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Title: Post-Augustan Poetry From Seneca to Juvenal
Author: Butler, Harold Edgeworth
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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From Seneca to Juvenal


H.E. BUTLER, Fellow of New College


I have attempted in this book to provide something of an introduction
to the poetical literature of the post-Augustan age. Although few of
the writers dealt with have any claim to be called poets of the first
order, and some stand very low in the scale of poetry, as a whole the
poets of this period have suffered greater neglect than they deserve.
Their undeniable weaknesses tend in many cases to obscure their real
merits, with the result that they are at times either ignored or
subjected to unduly sweeping condemnation. I have attempted in these
pages to detach and illustrate their excellences without in any way
passing over their defects.

Manilius and Phaedrus have been omitted on the ground that as regards
the general character of their writings they belong rather to the
Augustan period than to the subsequent age of decadence. Manilius indeed
composed a considerable portion of his work during the lifetime of
Augustus, while Phaedrus, though somewhat later in date, showed a
sobriety of thought and an antique simplicity of style that place him at
least a generation away from his contemporaries. The authorities to
whose works I am indebted are duly acknowledged in the course of the
work. I owe a special debt, however, to those great works of reference,
the Histories of Roman Literature by Schanz and Teuffel, to
Friedländer's _Sittengeschichte_, and, for the chapters on Lucan and
Statius, to Heitland's _Introduction to Haskin's edition of Lucan_ and
Legras' _Thébaïde de Stace_. I wish particularly to express my
indebtedness to Professor Gilbert Murray and Mr. Nowell Smith, who read
the book in manuscript and made many valuable suggestions and
corrections. I also have to thank Mr. A.S. Owen for much assistance in
the corrections of the proofs.

My thanks are owing to Professor Goldwin Smith for permission to print
translations from 'Bay Leaves', and to Mr. A.E. Street and Mr. F.J.
Miller and their publishers, for permission to quote from their
translations of Martial (Messrs. Spottiswoode) and Seneca (Chicago
University Press) respectively.


_November_, 1908.




Main characteristics, p. 1.
The influence of the principate, p. 1.
Tiberius, p. 2.
Caligula, p. 4.
Claudius, p. 5.
Nero, p. 6.
Decay of Roman character, p. 9.
Peculiar nature of Roman literature, p. 10.
Greatness of Augustan poets a bar to farther advance, p. 11.
Roman education: literary, p. 12;
  rhetorical, p. 14.
Absence of true educational spirit, p. 16.
Recitations, p. 18.
Results of these influences, p. 19.



Drama never really flourishing at Rome, p. 23.
Comedy, represented by Mime and Atellan farce, p. 24.
Legitimate comedy nearly extinct, p. 25.
Tragedy replaced by _salticae fabulae_, p. 26;
  or musical recitations, p. 28.
Pomponius Secundus, p. 29.
Curiatius Maternus, p. 30.

ii. SENECA: his life and character, p. 31.
His position in literature, p. 35.
His epigrams, p. 36.
His plays, p. 39.
Their genuineness, p. 40.
The _Octavia, Oedipus, Agamemnon,_ and _Hercules Oetaeus,_ p. 41.
Date of the plays, p. 43.
Their dramatic value, p. 44.
Plot, p. 45.
Descriptions, p. 48.
Declamation, p. 49;
  at its best in _Troades_ and _Phaedra_, p. 51.
Dialogue, p. 55.
Stoicism, p. 58.
Poetry (confined mainly to lyrics), p. 63.
Cleverness of the rhetoric, p. 65.
_Sententiae_, p. 68.
Hyperbole, p. 69.
Diction and metre; iambics, p. 70;
  lyrics, p. 71.
Plays not written for the stage, p. 72.
Influence on later drama, p. 74.

iii. THE OCTAVIA. Sole example of _fabula praetexta_, p. 74.

Plot, p. 75.
Characteristics, p. 76.
Date and authorship, p. 77.



Life, p. 79.
Works, p. 81.
Influence of Lucilius, p. 83;
  of Horace, p. 84.
Obscurity, p. 85.
Qualifications necessary for a satirist; Persius' weakness through
  lack of them, p. 87.
Success in purely literary satire, p. 88.
Lack of close observation of life, p. 90.
Persius' nobility of character, p. 91.
His Stoicism, p. 93.
His capacity for friendship, p. 95.



Life, p. 97.
Minor works, p. 99.
His choice of a subject, p. 101,
Choice of epic methods, p. 102.
Petronius' criticism of historical epic, p. 103.
Difficulties of the subject, p. 104.
Design of the poem, p. 106.
Characters: Pompey, p. 106.
Caesar, p. 108.
Cato, p. 109.
Descriptive passages, p. 112.
Hyperbole, p. 115.
Irrelevance, p. 116.
Lack of poetic vocabulary, p. 116.
Tendency to political satire, p. 117.
Speeches, p. 120.
_Sententiae,_ p. 122.
Metre, p. 123.
Summary, p. 123.



Authorship of _Satyricon:_ character of Titus Petronius, p. 125.
Literary criticism, p. 127.
Attack on contemporary rhetoric, p. 128.
Eumolpus the poet, p. 129;
laments the decay of art, p. 130.
Poem on the Sack of Troy, p. 130.
Criticism of historical epic, p. 131.
The poetic fragments, p. 133.
Epigrams, p. 134.
Question of genuineness, p. 135.
Their high poetic level, p. 136.




i. THE AETNA. Its design, p. 140.
Characteristics of the poem, p. 141.
Authorship, p. 143.
Date, p. 145.

ii. COLUMELLA. Life and works, p. 146.
His tenth book, a fifth Georgic on gardening, p. 147.
His enthusiasm and descriptive power, p. 148.


Pastoral poetry, p. 150.
Calpurnius Siculus; date, p. 151.
Who was he? p. 152.
Debt to Vergil, p. 152.
Elaboration of style, p. 153.
Obscurity, affectation and insignificance, p. 154.
Einsiedeln fragments; was the author Calpurnius Piso? p. 156.
_Panegyricus in Pisonem,_ p. 157.
Graceful elaboration, p. 158.
Was the author Calpurnius Siculus? p. 159.


Early translations of _Iliad,_ p. 160.
Attius Labeo, p. 160. Polybius p. 161.
_Ilias Latina,_ a summary in verse, p. 161.
Date, p. 162. Authorship: the question of the acrostic, p. 162.
Wrongly attributed to Silius Italicus. p. 163.


Gaetulicus, p. 163.
Caesius Bassua, p. 164.




Vespasian and Titus, p. 166.
Domitian. The Agon Capitolinus and Agon Albanus, p. 167.
Literary characteristics of the Flavian age, p. 168.
Saleius Bassus, Serranus, and others, p. 169.
Nerva, p. 169.
Trajan, p. 170.
Passennus Paulus, p. 170.
Sentius Augurinus, p. 171.
Pliny the Younger, p. 172.
Almost entire disappearance of poetry after Hadrian. p. 174.


Sulpicia, a lyric poetess, p. 174.
Martial's admiration for her, p. 175.
Characteristics of her work, p. 176.
Her Satire, p. 176.
Is it genuine? p. 177.



Epic in the Flavian age, p. 179.
Who was Valerius? His date, p. 180.
The _Argonautica_, unfinished, p. 181.
Its general design, p. 182.
Merits and defects of the Argonaut-saga as a subject for epic, p. 183.
Valerius' debt to Apollonius Rhodius, p. 183.
Novelties introduced in treatment; Jason, p. 184;
Medea, p. 185.
Valerius has a better general conception as to how the story should be
  told, but is far inferior as a poet, p. 186.
Obscure learning; lack of humour, p. 187.
Involved language, p. 188.
Preciosity; compression, p. 189.
Real poetic merit: compared with Statius and Lucan, p. 191.
Debt to Vergil, p. 191.
Metre, p. 192.
Brilliant descriptive power, p. 193.
Suggestion of mystery, p. 193.
Sense of colour, p. 195.
Similes, p. 195.
Speeches, p. 197.
The loves of Jason and Medea, p. 198.
General estimate, p. 200.



Life, p. 202.
Character, p. 205.
The _Thebais_; its high average level, p. 206.
Statius a miniature painter, p, 207.
Weakness of the Theban-saga as a subject for epic, p. 208.
Consequent lack of proportion and unity in _Thebais_, p. 210.
Vergil too closely imitated, p. 211.
Digressions, p. 212.
Character-drawing superficial, p. 213.
Tydeus, p. 214.
Amphiaraus, p. 216.
Parthenopaeus and other characters, p. 218.
Atmosphere that of literature rather than life, p. 220.
Fine descriptive passages, p. 221.
Dexterity, often degenerating into preciosity, p. 224.
Similes, p. 225.
Metre, p. 226.
The _Achilleis_, p. 227.
The _Silvae_, p. 227.
Flattery of Domitian, p. 228.
Extraordinary preciosity, p. 229.
Prettiness and insincerity, p. 230.
Brilliant miniature-painting, p. 232.
The _Genethliacon Lucani_, p. 233.
Invocation to Sleep, p. 234.
Conclusion, p. 235.



Life, p. 236.
Weakness of historical epic, p. 238.
Disastrous intrusion of mythology, p. 239.
Plagiarism from Vergil, p. 240.
Skill in composition of early books, p. 240.
Inadequate treatment of closing scenes of the war, p. 241.
The characters, p. 241.
Total absence of any real poetic gifts, p. 242.
Regulus, p. 244.
The death of Paulus, p. 246.
Fabius Cunctator, p. 247.
Conclusion, p. 249.



Life, p. 251.
The epigram, p. 258.
Martial's temperament, p. 259.
Gift of style, p. 260.
Satirical tone, good-humoured and non-moral, p. 261.
Obscenity, p. 263.
Capacity for friendship, p. 264.
His dislike of Rome, p. 267.
His love of the country, p. 268.
Comparison with Silvae of Statius, p. 271.
Flattery of Domitian, p. 271.
Laments for the dead, p. 272.
Emotion as a rule sacrificed to point, p. 275.
The laureate of triviality, p. 276.
Martial as a client, p. 277.
His snobbery, p. 279.
Redeeming features; polish and wit, p. 281.
The one perfect post-Augustan stylist, p. 284.
Vivid picture of contemporary society, p. 285.



Life, p. 287.
Date of satires, p. 289.
Motives (Sat, i), p. 291.
Themes of the various satires; third satire, p. 293;
  fourth, fifth, and sixth satires, p. 294;
  seventh and eighth satires; signs of waning power, p. 295;
  tenth satire, p. 296;
  eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth satires, p. 297;
  fifteenth and sixteenth satires, showing further decline of
  power, p. 298.
Juvenal's narrow Roman ideals; hatred of the foreigner, p. 299.
Exaggeration, p. 301.
Coarseness, p. 303.
Vividness of description, p. 304.
Mordant epigram and rhetoric, p. 308.
Moral and religious ideals, p. 311.
_Sententiae_, p. 315.
Poetry, p. 316.
Metre, p. 317.
The one great poet of the Silver Age, p. 317.





During the latter years of the principate of Augustus a remarkable
change in literary methods and style begins to make itself felt. The
gradual extinction of the great luminaries is followed by a gradual
disappearance of originality and of the natural and easy-flowing style
whose phrases and felicities adorn, without overloading or obscuring the
sense. In their place comes a straining after effect, a love of
startling colour, produced now by over-gorgeous or over-minute imagery,
now by a surfeit of brilliant epigram, while controlling good sense and
observance of due proportion are often absent and imitative preciosity
too frequently masquerades as originality. Further, in too many cases
there is a complete absence of moral enthusiasm, close observation, and
genuine insight.

What were the causes of this change? Was it due mainly to the evil
influence of the principate or to more subtle and deep-rooted causes?

The principate had been denounced as the _fons et origo mali_.[1] That
its influence was for evil can hardly be denied. But it was rather a
symptom, an outward and visible sign of a deep-engrained decay, which it
accentuated and brought to the surface, but in no way originated. We are
told that the principate 'created around itself the quiet of the
graveyard, since all independence was compelled under threat of death to
hypocritical silence or subterfuge; servility alone was allowed to
speak; the rest submitted to what was inevitable, nay, even endeavoured
to accommodate their minds to it as much as possible.' Even if this
highly coloured statement were true, the influence of such tyrannical
suppression of free thinking and free speaking could only have
_directly_ affected certain forms of literature, such as satire, recent
history,[2] and political oratory, while even in these branches of
literature a wide field was left over which an intending author might
safely range. The _direct_ influence on poetry must have been
exceedingly small. If we review the great poets of the Augustan and
republican periods, we shall find little save certain epigrams of
Catullus that could not safely have been produced in post-Augustan
times. Moreover, when we turn to what is actually known of the attitude
of the early emperors towards literature, the balance does not seriously
incline against them. It may be said without hesitation of the four
emperors succeeding Augustus that they had a genuine taste and some
capacity for literature.

Of two only is it true that their influence was in any way repressive.
The principate of Tiberius is notorious for the silence of literature;
whether the fact is due as much to the character of Tiberius as to the
temporary exhaustion of genius following naturally on the brilliance of
the Augustan period, is more than doubtful. But Tiberius cannot be
acquitted of all blame. The cynical humour with which it pleased him to
mark the steady advance of autocracy, the _lentae maxillae_ which
Augustus attributed to his adopted son,[3] the icy and ironic cruelty
which was--on the most favourable estimate--a not inconsiderable element
in his character, no doubt all exercised a chilling influence, not only
on politics but on all spontaneous expression of human character.
Further, we find a few instances of active and cruel repression.
Lampoons against the emperor were punished with death.[4] Cremutius
Cordus was driven to suicide for styling 'Brutus and Cassius the last of
all the Romans'.[5] Mamercus Scaurus had the misfortune to write a
tragedy on the subject of Atreus in which he advised submission to
Atreus in a version of the Euripidean

    [Greek: tas t_on turann_on amathias pherein chre_on][6]

He too fell a victim to the Emperor's displeasure, though the chief
charges actually brought against him were of adultery with the Princess
Livilla and practice of the black art. We hear also of another case in
which _obiectum est poetae quod in tragoedia Agamemnonem probris
lacessisset_ (Suet. _Tib_. 61). It is worthy of notice that actors also
came under Tiberius's displeasure.[7] The mime and the Atellan farce
afforded too free an opportunity for improvisation against the emperor.
Even the harmless Phaedrus seems to have incurred the anger of Sejanus,
and to have suffered thereby.[8] Nor do the few instances in which
Tiberius appears as a patron of literature fill us with great respect
for his taste. He is said to have given one Asellius Sabinus 100,000
sesterces for a dialogue between a mushroom, a finch, an oyster, and a
thrush,[9] and to have rewarded a worthless writer,[10] Clutorius
Priscus, for a poem composed on the death of Germanicus. On the other
hand, he seems to have had a sincere love of literature,[11] though he
wrote in a crabbed and affected style. He was a purist in language with
a taste for archaism,[12] left a brief autobiography[13] and dabbled in
poetry, writing epigrams,[14] a lyric _conquestio de morte Lucii
Caesaris_[15] and Greek imitations of Euphorion, Rhianus, and
Parthenius, the learned poets of Alexandria. His taste was bad: he went
even farther than his beloved Alexandrians, awaking the laughter of his
contemporaries even in an age when obscure mythological learning was at
a premium. The questions which delighted him were--'Who was the mother
of Hecuba?' 'What was the name of Achilles when disguised as a girl?'
'What did the sirens sing?'[16] Literature had little to learn from
Tiberius, but it should have had something to gain from the fact that he
was not blind to its charms: at the worst it cannot have required
abnormal skill to avoid incurring a charge of _lèse-majesté_.

The reign of the lunatic Caligula is of small importance, thanks to its
extreme brevity. For all his madness he had considerable ability; he was
ready of speech to a remarkable degree, though his oratory suffered from
extravagant ornament[17] and lack of restraint. He had, however, some
literary insight: in his description of Seneca's rhetoric as _merae
commissiones_, 'prize declamations,' and 'sand without lime' he gave an
admirable summary of that writer's chief weaknesses.[18] But he would in
all probability have proved a greater danger to literature than
Tiberius. It is true that in his desire to compare favourably with his
predecessors he allowed the writings of T. Labienus, Cremutius Cordus,
and Cassius Severus, which had fallen under the senate's ban in the two
preceding reigns, to be freely circulated once more.[19] But he by no
means abandoned trials for _lèse-majesté_. The rhetorician Carinas
Secundus was banished on account of an imprudent phrase in a _suasoria_
on the hackneyed theme of tyrannicide.[20] A writer of an Atellan farce
was burned to death in the amphitheatre[21] for a treasonable jest, and
Seneca narrowly escaped death for having made a brilliant display of
oratory in the senate.[22] He also seriously meditated the destruction
of the works of Homer. Plato had banished Homer from his ideal state.
Why should not Caligula? He was with difficulty restrained from doing
the like for Vergil and Livy. The former, he said, was a man of little
learning and less wit;[23] the latter was verbose and careless. Even
when he attempted to encourage literature, his eccentricity carried him
to such extremes that the competitors shrank in horror from entering the
lists. He instituted a contest at Lugudunum in which prizes were offered
for declamations in Greek and Latin. The prizes were presented to the
victors by the vanquished, who were ordered to write panegyrics in
honour of their successful rivals, while in cases where the declamations
were decided to be unusually poor, the unhappy authors were ordered to
obliterate their writings with a sponge or even with their own tongues,
under penalty of being caned or ducked in the Rhone.[24]

Literature had some reason to be thankful for his early assassination.
The lunatic was succeeded by a fool, but a learned fool. Claudius was
historian, antiquary, and philologist. He wrote two books on the civil
war, forty-one on the principate of Augustus, a defence of Cicero, eight
books of autobiography,[25] an official diary,[26] a treatise on
dicing.[27] To this must be added his writings in Greek, twenty books of
Etruscan history, eight of Carthaginian,[28] together with a comedy
performed and crowned at Naples in honour of the memory of
Germanicus.[29] His style, according to Suetonius, was _magis ineptus
quam inelegans_.[30] He did more than write: he attempted a reform of
spelling, by introducing three new letters into the Latin alphabet. His
enthusiasm and industry were exemplary. Such indeed was his activity
that a special office,[31] _a studiis_, was established, which was
filled for the first time by the influential freedman Polybius. Claudius
lacked the saving grace of good sense, but in happier days might have
been a useful professor: at any rate his interest in literature was
whole-hearted and disinterested. His own writing was too feeble to
influence contemporaries for ill and he had the merit of having given
literature room to move. Seneca might mock at him after his death,[32]
but he had done good service.

Nero, Claudius' successor, was also a liberal, if embarrassing, patron
of literature. His tastes were more purely literary. He had received an
elaborate and diversified education. He had even enjoyed the privilege
of having Seneca--the head of the literary profession--for his tutor.
These influences were not wholly for the good: Agrippina dissuaded him
from the study of philosophy as being unsuited for a future emperor,
Seneca from the study of earlier and saner orators that he might himself
have a longer lease of Nero's admiration.[33] The result was that a
temperament, perhaps falsely styled artistic,[34] was deprived of the
solid nutriment required to give it stability. Nero's great ambition was
to be supreme in poetry and art as he was supreme in empire. He composed
rapidly and with some technical skill,[35] but his work lacked
distinction, connexion of thought, and unity of style.[36] Satirical[37]
and erotic[38] epigrams, learned mythological poems on Attis and the
Bacchae,[39] all flowed from his pen. But his most famous works were his
_Troica_,[40] an epic on the Trojan legend, which he recited before the
people in the theatre,[41] and his [Greek: Iion al_osis], which may
perhaps have been included in the _Troica_, and is famous as having--so
scandal ran--been declaimed over burning Rome.[42] But his ambition
soared higher. He contemplated an epic on the whole of Roman history. It
was estimated that 400 books would be required. The Stoic Annaeus
Cornutus justly remarked that no one would read so many. It was pointed
out that the Stoic's master, Chrysippus, had written even more. 'Yes,'
said Cornutus, 'but they were of some use to humanity.' Cornutus was
banished, but he saved Rome from the epic. Nero was also prolific in
speeches and, proud of his voice, often appeared on the stage. He
impersonated Orestes matricida, Canace parturiens, Oedipus blind, and
Hercules mad.[43] It is not improbable that the words declaimed or sung
in these scenes were composed by Nero himself.[44] For the encouragement
of music and poetry he had established quinquennial games known as the
Neronia. How far his motives for so doing were interested it is hard to
say. But there is no doubt that he had a passionate ambition to win the
prize at the contest instituted by himself. In A.D. 60, on the first
occasion of the celebration of these games, the prize was won by Lucan
with a poem in praise of Nero.[45] Vacca, in his life of Lucan, states
that this lost him Nero's favour, the emperor being jealous of his
success. The story is demonstrably false,[46] but that Nero subsequently
became jealous of Lucan is undoubted. Till Lucan's fame was assured,
Nero extended his favour to him: then partly through Lucan's extreme
vanity and want of tact, partly through Nero's jealousy of Lucan's
pre-eminence that favour was wholly withdrawn.[47] Nevertheless, though
Nero may have shown jealousy of successful rivals, he seems to have had
sufficient respect for literature to refrain from persecution. He did
not go out of his way to punish personal attacks on himself. If names
were delated to the senate on such a charge, he inclined to mercy. Even
the introduction into an Atellan farce of jests on the deaths of
Claudius and Agrippina was only punished with exile.[48] Only after the
detection of Piso's conspiracy in 65 did his anger vent itself on
writers: towards the end of his reign the distinguished authors,
Virginius Flavus and the Stoic Musonius Rufus, were both driven into
exile. As for the deaths of Seneca and Lucan, the two most distinguished
writers of the day, though both perished at Nero's hands, it was their
conduct, not their writings, that brought them to destruction. Both were
implicated in the Pisonian conspiracy. If, then, Nero's direct influence
on literature was for the bad, it was not because he was adverse: it
suffered rather from his favour: the extravagant tastes of the princeps
and the many eccentricities of his life and character may perhaps find a
reflection in some of the more grotesque extravagances of Lucan, such
for instance as the absurdly servile dedication of the _Pharsalia_. But
even in this direction his influence was probably comparatively small.

In view, then, of what is known of the attitude of the four emperors of
the period most critical for Silver Latin literature, the period of its
birth, it may be said that, on the worst estimate, their direct
influence is not an important factor in the decline.[49] On the other
hand, the indirect influence of the principate was beyond doubt evil.
Society was corrupt enough and public life sufficiently uninspiring
under Augustus. After the first glow of enthusiasm over the restoration
of peace and order, and over the vindication of the Roman power on the
frontiers of empire had passed away, men felt how thinly veiled was
their slavery. Liberty was gradually restricted, autocracy cast off its
mask: the sense of power that goes with freedom dwindled; little was
left to waken man's enthusiasm, and the servility exacted by the
emperors became more and more degrading. Unpleasing as are the
flatteries addressed to Augustus by Vergil and Horace, they fade into
insignificance compared with Lucan's apotheosis of Nero; or to take
later and yet more revolting examples, the poems of the Silvae addressed
by Statius to Domitian or his favourites. Further, these four emperors
of the Julio-Claudian dynasty set a low standard of private life: they
might command flattery, they could hardly exact respect. Two clever
lunatics, a learned fool, and a morose cynic are not inspiring.

Nevertheless, however unhealthy its influence may have been--and there
has been much exaggeration on this point--it must be remembered that the
principate found ready to its hand a society with all the seeds of decay
implanted deep within it. Even a succession of sane and virtuous Caesars
might well have failed, with the machinery and material at their
disposal, to put new and vigorous life into the aristocracy and people
of Rome. Even the encroachments of despotism on popular liberty must be
attributed in no small degree to the incapacity of what should have been
the ruling class at Rome. Despotism was in a sense forced upon the
emperors: they were not reluctant, but, had they been so, they would
still have had little choice. The primary causes of the decline of
literature, as of the decay of life and morals, lie much deeper. The
influence of princeps and principate, though not negligible, is
_comparatively_ small.

The really important causes are to be found first in the general decay
of Roman character--far-advanced before the coming of Caesarism,
secondly in the peculiar nature of Roman literature, and thirdly in the
vicious system of Roman education.

It was the first of these factors that produced the lubricity that
defiles and the lack of moral earnestness that weakens such a large
proportion of the literature of this age. It is not necessary to
illustrate this point in any detail.[50] The record of Rome, alike in
home and foreign politics, during the hundred and twenty years preceding
the foundation of the principate forms one of the most fascinating, but
in many respects one of the most profoundly melancholy pages in history.
The poems of Catullus and the speeches of Cicero serve equally to
illustrate the wholesale corruption alike of public and private
morality. The Roman character had broken down before the gradual inroads
of an alien luxury and the opening of wide fields of empire to plunder.
It is an age of incredible scandal, of mob law, of _coups d'état_ and
proscriptions, saved only from utter gloom by the illusory light shed
from the figures of a few great men and by the never absent sense of
freedom and expansion. There still remained a republican liberty of
action, an inspiring possibility of reform, an outlet for personal
ambition, which facilitated the rise of great leaders and writers. And
Rome was now bringing to ripeness fruit sprung from the seed of
Hellenism, a decadent and meretricious Hellenism, but even in its decay
the greatest intellectual force of the world.

Wonderful as was the fruit produced by the graft of Hellenism, it too
contained the seeds of decay. For Rome owed too little to early Greek
epic and to the golden literature of Athens, too much to the later age
when rhetoric had become a knack, and

            the love of letters overdone
    Had swamped the sacred poets with themselves.[51]

Roman literature came too late: that it reached such heights is a
remarkable tribute to the greatness of Roman genius, even in its
decline. With the exception of the satires of Lucilius and Horace there
was practically no branch of literature that did not owe its inspiration
and form to Greek models. Even the primitive national metre had died
out. Roman literature--more especially poetry--was therefore bound to be
unduly self-conscious and was always in danger of a lack of spontaneity.
That Rome produced great prose writers is not surprising; they had
copious and untouched material to deal with, and prose structure was
naturally less rapidly and less radically affected by Greek influence.
That she should have produced a Catullus, a Lucretius, a Vergil, a
Horace, and--most wonderful of all--an Ovid was an amazing achievement,
rendered not the less astonishing when it is remembered that the stern
bent of the practical Roman mind did not in earlier days give high
promise of poetry. The marvel is not wholly to be explained by the
circumstances of the age. The new sense of power, the revival of the
national spirit under the warming influence of peace and hope, that
characterize the brilliant interval between the fall of the republic and
the turbid stagnation of the empire, are not enough to account for it.
Their influence would have been in vain had they not found remarkable
genius ready for the kindling.

The whole field of literature had been so thoroughly covered by the
great writers of Hellas, that it was hard for the imitative Roman to be
original. As far as epic poetry was concerned, Rome had poor material
with which to deal: neither her mythology--the most prosaic and
business-like of all mythologies--nor her history seemed to give any
real scope for the epic writer. The Greek mythology was ready to hand,
but it was hard for a Roman to treat it with high enthusiasm, and still
harder to handle it with freshness and individuality. The purely
historical epic is from its very nature doomed to failure. Treated with
accuracy it becomes prosy, treated with fancy it becomes ridiculous.
Vergil saw the one possible avenue to epic greatness. He went back into
the legendary past where imagination could have free play, linked
together the great heroic sagas of Greece with the scanty materials
presented by the prehistoric legends of Rome, and kindled the whole work
to life by his rich historical imagination and his sense of the grandeur
of the Rome that was to be. His unerring choice of subject and his
brilliant execution seemed to close to his successors all paths to epic
fame. They had but well-worn and inferior themes wherefrom to choose,
and the supremacy of Vergil's genius dominated their minds, becoming an
obsession and a clog rather than an assistance to such poetic genius as
they possessed. The same is true of Horace. As complete a master in
lyric verse as Vergil in heroic, he left the after-comer no possibility
of advance. As for Ovid, there could be only one Ovid: the cleverest and
most heartless of poets, he at once challenged and defied imitation.
Satire alone was left with real chance of success: while the human race
exists, there will always be fresh material for satire, and the imperial
age was destined to give it peculiar force and scope. Further, satire
and its nearest kin, the epigram, were the only forms of literature that
were not seriously impaired by the artificial system of education that
had struck root in Rome.

Otherwise the tendency to artificiality on the one hand and inadequacy
of thought on the other, to which the conditions of its birth and growth
exposed Roman literature, were aggravated to an almost incredible extent
by the absurd system of education to which the unformed mind of the
young Roman was subjected. It will be seen that what Greece gave with
the right hand she took away with the left.

There were three stages in Roman education, the elementary, the
literary, the rhetorical. The first, in which the _litterator_ taught
the three R's, does not concern us here. In the second stage the
_grammaticus_ gave instruction in Greek and Latin literature, together
with the elements of grammar and style. The profound influence of Greece
is shown by Quintilian's recommendation[52] that a boy should start on
Greek literature, and by the fact that boys began with Homer.[53] Greek
authors, particularly studied, were Aesop, Hesiod, the tragedians, and
Menander.[54] Among Roman authors Naevius, Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius,
Afranius, Plautus, Caecilius, and Terence were much read, though there
was a reaction against these early authors under the empire, and they
were partly replaced by Vergil, Horace, and Ovid.[55] These authors were
made vehicles for the teaching of grammar and of style. The latter point
alone concerns us here. The Roman boy was taught to read aloud
intelligently and artistically with the proper modulation of the voice.
For this purpose he was carefully taught the laws of metre, with special
reference to the peculiarities of particular poets. After the reading
aloud (_lectio_) came the _enarratio_ or explanation of the text. The
educational value of this was doubtless considerable, though it was
impaired by the importance assigned to obscure mythological knowledge
and unscientific archaeology.[56] The pupil would be further instructed
by exercises in paraphrase and by the treatment in simple essay form of
themes (_sententiae_). 'Great store was set both in speaking and writing
on a command of an abundance of general truths or commonplaces, and even
at school boys were trained to commit them to memory, to expand them,
and illustrate them from history.'[57] Finally they were taught to write
verse. Such at least is a legitimate inference from the extraordinary
precocity shown by many Roman authors.[58] This literary training
contained much that was of great value, but it also had grave
disadvantages. There seems in the first place to have been too much
'spoon-feeding', and too little genuine brain exercise for the
pupil.[59] Secondly, the fact that at this stage boys were nurtured
almost entirely on poetry requires serious consideration. The quality of
the food supplied to the mind, though pre-eminently palatable, must have
tended to be somewhat thin. The elaborate instruction in mythological
erudition was devoid of religious value; and indeed of any value, save
the training of a purely mechanical memory. Attention was called too
much to the form, too little to the substance. Style has its value, but
it is after all only a secondary consideration in education. The effect
upon literature of this poetical training was twofold. It caused an
undue demand for poetical colour in prose, and produced a horrible
precocity and _cacoethes scribendi_[60] in verse, together with an
abnormal tendency to imitation of the great writers of previous

But the rhetorical training which succeeded was responsible for far
worse evils. The importance of rhetoric in ancient education is easily
explained. The Greek or Roman gentleman was destined to play a part in
the public life of the city state. For this purpose the art of speaking
was of enormous value alike in politics and in the law courts. Hence the
universal predominance of rhetoric in higher education both in Rome and
Greece.[62] The main instrument of instruction was the writing of themes
for declamation. These exercises were divided into _suasoriae_--
deliberative speeches in which some course of action was discussed--
and _controversiae_--where some proposition was maintained or denied.
Pupils began with _suasoriae_ and went on to _controversiae_. Regarded
as a mental gymnastic, these themes may have possessed some value. But
they were hackneyed and absurdly remote from real life, as can be judged
from the examples collected by the elder Seneca. Typical subjects of the
_suasoria_ are--'Agamemnon deliberates whether to slay Iphigenia';[63]
'Cicero deliberates whether to burn his writings, Antony having promised
to spare him on that condition';[64] 'Three hundred Spartans sent against
Xerxes after the flight of troops sent from the rest of Greece deliberate
whether to stand or fly.'[65]

The _controversia_ requires further explanation. A general law is
stated, e.g. _incesta saxo deiciatur_. A special case follows, e.g.
_incesti damnata antequam deiceretur invocavit Vestam: deiecta vixit_.
The special case had to be brought under the general rule; _repetitur ad
poenam_.[66] Other examples are equally absurd:[67] one and all are
ridiculously remote from real life. It was bad enough that boys' time
should be wasted thus, but the evil was further emphasized by the
practice of recitation. These exercises, duly corrected and elaborated,
were often recited by their youthful authors to an audience of
complaisant friends and relations. Of such training there could be but
one possible result. 'Less and less attention was paid to the substance
of the speech, more and more to the language; justness and
appropriateness of thought came to be less esteemed than brilliance and
novelty of expression.'[68]

These formal defects of education were accompanied by a widespread
neglect of the true educational spirit. The development on healthy lines
of the _morale_, and intellect of the young became in too many instances
a matter of indifference. Throughout the great work of Quintilian we
have continued evidence of the lack of moral and intellectual enthusiasm
that characterized the schools of his day. Even more passionate are the
denunciations levelled against contemporary education by Messala in the
_Dialogus_ of Tacitus.[69] Parents neglect their children from their
earliest years: they place them in the charge of foreign slaves, often
of the most degraded character; or if they do pay any personal attention
to their upbringing, it is to teach them not honesty, purity, and
respect for themselves and their elders, but pertness, luxurious habits,
and neglect alike of themselves and of others. The schools moreover,
apart from their faulty methods and ideals of instruction, encourage
other faults. The boys' interests lie not in their work, but in the
theatres, the gladiatorial games, the races in the circus--those ancient
equivalents of twentieth-century athleticism. Their minds are utterly
absorbed by these pursuits, and there is little room left for nobler
studies. 'How few boys will talk of anything else at home? What topic of
conversation is so frequent in the lecture-room; what other subject so
frequently on the lips of the masters, who collect pupils not by the
thoroughness of their teaching or by giving proof of their powers of
instruction, but by interested visits and all the tricks of
toadyism?'[70] Messala goes on[71] to denounce the unreality of the
exercises in the schools, whose deleterious effect is aggravated by the
low standard exacted. 'Boys and young men are the speakers, boys and
young men the audience, and their efforts are received with
undiscriminating praise.'

The same faults that were generated in the schools were intensified in
after-life. In the law courts the same smart epigrams, the same
meretricious style were required. No true method had been taught, with
the result that 'frivolity of style, shallow thoughts, and disorderly
structure' prevailed; orators imitated the rhythms of the stage and
actually made it their boast that their speeches would form fitting
accompaniments to song and dance. It became a common saying that 'our
orators speak voluptuously, while our actors dance eloquently'.[72]
Poetical colour was demanded of the orator, rhetorical colour of the
poet. The literary and rhetorical stages of education reacted on one

Further, just as the young poet had to his great detriment been
encouraged to recite at school, so he had to recite if he was to win
fame for his verse in the larger world. Even in a saner society poetry
written primarily for recitation must have run to rhetoric; in a
rhetorical age the result was disastrous. In an enormous proportion of
cases the poet of the Silver Age wrote literally for an audience. Great
as were the facilities for publication the poet primarily made his name,
not by the gradual distribution of his works among a reading public, but
by declaiming before public or private audiences. The practice of
gathering a circle of acquaintances together to listen to the
recitations of a poet is said first to have been instituted by Asinius
Pollio, the patron of Vergil. There is evidence to show that all the
poets of the Augustan age gave recitations.[74] But the practice
gradually increased and became a nuisance to all save the few who had
the courage to stand aloof from these mutual admiration societies.
Indiscriminate praise was lavished on good and bad work alike. Even
Pliny the younger, whose cultivation and literary taste place him high
above the average literary level of his day, approves of the increase of
this melancholy harvest of minor poetry declaimed by uninspired
bards.[75] The effect was lamentable. All the faults of the _suasoria_
and _controversia_ made their appearance in poetry.[76] The poet had
continually to be performing acrobatic feats, now of rhetoric or
epigram, now of learning, or again in the description of blood-curdling
horrors, monstrous deaths and prodigious sorceries. Each work was
overloaded with _sententiae_ and purple patches.[77] So only could the
author keep the attention of his audience. The results were disastrous
for literature and not too satisfactory[78] for the authors themselves,
as the following curious passage from Tacitus (_Dial._ 9) shows:

Bassus is a genuine poet, and his verse possesses both beauty and
charm: but the only result is that, when after a whole year, working
every day and often well into the night, he has hammered out one
book of poems, he must needs go about requesting people to be
good enough to give him a hearing: and what is more he has to
pay for it: for he borrows a house, constructs an auditorium,
hires benches and distributes programmes. And then--admitting
his recitations to be highly successful--yet all that honour and
glory falls within one or two days, prematurely gathered like grass
in the blade or flowers in their earliest bloom: it has no sure or
solid reward, wins no friendship or following or lasting gratitude,
naught save a transient applause, empty words of praise and a
fleeting enthusiasm.

The less fortunate poet had to betake himself to the forum or the public
baths or some temple, there to inflict his tawdry wares upon the ears of
a chance audience.[79] Others more fortunate would be lent a room by
some rich patron.[80] Under Nero and Domitian we get the apotheosis of
recitation. Nero, we have seen, established the Neronia in 60 and
himself competed. Domitian established a quinquennial competition in
honour of Jupiter Capitolinus in 86 and an annual competition held every
Quinquatria Minervae at his palace on the Alban mount.[81] From that
time forward it became the ambition of every poet to be crowned at these
grotesque competitions.

The result of all these co-operating influences will be evident as we
deal with the individual poets. Here we can only give a brief summary
of the general characteristics of this fantastic literature. We have a
striving after originality that ends in eccentricity: writers were
steeped in the great poets of the Augustan age: men of comparatively
small creative imagination, but, thanks to their education, possessed
of great technical skill, they ran into violent extremes to avoid the
charge of imitating the great predecessors whom they could not help but
imitate; hence the obscurity of Persius--the disciple of Horace--and of
Statins and Valerius Flaccus--the followers of Vergil. Hence Lucan's
bold attempt to strike out a new type of epic, an attempt that ended in
a wild orgy of brilliant yet turbid rhetoric. The simple and natural
was at a discount: brilliance of point, bombastic description, gorgeous
colour were preferred to quiet power. Alexandrian learning, already too
much in evidence in the Augustan age, becomes more prominent and more
oppressive. For men of second-rate talent it served to give their work
a spurious air of depth and originality to which it was not entitled.
The necessity of patronage engendered a fulsome flattery, while the
false tone of the schools of rhetoric,[82] aided perhaps by the
influence of the Stoical training so fashionable at Rome, led to a
marvellous conceit and self-complacency, of which a lack of humour was
a necessary corollary. These symptoms are seen at their worst during
the extravagant reign of Nero, though the blame attaches as much to
Seneca as to his pupil and emperor. Traces of a reaction against this
wild unreality are perhaps to be found in the literary criticism
scattered tip and down the pages of Petronius,[83] but it was not till
the extinction of Nero and Seneca that any strong revolt in the
direction of sanity can be traced. Even then it is rather in the sphere
of prose than of poetry that it is manifest. Quintilian headed a
Ciceronian reaction and was followed by Pliny the younger and for a
time by Tacitus. But we may perhaps trace a similar Vergilian reaction
in the verse of Silius, Statius, and Valerius.[84] Their faults do not
nauseate to the same extent of those of their predecessors. But the
mischief was done, and in point of extravagance and meretricious taste
the differense is only one of degree.

Satire alone attains to real eminence: rhetoric and epigram are its most
mordant weapons, and the schools of rhetoric, if they did nothing else,
kept those weapons well sharpened: the gross evils of the age opened an
ample field for the satirist. Hence it is that all or almost all that is
best in the literature of the Silver Age is satirical or strongly tinged
with satire. Tacitus, who had many of the noblest qualifications of a
poet, almost deserves the title of Rome's greatest satirist; the works
of Persius and Juvenal speak openly for themselves while many of the
finest passages in Lucans are most near akin to satire. It is true that
under the principate satire had to be employed with caution; under the
first two dynasties it was compelled to be general in tone: it was not
until after the fall of Domitian, under the enlightened rule of Nerva
and Trajan, that it found a freer scope and was at least allowed to lash
the vices of the present under the names of the past.

It is in satire alone that we find any trace of genuine moral
earnestness and enthusiasm; and the reason for this is primarily that
the satirists wrote under the influence of the one force that definitely
and steadily made for righteousness. It is the Stoic philosophy that
kindles Persius and Lucan, while Tacitus and Juvenal, even if they make
no profession of Stoicism, have yet been profoundly influenced by its
teaching. Their morality takes its colour, if not its form, from the
philosophy oh the 'Porch'. The only non-satirical poetry primarily
inspired by Stoicism is the dramatic verse of Seneca. That its influence
here is not wholly for the best is due only in part to the intrinsic
qualities of its teaching. It is rather in its application that the
fault lies; it dominates and crushes the drama instead of suffusing it
and lending it wings; it insists on preaching instead of suggesting. It
is too insistent and aggressive a creed to harmonize with poetry, unless
that poetry be definitely didactic in type and aim. But it is admirably
suited to be the inspiration of satire, and it is therefore that the
satire makes a far stronger moral appeal than any other form of
post-Augustan literature.

Satire apart, the period is in the main an age of _belles lettres_, of
'the literary _gourmet_, the connoisseur, the _blasé_ and disillusioned
man of society, passionately appreciative of detail, difficulties
overcome, and petty felicities of expression.'[85] It is the fashion to
despise its works, and the fashion cannot be described as unhealthy or
unjust. Yet it produced a few men of genius, while even in the works of
those who were far removed from genius, the very fact that there is much
refinement of wit, much triumphing over technical difficulties, much
elaborate felicity of expression, makes them always a curious and at
times a remunerative study. But perhaps its greatest claim upon us lies
in the unexpected service that it rendered to the cause of culture. In
the darkness of the Middle Ages when Greek was a hidden mystery to the
western world, Lucan and Statius, Juvenal and Persius, and even the
humble and unknown author of the _Ilias Latina_, did their part in
keeping the lamp alive and illumining the midnight in which lay hidden
the 'budding morrow' of the Renaissance.





The drama proper had never flourished at Rome. The causes are not far
to seek. Tragic drama was dead in Greece by the time Greek influence
made itself felt, while the New Comedy which then held the stage was of
too quietly realistic a type and of too refined a wit and humour to be
attractive to the coarser and less intelligent audiences of Rome.
Terence, the _dimidiatus Menander_, as Caesar called him, though he won
himself a great name with the cultured classes by the purity and
elegance of his Latin and the fine drawing of his characters, was a
failure with popular audiences owing to his lack of broad farcical
humour. Plautus with his coarse geniality and lumbering wit made a
greater success. He had grafted the festive spirit of Roman farce on to
the more artistic comedy of Athens. Tragedy obtained but a passing
vogue. Ennius, Accius, and Pacuvius were read and enjoyed by not a few
educated readers, but for the Augustan age, as far as the stage was
concerned, they were practically dead and buried. The Roman populace
had by that period lost all taste for the highest and most refined
forms of art. The races in the circus, the variety entertainments and
bloodshed of the amphitheatre had captured the favour of the polyglot,
pampered multitude that must have formed such a large proportion of a
Roman audience.

Still, dramatic entertainments had by no means wholly disappeared by the
time of the Empire. But what remained was of a degraded type. The New
Comedy of Athens, as transferred to the Roman stage, had given ground
before the advance of the mime and the _fabula Atellana_. The history of
both these forms of comedy belongs to an earlier period. For the
post-Augustan age our evidence as to their development is very scanty.
Little is known save that they were exceedingly popular. Both were
characterized by the broadest farce and great looseness of construction;
both were brief one-act pieces and served as interludes or conclusions
to other forms of spectacle.

The Atellan was of Italian origin and contained four stock characters,
Pappus the old man or pantaloon, Dossennus the wise man, corresponding
to the _dottore_ of modern Italian popular comedy, Bucco the clown, and
Maccus the fool. It dealt with every kind of theme, parodied the legends
of the gods, laughed at the provincial's manners or at the inhabitants
of Italian country towns, or depicted in broad comic style incidents in
the life of farmer and artisan. Maccus appeared as a young girl, as a
soldier, as an innkeeper; Pappus became engaged to be married; Bucco
turned gladiator; and in the rough and tumble of these old friends the
Roman mob found rich food for laughter.[86]

The mime was of a very similar character, but freer in point of form. It
renounced the use of masks and reached, it would seem, an even greater
pitch of indecency than the Atellan. The subjects of a few mimes are
known to us. Among the most popular were the _Phasma_ or _Ghost_[87] and
the _Laureolus_[888] of Catullus, a writer of the reign of Caligula. In
the latter play was represented the death by crucifixion of the famous
brigand 'Laureolus'; so degraded was popular taste that on one occasion
it is recorded that a criminal was made to take the part of Laureolus
and was crucified in grim earnest upon the stage.[89] In another mime of
the principate of Vespasian the chief attraction was a performing
dog,[90] which, on being given a pretended opiate, went to sleep and
later feigned a gradual revival in such a realistic manner as to rouse
the wildest applause on the part of the audience.

Both Atellan and mime abounded in topical allusions and spared not even
the emperors. Allusion was made to the unnatural vices attributed to
Tiberius,[91] to the deaths of Claudius and Agrippina,[92] to the
avarice of Galba,[93] to the divorce of Domitian,[94] and on more than
one occasion heavy punishment was meted out to authors and actors

Legitimate comedy led a struggling existence. An inscription at
Aeclanum[96] records the memory of a certain Pomponius Bassulus, who not
only translated certain comedies of Menander but himself wrote original
comedies; while in the letters of Pliny[97] we meet with Vergilius
Romanus, a writer of comedies of 'the old style' and of _mimiambi_. He
possessed, so Pliny writes, 'vigour, pungency, and wit. He gave honour
to virtue and attacked vice.' It is to be feared that such a form of
comedy can hardly have been intended for the public stage, and that
Vergilius, like so many poets of his age, wrote for private performance
or recitation. These two writers are the only authors of legitimate
comedies known to us during the Silver Age. But both _fabulae palliatae_
and _togatae_, that is to say, comedies representing Greek and Roman
life respectively, continued to be acted on the public stage. The
_Incendium_[98] of Afranius, a _fabula togata_, was performed in the
reign of Nero, and the evidence of Quintilian[99] and Juvenal[100] shows
that _palliatae_ also continued to be performed. But true comedy had
been relegated to a back place and the Silver Age did nothing to modify
the dictum of Quintilian,[101] _in comoedia maxime claudicamus_.

As with comedy so with tragedy. Popular taste rejected the Graeco-Roman
tragedy as tedious, and it was replaced by a more sensuous and
sensational form of entertainment. The intenser passions and emotions
were not banished from the stage, but survived in the _salticae fabulae_
and a peculiar species of dramatic recitation. Infinitely debased as
were these substitutes for true drama, the forms assumed by the
decomposition of tragedy are yet curious and interesting. The first step
was the separation of the _cantica_ from the _diverbia._ Lyric scenes or
even important iambic monologues were taken from their setting and sung
as solos upon the stage.[102] It was found difficult to combine
effective singing with effective gesture and dancing, for music had
become more florid and exacting than in the days of Euripides. A second
actor appeared who supplied the gesture to illustrate the first actor's
song.[103] From this peculiar and to us ridiculous form of entertainment
it is a small step to the _fabula saltica,_ which was at once nearer the
legitimate drama and further from it. It was nearer in that the scenes
were not isolated, but formed part of a more or less carefully
constructed whole. It was further inasmuch as the actor disappeared,
only the dancer remaining upon the stage. The words of the play were
relegated to a chorus, while the character, actions, and emotions of the
person represented by the words of the chorus were set forth by the
dress, gesticulation, and dancing of the _pantomimus_. How the various
scenes were connected is uncertain; but it is almost a necessary
inference that the connexion was provided by the chorus or, as in modern
oratorio, by recitative. To us the mimetic posturing of the _pantomimus_
appears an almost ridiculous substitute for drama; but the dancing of
the actors seems to have been extraordinarily artistic and at times to
have had a profound effect upon the emotions of the audience,[104] while
the brilliant success in our own time of plays in dumb show, such as the
famous _Enfant Prodigue,_ should be a warning against treating the
_pantomimus_ with contempt.

This form of entertainment was first introduced at Rome in 22 B.C. by
the actors Pylades and Bathyllus,[105] the former being famed for his
tragic dancing, the latter for a broader and more comic style, whose
dramatic counterpart would seem to have been the satyric drama.[106] The
satyric element seems, however, never to have become really popular, the
_fabula saltica_ as we know it dealing mainly with tragic or highly
emotional themes. Indeed, to judge from Lucian's disquisition on the art
of dancing, the subjects seem to have been drawn from almost every
conceivable source both of history and mythology.[107] Many of these
_salticae fabulae_ must have been mere adaptations of existing
tragedies. Their literary value was, according to Plutarch, by no means
high;[108] it was sacrificed to the music and the dancing, for the
emotional effect of which Lucian can scarcely find sufficiently high
terms of praise.[109] The themes appear to have been drawn from the more
lurid passages in mythology and history. If the libretto was not coarse
in itself, there is abundant evidence to show that the subjects chosen
were often highly lascivious, while the movements of the dancers--not
seldom men of the vilest character--were frequently to the last degree
obscene.[110] Inadequate as this substitute for the drama must seem to
us, we must remember that southern peoples were--and indeed are--far
more sensitive to the language of signs, to expressive gesticulation and
the sensuous movements of the body[111] than are the less quick-witted
and emotional peoples of the North; and further, even if for the most
part these _fabulae salticae_ had small literary value, distinguished
poets did not disdain to write librettos for popular actors. Passages
from the works of Vergil were adapted for such performances;[112] Lucan
wrote no less than fourteen _fabulae salticae,_[113] while the _Agave_
of Statius,[114] written for the dancer Paris, is famous from the
well-known passage in the seventh satire of Juvenal. Nothing survives of
these librettos to enlighten us as to their literary characteristics,
and the other details of the performance do not concern us here.[115] It
is sufficient to say that the _pantomimus_ had an enormous vogue in the
Silver Age, and won a rich harvest by his efforts, and that the factions
of the theatre, composed of the partisans of this or that actor, were
scarcely less notorious than the factions of the circus for the
disturbances to which they gave rise.[116]

Of the musical recitations of portions of existing tragedies or of
tragic episodes written for the occasion we possess even less knowledge.
The passages selected or composed for this purpose were in all
probability usually lyric, but we hear also of the chanting of iambics,
as, for instance, in the case of the _Oedipus in Exile,_ in which Nero
made his last appearance on the stage.[117] Of the part played by the
chorus and of the structure of the librettos we know nothing; they may
have been purely episodic and isolated or may, as in the _salticae
fabulae,_ have been loosely strung together into the form of an
ill-constructed play. That they were sometimes written in Greek is known
from the fact that the line quoted by Suetonius from the _Oedipus in
Exile_ mentioned above is in that language. Of the writers of this
debased and bastard offspring of drama we know nothing save that Nero,
who was passionately fond of appearing in them, seems also to have
written them. (Suet. Ner. 39.)

The tragic stage had indeed sunk low, when it served almost entirely for
exhibitions such as these. Nevertheless tragedy had not ceased to exist
even if it had ceased to hold the stage.[118] Varius and Ovid had won
fame in the Augustan age by their Thyestes and Medea, and the
post-Augustan decadence was not without its tragedians. One only is
mentioned by Quintilian in his survey of Roman poetry, Pomponius
Secundus. Of him he says (x. 1. 98), 'Of the tragedians whom I myself
have seen, Pomponius Secundus is by far the most eminent; a writer whom
the oldest men of the day thought not quite tragic enough, but
acknowledged that he excelled in learning and elegance of style.'
Pomponius was a man of great distinction.[119] His friendship for Aelius
Gallus, the son of Sejanus, had brought him into disgrace with Tiberius,
but he recovered his position under Claudius. He attained to the
consulship, and commanded with distinction in a war against the Chatti
in A.D. 50. Of his writings we know but very little. Of his plays
nothing is left save a brief fragment[120] from a play entitled
_Aeneas_; whether it dealt with the deeds of Aeneas in his native land
or in the land of his adoption is uncertain, though it is on the whole
probable that the scene was Italian and that the drama was therefore a
_fabula praetexta_. Whether his plays were performed on the public stage
is not quite clear. Tacitus tells us of riots in the theatre in A.D.
44,[121] when 'poems' by Pomponius were being recited on the stage. But
the words used by the historian (_is carmina scaenae dabat_) point
rather to the recitation of a dramatic solo than to a complete tragedy
of the orthodox type. Pomponius, dramatist and philologist,[122] remains
a mere name for us.

Another distinguished writer of plays was Curiatius Maternus, a
well-known orator; it is in his house that Tacitus places the scene of
the _Dialogus_, and he is the chief character of the conversation. He
had written his first tragedy under Nero,[123] and at the time of the
_Dialogus_ (A.D. 79-81) his _Cato_--a _fabula praetexta_--was the talk
of Rome.[124] He had written another historical drama on the ancestor of
Nero, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, the persistent foe of Julius Caesar, who
perished on the field of Pharsalia.[125] He had also written plays on
the more hackneyed themes of Medea and Thyestes.[126] He had all the
opportunities and all the requisite gifts for a successful public
career, but his heart was with the Muses, and he resolved to quit public
life and to devote himself wholly to poetry, for there, in his
estimation, the truest fame was to be found.[127] Here our knowledge
ends. Of the details of his life we are as ignorant as of his plays.

A few other names of tragic poets are known to us. Paccius wrote an
_Alcithoe_,[128] Faustus a _Thebais_ and a _Tereus_,[129] Rubrenus Lappa
an _Atreus_,[130] while Scaevus Memor,[131] victor at the Agon
Capitolinus and brother of Turnus the satirist, wrote a _Hercules_ and a
_Hecuba_ or _Troades_.[132] Martial (xi. 9) styles him the 'glory of the
Roman buskin', but he too is but the shadow of an empty name. The
tragedies of the age are lost to us, all save the tragedies of the
philosopher Seneca, plays of which, save for one casual reference[133]
in Quintilian, contemporary literature gives no hint, but which, however
little they may have deserved it, were destined to have no negligible
influence on the subsequent history of the world's drama.



