with dancing; thus was opened
the way for the Italian opera.

Among the didactic poets, Rucellai may be first mentioned. His poem of
"The Bees" is an imitation of the fourth book of the Georgics; he does
not, however, servilely follow his model, but gives an original coloring
to that which he borrowed. Alamanni (1495-1556) occupies a secondary rank
among epic, tragic, and comic poets, but merits a distinguished place in
didactic poetry. His poem entitled "Cultivation" is pure and elegant in
its style.

8. SATIRICAL POETRY, NOVELS, AND TALES.--In an age when every kind of
poetry that had flourished among the Greeks and Romans appeared again with
new lustre, satire was not wanting. There is much that is satirical in the
"Divine Comedy" of Dante. Three of Petrarch's sonnets are satires on the
court of Rome; those of Ariosto are valuable not only for their flowing
style, but for the details they afford of his character, taste, and
circumstances. The satires of Alamanni are chiefly political, and in
general are characterized by purity of diction and by a high moral

There is a kind of jocose or burlesque satire peculiar to Italy, in which
the literature is extremely rich. If it serves the cause of wisdom, it is
always in the mask of folly. The poet who carried this kind of writing to
the highest perfection was Berni (1499-1536). Comic poetry, hitherto known
in Italy as burlesque, of which Burchiello was the representative in the
fifteenth century, received from Berni the name of Bernesque, in its more
refined and elegant character. His satirical poems are full of light and
elegant mockery, and his style possesses nature and comic truth. In his
hand, everything was transformed into ridicule; his satire is almost
always personal, and his laughter is not always restrained by respect for
morals or for decency. To burlesque poetry may be referred also the
Macaronic style, a ludicrous mixture of Latin and Italian, introduced by
Merlino Coccajo (1491-1544). His poems are as full of lively descriptions
and piquant satire as they are wanting in decorum and morality.

The story-tellers of the sixteenth century are numerous. Sometimes they
appear as followers of Boccaccio; sometimes they attempt to open new paths
for themselves. The class of productions, of which the "Decameron" was the
earliest example in the fourteenth century, is called by the Italians
"Novelle." In general, the interest of the tale depends rather on a number
of incidents slightly touched, than on a few carefully delineated; from
the difficulty of developing character in a few isolated scenes, the
story-teller trusts for effect to the combination of incident and style,
and the delineation of character, which is the nobler part of fiction, is
neglected. Italian novelists, too, have often regarded the incidents
themselves but as a vehicle for fine writing. An interesting view of these
productions is, that they form a vast repository of incident, in which we
recognize the origin of much that has since appeared in our own and other

Machiavelli was one of the first novelists of this age. His little tale,
"Belfagor," is pleasantly told, and has been translated into all
languages. The celebrated "Giulietta" of Luigi da Porta is the sole
production of the author, but it has served to give him a high place among
Italian novelists. This is Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet in another shape,
though it is not probable that it was the immediate source from which the
great dramatist collected the materials for his tragedy. The "Hundred
Tales" of Cinzio Giraldi (1504-1573) are distinguished by great boldness
of conception, and by a wild and tragic horror which commands the
attention, while it is revolting to the feelings. He appears to have
ransacked every age and country, and to have exhausted the catalogue of
human crimes in procuring subjects for his novels.

Grazzini, called Lasca (1503-1583), is perhaps the best of the Italian
novelists after Boccaccio. His manner is light and graceful. His stories
display much ingenuity, but are often improbable and cruel in their
nature. The Fairy Tales of Strapparola (b. 1500) are the earliest
specimens of the kind in the prose literature of Italy, and this work has
been a perfect storehouse from which succeeding writers have derived a
vast multitude of their tales. To this, also, we are indebted for the
legend of "Fair Star," "Puss in Boots," "Fortunio," and others which adorn
our nursery libraries.

Firenzuola (1493-1547) occupies a high rank among the Italian novelists;
his "Golden Ass," from Apuleius, and his "Discourses of Animals" are
distinguished for their originality and purity of style.

Bandello (1480-1562) is the novelist best known to foreigners after
Boccaccio. Shakspeare and other English dramatists have drawn largely from
his voluminous writings. His tales are founded upon history rather than

9. HISTORY.--Historical composition was cultivated with much success by
the Italians of the sixteenth century; yet such was the altered state of
things, that, except at Venice and Genoa, republics had been superseded by
princes, and republican authority by the pomp of regal courts. Home was a
nest of intrigue, luxury, and corruption; Tuscany had become the prey of a
powerful family; Lombardy was but a battle-field for the rival powers of
France and Germany, and the lot of the people was oppression and
humiliation. High independence of mind, one of the most valuable qualities
in connection with historical research, was impossible under these
circumstances, and yet, some of the Italian writers of this age exhibit
genius, strength of character, and a conscientious sense of the sacred
commission of the historian.

Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence of a family which had enjoyed
the first offices in the republic. At the age of thirty, he was made
chancellor of the state, and from that time he was constantly employed in
public affairs, and particularly in embassies. Among those to the smaller
princes of Italy, the one of the longest duration was to Caesar Borgia,
whom he narrowly observed at the very important period when this
illustrious villain was elevating himself by his crimes, and whose
diabolical policy he had thus an opportunity of studying. He had a
considerable share in directing the counsels of the republic, and the
influence to which he owed his elevation was that of the free party, which
censured the power of the Medici, and at that time held them in exile.
When the latter were recalled, Machiavelli was deprived of all his offices
and banished. He then entered into a conspiracy against the usurpers,
which was discovered, and he was put to the torture, but without wresting
from him any confession which could impeach either himself or those who
had confided in his honor. Leo X., on his elevation to the pontificate,
restored him to liberty. At this time he wrote his "History of Florence,"
in which he united eloquence of style with depth of reflection, and
although an elegant, animated, and picturesque composition, it is not the
fruit of much research or criticism.

Besides this history, Machiavelli wrote his discourses on the first decade
of Livy, considered his best work, and "The Art of War," which is an
invaluable commentary on the history of the times. These works had the
desired effect of inducing the Medici family to use the political services
of the author, and at the request of Leo X. he wrote his essay "On the
Reform of the Florentine Government."

Guicciardini (1483-1541), the friend of Machiavelli, is considered the
greatest historian of this age. He attached himself to the service of Leo
X., and was raised to high offices and honors by him and the two
succeeding popes. On the expulsion of the Medici from Florence, the
republican party having obtained the ascendency, he was obliged to fly
from the city. From this time he manifested an utter abhorrence of all
popular institutions, and threw himself heart and soul into the interests
of the Medici. He displayed his zeal at the expense of the lives and
liberties of the most virtuous among his fellow-citizens. Having aided in
the elevation of Cosmo, afterwards Grand Duke of Tuscany, and being
requited with ingratitude and neglect, he retired in disgust from public
life, and devoted himself wholly to the completion of his history of
Italy. This work, which is a monument of his genius and industry,
commences with the coming of Charles VIII. to Italy, and concludes with
the year 1534, embracing one of the most important periods of Italian
history. His powerfully-drawn pictures exhibit the men and the times so
vividly, that they seem to pass before our eyes. His delineations of
character, his masterly views of the course of events, the conduct of
leaders, and the changes of war, claim our highest admiration. His
language is pure and his style elegant, though sometimes too Latinized;
his letters are considered as a most valuable contribution to the history
of his times.

Numberless historians, of more or less merit, stimulated by the renown of
Machiavelli and Guicciardini, composed annals of the states to which they
belonged, while others undertook to write the histories of foreign
nations. Nardi (1496-1556), one of the most ardent and pure patriots of
his age, takes the first place. He wrote the history of the Florentine
Revolution of 1527, a work which, though defective in style, is
distinguished for its truthfulness. The histories of Florence by Adriani,
Varchi, and Segni (1499-1559), are considered the best works of their
kind, for elegance of style and for interest of the narrative. Almost all
the other cities of Italy had their historians, but the palm must be
awarded to the Florentine writers, not only on account of their number,
but for the elegance and purity of their style, for their impartiality and
the sagacity of their research into matters of fact. Among the writers of
the second class may be mentioned Davanzati (1519), the translator of
Tacitus, who wrote, in the Florentine dialect, a history of the schism of
England; Giambullari (1495-1564), who wrote a history of Europe;
D'Anghiera (fl. 1536), who, after having examined the papers of
Christopher Columbus, and the official reports transmitted from America to
Spain, compiled an interesting work on "Ocean Navigation and the New
World." His style is incorrect; but this is compensated for by the
fidelity of his narration. Several of the German States, France, the
Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, and the East Indies, found Italian authors
in this age to digest and arrange their chronicles, and give them
historical form.

To this period belong also the "Lives of the Most Celebrated Artists,"
written by Vasari (1512-1574), himself a distinguished artist, a work
highly interesting for its subject and style, and the Autobiography of
Benvenuto Cellini (b. 1500), one of the most curious works which was ever
written in any language.

10. GRAMMAR AND RHETORIC.--The Italian language was used both in writing
and conversation for three centuries before its rules and principles were
reduced to a scientific form. Bembo was the first scholar who established
the grammar. Grammatical writings and researches were soon multiplied and
extended. Salviati was one of the most prominent grammarians of the
sixteenth century, and Buonmattei and Cinonio of the seventeenth. But the
progress in this study was due less to the grammarians than to the
_Dictionary della Crusca_. Among the scholars who took part in the
exercises of the Florentine Academy, founded by Cosmo de' Medici, there
were some who, dissatisfied with the philosophical disputations which were
the object of this institution, organized another association for the
purpose of giving a new impulse to the study of the language. This
academy, inaugurated in 1587, was called _della Crusca_, literally, _of
the bran_. The object of this new association being to sift all impurities
from the language, a sieve, the emblem of the academy, was placed In the
hall; the members at their meetings sat on flour-barrels, and the chair of
the presiding officer stood on three mill-stones. The first work of the
academy was to compile a universal dictionary of the Italian language,
which was published in 1612. Though the Dictionary della Crusca was
conceived in an exclusive spirit, and admitted, as linguistic authorities,
only writers of the fourteenth century, belonging to Tuscany, it
contributed greatly to the progress of the Italian tongue.

Every university of Italy boasted in the sixteenth century of some
celebrated rhetoricians, all of whom, however, were overshadowed by
Vettori (1499-1585), distinguished for the editions of the Greek and Latin
classics published under his superintendence, and for his commentaries on
the rhetorical books of Aristotle. B. Cavalcanti (1503-1562) was also
celebrated in this department, and his "Rhetoric" is the best work of the
age on that subject.

The oratory of this period is very imperfect. Orations were written in the
style of Boccaccio, which, however suitable for the narration of merry
tales, is entirely unfit for oratorical compositions. Among those who most
distinguished themselves in this department are Della Casa (1503-1556),
whose harangues against the Emperor Charles V. are full of eloquence;
Speroni (1500-1588), whose style is more perfect than that of any other
writer of the sixteenth century; and Lollio (d. 1568), whose orations are
the most polished. At that time, in the forum of Venice, eloquent orators
pleaded the causes of the citizens, and at the close of the preceding
century, Savonarola (1452-1498), a preacher of Florence, thundered against
the abuses of the Roman church, and suffered death in consequence. Among
the models of letter-writing, Caro takes the first place. His familiar
letters are written with that graceful elegance which becomes this kind of
composition. The letters of Tasso are full of eloquence and philosophy,
and are written in the most select Italian.

11. SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, AND POLITICS.--The sciences, during this period,
went hand in hand with poetry and history. Libraries and other aids to
learning were multiplied, and academies were organized with other objects
than those of enjoyment of mere poetical triumphs or dramatic amusements.
The Academy del Cimento was founded at Florence in 1657 by Leopold de'
Medici, for promoting the study of the natural sciences, and similar
institutions were established in Rome, Bologna, and Naples, and other
cities of Italy, besides the Royal Academy of London (1660), and the
Academy of Sciences in Paris (1666). From the period of the first
institution of universities, that of Bologna had maintained its
preëminence. Padua, Ferrara, Pavia, Turin, Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Rome
were also seats of learning. The men who directed the scientific studies
of their country and of Europe were almost universally attached as
professors to these institutions. Indeed, at this period, through the
genius of Galileo and his school, European science first dawned in Italy.
Galileo (1564-1641) was a native of Pisa, and professor of mathematics in
the university of that city. Being obliged to leave it on account of
scientific opinions, at that time at variance with universally received
principles, he removed to the university of Padua, where for eighteen
years he enjoyed the high consideration of his countrymen. He returned to
Pisa, and at the age of seventy was summoned to Rome by the Inquisition,
and required to renounce his doctrines relative to the Copernican system,
of which he was a zealous defender, and his life was spared only on
condition of his abjuring his opinions. It is said that on rising from his
knees, after making the abjuration of his belief that the earth moved
round the sun, he stamped his foot on the floor and said, "It does move,
though." To Galileo science is indebted for the discovery of the laws of
weight, the scientific construction of the system of Copernicus, the
pendulum, the improvement of many scientific instruments, the invention of
the hydrostatic balance, the thermometer, proportional compasses, and,
above all, the telescope. He discovered the satellites of Jupiter, the
phases of Venus, the mountains of the moon, the spots and the rotation of
the sun. Science, which had consisted for centuries only of scholastic
subtleties and barren dialectics, he established on an experimental basis.
In his works he unites delicacy and purity with vivacity of style.

Among the scholars of Galileo, who most efficaciously contributed to the
progress of science, may be mentioned Torricelli (1608-1647), the inventor
of the barometer, an elegant and profound writer; Borelli (1608-1679), the
founder of animal mechanics, or the science of the movements of animals,
distinguished for his works on astronomy, mathematics, anatomy, and
natural philosophy; Cassini (1625-1712), a celebrated astronomer, to whom
France is indebted for its meridian; Cavalieri (1598-1648), distinguished
for his works on geometry, which paved the way to the discovery of the
infinitesimal calculus.

In the scientific department of the earlier part of this period may also
be mentioned Tartaglia (d. 1657) and Cardano (1501-1576), celebrated for
their researches on algebra and geometry; Vignola (1507-1573) and Palladio
(1518-1580), whose works on architecture are still held in high
estimation, as well as the work of Marchi (fl. 1550) on military
construction. Later, Redi (1626-1697) distinguished himself as a natural
philosopher, a physician and elegant writer, both in prose and verse, and
Malpighi (1628-1694) and Bellini (1643-1704) were anatomists of high
repute. Scamozzi (1550-1616) emulated the glory formerly won by Palladio
in architecture, and Montecuccoli (1608-1681), a great general of the age,
ably illustrated the art of strategy.

The sixteenth century abounds in philosophers who, abandoning the
doctrines of Plato, which had been in great favor in the fifteenth,
adopted those of Aristotle. Some, however, dared to throw off the yoke of
philosophical authority, and to walk in new paths of speculation. Patrizi
(1529-1597) was one of the first who undertook to examine for himself the
phenomena of nature, and to attack the authority of Aristotle. Telesio
(1509-1588), a friend of Patrizi, joined him in the work of overthrowing
the Peripatetic idols; but neither of them dared to renounce entirely the
authority of antiquity. The glory of having claimed absolute freedom in
philosophical speculation belongs to Cardano, already mentioned, to
Campanella (1568-1639), who for the boldness of his opinions was put to
the torture and spent thirty years in prison, and to Giordano Bruno (1550-
1600), a sublime thinker and a bold champion of freedom, who was burned at
the stake.

Among the moral philosophers of this age may be mentioned Speroni, whose
writings are distinguished by harmony, freedom, and eloquence of style;
Tasso, whose dialogues unite loftiness of thought with elegance of style;
Castiglione (1468-1529), whose "Cortigiano" is in equal estimation as a
manual of elegance of manners and as a model of pure Italian; and Della
Casa, whose "Galateo" is a complete system of politeness, couched in
elegant language, and a work to which Lord Chesterfield was much indebted.

Political science had its greatest representative in Machiavelli, who
wrote on it with that profound knowledge of the human heart which he had
acquired in public life, and with the habit of unweaving, in all its
intricacies, the political perfidy which then prevailed in Italy. The
"Prince" is the best known of his political works, and from the infamous
principles which he has here developed, though probably with good
intentions, his name is allied with everything false and perfidious in
politics. The object of the treatise is to show how a new prince may
establish and consolidate his power, and how the Medici might not only
confirm their authority in Florence, but extend it over the whole of the
Peninsula. At the time that Machiavelli wrote, Italy had been for
centuries a theatre where might was the only right. He was not a man given
to illusive fancies, and throughout a long political career nothing had
been permitted to escape his keen and penetrating eye. In all the affairs
in which he had taken part he had seen that success was the only thing
studied, and therefore to succeed in an enterprise, by whatever means, had
become the fundamental idea of his political theory. His Prince reduced to
a science the art, long before known and practiced by kings and tyrants,
of attaining absolute power by deception and cruelty, and of maintaining
it afterwards by the dissimulation of leniency and virtue. It does not
appear that any exception was at first taken to the doctrines which have
since called forth such severe reprehension, and from the moment of its
appearance the Prince became a favorite at every court. But soon after the
death of Machiavelli a violent outcry was raised against him, and although
it was first heard with amazement, it soon became general, The Prince was
laid under the ban of several successive popes, and the name of
Machiavelli passed into a proverb of infamy. His bones lay undistinguished
for nearly two centuries, when a monument was erected to his memory in the
church of Santa Croce, through the influence of an English nobleman.

12. PERIOD OF DECADENCE.--The sixteenth century reaped the fruits that had
been sown in the fifteenth, but it scattered no seeds for a harvest in the
seventeenth, which was therefore doomed to general sterility. In the
reigns of Charles V. and Philip II. the chains of civil and religious
despotism were forged which subdued the intellect and arrested the genius
of the people. The Spanish viceroys ruled with an iron hand over Milan,
Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Poverty and superstition wasted and darkened
the minds of the people, and indolence and love of pleasure introduced
almost universal degeneracy. But the Spanish yoke, which weighed so
heavily at both extremities of the Peninsula, did not extend to the
republic of Venice, or to the duchy of Tuscany; and the heroic character
of the princes of Savoy alone would have served to throw a lustre over
this otherwise darkened period. In literature, too, there were a few who
resisted the torrent of bad taste, amidst many who opened the way for a
crowd of followers in the false route, and gave to the age that character
of extravagance for which it is so peculiarly distinguished.

The literary works of the seventeenth century may be divided into three
classes, the first of which, under the guidance of Marini, attained the
lowest degree of corruption, and remain in the annals of literature as
monuments of bombastic style and bad taste. The second embraces those
writers who were aware of the faults of the school to which they belonged,
and who, aiming to bring about a reform in literature, while they
endeavored to follow a better style, partook more or less of the character
of the age. To this class may be referred Chiabrera already named, and
more particularly Filicaja and other poets of the same school. The third
class is composed of a few writers who preserved themselves faithful to
the principles of true taste, and among them are Menzini, Salvator Rosa,
Redi, and more particularly Tassoni.

13. EPIC AND LYRIC POETRY.--Marini (1569-1625), the celebrated innovator
on classic Italian taste, is considered as the first who seduced the poets
of the seventeenth century into a labored and affected style. He was born
at Naples and educated for the legal profession, for which he had little
taste, and on publishing a volume of poems, his indignant father turned
him out of doors. But his popular qualities never left him without
friends. He was invited to the Court of France, obtained the favor of Mary
de' Medici, and the situation of gentleman to the king. He became
exceedingly popular among the French nobility, many of whom learned
Italian for the sole purpose of reading his works. It was here that he
published the most celebrated of his poems, entitled "Adonis." He
afterwards purchased a beautiful villa near Naples, to which he retired,
and where he soon after died. The Adonis of Marini is a mixture of the
epic and the romantic style, the subject being taken from the well-known
story of Venus and Adonis. He renounced all keeping and probability, both
in his incidents and descriptions; if he could present a series of
enchanted pictures, he was little solicitous as to the manner of their
arrangement. But the work has much beauty and imagination, and is often
animated by the true spirit of poetry. Its principal faults are that it is
sadly wire-drawn, and abounds in puns, endless antitheses, and inventions
for surprising or bewildering the reader; graces which were greatly
admired by the contemporaries of the poet. Marini was a voluminous writer,
and was not only extolled in his own country above its classic authors,
and in France, but the Spaniards held him in the highest esteem, and
imitated and even surpassed him in his own eccentric career. He had also
innumerable imitators in Italy, many of whom attained a high reputation
during their lives, and afterwards sank into complete oblivion.

Filicaja (1642-1709) stands at the head of the lyric poets of the
seventeenth century. His inspiration seems first to have been awakened
when Vienna was besieged by the Turks in 1683, and gallantly defended by
the Christian powers. His verses on this occasion awoke the most
enthusiastic admiration, and called forth the eulogies of princes and
poets. The admiration which he excited in his day is scarcely to be
wondered at; for, though this judgment has not been ratified by posterity,
Filicaja has at least the merit of having raised the poetry of Italy from
the abject service of mere amorous imbecility to the noble office of
embodying the more manly and virtuous sentiments; and though his style is
infected with the bombastic spirit of the age, it is even in this respect
singularly moderate, compared with that of his contemporaries.

14. MOCK-HEROIC POETRY, THE DRAMA, AND SATIRE.--The full maturity of the
style of mock-heroic poetry is due to Tassoni (1565-1635). He first
attracted public notice by disputing the authority of Aristotle, and the
poetical merits of Petrarch. In 1622 he published his "Rape of the
Bucket," a burlesque poem on the petty wars which were so common between
the towns of Italy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The heroes
of Modena had, in 1325, discomfited the Bolognese, and pursued them to the
very heart of their city, whence they carried off, as a trophy of their
victory, the bucket belonging to the public well. The expedition
undertaken by the Bolognese for its recovery forms the basis of the twelve
mock-heroic cantos of Tassoni. To understand this poem requires a
knowledge of the vulgarisms and idioms which are frequently introduced in

About the same period, Bracciolini (1566-1645) produced another comic-
heroic poem, entitled the "Ridicule of the Gods," in which the ancient
deities are introduced as mingling with the peasants, and declaiming in
the low, vulgar dialect, and making themselves most agreeably ridiculous.
Somewhat later appeared one more example of the same species of epic, "The
Malmantile," by Lippi (1606-1664). This poem is considered a pure model of
the dialect of the Florentines, which is so graceful and harmonious even
in its homeliness.

The seventeenth century was remarkable for the prodigious number of its
dramatic authors, but few of them equaled and none excelled those of the
preceding age. The opera, or melodrama, which had arisen out of the
pastoral, seemed to monopolize whatever talent was at the disposal of the
stage, and branches formerly cultivated sank below mediocrity. Amid the
crowd of theatrical corrupters, the name of Andreini (1564-1652) deserves
peculiar mention, not from any claim to exemption from the general
censure, but because his comedy of "Adam" is believed to have been the
foundation of Milton's "Paradise Lost." Andreini was but one of the common
throng of dramatic writers, and it has been fiercely contended by some,
that it is impossible that the idea of so sublime a poem should have been
taken from so ordinary a composition as his Adam. His piece was
represented at Milan as early as 1613, and so has at least a claim of

Menzini (1646-1708) and Salvator Rosa (1615-1675) were the representatives
of the satire of this century; the former distinguished for the purity of
his language and the harmony of his verse; the latter for his vivacity and

15. HISTORY AND EPISTOLARY WRITINGS.--The number of historical works in
this century is much greater than in that of the preceding, but they are
generally far from possessing the same merit or commanding the same
interest. The historians seem to have lost all feeling of national
dignity; they do not venture to unveil the causes of public events, or to
indicate their results. Even those that dared treat of Italy or its
provinces, confined themselves to the reigning dynasties, and overlooking
the causes which most deeply affected the happiness of the people,
described only the festivities, battles, and triumphs of their princes. A
large number of historians chose foreign subjects; the history of France
was remarkable for the number of Italians who endeavored to relate it in
this age. The work of Davila (1576-1630) on "The Civil Wars of France,"
however, throws all the rest into the shade. What gives to it peculiar
value is the carefulness with which the materials were collected, in
connection with the opportunities its author enjoyed for gaining
information. This history is considered as superior to that of
Guicciardini in its matter, as the latter excels it in style. It is
wanting in that elegance which characterized the Florentine historians of
the sixteenth century. Bentivoglio (1579-1644) was an eminent rival of
Davila; he wrote the history of the civil wars of Flanders; a work
remarkable for the elegance and correctness of its style. Above all stand
the works of Sarpi, who lived between 1552 and 1623, and who defended with
great courage the authority of the Senate of Venice against the power of
the Popes, notwithstanding their excommunication and continued
persecution. His history of the Council of Trent contains a curious
account of the intrigues of the Court of Rome at the period of the

It was chiefly in the more showy departments of literature that the
extravagance of the Marinists was most conspicuous, and the decay of
native genius was most apparent. But this genius had turned into other
paths, which it pursued with a steady, though less brilliant course. Of
all branches of prose composition, the epistolary was the most carefully
cultivated. The talent for letter-writing was often the means of
considerable emolument, as all the petty princes of Italy and the
cardinals of Rome were ambitious of having secretaries who would give them
_éclat_ in their correspondence, and these situations, which were steps to
higher preferment, were eagerly sought; hence the prodigious number of
collections of letters which have at all times inundated Italy--specimens
by which those who believed themselves elegant writers endeavored to make
known their talent. The letters of Bentivoglio have obtained European
celebrity. They are distinguished for elegance of style as well as for the
interest of those historical recollections which they transmit; they are
considered superior to his history. But of all the letters of this or of
the preceding age, none are more rich, more varied, or more pleasing than
those of Redi, who threw into this form his discoveries in natural
history. The driest subjects, even those of language and grammar, are here
treated in an interesting and agreeable manner.



seventeenth century, a new dawn arose in the history of Italian letters,
and the general corruption which had extended to every branch of
literature and paralyzed the Italian mind began to be arrested by the
appearance of writers of better taste; the affectations of the Marinists
and of the so-called Arcadian poets were banished from literature; science
was elevated and its dominion extended, the melodrama, comedy, and tragedy
recreated, and a new spirit infused into every branch of composition.
Amidst the clash of arms and the vicissitudes of long and bloody wars,
Italy began to awake from her lethargy to the aspiration for greater and
better things, and her intellectual condition soon underwent important
changes and improvements. In the eighteenth century, in Naples, Vico
transformed history into a new science. Filangeri contended with
Montesquieu for the palm of legislative philosophy; and new light was
thrown on criminal science by Mario Pagano. In Rome, letters and science
flourished under the patronage of Benedict XIV., Clement XIV., and Pius
VI., under whose auspices Quirico Visconti undertook his "Pio Clementine
Museum" and his "Greek and Roman Iconography," the two greatest
archaeological works of all ages. Padua was immortalized by the works of
Cesarotti, Belzoni, and Stratico; Venice by Goldoni; Verona by Maffei, the
critic and the antiquarian, as well as the first reformer of Italian
tragedy. Tuscany took the lead of the intellectual movement of the country
under Leopold and his successor Ferdinand, when Florence, Pisa, and Siena
again became seats of learning and of poetry and the arts. Maria Theresa
and Joseph II. fostered the intellectual progress of Lombardy; Spallanzani
published his researches on natural philosophy; Volta discovered the pile
which bears his name; a new era in poetry was created by Parinl; another
in criminal jurisprudence by Beccaria; history was reconstructed by
Muratori; mathematics promoted by Lagrange, and astronomy by Oriani; and
Alfieri restored Italian letters to their primitive splendor.

But at the close of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the
nineteenth, Italy became the theatre of political and military
revolutions, whose influence could not fail to arrest the development of
the literature of the country. The galleries, museums, and libraries of
Rome, Florence, and other cities suffered from the military occupation,
and many of their treasures, manuscripts, and masterpieces of art were
carried to Paris by command of Napoleon. The entire peninsula was subject
to French influence, which, though beneficial to its material progress,
could not fail to be detrimental to national literature. All new works
were composed in French, and indifferent or bad translations from the
French were widely circulated; the French language was substituted for the
Italian, and the national literature seemed about to disappear. But
Italian genius was not wholly extinguished; a few writers powerfully
opposed this new tendency, and preserved in its purity the language of
Dante and Petrarch. Gradually the national spirit revived, and literature
was again moulded in accordance with the national character.
Notwithstanding the political calamities of which, for some time after the
treaty of Vienna in 1815, Italy was continually the victim, the literature
of the country awakened and fostered a sentiment of nationality, and
Italian independence is at this present moment already achieved.

2. THE MELODRAMA.--The first result of the revival of letters at the close
of the seventeenth century was the reform of the theatre. The melodrama,
or Italian opera, arose out of the pastoral drama, which it superseded.
The astonishing progress of musical science succeeded that of poetry and
sculpture, which fell into decline with the decay of literature. Music,
rising into excellence and importance at a time when poetry was on the
decline, acquired such superiority that verse, instead of being its
mistress, became its handmaid. The first occasion of this inversion was in
the year 1594, when Rinuccini, a Florentine poet, associated himself with
three musicians to compose a mythological drama. This and several other
pieces by the same author met with a brilliant reception. Poetry, written
only in order to be sung, thus assumed a different character; Rinuiccini
abandoned the form of the canzone which had hitherto been used in the
lyrical part of the drama, and adopted the Pindaric ode. Many poets
followed in the same path; more action was given to the dramatic parts,
and greater variety to the music, in which the airs were agreeably blended
with the recitative duets; other harmonized pieces were also added, and
after the lapse of a century Apostolo Zeno (1669-1750) still further
improved the melodrama. But it was the spirit of Metastasio that breathed
a soul of fire into this ingenious and happy form created by others.

Metastasio (1698-1782) gave early indications of genius, and when only ten
years of age used to collect an audience in his father's shop, by his
talent for improvisation. He thus attracted the notice of Gravina, a
celebrated patron of letters, who adopted him as his son, changed his
somewhat ignoble name of Trepassi to Metastasio, and had him educated in
every branch necessary for a literary career. He still continued to
improvise verses on any given subject for the amusement of company. His
youth, his harmonious voice, and prepossessing appearance, added greatly
to the charm of his talent. It was one generally cultivated in Italy at
this time, and men of mature years often presented themselves as rivals of
the hoy. This occupation becoming injurious to the youth, Gravina forbade
him to compose extempore verses any more, and this rule, imposed on him at
sixteen, he never afterwards infringed. When Metastasio was in his
twentieth year Gravina died, leaving to him his fortune, most of which he
squandered in two years. He afterwards went to Naples, where, under a
severe master, he devoted himself to the closest study and for two years
resisted every solicitation to compose verses. At length, under promise of
secrecy, he wrote a drama. All Naples resounded with its praise, and the
author was soon discovered. Metastasio from this time followed the career
for which nature seemed to have formed him, and devoted himself to the
opera, which he considered to be the natural drama of Italy. An invitation
to become the court poet of Vienna made his future life both stable and
prosperous. On the death of Charles VI., in 1740, several other European
sovereigns made advantageous overtures to the poet, but as Maria Theresa
was disposed to retain him, he would not leave her in her adverse
circumstances. The remainder of his life he passed in Germany, and his
latter years were as monotonous as they were prosperous.

Metastasio seized with a daring hand the true spirit of the melodrama, and
scorning to confine himself to unity of place, opened a wide field for the
display of theatrical variety, on which the charm of the opera so much
depends. The language in which he clothed the favorite passion of his
drama exhibits all that is delicate and yet ardent, and he develops the
most elevated sentiments of loyalty, patriotism, and filial love. The flow
of his verse in the recitative is the most pure and harmonious known in
any language, and the strophes at the close of each scene are scarcely
surpassed by the first masters in lyric poetry. Metastasio is one of the
most pleasing, at the same time one of the least difficult of the Italian
poets, and the tyro in the study of Italian classics may begin with his
works, and at once enjoy the pleasures of poetic harmony at their highest

3. COMEDY.--The revolution, so frequently attempted in Italian comedy by
men whose genius was unequal to the task, was reserved for Goldoni (1707-
1772) to accomplish. His life, written by himself, presents a picture of
Italian manners in their gayest colors. He was a native of Venice, and
from his early youth was constantly surrounded by theatrical people. At
eight years of age he composed a comedy, and at fourteen he ran away from
school with a company of strolling players. He afterwards prepared for the
medical, then for the legal profession, and finally, at the age of twenty-
seven, he was installed poet to a company of players. He now attempted to
introduce the reforms that he had long meditated; he attained a purer
style, and became a censor of the manners and a satirist of the follies of
his country. His dialogue is extremely animated, earnest, and full of
meaning; with a thorough knowledge of national manners, he possessed the
rare faculty of representing them in the most life-like manner on the
stage. The language used by the inferior characters of his comedies is the
Venetian dialect.

In his latter days Goldoni was rivaled by Carlo Gozzi (1722-1806), who
parodied his pieces, and, it is thought, was the cause of his retirement,
in the decline of life, to Paris. Gozzi introduced a new style of comedy,
by reviving the familiar fictions of childhood; he selected and dramatized
the most brilliant fairy tales, such as "Blue Beard," "The King of the
Genii," etc., and gave them to the public with magnificent decorations and
surprising machinery. If his comedies display little resemblance to
nature, they at least preserve the kind of probability which is looked for
in a fairy tale. Many years elapsed after Goldoni and Gozzi disappeared
from the arena before there was any successor to rival their compositions.

Among those who contributed to the perfection of Italian comedy may be
mentioned Albergati (fl. 1774), Gherardo de' Rossi (1754-1827), and above
all, Nota (d. 1847), who is preeminent among the new race of comic
authors; although somewhat cold and didactic, he at least fulfils the
important office of holding the mirror up to nature. He exhibits a
faithful picture of Italian society, and applies the scourge of satire to
its most prevalent faults and follies.

4. TRAGEDY.--The reform of Italian tragedy was early attempted by Martelli
(d. 1727) and by Scipione Maffei (1675-1755). But Martelli was only a tame
imitator of French models, while Maffei, possessing real talent and
feeling, deserved the extended reputation he acquired. His "Merope" is
considered as the last and the best specimen of the elder school of
Italian tragedy.

The honor of raising tragedy to its highest standard was reserved for
Alfieri (1749-1803), whose remarkable personal character exercised a
powerful influence over his works. He was possessed of an impetuosity
which continually urged him towards some indefinite object, a craving for
something more free in politics, more elevated in character, more ardent
in love, and more perfect in friendship; of desires for a better state of
things, which drove him from one extremity of Europe to another, but
without discovering it in the realities of this everyday world. Finally,
he turned to the contemplation of a new universe in his own poetical
creations, and calmed his agitations by the production of those master-
pieces which have secured his immortality. His aim in life, in the pursuit
of which he never deviated, was that of founding a new and classic school
of tragedy. He proposed to himself the severe simplicity of the Greeks
with respect to the plot, while he rejected the pomp of poetry which
compensates for interest among the classic writers of antiquity. Energy
and conciseness are the distinguishing features of his style; and this, in
his earlier dramas, is carried to the extreme. He brings the whole action
into one focus; the passion he would exhibit is introduced into the first
verse and kept in view to the last. No event, no character, no
conversation unconnected with the advancement of the plot is permitted to
appear; all confidants and secondary personages are, therefore, excluded,
and there seldom appear more than four interlocutors. These tragedies
breathe the spirit of patriotism and freedom, and for this, even
independently of their intrinsic merit, Alfieri is considered as the
reviver of the national character in modern times, as Dante was in the
fourteenth century. "Saul" is regarded as his masterpiece; it represents a
noble character suffering under those weaknesses which sometimes accompany
great virtues, and are governed by the fatality, not of destiny, but of
human nature.

Among the earliest and most distinguished of those who followed in the
path of Alfieri was Monti (1754-1828). Though endowed with a sublime
imagination and exquisite taste, his character was weak and vain, and he,
in turn, celebrated every party as it became the successful one. Educated
in the school of Dante, he introduced into Italian poetry those bold and
severe beauties which adorned its infancy. His "Aristodemus" is one of the
most affecting tragedies in Italian literature. The story is founded on
the narrative of Pausanias. It is simple in its construction, and its
interest is confined almost entirely to the principal personage. In the
loftiness of the characters of his tragedies, and the energy of sentiment
and simplicity of action which characterize them, we recognize the school
of Alfieri, while in harmony and elegance of style and poetical language,
Monti is superior.

Another follower of the school of Alfieri is Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827), one
of the greatest writers of this age, in whom inspiration was derived from
a lofty patriotism. At the time of the French revolution he joined the
Italian army, with the object of restoring independence to his country.
Disappointed in this hope, he left Italy for England, where he
distinguished himself by his writings. The best of his tragedies,
"Ricciarda," is founded on events supposed to have occurred in the Middle
Ages. While some of its scenes and situations are forced and unnatural,
some of the acts are wrought with consummate skill and effect, and the
conception of the characters is tragic and original. Foscolo adopts in his
tragedies a concise and pregnant style, and displays great mastery over
his native language. Marenco (d. 1846) is distinguished for the noble and
moral ideas, lofty images, and affections of his tragedies; but he lacks
unity of design and vigor of style. Silvio Pellico (1789-1854) was born in
Piedmont. As a writer he is best known as the author of "My Prisons," a
narrative full of simplicity and resignation, in which he relates his
sufferings during ten years in the fortress of Spielberg. His tragedies
are good specimens of modern art; they abound in fine thoughts and tender
affections, but they lack that liveliness of dialogue and rapidity of
action which give reality to the situations, and that knowledge of the
human heart and unity and grandeur of conception which are the
characteristics of true genius.

Manzoni (1785-1873) and Nicolini (1782-1861) are the last of the modern
representatives of the tragic drama of Italy. The tragedies of Manzoni,
and especially his "Conte di Carmagnola," and "Adelchi," abound in
exquisite beauties. His style is simple and noble, his verse easy and
harmonious, and his object elevated. The merits of these tragedies,
however, belong rather to parts, and while the reading of them is always
interesting, on the stage they fail to awaken the interest of the
audience. After Manzoni, Nicolini was the most popular literary man of
Italy of his time. Lofty ideas, generous passions, splendor and harmony of
poetry, purity of language, variety of characters, and warmth of
patriotism, constitute the merit of his tragedies; while his faults
consist in a style somewhat too exuberant and lyrical, in ideas sometimes
too vague, and characters often too ideal.

5. LYRIC, EPIC, AND DIDACTIC POETRY.--In the latter part of the eighteenth
century, a class of poets who called themselves "The Arcadians" attempted
to overthrow the artificial and bombastic school of Marini; but their
frivolous and insipid productions had little effect on the literature. The
first poets who gave a new impulse to letters were Parini and Monti.
Parini (1729-1799) was a man of great genius, integrity, and taste; he
contributed more than any other writer of his age to the progress of
literature and the arts. His lyrical poems abound in noble thoughts, and
breathe a pure patriotism and high morality. His style is forcible,
chaste, and harmonious. The poems of Monti have much of the fire and
elevation of Pindar. Whatever object employs his thoughts, his eyes
immediately behold; and, as it stands before him, a flexible and
harmonious language is ever at his command to paint it in the brightest
colors. His "Basvilliana" is the most celebrated of his lyric poems, and,
beyond every other, is remarkable for majesty, nobleness of expression,
and richness of coloring.

The poetical writings of Pindemonte (1753-1828) are stamped with the
melancholy of his character. Their subjects are taken from contemporary
events, and his inspiration is drawn from nature and rural life. His
"Sepulchres" breathes the sweetest and most pathetic tenderness, and the
brightest hopes of immorality. The poems of Foscolo have the grace and
elegance of the Greek poets; but in his "Sepulchres" the gloom of his
melancholy imagination throws a funereal light over the nothingness of all
things, and the silence of death is unbroken by any voice of hope in a
future life. Torti (1774-1852), a pupil of Parini, rivaled his master in
the simplicity of style and purity of his images; while Leopardi (1798-
1837) impressed upon his lyric poems the peculiarities of his own
character. A sublime poet and a profound scholar, his muse was inspired by
a deep sorrow, and his poems pour out a melancholy that is terrible and
grand, the most agonizing cry in modern literature uttered with a solemn
quietness that elevates and terrifies. The poetry of despair has never had
a more powerful voice than his. He is not only the first poet since Dante,
but perhaps the most perfect prose writer. Berchet (1790-1851) is
considered as the Italian Béranger, and his songs glow with patriotic
fire. Those of Silvio Pellico, always sweet and truthful, bear the stamp
of a calm resignation, hope, and piety. The list of modern lyric poets
closes with Manzoni, whose hymns are models of this style of poetry.

In the epic department the third period does not afford any poems of a
high order. But the translation of the Iliad by Monti, that of the Odyssey
by Pindemonte, for their purity of language and beauty of style, may be
considered as epic additions to Italian literature. "The Longobards of the
First Crusade," written by Grossi (1791-1853), excels in beauty and
splendor of poetry all the epic poems of this age, though it lacks unity
of design and comprehensiveness of thought.

Among the didactic poems may be mentioned the "Invitation of Lesbia," by
Mascheroni (1750-1800), a distinguished poet as well as a celebrated
mathematician. This poem, which describes the beautiful productions of
nature in the Museum of Pavia, is considered a masterpiece of didactic
poetry. The "Riseide," or cultivation of rice, by Spolverini (1695-1762),
and the "Silkworm," by Betti (1732-1788), are characterized by poetical
beauties. The poem on the "Immortality of the Soul," by Filorentino (1742-
1815), though defective in style, is distinguished by its elevation of
ideas and sentiments. "The Cultivation of Mountains," by Lorenzi (1732-
1822), is rich in beautiful images and thoughts. "The Cultivation of Olive
Trees," by Arici (1782-1836), his "Corals," and other poems, especially in
their descriptions, are graceful and attractive. "The Seasons" of Barbieri
(1774-1852), though bearing marks of imitation from Pope, is written in a
pure and elegant style.