Lucius Annaeus Seneca, one of the most striking figures among the great
writers of Rome, was born at Cordova[134] about the opening of the
Christian era, to be the most remarkable member of a remarkable family.
His father, who bore the same name, was the famous rhetorician to whom
we have already referred. His elder brother, M. Annaeus Novatus,[135]
was adopted by L. Iunius Gallio, whose name he assumed, had a
distinguished public career, and is best known to us, in his capacity of
governor of Achaea, as the 'Gallio' of the Acts. The youngest of the
family, M. Annaeus Mela,[136] remained in the equestrian order and
devoted himself to the acquisition of wealth, regarding this as the
safest path to fame. He succeeded to some extent in his object, but his
main claim upon our remembrance is as the father of the poet Lucan.
Lucius Seneca came to Rome at an early age,[137] and, in spite of the
bad health which afflicted him all his life long,[138] soon made his
mark as an orator. Indeed, so striking was his success that--although he
showed no particular eagerness for a political career--his sheer mastery
of the Roman speech wakened the jealousy of Caligula,[139] who only
spared his life on the ground that he suffered from chronic asthma and
was not likely to live long, and contented himself, therefore, with
mordant but not unjust criticism of the style of his intended
victim.[140] But though oratory provided Seneca with the readiest means
for the gratification of his not inconsiderable vanity, and for the
exercise of his marvellous powers of wit and epigram, it was not the
pursuit of rhetoric and its prizes that really held the first place in
his heart. That place was claimed by philosophy. His first love was
Pythagoreanism, which he studied under Sotion[14l] of Alexandria, whose
influence was sufficient to induce his youthful pupil to become a
convinced vegetarian. But his father, who hated fads and philosophers,
persuaded Seneca without much difficulty to 'dine better', and the
doctrines of Pythagoras were soon displaced by the more fashionable
teaching of the Stoics. From the lips of Attalus[142] he learned all the
principles of that ascetic school. 'I besieged his class-room,' he
writes; 'I was the first to come, the last to go; I would waylay him
when out walking and lead him to discuss serious problems.' Whether he
denounced vice and luxury, or extolled poverty, Attalus found a
convinced disciple in Seneca. His convictions did not possess sufficient
weight to lead him to embrace a life of austere poverty, but he at least
learned to sleep on a hard mattress, and to eschew hot baths, wine,
unguents, oysters, and mushrooms. How far his life conformed to the
highest principles of his creed, it is hard to say. If we are to believe
his detractors, he was guilty of committing adultery with the Princess
Julia Livilla, was surrounded with all the luxuries that the age could
supply, and drained the life-blood of Italy and the provinces by
extortionate usury.[143] During his long exile in Corsica he could write
a consolatory treatise to his mother on the thesis that the true
philosopher is never an exile;[144] wherever he is, there he is at home;
but little more than a year later he writes another consolatory treatise
to the imperial freedman Polybius, full of the most grovelling flattery
of Polybius himself and of the Emperor Claudius,[145] the same Claudius
whom he afterwards bespattered with the coarse, if occasionally
humorous, vulgarity of the _Apocolocyntosis_.[146] He was tutor to the
young Nero, but had not the strength to check his vices. He sought to
control him by flattery and platitudes rather than by the high example
of the philosophy which he professed.[147] The composition of the
treatise _ad Neronem de Clementia_ was a poor reply to Nero's murder of
Britannicus.[148] He could write eloquently of Stoic virtue, but when he
himself was confronted with the hard facts of life over which Stoicism
claimed to triumph, he proved no more than a 'lath painted to look like
iron'. Such is the case against Seneca. That it can be rebutted entirely
it is impossible to claim. But we must remember the age in which he
lived. Its love of debauchery was only equalled by its prurient love of
scandal. Seneca's banishment on the charge of an intrigue with Livilla
is not seriously damaging. The accusation _may_ have been true: it is at
least as likely to have been false, for it was instigated by Messalina.
That he lived in wealth and luxury is undoubted: his only defence was
that he was really indifferent to it; he could face any future; he had,
therefore, a right to enjoy the present.[149] That he ground down the
provincials by his usury is possible; the standard in such matters was
low, and the real nature of his extortions may never have come home to
him; he must have depended largely on his agents. With regard to his
management of the young princeps the case is different. Seneca was given
an almost impossible task. Neither his nature nor his surroundings made
Nero a suitable subject for moral instruction. Seneca must have been
hampered at every turn. He must either bend or break. At least he won
the respect of his pupil, and the good governance of the empire during
the first five years of Nero's reign was due largely to the fact that
the power was really in the hands of Seneca and Burrus.[150] Many of the
weaknesses of his character may be accounted for by physical debility,
and we must further remember that a Stoic of the age of Nero found
himself in a most difficult position. He could not put his principles
into full practice in public life without incurring the certain
displeasure of the emperor. The stricter Stoic, therefore, like Thrasea,
retired to the seclusion of his estates 'condemning the wicked world of
Rome by his absence from it'.[151] Seneca, weaker, but possessed of
greater common sense, chose the _via media_. He was content to sacrifice
something of his principles to the service of Rome--and of himself. It
is not necessary to regard him as wholly disinterested in his conduct;
it is unjust and absurd to regard him as a glorified Tartuffe.[152] Such
a supposition is adequately refuted by his writings. It is easy for a
writer at once so fluent and so brilliant to give the impression of
insincerity; but the philosophical works of Seneca ring surprisingly
true. We cannot doubt his faith, though his life may at times have
belied it. He reveals a warmth of human feeling, a richness of
imagination, a comprehension of human failings and sorrows, that make
him rank high among the great preachers of the world. Even here, it is
true, he has his failings; he repeats himself, has little constructive
talent, and fails at times to conceal a passion for the obvious beneath
the brilliance of his epigram. But alike in the spheres of politics and
literature he is the greatest man of his age. In literature he stands
alone: he is a prose Ovid, with the saving gift of moral fervour. His
style is terse and epigrammatic, but never obscure; it lacks the roll of
the continuous prose of the Augustan age, but its phrases have a beauty
and a music of their own: at their best they are touched with a genuine
vein of poetry, at their worst they have a hard brilliance against the
attractions of which only the most fastidious eye is proof. He towered
over all his contemporaries. In him were concentrated all the
excellences of the rhetorical schools of the day. Seneca became the
model for literary aspirants to copy. But he was a dangerous model. His
lack of connexion and rhythm became exaggerated by his followers, and
the slightest lack of dexterity in the imitator led to a flashy
tawdriness such as Seneca himself had as a rule avoided. He was too
facile and careless a composer to yield a canon for style. The reaction
came soon. Involved, whether justly or not, in the Pisonian conspiracy
of 65 A.D., he was forced to commit suicide. He died as the Stoics of
the age were wont to die, cheerfully, courageously, and with
self-conscious ostentation.[153] Within a few years of his death the
great Ciceronian reaction headed by Quintilian began. The very vehemence
with which the Senecan style was attacked, now by Quintilian[154] and
later by Fronto,[155] shows what a commanding position he held.

He was poet as well as philosopher. Quintilian tells us that he left
scarcely any branch of literature untouched. 'We possess,' he says, 'his
speeches, poems, letters, and dialogues.'[156] Two collections of poems
attributed to Seneca have come down to us, a collection of epigrams and
a collection of dramas. There is strangely little external evidence to
support either attribution, but in neither case can there be any serious
doubt as to the general correctness of the tradition.

The _Anthologia Latina_, compiled at Carthage in the sixth century,
opens with seventy-three epigrams, of which three are attributed by the
MSS. to Seneca (_Poet. Lat. Min._ 1-3, Baehrens). The first is entitled
_de qualitate temporis_ and descants on the ultimate destruction of the
world by fire--a well-known Stoical doctrine. The second and third are
fierce denunciations of Corsica, his place of exile. The rest are
nameless. But there are several which can only be attributed to Seneca.
The ninth is entitled _de se ad patriam_, and is addressed to Cordova by
one plunged in deep misfortune--a clear reference to his banishment in
Corsica. The fifty-first is a prayer that the author's two brothers may
be happier than himself, and that 'the little Marcus may rival his
uncles in eloquence'. The brothers are described one as older, the other
as younger than the author. It is an obvious inference that the brothers
referred to are Gallio and Mela, while it is possible that the little
Marcus is no other than the gifted son of Mela, Marcus Annaeus Lucanus,
the epic poet.[157] The fifteenth represents him as an exile in a barren
land: he appeals to a faithful friend named Crispus, probably the
distinguished orator Passienus Crispus, the younger, who was consul for
the second time in 44 A.D.[158] There are also other epigrams which,
though less explicit, suit the circumstances of Seneca's exile. The
fifth is written in praise of the quiet life. The author has two
brothers (l. 14), and at the opening of the poem cries, 'let others seek
the praetorship!' In this connexion it is noteworthy that at the time of
his banishment Seneca had held no higher office than the quaestorship.
The seventeenth and eighteenth are on the same subject, and contain a
solemn warning against _regum amicitiae_, appropriate enough in the
mouth of the victim of a court intrigue. Epigrams 29-36 are devoted to
the praises of Claudius for his conquest of Britain. Claudius had
banished him and was a suitable subject for flattery. For the rest the
poems are largely of the republican character so fashionable in Stoic
circles during the first century of the empire. There are many epigrams
on Cato [159] and the Pompeys. Others, again, are of a rhetorical
nature, dealing with scholastic themes;[160] others of an erotic and
even scandalous character. We can claim no certainty for the view that
all these poems are by Seneca, but there is a general resemblance of
style throughout, and probability points to the whole collection being
by the same author. The fact that the same theme is treated more than
once scarcely stands in the way. We cannot dictate the amusements of a
weary exile. It would be rash even to deny the possibility of his being
the author of the erotic poems.[161] Philosopher as he was, he had been
banished on a charge of adultery: without in any way admitting the truth
of that accusation, we may readily believe that he stooped to one of the
fashionable amusements of the day, the composition of pointed and
unsavoury verse; for the standard of morality in writing was far lower
than the standard of morals in actual life.[162]

The poems repay reading, but call for little comment. They lack
originality. The thought is thin, the expression neat, though scarcely
as pointed as we might expect from such an author, while the metre is
graceful: the treatment of the elegiac is freer than that of Ovid, but
pleasing and melodious. At times powerful lines flash out.

                  qua frigida semper
    praefulget stellis Arctos inocciduis (xxxvi. 6)

    Where the cold constellation of the heaven gleams
    ever with unsetting stars.

shines out from the midst of banal flattery of the emperor with
astonishing splendour. The poem _de qualitate temporis_ (4) closes with
four fine lines with the unmistakable Senecan ring about them--

    quid tam parva loquor? moles pulcerrima caeli
      ardebit flammis tota repente suis.
    omnia mors poscit. lex est, non poena, perire:
      hic aliquo mundus tempore nullus erit.

    Why speak of things so small? The glorious vault of
    heaven one day shall blaze with sudden self-kindled
    flame. Death calls for all creation. 'Tis a law, not
    a penalty to perish. The universe itself shall one day
    be as though it had never been.

Cato (9) deliberates on suicide with characteristic rhetoric, artificial
in the extreme, but not devoid of dignity--

        estne aliquid, quod Cato non potuit?
    dextera, me vitas? durum est iugulasse Catonem?
      sed, quia liber erit, iam puto, non dubitas.
    fas non est vivum cuiquam servire Catonem:
      quinctiam vivit nunc Cato, si moritur.[2]

    Is there then that which Cato had not the heart to do?
    Right-hand, dost thou shrink from me? Is it hard to slay
    Cato? Nay, methinks thou dost hesitate no more, for thou
    shalt set Cato free. 'Tis a crime that Cato should live
    to be any man's slave; nay, Cato truly lives if Cato die.

Cleverest of all is the treatment of the rhetorical theme of the two
brothers who meet in battle in the civil war (72). The one unwittingly
slays the other, strips the slain, and discovers what he has done--

    quod fuerat virtus, factum est scelus. haeret in hoste
      miles et e manibus mittere tela timet.
    inde ferox: 'quid, lenta manus, nunc denique cessas?
      iustius hoste tibi qui moriatur adest.
    fraternam res nulla potest defendere caedem;
      mors tua sola potest: morte luenda tua est,
    scilicet ad patrios referes spolia ampla penates?
      ad patrem victor non potes ire tuum.
    sed potes ad fratrem: nunc fortiter utere telo!
      impius hoc telo es, hoc potes esse pius.
    vivere si poteris, potuisti occidere fratrem!
      nescisti: sed scis: haec mora culpa tua est.
    viximus adversis, iaccamus partibus isdem
      (dixit et in dubio est utrius ense cadat).
    ense meo moriar, maculato morte nefanda?
      cui moreris, ferrum quo moriare dabit.'
    dixit et in fratrem fraterno concidit ense:
      victorem et victum condidit una manus.[163]

    What had been valour now is made a crime. The soldier
    halts by his foe and fears to launch his shafts. Then
    his courage rekindled. 'What! coward hand, dost thou
    delay _now_? There is one here whom thou shouldst slay
    sooner than the foe. Naught can assoil of the guilt of
    a brother's blood save only death; 'tis thy death must
    atone. Shalt thou bear home to thy father's halls rich
    spoil of war? Nay, victor thus, thou canst not go to meet
    thy sire. But victor thou canst go to meet thy brother;
   _now_ use thy weapon bravely. This weapon stained thee with
    crime, 'tis this weapon shall make thee clean. If thou hast
    heart to live, thou hadst the heart to slay thy brother;
    thou _hadst_ no such murderous thought, but _now_ thou hast;
    this thy tarrying brings thee guilt. We have lived foes, let
    us lie united in the peace of the grave.' He ceased and
    doubted on whose sword to fall.' Shall I die by mine own
    sword, thus foul with shameful murder. He for whom thou diest
    shall give thee the steel wherewith to die.' He ceased, and
    fell dead upon his brother, slain by his brother's sword.
    The same hand slew both victor and vanquished.

This is not poetry of the first class, if indeed it is poetry at all.
But it is trick-rhetoric of the most brilliant kind without degenerating
into bombastic absurdity. There is, in fact, a restraint in these
epigrams which provides a remarkable contrast with the turgid
extravagance that defaces so much of the dramas. This is in part due to
the difference of the moulds into which the rhetoric is run, but it is
hard to resist the belief that the epigrams--written mainly during the
exile in Corsica--are considerably later than the plays. They are in
themselves insignificant; they show no advance in dexterity upon the
dramas, but they do show a distinct increase of maturity.

The plays are ten in number; they comprise a _Hercules Furens, Troades,
Phoenissae_ (or _Thebais_), _Medea, Phaedra_ (or _Hippolytus_),
_Oedipus, Agamemnon, Thyestes, Hercules Oetaeus_, and--sole example of
the _fabula praetexta_--the _Octavia_. Despite the curious silence of
Seneca himself and of his contemporaries, there can be little doubt as
to the general correctness of the attribution which assigns to Seneca
the only Latin tragedies that grudging time has spared us. The _Medea,
Hercules Furens, Troades, Phaedra, Agamemnon_, and _Thyestes_ are all
cited by late writers, while Quintilian[164] himself cites a line from
the Medea as the work of Seneca. The name Seneca, without any further
specification, points as clearly to Seneca, the philosopher, as the name
Cicero to the great orator. The absence of any further or more explicit
reference on the part of Quintilian to Seneca's achievements as a
tragedian is easily explained on the supposition that the critic
regarded them as but an insignificant portion of his work. Yet stronger
confirmation is afforded by the internal evidence. The verse is marked
by the same brilliant but fatiguing terseness, the same polish and
point, the same sententiousness, the same succession of short stabbing
sentences, that mark the prose works of Seneca.[165] More remarkable
still is the close parallelism of thought. The plays are permeated
through and through with Stoicism, and the expression given to certain
Stoical doctrines is often almost identical with passages from the
philosophical works.[166] Against these evidences the silence of Seneca
himself counts for little. We may charitably suppose that he rated his
plays at their just value. In any case a poet is under no compulsion to
quote his own verses, or even to refer to them, in works of a totally
different nature.[167]

A more serious question is whether Seneca is the author of all the plays
transmitted to us under his name. The authenticity of four of these
dramas has been seriously questioned. That the _Octavia_ is by a later
hand may be regarded as certain. Seneca could hardly have dared to write
a play on so dangerous a theme--the brutal treatment by Nero of his
young wife Octavia. Moreover, Seneca himself is one of the dramatis
personae, and there are clear references to the death of Nero, while the
style is simple and restrained, and wholly unlike that of the other
plays. It is the work of a saner and less flamboyant age.[168] The
_Agamemnon_ and the _Oedipus_ have been suspected on the ground that
certain of the lyric portions are written in a curious patchwork metre
of a character fortunately unique in Latin lyric verse. The _Agamemnon_
further has two choruses.[169] But in all other respects the language,
technique, and metre closely resemble the other dramas. Neither
objection need carry any weight. There is no reason why Seneca should
not have introduced a double chorus or have indulged in unsuccessful
metrical experiments.[170] Far more difficult is the problem presented
by the _Hercules Oetaeus_. It presents many anomalies, of which the
least are a double chorus and a change of scene from Oechalia to
Trachis. Imitations and plagiarisms from the other plays abound, and the
work has more than its fair share of vain repetitions and tasteless
absurdities. On the other hand, metre and diction closely recall the
dramas accepted as genuine. It is hard to give any certain answer to
such a complicated problem, but it is noteworthy that all the worst
defects in this play (which among its other peculiarities possesses
abnormal length) occur after l. 705, while the earlier scenes depicting
the jealousy of Deianira show the Senecan dramatic style almost at its
best. Even in the later portion of the play there is much that may be by
the hand of Seneca. It is impossible to brand the drama as wholly
spurious. The opening lines (1-232) may not belong to the play, but may
form an entirely separate scene dealing with the capture of Oechalia:
there is no reason to suppose that they are not by Seneca, and the same
statement applies to the great bulk of ll. 233-705. The remainder has in
all probability suffered largely from interpolation, but its general
resemblance to Seneca in style and diction is too strongly marked to
permit us to reject it _en bloc_. The problem is too obscure to repay
detailed discussion.[171] The most probable solution of the question
would seem to be that the work was left in an unfinished condition with
inconsistencies, self-plagiarisms, repetitions, and absurdities which
revision would have removed; this unfinished drama was then worked over
and corrected by a stupid, but careful student of Seneca.

There is such a complete absence of evidence as to the period of
Seneca's life during which these dramas were composed, that much
ingenuity has been wasted in attempts to solve the problem. The view
most widely held--why it should be held is a mystery--is that they were
composed during Seneca's exile in Corsica (41-9 A.D.).[172] Others,
again, hold that they were written for the delectation of the young
Nero, who had early betrayed a taste for the stage. This view has
nothing to support it save the accusation mentioned by Tacitus,[173] to
the effect that the patronage and approval of Nero led Seneca to write
verse more frequently than his wont. Direct evidence there is none, but
the general crudity of the work, coupled with the pedantic hardness and
rigidity of the Stoicism which pervades the plays, points strongly to an
early date, considerably earlier than the exile in Corsica. There is no
trace of the mature experience and feeling for humanity that
characterize the later philosophical works. On the contrary, these plays
are just what might be expected of a young man fresh from the schools of
rhetoric and philosophy.[174] As to the order in which the plays were
written there is practically nothing to guide us.[175] The _Hercules
Oetaeus_ is probably the latest, for in it we find plagiarisms from the
_Hercules Furens, Oedipus, Thyestes, Phoenissae, Phaedra_, and
_Troades_. Even here, however, there is an element of uncertainty, for
it is impossible to ascertain whether any given plagiarism is due to
Seneca or to his interpolators.

Leaving such barren and unprofitable ground, what can we say of the
plays themselves? Even after making due allowance for the hopeless
decline of dramatic taste and for the ruin wrought by the schools of
rhetoric, it is hard to speak with patience of such productions, when we
recall the brilliance and charm of the prose works of Seneca. We can
forgive him being rhetorical when he speaks for himself; when he speaks
through the lips of others he is less easily tolerable.

Drama is a reading of human life: if it is to hold one's interest it
must deal with the feelings, thought, and action of genuine human beings
and represent their complex interaction: the characters must be real and
must differ one from the other, so that by force of contrast and by the
continued play of diverse aspects and developments of the human soul,
the significance, the pathos, and the power of the fragment of human
life selected for representation may be fully brought out and set before
our eyes. If these characteristics be absent, the drama must of
necessity be an artistic failure by reason of its lack of truth. But it
requires also plot, with a logical growth leading to some great climax
and developing a growing suspense in the spectator as to what shall be
the end. It is true that plot without reality may give us a successful
melodrama, that truth of character-drawing with a minimum of plot may
move and interest us. But in neither case shall we have drama in its
truest and noblest form.

Seneca gives us neither the half nor the whole. The stage is ultimately
the touchstone of dramatic excellence. But if it is to be such a
touchstone, it must have an audience with a penetration of intelligence
and a soundness of taste such as had long ceased to characterize Roman
audiences. The Senecan drama has lost touch with the stage and lacks
both unity and life. Such superficial unity as his plots possess is due
to the fact that they are ultimately imitations of Greek[176] drama. A
full discussion of the plots is neither necessary here nor possible. A
few instances of Seneca's treatment of his material must suffice.[177]
He has no sense of logical development; the lack of sequence and of
proportion traceable in the letters is more painfully evident in the

The _Hercules Furens_ supplies an excellent example of the weakness of
the Senecan plot. It is based on the [Greek: H_erakl_es mainomenos] of
Euripides, and such unity as it possesses is in the main due to that
fact. It is in his chief divergences from the Euripidean treatment of
the story that his deficiencies become most apparent. Theseus appears
early in the play merely that he may deliver a long rhodomontade on the
appearance of the underworld, whence Hercules has rescued him; and,
worst of all, the return of Hercules is rendered wholly ineffective.
Amphitryon hears the approaching steps of Hercules as he bursts his way
to the upper world and cries (523)--

    est est sonitus Herculei gradus.

The chorus then, as if they had heard nothing, deliver themselves of a
chant that describes Hercules as still a prisoner in Hades. When
Hercules at last is allowed to appear, he appears alone, and delivers a
long ranting glorification of himself (592-617) before he is joined by
his father, wife, and children. As Leo has remarked,[178] this episode
has been tastelessly torn into two fragments merely to give Hercules an
opportunity for turgid declamation.

The _Medea_, again, is, on the whole, Euripidean in form, though it
probably owes much to the influence of Ovid.[179] It is, moreover, the
least tasteless and best constructed of his tragedies. It loses
comparatively little by the omission of the Aegeus episode, but suffers
terribly by the insertion of a bombastic description of Medea's
incantations. The love of the Silver Age for rhetoric has converted
Medea into a skilful rhetorician, its love for the black art has
degraded her to a vulgar sorceress. Nothing, again, can be cruder or
more awkward than the manner in which the news of the death of Creon and
his daughter is announced. After an interval so brief as scarcely to
suffice even for the conveyance of the poisoned gifts to the palace, in
rushes a messenger crying (879)--

    periere cuncta, concidit regni status.
    nata atque genitor cinere permixto iacent.

    _Cho_. qua fraude capti? _Nunt_. qua solent
    reges capi, donis.

   _Cho_. in illis esse quis potuit dolus?

    _Nunt_. et ipse miror vixque iam facto malo
    potuisse fieri credo; quis cladis modus?
    avidus per omnem regiae partem furit
    ut iussus ignis: iam domus tota occidit,
    urbi timetur.

    _Cho_. unda flammas opprimat.

    _Nunt_. et hoc in ista clade mirandum accidit,
    alit unda flammas, quoque prohibetur magis,
    magis ardet ignis: ipsa praesidia occupat.

    All is lost! the kingdom's fallen! Father and
    daughter lie in mingled dust!

    _Ch_. By what snare taken?

    _Mess_. By gifts, the snare of kings.

    _Ch_. What harm could lurk in them?

    _Mess_. Myself I marvel, and scarce though the deed
    is done can I believe it possible. How died they?
    Devouring flames rage through all the palace as at
    her command. Now the whole house is fallen and men
    fear for the city.

    _Ch_. Let water quench the flames.

    _Mess_. Nay, in this overthrow is this added wonder.
    Water feeds the flames and opposition makes the fire
    burn fiercer. It hath seared even that which should
    have stayed its power.

That is all: if we had not read Euripides we should scarcely understand
the connexion between the gifts and the mysterious fire. Seneca, with
the lack of proportion displayed in nearly all his dramas, has spent so
much time in describing the wholly irrelevant and absurd details of
Medea's incantations that he finds no room to give what might be a
really dramatic description of the all-important catastrophe in which
Medea's vengeance finds issue. There is hardly a play which will not
provide similar instances of the lack of genuine constructive power. In
the _Oedipus_ we get the same long narrative of horror that has
disfigured the _Hercules Furens_ and the _Medea_. Creon describes to us
the dark rites of incantation used to evoke the shade of Laius.[180] In
the _Phaedra_ we find what at first would seem to be a clever piece of
stagecraft. Hippolytus, scandalized at Phaedra's avowal of her
incestuous passion, seizes her by the hair and draws his sword as though
to slay her. He changes his purpose, but the nurse has seen him and
calls for aid, denouncing Hippolytus' violence and clearly intending to
make use of it as damning evidence against him. But the chorus refuse to
credit her, and the incident falls flat.[181] Everywhere there is the
same casual workmanship. If we stop short of denying to Seneca the
possession of any dramatic talent, it is at any rate hard to resist the
conviction that he treated the plays as a _parergon_, spending little
thought or care on their _ensemble_, though at times working up a scene
or scenes with an elaboration and skill as unmistakable as it is often

The plays are, in fact, as Nisard has admirably put it, _drames de
recette_. The recipe consists in the employment of three
ingredients--description, declamation, and philosophic aphorism. There
is room for all these ingredients in drama as in human life, but in
Seneca there is little else: these three elements conspire together to
swamp the drama, and they do this the more effectively because, for
all their cleverness, Seneca's description and declamation are
radically bad. It is but rarely that he shows himself capable of
simple and natural language. If a tragic event enacted off the stage
requires description, it must outdo all other descriptions of the same
type. And seeing that one of the chief uses of narrative in tragedy is
to present to the imagination of the audience events which are too
horrible for their eyes, the result in Seneca's hands is often little
less than revolting. For example, the self-blinding of Oedipus is set
forth with every detail of horror, possible and impossible, till the
imagination sickens.

(961)                 gemuit et dirum fremens
      manus in ora torsit, at contra truces
      oculi steterunt et suam intenti manum
      ultro insequuntur, vulneri occurrunt suo.
      scrutatur avidus manibus uncis lumina,
      radice ab ima funditus vulsos simul
      evolvit orbes; haeret in vacuo manus
      et fixa penitus unguibus lacerat cavos
      alte recessus luminum et inanes sinus
      saevitque frustra plusque quam satis est furit.

The last line is an epitome of Seneca's methods of description. Yet more
revolting is the speech of the messenger describing the banquet, at
which Atreus placed the flesh of Thyestes' murdered sons before their
father (623-788). Nothing is spared us, much that is impossible is
added.[182] At times, moreover, this love of horrors leads to the
introduction of descriptions wholly alien to the play. In the _Hercules
Furens_ the time during which Hercules is absent from the scene, engaged
in the slaying of the tyrant Lycus, is filled by a description of Hades
from the mouth of Theseus, who is fresh-come from the underworld. The
speech is not peculiarly bad in itself; it is only very long[183]
(658-829) and very irrelevant.

The effect of the declamation is not less unhappy. Seneca's dramatis
personae rarely speak like reasoning human beings: they rant at one
another or at the audience with such overwrought subtleties of speech
and rhetorical perversions that they give the impression of being no
more than mechanical puppets handled by a crafty but inartistic showman.
All speak the same strange language, a language born in the rhetorical
schools of Greece and Rome. Gods and mortals alike suffer the same
melancholy fate. Juno, when she declares her resolve to afflict Hercules
with madness, addresses the furies who are to be her ministers as
follows (_H.F._ 105):

    concutite pectus, acrior mentem excoquat
    quam qui caminis ignis Aetnaeis furit:
    ut possit animo captus Alcides agi
    magno furore percitus, nobis prius
    insaniendum est--Iuno, cur nondum furis?
    me me, sorores, mente deiectam mea
    versate primam, facere si quicquam apparo
    dignum noverca; vota mutentur mea:
    natos reversus videat incolumes precor
    manuque fortis redeat: inveni diem
    invisa quo nos Herculis virtus iuvet.
    me vicit et se vincat et cupiat mori
    ab inferis reversus....
                           pugnanti Herculi
    tandem favebo.

    Distract his heart with madness: let his soul
    More fiercely burn than that hot fire which glows
    On Aetna's forge. But first, that Hercules
    May be to madness driven, smitten through
    With mighty passion, I must be insane.
    Why rav'st thou not, O Juno? Me, oh, me,
    Ye sisters, first of sanity deprive,
    That something worthy of a stepdame's wrath
    I may prepare. Let all my hate be change
    To favour. Now I pray that he may come
    To earth again, and see his sons unharmed;
    May he return with all his old time strength.
    Now have I found a day when Hercules
    May help me with his strength that I deplore.
    Now let him equally o'ercome himself
    And me; and let him, late escaped from death,
    Desire to die... And so at last I'll help
    Alcides in his wars.                    MILLER.

She is clearly a near relative of that Oedipus who, in the _Phoenissae_,
begs Antigone to lead him to the rock where the Sphinx sat of old (120):

                     dirige huc gressus pedum,
    hic siste patrem. dira ne sedes vacet.
    monstrum repone maius. hoc saxum insidens
    obscura nostrae verba fortunae loquar,
    quae nemo solvat.
                      ... saeva Thebarum lues
    luctifica caecis verba committens modis
    quid simile posuit? quid tam inextricabile?
    avi gener patrisque rivalis sui
    frater suorum liberum et fratrum parens;
    uno avia partu liberos. peperit viro,
    sibi et nepotes. monstra quis tanta explicat?
    ego ipse, victae spolia qui Sphingis tuli,
    haerebo fati tardus interpres mei.

    Direct me thither, set thy father there.
    Let not that dreadful seat be empty long,
    But place me there a greater monster still.
    There will I sit and of my fate propose
    A riddle dark that no man shall resolve.
       *       *       *       *       *
    What riddle like to this could she propose,
    That curse of Thebes, who wove destructive words
    In puzzling measures? What so dark as this?
    _He was his grandsire's son-in-law, and yet
    His father's rival; brother of his sons,
    And father of his brothers: at one birth
    The grandame bore unto her husband sons,
    And grandsons to herself_. Who can unwind
    A tangle such as this? E'en I myself,
    Who bore the spoils of triumph o'er the Sphinx,
    Stand mute before the riddle of my fate.

There is no need to multiply instances; each play will supply many. Only
in the _Troades_[184] and the _Phaedra_ does this declamatory rhetoric
rise to something higher than mere declamation and near akin to true
poetry. In these plays there are two speeches standing on a different
plane to anything else in Seneca's iambics. In the _Troades_ Agamemnon
is protesting against the proposed sacrifice of Polyxena to the spirit
of the dead Achilles (255).

    quid caede dira nobiles clari ducis
    aspergis umbras? noscere hoc primum decet,
    quid facere victor debeat, victus pati.
    violenta nemo imperia continuit diu,
    moderata durant; ...
                         magna momento obrui
    vincendo didici. Troia nos tumidos facit
    nimium ac feroces? stamus hoc Danai loco,
    unde illa cecidit. fateor, aliquando impotens
    regno ac superbus altius memet tuli;
    sed fregit illos spiritus haec quae dare
    potuisset aliis causa, Fortunae favor.
    tu me superbum, Priame, tu timidum facis.
    ego esse quicquam sceptra nisi vano putem
    fulgore tectum nomen et falso comam
    vinclo decentem? casus haec rapiet brevis,
    nec mille forsan ratibus aut annis decem.
    ... fatebor ... affligi Phrygas
    vincique volui; ruere et aequari solo
    utinam arcuissem.

    Why besmirch with murder foul the noble shade of that
    renowned chief? First must thou learn the bounds of a
    victor's power, of the vanquished's suffering. No man
    for long has held unbridled sway; only self-control may
    endure ... I myself have conquered and have learned
    thereby that man's mightiness may fall in the twinkling
    of an eye. Shall Troy o'erthrown exalt our pride and make
    us overbold? Here we the Danaans stand on the spot whence
    she has fallen. Of old, I own, I have borne myself too
    haughtily, self-willed and proud of my power. But Fortune's
    favour, which had made another proud, has broken my pride.
    Priam, thou makest me proud, thou makest me tremble. I count
    the sceptre naught save a glory bright with worthless tinsel
    that sets the vain splendour of a crown upon my brow. All
    this the chance of one short hour may take from me without
    the aid of a thousand ships and ten long years of siege ...
    I will own my fault ... I desired to crush and conquer Troy.
    Would I had forbidden to lay her low and raze her walls to
    the ground!

The thought is not deep: the speech might serve for a model for a
_suasoria_ in the schools of rhetoric. But there is a stateliness and
dignity about it that is most rare in these plays. At last after dreary
tracts of empty rant we meet Seneca, the spiritual guide of the epistles
and the treatises.

Far more striking, however, from the dramatic standpoint, are the great
speeches in the _Phaedra_, where the heroine makes known her passion for
Hippolytus (600 sqq.). They are frankly rhetorical, but direct,
passionate, and to the point. They contain few striking lines or
sentiments, but they are clear and comparatively free from affectation.
Theseus has maddened Phaedra by his infidelities, and has long been
absent from her, imprisoned in the underworld. An uncontrollable passion
for her stepson has come upon her. She appeals to the unsuspecting
Hippolytus for pity and protection (619):

    muliebre non est regna tutari urbium;
    tu qui iuventae flore primaevo viges
    cives paterno fortis imperio rege,
    sinu receptam supplicem ac servam tege.
    miserere viduae.

    _Hipp_. Summus hoc omen deus avertat.
    aderit sospes actutum parens.

    'Tis no woman's task to rule cities. Do thou,
    strong in the flower of thy first youth, flinch
    not, but govern the state by the power thy father
    held. Take me and shield me in thy bosom, thy
    suppliant and thy slave! Pity thy father's widow.

    _Hipp_. Nay, high heaven avert the omen. Soon shall
    my father return unscathed.

Phaedra then begins to show her true colours. 'Nay!' she replies, 'he
will not come. Pluto holds him fast, the would-be ravisher of his bride,
unless indeed Pluto, like others I wot of, is indifferent to love.'
Hippolytus attempts to console her: he will do all in his power to make
life easy for her:

    et te merebor esse ne viduam putes
    ac tibi parentis ipse supplebo locum.

    I shall prove me worthy of thee: so thou shalt not deem
    thyself a widow. I will fill up my absent father's room.

These innocent words are as fuel to Phaedra's passion. She turns to him
again appealing for pity, pity for an ill she dare not name--

    quod in novercam cadere vix credas malum.

He bids her speak out. She replies, 'Love consumes me with an
all-devouring flame. 'He still fails to catch her meaning, supposing
that the passion of which she speaks is for the absent Theseus. She can
restrain herself no longer: 'Aye, 'tis for Theseus!' she cries (646):

    Hippolyte, sic est; Thesei vultus amo [185]
    illos priores quos tulit quondam puer,
    cum prima puras barba signaret genas
    monstrique caecam Cnosii vidit domum
    et longa curva fila collegit via.
    quis tum ille fulsit! presserant vittae comam
    et ora flavus tenera tinguebat pudor;
    inerant lacertis mollibus fortes tori;
    tuaeque Phoebes vultus aut Phoebi mei,
    tuusque potius--talis, en talis fuit
    cum placuit hosti, sic tulit celsum caput:
    in te magis refulget incomptus decor;
    est genitor in te totus et torvae tamen
    pars aliqua matris miscet ex aequo decus;
    in ore Graio Scythicus apparet rigor.
    si cum parente Creticum intrasses fretum,
    tibi fila potius nostra nevisset soror.
    te te, soror, quacumque siderei poli
    in parte fulges, invoco ad causam parem:
    domus sorores una corripuit duas,
    te genitor, at me natus. en supplex iacet
    adlapsa genibus regiae proles domus,
    respersa nulla labe et intacta, innocens
    tibi mutor uni. certa descendi ad preces:
    finem hic dolori faciet aut vitae dies,
    miserere amantis.[186]

    Even so, Hippolytus; I love the face that Theseus wore,
    in the days of old while yet he was a boy, when the first
    down marked his bright cheeks and he looked on the dark
    home of the Cretan monster and gathered the long magic
    thread along the winding way. Ah! how then he shone upon my
    eyes. A wreath was about his hair and his delicate cheeks
    glowed with the golden bloom of modesty. Strong sinews stood
    out upon his shapely arms and his countenance was the
    countenance of the goddess that thou servest or of mine own
    bright sun-god; nay, rather 'twas as thine own. Even so, even
    so looked he when he won the heart of her that was his foe,
    and lofty was his carriage like to thine. But in thee still
    brighter shines an artless glory, and on thee is all thy
    father's beauty. Yet mingled therewith in equal portion is
    something of thy wild mother's fairness. On thy Greek face is
    seen the fierceness of the Scythian. Hadst thou sailed o'er
    the sea with thy sire to Crete, for thee rather had my sister
    spun the magic thread. On thee, on thee, my sister, I call
    where'er thou shinest in the starry heaven, on thee I call
    to aid my cause. Lo! sisters twain hath one house brought to
    naught--thee did the father ruin, me the son. Lo! suppliant at
    thy knees I fall, the daughter of a king, stainless and pure
    and innocent. For thee alone I swerve from my course. I have
    steeled my soul and stooped to beg of thee. Today shall end
    either my sorrow or my life. Pity, have pity, on her that
    loves thee.

Then the storm of Hippolytus' anger breaks. Here at least Seneca has
used his great rhetorical gifts to good effect. The passion may be
highly artificial when compared with the passion of the genuinely human
Phaedra of Euripides, but it is nevertheless passion and not bombast:
crudity there may be, but there is no real irrelevance.

There is less to praise and more to wonder at in Seneca's dialogue.
Instead of rational conversation or controversy, he gives us a brilliant
but meretricious display of epigram, the mechanical nature of which is
often emphasized by a curious symmetry of structure. For line after line
one character takes up the words of another and turns them against him
with dexterity as extraordinary as it is monotonous. The resulting
artificiality is almost incredible. It appears in its most extravagant
form in the _Thyestes_.[187] Scarcely less strained, though from the
nature of the subject the extravagance is less repellent, is a passage
in the _Troades_. Achilles' ghost has demanded the sacrifice of
Polyxena. Agamemnon hesitates to give orders for the sacrifice. Pyrrhus,
Achilles' son, enumerates the great deeds of his father, and asks,
indignantly, if such glory is to win naught save neglect after death.
Agamemnon has sacrificed his own daughter, why should he not sacrifice
Priam's? Agamemnon--in the speech quoted above--refuses indignantly.
'Sacrifice oxen if you will: no human blood shall be shed!' Pyrrhus
replies (306):

         hac dextra Achilli victimam reddam suam.
         quam si negas retinesque, maiorem dabo
         dignamque quam det Pyrrhus; et nimium diu
         a caede nostra regia cessat manus
         paremque poscit Priamus.

_Agam_.  haud equidem nego hoc esse Pyrrhi
         maximum in bello decus, saevo peremptus
         ense quod Priamus iacet, _supplex paternus.

_Pyrrh_. _supplices_ nostri _patris_
         hostesque eosdem novimus. Priamus tamen
         praesens rogavit; tu gravi pavidus metu,
         nec ad rogandum fortis Aiaci preces
         Ithacoque mandas clausus atque hostem tremens.

         By this right hand he shall receive his own.
         And if thou dost refuse and keep the maid,
         A greater victim will I slay, and one
         More worthy Pyrrhus' gift: for all too long
         From royal slaughter hath my hand been free,
         And Priam asks an equal sacrifice.

_Agam_.  Far be it from my wish to dim the praise
         That thou dost claim for this most glorious deed--
         Old Priam slain by thy barbaric sword,
         Thy father's suppliant.

_Pyrrh_. I know full well
         My father's suppliants--and well I know
         His enemies. Yet royal Priam came
         And made his plea before my father's face;
         But thou, o'ercome with fear, not brave enough
         Thyself to make request, within thy tent
         Did trembling hide, and thy desires consign
         To braver men, that they might plead for thee.

Agamemnon retorts, 'What of your father, when he shirked the toils of
war and lay idly in his tent?'--

         levi canoram verberans plectro chelyn.

_Pyrrh_. tunc magnus Hector, arma contemnens tua,
         cantus Achillis timuit et tanto in metu
         _navalibus pax alta Thessalicis fuit_.

_Agam_.  nempe isdem in _istis Thessalis navalibus
         pax alta_ rursus Hectoris patri _fuit_.

_Pyrrh_. est _regis_ alti _spiritum_ regi dare.

_Agam_.  cur dextra _regi spiritum_ eripuit tua?

_Pyrrh_. mortem _misericors_ saepe pro vita dabit.

_Agam_.  et nunc _misericors_ virginem busto petis?

_Pyrrh_. iamne immolari virgines credis nefas?

_Agam_.  praeferre patriam liberis regem decet.

_Pyrrh_. _lex_ nulla capto parcit aut poenam impedit.

_Agam_.  quod non vetat _lex_, hoc vetat fieri pudor.

_Pyrrh_. quodcumque _libuit_ facere victori _licet_.

_Agam_.  minimum decet _libere_ cui multum _licet_.

         Idly strumming on his tuneful lyre.

_Pyrrh_. Then mighty Hector, scornful of thy arms,
         Yet felt such wholesome fear of that same lyre,
         That our _Thessalian ships_ were left in _peace_.

_Agam_.  An equal _peace_ did Hector's father find,
         When he betook him to Achilles' _ships_.

_Pyrrh_. 'Tis regal thus to spare a _kingly life_.

_Agam_.  Why then didst thou a _kingly life_ despoil?

_Pyrrh_. But _mercy_ oft doth offer death for life.

_Agam_.  Doth _mercy_ now demand a maiden's blood?

_Pyrrh_. Canst thou proclaim such sacrifice a sin?

_Agam_.  A king must love his country more than child.

_Pyrrh_. No _law_ the wretched captive's life doth spare.

_Agam_.  What _law_ forbids not, yet may shame forbid.

_Pyrrh_. 'Tis victor's right to do whate'er he _will_.

_Agam_. Then should he _will_ the least, who most can do.

The cleverness of this is undeniable: individual lines (e.g. the last)
are striking. Taken collectively they are ineffective; we feel,
moreover, that the cleverness is mere knack: the continued picking up of
the adversary's words to be used as weapons against himself is
wearisome. It would be nearly as great a strain to listen to such a
dialogue as to take part in it: the atmosphere is that of the school of
rhetoric, an atmosphere in which sensible and natural dialogue is

The characters naturally suffer from this continued display of
declamatory rhetoric. They have but one voice and language; they differ
from one another only in their clothes and the situations in which they
are placed. It is true that some of them are patterns of virtue and
others monsters of iniquity. But strip off the coating of paint, and
within the limits of these two types--for there are but two--the puppets
are precisely the same. There is none of the play of light and shade so
essential to drama: all is agonizingly crude and lurid. This is not due
to the rhetoric alone, there is another influence at work. The plays are
permeated by a strong vein of Stoicism. Carried to its logical
conclusion Stoicism lays itself open to taunts such as Cicero levels at
his friend Cato in the _pro Murena_,[189] where he delivers a humorous
_reductio ad absurdum_ of its tenets. Such a philosophy is fatal to the
drama. It allows no room for human sentiment or human weakness; the most
virtuous affections are chilled and robbed of their attractiveness:
there are no gradations of temperament, intellect, or character: pathos
disappears. The Stoic ideal was a being in whom the natural impulses and
desires should be completely subjected to the laws of pure reason. It
tends in its intensity to a narrowness, an abstract unreality which is
unfavourable to the development of the more human virtues. What it gave
with one hand the more rigid Stoic philosophy took away with the other.
It preached the brotherhood of man and took away half the value of
sympathy. And here in the plays there is nothing of the _mitis
sapientia_, the concessions to mortal weakness, the humanity, which
characterize the prose works of Seneca and have won the hearts of many
generations of men. There the hardness of Stoicism is softened by ripe
experience and a tendency to eclecticism, and the doctrinaire stands
less sharply revealed. 'Sous l'austérité du philosophe, on trouve un
homme.' The most noteworthy result of this hard Stoicism upon the plays
is the almost complete absence of pathos springing from the tenderer
human affections. Seneca's tragedy may sometimes succeed in horrifying
us, as in the ghastly rhetoric of the _Thyestes_ or the _Medea_. He
moves us rarely.

But there are a few striking exceptions to the rule, notably the
beautiful passage of the _Troades_, where Andromache bids her companions
in misfortune cease from useless lamentation[190] (409):

    quid, maesta Phrygiae turba, laceratis comas
    miserumque tunsae pectus effuso genas
    fletu rigatis? levia perpessae sumus,
    si flenda patimur. Ilium vobis modo,
    mihi cecidit olim, cum ferus curru incito
    mea membra raperet et gravi gemeret sono
    Peliacis axis pondere Hectoreo tremens.
    tunc obruta atque eversa quodcumque accidit
    torpens malis rigeusque sine sensu fero.
    iam erepta Danais coniugem sequerer meum,
    nisi hic teneret: hic meos animos domat
    morique prohibet; cogit hic aliquid deos
    adhuc rogare--tempus aerumnae addidit.

    Why, ye sad Phrygian women, do ye rend your hair and
    beat your woeful breasts and bedew your cheeks with
    streaming tears? But light is our sorrow, if it lies
    not too deep for tears. For you Ilium but now has fallen,
    for me it fell long ago, when the cruel wheels of the
    swift ear of Peleus' son dragged in the dust the limbs of
    him I loved, and groaned loud as they quivered beneath
    the weight of Hector dead. Then was I overthrown, then
    cast to utter ruin, and since then I bear whatso falleth
    upon me, with a heart that is numb with grief, chilled and
    insensible, and long since had I snatched myself from the
    hands of the Greeks and followed my husband, did not my
    child keep me among the living: he checks my purpose and
    forbids me to die; he constrains me still to make
    supplication to heaven and prolongs my anguish.

Even here the pathos is the calm and reasoned pathos of hopelessness,
the pathos of a Stoic who preaches endurance of evils against which his
philosophy is not proof. Here, too, we find the Stoic attitude towards
death. Death is the end of all; there is naught to dread; death puts an
end to hope and fear: to die is to be as though we had never been (394):

    post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mors nihil.
    velocis spatii meta novissima;
    spem ponant avidi, solliciti metum.
    tempus nos avidum devorat et chaos:
    mors individua est, noxia corpori
    nec parcens animae: Taenara et aspero
    regnum sub domino limen et obsidens
    custos non facili Cerberus ostio
    rumores vacui verbaque inania
    et par sollicito fabula somnio.
    quaeris quo iaceas post obitum loco?
    quo non nata iacent.

    Since naught remains, and death is naught
    But life's last goal, so swiftly sought:
    Let those who cling to life abate
    Their fond desires, and yield to fate;
    Soon shall grim time and yawning night
    In their vast depths engulf us quite;
    Impartial death demands the whole--
    The body slays nor spares the soul.
    Dark Taenara and Pluto fell,
    And Cerberus, grim guard of hell--
    All these but empty rumours seem,
    The pictures of a troubled dream.
    Where then will the departed spirit dwell?
    Let those who never came to being tell.

Death brings release from sorrow: the worst of torture is to be forced
to live on in the midst of woe--

    mors votum meum--cries Hecuba--(1171)
    infantibus violenta, virginibus venis,
    ubique properas, saeva: me solam times.

    O death, my sole desire, for boys and maids
    Thou com'st with hurried step and savage mien:
    But me alone of mortals dost thou fear.

So, too, Andromache, in the passage quoted above, almost apologizes for
not having put an end to her existence. Polyxena meets death with
exultation (_Tro_. 945, 1152-9): even the little Astyanax is infected
with Stoic passion for suicide (1090):

               nec gradu segni puer
    ad alta pergit moenia. ut summa stetit
    pro turre, vultus huc et huc acres tulit
    intrepidus animo....
                  non flet e turba omnium
    qui fletur; ac, dum verba fatidici et preces
    concipit Vlixes vatis et saevos ciet
    ad sacra superos, sponte desiluit sua
    in media Priami regna.

    And with no lingering pace the boy climbed the lofty
    battlements, and all about him cast his keen gaze with
    dauntless soul.... But he alone of all the throng who
    wept for him wept not at all, and, while Ulysses 'uttered
    in priestly wise the words of fate and prayed' and called
    the cruel gods to the sacrifice, the boy of his own will
    cast himself down to death on the fields that Priam ruled.

The enthusiasm for death is carried too far.[191] Even the agony of the
_Troades_ fails really to stir us: it depresses us without wakening our
sympathy. So, too, with other scenes: in the _Hercules Furens_ we have
the virtuous Stoic--in the persons of Megara and Amphitryon--confronting
the _instans tyrannus_ in the person of Lycus: it is the hackneyed theme
of the schools of rhetoric,[192] but derives its inspiration from
Stoicism (426):

_Lyc_. cogere.
_Meg_. cogi qui potest nescit mori.
_Lyc_. effare potius, quod novis thalamis parem
       regale munus.
_Meg_. aut tuam mortem aut meam.
_Lyc_. moriere demens.
_Meg_. coniugi occurram meo.
_Lyc_. sceptrone nostro famulus est potior tibi?
_Meg_. quot iste famulus tradidit reges neci.
_Lyc_. cur ergo regi servit et patitur iugum?
_Meg_. imperia dura tolle: quid virtus erit?[193]
_Lyc_. obici feris monstrisque virtutem putas?
_Meg_. virtutis est domare quae cuncti pavent.
_Lyc_. tenebrae loquentem magna Tartareae premunt.
_Meg_. non est ad astra mollis e terris via.[194]
_Lyc_. Thou shalt be forced.
_Meg_. He can be forced, who knows not how to die.
_Lyc_. Tell me what gift I could bestow more rich
       Than royal wedlock?
_Meg_. Or thy death or mine.
_Lyc_. Then die, thou fool.
_Meg_. 'Tis thus I'll meet my lord.
_Lyc_. Is that slave more to thee than I, a king?
_Meg_. How many kings has that slave given to death!
_Lyc_. Why does he serve a king and bear the yoke?
_Meg_. Remove hard tasks, and where would valour be?
_Lyc_. To conquer monsters call'st thou valour then?
_Meg_. 'Tis valour to subdue what all men fear.
_Lyc_. The shades of Hades hold that boaster fast.
_Meg_. No easy way leads from the earth to heaven.

So, too, a little later (463) Amphitryon crushes Lycus with a true
Stoic retort:--

_Lyc_. quemcumque miserum videris, hominem scias.
_Amph_. quemcumque fortem videris, miserum neges.[195]

_Lyc_. Whoe'er is wretched, him mayst thou know for mortal.
_Amph_. Whoe'er is brave, thou mayst not call him wretched.

Admirable as are the sentiments expressed by these virtuous and
calamitous persons, they leave us cold: they are too self-sufficient to
need our sympathy. Pain and death have no terrors for them; why should
we pity them? But it would be unjust to lay the blame for this absence
of pathetic power entirely on the influence of Stoicism. The scholastic
rhetoric is not a good vehicle for pathos, and must bear a large portion
of the blame, though even the rhetoric is due in no small degree to the
Stoic type of dialectic. As Seneca himself says, speaking of others than
himself, 'Philosophia quae fuit, facta philologia est.'[196] And it must
further be remembered that of the few flights of real poetry in these
plays some of the finest were inspired by Stoicism. The drama cannot
nourish in the Stoic atmosphere, poetry can. Seneca was sometimes a
poet. His best-known chorus, the famous _regem non faciunt opes_ of the
_Thyestes_ (345), is directly inspired by Stoicism. The speeches of
Agamemnon and Andromache, together with the chorus already quoted from
the _Troades_, all bear the impress of the Stoic philosophy. The same is
true of the scarcely inferior chorus on fate from the _Oedipus_ (980).

But there are other passages of genuine poetry where the Stoic is
silent. The chorus in the _Hercules Furens_ (838), giving the
conventional view of death, will stand comparison with the chorus of the
_Troades_, giving the philosophic view. The chorus on the dawn (_H.F._
125) brings the fresh sounds and breezes of early morning into the
atmosphere of the rhetorician's lecture-room. The celebrated

    venient annis saecula seris
    quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
    laxet et ingens pateat tellus
    Tethysque novos detegat orbes
    nec sit terris ultima Thule (_Med._ 375)

    Late in time shall come an age, when Ocean shall
    unbar the world, and the whole wide earth be
    revealed, and Tethys shall show forth a new world,
    nor Thule be earth's limit any more.

has acquired a fictitious importance since the discovery of the new
world, but shows a fine imagination, even if--as has been maintained--it
is merely a courtly reference to the British expedition of Claudius. And
the invocation to sleep in the _Hercules Furens_ proved worthy to
provide an inspiration for Shakespeare[197] (1063):

    solvite tantis animum monstris
    solvite superi, caecam in melius
    flectite mentem. tuque, o domitor
    Somne malorum, requies animi,
    pars humanae melior vitae,
    volucre o matris genus Astracae,
    frater durae languide Mortis,
    veris miscens falsa, futuri
    certus et idem pessimus auctor,
    pax errorum, portus vitae,
    lucis requies noctisque comes,
    qui par regi famuloque venis,
    pavidum leti genus humanum
    cogis longam discere noctem:
    placidus fessum lenisque fove,
    preme devinctum torpore gravi.

    Save him, ye gods, from monstrous madness, save
    him, restore his darkened mind to sanity. And thou,
    O sleep, subduer of ill, the spirit's repose, thou
    better part of human life, swift-winged child of
    Astraca, drowsy brother of cruel death, mixing
    false with true, prescient of what shall be, yet
    oftener prescient of sorrow, peace mid our wanderings,
    haven of man's life, day's respite, night's companion,
    that comest impartially to king and slave, thou that
    makest trembling mankind to gain a foretaste of the
    long night of death; do thou bring gentle rest to his
    weariness, and sweet balm to his anguish, and overwhelm
    him with heavy stupor.

But the poetry is confined mainly to the lyrics. In them, though the
metre be monotonous and the thought rarely more than commonplace, the
feeling rings true, the expression is brilliant, and the never absent
rhetoric is sometimes transmuted to a more precious substance with a
far-off resemblance to true lyrical passion. In the iambics, with the
exception of the passages already quoted from the _Troades_ and the
_Phaedra_, touches of genuine poetry are most rare.[198] In certain of
the long descriptive passages (_H.F._ 658 sqq., _Oed._ 530 sqq.) we get
a stagey picturesqueness, but no more. It is for different qualities
that we read the iambics of Seneca, if we read them at all.

Even in its worst moments the rhetoric is capable of extorting our
unwilling admiration by its sheer cleverness and audacity. A good
example is to be found in the passage of the _Thyestes_, where Atreus
meditates whether he shall call upon his sons Menelaus and Agamemnon to
aid him in his unnatural vengeance on Thyestes. He has doubts as to
whether he is their father, for Thyestes had seduced their mother
Aerope (327):--

             prolis incertae fides
    ex hoc petatur scelere: si bella abnuunt
    et gerere nolunt odia, si patruum vocant,
    pater est. eatur.

    And by this test of crime,
    Let their uncertain birth be put to proof:
    If they refuse to wage this war of death
    And will not serve my hatred; if they plead
    He is their uncle--then he is their sire.
    So to my work!
               MILLER'S translation slightly altered.

Equally ingenious is the closing scene between Atreus and Thyestes after
the vengeance is accomplished and Thyestes has feasted on the flesh of
his own sons (1100):

_Thy_. quid liberi meruere?
_Atr_. quod fuerant tui.
_Thy_. natos parenti--
_Atr_. fateor et, quod me iuvat, certos.
_Thy_. piorum praesides testor deos.
_Atr_. quin coniugales?
_Thy_. scelere quid pensas scelus?
_Atr_. scio quid queraris: scelere praerepto doles,
       nec quod nefandas hauseris angit dapes;
       quod non pararis: fuerat hic animus tibi
       instruere similes inscio fratri cibos
       et adiuvante liberos matre aggredi
       similique leto sternere--hoc unum obstitit:
       _tuos_ putasti.
_Thy_. What was my children's sin?
_Atr_. This, that they were thy children.
_Thy_.                       But to think
       That children to the father--
_Atr_.                       That indeed,
       I do confess it, gives me greatest joy,
       That thou art well assured they were thy sons.
_Thy_. I call upon the gods of innocence--
_Atr_. Why not upon the gods of marriage call?
_Thy_. Why dost thou seek to punish crime with crime?
_Atr_. Well do I know the cause of thy complaint:
       Because I have forestalled thee in the deed.
       Thou grievest, not because thou hast consumed
       This horrid feast, but that thou wast not first
       To set it forth. This was thy fell intent,
       To arrange a feast like this unknown to me,
       And with their mother's aid attack my sons,
       And with a like destruction lay them low.
       But this one thing opposed--thou thought'st them thine.

These passages are as unreal as they are repulsive, but they are
diabolically clever. Seneca's rhetoric is, however, as we have already
seen, capable of rising to higher things, and even where he does not
succeed, as in the passages quoted above from the _Phaedra_ and
_Troades_,[199] in introducing a genuine poetic element, he often
produces striking declamatory effects. The exit of the blind Oedipus, as
he goes forth into life-long banishment, bringing peace to Thebes at the
last, is highly artificial in form, but, given the rhetorical drama, is
not easily surpassed as a conclusion--

    mortifera mecum vitia terrarum extraho.
    violenta Fata et horridus Morbi tremor,
    Maciesque et atra Pestis et rabidus Dolor,
    mecum ite, mecum. ducibus his uti libet (1058).

    With me to exile lead I forth 'all pestilential humours of
    the land. Ye blasting fates', ye trembling agues, famine and
    deadly plague and maddened grief, go forth with me, with me!
    My heart rejoices to follow in your train.