6. HEROIC-COMIC POETRY, SATIRE, AND FABLE.--The period of heroic-comic
poetry closes in the eighteenth century. The "Ricciardetto" of Fortiguerri
(1674-1735) is the last of the poems of chivalry, and with it terminated
the long series of romances founded on the adventures of Charlemagne and
his paladins. The "Cicero" of Passeroni (1713-1803) is a rambling
composition in a style similar to Sterne's "Tristram Shandy," which, it
appears, was suggested by this work.

Satiric poetry, which had flourished in the preceding period, was enriched
by new productions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. G. Gozzi
(1713-1789) attacked in his satires the vices and prejudices of his
fellow-citizens, in a forcible and elegant style; and Parini, the great
satirist of the eighteenth century, founded a school of satire, which
proved most beneficial to the country. His poem, "The Day," is
distinguished by fine irony and by the severity with which he attacks the
effeminate habits of his age. He lashes the affectations and vices of the
Milanese aristocracy with a sarcasm worthy of Juvenal. The satires of
D'Elei, Guadagnali, and others are characterized by wit and beauty of
versification. Those of Leopardi are bitter and contemptuous, while Giusti
(1809-1850), the political satirist of his age, scourged the petty tyrants
of his country with biting severity and pungent wit; the circulation of
his satires throughout Italy, in defiance of its despotic governments,
greatly contributed to the revolution of 1848.

In the department of fable may be mentioned Roberti (1719-1786),
Passeroni, Pignotti (1739-1812), and Clasio (1754-1825), distinguished for
invention, purity, and simplicity of style.

7. ROMANCES.--Though the tales of Boccaccio and the story tellers of the
sixteenth century paved the way to the romances of the present time, it
was only at a late period that the Italians gave their attention to this
kind of composition. In the eighteenth century we find only two specimens
of romance, "The Congress of Citera," by Algarotti, of which Voltaire said
that it was written with a feather drawn from the wings of love; and the
"Roman Nights," by Alexander Verri (1741-1816). In his romance he
introduces the shades of celebrated Romans, particularly of Cicero, and an
ingenious comparison of ancient and modern institutions is made. The style
is picturesque and poetical, though somewhat florid.

This kind of composition has found more favor in the nineteenth century.
First among the writers of this age is Manzoni, whose "Betrothed" is a
model of romantic literature. The variety, originality, and truthfulness
of the characters, the perfect knowledge of the human heart it displays,
the simplicity and vivacity of its style, form the principal merits of
this work. The "Marco Visconti" of Grossi is distinguished for its pathos
and for the purity and elegance of its style.

The "Ettore Fieramosca" of Massimo d'Azeglio is distinguished from the
works already spoken of by its martial and national spirit. His "Nicolò de
Lapi," though full of beauties, partakes in some degree of the faults
common to the French school. After these, the "Margherita Pusterla" of
Cantil, the "Luisa Strozzi" of Rosini, the "Lamberto Malatesta" of Rovani,
the "Angiola Maria" of Carcano, are the best historical romances of
Italian literature. Both in an artistic and moral point of view, they far
excel those of Guerrazzi, which represent the French school of George Sand
in Italy, and whose "Battle of Benevento," "Isabella Orsini," "Siege of
Florence," and "Beatrice Cenci," while they are written in pure language
and abound in minor beauties, are exaggerated in their characters,
bombastic and declamatory in style, and overloaded in description.

The "Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis," by Foscolo, belongs to that kind of
romance which is called sentimental. Overcome by the calamities of his
country, with his soul full of fiery passion and sad disappointment,
Foscolo wrote this romance, the protest of his heart against evils which
he could not heal.

8. HISTORY.--Among the most prominent of the numerous historians of this
period, a few only can be named. Muratori (1672-1750), for his vast
erudition and profound criticism, has no rivals. He made the most accurate
and extensive researches and discoveries relating to the history of Italy
from the fifth to the sixteenth century, which he published in twenty-
seven folio volumes; the most valuable collection of historical documents
which ever appeared in Italy. He wrote, also, a work on "Italian
Antiquities," illustrating the history of the Middle Ages through ancient
monuments, and the "Annals of Italy," a history of the country from the
beginning of the Christian era to his own age. Though its style is
somewhat defective, the richness and abundance of its erudition, its
clearness, and arrangement, impart to this work great value and interest.

Maffei, already spoken of as the first reformer of Italian tragedy,
surpassed Muratori in the purity of his style, and was only second to him
in the extent and variety of his erudition. He wrote several works on the
antiquities and monuments of Italy.

Bianchini (1662-1729), a celebrated architect and scholar, wrote a
"Universal History," which, though not complete, is characterized as a
work of great genius. It is founded exclusively on the interpretations of
ancient monuments in marble and metal.

Vico (1670-1744), the founder of the philosophy of history, embraced with
his comprehensive mind the history of all nations, and from the darkness
of centuries he created the science of humanity, which he called "Scienza
Nuova." Vico does not propose to illustrate any special historical epoch,
but follows the general movement of mankind in the most remote and obscure
times, and establishes the rules which must guide us in interpreting
ancient historians. By gathering from different epochs, remote from each
other, the songs, symbols, monuments, laws, etymologies, and religious and
philosophical doctrines,--in a word, the infinite elements which form the
life of mankind,--he establishes the unity of human history. The "Scienza
Nuova" is one of the great monuments of human genius, and it has inspired
many works on the philosophy of history, especially among the Germans,
such as those of Hegel, Niebuhr, and others.

Giannone (1676-1748) is the author of a "Civil History of the Kingdom of
Naples," a work full of juridical science as well as of historical
interest. Having attacked with much violence the encroachments of the
Church of Rome on the rights of the state, he became the victim of a
persecution which ended in his death in the fortress of Turin. Giannone,
in his history, gave the first example in modern times of that intrepidity
and courage which belong to the true historian.

Botta (1766-1837) is among the first historians of the present age. He was
a physician and a scholar, and devoted to the freedom of his country. He
filled important political offices in Piedmont, under the administration
of the French government. In 1809 he published, in Paris, his "History of
the American Revolution," a work held in high estimation both in this
country and in Italy. In the political changes which followed the fall of
Napoleon, Botta suffered many pecuniary trials, and was even obliged to
sell, by weight, to a druggist, the entire edition of his history, in
order to pay for medicines for his sick wife. Meanwhile, he wrote a
history of Italy, from 1789 to 1814, which was received with great
enthusiasm through Italy, and for which the Academy della Crusca, in 1830,
granted to him a pecuniary reward. This was followed by the "History of
Italy," in continuation of Guicciardini, from the fall of the Florentine
Republic to 1789, a gigantic work, with which he closed his historical
career. The histories of Botta are distinguished by clearness of
narrative, vividness and beauty of description, by the prominence he gives
to the moral aspect of events and characters, and by purity, richness, and
variety of style.

Colletta (1775-1831) was born in Naples; under the government of Murat he
rose to the rank of general, and fell with his patron. His "History of the
Kingdom of Naples," from 1734 to 1825, is modeled after the annals of
Tacitus. The style is simple, clear, and concise, the subject is treated
without digressions or episodes; it is conceived in a partial spirit, and
is a eulogium of the administration of Joachim; but no writer can rival
Colletta in his descriptions of strategic movements, of sieges and

Balbo (1789-1853) was born in Turin; during the administration of Napoleon
he filled many important political offices, and afterwards entered upon a
military career. Devoted to the freedom of his country, he strove to
promote the progress of Italian independence. In 1847 he published the
"Hopes of Italy," the first political work that had appeared in the
peninsula since the restoration of 1814; it was the spark which kindled
the movements of 1848. In the events of that and of the succeeding year,
he ranked among the most prominent leaders of the national party. His
historical works are a "Life of Dante," considered the best on the
subject; "Historical Contemplations," in which he developed the history of
mankind from a philosophical point of view; and "The Compendium of the
History of Italy," which embraces in a synthetic form all the history of
the country from the earliest times to 1814. His style is pure, clear, and
sometimes eloquent, though often concise and abrupt.

Cantù, a living historian, has written a universal history, in which he
attempts the philosophical style. Though vivid in his narratives,
descriptions, and details, he is often incorrect in Ms statements, and
rash in his judgments; his work, though professing liberal views, is
essentially conservative in its tendency. The same faults may be
discovered in his more recent "History of the Italians."

Tiraboschi (1731-1794) is the great historian of Italian literature; his
work is biographical and critical, and is the most extensive literary
history of Italy. His style is simple and elegant, and his criticism
profound; but he gives greater prominence to the biographies of writers
than to the consideration of their works. This history was continued by
Corniani (1742-1813), and afterwards by Ugoni (1784-1855).

is comparatively deficient in aesthetics, the science of the beautiful.
The treatise of Gioberti on the "Beautiful," the last work which has
appeared on this subject, is distinguished for its profound doctrines and
brilliant style. Philology and criticism first began to flourish at the
close of the seventeenth century, and are well represented at the present
time. The revival of letters was greatly promoted by the criticism of
Gravina (1664-1718), one of the most celebrated jurisconsults and scholars
of his age, who, through his work, "The Poetical Reason," greatly
contributed to the reform of taste. Zeno, Maffei, and Muratori also
distinguished themselves in the art of criticism, and by their works aided
in overthrowing the school of Marini. At a later date, Gaspar Gozzi,
through his "Observer," a periodical publication modeled after the
"Spectator" of Addison, undertook to correct the literary taste of the
country; for its invention, pungent wit, and satire, and the purity and
correctness of its style, it is considered one of the best compositions of
this kind. Baretti (1716-1789) propagated in England the taste for Italian
literature, and at the same time published his "Literary Scourge," a
criticism of the ancient and modern writers of Italy. His style, though
always pure, is often caustic. He wrote several books in the English
language, one of which is in defense of Shakspeare against Voltaire.
Cesarotti (1730-1808), though eminent as a critic, introduced into the
Italian language some innovations, which contributed to its corruption;
while the nice judgment, good taste, and pure style of Parini place him at
the head of this department. In the latter part of this period we find, in
the criticisms of Monti, vigorous logic and a splendid and attractive
style. Foscolo is distinguished for his acumen and pungent wit. The works
of Perticari (1779-1822) are written with extreme polish, erudition,
judgment, and dignity. In Leopardi, philosophical acumen equals the
elegance of his style. Giordani (d. 1848), as a critic and an epigraphist,
deserves notice for his fine judgment and pure taste, as do Tommaseo and
Cattaneo, who are both epigrammatic, witty, and pungent.

The golden age of philology dates from the time of Lorenzo de' Medici to
the seventeenth century. It then declined until the eighteenth, but
revived in the works of Maffei, Muratori, Zeno, and others. In the same
century this study was greatly promoted by Foscolo, Monti, and Cesari
(1760-1828), who, among other philological works, published a new edition
of the Dictionary della Crusca, revised and augmented. Of the modern
writers on philology, Gherardini, Tommaseo, and Ascoli are the most

The revival of philosophy in Italy dates from the age of Galileo, when the
authority of the Peripatetics was overthrown, and a new method introduced
into scientific researches. From that time to the present, this science
has been represented by opposite schools, the one characterized by
sensualism and the other by rationalism. The experimental method of
Galileo paved the way to the first, which holds that experience is the
only source of knowledge, a doctrine which gained ground in the
seventeenth century, became universally accepted in the eighteenth,
through the influence of Locke and Condillac, and continued to prevail
during the first part of the nineteenth. Gioja (1767-1829), and Romagnosi
(1761-1835) are the greatest representatives of this system, in the last
part of this period. But while the former developed sensualism in
philosophy and economy, the latter applied it to political science and
jurisprudence. The numerous Works of Gioja are distinguished for their
practical value and clearness of style, though they lack eloquence and
purity; those of Romagnosi are more abstract, and couched in obscure arid
often incorrect language, but they are monuments of vast erudition, acute
and profound judgment, and powerful dialectics.

Galluppi (1773-1846), though unable to extricate himself entirely from the
sensualistic school, attempted the reform of philosophy, which resulted in
a movement in Italy similar to that produced by Reid and Dugald Stewart in

While sensualism was gaining ground in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, rationalism, having its roots in the Platonic system which had
prevailed in the fifteenth and sixteenth, was remodeled under the
influence of Descartes, Leibnitz, and Wolf, and opposed to the invading
tendencies of its antagonist. From causes to be found in the spirit of the
age and the political condition of the country, this system was unable to
take the place to which it was entitled, though it succeeded in purifying
sensualism from its more dangerous consequences, and infusing into it some
of its own elements. But the overthrow of that system was completed only
by the works of Rosmini and Gioberti. Rosmini (1795-1855) gave a new
impulse to metaphysical researches, and created a new era in the history
of Italian philosophy. His numerous works embrace all philosophical
knowledge in its unity and universality, founded on a new basis, and
developed with deep, broad, and original views. His philosophy, both
inductive and deductive, rests on experimental method, reaches the highest
problems of ideology and ontology, and infuses new life into all
departments of science. This philosophical progress was greatly aided by
Gioberti (1801-1851), whose life, however, was more particularly devoted
to political pursuits. His work on "The Regeneration of Italy" contains
his latest and soundest views on Italian nationality. Another
distinguished philosophical and political writer is Mamiani, whose work on
"The Rights of Nations" deserves the attention of all students of history
and political science. As a statesman, he belongs to the National party,
of which Count Cavour (1810-1861), himself an eminent writer on political
economy, was the great representative, and to whose commanding influence
is to be attributed the rapid progress which the Italian nation was making
towards unity and independence at the time of his death.

FROM 1860 TO 1885.

During the last twenty-five years the rapid progress of political events
in Italy seems to have absorbed the energies of the people, who have made
little advance in literature. For the first time since the fall of the
Roman empire the country has become a united kingdom, and in the national
adjustment to the new conditions, and in the material and industrial
development which has followed, the new literature has not yet, to any
great extent, found voice. Yet this period of national formation and
consolidation, however, has not been without its poets, among whom a few
may be here named. Aleardo Aleardi (d. 1882) is one of the finest poetical
geniuses that Italy has produced within the last century, but his writings
show the ill effects of a poet sacrificing his art to a political cause,
and when the patriot has ceased to declaim the poet ceases to sing. Prati
(1815-1884), on the other hand, in his writings exemplifies the evil of a
poet refusing to take part in the grand movement of his nation. He severs
himself from all present interests and finds his subjects in sources which
have no interest for his contemporaries. He has great metrical facility
and his lyrics are highly praised. Carducci, like Aleardi, is a poet who
has written on political subjects; he belongs to the class of closet
democrats. His poems display a remarkable talent for the picturesque,
forcible, and epigrammatic. The poems of Zanella are nearly all on
scientific subjects connected with human feeling, and entitle him to a
distinguished place among the refined poets of his country. A poet of
greater promise than those already spoken of is Arnaboldi, who has the
endowment requisite to become the first Italian poet of a new school, but
who endangers his position by devoting his verse to utilitarian purposes.

The tendency of the younger poets is to realism and to representing its
most materialistic features as beautiful. Against this current of the new
poetry Alessandro Rizzi, Guerzoni, and others have uttered a strong
protest in poetry and prose.

Among historians, Capponi is the author of a history of Florence; Zini has
continued Farina's history of Italy; Bartoli, Settembrini, and De Sanctis
have written histories of Italian literature; Villari is the author of
able works on the life of Machiavelli and of Savonarola, and Berti has
written the life of Giordano Bruno. In criticism philosophic, historical,
and literary, Fiorentino, De Sanctis, Massarani, and Trezza are
distinguished. Barili, Farina, Bersezio, and Giovagnoli are writers of
fiction, and Cossa, Ferrari, and Giacosa are the authors of many dramatic
works. The charming books of travel by De Amicis are extensively
translated and very popular.


INTRODUCTION.--1. French Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. The Troubadours.--2. The Trouvères French Literature in
the Fifteenth Century.--4. The Mysteries and Moralities: Charles of
Orleans, Villon, Ville-Hardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Philippe de

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Renaissance and the Reformation: Marguerite de
Valois, Marot, Rabelais, Calvin, Montaigne, Charron and others.--2. Light
Literature: Ronsard Jodelle, Hardy, Malherbe, Scarron, Madame de
Rambouillet, and others.--3. The French Academy.--4. The Drama:
Corneille.--5. Philosophy: Descartes, Pascal; Port Royal.--6. The Rise of
the Golden Age of French Literature: Louis XIV.--7. Tragedy: Racine.--8.
Comedy: Molière.--9. Fables, Satires, Mock-Heroic, and other Poetry: La
Fontaine, Boileau.--10. Eloquence of the Pulpit and of the Bar:
Bourdaloue, Bossuet, Massillon, Fléchier, Le Maître, D'Aguesseau, and
others.--11. Moral Philosophy: Rochefoucault La Bruyère, Nicole.--12.
History and Memoirs: Mézeray, Fleury, Rollin, Brantôme the Duke of Sully,
Cardinal de Retz.--13. Romance and Letter Writing: Fénelon, Madame de

PERIOD THIRD.--1. The Dawn of Skepticism: Bayle, J. B. Rousseau,
Fontenelle, Lamotte.--2. Progress of Skepticism: Montesquieu, Voltaire.
--3. French Literature during the Revolution: D'Holbach, D'Alembert,
Diderot, J. J. Rousseau, Buffon, Beaumarchais, St. Pierre, and others.--4.
French Literature under the Empire: Madame de Staël, Châteaubriand, Royer-
Collard, Ronald, De Maistre.--5. French Literature from the Age of the
Restoration to the Present Time. History: Thierry, Sismondi, Thiers,
Mignet, Martin, Michelet, and others. Poetry and the Drama; Rise of the
Romantic School: Béranger, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and others; Les
Parnassiens. Fiction: Hugo, Gautier, Dumas, Mérimée, Balzac, Sand, Sandeau
and others. Criticism: Sainte-Beuve, Taine, and others. Miscellaneous.


1. FRENCH LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--Towards the middle of the fifth
century the Franks commenced their invasions of Gaul, which ended in the
conquest of the country, and the establishment of the French monarchy
under Clovis. The period from Clovis to Charlemagne (487-768) is the most
obscure of the Dark Ages. The principal writers, whose names have been
preserved, are St. Rémy, the archbishop of Rheims (d. 535), distinguished
for his eloquence, and Gregory of Tours (d. 595), whose contemporary
history is valuable for the good faith in which it is written, in spite of
the ignorance and credulity which it displays. The genius of Charlemagne
(r. 768-814) gave a new impulse to learning. By his liberality he
attracted the most distinguished scholars to his court, among others
Alcuin, from England, whom he chose for his instructor; he established
schools of theology and science, and appointed the most learned professors
to preside over them. But in the century succeeding his death the country
relapsed into barbarism.

In the south of France, Provence early became an independent kingdom, and
consolidating its language, laws, and manners, at the close of the
eleventh century it gave birth to the literature of the Troubadours; while
in the north, the language and literature of the Trouvères, which were the
germs of the national literature of France, were not developed until a
century later.

In the schools established by Charlemagne for the education of the clergy,
the scholastic philosophy originated, which prevailed throughout Europe in
the Middle Ages. The most distinguished schoolmen or scholastics in France
during this period are Roscellinus (fl. 1092), the originator of the
controversy between the Nominalists and Realists, which occupied so
prominent a place in the philosophy of the time; Abelard (1079-1142),
equally celebrated for his learning, and for his unfortunate love for
Héloïse; St. Bernard (1091-1153), one of the most influential
ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages; and Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274) and
Bonaventure (1221-1274), Italians who taught theology and philosophy at
Paris, and who powerfully influenced the intellect of the age.

Beginning with the Middle Ages, the literary history of France may be
divided into three periods. The first period extends from 1000 to 1500,
and includes the literature of the Troubadours, the Trouvères, and of the
fifteenth century.

The second period extends from 1500 to 1700, and includes the revival of
the study of classical literature, or the Renaissance, and the golden age
of French literature under Louis XIV.

The third period, extending from 1700 to 1885, comprises the age of
skepticism introduced into French literature by Voltaire, the
Encyclopaedists and others, the Revolutionary era, the literature of the
Empire and of the Restoration, of the Second Empire, and of the present

2. THE LANGUAGE.--After the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar, Latin
became the predominant language of the country; but on the overthrow of
the Western Empire it was corrupted by the intermixture of elements
derived from the northern invaders of the country, and from the general
ignorance and barbarism of the times. At length a distinction was drawn
between the language of the Gauls who called themselves Romans, and that
of the Latin writers; and the _Romance_ language arose from the former,
while the Latin was perpetuated by the latter. At the commencement of the
second race of monarchs, German was the language of Charlemagne and his
court, Latin was the written language, and the Romance, still in a state
of barbarism, was the dialect of the people. The subjects of Charlemagne
were composed of two different races, the Germans, inhabiting along and
beyond the Rhine, and the Wallons, who called themselves Romans. The name
of _Welsch_ or _Wallons_, given them by the Germans, was the same as
_Galli_, which they had received from the Latins, and as _Keltai_ or
Celts, which they themselves acknowledged. The language which they spoke
was called after them the _Romance-Wallon_, or rustic Romance, which was
at first very much the same throughout France, except that as it extended
southward the Latin prevailed, and in the north the German was more
perceptible. These differences increased, and the languages rapidly grew
more dissimilar. The people of the south called themselves _Romans-
provençaux_, while the northern tribes added to the name of Romans, which
they had assumed, that of _Wallons_, which they had received from the
neighboring people. The Provençal was called the _Langue d'oc_, and the
Wallon the _Langue d'oui_, from the affirmative word in each language, as
the Italian was then called the _Langue de sí_, and the German the _Langue
de ya_.

The invasion of the Normans, in the tenth century, supplied new elements
to the Romance Wallon. They adopted it as their language, and stamped upon
it the impress of their own genius. It thus became Norman-French. In 1066,
William the Conqueror introduced it into England, and enforced its use
among his new subjects by rigorous laws; thus the popular French became
there the language of the court and of the educated classes, while it was
still the vulgar dialect in France.

From the beginning of the twelfth century, the two dialects were known as
the _Provençal_ and the _French_. The former, though much changed, is
still the dialect of the common people in Provence, Languedoc, Catalonia,
Valencia, Majorca, and Minorca. In the thirteenth century, the northern
French dialect gained the ascendency, chiefly in consequence of Paris
becoming the centre of refinement and literature for all France. The
_Langue d'oui_ was, from its origin, deficient in that rhythm which exists
in the Italian and Spanish languages. It was formed rather by an
abbreviation than by a harmonious transformation of the Latin, and the
metrical character of the language was gradually lost. The French became
thus more accustomed to rhetorical measure than to poetical forms, and the
language led them rather to eloquence than poetry. Francis I. established
a professorship of the French language at Paris, and banished Latin from
the public documents and courts of justice. The Academy, established by
Cardinal Richelieu (1635), put an end to the arbitrary power of usage, and
fixed the standard of pure French, though at the same time it restricted
the power of genius over the language. Nothing was approved by the Academy
unless it was received at court, and nothing was tolerated by the public
that had not been sanctioned by the Academy. The language now acquired the
most admirable precision, and thus recommended itself not only as the
language of science and diplomacy, but of society, capable of conveying
the most discriminating observations on character and manners, and the
most delicate expressions of civility which involve no obligation. Hence
its adoption as the court language in so many European countries. Among
the dictionaries of the French language, that of the Academy holds the
first rank.



1. THE TROUBADOURS.--When, in the tenth century, the nations of the south
of Europe attempted to give consistency to the rude dialects which had
been produced by the mixture of the Latin with the northern tongues, the
Provencal, or _Langue d'oc_, was the first to come to perfection. The
study of this language became the favorite recreation of the higher
classes during the tenth and eleventh centuries, and poetry the elegant
occupation of those whose time was not spent in the ruder pastimes of the
field. Thousands of poets, who were called troubadours (from _trobar_, to
find or invent), flourished in this new language almost contemporaneously,
and spread their reputation from the extremity of Spain to that of Italy.
All at once, however, this ephemeral reputation vanished. The voice of the
troubadours was silent, the Provençal was abandoned and sank into a mere
dialect, and after a brilliant existence of three centuries (950-1250),
its productions were ranked among those of the dead languages. The high
reputation of the Provençal poets, and the rapid decline of their
language, are two phenomena equally striking in the history of human
culture. This literature, which gave models to other nations, yet among
its crowds of agreeable poems did not produce a single masterpiece
destined to immortality, was entirely the offspring of the age, and not of
individuals. It reveals to us the sentiments and imagination of modern
nations in their infancy; it exhibits what was common to all and pervaded
all, and not what genius superior to the age enabled a single individual
to accomplish.

Southern France, having been the inheritance of several of the successors
of Charlemagne, was elevated to the rank of an independent kingdom in 879,
by Bozon, and under his sovereignty, and that of his successors for 213
years, it enjoyed a paternal government. The accession of the Count of
Barcelona to the crown, in 1092, introduced into Provence the spirit both
of liberty and chivalry, and a taste for elegance and the arts, with all
the sciences of the Arabians. The union of these noble sentiments added
brilliancy to that poetical spirit which shone out at once over Provence
and all the south of Europe, like an electric flash in the midst of
profound darkness, illuminating all things with the splendor of its flame.

At the same time with Provençal poetry, chivalry had its rise; it was, in
a manner, the soul of the new literature, and gave to it a character
different from anything in antiquity. Love, in this age, while it was not
more tender and passionate than among the Greeks and Romans, was more
respectful, and women were regarded with something of that religious
veneration which the Germans evinced towards their prophetesses. To this
was added that passionate ardor of feeling peculiar to the people of the
South, the expression of which was borrowed from the Arabians. But
although among individuals love preserved this pure and religious
character, the license engendered by the feudal system, and the disorders
of the time, produced a universal corruption of manners which found
expression in the literature of the age. Neither the _sirventes_ nor the
_chanzos_ of the troubadours, nor the _fabliaux_ of the trouvères, nor the
romances of chivalry, can be read without a blush. On every page the
grossness of the language is only equaled by the shameful depravity of the
characters and the immorality of the incidents. In the south of France,
more particularly, an extreme laxity of manners prevailed among the
nobility. Gallantry seems to have been the sole object of existence.
Ladies were proud of the celebrity conferred upon their charms by the
songs of the troubadours, and they themselves often professed the "Gay
Science," as poetry was called. They instituted the Courts of Love where
questions of gallantry were gravely discussed and decided by their
suffrages; and they gave, in short, to the whole south of France the
character of a carnival. No sooner had the Gay Science been established in
Provence, than it became the fashion in surrounding countries. The
sovereigns of Europe adopted the Provençal language, and enlisted
themselves among the poets, and there was soon neither baron nor knight
who did not feel himself bound to add to his fame as a warrior the
reputation of a gentle troubadour. Monarchs were now the professors of the
art, and the only patrons were the ladies. Women, no longer beautiful
ciphers, acquired complete liberty of action, and the homage paid to them
amounted almost to worship.

At the festivals of the haughty barons, the lady of the castle, attended
by youthful beauties, distributed crowns to the conquerors in the jousts
and tournaments. She then, in turn, surrounded by her ladies, opened her
Court of Love, and the candidates for poetical honors entered with their
harps and contended for the prize in extempore verses called _tensons_.
The Court of Love then entered upon a grave discussion of the merits of
the question, and a judgment or _arrêt d'amour_ was given, frequently in
verse, by which the dispute was supposed to be decided. These courts often
formally justified the abandonment of moral duty, and assuming the forms
and exercising the power of ordinary tribunals, they defined and
prescribed the duties of the sexes, and taught the arts of love and song
according to the most depraved moral principles, mingled, however, with an
affected display of refined sentimentality. Whatever may have been their
utility in the advancement of the language and the cultivation of literary
taste, these institutions extended a legal sanction to vice, and
inculcated maxims of shameful profligacy.

The songs of the Provençals were divided into _chanzos_ and _sirventes_;
the object of the former was love, and of the latter war, politics, or
satire. The name of _tenson_ was given to those poetical contests in verse
which took place in the Courts of Love, or before illustrious princes. The
songs were sung from château to château, either by the troubadours
themselves, or by the _jongleur_ or instrument player by whom they were
attended; they often abounded in extravagant hyperboles, trivial conceits,
and grossness of expression. Ladies, whose attractions were estimated by
the number and desperation of their lovers, and the songs of their
troubadours, were not offended if licentiousness mingled with gallantry in
the songs composed in their praise. Authors addressed prayers to the
saints for aid in their amorous intrigues, and men, seemingly rational,
resigned themselves to the wildest transports of passion for individuals
whom, in some cases, they had never seen. Thus, religious enthusiasm,
martial bravery, and licentious love, so grotesquely mingled, formed the
very life of the Middle Ages, and impossible as it is to transfuse into a
translation the harmony of Provençal verse, or to find in it, when
stripped of this harmony, any poetical idea, these remains are valuable
since they present us with a picture of the life and manners of the times.

The intercourse of the Provençals with the Moors of Spain, which, as we
have seen, was greatly increased by the union of Catalonia and Provence
(1092), introduced into the North an acquaintance with the arts and
learning of the Arabians. It was then that rhyme, the essential
characteristic of Arabian poetry, was adopted by the troubadours into the
Provençal language, and thence communicated to the nations of modern

The poetry of the troubadours borrowed nothing from history, mythology, or
from foreign manners, and no reference to the sciences or the learning of
the schools mingled with their simple effusions of sentiment. This fact
enables us to comprehend how it was possible for princes and knights, who
were often unable to read, to be yet ranked among the most ingenious
troubadours. Several public events, however, materially contributed to
enlarge the sphere of intellect of the knights of the _Langue d'oc_. The
first was the conquest of Toledo and Castile by Alphonso VI., in which he
was seconded by the Cid Rodriguez, the hero of Spain, and by a number of
French Provençal knights; the second was the preaching of the Crusades. Of
all the events recorded in the history of the world, there is, perhaps,
not one of a nature so highly poetical as these holy wars; not one which
presents a more powerful picture of the grand effects of enthusiasm, of
noble sacrifices of self-interest to faith, sentiment, and passion, which
are essentially poetical. Many of the troubadours assumed the cross;
others were detained in Europe by the bonds of love, and the conflict
between passion and religious enthusiasm lent its influence to the poems
they composed. The third event was the succession of the kings of England
to the sovereignty of a large part of the countries where the _Langue
d'oc_ prevailed, which influenced the manners and opinions of the
troubadours, and introduced them to the courts of the most powerful
monarchs; while the encouragement given to them by the kings of the house
of Plantagenet had a great influence on the formation of the English
language, and furnished Chaucer, the father of English literature, with
his first models for imitation.

The troubadours numbered among their ranks the most illustrious sovereigns
and heroes of the age. Among others, Richard Coeur de Lion, who, as a poet
and knight, united in his own person all the brilliant qualities of the
time. A story is told of him, that when he was detained a prisoner in
Germany, the place of his imprisonment was discovered by Blondel, his
minstrel, who sang beneath the fortress a _tenson_ which he and Richard
had composed in common, and to which Richard responded. Bertrand de Born,
who was intimately connected with Richard, and who exercised a powerful
influence over the destinies of the royal family of England, has left a
number of original poems; Sordello of Mantua was the first to adopt the
ballad form of writing, and many of his love songs are expressed in a pure
and delicate style. Both of these poets are immortalized in the Divine
Comedy of Dante. The history of Geoffrey Rudel illustrates the wildness of
the imagination and manners of the troubadours. He was a gentleman of
Provence, and hearing the knights who had returned from the Holy Land
speak with enthusiasm of the Countess of Tripoli, who had extended to them
the most generous hospitality, and whose grace and beauty equaled her
virtues, he fell in love with her without ever having seen her, and,
leaving the Court of England, he embarked for the Holy Land, to offer to
her the homage of his heart. During the voyage he was attacked by a severe
illness, and lost the power of speech. On his arrival in the harbor, the
countess, being informed that a celebrated poet was dying of love for her,
visited him on shipboard, took him kindly by the hand, and attempted to
cheer his spirits. Rudel revived sufficiently to thank the lady for her
humanity and to declare his passion, when his voice was silenced by the
convulsions of death. He was buried at Tripoli, and, by the orders of the
countess, a tomb of porphyry was erected to his memory. It is unnecessary
to mention other names among the multitude of these poets, who all hold
nearly the same rank. An extreme monotony reigns throughout their works,
which offer little individuality of character.

After the thirteenth century, the troubadours were heard no more, and the
efforts of the counts of Provence, the magistrates of Toulouse, and the
kings of Arragon to awaken, their genius by the Courts of Love and the
Floral Games were vain. They themselves attributed their decline to the
degradation into which the jongleurs, with whom at last they were
confounded, had fallen. But their art contained within itself a more
immediate principle of decay in the profound ignorance of its professors.
They had no other models than the songs of the Arabians, which perverted
their taste. They made no attempt at epic or dramatic poetry; they had no
classical allusions, no mythology, nor even a romantic imagination, and,
deprived of the riches of antiquity, they had few resources within
themselves. The poetry of Provence was a beautiful flower springing up on
a sterile soil, and no cultivation could avail in the absence of its
natural nourishment. From the close of the twelfth century the language
began to decline, and public events occurred which hastened its downfall,
and reduced it to the condition of a provincial dialect.

Among the numerous sects which sprang up in Christendom during the Middle
Ages, there was one which, though bearing different names at different
times, more or less resembled what is now known as Protestantism; in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was called the faith of the
Albigenses, as it prevailed most widely in the district of Albi. It easily
came to be identified with the Provençal language, as this was the chosen
vehicle of its religious services. This sect was tolerated and protected
by the Court of Toulouse. It augmented its numbers; it devoted itself to
commerce and the arts, and added much to the prosperity which had long
distinguished the south of France. The Albigenses had lived long and
peaceably side by side with the Catholics in the cities and villages; but
Innocent III. sent legates to Provence, who preached, discussed, and
threatened, and met a freedom of thought and resistance to authority which
Rome was not willing to brook. Bitter controversy was now substituted for
the amiable frivolity of the _tensons_, and theological disputes
superseded those on points of gallantry. The long struggle between the
poetry of the troubadours and the preaching of the monks came to a crisis;
the severe satires which the disorderly lives of the clergy called forth
became severer still, and the songs of the troubadours wounded the power
and pride of Rome more deeply than ever, while they stimulated the
Albigenses to a valiant resistance or a glorious death. A crusade
followed, and when the dreadful strife was over, Provençal poetry had
received its death-blow. The language of Provence was destined to share
the fate of its poetry; it became identified in the minds of the orthodox
with heresy and rebellion. When Charles of Anjou acquired the kingdom of
Naples, he drew thither the Provençal nobility, and thus drained the
kingdom of those who had formerly maintained its chivalrous manners. In
the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the Court of Rome was
removed to Avignon, the retinues of the three successive popes were
Italians, and the Tuscan language entirely superseded the Provençal among
the higher classes.

2. THE TROUVÈRES.--While the Provençal was thus relapsing into a mere
dialect, the north of France was maturing a new language and literature of
an entirely different character. Normandy, a province of France, was
invaded in the tenth century by a new northern tribe, who, under the
command of Rollo or Raoul the Dane, incorporated themselves with the
ancient inhabitants. The victors adopted the language of the vanquished,
stamped upon it the impress of their own genius, and gave it a fixed form.
It was from Normandy that the first writers and poets in the French
language sprang. While the Romance Provençal spoken in the South was
sweet, and expressive of effeminate manners, the Romance-Wallon was
energetic and warlike, and represented the severer manners of the Germans.
Its poetry, too, was widely different from the Provençal. It was no longer
the idle baron sighing for his lady-love, but the songs of a nation of
hardy warriors, celebrating the prowess of their ancestors with all the
exaggerations that fancy could supply. The _Langue d'oui_ became the
vehicle of literature only in the twelfth century,--a hundred years
subsequent to the Romance Provençal. The poets and reciters of tales,
giving the name of Troubadour a French termination, called themselves
Trouvères. They originated the brilliant romances of chivalry, the
_fabliaux_ or tales of amusement, and the dramatic invention of the
Mysteries. The first literary work in this tongue is the versified romance
of a fabulous history of the early kings of England, beginning with
Brutus, the grandson of AEneas, who, after passing many enchanted isles,
at length establishes himself in England, where he finds King Arthur, the
chivalric institution of the Round Table, and the enchanter Merlin, one of
the most popular personages of the Middle Ages. Out of this legend arose
some of the boldest creations of the human fancy. The word "romance," now
synonymous with fictitious composition, originally meant only a work in
the modern dialect, as distinguished from the scholastic Latin. There is
little doubt that these tales were originally believed to be strictly
true. One of the first romances of chivalry was "Tristam de Léonois,"
written in 1190. This was soon followed by that of the "San Graal" and
"Lancelot;" and previously to 1213 Ville-Hardouin had written in the
French language a "History of the Conquest of Constantinople." The poem of
"Alexander," however, which appeared about the same time, has enjoyed the
greatest reputation. It is a series of romances and marvelous histories,
said to be the result of the labors of nine celebrated poets of the time.
Alexander is introduced, surrounded not by the pomp of antiquity, but by
the splendors of chivalry. The high renown of this poem has given the name
of _Alexandrine verse_ to the measure in which it is written.

The spirit of chivalry which burst forth in the romances of the trouvères,
the heroism of honor and love, the devotion of the powerful to the weak,
the supernatural fictions, so novel and so dissimilar to everything in
antiquity or in later times, the force and brilliancy of imagination which
they display, have been variously attributed to the Arabians and the
Germans, but they were undoubtedly the invention of the Normans. Of all
the people of ancient Europe, they were the most adventurous and intrepid.
They established a dynasty in Russia; they cut their way through a
perfidious and sanguinary nation to Constantinople; they landed on the
coasts of England and France, and surprised nations who were ignorant of
their existence; they conquered Sicily, and established a principality in
the heart of Syria. A people so active, so enterprising, and so intrepid,
found no greater delight in their leisure hours than listening to tales of
adventures, dangers, and battles. The romances of chivalry are divided
into three distinct classes. They relate to three different epochs in the
early part of the Middle Ages, and represent three bands of fabulous
heroes. In the romances of the first class, the exploits of Arthur, son of
Pendragon, the last British king who defended England against the invasion
of the Anglo-Saxons, are celebrated. In the second we find the Amadises,
but whether they belong to French literature has been reasonably disputed.
The scene is placed nearly in the same countries as in the romances of the
Round Table, but there is a want of locality about them, and the name and
the times are absolutely fabulous. "Amadis of Gaul," the first of these
romances, and the model of all the rest, is claimed as the work of Vasco
Lobeira, a Portuguese (1290-1325); but no doubt exists with regard to the
continuations and numerous imitations of this work, which are
incontestably of Spanish origin, and were in their highest repute when
Cervantes produced his inimitable "Don Quixote." The third class of
chivalric romances, relating to the court of Charlemagne and his Paladins,
is entirely French, although their celebrity is chiefly due to the
renowned Italian poet who availed himself of their fictions. The most
ancient monument of the marvelous history of Charlemagne is the chronicle
of Turpin, of uncertain date, and which, though fabulous, can scarcely be
considered as a romance. This and other similar narratives furnished
materials for the romances, which appeared at the conclusion of the
Crusades, when a knowledge of the East had enriched the French imagination
with all the treasures of the Arabian. The trouvères were not only the
inventors of the romances of chivalry, but they originated the allegories,
and the dramatic compositions of southern Europe. Although none of their
works have obtained a high reputation or deserve to be ranked among the
masterpieces of human intellect, they are still worthy of attention as
monuments of the progress of mind.

The French possessed, above every other nation of modern times, an
inventive spirit, but they were, at the same time, the originators of
those tedious allegorical poems which have been imitated by all the
romantic nations. The most ancient and celebrated of these is the "Romance
of the Rose," though not a romance in the present sense of the word. At
the period of its composition, the French language was still called the
Romance, and all its more voluminous productions Romances. The "Romance of
the Rose" was the work of two authors, Guillaume de Lorris, who commenced
it in the early part of the thirteenth century, and Jean de Meun (b.
1280), by whom it was continued. Although it reached the appalling length
of twenty thousand verses, no book was ever more popular. It was admired
as a masterpiece of wit, invention, and philosophy; the highest mysteries
of theology were believed to be concealed in this poetical form, and
learned commentaries were written upon its veiled meaning by preachers,
who did not scruple to cite passages from it in the pulpit. But the
tedious poem and its numberless imitations are nothing but rhymed prose,
which it would be impossible to recognize as poetry, if the measure of the
verse were taken away.

In considering the popularity of these long, didactic works, it must not
be forgotten that the people of that day were almost entirely without
books. A single volume was the treasure of a whole household. In
unfavorable weather it was read to a circle around the fire, and when it
was finished the perusal was again commenced. No comparison with other
books enabled men to form a judgment upon its merits. It was reverenced
like holy writ, and they accounted themselves happy in being able to
comprehend it.

Another species of poetry peculiar to this period had at least the merit
of being exceedingly amusing. This was the _fabliaux_, tales written in
verse in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They are treasures of
invention, simplicity, and gayety, of which other nations can furnish no
instances, except by borrowing from the French. A collection of Indian
tales, translated into Latin in the tenth or eleventh century, was the
first storehouse of the trouvères. The Arabian tales, transmitted by the
Moors to the Castilians, and by the latter to the French, were in turn
versified. But above all, the anecdotes collected in the towns and castles
of France, the adventures of lovers, the tricks of gallants, and the
numerous subjects gathered from the manners of the age, afforded
inexhaustible materials for ludicrous narratives to the writers of these
tales. They were treasures common to all. We seldom know the name of the
trouvère by whom these anecdotes were versified. As they were related,
each one varied them according to the impression he wished to produce. At
this period there were neither theatrical entertainments nor games at
cards to fill up the leisure hours of society, and the trouvères or
relators of the tales were welcomed at the courts, castles, and private
houses with an eagerness proportioned to the store of anecdotes which they
brought with them to enliven conversation. Whatever was the subject of
their verse, legends, miracles, or licentious anecdotes, they were equally
acceptable. These tales were the models of those of Boccaccio, La
Fontaine, and others. Some of them have had great fame, and have passed
from tongue to tongue, and from age to age, down to our own times. Several
of them have been introduced upon the stage, and others formed the
originals of Parnell's "Hermit," of the "Zaïre" of Voltaire, and of the
"Renard," which Goethe has converted into a long poem. But perhaps the
most interesting and celebrated of all the _fabliaux_ is that of "Aucassin
and Nicolette," which has furnished the subject for a well-known opera.