So likewise the last despairing cry of Jason, as Medea sails
victoriously away in her magic car--

    per alta vade spatia sublimi aethere,
    testare nullos esse qua veheris deos

    Sail on through the airy depths of highest heaven, and
    bear witness that, where thou soarest, no gods can be.

forms a magnificent ending to a play which, for all its unreality,
succeeds for more than half its length (l 578) in arresting our
attention by its ingenious rhetoric and its comparative freedom from
mere bombast. Excellent, too, is the speech (_Phoen_. 193) in which
Antigone dissuades her father from suicide. 'What ills can time have in
store for him compared to those he has endured?'--

    qui fata proculcavit ac vitae bona
    proiecit atque abscidit et casus suos
    oneravit ipse, cui deo nullo est opus,
    quare ille mortem cupiat aut quare petat?
    utrumque timidi est: nemo contempsit mori
    qui concupivit. cuius haut ultra mala
    exire possunt, in loco tuto est situs,
    quis iam deorum, velle fac, quicquam potest
    malis tuis adicere? iam nec tu potes
    nisi hoc, ut esse te putes dignum nece--
    non es nec ulla pectus hoc culpa attigit.
    et hoc magis te, genitor, insontem voca,
    quod innocens es dis quoque invitis....
    ... ... quidquid potest
    auferre cuiquam mors, tibi hoc vita abstulit.

    Who tramples under foot his destiny,
    Who disregards and scorns the goods of life,
    And aggravates the evils of his lot,
    Who has no further need of Providence:
    Wherefore should such a man desire to die,
    Or seek for death? Each is the coward's act.
    No one holds death in scorn who seeks to die.
    The man whose evils can no further go
    Is safely lodged. Who of the gods, think'st thou,
    Grant that he wills it so, can add one jot
    Unto thy sum of trouble? Nor canst thou,
    Save that thou deem'st thyself unfit to live.
    But thou art not unfit, for in thy breast
    No taint of sin has come. And all the more,
    My father, art thou free from taint of sin,
    Because, though heaven willed it otherwise,
    Thou still art innocent....
                                Whatever death
    From any man can take, thy life hath taken.

It is, however, in isolated lines and striking _sententiae_ that
Seneca's gift for rhetorical epigram is seen at its best. Nothing could
be better turned than

    quaeris Alcidae parem?
    nemo est nisi ipse: (_H.F_. 84).[A]
    curae leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent (_Phaedra_ 607).[B]
    fortem facit vicina libertas senem (_Phaedra_ 139).[C]
    qui genus iactat suum,
    aliena laudat (_H.F_. 340).
    fortuna fortes metuit, ignavos premit (_Med_. 159).
    fortuna opes auferre, non animum potest (_Med_. 176).
    maius est monstro nefas:[D]
    nam monstra fato, moribus scelera imputes (_Phaedra_ 143).

[A] Cp. Theobald: None but himself can be his parallel.

[B] Cp. Sir W. Raleigh: Passions are best compared with floods and
streams, The shallow murmur but the deep are dumb.

[C] For dawning freedom makes the aged brave. MILLER.

[D] For thy impious love is worse
    Than her unnatural and impious love.
    The first you would impute to character,
    The last to fate.

If nothing had survived of Seneca's plays but a collection of
_sententiae_, we might have regretted his loss almost as we regret the
loss of Menander.

Here his merits, such as they are, end: they fail to justify us in
placing him high as a dramatist; and he has many faults over and above
those incidental to his style and modes of thought. While freer than
most of his contemporaries from the vain display of obscure erudition,
he falls into the common vice of introducing 'catalogues'. They are dull
in epic: in drama they are worse than dull. The _Hercules Furens_ is no
place for a matter-of-fact catalogue of the hero's labours, set forth
(210-248) in monotonous iambics from the mouth of Amphitryon. If they
are to be described at all, they demand the decorative treatment of
lyric verse,[200] nor is a catalogue of the herbs used by Medea to
poison the robe destined for her rival any more excusable.[201] Again,
like his contemporaries, he shows a lack of taste and humour which in
its worst manifestations passes belief. Not a few of the passages
already quoted serve to illustrate the point. But for fatuity it would
be hard to surpass the words with which Amphitryon interrupts Theseus'
account of the horrors of the underworld:

    estne aliqua tellus Cereris aut Bacchi ferax? (_H.F._ 697.)

Scarcely less absurd is the chorus in the _Phaedra_, who, when hymning
the power of love, give a long list of animals subject to such passion:
the catalogue culminates with the statement that even whales and
elephants fall in love (351):

    amat insani belua ponti
    Lucaeque boves.

But all such instances pale before the conclusion of the _Phaedra_. Not
content with giving a ghastly and exaggerated account of the death of
Hippolytus, Seneca must needs bring the fragments of his mutilated body
upon the scene. Theseus, at the suggestion of the chorus, attempts to
put them together again. The climax comes when, finding an
unidentifiable portion, he cries (1267):

quae pars tui sit dubito, sed pars est tui!

The actual language of the plays is pure and classical. There is no
trace of provincialism, nothing to suggest that Seneca was a Spaniard.
Its vices proceed from the false mould in which it has been cast. There
is a lack of connecting particles, and we proceed by a series of short
rhetorical jerks.[202] It is the style that Seneca himself condemns in
his letters (114. 1). Its faults are further aggravated by the metre:
taken line by line, the iambics of Seneca are impressive: taken
collectively they are monotonous in the extreme. The ear suffers a
continual series of stabs, which are not the less unpleasant because
none of them go deep. The verse seems formed, one might almost say
punched out, by a relentless machine. It is never modified by
circumstances; it is the same in narrative and dialogue, the same in
passion and in calm, if indeed Seneca can ever be said to be either
passionate or calm. Its pauses come with monotonous regularity at the
end of the line, diversified only by an occasional break at the caesura
in the third foot. Nor does the rule[203] observed by Seneca, that only
a spondee or anapaest is permitted in the fifth foot, tend to relieve
the monotony, though it does much to give the individual lines such
weight as they possess. A more complete contrast with the iambics of the
early Latin Tragedies cannot be imagined. What has been gained in polish
has been lost in dignity. Whence the Senecan iambic is derived, is a
question which cannot be answered with certainty. It is wholly unlike
the early Roman tragic iambic. Elision is rare, and there is little
variety. Instead of the massive and rugged measure of Pacuvius or
Accius, we have a finished and elegant monotony. In all likelihood it is
the lineal descendant of the iambic of Ovid.[204] In view of Seneca's
great admiration for Ovid--he quotes him continually in his prose
works--of Ovid's mastery of rhetoric and epigram, and yet more of the
distinct parallels traceable between the _Phaedra_ and _Medea_ of Seneca
and the corresponding _Heroides_ of Ovid, it becomes a strong
probability that the Senecan iambic was deeply influenced--if not
actually created--by the iambic style of the earlier poet's lost drama,
the famous _Medea_.[205]

As to the models to which he is indebted for his treatment of choric
metres we know nothing. In spite of the fact that he employs a large
variety of metres, and that his choruses at times stray from rhetoric
into poetry of a high order, there is in them a still more deadly
monotony than in his iambics. The chorus are devoid of life; they are
there partly as a concession to convention, but mainly to supply
incidental music. Their inherent dullness is not relieved by the metre.
Of strophic arrangement there is no clear trace; in a large proportion
of cases the choruses are written in one fixed and rigid metre admitting
of no variety: even where different metres alternate, the relaxation is
but small, for the same monotony reigns unchecked within the limits of
each section. The strange experiments in mixed metres in the _Agamemnon_
and _Oedipus_ show Seneca's technique at its worst: they are composed of
fragments of Horatian metres, thinly disguised by inversions and
resolutions of feet: they lack all governing principle and are an
unqualified failure. Of the remaining metres the Anapaestic, Asclepiad,
Sapphic, and Glyconic predominate. He is, perhaps, least unsuccessful in
his treatment of the Anapaest: the lines do not lack melody, and the
natural flexibility of the metre saves them from extreme monotony,
though they would have been more successful had he employed the
paroemiac line as a solemn and resonant close to the march of the
dimeter. But one wearies soon of the eternal Asclepiads and Glyconics
which he often allows to continue in unbroken and unvaried series for
seventy or eighty lines together. He rarely allows any variation within
the Glyconic and never makes use of it to break the monotony of the
Asclepiad. Still worse are his Sapphics. Abandoning the usual
arrangement in stanzas of three lesser Sapphics followed by an Adonic
verse, his Sapphic choruses consist almost entirely of the lesser
Sapphic varied by a very occasional Adonic. The continual succession of
these lines without so much as an occasional change of caesura to
diversify the rhythm is at times almost intolerable. At the close of
such choruses we feel as though we had jogged at a rapid trot for long
miles on a very hard and featureless road.

Language and metre work hand in hand with rhetoric to make these
strange plays dramatically ineffective. So strange are they and in many
ways so unlike anything else in Classical literature, that the question
as to the purpose with which they were written and the place they
occupied in the literature of their day affords an interesting subject
for speculation. Were they written for the stage? Decayed as was the
taste for tragedy, tragedies may occasionally have been acted.[206] But
there are considerations which suggest doubt as to whether the plays of
Seneca were written with any such purpose. Even under Nero it is
scarcely credible that the introduction of the mangled fragments of
Hippolytus upon the stage would be possible or palatable.[207] Medea
kills her children _coram populo_, and, not content with killing them,
flings their bodies at Jason from her magic chariot high in air.
Hercules kills his children in full view of the audience, not within the
house as in the corresponding drama of Euripides. Such scenes suggest
that the plays were written not for the stage but for recitation with
musical interludes from a trained choir. Indications that this was the
case are to be found in the _Hercules Furens_. While the hero is engaged
in slaying his children, Amphitryon, in a succession of short speeches,
gives the details of the murder. This would be ridiculous and
unnecessary were the scene actually presented on the stage, whereas they
become absolutely necessary on the assumption that the play was written
for recitation.[208] This assumption has the further merit of being
charitable; skilful recitation would cover many defects that would be
almost intolerable on the stage.

It is improbable, however, that the drama of Seneca occupied an
important position in the literature of their day. The golden age of
tragedy was past, and it is hard to believe that these plays are
favourable specimens even of their own age. The authors of the Silver
Age virtually ignore their existence, and, with the exception of two
references in Tertullian and one in Apollinaris Sidonius, they are
quoted only by scholars and grammarians.

They have small intrinsic value: but they afford interesting evidence
for the taste[209] of their own day, and their influence on modern drama
has been enormous. In the Renaissance at the dawn of the drama's
revival, Seneca was regarded as a dramatist of the first order. Scaliger
ranked him above Euripides: it was to him men turned to find models for
tragedy. Everywhere we see traces of the Senecan drama.[210] It is a
tribute to the dexterity of his rhetoric that his influence should have
been so enormous, but it is to be regretted in the interests of the
drama. For to Seneca more than to any other man is due the excessive
prominence of declamatory rhetoric, which has characterized the drama
throughout Western Europe from the Renaissance down to the latter half
of the nineteenth century, and has proved a blemish to the work of all
save a few great writers who recognized the value of rhetoric, but never
mistook the shadow for the substance.



A tragedy with this title is included by the MSS. among the plays of
Seneca. Its chief interest lies in the fact that it is the one surviving
example of a _fabula praetexta_, or tragedy, drawn from Roman life. It
deals with a tragic incident of Nero's reign, the final extinction of
the Claudian house. Octavia, daughter of Claudius and Messalina, is the
heroine. Her life was one long tragedy. Her childhood was darkened by
the disaster that befell her unworthy mother, her maturer years by her
marriage to Nero. She was a mere pawn in the game of politics. The
marriage was brought about by the designs of Agrippina, to render Nero
secure of the principate. To effect this end her betrothed Silanus was
killed, Claudius, her father, and Britannicus, her brother, dispatched
by poison. Soon her own wedded life turned to tragedy. Nero fell madly
in love with Poppaea, and resolved to put away Octavia. At Poppaea's
instigation she was accused of a base intrigue. The plot failed; the
false charge could not be pressed home; she was divorced on the ground
of sterility, and imprisoned in a town of Campania. A rumour arose that
she was to be reinstated; the mob of Rome declared itself in her favour
and gave wild expression to its joy. Poppaea's statues were cast down,
Octavia's replaced. Poppaea was furious. She laid siege to Nero and won
him to her will. The old false charge of adultery was trumped up; a
complaisant freed man was found to confess himself Octavia's lover. She
was banished to Pandataria and slain (June 9, 62 A.D.).

The play gives us a compressed version of the tragedy. It opens with a
speech by Octavia's nurse, setting forth the sorrows of her young
mistress. The speech over, she leaves the stage to be succeeded by
Octavia, who, in a lament closely modelled on the lament of the
Sophoclean Electra,[211] bewails the sorrows of her house, the deaths of
Messalina, Claudius, and Britannicus. The nurse reappears, attempts to
console her, and counsels submission to fate. Octavia changes her strain
and prays for death. After a lament from the chorus, Nero and Seneca
enter on the scene. Seneca urges moderation and sets forth his ideal of
monarchy. Nero is quite his match in argument, rejects his advice, and,
concluding with the words

    desiste tandem, iam gravis nimium mihi,
    instare: liceat facere quod Seneca improbat (588).

               Have done at last,
    For wearisome has thine insistence grown;
    One still may do what Seneca condemns ...

declares his intention of marrying Poppaea without delay. An interesting
chorus follows, describing how Rome of old expelled the kings for their
crimes. Nero has sinned even more than they. Has he not slain even his
mother? There follows a long and interesting description of the
murder,[212] which serves as an introduction to the entrance of the
ghost of Agrippina in the guise of an avenging fury, prophesying the
dethronement and death of her unnatural son. She is succeeded on the
stage by Octavia, resigned to the surrender of her position and content
to be no more than Nero's sister; once more the chorus bewail her fate.
At last her rival Poppaea appears in conversation with her nurse. The
nurse congratulates her, but Poppaea has been terrified by visions of
the night and is ill at ease. Her rival is not yet removed and her own
place is still insecure. At this point comes the one ray of hope that
illumines this sombre drama. A messenger arrives with the news that the
people have risen in Octavia's favour. But the reader is not left in
suspense for a moment. Nero appears and orders the suppression of the
_émeute_ and the execution of Octavia. The chorus mourn the fate of the
beloved of the Roman people. Their power and splendour is but brief:
Octavia perishes untimely, like Gracchus and Livius Drusus. She herself
appears in the hands of soldiers, being dragged off to execution and
death. Like Cassandra,[213] she compares her fate with that of the
nightingale, to whom the gods gave a new life of peace full of sweet
lamentation as a close to her troubled human existence. One more song of
condolence from the chorus, one more song of sorrow from Octavia, and
she is taken from our sight, and the play closes with a denunciation by
the chorus of the hardness of heart and the insatiate cruelty of Rome.

It is not hard to summarize the general effect of this curious drama.
Its author has read the Greek tragedians carefully and to some purpose;
he has studied the characters of Electra, Cassandra, and Antigone with
diligence, if without insight. He clearly feels deep sympathy for
Octavia, and to some extent succeeds in communicating this sympathy to
the audience. His heroine speaks in character: she is never a male
Stoic, flaunting in female garb, she is a genuine woman, a gentle,
lovable creature broken down by misfortune. The other characters are
uninteresting. Nero is an academic tyrant, Seneca an academic adviser,
Poppaea is little more than a lay figure. The most that can be said for
them is that they do not rant. The chorus are on the whole a fairly
satisfactory imitation of a chorus of sympathetic Greek women.[214]
There is nothing forced or unnatural about them; they are real human
beings; their sympathy is genuine, and its expression appropriate. But
they are dull; monotonous lamentation in monotonous anapaests is the
height of their capacity. The play is a failure: the subject is not in
itself dramatic; if it had been, it would have been spoiled by the
treatment it receives. We are never in suspense; Octavia has never the
remotest chance of escape; our pity for her is genuine enough, but her
character lacks both grandeur and psychological interest: the pathos of
her situation will not compensate us for the absence of a dramatic plot.
The fall of the house of Claudius compares ill with the tragedy of the
Pelopidae. And the treatment of the story, from the dramatic standpoint,
is childish. The play is scarcely more than a series of melancholy
monologues interspersed with not less melancholy dirges from the chorus.
The most we can say of it is that it is simple and unaffected: if it
lacks brilliance, it also lacks exaggeration. Thought and diction are
commonplace and uninspired, but they are never absurd--an extraordinary
merit in a poet of the Silver Age.

It will have been sufficiently evident from this brief sketch that
the _Octavia_ is in all respects very different indeed from the other
plays that claim Seneca for their author. It is free from their
faults and their merits alike. It never sinks to their depths, but
it never rises to their heights. Apart, however, from these general
considerations,[215] there is evidence amounting almost to certainty
that the _Octavia_ is not by Seneca. The tragedy takes place in the
lifetime of Seneca. Seneca himself figures in the play. The story is of
such a nature that it could hardly have been written, much less
published, in the reign of Nero. Yet more conclusive is the fact that
the ghost of Agrippina prophesies the fate of Nero in such a way as to
make it certain that the author outlived the emperor and was acquainted
with the facts of his death.[216]

Who then was the author? When did he write? Evidence is almost
absolutely lacking. From its comparative sanity and simplicity and its
intense hatred of Nero it may reasonably be conjectured that it is the
work of the Flavian age; the age of the anti-Neronian reaction and of
the return to saner models in life and literature. But there is no
certainty; it may have been written under Nerva, Trajan, or Hadrian. It
stands detached and aloof from the literature of its age.



It is possible to form a clearer picture of the personality of Aulus
Persius Flaccus, the satirist, than of any other poet of the Silver Age.
Not only are the essential facts of his brief career preserved for us in
a concise, but extremely relevant biography taken from the commentary of
the famous critic Valerius Probus, but there are few poets whose works
so clearly reveal the character of their author.

Persius was born at the lofty hill-town of Volaterrae, in Tuscany, on
the 4th of December, 34 A.D.[217] He was scarcely six years old when he
lost his father, a wealthy Roman knight, named Flaccus. His mother,
Fulvia Sisennia, married again, but her second husband, a knight named
Fusius, died after a few years of wedded life. Persius was educated at
home up to the age of twelve, when he was taken to Rome to be taught
literature by Remmius Palaemon and rhetoric by Verginius Flavus. Of the
latter nothing is known save that he wrote a much-approved textbook on
rhetoric and was exiled by Nero;[218] the former was a freedman whose
remarkable talents were only equalled by his gross vices; he had a
prodigious memory, was a skilful _improvvisatore_, and the most
distinguished teacher of the day.[219] At the age of sixteen, shortly
after his assumption of the _toga virilis_, the young Persius made the
friendship which was to be the ruling influence of his life. He learned
to know and love the great Stoic teacher, Cornutus, with an attachment
that was broken only by death. It was from Cornutus that he imbibed the
principles of Stoicism, and at his house that he met the Greek
philosophers, Petronius Aristocrates of Magnesia and the Lacedaemonian
physician, Claudius Agathurnus, whose influence upon his character was
only less than that of Cornutus. Among his intimates he counted
Calpurnius Statura, who died in early youth, and the famous lyric poet,
Caesius Bassus,[220] who was destined long to survive his friend and to
do him the last service of editing the satires, which his premature
death left unpublished and unfinished. Lucan also was one of his fellow
students in the house of Cornutus,[221] while at a later date he made
the acquaintance of Seneca, the leading writer of the day, although he
never felt the seductive attractions of his fluent style and subtle
intellect. More important influences were his almost filial respect and
affection for the distinguished orator,[222] M. Servilius Nonianus, and
his close companionship with Thrasea Paetus, the leader of the Stoic
opposition.[223] At one time Persius, if the scholiast may be
believed,[224] contemplated a military career. The statement is scarcely
probable in view of the contempt and dislike with which he invariably
speaks of soldiers, nor is it easy to conceive a profession less suited
to the temperament of the quiet and retiring poet. Whatever his original
intentions may have been, he actually chose the secluded life of study,
the _vita umbratilis_, as the Romans called it, remote from the dust and
heat of the great world. That he was wise we cannot doubt. It was the
only life possible in those days for a man of his character. 'Fuit morum
lenissimorum, verecundiae virginalis, pietatis erga matrem et sororem et
amitam exemplo sufficientis: fuit frugi, pudicus.' Even in a saner,
purer, and less turbulent age, such a one would have been more fitted
for the paths of study than for any branch of public life. He died of a
disease of the stomach on the 24th of November, 62 A.D., in his villa on
the Appian Way, some eight miles south of Rome,[225] leaving behind him
a valuable library, a small amount of unpublished verse, and a
considerable fortune, amounting to 2,000,000 sesterces. The whole of
this fortune he bequeathed to his mother and sister, only begging them
to give to his friend Cornutus a sum of 100,000 sesterces, twenty pounds
weight of silver plate, and the whole of his library, containing no less
than 700 volumes by the Stoic Chrysippus. Cornutus accepted the books,
but refused the rest, showing that indifference to wealth that was to be
looked for, though not always to be found, in professors of the Stoic
philosophy. The literary work left by the dead poet was submitted by his
mother to the judgement of Cornutus, himself a poet.[226] The bulk of
the work was not great. Persius had in his boyhood written a _praetexta_
or tragedy with a Roman plot, a book of poems describing his journeys
with Thrasea,[227] and a few verses on his kinswoman Arria, the wife of
Caecina Paetus, immortalized by her devotion to her husband and her
heroic death.[228] As the work of his maturer years he left his satires.
Cornutus recommended that all save the satires should be destroyed; they
alone, unfinished though they might be, were worthy of the memory of his
dead friend. He began the task of correcting them for publication, but
transferred it to Caesius Bassus, at the latter's earnest entreaty. Of
the nature of the correction and editing required we are ignorant, save
for the statement of Probus that a few lines were removed from the end
of the book to give it an appearance of completion.[229] The poems met
with instant success;[230] they excited both wonder and criticism; that
they continued to be read is shown by the existence of copious scholia,
which must, indeed, have been almost necessary for such continuance of
their popularity.[231]

The slender volume of Persius' works is composed of six satires in
hexameter verse and a prologue written in choliambi. The first deals
with the corruption of literature; the second, addressed to Macrinus on
his birthday, treats of the right and wrong objects of prayer; the third
is an appeal to an indolent young man for energy and earnestness; the
fourth, almost a continuation of the third, attacks the lack of
'self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control', in public men; the
fifth, addressed to his friend and teacher Cornutus, maintains the Stoic
doctrine that all the world are slaves; only the righteous man attains
to freedom; in the sixth, addressed to Caesius Bassus, the poet claims
the right to spend his wealth in reasonable enjoyment, and denounces the
grasping and unseemly selfishness of an imaginary heir to his fortune.
In the prologue--or epilogue as it is sometimes regarded[232]--he
sarcastically disclaims any pretensions to poetic inspiration, and hints
ironically that, in view of the number of poets who write merely to win
their bread, inspiration may be regarded as unnecessary.

The ambition to win fame as a satirist was first fired in Persius by his
reading the tenth book of the satires of Lucilius. If we may believe
Probus, he imitated the opening of that book in his first satire,
beginning like Lucilius by detracting from himself and proceeding to
attack other authors indiscriminately.[233] Not enough of the tenth book
of Lucilius has survived to enable us to check the accuracy of this
statement, though it finds independent testimony in a remark of the
scholiast on Horace, that the tenth book of Lucilius contained free
criticisms of the early poets of Rome.[234] Further, the third satire is
said by the scholiast to have been modelled on the fourth book of
Lucilius, and there is a certain amount of evidence for supposing the
choliambi of the epilogue to be an imitation of a Lucilian model.[235]
We have, however, no means of testing the truth of these assertions: the
debt of Persius to Lucilius must be taken on trust. Of his enormous
indebtedness to Horace we have, on the other hand, the clearest
evidence. It is hard to conceive two poets with less in common as
regards ideals, temperament, and technique; and yet throughout Persius
we are startled by strange, though unmistakable, echoes of Horace.

He knows his Horace by heart, and Horace has become a veritable
obsession. He is not content with giving his characters Horatian
names.[236] That might be convention, not plagiarism. But phrase after
phrase calls up the Horatian original. He runs through the whole gamut
of plagiarism. There is plagiarism, simple and direct.

                                         O si
    sub rastro crepet argenti mihi seria, dextro
    Hercule! (2. 10)

    O that I could hear a crock of silver chinking under
    my harrow, by the blessing of Hercules.    CONINGTON.

is undisguisedly copied from Horace (_Sat._ ii. 6. 10).

    O si urnam argenti fors quae mihi monstret, ut illi,
    thesauro invento, qui mercennarius agrum
    ilium ipsum mercatus aravit, dives amico

But as a rule, since he cannot keep Horace out, he strives to disguise
him. The familiar

          si vis me flere, dolendum est
    primum ipsi tibi

of the _Ars Poetica_ (102) reappears in the far less natural

            verum nec nocte paratum
    plorabit, qui me volet incurvasse querela (_Pers_. i. 91).

    A man's tears must come from his heart at the moment, not
    from his brains overnight, if he would have me bowed down
    beneath his piteous tale.    CONINGTON.

He speaks of his verses so finely turned and polished--

               ut per leve severos
    effundat iunctura unguis (i. 64).

        So that the critical nail runs glibly along even where the
    parts join.    CONINGTON.

In this fantastically contorted and affected phrase we may espy an
ingenious blending of two Horatian phrases,

                         totus teres atque rotundus,
    externi ne quid valeat per leve morari (_Sat._ ii. 7. 86),

and the simple

    ad unguem factus

f _Sat._ i. 5. 32.[237]

There is no need to multiply instances. Horace appears everywhere, but
_quantum mutatus ab illo!_ As the result of this particular method of
borrowing, assisted by affectations and obscurities which are all his
own, Persius attains to a kind of spurious originality of diction, which
often degenerates into sheer eccentricity. In spite of the fact that the
original text can almost everywhere be reconstructed with certainty, he
is almost the most obscure of Latin poets to the modern reader. A few
instances will suffice. There were, it appears, three ways of mocking a
person behind his back: one might tap the fingers against the lower
portion of the hand in imitation of a stork's beak, one might imitate a
donkey's ears, or one might put out one's tongue. When Persius wishes to
say 'Janus, I envy you your luck, for no one can mock at you behind your
back!' he writes (i. 58):

    O Iane, a tergo quem nulla ciconia pinsit,
    nec manus auriculas imitari mobilis albas,
    nec linguae, quantum sitiat canis Apula, tantae.

    Happy Janus, whom no stork's bill batters from behind,
    no nimble hand quick to imitate the ass's white ears,
    no long tongues thrust out like the tongue of a thirsty
    Apulian bitch.

The obscurity of the first line springs in part from the fact that the
custom is not elsewhere spoken of. The second line may pass. The third
defies literal translation. It means 'no long tongues thrust out like
the tongue of a thirsty Apulian bitch'. But the omission of all mention
both of 'protrusion' and of the 'dog days' makes the Latin almost
without meaning. The epithet _Apula_ becomes absurd. A 'thirsty Apulian
dog' is barely sufficient to suggest the midsummer drought of Apulia.
This is an extreme case; it is perhaps fairer to quote lines such as

    si puteal multa cautus vibice flagellas (iv. 49),

'if in your zeal for the main chance you flog the exchange with many a
stripe,' a mysterious passage generally supposed to mean 'if you exact
exorbitant usury'. A little less enigmatic, but fully as forced and
unnatural is

    dum veteres avias tibi de pulmone revello (v. 92),

'while I pull your old grandmotherly views from your heart,' or the
extraordinarily harsh metaphor of the first satire (24)--

    quo didicisse, nisi hoc fermentum et quae semel intus
    innata est rupto iecore exierit caprificus?

    What is the good of past study, unless this leaven--unless
    the wild fig-tree which has once struck its root into the
    breast, break through and come out?    CONINGTON.

which means nothing more than 'What is the good of study unless a man
brings out what he has in him?' A far more serious source of obscurity,
however, is his obscurity of thought. Even when the sense of individual
lines has been discovered, it is often difficult to see the drift of the
passage as a whole. Logical development is perhaps not to be expected in
the 'hotch-potch' of the 'satura'. But one has a right to demand that
the transitions should be easy and the drift of the argument clear. This
Persius refuses us. The difficulties which he presents are--as in the
case of Robert Browning--in part due to his adoption of the traditional
dramatic form in satire, a form in which clearness of expression is as
difficult as it is desirable. But we cannot excuse his obscurity as we
sometimes can in Browning--either as being to some extent a realistic
representation of the discursiveness and lack of method that
characterize the reasonings of the average intelligent man, or on the
other hand as springing from the intensity of the poet's thought. It is
not the case with Persius that his thoughts press so thick and quick
upon him, or are of so deep and complicated a character, as to be
incapable of simple and lucid expression. It is sheer waywardness and
perversity springing from the absence of true artistic feeling to which
we must attribute this cardinal defect. For his thought is commonplace,
and his observation of the minds and ways of men is limited.

The qualities that go to the making of the true satirist are many. He
must be dominated by a moral ideal, not necessarily of the highest kind,
but sufficiently exalted to lend dignity to his work and sufficiently
strongly realized to permeate it. He must have a wide and comprehensive
knowledge of his fellow men. A knowledge of the broad outlines of the
cardinal virtues and of the deadly sins is not sufficient. The satirist
must know them in their countless manifestations in the life of man, as
they move our awe or our contempt, our admiration or our terror, our
love or our loathing, our laughter or our tears. He must be able to
paint society in all its myriad hues. He must have a sense of humour,
even if he lacks the sense of proportion; he must have the gift of
laughter, even though his laughter ring harsh and painful. He must have
the gift of mordant speech, of epigram, and of rhetoric. He must drive
his points home with directness and lucidity. Mere denunciation of vice
is not enough. Few prophets are satirists; few satirists are prophets.

Of these qualities Persius has all too few. The man who has become the
pupil of a Cornutus at the age of sixteen, who has shunned a public
career, and is characterized by a _virginalis verecundia_, is not
likely, even in a long life, to acquire the knowledge of the world
required for genuine satire. The satirist, it might almost be said, must
not only have walked abroad in the great world, but must have passed
through the fire himself, and in some sense experienced the vices he has
set himself to lash. But Persius is young and, as far as might be in
that age, innocent. His outlook is from the seclusion of literary and
philosophic circles, and his satire lacks the peculiar vigour that can
only be got from jostling one's way in the wider world. In consequence
the picture of life which he presents lacks vividness. A few brilliant
sketches there are; but they are drawn from but a narrow range of
experience. There is nothing better of its kind than the description in
the first satire of the omnipresent poetaster of the reign of Nero, with
his affected recitations of tawdry, sensuous, and soulless verse (15):

    Scilicet haec populo pexusque togaque recenti
    et natalicia tandem cum sardonyche albus
    sede leges celsa, liquido cum plasmate guttur
    mobile conlueris, patranti fractus ocello.
    tunc neque more probo videas nec voce serena
    ingentis trepidare Titos, cum carmina lumbum
    intrant et tremulo scalpuntur ubi intima versu.

    Yes--you hope to read this out some day, got up sprucely with
    a new toga, all in white, with your birthday ring on at last,
    perched up on a high seat, after gargling your supple throat by
    a liquid process of tuning, with a languishing roll of your
    wanton eye. At this you may see great brawny sons of Rome all in
    a quiver, losing all decency of gesture and command of voice, as
    the strains glide into their very bones, and the marrow within is
    tickled by the ripple of the measure.    CONINGTON.

A few lines later comes a similar and equally vivid picture (30):

                ecce inter pocula quaerunt
    Romulidae saturi, quid dia poemata narrent.
    hic aliquis, cui circum umeros hyacinthina laena est,
    rancidulum quiddam balba de nare locutus,
    Phyllidas Hypsipylas, vatum et plorabile siquid,
    cliquat ac tenero subplantat verba palato.

    Listen. The sons of Rome are sitting after a full meal, and
    inquiring in their cups, 'What news from the divine world of
    poesy?' Hereupon a personage with a hyacinth-coloured mantle
    over his shoulders brings out some mawkish trash or other, with
    a snuffle and a lisp, something about Phyllises or Hypsipyles,
    or any of the many heroines over whom poets have snivelled,
    filtering out his tones and tripping up the words against the
    roof of his delicate mouth.    CONINGTON.

Here the poet is describing what he has seen; in the world of letters he
is at home. He can laugh pungently enough at the style of oratory
prevailing in the courts--

    nilne pudet capiti non posse pericula cano
    pellere, quin tepidum hoc optes audire 'decenter'.
    'fur es', ait Pedio. Pedius quid? crimina rasis
    librat in antithetis, doctas posuisse figuras
    laudatur, 'bellum hoc?' (i. 83).

    Are you not ashamed not to be able to plead against perils
    threatening your grey hairs, but you must needs be ambitious
    of hearing mawkish compliments to your 'good taste'? The
    accuser tells Pedius point blank, 'You are a thief.' What does
    Pedius do? Oh, he balances the charges in polished antitheses--
    he is deservedly praised for the artfulness of his tropes.
    Monstrous fine that!    CONINGTON.

He can parody the decadent poets with their effeminate rhythms and their
absurdities of speech.[238] He can mock the archaizer who goes to Accius
and Pacuvius for his inspiration.[239] He can give an admirable summary
of the genius of Lucilius and Horace--

                     secuit Lucilius urbem,
    te Lupe, te Muci, et genuinum fregit in illis;
    omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
    tangit et admissus circum praecordia ludit,
    callidus excusso populum suspendere naso (i. 114).

    Lucilius bit deep into the town of his day, its Lupuses and
    Muciuses, and broke his jaw-tooth on them. Horace, the rogue,
    manages to probe every fault while making his friend laugh; he
    gains his entrance and plays about the heartstrings with a sly
    talent for tossing up his nose and catching the public on it.

But the first satire stands alone _qua_ satire. It is not, perhaps, the
most interesting to the modern reader. It mocks at empty literary
fashions, which have comparatively small human interest. But it is in
this satire that Persius comes nearest the true satirist. The obscurity
and affectation of its language is its one serious fault; otherwise it
shows sound literary ideals, close observation, and a pretty vein of
humour. Elsewhere there is small trace of keen observation[240] of
actual life; he calls up before his reader no vision of the varied life
of Rome, whether in the streets or in the houses of the rich. Instead,
he laboriously tricks out some vice in human garb, converses with it in
language such as none save Persius ever dreamed of using, or scourges it
with all the heavy weapons of the Stoic armoury. There is at times a
certain violence and even coarseness[241] of description which does duty
for realism, but the words ring hollow and false. The picture described
or suggested is got at second-hand. He lacks the vivacity, realism, and
common sense of Horace, the cultured man of the world, the biting wit,
the astonishing descriptive power, and the masterly rhetoric of Juvenal.
We care little for the greater part of Persius' disquisition[242] on the
trite theme of the schools, 'what should be the object of man's prayers
to heaven?' when we have read the tenth satire of Juvenal. There is the
same commonplace theme in both, and there is perhaps less originality to
be found in the general treatment applied to it by Juvenal. But Juvenal
makes us forget the triteness of the theme by his extraordinary gift of
style. Like Victor Hugo, he has the gift of imparting richness and
splendour to the obvious by the sheer force and glory of his declamatory
power. Similarly the fifth satire, where Persius descants on the theme
that only the good man is free, while all the rest are slaves, compares
ill as a whole with the dialogue between Horace and Davus on the same
subject (_Sat._ ii. 7). There is such a harshness, an angularity and
bitterness about it, that he wholly fails of the effect produced by the
easy dignity of the earlier poet. It is abrupt, violent, and obscure;
and for this reason the austere Stoic makes less impression than his
more engaging and easy-going predecessor. Horace knew how to press home
his points, even while he played about the hearts of men. Persius has
neither the persuasiveness of Horace nor the force of Juvenal.

But Persius, if he falls below his great rivals in point of art, is in
one respect immeasurably their superior. He is a better and a nobler
man. In his denunciations of vice his eyes are set on a more exalted
ideal, an ideal from which he never wanders. There is a world of
difference between the 'golden mean' of Horace, and the worship of
virtue that redeems the obscurities of Persius. There is a still greater
gulf between the high scorn manifested by Persius for all that is base
and ignoble, and the fierce, almost petulant, indignation of Juvenal,
that often seems to rend for the mere delight of rending, and is at
times disfigured by such grossness of language that many an
unsympathetic reader has wondered whether the indignation was genuine.
Neither Horace nor Juvenal ever rose to the moral heights of the
conclusion of the second satire (61):

    O curvae in terris animae et caelestium inanes,
    quid iuvat hoc, templis nostros immittere mores
    et bona dis ex hac scelerata ducere pulpa?
    haec sibi corrupto casiam dissolvit olivo
    et Calabrum coxit vitiato murice vellus,
    haec bacam conchae rasisse et stringere venas
    ferventis massae crudo de pulvere iussit.
    peccat et haec, peccat, vitio tamen utitur. at vos
    dicite, pontifices, in sancto quid facit aurum?
    nempe hoc quod Veneri donatae a virgine pupae.
    quin damus id superis, de magna quod dare lance
    non possit magni Messalae lippa propago?
    compositum ius fasque animo sanctosque recessus
    mentis et incoctum generoso pectus honesto:
    haec cedo ut admoveam templis et farre litabo.

    O ye souls that cleave to earth and have nothing heavenly
    in you! How can it answer to introduce the spirit of the age
    into the temple-service and infer what the gods like from
    this sinful pampered flesh of ours? The flesh it is that has
    got to spoil wholesome oil by mixing casia with it--to steep
    Calabrian wool in purple that was made for no such use; that
    has made us tear the pearl from the oyster, and separate the
    veins of the glowing ore from the primitive slag. It sins--yes,
    it sins; but it takes something by its sinning; but you,
    reverend pontiffs, tell us what good gold can do in a holy
    place. Just as much or as little as the dolls which a young
    girl offers to Venus. Give _we_ rather to the gods such an
    offering as great Messala's blear-eyed representative has no
    means of giving, even out of his great dish--duty to God and
    man well blended in the mind--purity in the shrine of the heart,
    and a manly flavour of nobleness pervading the bosom. Let me
    have these to carry to the temple, and a handful of meal shall
    win me acceptance.    CONINGTON.

This is real enthusiasm, though the theme be trite, and it is
noteworthy that the enthusiasm has clarified the language, which goes
straight to the point without obscurity or circumlocution. Here alone
does the second satire of Persius surpass the more famous tenth satire
of Juvenal. Yet even this fine outburst is surpassed by the deservedly
well-known passage of the third satire, in which Persius appeals to a
young man 'who has great possessions' to live earnestly and
strenuously (23):

    udum et molle lutum es, nunc nunc properandus et acri
    fingendus sine fine rota. sed rure paterno
    est tibi far modicum, purum et sine labe salinum
    (quid metuas?) cultrixque foci secura patella est.
    hoc satis? an deceat pulmonem rumpere ventis,
    stemmate quod Tusco ramum millesime ducis,
    censoremve tuum vel quod trabeate salutas?
    ad populum phaleras, ego te intus et in cute novi.
    non pudet ad morem discincti vivere Nattae.
    sed stupet hic vitio et fibris increvit opimum
    pingue, caret culpa, nescit quid perdat, et alto
    demersus summa rursus non bullit in unda.
      magne pater divum, saevos punire tyrannos
    haut alia ratione velis, cum dira libido
    moverit ingenium ferventi tincta veneno:
    virtutem videant intabescantque relicta.
    anne magis Siculi gemuerunt aera iuvenci,
    et magis auratis pendens laquearibus ensis
    purpureas subter cervices terruit, 'imus,
    imus praecipites' quam si sibi dicat et intus
    palleat infelix quod proxima nesciat uxor?

    You are moist soft earth, you ought to be taken instantly,
    instantly, and fashioned without end by the rapid wheel. But you
    have a paternal estate with a fair crop of corn, a salt-cellar
    of unsullied brightness (no fear of ruin surely!), and a snug
    dish for fireside service. Are you to be satisfied with this? or
    would it be decent to puff yourself and vapour because your branch
    is connected with a Tuscan stem, and you are thousandth in the line,
    or because you wear purple on review days and salute your censor?
   Off with your trappings to the mob! I can look under them and see
   your skin. Are you not ashamed to live the loose life of Natta? But he
   is paralysed by vice; his heart is overgrown by thick collops of fat;
   he feels no reproach; he knows nothing of his loss; he is sunk in the
   depth and makes no more bubbles on the surface. Great Father of the
   Gods, be it thy pleasure to inflict no other punishment on the monsters
   of tyranny, after their nature has been stirred by fierce passion, that
   has the taint of fiery poison--let them look upon virtue and pine that
   they have lost her for ever! Were the groans from the brazen bull of
   Sicily more terrible, or did the sword that hung from the gilded cornice
   strike more dread into the princely neck beneath it, than the voice
   which whispers to the heart, 'We are going, going down a precipice,' and
   the ghastly inward paleness, which is a mystery, even to the wife of our
   heart?    CONINGTON.

The man who wrote this has 'loved righteousness and hated iniquity'. In
the work of Persius' rivals it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that
it is the hatred of iniquity that is most prominent; the love of
righteousness holds but a secondary place.

Persius is uncompromising; he is the true Stoic with the motto 'all or
nothing'. But he has nothing of the stilted Stoicism that is such a
painful feature of the plays of Seneca; nor, however perverse and
affected he may be in diction, do we ever feel that his Stoicism is in
some respects no better than a moral pose, a distressing feeling that
sometimes afflicts as we read Seneca's letters or consolatory treatises.
He speaks straight from the heart. His faults are more often the faults
of the school of philosophy than of the schools of rhetoric. The young
Lucan is said to have exclaimed, after hearing a recitation given by
Persius:[243] 'That is real poetry, my verses are mere _jeux d'esprit_.'

If we take Persius at his noblest, Lucan's criticism is just. In these
passages not only is the thought singularly pure and noble, and the
expression felicitous, but the actual metre represents almost the
high-water mark of the post-Vergilian hexameter. Here, as in other
writers of the age, the influence of Ovid is traceable in the increase
of dactyls and the avoidance of elision. But the verse has a swing and
dignity, together with a variety, that can hardly be found in any other
poetry of the Silver Age. It is the existence of passages such as
these, and the high unswerving moral enthusiasm characterizing all his
work, that have made Persius live through the centuries. It is
fashionable for the critic to say, 'We lay down Persius with a sigh of
relief.' That is true, but we feel the better for reading him. He is
one of the few writers of Rome whose personality awakens a feeling of
warm affection. He was a rigid Stoic, yet not proud or cold. In an age
of almost universal corruption he kept himself unspotted from the
world. He had a rare capacity for whole-hearted friendship. If his
teacher Cornutus had never made another convert, and his preaching had
been vain, it would have been ample reward to have won such a tribute
of affection and gratitude as the lines in which Persius pours forth
his soul to him (v. 21):

                 tibi nunc hortante Camena
    excutienda damus praecordia, quantaque nostrae
    pars tua sit, Cornute, animae, tibi, dulcis amice,
    ostendisse iuvat. pulsa dinoscere cautus
    quid solidum crepet et pictae tectoria linguae.
    hic ego centenas ausim deposcere fauces,
    ut quantum mihi te sinuoso in pectore fixi,
    voce traham pura, totumque hoc verba resignent,
    quod latet arcana non enarrabile fibra.
      cum primum pavido custos mihi purpura cessit
    bullaque subcinctis Laribus donata pependit,
    cum blandi comites totaque inpune Subura
    permisit sparsisse oculos iam candidus umbo,
    cumque iter ambiguum est et vitae nescius error
    deducit trepidas ramosa in compita mentes,
    me tibi supposui. teneros tu suscipis annos
    Socratico, Cornute, sinu. tune fallere sollers
    adposita intortos extendit regula mores,
    et premitur ratione animus vincique laborat
    artificemque tuo ducit sub pollice vultum.
    tecum etenim longos memini consumere soles,
    et tecum primas epulis decerpere noctes.
    unum opus et requiem pariter disponimus ambo,
    atque verecunda laxamus seria mensa.
    non equidem hoc dubites, amborum foedere certo
    consentire dies et ab uno sidere duci:
    nostra vel aequali suspendit tempora libra
    Parca tenax veri, seu nata fidelibus hora
    dividit in geminos concordia fata duorum,
    Saturnumque gravem nostro Iove frangimus una:
    nescio quod certe est quod me tibi temperat astrum.

    It is to you, at the instance of the muse within me, that I
    would offer my heart to be sifted thoroughly; my passion is to
    show you, Cornutus, how large a share of my inmost being is
    yours, my beloved friend; strike it, use every test to tell what
    rings sound, and what is the mere plaster of a varnished tongue.
    An occasion indeed it is for which I may well venture to ask a
    hundred voices, that I may bring out in clear utterance how
    thoroughly I have lodged you in the very corners of my breast, and
    unfold in words all the unutterable feelings which lie entwined
    deep down among my heart-strings. When first the guardianship of the
    purple ceased to awe me and the band of boyhood was hung up as an
    offering to the quaint old household gods, when my companions made
    themselves pleasant, and the folds of my gown, now white, the stripe
    of purple gone, left me free to cast my eyes at will over the whole
    Subura--just when the way of life begins to be uncertain, and the
    bewildered mind finds that its ignorant ramblings have brought it to
    a point where roads branch off--then it was that I made myself your
    adopted child. You at once received the young foundling into the
    bosom of a second Socrates; and soon your rule, with artful surprise,
    straightens the moral twists that it detects, and my spirit becomes
    moulded by reason and struggles to be subdued, and assumes plastic
    features under your hand. Aye, I mind well how I used to wear away
    long summer suns with you, and with you pluck the early bloom of the
    night for feasting. We twain have one work and one set time for rest,
    and the enjoyment of a moderate table unbends our gravity. No, I would
    not have you doubt that there is a fixed law that brings our lives
    into one accord, and one star that guides them. Whether it be in the
    equal balance that truthful Destiny hangs our days, or whether the
    birth-hour sacred to faithful friends shares our united fates between
    the Heavenly Twins, and we break the shock of Saturn together by the
    common shield of Jupiter, some star, I am assured, there is which
    fuses me with you.    CONINGTON.

There is a sincerity about these beautiful lines that is as rare as it
is welcome in the poetry of this period. Much may be forgiven to the
poet who could write thus, even though rarely. And it must be remembered
that Persius is free from the worst of the besetting sins of his age,
the love of rhetorical brilliance at the expense of sense, a failing
that he criticizes with no little force in his opening satire. His
harshness and obscurity are due in part to lack of sufficient literary
skill, but still more to his attempt to assert his originality against
the insistent obsession of the satires of Horace. As in the case of so
many of his contemporaries, his literary fame must depend in the main on
his 'purple patches'.

But he does what few of his fellow poets do; he leaves a vivid
impression of his personality, and reveals a genuine moral ardour and
nobility of character that refuse to be clouded or hidden by his dark
sayings and his perverse obscurity.



Marcus Annaeus Lucanus,[244] the poet who more than any other exhibits
the typical excellences and defects of the Silver Age, was born at
Cordova on November 3, in the year 39 A.D.[245] He came of a
distinguished line. He was the son of M. Annaeus Mela, brother of Seneca
the philosopher and dramatist, and son of Seneca the rhetorician. Mela
was a wealthy man,[246] and in 40 A.D. removed with his family to Rome.
His son (whose future as a great poet is said to have been portended by
a swarm of bees that settled on the cradle and the lips of the bard that
was to be[247]) received the best education that Rome could bestow. He
showed extraordinary precocity in all the tricks of declamatory
rhetoric, soon equalling his instructors in skill and far out-distancing
his fellow pupils.[248] Among his preceptors was his kinsman, the famous
Stoic, L. Annaeus Cornutus, well known as the friend and teacher of
Persius.[249] His first appearance before the public was at the Neronia
in 60 A.D., when he won the prize for Latin verse with a poem in praise
of Nero.[250] Immediately afterwards he seems to have proceeded to
Athens. But his talents had attracted the attention and patronage of
Nero. He was recalled to Rome,[251] and at the nomination of the
princeps became Quaestor, although he had not yet attained the requisite
age of twenty-five.[252] He was also admitted to the College of Augurs,
and for some time continued to enjoy Nero's friendship. But it was not
to last. Lucan had been educated in Stoic surroundings. Though his own
relatives managed to combine the service of the emperor with their Stoic
principles, Lucan had not failed to imbibe the passionate regret for the
lost liberty of the republic that was so prominent a feature in Stoic
circles. It was not a mere pose that led him to select the civil war as
the subject of his poem. His enthusiasm for liberty may have been
literary rather than political in character. But when we are dealing
with an artistic temperament we must bear in mind that the ideals which
were primarily inspiration for art may on slight provocation become
incentives to action. And in the case of Lucan that provocation was not
lacking. As his fame increased, Nero's friendship was replaced by
jealousy. The protégé had become too serious a rival to the patron.[253]
Lucan's vanity was injured by Nero's sudden withdrawal from a
recitation.[254] From servile flattery he turned to violent criticism:
he spared his former patron neither in word nor deed. He turned the
sharp edge of his satire against him in various pungent epigrams, and
was forbidden to recite poetry or to plead in the law courts.[255] But
it would be unjust to Lucan to attribute his changed attitude purely to
wounded vanity. Seneca was at this very moment attempting to retire from
public life. The court of Nero had become no place for him. Lucan cannot
have been unaffected by the action of his uncle, and it is only just to
him to admit the possibility that the change in his attitude may have
been due, at any rate in part, to a change in character, an awakening to
the needs of the State and the needs of his own soul. There is no need
to question the genuineness of his political enthusiasm, even though it
tended to be theatrical and may have been largely kindled by motives not
wholly disinterested. The Pisonian conspiracy found in him a ready
coadjutor. He became one of the ringleaders of the plot ('paene signifer
coniurationis'), and in a bombastic vein would promise Nero's head to
his fellow-conspirators.[256] On the detection of the plot, in 65 A. D.,
he, with the other chiefs of the conspiracy, was arrested. For long he
denied his complicity; at last, perhaps on the threat or application of
torture, his nerve failed him; he descended to grovelling entreaties,
and to win himself a reprieve accused his innocent mother, Acilia, of
complicity in the plot.[257] His conduct does not admit of excuse. But
it is not for the plain, matter-of-fact man to pass judgement lightly on
the weakness of a highly-strung, nervous, artistic temperament; the
artist's imagination may transmute pain such as others might hope to
bear, to anguish such as they cannot even imagine. There lies the
palliation, if palliation it be, of Lucan's crime. But it availed him
nothing: the reprieve was never won; he was condemned to die, the manner
of his death being left to his free choice. He wrote a few instructions
for his father as to the editing of his poems, partook of a sumptuous
dinner, and then, adopting the fashionable form of suicide, cut the
arteries of his arms and bled to death. He died declaiming a passage
from his own poetry in which he had described the death of a soldier
from loss of blood.[258] It was a theatrical end, and not out of keeping
with his life.

He lived but a little over twenty-five years and five months, but he
left behind him a vast amount of poetry and an extraordinary reputation.
His earliest work[259] seems to have been the _Iliacon_, describing the
death of Hector, his ransom and burial. Next came the _Catachthonion_, a
short work on the underworld. This was followed by the _laudes Neronis_,
to which reference has already been made, and the _Orpheus_, which was
extemporized in a competition with other poets.[260] If we follow the
order given by Statius, his next work was the prose declamation on the
burning of the city (64 A.D.) and a poem addressed to his wife Polla
(_adlocutio ad Pollam_). Then comes his _chef d'oeuvre_, the
_Pharsalia_, to which we shall return. Of the other works mentioned by
Vacca, the _Silvae_ must have been, like the _Silvae_ of Statius,
trifles thrown off hurriedly for the gratification of friends or for the
celebration of some great occasion.[261] The _salticae fabulae_ were
_libretti_ written for the _pantomimus_,[262] while the _Saturnalia_
were light verse sent as presents to friends on the festival of
Saturn.[263] Of these works nothing has come down to us save a few
scanty fragments, not in any way calculated to make us regret their
loss.[264] Even Vacca can find no very high praise for them. Judging
alike from the probabilities of the case and from the _Pharsalia_
itself, they must have suffered from Lucan's fatal gift of fluency.

It was the _Pharsalia_ that won Lucan undying fame. Three books of this
ambitious historical epic were finished and given to the world during
the poet's lifetime.[265] These the poet had, at any rate in part,
recited in public, calling attention, with a vanity worthy of himself
and of the age, to his extreme youth; he was younger than Vergil when
he composed the _Culex_![266] The remaining seven books never had the
benefit of revision, owing to the poet's untimely end,[267] though
curiously enough they show no special signs of lack of finish, and
contain some of the finest passages in the whole work. The composition
of all ten books falls between 60 and 65 A.D. Lucan had chosen for his
theme the death-struggle of the republic. It was a daring choice for
more reasons than one. There were elements of danger in singing the
praises of Pompey and Cato under the principate. To that the fate of
Cremutius Cordus bore eloquent testimony.[268] But Nero was less
sensitive about the past than Tiberius. The republic had never become
officially extinct. Tyrannicide was a licensed and hackneyed theme of
the schools of rhetoric; in skilful hands it might be a subtle
instrument of flattery. Moreover, Nero was descended in direct line
from Domitius Ahenobarbus, who had fought and died for Pompey on the
field of Pharsalus. In the books published during Lucan's lifetime
there is not a line that could have given personal offence to the
princeps, while the fulsome dedication would have covered a multitude
of indiscretions.[269] Far more serious were the difficulties presented
by the nature of the story itself. Historical epic rarely admits of
artistic treatment, and the nearer the date of the events described,
the more insoluble is the problem.

Two courses were open to Lucan: he might treat the story with
comparative fidelity to truth, avoiding all supernatural machinery, save
such as was justified by historical tradition; on the other hand he
might adopt the course subsequently pursued by Silius Italicus in his
poem on the Punic War, and introduce all the hackneyed interventions of
Olympus, sanctioned by Vergil and followed by many a poet since. The
latter method is obviously only suited for a purely legendary epic,
though even the legendary epic can well dispense with it, and it might
have been supposed that an age so sceptical and careless of the orthodox
theology, as that into which Lucan was born, would have felt the full
absurdity of applying such a device to historical epic. Lucan was wise
in his choice, and left Olympus severely alone. But his choice roused
contemporary criticism. In the _Satyricon_ of Petronius we find a
defence of the old conventional mechanism placed in the mouth of a
shabby and disreputable poet named Eumolpus (118). He complains 'that
young men plunge headlong into epic verse thinking that it requires no
more skill than a showy declamation at the school of rhetoric. They do
not realize that to be a successful poet one must be steeped in the
great ocean of literature. They do not recognize that there is such a
thing as a special poetic vocabulary,[270] or that the commonplaces of
rhetoric require to be interwoven with, not merely tacked on to, the
fabric of their verse, and so it comes about that the writer who would
turn the Civil War into an epic is apt to stumble beneath the burden he
takes upon his shoulders, unless indeed he is permeated through and
through with literature. You must not simply turn history into verse:
historians do it better in prose. Rather the poet should sweep on his
way borne by the breath of inspiration and untrammelled by hard fact,
making use of cunning artifice and divine intervention, and interfusing
his "commonplaces" with legendary lore; only so will his work seem to be
the fine frenzy of an inspired bard rather than the exactitude of one
who is giving sworn evidence before a judge'. He then proceeds in 295
verses to deal, after the manner he has prescribed, with the events
contained in the first three books of the _Pharsalia_, the only books
that had been made public at the time when Petronius' romance was
composed. Pluto inspires Caesar to the crime of civil war. Peace,
Fidelity, and Concord fly from the earth at his approach. The gods range
themselves on this side and on that. Discord perched high on Apennine
incites the peoples of Italy to war. The verse is uninspired, the method
is impossible, the remedy is worse than the disease. The last hope of
our taking the poem seriously has departed. Yet this passage of
Petronius contains much sound criticism. Military and political history
does _not_ admit of being turned into genuine poetry; an epic on an
historic war must depend largely on its purple patches of description
and rhetoric: it almost demands that prominence of epigram and
'commonplace' that Eumolpus condemns.[27l] Petronius sees the weakness
of Lucan's epic; he fails because, like Silius Italicus, he thinks he
has discovered a remedy. The faults of Lucan's poem are largely inherent
in the subject chosen; they will stand out clearly as we review the
structure and style of the work.

In taking the whole of the Civil War for his subject Lucan was
confronted with a somewhat similar problem to that which faced
Shakespeare in his _Julius Caesar_. The problem that Shakespeare had to
meet was how to prolong and sustain the interest of the play after the
death of Caesar and the events that centre immediately round it. The
difficulty was surmounted triumphantly. The obstacles in Lucan's path
were greater. The poem is incomplete, and there must be some uncertainty
as to its intended scope. That it was planned to include the death of
Cato is clear from the importance assigned him in the existing books.
But could the work have concluded on such a note of gloom as the death
of the staunchest champion of the republic? The whole tone of the poem
is republican in the extreme. If the republic must perish, it should not
perish unavenged. There are, moreover, many prophetic allusions to the
death of Caesar,[272] which point conclusively to Lucan's intention to
have made the vengeance of Brutus and Cassius the climax of his poem.
The problem which the poet had to resolve was how to prevent the
interest from nagging, as his heroes were swept away before the
triumphant advance of Caesar. He concentrates our attention at the
outset on Pompey. Throughout the first eight books it is for him that he
claims our sympathy. And then he is crushed by his rival and driven in
flight to die an unheroic death. It is only at this point that Cato
leaps into prominence. But though he has a firmness of purpose and a
grandeur of character that Lucan could not give Pompey, he never has the
chance to become the protagonist. Both Pompey and Cato, for all the fine
rhetoric bestowed on them, fail to grip the reader, while from the very
facts of history it is impossible for either of them to lend unity to
the plot. Both are dwarfed by the character of Caesar. Caesar is the
villain of the piece; he is a monster athirst for blood, he will not
permit the corpses of his enemies (over which he is made to gloat) to be
buried after the great battle, and when on his coming to Egypt the head
of his rival is brought him, his grief and indignation are represented
as being a mere blind to conceal his real joy. The successes are often
merely the result of good fortune. Lucan is loth to admit even his
greatness as a general. And yet, blacken his character as he may, he
feels that greatness. From the moment of his brilliant characterization
of Caesar in the first book[273] we feel we have a man who knows what he
desires and will shrink from nothing to attain his ends; he 'thinks
naught yet done while aught remains to do',[274] he 'strikes fear into
men's hearts because he knows not the meaning of fear',[275] and through
all the melodramatic rhetoric with which he addresses his soldiers,
there shines clear the spirit of a great leader of men. Whoever was
intended by the poet for his hero, the fact remains that Caesar
dominates the poem as none save the hero should do. He is the hero of
the _Pharsalia_ as Satan is the hero of _Paradise Lost_.[276] It is
through him above all that Lucan retains our interest. The result is
fatal for the proper proportion of the plot. Lucan does not actually
alienate our sympathies from the republic, but, whatever our moral
judgement on the conflict may be, our interest centres on Caesar, and it
is hardly an exaggeration to say that the true tragedy of the epic would
have come with his death. The _Pharsalia_ fails of its object as a
republican epic; its success comes largely from an unintended quarter.

What the exact scale of the poem was meant to be it is hard to say.
Vergil had set the precedent for an epic of twelve books, and it is not
improbable that Lucan would have followed his example. On the other
hand, if Cato and Caesar had both to be killed in the last two books,
great compression would have been necessary. In view of the diffuseness
of Lucan's rhetoric, and the rambling nature of his narrative, it is
more than probable that the epic would have exceeded the limit of twelve
books and been a formidable rival in bulk to the _Punica_ of Silius
Italicus. On the other hand, the last seven books of the existing poem
are unrevised, and may have been destined for abridgement. There is so
much that is irrelevant that the task would have been easy.

But it is not for the plot that Lucan's epic is read. It has won
immortality by the brilliance of its rhetoric, its unsurpassed
epigrams, its clear-cut summaries of character, its biting satire, and
its outbursts of lofty political enthusiasm. These features stand out
pre-eminent and atone for its astounding errors of taste, its strained
hyperbole, its foolish digression. Lucan fails to make his actors live
as they move through his pages; their actions and their speeches are
alike theatrical; he has no dramatic power. But he can sum up their
characters in burning lines that live through all time and have few
parallels in literature. And these pictures are in all essentials
surprisingly just and accurate. His affection for Pompey and the
demands of his plot presented strong temptations to exalt his character
at the expense of historical truth. Yet what can be more just than the
famous lines of the first book, where his character is set against
Caesar's? (129):

                          vergentibus annis
    in senium longoque togae tranquillior usu
    dedidicit iam pace ducem: famaeque petitor
    multa dare in volgus; totus popularibus auris
    inpelli plausuque sui gaudere theatri;
    nec reparare novas vires, multumque priori
    credere fortunae, stat magni nominis umbra:
    qualis frugifero querens sublimis in agro
    exuvias veteres populi sacrataque gestans
    dona ducum: nec iam validis radicibus haerens
    pondere fixa suo est, nudosque per aera ramos
    effundens trunco non frondibus efficit umbram.

                       One aged grown
    Had long exchanged the corselet for the gown:
    In peace forgotten the commander's art,
    And learned to play the politician's part,--
    To court the suffrage of the crowd, and hear
    In his own theatre the venal cheer;
    Idly he rested on his ancient fame,
    And was the shadow of a mighty name.
    Like the huge oak which towers above the fields
    Decked with ancestral spoils and votive shields.
    Its roots, once mighty, loosened by decay,
    Hold it no more: weight is its only stay;
    Its naked limbs bespeak its glories past,
    And by its trunk, not leaves, a shade is cast.
                                  PROF. GOLDWIN SMITH.

Even the panegyric pronounced on him by Cato on hearing the news of his
death is as moderate as it is true and dignified (ix. 190):

    civis obit, inquit, multum maioribus inpar
    nosse modum iuris, sed in hoc tamen en utilis aevo,
    cui non ulla fuit iusti reverentia; salva
    libertate potens, et solus plebe parata
    privatus servire sibi, rectorque senatus,
    sed regnantis, erat.
              ... invasit ferrum, sed ponere, norat;
    praetulit arma togae, sed pacem armatus amavit:
    iuvit sumpta ducem iuvit dimissa potestas.

    A man, he said, is gone, unequal far
    To our good sires in reverence for the law,
    Yet useful in an age that knew not right,
    One who could power with liberty unite,
    Uncrowned 'mid willing subjects could remain,
    The Senate rule, yet let the Senate reign.
     *       *       *       *       *
    He drew the sword, but he could sheathe it too,
    War was his trade, yet he to peace inclined,
    Gladly command accepted-and resigned.--PROF. GOLDWIN SMITH.

Elsewhere he is as one of the 'strengthless dead', here he lives.
Elsewhere he may be invested with the pathos that must cling to the
shadow of a mighty name, but he is too weak and ineffective to be
interesting. His wavering policy in his last campaign is unduly
emphasized.[277] When he is face to face with Caesar at Pharsalus and
exhorts his men, he can but boast, he cannot inspire.[278] When the
battle turns against him he bids his men cease from the fight, and
himself flies, that he may not involve them in his own disaster.[279] No
less convincing portrait could be drawn. The material was unpromising,
but Lucan emphasizes all his weaknesses and wholly fails to bring out
his nobler elements. He is unworthy of the line

    nec cinis exiguus tantam compescuit umbram.

So, too, in a lesser degree with Caesar. For a moment in the first book
he flashes upon us in his full splendour (143):

                     sed non in Caesare tantum
    nomen erat nec fama ducis: sed nescia virtus
    stare loco, solusque pudor non vincere bello.
    acer et indomitus, quo spes quoque ira vocasset.
    ferre manum et numquam temerando parcere ferro,
    successus urgere suos, instare fauori
    numinis, inpellens quidquid sibi summa petenti
    obstaret, gaudensque viam fecisse ruina.

    Not such the talisman of Caesar's name,
    But Caesar had, in place of empty fame.
    The unresting soul, the resolution high
    That shuts out every thought but victory.
    Whate'er his goal, nor mercy nor dismay
    He owned, but drew the sword and cleft his way:
    Pressed each advantage that his fortune gave;
    Constrained the stars to combat for the brave;
    Swept from his path whate'er his rise delayed,
    And marched triumphant through the wreck he made.
                                         PROF. GOLDWIN SMITH.

Here at any rate is Caesar the general: in such a poem there is no room
for Caesar the statesman. But from this point onward we see no true
Caesar. Henceforward, save for a few brief moments, he is a figure for
the melodramatic stage alone, a 'brigand chief', a master hypocrite, the
favourite of fortune. And yet, for all his unreality, Lucan has endowed
him with such impetuous vigour and such a plenitude of power that he
dwarfs the other puppets that throng his pages even more, if possible,
than in real life he overtopped his contemporaries.

Cato, the third great figure of the _Pharsalia_, was easier to draw.
Unconsciously stagey in life, he is little stagier in Lucan. And yet,
in spite of his absurdity, he has a nobility and a sincerity of purpose
which is without parallel in that corrupt age. He was the hero of the
Stoic republicans[280] of the early principate, the man of principle,
stern and unbending. He requires no fine touches of light and shade,
for he is the perfect Stoic. But from the very rigidity of his
principles he was no statesman and never played more than a secondary
part in politics.

Lucan's task is to exalt him from the second rank to the first. But it
is no easy undertaking, since it was not till after the disaster of
Pharsalus that he played any conspicuous part in the Civil War. He first
appears as warrant for the justice of the republican cause (i. 128). We
next see him as the hope of all true patriots at Rome (ii. 238). Pompey
has fled southward. Cato alone remains the representative of all that is
noblest and best in Rome. He has no illusions as to Pompey's character.
He is not the leader he would choose for so sacred a cause; but between
Pompey and Caesar there can be no wavering. He follows Pompey. Not till
the ninth book does he reappear in the action. Pompey is fallen, and all
turn to Cato as their leader. The cause is lost, and Cato knows it well;
but he obeys the call of duty and undertakes the hopeless enterprise
undismayed. He is a stern leader, but he shares his men's hardships to
the full, and fortifies them by his example. He is in every action what
the real Cato only was at Utica. On him above all others Lucan has
lavished all his powers; and he has succeeded in creating a character of
such real moral grandeur that, in spite of its hardness and austerity,
it almost succeeds in winning our affection (ii. 380):

    hi mores, haec duri inmota Catonis
    secta fuit, servare modum finesque tenere
    naturamque sequi patriaeque inpendere vitam
    nec sibi sed toti genitum se credere mundo.

                            'Twas his rule
    Inflexible to keep the middle path
    Marked out and bounded; to observe the laws
    Of natural right; and for his country's sake
    To risk his life, his all, as not for self
    Brought into being, but for all the world.
                                      SIR E. RIDLEY.

Here is a man indeed worthy to be the hero of a republican epic, did
history permit it. Our chief reason--at moments there is a temptation to
say 'our only reason'--for regretting the incompletion of the
_Pharsalia_ is that Lucan did not live to describe Cato's death. _There_
was a subject which was worthy of his pen and would have been a labour
of love. With what splendour of rhetoric he might have invested it can
only be conjectured from the magnificent passage where Cato refuses to
inquire into his fate at Ammon's oracle (ix. 566):

    quid quaeri, Labiene, iubes? an liber in armis
    occubuisse velim potius quam regna videre?
    an sit vita nihil, sed longa? an differat aetas?
    an noceat vis ulla bono, fortunaque perdat
    opposita virtute minas, laudandaque velle
    sit satis, et numquam successu crescat honestum?
    scimus, et hoc nobis non altius inseret Hammon.
    haeremus cuncti superis, temploque tacente
    nil facimus non sponte dei; nec vocibus ultis
    numen eget, dixitque semel nascentibus auctor
    quidquid scire licet, steriles nec legit harenas,
    ut caneret paucis, mersitque hoc pulvere verum.
    estque dei sedes, nisi terra et pontus et aer
    et caelum et virtus? superos quid quaerimus ultra?
    Iuppiter est quodcumque vides quodcumque moveris.
    sortilegis egeant dubii semperque futuris
    casibus ancipites; me non oracula certum,
    sed mors certa facit. pavido fortique cadendum est;
    hoc satis est dixisse Iouem.

    What should I ask? Whether to live a slave
    Is better, or to fill a soldier's grave?
    What life is worth drawn to its utmost span,
    And whether length of days brings bliss to man?
    Whether tyrannic force can hurt the good,
    Or the brave heart need quail at Fortune's mood?
    Whether the pure intent makes righteousness,
    Or virtue needs the warrant of success?
    All this I know: not Ammon can impart
    Force to the truth engraven on my heart.
    All men alike, though voiceless be the shrine,
    Abide in God and act by will divine.
    No revelation Deity requires,
    But at our birth, all men may know, inspires.
    Nor is truth buried in this desert sand
    And doled to few, but speaks in every land.
    What temple but the earth, the sea, the sky,
    And heaven and virtuous hearts, hath deity?
    As far as eye can range or feet can rove
    Jove is in all things, all things are in Jove.
    Let wavering souls to oracles attend,
    The brave man's course is clear, since sure his end.
    The valiant and the coward both must fall
    This when Jove tells me, he has told me all.
                                     PROF. GOLDWIN SMITH.

One Cato will not lend life to an epic, and history, to the great loss
of art, forbids him to play a sufficiently important role. It is
unnecessary to comment on the lesser personages of the epic; if the
leading characters lack life, the minor characters lack individuality as
well.[281] Lucan has nothing of the dramatic vitalising power that is so
necessary for epic.

He is equally defective in narrative power. He can give us brilliant
pictures as in the lines describing the vision of Caesar at the
Rubicon[282] or Pompey's last sight of Italy.[283] But such passages are
few and far between. Of longer passages there are not perhaps more than
three in the whole work where we get any sustained beauty of
narrative-the parting of Pompey and his wife,[284] Pompey's dream before
Pharsalus,[285] and a description of a Druid grove in Southern
Gaul.[286] The first of these is noticeable as being one of the few
occasions on which Lucan shows any command of simple pathos unmarred by
tricks of tawdry rhetoric. The whole episode is admirably treated. The
speeches of both husband and wife are commendably and unusually simple
and direct, but the climax comes after Cornelia's speech, where the poet
describes the moment before they part. With the simplest words and the
most severe economy of diction, he produces an effect such as Vergil
rarely surpassed, and such as was never excelled or equalled again in
the poetry of Southern Europe till Dante told the story of Paolo and
Francesca (v. 790):

            sic fata relictis
    exsiluit stratis amens tormentaque nulla
    vult differre mora. non maesti pectora Magni
    sustinet amplexu dulci, non colla tenere,
    extremusque perit tam longi fructus amoris,
    praecipitantque sues luctus, neuterque recedens
    sustinuit dixisse 'vale', vitamque per omnem
    nulla fuit tarn maesta dies; nam cetera damna
    durata iam mente malis firmaque tulerunt.

    So spake she, and leaped frenzied from the couch, loth to
    put off the pangs of parting by the least delay. She cannot
    bear to cast her arms about sad Magnus' bosom, or clasp his
    neck in a last sweet embrace; and thus the last delight, such
    long love as theirs might know, is cast away: they hasten
    their own agony; neither as they parted had the heart to say
    farewell; and while they lived they knew no sadder day than
    this. All other losses they bore with hearts hardened and
    steeled by misery.

It is faulty and monotonous in rhythm, but one would gladly have more
from Lucan of the same poetic quality, even at the expense of the same
blemishes. The dream of Pompey is scarcely inferior (vii. 7):

    at nox, felicis Magno pars ultima vitae,
    sollicitos vana decepit imagine somnos.
    nam Pompeiani visus sibi sede theatri
    innumeram effigiem Romanae cernere plebis
    attollique suum laetis ad sidera nomen
    vocibus et plausu cuneos certare sonantes;
    qualis erat populi facies clamorque faventis,
    olim cum iuvenis primique aetate triumphi
       *       *       *       *       *
    sedit adhuc Romanus eques; seu fine bonorum
    anxia venturis ad tempera laeta refugit,
    sive per ambages solitas contraria visis
    vaticinata quies magni tulit omina planctus.
    seu vetito patrias ultra tibi cernere sedes
    sic Romam fortuna dedit. ne rumpite somnos,
    castrorum vigiles, nullas tuba verberet aures.
    crastina dira quies et imagine maesta diurna
    undique funestas acies feret, undique bellum.

    But night, the last glad hours that Magnus' life should
    know, beguiled his anxious slumbers with vain images of
    joy. He seemed to sit in the theatre himself had built, and
    to behold the semblance of the countless Roman multitude,
    and hear his name uplifted to the stars by joyous voices,
    and all the roaring benches vying in their applause. Even so
    he saw the people and heard their cheers in the days of old,
    when still a youth, in the hour of his first triumph ... he sat
    no more as yet than a knight of Rome; whether it was that at
    thy fortune's close thy sleep, tormented with the fears of what
    should be, fled back to happier days, or riddling as 'tis wont,
    foretold the contrary of thy dreams and brought thee omens of
    mighty woe; or whether, since ne'er again thou mightest see thy
    father's home, thus even in dreams fortune gave it to thy sight.
    Break not his slumbers, guardians of the camp; let not the
    trumpet strike his ears at all. Dread shall to-morrow's slumbers
    be, and, haunted by the sad image of the disastrous day, shall
    bring before his eyes naught save war and armies doomed to die.

The scene is well and naturally conceived; there is no rant or false
pathos; it is an oasis in a book which, though in many ways the finest
in the _Pharsalia_, yet owes its impressiveness to a rhetoric which,
for all its brilliance and power, will not always bear more than
superficial examination. The last passage, with its description of the
Druid's grove near Massilia,[287] is on a different plane. It gives
less scope to the higher poetical imagination; it describes a scene
such as the Silver Age delighted in,[288] a dark wood, whereto the
sunlight scarce can penetrate; altars stand there stained with dark
rites of human sacrifice; no bird or beast will approach it; no wind
ever stirs its leaves; if they rustle, it is with a strange mysterious
rustling all their own: there are dark pools and ancient trees, their
trunks encircled by coiling snakes; strange sounds and sights are
there, and when the sun rides high at noon, not even the priest will
approach the sanctuary for fear lest unawares he come upon his lord and
master. While similar descriptions may be found in other poets of the
age, there is a strength and simplicity about this passage that rivets
the attention, whereas others leave us cold and indifferent. But Lucan
does not always exercise such restraint, and such passages are as rare
as they are welcome. The reason for this is obvious: the narrative must
necessarily consist in the main of military movements. In the words of
Petronius,[289] that is better done by the historians. The adventures
on the march are not likely as a rule to be peculiarly interesting;
there are no heroic single combats to vary and glorify the fighting.
Conscious of this inevitable difficulty, and with all the rhetorician's
morbid fear of being commonplace, Lucan betakes himself to desperate
remedies, hyperbole and padding. If he describes a battle, he must
invent new and incredible horrors to enthral us; his sea-fight at
Massilia is a notable instance;[290] death ceases to inspire horror and
becomes grotesque. If a storm arises he must outdo all earlier epic
storms. Vergil had attempted to outdo the storms of the Odyssey. Lucan
must outdo Vergil. Consequently, in the storm that besets Caesar on his
legendary voyage to Italy in the fisherman's boat[291] that 'carried
Caesar and his fortunes', strange things happen. The boat rocks
helplessly in mid-sea--

    Its sails in clouds, its keel upon the ground,
    For all the sea was piled into the waves
    And drawn from depths between laid bare the sand.[292]

In the same tempest--

            The sea had risen to the clouds
    In mighty mass, had not Olympus' chief
    Pressed down its waves with clouds,[293]

If he is concerned with a march through the African desert, he must
introduce the reader to a whole host of apocryphal serpents, with
details as to the nature of their bites.[294] So terrible are these
reptiles that it is a positive relief to the army to enter the region of
lions.[295] Before such specimens as this the hyperbole of Seneca seems
tame and insignificant.

The introduction of irrelevant episodes would be less reprehensible were
it not that such episodes are for the most part either dull or a fresh
excuse for bombast or (worse still) a display of erudition.[296] He
devotes no less than 170 lines in the first book to a description of the
prodigies that took place at Rome on the outbreak of the Civil War, and
of the rites performed to avert their omens.[297]

In the next book a hundred and sixty-six lines are given to a lurid
picture of the Marian and Sullan proscriptions,[298] and forty-six to a
compressed geography of Italy.[299] In the fifth book we are given the
tedious story of how a certain obscure Appius consulted the Delphian
oracle[300] and how he fared, merely, we suspect, that Lucan may have an
opportunity for depicting the frenzies of the Pythian prophetess.
Similarly, at the close of the sixth book, Pompey's son consults a
necromancer as to the result of the war.[301] The scene is described
with not a little skill and ingenuity, but it has little _raison d'etre_
save the gratification of the taste for witchcraft which Lucan shared
with his audience and his fellow poets.

Apart from these weaknesses of method and execution, Lucan's style is
unsuited to epic whether historical or legendary. He has not sufficient
command of a definitely poetical vocabulary to enable him to captivate
the reader by pure sensuous charm. He is, as Quintilian says, 'magis
oratoribus quam poetis imitandus.' He cannot shake himself free from the
influence of his rhetorical training. It is a severe condemnation of an
epic poet to deny him, as we have denied, the gifts of narrative and
dramatic power. Yet much of Lucan is more than readable, to some it is
even fascinating. He has other methods of meeting the difficulties
presented by historical epic. The work is full of speeches, moralising,
and apostrophes. He will not let the story tell itself; he is always
harping on its moral and political significance. As a result, we get
long passages that belong to the region of elevated political satire.
They are not epic, but they are often magnificent. It is in them that
Lucan's political feeling appears at its truest and strongest.[302] The
actual fortunes of the republican armies, as recounted by Lucan, must
fail to rouse the emotions of the most ardent anti-Caesarian, and it is
doubtful whether they would have responded to more skilful treatment.
But in the apostrophes grief and indignation can find a voice and stir
the heart. They may reveal a monstrous lack of the sense of historical
proportion. To attribute the depopulation of the rural districts of
Italy to the slaughter at Pharsalus is absurd. That Lucan does this is
undeniable, but his words have a deeper significance. It was at
Pharsalus, above all other battles, that the republic fell to ruin, and
the poet is justified in making it the symbol of that fall.[303] And
even where the sentiment is at bottom false, there is such an
impetuosity and vigour in the lines, and such a depth of scorn in each
epigram, that the reader is swept off his balance and convinced against
his will. We hardly pause to think whether Pharsalus, or even the whole
series of civil wars, really prevented the frontiers of Rome being
conterminous with the limits of the inhabited globe, when we read such
lines as (vii. 419)--

                                quo latius orbem
    possedit, citius per prospera fata cucurrit.
    omne tibi bellum gentes dedit omnibus annis:
    te geminum Titan procedere vidit in axem;
    haud multum terrae spatium restabat Eoae,
    ut tibi nox, tibi tota dies, tibi curreret aether,
    omniaque errantes stellae Romana viderent.
    sed retro tua fata tulit par omnibus annis
    Emathiae funesta dies, hac luce cruenta
    effectum, ut Latios non horreat India fasces,
    nec vetitos errare Dahas in moenia ducat
    Sarmaticumque premat succinctus consul aratrum,
    quod semper saevas debet tibi Parthia poenas,
    quod fugiens civile nefas redituraque numquam
    libertas ultra Tigrim Rhenumque recessit
    ac totiens nobis iugulo quaesita vagatur,
    Germanum Scythicumque bonum, nec respicit ultra

    The wider she lorded it o'er the world, the swifter did she
    run through her fair fortunes. Each war, each year, gave thee
    new peoples to rule thee did the sun behold advancing towards
    either pole; little remained to conquer of the Eastern world;
    so that for thee, and thee alone, night and day and heaven
    should revolve, and the planets gaze on naught that was not
    Rome's. But Emathia's fatal day, a match for all the bygone
    years, has swept thy destiny backward. This day of slaughter
    was the cause that India trembles not before the lictor-rods
    of Rome, and that no consul, with toga girded high, leads the
    Dahae within some city's wall, forbidden to wander more, and in
    Sarmatia drives the founder's plough. This day was the cause
    that Parthia still owes thee a fierce revenge, that freedom
    flying from the crimes of citizens has withdrawn behind Tigris
    and the Rhine, ne'er to return, and, sought so oft by us with
    our life's blood, wanders the prize of German and of Scyth, and
    hath no further care for Ausonia.

But this famous apostrophe closes on a truer note with six lines of
unsurpassed satire (454)--

                              mortalia nulli
    sunt curata deo. cladis tamen huius habemus
    vindictam, quantam terris dare numina fas est:
    bella pares superis facient civilia divos;
    fulminibus manes radiisque ornabit et astris,
    inque deum templis iurabit Roma per umbras.

    No god has a thought for the doings of mortal men: yet for this
    overthrow this vengeance is ours, so far as gods may give
    satisfaction to the earth: civil wars shall raise dead Caesars
    to the level of the gods above; and Rome shall deck the spirits
    of the dead with rays and thunderbolts and stars, and in the
    temples of the gods shall swear by the name of shades.

Noblest of all are the lines that close another apostrophe on the same
subject a little later in the same book (638)--

    maius ab hac acie quam quod sua saecula ferrent
    volnus habent populi; plus est quam vita salusque
    quod perit; in totum mundi prosternimur aevum,
    vincitur his gladiis omnis quae serviet aetas.
    proxima quid suboles aut quid meruere nepotes
    in regnum nasci? pavide num gessimus arma
    teximus aut iugulos? alieni poena timoris
    in nostra cervice sedet. post proelia natis
    si dominum, Fortuna, dabas, et bella dedisses.

    A deeper wound than their own age might bear was dealt the
    peoples of this earth in this battle: 'tis more than life and
    safety that is lost: for all future ages of the world are we
    laid low: these swords have vanquished generations yet unborn,
    and doomed them to eternal slavery. What had the sons and
    grandsons of those who fought that day deserved that they
    should be born into slavery? Did we bear our arms like cowards,
    or screen our throats from death? Upon our necks is riveted the
    doom that we should live in fear of another. Nay, Fortune, since
    thou gavest a tyrant to those born since the war, thou shouldst
    have given them also the chance to fight for freedom.

These are the finest of not a few[304] remarkable expressions of Lucan's
hatred for the growing autocracy of the principate: it is noteworthy
that almost all occur in the last seven books. They can hardly be
regarded as mere abstract meditations; they have a force and bitterness
which justify us in regarding them as evidence of his changed attitude
towards Nero. The first three books were published while he yet basked
in the sunshine of court favours. Then came the breach between himself
and Nero. His wounded vanity assisted his principles to come to the

The speeches, with very few exceptions,[306] scarcely rank with the
apostrophes. Like the speeches in the plays of Seneca, they are little
more than glorified _suasoriae_. They are, for the most part, such
speeches as--after making the most liberal allowance for rhetorical
licence--no human being outside a school of rhetoric could have uttered.
Caesar's soldiery would have stared aghast had they been addressed by
their general in such language as Lucan makes him use to inspire them
with courage before Pharsalus. They would have understood little, and
cared less, had Caesar said (vii. 274)--

                           civilia paucae
    bella manus facient; pugnae pars magna levabit
    his orbem populis Romanumque obteret hostem;

                            Not in civil strife
    Your blows shall fall--the battle of to-day
    Sweeps from the earth the enemies of Rome.
                                       SIR E. RIDLEY.

or (279)--

    sitque palam, quas tot duxit Pompeius in urbem
    curribus, unius gentes non esse triumphi.

    Make plain to all men that the crowds who decked
    Pompeius' hundred pageants scarce were fit
    For one poor triumph.
                             SIR E. RIDLEY.

They would have laughed at exaggerations such as (287)--

                   cuius non militis ensem
    agnoscam? caelumque tremens cum lancea transit,
    dicere non fallar quo sit vibrata lacerto.

    Of each of you shall strike, I know the hand:
    The javelin's flight to me betrays the arm
    That launched it hurtling.
                                  SIR E. RIDLEY.

And yet beneath all this fustian there is much that stirs the blood.
Lines such as (261)--

    si pro me patriam ferro flammisque petistis,
    nunc pugnate truces gladiosque exsolvite culpa.
    nulla manus belli mutato iudice pura est.
    non mihi res agitur, sed vos ut libera sitis
    turba precor, gentes ut ius habeatis in omnes.
    ipse ego privatae cupidus me reddere vitae
    plebeiaque toga modicum compomere civem,
    omnia dum vobis liceant, nihil esse recuso.
    invidia regnate mea;

    If for my sake you sought your fatherland with fire and sword,
    fight fierce to-day, and by victory clear your swords from
    guilt. No hand is guiltless judged by a new arbiter of war.
    The struggle of to-day does naught for me; but for you, so
    runs my prayer, it shall bring freedom and dominion o'er the
    world. Myself, I long to return to private life, and, even
    though my garb were that of the common people, to be a peaceful
    citizen once more. So be it all be made lawful for you, there
    is naught I would refuse to be: for me the hatred, so be yours
    the power.

or (290)--

    quod si signa ducem numquam fallentia vestrum
    conspicio faciesque truces oculosque minaces,

    Nay, if I behold those signs that ne'er deceived your leader,
    fierce faces and threatening eyes, you are already conquerors.

though they are not the words of the historical Caesar, have a stirring
sincerity and force. But the speeches fail because all speak the same
artificial language. A mutineer can say of Caesar (v. 289)--

                      Rheni mihi Caesar in undis
    dux erat, hic socius. facinus quos inquinat aequat;

    Caesar was my leader by the waves of Rhine, here he is
    my comrade. The stain of crime makes all men equal.

or threaten with the words (292)--

                     quidquid gerimus fortuna vocatur.
    nos fatum sciat esse suum.

                             As fortune's gift
    He takes the victory which our arms have won:
    But _we_ his fortunes are, his fates are ours
    To fashion as we will.
                              SIR E. RIDLEY.

The lines are brilliant and worthy of life: in their immediate context
they are ridiculous. Epigrams have their value, however, even when they
suit their context ill, and neither Juvenal nor Tacitus has surpassed
Lucan in this respect, or been more often quoted. He is, says
Quintilian, _sententiis clarissimus_. Nothing can surpass (iv. 519)--

    victurosque dei celant, ut vivere durent,
    felix esse mori.

    And the gods conceal from those who are doomed to live how
    happy it is to die. Thus only may they endure to live.

or (viii. 631-2)--

               mutantur prospera vitae,
    non fit morte miser;

                        Life may bring defeat,
    But death no misery.
                            SIR E. RIDLEY.

or (i. 32)--

    alta sedent civilis volnera dextrae;

    Deep lie the wounds that civil war hath made.

or (ix. 211)--

    scire mori sors prima viris, sed proxima cogi.

                             Best gift of all
    The knowledge how to die: next, death compelled.
                                           SIR E. RIDLEY.

Lines such as (i. 281)--

    semper nocuit differre paratis,

    To pause when ready is to court defeat.
                                            SIR E. RIDLEY.

or (v. 260)--

    quidquid multis peccatur, inultum est

    The crime is free where thousands bear the guilt.
                                            SIR E. RIDLEY.

are commonplace enough in thought but perfect in expression. Of a
different character, but equally noteworthy, are sayings such as iv.

    momentumque fuit mutatus Curio rerum;

    The change of Curio turned the scale of history.

or (iv. 185)--

    usque adeone times, quem tu facis ipse timendum?

                            Dost fear him so
    Who takes his title to be feared from thee?
                          SIR E. RIDLEY, _slightly altered._

Lucan's gift for epigram is further enhanced by the nature of his metre.
Ponderous in the extreme, it is ill-suited for epic, though in isolated
lines its very weight gives added force. But he had a poor ear for
rhythm: his hexameter is monotonous as the iambics of Seneca. There is a
want of variety in pauses; he will not accommodate his rhythm to
circumstances; line follows line with but the slightest rhythmical
variation, and there is far too[307] sparing a use of elision. This
failing is in part due to his desire to steer clear of the influence of
Vergil and strike out on a line of his own. Faint echoes of Vergil, it
is true, occur frequently throughout the poem, but to the untrained eye
Lucan is emphatically un-Vergilian. His affinity to Ovid is greater.
Both are rhetorical, and Lucan is indebted to Ovid for much mythological
detail. And it is probable that he owes his smoothness and monotony of
metre largely to the influence of the _Metamorphoses_. His ponderosity
is all his own.[308]

Lucan is the child of his age, but he is almost an isolated figure in
literature. He has almost every conceivable defect in every conceivable
degree, from the smallest detail to the general conception of his poem.
And yet he triumphs over himself. It is a hateful task to read the
_Pharsalia_ from cover to cover, and yet when it is done and the lapse
of time has allowed the feeling of immediate repulsion to evaporate, the
reader can still feel that Lucan is a great writer. The absurdities slip
from the memory, the dreariness of the narrative is forgotten, and the
great passages of lofty rhetoric, with their pungent epigram and their
high political enthusiasm, remain deeply engraven on the mind. It is
they that have given Lucan the immortality which he promised himself.
The _Pharsalia_ is dead, but Lucan lives.

It is useless to conjecture what might have been the fate of such
remarkable gifts in a less corrupt age. This much, however, may be said,
Lucan never had a fair chance. The circle in which he moved, the
education which he received, suffered only his rhetorical talent to
develop, and to this were sacrificed all his other gifts, his clearness
of vision, his sense of proportion, his poetical imagination. He was
spoilt by admiration and his own facility. Moreover, Seneca was his
uncle: a comparison shows how profoundly the elder poet influenced the
younger. There is the same self-conscious arrogance begotten of
Stoicism, the same brilliance of wit and absence of humour. Their
defects and merits alike reveal them as kindred, though Lucan stands
worlds apart as a poet from Seneca, the ranting tragedian. He was but
twenty-five when he died. Age might have brought a maturity and dignity
of spirit which would have made rhetoric his servant and not his master,
and refined away the baser alloys of his character. Even as it was he
left much that, without being pure gold, yet possessed many elements and
much of the brilliance of the true metal. Dante's judgement was true
when he set him among the little company of true poets, of which Dante
himself was proud to be made one.



The most curious and in some respects the most remarkable work that the
Silver Age has bequeathed to us is a fragment of a novel, the
_Satyricon_ of Petronius Arbiter, Its author is generally identified
with Titus Petronius, the friend and victim of Nero. Tacitus has
described him in a passage, remarkable even among Tacitean portraits for
its extraordinary brilliance. 'His days he passed in sleep, his nights
in the business and pleasures of life. Indolence had raised him to fame,
as energy raises others, and he was reckoned not a debauchee and
spendthrift, like most of those who squander their substance, but a man
of refined luxury. And indeed his talk and his doings, the freer they
were, and the more show of carelessness they exhibited, were the better
liked for their look of a natural simplicity. Yet as proconsul of
Bithynia and soon afterwards as consul, he showed himself a man of
vigour and equal to business. Then, falling back into vice or affecting
vice, he was chosen by Nero to be one of his few intimate associates, as
a critic in matters of taste (_elegantiae arbiter_). The emperor thought
nothing charming or elegant in luxury unless Petronius had expressed his
approval. Hence jealousy on the part of Tigellinus, who looked on him as
a rival, and even his superior, in the science of pleasure. And so he
worked on the prince's cruelty, which dominated every other passion:
charging Petronius with having been the friend of Scaevinus, bribing a
slave to turn informer, robbing him of the means of defence, and
hurrying into prison the greater part of his domestics. It happened at
the time that the emperor was on his way to Campania, and that
Petronius, after going as far as Cumae, was there detained. He bore no
longer the suspense of fear or of hope. Yet he did not fling away life
with precipitate haste, but having made an incision in his veins and
then according to his humour bound them up, he again opened them, while
he conversed with his friends, not in a serious strain or on topics that
might win him the glory of courage. He listened to them as they
repeated, not thoughts on the immortality of the soul or on the theories
of philosophers, but light poetry and playful verses. To some of his
slaves he gave liberal presents, to others a flogging. He dined,
indulged himself in sleep, that death, even though forced, might have a
natural appearance. Even in his will he did not, as did many in their
last moments, flatter Nero or Tigellinus, or any other of the men in
power. On the contrary, he described fully the prince's shameful
excesses, with the names of his male and female companions and their
novelties in debauchery, and sent the account under seal to Nero. Then
he broke his signet-ring, that it might not be available to bring others
into peril.'[309]

There is nothing definitely to bring this ingenious and brilliant
debauchee into connexion with the Petronius Arbiter of the _Satyricon_.
But the character of Titus Petronius is exactly in keeping with the tone
of the novel; the novelist's cognomen Arbiter, though in itself by no
means extraordinary, may well have sprung from or given rise to the
title _elegantiae arbiter_; and finally the few indications of date in
the novel all point to a period not far from the reign of Nero. There is
the criticism of Lucan,[310] which certainly loses point if not written
during Lucan's lifetime; there is the criticism of the rhetorical
training of the day,[311] which finds a remarkable echo in the criticism
of Vipstanus Messala in the _Dialogus_ of Tacitus, a work which,
whatever the date of its actual composition, certainly refers to a
period less than ten years after the death of T. Petronius; there is the
style of the work itself; wherever the writer abandons the colloquial
Latin, in which so much of the work is written, we find a finished
diction, whether in prose or verse, which no unprejudiced judge could
place later than the accession of Trajan, and which has nothing in it to
prevent its attribution to the reign of Nero. In that reign there is but
one Petronius to whom we can assign the _Satyricon_, the Petronius
immortalized by Tacitus.[312]

Of the work as a whole this is no place to speak. The fragments which
survive are in the main in prose. But the work is modelled on the
Menippean satires of Varro, and belongs to the same class of writing as
the _Apocolocyntosis_ of Seneca. In the form of a loosely-strung and
rambling novel we have a satirical commentary on human life; the satire
is cynical and pungent, rather than mordant, makes no pretence of
logic, and proceeds not from a moral sense but from a sense of humour.
Wild and indecent as Petronius' laughter often is, it springs from one
who is a real artist, possessing a sense of proportion as well as the
sense of contrast that is the source and fount of humour. This is most
strongly evident in that portion of his satire which concerns us here,
inasmuch as it is directed against contemporary literary tendencies. We
must beware of fastening on the words of the characters in the novel as
necessarily expressing the thoughts of its author. But it is noteworthy
that all his literary criticism points in the same direction; it is
above all conservative. Through the mouths of Encolpius, the dissolute
hero of the story, and the rhetorician Agamemnon[313] he denounces the
flamboyant rhetoric of the day, its remoteness from reality, the lack
of sanity and industry on the part both of pupil and instructor. 'As
boys they pass their time at school at what is no better than play, as
youths they make themselves ridiculous in the forum, and, worst of all,
when they grow old they refuse to acknowledge the faults acquired by
their education.' Study is necessary, and above all the study of good
models. Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, the great lyricists, Plato,
Demosthenes, Thucydides, Hyperides, all the great classics, these are
the true models for the young orator. Agamemnon cannot restrain himself
and even bursts into verse in the course of this disquisition on the
decadence of oratory:

    artis severae si quis ambit effectus
    mentemque magnis applicat, prius mores
    frugalitatis lege poliat exacta.
    nec curet alto regiam trucem vultu
    cliensve cenas impotentium captet
    nec perditis addictus obruat vino
    mentis calorem, neve plausor in scaenam
    sedeat redemptus histrionis ad rictus.
    sed sive armigerae rident Tritonidis arces,
    seu Lacedaemonio tellus habitata colono
    Sirenumve domus, det primos versibus annos
    Maeoniumque bibat felici pectore fontem.
    mox et Socratico plenus grege mittat habenas
    liber et ingentis quatiat Demosthenis arma.
    hinc Romana manus circumfluat et modo Graio
    exonerata sono mutet suffusa saporem.
    interdum subducta foro det pagina cursum
    et cortina[314] sonet celeri distincta meatu;
    dein[315] epulas et bella truci memorata canore
    grandiaque indomiti Ciceronis verba minetur.
    his animum succinge bonis: sic flumine largo
    plenus Pierio defundes pectore verba.

    If any man court success in the lofty art of letters and
    apply his mind to great things, he must first perfect his
    character by simplicity's stern law; he must care naught for
    the haughty frown of the fierce tyrant that lords it in his
    palace, nor seek client-like for invitations to the board of
    the profligate, nor deliver himself over to the company of
    debauchees and drown the fire of his understanding in wine,
    nor sit in the theatre the hired applauder of the mouthing
    actor. But whether the citadel of panoplied Minerva allure him
    with its smile, or the land where the Spartan exile came to
    dwell, or the Sirens' home, let him devote his early years to
    poesy, and let his spirit drink in with happy omen a draught
    from the Maeonian fount. Thereafter, when his soul is full of
    the lore of the Socratic school, let him give himself free rein
    and brandish the weapons of great Demosthenes. Next let the band
    of Roman authors throng him round, and, but newly freed from the
    music of Greece, suffuse his soul and change its tone. Meanwhile,
    let his pen run its course withdrawn from the forum, and let
    Apollo's tripod send forth a voice rhythmic and swift: next let
    him roll forth in lordly speech the tale of heroes' feasting and
    wars, set forth in fierce strain and lofty language, such as fell
    from the lips of dauntless Cicero. Prepare thy soul for joys such
    as these; and, steeped in the plenteous stream of letters, thou
    shalt give utterance to the thoughts of thy Pierian soul.

This is not inspired poetry; but its advice is sound, and its point of
view just. Nor is this criticism a mere _jeu d'esprit_; it is hard to
resist the conclusion that the author is putting his own views into the
mouths of his more than shady characters. For, _mutatis mutandis_, the
same attitude towards literary art is revealed in the utterances of the
poet Eumolpus.[316] It is a curious fact that while none of the
characters in Petronius are to be taken seriously, their speech at times
soars from the reeking atmosphere of the brothel and the clamour of the
streets to clearer and loftier regions of thought, if not of action. The
first appearance of Eumolpus is conceived in a broadly comic vein.
'While I was thus engaged a grey-haired old man entered the picture
gallery. He had a troubled countenance, which seemed to promise some
momentous utterance. His dress was lamentable, and showed that he was
clearly one of those literary gentlemen so unpopular with the rich. He
took his stand by my side. "I am a poet," he said, "and no mean one, if
any trust is to be placed in wreaths of honour, which are so often
bestowed even on those who least deserve them." "Why, then, are you so
ill-clad?" I asked. "Just for that very reason. Devotion to art never
brought any one wealth"--

    qui pelago credit magno se faenore tollit;
    qui pugnas et castra petit, praecingitur auro;
    vilis adulator picto iacet ebrius ostro,
    et qui sollicitat nuptas, ad praemia peccat:
    sola pruinosis horret facundia pannis
    atque inopi lingua desertas invocat artes.[317]

    He who entrusts his fortunes to the sea, wins a mighty
    harvest; he who seeks the camp and the field of war, may
    gird him with gold: the vile flatterer lies drunken on
    embroidered purple; the gallant who courts the favours of
    wedded wives, wins wealth by his sin: eloquence alone
    shivers in frosty rags and invokes the neglected arts
    with pauper tongue.

'There's no doubt as to the truth of it. If a man has a detestation of
vice and chooses the paths of virtue, he is hated on the ground that his
morals are eccentric. No one approves of ways of life other than his
own. Then there are those whose sole care is the acquisition of wealth;
they are unwilling that anything should be thought to be a superior good
to that which they themselves possess. And so they persecute lovers of
literature with all their might.' This _vitiorum omnium inimicus_ then
proceeds to tell a story which casts a startling light upon his
'eccentric morality'. Its undoubted humour can hardly be said to redeem
its amazing grossness. He has scarcely finished the narration of his own
shame when he is back again in another world--the world of letters. He
laments the decay of art and philosophy. 'The passion for money-making
has brought ruin in its train. While virtue went bare and was a welcome
guest, the noble arts flourished, and men vied with one another in the
effort to discover anything that might be of service to mankind.' He
quotes the examples of Democritus, Eudoxus, Chrysippus in the world of
science, of Myron in art. 'We have given ourselves up to wine and women,
and take no pains to become acquainted even with the arts already
discovered. We traduce antiquity by teaching and learning its vices
only. Where is dialectic? Where is astronomy? Where is philosophy?' He
sees that Encolpius is not listening, but is absorbed in the
contemplation of a picture representing the sack of Troy, and seizes the
opportunity of reciting a poem of his own upon the subject. The lines
are for the most part neither original nor striking; they form a kind of
abstract in iambics of the second Aeneid, from the appearance of Sinon
to the emergence of the Greeks from the Trojan horse. But the work is
finished and elegant,[318] and the simile which describes the arrival of
the serpents that were to slay Laocoon is not unworthy of a more
successful poet than Eumolpus is represented to have been:

    ecce alia monstra; celsa qua Tenedos mare
    dorso replevit, tumida consurgunt freta
    undaque resultat scissa tranquillo minans[319]
    qualis silenti nocte remorum sonus
    longe refertur, cum premunt classes mare
    pulsumque marmor abiete imposita gemit.
    respicimus; angues orbibus geminis ferunt
    ad saxa fluctus, tumida quorum pectora
    rates ut altae lateribus spumas agunt.

    Lo! a fresh portent; where the ridge of lofty Tenedos
    filled the sea, there breaks a swelling surge, and the
    broken waves rebound and threaten the calm: as when in
    the silent night the sound of oars is borne afar, when
    navies burden the main and the smitten deep groans beneath
    its freight of pine. We looked round: the waves bear towards
    the rocks two coiling snakes, whose swelling breasts, like
    tall ships, drive the water in foam along their sides.

The picture is at once vivid and beautiful, and we feel almost regretful
at the fate which his recitation brought on the unhappy poet. 'Those who
were walking in the colonnade began to throw stones at Eumolpus as he
recited. He recognized this method of applauding his wit, covered his
head with his cloak and fled from the temple. I was afraid that he would
denounce me as a poet. And so I followed him till I came to the
sea-shore and was out of range. "What do you mean," I said, "by
inflicting this disease of yours upon us? You have been less than two
hours in my company, and you have more often spoken like a poet than a
man. I'm not surprised that people throw stones at you. I'm going to
fill my own pockets with stones, and the moment you begin to unburden
yourself, I'm going to break your head." His face revealed a painful
emotion. "My good youth," said he, "to-day is not the first occasion on
which I have suffered this fate. Nay, I have never entered a theatre to
recite, without attracting this kind of welcome. But as I don't want to
quarrel with you, I will abstain from my daily food for the whole day."'
Eumolpus did not keep this promise; but the poem with which he broke it
is of small importance and need not detain us.[320] It is a little
disquisition on the refinements of luxury now prevalent, and has but one
notable line--the last--

    quidquid quaeritur optimum videtur.

    Whatever must be sought for, that seems best.

But later he has another outbreak. Encolpius and his friends have been
shipwrecked near Croton. On their way to the town Eumolpus beguiles the
tedium of the climb by the criticism of Lucan and the attempt to improve
on the _Pharsalia_, which have been discussed in the chapter on Lucan.
If neither his poetry nor his criticism as a whole are sound, they are
at least meant seriously. Here, again, we have a plea for earnest study,
and for the avoidance of mere tricks of rhetoric. As for the rhetorician
Agamemnon, so for Eumolpus, the great poets of the past are Homer and
the lyric poets; and nearer home are the 'Roman Vergil' and Horace. If
there was nothing else in this passage than the immortal phrase 'Horatii
curiosa felicitas', it would redeem it from the commonplace. Petronius
is a 'classicist'; the friend of Nero, he protests against the
flamboyance of the age as typified in the rhetorical style of Seneca and
Lucan. If the work was written at the time when Seneca and Lucan first
fell from the Imperial favour, such criticism may well have found favour
at court. If, with the brilliant whimsicality that characterizes all his
work, Petronius has placed these utterances in the mouth of disreputable
and broadly comic figures, that does not impair the value or sincerity
of the criticism. Eumolpus' complaint of the decline of the arts and the
baneful effect of the struggle for wealth is no doubt primarily inspired
by the fact that he is poor and can find no patron nor praise for his
verse, but must put up with execrations and showers of stones. But that
does not affect the truth of much that he says, nor throw doubt upon the
sincerity of Petronius himself.

The same whimsicality is shown elsewhere in the course of the novel.
It contains not a few poems which, detached from their context, are
full of grace and charm, though their application is often disgusting
in the extreme. Such are the hexameters towards the close of the work
in which Encolpius describes the scene of his unhappy love affair with
a certain Circe:

    Idaeo quales fudit de vertice flores
    terra parens, cum se concesso iunxit amori
    Iuppiter et toto concepit pectore flammas:
    emicuere rosae violaeque et molle cyperon,
    albaque de viridi riserunt lilia prato:
    talis humus Venerem molles clamavit in herbas,
    candidiorque dies secreto favit amori (127);

    As the flowers poured forth by mother earth from Ida's peak,
    when she yielded to Jove's embrace and the god's soul was
    filled with passionate flame; the rose, the violet, and the
    soft iris flashed forth, and white lilies gleamed from the
    green meadow; so shone the earth when it called our love to
    rest upon the soft grass, and the day, brighter than its wont,
    smiled on our secret passion.

    nobilis aestivas platanus diffuderat umbras
    et bacis redimita Daphne tremulaeque cupressus
    et circum tonsae trepidanti vertice pinus.
    has inter ludebat aquis errantibus amnis
    spumeus et querulo vexabat rore lapillos.
    dignus amore locus: testis silvestris aedon
    atque urbana Procne, quae circum gramina fusae
    ac molles violas cantu sua furta colebant (131).

    A noble plane tree and the bay tree with its garland of berries,
    and the quivering cypress and the trim pine with its tremulous
    top, spread a sweet summer shade abroad. Amid them a foaming
    river sported with wandering waters and lashed the pebbles with
    its peevish spray. Meet was the place for love, with the woodland
    nightingale and the town-haunting swallow for witness, that,
    flitting all about the grass and the soft violets, told of their
    loves in song.

The unpleasing nature of the context cannot obscure the fact that here
we have genuine poetry of great delicacy and beauty.[321]

Of the satirical epigrams contained in the novel little need be said.
They are not in any way pointless or feeble, but they lack the ease and
grace, and, it may be added, the sting, of the best work of Martial.
The themes are hackneyed and suffer from the absence of the personal
note. But it is at least refreshing to find that Petronius does not
attempt, like Martial and others, to excuse his obscenity on the ground
that his actual life is chaste. He speaks out frankly. 'Why hide what
all men know?'

    quid me constricta spectatis fronte Catones
      damnatisque novae simplicitatis opus?
    sermonis puri non tristis gratia ridet,
      quodque facit populus, Candida lingua refert (132).

    Why gaze at me, ye Catos, with frowning brow, and damn the
    fresh frankness of my work? my speech is Latin undefiled, and
    has grace unmarred by gloom, and my candid tongue tells of what
    all Rome's people do.

A more interesting collection of poems, probably Petronian, remains to
be discussed. In addition to the numerous fragments of poetry included
in the surviving excerpts from the _Satyricon_, a considerable number of
epigrams, attributed with more or less certainty to Petronius, are
preserved in the fragments of the _Anthologia Latina_.[322] Immediately
following on the epigrams assigned to the authorship of Seneca, the
Codex Vossianus Q. 86 gives sixteen epigrams,[323] each headed by the
word _item_. Of these two are quoted by Fulgentius as the work of
Petronius.[324] There is, therefore, especially in view of the fact that
they all bear a marked family resemblance to one another, a strong
presumption that all are by the author of the _Satyricon_. Further,
there are eleven epigrams[325] published by Binet in his edition of
Petronius[326] from a MS. originally in the cathedral library of
Beauvais, but now unfortunately lost. The first of the series is quoted
by Fulgentius[327] as being by Petronius, and there is no reason for
doubting the accuracy of Binet or his MS.[328] as to the rest. These
poems are followed by eight more epigrams,[329] the first two of which
Binet attributes to Petronius on stylistic grounds, but without any MS.
authority.[330] Lastly, four epigrams are preserved by a third MS. (Cod.
Voss. F. III) under the title _Petronii_[331]. Of these the first two
are found in the extant portions of the _Satyricon_. The evidence for
the Petronian authorship of these thirty-seven poems is not conclusive.
Arguments based on resemblance or divergence in points of style are
somewhat precarious in the case of an author like Petronius, writing
with great variety of style on a variety of subjects. But there are some
very marked resemblances between certain of these poems and verses
surviving in the excerpts from the Satyricon[332], and the evidence
_against_ the Petronian authorship is of the slightest. A possible
exception may be made in the case of the last eight epigrams preserved
by Binet, though even here Binet is just enough in pointing out the
resemblance of the first two of these to what is admittedly the work of
Petronius. But with regard to the rest we shall run small risk in
regarding them as selected from the lost books of the _Satyricon_.

These poems are very varied in character and as a whole reach a higher
poetical level than most of those preserved in the existing fragments of
the _Satyricon_.[1] The most notable features are simplicity and
unaffected grace of diction coupled with a delicate appreciation of the
beauties of nature. There is nothing that is out of keeping with the
classicism on which we have insisted as a characteristic of Petronius,
there is much that is worthy of the best writers of the Augustan age.
The five lines in which he describes the coming of autumn have much in
common with the descriptions of nature already quoted from the
_Satyricon_. The last line in particular has at once a conciseness and a
wealth of suggestion that is rare in any post-Ovidian poet:

    iam nunc algentes autumnus fecerat umbras
    atque hiemem tepidis spectabat Phoebus habenis,
    iam platanus iactare comas, iam coeperat uvas
    adnumerare suas defecto palmite vitis:
    ante oculos stabat, quidquid promiserat annus.[333]

    Now autumn had brought its cool shades, Phoebus' reins glowed
    less hot and he was looking winterward. The plane was beginning
    to shed her leaves, the vine to count its clusters, and its
    fresh shoots were withered. Before our eyes stood all the
    promise of the year.

Equally charming and sincere in tone is the description of the delights
of the simple life:

    parvula securo tegitur mihi culmine sedes
    uvaque plena mero fecunda pendet ab ulmo.
    dant rami cerasos, dant mala rubentia silvae
    Palladiumque nemus pingui se vertice frangit.
    iam qua diductos potat levis area fontes,
    Corycium mihi surgit olus malvaeque supinae
    et non sollicitos missura papavera somnos.
    praeterea sive alitibus contexere fraudem
    seu magis inbelles libuit circumdare cervos
    aut tereti lino pavidum subducere piscem,
    hos tantum novere dolos mea sordida rura.
    i nunc et vitae fugientis tempora vende
    divitibus cenis! me qui manet exitus olim,
    hic precor inveniat consumptaque tempora poscat.[334]

    My cottage is sheltered by a roof that fears no ill; the
    grape, bursting with wine, hangs from the fertile elm;
    cherries hang by the bough and my orchard yields its rosy
    apples, and the tree that Pallas loves breaks beneath the
    rich burden of its branches. And now, where the garden bed's
    light soil drinks in the runnels of water, rises for me
    Corycian kale and low-growing mallow, and the poppy that grants
    easy slumber. Moreover, whether 'tis my pleasure to set snares
    for birds or hem in the timid deer, or on fine-meshed net to
    draw up the affrighted fish, this is all the guile known to my
    humble lands. Go to, now, and waste the flying hours of life
    on sumptuous feasts! I pray, that my destined end may find me
    here, and here demand an account of the days I have lived.

These lines may be no more than an academic exercise on a commonplace
theme, but there can be no doubt of their artistic success. We find the
same simplicity in Columella, but not the same art. Compare them with
the work of Petronius' contemporary, Calpurnius Siculus, and there is
all the difference between true poetry and mere poetising. More
passionate and more convincing is the elegiac poem celebrating the
poet's return to the scene of former happiness:

    o litus vita mihi dulcius, o mare! felix,
      cui licet ad terras ire subinde tuas!
    o formosa dies! hoc quondam rure solebam
      naidas alterna[335] sollicitare manu.
    hic fontis lacus est, illic sinus egerit algas:
      haec statio est tacitis fida cupidinibus.
    pervixi; neque enim fortuna malignior umquam
      eripiet nobis, quod prior aura dedit.[336]

    O shore, O sea, that I love more than life! Happy is he
    that may straightway visit the lands ye border. O fairest
    day! 'Twas here that once I was wont to swim and vex the
    sea-nymphs with my hands' alternate strokes. Here is a
    stream's deep pool, there the bay casts up its seaweed: here
    is a spot that can faithfully guard the secret of one's love.
    I have lived my life to the full; nor can grudging fortune
    ever rob me of that which her favouring breeze once gave me.