It was at this period, when the ancient drama was entirely forgotten, that
a dramatic form was given to the great events which accompanied the
establishment of the Christian religion. The first to introduce this
grotesque species of composition, were the pilgrims who had returned from
the Holy Land. In the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, their dramatic
representations were first exhibited in the open streets; but it was only
at the conclusion of the fourteenth that a company of pilgrims undertook
to amuse the public by regular dramatic entertainments. They were called
the Fraternity of the Passion, from the passion of our Saviour being one
of their most celebrated representations. This mystery, the most ancient
dramatic work of modern Europe, comprehends the whole history of our Lord,
from his baptism to his death. The piece was too long for one
representation, and was therefore continued from day to day. Eighty-seven
characters successively appear in this mystery, among whom are the three
persons of the Trinity, angels, apostles, devils, and a host of other
personages, the invention of the poet's brain. To fill the comic parts,
the dialogues of the devils were introduced, and their eagerness to
maltreat one another always produced much laughter in the assembly.
Extravagant machinery was employed to give to the representation the pomp
which we find in the modern opera; and this drama, placing before the eyes
of a Christian assembly all those incidents for which they felt the
highest veneration, must have affected them much more powerfully than even
the finest tragedies can do at the present day.

The mystery of the Passion was followed by a crowd of imitations. The
whole of the Old Testament, and the lives of all the saints, were brought
upon the stage. The theatre on which these mysteries were represented was
always composed of an elevated scaffold divided into three parts,--heaven,
hell, and the earth between them. The proceedings of the Deity and Lucifer
might be discerned in their respective abodes, and angels descended and
devils ascended, as their interference in mundane affairs was required.
The pomp of these representations went on increasing for two centuries,
and, as great value was set upon the length of the piece, some mysteries
could not be represented in less than forty days.

The "Clerks of the Revels," an incorporated society at Paris, whose duty
it was to regulate the public festivities, resolved to amuse the people
with dramatic representations themselves, but as the Fraternity of the
Passion had obtained a royal license to represent the mysteries, they were
compelled to abstain from that kind of exhibition. They therefore invented
a new one, to which they gave the name of "Moralities," and which differed
little from the mysteries, except in name. They were borrowed from the
Parables, or the historical parts of the Bible, or they were purely
allegorical. To the Clerks of the Revels we also owe the invention of
modern comedy. They mingled their moralities with farces, the sole object
of which was to excite laughter, and in which all the gayety and vivacity
of the French character were displayed. Some of these plays still retain
their place upon the French stage. At the commencement of the fifteenth
century another comic company was established, who introduced personal and
even political satire upon the stage. Thus every species of dramatic
representation was revived by the French. This was the result of the
talent for imitation so peculiar to the French people, and of that pliancy
of thought and correctness of intellect which enables them to conceive new
characters. All these inventions, which led to the establishment of the
Romantic drama in other countries, were known in France more than a
century before the rise of the Spanish or Italian theatre, and even before
the classical authors were first studied and imitated. At the end of the
sixteenth century, these new pursuits acquired a more immediate influence
over the literature of France, and wrought a change in its spirit and
rules, without, however, altering the national character and taste which
had been manifested in the earliest productions of the trouvères.

merely a popular language; it varied from province to province, and from
author to author, because no masterpiece had inaugurated any one of its
numerous dialects. It was disdained by the more serious writers, who
continued to employ the Latin. In the fifteenth century literature assumed
a somewhat wider range, and the language began to take precision and
force. But with much general improvement and literary industry there was
still nothing great or original, nothing to mark an epoch in the history
of letters. The only poets worthy of notice were Charles, Duke of Orleans
(1391-1465), and Villon, a low ruffian of Paris (1431-1500). Charles was
taken prisoner at the battle of Agincourt, and carried to England, where
he was detained for twenty-five years, and where he wrote a volume of
poems in which he imitated the allegorical style of the Romance of the
Rose. The verses of Villon were inspired by the events of his not very
creditable life. Again and again he suffered imprisonment for petty
larcenies, and at the age of twenty-five was condemned to be hanged. His
language is not that of the court, but of the people; and his poetry marks
the first sensible progress after the Romance of the Rose.

It has been well said that literature begins with poetry; but it is
established by prose, which fixes the language. The earliest work in
French prose is the chronicle of Ville-Hardouin (1150-1213), written in
the thirteenth century. It is a personal narrative and relates with
graphic particularity the conquest of Constantinople by the knights of
Christendom. This ancient chronicle traces out for us some of the
realities, of which the mediaeval romances were the ideal, and enables us
to judge in a measure how far these romances embody substantial truth.

A great improvement in style is apparent in Joinville (1223-1317), the
amiable and light-hearted ecclesiastic who wrote the Life of St. Louis,
whom he had accompanied to the Holy Land, and whose pious adventures he
affectionately records. Notwithstanding the anarchy which prevailed in
France during the fourteenth century, some social progress was made; but
while public events were hostile to poetry, they gave inspiration to the
historic muse, and Froissart arose to impart vivacity of coloring to
historic narrative.

Froissart (1337-1410) was an ecclesiastic of the day, but little in his
life or writings bespeaks the sacred calling. Having little taste for the
duties of his profession, he was employed by the Lord of Montfort to
compose a chronicle of the wars of the time; but there were no books to
tell him of the past, no regular communication between nations to inform
him of the present; so he followed the fashion of knights errant, and set
out on horseback, not to seek adventures, but, as an itinerant historian,
to find materials for his chronicle. He wandered from town to town, and
from castle to castle, to see the places of which he would write, and to
learn events on the spot where they occurred. His first journey was to
England; here he was employed by Queen Philippa of Hainault to accompany
the Duke of Clarence to Milan, where he met Boccaccio and Chaucer. He
afterwards passed into the service of several of the princes of Europe, to
whom he acted as secretary and poet, always gleaning material for historic
record. His book is an almost universal history of the different states of
Europe, from 1322 to the end of the fourteenth century. He troubles
himself with no explanations or theories of cause and effect, nor with the
philosophy of state policy; he is simply a graphic story-teller. Sir
Walter Scott called Froissart his master.

Philippe de Commines (1445-1509) was a man of his age, but in advance of
it, combining the simplicity of the fifteenth century with the sagacity of
a later period. An annalist, like Froissart, he was also a statesman, and
a political philosopher; embracing, like Machiavelli and Montesquieu, the
remoter consequences which flowed from the events he narrated and the
principles he unfolded. He was an unscrupulous diplomat in the service of
Louis XI., and his description of the last years of that monarch is a
striking piece of history, whence poets and novelists have borrowed themes
in later times. But neither the romance of Sir Walter Scott nor the song
of Béranger does justice to the reality, as presented by the faithful



1. THE RENAISSANCE AND THE REFORMATION.--During the preceding ages,
erudition and civilization had not gone hand-in-hand. On the one side
there was the bold, chivalric mind of young Europe, speaking with the
tongues of yesterday, while on the other was the ecclesiastical mind,
expressing itself in degenerate Latin. The one was a life of gayety and
rude disorder--the life of court and castle as depicted in the literature
just scanned; the other, that of men separated from the world, who had
been studying the literary remains of antiquity, and transcribing and
treasuring them for future generations. Hitherto these two sections had
held their courses apart; now they were to meet and blend in harmony. The
vernacular poets, on the one hand, borrowing thought and expression from
the classics, and the clergy, on the other, becoming purveyors of light
literature to the court circles.

The fifteenth century, though somewhat barren, had prepared for the
fecundity of succeeding ages. The revival of the study of ancient
literature, which was promoted by the downfall of Constantinople, the
invention of printing, the discovery of the new world, the decline of
feudalism, and the consequent elevation of the middle classes,--all
concurred to promote a rapid improvement of the human intellect.

During the early part of the sixteenth century, all the ardor of the
French mind was turned to the study of the dead languages; men of genius
had no higher ambition than to excel in them, and many in their declining
years went in their gray hairs to the schools where the languages of Homer
and Cicero were taught. In civil and political society, the same
enthusiasm manifested itself in the imitation of antique manners; people
dressed in the Greek and Roman fashions, borrowed from them the usages of
life, and made a point of dying like the heroes of Plutarch.

The religious reformation came soon after to restore the Christian, as the
revival of letters had brought back the pagan antiquity. Ignorance was
dissipated, and religion was disengaged from philosophy. The Renaissance,
as the revival of antique learning was called, and the Reformation, at
first made common cause. One of those who most eagerly imbibed the spirit
of both was the Princess Marguerite de Valois (1492-1549), elder sister of
Francis I., who obtained the credit of many generous actions which were
truly hers. The principal work of this lady was "L'Heptaméron," or the
History of the Fortunate Lovers, written on the plan and in the spirit of
the Decameron of Boccaccio, a work which a lady of our times would be
unwilling to own acquaintance with, much more to adopt as a model; but the
apology for Marguerite must be found in the manners of the times.
L'Heptaméron is the earliest French prose that can be read without a

In 1518, when Margaret was twenty-six years of age, she received from her
brother a gifted poet as valet-de-chambre; this was Marot (1495-1544),
between whom and the learned princess a poetical intercourse was
maintained. Marot had imbibed the principles of Calvin, and had also drank
deeply of the spirit of the Renaissance; but he displayed the poet more
truly before he was either a theologian or a classical scholar. He may be
considered the last type of the old French school, of that combination of
grace and archness, of elegance and simplicity, of familiarity and
propriety, which is a national characteristic of French poetic literature,
and in which they have never been imitated.

Francis Rabelais (1483-1553) was one of the most remarkable persons that
figured in the Renaissance, a learned scholar, physician, and philosopher,
though known to posterity chiefly as an obscene humorist. He is called by
Lord Bacon "the great jester of France." He was at first a monk of the
Franciscan order, but he afterwards threw off the sacerdotal character,
and studied medicine. From about the year 1534, Rabelais was in the
service of the Cardinal Dubellay, and a favorite in the court circles of
Paris and Rome. It was probably during this period that he published, in
successive parts, the work on which his popular fame has rested, the
"Lives of Gargantua and Pantagruel." It consists of the lives and
adventures of these two gigantic heroes, father and son, with the
waggeries and practical jokes of Panurge, their jongleur, and the
blasphemies and obscenities of Friar John, a fighting, swaggering,
drinking monk. With these are mingled dissertations, sophistries, and
allegorical satires in abundance. The publication of the work created a
perfect uproar at the Sorbonne, and among the monks who were its principal
victims; but the cardinals enjoyed its humor, and protected its author,
while the king, Francis I., pronounced it innocent and delectable. It
became the book of the day, and passed through countless editions and
endless commentaries; and yet it is agreed on all hands that there exists
not another work, admitted as literature, that would bear a moment's
comparison with it, for indecency, profanity, and repulsive and disgusting
coarseness. His work is now a mere curiosity for the student of antique

As Rabelais was the leading type of the Renaissance, so was Calvin (1509-
1564) of the Reformation. Having embraced the  principles of Luther, he
went considerably farther in his views.  In 1532 he established himself at
Geneva, where he organized  a church according to his own ideas. In 1535
he published his  "Institutes of the Christian Religion," distinguished
for great severity of doctrine. His next most celebrated work is a
commentary on the Scriptures.

Intellect continued to struggle with its fetters. Many, like  Rabelais,
mistrusted the whole system of ecclesiastical polity established by law,
and yet did not pin their faith on the dictates  of the austere Calvin.
The almost inevitable consequence was  a wide and universal skepticism,
replacing the former implicit subjection to Romanism.

The most eminent type of this school was Montaigne (1533-1592), who, in
his "Essays," shook the foundations of all the  creeds of his day, without
offering anything to replace them.  He is considered the earliest
philosophical writer in French  prose, the first of those who contributed
to direct the minds of his countrymen to the study of human nature. In
doing so, he takes himself as his subject; he dissects his feelings,
emotions,  and tendencies with the coolness of an operating surgeon. To a
singular power of self-investigation and an acute observation of  the
actions of men, he added great affluence of thought and excursiveness of
fancy, which render him, in spite of his egotism, a most attractive
writer. As he would have considered it dishonest to conceal anything about
himself, he has told much that  our modern ideas of decorum would deem
better untold.

Charron (1541-1603), the friend and disciple of Montaigne,  was as bold a
thinker, though inferior as a writer. In his book,  "De la Sagesse," he
treats religion as a mere matter of speculation, a system of dogmas
without practical influence. Other  writers followed in the same steps,
and affected, like him, to place skepticism at the service of good morals.
"License," says  a French writer, "had to come before liberty, skepticism
before philosophical inquiry, the school of Montaigne before that of
Descartes." On the other hand, St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), in his
"Introduction to a Devout Life," and other works,  taught that the only
cure for the evils of human nature was to be found in the grace which was
revealed by Christianity.

In these struggles of thought, in this conflict of creeds, the  language
acquired vigor and precision. In the works of Calvin,  it manifested a
seriousness of tone, and a severe purity of style  which commanded general
respect. An easy, natural tone was imparted to it by Amyot (1513-1593),
professor of Greek and  Latin at the University of Paris, who enriched the
literature  with elegant translations, in which he blended Hellenic graces
with those strictly French.

2. LIGHT LITERATURE.--Ronsard (1524-1585), the favorite poet of Mary Queen
of Scots, flourished at the time that the rage for ancient literature was
at its height. He traced the first outlines of modern French poetry, and
introduced a higher style of poetic thought and feeling than had hitherto
been known. To him France owes the first attempt at the ode and the heroic
epic; in the former, he is regarded as the precursor of Malherbe, who is
still looked on as a model in this style, But Ronsard, and the numerous
school which he formed, not only imitated the spirit and form of the
ancients, but aimed to subject his own language to combinations and
inversions like those of the Greek and Latin, and foreign roots and
phrases began to overpower the reviving flexibility of the French idiom.

Under this influence, the drama was restored by Jodelle (1532-1573) and
others, in the shape of imitations and translations. Towards the end of
the century, however, there appeared a reaction against this learned
tragedy, led by Alexander Hardy (1560-1631), who, with little or no
original genius, produced about twelve hundred plays. He borrowed in every
direction, and imitated the styles of all nations. But the general taste,
however, soon returned to the Greek and Roman school.

The glorious reign of Henry IV. had been succeeded by the stormy minority
of Louis XIII., when Malherbe (1556-1628), the tyrant of words and
syllables, appeared as the reformer of poetry. He attracted attention by
ridiculing the style of Ronsard. He became the laureate of the court, and
furnished for it that literature in which it was beginning to take
delight. In the place of Latin and Greek French, he inaugurated the
extreme of formality; the matter of his verse was made subordinate to the
manner; he substituted polish for native beauty, and effect for genuine

I. de Balzac (1594-1624), in his frivolous epistles, used prose as
Malherbe did verse, and a numerous school of the same character was soon
formed. The works of Voiture (1598-1648) abound in the pleasantries and
affected simplicity which best befit such compositions. The most trifling
adventure--the death of a cat or a dog--was transformed into a poem, in
which there was no poetry, but only a graceful facility, which was
considered perfectly charming. Then, as though native affectation were not
enough, the borrowed wit of Italian Marinism, which had been eagerly
adopted in Spain, made its way thence into France, with Spanish
exaggeration superadded. A disciple of this school declares that the eyes
of his mistress are as "large as his grief, and as black as his fate."
Malherbe and his school fell afterwards into neglect, for fashionable
caprice had turned its attention to burlesque, and every one believed
himself capable of writing in this style, from the lords and ladies of the
court down to the valets and maid-servants. It was men like Scarron (1610-
1660), familiar with literary study, and, from choice, with the lowest
society, who introduced this form, the pleasantry of which was increased
by contrast with the finical taste that had been in vogue. Fashion ruled
the light literature of France during the first half of the seventeenth
century, and through all its diversities, its great characteristic is the
absence of all true and serious feeling, and of that inspiration which is
drawn from realities. In the productions of half a century, we find not
one truly elevated, energetic, or pathetic work.

It is during this time, that is, between the death of Henry IV (1610), and
that of Richelieu (1642), that we mark the beginning of literary societies
in France. The earliest in point of date was headed by Madame de
Rambouillet (1610-1642), whose hotel became a seminary of female authors
and factious politicians. This lady was of Italian origin, of fine taste
and education. She had turned away in disgust from the rude manners of the
court of Henry IV, and devoted herself to the study of the classics. After
the death of the king, she gathered a distinguished circle round herself,
combining the elegances of high life with the cultivation of literary
taste. While yet young, Madame de Rambouillet was attacked with a malady
which obliged her to keep her bed the greater part of every year. An
elegant alcove was formed in the great _salon_ of the house, where her bed
was placed, and here she received her friends. The choicest wits of Paris
flocked to her levées; the Hotel de Rambouillet became the fashionable
rendezvous of literature and taste, and _bas-bleu_-ism was the rage. Even
the infirmities of this accomplished lady were imitated. An alcove was
essential to every fashionable belle, who, attired in a coquettish
dishabille, and reclining on satin pillows, fringed with lace, gave
audience to whispered gossip in the _ruelle_, as the space around the bed
was called.

Among the personages renowned in their day, who frequented the Hotel de
Rambouillet, were Mademoiselle de Scudery (1607-1701), then in the zenith
of her fame, Madame de Sévigné (1627-1696), Mademoiselle de la Vergne,
afterwards Madame de Lafayette (1655-1693), eminent as literary
characters; the Duchess de Longueville, the Duchess de Chevreuse, and
Madame Deshoulières, afterwards distinguished for their political ability.
At the feet of these noble ladies reclined a number of young seigneurs,
dangling their little hats surcharged with plumes, while their mantles of
silk and gold were spread loosely on the floor. And there, in more grave
attire, were the professional littérateurs, such as Balzac, Voiture,
Ménage, Scudery, Chaplain, Costart, Conrad, and the Abbé Bossuet. The
Cupid of the hotel was strictly Platonic. The romances of Mademoiselle de
Scudery were long-spun disquisitions on love; her characters were drawn
from the individuals around her, who in turn attempted to sustain the
characters and adopt the language suggested in her books. One folly led on
another, till at last the vocabulary of the _salon_ became so artificial,
that none but the initiated could understand it. As for Mademoiselle de
Scudery herself, applying, it would seem, the impracticable tests she had
invented for sounding the depths of the tender passion, though not without
suitors, she died an old maid, at the advanced age of ninety-four.

The civil wars of the Fronde (1649-1654) were unfavorable to literary
meetings. The women who took the most distinguished part in these troubles
had graduated, so to say, from the Hotel de Rambouillet, which, perhaps
for this reason, declined with the ascendency of Louis XIV. The agitations
of the Fronde taught him to distrust clever women, and he always showed a
marked dislike for female authorship.

3. THE FRENCH ACADEMY.--The taste for literature, which had become so
generally diffused, rendered the men whose province it was to define its
laws the chiefs of a brilliant empire. Scholars, therefore, frequently met
together for critical discussion. About the year 1629 a certain number of
men of letters agreed to assemble one day in each week. It was a union of
friendship, a companionship of men of kindred tastes and occupations; and
to prevent intrusion, the meetings were for some time kept secret. When
Richelieu came to hear of the existence of the society, desirous to make
literature subservient to his political glory, he proposed to these
gentlemen to form themselves into a corporation, established by letters
patent, at the same time hinting that he had the power to put a stop to
their secret meetings. The argument was irresistible, and the little
society consented to receive from his highness the title of the French
Academy, in 1635. The members of the Academy were to occupy themselves in
establishing rules for the French language, and to take cognizance of
whatever books were written by its members, and by others who desired its

4. THE DRAMA.--The endeavor to imitate the ancients in the tragic art
displayed itself at a very early period among the French, and they
considered that the surest method of succeeding in this endeavor was to
observe the strictest outward regularity of form, of which they derived
their ideas more from Aristotle, and especially from Seneca, than from any
intimate acquaintance with the Greek models themselves. Three of the most
celebrated of the French tragic poets, Corneille, Racine, and Voltaire,
have given, it would seem, an immutable shape to the tragic stage of
France by adopting this system, which has been considered by the French
critics universally as alone entitled to any authority, and who have
viewed every deviation from it as a sin against good taste. The treatise
of Aristotle, from which they have derived the idea of the far-famed three
unities, of action, time, and place, which have given rise to so many
critical wars, is a mere fragment, and some scholars have been of the
opinion that it is not even a fragment of the true original, but of an
extract which some person made for his own improvement. From this anxious
observance of the Greek rules, under totally different circumstances, it
is obvious that great inconveniences and incongruities must arise; and the
criticism of the Academy on a tragedy of Corneille, "that the poet, from
the fear of sinning against the rules of art, had chosen rather to sin
against the rules of nature," is often applicable to the dramatic writers
of France.

Corneille (1606-1684) ushered in a new era in the French drama. It has
been said of him that he was a man greater in himself than in his works,
his genius being fettered by the rules of the French drama and the
conventional state of French verse. The day of mysteries and moralities
was past, and the comedies of Hardy, the court poet of Henry IV., had, in
their turn, been consigned to oblivion, yet there was an increasing taste
for the drama. The first comedy of Corneille, "Mélite," was followed by
many others, which, though now considered unreadable, were better than
anything then known. The appearance of the "Cid," in 1635, a drama
constructed on the foundation of the old Spanish romances, constituted an
era in the dramatic history of France. Although not without great faults,
resulting from strict adherence to the rules, it was the first time that
the depths of passion had been stirred on the stage, and its success was
unprecedented. For years after, his pieces followed each other in rapid
succession, and the history of the stage was that of Corneille's works. In
the "Cid," the triumph of love was exhibited; in "Les Horaces," love was
represented as punished for its rebellion against the laws of honor; in
"Cinna," all more tender considerations are sacrificed to the implacable
duty of avenging a father; while in "Polyeucte," duty triumphs alone.
Corneille did not boldly abandon himself to the guidance of his genius; he
feared criticism, although he defied it. His success proved the signal for
envy and detraction; he became angry at being obliged to fight his way,
and therefore withdrew from the path in which he was likely to meet
enemies. His decline was as rapid as his success had been brilliant. "The
fall of the great Corneille," says Fontenelle, "may be reckoned as among
the most remarkable examples of the vicissitudes of human affairs. Even
that of Belisarius asking alms is not more striking." As his years
increased, he became more anxious for popularity; having been so long in
possession of undisputed superiority, he could not behold without
dissatisfaction the rising glory of his successors; and, towards the close
of his life, this weakness was greatly increased by the decay of his
bodily organs.

5. PHILOSOPHY.--During this period, in a region far above court favor,
Descartes (1596-1650) elaborated his system of philosophy, in creating a
new method of philosophizing. The leading peculiarity of his system was
the attempt to deduce all moral and religious truth from self-
consciousness. _I think, therefore I am_, was the famous axiom on which
the whole was built. From this he inferred the existence of two distinct
natures in man, the mental and the physical, and the existence of certain
ideas which he called innate in the mind, and serving to connect it with
the spiritual and invisible. Besides these new views in metaphysics,
Descartes made valuable contributions to mathematical and physical
science; and though his philosophy is now generally discarded, it is not
forgotten that he opened the way for Locke, Newton, and Leibnitz, and that
his system was in reality the base of all those that superseded it. There
is scarcely a name on record, the bearer of which has given a greater
impulse to mathematical and philosophical inquiry than Descartes, and he
embodied his thoughts in such masterly language, that it has been justly
said of him, that his fame as a writer would have been greater if his
celebrity as a thinker had been less.

The age of Descartes was an interesting era in the annals of the human
mind. The darkness of scholastic philosophy was gradually clearing away
before the light which an improved method of study was shedding over the
natural sciences. A system of philosophy, founded on observation, was
preparing the downfall of those traditional errors which had long held the
mastery in the schools. Geometricians, physicians, and astronomers taught,
by their example, the severe process of reasoning which was to regenerate
all the sciences; and minds of the first order, scattered in various parts
of Europe, communicated to each other the results of their labors, and
stimulated each other to new exertions.

One of the most eminent contemporaries of Descartes was Pascal (1628-
1662). At the age of sixteen he wrote a treatise on conic sections, which
was followed by several important discoveries in arithmetic and geometry.
His experiments in natural science added to his fame, and he was
recognized as one of the most eminent geometricians of modern times. But
he soon formed the design of abandoning science for pursuits exclusively
religious, and circumstances arose which became the occasion of those
"Provincial Letters," which, with the "Pensées de la Religion," are
considered among the finest specimens of French literature.

The abbey of Port Royal occupied a lonely situation about six leagues from
Paris. Its internal discipline had recently undergone a thorough
reformation, and the abbey rose to such a high reputation, that men of
piety and learning took up their abode in its vicinity, to enjoy literary
leisure. The establishment received pupils, and its system of education
became celebrated in a religious and intellectual point of view. The great
rivals of the Port Royalists were the Jesuits. Pascal, though not a member
of the establishment, was a frequent visitor, and one of his friends
there, having been drawn into a controversy with the Sorbonne on the
doctrines of the Jansenists, had recourse to his aid in replying. Pascal
published a series of letters in a dramatic form, in which he brought his
adversaries on the stage with himself, and fairly cut them up for the
public amusement. These letters, combining the comic pleasantry of Molière
with the eloquence of Demosthenes, so elegant and attractive in style, and
so clear and popular that a child might understand them, gained immediate
attention; but the Jesuits, whose policy and doctrines they attacked,
finally induced the parliament of Provence to condemn them to be burned by
the common hangman; and the Port Royalists, refusing to renounce their
opinions, were driven from their retreat, and the establishment broken up.
Pascal's masterpiece is the "Pensées de la Religion;" it consists of
fragments of thought, without apparent connection or unity of design.
These thoughts are in some places obscure; they contain repetitions, and
even contradictions, and require that arrangement that could only have
been supplied by the hand of the writer. It has often been lamented that
the author never constructed the edifice which it is believed he had
designed, and of which these thoughts were the splendid materials.

to the throne (1638-1715), France was already subject to conditions
certain to produce a brilliant period in literature. She had been brought
into close relations with Spain and Italy, the countries then the most
advanced in intellectual culture; and she had received from the study of
the ancient masters the best correctives of whatever might have been
extravagant in the national genius. She had learned some useful lessons
from the polemical distractions of the sixteenth century. The religious
earnestness excited by controversy was gratified by preachers of high
endowments, and the political ascendency of France, among the kingdoms of
Europe, imparted a general freedom and buoyancy. But of all the influences
which contributed to perfect the literature of France in the latter half
of the seventeenth century, none was so powerful as that of the monarch
himself, who, by his personal power, rendered his court a centre of
knowledge, and, by his government, imparted a feeling of security to those
who lived under it. The predominance of the sovereign became the most
prominent feature in the social character of the age, and the whole circle
of the literature bears its impress. Louis elevated and improved, in no
small degree, the position of literary men, by granting pensions to some,
while he raised others to high offices of state; or they were recompensed
by the public, through the general taste, which the monarch so largely
contributed to diffuse.

The age, unlike that which followed it, was one of order and specialty in
literature; and in classifying its literary riches, we shall find the
principal authors presenting themselves under the different subjects:
Racine with tragedy, Molière with comedy, Boileau with satirical and mock-
heroic, La Fontaine with narrative poetry, Bossuet, Bourdaloue, and
Massillon with pulpit eloquence; Patru, Pellisson, and some others with
that of the bar; Bossuet, de Retz, and St. Simon with history and memoirs;
Rochefoucauld and La Bruyère with moral philosophy; Fénelon and Madame de
Lafayette with romance; and Madame de Sévigné with letter-writing.

The personal influence of the king was most marked on pulpit eloquence and
dramatic poetry. Other branches found less favor, from his dislike to
those who chiefly treated them. The recollections of the Fronde had left
in his mind a distrust of Rochefoucauld. A similar feeling of political
jealousy, with a thorough hatred of _bel esprit_, especially in a woman,
prevented him from appreciating Madame de Sévigné; and he seems not even
to have observed La Bruyère, in his modest functions as teacher of history
to the Duke of Burgundy. He had no taste for the pure mental speculations
of Malebranche or Fénelon; and in metaphysics, as in religion, had little
patience for what was beyond the good sense of ordinary individuals. The
same hatred of excess rendered him equally the enemy of refiners and free-
thinkers, so that the like exile fell to the lot of Arnauld and Bayle, the
one carrying to the extreme the doctrines of grace, and the other those of
skeptical inquiry. Nor did he relish the excessive simplicity of La
Fontaine, or deem that his talent was a sufficient compensation for his
slovenly manners and inaptitude for court life. Of all these writers it
may be said, that they flourished rather in spite of the personal
influence of the monarch than under his favor.

7. TRAGEDY.--The first dramas of Racine (1639-1699) were but feeble
imitations of Corneille, who advised the young author to attempt no more
tragedy. He replied by producing "Andromaque," which had a most powerful
effect upon the stage. The poet had discovered that sympathy was a more
powerful source of tragic effect than admiration, and he accordingly
employed the powers of his genius in a truthful expression of feeling and
character, and a thrilling alternation of hope and fear, anger and pity.
"Andromaque" was followed almost every year by a work of similar
character. Henrietta of England induced Corneille and Racine, unknown to
each other, to produce a tragedy on Berenice, in order to contrast the
powers of these illustrious rivals. They were represented in the year
1670; that of Corneille proved a failure, but Racine's was honored; by the
tears of the court and the city. Soon after, partly disgusted at the
intrigues against him, and partly from religious principle, Racine
abandoned his career while yet in the full vigor of his life and genius.
He was appointed historiographer to the king, conjointly with Boileau, and
after twelve years of silence he was induced by Madame de Maintenon to
compose the drama of "Esther" for the pupils in the Maison de St. Cyr,
which met with prodigious success. "Athalie," considered the most perfect
of his works, was composed with similar views; theatricals having been
abandoned at the school, however, the play was published, but found no
readers. Discouraged by this second injustice, Racine finally abandoned
the drama. "Athalie" was but little known till the year 1716, since when
its reputation has considerably augmented. Voltaire pronounced it the most
perfect work of human genius. The subject of this drama is taken from the
twenty-second and twenty-third chapter of II. Chronicles, where it is
written that Athaliah, to avenge the death of her son, destroyed all the
seed royal of the house of Judah, but that the young Joash was stolen from
among the rest by his aunt Jehoshabeath, the wife of the high-priest, and
hidden with his nurse for six years in the temple. Besides numerous
tragedies, Racine composed odes, epigrams, and spiritual songs. By a rare
combination of talents he wrote as well in prose as in verse. His "History
of the Reign of Louis XIV." was destroyed by a conflagration, but there
remain the "History of Port Royal," some pleasing letters, and some
academic discourses. The tragedies of Racine are more elegant than those
of Corneille, though less bold and striking. Corneille's principal
characters are heroes and heroines thrown into situations of extremity,
and displaying strength of mind superior to their position. Racine's
characters are men, not heroes,--men such as they are, not such as they
might possibly be.

France produced no other tragic dramatists of the first class in this age.
Somewhat later, Crébillon (1674-1762), in such wild tragedies as "Atrea,"
"Electra," and "Rhadamiste," introduced a new element, that of terror, as
a source of tragic effect.

Cardinal Mazarin had brought from Italy the opera or lyric tragedy, which
was cultivated with success by Quinault (1637-1688). He is said to have
taken the bones out of the French language by cultivating an art in which
thought, incident, and dialogue are made secondary to the development of
tender and voluptuous feeling.

8. COMEDY.--The comic drama, which occupied the French stage till the
middle of the seventeenth century, was the comedy of intrigue, borrowed
from Spain, and turning on disguises, dark lanterns, and trap-doors to
help or hinder the design of personages who were types, not of individual
character, but of classes, as doctors, lawyers, lovers, and confidants. It
was reserved for Molière (1622-1673) to demolish all this childishness,
and enthrone the true Thalia on the French stage. Like Shakspeare, he was
both an author and an actor. The appearance of the "Précieuses Ridicules"
was the first of the comedies in which the gifted poet assailed the
follies of his age. The object of this satire was the system of solemn
sentimentality which at this time was considered the perfection of
elegance. It will be remembered that there existed at Paris a coterie of
fashionable women who pretended to the most exalted refinement both of
feeling and expression, and that these were waited upon and worshiped by a
set of nobles and littérateurs, who used towards them a peculiar strain of
high-flown, pedantic gallantry. These ladies adopted fictitious names for
themselves and gave enigmatical ones to the commonest things. They
lavished upon each other the most tender appellations, as though in
contrast to the frigid tone in which the Platonism of the Hotel required
them to address the gentlemen of their circle. _Ma chère, ma précieuse_,
were the terms most frequently used by the leaders of this world of folly,
and a _précieuse_ came to be synonymous with a lady of the clique; hence
the title of the comedy. The piece was received with unanimous applause; a
more signal victory could not have been gained by a comic poet, and from
the time of its first representation this bombastic nonsense was given up.
Molière, perceiving that he had struck the true vein, resolved to study
human nature more and Plautus and Terence less. Comedy after comedy
followed, which were true pictures of the follies of society; but whatever
was the theme of his satire, all proved that he had a falcon's eye for
detecting vice and folly in every shape, and talons for pouncing upon all
as the natural prey of the satirist. On the boards he always took the
principal character himself, and he was a comedian in every look and
gesture. The "Malade Imaginaire" was the last of his works. When it was
produced upon the stage, the poet himself was really ill, but repressing
the voice of natural suffering, to affect that of the hypochondriac for
public amusement, he was seized with a convulsive cough, and carried home
dying. Though he was denied the last offices of the church, and his
remains were with difficulty allowed Christian burial, in the following
century his bust was placed in the Academy, and a monument erected to his
memory in the cemetery of Père la Chaise. The best of Molière's works are,
"Le Misanthrope," "Les Femmes Savantes," and "Tartuffe;" these are
considered models of high comedy. Other comedians followed, but at a great
distance from him in point of merit.

was the prince of fabulists; his fables appeared successively in three
collections, and although the subjects of some of these are borrowed, the
dress is entirely new. His versification constitutes one of the greatest
charms of his poetry, and seems to have been the result of an instinctive
sense of harmony, a delicate taste, and rapidity of invention. There are
few authors in France more popular, none so much the familiar genius of
every fireside. La Fontaine himself was a mere child of nature, indolent,
and led by the whim of the moment, rather than by any fixed principle. He
was desired by his father to take charge of the domain of which he was the
keeper, and to unite himself in marriage with a family relative. With
unthinking docility he consented to both, but neglected alike his official
duties and domestic obligations with an innocent unconsciousness of wrong.
He was taken to Paris by the Duchess of Bouillon and passed his days in
her coteries, and those of Racine and Boileau, utterly forgetful of his
home and family, except when his pecuniary necessities obliged him to
return to sell portions of his property to supply his wants. When this was
exhausted, he became dependent on the kindness of female discerners of
merit. Henrietta of England attached him to her suite; and after her
death, Madame de la Sablière gave him apartments at her house, supplied
his wants, and indulged his humors for twenty years. When she retired to a
convent, Madame d'Hervart, the wife of a rich financier, offered him a
similar retreat. While on her way to make the proposal, she met him in the
street, and said, "La Fontaine, will you come and live in my house?" "I
was just going, madame," he replied, as if his doing so had been the
simplest and most natural thing in the world. And here he remained the
rest of his days. France has produced numerous writers of fables since the
time of La Fontaine, but none worthy of comparison with him.

The writings of Descartes and Pascal, with the precepts of the Academy and
Port Royal, had established the art of prose composition, but the destiny
of poetry continued doubtful. Corneille's masterpieces afforded models
only in one department; there was no specific doctrine on the idea of what
poetry ought to be. To supply this was the mission of Boileau (1636-1711);
and he fulfilled it, first by satirizing the existing style, and then by
composing an "Art of Poetry," after the manner of Horace. In the midst of
men who made verses for the sake of making them, and composed languishing
love-songs upon the perfections of mistresses who never existed except in
their own imaginations, Boileau determined to write nothing but what
interested his feelings, to break with this affected gallantry, and draw
poetry only from the depths of his own heart. His début was made in
unmerciful satires on the works of the poetasters, and he continued to
plead the cause of reason against rhyme, of true poetry against false.
Despite the anger of the poets and their friends, his satires enjoyed
immense favor, and he consolidated his victory by writing the "Art of
Poetry," in which he attempted to restore it to its true dignity. This
work obtained for him the title of Legislator of Parnassus. The mock-
heroic poem of the "Lutrin" is considered as the happiest effort of his
muse, though inferior to the "Rape of the Lock," a composition of a
similar kind. The occasion of this poem was a frivolous dispute between
the treasurer and the chapter of a cathedral concerning the placing of a
reading-desk (_lutrin_). A friend playfully challenged Boileau to write a
heroic poem on the subject, to verify his own theory that the excellence
of a heroic poem depended upon the power of the inventor to sustain and
enlarge upon a slender groundwork. Boileau was the last of the great poets
of the golden age.

The horizon of the poets was at this time somewhat circumscribed. Confined
to the conventional life of the court and the city, they enjoyed little
opportunity for the contemplation of nature. The policy of Louis XIV.
proscribed national recollections, so that the social life of the day was
alone open to them. Poetry thus became abstract and ideal, or limited to
the delineation of those passions which belong to a highly artificial
state of society. Madame Deshoulières (1634-1694) indeed wrote some
graceful idyls, but she by no means entered into the spirit of rural life
and manners, like La Fontaine.

religious eloquence the most efficacious kind of encouragement, that of
personal attendance. The court preachers had no more attentive auditor
than their royal master, who was singularly gifted with that tenderness of
conscience which leads a man to condemn himself for his sins, yet indulge
in their commission; to feel a certain pleasure in self-accusation, and to
enjoy that reaction of mind which consists in occasionally holding his
passions in abeyance. This attention on the part of a great monarch, the
liberty of saying everything, the refined taste of the audience, who could
on the same day attend a sermon of Bourdaloue and a tragedy of Racine, all
tended to lead pulpit eloquence to a high degree of perfection; and,
accordingly, we find the function of court preacher exercised successively
by Bossuet (1627-1704), Bourdaloue (1632-1704), and Massillon (1663-1742),
the greatest names that the Roman Catholic Church has boasted in any age
or country. Bossuet addressed the conscience through the imagination,
Bourdaloue through the judgment, and Massillon through the feelings.
Fléchier (1632-1710), another court preacher, renowned chiefly as a
rhetorician, was not free from the affectation of Les Précieuses; but
Bossuet was perhaps the most distinguished type of the age of Louis XIV.,
in all save its vices. For the instruction of the Dauphin, to whom he had
been appointed preceptor, he wrote his "Discourse upon Universal History,"
by which he is chiefly known to us. The Protestant controversy elicited
his famous "Exposition of the Catholic Doctrine." A still more celebrated
work is the "History of the Variations," the leading principle of which
is, that to forsake the authority of the church leads one knows not
whither, that there can be no new religious views except false ones, and
that there can be no escape from the faith transmitted from age to age,
save in the wastes of skepticism. In his controversy with Fénelon, in
relation to the mystical doctrines of Madame Guyon, Bossuet showed himself
irritated, and at last furious, at the moderate and submissive tone of his
opponent. He procured the banishment of Fénelon from court, and the
disgrace of his friends; and through his influence the pope condemned the
"Maxims of the Saints," in which Fénelon endeavored to show that the views
of Madame Guyon were those of others whom the church had canonized. The
sermons of Bossuet were paternal and familiar exhortations; he seldom
prepared them, but, abandoning himself to the inspiration of the moment,
was now simple and touching, now energetic and sublime, His familiarity
with the language of inspiration imparted to his discourses a tone of
almost prophetic authority; his eloquence appeared as a native instinct, a
gift direct from heaven, neither marred nor improved by the study of human
rules. France does not acknowledge the Protestant Saurin (1677-1730), as
the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes expatriated him in childhood; but
his sermons occupy a distinguished place in the theological literature of
the French language.

Political or parliamentary oratory was as yet unknown, for the parliament
no sooner touched on matters of state and government, than Louis XIV
entered, booted and spurred, with whip in hand, and not figuratively, but
literally, lashed the refractory assembly into silence and obedience. But
the eloquence of the bar enjoyed a considerable degree of freedom in this
age. Law and reason, however, were too often overlaid by worthless
conceits and a fantastic abuse of classic and scriptural citations. Le
Maitre (1608-1658), Patru (1604-1681), Pellisson (1624-1693), Cochin
(1687-1749), and D'Aguesseau (1668-1751), successively purified and
elevated the language of the tribunals.

11. MORAL PHILOSOPHY.--The most celebrated moralist of the age was the
Duke de Rochefoucauld (1613-1680). He was early drawn into those conflicts
known as the wars of the Fronde, though he seems to have had little motive
for fighting or intriguing, except his restlessness of spirit and his
attachment to the Duchess de Longueville. He soon quarreled with the
duchess, dissolved his alliance with Condé, and being afterwards included
in the amnesty, he took up his residence at Paris, where he was one of the
brightest ornaments of the court of Louis XIV. His chosen friends, in his
declining years, were Madame de Sévigné, one of the most accomplished
women of the age, and Madame de Lafayette, who said of him, "He gave me
intellect, and I reformed his heart." But if the taint was removed from
his heart, it continued in the understanding. His famous "Maxims,"
published in 1665, gained for the author a lasting reputation, not less
for the perfection of his style, than for the boldness of his paradoxes.
The leading peculiarity of this work is the principle that self-interest
is the ruling motive in human nature, placing every virtue, as well as
every vice, under contribution to itself. It is generally agreed that
Rochefoucauld's views of human nature were perverted by the specimens of
it which he had known in the wars of the Fronde, which were stimulated by
vice, folly, and a restless desire of power. His "Memoirs of the Reign of
Anne of Austria" embody the story of the Fronde, and his "Maxims" the
moral philosophy he deduced from it.

While Pascal, in proving all human remedies unworthy of confidence, had
sought to drive men upon faith by pursuing them with despair, and
Rochefoucauld, by his pitiless analysis of the disguises of the human
heart, led his readers to suspect their most natural emotions, and well-
nigh took away the desire of virtue by proving its impossibility, La
Bruyère (1639-1696) endeavored to make the most of our nature, such as it
is, to render men better, even with their imperfections, to assist them by
a moral code suited to their strength, or rather to their weakness. His
"Characters of our Age" is distinguished for the exactness and variety of
the portraits, as well as for the excellence of its style. The philosophy
of La Bruyère is unquestionably based on reason, and not on revelation.

In the moral works of Nicole, the Port Royalist (1611-1645), we find a
system of truly Christian ethics, derived from the precepts of revelation;
they are elegant in style, though they display little originality.

The only speculative philosopher of this age, worthy of mention, is
Malebranche (1631-1715), a disciple of Descartes; but, unlike his master,
instead of admitting innate ideas, he held that we see all in Deity, and
that it is only by our spiritual union with the Being who knows all things
that we know anything. He professed optimism, and explained the existence
of evil by saying that the Deity acts only as a universal cause. His
object was to reconcile philosophy with revelation; his works, though
models of style, are now little read.

12. HISTORY AND MEMOIRS.--History attained no degree of excellence during
this period. Bossuet's "Discourse on Universal History" was a sermon, with
general history as the text. At a somewhat earlier date, Mézeray (1610-
1683) compiled a history of France. The style is clear and nervous, and
the spirit which pervades it is bold and independent, but the facts are
not always to be relied on. The "History of Christianity," by the Abbé
Fleury (1640-1723), was pronounced by Voltaire to be the best work of the
kind that had ever appeared. Rollin (1661-1741) devoted his declining
years to the composition of historical works for the instruction of young
people. His "Ancient History" is more remarkable for the excellence of his
intentions than for the display of historical talent. Indeed, the
historical writers of this period may be said to have marked, rather than
filled a void.

The writers of memoirs were more happy. At an earlier period, Brantôme
(1527-1614), a gentleman attached to the suite of Charles IX. and Henry
III., employed his declining years in describing men and manners as he had
observed them; and his memoirs are admitted to embody but too faithfully a
representation of that singular mixture of elegance and grossness, of
superstition and impiety, of chivalrous feelings and licentious morals,
which characterized the sixteenth century. The Duke of Sully (1559-1641),
the skillful financier of Henry IV., left valuable memoirs of the stirring
events of his day. The "Memoirs" of the Cardinal de Betz (1614-1679), who
took so active a part in the agitations of the Fronde, embody the enlarged
views of the true historian, and breathe the impetuous spirit of a man
whose native element is civil commotion, and who looks on the
chieftainship of a party as worthy to engage the best powers of his head
and heart; but his style abounds with negligences and irregularities which
would have shocked the littérateurs of the day.

The Duke de St. Simon (1675-1755) is another of those who made no
pretensions to classical writing. All the styles of the seventeenth
century are found in him. His language has been compared to a torrent,
which appears somewhat incumbered by the debris which it carries, yet
makes its way with no less rapidity.

Count Hamilton (1646-1720) narrates the adventures of his brother-in-law,
Count de Grammont, of which La Harpe says, "Of all frivolous books, it is
the most diverting and ingenious." Much lively narration is here expended
on incidents better forgotten.

13. ROMANCE AND LETTER-WRITING.--The growth of kingly power, the order
which it established, and the civilization which followed in its train,
restrained the development of public life and increased the interests of
the social relations. From this new state of things arose a modified kind
of romance, in which elevated sentiments replaced the achievements of
mediaeval fiction and the military exploits of Mademoiselle de Scudery's
tales. Madame de Lafayette introduced that kind of romance in which the
absorbing interest is that of conflicting passion, and external events
were the occasion of developing the inward life of thought and feeling.
She first depicted manners as they really were, relating natural events
with gracefulness, instead of narrating those that never could have had

The illustrious Fénelon (1651-1715) was one of the few authors of this
period who belonged exclusively to no one class. He appears as a divine in
his "Sermons" and "Maxims;" as a rhetorician in his "Dialogues on
Eloquence;" as a moralist in his "Education of Girls;" as a politician in
his "Examination of the Conscience of a King;" and it may be said that all
these characters are combined in "Telemachus," which has procured for him
a widespread fame, and which classes him among the romancers. Telemachus
was composed with the intention of its becoming a manual for his pupil,
the young Duke of Burgundy, on his entrance into manhood. Though its
publication caused him the loss of the king's favor, it went through
numerous editions, and was translated into every language of Europe. It
was considered, in its day, a manual for kings, and it became a standard
book, on account of the elegance of its style, the purity of its morals,
and the classic taste it was likely to foster in the youthful mind.

Madame de Sévigné made no pretensions to authorship. Her letters were
written to her daughter, without the slightest idea that they would be
read, except by those to whom they were addressed; but they have
immortalized their gifted author, and have been pronounced worthy to
occupy an eminent place among the classics of French literature. The
matter which these celebrated letters contain is multifarious; they are
sketches of Madame de Sévigné's friends, Madame de Lafayette, Madame
Scarron, and all the principal personages of that brilliant court, from
which, however, she was excluded, in consequence of her early alliance
with the Fronde, her friendship for Fouquet, and her Jansenist opinions.
All the occurrences, as well as the characters of the day, are touched in
these letters; and so graphic is the pen, so clear and easy the style,
that we seem to live in those brilliant days, and to see all that was
going on. Great events are detailed in the same tone as court gossip;
Louis XIV., Turenne, Condé, the wars of France and of the empire are
freely mingled with details of housewifery, projects of marriage,--in
short, the seventeenth century is depicted in the correspondence of two
women who knew nothing so important as their own affairs.

Considerable interest attaches also to the letters of Madame de Maintenon
(1635-1719), a lady whose life presents singular contrasts, worthy of the
time. To her influence on the king, after her private marriage to him, is
attributed much that is inauspicious in the latter part of his reign, the
combination of ascetic devotion and religious bigotry with the most
flagrant immorality, the appointment of unskillful generals and weak-
minded ministers, the persecution of the Jansenists, and, above all, the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had secured religious freedom to
the Protestants.



1. THE DAWN OF SKEPTICISM.--In the age just past we have seen religion,
antiquity, and the monarchy of Louis XIV., each exercising a distinct and
powerful influence over the buoyancy of French genius, which cheerfully
submitted to their restraining power. A school of taste and elegance had
been formed, under these circumstances, which gave law to the rest of
Europe and constituted France the leading spirit of the age. On the other
hand, the dominant influences of the eighteenth century were a skeptical
philosophy, a preference for modern literature, and a rage for political
reform. The transition, however, was not sudden nor immediate, and we come
now to the consideration of those works which occupy the midway position
between the submissive age of Louis XIV. and the daring infidelity and
republicanism of the eighteenth century.

The eighteenth century began with the first timid protestation against the
splendid monarchy of Louis XIV., the domination of the Catholic Church,
and the classical authority of antiquity, and it ended when words came to
deeds, in the sanguinary revolution of 1789. When the first generation of
great men who sunned themselves in the glance of Louis XIV. had passed
away, there were none to succeed them; the glory of the monarch began to
fade as the noble _cortège_ disappeared, and admiration and enthusiasm
were no more. The new generation, which had not shared the glory and
prosperity of the old monarch, was not subjugated by the recollections of
his early splendor, and was not, like the preceding, proud to wear his
yoke. A certain indifference to principle began to prevail; men ventured
to doubt opinions once unquestioned; the habit of jesting with everything
and unblushing cynicism appeared almost under the eyes of the aged Louis;
even Massillon, who exhorted the people to obedience, at the same time
reminded the king that it was necessary to merit it by respecting their
rights. The Protestants, exiled by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,
revenged themselves by pamphlets against the monarch and the church, and
these works found their way into France, and fostered there the rising
discontent and contempt for the authority of the government.

Among these refugees was Bayle (1647-1706), the coolest and boldest of
doubters. He wrote openly against the intolerance of Louis XIV., and he
affords the first announcement of the characteristics of the century. His
"Historical and Critical Dictionary," a vast magazine of knowledge and
incredulity, was calculated to supersede the necessity of study to a
lively and thoughtless age. His skepticism is learned and philosophical,
and he ridicules those who reject without examination still more than
those who believe with docile credulity. Jean Baptiste Rousseau (1670-
1741), the lyric poet of this age, displayed in his odes considerable
energy, and a kind of pompous harmony, which no other had imparted to the
language, yet he fails to excite the sympathy. In his writings we find
that free commingling of licentious morals with a taste for religious
sublimities which characterized the last years of Louis XIV. The Abbé
Chaulieu (1639-1720) earned the appellation of the Anacreon of the Temple,
but he did not, like Rousseau, prostitute poetry in strains of low

The tragedians followed in the footsteps of Racine with more or less
success, and comedy continued, with some vigor, to represent the corrupt
manners of the age. Le Sage (1668-1747) applied his talent to romance;
and, like Molière, appreciated human folly without analyzing it. "Gil
Blas" is a picture of the human heart under the aspect at once of the
vicious and the ridiculous.

Fontenelle (1657-1757), a nephew of the great Corneille, is regarded as
the link between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he having
witnessed the splendor of the best days of Louis XIV., and lived long
enough to see the greatest men of the eighteenth century. He made his
début in tragedy, in which, however, he found little encouragement. In his
"Plurality of Worlds," and "Dialogues of the Dead," there is much that
indicates the man of science. His other works are valued rather for their
delicacy and impartiality than for striking originality.

Lamotte (1672-1731) was more distinguished in criticism than in any other
sphere of authorship. He raised the standard of revolt against the worship
of antiquity, and would have dethroned poetry itself on the ground of its
inutility. Thus skepticism began by making established literary doctrines
matters of doubt and controversy. Before attacking more serious creeds it
fastened on literary ones.

Such is the picture presented by the earlier part of the eighteenth
century. Part of the generation had remained attached to the traditions of
the great age. Others opened the path into which the whole country was
about to throw itself. The faith of the nation in its political
institutions, its religious and literary creed, was shaken to its
foundation; the positive and palpable began to engross every interest
hitherto occupied by the ideal; and this disposition, so favorable to the
cultivation of science, brought with it a universal spirit of criticism.
The habit of reflecting was generally diffused, people were not afraid to
exercise their own judgment, every man had begun to have a higher estimate
of his own opinions, and to care less for those hitherto received as
undoubted authority. Still, literature had not taken any positive
direction, nor had there yet appeared men of sufficiently powerful genius
to give it a decisive impulse.

2. PROGRESS OF SKEPTICISM.--The first powerful attack on the manners,
institutions, and establishments of France, and indeed of Europe in
general, is that contained in the "Persian Letters" of the Baron de
Montesquieu (1689-1755); in which, under the transparent veil of
pleasantries aimed at the Moslem religion, he sought to consign to
ridicule the belief in every species of dogma. But the celebrity of
Montesquieu is founded on his "Spirit of Laws," the greatest monument of
human genius in the eighteenth century. It is a profound analysis of law
in its relation with government, customs, climate, religion, and commerce.
The book is inspired with a spirit of justice and humanity; but it places
the mind too much under the dominion of matter, and argues for necessity
rather than liberty, thus depriving moral obligation of much of its
absolute character. It is an extraordinary specimen of argument,
terseness, and erudition.

The maturity of the eighteenth century is found in Voltaire (1694-1778);
he was the personification of its rashness, its zeal, its derision, its
ardor, and its universality. In him nature had, so to speak, identified
the individual with the nation, bestowing on him a character in the
highest degree elastic, having lively sensibility but no depth of passion,
little system of principle or conduct, but that promptitude of self-
direction which supplies its place, a quickness of perception amounting
almost to intuition, and an unexampled degree of activity, by which he was
in some sort many men at once. No writer, even in the eighteenth century,
knew so many things or treated so many subjects. That which was the ruin
of some minds was the strength of his. Rich in diversified talent and in
the gifts of fortune, he proceeded to the conquest of his age with the
combined power of the highest endowments under the most favorable
circumstances. He was driven again and again, as a moral pest, from the
capital of France by the powers that fain would have preserved the people
from his opinions, yet ever gaining ground, his wit always welcome, and
his opinions gradually prevailing, one audacious sentiment after another
broached, and branded with infamy, yet secretly entertained, till the
futile struggle was at length given in, and the nation, as with one voice,
avowed itself his disciple.

It has been said that Voltaire showed symptoms of infidelity from infancy.
When at college he gave way to sallies of wit, mirth, and profanity which
astonished his companions and terrified his preceptors. He was twice
imprisoned in the Bastile, and many times obliged to fly from the country.
In England he became acquainted with Bolingbroke and all the most
distinguished men of the time, and in the school of English philosophy he
learned to use argument, as well as ridicule, in his war with religion. In
1740 we find him assisting Frederick the Great to get up a refutation of
Machiavelli; again, he is appointed historiographer of France, Gentleman
of the Bed-chamber, and Member of the Academy; then he accepts an
invitation to reside at the Court of Prussia, where he soon quarrels with
the king. After many vicissitudes he finally purchased the estate of
Ferney, near the Lake of Geneva, where he resided during the rest of his
days. From this retreat he poured out an exhaustless variety of books,
which were extensively circulated and eagerly perused. He had the
admiration of all the wits and philosophers of Europe, and included among
his pupils and correspondents some of the greatest sovereigns of the age.
At the age of eighty-four he again visited Paris. Here his levees were
more crowded than those of any emperor; princes and peers thronged his
ante-chamber, and when he rode through the streets a train attended him
which stretched far over the city. He was made president of the Academy,
and crowned with laurel at the theatre, where his bust was placed on the
stage and adorned with palms and garlands. He died soon after, without the
rites of the church, and was interred secretly at a Benedictine abbey.

The national enthusiasm which decreed Voltaire, as he descended to the
tomb, such a triumph as might have honored a benefactor of the race, gave
place to doubt and disputation as to his merits. In tragedy he is admitted
to rank after Corneille and Racine; in "Zaïre," which is his masterpiece,
there is neither the lofty conception of the one, nor the perfect
versification of the other, but there is a warmth of passion, an
enthusiasm of feeling, and a gracefulness of expression which fascinate
and subdue. As an epic poet he has least sustained his renown; though the
"Henriade" has unquestionably some great beauties, its machinery is tame,
and the want of poetic illusion is severely felt. His poetry, especially
that of his later years, is by no means so disgraceful to the author as
the witticisms in prose, the tales, dialogues, romances, and pasquinades
which were eagerly sought for and readily furnished, and which are, with
little exception, totally unworthy of an honorable man. As a historian,
Voltaire lacked reflection and patience for investigation. His "History of
Charles XII.," however, was deservedly successful; the reason being that
he chose for his hero the most romantic and adventurous of sovereigns, to
describe whom there was more need of rapid narrative and brilliant
coloring than of profound knowledge and a just appreciation of human
nature. In his history of the age of Louis XIV., Voltaire sought not only
to present a picture, but a series of researches destined to instruct the
memory and exercise the judgment. The English historians, imitating his
mode, have surpassed him in erudition and philosophic impartiality. Still
later, his own countrymen have carried this species of writing to a high
degree of perfection. Throughout the "Essay on the Manners of Nations" we
find traces of that hatred of religion which he openly cherished in the
latter part of his life. The style, however, is pleasing, the facts well
arranged, and the portraits traced with originality and vivacity.

Some have attributed to Voltaire the serious design of overturning the
three great bases of society, religion, morality, and civil government,
but he had not the genius of a philosopher, and there is no system of
philosophy in his works. That he had a design to amuse and influence his
age, and to avenge himself on his enemies, is obvious enough. Envy and
hatred employed against him the weapons of religion, hence he viewed it
only as an instrument of persecution. His great powers of mind were
continually directed by the opinions of the times, and the desire of
popularity was his ruling motive. The character of his earlier writings
shows that he did not bring into the world a very independent spirit; they
display the lightness and frivolity of the time with the submission of a
courtier for every kind of authority, but as his success increased
everything encouraged him to imbue his works with that spirit which found
so general a welcome. In vain the authority of the civil government
endeavored to arrest the impulse which was gaining strength from day to
day; in vain this director of the public mind was imprisoned and exiled;
the farther he advanced in his career and the more audaciously he
propagated his views on religion and government, the more he was rewarded
with the renown which he sought. Monarchs became his friends and his
flatterers; opposition only increased his energy, and made him often
forget moderation and good taste.

Montesquieu eclipse all others in the first half of the eighteenth
century, but the influence of Voltaire was by far the most immediate and
extensive. After he had reached the zenith of his glory, about the middle
of the century, there appeared in France a display of various talent,
evoked by his example and trained by his instructions, yet boasting an
independent existence. In the works of these men was consummated the
literary revolution of which we have marked the beginnings, a revolution
more striking than any other ever witnessed in the same space of time. It
was no longer a few eminent men that surrendered themselves boldly to the
skeptical philosophy which is the grand characteristic of the eighteenth
century; writers of inferior note followed in the same path; the new
opinions took entire possession of all literature and cooperated with the
state of the morals and the government to bring about a fearful
revolution. The whole strength of the literature of this age being
directed towards the subversion of the national institutions and religion,
formed a homogeneous body of science, literature, and the arts, and a
compact phalanx of all writers under the common name of philosophers.
Women had their share in the maintenance of this league; the salons of
Mesdames du Deffand (1696-1780), Geoffrin (b. 1777), and De l'Espinasse
(1732-1776) were its favorite resorts; but the great rendezvous was that
of the Baron d'Holbach, whence its doctrines spread far and wide,
blasting, like a malaria, whatever it met with on its way that had any
connection with religion, morals, or venerable social customs. Besides
Voltaire, who presided over this coterie, at least in spirit, the daily
company included Diderot, an enthusiast by nature and a cynic and sophist
by profession; D'Alembert, a genius of the first order in mathematics,
though less distinguished in literature; the malicious Marmontel, the
philosopher Helvétius, the Abbé Raynal, the furious enemy of all modern
institutions; the would-be sentimentalist Grimm, and D'Holbach himself.
Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, and others were affiliated members. Their plan
was to write a book which would in some sense supersede all others, itself
forming a library containing the most recent discoveries in philosophy,
and the best explanations and details on every topic, literary and

The project of this great enterprise of an Encyclopaedia as an immense
vehicle for the development of the opinions of the philosophers, alarmed
the government, and the parliament and the clergy pronounced its
condemnation. The philosophy of Descartes and the eminent thinkers of the
seventeenth century assumed the soul of man as the starting-point in the
investigation of physical science. The men of the eighteenth century had
become tired of following out the sublimities and abstractions of the
Cartesians, and they took the opposite course; beginning from sensation,
they did not stop short of the grossest materialism and positive atheism.

Such were the principles of the Encyclopaedia, more fully developed and
explained in the writings of Condillac (1715-1780), the head of this
school of philosophy. His first work, "On the Origin of Human Knowledge,"
contains the germ of all that he afterwards published. In his "Treatise on
Sensation," he endeavored, but in vain, to derive the notion of duty from
sensation, and expert as he was in logic, he could not conceal the great
gulf which his theory left between these two terms. Few writers have
enjoyed more success; he brought the science of thought within the reach
of the vulgar by stripping it of everything elevated, and every one was
surprised and delighted to find that philosophy was so easy a thing.
Having determined not to establish morality on any innate principles of
the soul, these philosophers founded it on the fact common to all animated
nature, the feeling of self-interest. Already deism had rejected the
evidence of a divine revelation. Now atheism raised a more audacious
front, and proclaimed that all religious sentiment was but the reverie of
a disordered mind. The works in which this opinion is most expressly
announced, date from the period of the Encyclopaedia.

D'Alembert (1717-1773) is now chiefly known as the author of the
preliminary discourse of the Encyclopaedia, which is ranked among the
principal works of the age.

Diderot (1714-1784), had he devoted himself to any one sphere, instead of
wandering about in the chaos of opinions which rose and perished around
him, might have left a lasting reputation, and posterity, instead of
merely repeating his name, would have spoken of his works. He may be
regarded as a writer injurious at once to literature and to morals.

The most faithful disciple of the philosophy of this period was Helvétius
(1715-1771), known chiefly by his work, "On the Mind," the object of which
is to prove that physical sensibility is the origin of all our thoughts.
Of all the writers who maintained this opinion, none have represented it
in so gross a manner. His work was condemned by the Sorbonne, the pope,
and the parliament; it was burned by the hand of the hangman, and the
author was compelled to retract it.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a writer who marched under none of
the recognized banners of the day. The Encyclopaedists had flattered
themselves that they had tuned the opinion of all Europe to their
philosophical strain, when suddenly they heard his discordant note.
Without family, without friends, without home, wandering from place to
place, from one condition in life to another, he conceived a species of
revolt against society, and a feeling of bitterness against those civil
organizations in which he could never find a suitable place. He combated
the atheism of the Encyclopaedists, their materialism and contempt for
moral virtue, for pure deism was his creed. He believed in a Supreme
Being, a future state, and the excellence of virtue, but denying all
revealed religion, he would have men advance in the paths of virtue,
freely and proudly, from love of virtue itself, and not from any sense of
duty or obligation. In the "Social Contract" he traced the principles of
government and laws in the nature of man, and endeavored to show the end
which they proposed to themselves by living in communities, and the best
means of attaining this end.

The two most notable works of Rousseau are "Julie," or the "Nouvelle
Héloïse," and "Emile." The former is a kind of romance, owing its interest
mainly to development of character, and not to incident or plot. Emile
embodies a system of education in which the author's thoughts are digested
and arranged. He gives himself an imaginary pupil, the representative of
that life of spontaneous development which was the writer's ideal. In this
work there is an episode, the "Savoyard Vicar's Confession of Faith,"
which is a declaration of pure deism, leveled especially against the
errors of Catholicism. It raised a perfect tempest against the author from
every quarter. The council of Geneva caused his book to be burned by the
executioner, and the parliament of Paris threatened him with imprisonment.
Under these circumstances he wrote his "Confessions," which he believed
would vindicate him before the world. The reader, who may expect to find
this book abounding with at least as much virtue as a man may possess
without Christian principle, will find in it not a single feature of
greatness; it is a proclamation of disagreeable faults; and yet he would
persuade us that he was virtuous, by giving the clearest proofs that he
was not.

To the names of Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau, must be added that of
Buffon (1707-1788), and we have the four writers of this age who left all
their contemporaries far behind. Buffon having been appointed
superintendent of the Jardin des Plantes, and having enriched this fine
establishment, and gathered into it, from all parts of the world, various
productions of nature, conceived the project of composing a natural
history, which should embrace the whole immensity of being, animate and
inanimate. He first laid down the theory of the earth, then treated the
natural history of man, afterwards that of viviparous quadrupeds and
birds. The first volumes of his work appeared in 1749; the most important
of the supplementary matter which followed was the "Epochs of Nature." He
gave incredible attention to his style, and is one of the most brilliant
writers of the eighteenth century. No naturalist has ever equaled him in
the magnificence of his theories, or the animation of his descriptions of
the manners and habits of animals. It is said that he wrote the "Epochs of
Nature" eleven times over. He not only recited his compositions aloud, in
order to judge of the rhythm and cadence, but he made a point of being in
full dress before he sat down to write, believing that the splendor of his
habiliments impressed his language with that pomp and elegance which he so
much admired, and which is his distinguishing characteristic. Buffon,
while maintaining friendship with the celebrated men of his age, did not
identify himself with the party of the encyclopaedists, or the sects into
which they were divided. But he lived among men who deemed physical nature
alone worthy of study, and the wits of the age who had succeeded in
discovering how a Supreme Being might be dispensed with. Buffon evaded the
subject entirely, and amid all his lofty soarings showed no disposition to
rise to the Great First Cause. After his time, science lost its
contemplative and poetical character, and acquired that of intelligent
observation. It became a practical thing, and entered into close alliance
with the arts. The arts and sciences, thus combined, became the glory of
France, as literature had been in the preceding age.

The declining years of Voltaire and Rousseau witnessed no rising genius of
similar power, but some authors of a secondary rank deserve notice.
Marmontel (1728-1799) is distinguished as the writer of "Belisarius," a
philosophical romance, "Moral Tales," and "Elements of Literature." He
endeavors to lead his readers to the enjoyments of literature, instead of
detaining them with frigid criticisms.

La Harpe (1739-1803) displayed great eloquence in literary criticism, and
some of his works maintain their place, though they have little claim to

Many writers devoted themselves to history, but the spirit of French
philosophy was uncongenial to this species of composition, and the age
does not afford one remarkable historian. The fame of the Abbé Raynal
(1718-1796) rests chiefly on his "History of the Two Indies." It is
difficult to conceive how a sober man could have arrived at such delirium
of opinion, and how he could so complacently exhibit principles which
tended to overthrow the whole system of society. Scarcely a crime was
committed during the revolution, with which this century closes, but could
find its advocate in this declaimer. When, however, Raynal found himself
in the midst of the turmoils he had suggested, he behaved with justice,
moderation, and courage; thus proving that his opinions were not the
result of experience.

The days of true religious eloquence were past; faith was extinct among
the greater part of the community, and cold and timid among the rest.
Preachers, in deference to their audience, kept out of view whatever was
purely religious, and enlarged on those topics which coincided with mere
human morality. Religion was introduced only as an accessory which it was
necessary to disguise skillfully, in order to escape derision. Genuine
pulpit eloquence was out of the question under these circumstances.

Forensic eloquence had been improving in simplicity and seriousness since
the commencement of the eighteenth century, and men of the law were now
led by the circumstances of the times to trace out universal principles,
rather than to discuss isolated facts. The eloquence of the bar thus
acquired more extensive influence; the measures of the government
converted it into a hostile power, and it furnished itself with weapons of
reason and erudition which had not been thought of before.

We come now close upon the epoch when the national spirit was no longer to
be traced in books, but in actions. The reign of Louis XV. had been marked
with general disorder, and while he was sinking into the grave, amid the
scorn of the people, the magistrates were punished for opposing the royal
authority, and the public were indignant at the arbitrary proceeding.
Beaumarchais (1732-1799) became the organ of this feeling, and his
memoirs, like his comedies, are replete with enthusiasm, cynicism, and
buffoonery. Literature was never so popular; it was regarded as the
universal and powerful instrument which it behooved every man to possess.
All grades of society were filled with authors and philosophers; the
public mind was tending towards some change, without knowing what it would
have; from the monarch on the throne to the lowest of the people, all
perceived the utter discordance that prevailed between existing opinions
and existing institutions.

In the midst of the dull murmur which announced the approaching storm,
literature, as though its work of agitation had been completed, took up
the shepherd's reed for public amusement. "Posterity would scarcely
believe," says an eminent historian, "that 'Paul and Virginia' and the
'Indian Cottage' were composed at this juncture by Bernardin de St,
Pierre, (1737-1814), as also the 'Fables of Florian' which are the only
ones that have been considered readable since those of La Fontaine." About
the same time appeared the "Voyage of Anacharsis," in which the Abbé
Barthélemy (1716-1795) embodied his erudition in an attractive form,
presenting a lively picture of Greece in the time of Pericles.

Among the more moral writers of this age was Necker (1732-1804), the
financial minister of Louis XVI., who maintained the cause of religion
against the torrent of public opinion in works distinguished for delicacy
and elevation, seriousness and elegance.

When the storm at length burst, the country was exposed to every kind of
revolutionary tyranny. The first actors in the work of destruction were,
for the most part, actuated by good intentions; but these were soon
superseded by men of a lower class, envious of all distinctions of rank
and deeply imbued with the spirit of the philosophers. Some derived, from
the writings of Rousseau, a hatred of everything above them; others had
taken from Mably his admiration of the ancient republics of Greece and
Rome, and would reproduce them in France; others had borrowed from Raynal
the revolutionary torch which he had lighted for the destruction of all
institutions; others, educated in the atheistic fanaticism of Diderot,
trembled with rage at the very name of a priest or religion; and thus the
Revolution was gradually handed over to the guidance of passion and
personal interest.

In hurrying past these years of anarchy and bloodshed, we cast a glance
upon the poet, André Chénier (1762-1794), who dared to write against the
excesses of his countrymen, in consequence of which he was cited before
the revolutionary tribunal, condemned, and executed.

4. FRENCH LITERATURE UNDER THE EMPIRE.--Napoleon, on the establishment of
the empire, gave great encouragement to the arts, but none to literature.
Books were in little request; old editions were sold for a fraction of
their original price; but new works were dear, because the demand for them
was so limited. When literature again lifted its head, it appeared that in
the chaos of events a new order of thought had been generated. The
feelings of the people were for the freer forms of modern literature,
introduced by Madame de Staël and Châteaubriand, rather than the ancient
classics and the French models of the seventeenth century.

Madame de Staël (1766-1817) has been pronounced by the general voice to be
among the greatest of all female authors. She was early introduced to the
society of the cleverest men in Paris, with whom her father's house was a
favorite resort; and before she was twelve years of age, such men as
Raynal, Marmontel, and Grimm used to converse with her as though she were
twenty, calling out her ready eloquence, inquiring into her studies, and
recommending new books. She thus imbibed a taste for society and
distinction, and for bearing her part in the brilliant conversation of the
salon. At the age of twenty she became the wife of the Baron de Staël, the
Swedish minister at Paris. On her return, after the Reign of Terror,
Madame de Staël became the centre of a political society, and her drawing-
rooms were the resort of distinguished foreigners, ambassadors, and
authors. On the accession of Napoleon, a mutual hostility arose between
him and this celebrated woman, which ended in her banishment and the
suppression of her works.

"The Six Years of Exile" is the most simple and interesting of her
productions. Her "Considerations on the French Revolution" is the most
valuable of her political articles. Among her works of fiction, "Corinne"
and "Delphine" have had the highest popularity. But of all her writings,
that on "Germany" is considered worthy of the highest rank, and it was
calculated to influence most beneficially the literature of her country,
by opening to the rising generation of France unknown treasures of
literature and philosophy. Writers like Delavigne, Lamartine, Béranger, De
Vigny, and Victor Hugo, though in no respect imitators of Madame de Staël,
are probably much indebted to her for the stimulus to originality which
her writings afforded.

Another female author, who lived, like Madame de Staël through the
Revolution, and exercised an influence on public events, was Madame de
Genlis (1746-1830). Her works, which extend to at least eighty volumes,
are chiefly educational treatises, moral tales, and historical romances.
Her political power depended rather on her private influence in the
Orleans family than upon her pen.

Châteaubriand (1769-1848) must be placed side by side with Madame de
Staël, as another of those brilliant and versatile geniuses who have
dazzled the eyes of their countrymen, and exerted a permanent influence on
French literature. While the eighteenth century had used against religion
all the weapons of ridicule, he defended it by poetry and romance.
Christianity he considered the most poetical of all religions, the most
attractive, the most fertile in literary, social, and artistic results,
and he develops his theme with every advantage of language and style in
the "Genius of Christianity" and the "Martyrs." Some of the
characteristics of Châteaubriand, however, have produced a seriously
injurious effect on French literature, and of these the most contagious
and corrupting is his passion for the glitter of words and the pageantry
of high-sounding phrases.

The salutary reaction against skepticism, produced in literature by Madame
de Staël and Châteaubriand was carried into philosophy by Maine de Biran
(1766-1824), and more particularly by Royer-Collard (1763-1846) who took a
decided stand against the school of Condillac and the materialists of the
eighteenth century. Royer-Collard restored its spiritual character to the
science of the human mind, by introducing into it the psychological
discoveries of the Scotch school. Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) infused
into political science a spirit of freedom before quite unknown. In his
works he attempted to limit the authority of the government, to build up
society on personal freedom, and on the guaranties of individual right.
His writings combine extraordinary power of logic with great variety and
beauty of style.

Proceeding in another direction, Bonald (1753-1846) opposed the spirit of
the French Revolution, by establishing the authority of the church as the
only criterion of truth and morality. As Rousseau had placed sovereign
power in the will of the people, Bonald placed it in that of God, as it is
manifested to man through language and revelation, and of this revelation
he regarded the Catholic church as the interpreter. He develops his
doctrines in numerous works, especially in his "Primitive Legislation,"
which is characterized by boldness, dogmatism, sophistry in argument, and
by severity and purity of style.

The peculiarities of Bonald were carried still farther by De Maistre
(1755-1852), whose hatred of the Revolution led him into the system of an
absolute theocracy, such as was dreamed of by Gregory VII. and Innocent

influences already spoken of, in connection with the literary progress
which began in Germany and England towards the close of the eighteenth
century, produced in the beginning of the nineteenth century a revival in
French literature; but the conflict of opinions, the immense number of
authors, and their extraordinary fecundity, render it difficult to examine
or classify them. We first notice the great advances in history and
biography. Among the earlier specimens may be mentioned the voluminous
works of Sismondi and the "Biographie Universelle," in fifty-two closely
printed volumes, the most valuable body of biography that any modern
literature can boast. Since 1830, historians and literary critics have
occupied the foreground in French literature. The historians have divided
themselves into two schools, the descriptive and the philosophical. With
the one class history consists of a narration of facts in connection with
a picture of manners, bringing scenes of the past vividly before the mind
of the reader, leaving him to deduce general truths from the particular
ones brought before him. The style of these writers is simple and manly,
and no opinions of their own shine through their statements. The chief
representatives of this class, who regard Sir Walter Scott as their
master, are Thierry, Villemain, Barante, and in historical sketches and
novels, Dumas and De Vigny.

The philosophical school, on the other hand, consider this scenic
narrative more suitable to romance than to history; they seek in the
events of the past the chain of causes and effects in order to arrive at
general conclusions which may direct the conduct of men in the future. At
the head of this school is Guizot (1787-1876), who has developed his
historical views in his essays on the "History of France," and more
particularly in his "History of European Civilization," in which he points
out the origin of modern civilization, and follows the progress of the
human mind from the fall of the Roman Empire. The philosophical historians
have been again divided according to their different theories, but the
most eminent of them are those whom Châteaubriand calls fatalists; men
who, having surveyed the course of public events, have come to the
conclusion that individual character has had little influence on the
political destinies of mankind, that there is a general and inevitable
series of events which regularly succeed each other with the certainty of
cause and effect, and that it is as easy to trace it as it is impossible
to resist or divert it from its course. A tendency to these views is
visible in almost every French historian and philosopher of the present
time. The philosophy of history thus grounded has, in their hands, assumed
the aspect of a science.

HISTORY.--Among the celebrated writers who have combined the philosophical
and narrative styles are the brothers Amadée and Augustine Thierry (1787-
1873), (1795-1856), who produced a "History of the Gauls," of "The Norman
Conquest," and other excellent works; Sismondi (1773-1842), whose history
of the "Italian Republics" and of the "French People" are characterized by
immense erudition; Thiers (1797-1877), whose clearness of style is
combined with comprehensiveness and eloquence; Mignet (1796-1884),
celebrated for his history of the French Revolution. The voluminous
"History of France," by Henri Martin (1810-1884), is perhaps the best and
most important work treating the whole subject in detail.

The downfall of the July Monarchy brought forth works of importance on
this subject, the most noted of which are those by Lamartine, Michelet,
and Louis Blanc. Lamartine's "History of the Girondins" was written from a
constitutional and republican point of view, and was not without influence
in producing the Revolution of 1848, but it is the work of an orator and
poet rather than that of a historian. The historical and political works
of Michelet (1778-1873) are of a more original character; his imaginative
powers are of the highest order, and his style is striking and
picturesque. The work of Louis Blanc (1813-1883) is that of a sincere and
ardent republican, and is useful from that point of view, as is that of
Quinet (1803-1875). Lanfrey places the character of Napoleon in a new and
far from favorable light. Taine, so distinguished in literary criticism,
has discussed elaborately the causes of the Revolution.

men of letters followed each other in the cultivation of certain literary
forms, often with little regard to their adaptation to the subject. The
vast extension of thought and knowledge in the sixteenth century broke up
the old forms and introduced the practice of treating each subject in a
manner more or less appropriate to it. The seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries witnessed a return to the observance of arbitrary rules, though
the evil effects were somewhat counterbalanced by the enlargement of
thought and the increasing knowledge of other literature, ancient and
modern. The great Romantic movement, which began in the second quarter of
the nineteenth century, repeated on a larger scale the movement of the
sixteenth to break up and discard many stiff and useless literary forms,
to give strength and variety to such as were retained, and to enrich the
language by new inventions and revivals. The supporters of this reform
long maintained an animated controversy with the adherents of the
classical school, and it was only after several years that the younger
combatants came out victorious. The objects of the school were so
violently opposed that the king was petitioned to forbid the admission of
any Romantic drama at the Théâtre Français, the petitioners asserting that
the object of their adversaries was to burn everything that had been
adored and to adore everything that had been burned. The representation of
Victor Hugo's "Hernani" was the culmination of the struggle, and since
that time all the greatest men of letters in France have been on the
innovating side. In _belles-lettres_ and history the result has been most
remarkable. Obsolete rules which had so long regulated the French stage
have been abolished; poetry not dramatic has been revived; prose romance
and literary criticism have been brought to a degree of perfection
previously unknown; and in history more various and remarkable works have
been produced than ever before, while the modern French language, if it
lacks the precision and elegance to which from 1680 to 1800 all else had
been sacrificed, has become a much more suitable instrument for the
accurate and copious treatment of scientific subjects. At the time of the
accession of Charles X. (1824), the only writers of eminence were Béranger
(1780-1857), Lamartine (1790-1869), and Lamennais (1782-1854), and they
mark the transition between the old and new. Béranger was the poet of the
people; most of his earlier compositions were political, extolling the
greatness of the fallen empire or bewailing the low state of France under
the restored dynasty. They were received with enthusiasm and sung from one
end of the country to the other. His later songs exhibit a not unpleasing
change from the audacious and too often licentious tone of his earlier
days. In the hands of Lamartine the language, softened and harmonized,
loses that clear epigrammatic expression which, before him, had appeared
inseparable from French poetry. His works are pervaded by an earnest
religious feeling and a rare delicacy of expression. "Jocelyn," a romance
in verse, the "Meditations," and "Harmonies" are among his best works.

Victor Hugo (b. 1800) at the age of twenty-five was the acknowledged
master in poetry as in the drama, and this position he still holds. In him
all the Romantic characteristics are expressed and embodied,--disregard of
arbitrary rules, free choice of subjects, variety and vigor of metre, and
beauty of diction. His poetical influence has been represented in three
different schools, corresponding in point of time with the first outburst
of the movement, a brief period of reaction, and the closing years of the
second empire. Of the first, Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was the most
distinguished member. The next generation produced those remarkable poets,
Theodore de Banville (b. 1820), who composed a large amount of verse
faultless in form and exquisite in shade and color, but so neutral in tone
that it has found few admirers, and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), who
offends by the choice of unpopular subjects and the terrible truth of his

The poems of De Vigny are sweet and elegant, though somewhat lacking in
the energy belonging to lyric composition. Those of Alfred de Musset
(1800-1857) are among the finest in the language.

The Gascon poet Jasmin has produced a good deal of verse in the western
dialect of the _Langue d'oc_, and recently a more cultivated and literary
school of poets has arisen in Provence, the chief of whom is Mistral.

The effect of the Romantic movement on the drama has been the introduction
of a species of play called the _drame_, as opposed to regular comedy and
tragedy, and admitting of freer treatment. Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas
(1803-1874), Victorien Sardou (b. 1831), Alexandre Dumas _fils_ (b. 1821),
Legouvé (b. 1807), Scribe (1791-1861), Octave Feuillet (b. 1812), have
produced works of this class.

The literature of France during the last generation has been prolific in
dramas and romances, all of which indicate a chaos of opinion. It is not
professedly infidel, like that of the eighteenth century, nor professedly
pietistic, like that of the seventeenth. It seems to have no general aim,
the opinions and efforts of the authors being seldom consistent with
themselves for any length of time. No one can deny that this literature
engages the reader's most intense interest by the seductive sagacity of
the movement, the variety of incident, and the most perfect command of
those means calculated to produce certain ends.

In 1866 appeared a collection of poems, "Le Parnasse Contemporain," which
included contributions of many poets already named, and of others unknown.
Two other collections followed, one in 1869 and one in 1876, by numerous
contributors, who have mostly published separate works. They are called
collectively, half seriously and half in derision, "Les Parnassiens."
Their cardinal principle is a devotion to poetry as an art, with diversity
of aim and subject. Of these, Coppée devotes himself to domestic and
social subjects; Louise Siefert indulges in the poetry of despair;
Glatigny excels all in individuality of poetical treatment. The
Parnassiens number three or four score poets; the average of their work is
high, though to none can be assigned the first rank.

FICTION.--Previous to 1830 no writer of fiction had formed a school, nor
had this form of literature been cultivated to any great extent. From the
immense influence of Walter Scott, or from other causes, there suddenly
appeared a remarkable group of novelists, Hugo, Gautier, Dumas, Mérimée,
Balzac, George Sand, Sandeau, Charles de Bernard, and others scarcely
inferior. It is remarkable that the excellence of the first group has been
maintained by a new generation, Murger, About, Feuillet, Flaubert,
Erckmann-Chatrian, Droz, Daudet, Cherbulliez, Gaboriau, Dumas _fils_, and

During this period the romance-writing of France has taken two different
directions. The first, that of the novel of incident, of which Scott was
the model; the second, that of analysis and character, illustrated by the
genius of Balzac and George Sand. The stories of Hugo are novels of
incident with ideal character painting. Dumas's works are dramatic in
character and charming for their brilliancy and wit. His "Trois
Mousquetaires" and "Monte Christo" are considered his best novels. Of a
similar kind are the novels of Eugene Sue. Both writers were followed by a
crowd of companions and imitators. The taste for the novel of incident,
which had nearly died out, was renewed in another form, with the admixture
of domestic interest, by the literary partners, Erckmann-Chatrian.