But Petronius can attain to equal success in other veins. Now we have a
fragment in the epic style containing a simile at once original and

    haec ait et tremulo deduxit vertice canos
    consecuitque genas; oculis nec defuit imber,
    sed qualis rapitur per vallis improbus amnis,
    cum gelidae periere nives et languidus auster
    non patitur glaciem resoluta vivere terra,
    gurgite sic pleno facies manavit et alto
    insonuit gemitu turbato murmure pectus.[337]

    He spake, and rent the white hair on his trembling head
    and tore his cheeks, and his eyes streamed with a flood of
    tears. As when a resistless river sweeps down the valley
    when the chill snows have melted and the languid south wind
    thaws the earth and suffers not the ice to remain, even so
    his face streamed with a torrent of weeping and his breast
    groaned loud with a confused murmur of sorrow.

Elsewhere we find him writing in satirical vein of the origin of
religion,[338] on the decay of virtue,[339] on the hardship of the
married state[340]:

    'uxor legis onus, debet quasi census amari.'
    nec censum vellem semper amare meum.

    'One should love one's wife as one loves one's fortune.'
    Nay, I desire not always to love even my fortune.

But it is in a love-poem that he reaches his highest achievement:

    lecto compositus vix prima silentia noctis
      carpebam et somno lumina victa dabam:
    cum me saevus Amor prensat sursumque capillis
      excitat et lacerum pervigilare iubet.
    'tu famulus meus,' inquit, 'ames cum mille puellas,
      solus, io, solus, dure, iacere potes?'
    exsilio et pedibus nudis tunicaque soluta
      omne iter incipio, nullum iter expedio.
    nunc propero, nunc ire piget, rursumque redire
      paenitet et pudor est stare via media.
    ecce tacent voces hominum strepitusque viarum
      et volucrum cantus turbaque fida canum:
    solus ego ex cunctis paveo somnumque torumque
      et sequor imperium, magne Cupido, tuum.[341]

    I lay on my bed and began to enjoy the silence of the night
    scarce yet begun, and was yielding my wearied eyes to sleep,
    when fierce Love laid hold of me, and, seizing me by the
    hair, aroused me, tore me, and bade me wake. 'Canst thou, my
    servant,' he cried, 'the lover of a thousand girls, lie thus
    alone, alone, hard-hearted?' I leapt from my couch, and
    barefoot, with dishevelled robe, started on my errand, yet
    never accomplished it. Now I hurry forward, now am loth to go;
    now repent me that I have returned, and feel shame to stand
    thus aimless in mid-street. So the voices of men, the murmur
    of the streets, the song of birds, and the trusty watchdogs
    all are silent; and I alone dread the slumbers of my couch and
    follow thy behest, great god of love.

If this is not great poetry, it is at least one of the most perfect
specimens of conventional erotic verse in all ancient literature. If we
except a very few of the best poems of Propertius, Latin Elegiacs have
nothing to show that combines such perfection of form with such
exquisite sensuous charm. It breathes the fragrance of the Greek

The general impression left by the poetical work of Petronius is
curiously unlike that left by any Latin poet. Sometimes dull, he is
never eccentric; without the originality of the greatest artists, he has
all the artist's sensibility for form. He writes not as one inspired,
but as one steeped in the best literature. Many were greater stylists,
but few were endowed with such an exquisite sense of style. As a poet he
is a _dilettante_, and his claim to greatness lies in the brilliant and
audacious humour of his 'picaresque novel'. But his verse at its best
has a charm and fragrance of its own that is almost unique in Latin, and
reveals a combination of grace and facility, to find a parallel for
which among writers of the post-Augustan age we must turn to the pages
of Martial.





Only two didactic poems of this period have survived, the poem of
Columella on gardening, and the anonymous work on Mount Etna, setting
forth a theory of volcanic action.



The _Aetna_ is a hexameter poem, 646 lines in length. The author laments
the indifference shown by poets to the natural phenomena of his day.
They waste their time on the description of the marvels of art, the
spectacular side of human civilization, and the surface-beauties of
Nature.[342] They write trivial epics on the voyage of Argo, the sack of
Troy, Niobe, Thyestes, Cadmus, Ariadne, the Battle of the Giants[343].
They tell of the terrors of the underworld[344], and the loves of the
gods[345]: they seek the false rather than the true, they neglect the
genuine wonders of Nature, the laws that govern heavenly and terrestrial

He will be wiser. But there is no need to travel far. He will not soar
skyward to treat of the stars in their courses, of the seasons and signs
of the weather, to the neglect of the marvels of mother earth.[346] The
greatest of miracles is close at hand, Etna, the home of eternal fire.
Deep in the heart of earth dwell two irresistible forces, wind and
fire.[347] It is their conflict that causes the outbursts of flame and
molten rock that devastate the slopes of Etna. It is no smithy of the
gods, no Titan's prison. The causes are natural, water and wind and
fire. He has seen Etna; he describes the crater,[348] the volcanic rock
that can imprison fire,[349] the clouds that continually veil the
mountain's crest,[350] the flames that burst from its summit, the
subterranean rumblings,[351] the terrors of the lava stream. He
concludes with the touching story of the Catanian brothers who,
neglecting all else, sought only to save their aged parents from the
flames. Their piety had its reward; they, and they alone, escaped from
the lava; their neighbours, who sought to save their chattels and their
wealth, perished in the stream, encumbered by their belongings.

Of the poet's theory of volcanic action we need not speak; it was the
current scientific theory of the day, and has no value for us; nor has
the author any claim to originality. As to the style and composition of
the work, brief comment will suffice. We may give the author credit for
a real enthusiasm, and for a just contempt of the prevailing themes that
engaged the attention of the minor poets of the day. But he has no gifts
for poetry. His theme, although it gave considerable opportunities for
episodic display, was one of great difficulty. Much dry scientific
detail was necessarily required. If Lucretius is sometimes tedious and
prosaic in spite of the vastness of his theme, the magnificence of his
moral background, and his inspired enthusiasm, what can be expected of a
poem on a minor scientific theme such as Etna? Volcanoes can hardly
compete with the universe as a theme for poetry. The subject is one that
might have fascinated an Alexandrian poet and found skilful treatment at
his hands. But the author of the _Aetna_ had not the stylistic gifts of
the Alexandrian. The actual arrangement of his matter is good, but, even
when due allowance is made for the corruption of our text, his obscurity
is intolerable, his imagery confused, his language cumbrous and wooden.
He has, moreover, no poetic imagination. _Aetna_, not the poet, provides
the fire. Even the beautiful story of the Catanian brothers, which forms
by far the best portion of the poem, never rises to the level of pure
poetry. It is illumined neither by the fire of rhetoric nor by the
lambent light of sensuous diction and rich imagination. A few lines may
be quoted to show its general character (605):

    Nam quondam ruptis excanduit Aetna cavernis,
    et velut eversis penitus fornacibus ingens
    evecta in longum est rapidis fervoribus unda.
       *       *       *       *       *
    ardebant agris segetes et mollia cultu
    iugera cum dominis, silvae collesque rubebant.
       *       *       *       *       *
    tum vero ut cuique est animus viresque rapinae
    tutari conantur opes, gemit ille sub auro,
    colligit ille arma et stulta cervice reponit,
    defectum raptis illum sua carmina tardant,
    hic velox minimo properat sub pondere pauper.
       *       *       *       *       *
    ... haec nullis parsura incendia pascunt,
    vel solis parsura piis. namque optima proles
    Amphinomus fraterque pari sub munere fortes,
    cum iam vicinis streperent incendia tectis,
    aspiciunt pigrumque patrem matremque senecta
    eheu defessos posuisse in limine membra,
    parcite, avara manus, dulces attollere praedas:
    illis divitiae solae materque paterque:
    hanc rapient praedam. mediumque exire per ignem
    ipso dante fidem properant. o maxima rerum
    et merito pietas homini tutissima virtus!
    erubuere pios iuvenes attingere flammae
    et, quacumque ferunt illi vestigia, cedunt
    felix illa dies, illa est innoxia terra.
    dextra saeva tenent, laevaque incendia fervent;
    ille per obliquos ignes fraterque triumphant
    tutus uterque pio sub pondere: suffugit illa
    et circa geminos avidus sibi temperat ignis,
    incolumes abeunt tandem et sua numina secum
    salva ferunt. illos mirantur carmina vatum,
    illos seposuit claro sub nomine Ditis
    nec sanctos iuvenes attingunt sordida fata,
    securas cessere domus et iura piorum.

    For once Etna burst its caves and, glowing with fire, cast
    forth all that its furnaces contained; a vast wave, swift and
    hot with fire, streamed forth afar.... Crops blazed along the
    fields, rich acres with their masters were consumed, forest and
    hill glowed rosy red.... Then each man, as he had courage and
    strength to bear away his goods, strove to protect his wealth.
    One groans beneath a weight of gold, another collects his weapons
    and slings them on his foolish neck. Another, unable to carry away
    what he has snatched up, wastes time in repeating charms, while
    there the poor man moves swift beneath his slender burden.... The
    fire feeds on all it meets: nought will it spare, or, if aught it
    spares, only the pious. For Amphinomus and his brother, the best of
    sons, brave in the toil they shared, when the fires roared loud and
    were already nigh their home, behold their father and their mother
    fall fainting on the threshold fordone with years. Cease, greedy
    folk, to shoulder the spoil of your fortunes that are so dear to
    you: for these men father and mother are their sole wealth; this
    only is the spoil that they would save. They hasten to escape
    through the midst of the fire, which itself gave them confidence.
    O piety, greatest of all that man may possess, of all virtues that
    which most saves the righteous. The flames blushed to touch the
    pious youths, and yield a path wherever they turn their steps.
    Blest was that day; the ground they trod was unharmed. The fierce
    burning holds all things on their right and blazes on their left.
    The brethren move triumphant on their path aslant the flame, each
    saved by his pious burden: the fire shuns their path and restrains
    its greedy hunger where pass the twain; scatheless they escape at
    length and bear those whom they worship to a place of safety. The
    songs of poets hymn their praise and the underworld gives them a
    glorious resting-place apart, nor does any unworthy fate befall
    these youths that lived so holy. They have passed away to dwell
    among the blessed, and sorrow cometh not nigh their dwelling-place.

The narrative is clear, and the story delightful. But the telling of it,
though free from affectation, is dull, prosaic, and uninspired. And it
must be remembered that this passage shows the author in his most
favourable aspect. In his more technical passages the clearness and
simplicity is absent, the prosiness and lack of imagination remain,
nakedly hideous.

The author of the poem is unknown, the very date is uncertain. The
conception of the work is Lucretian, but in point of style, while full
of reminiscences of Lucretius, the poem owes most to Vergil, whose
hexameter has undoubtedly been taken for a model, though it has lost all
its music. Except in the avoidance of elision there is no trace of the
influence of Ovid. The poem might easily have been written in the latter
half of the reign of Augustus.[352] The obscurity is due to the lack,
not the excess of art, and the poem has no special affinity with the
Silver Age. Servius and Donatus, indeed, both seem to ascribe the poem
to Vergil,[353] while it is found in the MSS. which give us the
_Appendix Vergiliana_. But there are considerations which have inclined
editors to place it later, in the reign of Nero, or in the opening years
of the principate of Vespasian. In one of his letters (Sen. 79) Seneca,
writing to his friend Lucilius Junior, urges him to 'describe Etna in
his poem, and by so doing treat a topic common to all poets'. The fact
that Vergil had already treated it was no obstacle to Ovid's essaying
the task, nor was Cornelius Severus deterred by the fact that both
Vergil and Ovid had handled the theme. Later he adds, 'If I know you
aright, the subject of Aetna will make your mouth water.' Lucilius was
procurator in Sicily, and had sung the story of the Syracusan nymph
Arethusa.[354] It has been suggested that he[355] wrote the _Aetna_. But
Lucilius was an imitator of Ovid,[356] and Seneca advises him _not_ to
write a didactic poem on Etna, but to treat it episodically (_in suo
carmine_), as Vergil and Ovid[357] had done. It is conceivable that he
may have written a didactic poem on the subject, but Seneca's remarks
yield absolutely no evidence for the fact.

Others have made Cornelius Severus the author,[358] though it is
practically certain that his description of the volcano must have
occurred in his poem _On the Sicilian War_.[359] But the fact that
Seneca makes no reference to the existence of any learned didactic poem
on the subject carries a little more weight, and there are marked
parallels between Seneca's 'quaestiones Naturales' and passages in the
_Aetna_.[360] Further, the very badness of the poem makes us hesitate to
place it in the Augustan period. That age, no doubt, produced much bad
work as well as good, but a poem so obscure and inartistically prosaic
as the _Aetna_ was more likely to be produced and more likely to survive
in an imitative and uninspired age such as that which followed on the
death of Augustus. But for the evidence of Seneca we should place the
poem in the prosaic reign of Tiberius; the considerations adduced from
Seneca lead us, though with the utmost hesitation, to place it somewhere
between 57 and 79 A.D.[361] Of the lower limit there can be no doubt.
The fires of the Phlegraean plains are extinct,[362] therefore the poem
was composed before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.[363] The
question of the authorship of the _Aetna_ has necessarily been treated
at greater length than the merits of the poem deserve. It is a work of
small importance; its chief value is to show how low it was possible for
Roman didactic poetry to sink. In the _Aetna_ it sinks lower than epic
in the _Punica_ of Silius Italicus. That poem, for all its portentous
dullness, shows a certain ponderous technical skill and literary
facility. The author of the _Aetna_, though clearly a man of culture, is
never at his ease, the verse is laboured and lacking flexibility, and
there is no technical dexterity to compensate for a total absence of
genius. The terror and beauty of the mountain crowned with snow and fire
find no adequate expression in these monotonous lines. There remains a
conglomerate of unoriginal and unsound physical speculation.



The _Aetna_ is a Lucretian poem decked out in a Vergilian dress. In the
tenth book of Columella we have a didactic poem modelled on the
_Georgics_ of Vergil. The author was of Spanish origin, a native of
Gades,[364] and the contemporary of his great compatriot the younger
Seneca.[365] He had served in a military capacity in Syria,[366] but his
real passion was agriculture. His ambition was to write a really
practical farmers' manual.[367] He had written nine books in prose,
covering the whole range of farming, from the tillage of the soil to the
breeding of poultry and cattle, and concluding with a disquisition on
wild animals and bee-keeping. But in the tenth book, yielding to the
solicitation of his friend Publius Silvinus,[368] he set himself a more
exalted task, no less than the writing of a fifth Georgic on gardening.
Vergil, in his fourth Georgic (148), had left the theme of gardens for
another's singing. Columella takes him at his word. The tenth book is
manifestly intended as the crown and conclusion of his work. But later
he changed his plan. Another friend, Claudius Augustalis,[369] demanded
a paraphrase, or rather an amplification in prose. This resulted in an
eleventh book, in which the care of the garden and the duties of the
_villicus_ are described, while the work was finally concluded in a
twelfth book setting forth the duties of the _villica_.[370]

It may be doubted whether Columella was well advised when he yielded to
the entreaties of his friend Silvinus and wrote his tenth book in
verse. He had no great poetic talent, nor did he possess the sleight of
hand of Calpurnius, the imitator of the _Eclogues_. But he possesses
qualities which render his work far more attractive than that of
Calpurnius. He is a genuine enthusiast, with a real love of the
countryside and a charming affection for flowers. And as a stylist he
is modest. He makes no attempt at display, no contorted striving after
originality. His verse is clear and simple as his tastes. He is content
to follow humbly in the footsteps of his great master, the 'starry'
Vergil.[371] He imitates and even plagiarizes[372] because he loves,
not because it is the fashion. He shows no appreciation of the more
intimate harmonies of the Vergilian hexameter; like so many
contemporaries, he realizes neither the value of judicious elision nor
varied pauses; but his verse, in spite of its monotony and lack of life
and movement, is not unmelodious. The poem is a sober work, uninspired
in tone, straightforward and simple in plan. It need not be described
in detail; its advice is obvious, setting forth the times and seasons
to be observed by the gardener, the methods of preparing the soil, the
choice of flowers, with all the customary mythological allusions.[373]
At its worst, with its tedious lists of the names of flowers, it reads
like a seedsman's catalogue,[374] at its best it is lit up with a
quaint humour, a love of colour, and a homely yet vivid imagination.
Mother earth--'sweet earth' he calls her--is highly personified; that
she may be adorned anew, her green locks must be torn from their tangle
by the plough, her old raiment stripped from her, her thirst quenched
by irrigation, her hunger satisfied with fertilizing manure.[375] The
garden is to be no rich man's park for the display of statues and
fountains. Its one statue shall be the image of the garden god, its
patron and its protector.[376] Its splendour shall be the varied hue of
its flower-beds and its wealth in herbs that serve the use of man:

    verum ubi iam puro discrimine pectita tellus
    deposito squalore nitens sua semina poscet,
    pingite tunc varios, terrestria sidera, flores,
    candida leucoia et flaventia lumina caltae
    narcissique comas et hiantis saeva leonis
    ora feri calathisque virentia lilia canis,
    nec non vel niveos vel caeruleos hyacinthos,
    tum quae pallet humi, quae frondens purpurat auro,
    ponatur viola et nimium rosa plena pudoris (94).

    But when earth, with parted locks combed clear, gleams, all
    soilure cast aside, and demands the seeds that are her due,
    call forth the varied hues of flowers, earth's constellations,
    the white snowflake and the marigold's golden eyes, the
    narcissus-petals and the blossom that apes the fierce lion's
    gaping maw; the lily, too, with calix shining white amid its
    green leaves, the hyacinths white and blue; plant also the
    violet lying pale upon the ground or purple shot with gold
    among its leafage, and the rose with its deep shamefaced blush.

He loves the return of spring with as deep a love as Vergil's, though he
must borrow Vergil's language to describe its coming and its power.[377]
But his painting of its harvest of colour is his own:

    quin et odoratis messis iam floribus instat:
    iam ver purpureum, iam versicoloribus anni
    fetibus alma parens pingi sua tempora gaudet.
    iam Phrygiae loti gemmantia lumina promunt
    et coniventis oculos violaria solvunt (255).

    Nay, more, the harvest-time draws near for sweet-scented
    flowers. The purple spring has come, and kindly mother
    earth rejoices that her brows are painted bright with all
    the many-coloured offspring of the year. Now the Phrygian
    lotus puts forth its jewelled orbs and the violet beds
    open their winking eyes.

All the glories of an Italian spring are in the lines in which a little
later he describes the joy of living when the year is young, and the
wasting heat of summer is still far off, when it is sweet to be in the
sun and watch the garden with its rainbow colours:

    nunc ver egelidum, nunc est mollissimus annus,
    dum Phoebus tener ac tenera decumbere in herba
    suadet et arguto fugientes gramine fontes
    nec rigidos potare iuvat nec sole tepentes,
    iamque Dionaeis redimitur floribus hortus,
    iam rosa mitescit Sarrano clarior ostro.
    nec tam nubifugo Borea Latonia Phoebe
    purpureo radiat vultu, nec Sirius ardor
    sic micat aut rutilus Pyrois aut ore corusco
    Hesperus, Eoo remeat cum Lucifer ortu,
    nec tam sidereo fulget Thaumantias arcu
    quam nitidis hilares conlucent fetibus horti (282).

    Now cool spring is come, the gentlest season of the year,
    while Phoebus yet is young and bids us recline in the young
    herbage, and 'tis sweet to drink the rill that flows among
    the murmuring grass, with waters neither icy cold nor warm
    with the sun's heat. Now, too, the garden is crowned with the
    flowers Dione loves, and the rose ripens brighter than Tyrian
    purple. Not so brightly does Phoebe, Leto's daughter, shine
    with radiant face when Boreas has dispersed the clouds, nor
    glows hot Sirius so, nor ruddy Pyrois, nor Hesperus with
    shining countenance when he returns as the daystar at the
    break of dawn, not so fair gleams Iris with her starry
    bow, as shines the joyous garden with its bright offspring.

These are the words of an enthusiast and a poet, and these few
outbursts of song redeem the poem from dullness. There is wafted from
his pages the perfume of the countryside, and the fresh air breathes
welcome amid the hothouse cultures of contemporary poets. And he is
almost the only poet of the age that can be read without a wince of
pain. He is at least as good a laureate of the garden as Thomson of the
seasons, and he has all the grace of humility. Even when the artist
fails us, we love the man.



It may be said of pastoral poetry, without undue disrespect, that it is
the most artificial and the least in touch with reality of all the more
important forms of poetic art. Even in the hands of a master like
Theocritus, invested as it is with an incomparable charm, and
distinguished in many respects by an astonishing truth and fidelity, it
is never other than highly artificial. For its birth an age was required
in which the class whence the majority of poets and their audience are
drawn had largely lost touch with country life, or had at any rate
developed ideals that can only spring up in town society. This does not
imply that men have ceased altogether to appreciate the value of the
country life or the beauty of country surroundings, only that they have
lost much of their understanding of them; and so their appreciation
takes new forms. They love the country as a half-forgotten paradise,
they fly back to it as a refuge from the artificiality of town life, but
they take much of that artificiality with them. From the time of
Theocritus pastoral poetry pure and simple has steadily declined. Great
poems have been written with exquisite pastoral elements or even cast in
pastoral form. But they have never owed their greatness entirely, or
even chiefly, to the pastoral element. That element has merely provided
a charming setting for scenes or thoughts that have nothing genuinely
pastoral about them.

Of the small amount of pastoral poetry extant in Latin it need hardly be
said that the _Bucolica_ of Vergil stand in a class by themselves. And
yet for all their beauty they are unsatisfactory to those who know and
love Theocritus. Their charm is undeniable, but they are immature and
too obviously imitative. But Vergil was at least country-born and had a
deep sympathy for country life. When we come to the scanty relics of his
successors and imitators we are conscious of a lamentable falling away.
If Vergil's imitations of Theocritus fail to ring as true as their
original, what shall be said of the imitators of Vergil's imitations?
Even if they had been true poets, their verse must have rung false. But
the poets with whom we have to deal, Calpurnius Siculus and the
anonymous author of two poems known as the Einsiedeln fragments, were
not genuine poets. They had little of the intimacy with nature and
unsophisticated man that was demanded by their self-chosen task. That
they possessed some real affection for the country is doubtless true,
but it was not the prime inspiration of their verse. They had the
ambition to write poetry rather than the call; a slight bent towards the
country, heightened by a vague dissatisfaction and weariness with the
artificial luxury of Rome, led them to choose pastoral poetry. They make
up for depth of observation by a shallow minuteness. In the seven
eclogues of Calpurnius may be found a larger assortment of vegetables,
of agricultural implements and operations, than in the _Bucolics_ of
Vergil, but there is little poetry, pastoral or otherwise. The 'grace of
all the Muses' and the breath of the country are fled for ever; the
dexterous phrasing of a laborious copyist reigns in their stead.

Of the life of Calpurnius Siculus nothing is known and but little can be
conjectured. Of his date there can be little doubt. We learn from the
evidence of the poems themselves that they were written in the
principate of a youthful Caesar (i. 44; iv. 85, 137; vii. 6), beautiful
to look upon (vii. 84), the giver of splendid games (vii. 44), the
inaugurator of an age of peace, liberty and plenty (i. 42-88; iv
_passim_). This points strongly to the opening of Nero's reign. The
young Nero was handsome and personally popular, and the opening years of
his reign (_quinquennium Neronis_) were famous for good government and
prosperity. But there are two further pieces of internal evidence which
clinch the argument. A comet is mentioned (i. 77) as appearing in the
autumn, an appearance which would tally with that of the comet observed
shortly before the death of Claudius in 54 A.D., while the line

    maternis causam qui vicit Iulis (i. 45)

seems clearly to refer to the speech delivered by the young Nero for the
people of Ilium,[378] from whom the Iuli, Nero's ancestors on the
mother's side, claimed to trace their descent. It may therefore safely
be assumed that the poems were written early in the reign of Nero. A
most ingenious attempt has been made to throw some light on the identity
of their author.[379] He speaks of himself as Corydon, and he has a
patron whom he styles Meliboeus. He prays that Meliboeus may bring him
before Caesar's notice as Pollio brought Vergil (iv. 157 sqq.; also i.
94). It has been suggested with some plausibility that Meliboeus is no
other than C. Calpurnius Piso, the distinguished noble round whom in 65
A.D. centred the great conspiracy against Nero. The evidence rests on
the existence of a poem entitled _panegyricus in Pisonem_,[380] in which
a nameless poet seeks by his laudations to win Piso for a patron. The
style of the poem has a marked resemblance to that of Calpurnius. If, as
is possible, it should be assigned to his authorship, it becomes fairly
certain that he was a dependent of Piso, and the name Calpurnius would
suggest that he may have been the son of one of his freedmen.

The eclogues of Calpurnius are seven in number.[381] The first is in
praise of the Golden Age, with special reference to the advent of the
young princeps. Though given a different setting it is clearly modelled
on the fourth eclogue of Vergil. The second, describing a contest of
song between two shepherds before a third as judge, follows Vergil even
more closely.[382] Parallels might be further elaborated, but it is
sufficient to say here that only two of the poems show any originality,
namely, the fifth and the seventh. In the former we have the advice
given by an aged farmer to his son, to whom he is handing over his farm.
It is inclined to be prosy, but is simple and pleasing in tone, and the
old countryman may be forgiven if he sometimes seems to be quoting the
Georgics. The seventh is a more ambitious effort. A rustic describes the
great games that he has seen given in the amphitheatre at Rome. The
language, though characteristically decadent in its elaboration, shows
considerable originality. The amphitheatre is, for instance, thus
described (vii. 30):

    qualiter haec patulum concedit vallis in orbem
    et sinuata latus resupinis undique silvis
    inter continuos curvatur concava montes,
    sic ibi planitiem curvae sinus ambit arenae
    et geminis medium se molibus alligat ovum.
       *       *       *       *       *
    balteus en gemmis, en illita porticus auro
    certatim radiant; nec non, ubi finis arenae
    proxima marmoreo praebet spectacula muro,
    sternitur adiunctis ebur admirabile truncis
    et coit in rotulum, tereti qui lubricus axe
    impositos subita vertigine falleret ungues
    excuteretque feras. auro quoque torta refulgent
    retia, quae totis in arenam dentibus extant,
    dentibus aequatis: et erat (mihi crede, Lycota,
    si qua fides) nostro dens longior omnis aratro.

    Even as this vale rounds to a wide circle, and with
    bending sides and slanting woods on every side makes
    a curved hollow amid the unbroken hills, so there the
    circle of the curving arena surrounds its level plain
    and locks either side of its towering structure into
    an oval about itself.... See how the gangway's parapet
    studded with gems and the colonnade plated with gold
    vie with each other's brightness; nay more, where the
    arena's bound sets forth its shows close to the marble
    wall, ivory is overlaid in wondrous wise on jointed beams
    and is bent into a cylinder, which, turning nimbly on its
    trim axle, may cheat with sudden whirl the wild beast's
    claws and cast them from it. Nets, too, of twisted gold
    gleam forth, hung out into the arena on tusks in all their
    length and of equal size, and--believe me, Lycotas, if you
    can--each tusk was longer than our ploughshare.

In its defence it may be urged that the very nature of the subject
demands elaboration, and that the resulting picture has the merit of
being vivid despite its elaborate ingenuity. It is in this poem that
Calpurnius is seen at his best. Elsewhere his love for minute and
elaborate description is merely wearisome. It would be hard, for
instance, to find a more tiresomely circuitous method of claiming to be
an authority on sheep-breeding than (ii. 36)--

    me docet ipsa Pales cultum gregis, ut niger albae
    terga maritus ovis nascenti mutet in agna
    quae neque diversi speciem servare parentis
    possit et ambiguo testetur utrumque colore.

    Pales herself teaches me how to breed my flocks and tells
    me how the black ram transforms the fleece of the white
    ewe in the lamb that comes to birth, that cannot reproduce
    the colour of its sire, so different from that of its dam,
    and by its ambiguous hue testifies to either parent.

It is difficult to give a poetic description of the act of
rumination, but

    et matutinas revocat palearibus herbas (iii. 17)

    And recalls to its dewlaps the grass of its morning's meal.

is needlessly grotesque. And the vain struggle to give life to old and
outworn themes leads to laboured lines such as (iii. 48)--

    non sic destricta marcescit turdus oliva,
    non lepus extremas legulus cum sustulit uvas,
    ut Lycidas domina sine Phyllide tabidus erro.

    Not so does the thrush pine when the olives are plucked,
    not so does the hare pine when the vintager has gathered
    the last grapes, as I, Lycidas, droop while I roam apart
    from my mistress Phyllis.

Calpurnius yields little to compensate for such defects. He meanders on
through hackneyed pastoral landscapes haunted by hackneyed shepherds. It
is only on rare occasions that a refreshing glimmer of poetry revives
the reader. In lines such as (ii. 56)--

                          si quis mea vota deorum
    audiat, huic soli, virides qua gemmeus undas
    fons agit et tremulo percurrit lilia rivo
    inter pampineas ponetur faginus ulmos;

    If any of the gods hear my prayer, to his honour, and his
    alone, shall his beechwood statue be planted amid my
    vine-clad elms, where the jewelled stream rolls its green
    wave and with rippling water runs through the lilies.

or, in the pleasant description of the return of spring (v. 16),

              vere novo, cum iam tinnire volueres
    incipient nidosque reversa lutabit hirundo,
    protinus hiberno pecus omne movebis ovili.
    tune etenim melior vernanti germine silva
    pullat et aestivas reparabilis incohat umbras,
    tune florent saltus viridisque renascitur annus,[383]

    When spring is young and the birds begin to pipe once more,
    and the swallow returns to plaster its nest anew, then move
    all your flock from its winter fold. For then the wood sprouts
    in fresh glory with its spring shoots and builds anew the
    shades of summer, then all the glades are bright with flowers
    and the green year is born again.

we seem to catch a glimpse of the real countryside; but for the most
part Calpurnius paints little save theatrical and _maniéré_ miniatures.
Of such a character is the clever and not unpleasing description of the
tame stag in the sixth eclogue (30). He shows a pretty fancy and no

The metre is like the language, easy, graceful, and correct. But the
pauses are poorly managed; the rhythm is unduly dactylic; the verse
trips all too lightly and becomes monotonous.

The total impression that we receive from these poems is one of
insignificance and triviality. The style is perhaps less rhetorical and
obscure than that of most writers of the age; as a result, these poems
lack what is often the one saving grace of Silver Latin poetry, its
extreme cleverness. To find verse as dull and uninspired, we must turn
to Silius Italicus or the _Aetna_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The two short poems contained in a MS. at Einsiedeln and distinguished
by the name of their place of provenance are also productions of the
Neronian age. The first, in the course of a contest of song between
Thamyras and Ladas, with a third shepherd, Midas, as arbiter, sets
forth the surpassing skill of Nero as a performer on the _cithara_.[384]
The second celebrates the return of the Golden Age to the world now
under the beneficent guidance of Nero. Neither poem possesses the
slightest literary importance; both are polished but utterly insipid
examples of foolish court flattery. The author is unknown. An ingenious
suggestion[385] has been made that he is no other than Calpurnius Piso,
the supposed Meliboeus of Calpurnius Siculus. The second of these
eclogues begins, 'Quid tacitus, Mystes?' The fourth eclogue of
Calpurnius Siculus begins (Meliboeus loquitur), 'Quid tacitus, Corydon?'
Is Meliboeus speaking in person and quoting his own poem? It may be so,
but the evidence is obviously not such as to permit any feeling of

But it is at least probable that the poet had access to the court and had
been praised by Nero. Such is the most plausible interpretation of a
passage in the first eclogue, where Ladas, in answer to Thamyras, who
claims the prize on the ground that his song shall be of Caesar, replies
(16, 17):

    et me sidereo respexit Cynthius ore
    laudatamque chelyn iussit variare canendo.[386]

    On me, too, has the Cynthian god cast his starry glance and
    bidden me accompany the lyre he praised with diverse song.

Whether the author be Piso or another, the poems do him small credit.

The _Panegyricus in Pisonem_ remains to be considered. Attributed to
Vergil by one MS.,[387] to Lucan by another,[388] the poem is certainly
by neither. Quite apart from stylistic evidence, which is convincing
against its attribution to Lucan, it is almost certain that the name of
Lucan has been wrongly inserted for that of Vergil. That it is not by
Vergil would be clear from the very inferior nature of the verse, but it
can further be shown that the Piso addressed is the Calpurnius Piso of
the reigns of Claudius and Nero to whom we have alluded above. If the
account of Piso given by Tacitus be compared with the characteristics
described in the _Panegyricus_, it will be found that both alike refer
in strong terms to his eloquence in the law courts so readily exercised
in defence of accused persons, and also to his affability and capacity
for friendship.[389] Further, we have the evidence of a scholium on
Juvenal as to his skill in the game of draughts.[390] He played so well
that crowds would throng to see him. One of the chief points mentioned
in the _Panegyricus_ is the skill of Piso at the same game.[391] Nor is
it a mere casual allusion; on the contrary, the writer treats this
portion of his eulogy with even greater elaboration than the rest. There
can, therefore, be little doubt as to the date of the poem. It is
addressed to Calpurnius Piso after his rise to fame (i.e. during the
latter portion of the principate of Claudius, or during the earlier part
of the reign of Nero). The poet prays that Piso may be to him what
Maecenas was to Vergil. It is hardly possible for a poem of this type to
possess any real interest for others than the recipient of the flattery
and its author. But in this case the poet has done his work well. The
flattery never becomes outrageous and is expressed in easy flowing verse
and graceful diction. At times the language is genuinely felicitous. Any
great man might be proud to receive such a tribute as (129)--

                                   tu mitis et acri
    asperitate carens positoque per omnia fastu
    inter ut aequales unus numeraris amicos,
    obsequiumque doces et amorem quaeris amando.

    Mild is thy temper and free from sharp harshness. Thou
    layest aside thy pride in thy every act, and among thy
    friends thou art counted a friend and equal, thou teachest
    men to follow thee and seekest to be loved by loving.

There is, moreover, little straining after effect and little real
obscurity. The difficulties of the description of Piso's
draught-playing are due to our ignorance of the exact nature of the
game.[392] The actual language is at least as lucid as Pope's famous
description of the game of ombre in _The Rape of the Lock_. The verse
is of the usual post-Augustan type, showing strongly the primary
influence of Vergil modified by the secondary influence of Ovid. It is
light and easy and not ill-suited to its subject. It has distinct
affinities, both in metre and diction, with the verse of Calpurnius
Siculus, and may be by the same hand; but the resemblance is not so
close as to afford anything approaching positive proof. Minor poets,
lacking all individuality, the victims and not the controlling forces
of the tendencies of the age, are apt to resemble one another. There
are, however, two noteworthy passages which point strongly to the
identity of the author of the _Panegyricus_ with the Bucolic poet. The
former, addressing Piso as his patron (246), says:

                                   mea vota
    si mentem subiere tuam, memorabilis olim
    tu mihi Maecenas tereti cantaberé versu.

    If my prayers reach thy mind, thou shalt be sung
    of as Maecenas in my slender verse, and future ages
    shall tell of thy glory.

The latter, addressing his patron Meliboeus and begging him to commend
him to Caesar, exclaims (iv. 152):

    o mihi quae tereti decurrent carmina versu
    tunc, Meliboee, meum si quando montibus istis (i.e. at Rome)
    dicar habere larem.

    O how shall my songs trip in slender verse then, Meliboeus,
    if ever men shall say of me 'He has a house on yonder mountain'.

Is it a mere coincidence, a plagiarism, or a direct allusion? There is
no certainty, but the coincidence is--to say the least--suggestive. If
the identity of authorship be assumed as correct, it is probable that
the eclogues are the later production. To place one's patron among the
_dramatis personae_ of an eclogue argues a nearer intimacy than the
writing of a formal panegyric. That the poet is more at home as a
panegyrist than as a writer of idylls does not affect the question. In
such an age such a result was to be expected.



Latin poetry may almost be said to have begun with Livius Andronicus'
translation of the _Odyssey_ into the rude Saturnian metre. This
translation had great vogue as a school book. But the _Iliad_ remained
untranslated, and it was only natural that later authors should try
their hand upon it. Translations were produced in Republican times by
Cn. Matius[393] and Ninnius Crassus,[394] but neither work attained to
any popularity.

With the growth of the knowledge of Greek and its increasing use as a
medium of instruction in the schools on the one hand, and the appearance
of Vergil and the rise of the Aeneas saga on the other, the demand for a
translation of the _Iliad_ naturally became less. The Silver Age arrived
with the problem unsolved. It was a period when writers abounded who
would have been better employed on translation than on any attempt at
original work. Further, in spite of the general knowledge of Greek, a
translation of Homer would have its value in the schools both as a
handbook for the subject-matter and as a 'crib '.

Three works of the kind seem to have been produced between the reigns of
Tiberius and Nero.

Attius Labeo[395] translated not only the _Iliad_ but also the _Odyssey_
into hexameters. But it was a poor performance. It was a baldly literal
translation, paying small attention to the meaning of the original.[396]
Persius pours scorn upon it, and one verse has survived to confirm our
worst suspicions[397]--

    crudum manduces Priamum Priamique pisinnos.

Polybius, the well-known freedman of Claudius, also produced a work,
which is praised by Seneca as having introduced Homer and Vergil to a
yet larger public than they already enjoyed, and as preserving the charm
of the original in an altered form.[398] As Polybius had dealt with
Vergil as well as Homer, it may be conjectured that the work praised by
Seneca was a prose paraphrase. Lastly, there is the _Ilias Latina_,
which has been preserved to the present day. It is written in graceful
hexameter verse, and is an abridgement rather than a translation. It
consists of 1,070 lines, of which the first five books in fact claim a
little more than half. The author wearied of his task and finished off
the remaining nineteen books in summary fashion. While the twenty-second
occupies as much as sixty lines, the abridgements of the thirteenth and
seventeenth are reduced to a meagre seven and three lines respectively.

That such work is of small importance is obvious. It must have been
useless from its birth save as a handbook for the schools, and even for
this purpose its value must have been greatly impaired by its lack of
proportion. Its survival can only be accounted for on the assumption
that it was written and employed as a textbook. In fact, during the
Middle Ages, when the original was a sealed book, there is definite
evidence that it was so used.[399] The work is trivial, but might well
have been worse. The language is clear and often vigorous, and there is
an easy grace about the verse which shows that the author was a man of
culture, knowing his Vergil well and his Ovid better. The date cannot be
proved with certainty, but there can be no doubt that it was written
before the death of Nero.

The lines (899),

    quem (Aenean) nisi servasset magnarum rector aquarum
    ut profugus laetis Troiam repararet in arvis,
    augustumque genus claris submitteret astris,
    non carae gentis nobis mansisset origo,

    Unless the ruler of the mighty deep had preserved Aeneas to
    found in exile a new Troy in happier fields, and beget a line
    of princes to shine among the stars, the stock of the race we
    love would not have endured to bless us.

can only have been written under the Julian Dynasty.

The work is clearly post-Ovidian and must therefore be attributed to the
principates of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, or Nero. Further evidence of
date is entirely wanting. No meaning can be attached to the heading
Pindarus found in certain MSS.[400] There is, however, an interesting
though scarcely more fruitful problem presented by the possible
existence of two acrostics in the course of the poem.[401] The initial
letters of the first nine lines spell the name 'Italices', while the
last eight lines yield the word 'scqipsit'. Baehrens, by a not very
probable alteration in the eighth line, procures the name 'Italicus',
while a slighter and more natural change yields 'scripsit' at the
close.[402] Further, a late MS. gives Bebius Italicus as the name of the
author.[403] On these grounds the poem has been attributed to Silius
Italicus. But Martial makes no reference to the existence of this work
in any of his references to Silius, and indeed suggests that Silius only
took to writing poetry after his withdrawal from public life.[404] This
would make the poem post-Neronian, which, as we have seen, is most
improbable. Further, the style of the verse is very different from that
of the _Punica_. When, over and above these considerations, it is
remembered that the acrostics can only be produced by emendation of the
text, the critic has no course open to him but to abandon the
attribution to Silius and to give up the problem of the acrostics as an
unprofitable curiosity of literature.



In addition to the poets of whom we have already treated as writing
under the Julian Dynasty there must have been many others of whom chance
or their own insignificance has deprived us. But few names have
survived,[405] and only two of these lost poets merit mention here, the
erotic poet Lentulus Gaetulicus and the lyric writer Caesius Bassus.

Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus was consul in 26 A.D.,[406] and for
ten years was legatus in Upper Germany, where his combination of
firmness and clemency won him great popularity.[407] He conspired
against Caligula while holding this command, and was put to death.[408]
Pliny the younger speaks of him as the writer of sportive and lascivious
erotic verse, and Martial writes of him in very similar terms.[409] His
mistress was named Caesennia, and was herself a poetess.[410] It is
possible that the poems in the Greek Anthology under the title [Greek:
Gaitoulikou][411] may be from his pen, but the only fragment of his
Latin poems which survives is from a work in hexameters, and describes
the geographical situation of Britain.[412]

More important is the lyric poet Caesius Bassus,[413] whose loss is the
more to be regretted because of the very scanty remains of Roman lyric
verse that have survived to modern times. Statius attempted with but
indifferent success to imitate the Sapphics and Alcaics of Horace, while
the plays of Seneca provide a considerable quantity of lyric choruses of
varying degrees of merit. But of lyric writers pure and simple there is
scarcely a trace. That they existed we know from Quintilian. If we may
trust him, certain of his contemporaries[414] attained to considerable
distinction in this branch of poetry--that is to say, they surpassed all
Roman lyric poets subsequent to Horace. But when all is said, it is
scarcely possible to go beyond Quintilian's emphatic statement, that of
Roman lyricists Horace alone repays reading. If any other name deserves
mention it is that of Caesius Bassus, but he is inferior to Quintilian's
own contemporaries. Caesius Bassus is best known to us as the editor of
the satires of Persius. The sixth satire is actually addressed to him:

    admovit iam bruma foco te, Basse, Sabino?
    iamne lyra et tetrico vivunt tibi pectine chordae?
    mire opifex numeris veterum primordia vocum
    atque marem strepitum fidis intendisse Latinae,
    mox iuvenes agitare iocos et pollice honesto
    egregius lusisse senex.[415]

    Has winter made you move yet to your Sabine fireside, dear
    Bassus? Are your lyre and its strings and the austere quill
    that runs over them yet in force? Marvellous artist as you
    are at setting to music the primitive antiquities of our
    language, the manly utterance of the Latian harp, and then
    showing yourself excellent in your old age at wakening young
    loves and frolicking over the chords with a virtuous touch.

The only information yielded by this passage is that Bassus had a
Sabine villa, that he was already advanced in years, that he affected
'the simple and manly versification of antiquity', and that he dealt
also with erotic themes. But few other facts are known to us. He wrote
a treatise on metre--a portion of which has been preserved to the
present day,[416] and he perished at his Campanian villa in 79 A.D.,
during the great eruption of Vesuvius.[417] The fragments of verse
enshrined in his metrical treatise suggest that he wrote in a large
variety of metres,[418] but they may be no more than examples invented
solely to illustrate metres unfamiliar in Latin. The one quotation that
is explicitly made from his lyrical poems is, curiously enough, a
hexameter line. As to his literary merits or defects, it is now
impossible even to guess.





After the death of Nero and the close of the Civil War a happier era,
both for literature and the world at large, was inaugurated by the
accession of Vespasian in 69 A.D. A man of low birth and of little
culture, he yet had a true appreciation of art and literature. Of his
own writing we know nothing save that he left behind him memoirs.[419]
But we have abundant evidence that he showed himself a liberal patron of
the arts. He gave rich rewards to poets and sculptors,[420] effected all
that was possible to repair the great loss of works of art occasioned by
the burning of the Capitol,[421] and did what he could for the stage,
perhaps even attempting to revive the legitimate drama.[422] Above all,
he set aside a large sum annually for the support of Greek and Latin
professors of rhetoric,[423] the first instance in the history of Rome
of State endowment of education. Against this we must set his expulsion
from Italy of philosophers and astrologers, an intemperate and
presumably ineffective act, prompted by reasons of State and probably
without any appreciable influence on literature.[424] His sons, however,
had received all the advantages of the highest education. Of Titus'
(79-81 A.D.) achievements in literature we have no information save that
he aspired to be both orator and poet. The language used in praise of
his efforts by Pliny the elder, our one authority on this point, is so
extravagant as to be virtually meaningless.[425] Of the literary
exploits of his brother Domitian (81-96 A.D.) there is more to be said.
It pleased him to lay claim to distinction both in prose and verse.[426]
His only prose work of which any record remains was a treatise on the
care of the hair;[427] his own baldness rankled in his mind and turned
the _calvus Nero_ of Juvenal into a hair specialist. As to his poems it
is almost doubtful if he ever wrote any. He professed an enthusiasm for
poetry, an art which, according to Suetonius, he had neglected in his
youth and despised when he came to the throne. But Quintilian, Valerius
Flaccus, and Martial[428] all load him with praise of various degrees of
fulsomeness, though, reading between the lines of Quintilian, it is easy
to see that Domitian's output must have been exceedingly small. The
evidence of these three authors goes to show that he had contemplated,
perhaps even begun, an epic on the achievements of his brother Titus in
the Judaic War. Whether these _caelestia carmina belli_, as Martial
calls them, ever existed, save in the imagination of courtiers and
servile poets, there is nothing to show. If they did exist there seems
no reason to regret their loss.

Domitian's chief service to literature, if indeed it was a true service,
was the establishment of the Agon Capitolinus in 86, a quinquennial
festival at which prizes were awarded not only for athletics and
chariot-racing, but for declamations in verse and prose,[429] and the
institution of a similar, though annual, contest at his own palace on
the Alban Mount, which took place as often as the great festival of
Minerva, known as the Quinquatria, came round.[430] But his interest in
literature was only superficial; he had no originality and read nothing
save the memoirs and edicts of Tiberius.[431] His capricious cruelty
extended itself to artists and authors;[432] twice (in 89 and 93 A.D.),
following his father's example, he banished philosophers and astrologers
from Rome;[433] the crime of having written laudatory biographies of the
Stoics Thrasea and Helvidius Priscus brought Arulenus Rusticus and
Herennius Senecio to their deaths.[434] But Domitian's tyranny had
little effect on _belles-lettres_, however adverse it may have been to
free-spoken philosophy, rhetoric, or history. Valerius Flaccus, Silius,
Statius, and Martial, all wrote during his reign, and the works of the
last-named poet and Quintilian give ample evidence of widespread
literary activity. The minor poet replenished the earth, and the prizes
for literature awarded at the Agon Capitolinus and the festival of the
Alban Mount must have been a real stimulus to writing, even though the
type of literature produced by such a stimulus may have been scarcely
worth producing. The worst feature of the poetry of the time is the
almost incredibly fulsome flattery to which the tyranny of Domitian gave
rise. As a compensation we have in the two succeeding reigns the biting
satire of Juvenal and Tacitus, rendered all the keener by its long
suppression under the last of the Flavian dynasty.

But, however impossible it may have been to write really effective
satire during the Flavian dynasty, of poets there was no lack. It was,
moreover, under the Flavians that there sprang up that reaction towards
a saner style to which we have already referred as finding its
expression in the Ciceronianism of Quintilian, and to a lesser degree in
the Vergilianism of Valerius, Statius, and Silius. Of lesser luminaries
there were enough and to spare. Serranus and Saleius Bassus are both
warmly commended by Quintilian for their achievements in Epic. The
former died young, before his powers had ripened to maturity, but showed
great soundness of style and high promise.[435] Of Saleius
Quintilian[436] says, 'He had a vigorous and poetic genius, but it was
not mellowed by age.' That is to say, he died young, like Serranus. In
the _Dialogus_ of Tacitus he is spoken of as the best of men and the
most finished of poets. He won Vespasian's favour and received a gift
from him of five hundred thousand sesterces. His poems brought him no
material profit; both Tacitus and Juvenal emphasize this point:

    contentus fama iaceat Lucanus in hortis
    marmoreis; at Serrano tenuique Saleio
    gloria quantalibet quid erit, si gloria tantum est.[437]

Statius' father, a distinguished teacher of rhetoric at Naples, had
written a poem on the burning of the Capitol in 69 A.D., and was only
prevented by death[438] from singing the great eruption of Vesuvius.
Arruntius Stella of Patavium,[439] the friend of Statius and Martial,
wrote elegies to his wife Violentilla. Turnus,[440] like Juvenal the son
of a freedman, attained considerable success as a satirist, while the
two distinguished soldiers, Verginius Rufus[441] and Vestricius
Spurinna,[442] wrote light erotic verse and lyrics respectively. In
addition to these there are a whole host of minor poets mentioned by
Statius and Martial. In fact the writing of verse was the most
fashionable occupation for the leisure time of a cultivated gentleman.

With Nerva and Trajan the happiest epoch of the principate set in. Nerva
(96-98 A.D.) sprung from a line of distinguished jurists, was celebrated
by Martial as the Tibullus of his time,[443] and is praised by the
younger Pliny for the excellence of his light verses.[444] Trajan, his
successor (98-117 A.D.), though a man of war, rather than a man of
letters, wrote a history of the Dacian wars,[445] and possessed--as his
letters to Pliny testify--a remarkable power of expressing himself
tersely and clearly. He was, like Vespasian, a generous patron to
rhetoric and education,[446] and the founder of the important library
known as the _Bibliotheca Ulpia_.[447] But the great service which he
and his predecessor rendered to literature was, as Pliny and Tacitus
bear eloquent witness, the gift of freedom. This did more for prose than
for poetry, save for one important fact--it was the means of enriching
the world with the satires of Juvenal. If the quantity of the literature
surviving from the principates of Nerva and Trajan is small, its quality
is unmistakable. Pliny the younger, Tacitus, and Juvenal form a trio
whose equal is to be found at no other period of the post-Augustan
principate, while the letters of Pliny give proof of the existence of a
highly cultivated society devoted to literature of all kinds. Poets were
numerous even if they were not good. Few names, however, survive, and
those have but the slightest interest for us. It will suffice to mention
three of them: Passennus Paulus, Sentius Augurinus, and the younger
Pliny. With the dramatic poets, Pomponius Bassulus and Vergilius
Romanus, we have already dealt.[448] Pliny shall speak for himself and
his friends.

'Passennus Paulus,' he writes,[449] 'a distinguished Roman knight of
great learning, is a writer of elegies. This runs in the family; for he
is a fellow townsman of Propertius and indeed counts him among his
ancestors.' In a later letter[450] he speaks with solicitude of his
failing health, and goes on to describe the characteristics of his work.
'In his verse he imitates the ancients, paraphrases them, and reproduces
them, above all Propertius, from whom he traces his descent. He is a
worthy scion of the house, and closely resembles his great ancestor in
that sphere in which he of old excelled. If you read his elegies you
will find them highly polished, possessed of great sensuous charm, and
quite obviously written in the house of Propertius. He has lately
betaken himself to lyric verse, and imitates Horace with the same skill
with which he has imitated Propertius. Indeed, if kinship counts for
anything in the world of letters, you would deem him Horace's kinsman as
well.' Pliny concludes with a warm tribute to Passennus' character. The
picture is a pleasant one, but it is startling and significant to find
Pliny awarding such praise to one who was frankly imitative, if he was
not actually a plagiarist.[451]

Pliny is not less complimentary to Sentius Augurinus. 'I have been
listening,' he writes,[452] 'to a recitation given by Sentius Augurinus.
It gave me the greatest pleasure, and filled me with the utmost
admiration for his talent. He calls his verses "trifles" (_poematia_).
Much is written with great delicacy, much with great elevation of style;
many of the poems show great charm, many great tenderness; not a few are
honey-sweet, not a few bitter and mordant. It is some time since
anything so perfect has been produced.' The next clause, however,
betrays the reason, in part at any rate, for Pliny's admiration. In the
course of his recitation he had produced a small hendecasyllabic poem in
praise of Pliny's own verses. Pliny proceeds to quote it with every
expression of gratification and approval. It is certainly neatly turned
and well expressed, but it is such as any cultivated gentleman who had
read his Catullus and Martial might produce, and can hardly have been of
interest to any one save Augurinus and Pliny. Pliny was, in fact, with
all his admirable gifts, one of the principal and most amiable members
of a highly cultivated mutual admiration society. He was a poet himself,
though only a few lines of the poems praised by Augurinus have survived
to undergo the judgement of a more critical age. Pliny has, however,
given an interesting little sketch of his poetical career in the fourth
letter of the seventh book. 'I have always had a taste for poetry,' he
tells his friend Pontius; 'nay, I was only fourteen when I composed a
tragedy in Greek. What was it like? you ask. I know not; it was called a
tragedy. Later, when returning from my military service, I was
weather-bound in the island of Icaria, and wrote elegiac poems in Latin
about that island and the sea, which bears the same name. I have
occasionally attempted heroic hexameters, but it is only quite recently
that I have taken to writing hendecasyllables. You shall hear of their
origin and of the occasion which gave them birth. Some writings of
Asinius Gallus were being read aloud to me in my Laurentine villa; in
these works he was comparing his father with Cicero; we came upon an
epigram of Cicero dedicated to his freedman Tiro. Shortly after, about
noon--for it was summer--I retired to take my siesta, and finding that I
could not sleep, I began to reflect how the very greatest orators have
taken delight in composing this style of verse, and have hoped to win
fame thereby. I set my mind to it, and, quite contrary to my
expectations after so long desuetude, produced in an extremely short
space of time the following verses on that very subject which had
provoked me to write.'

Thirteen hexameter verses follow of a mildly erotic character. They are
not peculiarly edifying, and are certainly very far from being poetry.
He continues:

'I then turned my attention to expressing the same thoughts in elegiac
verse; I rattled these off at equal speed, and wrote some additional
lines, being beguiled into doing so by the fluency with which I wrote
the metre. On my return to Rome I read the verses to my friends. They
approved. Then in my leisure moments, especially when travelling, I
attempted other metres. Finally, I resolved to follow the example of
many other writers and compose a whole separate volume in the
hendecasyllabic metre; nor do I regret having done so. For the book is
read, copied, and even sung; even Greeks chant my verses to the sound of
the _cithara_ or the lyre; their passion for the book has taught them to
use the Latin tongue.' It was this volume of hendecasyllables about
which Pliny displays such naïve enthusiasm that led Augurinus to compare
Pliny to Calvus and Catullus. Pliny's success had come to him
comparatively late in life; but it emboldened him to the composition of
another volume of poems[453] in various metres, which he read to his
friends. He cites one specimen in elegiacs[454] which awakens no desire
for more, for it is fully as prosy as the hexameters to which we have
already referred. Of the hendecasyllables nothing survives, but Pliny
tells us something as to their themes and the manner of their
composition.[455] 'I amuse myself by writing them in my leisure moments
at the bath or in my carriage. I jest in them and make merry, I play the
lover, I weep, I make lamentation, I vent my anger, or describe
something or other now in a pedestrian, now in a loftier vein.' As this
little catalogue would suggest, these poems were not always too
respectable. The good Pliny, like Martial, thinks it necessary to
apologize[456] for his freedom in conforming to the fashionable licence
of his age by protesting that his muse may be wanton, but his life is
chaste. We can readily believe him, for he was a man of kindly heart and
high ideals, whose simple vanity cannot obscure his amiability. But it
is difficult to believe that the loss of his poetry is in any way a
serious loss to the world.[457] We have given Pliny the poet more space
than is his due; our excuse must be the interest of his engaging

In spite of Pliny's enthusiasm for his poet friends, there is no reason
to suppose that the reign of Trajan saw the production of any poetry,
save that of Juvenal, which even approached the first rank. With the
accession of Hadrian we enter on a fresh era, characterized by the rise
of a new prose style and the almost entire disappearance of poetry. Rome
had produced her last great poet. The _Pervigilium Veneris_ and a few
slight but beautiful fragments of Tiberianus are all that illumine the
darkness till we come upon the interesting but uninspired elegiacs of
Rutilius Namatianus, the curiously uneven and slipshod poetry of
Ausonius, and the graceful, but cold and lifeless perfection of the
heroic hexameters of Claudian.



Poetesses were not rare at Rome during the first century of our era; the
_scribendi cacoethes_ extended to the fair sex sufficiently, at any
rate, to evoke caustic comment both from Martial[458] and Juvenal.[459]
By a curious coincidence, the only poetesses of whose work we have any
record are both named Sulpicia. The elder Sulpicia belongs to an earlier
age; she formed one of the Augustan literary circle of which her uncle
Messala was the patron, and left a small collection of elegiac poems
addressed to her lover, and preserved in the same volume as the
posthumous poems of Tibullus, to whose authorship they were for long

The younger Sulpicia was a contemporary of the poet Martial, and, like
her predecessor, wrote erotic verse. Frank and outspoken as was the
earlier poetess, in this respect at least her namesake far surpassed
her. For the younger Sulpicia's plain-speaking, if we may judge from
the comments of ancient writers[461] and the one brief fragment of her
love-poems that has survived,[462] was of a very different character
and must at least have bordered on the obscene. But her work attracted
attention; her fame is associated with her love for Calenus, a love
that was long[463] and passionate. She continued to be read even in the
days of Ausonius and Sidonius Apollinaris. Martial compares her with
Sappho, and her songs of love seem to have rung true, even though their
frankness may have been of a kind generally associated with passions of
a looser character.[464] If, as a literal interpretation of
Martial[465] would lead us to infer, Calenus was her husband, the poems
of Sulpicia confront us with a spectacle unique in ancient
literature--a wife writing love-poems to her husband. Her language came
from the heart, not from book-learning; she was a poetess such as
Martial delighted to honour.

    omnes Sulpiciam legant puellae,
    uni quae cupiunt viro placere;
    omnes Sulpiciam legant mariti,
    uni qui cupiunt placere nuptae.
    non haec Colchidos adserit furorem,
    diri prandia nec refert Thyestae;
    Scyllam, Byblida nec fuisse credit:
    sed castos docet et probos amores,
    lusus delicias facetiasque.
    cuius carmina qui bene aestimarit,
    nullam dixerit esse nequiorem,
    nullam dixerit esse sanctiorem[466].

    Read your Sulpicia, maidens all,
    Whose husband shall your sole love be;
    Read your Sulpicia, husbands all,
    Whose wife shall reign, and none but she.
    No theme for her Medea's fire,
    Nor orgy of Thyestes dire;
    Scylla and Byblis she'd deny,
    Of love she sang and purity,
    Of dalliance and frolic gay;
    Who should have well appraised her lay
    Had said none were more chaste than she,
    Yet fuller none of amorous glee.
                                A. E. STREET.

Although the thought of what _procacitas_[467] may have meant in a lady
of Domitian's reign raises something of a shudder, and although it is to
be feared that Martial, when he goes on to say (loc. cit.)

    tales Egeriae iocos fuisse
    udo crediderim Numae sub antro,

    Such sport I ween Egeria gave
    To Numa in his spring-drenched cave.
                                A. E. STREET.

had that in his mind which would have scandalized the pious lawgiver of
Rome, we may yet regret the loss of poems which, if Martial's language
is not merely the language of flattery, may have breathed a fresher and
freer spirit than is often to be found in the poets of the age. Catullus
and Sappho would seem to have been Sulpicia's models, but her poems have
left so little trace behind them that it is impossible to speak with
certainty. As to their metre we are equally ill-informed. The fragment
of two lines quoted above is in iambic _senarii_. If we may believe the
evidence[468] of a satirical hexameter poem attributed to Sulpicia, she
also wrote in hendecasyllables and scazons. The genuineness of this poem
is, however, open to serious doubt. It consists of seventy hexameters
denouncing the expulsion of the philosophers by Domitian, and is known
by the title of _Sulpiciae satira_.[469] That it purports to be by the
poetess beloved of Calenus is clear from an allusion to their
passion.[470] Serious doubts have, however, been cast upon its
genuineness. It is urged that the work is ill-composed, insipid, and
tasteless, and that it contains not a few marked peculiarities in
diction and metre, together with more than one historical inaccuracy.
The inference suggested is that the poem is not by Sulpicia, but at
least two centuries later in date. It may readily be admitted that the
poem is almost entirely devoid of any real merit, that its diction is
obscure and slovenly, its metre lame and unimpressive. But the critics
of the poem are guilty of great exaggeration.[471] Many of its worst
defects are undoubtedly due to the exceedingly corrupt state of the
text; further, it is hard to see what interest a satire directed against
Domitian would possess centuries after his death, nor is it easy to
imagine what motive could have led the supposed forger to attribute his
work to Sulpicia. The balance of probability inclines, though very
slightly, in favour of the view that the work is genuine. This is
unfortunate; for the perusal of this curious satire on the hypothesis of
its genuineness appreciably lessens our regret for the loss of
Sulpicia's love poetry and arouses serious suspicion as to the veracity
of Martial. It must, however, in justice be remembered that it does not
follow that Sulpicia was necessarily a failure as a lyric writer because
she had not the peculiar gift necessary for satire. The absence of the
training of the rhetorical schools from a woman's education might well
account for such a failure. At the worst, Sulpicia stands as an
interesting example of the type of womanhood at which Juvenal levelled
some of his wildest and most ill-balanced invective.



The political tendency towards retrenchment and reform that marks the
reign of Vespasian finds its literary parallel in a reaction against the
rhetoric of display that culminated in Seneca and Lucan. This movement
is most strongly marked in the prose of Quintilian and the _Dialogus_ of
Tacitus, but finds a faint echo in the world of poets as well. The three
epic poets of the period--Valerius Flaccus, Statius, and Silius
Italicus--though they, too, have suffered much from their rhetorical
training, are all clear followers of Vergil. They, like their
predecessors, find it hard to say things naturally, but they do not to
the same extent go out of their way with the deliberate intention of
saying things unnaturally.[472] We may condemn them as phrase-makers,
though many a modern poet of greater reputation is equally open to the
charge. But their phrase-making has not the flamboyant quality of the
Neronian age. If it is no less wearisome, it is certainly less
offensive. They do not lack invention; their mere technical skill is
remarkable; they fail because they lack the supreme gifts of insight and

Valerius Flaccus chose a wiser course than Lucan and Silius Italicus. He
turned not to history, but to legend, for his theme; and the story of
the Argonauts, on which his choice lighted, possessed one inestimable
advantage. Well-worn and hackneyed as it was, it possessed the secret of
eternal youth. 'Age could not wither it nor custom stale its infinite
variety.' The poorest of imitative poetasters could never have made it
wholly dull, and Valerius Flaccus was more than a mere poetaster.

Of his life and position little is known. His name is given by the MSS.
as Gaius Valerius Flaccus Setinus Balbus.[473] The name Setinus suggests
that he may have been a native of Setia. As there were three Setias, one
in Italy and two in Spain, this clue gives us small help. It has been
suggested[474] that the peculiarities of his diction are due to his
being of Spanish origin. But we have no evidence as to the nature of
Spanish Latin, while the authors of known Spanish birth, who found fame
in the Silver Age--Seneca, Lucan, Martial, Quintilian, Columella--show
no traces of their provenance. No more helpful is the view that he is
one Flaccus of Patavium, the poet-friend to whom two of Martial's
epigrams are addressed.[475] For Martial's acquaintance was poor and is
exhorted to abandon poetry as unlucrative, whereas Valerius Flaccus had
some social standing and, not improbably, some wealth. From the opening
of the _Argonautica_ we learn that he held the post of _quindecimvir
sacris faciundis_.[476] But there our knowledge of the poet ends, save
for one solitary allusion in Quintilian, the sole reference to Valerius
in any ancient writer. In his survey of Latin literature[477] he says
_multum in Valerio Flacco nuper amisimus_. The work of Quintilian having
been published between the years 93 and 95 A.D., the death of Valerius
Flaccus may be placed about 90 A.D.

The poem seems to have been commenced shortly after the capture of
Jerusalem in 70 A.D. At the opening of the first book[478] Valerius
addresses Vespasian in the conventional language of courtly flattery
with appropriate reference to his voyages in northern seas during his
service in Britain, a reference doubly suitable in a poem which is
largely nautical and geographical. He excuses himself from taking the
obvious subject of the Jewish war on the ground that that theme is
reserved for the inspired pen of Domitian. It is for him to describe
Titus, his brother, dark with the dust of war, launching the fires of
doom and dealing destruction from tower to tower along the ramparts of
Jerusalem.[479] The progress of the work was slow. By the time the third
book is reached we find references to the eruption of Vesuvius that
buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D.,[480] while in the two
concluding books there seem to be allusions to Roman campaigns in the
Danube lands, perhaps those undertaken by Domitian in 89 A.D.[481] At
line 468 of the eighth book the poem breaks off suddenly. It is possible
that this is due to the ravages of time or to the circumstances of the
copyist of our archetype, but consideration of internal evidence points
strongly to the conclusion that Valerius died with his work uncompleted.

Not only do the words of Quintilian (l.c.) suggest a poet who left a
great work unfinished, but the poem itself is full of harshnesses and
inconsistencies of a kind which so slow and careful a craftsman would
assuredly have removed had the poem been completed and received its
final revision.[482] These blemishes leave us little room for doubt. The
poem that has come down to us is a fragment lacking the _limae labor_.
Like the _Thebais_ of Statius and the _Aeneid_ itself, the work was
probably planned to fill twelve books. The poem breaks off with the
marriage of Medea and Jason on the Isle of Peuce at the mouth of the
Danube, where they are overtaken by Medea's brother Absyrtus, who has
come in anger to reclaim his sister and take vengeance on the stranger
who has beguiled her. It is clear that the Argonauts[483] were, as in
Apollonius Rhodius, to escape up the Danube and reach another sea. In
Apollonius they descended from the head waters of the Danube by some
mythical river to the Adriatic; it is in the Adriatic that Absyrtus is
encountered and slain; it is in Phaeacia that Jason and Medea are
married. In Valerius both these incidents take place in the Isle of
Peuce, at the Danube's mouth. The inference is that Valerius
contemplated a different scheme for his conclusion. It has been pointed
out[484] that a mere 'reproduction of Apollonius' episodes could not
have occupied four books'; and it is suggested that Valerius definitely
brought his heroes into relation to the various Italian places[485]
connected with the Argonautic legend, while he may even, as a compliment
to Vespasian,[486] have brought them back 'by way of the North Sea past
Britain and Gaul'. This ingenious conjectural reconstruction has some
probability, slight as is the evidence on which it rests. Valerius was
almost bound to give his epic a Roman tinge. More convincing, however,
is the suggestion of the same critic[487] that the poem was designed to
exceed the scope of the epic of Apollonius and to have included the
death of Pelias, the malignant and usurping uncle, who, to get rid of
Jason, compels him to the search of the golden fleece. To the
retribution that came upon him there are two clear references[488] and
only the design to describe it could justify the introduction of the
suicide of Jason's parents at the outset of the first book, a suicide to
which they are driven to avoid death at the hands of Pelias.

The scope of the unwritten books is, however, of little importance in
comparison with the execution of the existing portion of the poem. The
Argonaut Saga has its weaknesses as a theme for epic. It is too
episodic, it lacks unity and proportion. Save for the struggle in
Colchis and the loves of Jason and Medea, there is little deep human
interest. These defects, however, find their compensation in the
variety and brilliance of colour, and, in a word, the romance that is
inseparable from the story. The scene is ever changing, each day brings
a new marvel, a new terror. Picturesqueness atones for lack of epic
grandeur. For that reason the theme was well suited to the Silver Age,
when picturesqueness and rich invention of detail predominated at the
expense of poetic dignity and kindling imagination. In many ways
Valerius does justice to his subject, in spite of the initial
difficulty with which he was confronted. Apollonius Rhodius had made
the story his own; Varro of Atax had translated Apollonius: both in its
Greek and Latin forms the story was familiar to Roman readers. It was
hard to be original.

Much as Valerius owes to his greater predecessor, he yet succeeds in
showing no little originality in his portrayal of character and
incident, and in a few cases in his treatment of plot.[489] In one
particular indeed he has markedly improved on his model; he has made
Jason, the hero of his epic, a real hero; conventional he may be, but he
still is a leader of men. In Apollonius, on the other hand, he plays a
curiously inconspicuous part; he is, in fact, the weakest feature of the
poem; he is in despair from the outset, and at no point shows genuine
heroic qualities; he is at best a peerless wooer and no more. Here,
however, he is exalted by the two great battles of Cyzicus and Colchis;
it is in part his prowess in the latter battle that wins Medea's heart.
In this connexion we may also notice a marked divergence from Apollonius
as regards the plot. Aeetes has promised Jason the fleece if he will aid
him against his brother Perses, who is in revolt against him with a host
of Scythians at his back. Jason aids him, does prodigies of valour, and
wins a glorious victory. Aeetes refuses the reward. This act of
treachery justifies Jason in having recourse to Medea's magic arts and
in employing her to avenge him on her father. In Apollonius we find a
very different story. The sons of Phrixus, who, to escape the wrath of
Aeetes, have thrown in their lot with the Argonauts, urge Jason to
approach Medea; they themselves work upon the feelings of their mother,
Chalciope, till she seeks her sister Medea--already in love with Jason
and only too ready to be persuaded--and induces her to save her nephews,
whose fate is bound up with that of the strangers. This incident is
wholly absent from Valerius Flaccus, with the result that the loves of
Jason and Medea assume a somewhat different character. Jason's conduct
becomes more natural and dignified. Medea, on the other hand, is shown
in a less favourable light. In the Greek poet she has for excuse the
desire to save her sister from the loss of her sons, which gives her
half a right to love Jason. In the Latin epic she is without excuse,
unless, indeed, the hackneyed supernatural machinery,[490] put in motion
to win her for Jason, can be called an excuse. This crude employment of
the supernatural leaves Valerius small room for the subtle psychological
analysis wherein the Greek excels, and this, coupled with the love of
the Silver Age for art magic, tends to make Medea--as in Seneca--a
sorceress first, a woman after. In Apollonius she is barbaric,
unsophisticated, a child of nature; in Valerius she is a figure of the
stage, not without beauty and pathos, but essentially melodramatic.

But Apollonius had concentrated all his powers upon Medea, and dwarfs
all his other characters, Jason not excepted. It is Medea alone that
holds our interests. The little company of heroes embarked on unsailed
seas and beset with strange peril are scarcely more than a string of
names, that drop in and out, as though the work were a ship's log rather
than an epic. In Valerius, though he attempts no detailed portraiture,
they are men who can at least fight and die. He has, in a word, a better
general conception as to how the story should be told; he is less
perfunctory, and strives to fill in his canvas more evenly, whereas
Apollonius, although by no means concise, leaves much of his canvas
covered by sketches of the slightest and most insignificant character.
In the Greek poem, though half the work is consumed in describing the
voyage to Colchis, the first two books contain scarcely anything of real
poetic interest, if we except the story of Phineus and the Harpies, a
few splendid similes, and two or three descriptive passages, as brief as
they are brilliant. In Valerius, on the contrary, there is abundance of
stirring scenes and rich descriptive passages before the Argonauts reach
their goal. His superiority is particularly noticeable at the outset of
the poem. Apollonius plunges _in medias res_ and fails to give an
adequate account of the preliminaries of the expedition. He has no
better method of introducing us to his heroes than by giving us a dreary
catalogue of their names. Valerius, too, has his catalogue, but later;
we are not choked with indigestible and unpalatable fare at the very
opening of the feast. And though both authors take five hundred lines to
get their heroes under way, Valerius tells us far more and in far better
language; Apollonius does not find his stride till the second book, and
forgets that it is necessary to interest the reader in his characters
from the very beginning.

But though in these respects Valerius has improved on his predecessor,
and though his work lacks the arid wastes of his model, he is yet an
author of an inferior class, and comes ill out of the comparison. For he
has little of the rich, almost oriental, colouring of Apollonius at his
best, lacks his fire and passion, and fails to cast the same glamour of
romance about his subject. While the Dido and Aeneas of Vergil are in
some respects but a pale reflection of the Medea and Jason of
Apollonius, the loves of Jason and Medea in Valerius are fainter still.
His heroine is not the tragic figure that stands out in lines of fire
from the pages of Apollonius. His lovers' speeches have a certain beauty
and tenderness of their own, but they lack the haunting melody and the
resistless passion that make the Rhodian's lines immortal. And while to
a great extent he lacks the peculiar merits of the Greek,[491] he
possesses his most serious blemish, the blemish that is so salient a
characteristic of both Alexandrian and Silver Latin literature, the
passion for obscure learning. A good example is the huge, though most
ingenious, catalogue of the tribes of Scythia at the opening of the
sixth book, with its detailed inventory of strange names and customs,
and its minute descriptions of barbaric armour. His love of learning
lands him, moreover, in strange anachronisms. We are told that the
Colchians are descended from Sesostris;[492] the town of Arsinoe is
spoken of as already in existence; Egypt is already connected with the
house of Lagus.[493]

In addition, Valerius possesses many of the faults from which Apollonius
is free, but with which the post-Augustan age abounds. The dangerous
influence of Seneca has, it is true, decayed; we are no longer flooded
with epigram or declamatory rhetoric. Rhetoric there is, and rhetoric
that is not always effective;[494] but it is rather a perversion of the
rhetoric of Vergil than the descendant of the brilliant rant of Lucan
and Seneca. From the gross lack of taste and humour that characterizes
so many of his contemporaries he is comparatively free, though his
description of the historic 'crab' caught by Hercules reaches the utmost
limit of absurdity:

                                laetus et ipse
    Alcides: Quisnam hos vocat in certamina fluctus?
    dixit, et, intortis adsurgens arduus undis,
    percussit subito deceptum fragmine pectus,
    atque in terga ruens Talaum fortemque Eribotem
    et longe tantae securum Amphiona molis
    obruit, inque tuo posuit caput, Iphite, transtro. (iii. 474-80.)

    Alcides gladdened in his heart and cried: 'Who challenges these
    waves to combat?' and as he rose against those buffeting waves,
    sudden with broken oar he smote his baffled breast, and, falling
    headlong back, o'erthrows Talaus and brave Eribotes and far-off
    Amphion, that never feared so vast a bulk should fall on him, and
    laid his head against thy thwart, O Iphitus.

This unheroic episode is a relic of the comic traditions associated
with Hercules, traditions which obtrude themselves from time to time in
serious and even tragic surroundings.[495] Apollonius describes the
same incident[496] with the quiet humour that so strangely tinges the
works of the pedants of Alexandria. Valerius, on the other hand, has
lost touch with the broad comedy of these traditions, and his attempt
to be humorous only succeeds in making him ridiculous.[497]

His worst fault, however, lies in his obscurity and preciosity of
diction. The error lies not so much in veiling simple facts under an
epigram, as in a vain attempt to imitate the 'golden phrases' of Vergil.
The strange conglomeration of words with which Valerius so often vexes
his readers resembles the 'chosen coin of fancy' only as the formless
designs of the coinage of Cunobelin resemble the exquisite staters of
Macedon from which they trace their descent. It requires more than a
casual glance to tell that (i. 411)

    it quem fama genus non est decepta Lyaei
    Phlias inmissus patrios de vertice crines

means that Phlias was 'truly reported the son of Bacchus with streaming
locks like to his sire's'; or that (vi. 553)

    Argus utrumque ab equis ingenti porrigit arvo

signifies no more than that the victims of Argus covered a large space
of ground when they fell.[498] How miserable is such a phrase compared
with the [Greek: keito megas megal_osti] of Homer! And though there is
less serious obscurity, nothing can be more awkward than the not
infrequent inversion of the natural order of words that we find in
phrases such as _nec pereat quo scire malo_ (vii. 7).[499]

Of mere preciosity and phrase-making without any special obscurity
examples abound.[500] Pelion sinks below the horizon (ii. 6)--

    iamque fretis summas aequatum Pelion ornos.

A fight at close quarters receives the following curious description
(ii. 524)--

    iam brevis et telo volucri non utilis aer.

A spear flying through the air and missing its mark is a _volnus raptum
per auras_ (iii. 196). More startling than these is the picture of a
charge of trousered barbarians (vi. 702)--

    improba barbaricae procurrunt tegmina plantae.

One more peculiarity remains to be noticed. Here and there in the
_Argonautica_ we meet with a strange brevity and compression resulting
not from the desire to produce phrases of curious and original texture,
but rather from a praiseworthy though misdirected endeavour to be
concise. The most remarkable example is found in the first book, where
Mopsus, the official prophet of the expedition, falls into a trance and
beholds a vision of the future (211):

    heu quaenam aspicio! nostris modo concitus ausis
    aequoreos vocat ecce deos Neptunus et ingens
    concilium. fremere et legem defendere cuncti
    hortantur. sic amplexu, sic pectora fratris,
    Iuno, tene; tuque o puppem ne desere, Pallas:
    nunc patrui nunc flecte minas. cessere ratemque
    accepere mari. per quot discrimina rerum
    expedior! subita cur pulcher harundine crines
    velat Hylas? unde urna umeris niueosque per artus
    caeruleae vestes? unde haec tibi volnera, Pollux?
    quantus io tumidis taurorum e naribus ignis!
    tollunt se galeae sulcisque ex omnibus hastae
    et iam iamque umeri. quem circum vellera Martem
    aspicio? quaenam aligeris secat anguibus auras
    caede madens? quos ense ferit? miser eripe parvos,
    Aesonide. cerno et thalamos ardere iugales.

    Alas! what do I see! Even now, stirred by our daring, lo!
    Neptune calls the gods to a vast conclave. They murmur, and
    one and all urge him to defend his rights. Hold as thou
    holdest now, Juno, hold thy brother in thine embrace: and
    thou, Pallas, forsake not our ship: now, even now, appease
    thy brother's threats. They have yielded: they give Argo
    entrance to the sea. Through what perils am I whirled along!
    Why does fair Hylas veil his locks with a sudden crown of
    reeds? Whence comes the pitcher on his shoulder and the azure
    raiment on his limbs of snow? Whence, Pollux, come these
    wounds of thine? Ah! what a flame streams from the widespread
    nostrils of the bulls. Helmets and spears rise from every
    furrow, and now see! shoulders too! What warfare for the fleece
    do I see? Who is it cleaves the air with winged snakes, reeking
    with slaughter? Whom smites she with the sword? Ah! son of
    Aeson, hapless man, save thy little ones. I see, too, the
    bridal chamber all aflame.

These lines form a kind of abridgement or _précis_ of the whole
_Argonautica_, or even more, for we can hardly believe that the scheme
of it included the murder of Medea's children and her vengeance on the
house of Creon[501]. They are also far too obscure to be interesting to
any save a highly-trained literary audience, while their extreme
compression could only be justified by their having been primarily
designed for recitation in a dramatic and realistic manner with
suitable pauses between the different visions.[502] A yet worse and
less excusable example of this peculiar brevity is the jerky and
prosaic enumeration of Medea's achievements in the black art
(vi. 442)--

    mutat agros fluviumque vias; suus alligat ingens
    cuncta sopor, recoquit fessos aetate parentes,
    datque alias sine lege colus.

    She changes crops of fields and course of rivers. [At her
    bidding] deep clinging slumber binds all things; fathers
    outworn with age she seethes to youth again, and to others
    she gives new span of life against fate's ordinance.

The attempt to be concise and full[503] at one and the same time fails,
and fails inevitably.

But for all these faults Valerius Flaccus offends less than any of the
Silver Latin writers of epic. He rants less and he exaggerates less;
above all, he has much genuine poetic merit. He has been strangely
neglected, both in ancient[504] and modern times, and unduly depreciated
in the latter. There has been a tendency to rank him with Silius
Italicus, whereas it would be truer criticism to place him close to
Statius, and not far below Lucan. He is more uneven than the former, has
a far less certain touch, and infinitely less command of his instrument.
He has less mastery of words, but a more kindling and penetrating
imagination. His outlines are less clear, but more suggestive. He has
less rhetoric; beneath an often obscure diction he reveals a greater
simplicity and directness of thought, and he has been infinitely more
happy in his theme. Only the greatest of poets could achieve a genuine
success with the Theban legend, only the worst of poets could reduce the
voyage of the Argonauts to real dullness. On the other hand, in an age
of _belles-lettres_ such as the Silver Age, and by the majority of
scholars, whose very calling leads them to set a perhaps abnormally high
value on technical skill, Statius is almost certain to be preferred to
Valerius. About the relative position of Lucan there is no doubt. He is
incomparably the superior of Valerius, both in genius and intellect. But
Valerius never sins against taste and reason to the same extent, and
though he has less fire, possesses a finer ear for music and rhythm, and
more poetic feeling as distinct from rhetoric. Vergil was his master; it
has been said with a little exaggeration that Valerius stands in the
same relation to Vergil as Persius to Horace. This statement conveys but
a half-truth. Valerius is as superior to Persius in technique as he is
inferior in moral force and intellectual power. He is, however, full of
echoes from Vergil,[505] and if his verse has neither the 'ocean roll'
of the greater poets, nor the same tenderness, he yet has something of
the true Vergilian glamour. But he has weakened his hexameter by
succumbing to the powerful influence of Ovid. His verse is polished and
neat to the verge of weakness. Like Ovid, he shows a preference for the
dactyl over the spondee, shrinks from elision, and does not understand
how to vary his pauses.[506] Too many lines close with a full-stop or
colon, and where the line is broken, the same pause often recurs again
and again with wearisome monotony. In this respect Valerius, though
never monotonously ponderous like Lucan, compares ill with Statius. As a
compensation, his individual lines have a force and beauty that is
comparatively rare in the _Thebais_. The poet who could describe a
sea-cave thus (iv. 179)--

    non quae dona die, non quae trahat aetheris ignem;
    infelix domus et sonitu tremibunda profundi,

    That receiveth never daylight's gifts nor the light of the
    heavenly fires, the home of gloom all a-tremble with the
    sound of the deep.

is not to be despised as a master of metre. And whether for
picturesqueness of expression or for beauty of sound, lines such as
(iii. 596)

    rursus Hylan et rursus Hylan per longa reclamat
    avia; responsant silvae et vaga certat imago,

    'Hylas', and again 'Hylas', he calls through the long wilderness;
    the woods reply, and wandering echo mocks his voice.

or (i. 291)

    quis tibi, Phrixe, dolor, rapido cum concitus aestu
    respiceres miserae clamantia virginis ora
    extremasque manus sparsosque per aequora crines!

    Phrixus, what grief was thine when, swept along by the swirling
    tide, thou lookedst back on the hapless maiden's face as she
    cried for thine aid, her sinking hands, her hair streaming o'er
    the deep.

are not easily surpassed outside the pages of Vergil. But it is above
all on his descriptive power that his claim to consideration rests.[507]
For it is there that he finds play for his most remarkable gifts, his
power of suggestion of mystery, and his keen sense of colour. These
gifts find their most striking manifestation in his description of the
Argonauts' first night upon the waters. They

    were the first that ever burst
      Into that silent sea.

All is strange to them. Each sight and sound has its element of terror:

    auxerat hora metus, iam se vertentis Olympi
    ut faciem raptosque simul montesque locosque
    ex oculis circumque graves videre tenebras.
    ipsa quies rerum mundique silentia terrent
    astraque et effusis stellatus crinibus aether.
    ac velut ignota captus regione viarum
    noctivagum qui carpit iter non aure quiescit,
    non oculis, noctisque metus niger auget utrimque
    campus et occurrens umbris maioribus arbor,
    haud aliter trepidare viri (ii. 38).

    The dark hour deepened their fears when they saw heaven's vault
    wheel round, and the peaks and fields of earth snatched from
    their view, and all about them the horror of darkness. The very
    stillness of things and the deep silence of the world affright
    them, the stars and heaven begemmed with streaming locks of gold.
    And as one benighted in a strange place 'mid paths unknown pursues
    his devious journey through the night and finds rest neither for
    eye nor ear, but all about him the blackness of the plain, and
    the trees that throng upon him seen greater through the gloom,
    deepen his terror of the dark--even so the heroes trembled.

There are few more vivid pictures in Latin poetry than that of the
benighted wanderer lost on some wide plain studded with clumps of trees
that seem to throng upon him in the gloom, seen greater through the
darkness. Not less imaginative, though less clear cut and precise, is
his picture of the underworld in the third book:

    est procul ad Stygiae devexa silentia noctis
    Cimmerium domus et superis incognita tellus,
    caeruleo tenebrosa situ, quo flammea numquam
    Sol iuga sidereos nec mittit Iuppiter annos.
    stant tacitae frondes inmotaque silva comanti
    horret Averna iugo; specus umbrarumque meatus
    subter et Oceani praeceps fragor arvaque nigro
    vasta metu et subitae post longa silentia voces (iii. 398).

    Far hence by the deep sunken silence of the Stygian night lies
    the Cimmerians' home, a land unknown to denizens of upper air,
    all dark with gloomy squalor. Thither the sun hath never driven
    his flaming car nor Jupiter sent forth his starry seasons. Silent
    are the leaves of its groves, and all along its leafy hill
    bristles unmoved Avernus' wood: thereunder are caverns, and the
    shades go to and fro; there Ocean plunges roaring to its fall,
    there are plains with dark fear desolate, and after long silences
    sudden voices thunder out.

It is a more theatrical underworld than that of Vergil, and the picture
is not clearly conceived, but its very vagueness is impressive. The poet
gives us, as it were, the scene for the enactment of some dim dream of
terror. He is equally at home in describing the happy calm of Elysium.
Though the picture lacks originality, it has no lack of beauty:

    hic geminae infernum portae, quarum altera dura
    semper lege patens populos regesque receptat;
    ast aliam temptare nefas et tendere contra;
    rara et sponte patet, siquando pectore ductor
    volnera nota gerens, galeis praefixa rotisque
    cui domus aut studium mortales pellere curas,
    culta fides, longe metus atque ignota cupido;
    seu venit in vittis castaque in veste sacerdos.
    quos omnes lenis plantis et lampada quassans
    progenies Atlantis agit. lucet via late
    igne dei, donec silvas et amoena piorum
    deveniant camposque, ubi sol totumque per annum
    durat aprica dies thiasique chorique virorum
    carminaque et quorum populis iam nulla cupido (i. 833).

    Here lie the twin gates of Hell, whereof the one is ever open
    by stern fate's decree, and through it march the peoples and
    princes of the world. But the other may none essay nor beat
    against its bars. Barely it opens and untouched by hand, if e'er
    a chieftain comes with glorious wounds upon his breast, whose
    halls were decked with helm and chariots, or who strove to cast
    out the woes of mankind, who honoured truth and bade farewell to
    fear and knew no base ambition. Then, too, it opens when some
    priest comes wearing sacred wreath and spotless robe. All such
    the child of Atlas leads along with gentle tread and waving torch.
    Far shines the road with the fire of the god until they come to
    the groves and plains, the pleasant mansions of the blest, where
    the sun ceases not, nor the warm daylight all the year long, nor
    dancing companies of heroes, nor song, nor all the innocent joys
    that the peoples of the earth desire no more.

Many lines might be quoted that startle us with their unforeseen
vividness or some unexpected blaze of colour; when the fleece of gold is
taken from the tree where it had long since shone like a beacon through
the dark, the tree sinks back into the melancholy night,

    tristesque super coiere tenebrae (viii. 120).

At their bridal on the desolate Isle of Peuce under the shadow of
approaching peril, Jason and Medea gleam star-like amid the company of
heroes (viii. 257):

    ipsi inter medios rosea radiante iuventa
    altius inque sui sternuntur velleris auro.

    Themselves in their comrades' midst, bright with the rosy
    glow of youth, above them all, lie on the fleece of gold
    that they had made their own.

This characteristic is most evident in the similes over which Valerius,
like other poets of the age, would seem to have expended particular
labour. He scatters them over his pages with too prodigal a hand, and
they suffer at times from over-elaboration and ingenuity.[508] Desire
for originality has led him to such startling comparisons as that
between a warrior drawn from his horse and a bird snared by the limed
twig of the fowler,[509] surely as inappropriate a simile as was ever
framed. More distressing still is the maudlin pathos of the simile which
likens Medea to a dog on the verge of madness.[510] But such gross
aberrations are rare; against them may be set some of the freshest and
most beautiful similes in the whole range of Latin poetry. The silence
that follows on the wailing of the women of Cyzicus is like the silence
of Egypt when the birds that wintered there have flown to more temperate
lands. 'And now they had paid due honour to their ashes; with weary
feet, wives with their babes wandered away and the waves had rest, the
waves long torn by their wakeful lamentation, even as when the birds in
mid-spring have returned to the north that is their home, and Memphis
and their yearly haunt by sunny Nile are dumb once more'--

                           qualiter Arctos
    ad patrias avibus medio iam vere revectis
    Memphis et aprici statio silet annua Nili (iii. 358).

The beauty of Medea among her Scythian maidens is likened to that of
Proserpine leading her comrades over Hymettus' hill or wandering with
Pallas and Diana in the Sicilian mountains--

    altior ac nulla comitum certante, prius quam
    palluit et viso pulsus decor omnis Averno (v. 346).

    Taller than all her comrades and fairer than them all or
    ever she turned pale, and at the sight of Hell all beauty
    was banished from her face.

The relief of the Argonauts, when at last they reach haven after their
fearful passage of the Symplegades, is like that of Theseus and
Hercules, when they have forced a way through the gates of hell to the
light of day once more.[511] Most remarkable of all is the strange
accumulation of similes that describe the meeting of Jason and Medea.
Medea is going through the silent night chanting a song of magic,
whereat all nature trembles. At last, when she has come 'to the shadowy
place of the triune goddess', Jason shines forth before her in the
gloom, 'as when in deepest night panic bursts on herd and herdsman, or
shades meet blind and voiceless in the deep of Chaos; even so, in the
darkness of the night and of the grove, the two met astonied, like
silent pines or motionless cypress, ere yet the whirling breath of the
south wind has caught and mingled their boughs'[512]--

    obvius ut sera cum se sub nocte magistris
    inpingit pecorique pavor, qualesve profundum
    per chaos occurrunt caecae sine vocibus umbrae;
    haut secus in mediis noctis nemorisque tenebris
    inciderant ambo attoniti iuxtaque subibant,
    abietibus tacitis aut immotis cyparissis
    adsimiles, rapidus nondum quas miscuit Auster (vii. 400).

These similes suffer from sheer accumulation.[513] Taken individually
they are worthy of many a greater poet.

In his speeches Valerius is less successful, though rarely positively
bad. But with few exceptions they lack force and interest. At times,
however, his rhetoric is effective, as in the speech of Mopsus (iii.
377), where he sets forth the punishment of blood-guiltiness, or in the
fierce invective in which the Scythian, Gesander, taunts a Greek warrior
with the inferiority of the Greek race (vi. 323 sqq.). This latter
speech is closely modelled on Vergil (_A._ ix. 595 sqq.), and although
it is somewhat out of place in the midst of a battle, is not wholly
unworthy of its greater model. But it is to the speeches of Jason and
Medea that we naturally turn to form the estimate of the poet's mastery
of the language of passion. These speeches serve to show us how far he
falls below Vergil (_A._ iv) and Apollonius (bk. iii). They offer a
noble field for his powers, and it cannot be said that he rises to the
full height of the occasion. On the other hand, he does not actually
fail. There is a note of deep and moving appeal in all that Medea says
as she gradually yields to the power of her passion, and the thought of
her father and her home fades slowly from her mind.

    quid, precor, in nostras venisti, Thessale, terras?
    unde mei spes ulla tibi? tantosque petisti
    cur non ipse tua fretus virtute labores?
    nempe, ego si patriis timuissem excedere tectis,
    occideras; nempe hanc animam sors saeva manebat
    funeris. en ubi Iuno, ubi nunc Tritonia virgo,
    sola tibi quoniam tantis in casibus adsum
    externae regina domus? miraris et ipse,
    credo, nec agnoscunt hae nunc Aeetida silvae.
    sed fatis sum victa tuis; cape munera supplex
    nunc mea; teque iterum Pelias si perdere quaeret,
    inque alios casus alias si mittet ad urbes,
    heu formae ne crede tuae.

'"Why,"' she cries (vii. 438), '"why, I beseech thee, Thessalian, camest
thou ever to this land of ours? Whence hadst thou any hope of me? And
why didst thou seek these toils with faith in aught save thine own
valour? Surely hadst thou perished, had I feared to leave my father's
halls--aye, and so surely had I shared thy cruel doom. Where now is thy
helper Juno, where now thy Tritonian maid, since I, the queen of an
alien house, have come to help thee in thy need? Aye, even thyself thou
marvellest, methinks, nor any more does this grove know me for Aeetes'
daughter. Nay, 'twas thy cruel fate overcame me; take now, poor
suppliant, these my gifts, and, if e'er again Pelias seek to destroy
thee and send thee forth to other cities, ah! put not too fond trust in
thy beauty!"' Yet again, before she puts the saving charms into his
hands, she appeals to him (452):

    si tamen aut superis aliquam spem ponis in istis, aut tua praesenti
    virtus educere leto si te forte potest, etiam nunc deprecor, hospes,
    me sine, et insontem misero dimitte parenti. dixerat; extemploque
    (etenim matura ruebant sidera, et extremum se flexerat axe Booten)
    cum gemitu et multo iuveni medicamina fletu non secus ac patriam
    pariter famamque decusque obicit. ille manu subit, et vim conripit
    omnem. inde ubi facta nocens, et non revocabilis umquam cessit ab
    ore pudor, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... pandentes Minyas iam vela
    videbat se sine. tum vero extremo percussa dolore adripit Aesoniden
    dextra ac submissa profatur: sis memor, oro, mei, contra memor ipsa
    manebo, crede, tui. quando hinc aberis, die quaeso, profundi quod
    caeli spectabo latus? sed te quoque tangat cura mei quocumque loco,
    quoscumque per annos; atque hunc te meminisse velis, et nostra
    fateri munera; servatum pudeat nec virginis arte. hei mihi, cur
    nulli stringunt tua lumina fletus? an me mox merita morituram
    patris ab ira dissimulas? te regna tuae felicia gentis, te coniunx
    natique manent; ego prodita obibo.

'"If thou hast any hope of safety from these goddesses, that are thine
helpers, or if perchance thine own valour can snatch thee from the jaws
of death, even now, I pray thee, stranger, let me be, and send me back
guiltless to my unhappy sire." She spake, and straightway--for now the
stars outworn sank to their setting, and Bootes in the furthest height
of heaven had turned him towards his rest--straightway she gave the
charms to the young hero with wailing and with lamentation, as though
therewith she cast away her country and her own fair fame and honour.'
And then, 'when her guilt was accomplished and the blush of shame had
passed from her face for evermore,' she saw as in a vision (474) 'the
Minyae spreading their sails for flight without her. Then in truth
bitter anguish laid hold of her spirit, and she grasped the right hand
of the son of Aeson and humbly spake: "Remember me, I pray, for I,
believe me shall forget thee never. When thou art hence, where on all
the vault of heaven shall I bear to gaze? Ah! do thou too, where'er thou
art, through all the years ne'er let the thought of me slip from thy
heart. Remember how thou stood'st to-day, tell of the gifts I gave, and
feel no shame that thou wast saved by a maiden's guile. Alas! why stream
no tears from thine eyes? Knowest thou not that the death I have
deserved waits me at my father's hand? For thee there waits a happy
realm among thine own folk, for thee wife and child; but I must perish
deserted and betrayed."'[514]

All this lacks the force and passion of the corresponding scene in
Apollonius. This Medea could never have cried, 'I am no Greek princess,
gentle-souled,'[515] nor have prayed that a voice from far away or a
warning bird might reach him in Iolcus on the day when he forgot her, or
that the stormwind might bear her with reproaches in her eyes to stand
by his hearth-stone and chide him for his forgetfulness and ingratitude.
The Medea of Apollonius has been softened and sentimentalized by the
Roman poet. Valerius knows no device to clothe her with power, save by
the narration of her magic arts (vii. 463-71; viii. 68-91). Yet she has
a charm of her own; and it needed true poetic feeling to draw even the
Medea of Valerius Flaccus.

In no age would Valerius have been a great poet, but under happier
circumstances he would have produced work that would have ranked high
among literary epics. As it is, there is no immeasurable distance
between the _Argonautica_ and works such as the _Gerusalemme liberata_,
or much of _The Idylls of the King_. He is a genuine poet whose genius
was warped by the spirit of the age, stunted by the inherent
difficulties besetting the Roman writer of epic, overweighted by his
admiration of his two great predecessors, Ovid and Vergil. He is
obscure, he is full of echoes, he staggers beneath a burden of useless
learning, he overcrowds his canvas and strives in vain to put the breath
of life into bones long dry; in addition, his epic suffers from the lack
of the reviser's hand. And yet, in spite of all, his characters are
sometimes more than lay-figures, and his scenes more than mere
stage-painting. He has the divine fire, and it does not always burn dim.
Others have greater cunning of hand, greater force of intellect, and
have won a higher place in the hierarchy of poets. He--though, like
them, he lacks the 'fine madness that truly should possess a poet's
brain'--yet gives us much that they cannot give, and sees much that they
cannot see. With Quintilian, though with altered meaning, we too may say
_multum in Valerio Flacco amisimus_.



Our information as to the life of P. Papinius Statius is drawn almost
exclusively from his minor poems entitled the _Silvae_. He was born at
Naples, his father was a native of Velia, came of good family,[516] and
by profession was poet and schoolmaster. The father's school was at
Naples,[517] and, if we may trust his son, was thronged with pupils from
the whole of Southern Italy.[518] He had been victorious in many poetic
contests both in Naples and in Greece.[519] He had written a poem on the
burning of the Capitol in 69 A.D., had planned another on the eruption
of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., but apparently died with the work
unfinished.[520] It was to his father that our poet attributed all his
success as a poet. It was to him he owed both education and inspiration,
as the _Epicedion in patrem_ bears pathetic witness (v. 3. 213):

    sed decus hoc quodcumque lyrae primusque dedisti
    non volgare loqui et famam sperare sepulcro.

    Thou wert the first to give this glory, whate'er it be,
    that my lyre hath won; thine was the gift of noble speech
    and the hope that my tomb should be famous.

The _Thebais_ was directly due to his prompting (loc. cit., 233):

                            te nostra magistro
    Thebais urgebat priscorum exordia vatum;
    tu cantus stimulare meos, tu pandere facta
    heroum bellique modos positusque locorum

    At thy instruction my Thebais trod the steps of elder
    bards; thou taughtest me to fire my song, thou taughtest
    me to set forth the deeds of heroes and the ways of war
    and the position of places.

The poet-father lived long enough to witness his son well on the way to
established fame. He had won the prize for poetry awarded by his native
town, the crown fashioned of ears of corn, chief honour of the
Neapolitan Augustalia.[521] Early in the reign of Domitian he had
received a high price from the actor Paris for his libretto on the
subject of Agave,[522] and he had already won renown by his recitations
at Rome,[523] recitations in all probability of portions of the
_Thebais_[524] which he had commenced in 80 A.D.[525] But it was not
till after his father's death that he reached the height of his fame by
his victory in the annual contest instituted by Domitian at his Alban
palace,[526] and by the completion and final publication in 92 A.D. of
his masterpiece, the _Thebais_.[527] This poem was the outcome of twelve
years' patient labour, and it was on this that he based his claim to
immortality.[527] He had now made himself a secure position as the
foremost poet of his age. His failure to win the prize at the
quinquennial Agon Capitolinus in 94 A.D. caused him keen mortification,
but was in no way a set-back to his career.[528] By this time he had
already begun the publication of his _Silvae_. The first book was
published not earlier than 92 A.D.,[529] the second and third between
that date and 95 A.D. The fourth appeared in 95 A.D.,[530] the fifth is
unfinished. There is no allusion to any date later than 95 A.D., no
indication that the poet survived Domitian (d. 96 A.D.). These facts,
together with the fragmentary state of his ambitious _Achilleis_, begun
in 95 A.D.,[531] point to Statius having died in that year, or at least
early in 96 A.D. He left behind him, beside the works already mentioned,
a poem on the wars of Domitian in Germany,[532] and a letter to one
Maximus Vibius, which may have served as a preface to the
_Thebais_.[533] He had spent the greater portion of his life either at
Rome, Naples, or in the Alban villa given him by Domitian. In his latter
years he seems to have resided almost entirely at Rome, though he must
have paid not infrequent visits to the Bay of Naples.[534] But in 94
A.D., whether through failing health or through chagrin at his defeat in
the Capitoline contest, he retired to his native town.[535] He had
married a widow named Claudia,[536] but the union was childless; towards
the end of his life he adopted the infant son of one of his slaves,[537]
and the child's premature death affected him as bitterly as though it
had been his own son that died. Of his age we know little; but in the
_Silvae_ there are allusions to the approach of old age and the decline
of his physical powers.[538] He can scarcely have been born later than
45 A.D., and may well have been born considerably earlier. His life, as
far as we can judge, was placid and uneventful. The position of his
father seems to have saved him from a miserable struggle for his
livelihood, such as vexed the soul of Martial.[539] There is nothing
venal about his verse. If his flattery of the emperor is fulsome almost
beyond belief, he hardly overstepped the limits of the path dictated by
policy and the custom of the age; his conduct argues weakness rather
than any deep moral taint. In his flattery towards his friends and
patrons his tone is, at its worst, rather that of a social inferior than
of a mere dependent.[540] And underlying all the preciosity and
exaggeration of his praises and his consolations, there is a genuine
warmth of affection that argues an amiable character. And this warmth of
feeling becomes unmistakable in the _epicedia_ on his father and his
adopted son, and again in the poem addressed to his wife. The feeling is
genuine, in spite of the suggestion of insincerity created by the
artificiality of his language. No less noteworthy is his enthusiasm for
the beauties of his birthplace, which shines clear through all the
obscure legends beneath which he buries his topography.[541] These
qualities, if any, must be set against his lack of intellectual power;
his mind is nimble and active, but never strong either in thought or
emotion: of sentiment he has abundance, of passion none. Considering the
corruption of the society of which he constituted himself the poet, and
of which there are not a few glimpses in the _Silvae_, despite the
tinselled veil that is thrown over it, the impression of Statius the man
is not unpleasing: it is not necessary to claim that it is inspiring.

Of Statius the poet it is harder to form a clear judgement. His
masterpiece, the _Thebais_, from the day of its publication down to
comparatively recent times, possessed an immense reputation.[542] Dante
seems to regard him as second only to Vergil; and it was scarcely before
the nineteenth century that he was dethroned from his exalted position.
Before the verdict of so many ages one may well shrink from passing an
unfavourable criticism. That he had many of the qualifications of a
great poet is undeniable; his technical skill is extraordinary; his
variety of phrase is infinite; his colouring is often brilliant. And
even his positive faults, the faults of his age, the crowding of detail,
the rhetoric, the bombast, offend rather by their quantity than quality.
Alone of the epic[543] writers of his age he rarely raises a derisive
laugh from the irreverent modern. Again, his average level is high,
higher than that of any post-Ovidian poet. And yet that high level is
due to the fact that he rarely sinks rather than that he rises to
sublime heights. His brilliant metre, always vivacious and vigorous,
seldom gives us a line that haunts the memory; and therefore, though its
easy grace and facile charm may for a while attract us, we soon weary of
him. He lacks warmth of emotion and depth of colour. In this respect he
has been not inaptly compared to Ovid. Ovid said of Callimachus _quamvis
ingenio non valet, arte valet_.[544] Ovid's detractors apply the epigram
to Ovid himself. This is unjust, but so far as such a comprehensive
dictum can be true of any distinguished writer, it is true of Statius.

Scarcely inferior to Ovid in readiness and fertility, he ranks far below
the earlier writer in all poetic essentials. Ovid's gifts are similar
but more natural; his vision is clearer, his imagination more
penetrating. 'The paces of Statius are those of the _manège_, not of
nature';[545] he loses himself in the trammels of his art. He lacks, as
a rule, the large imagination of the poet; and though his detail may
often please, the whole is tedious and disappointing. Merivale sums him
up admirably:[546] 'Statius is a miniature painter employed on the
production of a great historic picture: every part, every line, every
shade is touched and retouched; approach the canvas and examine it with
glasses, every thread and hair has evidently received the utmost care
and taken the last polish; but step backwards and embrace the whole
composition in one gaze, and the general effect is confused from want of
breadth and largeness of treatment.'

He was further handicapped by his choice of a subject.[547] The Theban
legend is unsuitable for epic treatment for more reasons than one. In
the first place the story is unpleasant from beginning to end. Horror
accumulates on horror, crime on crime, and there are but three
characters which evoke our sympathy, Oedipus, Jocasta, and Antigone.
These characters play only subsidiary parts in the story of the
expedition of the Seven against Thebes, round which the Theban epic
turns. The central characters are almost of necessity the odious
brothers Eteocles and Polynices: Oedipus appears only to curse his sons.
Antigone and Jocasta come upon the scene only towards the close in a
brief and futile attempt to reconcile the brothers. The deeds and deaths
of the Argive chiefs may relieve the horror and at times excite our
sympathy, but we cannot get away from the fact that the story is
ultimately one of almost bestial fratricidal strife, darkened by the
awful shadow of the woes of the house of Labdacus. The old Greek epic
assigned great importance to the character of Amphiaraus[548] persuaded
by his false wife, Eriphyla, to go forth on the enterprise that should
be his doom; it has even been suggested that he formed the central
character of the poem. If this suggestion be true--and its truth is
exceedingly doubtful--we are confronted with what was in reality only a
false shift, the diversion of the interest from the main issues of the
story to a side issue. The _Iliad_ cannot be quoted in his defence;
there we have an episode of a ten years' siege, which in itself
possesses genuine unity and interest. But the Theban epic comprises the
whole story of the expedition of the seven chieftains, and it is idle to
make Amphiaraus the central figure. In any case the prominence given to
the fortunes of the house of Labdacus by the great Greek dramatists, and
the genius with which they brought out the genuinely dramatic issues of
the legend, had made it impossible for after-comers to take any save the
Labdacidae for the chief actors in their story. And so from Antimachus
onward Polynices and Eteocles are the tragic figures of the epic.

To give unity to this story all our attention must be concentrated on
Thebes. The enlistment of Adrastus in the cause of Polynices must be
described, and following this the gathering of the hosts of Argos. But
when once the Argive demands are rejected by Thebes, the poet's chief
aim must be to get his army to Thebes with all speed, and set it in
battle array against the enemy. Once at Thebes, there is plenty of room
for tragic power and stirring narrative. First comes the ineffectual
attempt of Jocasta to reconcile her scarce human sons; then comes the
battle, with the gradual overthrow of the chieftains of Argos, the
turning of the scale of battle in favour of Thebes by the sacrifice of
Menoeceus, and last the crowning combat between the brothers. There,
from the artistic standpoint, the story finds its ending. It could
never have been other than forbidding, but it need not have lacked
power. Unfortunately, precedent did not allow the story to end there.
The Thebans forbid burial to the Argive dead; Antigone transgresses the
edict by burying her brother Polynices, and finds death the reward of
her piety; Theseus and the Athenians come to Adrastus' aid, defeat the
Thebans, and bury the Argive dead, while as a sop to Argive feeling
they are promised their revenge in after years, when the children of
the dead have grown to man's estate. If it were felt that the deadly
struggle between the two brothers closed the epic on a note of
unrelieved gloom and horror, there was perhaps something to be said for
introducing the story of Antigone's self-sacrifice, and closing on a
note of tragic beauty. Unhappily, the story of Antigone involved the
introduction of material sufficient for one, if not two fresh epics in
the legend of the Athenian War and the triumphant return of Argos to
the conflict. Antimachus[549] fell into the snare. His vast _Thebais_
told the whole story from the arrival of Polynices at Argos to the
victory of the Epigoni. Nor was he content with this alone, but must
needs clog the action of his poem with long descriptions of the
gathering of the host at Argos, and of their adventures on the march to
Thebes. And so it came about that he consumed twenty-four books in
getting his heroes to Thebes!

The precedent of Antimachus proved fatal to Statius. He did not, it is
true, run to such prolixity as his Greek predecessor; he eliminated the
legend of the Epigoni altogether, only alluding to it once in vague and
general terms; he succeeded in getting the story, down to the burial of
the Argive dead, within the compass of twelve books of not inordinate
length. But it is possible to be prolix without being an Antimachus,
and the prolixity of Statius is quite sufficient. The Argives do not
reach Thebes till half-way through the seventh book,[550] the brothers
do not meet till half-way through the eleventh book. The result is that
the compression of events in the last 300 lines of the eleventh book
and in the last book is almost grotesque; for these 1,100 lines contain
the death of Jocasta, the banishment of Oedipus, the flight of the
Argives, the prohibition to bury the Argive dead, the arrival of the
wives of the vanquished, the devotion of Antigone and Argia, the wife
of Polynices, their detection and sentencing to death, the arrival of
the Athenians under Theseus, the defeat and death of Creon, and the
burial of the fallen. The effect is disastrous. As we have seen, this
appendix to the main story of the feud between the brothers cannot form
a satisfactory conclusion to the story. Treated with the perfunctory
compression of Statius, it becomes flat and ineffective; even the
reader who finds Statius at his best attractive is tempted to throw
down the _Thebais_ in disgust.

It is perhaps in his concluding scenes that we see Statius at his worst,
but his capacity for irrelevance and digression is an almost equally
serious defect. That he should use the conventional supernatural
machinery is natural and permissible, though tedious to the modern
reader, who finds it hard to sympathize with outworn literary
conventions. But there are few epics where divine intervention is
carried to a greater extent than in the _Thebais_.[551] And not content
with the intervention of the usual gods and furies, on two occasions
Statius brings down frigid abstractions from the skies in the shape of
Virtus[552] and Pietas.[553] Again, while auguries and prophecies play a
legitimate part in such a work, nothing can justify, and only the
passion of the Silver Age for the supernatural can explain, the
protraction of the scenes of augury at Thebes and Argos to 114 and 239
lines respectively. Equally disproportionate are the catalogues of the
Argive and the Theban armies, making between them close on 400
lines.[554] Nor is imitation of Vergil the slightest justification for
introducing a night-raid in which Hopleus and Dymas are but pale
reflections of Nisus and Euryalus,[555] for expending 921 lines over the
description of the funeral rites and games in honour of the infant
Opheltes,[556] or putting the irrelevant history of the heroism of
Coroebus in the mouth of Adrastus, merely that it may form a parallel to
the tale of Hercules and Cacus told by Evander.[557] Worst of all is the
enormous digression,[558] consuming no less than 481 lines, where
Hypsipyle narrates the story of the Lemnian massacre. And yet this is
hardly more than a digression in the midst of a digression. The Argive
army are marching on Thebes. Bacchus, desirous to save his native town,
causes a drought in the Peloponnese. The Argives, on the verge of death,
and maddened with thirst, come upon Hypsipyle, the nurse of Opheltes,
the son of Lycurgus, King of Nemea. Hypsipyle leaves her charge to show
them the stream of Langia, which alone has been unaffected by the
drought, and so saves the Argive host. She then at enormous length
narrates to Adrastus the story of her life, how she was daughter of
Thoas, King of Lemnos, and how, when the women of Lesbos slew their
mankind, she alone proved false to their hideous compact, and saved her
father. After describing the arrival of the Argonauts at Lemnos, and her
amour with Jason, to whom she bore two sons, she tells how she was
banished from Lesbos on the discovery that Thoas, her father, still
lived, how she was captured by pirates, and twenty long years since sold
into slavery to Lycurgus. This prodigious narration finished, it is
discovered that a serpent sacred to Jupiter has killed Opheltes.
Lycurgus, hearing the news, would have slain Hypsipyle, but she is
protected by the Argives whom she has saved. Then follows the burial of
Opheltes--henceforth known as Archemorus--and his funeral games.