Théophile Gautier modified the incident novel in many short tales, a kind
of writing for which the French have always been famous, and of which the
writings of Gautier were masterpieces. With him may be classed Prosper
Mérimée (1803-1871), one of the most exquisite masters of the language.

Since 1830 the tendency has been towards novels of contemporary life. The
two great masters of the novel of character and manners, as opposed to
that of history and incident, are Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) and Aurore
Dudevant, commonly called George Sand (d. 1876), whose early writings are
strongly tinged with the spirit of revolt against moral and social
arrangements: later she devoted herself to studies of country life and
manners, involving bold sketches of character and dramatic situations. One
of the most remarkable characteristics of her work is the apparently
inexhaustible imagination with which she continued to the close of her
long life to pour forth many volumes of fiction year after year. Balzac,
as a writer, was equally productive. In the "Comédie Humaine" he attempted
to cover the whole ground of human, or at least of French life, and the
success he attained was remarkable. The influence of these two writers
affected the entire body of those who succeeded them with very few
exceptions. Among these are Jules Sandeau, whose novels are distinguished
by minute character-drawing in tones of a sombre hue.

Saintine, the author of "Picciola," Mme. Craven (Reçit d'une Soeur), Henri
Beyle, who, under the _nom de plume_ of _Stendhal_, wrote the "Chartreuse
de Parme," a powerful novel of the analytical kind, and Henri Murger, a
painter of Bohemian life. Octave Feuillet has attained great popularity in
romances of fashionable life. Gustave Flaubert (b. 1821), with great
acuteness and knowledge of human nature, combines scholarship and a power
over the language not surpassed by any writer of the century. Edmond About
(b. 1828) is distinguished by his refined wit. One of the most popular
writers of the second empire is Ernest Feydeau (1821-1874), a writer of
great ability, but morbid and affected in the choice and treatment of his
subjects. Of late, many writers of the realist school have striven to
outdo their predecessors in carrying out the principles of Balzac; among
these are Gaboriau, Cherbulliez, Droz, Bélot, Alphonse Daudet.

CRITICISM.--Previous to the Romantic movement in France the office of
criticism had been to compare all literary productions with certain
established rules, and to judge them accordingly. The theory of the new
school was, that a work should be judged by itself alone or by the
author's ideal. The great master of this school was Sainte-Beuve (1804-
1869), who possessed a rare combination of great and accurate learning,
compass and profundity of thought, and above all sympathy in judgment.
Hippolyte Taine (b. 1828), the most brilliant of living French critics,
Théophile Gautier, Arsène Houssaye, Jules Janin (d. 1874), Sarcey, and
others, are distinguished in this branch of letters.

MISCELLANEOUS.--Among earlier writers of the nineteenth century are
Sismondi, whose "Literature of Southern Europe" remains without a rival,
the work of Ginguené on "Italian Literature," and of Renouard on
"Provençal Poetry." In intellectual philosophy Jouffroy and Damiron
continued the work begun by Royer-Collard, that of destroying the
influence of sensualism and materialism. The philosophical writings of
Cousin (1792-1867) are models of didactic prose, and in his work on "The
Beautiful, True, and Good" he raises the science of aesthetics to its
highest dignity. Lamennais (1782-1854) exhibits in his writings various
phases of religious thought, ending in rationalism. Comte (1798-1857), in
his "Positive Philosophy," shows power of generalization and force of
logic, though tending to atheism and socialism. De Tocqueville and
Chevalier are distinguished in political science, the former particularly
for his able work on "Democracy in America." Renan (b. 1823) is a
prominent name in theological writing, and Montalembert (1810-1870) a
historian with strong religious tendencies.

Among the orators Lacordaire, Père Felix, Père Hyacinthe, and Coquerel are
best known.

Among the women of France distinguished for their literary abilities are
Mme. Durant, who, under the name of Henri Greville, has given, in a series
of tales, many charming pictures of Russian life, Mlle. Clarisse Bader,
who has produced valuable historical works on the condition of women in
all ages, and Mme. Adam, a brilliant writer and journalist.

In science, Pasteur and Milne-Edwards hold the first rank in biology, Paul
Bert in physiology, and Quatrefages in anthropology of races.


INTRODUCTION.--1. Spanish Literature and its Divisions.--2. The Language.

PERIOD FIRST.--1. Early National Literature; the Poem of the Cid; Berceo,
Alfonso the Wise, Segura; Don Juan Manuel, the Archpriest of Hita, Santob,
Ayala.--2. Old Ballads.--3. The Chronicles.--4. Romances of Chivalry.--5.
The Drama.--6. Provençal Literature in Spain.--7. The Influence of Italian
Literature in Spain.--8. The Cancioneros and Prose Writing.--9. The

PERIOD SECOND.--1. The Effect of Intolerance on Letters.--2. Influence of
Italy on Spanish Literature; Boscan, Garcilasso de la Vega, Diego de
Mendoza.--3. History; Cortez, Gomara, Oviedo, Las Casas.--4. The Drama,
Rueda, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca.--5. Romances and Tales;
Cervantes, and other Writers of Fiction.--6. Historical Narrative Poems;
Ercilla.--7. Lyric Poetry; the Argensolas; Luis de Leon, Quevedo, Herrera,
Gongora, and others.--8. Satirical and other Poetry.--9. History and other
Prose Writing; Zurita, Mariana, Sandoval, and others.

PERIOD THIRD.--1. French Influence on the Literature of Spain.--2. The
Dawn of Spanish Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Feyjoo, Isla,
Moratin the elder, Yriarte, Melendez, Gonzalez, Quintana, Moratin the
younger.--3. Spanish Literature in the Nineteenth Century.


1. SPANISH LITERATURE AND ITS DIVISIONS.--At the period of the subversion
of the Empire of the West, in the fifth century, Spain was invaded by the
Suevi, the Alans, the Vandals, and the Visigoths. The country which had
for six centuries been subjected to the dominion of the Romans, and had,
adopted the language and arts of its masters, now experienced those
changes in manners, opinions, military spirit, and language, which took
place in the other provinces of the empire, and which, were, in fact, the
origin of the nations which arose on the overthrow of the Roman power.
Among the conquerors of Spain, the Visigoths were the most numerous; the
ancient Roman subjects were speedily confounded with them, and their
dominion soon extended over nearly the whole country. In the year 710 the
peninsula was invaded by the Arabs or Moors, and from that time the active
and incessant struggles of the Spanish Christians against the invaders,
and their necessary contact with Arabian civilization, began to elicit
sparks of intellectual energy. Indeed, the first utterance of that popular
feeling which became the foundation of the national literature was heard
in the midst of that extraordinary contest, which lasted for more than
seven centuries, so that the earliest Spanish poetry seems but a breathing
of the energy and heroism which, at the time it appeared, animated the
Spanish Christians throughout the peninsula. Overwhelmed by the Moors,
they did not entirely yield; a small but valiant band, retreating before
the fiery pursuit of their enemies, established themselves in the extreme
northwestern portion of their native land, amidst the mountains and the
fastnesses of Biscay and Asturias, while the others remained under the
yoke of the conquerors, adopting, in some degree, the manners and habits
of the Arabians. On the destruction of the caliphat of Cordova, in the
year 1031, the dismemberment of the Moslem territories into petty
Independent kingdoms, often at variance with each other, afforded the
Christians a favorable opportunity of reconquering their country. One
after another the Moorish states fell before them. The Moors were driven
farther and farther to the south, and by the middle of the thirteenth
century they had no dominion in Spain except the kingdom of Granada, which
for two centuries longer continued the splendid abode of luxury and

As victory inclined more and more to the Spanish arms, the Castilian
dialect rapidly grew into a vehicle adequate to express the pride and
dignity of the prevailing people, and that enthusiasm for liberty which
was long their finest characteristic. The poem of the Cid early appeared,
and in the thirteenth century a numerous family of romantic ballads
followed, all glowing with heroic ardor. As another epoch drew near, the
lyric form began to predominate, in which, however, the warm expressions
of the Spanish heart were restricted by a fondness for conceit and
allegory. The rudiments of the drama, religious, pastoral, and satiric,
soon followed, marked by many traits of original thought and talent. Thus
the course of Spanish literature proceeded, animated and controlled by the
national character, to the end of the fifteenth century.

In the sixteenth, the original genius of the Spaniards, and their proud
consciousness of national greatness, contributed to the maintenance and
improvement of their literature in the face of the Inquisition itself.
Released by the conquest of Granada (1492) from the presence of internal
foes, prosperous at home and powerful abroad, Spain naturally rose to high
mental dignity; and with all that she gathered from foreign contributions,
her writers kept much of their native vein, more free than at first from
Orientalism, but still breathing of their own romantic land. A close
connection, however, for more than one hundred years with Italy,
familiarized the Spanish mind with eminent Italian authors and with the
ancient classics.

During the seventeenth century, especially from the middle to the close,
the decay of letters kept pace with the decline of Spanish power, until
the humiliation of both seemed completed in the reign of Charles II. About
that time, however, the Spanish drama received a full development and
attained its perfection. In the eighteenth century, under the government
of the Bourbons, and partly through the patronage of Philip V., there was
a certain revival of literature; but unfortunately, parties divided, and
many of the educated Spaniards were so much attracted by French glitter as
to turn with disgust from their own writers. The political convulsions, of
which Spain has been the victim since the time of Ferdinand VII., have
greatly retarded the progress of national literature, and the nineteenth
century has thus far produced little which is worthy of mention.

The literary history of Spain may be divided into three periods:--

The first, extending from the close of the twelfth century to the
beginning of the sixteenth, will contain the literature of the country
from the first appearance of the present written language to the early
part of the reign of Charles V., and will include the genuinely national
literature, and that portion which, by imitating the refinement of
Provence or of Italy, was, during the same interval, more or less
separated from the popular spirit and genius.

The second, the period of literary success and national glory, extending
from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the close of the
seventeenth, will embrace the literature from the accession of the
Austrian family to its extinction.

The third, the period of decline, extends from the beginning of the
eighteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century, or from the accession
of the Bourbon family to the present time.

2. THE LANGUAGE.--The Spanish Christians who, after the Moorish conquest,
had retreated to the mountains of Asturias, carried with them the Latin
language as they had received it corrupted from the Romans, and still more
by the elements introduced into it by the invasion of the northern tribes.
In their retreat they found themselves amidst the descendants of the
Iberians, the earliest race which had inhabited Spain, who appeared to
have shaken off little of the barbarism that had resisted alike the
invasion of the Romans and of the Goths, and who retained the original
Iberian or Basque tongue. Coming in contact with this, the language of
those Christians underwent new modifications; later, when they advanced in
their conquest toward the south and the east, and found themselves
surrounded by those portions of their race that had remained among the
Arabs, known as Muçárabes, they felt that they were in the presence of a
civilization and refinement altogether superior to their own. As the
Goths, between the fifth and eighth centuries, had received a vast number
of words from the Latin, because it was the language of a people with whom
they were intimately mingled, and who were much more intellectual and
advanced than themselves, so, for the same reason, the whole nation,
between the eighth and thirteenth centuries, received another increase of
their vocabulary from the Arabic, and accommodated themselves in a
remarkable degree to the advanced culture of their southern countrymen,
and of their new Moorish subjects.

It appears that about the middle of the twelfth century this new dialect
had risen to the dignity of being a written language; and it spread
gradually through the country. It differed from the pure or the corrupted
Latin, and still more from the Arabic; yet it was obviously formed by a
union of both, modified by the analogies and spirit of the Gothic
constructions and dialects, and containing some remains of the
vocabularies of the Iberians, the Celts, the Phoenicians, and of the
German tribes, who at different periods had occupied the peninsula. This,
like the other languages of Southern Europe, was called originally the
Romance, from the prevalence of the Roman and Latin elements.

The territories of the Christian Spaniards were divided into three
longitudinal sections, having each a separate dialect, arising from the
mixture of different primitive elements. The Catalan was spoken in the
east, the Castilian in the centre, while the Galician, which originated
the Portuguese, prevailed in the west.

The Catalan or Limousin, the earliest dialect cultivated in the peninsula,
bore a strong resemblance to the Provençal, and when the bards were driven
from Provence they found a home in the east of Spain, and numerous
celebrated troubadours arose in Aragon and Catalonia. But many elements
concurred to produce a decay of the Catalan, and from the beginning of the
sixteenth century it rapidly declined. It is still spoken in the Balearic
Islands and among the lower classes of some of the eastern parts of Spain,
but since the sixteenth century the Castilian alone has been the vehicle
of literature.

The Castilian dialect followed the fortune of the Castilian arms, until it
finally became the established language, even of the most southern
provinces, where it had been longest withstood by the Arabic. Its clear,
sonorous vowels and the beautiful articulation of its syllables, give it a
greater resemblance to the Italian than any other idiom of the peninsula.
But amidst this euphony the ear is struck with the sound of the German and
Arabic guttural, which is unknown in the other languages in which Latin
roots predominate.


REIGN OF CHARLES V. (1200-1500).

1. EARLY NATIONAL LITERATURE.--There are two traits of the earliest
Spanish literature which so peculiarly distinguish it that they deserve to
be noticed from the outset--religious faith and knightly loyalty. The
Spanish national character, as it has existed from the earliest times to
the present day, was formed in that solemn contest which began when the
Moors landed beneath the rock of Gibraltar, and which did not end until
eight centuries after, when the last remnants of the race were driven from
the shores of Spain. During this contest, especially that part of it when
the earliest Spanish poetry appeared, nothing but an invincible faith and
a not less invincible loyalty to their own princes could have sustained
the Christian Spaniards in their struggles against their infidel
oppressors. It was, therefore, a stern necessity which made these two high
qualities elements of the Spanish national character, and it is not
surprising that we find submission to the church and loyalty to the king
constantly breathing through every portion of Spanish literature.

The first monument of the Spanish, or, as it was oftener called, the
Castilian tongue, the most ancient epic in any of the Romance languages,
is "The Poem of the Cid." It consists of more than three thousand lines,
and was probably not composed later than the year 1200. This poem
celebrates the achievements of the great hero of the chivalrous age of
Spain, Rodrigo Diaz (1020-1099), who obtained from five Moorish kings,
whom he had vanquished in battle, the title of El Seid, or my lord. He was
also called by the Spaniards El Campeador or El Cid Campeador, the
Champion or the Lord Champion, and he well deserved the honorable title,
for he passed almost the whole of his life in the field against the
oppressors of his country, and led the conquering arms of the Christians
over nearly a quarter of Spain. No hero has been so universally celebrated
by his countrymen, and poetry and tradition have delighted to attach to
his name a long series of fabulous achievements, which remind us as often
of Amadis and Arthur, as they do of the sober heroes of history. His
memory is so sacredly dear to the Spanish nation, that to say "by the
faith of Rodrigo," is still considered the strongest vow of loyalty.

The poem of the Cid is valuable mainly for the living picture it presents
of manners and character in the eleventh century. It is a contemporary and
spirited exhibition of the chivalrous times of Spain, given occasionally
with an admirable and Homeric simplicity. It is the history of the most
romantic hero of Spanish tradition, continually mingled with domestic and
personal details, that bring the character of the Cid and his age very
near to our own sympathies and interests. The language is the same which
he himself spoke--still only imperfectly developed--it expresses the bold
and original spirit of the time, and the metre and rhyme are rude and
unsettled; but the poem throughout is striking and original, and breathes
everywhere the true Castilian spirit. During the thousand years which
elapsed from the time of the decay of Greek and Roman culture down to the
appearance of the Divine Comedy, no poetry was produced so original in its
tone, or so full of natural feeling, picturesqueness, and energy.

There are a few other poems, anonymous, like that of the Cid, whose
language and style carry them back to the thirteenth century. The next
poetry we meet is by a known author, Gonzalo (1220-1260), a priest
commonly called Berceo, from the place of his birth. His works, all on
religious subjects, amount to more than thirteen thousand lines. His
language shows some advance from that in which the Cid was written, but
the power and movement of that remarkable legend are entirely wanting in
these poems. There is a simple-hearted piety in them, however, that is
very attractive, and in some of them a story-telling spirit that is
occasionally vivid and graphic.

Alfonso, surnamed the Wise (1221-1284), united the crowns of Leon and
Castile, and attracted to his court many of the philosophers and learned
men of the East. He was a poet closely connected with the Provençal
troubadours of his time, and so skilled in astronomy and the occult
sciences that his fame spread throughout Europe. He had more political,
philosophical, and elegant learning than any man of his age, and made
further advances in some of the exact sciences. At one period his
consideration was so great, that he was elected Emperor of Germany; but
his claims were set aside by the subsequent election of Rudolph of
Hapsburg. The last great work undertaken by Alfonso was a kind of code
known as "Las Siete Partidas," or The Seven Parts, from the divisions of
the work itself. This is the most important legislative monument of the
age, and forms a sort of Spanish common law, which, with the decisions
under it, has been the basis of Spanish jurisprudence ever since. Becoming
a part of the Constitution of the State in all Spanish colonies, it has,
from the time Louisiana and Florida were added to the United States,
become in some cases the law in our own country.

The life of Alfonso was full of painful vicissitudes. He was driven from
his throne by factious nobles and a rebellious son, and died in exile,
leaving behind him the reputation of being the wisest fool in Christendom.
Mariana says of him: "He was more fit for letters than for the government
of his subjects; he studied the heavens and watched the stars, but forgot
the earth and lost his kingdom." Yet Alfonso is among the chief founders
of his country's intellectual fame, and he is to be remembered alike for
the great advancement Castilian prose composition made in his hands, for
his poetry, for his astronomical tables--which all the progress of modern
science has not deprived of their value--and for his great work on
legislation, which is at this moment an authority in both hemispheres.

Juan Lorenzo Segura (1176-1250) was the author of a poem containing more
than ten thousand lines, on the history of Alexander the Great. In this
poem the manners and customs of Spain in the thirteenth century are
substituted for those of ancient Greece, and the Macedonian hero is
invested with all the virtues and even equipments of European chivalry.

Don Juan Manuel, (1282-1347), a nephew of Alfonso the Wise, was one of the
most turbulent and dangerous Spanish barons of his time. His life was full
of intrigue and violence, and for thirty years he disturbed his country by
his military and rebellious enterprises. But in all these circumstances,
so adverse to intellectual pursuits, he showed himself worthy of the
family in which for more than a century letters had been honored and
cultivated. Don Juan is known to have written twelve works, but it is
uncertain how many of these are still in existence; only one, "Count
Lucanor," has been placed beyond the reach of accident by being printed.
The Count Lucanor is the most valuable monument of Spanish literature in
the fourteenth century, and one of the earliest prose works in the
Castilian tongue, as the Decameron, which appeared about the same time,
was the first in the Italian. Both are collections of tales; but the
object of the Decameron is to amuse, while the Count Lucanor is the
production of a statesman, instructing a grave and serious nation in
lessons of policy and morality in the form of apologues. These stories
have suggested many subjects for the Spanish stage, and one of them
contains the groundwork of Shakspeare's "Taming of the Shrew."

Juan Ruiz, arch-priest of Hita (1292-1351), was a contemporary of Don
Manuel. His works consist of nearly seven thousand verses, forming a
series of stories which appear to be sketches from his own history,
mingled with fictions and allegories. The most curious is "The Battle of
Don Carnival with Madame Lent," in which Don Bacon, Madame Hungbeef, and a
train of other savory personages, are marshaled in mortal combat. The
cause of Madame Lent triumphs, and Don Carnival is condemned to solitary
imprisonment and one spare meal each day. At the end of forty days the
allegorical prisoner escapes, raises new followers, Don Breakfast and
others, and re-appears in alliance with Don Amor. The poetry of the arch-
priest is very various in tone. In general, it is satirical and pervaded
by a quiet humor. His happiest success is in the tales and apologues which
illustrate the adventures that constitute a framework for his poetry,
which is natural and spirited; and in this, as in other points, he
strikingly resembles Chaucer. Both often sought their materials in
Northern French poetry, and both have that mixture of devotion and of
licentiousness belonging to their age, as well as to the personal
character of each.

Rabbi Santob, a Jew of Carrion (fl. 1350), was the author of many poems,
the most important of which is "The Dance of Death," a favorite subject of
the painters and poets of the Middle Ages, representing a kind of
spiritual masquerade, in which persons of every rank and age appear
dancing with the skeleton form of Death. In this Spanish version it is
perhaps more striking and picturesque than in any other--the ghastly
nature of the subject being brought into very lively contrast with the
festive tone of the verses. This grim fiction had for several centuries
great success throughout Europe.

Pedro Lopez Ayala (1332-1407), grand chancellor of Castile under four
successive sovereigns, was both a poet and a historian. His poem, "Court
Rhymes," is the most remarkable of his productions. His style is grave,
gentle, and didactic, with occasional expressions of poetic feeling, which
seem, however, to belong as much to their age as to their author.

2. OLD BALLADS.--From the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, the period
we have just gone over, the courts of the different sovereigns of Europe
were the principal centres of refinement and civilization, and this was
peculiarly the case in Spain during this period, when literature was
produced or encouraged by the sovereigns and other distinguished men. But
this was not the only literature of Spain. The spirit of poetry diffused
throughout the peninsula, excited by the romantic events of Spanish
history, now began to assume the form of a popular literature, and to
assert for itself a place which in some particulars it has maintained ever
since. This popular literature may be distributed into four different
classes. The first contains the _Ballads_, or the narrative and lyrical
poetry of the common people from the earliest times; the second, the
_Chronicles_, or the half-genuine, half-fabulous histories of the great
events and heroes of the national annals; the third class comprises the
_Romances of Chivalry_, intimately connected with both the others, and,
after a time, as passionately admired by the whole nation; and the fourth
includes the _Drama_, which in its origin has always been a popular and
religious amusement, and was hardly less so in Spain than it was in Greece
or in France. These four classes compose what was generally most valued in
Spanish literature during the latter part of the fourteenth century, the
whole of the fifteenth, and much of the sixteenth. They rested on the deep
foundations of the national character, and therefore by their very nature
were opposed to the Provençal, the Italian, and the courtly schools, which
flourished during the same period.

The metrical structure of the old Spanish ballad was extremely simple,
consisting of eight-syllable lines, which are composed with great facility
in other languages as well as the Castilian. Sometimes they were broken
into stanzas of four lines each, thence called _redondillas_, or
roundelays, but their prominent peculiarity is that of the _asonante_, an
imperfect rhyme that echoes the same vowel, but not the same final
consonant in the terminating syllables. This metrical form was at a later
period adopted by the dramatists, and is now used in every department of
Spanish poetry.

The old Spanish ballads comprise more than a thousand poems, first
collected in the sixteenth century, whose authors and dates are alike
unknown. Indeed, until after the middle of that century, it is difficult
to find ballads written by known authors. These collections, arranged
without regard to chronological order, relate to the fictions of chivalry,
especially to Charlemagne and his peers, to the traditions and history of
Spain, to Moorish adventures, and to the private life and manners of the
Spaniards themselves; they belong to the unchronicled popular life and
character of the age which gave them birth. The ballads of chivalry, with
the exception of those relating to Charlemagne, occupy a less important
place than those founded on national subjects. The historical ballads are
by far the most numerous and the most interesting; and of those the first
in the order of time are those relating to Bernardo del Carpio, concerning
whom there are about forty. Bernardo (fl. 800) was the offspring of a
secret marriage between the Count de Saldaña and a sister of Alfonso the
Chaste, at which the king was so much offended that he sent the Infanta to
a convent, and kept the Count in perpetual imprisonment, educating
Bernardo as his own son, and keeping him in ignorance of his birth. The
achievements of Bernardo ending with the victory of Roncesvalles, his
efforts to procure the release of his father, the falsehood of the king,
and the despair and rebellion of Bernardo after the death of the Count in
prison, constitute the romantic incidents of these ballads.

The next series is that on Fernan Gonzalez, a chieftain who, in the middle
of the tenth century, recovered Castile from the Moors and became its
first sovereign count. The most romantic are those which describe his
being twice rescued from prison by his heroic wife, and his contest with
King Sancho, in which he displayed all the turbulence and cunning of a
robber baron of the Middle Ages.

The Seven Lords of Lara form the next group; some of them are beautiful,
and the story they contain is one of the most romantic in Spanish history.
The Seven Lords of Lara are betrayed by their uncle into the hands of the
Moors, and put to death, while their father, by the basest treason, is
confined in a Moorish prison. An eighth son, the famous Mudarra, whose
mother is a noble Moorish lady, at last avenges all the wrongs of his

But from the earliest period, the Cid has been the occasion of more
ballads than any other of the great heroes of Spanish history or fable.
They were first collected in 1612, and have been continually republished
to the present day. There are at least a hundred and sixty of them,
forming a more complete series than any other, all strongly marked with
the spirit of their age and country.

The Moorish ballads form a large and brilliant class by themselves. The
period when this style of poetry came into favor was the century after the
fall of Granada, when the south, with its refinement and effeminacy, its
magnificent and fantastic architecture, the foreign yet not strange
manners of its people, and the stories of their warlike achievements, all
took strong hold of the Spanish imagination, and made of Granada a fairy

Of the ballads relating to private life, most of them are effusions of
love, others are satirical, pastoral, and burlesque, and many descriptive
of the manners and amusements of the people at large; but all of them are
true representations of Spanish life. They are marked by an attractive
simplicity of thought and expression, united to a sort of mischievous
shrewdness. No such popular poetry exists in any other language, and no
other exhibits in so great a degree that nationality which is the truest
element of such poetry everywhere. The English and Scotch ballads, with
which they may most naturally be compared, belong to a ruder state of
society, which gave to the poetry less dignity and elevation than belong
to a people who, like the Spanish, were for centuries engaged in a contest
ennobled by a sense of religion and loyalty, and which could not fail to
raise the minds of those engaged in it far above the atmosphere that
settled around the bloody feuds of rival barons, or the gross maraudings
of border warfare. The great Castilian heroes, the Cid, Bernardo del
Carpio, and Pelayo, are even now an essential portion of the faith and
poetry of the common people of Spain, and are still honored as they were
centuries ago. The stories of Guarinos and of the defeat at Roncesvalles
are still sung by the wayfaring muleteers, as they were when Don Quixote
heard them on his journey to Toboso, and the showmen still rehearse the
same adventures in the streets of Seville, that they did at the solitary
inn of Montesinos when he encountered them there.

3. THE CHRONICLES.--As the great Moorish contest was transferred to the
south of Spain, the north became comparatively quiet. Wealth and leisure
followed; the castles became the abodes of a crude but free hospitality,
and the distinctions of society grew more apparent. The ballads from this
time began to subside into the lower portions of society; the educated
sought forms of literature more in accordance with their increased
knowledge and leisure, and their more settled system of social life. The
oldest of these forms was that of the Spanish prose chronicles, of which
there are general and royal chronicles, chronicles of particular events,
chronicles of particular persons, chronicles of travels, and romantic

The first of these chronicles in the order of time as well as that of
merit, comes from the royal hand of Alfonso the Wise, and is entitled "The
Chronicle of Spain." It begins with the creation of the world, and
concludes with the death of St. Ferdinand, the father of Alfonso. The last
part, relating to the history of Spain, is by far the most attractive, and
sets forth in a truly national spirit all the rich old traditions of the
country. This is not only the most interesting of the Spanish chronicles,
but the most interesting of all that in any country mark the transition
from its poetical and romantic traditions to the grave exactness of
historical truth. The chronicle of the Cid was probably taken from this

Alfonso XI. ordered the annals of the kingdom to be continued down to his
own reign, or through the period from 1252 to 1312. During many succeeding
reigns the royal chronicles were continued,--that of Ferdinand and
Isabella, by Pulgar, is the last instance of the old style; but though the
annals were still kept up, the free and picturesque spirit that gave them
life was no longer there.

The chronicles of particular events and persons are most of them of little

Among the chronicles of travels, the oldest one of any value is an account
of a Spanish embassy to Tamerlane, the great Tartar potentate.

Of the romantic chronicles, the principal specimen is that of Don Roderic,
a fabulous account of the reign of King Roderic, the conquest of the
country by the Moors, and the first attempts to recover it in the
beginning of the eighth century. The style is heavy and verbose, although
upon it Southey has founded much of his beautiful poem of "Roderic, the
last of the Goths." This chronicle of Don Roderic, which was little more
than a romance of chivalry, marks the transition to those romantic
fictions that had already begun to inundate Spain. But the series which it
concludes extends over a period of two hundred and fifty years, from the
time of Alfonso the Wise to the accession of Charles V. (1221-1516), and
is unrivaled in the richness and variety of its poetic elements. In truth,
these old Spanish chronicles cannot be compared with those of any other
nation, and whether they have their foundation in truth or in fable, they
strike their strong roots further down into the deep soil of popular
feeling and character. The old Spanish loyalty, the old Spanish religious
faith, as both were formed and nourished in long periods of national trial
and suffering, everywhere appear; and they contain such a body of
antiquities, traditions, and fables as has been offered to no other
people; furnishing not only materials from which a multitude of old
Spanish plays, ballads, and romances have been drawn, but a mine which has
unceasingly been wrought by the rest of Europe for similar purposes, and
which still remains unexhausted.

4. ROMANCES OF CHIVALRY.--The ballads originally belonged to the whole
nation, but especially to its less cultivated portions. The chronicles, on
the contrary, belonged to the knightly classes, who sought in these
picturesque records of their fathers a stimulus to their own virtue. But
as the nation advanced in refinement, books of less grave character were
demanded, and the spirit of poetical invention soon turned to the national
traditions, and produced from these new and attractive forms of fiction.
Before the middle of the fourteenth century, the romances of chivalry
connected with the stories of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table,
and Charlemagne and his peers, which had appeared in France two centuries
before, were scarcely known in Spain; but after that time they were
imitated, and a new series of fictions was invented, which soon spread
through the world, and became more famous than, either of its

This extraordinary family of romances is that of which "Amadis" is the
poetical head and type, and this was probably produced before the year
1400, by Vasco de Lobeira, a Portuguese. The structure and tone of this
fiction are original, and much more free than those of the French romances
that had preceded it. The stories of Arthur and Charlemagne are both
somewhat limited in invention by the adventures ascribed to them in the
traditions and chronicles, while that of Amadis belongs purely to the
imagination, and its sole purpose is to set forth the character of a
perfect knight. Amadis is admitted by general consent to be the best of
all the old romances of chivalry. The series which followed, founded upon
the Amadis, reached the number of twenty-four. They were successively
translated into French, and at once became famous. Considering the
passionate admiration which this work so long excited, and the influence
that, with little merit of its own, it has ever since exercised on the
poetry and romance of modern Europe, it is a phenomenon without parallel
in literary history.

Many other series of romances followed, numbering more than seventy
volumes, most of them in folio, and their influence over the Spanish
character extended through two hundred years. Their extraordinary
popularity may be accounted for, if we remember that, when they first
appeared in Spain, it had long been peculiarly the land of knighthood.
Extravagant and impossible as are many of the adventures recorded in these
books of chivalry, they so little exceeded the absurdities of living men
that many persons took the romances themselves to be true histories, and
believed them. The happiest work of the greatest genius Spain has produced
bears witness on every page to the prevalence of an absolute fanaticism
for these books of chivalry, and becomes at once the seal of their vast
popularity and the monument of their fate.

5. THE DRAMA.--The ancient theatre of the Greeks and Romans was continued
in some of its grosser forms in Constantinople and in other parts of the
fallen empire far into the Middle Ages. But it was essentially
mythological or heathenish, and, as such, it was opposed by the Christian
church, which, however, provided a substitute for what it thus opposed, by
adding a dramatic element to its festivals. Thus the manger at Bethlehem,
with the worship of the shepherds and magi, was at a very early period
solemnly exhibited every year before the altars of the churches, at
Christmas, as were the tragical events of the last days of the Saviour's
life, during Lent and at the approach of Easter. To these spectacles,
dialogue was afterwards added, and they were called, as we have seen,
_Mysteries_; they were used successfully not only as a means of amusement,
but for the religious edification of an ignorant multitude, and in some
countries they have been continued quite down to our own times. The period
when these representations were first made in Spain cannot now be
determined, though it was certainly before the middle of the thirteenth
century, and no distinct account of them now remains.

A singular combination of pastoral and satirical poetry indicates the
first origin of the Spanish secular drama. Towards the close of the
fifteenth century, these pastoral dialogues were converted into real
dramas by Enzina, and were publicly represented. But the most important of
these early productions is the "Tragi-comedy of Calisto and Meliboea," or
"Celestina." Though it can never have been represented, it has left
unmistakable traces of its influence on the national drama ever since. It
was translated into various languages, and few works ever had a more
brilliant success. The great fault of the Celestina is its shameless
libertinism of thought and language; and its chief merits are its life-
like exhibition of the most unworthy forms of human character, and its
singularly pure, rich, and idiomatic Castilian style.

The dramatic writers of this period seem to have had no idea of founding a
popular national drama, of which there is no trace as late as the close of
the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.

6. PROVENÇAL LITERATURE IN SPAIN.--When the crown of Provence was
transferred, by the marriage of its heir, in 1113, to Berenger, Count of
Barcelona, numbers of the Provençal poets followed their liege lady from
Arles to Barcelona, and established themselves in her new capital. At the
very commencement, therefore, of the twelfth century, Provençal refinement
was introduced into the northeastern corner of Spain. Political causes
soon carried it farther towards the centre of the country. The Counts of
Barcelona obtained, by marriage, the kingdom of Aragon, and soon spread
through their new territories many of the refinements of Provence. The
literature thus introduced retained its Provençal character till it came
in contact with that more vigorous spirit which had been advancing from
the northwest, and which afterwards gave its tone to the consolidated

The poetry of the troubadours in Catalonia, as well as in its native home,
belonged much to the court, and the highest in rank and power were
earliest and foremost on its lists. From 1209 to 1229, the war against the
Albigenses was carried on with extraordinary cruelty and fury. To this
sect nearly all the contemporary troubadours belonged, and when they were
compelled to escape from the burnt and bloody ruins of their homes, many
of them hastened to the friendly court of Aragon, sure of being protected
and honored by princes who were at the same time poets.

From the close of the thirteenth century, the songs of the troubadours
were rarely heard in the land that gave them birth three hundred years
before; and the plant that was not permitted to expand in its native soil,
soon perished in that to which it had been transplanted. After the opening
of the fourteenth century, no genuinely Provençal poetry appears in
Castile, and from the middle of that century it begins to recede from
Catalonia and Aragon; or rather, to be corrupted by the hardier dialect
spoken there by the mass of the people. The retreat of the troubadours
over the Pyrenees, from Aix to Barcelona, from Barcelona to Saragossa and
Valencia, is everywhere marked by the wrecks and fragments of their
peculiar poetry and cultivation. At length, oppressed by the more powerful
Castilian, what remained of the language, that gave the first impulse to
poetic feeling in modern times, sank into a neglected dialect.

Italian literature over the Spanish, though less apparent at first, was
more deep and lasting than that of the Provençal. The long wars that the
Christians of Spain waged against the Moors brought them into closer
spiritual connection with the Church of Rome than any other people of
modern times. Spanish students repaired to the famous universities of
Italy, and returned to Spain, bringing with them the influence of Italian
culture; and commercial and political relations still further promoted a
free communication of the manners and literature of Italy to Spain. The
language, also, from its affinity with the Spanish, constituted a still
more important and effectual medium of intercourse. In the reign of John
II. (1407-1454), the attempt to form an Italian school in Spain became
apparent. This sovereign gathered about him a sort of poetical court, and
gave an impulse to refinement that was perceptible for several

Among those who interested themselves most directly in the progress of
poetry in Spain, the first in rank, after the king himself, was the
Marquis of Villena (1384-1434), whose fame rests chiefly on the "Labors of
Hercules," a short prose treatise or allegory.

First of all the courtiers and poets of this reign, in point of merit,
stands the Marquis of Santillana (1398-1458), whose works belong more or
less to the Provençal, Italian, and Spanish schools. He was the founder of
an Italian and courtly school in Spanish poetry--one adverse to the
national school and finally overcome by it, but one that long exercised a
considerable sway. Another poet of the court of John II. is Juan de Mena,
historiographer of Castile. His principal works are, "The Coronation" and
"The Labyrinth," both imitations of Dante. They are of consequence as
marking the progress of the language. The principal poem of Manrique the
younger, one of an illustrious family of that name, who were poets,
statesmen, and soldiers, on the death of his father, is remarkable for
depth and truth of feeling. Its greatest charm is its beautiful
simplicity, and its merit entitles it to the place it has taken among the
most admired portions of the elder Spanish literature.

8. THE CANCIONEROS AND PROSE WRITINGS.--The most distinct idea of the
poetical culture of Spain, during the fifteenth century, may he obtained
from the "Cancioneros," or collections of poetry, sometimes all by one
author, sometimes by many. The oldest of these dates from about 1450, and
was the work of Baena. Many similar collections followed, and they were
among the fashionable wants of the age. In 1511, Castillo printed at
Valencia the "Cancionero General," which contained poems attributed to
about a hundred different poets, from the time of Santillana to the period
in which it was made. Ten editions of this remarkable book followed, and
in it we find the poetry most in favor at the court and with the refined
society of Spain. It contains no trace of the earliest poetry of the
country, but the spirit of the troubadours is everywhere present; the
occasional imitations from the Italian are more apparent than successful,
and in general it is wearisome and monotonous, overstrained, formal, and
cold. But it was impossible that such a state of poetical culture should
become permanent in a country so full of stirring events as Spain was in
the age that followed the fall of Granada and the discovery of America;
everything announced a decided movement in the literature of the nation,
and almost everything seemed to favor and facilitate it.

The prose writers of the fifteenth century deserve mention chiefly because
they were so much valued in their own age. Their writings are encumbered
with the bad taste and pedantry of the time. Among them are Lucena,
Alfonso de la Torre, Pulgar, and a few others.

9. THE INQUISITION.--The first period of the history of Spanish
literature, now concluded, extends through nearly four centuries, from the
first breathings of the poetical enthusiasm of the mass of the people,
down to the decay of the courtly literature in the latter part of the
reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The elements of a national literature
which it contains--the old ballads, the old chronicles, the old theatre--
are of a vigor and promise not to be mistaken. They constitute a mine of
more various wealth than had been offered under similar circumstances, at
so early a period, to any other people; and they give indications of a
subsequent literature that must vindicate for itself a place among the
permanent monuments of modern civilization.

The condition of things in Spain, at the close of the reign of Ferdinand
and Isabella, seemed to promise a long period of national prosperity. But
one institution, destined to check and discourage all intellectual
freedom, was already beginning to give token of its great and blighting
power. The Christian Spaniards had from an early period been essentially
intolerant. The Moors and the Jews were regarded by them with an intense
and bitter hatred; the first as their conquerors, and the last for the
oppressive claims which their wealth gave them on numbers of the Christian
inhabitants; and as enemies of the Cross, it was regarded as a merit to
punish them. The establishment of the Inquisition, therefore, in 1481,
which had been so effectually used to exterminate the heresy of the
Albigenses, met with little opposition. The Jews and the Moors were its
first victims, and with them it was permitted to deal unchecked by the
power of the state. But the movements of this power were in darkness and
secrecy. From the moment when the Inquisition laid its grasp on the object
of its suspicions to that of his execution, no voice was heard to issue
from its cells. The very witnesses it summoned were punished with death if
they revealed the secrets of its dread tribunals; and often of the victim
nothing was known but that he had disappeared from his accustomed haunts
never again to be seen. The effect was appalling. The imaginations of men
were filled with horror at the idea of a power so vast, so noiseless,
constantly and invisibly around them, whose blow was death, but whose step
could neither be heard nor followed amidst the gloom into which it
retreated. From this time, Spanish intolerance took that air of sombre
fanaticism which it never afterwards lost. The Inquisition gradually
enlarged its jurisdiction, until none was too humble to escape its notice,
or too high to be reached by its power. From an inquiry into the private
opinions of individuals to an interference with books and the press was
but a step, and this was soon taken, hastened by the appearance and
progress of the Reformation of Luther.



1. THE EFFECT OF INTOLERANCE ON LETTERS.--The central point in Spanish
history is the capture of Granada. During nearly eight centuries before
that event, the Christians of Spain were occupied with conflicts that
developed extraordinary energies, till the whole land was filled to
overflowing with a power which had hardly yet been felt in Europe. But no
sooner was the last Moorish fortress yielded up, than this accumulated
flood broke loose and threatened to overspread the best portions of the
civilized world. Charles the Fifth, grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella,
inherited not only Spain, but Naples, Sicily, and the Low Countries. The
untold wealth of the Indies was already beginning to pour into his
treasury. He was elected Emperor of Germany, and he soon began a career of
conquest such as had not been imagined since the days of Charlemagne.
Success and glory ever waited for him as he advanced, and this brilliant
aspect seemed to promise that Spain would erelong be at the head of an
empire more extensive than the Roman. But a moral power was at work,
destined to divide Europe anew, and the monk Luther was already become a
counterpoise to the military master of so many kingdoms. During the
hundred and thirty years of struggle, that terminated with the peace of
Westphalia, though Spain was far removed from the fields where the most
cruel battles of the religious wars were fought, the interest she took in
the contest may be seen from the presence of her armies in every part of
Europe where it was possible to assail the great movement of the

In Spain, the contest with Protestantism was of short duration. By
successive decrees the church ordained that all persons who kept in their
possession books infected with the doctrines of Luther, and even all who
failed to denounce such persons, should be excommunicated, and subjected
to cruel and degrading punishments. The power of the Inquisition was
consummated in 1546, when the first "Index Expurgatorius" was published in
Spain. This was a list of the books that all persons were forbidden to
buy, sell, or keep possession of, under penalty of confiscation and death.
The tribunals were authorized and required to proceed against all persons
supposed to be infected with the new belief, even though they were
cardinals, dukes, kings, or emperors,--a power more formidable to the
progress of intellectual improvement, than had ever before been granted to
any body of men, civil or ecclesiastical.