Now it is not improbable that the story of Opheltes and Hypsipyle
occurred in the old cyclic poem.[559] But that scarcely justifies
Statius in devoting the whole of the fifth and sixth books and some 200
lines of the fourth to the description of an episode so alien to the
main interest of the poem. But if we cannot justify these copious
digressions and irrelevances we can explain them. The _Thebais_ was
written primarily for recitation; many of these episodes which are
hopelessly superfluous to the real story are admirably designed for the
purpose of recitation. The truth is that Statius had many qualifications
for the writing of _epyllia_, few for writing epic on a large scale. He
has therefore sacrificed the whole to its parts, and relies on
brilliance of description to catch the ear of an audience, rather than
on sustained epic dignity and ordered development of his story. But
although he cannot give real unity to his epic, he succeeds, by dint of
his astonishing fluency and his mastery over his instrument, in giving a
specious appearance of unity. The sutures of his story are well
disguised and his inconsistencies of no serious importance. He fails as
an epic writer, but he fails gracefully.

It is, however, possible for an epic to be structurally ineffective and
yet possess high poetic merit. Statius' episodes do not cohere; how far
have they any splendour in their isolation? The answer to the question
must be on the whole unfavourable. The reasons for this are diverse. In
the first place the characters for the most part fail to live. Statius
can give us a vivid impression of the outward semblance of a man; we see
Parthenopaeus and Atys, we see Jocasta and Antigone, we see the struggle
of Eteocles and Polynices vividly enough. But we see them as strangers,
standing out, it is true, from the crowd in which they move, but still
wholly unknown to us. We cannot differentiate Polynices and Eteocles
save that the latter, from the very situation in which he finds himself,
is necessarily the more odious of the two; Polynices would have shown
himself the same, had the fall of the lot given him the first year of
kingship. Jocasta and Antigone, Creon and Menoeceus, Hypsipyle and
Lycurgus, play their parts correctly enough, but they do not live, nor
people our brain with moving images. We are told that they behaved in
such and such a way under such and such circumstances; we are told, and
admit, that such conduct implies certain moral qualities, but Statius
does not make us feel that his characters possess such qualities. The
reason for this lies partly in the fact that they all speak the same
brilliant rhetoric,[560] partly in the fact that Statius lacks the
direct sincerity of diction that is required for the expression of
strong and poignant emotion. Anger he can depict; anger suffers less
than other emotions from rhetoric. Hence it is that he has succeeded in
drawing the character of Tydeus, whose brutality is redeemed from
hideousness by the fact that it is based on the most splendid physical
courage, and fired by strong loyalty to his comrade and sometime foe
Polynices. His accents ring true. When he has gone to Thebes to plead
Polynices' cause, and his demands have been angrily refused by Eteocles,
who concludes by saying (ii. 449),

                                       nec ipsi,
    si modo notus amor meritique est gratia, patres
    reddere regna sinent,

    Nor will the fathers of the city, if they but know the love
    I bear them or if they have aught of gratitude, allow me to
    give back the kingship.

Tydeus will hear no more, but breaks in with a cry of fury (ii. 452):

    ingeminat 'reddes; non si te ferreus agger
    ambiat aut triplices alio tibi carmine muros
    Amphion auditus agat, nil tela nec ignes
    obstiterint, quin ausa luas nostrisque sub armis
    captivo moribundus humum diademate pulses.
    tu merito; ast horum miseret, quos sanguine viles
    coniugibus natisque infanda ad proelia raptos
    proicis excidio, bone rex. o quanta Cithaeron
    funera sanguineusque vadis, Ismene, rotabis!
    haec pietas, haec magna fides! nec crimina gentis
    mira equidem duco: sic primus sanguinis auctor
    incestique patrum thalami; sed fallit origo:
    Oedipodis tu solus eras, haec praemia morum
    ac sceleris, violente, feres! nos poscimus annum;
    sed moror.' haec audax etiamnum in limine retro
    vociferans iam tunc impulsa per agmina praeceps

    'Thou shalt give it back,' he cries, 'thou shalt give it back.
    Though thou wert girdled with a wall of bronze, or Amphion's
    voice be heard and with a new song raise triple bulwarks about
    thee; fire and sword should not save thee from the doom of thy
    daring, and, struck down by our swords, thy diadem should smite
    the ground as thou fallest dying, our captive. Thus shouldst
    _thou_ have thy desert; but _these_ I pity, whose blood thou
    ratest lightly, and whom thou snatchest from their children and
    their wives to give them over to death, thou virtuous king. What
    vast slaughter, Cithaeron, and thou, Ismenus, shalt thou see
    whirl down thy blood-stained shallows. This is thy piety, this
    thy true faith! nor marvel I at the crimes of such a race: 'twas
    for this that thou hadst such an author of thy being, for this
    thy father's marriage-bed was stained with incest. But thou art
    deceived as to thine own birth and thy brother's; thou alone
    wast begotten of Oedipus, that shall be the reward for thy nature
    and thy crime, fierce man. We ask but for a year! But I tarry over
    long.' These words he shouted back at him while he still lingered
    on the threshold; then headlong burst through the crowd of foemen
    and sped away.

As he is here, so is he always, unwavering in decision, prompt of speech
and of action. Caught in ambush, ill-armed and solitary, by the
treacherous Thebans, as he returns from his futile embassy, he never
hesitates; he seizes the one point of vantage, crushes his foes, and
when he speaks, speaks briefly and to the point. He spares the last of
his fifty assailants and sends him back to Thebes with a message of
defiance, brief, natural, and manly (ii. 697):

    quisquis es Aonidum, quem crastina munere nostro
    manibus exemptum mediis Aurora videbit,
    haec iubeo perferre duci: cinge aggere portas,
    tela nova, fragiles aevo circum inspice muros,
    praecipue stipare viros densasque memento
    multiplicare acies! fumantem hunc aspice late
    ense meo campum: tales in bella venimus.

    Whoe'er thou art of the Aonides, whom to-morrow's dawn shall
    see saved from the world of the dead by my boon, I bid thee
    bear this message to thy chief: 'Raise mounds about the gates,
    forge new weapons, look to your walls that crumble with years,
    and above all be mindful to marshal thick and multiply thine
    hosts! Behold this plain smoking with the work of my sword.
    Such men are we when we enter the field of battle.'

On his return to Argos he bursts impetuously into the palace, crying
fiercely for war.[561] When Lycurgus would slay Hypsipyle for her
neglect of her nursling, he saves her.[562] She has preserved the Argive
army, and Tydeus, if he never forgives an enemy, never forgets a friend.
He alone defeats the entreaties of Jocasta[563] and launches the hosts
of Argos into battle; and when his own doom is come, he dies as he had
lived, _impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis_; he has no thought for
himself; he cares nought for due burial (viii. 736):

                non ossa precor referantur ut Argos
    Aetolumve larem; nec enim mihi cura supremi
    funeris: odi artus fragilemque hunc corporis usum,
    desertorem animi.

    I ask not that my bones be borne home to Argos or Aetolia;
    I care not for my last rites of funeral; I hate these limbs
    and this frail tenement, my body, that fails my spirit in
    its hour of need.

His one thought is for vengeance on the dead body of the man who has
slain him[564] and for the victory of his comrades in arms.

Only one other of the heroes has any real existence, the prophet
Amphiaraus. Statius does not give him the prominence that he held in the
original epic, and misses a noble opportunity by almost ignoring the
dramatic story of Eriphyla and the necklace that won her to persuade her
husband to go forth to certain death. But the heroic warrior priest of
Apollo, who knows his doom and yet faces it fearlessly, could not fail
to be a picturesque figure, and at least in the hour of his death
Statius has done him full justice. Apollo, disguised as a mortal, mounts
the chariot of Amphiaraus and drives him through the midst of the
battle, dealing destruction on this side and that (vii. 770):

    tandem se famulo summum confessus Apollo
    'utere luce tua longamque' ait, 'indue famam,
    dum tibi me iunctum mors inrevocata veretur.
    vincimur: immites scis nulla revolvere Parcas
    stamina; vade, diu populis promissa voluptas
    Elysiis, certe non perpessure Creontis
    imperia aut vetito nudus iaciture sepulcro.'
    ille refert contra, et paulum respirat ab armis:
    'olim te, Cirrhaee pater, peritura sedentem
    ad iuga (quis tantus miseris honor?) axe trementi
    sensimus; instantes quonam usque morabere manes?
    audio iam rapidae cursum Stygis atraque Ditis
    flumina tergeminosque mali custodis hiatus.
    accipe commissum capiti decus, accipe laurus,
    quas Erebo deferre nefas. nunc voce suprema,
    si qua recessuro debetur gratia vati,
    deceptum tibi, Phoebe, larem poenasque nefandae
    coniugis et pulchrum nati commendo furorem.'
    desiluit maerens lacrimasque avertit Apollo.

    At length Apollo revealed himself to his servant. 'Use,' he
    said, 'the light of life that is left thee and win an age of
    fame while thy doom still unrepealed shrinks back in awe of me.
    The foemen conquer: thou knowest the cruel fates never unravel
    the threads they weave: go forward, thou, the promised darling
    of the peoples of Elysium; for surely thou shalt ne'er endure
    the tyranny of Creon, or lie naked, denied a grave.' He answered,
    pausing awhile from the fray: 'Long since, lord of Cirrha, the
    trembling axle told me that 'twas thou sat'st by my doomed steeds.
    Why honourest thou a wretched mortal thus? How long wilt thou
    delay the advancing dead? Even now I hear the course of headlong
    Styx, and the dark streams of death, and the triple barking of
    the accursed guard of hell. Take now thine honours bound about my
    brow, take now the laurel crown I may not bear down unto Erebus:
    now with my last utterance, if aught of thanks thou owest thy
    seer that now must pass away, to thee I trust my wronged hearth,
    the doom of my accursed wife, and the noble madness of my son
    (Alcmaeon).' Apollo leapt from the car in grief and strove to
    hide his tears.

An earthquake shakes the plain; the warriors shrink from
battle in terror at the thunder from under-ground; when

              ecce alte praeceps humus ore profundo
    dissilit, inque vicem timuerunt sidera et umbrae.
    illum ingens haurit specus et transire parantes
    mergit equos; non arma manu, non frena remisit:
    sicut erat, rectos defert in Tartara currus
    respexitque cadens caelum campumque coire
    ingemuit, donec levior distantia rursus
    miscuit arva tremor lucemque exclusit Averno.

    Lo! the earth gaped sheer and deep with vast abyss, and the stars
    of heaven and the shades of the dead trembled with one accord: a
    vast chasm drew him down and swallowed his steeds as they made
    ready to leap the gulf: he loosed not the grip on rein or spear,
    but, as he was, carried his car steadfast to Tartarus, and, as he
    fell, gazed up to heaven and groaned to see the plain close above
    him, till a lighter shock once more united the gaping fields and
    shut out the light from hell.

Here we see Statius at his highest level, whether in point of metre,
diction, or poetic imagination.

Of the other characters there is little to be said. For all the wealth
of detail that Statius has lavished on them, they are featureless.
Adrastus is a colourless and respectable old king, strongly reminiscent
of Latinus. Capaneus and Hippomedon are terrific warriors of gigantic
stature and truculent speech, but they are wholly uninteresting. Argia
and Jocasta are too rhetorical, Antigone too slight a figure to be
really pathetic; Oedipus can do little save curse, which he does with
some rhetorical vigour; but the gift of cursing hardly makes a
character. Parthenopaeus, however, is a pathetic figure; he is an
Arcadian, the son of Atalanta, a mere boy whom a romantic ambition has
hurried into war ere his years were ripe for it. His dying speech is
touching, though it errs on the side of triviality and mere prettiness
(ix. 877):

    at puer infusus sociis in devia campi
    tollitur (heu simplex aetas!) moriensque iacentem
    flebat equum; cecidit laxata casside vultus,
    aegraque per trepidos exspirat gratia visus,
       *       *       *       *       *
    ibat purpureus niveo de pectore sanguis.
    tandem haec singultu verba incidente profatur:
    'labimur, i, miseram, Dorceu, solare parentem.
    illa quidem, si vera ferunt praesagia curae,
    aut somno iam triste nefas aut omine vidit.
    tu tamen arte pia trepidam suspende diuque
    decipito; neu tu subitus neve arma tenenti
    veneris, et tandem, cum iam cogere fateri,
    dic: "Merui, genetrix, poenas invita capesse;
    arma puer rapui, nec te retinente quievi,
    nec tibi sollicitae tandem inter bella peperci.
    vive igitur potiusque animis irascere nostris,
    et iam pone metus. frustra de colle Lycaei
    anxia prospectas, si quis per nubila longe
    aut sonus aut nostro sublatus ab agmine pulvis:
    frigidus et nuda iaceo tellure, nec usquam
    tu prope, quae vultus efflantiaque ora teneres.
    hunc tamen, orba parens, crinem"--dextraque secandum
    praebuit--"hunc toto capies pro corpore crinem,
    comere quem frustra me dedignante solebas.
    huic dabis exsequias, atque inter iusta memento,
    ne quis inexpertis hebetet mea tela lacertis
    dilectosque canes ullis agat amplius antris.
    haec autem primis arma infelicia castris
    ure, vel ingratae crimen suspende Dianae."'

    But the boy fell into his comrades' arms and they bore him
    to a place apart. Alas for his tender years! As he died, he
    wept for his fallen horse: his face drooped as they unbound
    his helmet, and a fading grace passed faintly o'er his
    quivering visage....

    The purple blood flowed from his breast of snow. At length he
    spake these words through sobs that checked his utterance: 'My
    life is falling from me; go, Dorceus, comfort my unhappy mother:
    she indeed, if care and sorrow can give foreknowledge, has seen
    my woeful fate in dreams or through some omen; yet do thou with
    loving art keep her terrors in suspense and long hold back the
    truth; and come not upon her suddenly, nor when she hath a weapon
    in her hands; but when at last the truth must out, say: "Mother,
    I deserved my doom; I am punished, though my punishment break thy
    heart. I rushed to arms too young, and abode not at home when
    thou wouldst restrain me: nor had I any pity for thine anguish in
    the day of battle. Live on then, and keep thine anger for my
    headstrong courage and fear no more for me. In vain thou gazest
    from the Lycaean height, if any sound perchance may be borne from
    far to thine ear through the clouds, or thine eye have sight of
    the dust raised by our homeward march. I lie cold upon the bare
    earth, and thou art nowhere nigh to hold my head as my lips
    breathe farewell. Yet, childless mother, take this lock of hair"--
    and in his right hand he stretched it out to be cut away--"take
    this poor lock in place of my whole body, this lock of that hair
    which thou didst tire in my despite. To it shalt thou give due
    burial and remember this also as my due; let no man blunt my
    spears with unskilful cast, nor any more drive the hounds I loved
    through any caverned glen. But this mine armour, whose first
    battle hath brought disaster, burn thou, or hang it to be a
    reproach to Dian's ingratitude."'

When we have said that Parthenopaeus is almost too young to have been
accepted as a leader, or have performed the feats of war assigned to
him, we have said all that can be said against this beautiful speech.
Parthenopaeus is for the _Thebais_ what Camilla is for the _Aeneid_,
though he presents at times hints both of Pallas and Euryalus. But he
is little more than a child, and fails to carry the conviction or
awaken the deep emotion excited by the Amazon of Vergil.[565]

Statius then, with a few striking exceptions, fails in his portrayal
of life and character. On the whole--one says it with reluctance in
view of his brilliant variety, his boundless invention, his wealth of
imagery--the same is true of his descriptions. The picture is too
crowded; he has not the unerring eye for the relevant or salient
points of a scene. Skilful and faithful touches abound, but, as in the
case of certain pre-Raphaelite pictures, extreme attention to detail
causes him to miss the full scenic effect. He is not sufficiently the
impressionist; he cannot suggest--a point in which he presents a strong
contrast to Valerius Flaccus. And too many of his incidents, in spite
of ingenious variation of detail, are but echoes of Vergil. The
foot-race and the archery contest at the funeral games of Archemorus,
together with the episode of Dymas and Hopleus,[566] to which we have
already referred, are perhaps the most marked examples of this
unfortunate characteristic. We are continually saying to ourselves as
we read the _Thebais_, 'All this has been before!' We weary at times
of the echoes of Homer in Vergil, and the combats that stirred us in
the _Iliad_ make us drowsy in the _Aeneid_. Homer knew what fighting
was from personal experience, or at least from being in touch with
warriors who had killed their man. Vergil had come no nearer these
things than 'in the pages of a book '. Statius is yet one remove
further from the truth than Vergil. He is tied hand and foot by his
intimate acquaintance with previous poetic literature. If he is less
the victim of the schools of rhetoric than many post-Augustan writers,
he is more than most the victim of the poetic training of the schools.
But with all these faults there are passages which surprise us by their
effectiveness. It would be hard to imagine anything more vigorous and
exciting than the fight of Tydeus ambushed by his fifty foes. The
opening passage is splendidly successful in creating the requisite
atmosphere (ii. 527):

    coeperat umenti Phoebum subtexere palla
    Nox et caeruleam terris infuderat umbram.
    ille propinquabat silvis et ab aggere celso
    scuta virum galeasque videt rutilare comantes,
    qua laxant rami nemus adversaque sub umbra
    flammeus aeratis lunae tremor errat in armis.
    obstipuit visis, ibat tamen, horrida tantum
    spicula et inclusum capulo tenus admovet ensem.
    ac prior unde, viri, quidve occultatis in armis?'
    non humili terrore rogat. nec reddita contra
    vox, fidamque negant suspecta silentia pacem.

    Night began to shroud Phoebus with her humid pall and shed
    her blue darkness o'er the earth. He drew nigh the forest,
    and from a high knoll espied the gleam of warriors' shields
    and plumed helmets, where the boughs of the wood left a space,
    and in the shadow before him the quivering fire of the moonbeam
    played o'er their brazen armour. Dumbstruck at what he saw, he
    yet pursued his way, only he made ready for the fight his
    bristling javelins and the sword sheathed to its hilt. He was
    the first to speak: 'Whence come ye?' he asked, in fear, yet
    haughty still. 'And why hide ye thus armoured for the fray?'
    There came no answer, and their ominous silence told him no
    peace nor loyalty was there.

The fight that follows, though it occupies more than 160 lines, is
intensely rapid and vigorous; indeed it is the one genuinely exciting
combat in Latin epic, and forms a refreshing contrast to the
pseudo-Homeric or pseudo-Vergilian combats before the walls of Thebes.
In no other portion of the _Thebais_ does Statius attain to such
success, with the exception of the passage already quoted descriptive of
the death of Amphiaraus. But there are other passages of sustained
merit, such as the vigorous description of the struggle of Hippomedon
with the waters of Ismenus and Asopus.[5671] While it is not
particularly interesting to those acquainted with the corresponding
passage in the _Iliad_, it would be unjust to deny the gifts of vigour
and invention to the Latin poet's imitation.

It is, however, rather in smaller and more minute pictures that Statius
as a rule excels. The picture of the baby Opheltes left by his nurse is
pretty enough (iv. 787):

      at puer in gremio vernae telluris et alto
    gramine nunc faciles sternit procursibus herbas
    in vultum nitens, caram modo lactis egeno
    nutricem plangore ciens iterumque renidens
    et teneris meditans verba inluctantia labris
    miratur nemorum strepitus aut obvia carpit
    aut patulo trahit ore diem nemorisque malorum
    inscius et vitae multum securus inerrat.

    But the child, lying face downward in the bosom of the vernal
    earth, now as he crawls in the deep herbage lays low the
    yielding grass; now cries for his loved nurse athirst for milk,
    and then, all smiles again, with infant lips frames words in
    stumbling speech, marvels at the sounds of the woods, gathers
    what lies before him, or open-mouthed drinks in the day; and
    knowing naught of the dangers of the woods, with ne'er a care
    in life, roams here and there.

Fine, too, in a different way is the sinister picture of Eteocles left
sole king in Thebes (i. 165):

                            quis tunc tibi, saeve,
    quis fuit ille dies, vacua cum solus in aula
    respiceres ius omne tuum cunctosque minores
    et nusquam par stare caput?

    Ah! what a day was that for thee, fierce heart, when, sitting
    alone amid thy courtiers, thy brother gone from thee, thou
    sawest thyself enthroned above all men, with all things in thy
    power, without a peer.

Less poetical, but scarcely less effective, is the description of the
compact between the brothers (i. 138):

               alterni placuit sub legibus anni
    exsilio mutare ducem. sic iure maligno
    fortunam transire iubent, ut sceptra tenentem
    foedere praecipiti semper novus angeret heres.
    haec inter fratres pietas erat, haec mora pugnae
    sola nec in regem perduratura secundum.

    It was resolved that in alternate years the king should quit
    his throne for exile. Thus with baneful ordinance they bade
    fortune pass from one to the other, that he who held the
    sceptre on these brief terms should ever be vexed by the
    thought of his successor's coming. Such was the brothers'
    love, such the sole bond that kept them from conflict, a bond
    that should not last till the kingship changed.

But far beyond all other portraits in Statius is the description of
Jocasta as she approaches the Argive camp on her mission of
reconciliation (vii. 474):

    ecce truces oculos sordentibus obsita canis
    exsangues Iocasta genas et bracchia planctu
    nigra ferens ramumque oleae cum velleris atri
    nexibus, Eumenidum velut antiquissima, portis
    egreditur magna cum maiestate malorum.

    Lo! Jocasta, her white hair streaming unkempt over her wild
    eyes, her cheeks all pale, her arms bruised by the beating
    of her anguished hands, bearing an olive-branch hung with
    black wool, came forth from the gates in semblance like to
    the eldest of the Eumenides, in all the majesty of her many

In this last line we have one of the very few lines in Statius that
attain to real grandeur. In the lack of such lines, and in the lack of
real breadth of treatment lies Statius' chief defect as a narrator. All
that dexterity can do he does; but he lacks the supreme gifts, the
selective eye and the penetrating imagination of the great poet.

Of his actual diction and ornament little need be said. Without being
precisely straightforward, he is not, as a rule, obscure. But his
language gradually produces a feeling of oppression. He can be read in
short passages without this feeling; the moment, however, the reader
takes his verse in considerable quantities, the continued, though only
slight, over-elaboration of the work produces a feeling of strain.
Throughout there runs a vein of artificiality which ultimately gives the
impression of insincerity. He can turn out phrases of the utmost nicety.
Nothing can be more neatly turned than the description of the feelings
of Antigone and Ismene on the outbreak of the war (viii. 614):

    nutat utroque timor, quemnam hoc certamine victum,
    quem vicisse velint: tacite praeponderat exsul;

    Their fears incline this way and that: whom would they have the
    conqueror in the strife, whom the vanquished? All unconfessed
    the exile has their prayers.

or than the line describing the parting of the Lemnian women from the
Argonauts, their second husbands (v. 478):

    heu iterum gemitus, iterumque novissima nox est.

    Alas! once more the hour of lamentation is near, once more is
    come the last night of wedded sleep.

But this neatness often degenerates into preciosity, _bellator campus_
means a field suitable for battle (viii. 377). Nisus, the king of
Megara, with the talismanic purple lock, becomes a _senex purpureus_ (i.
334); an embrace is described by the words _alterna pectora mutant_ (v.
722); a woman nearing her time is one _iustos cuius pulsantia menses
vota tument_ (v. 115). We have already noted a similar tendency in
Valerius Flaccus; such phrase-making is not a badge of any one poet, it
is a sign of the times. In the case of Statius there is perhaps less
obscurity and less positive extravagance than in any of his
contemporaries, but whether as regards description or phrase-making,
there is always a suspicion of his work being pitched--if the phrase is
permissible--a tone too high. This is, perhaps, particularly noticeable
in his similes. They are very numerous, and he has obviously expended
great trouble over them. But, with very few exceptions, they are
failures. The cause lies mainly in their lack of variety. There are, for
instance, no less than sixteen similes drawn from bulls, twelve from
lions, six from tigers.[568] None of these similes show any close
observance of nature, and in any case the poetic interest of bulls,
lions, and tigers is far from inexhaustible. It is less reprehensible
that twenty similes should be drawn from storms, which have a more
cogent interest and greater picturesque value. But even here Statius has
overshot the mark. This lack of variety testifies to a real dearth of
poetic imagination, and this failing is noticeable also in the
execution. There is rarely a simile containing anything that awakens
either imagination, emotion, or thought. Still, to give Statius his due,
there _are_ exceptions, such as the simile comparing Parthenopaeus, seen
in all his beauty among his comrades, to the reflections of the evening
star outshining the reflections of the lesser stars in the waveless sea
(vi. 578):

    sic ubi tranquillo perlucent sidera ponto
    vibraturque fretis caeli stellantis imago,
    omnia clara nitent, sed clarior omnia supra
    Hesperus exsertat radios, quantusque per altum
    aethera, caeruleis tantus monstratur in undis.

    So when the stars are glassed in the tranquil deep and the
    reflection of the starry sky quivers in the waves, all the
    stars shine clear, but clearer than all doth Hesperus send
    forth his rays; and as he gleams in the high heavens, even
    so bright do the blue waters show him forth.

The comparison is. a little strained and far-fetched. The reflection of
stars in the sea is not quite so noticeable or impressive as Statius
would have us believe. But there is real beauty both in the conception
and the execution of the simile. Of more indisputable excellence is the
comparison in the eleventh book (443), where Adrastus, flying from
Thebes in humiliation and defeat, is likened to Pluto, when he first
entered on his kingdom of the underworld, his lordship over the
strengthless dead--

    demissus curru laevae post praemia sortis
    umbrarum custos mundique novissimus heres
    palluit, amisso veniens in Tartara caelo.

    Even as the warden of the shades, the third heir of the world,
    when he entered on the realm that the unkind lot had given him,
    leapt from his car and turned pale, for heaven was lost and he
    was at the gate of hell.

The picture is Miltonic, and Pluto is for a brief moment almost an
anticipation of the Satan of _Paradise Lost_.

The metre, like that of Valerius Flaccus, draws its primary
inspiration from Vergil, but has been strongly influenced by the
_Metamorphoses_ of Ovid. There are fewer elisions in Statius than in
Vergil, and more dactyls.[569] He is, however, less dactylic than
Valerius Flaccus and Ovid. In his management of pauses he is far more
successful than any epic writer, with the exception of Vergil. As a
result, he is far less monotonous than Ovid, Lucan, or Valerius. The
one criticism that can be levelled against him is that his verse,
while possessing rapidity and vigour, is not sufficiently adapted to
the varying emotions that his story demands, and that it shows a
consequent lack of nobility and stateliness. For the _Silvae_ his
metre is admirably adapted. It is light and almost sprightly, and the
poet can let himself go. He was not blind to the requirements of the
epic metre even if he did not satisfy them, and in his lighter verse
there is a notable increase of fluency and ease.

The _Thebais_ is a work whose value it is difficult to estimate. Its
undeniable merits are never quite such that we can accord it
whole-hearted praise; its cleverness commands our wonder, while its
defects are not such as to justify a sweeping condemnation. But it must
be remembered that epic must be very good if it is to avoid failure, and
it is probable that there are few works on which such skill and labour
have been expended without any proportionate success. An attempt has
been made in the preceding pages to indicate the main reasons for the
failure of the _Thebais_. One more reason may perhaps be added here.
Over and above the poet's lack of originality and the highest poetic
imagination, over and above his distracting echoes and his
artificiality, there is a lack of moral fire and insight about the poem.
Statius gives us but a surface view of life. He had never plumbed the
depths of human passion nor realized anything of the mystery of the
world. His reader never derives from him the consciousness, that he so
often derives from Vergil, of a 'deep beyond the deep, and a height
beyond the height'. He has neither the virtues of the mystic nor of the
realist. Ultimately, life is for him a pageant with intervals for
sentimental threnodies and rhetorical declamation.

The same qualities characterize the _Achilleis_ and still more the
_Silvae_. The _Achilleis_ was to have comprised the whole life of
Achilles. Only the first book and 167 lines of the second were composed.
They tell how Thetis endeavoured to withhold Achilles from the Trojan
War by disguising him as a girl and sending him to Scyros, how he became
the lover of Deidamia, the king's daughter, was discovered by the wiles
of Ulysses, and set forth on the expedition to Troy. The fragment is not
unpleasant reading, but contains little that is noteworthy.[570] The
style is simpler, less precious, and less rhetorical than that of the
_Thebais_. But it lacks the vigour as well as many of the faults of the
earlier poem. There is nothing to make us regret that the poet died
before its completion; there is something to be thankful for in the fact
that he did not live to challenge direct comparison with Homer.

The _Silvae_, on the other hand, is a work of considerable interest.
The meaning of the word _silva_, in the literary sense, is 'raw
material' or 'rough draft'. It then came to be used to mean a work
composed at high speed on the spur of the moment, differing in fact but
little from an improvisation.[571] That these poems correspond to this
definition will be seen from Statius' preface to book i: 'hos libellos,
qui mihi subito calore et quadam festinandi voluptate fluxerunt....
Nullum ex illis biduo longius tractum, quaedam et in singulis diebus
effusa.' There are thirty-two poems in all, divided into five books.
The fifth is incomplete; and, if we may judge from the unfinished state
of its preface, was published after the author's death. The poems are
extremely varied in subject, and to a lesser degree in metre,
hendecasyllables, alcaics, and sapphics being found as well as
hexameters. They comprise poems in praise of the appearance and the
achievements of Domitian,[572] consolations to friends and patrons for
the loss of relatives or favourite slaves,[573] lamentations of the
poet or his friends for the death of dear ones,[574] letters on various
subjects,[575] thanksgivings for the safety of friends,[576] and
farewells to them on their departure,[577] descriptions of villas and
the like built by his acquaintances,[578] an epithalamium,[579] an ode
commemorating the birthday of Lucan,[580] the description of a
statuette of Hercules,[581] poems on the deaths of a parrot and a
lion,[582] and a remarkable invocation to Sleep.[583] One and all,
these poems show abnormal cleverness. These slighter subjects were far
better suited to the poet's powers. His miniature painting was in
place, his sprightly and dexterous handling of the hexameter and the
hendecasyllable could be more profitably employed. Yet here, too, his
artificiality is a serious blemish, his lamentations for the loss of
the _pueri delicati_ of friends do not, and can hardly be expected to,
ring true, and the same blemish affects even the poems where he laments
his own loss. Further, the poems addressed to Domitian are fulsome to
the verge of nausea;[584] the beauty of the emperor is such that all
the great artists of the past would have vied with one another in
depicting his features; his eyes are like stars; his equestrian statue
is so glorious that at night (i. 1. 95)

    cum superis terrena placent, tua turba relicto
    labetur caelo miscebitque oscula iuxta.
    ibit in amplexus natus fraterque paterque
    et soror: una locum cervix dabit omnibus astris.

    When heaven takes its joy of earth, thy kin shall leave
    heaven and glide down to earth and kiss thee face to face.
    Thy son and sister, thy brother and thy sire, shall come to
    thy embrace; and about thy sole neck shall all the stars of
    heaven find a place.

The poem on the emperor's sexless favourite, Earinus, can scarcely be
quoted here. Without being definitely coarse, it succeeds in being one
of the most disgusting productions in the whole range of literature.
The emperor who can accept flattery of such a kind has certainly
qualified for assassination. The lighter poems are almost distressingly
trivial, and it is but a poor excuse to plead that such triviality was
imposed by the artificial social life of the day and the jealous
tyranny of Domitian. Moreover, the tendency to preciosity, which was
kept in check in the _Thebais_ by the requirements of epic, here has
full play. The death of a boy in his fifteenth year is described as
follows (ii. 6, 70):

                     vitae modo cardine adultae
    nectere temptabat iuvenum pulcherrimus ille
    cum tribus Eleis unam trieterida lustris.

    Come now to the turning-point where boyhood becomes manhood,
    he, the fairest of youths, was on the point of linking three
    olympiads (twelve years) with a space of three years.

Writers of elegiac verse are addressed as (i. 2. 250)

                       'qui nobile gressu
    extremo fraudatis opus'.

    Ye that cheat the noble march of your verse of its last stride.

A new dawn is expressed by an astounding periphrasis (iv. 6. 15):

        ab Elysiis prospexit sedibus alter
    Castor et hesternas risit Tithonia mensas.

    Castor in turn looked forth from the halls of Elysium and
    Tithonus' bride made merry over yesterday's feasts. [Castor
    and Pollux lived on alternate days.]

There is, in fact, no limit in these poems to Statius' luxuriance in
far-fetched and often obscure mythological allusions. In spite, however,
of such cardinal defects as these, the _Silvae_ present a brilliant
though superficial picture of the cultured society of the day and
contain much that is pretty, and something that is poetic.[585] Take,
for instance, the poem in which the poet writes to console Atedius
Melior for the death of his favourite Glaucias, a _puer delicatus_. The
work is hopelessly clever and hopelessly insincere. Statius exaggerates
at once the charms of the dead boy and the grief of Atedius and himself.
But at the conclusion he works up an old commonplace into a very pretty
piece of verse. He has been describing the reception of Glaucias in the
underworld (ii. 1. 208):

    hic finis rapto! quin tu iam vulnera sedas
    et tollis mersum luctu caput? omnia functa
    aut moritura vides: obeunt noctesque diesque
    astraque, nee solidis prodest sua machina terris.
    nam populos, mortale genus, plebisque caducae
    quis fleat interitus? hos bella, hos aequora poscunt;
    his amor exitio, furor his et saeva cupido,
    ut sileam morbos; hos ora rigentia Brumae,
    illos implacido letalis Sirius igni,
    hos manet imbrifero pallens Autumnus hiatu.
    quicquid init ortus, finem timet. ibimus omnes,
    ibimus: immensis urnam quatit Aeacus ulnis.
    ast hic quem gemimus, felix hominesque deosque
    et dubios casus et caecae lubrica vitae
    effugit, immunis fatis. non ille rogavit,
    non timuit meruitve mori: nos anxia plebes,
    nos miseri, quibus unde dies suprema, quis aevi
    exitus incertum, quibus instet fulmen ab astris,
    quae nubes fatale sonet.

    Such is the rest thy lost darling has won. Come, soothe thine
    anguish and lift up thy head that droops with woe. Thou seest
    all things dead or soon to die. Day and night and stars all
    pass away, nor shall its massive fabric save the world from
    destruction. As for the tribes of earth, this mortal race, and
    the death of multitudes all doomed to pass away, why bewail them?
    Some war, some ocean, demands for its prey: some die of love,
    others of madness, others of fierce desire, to say naught of
    pestilence: some winter's freezing breath, others the baleful
    Sirius' cruel fire, others again pale autumn, gaping with rainy
    maw, awaits for doom: all that hath birth must tremble before
    death: we all must go, must go: Aeacus shakes the urn of fate in
    his vast arms. But this child, whom we bewail, is happy, and has
    escaped the power of men and gods, the strokes of chance, and the
    slippery paths of our dark life: fate cannot touch him: he did not
    ask, nor fear, nor deserve to die. But we poor anxious rabble, we
    miserable men, know not whence our last day shall come, what shall
    be the end of life, for whom the thunderbolt shall bring death from
    the starry sky, nor what cloud shall roar forth our doom.

There is nothing great about such work, but it is a neat and elegant
treatment of a familiar theme, while the phrase _non ille rogavit, non
timuit meruitve mori_ has a pathos worthy of a better cause.[586] Far
more suited, however, to the genius of Statius, with its lack of
inspiration, its marvellous polish, and its love of minutiae, are the
descriptions of villas, temples, baths, and works of art in which he so
frequently indulges. The poem on the statuette of Hercules (ii. 6) is a
wonder of cunning craftsmanship, the poems on the baths of Etruscus,
the villa of Vopiscus at Tibur, and of Pollius at Surrentum, for all
their exaggeration and affectation, reveal a genuine love for the
beauties of art and nature. It is true that he shows a preference for
nature trimmed by the hand of man, but his pleasure is genuine and its
expression often delicate. Who would not delight to live in a house
such as Pollius had built at Sorrento (ii. 2. 45)?--

                                   haec domus ortus
    aspicit et Phoebi tenerum iubar; illa cadentem
    detinet exactamque negat dimittere lucem,
    cum iam fessa dies et in aequora montis opaci
    umbra cadit vitreoque natant praetoria ponto.
    haec pelagi clamore fremunt, haec tecta sonoros
    ignorant fluctus terraeque silentia malunt.
       *       *       *       *       *
                                quid mille revolvam
    culmina visendique vices? sua cuique voluptas
    atque omni proprium thalamo mare, transque iacentem
    Nerea diversis servit sua terra fenestris.

    One chamber looks to the east and the young beam of Phoebus;
    one stays him as he falls and will not part with the expiring
    light, when the day is outworn and the shadow of the dark mount
    falls athwart the deep, and the great castle swims reflected in
    the glassy sea. These chambers are full of the sound of ocean,
    those know not the roaring waves, but rather love the silence of
    the land.... Why should I recount thy thousand roofs and every
    varied view? Each has a joy that is its own: each chamber has
    its own sea, and each several window its own tract of land seen
    across the sea beneath.

We cannot, perhaps, share his enthusiasm in the minute description that
follows of the coloured marbles used in the decoration of the house, and
his panegyric of Pollius leaves us cold, but we quit the poem with a
pleasant impression of the Bay of Naples and of the poet who loved it so
well. It recalls in its way the charming, if over-elaborate and
exaggerated, landscapes of the younger Pliny in his letters on the
source of the Clitumnus and on his Tuscan and Laurentine villas.[587]
But it is in two poems of a very different kind that the _Silvae_ reach
their high-water mark. The _Genethliacon_ _Lucani_, despite its
artificial form and the literary conventions with which it is
overloaded, reveals a genuine enthusiasm for the dead poet, and is
couched in language of the utmost grace and verse of extraordinary
melody; the hendecasyllables of Statius lack the poignant vigour of the
Catullan hendecasyllables, but they have a music of their own which is
scarcely less remarkable.[588] The lament of Calliope for her lost
nursling will hold its own with anything of a similar kind produced by
the Silver Age (ii 7. 88):

    'o saevae nimium gravesque Parcae!
    o numquam data longa fata summis!
    cur plus, ardua, casibus patetis?
    cur saeva vice magna non senescunt?
    sic natum Nasamonii Tonantis
    post ortus obitusque fulminatos
    angusto Babylon premit sepulcro.
    sic fixum Paridis manu trementis
    Peliden Thetis horruit cadentem.
    sic ripis ego murmurantis Hebri
    non mutum caput Orpheos sequebar
    sic et tu (rabidi nefas tyranni!)
    iussus praecipitem subire Lethen,
    dum pugnas canis arduaque voce
    das solatia grandibus sepulcris,
    (o dirum scelus! o scelus!) tacebis.'
    sic fata est leviterque decidentes
    abrasit lacrimas nitente plectro.

    'Ah! fates severe and all too cruel! O life that for our
    noblest ne'er is long! Why are earth's loftiest most prone to
    fall? Why by hard fate do her great ones ne'er grow old? Even
    so the Nasamonian Thunderer's son like lightning rose, like
    lightning passed away, and now is laid in a narrow tomb at
    Babylon. So Thetis shuddered, when the son of Peleus fell
    transfixed by Paris' coward hand. So I, too, by the banks of
    murmuring Hebrus followed the head of Orpheus that could not
    cease from song. So now must thou--out on the mad tyrant's
    crime!--go down untimely to the wave of Lethe, and while thou
    singest of war and with lofty strain givest comfort to the
    sepulchres of the mighty,--O infamy, O monstrous infamy!--art
    doomed to sudden silence.' So spake she, and with gleaming
    quill wiped away the tears that gently fell.

But more beautiful as pure poetry, and indeed unique in Latin, is the
well-known invocation to Sleep (v. 4):

    crimine quo merui iuvenis,[589] placidissime divum,
    quove errore miser, donis ut solus egerem,
    Somne, tuis? tacet omne pecus volucresque feraeque
    et simulant fessos curvata cacumina somnos,
    nec trucibus fluviis idem sonus; occidit horror
    aequoris, et terris maria acclinata quiescunt.
    septima iam rediens Phoebe mihi respicit aegras
    stare genas; totidem Oetaeae Paphiaeque revisunt
    lampades et totiens nostros Tithonia questus
    praeterit et gelido spargit miserata flagello.
    unde ego sufficiam? non si mihi lumina mille
    quae sacer alterna tantum statione tenebat
    Argus et haud umquam vigilabat corpore toto.
    at nunc heus! aliquis longa sub nocte puellae
    bracchia nexa tenens ultro te, Somne, repellit:
    inde veni! nec te totas infundere pennas
    luminibus compello meis (hoc turba precetur
    laetior): extremo me tange cacumine virgae
    (sufficit) aut leviter suspenso poplite transi.

    By what crime, O Sleep, most gentle of gods, or by what error,
    have I, that am young, deserved--woe's me!--that I alone should
    lack thy blessing? All cattle and birds and beasts of the wild
    lie silent; the curved mountain ridges seem as though they slept
    the sleep of weariness, and wild torrents have hushed their
    roaring. The waves of the deep have fallen and the seas, reclined
    on earth's bosom, take their rest. Yet now Phoebe returning gazes
    for the seventh time on my sleepless weary eyes. For the seventh
    time the lamps of Oeta and Paphos (i.e. Hesperus and Venus) revisit
    me, for the seventh time Tithonus' bride sweeps over my complaint
    and all her pity is to touch me with her frosty scourge. How may I
    find strength to endure? I needs must faint, even had I the
    thousand eyes which divine Argos kept fixed upon his prey in
    shifting relays (so only could he wake, nor watched he ever with
    all his body). But now--woe's me!--another, his arms locked about
    his love, spurneth thee from him all the long night. Leave him, O
    Sleep, for me. I bid thee not sweep upon my eyes with all the force
    of thy fanning pinions. That is the prayer of happier souls than I.
    Touch me only with the tip of thy wand--that shall suffice--or
    lightly pass over my head with hovering feet.

Here Statius far surpasses himself. Had all else that he wrote been
merely mediocre, this one short poem would have given him a claim on the
grateful memory of posterity. The note it strikes is one that has never
been heard before in Latin poetry and is never heard again. We have
wavered before as to Statius' title to the name of true poet; this
should turn the balance in his favour. Great he is not for a moment to
be called; Lucan, with all his faults, stands high above him; Valerius
Flaccus, aided largely by his happier choice of subject, is in some
respects his superior; but for finish, dexterity, and fluency, Statius
is unique among the post-Augustans. Just as an actor who has acquired a
perfect mastery of all the tricks and technique of the stage may
sometimes cheat us into believing him to be a great actor, though in
reality neither intellect, presence, nor voice qualify him for such high
praise, so it is with Statius. His facility and cunning workmanship hold
us amazed, and at times the reader is on the verge of yielding up his
saner judgement before such charm. But the revulsion of feeling comes
inevitably. Statius had not learned the art of concealing his art. The
unreality of his work soon makes itself felt, and his skill becomes in
time little better than a weariness and a mockery.



Titus Catius Silius Italicus[590] is best known to us as the author of
the longest and worst of surviving Roman epics. But by a strange irony
of fate we have a fuller knowledge of his life and character than is
granted us in the case of any other poet of the Silver Age, with the
exception of Seneca and Persius. His social position, his personal
character, his cultured and artistic tastes, rather than any merit
possessed by his verse, have won him a place in the picture-gallery of
Pliny the younger.[591] We would gladly sacrifice the whole of the
'obituary notice' transmitted to us by the kindly garrulity of Pliny,
for a few more glimpses into the life of Juvenal, or even of Valerius
Flaccus, but the picture is interesting and even attractive, and awakens
feelings of a less unfriendly nature than are usually entertained for
the plodding poetaster who had the misfortune to write the seventeen
books of _Punica_.

Silius was born in the year 25 or 26 A.D.[592]; of his family and place
of birth we know nothing.[593] He first appears in the unpleasing guise
of a 'delator' in the reign of Nero, in the last year of whose
principate he filled the position of consul (68 A.D.).

In the 'year of the four emperors' (69 A.D.) he is found as the friend
and counsellor of Vitellius;[594] his conduct, we are told, was wise and
courteous. He subsequently won renown by his admirable administration of
the province of Asia, and then retired from the public gaze to the
seclusion of a life of study.[595] The amiability and virtue which
marked the leisure of his later years wiped out the dark stain that had
besmirched his youth. 'Men hastened to salute him and to do him honour.
When not engaged in writing, he would pass the day in learned converse
with the friends and acquaintances--no mere fortune-hunters--who
continually thronged the chambers where he would lie for long hours upon
his couch. His verses, which he would sometimes submit to the judgement
of the critics by giving recitations, show diligence rather than genius.
The increasing infirmities of age led him to forsake Rome for Campania;
not even the accession of a new princeps induced him to quit his
retirement. It is not less creditable to Caesar to have permitted than
to Silius to have ventured on such a freedom. He was a connoisseur even
to the verge of extravagance. He had several country houses in the same
district, and often abandoned those which he already possessed, if some
new house chanced to catch his fancy. He had a large library, and a fine
collection of portraits and statues, and was an enthusiastic admirer of
works of art which he was not fortunate enough to possess. He kept
Vergil's birthday with greater care than his own, especially when he was
at Naples, where he would visit the poet's tomb with all the veneration
due to the temple of a god.' He died[596] in his Neapolitan villa of
self-chosen starvation. His health had failed him. He was afflicted by
an incurable tumour, and ran to meet death with a fortitude that nothing
could shake. 'His life was happy and prosperous to his last hour; his
one sorrow was the death of his younger son; the elder (and better) of
his sons, who survives him, has had a distinguished career, and has even
reached the consulate.' From Epictetus[597] we gather, what we might
infer from the manner of his death, that he was a Stoic. From
Martial,[598] who addresses him in the interested language of flattery
as the leading orator of his day, and as the maker of immortal verse, we
learn that he was the proud possessor of the Tusculan villa of Cicero,
and that he actually owned the tomb of the poet whom he loved so well.

Silius' life is more interesting than his verse. Like Lucan, he elected
to write historical epic, and in his choice of a subject was undoubtedly
wiser than his younger contemporary. For instead of selecting a period
so dangerously recent as the civil strife in which the republic
perished, he went back to the Second Punic War, to a time sufficiently
remote to permit of greater freedom of treatment and to enable him to
avoid the peril of unduly republican ecstasies. In making this choice he
was in all probability influenced by his reverence for Vergil. He, too,
would sing of Rome's rise to greatness, would write a truly national
epic on the great theme which Vergil so inimitably foreshadowed in the
dying words of the Carthaginian queen, would link the most stirring
years of Rome's history with the past, just as Vergil had linked the
epic of Rome's founder to the greatness of the years that were to come.
Ennius had been before him, but he might well aspire to remodel and
develop the rude annalistic work of the earlier poet.[599] The brilliant
history of Livy, with its vivid battle-scenes and its sonorous speeches,
was a quarry that might provide him with the richest material.
Unhappily, less wise than Lucan, he made the fatal mistake of adopting
the principles set forth by Eumolpus, the dissolute poet in the novel of

The intrusion of the mythological method into historical epic is
disastrous. It is barely tolerable in the pseudo-historical epic of
Tasso. In the military narrative of Silius it is monstrous and
insufferable. His reverence for Vergil led him to control, or attempt to
control, every action of the war by divine intervention.

Juno reappears in her old rôle as the implacable enemy of Rome. It is
she that kindles Hannibal's hatred for Rome, causes the outbreak of the
war,[601] and, disguised as the lake-god Trasimenus, spurs him on to
Rome.[602] It is at her instigation that Anna Perenna kindles him to
fresh effort by the news that Fabius Cunctator is no longer in command
against him,[603] that Somnus moderates his designs after Cannae.[604]
It is Juno that conceals the Carthaginian forces in a cloud at
Cannae,[605] and that rescues Hannibal from the fury of Scipio at
Zama.[606] Against Juno is arrayed Venus, the protector of the sons of
Aeneas. She persuades her husband Vulcan to dry up the Trebia, whose
flood threatens the Romans with yet greater disaster than they have
already suffered,[607] she unnerves and demoralizes the Punic army by
the luxury of Capua.[608] Minerva and Mars play minor parts, the former
favouring Carthage, the latter Rome.[609] Nothing is gained by this
dreary and superannuated mechanism, while the poem is yet further
hampered by the other encumbrances of epic commonplace.

The _Thebais_ of Statius is full of episodes that only find a place
because Vergil had borrowed similar episodes from Homer. But the
_Thebais_ is a professedly mythological epic, and Statius commands a
light touch and brilliant colours. The reader merely groans when the
heavy-handed Silius introduces his wondrously engraven shield,[610] his
funeral games,[611] his Amazon,[612] his dismal catalogues,[613] his
Nekuia.[614] In the latter episode, he even introduces the Vergilian
Sibyl of Cumae; it is a redeeming feature that Scipio does not make a
'personally conducted tour' through the nether world; such a direct
challenge to the Sixth Aeneid was perhaps impossible for so true a lover
of Vergil as Silius. The Homeric method of necromancy is wisely
preferred, and the Sibyl reveals the past and future of Rome as the
spirits pass before them. But there are no illuminating flashes of
imagination; the best feature of the episode is an uninspired and frigid
appropriateness. Nothing serves better than the failure of Silius to
show at once the daring and the genius of Vergil, when he ransacked the
wealth of Homer and

                        from a greater Greek
    Borrowed as beautifully as the moon
    The fire o' the sun.

Apart from these unintelligent plagiarisms and vexatious absurdities,
the actual form and composition of the work show some skill. The poet
passes from scene to scene, from battle to battle, with ease and
assurance in the earlier books. It is only with the widening of the
area of conflict that the work loses its connexion. The earlier and
less important exploits of the elder Scipios were wisely dismissed in
a few words.[615] The poet avoided the mistake of undue scrupulosity
in respect of chronology and makes no attempt to pose as a scientific
military historian. But it is a serious defect that he should fail to
show the significance of the successful 'peninsular campaign' of the
younger Scipio. Here, as in the descriptions of the siege of Syracuse,
the reader is haunted by the feeling that these great events are
regarded as merely episodic. Even the thrilling march of Hasdrubal,
ending in the dramatic catastrophe of the Metaurus, is hardly given
its full weight. There is more true historical and dramatic
appreciation in Horace's

    Karthagini iam non ego nuntios
    mittam superbos: occidit, occidit
      spes omnis et fortuna nostri
        nominis Hasdrubale interempto

than in all the ill-proportioned verbiage of Silius. The task of setting
forth the course of a conflict that flamed all over the Western
Mediterranean world was not easy, and Silius' failure was
proportionately great. Nay--if it be not merely the hallucination of a
weary reader--he seems to have tired of his task. The first twelve books
take us no further than Hannibal's appearance before the walls of Rome,
and the war is summarily brought to a close in the last five books,
although these, it should be noted, are by no means free from irrelevant
matter. The last three books above all are jejune and perfunctory, and
it has been suggested that they lack the final revision that the rest of
the work had received. Be this as it may, the result of the inadequate
treatment of the close of the war is that the reader lays down the poem
with no feeling of the greatness of Rome's triumph.

Yet even with these faults of composition, a genuine poet might have
wrought a great work from the rough ore of history. The scene is
thronged with figures as remarkable and inspiring as history affords.
There is the fierce irresistible Hannibal, the sagacious Fabius, the
elder Scipios, tragic victims of disaster, the younger Scipio, glorious
with the light of victory as the clouds of defeat are rolled away,
Hasdrubal hurled to ruin at the supreme crisis of the war, Marcellus the
victorious, beleaguered[616] and beleaguerer, the ill-starred Paulus,
the Senate of Rome that thanked the fugitive Varro because he had not
despaired of the republic,[617] and above all the gigantic figure of
Rome herself, unshaken, indomitable, triumphant. These are no dry bones
that the breath of the poet alone should make them live. They breathe
immortal in the prose of Livy, in the verse of Silius they are vain
'shadows of men foredone'. The Hannibal of Silius is not the dazzling
villain of Livy, the incarnation of military daring and 'Punic faith'.
Mistaken patriotism does not lead Silius to blacken the character of
Rome's great antagonist; he strives to do him justice; he is as true a
patriot, as chivalrous[618] a warrior, as any of the Roman leaders. But
he does not live; he is merely the stock warrior of epic, and his
exploits fail to compel belief.

Fabius, the least romantic, though not the least interesting figure in
the war, stands forth more clearly. The prosaic Silius is naturally most
successful with his most prosaic hero. The younger Scipio is the
embodiment of _pietas_, an historical Aeneas, without his prototype's
most distressing weaknesses, but with all his dullness, and lacking the
halo of legend and the splendour of the founder of the race to glorify
him. Paulus has the merit of true courage, and his consciousness of his
colleague's folly invests him with a certain pathos. He makes the best
death of any Silian warrior, and deserves the eulogy passed on him by
Hannibal. The rest are lay-figures, with even less individuality and
life. Silius failed to depict character. He fails, too, to show any true
sense of the political greatness of Rome. The genius of Rome and the
genius of Carthage are never confronted or contrasted; the greatness of
Rome in defeat, the scenes of Rome agonizing in the grip of unexpected
disaster, are never brought home to the reader with the least degree of
vividness. The great battles are described at tedious length[619] and
rendered ridiculous by the lavish introduction of Homeric single
combats. If Silius is rarely bombastic or rendered absurd by the
grossness of his exaggeration, he yet fails to see what Lucan saw
plainly--that for the author of a military historical epic, it is the
issues of the war, big with the fate of generations to come, the temper
of the combatants, the character of the chief actors, that are the
really interesting elements. Almost alone of Silver Latin poets he shows
no real gifts of rhetoric and epigram, no virtuosity of diction, no
brilliance of description. We lack the declamation of Lucan, the
apostrophes on the issues of the war, the vivid character-sketches of
the generals, the political enthusiasm, the thunder of the oratory of
general and statesman. The battle-speeches of Livy, whose glow and
vigour half atone for their theatricality, have been made use of by
Silius, but find only a feeble echo in his lifeless verse. Nothing
stands out sharply defined; the epic lacks impetus and has no salient
points; outlines are blurred in an unpoetic haze. The history of Tacitus
has been described as history 'seen by lightning flashes'. Such should
be the history of historical epic. In its stead Silius presents us with
a confused welter of archaistic battle, learned allusion, and epic

'Aequalis liber est, Cretice, qui malus est,' cries Martial[620] to a
friend. The epigram would apply to the __Punica_. There is scarcely a
passage in the whole work that reveals genuine poetic imagination.
Silius is free from many of the faults of his contemporaries, the faults
that spring from aspirations towards originality. He is content to be an
imitator. In his style, as in his composition, Vergil is an obsession.
But the echoes are muffled or unmusical. Gifted with ease and fluency
and--for his age--comparative lucidity of diction, Silius has no true
ear for music, nor true eye for beauty. His verse moves naturally but
heavily. He is the most spondaic poet[621] of his age, and the spondaic
rhythm is not alleviated by artistic variety of pause or judicious use
of elision. Lucan is heavy, but he hits hard and is weighty in the best
sense. Silius rolls on lumbering and unperturbed, never rising or
falling. He has all the faults of Ovid, and, in spite of his laboured
imitation, none of the merits of Vergil. Nothing can kindle him. The
most heroic and the most tragic of all the stories of the struggle for
the empire of the western world is that of Regulus, the famous captive
of Carthage in the first Punic War.[622] The episode is skilfully and
naturally introduced. The story is told by an aged veteran of the first
Punic War to a descendant of Regulus, who has fled wounded from the rout
of Trasimene. Silius succeeds in making one of the noblest stories in
history lifeless and dull. The narration opens with the description of a
melodramatic struggle between Regulus and a monstrous serpent in Africa,
scarcely an harmonious prelude for the simple and solemn climax of the
hero's life, his return to his home to fix 'the Senate's wavering will',
his departure unmoved to Carthaginian captivity, with the certainty of
death and torture before him. Silius treats this tragic episode simply
and severely; there is nothing to offend the taste, but there is equally
nothing to move the heart; the description is merely dull; it lacks the
fire of life and the finer imagination. Here, again, we turn for relief
to Horace with his brief but incomparable

    atqui sciebat quae sibi barbarus
    tortor pararet, non aliter tamen
      dimovit obstantes propinquos
        et populum reditus morantem
    quam si clientum longa negotia
    diiudicata lite relinqueret,
      tendens Venefranos in agros
        aut Lacedaemonium Tarentum (iii. 5. 49).