The portentous authority thus given was freely exercised. The first public
_auto da fé_ of Protestants was held in 1559, and many others followed.
The number of victims seldom exceeded twenty burned at one time, and fifty
or sixty subjected to the severest punishments; but many of those who
suffered were among the active and leading minds of the age. Men of
learning were particularly obnoxious to suspicion, nor were persons of the
holiest lives beyond its reach if they showed a tendency to inquiry. So
effectually did the Inquisition accomplish its purpose, that, from the
latter part of the reign of Philip II., the voice of religious dissent was
scarcely heard in the land. The great body of the Spanish people rejoiced
alike in their loyalty and their orthodoxy, and the few who differed from
the mass of their fellow-subjects were either silenced by their fears, or
sunk away from the surface of society. From that time down to its
overthrow, in 1808, this institution was chiefly a political engine.

The result of such extraordinary traits in the national character could
not fail to be impressed upon the literature. Loyalty, which had once been
so generous an element in the Spanish character and cultivation, was now
infected with the ambition of universal empire, and the Christian spirit
which gave an air of duty to the wildest forms of adventure in its long
contest with misbelief, was now fallen into a bigotry so pervading that
the romances of the time are full of it, and the national theatre becomes
its grotesque monument.

Of course the literature of Spain produced during this interval--the
earlier part of which was the period of the greatest glory the country
ever enjoyed--was injuriously affected by so diseased a condition of the
national mind. Some departments hardly appeared at all, others were
strangely perverted, while yet others, like the drama, ballads, and
lyrical verse, grew exuberant and lawless, from the very restraints
imposed on the rest. But it would be an error to suppose that these
peculiarities in Spanish literature were produced by the direct action
either of the Inquisition or of the government. The foundations of this
dark work were laid deep and sure in the old Castilian character. It was
the result of the excess and misdirection of that very Christian zeal
which fought so gloriously against the intrusion of Mohammedanism into
Spain, and of that loyalty which sustained the Spanish princes so
faithfully through the whole of that terrible contest. This state of
things, however, involved the ultimate sacrifice of the best elements of
the national character. Only a little more than a century elapsed, before
the government that had threatened the world with a universal empire, was
hardly able to repel invasion from abroad or maintain its subjects at
home. The vigorous poetical life which had been kindled through the
country in its ages of trial and adversity, was evidently passing out of
the whole Spanish character. The crude wealth from their American
possessions sustained, for a century longer, the forms of a miserable
political existence; but the earnest faith, the loyalty, the dignity of
the Spanish people were gone, and little remained in their place but a
weak subserviency to unworthy masters of state, and a low, timid bigotry
in whatever related to religion. The old enthusiasm faded away, and the
poetry of the country, which had always depended more on the state of the
popular feeling than any other poetry of modern times, faded and failed
with it.

between Spain and Italy in the early part of the sixteenth century, and
the superior civilization and refinement of the latter country, could not
fail to influence Spanish literature. Juan Boscan (d. 1543) was the first
to attempt the proper Italian measures as they were then practiced. He
established in Spain the Italian iambic, the sonnet, and canzone of
Petrarch, the _terza rima_ of Dante, and the flowing octaves of Ariosto.
As an original poet, the talents of Boscan were not of the highest order.

Garcilasso de la Vega (1503-1536), the contemporary and friend of Boscan,
united with him in introducing an Italian school of poetry, which has been
an important part of Spanish literature ever since. The poems of
Garcilasso are remarkable for their gentleness and melancholy, and his
versification is uncommonly sweet, and well adapted to the tender and sad
character of his poetry.

The example set by Boscan and Garcilasso so well suited the demands of the
age, that it became as much a fashion at the court of Charles V. to write
in the Italian manner, as it did to travel in Italy, or make a military
campaign there. Among those who did most to establish the Italian
influence in Spanish literature was Diego de Mendoza (1503-1575), a
scholar, a soldier, a poet, a diplomatist, a statesman, a historian, and a
man who rose to great consideration in whatever he undertook. One of his
earliest works, "Lazarillo de Tormes," the auto-biography of a boy, little
Lazarus, was written with the object of satirizing all classes of society
under the character of a servant, who sees them in undress behind the
scenes. The style of this work is bold, rich, and idiomatic, and some of
its sketches are among the most fresh and spirited that can be found in
the whole class of prose works of fiction. It has been more or less a
favorite in all languages, down to the present day, and was the foundation
of a class of fictions which the "Gil Blas" of Le Sage has made famous
throughout the world. Mendoza, after having filled many high offices under
Charles V., when Philip ascended the throne, was, for some slight offense,
banished from the court as a madman. In the poems which he occasionally
wrote during his exile, he gave the influence of his example to the new
form introduced by Boscan and Garcilasso. At a later period he occupied
himself in writing some portions of the history of his native city,
Granada, relating to the rebellion of the Moors (1568-1570). Familiar with
everything of which he speaks, there is a freshness and power in his
sketches that carry us at once into the midst of the scenes and events he
describes. "The War of Granada" is an imitation of Sallust. Nothing in the
style of the old chronicles is to be compared to it, and little in any
subsequent period is equal to it for manliness, vigor, and truth.

3. HISTORY.--The imperfect chronicles of the age of Charles V. were
surpassed in importance by the histories or narratives, more or less
ample, of the discoverers of the western world, all of which were
interesting from their subject and their materials. First in the
foreground of this picturesque group stands Fernando Cortes (1485-1554),
of whose voluminous documents the most remarkable were five long reports
to the Emperor on the affairs of Mexico.

The marvelous achievements of Cortes, however, were more fully recorded by
Gomara (b. 1510), the oldest of the regular historians of the New World.
His principal works are the "History of the Indies," chiefly devoted to
Columbus and the conquest of Peru, and the "Chronicle of New Spain," which
is merely the history and life of Cortes, under which title it has since
been republished. The style of Gomara is easy and flowing, but his work
was of no permanent authority, in consequence of the great and frequent
mistakes into which he was led by those who were too much a part of the
story to relate it fairly. These mistakes Bernal Diaz, an old soldier who
had been long in the New World, set himself at work to correct, and the
book he thus produced, with many faults, has something of the honest
nationality, and the fervor and faith of the old chronicles.

Among those who have left records of their adventures in America, one of
the most considerable is Oviedo (1478-1557), who for nearly forty years
devoted himself to the affairs of the Spanish colonies in which he
resided. His most important work is "The Natural and General History of
the Indies," a series of accounts of the natural condition, the aboriginal
inhabitants, and the political affairs of the Spanish provinces in
America, as they stood in the middle of the sixteenth century. It is of
great value as a vast repository of facts, and not without merit as a

In Las Casas (1474-1566) Oviedo had a formidable rival, who, pursuing the
same course of inquiries in the New World, came to conclusions quite
opposite. Convinced from his first arrival in Hispaniola that the gentle
nature and slight frames of the natives were subjected to toil and
servitude so hard that they were wasting away, he thenceforth devoted his
life to their emancipation. He crossed the Atlantic six times, in order to
persuade the government of Charles V. to ameliorate their condition, and
always with more or less success. His earliest work, "A Short Account of
the Ruin of the Indies," was a tract in which the sufferings and wrongs of
the Indians were doubtless much overstated by the zeal of its author, but
it awakened all Europe to a sense of the injustice it set forth. Other
short treatises followed, but none ever produced so deep and solemn an
effect on the world.

The great work of Las Casas, however, still remains inedited,--"A General
History of the Indies from 1492 to 1525." Like his other works, it shows
marks of haste and carelessness, but its value is great, notwithstanding
his too fervent zeal for the Indians. It is a repository to which Herrera,
and, through him, all subsequent historians of the Indies resorted for
materials, and without which the history of the earliest period of the
Spanish settlements in America cannot even now be written.

There are numerous other works on the discovery and conquest of America,
but they are of less consequence than those already mentioned. As a class,
they resemble the old chronicles, though they announce the approach of the
more regular form of history.

4. THE DRAMA.--Before the middle of the sixteenth century, the Mysteries
were the only dramatic exhibitions of Spain. They were upheld by
ecclesiastical power, and the people, as such, had no share in them. The
first attempt to create a popular drama was made by Lope de Rueda, a
goldbeater of Seville, who flourished between 1544 and 1567, and who
became both a dramatic writer and an actor. His works consist of comedies,
pastoral colloquies, and dialogues in prose and verse. They were written
for representation, and were acted before popular audiences by a strolling
company led about by Lope de Rueda himself. Naturalness of thought, the
most easy, idiomatic Castilian terms of expression, a good-humored gayety,
a strong sense of the ridiculous, and a happy imitation of the tone and
manners of common life, are the prominent characteristics of these plays,
and their author was justly reckoned by Cervantes and Lope de Vega as the
true founder of the popular national theatre. The ancient simplicity and
severity of the Spanish people had now been superseded by the luxury and
extravagance which the treasures of America had introduced; the
ecclesiastical fetters imposed on opinion and conscience had so connected
all ideas of morality and religion with inquisitorial severity, that the
mind longed for an escape, and gladly took refuge in amusements where
these unwelcome topics had no place. So far, the number of dramas was
small, and these had been written in forms so different and so often
opposed to each other as to have little consistency or authority, and to
offer no sufficient indication of the channel in which the dramatic
literature of the country was at last to flow. It was reserved for Lope de
Vega to seize, with the instinct of genius, the crude and unsettled
elements of the existing drama, and to form from them, and from the
abundant and rich inventions of his own overflowing fancy, a drama which,
as a whole, was unlike anything that had preceded it, and yet was so truly
national and rested so faithfully on tradition, that it was never
afterwards disturbed, till the whole literature of which it was so
brilliant a part was swept away with it.

Lope de Vega (1562-1635) early manifested extraordinary powers and a
marvelous poetic genius. After completing his education, he became
secretary to the Duke of Alba. Engaging in an affair of honor, in which he
dangerously wounded his adversary, he was obliged to fly and to remain
several years in exile. On his return to Madrid, religious and patriotic
zeal induced him to join the expedition of the Invincible Armada for the
invasion of England, and he was one of the few who returned in safety to
his native country. Domestic afflictions soon after determined him to
renounce the world and to enter holy orders. Notwithstanding this change,
he continued to cultivate poetry to the close of his long life, with so
wonderful a facility that a drama of more than two thousand lines,
intermingled with sonnets and enlivened with all kinds of unexpected
incidents and intrigues, frequently cost him no more than the labor of a
single day. He composed more rapidly than his amanuensis could transcribe,
and the managers of the theatres left him no time to copy or correct his
compositions; so that his plays were frequently represented within twenty-
four hours after their first conception. His fertility of invention and
his talent for versification are unparalleled in the history of
literature. He produced two thousand two hundred dramas, of which only
about five hundred were printed. His other poems were published at Madrid
in 1776, in twenty-one volumes quarto. His prodigious literary labors
produced him nearly as much money as glory; but his liberality to the poor
and his taste for pomp soon dissipated his wealth, and after living in
splendor, he died almost in poverty.

No poet has ever in his lifetime enjoyed such honors. Eager crowds
surrounded him whenever he showed himself abroad, and saluted him with the
appellation of _Prodigy of Nature_. Every eye was fixed on him, and
children followed him with cries of pleasure. He was chosen President of
the Spiritual College at Madrid, and the pope conferred upon him high
marks of distinction, not only for his poetical talents, but for his
enthusiastic zeal for the interests of religion. He was also appointed one
of the _familiars_ of the Inquisition, an office to which the highest
honor was at that time attached.

The fame of Lope de Vega rests upon his dramas alone, and in these there
is no end to their diversity, the subjects varying from the deepest
tragedy to the broadest farce, from the solemn mysteries of religion to
the loosest frolics of common life, and the style embracing every variety
of tone and measure known to the language of the country. In these dramas,
too, the sacred and secular, the tragic and comic, the heroic and vulgar,
all run into each other, until it seems that there is neither separate
form nor distinction attributed to any of them.

The first class of plays that Lope seems to have invented, and the one
which still remains most popular in Spain, are _dramas of the cloak and
sword_, so called from the picturesque national dress of the fashionable
class of society from which the principal characters were selected. Their
main principle is gallantry. The story is almost always involved and
intriguing, accompanied with an under-plot and parody on the principal
parties, formed by the servants and other inferior persons. The action is
chiefly carried on by lovers full of romance, or by low characters, whose
wit is mixed with buffoonery.

To the second class belong the historical or heroic dramas. Their
characters are usually kings, princes, and personages in the highest rank
of life, and their prevailing tone is imposing and tragical. A love story,
filled as usual with hair-breadth escapes, jealous quarrels, and questions
of honor, runs through nearly every one of them; but truth, in regard to
facts, manners, and customs, is entirely disregarded.

The third class contains the dramas founded on the manners of common life;
of these there are but few. Lope de Vega would doubtless have confined
himself to these three forms, but that the interference of the church for
a time forbade the representations of the secular drama, and he therefore
turned his attention to the composition of religious plays. The subjects
of these are taken from the Scriptures, or lives of the saints, and they
approach so near to the comedies of intrigue, that but for the religious
passages they would seem to belong to them. His "Sacramental Acts" was
another form of the religious drama which was still more grotesque than
the last. They were performed in the streets during the religious
ceremonies of the Corpus Christi. The spiritual dramas of Lope de Vega are
a heterogeneous mixture of bright examples of piety, according to the
views of the age and country, and the wildest flights of imagination,
combined into a whole by a fine poetic spirit.

The variety and inexhaustible fertility of the genius of this writer
constituted the corner-stone of his success, and did much to make him the
monarch of the stage while he lived, and the great master of the national
theatre ever since. But there were other circumstances that aided in
producing these surprising results, the first of which is the principle,
that runs through all his plays, of making all other interests subordinate
to the interest of the story. For this purpose he used dialogue rather to
bring out the plot than the characters, and to this end also he sacrificed
dramatic probabilities and possibilities, geography, history, and a decent

Another element which he established in the Spanish drama, was the comic
under-plot, and the witty _gracioso_ or droll, the parody of the heroic
character of the play. Much of his power over the people of his time is
also to be found in the charm of his versification, which was always
fresh, flowing, and effective. The success of Lope de Vega was in
proportion to his rare powers. For the forty or fifty years that he wrote,
nobody else was willingly heard upon the stage, and his dramas were
performed in France, Italy, and even in Constantinople. His extraordinary
talent was nearly allied to improvisation, and it required but a little
more indulgence of his feeling and fancy to have made him not only an
improvisator, but the most remarkable one that ever lived.

Nearly thirty dramatic writers followed Lope de Vega, but the school was
not received with universal applause. In its gross extravagances and
irregularities, severe critics found just cause for complaint. The
opposition of the church to the theatre, however, which had been for a
time so formidable, had at last given way, and from the beginning of the
seventeenth century, the popular drama was too strong to be subjected
either to classical criticism or ecclesiastical rule.

Calderon de la Barca (1600-1681) was the great successor and rival of Lope
de Vega. At the age of thirty-two, his reputation as a poet was an
enviable one. Soon after, when the death of Lope de Vega left the theatre
without a master, he was formally attached to the court for the purpose of
furnishing dramas to be represented in the royal theatres. In 1651, he
followed the example of Lope de Vega and other men of letters of his time,
by entering a religious brotherhood. Many ecclesiastical dignities were
conferred upon him, but he did not, however, on this account intermit his
dramatic labors, but continued through his long life to write for the
theatres, for the court, and for the churches. Many dramas of Calderon
were printed without his consent, and many were attributed to him which he
never wrote. His reputation as a dramatic poet rests on the seventy-three
sacramental _autos_, and one hundred and eight dramas, which are known to
be his. The _autos_, from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were among
the favorite amusements of the people; but in the age of Calderon they
were much increased in number and importance; they had become attractive
to all classes of society, and were represented with great luxury and at
great expense in the streets of all the larger cities. A procession, in
which the king and court appeared, preceded by the fantastic figures of
giants, with music, banners, and religious shows, followed the sacrament
through the street, and then, before the houses of the great officers of
state, the _autos_ were performed; the giants made sport for the
multitude, and the entertainment concluded with music and dancing.
Sometimes the procession was headed by the figure of a monster called the
_Tarasca_, half serpent in form, borne by men concealed in its cumbrous
bulk, and surmounted by another figure representing the woman of Babylon,
--all so managed as to fill with wonder and terror the country people who
crowded round it, and whose hats and caps were generally snatched away by
the grinning beast, and became the lawful prize of his conductors. This
exhibition was at first rude and simple, but under the influence of Lope
de Vega it became a well-defined, popular entertainment, divided into
three parts, each distinct from the other. First came the _loa_, a kind of
prologue; then the _entremes_, a kind of interlude or farce; and last, the
_autos sacramentales_, or sacred acts themselves, which were more grave in
their tone, though often whimsical and extravagant.

The seventy-three _autos_ written by Calderon are all allegorical, and by
the music and show with which they abound, they closely approach to the
opera. They are upon a great variety of subjects, and indicate by their
structure that elaborate and costly machinery must have been used in their
representation. They are crowded with such personages as Sin, Death,
Judaism, Mercy, and Charity, and the purpose of all is to set forth the
Real Presence in the Eucharist. The great enemy of mankind of course fills
a large place in them. Almost all of them contain passages of striking
lyrical poetry.

The secular plays of Calderon can scarcely be classified, for in many of
them even more than two forms of the drama are mingled. To the principle
of making a story that should sustain the interest throughout, Calderon
sacrificed almost as much as Lope de Vega did. To him facts are never
obstacles. Coriolanus is a general under Romulus; the Danube is placed
between Sweden and Russia; and Herodotus is made to describe America. But
in these dramas we rarely miss the interest and charm of a dramatic story,
which provokes the curiosity and enchains the attention.

In the dramas of the Cloak and Sword the plots of Calderon are intricate.
He excelled in the accumulation of surprises, in plunging his characters
into one difficulty after another, maintaining the interest to the last.
In style and versification Calderon has high merits, though they are
occasionally mingled with the defects of his age. He added no new forms to
dramatic composition, nor did he much modify those which had been already
settled by Lope de Vega; but he showed greater skill in the arrangement of
his incidents, and more poetry in the structure and tendency of his
dramas. To his elevated tone we owe much of what distinguishes Calderon
from his predecessors, and nearly all that is most individual in his
merits and defects. In carrying out his theory of the national drama, he
often succeeds and often fails; and when he succeeds, he sets before us an
idealized drama, resting on the noblest elements of the Spanish national
character, and one which, with all its unquestionable defects, is to be
placed among the extraordinary phenomena of modern poetry.

The most brilliant period of the Spanish drama falls within the reign of
Philip II., which extended from 1620 to 1665, and embraced the last years
of the life of Lope de Vega, and the thirty most fortunate years of the
life of Calderon. After this period a change begins to be apparent; for
the school of Lope was that of a drama in the freshness and buoyancy of
youth, while that of Calderon belongs to the season of its maturity and
gradual decay. The many writers who were either contemporary with Lope de
Vega and Calderon, or who succeeded them, had little influence on the
character of the theatre. This, in its proper outlines, always remained as
it was left by these great masters, who maintained an almost unquestioned
control over it while they lived, and at their death left a character
impressed upon it, which it never lost till it ceased to exist altogether.

When Lope de Vega first appeared as a dramatic writer at Madrid, the only
theatres he found were two unsheltered courtyards, which depended on such
companies of strolling players as occasionally visited the capital. Before
he died, there were, besides the court-yards in Madrid, several theatres
of great magnificence in the royal palaces, and many thousand actors; and
half a century later, the passion for dramatic representations had spread
into every part of the kingdom, and there was hardly a village that did
not possess a theatre.

During the whole of the successful period of the drama, the
representations took place in the daytime. Dancing was early an important
part of the theatrical exhibitions in Spain, even of the religious, and
its importance has continued down to the present day. From the earliest
antiquity it was the favorite amusement of the rude inhabitants of the
country, and in modern times dancing has been to Spain what music has been
to Italy, a passion with the whole population.

In all its forms and subsidiary attractions, the Spanish drama was
essentially a popular entertainment, governed by the popular will. Its
purpose was to please all equally, and it was not only necessary that the
play should be interesting; it was, above all, required that it should be
Spanish, and, therefore, whatever the subject might be, whether actual or
mythological, Greek or Roman, the characters were always represented as
Castilian, and Castilian of the seventeenth century. It was the same with
their costumes. Coriolanus appeared in the costume of Don Juan of Austria,
and Aristotle came on the stage dressed like a Spanish Abbé, with curled
periwig and buckles on his shoes.

The Spanish theatre, therefore, in many of its characteristics and
attributes, stands by itself. It is entirely national, it takes no
cognizance of ancient example, and it borrowed nothing from the drama of
France, Italy, or England. Founded on traits of national character, with
all its faults, it maintained itself as long as that character existed in
its original attributes, and even now it remains one of the most striking
and interesting portions of modern literature.

5. ROMANCES AND TALES.--Hitherto the writers of Spain had been little
known, except in their own country; but we are now introduced to an author
whose fame is bounded by no language and no country, and whose name is not
alone familiar to men of taste and learning, but to almost every class of

Cervantes (1547-1616), though of noble family, was born in poverty and
obscurity, not far from Madrid. When he was about twenty-one years of age,
he attached himself to the person of Cardinal Aquaviva, with whom he
visited Rome. He soon after enlisted as a common soldier in the war
against the Turks, and, in the great battle of Lepanto, 1572, he received
a wound which deprived him of the use of his left hand and arm, and
obliged him to quit the military profession. On his way home he was
captured by pirates, carried to Algiers, and sold for a slave. Here he
passed five years full of adventure and suffering. At length his ransom
was effected, and he returned home to find his father dead, his family
reduced to a still more bitter poverty by his ransom, and himself
friendless and unknown. He withdrew from the world to devote himself to
literature, and to gain a subsistence by his pen.

One of the first productions of Cervantes was the pastoral romance of
"Galatea." This was followed by several dramas, the principal of which is
founded on the tragical fate of Numantia. Notwithstanding its want of
dramatic skill, it may be cited as a proof of the author's poetical
talent, and as a bold effort to raise the condition of the stage.

After many years of poverty and embarrassment, in 1605, when Cervantes had
reached his fiftieth year, he published the first part of "Don Quixote."
The success of this effort was incredible. Many thousand copies are said
to have been printed during the author's lifetime. It was translated into
various languages, and eulogized by every class of readers, yet it
occasioned little improvement in the pecuniary circumstances of the
author. In 1615, he published the second part of the same work, and, in
the year following, his eventful and troubled life drew to its close.

"Don Quixote," of all the works of all modern times, bears most deeply the
impression of the national character it represents, and it has in return
enjoyed a degree of national favor never granted to any other. The object
of Cervantes in writing it was, as he himself declares, "to render
abhorred of men the false and absurd stories contained in books of
chivalry." The fanaticism for these romances was so great in Spain during
the sixteenth century, and they were deemed so noxious, that the burning
of all copies extant in the country was earnestly asked for by the Cortes.
To destroy a passion that had struck its roots so deeply in the character
of all classes of men, to break up the only reading which, at that time,
was fashionable and popular, was a bold undertaking, yet one in which
Cervantes succeeded. No book of chivalry was written after the appearance
of "Don Quixote;" and from that time to the present they have been
constantly disappearing, until they are now among the rarest of literary
curiosities,--a solitary instance of the power of genius to destroy, by a
well-timed blow, an entire department of literature.

In accomplishing this object, Cervantes represents "Don Quixote" as a
country gentleman of La Mancha, full of Castilian honor and enthusiasm,
but so completely crazed by reading the most famous books of chivalry,
that he not only believes them to be true, but feels himself called upon
to become the impossible knight-errant they describe, and actually goes
forth into the world, like them, to defend the oppressed and avenge the
injured. To complete his chivalrous equipment, which he had begun by
fitting up for himself a suit of armor strange to his century, he took an
esquire out of his neighborhood, a middle-aged peasant, ignorant,
credulous, and good-natured, but shrewd enough occasionally to see the
folly of their position. The two sally forth from their native village in
search of adventures, of which the excited imagination of the knight--
turning windmills into giants, solitary turrets into castles, and galley
slaves into oppressed gentlemen--finds abundance wherever he goes, while
the esquire translates them all into the plain prose of truth, with a
simplicity strikingly contrasted with the lofty dignity and the
magnificent illusions of the knight. After a series of ridiculous
discomfitures, the two are at last brought home like madmen to their
native village.

Ten years later, Cervantes published the second part of Don Quixote, which
is even better than the first. It shows more vigor and freedom, the
invention and the style of thought are richer, and the finish more exact.
Both Don Quixote and Sancho are brought before us like such living
realities, that at this moment the figures of the crazed, gaunt, and
dignified knight, and of his round, selfish, and most amusing esquire,
dwell bodied forth in the imagination of more, among all conditions of men
throughout Christendom, than any other of the creations of human talent.
In this work Cervantes has shown himself of kindred to all times and all
lands, to the humblest as well as to the highest degrees of cultivation,
and he has received in return, beyond all other writers, a tribute of
sympathy and admiration from the universal spirit of humanity.

This romance, which Cervantes threw so carelessly from him, and which he
regarded only as a bold effort to break up the absurd taste for the
fancies of chivalry, has been established by an uninterrupted and an
unquestioned success ever since, as the oldest classical specimen of
romantic fiction, and as one of the most remarkable monuments of modern
genius. But Cervantes is entitled to a higher glory: it should be borne in
mind that this delightful romance was not the result of a youthful
exuberance of feeling, and a happy external condition; with all its
unquenchable and irresistible humor, its bright views, and its cheerful
trust in goodness and virtue, it was written in his old age, at the
conclusion of a life which had been marked at nearly every step with
struggle, disappointment, and calamity; it was begun in prison, and
finished when he felt the hand of death pressing cold and heavy upon his
heart. If this be remembered as we read, we may feel what admiration and
reverence are due, not only to the living power of Don Quixote, but to the
character and genius of Cervantes; if it be forgotten or underrated, we
shall fail in regard to both.

The first form of romantic fiction which succeeded the romances of
chivalry was that of prose pastorals, which was introduced into Spain by
Montemayor, a Portuguese, who lived, probably, between 1520 and 1561. To
divert his mind from the sorrow of an unrequited attachment, he composed a
romance entitled "Diana," which, with numerous faults, possesses a high
degree of merit. It was succeeded by many similar tales.

The next form of Spanish prose fiction, and the one which has enjoyed a
more permanent regard, is that known as tales in the _gusto picaresco_, or
style of the rogues. As a class, they constitute a singular exhibition of
character, and are as separate and national as anything in modern
literature. The first fiction of this class was the "Lazarillo de Tormes"
of Mendoza, already spoken of, published in 1554,--a bold, unfinished
sketch of the life of a rogue from the very lowest condition of society.
Forty-five years afterwards this was followed by the "Guzman de Alfarache"
of Aleman, the most ample portraiture of its class to be found in Spanish
literature. It is chiefly curious and interesting because it shows us, in
the costume of the times, the life of an ingenious Machiavelian rogue, who
is never at a loss for an expedient, and who speaks of himself always as
an honest man. The work was received with great favor, and translated into
all the languages of Europe.

But the work which most plainly shows the condition of social life which
produced this class of tales, is the "Life of Estevanillo Gonzalez," first
printed in 1646. It is the autobiography of a buffoon who was long in the
service of Piccolomini, the great general of the Thirty Years' War. The
brilliant success of these works at home and abroad subsequently produced
the Gil Blas of Le Sage, an imitation more brilliant than any of the
originals that it followed.

The serious and historical fictions produced in Spain were limited in
number, and with few exceptions deserved little favor. Short stories or
tales were more successful than any other form of prose-fiction during the
latter part of the sixteenth, and the whole of the seventeenth century.
They belonged to the spirit of their own times and to the state of society
in which they appeared. Taken together, the number of fictions in Spanish
literature is enormous; but what is more remarkable than their multitude,
is the fact that they were produced when the rest of Europe, with a
partial exception in favor of Italy, was not yet awakened to corresponding
efforts of the imagination. The creative spirit, however, soon ceased, and
a spirit of French imitation took its place.

6. HISTORICAL NARRATIVE POEMS.--Epic poetry, from its dignity and
pretensions, is almost uniformly placed at the head of the different
divisions of a nation's literature. But in Spain little has been achieved
in this department that is worthy of memory. The old half-epic poem of the
Cid--the first attempt at narration in the languages of modern Europe that
deserves the name--is one of the most remarkable outbreaks of poetical and
national enthusiasm on record. The few similar attempts that followed
during the next three centuries, while they serve to mark the progress of
Spanish culture, show little of the power manifested in the Cid.

In the reign of Charles V., the poets of the time evidently imagined that
to them was assigned the task of celebrating the achievements in the Old
World and in the New, which had raised their country to the first place
among the powers of Europe. There were written, therefore, during this and
the succeeding reigns, an extraordinary number of epic and narrative poems
on subjects connected with ancient and modern Spanish glory, but they all
belong to patriotism rather than to poetry; the best of these come with
equal pretension into the province of history. There is but one long poem
of this class which obtained much regard when it appeared, and which has
been remembered ever since, the "Araucana." The author of this work,
Ercilla (1533-1595), was a page of Philip the Second, and accompanied him
to England on the occasion of his marriage with Mary. News having arrived
that the Araucans, a tribe of Indians in Chili, had revolted against the
Spanish authority, Ercilla joined the adventurous expedition that was sent
out to subdue them. In the midst of his exploits he conceived the plan of
writing a narrative of the war in the form of an epic poem. After the
tumult of a battle, or the fatigues of a march, he devoted the hours of
the night to his literary labors, wielding the pen and sword by turns, and
often obliged to write on pieces of skin or scraps of paper so small as to
contain only a few lines. In this poem the descriptive powers of Ercilla
are remarkable, and his characters, especially those of the American
chiefs, are drawn with force and distinctness. The whole poem is pervaded
by that deep sense of loyalty, always a chief ingredient in Spanish honor
and heroism, and which, in Ercilla, seems never to have been chilled by
the ingratitude of the master to whom he devoted his life, and to whose
glory he consecrated this poem.

These narrative and heroic poems continued long in favor in Spain, and
they retained to the last those ambitious feelings of national greatness
which had given them birth. Devoted to the glory of their country, they
were produced when the national character was on the decline; and as they
sprang more directly from that character, and depended more on its spirit
than did the similar poetry of any other people in modern times, so they
now visibly declined with them.

7. LYRIC POETRY.--The number of authors in the various classes of Spanish
lyric poetry, whose works have been preserved between the beginning of the
reign of Charles V. and the end of that of the last of his race, is not
less than a hundred and twenty; but the number of those who were
successful is small. A little of what was written by the Argensolas, more
of Herrera, and nearly the whole of the Bachiller de la Torre and Luis de
Leon, with occasional efforts of Lope de Vega and Quevedo, and single odes
of other writers, make up what gives its character to the graver and less
popular portion of Spanish lyric poetry. Their writings form a body of
poetry, not large, but one that from its living, national feeling on the
one side, and its dignity on the other, may be placed without question
among the most successful efforts of modern literature.

The Argensolas were two brothers who flourished in Spain at the beginning
of the seventeenth century; both occupy a high place in this department of
poetry. The original poems of Luis de Leon (1528-1591) fill no more than a
hundred pages, but there is hardly a line of them which has not its value,
and the whole taken together are to be placed at the head of Spanish lyric
poetry. They are chiefly religious, and the source of their inspiration is
the Hebrew Scriptures. Herrera (1534-1597) is the earliest classic ode
writer in modern literature, and his poems are characterized by dignity of
language, harmony of versification, and elevation of ideas. Luis de Leon
and Herrera are considered the two great masters of Spanish lyric poetry.

Quevedo (1580-1645) was successful in many departments of letters. The
most prominent characteristics of his verse are a broad, grotesque humor,
and a satire often imitated from the ancients. His amatory and religious
poems are occasionally marked by extreme beauty and tenderness. The works
upon which his reputation principally rests, however, are in prose, and
belong to theology and metaphysics rather than to elegant literature. They
were produced during the weary years of an unjust imprisonment. His prose
satires are the most celebrated of his compositions, and by these he will
always be remembered throughout the world.

In the early part of the seventeenth century there arose a sect who
attempted to create a new epoch in Spanish poetry, by affecting an
exquisite refinement, and who ran into the most ridiculous extravagance
and pedantry. The founder of this "cultivated style," as it was called,
was Luis Gongora (1561-1627), and his name, like that of Marini in Italy,
has become a byword in literature. The style he introduced became at once
fashionable at court, and it struck so deep root in the soil of the whole
country, that it has not yet been completely eradicated. The most odious
feature of this style is, that it consists entirely of metaphors, so
heaped upon one another that it is as difficult to find out the meaning
hidden under their grotesque mass, as if it were a series of confused
riddles. The success of this style was very great, and inferior poets
bowed to it throughout the country.

8. SATIRICAL AND OTHER POETRY.--Satirical poetry never enjoyed a wide
success in Spain. The nation has always been too grave and dignified to
endure the censure it implied. It was looked upon with, distrust, and
thought contrary to the conventions of good society to indulge in its
composition. Neither was elegiac poetry extensively cultivated. The
Spanish temperament was little fitted to the subdued, simple, and gentle
tone of the proper elegy. The echoes of pastoral poetry in Spain are heard
far back among the old ballads; but the Italian forms were early
introduced and naturalized. Two Portuguese writers, Montemayor and
Miranda, were most successful in this department of poetry. Equally
characteristic of the Spanish genius, with its pastorals, were the short
epigrammatic poems which appeared through the best age of its literature.
They are generally in the truest tone of popular verse. Of didactic
poetry, there were many irregular varieties; but the popular character of
Spanish poetry, and the severe nature of the ecclesiastical and political
constitutions of Spain, were unfavorable to the development of this form
of verse, and unlikely to tolerate it on any important subject. It
remained, therefore, one of the feeblest and least successful departments
of the national literature.

In the seventeenth century, ballads had become the delight of the whole
Spanish people. The soldier solaced himself with them in his tent, the
maiden danced to them on the green, the lover sang them for his serenade,
the street beggar chanted them for alms; they entered into the sumptuous
entertainments of the nobility, the holiday services of the church, and
into the orgies of thieves and vagabonds. No poetry of modern times has
been so widely spread through all classes of society, and none has so
entered into the national character. They were often written by authors
otherwise little known, and they were always found in the works of those
poets of note who desired to stand well with the mass of their countrymen.

9. HISTORY AND OTHER PROSE WRITINGS.--The fathers of Spanish history are
Zurita and Morales. Zurita (1512-1580) was the author of the "Annals of
Aragon," a work more important to Spanish history than any that had
preceded it. Morales (1513-1591) was historiographer to the crown of
Castile, and his unfinished history of that country is marked by much
general ability. Contemporary with these writers was Mendoza, already
mentioned. The honor of being the first historian of the country, however,
belongs to Mariana (1536-1623), a foundling who was educated a Jesuit. His
main occupation for the last thirty or forty years of his life was his
great "History of Spain." There is an air of good faith in his accounts
and a vividness in his details which are singularly attractive. If not in
all respects the most trustworthy of annals, it is at least the most
remarkable union of picturesque chronicling with sober history that the
world has ever seen. Sandoval (d. 1621) took up the history of Spain where
Mariana left it; but while his is a work of authority, it is unattractive
in style. "The General History of the Indies," by Herrera, is a work of
great value, and the one on which the reputation of the author as a
historian chiefly rests.

One of the most pleasing of the minor Spanish histories is Argensola's
account of the Moluccas. It is full of the traditions found among the
natives by the Portuguese when they first landed there, and of the wild
adventures that followed when they had taken possession of the island.
Garcilasso de la Vega, the son of one of the unscrupulous conquerors of
Peru, descended on his mother's side from the Incas, wrote the "History of
Florida," of which the adventures of De Soto constitute the most brilliant
portion. His "Commentaries on Peru" is a striking and interesting work.

The last of the historians of eminence in the elder school of Spanish
history was Solis, whose "Conquest of Mexico" is beautifully written, and
as it was flattering to the national history, it was at once successful,
and has enjoyed an unimpaired popularity down to our times.

The spirit of political tyranny in the government, and of religious
tyranny in the Inquisition, now more than ever united, were more hostile
to bold and faithful inquiry in the department of history than in almost
any other. Still, the historians of this period were not unworthy of the
national character. Their works abound in feeling rather than philosophy,
and are written in a style that marks, not so much the peculiar genius of
their authors, perhaps, as that of the country that gave them birth.
Although they may not be entirely classical, they are entirely Spanish;
and what they want in finish and grace they make up in picturesqueness and

In one form of didactic composition, Spain stands in advance of other
countries: that of proverbs, which Cervantes has happily called "short
sentences drawn from long experience." Spanish proverbs can be traced back
to the earliest times. Although twenty-four thousand have been collected,
many thousands still remain known only among the traditions of the humbler
classes of society that have given birth to them all.

From the early part of the seventeenth century, Spanish prose became
infected with that pedantry and affectation already spoken of as
Gongorism, or "the cultivated style;" and from this time, everything in
prose as well as in poetry announced that corrupted taste which both
precedes and hastens the decay of a literature, and which in the latter
half of the seventeenth century was in Spain but the concomitant of a
general decline in the arts and the gradual degradation of the monarchy.
No country in Christendom had fallen from such a height of power as that
which Spain occupied in the time of Charles V. into such an abyss of
degradation as she reached when Charles II., the last of the house of
Austria, ceased to reign. The old religion of the country, the most
prominent of all the national characteristics, was now so perverted from
its true character by intolerance that it had become a means of
oppression, such as Europe never before witnessed. The principle of
loyalty, now equally perverted and mischievous, had sunk into servile
submission, and as we approach the conclusion of the century, the
Inquisition and the despotism seem to have cast their blight over



in 1700, was followed by the War of the Succession between the houses of
Hapsburg and Bourbon, which lasted thirteen years. It was terminated by
the treaty of Utrecht and the accession of Philip V., the grandson of
Louis XIV. Under his reign the influence of France became apparent in the
customs of the country. The Academy of Madrid was soon established in
imitation of that of Paris, with the object of establishing and
cultivating the purity of the Castilian language. The first work published
by this association was a Dictionary, which has continued in successive
editions to be the proper standard of the language. At this time French
began to be spoken in the elegant society of the court and the capital,
translations from the French were multiplied, and at last, a poetical
system, founded on the critical doctrine of Boileau, prevalent in France,
was formally introduced into the country by Luzan, in his "Art of Poetry,"
which from its first appearance (1737) exercised a controlling authority
at the court, and over the few writers of reputation then to be found in
the country. Though the works of Luzan offered a remedy for the bad taste
which had accompanied and in no small degree hastened the decline of the
national taste, they did not lay a foundation for advancement in
literature. The national mind had become dwarfed for want of its
appropriate nourishment; the moral and physical sciences that had been
advancing for a hundred years throughout Europe, were forbidden to cross
the Pyrenees. The scholastic philosophy was still maintained as the
highest form of intellectual culture; the system of Copernicus was looked
upon as contrary to the inspired record; while the philosophy of Bacon and
the very existence of mathematical science were generally unknown even to
the graduates of universities. It seemed as if the faculties of thinking
and reasoning were becoming extinct in Spain.

effort for intellectual emancipation was made by a monk, Benito Feyjoo
(1676-1764), who, having made himself acquainted with the truths brought
to light by Galileo, Bacon, Newton, Leibnitz, and Pascal, devoted his life
to the labor of diffusing them among his countrymen. The opposition raised
against him only drew to his works the attention he desired. Even the
Inquisition summoned him in vain, for it was impossible to question that
he was a sincere and devout Catholic, and he had been careful not to
interfere with any of the abuses sanctioned by the church. Before his
death he had the pleasure of seeing that an impulse in the right direction
had been imparted to the national mind.

One of the striking indications of advancement was an attack upon the
style of popular preaching, which was now in a state of scandalous
degradation. The assailant was Isîa (1703-1781), a Jesuit, whose "History
of Friar Gerund" is a satirical romance, slightly resembling Don Quixote
in its plan, describing one of those bombastic orators of the age. It was
from the first successful in its object of destroying the evil at which it
aimed, and preachers of the class of Friar Gerund soon found themselves
without an audience.

The policy of Charles III. (1759-1788) was highly favorable to the
progress of literature. He abridged the power of the Inquisition, and
forbade the condemnation of any book till its writer or publisher had been
heard in its defense; he invited the suggestion of improved plans of
study, made arrangements for popular education, and raised the tone of
instruction in the institutions of learning. Finally, perceiving the
Jesuits to be the most active opponents of these reforms, he expelled them
from every part of his dominions, breaking up their schools, and
confiscating their revenues. During his reign, intellectual life and
health were infused into the country, and its powers, which had been so
long wasting away, were revived and renewed.

Among the writers of this age are Moratin the elder (1737-1780), whose
poems are marked by purity of language and harmony of versification; and
Yriarte (1750-1791), who was most successful in fables, which he applied,
to the correction of the faults and follies of literary men. To this
period may also be referred the school of Salamanca, whose object was to
combine in literature the power and richness of the old writers of the
time of the Philips with the severer taste then prevailing on the
continent. Melendez (1754-1817), who was the founder of this school,
devoted his muse to the joys and sorrows of rustic love, and the leisure
and amusements of country life. Nothing can surpass some of his
descriptions in the graceful delineation of tender feeling, and his verse
is considered in sweetness and native strength, to be such a return to the
tones of Garcilasso, as had not been heard in Spain for more than a
century. Gonzalez (d. 1794), who, with happy success, imitated Luis de
Leon, Jovellanos (1744-1811), who exerted great influence on the literary
and political condition of his country, and Quintana (b. 1772), whose
poems are distinguished by their noble and patriotic tone, are considered
among the principal representatives of the school of Salamanca.

The most considerable movement of the eighteenth century in Spain, is that
relating to the theatre, which it was earnestly attempted to subject to
the rules then prevailing on the French stage. The Spanish theatre, in
fact, was now at its lowest ebb, and wholly in the hands of the populace.
The plays acted for public amusement were still represented as they had
been in the seventeenth century,--in open court-yards, in the daytime,
without any pretense of scenery or of dramatic ingenuity. Soon after,
through the influence of Isabella, the second wife of Philip V.,
improvements were made in the external arrangements and architecture of
the theatres; yet, owing to the exclusive favor shown to the opera by the
Italian queens, the old spirit continued to prevail.

In the middle of the eighteenth century a reform of the comedy and tragedy
was undertaken by Montiano and others, who introduced the French style in
dramatic compositions, and from that time an active contest went on
between the innovators and the followers of the old drama. The latter was
attacked, in 1762, by Moratin the elder, who wrote against it, and
especially against the _autos sacramentales_, showing that such wild,
coarse, and blasphemous exhibitions, as they generally were, ought not to
be tolerated in a civilized and religious community. So far as the _autos_
were concerned, Moratin was successful; they were prohibited in 1768, and
since that time, in the larger cities, they have not been heard.

The most successful writer for the stage was Ramon de la Cruz (1731-1799),
the author of about three hundred dramatic compositions, founded on the
manners of the middle and lower classes. They are entirely national in
their tone, and abound in wit and in faithful delineations of character.

While a number of writers pandered to the bad taste of low and vulgar
audiences, a formidable antagonist appeared in the person of Moratin the
younger (1760-1828), son of that poet who first produced, on the Spanish
stage, an original drama written according to the French doctrines.
Notwithstanding the taste of the public, he determined to tread in the
footsteps of his father. Though his comedies have failed to educate a
school strong enough to drive out the bad imitations of the old masters,
they have yet been able to keep their own place.

The eighteenth century was a period of revolution and change with the
Spanish theatre. While the old national drama was not restored to its
ancient rights, the drama founded on the doctrines taught by Luzan, and
practiced by the Moratins, had only a limited success. The audiences did
as much to degrade it as was done by the poets they patronized and the
actors they applauded. On the one side, extravagant and absurd dramas in
great numbers, full of low buffoonery, were offered; on the other, meagre,
sentimental comedies, and stiff, cold translations from the French, were
forced, in almost equal numbers, upon the actors, by the voices of those
from whose authority or support they could not entirely emancipate

infused into literature in the age of Charles III. was checked by the
French revolutionary wars in She reign of Charles IV., and afterwards by
the restoration of civil despotism and the Inquisition, brought again into
the country by the return of the Bourbon dynasty in 1814. Amidst the
violence and confusion of the reign of Ferdinand VII. (1814-1833), elegant
letters could hardly hope to find shelter or resting-place. Nearly every
poet and prose writer, known as such at the end of the reign of Charles
IV., became involved in the fierce political changes of the time,--changes
so various and so opposite, that those who escaped from the consequences
of one, were often, on that very account, sure to suffer in the next that
followed. Indeed, the reign of Ferdinand VII. was an interregnum in all
elegant culture, such as no modern nation has yet seen,--not even Spain
herself during the War of the Succession. This state of things continued
through the long civil war which arose soon after the death of that king,
and, indeed, it is not yet entirely abated. But in despite of the troubled
condition of the country, even while Ferdinand was living, a movement was
begun, the first traces of which are to be found among the emigrated
Spaniards, who cheered with letters their exile in England and France, and
whose subsequent progress from the time when the death of their unfaithful
monarch permitted them to return home, is distinctly perceptible in their
own country.

The two principal writers of the first half of the century are the
satirist José de Larra (d. 1837), and the poet Espronceda (d. 1842); both
were brilliant writers, and both died young. Zorrilla (b. 1817), has great
wealth of imagination, and Fernan Caballero is a gifted woman whose
stories have been often translated. Antonio de Trueba is a writer of
popular songs and short stories not without merit, Campoamor (b. 1817) and
Bequer represent the poetry of twenty years ago. The short lyrics of the
first named are remarkable for their delicacy and finesse. Bequer, who
died at the age of thirty, left behind him poems which have already
exercised a wide influence in his own country and in Spanish America; they
tell a story of passionate love, despair, and death. Perez Galdos, a
writer of fiction, attacks the problem of modern life and thought, and
represents with vivid and often bitter fidelity the conflicting interests
and passions of Spanish life. Valera, the present minister from Spain to
the United States, is the author of the most famous Spanish novel of the
day, "Pepita Jimenez," a work of great artistic perfection, and his skill
and grace are still more evident in his critical essays. Castelar has
gained a European celebrity as an orator and a political and miscellaneous
writer. The works of these authors, and of many others not named, show
clearly that Spain is making vigorous efforts to bring herself, socially
and intellectually, into line with the rest of Europe.

Of the Spanish colonies Cuba has produced some writers of enduring renown.
The most distinguished for poetic fame is Gertrude de Avelleneda; Heredia
and Placido may also be mentioned. In Venezuela, Baralt is known as a
historian, poet, and classical writer; Olmedo as a poet of Bolivia, and
Caro a writer of the United States of Colombia.


1. The Portuguese Language.--2. Early Literature of Portugal.--3. Poets of
the Fifteenth Century; Macias, Ribeyro.--4. Introduction of the Italian
Style; San de Miranda, Montemayor, Ferreira.--5. Epic Poetry; Camoëns; The
Lusiad.--6. Dramatic Poetry; Gil Vicente.--7. Prose Writing; Rodriguez
Lobo, Barros, Brito, Veira.--8. Portuguese Literature in the Seventeenth,
Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries; Antonio José, Manuel do Nascimento,
Manuel de Bocage.

1. THE PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE.--Portugal was long considered only as an
integral part of Spain; its inhabitants called themselves Spaniards, and
conferred on their neighbors the distinctive appellation of Castilians.
Their language was originally the same as the Galician; and had Portugal
remained a province of Spain, its peculiar dialect would probably, like
that of Aragon, have been driven from the fields of literature by the
Castilian. But at the close of the eleventh century, Alphonso VI.,
celebrated in Spanish history for his triumphs over the Moors, gave
Portugal as a dowry to his daughter on her marriage with Henry of
Burgundy, with permission to call his own whatever accessions to it the
young prince might be able to conquer from the Moorish territory. Alphonso
Henriquez, the son of this pair, was saluted King of Portugal by his
soldiers on the battle-field of Castro-Verd, in the year 1139, his kingdom
comprising all the provinces we now call Portugal, except the province of
Algarve. Thenceforward the Portuguese became a separate nation from the
Spaniards, and their language asserted for itself an independent
existence. Still, however, the Castilian was long considered the proper
vehicle for literature; and while few Portuguese writers wholly disused
it, there were many who employed no other.

Although the Portuguese language, founded on the Galician dialect, bears
much similarity to the Spanish in its roots and structure, it differs
widely from it in its grammatical combinations and derivations, so that it
constitutes a language by itself. It has far more French, and fewer Basque
and Arabic elements than the Spanish; it is softer, but it has, at the
same time, a truncated and incomplete sound, compared with the sonorous
beauty of the Castilian, and a predominance of nasal sounds stronger than
those of the French. It is graceful and easy in its construction, but it
is the least energetic of all the Romance tongues.

2. EARLY LITERATURE OF PORTUGAL.--The people, as well as the language, of
Portugal possess a distinctive character. Early in the history of the
country the extensive and fertile plains were abandoned to pasturage, and
the number of shepherds in proportion to the rest of the population was so
great, that the idea of rural life among them was always associated with
the care of flocks. At the same time, their long extent of coast invited
to the pursuits of commerce and navigation; and the nation, thus divided
into hardy navigators, soldiers, and shepherds, was better calculated for
the display of energy, valor, and enterprise than for laborious and
persevering industry. Accustomed to active intercourse with society,
rather than to the seclusion of castles, they were far less haughty and
fanatical than the Castilians; and the greater number of Moçárabians that
were incorporated among them, diffused over their feelings and manners a
much stronger influence of orientalism. The passion of love seemed to
occupy a larger share of their existence, and their poetry was more
enthusiastic than that of any other people of Europe.

Although the literature of Portugal, like the character of its people, is
marked by excessive softness, elegiac sentimentality, and an undefined
melancholy, it affords little originality in the general tone of its
productions. Henry of Burgundy and his knights early introduced Provençal
poetry, and the native genius was nurtured in the succeeding age by
Spanish and Italian taste, and afterwards modified by the influence of
French and English civilization. National songs were not wanting in the
early history of the country, yet no relics of them have been preserved.
The earliest monuments of Portuguese literature relate to the age of the
French knights who founded the political independence of the country, and
must be sought in the "Cancioneros," containing courtly ballads composed
in the Galician dialect, after the Provençal fashion, and sung by
wandering minstrels. The Cancionero of King Dionysius (1279-1325) is the
most ancient of those collections, the king himself being considered by
the Portuguese as the earliest poet. In fact, Galician poetry, modeled
after the Provençal, was cultivated at that time all along the western
portion of the Pyrenean peninsula. Alfonso the Wise, King of Castile, used
this dialect in his poems; and as a poet and patron of the Spanish
troubadours, he may be considered as belonging both to the Spanish and
Portuguese literatures.

In the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth century, Portuguese
poetry preserved its Provençal character. The poets rallied around the
court, and the kings and princes of the age sang to the Provençal lyre
both in the Castilian and the Galician dialects; but only a few fragments
of the poetry of the fourteenth century are extant.

3. POETS OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.--Early in the fifteenth century, the
same chivalrous spirit which had achieved the conquest of the country from
the Moors, led the Portuguese to cross the Straits of Gibraltar, and plant
their banner on the walls of Ceuta. Many other cities of Africa were
afterwards taken; and in 1487, Bartolomeo Diaz doubled the Cape of Good
Hope, and Vasco da Gama pointed out to Europe the hitherto unknown track
to India. Within fifteen years after, a Portuguese kingdom was founded in
Hindostan, and the treasures of the East flowed into Portugal. The
enthusiasm of the people was thus awakened, and high views of national
importance, and high hopes of national glory, arose in the public mind.
The time was peculiarly favorable to the development of genius, and
especially to the spirit of poetry. Indeed, the last part of the fifteenth
century, and the beginning of the sixteenth, the age of King John (1481-
1495), and of Emanuel (1495-1521), may be called the golden age of the
Portuguese poetry.

At the head of the poetical school of the fifteenth century, stands
Macias, surnamed the Enamored (fl. 1420). He was distinguished as a hero
in the wars against the Moors of Granada, and as a poet in the retinue of
the Marquis of Villena. He became attached to a lady of the same princely
household, who was forced to marry another. Macias continuing to express
his love, though prohibited by the marquis from doing so, was thrown into
prison; but even there, he still poured forth his songs on his ill-fated
love, regarding the hardships of captivity as light, in comparison with
the pangs of absence from his mistress. The husband of the lady, stung
with jealousy, recognizing Macias through the bars of his prison, took
deadly aim at him with his javelin, and killed him on the spot. The weapon
was suspended over the poet's tomb, in the Church of St. Catherine, with
the inscription, "Here lies Macias the Enamored."

The death of Macias produced such a sensation as could only belong to an
imaginative age. All those who desired to be thought cultivated mourned
his fate. His few poems of moderate merit became generally known and
admired, and his melancholy history continued to be the theme of songs and
ballads, until, in the poetry of Lope de Vega and Calderon, the name of
Macias passed into a proverb, and became synonymous with the highest and
tenderest love.

Ribeyro (1495-1521), one of the earliest and best poets of Portugal, was
attached to the court of King Emanuel. Here he indulged a passion for one
of the ladies of the court, which gave rise to some of his most exquisite
effusions. It is supposed that the lady, whose name he studiously
conceals, was the Infanta Beatrice, the king's own daughter. He was so
wholly devoted to the object of his love, that he is said to have passed
whole nights wandering in the woods, or beside the banks of a solitary
stream, pouring forth the tale of his woes in strains of mingled
tenderness and despair. The most celebrated productions of Ribeyro are
eclogues. The scene is invariably laid in his own country; his shepherds
are all Portuguese, and his peasant girls have Christian names. But under
the disguise of fictitious characters, he evidently sought to place before
the eyes of his beloved mistress the feelings of his own breast; and the
wretchedness of an impassioned lover is always his favorite theme.

The bucolic poets of Portugal may be regarded as the earliest in Europe,
and their favorite creed, that pastoral life was the poetical model of
human life, and the ideal point from which every sentiment and passion
ought to be viewed, was first represented by Ribeyro. This idea threw an
air of romantic sweetness and elegance over the poetry of the sixteenth
century, but at the same time it gave to it a monotonous tone and an air
of tedious affectation.

4. INTRODUCTION OF THE ITALIAN STYLE.--The poet who first introduced the
Italian style into Portuguese poetry was so successful in seizing the
delicate tone by which the blending of the two was to be effected that the
innovation was accomplished without a struggle. Saa de Miranda (1495-1558)
was one of the most pleasing and accomplished men of his age. He traveled
extensively, and on his return was attached to the court of Lisbon. It is
related of him that he would often sit silent and abstracted in company,
and that tears, of which no one knew the cause, would flow from his eyes,
while he seemed unconscious of the circumstance, and indifferent to the
observation he was thus attracting. These emotions were of course
attributed to poetic thought and romantic attachments. He insisted on
marrying a lady who was neither young nor handsome, and whom he had never
seen, having been captivated by her reputation for amiability and
discretion. He became so attached to her, that when she died he renounced
all his previous pursuits and purposes in life, remained inconsolable, and
soon followed her to the grave. Miranda is chiefly celebrated for his
lyric and pastoral poetry.

Montemayor was a contemporary of Miranda, and a native of Portugal, but he
declined holding any literary position in his own country. The pastoral
romance of "Diana," written in the Castilian language, is his most
celebrated work. It was received with great favor, and extensively
imitated. With many faults, it possesses a high degree of poetic merit,
and is entitled to the esteem of all ages.

Ferreira (1528-1569) has been called the Horace of Portugal. His works are
correct and elegant, but they are wanting in those higher efforts of
genius which strike the imagination and fire the spirit. The glory,
advancement, and civilization of his country were his darling themes, and
it was this enthusiasm of patriotism that made him great. In his tragedy
of Inez de Castro, Ferreira raised himself far above his Italian
contemporaries. Many similar writers shed a lustre on this, the brightest
and indeed the only brilliant period of Portuguese literature; but they
are all more remarkable for taste and elegance than for richness of

5. EPIC POETRY.--The chief and only boast of his country, the sole poet
whose celebrity has extended beyond the peninsula, and whose name appears
in the list of those who have conferred honor upon Europe, is Luis de
Camoëns (1524-1579). He was descended from a noble, but by no means a
wealthy family. After having completed his studies at the university, he
conceived a passion for a lady of the court, so violent that for some time
he renounced all literary and worldly pursuits. He entered the military
service, and in an engagement before Ceuta, in which he greatly
distinguished himself, he lost an eye. Neglected and contemned by his
country, he embarked for the East Indies. After various vicissitudes
there, he wrote a bitter satire on the government, which occasioned his
banishment to the island of Macao, where he remained for five years, and
where he completed the great work which was to hand down his name to
posterity. There is still to be seen, on the most elevated point of the
isthmus which unites the town of Macao to the Chinese continent, a sort of
natural gallery formed out of the rocks, apparently almost suspended in
the air, and commanding a magnificent prospect over both seas, and the
lofty chain of mountains which rises above their shores. Here he is said
to have invoked the genius of the epic muse, and tradition has conferred
on this retreat the name of the Grotto of Camoëns.

On his return to Goa, Camoëns was shipwrecked, and of all his little
property, he succeeded only in saving the manuscript of the Lusiad, which
he bore in one hand above the water, while swimming to the shore. Soon
after reaching Goa, he was thrown into prison upon some unjust accusation,
and suffered for a long time to linger there. At length released, he took
passage for his native country, which he reached after an absence of
sixteen years. Portugal was at this time ravaged by the plague, and in the
universal sorrow and alarm, the poet and his great work were alike
neglected. The king at length consented to accept the dedication of this
poem, and made to the author the wretched return of a pension, amounting
to about twenty-five dollars. Camoëns was not unfrequently in actual want
of bread, for which he was in part indebted to a black servant who had
accompanied him from India, and who was in the habit of stealing out at
night to beg in the streets for what might support his master during the
following day. But more aggravated evils were in store for the unfortunate
poet. The young king perished in the disastrous expedition against
Morocco, and with him expired the royal house of Portugal. The
independence of the nation was lost, her glory eclipsed, and the future
pregnant with calamity and disgrace. Camoëns, who had so nobly supported
his own misfortunes, sank under those of his country. He was seized with a
violent fever, and expired in a public hospital without having a shroud to
cover his remains.

The poem on which the reputation of Camoëns depends, is entitled "Os
Lusiadas;" that is, the Lusitanians (or Portuguese), and its design is to
present a poetic and epic grouping of all the great and interesting events
in the annals of Portugal. The discovery of the passage to India, the most
brilliant point in Portuguese history, was selected as the groundwork of
the epic unity of the poem. But with this, and the Portuguese conquests in
India, the author combined all the illustrious actions performed by his
countrymen in other quarters of the world, and whatever of splendid and
heroic achievement history or tradition could supply. Vasco da Gama has
been represented as the hero of the work, and those portions not
immediately connected with his expedition, as episodes. But there is, in
truth, no other leading subject than the country, and no episodes except
such parts as are not immediately connected with her glory. Camoëns was
familiar with the works of his Italian contemporaries, but the
circumstance that essentially distinguishes him from them, and which forms
the everlasting monument of his own and his country's glory, is the
national love and pride breathing through the whole work. His patriotic
spirit, devoting a whole life to raise a monument worthy of his country,
seems never to have indulged a thought which was not true to the glory of
an ungrateful nation.

The Greek mythology forms the epic machinery of the Lusiad. Vasco da Gama,
having doubled the Cape of Good Hope, is steering along the western coast
of Africa, when the gods assemble on Mount Olympus to deliberate on the
fate of India. Venus and Bacchus form two parties; the former in favor,
the latter opposed to the Portuguese. The poet thus gratified his national
pride, as Portugal was eminently the land of love, and moderation in the
use of wine was one of its highest virtues. Bacchus lays many snares to
entrap and ruin the adventurers, who are warned and protected by Venus. He
visits the palace of the gods of the sea, who consent to let loose the
Winds and Waves upon the daring adventurers, but she summons her nymphs,
and adorning themselves with garlands of the sweetest flowers, they subdue
the boisterous Winds, who, charmed by the blandishments of love, become
calm. Vasco is hospitably received by the African king of Melinda, to whom
he relates the most interesting parts of the history of his native
country. On the homeward voyage, Venus prepares a magic festival for the
adventurers, on an enchanted island, and the goddess Thetis becomes the
bride of the admiral. Here the poet finds the opportunity to complete the
narrative of his country's history, and a prophetic nymph is brought
forward to describe the future achievements of the nation from that period
to the time of Camoëns.

The Lusiad is one of the noblest monuments ever raised to the national
glory of any people, and it is difficult to conceive how so grand and
beautiful a whole could be formed on a plan so trivial and irregular. The
plan has been compared to a scaffolding surrounded and concealed by a
majestic building, serving to connect its parts, but having no share in
producing the unity of the effect. One of the most affecting and beautiful
of all the passages of the Lusiad, is the narrative of the tragical fate
of Iñez de Castro, who, after her death, was proclaimed queen of Portugal,
upon the accession of her lover to the throne.

In the poems of Camoëns we find examples of every species of composition
practiced in his age and country. Some of them bear the impress of his
personal character, and of his sad and agitated career. A wild tone of
sorrow runs through them, which strikes the ear like wailings heard
through the gloom of midnight and darkness. We know not by what calamity
they were called forth, but it is the voice of grief, and it awakens an
answering throb within the breast.

6. DRAMATIC POETRY.--The drama is quite a barren field in Portuguese
literature. The stage of Lisbon has been occupied almost exclusively by
the Italian opera and Spanish comedy. Only one poet of any name has
written in the Portuguese spirit. This was Gil Vicente (1490-1556). He
resided constantly at the court, and was employed in providing occasional
pieces for its civil and religious festivities. It is probable that he was
an actor, and it is certain that he educated for the stage his daughter,
Paula, who was equally celebrated as an actress, a poetess, and a
musician. The dramas of Vicente consist of autos, comedies, tragi-
comedies, and farces. The autos, or religious pieces, were written chiefly
to furnish entertainment for the court on Christmas night. The shepherds
had naturally an important part assigned to them, and the whole was
pervaded by the pastoral feeling which distinguishes them remarkably from
the Spanish autos. But the best productions of this author are his farces,
which approach much nearer to the style of true comedy than the plays
published under that name.

Saa de Miranda, desirous of conferring on his country a classical theatre,
produced two erudite comedies, but he was born a pastoral poet, and made
himself a dramatist only by imitation. Ferreira belonged to the same
school, and the favor bestowed by the court on the dramas of these two
poets, was one obstacle to the formation of a national drama. Another was,
the pertinacious attachment of the Portuguese to pastoral poetry, and
nothing could be more contrary to dramatic life than the languor,
sentimentality, and monotony peculiar to the eclogue.

7. PROSE WRITING.--After Camoëns, Saa de Miranda, and Ferreira, the
language and the literature of Portugal are indebted to no other writer so
much as to Rodriguez Lobo (b. 1558). The history of Portuguese eloquence
may be said to commence with him, for he laid so good a foundation for the
cultivation of a pure prose style that, in every effort to obtain classic
perfection, subsequent writers have merely followed in his steps. His
verse is nowise inferior to his prose. Among his poetic works appears a
whole series of historic romances, written by way of ridiculing that
species of composition.

Lobo stood alone, in the sixteenth century, in his efforts to improve the
prose of his country. Gongorism had, meanwhile, introduced bombast and
metaphorical obscurity, and no writer of eminence arose to attempt a more
natural style, till the end of the seventeenth century.

Foremost among those who undertook to relate the history of their country,
especially of her oriental discoveries, and who communicated to their
records an ardent patriotic feeling, is Barros (1496-1571); he took Livy
for his model, and his labors are worthy of honorable notice. India was
the favorite topic of Portuguese historians; and several similar works,
but inferior to that of Barros, appeared in the same age. Bernardo de
Brito (d. 1617) undertook the task of compiling a history of Portugal. His
narration begins with the creation of the world, and breaks off where the
history of modern Portugal commences. It is eminently distinguished for
style and descriptive talent. The biography of Juan de Castro, written by
Jacinto de Andrade, is considered as a masterpiece of the Portuguese

The conquered Indians found an eloquent defender in Veira (1608-1697), a
Catholic missionary, who spent a great part of his life in the deserts of
South America, and wrote catechisms in different languages for the use of
the natives. Having returned to the court of John IV., he undertook to
defend the natural rights of Indians against the rapacity of the
conquerors. He undertook also the defense of the Jews in his native
country, and showed so much interest in their cause that he was twice
brought before the Inquisition. His sermons and letters are models of
prose writings, full of the inspiration which springs from the boldness of
his subjects.

CENTURIES.--Portuguese literature during the seventeenth century would
present an utter blank, but for the few literary productions to which we
have alluded. Previous to that time, patriotic valor and romantic
enterprise expanded the national genius; but before it could mature, the
despotism of the monarchy, the horrors of the Inquisition, and the
influence of wealth and luxury, had done their work of destruction, and
the prostrate nation had in the seventeenth century reaped the bitter
fruits. The most brilliant period of Portuguese poetry had passed away,
and no new era commenced. The flame of patriotism was extinct, Brazil was
the only colony that remained, the spirit of national enterprise was no
more, and a general lethargy overspread the nation. Labor was reckoned a
disgrace, commerce a degradation, and agriculture too fatiguing for even
the lowest classes of the community. Both Spain and Portugal felt the
paralyzing influence of their humbled position in the scale of nations,
and civil and religious despotism had overthrown, in both countries, the
intellectual power which had so long withstood its degrading influence.

Thousands of sonnets, chiefly of an amorous nature, filled up the
seventeenth century in Portugal, while Spain was exhausting its expiring
energies in dramas. Souza, the most eminent of the sonneteers, alone
produced six hundred. In the first, he announces that the collection is
designed to celebrate "the penetrating shafts of love, which were shot
from a pair of heavenly eyes, and which, after inflicting immortal wounds,
issued triumphant from the poet's breast."

In the eighteenth century, the influence of French taste crept quietly
into the literature as well as the manners of the Portuguese nation. Royal
academies of history and language were founded, and an academy of
sciences, which, since 1792, has exercised an influence over literary
taste, and given birth to many excellent treatises on philosophy and

About the year 1735, the nation seemed on the eve of possessing a drama of
its own. Antonio José, an obscure Jew, composed a number of comic operas,
in the vernacular tongue, which had long been banished from the theatre of
Lisbon. In spite of much coarseness, their genuine humor and familiar
gayety excited the greatest enthusiasm, and for ten years the theatre was
crowded with delighted audiences. But the Jew was seized and burnt, by
order of the Inquisition, at the last _auto da fé_, which took place in
1745, and the theatre was closed.

Although French literature continued to exert its influence in the
beginning of the nineteenth century, masterpieces of English literature at
that time found their way into Portugal, and excited much admiration and
imitation. Manuel do Nascimento (1734-1819) is the representative of the
classic style, and his works, both in poetry and prose, are distinguished
by purity of language. Manuel de Bocage (1766-1805) is one of the most
celebrated modern poets, and though his poems are not examples of refined
taste or elegance of style, they evince enthusiasm and poetical fire.
Among the poets of the present day, there are some who have emancipated
themselves from the imitation of foreign models, and have attempted to
combine the earliest national elements of their literature with the
characteristic tendencies of the present age.


1. The Finnish Language and Literature: Poetry; the Kalevala; Lönnrot;
Korhonen.--2. The Hungarian Language and Literature: the Age of Stephen
I.; Influence of the House of Anjou; of the Reformation; of the House of
Austria; Kossuth; Josika; Eötvös; Kuthy; Szigligeti; Petöfi.

1. THE FINNISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.--On passing northward from the
Iranian plateaux through Turan to the Uralian mountains, which separate
Europe and Asia, we arrive at the primitive seat of the Finnish race.
Driven westward by other invading tribes, it scattered through northern
Europe, and established itself more particularly in Finland, where, at the
present time, we find its principal stock. From the earliest period of the
history of the Finns, until the middle of the twelfth century, they lived
under their own independent kings. They were then subjected by the Swedes,
who established colonies upon their coasts, and introduced Christianity
among them. After having been for many centuries the theatre of Russian
and Swedish wars, in the beginning of the present century Finland passed
under the dominion of Russia; yet, through these ages of foreign
domination, its inhabitants preserved their national character, and
maintained the use of their native tongue.

The Finnish language is a branch of the Turanian family; it is written
with the Roman alphabet, but it has fewer sounds; it is complicated in its
declension and conjugation, but it has great capacity of expressing
compound ideas in one word; it is harmonious in sound, and free, yet
clear, in its construction.

The Finns at an early period had attained a high degree of civilization,
and they have always been distinguished for their love of poetry,
especially for the melancholy strains of the elegy. They possess a vast
number of popular songs or ballads, which are either lyrical or
mythological; they are sung by the _song-men_, to the _kantele_, a kind of
harp with five wire strings, a favorite national instrument. They have
also legends, tales, and proverbs, some of which have recently been
collected and published at Helsingfors, the capital of Finland.

The great monument of Finnish literature is the "Kalevala," a kind of epic
poem, which was arranged in a systematic collection, and given to the
world in 1833, by Elias Lönnrot (d. 1884). He wandered from place to place
in the remote districts of Finland, living with the peasants, and taking
down from their lips the popular songs as he heard them chanted. The
importance of this indigenous epic was at once recognized, and
translations were made in various languages. The poem, which strongly
resembles "Hiawatha," takes its name from the heroes of Kaleva, the land
of happiness and plenty, who struggle with three others from the cold
north and the land of death. It begins with the creation, and ends in the
triumph of the heroes of Kaleva. Max Müller says of this poem that it
possesses merits not dissimilar to those of the Iliad, and that it will
claim its place as the fifth national epic of the world, beside that of
the "Mahabharata," "Shah Nameh," and "Nibelungen." It is doubtless the
product of different minds at different periods, having evidently received
additions from time to time.

During the present century there has been considerable literary activity
in Finland, and we meet with many names of poets and dramatists. The
periodical literature is specially rich and voluminous, and valuable works
on Finnish history and geography have recently appeared. Of recent poets
the most popular is Korrhoinen, a peasant, whose productions are
characterized by their sharp and biting sarcasm. The prose of Finland has
a religious and moral character, and is especially enriched by
translations from Swedish literature.

2. HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.--The language of the Magyars belongs
to the Turanian family, and more particularly to the Finnish branch. The
Hungarian differs from most European languages in its internal structure
and external form. It is distinguished by harmony and energy of sound,
richness and vigor of form, regularity of inflexion, and power of

Towards the close of the seventh century, the Magyars emigrated from Asia
into Europe, and for two hundred years they occupied the country between
the Don and Dneiper. Being at length pressed forward by other emigrant
tribes, they entered and established themselves in Hungary, after
subjugating its former inhabitants.

In the year 1000, Stephen I. founded the kingdom of Hungary. He had
introduced Christianity into the country, and with it a knowledge of the
Latin language, which was now taught in the schools and made use of in
public documents, while the native idiom was spoken by the people, and in
part in the assemblies of the Diet. On the accession of the House of Anjou
to the throne of Hungary, in the fourteenth century, a new impulse was
given to the Hungarian tongue. The Bible was translated into it, and it
became the language of the court; although the Latin was still the organ
of the church and state, and from the fourteenth to the close of the
fifteenth century remained the literary language of the country. This
Latin literature boasted of many distinguished writers, but so little
influence had they on the nation at large, that during this period it
appears that many of the high officers of the kingdom could neither read
nor write.

The sixteenth century was more favorable to Hungarian literature, and the
political and religious movements which took place in the reign of
Ferdinand I. and Maximilian II. (1527-1576) proved to be most beneficial
to the intellectual development of the people. The Reformation, which was
introduced into Hungary through Bohemia, the example of this neighboring
country, and the close alliance which existed between the two people,
exercised great influence on the public mind. The Hungarian language was
introduced into the church, the schools, and the religious controversies,
and became the vehicle of sacred and popular poetry. It was thus enriched
and polished, and acquired a degree of perfection which it retained until
the latter part of the eighteenth century. Translations of the Bible were
multiplied; chronicles, histories, grammars, and dictionaries were
published, and the number of schools, particularly among the Protestants,
was greatly increased.

But these brilliant prospects were soon blighted when the country came
under the absolute dominion of Austria. In order to crush the national
tendencies of the Magyars, the government now restored the Latin and
German languages; and newspapers, calendars, and publications of all
kinds, including many valuable works, appeared in Latin. Indeed, the
interval from 1702 to 1780 was the golden age of this literature in
Hungary. Maria Theresa and Joseph II., however, by prescribing the use of
the German language in the schools, official acts, and public
transactions, produced a reaction in favor of the national tongue, which
was soon after taught in the schools, heard in the lecture-room, the
theatre, and popular assemblies, and became the organ of the public press.
These measures, however, the good effects of which were mainly confined to
the higher classes, were gradually pursued with less zeal. It is only of
late that the literature of Hungary has assumed a popular character, and
become a powerful engine for the advancement of political objects.

Kossuth may be considered as the founder of a national party which is at
the head of the contemporary literature of the Magyars. Through the action
of this party and of its leader, the Hungarian Diet passed, in 1840, the
celebrated "Law of the Language," by which the supremacy of the Hungarian
tongue was established, and its use prescribed in the administration and
in the institutions of learning. From 1841 to 1844, Kossuth published a
paper, in which the most serious and important questions of politics and
economy were discussed in a style characterized by great elegance and
simplicity, and by a fervid eloquence, which awakened in all classes the
liveliest emotions of patriotism and independence. His writings greatly
enriched the national language, and excited the emulation even of those
who did not accept his political views. His memoirs, lately published,
have been extensively translated.

The novels of Josika (1865), modeled after those of Walter Scott, the
works of Eötvös and Kemeny after the writers of Germany, and those of
Kuthy and others who have followed the French school, have greatly
contributed to enrich the literature of Hungary. The comedies and the
dramas of Eötvös and Gal, and particularly those of Szigligeti, show great
progress in the Hungarian theatre, while in the poems of Petöfi and others
is heard the harmonious yet sorrowful voice of the national muse.

After 1849, the genius of Hungary seemed for a while buried under the
ruins of the nation. Many of the most eminent writers either fell in the
national struggle, or, being driven into exile, threw aside their pens in
despair. But the intellectual condition of the people has of late been
greatly improved. Public education has been promoted, scholastic
institutions have been established, and at the present time there are
eloquent voices heard which testify to the presence of a vigorous life
latent in the very heart of the country.

Among many other writers of the present day, are Jokai (b. 1825), the
author of various historical romances which have been extensively
translated, Varga, a lyric poet, and Arany, perhaps the greatest poet
Hungary has produced, some of whose works are worthy of the literature of
any age.

3. THE TURKISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.--The Turks, or Osmanlis, are
descendants of the Tartars, and their language, which is a branch of the
Turanian family, is at the present day the commercial and political tongue
throughout the Levant. This language is divided into two principal
dialects, the eastern and the western. The eastern, though rough and
harsh, has been the vehicle of certain literary productions, of which the
most important are the biographies of more than three hundred ancient
poets, written by Mir-Ali-Schir, who flourished in the middle of the
fifteenth century, and who was the Maecenas of several Persian poets,
particularly of Jami; several historical memoirs, and a number of ballads,
founded on the traditions of the ancient Turkish tribes, belong also to
the literature of this dialect. The western idiom constitutes what is more
properly called the Turkish language. It is euphonious in sound and
regular in its grammatical forms, though poor in its vocabulary. To supply
its deficiencies, the Osmanlis have introduced many elements of the Arabic
and Persian. They have also adopted the Arabic alphabet, with some
alterations; and, like the Arabians, they write from right to left.

The literature of Turkey, although it is extremely rich, contains little
that is original or national, but is a successful imitation of Persian or
Arabic. Even before the capture of Constantinople works had been produced
which the nation has not let perish. The most flourishing period was
during the reign of Solyman the Magnificent and his son Selim in the
sixteenth century. Fasli (d. 1563) was an erotic poet, who attained a high
reputation; and Baki (d. 1600), a lyric poet, is ranked by the Orientals
with the Persian Hafiz. In the seventeenth century a new period of
literature arose, though inferior to the last. Nebi was the most admired
poet, Nefi a distinguished satirist, and Hadji Khalfa a historian of
Arabic, Persian, and Turkish literature, who is the chief authority upon
this subject for the East and West. The annals of Saad-El-Din (d. 1599)
are important for the student of the history of the Ottoman Empire. The
style of these writers, however, is for the most part bombastic,
consisting of a mixture of poetry and prose overladen with figures. Novels
and tales abound in this literature, and it affords many specimens of
geographical works, many important collections of juridical decisions, and
valuable researches on the Persian and Arabian languages.

The press was introduced into Constantinople early in the eighteenth
century, and has been actively engaged in publishing translations of the
most important works in Persian and Arabic, as well as in the native
tongue. Societies are established for the promotion of various branches of
science, and many scientific and literary journals are published. There
are numerous primary free schools and high scholastic institutions in
Constantinople, and some public libraries.

4. THE ARMENIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.--The language of Armenia belongs
to the Indo-European family, and particularly to the Iranian variety; but
it has been greatly modified by contact with other languages, especially
the Turkish. At present the modern dialect is spoken in southern Russia
around the sea of Azof, in Turkey, Galicia, and Hungary. The ancient
Armenian, which was spoken down to the twelfth century, is preserved in
its purity in the ancient books of the people, and is still used in their
best works. This tongue, owing to an abundance of consonants, is lacking
in euphony; it is deficient in distinction of gender, though it is
redundant in cases and inflexions. Its alphabet is modeled after the

The Armenians, from the earliest period of their existence, through all
the political disasters which have signalized their history, have
exhibited a strong love for a national literature, and maintained
themselves as a cultivated people amidst all the revolutions which
barbarism, despotism, and war have occasioned. During so many ages they
have faithfully preserved not only their historical traditions, reaching
back to the period of the ancient Hebrew histories, but also their
national character. Their first abode--the vicinity of Mount Ararat--is
even at the present day the centre of their religious and political union.
Commerce has scattered them, like the Israelites, among all nations, but
without debasing their character; on the contrary, they are distinguished
by superior cultivation, manners, and honesty from the barbarians under
whose yoke they live. The cause is to be found in their creed and in their
religious union.

Until the beginning of the fourth century A.D. the Armenians were Parsees;
the literature of the country up to this period was contained in a few
songs or ballads, and its civilization was only that which could be
wrought out by the philosophy of Zoroaster. In 319, when Christianity was
introduced into Armenia, the language and learning of the Greeks were
exciting the profound admiration of the most eminent fathers of the
church, and this attention to Greek literature was immediately manifest in
the literary history of Armenia. A multitude of Grecian works was
translated, commented upon, and their philosophy adopted, and the
literature was thus established upon a Grecian basis.

About the same period, the alphabet at present in use in the Armenian
language was invented, or the old alphabet perfected by Mesrob, in
connection with which the language underwent many modifications. Mesrob,
with his three sons, especially educated for the task, commenced the
translation of the Bible 411 A.D., and its completion nearly half a
century later gave a powerful impulse to Armenian learning, and at the
same time stamped upon it a religious character which it has never lost.
The period from the sixth to the tenth century is the golden age of this
literature. Its temporary decline after this period was owing to the
invasion of the Arabians, when many of the inhabitants were converted to
the Mohammedan faith and many more compelled to suffer persecution for
their refusal to abjure Christianity. After the subjection of Armenia to
the Greek empire, literature again revived, and until the fourteenth
century was in a flourishing condition. In 1375, when the Turks took
possession of the country, the inhabitants were again driven from their
homes, and from that time their literature has steadily declined. After
their emigration, the Armenians established themselves in various
countries of Europe and Asia, and amidst all the disadvantages of their
position they still preserve not only the unity of their religious faith,
but the same unwearied desire to sustain a national literature. Wherever
they have settled, in Amsterdam, Leghorn, Venice, Constantinople, and
Calcutta, they have established printing presses and published valuable
books. Of their colonies or monasteries, the most interesting and fruitful
in literary works is that of Venice, which was founded in the eighteenth
century by Mechitar, an Armenian, and from him its monks are called
Mechitarists. From the time of their establishment they have constantly
issued translations of important religious works. They now publish a semi-
monthly paper in the Armenian language, which is circulated and read among
the scattered families of the Armenian faith over the world. They also
translate and publish standard works of modern literature.

About the year 1840, through the influence of American missionaries, the
Bible was translated into Armenian, freed as far as possible from foreign
elements; school-books were also translated, newspapers established, and
the language awoke to new life. Within the last twenty years the
intellectual progress in Armenia has been very great. In 1863 Christopher
Robert, an American gentleman, established and endowed a college at
Constantinople for the education of pupils of all races, religions, and
languages found in the empire. This institution, not sectarian, though
Christian, has met with great success. It has two hundred and fifty
students from fifteen nationalities, though chiefly Armenian, Bulgarian,
and Greek.


The Slavic Race and Languages; the Eastern and Western Stems; the
Alphabets; the Old or Church Slavic Language; St. Cyril's Bible; the
Pravda Russkaya; the Annals of Nestor.

THE SLAVIC RACE AND LANGUAGES.--The Slavic race, which belongs to the
great Indo-European family of nations, probably first entered Europe from
Asia, seven or eight centuries B.C. About the middle of the sixth century
A.D. we find Slavic tribes crossing the Danube in great multitudes, and
settling on both the banks of that river; from that time they frequently
appear in the accounts of the Byzantine historians, under different
appellations, mostly as involved in the wars of the two Roman empires;
sometimes as allies, sometimes as conquerors, often as vassals, and
oftener as emigrants and colonists, thrust out of their own countries by
the pressing forward of the more warlike Teutonic tribes. In the latter
half of the eleventh century the Slavic nations were already in possession
of the whole extent of territory which they still occupy, from the Arctic
Ocean on the north to the Black and Adriatic seas on the south, and from
Kamtschatka and the Russian islands of the Pacific to the Baltic, and
along the banks of the rivers Elbe, Muhr, and Ruab, again to the Adriatic.
They are represented by early historians as having been a peaceful,
industrious, hospitable people, obedient to their chiefs, and religious in
their habits. Wherever they established themselves, they began to
cultivate the earth, and to trade in the productions of the country. There
are also early traces of their fondness for music and poetry.

The analogy between the Slavic and the Sanskrit languages indicates the
Oriental origin of the Slavonians, which appears also from their
mythology. The antithesis of a good and evil principle is met with among
most of the Slavic tribes; and even at the present time, in some of their
dialects, everything good and beautiful is to them synonymous with the
purity of the white color; they call the good spirit the White God, and
the evil spirit the Black God. We find also traces of their Oriental
origin in the Slavic trinity, which is nearly allied to that of the
Hindus. Other features of their mythology remind us of the sprightly and
poetical imagination of the Greeks. Such is the life attributed to the
inanimate objects of nature, rocks, brooks, and trees; such are also the
supernatural beings dwelling in the woods and mountains, nymphs, naiads,
and satyrs. Indeed, the Slavic languages, in their construction, richness,
and precision, appear nearly related to the Greek and Latin, with which
they have a common origin.

Following the division of the Slavic nations into the eastern and western
stems, their languages may he divided into two classes, the first
containing the Russian and the Servian idioms, the second embracing the
Bohemian and the Polish varieties. The Slavi of the Greek faith use the
Cyrillic alphabet, so called from St. Cyril, its inventor, a Greek monk,
who went from Constantinople (862 A.D.) to preach to them the gospel. It
is founded on the Greek, with modifications and additions from Oriental
sources. The Hieronymic alphabet, particularly used by the priests of
Dalmatia and Croatia, is so called from the tradition which attributes it
to St. Hieronymus. The Bohemians and Poles use the Roman alphabet, with a
few alterations.

St. Cyril translated the Bible into the language called the _Old or Church
Slavic_, and from the fact that this translation, made in the middle of
the ninth century, is distinguished by great copiousness, and bears the
stamp of uncommon perfection in its forms, it is evident that this
language must have been flourishing long before that time. The celebrated
"Pravda Russkaya," a collection of the laws of Jaroslav (1035 A.D.), and
the "Annals of Nestor," of the thirteenth century, are the most remarkable
monuments of the old Slavic language. This, however, has for centuries
ceased to be a living tongue.


1. The Language.--2. Literature in the Reign of Peter the Great; of
Alexander; of Nicholas; Danilof, Lomonosof, Kheraskof, Derzhavin,
Karamzin.--3. History, Poetry, the Drama: Kostrof, Dmitrief, Zhukoffski,
Krylof, Pushkin, Lermontoff, Gogol.--4. Literature in Russia since the
Crimean War: School of Nature; Turgenieff; Ultra-realistic School;
Science: Mendeleéff.

1. THE LANGUAGE.--In the Russian language three principal dialects are to
be distinguished; but the Russian proper, as it is spoken in Moscow and
all the central and northern parts of European Russia, is the literary
language of the nation. It is distinguished by its immense copiousness,
the consequence of its great flexibility in adopting foreign words, merely
as roots, from which, by means of its own resources, stems and branches
seem naturally to spring. Another excellence is the great freedom of
construction which it allows, without any danger of becoming ambiguous. It
is clear, euphonious, and admirably adapted to poetry.

The germs of Russian civilization arose with the foundation of the empire
by the Varegians of Scandinavia (862 A.D.), but more particularly with the
introduction of Christianity by Vladimir the Great, who, towards the close
of the tenth century, established the first schools, introduced the Bible
of St. Cyril, called Greek artists from Constantinople, and became the
patron, and at the same time the hero of poetry. Indeed, he and his
knights are the Russian Charlemagne and his peers, and their deeds have
proved a rich source for the popular tales and songs of succeeding times.
Jaroslav, the son of Vladimir, was not less active than his father in
advancing the cause of Christianity; he sent friars through the country to
instruct the people, founded theological schools, and continued the
translation of the church books. To this age is referred the epic, "Igor's
Expedition against the Polovtzi," discovered in the eighteenth century, a
work characterized by uncommon grace, beauty, and power.

From 1238 to 1462 A.D. the Russian princes were vassals of the Mongols,
and during this time nearly every trace of cultivation perished. The
invaders burned the cities, destroyed all written documents, and
demolished the monuments of national culture; but at length Ivan I. (1462-
1505) delivered his country from the Mongols, and prepared a new era in
the history of Russian civilization.

At this early period the first germs of dramatic art were carried from
Poland to Russia. In Kief the theological students performed
ecclesiastical dramas, and traveled about, during the holidays, to exhibit
their skill in other cities. The tragedies of Simeon of Polotzk (1628-
1680), in the old Slavic language, penetrated from the convents to the
court, where they were performed in the middle of the seventeenth century.
At this time the first secular drama, a translation from Molière, was also

2. THE LITERATURE.--Peter the Great (1689-1725) raised the Russian dialect
to the dignity of a written language, introduced it into the
administration and courts of justice, and caused many books to be
translated from foreign languages. He rendered the Slavic characters more
conformable to the Latin, and these letters, then generally adopted,
continue in use at the present time. Among the writers of the age of Peter
the Great may be mentioned Kirsha Danilof, who versified the popular
traditions of Vladimir and his heroes; and Kantemir, a satirist, who
translated many epistles of Horace, and the work of Fontenelle on the
plurality of worlds.

Peter the Great laid the corner-stone of a national literature, but the
temple was not reared above the ground until the reign of Elizabeth and of
Catharine II. Lomonosof (1711-1765), a peasant, born in the dreary regions
of Archangel, has the honor of being the true founder of the Russian
literature. In his Russian grammar he first laid down the principles and
fixed the rules of the language; he first ventured to draw the boundary
line between the old Slavic and the Russian, and endeavored to fix the
rules of poetry according to the Latin standard. Among his contemporaries
may be mentioned Sumarokof (1718-1777) and Kheraskof (1733-1807), both
very productive writers in prose and verse, and highly admired by their

In the middle of the eighteenth century the dramatic talent of the
Russians was awakened, through the establishment of theatres at Jaroslav,
St. Petersburg, and Moscow; and several gifted literary men employed
themselves in dramatic compositions; but of all the productions of this
time, those of Von Wisin (1745-1792) only have continued to hold
possession of the stage.

Among the poets of the eighteenth century, Derzhavin (1743-1816) sang the
glory of Catharine II., and of the Russian arms. His "Ode to God" has
obtained the distinction of being translated into several European
languages, and also into Chinese, and hung up in the Emperor's palace,
printed on white satin in golden letters.

The reign of Alexander I. (1801-1825) opened a new era in the literature.
He manifested great zeal for the mental elevation of his subjects; he
increased the number of universities, established theological seminaries
and institutions for the study of oriental languages, and founded gymnasia
and numerous common schools for the people; he richly endowed the Asiatic
museum of St. Petersburg, and for a time patronized the Russian Bible
Society, and promoted the printing of books on almost all subjects. But
toward the close of his reign, in consequence of certain political
measures, literature sank with great rapidity.

Karamzin (1765-1826), the representative of this age, undertook to shake
off the yoke of the classical rules established by Lomonosof, and
introduced more simplicity and naturalness. His reputation rests chiefly
upon his "History of the Russian Empire," which, with many faults, is a
standard work in Slavic literature. The reign of the Emperor Nicholas
opened with a bloody tragedy, which exhibited in a striking manner the
dissatisfied and unhealthy spirit of the literary youth of Russia. Several
poets and men of literary fame were among the conspirators; and to awaken
patriotism and to counteract the tendencies of the age, the government
promoted historical and archaeological researches, but at the same time
abolished professorships of philosophy, increased the vigilance of its
censorship of the press, lengthened the catalogue of forbidden books, and
reduced the term of lawful absence for its subjects. It took the most
energetic measures to promote national education, and to cultivate those
fields of science where no political tares could be sown.

The leading idea of the time was Panslavism, the object of which was the
union of the Slavic race, an opposition to all foreign domination, and the
attainment of a higher intellectual and political condition in the general
march of mankind. Panslavism rose to a special branch of literature, and
its principal writers were Kollar, Grabowski, and Gurowski.

3. HISTORY, POETRY, THE DRAMA.--History is a department of letters which
has been treated very successfully in Russia; critical researches have
been extended to all branches of archaeology, philology, mythology, and
kindred subjects, and valuable works have been produced.

Dmitrief (1760-1827) combined in his poems imagination, taste,
correctness, and purity of language. Zhukoffski (b. 1785) a poet of deep
feeling, took his models from the Germans.

The fables of Krylof (b. 1768) are equally celebrated among all classes
and ages, and are among the first books read by Russian children.

Above all the others, Pushkin (1799-1835) must be considered as the
representative of Russian poetry in the nineteenth century. He was in the
service of the government, when an ode "to Liberty," written in too bold a
spirit, induced Alexander I. to banish him from St. Petersburg. The
Emperor Nicholas recalled him, and became his patron. Though by no means a
mere imitator, his poetry bears strong marks of the influence of Byron.

Lermontoff (d. 1841) was a poet and novelist whose writings, like those of
Pushkin, were strongly influenced by Byron. Koltsoff (d. 1842) is the
first song writer of Russia, and his favorite theme is the joys and
sorrows of the people. Through the influence of Pushkin and Gogol (d.
1852), Russian literature became emancipated from the classic rule and
began to develop original tendencies. Gogol in his writings manifests a
deep sentiment of patriotism, a strong love of nature, and a fine sense of

The Russians have few ballads of great antiquity, and these rarely have
any reference to the subjects of the heroic prose tales which are the
delight of Russian nurseries, the favorite subjects of which are the
traditions of Vladimir and his giant heroes, which doubtless once existed
in the form of ballads. The Russians have ever been a _singing_ race.
Every festival day and every extraordinary event has its accompanying
song. Though these songs have been modernized in language and form, that
they date from the age of paganism is evident from their frequent
invocations of heathen deities and allusions to heathen customs. Allied to
these songs are the various ditties which the peasant girls and lads sing
on certain occasions, consisting of endless repetitions of words or
syllables; yet through this melodious tissue, apparently without meaning,
sparks of real poetry often shine.

The Russian songs, like the language, have a peculiar tenderness, and are
full of caressing epithets, which are often applied even to inanimate
objects. Russian lovers are quite inexhaustible in their endearing
expressions, and the abundance of diminutives which the language possesses
is especially favorable to their affectionate mode of address. With this
exquisite tenderness of the love-song is united a pensive feeling, which,
indeed, pervades the whole popular poetry of Russia, and which may be
characterized as _melancholy musical_, and in harmony with the Russian
national music, the expressive sweetness of which has been the admiration
of all foreign composers to whom it has been known.

In the rich and fertile steppes of the Ukraine, where every forest tree
seems to harbor a singer, and every blade of grass on the boundless plains
seems to whisper the echo of a song, this pensive character of Russian
poetry deepens into a melancholy that finds expression in a variety of
sweet elegiac melodies. A German writer says of them, "they are the
sorrows of whole centuries blended in one everlasting sigh." The spirit of
the past indeed breathes through their mournful strains. The cradle of the
Kozak was rocked to the music of clashing swords, and for centuries the
country, on both banks of the Dnieper to the northwestern branch of the
Carpathian Mountains, the seat of this race, was the theatre of constant
warfare. Their narrative ballads, therefore, have few other subjects than
the feuds with the Poles and Tartars, the Kozak's parting with his beloved
one, his lonely death on the border or on the bloody field of battle.

These ballads have sometimes a spirit and boldness which presents noble
relief to the habitual melancholy of this poetry in general. Professional
singers, with a kind of guitar in their hand, wander through the country,
sure to find a willing audience in whatever village they may stop. Their
ballads are not confined to the scenes of their early history, but find
subjects in the later wars with the Turks and Tartars, and in the
campaigns of more modern times; they illustrate the warlike spirit, as
well as the domestic relations of the Kozaks, and their skill in
narrative, as well as their power of expressing in lyric strains the
unsophisticated emotions of a tender heart.

The poets of the present age exercise little or no influence on a society
distracted and absorbed by the political questions of the day.

Although the history of Russia is rich in dramatic episodes, it has failed
to inspire any native dramatist. Count Tolstoi has been one of the most
successful writers in this line, but, with great merits, he has the fault
common to the Russian drama in general, that of great attention to the
study of the chief character, to the neglect of other points which
contribute to secure interest.

1854, the Russian government took the initiative in an onward movement,
and by the abolition of serfdom the country awoke to new life. In
literature this showed itself in the rise of a new school, that of Nature,
in which Turgenieff (1818-1883) is the most prominent figure, a place
which he still holds in contemporary Russian literature. The publication
of his "Diary of a Sportsman" first made the nobility of Russia aware that
the serf was a man capable of feeling and suffering, and not a brute to be
bought and sold with the soil, and this work was not without its effect in
causing the emancipation. No writer has studied so faithfully and
profoundly the Russian peasant and better understood the moral needs of
the time and the great questions which agitate it.

Within the last twenty years the new theory of Nihilism has begun to find
expression in literature, particularly in fiction. Rejecting all authority
in religion, politics, science, and art, this school is the reaction from
long ages of oppression. The school of nature lent itself to this new
movement until at last it reached the pessimistic standpoint of

Of late, the ultra-realistic school has appeared in Russia, the writers of
which devote themselves to the study of a low realism in its most
repulsive aspects. While it boasts of not idealizing the peasant, like
Turgenieff and others, it presents him in an aspect to excite only
aversion. Art being thus excluded, and the school having neither
authority, principle, nor object, whatever influence it may have cannot
but be pernicious.

SCIENCE.--In mathematics and in all the natural sciences Russia keeps pace
with the most advanced European nations. In chemistry Mendeleéff
formulated the theory relating to atoms and their chemical properties and
relations, not then discovered to be the law by which they were governed,
as later experiments proved.


The Servian alphabet was first fixed and the language reduced to certain
general rules only within the present century. The language extends, with
some slight variations of dialect, and various systems of writing, over
the Turkish and Austrian provinces of Servia, Bosnia, Herzegovina,
Montenegro, and Dalmatia, and the eastern part of Croatia. The southern
sky, and the beauties of natural scenery that abound in all these regions,
so favorable to the development of poetical genius, appear also to have
exerted a happy influence on the language. While it yields to none of the
other Slavic dialects in richness, clearness, and precision, it far
surpasses them all in euphony.

The most interesting feature of the literature of these countries is their
popular poetry. This branch of literature still survives among the Slavic
race, particularly the Servians and Dalmatians, in its beauty and
luxuriance, while it is almost extinct in other nations. Much of this
poetry is of unknown antiquity, and has been handed down by tradition from
generation to generation. From the gray ages of paganism it reaches us
like the chimes of distant bells, unconnected, and half lost in the air.
It often manifests the strong, deep-rooted superstitions of the Slavic
race, and is full of dreams, omens, and forebodings; witchcraft, and a
certain Oriental fatalism, seeming to direct will and destiny. Love and
heroism form the subject of all Slavic poetry, which is distinguished for
the purity of manners it evinces. Wild passions or complicated actions are
seldom represented, but rather the quiet scenes of domestic grief and joy.
The peculiar relation of brother and sister, particularly among the
Servians, often forms an interesting feature of the popular songs. To have
no brother is a misfortune, almost a disgrace, and the cuckoo, the
constant image of a mourning woman in Servian poetry, was, according to
the legend, a sister who had lost her brother.

This poetry was first collected by Vuk Stephanovitch Karadshitch (b.
1786), a Turkish Servian, the author of the first Oriental Servian grammar
and dictionary, who gathered the songs from the lips of the peasantry. His
work, published at Vienna in 1815, has been made known to the world
through a translation into German by the distinguished authoress of the
"Languages and Literature of the Slavic Nations," from which this brief
sketch has been made. Nearly one third of these songs consist of epic
tales several hundred verses in length. The lyric songs compare favorably
with those of other nations, but the long epic extemporized compositions,
by which the peasant bard, in the circle of other peasants, in
unpremeditated but regular and harmonious verse, celebrates the heroic
deeds of their ancestors or contemporaries, have no parallel in the whole
history of literature since the days of Homer.

The poetry of the Servians is intimately interwoven with their daily life.
The hall where the women sit spinning around the fireside, the mountain on
which the boys pasture their flocks, the square where the village youth
assemble to dance, the plains where the harvest is reaped, and the forests
through which the lonely traveler journeys, all resound with song. Short
compositions, sung without accompaniment, are mostly composed by women,
and are called female songs; they relate to domestic life, and are
distinguished by cheerfulness, and often by a spirit of graceful roguery.
The feeling expressed in the Servian love-songs is gentle, often playful,
indicating more of tenderness than of passion. In their heroic poems the
Servians stand quite isolated; no modern nation can be compared to them in
epic productiveness, and the recent publication of these poems throws new
light on the grand compositions of the ancients. The general character of
these Servian tales is objective and plastic; the poet is, in most cases,
in a remarkable degree _above_ his subject; he paints his pictures, not in
glowing colors, but in prominent features, and no explanation is necessary
to interpret what the reader thinks he sees with his own eyes. The number
and variety of the Servian heroic poems is immense, and many of them,
until recently preserved only by tradition, cannot be supposed to have
retained their original form; they are frequently interwoven with a belief
in certain fanciful creatures of pagan superstition, which exercise a
constant influence on human affairs. The poems are often recited, but most
frequently sung to the music of a rude kind of guitar. The bard chants two
lines, then he pauses and gives a few plaintive strokes on his instrument;
then he chants again, and so on. While in Slavic poetry generally the
musical element is prominent, in the Servian it is completely subordinate.
Even the lyric poetry is in a high degree monotonous, and is chanted
rather than sung.

Goethe, Grimm, and "Talvi" drew attention to these songs, many
translations of which were published in Germany, and Bowring, Lytton, and
others have made them known in England.

At present there is much intellectual activity among the Servians in
various departments of literature, tragedy, comedy, satire, and fiction,
but the names of the writers are new to Europeans, and not easily


John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Comenius, and others.

The Bohemian is one of the principal Slavic languages. It is spoken in
Bohemia and in Moravia, and is used by the Slovaks of Hungary in their
literary productions. Of all the modern Slavic dialects, the Bohemian was
the first cultivated; it early adopted the Latin characters, and was
developed under the influence of the German language. In its free
construction, the Bohemian approaches the Latin, and is capable of
imitating the Greek in all its lighter shades.

The first written documents of the Bohemians are not older than the
introduction of Christianity into their country; but there exists a
collection of national songs celebrating battles and victories, which
probably belongs to the eighth or ninth century. During the eleventh and
twelfth centuries the influence of German customs and habits is apparent
in Bohemian literature; and in the thirteenth and fourteenth this
influence increased, and was manifest in the lyric poetry, which echoed
the lays of the German Minnesingers. Of these popular songs, however, very
few are left.

In 1348 the first Slavic university was founded in Prague, on the plan of
those of Paris and Bologna, by the Emperor Charles IV., who united the
crowns of Germany and Bohemia. The influence of this institution was felt,
not merely in the two countries, but throughout Europe.

The name of John Huss (1373-1415) stands at the head of a new period in
Bohemian literature. He was professor at the university of Prague, and
early became acquainted with the writings of Wickliffe, whose doctrines he
defended in his lectures and sermons. The care and attention he bestowed
on his compositions exerted a decided and lasting influence on the
language. The old Bohemian alphabet he arranged anew, and first settled
the Bohemian orthography according to fixed principles. Summoned to appear
before the council of Constance to answer to the charges of heresy, he
obeyed the call under a safe-conduct from the Emperor Sigismund. But he
was soon arrested by order of the council, condemned, and burned alive.

Among the coadjutors of Huss was Jerome of Prague, a professor in the same
university, who in his erudition and eloquence surpassed his friend, whose
doctrinal views he adopted, but he had not the mildness of disposition nor
the moderation of conduct which distinguished Huss. He wrote several works
for the instruction of the people, and translated some of the writings of
Wickliffe into the Bohemian language. On hearing of the dangerous
situation of his friend he hastened to Constance to assist and support
him. He, too, was arrested, and even terrified into temporary submission;
but at the next audience of the council he reaffirmed his faith, and
declared that of all his sins he repented of none more than his apostasy
from the doctrines he had maintained. In consequence of this avowal he was
condemned to the same fate as his friend.

These illustrious martyrs were, with the exception of Wickliffe, the first
advocates of truth a century before the Reformation. Since then, in no
language has the Bible been studied with more zeal and devotion than in
the Bohemian. The long contest for freedom of conscience which desolated
the country until the extinction of the nation is one of the great
tragedies of human history.

The period from 1520 to 1620 is considered the golden age of Bohemian
literature. Nearly two hundred writers distinguished the reign of Rudolph
I. (1526-1611), and among them were many ladies and gentlemen of the
court, of which Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and other scientific men, from
foreign countries, were the chief ornaments. Numerous historical works
were published, theology was cultivated with talent and zeal, the
eloquence of the pulpit and the bar acquired a high degree of cultivation,
and in religious hymns all sects were equally productive.

The triumph of the Catholic party, which followed the battle of the White
Mountain, near Prague (1620), gave a fatal blow to Bohemia. The leading
men of the country were executed, exiled, or imprisoned; the Protestant
religion was abolished, and the country was declared a hereditary Catholic
monarchy. The Bohemian language ceased to be used in public transactions;
and every book written in it was condemned to the flames as necessarily
heretical. Great numbers of monks came from southern Europe, and seized
whatever native books they could find; and this destruction continued to
go on until the close of the last century.

Among the Bohemian emigrants who continued to write in their foreign
homes, Comenius (1592-1691) surpassed all others. When the great
persecution of the Protestants broke out he fled to Poland, and in his
exile he published several works in Latin and in Bohemian, distinguished
for the classical perfection of their style.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century the efforts to introduce into
Bohemia the German as the official language of the country awoke the
national feeling of the people, and produced a strong reaction in favor of
their native tongue. When the tolerant views of Joseph II. were known,
more than a hundred thousand Protestants returned to their country; books
long hidden were brought to light, and many works were reprinted. During
the reign of his two successors, the Bohemians received still more
encouragement; the use of the language was ordained in all the schools,
and a knowledge of it was made a necessary qualification for office. Among
the writers who exerted a favorable influence in this movement may be
mentioned Kramerius (1753-1808), the editor of the first Bohemian
newspaper, and the author of many original works; Dobrovsky (1753-1829),
the patriarch of modern Slavic literature, and one of the profoundest
scholars of the age; and Kollar (b. 1763), the leading poet of modern
times in the Bohemian language. Schaffarik (b. 1795), a Slovak, is the
author of a "History of the Slavic Language and Literature," in German,
which has, perhaps, contributed more than any other work to a knowledge of
Slavic literature. Palacky, a Moravian by birth, was the faithful fellow-
laborer of Schaffarik; his most important work is a "History of Bohemia."

Since 1848 there has arisen a school of poets whose writings are more in
accordance with those of the western nations. Among them are Hálek (d.
1874) and Cech, the most celebrated of living Bohemian poets. Caroline
Soêtla (b. 1830) is the originator of the modern Bohemian novel. Since
1879 many poems have appeared, epic in their character, taking their
materials both from the past and the present. In various branches of
literature able writers are found, too numerous even to name.


Rey, Bielski, Copernicus, Czartoryski, Niemcewicz, Mickiewicz, and others.

The Polish language is the only existing representative of that variety of
idioms originally spoken by the Slavic tribes, which, under the name of
Lekhes, in the sixth or seventh century, settled on the banks of the
Vistula and Varta. Although very little is known of the progress of the
language into its present state, it is sufficiently obvious that it has
developed from the conflict of its natural elements with the Latin and
German idioms. Of the other Slavic dialects, the Bohemian is the only one
which has exerted any influence upon this tongue. The Polish language is
refined and artificial in its grammatical structure, rich in its words and
phrases, and, like the Bohemian, capable of faithfully imitating the
refinements of the classical languages. It has a great variety and nicety
of shades in the pronunciation of the vowels, and such combinations of
consonants as can only be conquered by a Slavic tongue.

The literary history of Poland begins, like that of Bohemia, at the epoch
of the introduction of Christianity. In the year 965, Miecislav, Duke of
Poland, married the Bohemian princess Dombrovka, who consented to the
marriage on the condition of the duke becoming a convert to Christianity;
and from that time the Polish princes, and the greater part of the nation,
adopted the new faith. The clergy in those early ages in Poland, as well
as elsewhere, were the depositaries of mental light; and the Benedictine
monks who, with others, had been invited to the converted country, founded
convents, to which they early attached schools. Their example was
followed, at a later period, by other orders, and for several centuries
the natives were excluded from all clerical dignities and privileges, and
the education of the country was directed by foreign monks. They burned
the few writings which they found in the vernacular tongue, and excited
unnatural prejudices against it. From the ninth to the sixteenth century
Polish literature was almost entirely confined to the translation of a
part of the Bible and a few chronicles written in Latin. Among these must
be noticed the chronicle of Martin Gallus (d. 1132), an emigrant
Frenchman, who is considered as the oldest historian of Poland.

Casimir (1333-1370) was one of the few princes who acquired the name of
the Great, not by conquests, but by the substantial benefits of laws,
courts of justice, and means of education, which he procured for his
subjects. In his reign was formed the first code of laws, known by the
name of "Statute of Wislica," a part of which is written in the Polish
language; and he laid the foundation of the university of Cracow (1347),
which, however, was only organized half a century later. Hedevig, the
granddaughter of Casimir, married Jagello of Lithuania, and under their
descendants, who reigned nearly two centuries, Poland rose to the summit
of power and glory. With Sigismund I. (1505-1542), and Sigismund Augustus
(1542-1613), a new period of Polish literature begins. The university of
Cracow had been organized in 1400, on the model of that of Prague, and
this opened a door for the doctrines, first of the Bohemian, then of the
German reformers. The wild flame of superstition which kindled the fagots
for the disciples of the new doctrines in Poland was extinguished by
Sigismund I. and Sigismund II., in whom the Reformation found a decided
support. Under their administration Poland was the seat of a toleration
then unequaled in the world; the Polish language became more used in
literary productions, and was fixed as the medium through which laws and
decrees were promulgated.

Rey of Naglowic (1515-1569), who lived at the courts of the Sigismunds, is
called the father of Polish poetry. Most of his productions are of a
religious nature, and bear the stamp of a truly poetical talent. John
Kochanowski (1530-1584) published a translation of the Psalms, which is
still considered as a classical work. His other poems, in which Pindar,
Anacreon, and Horace were alternately his models, are distinguished for
their conciseness and terseness of style. Rybinski (fl. 1581) and Simon
Szymonowicz (d. 1629), the former as a lyric poet, the latter as a writer
of idyls, maintain a high rank.

The Poles possess all the necessary qualities for oratory, and the
sixteenth century was eminent for forensic and pulpit eloquence. History
was cultivated with much zeal, but mostly in the Latin language. Martin
Bielski (1500-1576) was the author of the "Chronicle of Poland," the first
historical work in Polish. Scientific works were mostly written in Latin,
the cultivation of which, in Poland, has ever kept pace with the study of
the vernacular tongue. Indeed, the most eminent writers and orators of the
sixteenth century, who made use of the Polish language, managed the Latin
with equal skill and dexterity, and in common conversation both Latin and
Polish were used.

Among the scientific writers of Latin is the astronomer Copernicus (1473-
1543). He early went to Italy, and was appointed professor of mathematics
at Rome. He at length returned to Poland, and devoted himself to the study
of astronomy. Having spent twenty years in observations and calculations,
he brought his scheme to perfection, and established the theory of the
universe which is now everywhere received.

The interval between 1622 and 1760 marks a period of a general decadence
in Polish literature. The perversion of taste which, at the beginning of
that age, reigned in Italy, and thence spread over Europe, reached Poland;
and for nearly a hundred and fifty years the country, under the influence
of the Jesuits, was the victim of a stifling intolerance, and of a general
mental paralysis. But in the reign of Stanislaus Augustus (1762-1795),
Poland began to revive, and the national literature received a new
impulse. Though the French language and manners prevailed, and the
bombastic school of Marini was only supplanted by that of the cold and
formal poets of France, the cultivation of the Polish language was not
neglected; a periodical work, to which the ablest men of the country
contributed, was published, public instruction was made one of the great
concerns of the government, and the power of the Jesuits was destroyed.

The dissolution of the kingdom which soon followed, its partition and
amalgamation with foreign nations, kindled anew the patriotic spirit of
the Poles, who devoted themselves with more zeal than ever to the
cultivation of their native language, the sole tie which still binds them
together. The following are the principal representatives of this period:
Stephen Konarski (1700-1773), a writer on politics and education, who
devoted himself entirely to the literary and mental reform of his country;
Zaluski (1724-1786), known more especially as the founder of a large
library, which, at the dismemberment of Poland, was transferred to St.
Petersburg; and, above all, Adam Czartoryski  (1731-1823), and the two
brothers Potocki, distinguished as statesmen, orators, writers, and
patrons of literature and art. At the head of the historical writers of
the eighteenth century stands Naruszewicz (1753-1796), whose history of
Poland is considered as a standard work. In respect to erudition,
philosophical conception, and purity of style, it is a masterpiece of
Polish literature. Krasicki (1739-1802), the most distinguished poet under
Stanislaus Augustus, was called the Polish Voltaire. His poems and prose
writings are replete with wit and spirit, though bearing evident marks of
French influence, which was felt in almost all the poetical productions of
that age.

Niemcewicz (1787-1846) is regarded as one of the greatest poets of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Having fought by the side of
Kosciusko, and shared his fate as a prisoner, he accompanied him to
America, where he became the friend and associate of Washington, whose
life he afterwards described. His other works consist of historical songs,
dramas, and a history of the reign of Sigismund.

There is no branch of literature in which the Poles have manifested
greater want of original power than in the drama, where the influence of
the French school is decided, and, indeed, exclusive. Novels and tales,
founded on domestic life, are not abundant in Polish literature;
philosophy has had few votaries, and the other sciences, with the
exception of the mathematical and physical branches, have been, till
recently, neglected.

The failure of the revolution of 1830 forms a melancholy epoch in Polish
history, and especially in Polish literature. The universities of Warsaw
and Wilna were broken up, and their rich libraries removed to St.
Petersburg. Even the lower schools were mostly deprived of their funds,
and changed to Russian government schools. The press was placed under the
strictest control, the language and the national peculiarities of the
country were everywhere persecuted, the Russian tongue and customs
substituted, and the poets and learned men either silenced or banished.
Yet since that time the national history has become more than ever a
chosen study with the people; and as the results of these researches,
since 1830, cannot be written in Poland, Paris has become the principal
seat of Polish learning. One of the first works of importance published
there was the "History of the Polish Insurrection," by Mochnachi (1804-
1835), known before as the author of a work on the Polish literature of
the nineteenth century, and as the able editor of several periodicals.
Lelewel, one of the leaders of the revolution, wrote a work on the civil
rights of the Polish peasantry, which has exercised a more decided
influence in Poland than that of any modern author. Miekiewicz (1798-
1843), a leader of the same revolution, is the most distinguished of the
modern poets of Poland. His magnificent poem of "The Feast of the Dead" is
a powerful expression of genius. His "Sonnets on the Crimea" are among his
happiest productions, and his "Sir Thaddeus" is a graphic description of
the civil and domestic life of Lithuania. Mickiewicz is the founder of the
modern romantic school in Poland, to which belong the most popular
productions of Polish literature. Zalesski, Grabowski, and others of this
school have chosen the Ukraine as the favorite theatre of their poems, and
give us pictures of that country, alternately sweet, wild, and romantic.

Of all the Slavic nations, the Poles have most neglected their popular
poetry, a fact which may be easily explained in a nation among whom
whatever refers to mere boors and serfs has always been regarded with the
utmost contempt. Their beautiful national dances, however, the graceful
Polonaise, the bold Masur, the ingenious Cracovienne, are equally the
property of the nobility and peasantry, and were formerly always
accompanied by singing instead of instrumental music. These songs were
extemporized, and were probably never committed to writing.

The centre of literary activity in Poland is Warsaw, which, in spite of
the severe restrictions on the press, has always maintained its


Carmen Sylva.

The kingdom of Roumania, composed of the principalities of Moldavia and
Wallachia, united in 1859, has few literary monuments. The language is
Wallachian, in which the Latin predominates, with a mixture of Slavic,
Turkish, and Tartar, and has only of late been classed with the Romance
languages, by the side of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. There are some
historical fragments of the fifteenth century remaining; the literature
that followed was mostly theological. In recent times a great number of
learned and poetical works have been produced, and political movements
have led to many political writings and to the establishment of many

The most distinguished name in Roumanian literature is that of "Carmen
Sylva," the _nom de plume_ of the beautiful and gifted queen of that
country, whose writings in prose and verse are remarkable for passionate
feeling, grace, and finished execution.


1. The Language.--2. Dutch Literature to the Sixteenth Century: Maerlant;
Melis Stoke; De Weert; the Chambers of Rhetoric; the Flemish Chroniclers;
the Rise of the Dutch Republic.--3. The Latin Writers: Erasmus; Grotius;
Arminius; Lipsius; the Scaligers, and others; Salmasius; Spinoza;
Boerhaave; Johannes Secundus.--4. Dutch Writers of the Sixteenth Century:
Anna Byns; Coornhert; Marnix de St. Aldegonde, Bor, Visscher, and
Spieghel.--5. Writers of the Seventeenth Century: Hooft; Vondel; Cats;
Antonides; Brandt, and others; Decline in Dutch Literature.--6. The
Eighteenth Century: Poot; Langendijk; Hoogvliet; De Marre; Feitama;
Huydecoper; the Van Harens; Smits; Ten Kate; Van Winter; Van Merken; De
Lannoy; Van Alphen; Bellamy; Nieuwland, Styl, and others.--7. The
Nineteenth Century: Feith; Helmers; Bilderdyk; Van der Palm; Loosjes;
Loots, Tollens, Van Kampen, De s'Gravenweert, Hoevill, and others.

1. THE LANGUAGE.--The Dutch, Flemish, and Frisic languages, spoken in the
kingdoms of Holland and Belgium, are branches of the Gothic family. Toward
the close of the fifteenth century, the Dutch gained the ascendency over
the others, which it has never since lost. This language is energetic and
flexible, rich in synonyms and delicate shades, and from its fullness and
strength, better adapted to history, tragedy, and odes, than to comedy and
the lighter kinds of poetry. The Flemish, which still remains the literary
language of the southern provinces, is inferior to the Dutch, and has been
greatly corrupted by the admixture of foreign words. The Frisic, spoken in
Friesland, is an idiom less cultivated than the others, and is gradually
disappearing. In the seventeenth century it boasted of several writers, of
whom the poet Japix was the most eminent. The first grammar of the Frisic
language was published by Professor Rask, of Copenhagen, in 1825. In some
parts of Belgium the Walloon, an old dialect of the French, is still
spoken, but the Flemish continues to be the common language of the people,
although since the establishment of Belgium as an independent kingdom the
use of the French language has prevailed among the higher classes.

dark ages began to disappear with the revival of letters, the Netherlands
were not last among the countries of Europe in coming forth from the
darkness. The cities of Flanders were early distinguished for the
commercial activity and industrial skill of their inhabitants. Bruges
reached the height of its splendor in the beginning of the fifteenth
century, and was for some time one of the great commercial emporiums of
the world, to which Constantinople, Genoa, and Venice sent their precious
argosies laden with the products of the East. At the close of the
thirteenth century Ghent, in wealth and power, eclipsed the French
metropolis; and at the end of the fifteenth century there was, according
to Erasmus, no town in all Christendom to compare with it for magnitude,
power, political institutions, or the culture of its citizens. The lays of
the minstrels and the romances of chivalry were early translated, and a
Dutch version of "Reynard the Fox" was made in the middle of the
thirteenth century. Jakob Maerlant (1235-1300), the first author of note,
translated the Bible into Flemish rhyme, and made many versions of the
classics; and Melis Stoke, his contemporary, wrote a rhymed "Chronicle of

The most important work of the fourteenth century is the "New Doctrine,"
by De Weert, which, for the freedom of its expression on religious
subjects, may be regarded as one of the precursors of the Reformation.

Towards the close of the fourteenth century there arose a class of
wandering poets called Sprekers, who, at the courts of princes and
elsewhere, rehearsed their maxims in prose or verse. In the fifteenth
century they formed themselves into literary societies, known as "Chambers
of Rhetoric" (poetry being at that time called the "Art of Rhetoric"),
which were similar to the Guilds of the Meistersingers. These institutions
were soon multiplied throughout the country, and the members exercised
themselves in rhyming, or composed and performed mysteries and plays,
which, at length, gave rise to the theatre. They engaged in poetical
contests, distributed prizes, and were prominent in all national fêtes.
The number of the rhetoricians was so immense, that during the reign of
Philip II. of Spain more than thirty chambers, composed of fifteen hundred
members, often entered Antwerp in triumphal procession. But the effect of
these associations, composed for the most part of illiterate men, was to
destroy the purity of the language and to produce degeneracy in the
literature. The Chamber of Amsterdam, however, was an honorable exception,
and towards the close of the sixteenth century it counted among its
members distinguished scholars, such as Spieghel, Coornhert, Marnix, and
Visscher, and it may be considered as the school which formed Hooft and

During the reign of the House of Burgundy (1383-1477), which was
essentially French in tastes and manners, the native tongue became
corrupted by the admixture of foreign elements. The poets and chroniclers
of the time were chiefly of Flemish origin; the most widely known among
the latter are Henricourt (d. 1403), Monstrelet (d. 1453), and Chastelain
(d. 1475). A translation of the Bible and a few more works close the
literary record of the fifteenth century.

The invention of printing, the great event of the age, is claimed by the
cities of Mayence, Strasbourg, and Harlem; but if the art which preserves
literature originated in the Netherlands, it did not at once create a
native literature, the growth of which was greatly retarded by the use of
the Latin tongue, which long continued to be the organ of expression with
the principal writers of the country, nearly all of whom, even to the
present day, are distinguished for the purity and elegance with which they
compose in this language.

The Reformation and the great political agitations of the sixteenth
century ended in the independence of the northern provinces and the
establishment of the Dutch Republic (1581) under the name of the United
Provinces, commonly called Holland, from the province of that name, which
was superior to the others in extent, population, and influence. The new
republic rose rapidly in power; and while intolerance and religious
disputes distracted other European states, it offered a safe asylum to the
persecuted of all sects. The expanding energies of the people soon sought
a field beyond the narrow boundaries of the country; their ships visited
every sea, and they monopolized the richest commerce of the world. They
alone supplied Europe with the productions of the Spice Islands, and the
gold, pearls, and jewels of the East all passed through their hands; and
in the middle of the seventeenth century the United Provinces were the
first commercial and the first maritime power in the world. A rapid
development of the literature was the natural consequence of this
increasing national development, which was still more powerfully promoted
by the great and wise William I., Prince of Orange, who in 1575 founded
the university of Leyden as a reward to that city for its valiant defense
against the Spaniards. Similar institutions were soon established at
Groningen, Utrecht, and elsewhere; these various seats of learning
produced a rivalry highly advantageous to the diffusion of knowledge, and
great men arose in all branches of science and literature. Among the
distinguished names of the sixteenth century those of the Latin writers
occupy the first place.

3. LATIN WRITERS.--One of the great restorers of letters in Europe, and
one of the most elegant of modern Latin authors, was Gerard Didier, a
native of Rotterdam, who took the name of Erasmus (1467-1536). To profound
learning he joined a refined taste and a delicate wit, and few men have
been so greatly admired as he was during his lifetime. The principal
sovereigns of Europe endeavored to draw him into their kingdoms. He
several times visited England, where he was received with great deference
by Henry VIII., and where he gave lectures on Greek literature at
Cambridge. He made many translations from Greek authors, and a very
valuable translation of the New Testament into Latin. His writings
introduced the spirit of free inquiry on all subjects, and to his
influence may be attributed the first dawning of the Reformation. But his
caution offended some of the best men of the times. His treatise on "Free
Will" made an open breach between him and Luther, whose opinions favored
predestination; his "Colloquies" gave great offense to the Catholics; and
as he had not declared for the Protestants, he had but lukewarm friends in
either party. It has been said of Erasmus, that he would have purified and
repaired the venerable fabric of the church, with a light and cautious
touch, fearful lest learning, virtue, and religion should be buried in its
fall, while Luther struck at the tottering ruin with a bold and reckless
hand, confident that a new and more beautiful temple would rise from its

Hugo de Groot, who, according to the fashion of the time, took the Latin
name of Grotius (1583-1645), was a scholar and statesman of the most
diversified talents, and one of the master minds of the age. He was
involved in the religious controversy which at that time disturbed
Holland, and he advocated the doctrines of Arminius, in common with the
great statesman, Barneveldt, whom he supported and defended by his pen and
influence. On the execution of Barneveldt, Grotius was condemned to
imprisonment for life in the castle of Louvestein; but after nearly two
years spent in the prison, his faithful wife planned and effected his
escape. She had procured the privilege of sending him a chest of books,
which occasionally passed and repassed, closely scrutinized. On one
occasion the statesman took the place of the books, and was borne forth
from the prison in the chest, which is still in the possession of the
descendants of Grotius, in his native city of Delft. The States-General
perpetuated the memory of the devoted wife by continuing to give her name
to a frigate in the Dutch navy. After his escape from prison, Grotius
found an asylum in Sweden, from whence he was sent ambassador to France.
His countrymen at length repented of having banished the man who was the
honor of his native land, and he was recalled; but on his way to Holland
he was taken ill and died before he could profit by this tardy act of
justice. The writings of Grotius greatly tended to diffuse an enlightened
and liberal manner of thinking in all matters of science. He was a
profound theologian, a distinguished scholar, an acute philosopher and
jurist, and among the modern Latin poets he holds a high place. The
philosophy of jurisprudence has been especially promoted by his great work
on natural and national law, which laid the foundation of a new science.

Arminius (1560-1609), the founder of the sect of Arminians or
Remonstrants, was distinguished as a preacher and for his zeal in the
Reformed Religion. He attempted to soften the Calvinistic doctrines of
predestination, in which he was violently opposed by Gomarus. He counted
among his adherents Grotius, Barneveldt, and many of the eminent men of
Holland. Other eminent theologians of this period were Drusius and

Lipsius (1547-1606) is known as a philologist and for his treatises on the
military art of the Romans, on the Latin classics, and on the philosophy
of the Stoics. Another scholar of extensive learning, whose editions of
the principal Greek and Latin classics