Take the corresponding passage in Silius. Regulus concludes his speech
to the Senate as follows (vi. 485):

              exposcunt Libyes nobisque dedere
    haec referenda, pari libeat si pendere bellum
    foedere et ex aequo geminas conscribere leges.
    sed mihi sit Stygios ante intravisse penates
    talia quam videam ferientes pacta Latinos,
      haec fatus Tyriae sese iam reddidit irae,
    nec monitus spernente graves fidosque senatu
    Poenorum dimissa cohors. quae maesta repulsa
    ac minitans capto patrias properabat ad oras.
    prosequitur volgus, patres, ac planctibus ingens
    personat et luctu campus. revocare libebat
    interdum et iusto raptum retinere dolore.

    'The Libyans ask whether you will cease from war on equal
    terms and draw up a treaty wherein each side keeps its own.
    They bid me bring back your reply. But may I sooner enter the
    gates of hell than see the Latins make such a compact!' He
    spake, and yielded himself back once more to the mercies of
    the Tyrian's hate: the Senate spurned not his words of weight,
    his loyal warning. The Punic embassy was dismissed. Cast down
    at their rebuff, and threatening their captive, they hastened
    homeward to their native shores. The people, the fathers, follow
    them: the whole vast plain resounds with weeping and beating of
    breasts, and ever and again they strove to recall the hero and
    with just grief to retain him as he was snatched away from them.

Criticism is needless. One passage is in the grand style, the other is
not; one is mere verse-making, the other the purest poetry. Silius has
nothing of _curiosa felicitas_ or even of the more common gift of vague
sensuous charm. Even on such hackneyed themes as the choice of Hercules,
with Scipio playing the part of Hercules, he fails to rise to the
conventional prettiness of which even a Calpurnius Siculus would have
been capable. Virtue and pleasure are rendered equally unattractive, and
we pity Scipio for having to make the choice. With the other poets of
the age it is easy to select passages to illustrate their characteristic
merits and defects. But from the dull monotony of Silius it is hard to
choose. He does not read well even in selections. Apart from the general
absurdity of the conception of the poem he is rarely grotesque. His
taste is chastened by his love of Vergil, and the absence of genuine
rhetorical power saves him from dangerous exuberance. The tricks of
rhetoric are there, but the edge of his wit is dull, and he has no speed
nor energy. For similar reasons he never attains sublimity. There are
faint traces of the _Romana gravitas_ in lines such as

    iamque tibi veniet tempus quo maxima rerum
    nobilior sit Roma mails (iii. 584).

    And the time shall come when Rome, the greatest thing in
    all the world, shall be yet more ennobled by her woes.

The idea that the trials of Rome shall be as a 'refiner's fire' has a
certain grandeur, but the expression of the idea is commonplace. The
same is true of the elaboration of the Vergilian _parcere subiectis_,
where the poet describes Marcellus' clemency to the vanquished
Syracusans, and makes brief allusion to the unhappy death of Archimedes
(xiv. 673):

                         sic parcere victis
    pro praeda fuit et sese contenta nec ullo
    sanguine pollutis plausit Victoria pennis.
    tu quoque ductoris lacrimas, memorande, tulisti,
    defensor patriae, meditantem in pulvere formas
    nec turbatum animi tanta feriente ruina.

    So mercy toward the conquered took the place of rapine,
    and Victory was content with herself and clapped her wings
    unstained by any blood. Thou, too, immortal sage, defender
    of thy country, didst win the meed of the conqueror's tears,
    thou whom ruin smote down, all unmoved, as thou broodedst
    o'er figures traced in the dust.

To find Silius at his best--not a very exalted best--we must turn to the
passage where he depicts the feelings of Hannibal on finding the body of
Paulus on the field of Cannae (x. 513):

    quae postquam aspexit, geminatus gaudia ductor
    Sidonius 'Fuge, Varro,' inquit 'fuge, Varro, superstes,
    dum iaceat Paulus. patribus Fabioque sedenti
    et populo consul totas edissere Cannas.
    concedam hanc iterum, si lucis tanta cupido est,
    concedam tibi, Varro, fugam. at, cui fortia et hoste
    me digna haud parvo caluerunt corda vigore,
    funere supremo et tumuli decoretur honore.
    quantus, Paule, iaces! qui tot mihi milibus unus
    maior laetitiae causa est. cum fata vocabunt,
    tale precor nobis salva Karthagine letum.'
       *       *       *       *       *
    'i decus Ausoniae, quo fas est ire superbas (572)
    virtute et factis animas. tibi gloria leto
    iam parta insigni. nostros Fortuna labores
    versat adhuc casusque iubet nescire futuros.'
    haec Libys, atque repens crepitantibus undique flammis
    aetherias anima exultans evasit in auras.

    When this he saw, the Sidonian chief was filled with double
    joy and cried, 'Fly, Varro, fly and survive defeat; enough that
    Paulus lieth low! Go, consul, tell all the tale of Cannae to the
    fathers, to laggard Fabius, to the people. If so thou long'st to
    live, I will grant thee, Varro, to flee once more as thou fleest
    to-day. But let him, whose heart was bold and worthy to be my foe,
    and all aflame with mighty valour, be honoured with the last rites
    of burial and all the honour of the tomb. How great, Paulus, art
    thou in the death! Thy fall alone gives greater cause for joy than
    the fall of so many thousands. Such, when the fates shall summon me,
    such I pray be my fate, so Carthage stand unshaken.' ... 'Go,
    Ausonia's glory, where the souls of those whom valour and noble
    deeds make proud may go. _Thou_ hast won great glory by thy death.
    For _us_, Fortune still tosses us to and fro in weltering labour
    and forbids us to see what chance the future hath in store.' So
    spake the Libyan, and straightway from the crackling flame the
    exulting spirit soared skyward through the air.

The picture of the soul of Paulus soaring heavenward from the funeral
pyre, exultant at the honour paid him by his great foe, is the nearest
approach to pure poetic imagination in the whole weary length of the
_Punica_.[623] But the pedestrian muse of Silius is more at home in the
ingenious description of the manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres of Fabius
and Hannibal in the seventh book; the similes with which the passage
closes are hackneyed, but their application is both new and clever:

(vii. 91)
    iam Fabius tacito procedens agmine et arte
    bellandi lento similis, praecluserat omnes
    fortunaeque hostique vias. discedere signis
    haud licitum summumquc decus, quo tollis ad astra
    imperil, Romane, caput, parere docebat
       *       *       *       *       *
    cassarum sedet irarum spectator et alti
    celsus colle iugi domat exultantia corda
    infractasque minas dilato Marte fatigat
    sollers cunctandi Fabius, ceu nocte sub atra
    munitis pastor stabulis per ovilia clausum
    impavidus somni servat pecus: effera saevit
    atque impasta truces ululatus turba luporum
    exercet morsuque quatit restantia claustra.
    inritus incepti movet inde atque Apula tardo
    arva Libys passu legit ac nunc valle residit
    conditus occulta, si praecipitare sequentem
    atque inopinata detur circumdare fraude;
    nunc nocturna parat caecae celantibus umbris
    furta viae retroque abitum fictosque timores
    adsimulat, tum castra citus deserta relicta
    ostentat praeda atque invitat prodigus hostem:
    qualis Maeonia passim Maeandrus in ora,
    cum sibi gurgitibus flexis revolutus oberrat.
    nulla vacant incepta dolis: simul omnia versat
    miscetque exacuens varia ad conamina mentem,
    sicut aquae splendor radiatus lampade solis
    dissultat per tecta vaga sub imagine vibrans
    luminis et tremula laquearia verberat umbra.

    Now Fabius advanced, leading his host in silence and--such was
    his cunning--like to a laggard in war; so closed he all the
    paths whereby fortune or the foe might fall on him. No soldier
    might quit the standards, and he taught that the height of glory,
    even that glory, Roman, that raises thine imperial head to the
    stars, was obedience.... Fabius sits high on the mountain slopes
    watching the foeman's rage and tames his impetuous ardour, humbles
    his threats, and, with skilful delay, postpones the day of battle
    and wears out his patience: as when through the darkness of the
    night a shepherd, fearless and sleepless in his well-guarded byre,
    keeps his flock penned within the fold: without, the wolf-pack,
    fierce and famished, howls fiercely, and with its teeth shakes the
    gates that bar its entrance. Baffled in his enterprise, the Libyan
    departs thence and slowly marches across the Apulian fields and
    pitches his camp deep in a hidden vale, if perchance he may hurl
    the Roman to ruin as he follows in his track and surround him by
    hidden guile. Now he prepares a midnight ambush in some dark pass
    beneath the shelter of the gloom, and falsely feigns retreat and
    fear; then, swiftly leaving his camp and booty, he displays them to
    the foe, and lavishly invites a raid. Even as on Maeonian shores
    Maeander with winding channel turns upon himself and wanders far
    and wide, now here, now there. Naught he attempts, but has some
    guile in it. He weighs every scheme, sharpens his mind for divers
    exploits, and blends contrivance with contrivance, even as the
    gleam of water lit by the sun's torch dances through a house
    quivering, and the reflected beam goes wandering and lashes the
    roof with tremulous reflection.

There is in this passage nothing approaching real excellence, but its
dexterity may reasonably command some respect. It is dexterity of which
Silius has little to show. He is well-read in history and its bastard
sister mythology. At his best he can string together his incidents with
some skill, and he makes use of his learning in the accepted fashion of
his day.[624] The poem is deluged with proper names and learned
aetiology, though he has no conception of that magical use of proper
names and legendary allusions which is the secret of the masters of
literary epic.[625]

But the absence of any true poetic genius makes him the most tedious of
Latin authors, and his unenviable reputation is well deserved. For the
poetry of the struggle with Carthage for the

            plumed troops and the big wars
    That make ambition virtue,

for 'all quality, pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war', we
must go to the inspired prose of Livy.

And yet it is well that the _Punica_ should have been preserved. It is
well to know that as France has its _Henriade_ and England its _Madoc_,
so Rome had its _Punica_. It is our one direct glimpse into the work of
that cultured society, devastated by the 'scribendi caccethes', as
Juvenal puts it, or, from the point of view of the facile Pliny, adorned
by the number of its poets.[626] The _Punica_ have won an immortality
far other than that prophesied for them by Martial,[627] but they show
us the work of a cultured Roman gentleman of his day, who, if he had
small capacity, had a high enthusiasm for letters, who had diligence if
he had not genius, and was possessed by a love for the supreme poet in
whose steps he followed, a passion so sincere that it may win from his
scanty readers at least a partial forgiveness for the inadequacy of his
imitation and for the suffering inflicted on all those who have essayed
the dreary adventure of reading the seventeen books that bear his name.



Marcus Valerius Martialis, like Quintilian, Seneca, and Lucan, was a
Spaniard by birth, and, unlike those writers, never became thoroughly
reconciled to life at Rome. He was born at Bilbilis,[628] a small town
of Hispania Tarraconensis. The exact year of his birth is uncertain; but
as the tenth book of his epigrams, written between 95 and 98 A. D.,
contains a reference (24) to his fifty-seventh birthday, he must have
been born between 38 and 41 A. D. His birthday was the 1st of March, a
fact to which he owes his name Martialis.[629] Of the position of his
parents, Valerius Fronto and Flaccilla,[630] we have no evidence. That
they were not wealthy is clear from the circumstances of their son. But
they were able to give him a regular literary education,[631] although,
unlike his fellow-countrymen whom we have mentioned above, he was
educated in his native province. But the life of a provincial did not
satisfy him. Conscious, perhaps, of his literary gifts, he went, in 64
A.D.,[632] like so many a young provincial, to make his fortune at Rome.
There he attached himself as client to the powerful Spanish family of
the Senecas, and found a friendly reception also in the house of
Calpurnius Piso.[633] But fortune was against him; as he was
congratulating himself on his good luck in starting life at Rome under
such favourable auspices, the Pisonian conspiracy (65 A.D.) failed, and
his patrons fell before the wrath of Nero.[634] His career must be
commenced anew. Of his life from this point to the reign of Domitian we
know little. But this much is certain, that he endured all the
indignities and hardships of a client's life,[635] and that he chose
this degrading career in preference to the active career of the Roman
bar. He had no taste for oratory, and rejected the advice of his friend
Gaius[636] and his distinguished compatriot Quintilian to seek a
livelihood as an advocate or as a politician. 'That is not life!' he
replies to Quintilian:

    vivere quod propero pauper nec inutilis annis,
      da veniam: properat vivere nemo satis.
    differat hoc patrios optat qui vincere census
      atriaque immodicis artat imaginibus (ii. 90. 3).

His ideals and ambitions were low, and his choice had, as we shall see,
a degrading effect upon his poetry. He chose rather to live on such
modest fortune as he may have possessed, on the client's dole, and such
gifts as his complimentary epigrams may have won from his patrons. These
gifts must have been in many cases of a trifling description,[637] but
they may occasionally have been on a more generous scale. At any rate,
by the year 94 A. D., we find him the possessor of a little farm at
Nomentum,[638] and a house on the Quirinal.[639] Although he must
presumably have written a considerable quantity of verse in his earlier
years, it is not till 80 A. D. that he makes an appearance on the stage
of literature. In that year the Flavian amphitheatre was consecrated by
the Emperor Titus, and Martial celebrated the fact by the publication of
his first book, the _Spectaculorum Liber_. It is of small literary
value, but it was his first step on the ladder of fame. Titus conferred
on him the _ius trium liberorum_, although he seems not to have entered
on the enjoyment of this privilege till the reign of Domitian.[640] He
thus first came in touch with the imperial circle. From this time
forward we get a continual stream of verse in fulsome praise of Domitian
and his freedman. But his flattery met with small reward. There are many
poems belauding the princeps, but few that thank him. The most that he
acquired by his flattery was the honorary military tribunate and his
elevation to the equestrian order.[641] Of material profit he got
little,[642] save such as his improved social position may have
conferred on him indirectly.

Four years after the publication of the _Spectaculorum Liber_ (i.e.
later in 84 and 85)[643] he published two books, the thirteenth and
fourteenth, composed of neat but trifling poems on the presents (Xenia
and Apophoreta) which it was customary to give at the feast of the
Saturnalia. From this point his output was continuous and steady, as the
following table will show:[644]

I, II. 85 or early in 86.
  III. 87 or early in 88.
   IV. December (Saturnalia) 88.
    V. Autumn, 89.
   VI. Summer or Autumn, 90.
  VII. December, 92.
 VIII. 93.
   IX. Summer, 94.
    X. 1. December, 95.
    X. 2. 98.
   XI. 97.
  XII. Late in 101.

His life during this period was uneventful. He lived expensively and
continually complains of lack of funds and of the miseries of a client's
life. Once only (about 88) the discomfort of his existence seems to have
induced him to abandon Rome. He took up his residence at Forum Cornelii,
the modern Imola, but soon returned to Rome.[645] It was not till 98
that he decided to leave the capital for good and to return to his
Spanish home. A new princeps was on the throne. Martial had associated
his work too closely with Domitian and his court to feel at his ease
with Nerva. He sent the new emperor a selection from his tenth and
eleventh books, which we may, perhaps, conjecture to have been
expurgated. He denounced the dead Domitian in a brilliant epigram which
may have formed part of that selection, but which has only been
preserved to us by the scholiast on Juvenal (iv. 38):

    Flavia gens, quantum tibi tertius abstulit heres!
      paene fuit tanti non habuisse duos.

    How much thy third has wronged thee, Flavian race!
    'Twere better ne'er to have bred the other brace.    ANON.

But he felt that times were changed and that there was no place now for
his peculiar talent for flattery (x. 72. 8):

    non est hic dominus sed imperator,
    sed iustissimus omnium senator,
    per quem de Stygia domo reducta est
    siccis rustica Veritas capillis.
    hoc sub principe, si sapis, caveto
    verbis, Roma, prioribus loquaris.

                       an emperor
    Is ours, no master as of yore,
    Himself the Senate's very crown
    Of justice, who has called from down
    In her deep Stygian duress
    The hoyden Truth, with tangled tress.
    Be wise, Rome, see you shape anew
    Your tongue; your prince would have it true.
                                     A. E. STREET.

Let flattery fly to Parthia. Rome is no place for her (ib. 4). Martial
had made his name: he was read far and wide throughout the Empire.[646]
He could afford to retire from the city that had given him much fame and
much pleasure, but had balanced its gifts by a thousand vexations and
indignities. Pliny assisted him with journey-money, and after a
thirty-four years' sojourn in Italy he returned to Bilbilis to live a
life of _dolce far niente_. The kindness of a wealthy friend, a Spanish
lady named Marcella,[647] gave him an estate on which he lived in
comfort, if not in affluence. He published but one book in Spain, the
twelfth, written, he says in the preface, in a very few days. He lived
in peace and happiness, though at times he sighed for the welcome of the
public for whom he had catered so long,[648] and chafed under the lack
of sympathy and culture among his Spanish neighbours.[649] He died in
104. 'Martial is dead,' says Pliny, 'and I am grieved to hear it. He was
a man of genius, with a shrewd and vigorous wit. His verses are full of
point and sting, and as frank as they are witty. I provided him with
money for his journey when he left Rome; I owed it to my friendship for
him, and to the verses which he wrote in my honour'--then follows Mart.
x. 20--'Was I not right to speed him on his way, and am I not justified
in mourning his death, seeing that he wrote thus concerning me? He gave
me what he could, he would have given more had he been able. And yet
what greater gift can one man give another than by handing down his name
and fame to all eternity. I hear you say that Martial's verses will not
live to all eternity? You may be right; at any rate, he hoped for their
immortality when he wrote them' (Plin. _Ep._ iii. 21).

Of Martial's character we shall have occasion to speak later. There
is nothing in the slight, but generous, tribute of Pliny that has to
be unsaid.

Of the circles in which he moved his epigrams give us a brilliant
picture; of his exact relations with the persons whom he addresses it is
hard to speak with certainty. Many distinguished figures of the day
appear as the objects of his flattery. There are Spaniards, Quintilian,
Lucinianus Maternus and Canius Rufus, all distinguished men of letters,
the poets Silius Italicus, Stertinius Avitus, Arruntius Stella, the
younger Pliny, the orator Aquilius Regulus, Lentulus Sura, the friend of
Trajan, the rich knights, Atedius Melior, and Claudius Etruscus, the
soldier Norbanus, and many others. With Juvenal also he seems to have
enjoyed a certain intimacy. Statius he never mentions, although he must
have moved in the same circles.[650] His intimates--as might be
expected--are for the most part, as far as we can guess, of lower rank.
There are the centurions Varus and Pudens, Terentius Priscus his
compatriot, Decianus the Stoic from the Spanish town of Emerita, the
self-sacrificing Quintus Ovidius, Martial's neighbour at Nomentum and a
fellow-client of Seneca, and, above all, Julius Martialis. His enemies
and envious rivals are attacked and bespattered with filth in many an
epigram, but Martial, true to his promise in the preface to his first
book, conceals their true names from us.

Of his _vie intime_ he tells us little. As far as we may judge, he was
unmarried. It is true that several of his epigrams purport to be
addressed to his wife. But two facts show clearly that this lady is
wholly imaginary. Even Martial could not have spoken of his wife in such
disgusting language as, for instance, he uses in xi. 104, while in
another poem (ii. 92) he clearly expresses his intention not to marry:

    natorum mihi ius trium roganti
    Musarum pretium dedit mearum
    solus qui poterat. valebis, uxor,
    non debet domini perire munus.

The honorary _ius trium liberorum_ had given him, he says, all that
marriage could have brought him. He has no intention of making the
emperor's generosity superfluous by taking a wife. He preferred the
untrammelled life of a bachelor. So only could he enjoy the pleasures
which for him meant 'life '. He is neither an impressive nor a very
interesting figure. He has many qualities that repel, even if we do not
take him too seriously; and though he may have been a pleasant and in
many respects most amiable companion, he has few characteristics that
arrest our attention or compel our respect. More will be said of his
virtues and his vices in the pages that follow. It is the artist rather
than the man that wakens our interest.

In Martial we have a poet who devoted himself to the one class of poetry
which, apart from satire, the conditions of the Silver Age were
qualified to produce in any real excellence--the epigram. In a period
when rhetorical smartness and point were the predominant features of
literature, the epigram was almost certain to flourish. But Roman poets
in general, and Martial in particular, gave a character to the epigram
which has clung to it ever since, and has actually changed the
significance of the word itself.

In the best days of the Greek epigram the prime consideration was not
that a poem should be pointed, but that it should be what is summed up
in the untranslatable French epithet _lapidaire_; that is to say, it
should possess the conciseness, finish, and relevance required for an
inscription on a monument. Its range was wide; it might express the
lover's passion, the mourner's grief, the artist's skill, the cynic's
laughter, the satirist's scorn. It was all poetry in miniature. Point is
not wanting, but its chief characteristics are delicacy and charm. 'No
good epigram sacrifices its finer poetical substance to the desire of
making a point, and none of the best depend on having a point at
all.'[651] Transplanted to the soil of Italy the epigram changes. The
less poetic Roman, with his coarse tastes, his brutality, his tendency
to satire, his appreciation of the incisive, wrought it to his own use.
In his hands it loses most of its sensuous and lyrical elements and
makes up for the loss by the cultivation of point. Above all, it becomes
the instrument of satire, stinging like a wasp where the satirist pure
and simple uses the deadlier weapons of the bludgeon and the rapier.

The epigram must have been exceedingly plentiful from the very dawn of
the movement which was to make Rome a city of _belles-lettres_. It is
the plaything of the dilettante _littérateur_, so plentiful under the
empire.[652] Apart from the work of Martial, curiously few epigrams have
come down to us; nevertheless, in the vast majority of the very limited
number we possess the same Roman characteristics may be traced. In the
non-lyrical epigrams of Catullus, in the shorter poems of the _Appendix
Vergiliana_, there is the same vigour, the same coarse humour, the same
pungency that find their best expression in Martial. Even in the
epigrams attributed to Seneca in the _Anthologia Latina_ [653] something
of this may be observed, though for the most part they lack the personal
note and leave the impression of mere juggling with words. It is in this
last respect, the attention to point, that they show most affinity with
Martial. Only the epigrams in the same collection attributed to
Petronius[654] seem to preserve something of the Greek spirit of beauty
untainted by the hard, unlovely, incisive spirit of Rome.

Martial was destined to fix the type of the epigram for the future. For
pure poetry he had small gifts. He was endowed with a warm heart, a real
love for simplicity of life and for the beauties of nature. But he had
no lyrical enthusiasm, and was incapable of genuine passion. He entered
heartwhole on all his amatory adventures, and left them with
indifference. Even the cynical profligacy of Ovid shows more capacity
for true love. At their best Martial's erotic epigrams attain to a
certain shallow prettiness,[655] for the most part they do not rise
above the pornographic. And even though he shows a real capacity for
friendship, he also reveals an infinite capacity for cringing or
impudent vulgarity in his relations with those who were merely patrons
or acquaintances. His needy circumstances led him, as we shall see, to
continual expressions of a peevish mendicancy, while the artificiality
and pettiness of the life in which he moved induced an excessive
triviality and narrowness of outlook.

He makes no great struggle after originality. The slightness of his
themes and of his _genre_ relieved him of that necessity. Some of his
prettiest poems are mere variations on some of the most famous lyrics
of Catullus.[656] He pilfers whole lines from Ovid.[657] Phrase after
phrase suggests something that has gone before. But his plagiarism is
effected with such perfect frankness and such perfect art, that it
might well be pardoned, even if Martial had greater claims to be taken
seriously. As it is, his freedom in borrowing need scarcely be taken
into account in the consideration of our verdict. At the worst his
crime is no more than petty larceny. With all his faults, he has gifts
such as few poets have possessed, a perfect facility and a perfect
finish. Alone of poets of the period he rarely gives the impression of
labouring a point. Compared with Martial, Seneca and Lucan, Statius and
Juvenal are, at their worst, stylistic acrobats. But Martial, however
silly or offensive, however complicated or prosaic his theme, handles
his material with supreme ease. His points may often not be worth
making; they could not be better made. Moreover, he has a perfect ear;
his music may be trivial, but within its narrow limits it is
faultless.[658] He knows what is required of him and he knows his own
powers. He knows that his range is limited, that his sphere is
comparatively humble, but he is proud to excel in it. He has the
artist's self-respect without his vanity.

His themes are manifold. He might have said, with even greater truth
than Juvenal, 'quidquid agunt homines, nostri est farrago libelli.' He
does not go beneath the surface, but almost every aspect of the
kaleidoscopic world of Rome receives his attention at one time or
another. His attitude is, on the whole, satirical, though his satire is
not inspired by deep or sincere indignation. He is too easy in his
morals and too good-humoured by temperament. He is often insulting, but
there is scarcely a line that breathes fierce resentment, while his
almost unparalleled obscenity precludes the intrusion of any genuine
earnestness of moral scorn in a very large number of his satiric
epigrams. On these points he shall speak for himself; he makes no
exacting claims.

'I hope,' he says in the preface to his first book, 'that I have
exercised such restraint in my writings that no one who is possessed of
the least self-respect may have cause to complain of them. My jests are
never outrageous, even when directed against persons of the meanest
consideration. My practice in this respect is very different from that
of early writers, who abused persons without veiling their invective
under a pseudonym. Nay more, their victims were men of the highest
renown. My _jeux d'esprit_ have no _arrières-pensées_, and I hope that
no one will put an evil interpretation on them, nor rewrite my epigrams
by infusing his own malignance into his reading of them. It is a
scandalous injustice to exercise such ingenuity on what another has
written. I would offer some excuse for the freedom and frankness of my
language--which is, after all, the language of epigram--if I were
setting any new precedent. But all epigrammatists, Catullus, Marsus,
Pedo, Gaetulicus, have availed themselves of this licence of speech.
But if any one wishes to acquire notoriety by prudish severity, and
refuses to permit me to write after the good Roman fashion in so much
as a single page of my work, he may stop short at the preface, or even
at the title. Epigrams are written for such persons as derive pleasure
from the games at the Feast of Flowers. Cato should not enter my
theatre, but if he does enter it, let him be content to look on at the
sport which I provide. I think I shall be justified in closing my
preface with an epigram


    Once more the merry feast of Flora's come,
    With wanton jest to split the sides of Rome;
    Yet come you, prince of prudes, to view the show.
    Why come you? merely to be shocked and go?'

He reasserts the kindliness of his heart and the excellence of his
intentions elsewhere:

    hunc servare modum nostri novere libelli;
      parcere personis, dicere de vitiis (x. 33).

    For in my verses 'tis my constant care
    To lash the vices, but the persons spare.

Malignant critics _had_ exercised their ingenuity in the manner which he
deprecated.[659] Worse still, libellous verse had been falsely
circulated as his:

    quid prodest, cupiant cum quidam nostra videri
      si qua Lycambeo sanguine tela madent,
    vipereumque vomant nostro sub nomine virus
      qui Phoebi radios ferre diemque negant? (vii. 12. 5).

                  But what does't avail,
    If in bloodfetching lines others do rail,
    And vomit viperous poison in my name,
    Such as the sun themselves to own do shame?
                                           ANON., 1695.

In this respect his defence of himself is just. When he writes in a vein
of invective his victim is never mentioned by name. And we cannot assert
in any given case that his pseudonyms mask a real person. He may do no
more than satirize a vice embodied and typified in an imaginary

He is equally concerned to defend himself against the obvious charges of
prurience and immorality:

    innocuos censura potest permittere lusus:
      lasciva eat nobis pagina, vita proba[660] (i. 4. 7).

    Let not these harmless sports your censure taste!
    My lines are wanton, but my life is chaste.
                                     ANON., seventeenth century.

This is no real defence, and even though we need not take Martial at his
word, when he accuses himself of the foulest vices, there is not the
slightest reason to suppose that chastity was one of his virtues. In
Juvenal's case we have reason to believe that, whatever his weaknesses,
he was a man of genuinely high ideals. Martial at his best shows himself
a man capable of fine feeling, but he gives no evidence of moral
earnestness or strength of character. On the other hand, to give him his
due, we must remember the standard of his age. Although he is lavish
with the vilest obscenities, and has no scruples about accusing
acquaintances of every variety of unnatural vice, it must be pointed out
that such accusations were regarded at Rome as mere matter for laughter.
The traditions of the old _Fescennina locutio_ survived, and with the
decay of private morality its obscenity increased. Caesar's veterans
could sing ribald verses unrebuked at their general's triumph, verses
unquotably obscene and casting the foulest aspersions on the character
of one whom they worshipped almost as a god. Caesar could invite
Catullus to dine in spite of the fact that such accusations formed the
matter of his lampoons. Catullus could insert similar charges against
the bridegroom for whom he was writing an _epithalamium_. The writing of
Priapeia was regarded as a reputable diversion. Martial's defence of his
obscenities is therefore in all probability sincere, and may have
approved itself to many reputable persons of his day. It was a defence
that had already been made in very similar language by Ovid and
Catullus,[661] and Martial was not the last to make it. But the fact
that Martial felt it necessary to defend himself shows that a body of
public opinion--even if not large or representative--did exist which
refused to condone this fashionable lubricity. Extenuating circumstances
may be urged in Martial's defence, but even to have conformed to the
standard of his day is sufficient condemnation; and it is hard to resist
the suspicion that he fell below it. His obscenities, though couched in
the most easy and pointed language, have rarely even the grace--if grace
it be--of wit; they are puerile in conception and infinitely disgusting.

It is pleasant to turn to the better side of Martial's character. No
writer has ever given more charming expression to his affection for his
friends. It is for Decianus and Julius Martialis that he keeps the
warmest place in his heart. In poems like the following there is no
doubting the sincerity of his feeling or questioning the perfection of
its expression:

    si quis erit raros inter numerandus amicos,
      quales prisca fides famaque novit anus,
    si quis Cecropiae madidus Latiaeque Minervae
      artibus et vera simplicitate bonus,
    si quis erit recti custos, mirator honesti,
      et nihil arcano qui roget ore deos,
    si quis erit magnae subnixus robore mentis:
      dispeream si non hic Decianus erit (i. 39).

    Is there a man whose friendship rare
    With antique friendship may compare;
    In learning steeped, both old and new,
    Yet unpedantic, simple, true;
    Whose soul, ingenuous and upright,
    Ne'er formed a wish that shunned the light,
    Whose sense is sound? If such there be,
    My Decianus, thou art he.
                               PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH

Even more charming, if less intense, is the exhortation to Julius
Martialis to live while he may, ere the long night come that knows
no waking:

    o mihi post nullos, Iuli, memorande sodales,
      si quid longa fides canaque iura valent,
    bis iam paene tibi consul tricensimus instat,
      et numerat paucos vix tua vita dies.
    non bene distuleris videas quae posse negari,
      et solum hoc ducas, quod fuit, esse tuum.
    exspectant curaeque catenatique labores:
      gaudia non remanent, sed fugitiva volant.
    haec utraque manu complexuque adsere toto:
      saepe fluunt imo sic quoque lapsa sinu.
    non est, crede mihi, sapientis dicere 'vivam '.
      sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie (i. 15).

    Friend of my heart--and none of all the band
      Has to that name older or better right:
    Julius, thy sixtieth winter is at hand,
      Far-spent is now life's day and near the night.
    Delay not what thou would'st recall too late;
      That which is past, that only call thine own:
    Cares without end and tribulations wait,
      Joy tarrieth not, but scarcely come, is flown.
    Then grasp it quickly firmly to thy heart,--
      Though firmly grasped, too oft it slips away;--
    To talk of living is not wisdom's part:
      To-morrow is too late: live thou to-day!
                                 PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH

Best of all is the retrospect of the long friendship which has united
him to Julius. It is as frank as it is touching:

    triginta mihi quattuorque messes
    tecum, si memini, fuere, Iuli.
    quarum dulcia mixta sunt amaris
    sed iucunda tamen fuere plura;
    et si calculus omnis huc et illuc
    diversus bicolorque digeratur,
    vincet candida turba nigriorem.
    si vitare voles acerba quaedam
    et tristes animi cavere morsus,
    nulli te facias nimis sodalem:
    gaudebis minus et minus dolebis (xii. 34).[662]

    My friend, since thou and I first met,
      This is the thirty-fourth December;
    Some things there are we'd fain forget,
      More that 'tis pleasant to remember.
    Let for each pain a black ball stand,
      For every pleasure past a white one,
    And thou wilt find, when all are scanned,
      The major part will be the bright one.
    He who would heartache never know,
      He who serene composure treasures,
    Must friendship's chequered bliss forego;
      Who has no pain hath fewer pleasures.
                               PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH

He does not pour the treasure of his heart at his friend's feet, as
Persius does in his burning tribute to Cornutus. He has no treasure of
great price to pour. But it is only natural that in the poems addressed
to his friends we should find the statement of his ideals of life:

    vitam quae faciunt beatiorem,
    iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
    res non parta labore sed relicta;
    non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
    lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
    vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
    prudens simplicitas, pares amici,
    convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
    nox non ebria sed soluta curis.
    non tristis torus et tamen pudicus;
    somnus qui faciat breves tenebras:
    quod sis esse velis nihilque malis;
    summum nec metuas diem nee optes (x. 47).

    What makes a happy life, dear friend,
    If thou would'st briefly learn, attend--
    An income left, not earned by toil;
    Some acres of a kindly soil;
    The pot unfailing on the fire;
    No lawsuits; seldom town attire;
    Health; strength with grace; a peaceful mind;
    Shrewdness with honesty combined;
    Plain living; equal friends and free;
    Evenings of temperate gaiety:
    A wife discreet, yet blythe and bright;
    Sound slumber, that lends wings to night.
    With all thy heart embrace thy lot,
    Wish not for death and fear it not.
                                PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

This exquisite echo of the Horatian 'beatus ille qui procul negotiis'
sets forth no very lofty ideal. It is frankly, though restrainedly,
hedonistic. But it depicts a life that is full of charm and free from
evil. Martial, in his heart of hearts, hates the Rome that he depicts
so vividly. Rome with its noise, its expense, its bustling snobbery,
its triviality, and its vice, where he and his friend Julius waste
their days:

    nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
    soles effugere atque abire sentit,
    qui nobis pereunt et imputantur (v. 20. 11).

    Dead to our better selves we see
      The golden hours take flight,
    Still scored against us as they flee.
      Then haste to live aright.
                                 PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH

He longs to escape from the world of the professional lounger and the
parasite to an ampler air, where he can breathe freely and find rest. He
is no philosopher, but it is at times a relief to get away from the
rarified atmosphere and the sense of strain that permeates so much of
the aspirations towards virtue in this strange age of contradictions.

Martial at last found the ease and quiet that his soul desired in his
Spanish home:

    hic pigri colimus labore dulci
    Boterdum Plateamque (Celtiberis
    haec sunt nomina crassiora terris):
    ingenti fruor inproboque somno
    quem nec tertia saepe rumpit hora,
    et totum mihi nunc repono quidquid
    ter denos vigilaveram per annos.
    ignota est toga, sed datur petenti
    rupta proxima vestis a cathedra.
    surgentem focus excipit superba
    vicini strue cultus iliceti,
       *       *       *       *       *
    sic me vivere, sic iuvat perire. (xii. 18. 10).

    Busy but pleas'd and idly taking pains,
    Here Lewes Downs I till and Ringmer plains,
    Names that to each South Saxon well are known,
    Though they sound harsh to powdered beaux in town.
    None can enjoy a sounder sleep than mine;
    I often do not wake till after nine;
    And midnight hours with interest repay
    For years in town diversions thrown away.
    Stranger to finery, myself I dress
    In the first coat from an old broken press.
    My fire, as soon as I am up, I see
    Bright with the ruins of some neighbouring tree.
       *       *       *       *       *
    Such is my life, a life of liberty;
    So would I wish to live and so to die.

Martial has a genuine love for the country. Born at a time when detailed
descriptions of the charms of scenery had become fashionable, and the
cultivated landscape at least found many painters, he succeeds far
better than any of his contemporaries in conveying to the reader his
sense of the beauties which his eyes beheld. That sense is limited, but
exquisite. It does not go deep; there is nothing of the almost mystical
background that Vergil at times suggests; there is nothing of the
feeling of the open air and the wild life that is sometimes wafted to us
in the sensuous verse of Theocritus. But Martial sees what he sees
clearly, and he describes it perfectly. Compare his work with the
affected prettiness of Pliny's description of the source of the
Clitumnus or with the more sensuous, but over-elaborate, craftsmanship
of Statius in the _Silvae_. Martial is incomparably their superior. He
speaks a more human language, and has a far clearer vision. Both Statius
and Martial described villas by the sea. We have already mentioned
Statius' description of the villa of Pollius at Sorrento; Martial shall
speak in his turn:

    o temperatae dulce Formiae litus,
    vos, cum severi fugit oppidum Martis
    et inquietas fessus exuit curas,
    Apollinaris omnibus locis praefert.
       *       *       *       *       *
    hic summa leni stringitur Thetis vento:
    nec languet aequor, viva sed quies ponti
    pictam phaselon adiuvante fert aura,
    sicut puellae lion amantis aestatem
    mota salubre purpura venit frigus.
    nec saeta longo quaerit in mari praedam,
    sed a cubili lectuloque iactatam
    spectatus alte lineam trahit piscis.
       *       *       *       *       *
    frui sed istis quando, Roma, permittis?
    quot Formianos imputat dies annus
    negotiosis rebus urbis haerenti?
    o ianitores vilicique felices!
    dominis parantur ista, serviunt vobis[663] (x. 30).

    O strand of Formiae, sweet with genial air,
    Who art Apollinaris' chosen home
    When, taking flight from his task-mistress Rome,
    The tired man doffs his load of troubling care.
       *       *       *       *       *
    Here the sea's bosom quivers in the wind;
    'Tis no dead calm, but sweet serenity,
    Which bears the painted boat before the breeze,
    As though some maid at pains the heat to ban,
    Should waft a genial zephyr with her fan.
    No fisher needs to buffet the high seas,
    But whiles from bed or couch his line he casts,
    May see his captive in the toils below.
       *       *       *       *       *
    But, niggard Rome, thou giv'st how grudgingly!
    What the year's tale of days at Formiae
    For him who tied by work in town must stay?
    Stewards and lacqueys, happy your employ,
    Your lords prepare enjoyment, you enjoy.
                                          A. E. STREET.

These are surely the most beautiful _scazons_[664] in the Latin tongue;
the metre limps no more; a master-hand has wrought it to exquisite
melody; the quiet undulation of the sea, the yacht's easy gliding over
its surface, live before us in its music. Even more delicate is the
homelier description of the gardens of Julius Martialis on the slopes of
the Janiculum. It is animated by the sincerity that never fails Martial
when he writes to his friend:

    Iuli iugera pauca Martialis
    hortis Hesperidum beatiora
    longo Ianiculi iugo recumbunt:
    lati collibus imminent recessus
    et planus modico tumore vertex
    caelo perfruitur sereniore
    et curvas nebula tegente valles
    solus luce nitet peculiari:
    puris leniter admoventur astris
    celsae culmina delicata villae.
    hinc septem dominos videre montes
    et totam licet aestimare Romam,
    Albanos quoque Tusculosque colles
    et quodcumque iacet sub urbe frigus (iv. 64).

    Martial's few acres, e'en more blest
    Than those famed gardens of the West,
    Lie on Janiculum's long crest;
    Above the slopes wide reaches hang recessed.
    The level, gently swelling crown
    Breathes air from purer heavens blown;
    When mists the hollow valleys drown
    'Tis radiant with a light that's all its own.
    The clear stars almost seem to lie
    On the wrought roof that's built so high;
    The seven hills stand in majesty,
    And Rome is summed in one wide sweep of eye.
    Tusculan, Alban hills unfold,
    Each nook which holds its store of cold.
                                          A. E. STREET.

Such a picture is unsurpassed in any language.[665] Statius, with all
his brilliance, never came near such perfect success; he lacks
sincerity; he can juggle with words against any one, but he never
learned their truest and noblest use.

There are many other themes beside landscape painting in which the
_Silvae_ of Statius challenge comparison with the epigrams of Martial.
Both use the same servile flattery to the emperor, both celebrate the
same patrons,[666] both console their noble friends for the loss of
relatives, or favourite slaves; both write _propemptica_. Even in the
most trivial of these poems, those addressed to the emperor, Statius is
easily surpassed by his humbler rival. His inferiority lies largely in
the fact that he is more ambitious. He wrote on a larger scale. When the
infinitely trivial is a theme for verse, the epigrammatist has the
advantage of the author of the more lengthy _Silvae_. Perfect neatness
vanquishes dexterous elaboration. Moreover, if taste can be said to
enter into such poems at all, Martial errs less grossly. Even
Domitian--one might conjecture--may have felt that Statius' flattery was
'laid on with a trowel'. Martial may have used the same instrument, but
had the art to conceal it.[667] There are even occasions where his
flattery ceases to revolt the reader, and where we forget the object of
the flattery. In a poem describing the suicide of a certain Festus he
succeeds in combining the dignity of a funeral _laudatio_ with the
subtlest and most graceful flattery of the princeps:

    indignas premeret pestis cum tabida fauces,
      inque suos voltus serperet atra lues,
    siccis ipse genis flentes hortatus amicos
      decrevit Stygios Festus adire lacus.
    nec tamen obscuro pia polluit ora veneno
      aut torsit lenta tristia fata fame,
    sanctam Romana vitam sed morte peregit
      dimisitque animam nobiliore via.
    hanc mortem fatis magni praeferre Catonis
      fama potest; huius Caesar amicus erat (i. 78).

    When the dire quinsy choked his guiltless breath,
      And o'er his face the blackening venom stole,
    Festus disdained to wait a lingering death,
      Cheered his sad friends and freed his dauntless soul.
    No meagre famine's slowly-wasting force,
      Nor hemlock's gradual chillness he endured,
    But like a Roman chose the nobler course,
      And by one blow his liberty secured.
    His death was nobler far than Cato's end,
      For Caesar to the last was Festus' friend.
                                      HODGSON (slightly altered).

The unctuous dexterity of Statius never achieved such a master-stroke.

So, too, in laments for the dead, the superior brevity and simplicity of
Martial bear the palm away. Both poets bewailed the death of Glaucias,
the child favourite of Atedius Melior. Statius has already been quoted
in this connexion; Martial's poems on the subject,[668] though not quite
among his best, yet ring truer than the verse of Statius. And Martial's
epitaphs and epicedia at their best have in their slight way an almost
unique charm. We must go to the best work of the Greek Anthology to
surpass the epitaph on Erotion (v. 34):

    hanc tibi, Fronto pater, genetrix Flaccilla, puellam
      oscula commendo deliciasque meas,
    parvola ne nigras horrescat Erotion umbras
      oraque Tartarei prodigiosa canis.
    inpletura fuit sextae modo frigora brumae,
      vixisset totidem ni minus illa dies.
    inter tam veteres ludat lasciva patronos
      et nomen blaeso garriat ore meum.
    mollia non rigidus caespes tegat ossa nec illi,
      terra, gravis fueris: non fuit illa tibi.

    Fronto, and you, Flaccilla, to you, my father and mother,
      Here I commend this child, once my delight and my pet,
    So may the darkling shades and deep-mouthed baying of hellhound
      Touch not with horror of dread little Erotion dear.
    Now was her sixth year ending, and melting the snows of the winter,
      Only a brief six days lacked to the tale of the years.
    Young, amid dull old age, let her wanton and frolic and gambol,
      Babble of me that was, tenderly lisping my name.
    Soft were her tiny bones, then soft be the sod that enshrouds her,
      Gentle thy touch, mother Earth, gently she rested on thee!
                                                  A. E. STREET.

Another poem on a like theme shows a different and more fantastic, but
scarcely less pleasing vein (v. 37):

    puella senibus dulcior mihi cycnis,
    agna Galaesi mollior Phalantini,
    concha Lucrini delicatior stagni,
    cui nec lapillos praeferas Erythraeos
    nec modo politum pecudis Indicae dentem
    nivesque primas liliumque non tactum;
    quae crine vicit Baetici gregis vellus
    Rhenique nodos aureamque nitellam;
    fragravit ore quod rosarium Paesti,
    quod Atticarum prima mella cerarum,
    quod sucinorum rapta de manu gleba;
    cui conparatus indecens erat pavo,
    inamabilis sciurus et frequens phoenix,
    adhuc recenti tepet Erotion busto,
    quam pessimorum lex amara fatorum
    sexta peregit hieme, nec tamen tota,
    nostros amores gaudiumque lususque.

    Little maiden sweeter far to me
      Than the swans are with their vaunted snows,
    Maid more tender than the lambkins be
      Where Galaesus by Phalantus flows;
    Daintier than the daintiest shells that lie
      By the ripples of the Lucrine wave;
    Choicer than new-polished ivory
      That the herds in Indian jungles gave;
    Choicer than Erythrae's marbles white,
      Snows new-fallen, lilies yet unsoiled:
    Softer were your tresses and more bright
      Than the locks by German maidens coiled:
    Than the finest fleeces Baetis shows,
      Than the dormouse with her golden hue:
    Lips more fragrant than the Paestan rose,
      Than the Attic bees' first honey-dew,
    Or an amber ball, new-pressed and warm;
      Paled the peacock's sheen in your compare;
    E'en the winsome squirrel lost his charm,
      And the Phoenix seemed no longer rare.
    Scarce Erotion's ashes yet are cold;
      Greedily grim fate ordained to smite
    E'er her sixth brief winter had grown old--
      Little love, my bliss, my heart's delight.
                                          A.D. INNES.

Through all the playful affectations of the lines we get the portrait of
a fairy-like child, light-footed as the squirrel, golden-haired and fair
as ivory or lilies.[669] Martial was a child-lover before he was a man
of letters.

Beautiful as these little poems are, there is in Martial little trace of
feeling for the sorrows of humanity in general. He can feel for his
intimate friends, and his tears are ready to flow for his patron's
sorrows. But the general impression given by his poetry is that of a
certain hardness and lack of feeling, of a limited sympathy, and an
unemotional temperament. It is a relief to come upon a poem such as that
in which he describes a father's poignant anguish for the loss of his
son (ix. 74):

    effigiem tantum pueri pictura Camoni
      servat, et infantis parva figura manet.
    florentes nulla signavit imagine voltus,
      dum timet ora pius muta videre pater.

    Here as in happy infancy he smiled
    Behold Camonus--painted as a child;
    For on his face as seen in manhood's days
    His sorrowing father would not dare to gaze.
                                                 W. S. B.

or to find a sudden outbreak of sympathy with the sorrows of the slave
(iii. 21):

    proscriptum famulus servavit fronte notata,
      non fuit haec domini vita sed invidia.[670]

    When scarred with cruel brand, the slave
      Snatched from the murderer's hand
    His proscript lord, not life he gave
      His tyrant, but the brand.
                                 PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

Of the _gravitas_ or dignity of character specially associated with Rome
he shows equally few traces. His outlook on life is not sufficiently
serious, he shows little interest in Rome of the past, and has nothing
of the retrospective note so prominent in Lucan, Juvenal, or Tacitus; he
lives in and for the present. He writes, it is true, of the famous
suicide of Arria and Caecina Paetus,[671] of the death of Portia the
wife of Brutus,[672] of the bravery of Mucius Scaevola.[673] But in none
of these poems does he give us of his best. They lack, if not sincerity,
at least enthusiasm; emotion is sacrificed to point. He is out of
sympathy with Stoicism, and the suicide doctrinaire does not interest
him. 'Live while you may' is his motto, 'and make the best of
circumstances.' It is possible to live a reasonably virtuous life
without going to the lengths of Thrasea:

    quod magni Thraseae consummatique Catonis
      dogmata sic sequeris salvus ut esse velis,
    pectore nec nudo strictos incurris in enses,
      quod fecisse velim te, Deciane, facis.
    nolo virum facili redimit qui sanguine famam;
      hunc volo, laudari qui sine morte potest (i. 8).

    That you, like Thrasea or Cato, great,
    Pursue their maxims, but decline their fate;
    Nor rashly point the dagger to your heart;
    More to my wish you act a Roman's part.
    I like not him who fame by death retrieves,
    Give me the man who merits praise and lives.

The sentiment is full of common sense, but it is undeniably unheroic.
Martial is not quixotic, and refuses to treat life more seriously than
is necessary. Our complaint against him is that he scarcely takes it
seriously enough. It would be unjust to demand a deep fund of
earnestness from a professed epigrammatist dowered with a gift of humour
and a turn for satire. But it is doing Martial no injustice to style him
the laureate of triviality. For his satire is neither genial nor
earnest. His kindly temper led him to avoid direct personalities, but
his invective is directed against vice, not primarily because it is
wicked, but rather because it is grotesque or not _comme il faut_. His
humour, too, though often sparkling enough, is more often strained and
most often filthy. Many of his epigrams were not worth writing, by
whatever standard they be judged.[674] The point is hard to illustrate,
since a large proportion of his inferior work is fatuously obscene. But
the following may be taken at random from two books:

    Eutrapelus tonsor dum circuit ora Luperci
      expingitque genas, altera barba subit (vii. 83).

    Eutrapelus the barber works so slow,
    That while he shaves, the beard anew does grow.
                                                ANON., 1695.

    invitas ad aprum, ponis mihi, Gallice, porcum.
      hybrida sum, si das, Gallice, verba mihi (viii. 22).

    You invite me to partake of a wild boar, you set before me
    a home-grown pig. I'm half-boar, half-pig, if you can cheat
    me thus.

    pars maxillarum tonsa est tibi, pars tibi rasa est,
      pars volsa est. unum quis putet esse caput? (viii. 47).

    Part of your jaws is shaven, part clipped, part has the hair
    pulled out. Who'd think you'd only one head?

    tres habuit dentes, pariter quos expuit omnes,
      ad tumulum Picens dum sedet ipse suum;
    collegitque sinu fragmenta novissima laxi
      oris et adgesta contumulavit humo.
    ossa licet quondam defuncti non legat heres:
      hoc sibi iam Picens praestitit officium (viii. 57).

    Picens had three teeth, which he spat out altogether while he
    was sitting at the spot he had chosen for his tomb. He gathered
    in his robe the last fragments of his loose jaw and interred
    them in a heap of earth. His heir need not gather his bones when
    he is dead, Picens has performed that office for himself.

    summa Palatini poteras aequare Colossi,
      si fieres brevior, Claudia, sesquipede (viii. 60).

    Had you been eighteen inches shorter, Claudia, you would have
    been as tall as the Colossus on the Palatine.

Without wishing to break a butterfly on the wheel, we may well quote
against Martial the remark made in a different context to a
worthless poet:

    tanti non erat esse te disertum (xii. 43).

    'Twas scarce worth while to be thus eloquent.

There is much also which, without being precisely pointless or silly, is
too petty and mean to be tolerable to modern taste. Most noticeable in
this respect are the epigrams in which Martial solicits the liberality
of his patrons. The amazing relations existing at this period between
patron and client had worked a painful revolution in the manners and
tone of society, a revolution which meant scarcely less than the
pauperization of the middle class. The old sacred and almost feudal tie
uniting client and patron had long since disappeared, and had been
replaced by relations of a professional and commercial character. Wealth
was concentrated in comparatively few hands, and with the decrease of
the number of the patrons the throng of clients proportionately
increased. The crowd of clients bustling to the early morning
_salutatio_ of the patronus, and struggling with one another for the
_sportula_ is familiar to us in the pages of Juvenal and receives fresh
and equally vivid illustration from Martial. The worst results of these
unnatural relations were a general loss of independence of character and
a lamentable growth of bad manners and cynical snobbery. The patron,
owing to the increasingly heavy demands upon his purse, naturally tended
to become close-fisted and stingy, the needy client too often was
grasping and discontented. The patron, if he asked his client to dine,
would regale him with food and drink of a coarser and inferior quality
to that with which he himself was served.[675] The client, on the other
hand, could not be trusted to behave himself; he would steal the table
fittings, make outrageous demands on his patron, and employ every act of
servile and cringing flattery to improve his position.[676] The poor
poet was in a sense doubly dependent. He would stand in the ordinary
relation of _cliens_ to a _patronus_, and would be dependent also for
his livelihood on the generosity of his literary patrons. For, in spite
of the comparative facilities for the publication and circulation of
books, he could make little by the public sale of his works, and living
at Rome was abnormally expensive. The worst feature of all was that such
a life of servile dependence was not clearly felt to be degrading. It
was disliked for its hardship, annoyance, and monotony, but the client
too often seems to have regarded it as beneath his dignity to attempt to
escape from it by industry and manly independence.

As a result of these conditions, we find the pages of Martial full of
allusions to the miserable life of the client. His skill does not fail
him, but the theme is ugly and the historical interest necessarily
predominates over the literary, though the reader's patience is at times
rewarded with shrewd observations on human nature, as, for instance, the
bitter expression of the truth that 'To him that hath shall be given'--

    semper pauper eris, si pauper es, Aemiliane;
      dantur opes nullis nunc nisi divitibus (v. 81);

    Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear,
    None but the rich get place and pension here.
                                             N.B. HALHEAD.

or the even more incisive

    pauper videri Cinna vult: et est pauper (viii. 19).

But we soon weary of the continual reference to dinners and parasites,
to the snobbery and indifference of the rich, to the tricks of toadyism
on the part of needy client or legacy hunter. It is a mean world, and
the wit and raillery of Martial cannot make it palatable. Without a
moral background, such as is provided by the indignation of Juvenal,
the picture soon palls, and the reader sickens. Most unpleasing of all
are the epigrams where Martial himself speaks as client in a language
of mingled impertinence and servility. His flattery of the emperor we
may pass by. It was no doubt interested, but it was universal, and
Martial's flattery is more dexterous without being either more or less
offensive than that of his contemporaries. His relations towards less
exalted patrons cannot be thus easily condoned. He feels no shame in
begging, nor in abusing those who will not give or whose gifts are not
sufficient for his needs. His purse is empty; he must sell the gifts
that Regulus has given him. Will Regulus buy?

    aera domi non sunt, superest hoc, Regule, solum
      ut tua vendamus munera: numquid emis? (vii. 16).

    I have no money, Regulus, at home. Only one thing is left
    to do--sell the gifts you gave me. Will you buy?

Stella has given him some tiles to roof his house; he would like a
cloak as well:

    cum pluvias madidumque Iovem perferre negaret
      et rudis hibernis villa nataret aquis,
    plurima, quae posset subitos effundere nimbos,
      muneribus venit tegula missa tuis.
    horridus ecce sonat Boreae stridore December:
      Stella, tegis villam, non tegis agricolam (vii. 36).[677]

    When my crased house heaven's showers could not sustain,
    But flooded with vast deluges of rain,
    Thou shingles, Stella, seasonably didst send,
    Which from the impetuous storms did me defend:
    Now fierce loud-sounding Boreas rocks doth cleave,
    Dost clothe the farm, and farmer naked leave?
                                                ANON., 1695.

This is not the way a gentleman thanks a friend, nor can modern taste
appreciate at its antique value abuse such as--

    primum est ut praestes, si quid te, Cinna, rogabo;
      illud deinde sequens ut cito, Cinna, neges.
    diligo praestantem; non odi, Cinna, negantem:
      sed tu nec praestas nec cito, Cinna, negas (vii. 43).

    The kindest thing of all is to comply:
    The next kind thing is quickly to deny.
    I love performance nor denial hate:
    Your 'Shall I, shall I?' is the cursed state.

The poet's poverty is no real excuse for this petulant mendicancy.[678]
He had refused to adopt a profession,[679] though professional
employment would assuredly have left him time for writing, and no one
would have complained if his output had been somewhat smaller. Instead,
he chose a life which involved moving in society, and was necessarily
expensive. We can hardly attribute his choice merely to the love of his
art. If he must beg, he might have done so with better taste and some
show of finer feeling. Macaulay's criticism is just: 'I can make large
allowance for the difference of manners; but it can never have been
_comme il faut_ in any age or nation for a man of note--an accomplished
man--a man living with the great--to be constantly asking for money,
clothes, and dainties, and to pursue with volleys of abuse those who
would give him nothing.'

In spite, however, of the obscenity, meanness, and exaggerated
triviality of much of his work, there have been few poets who could
turn a prettier compliment, make a neater jest, or enshrine the trivial
in a more exquisite setting. Take the beautifully finished poem to
Flaccus in the eighth book (56), wherein Martial complains that times
have altered since Vergil's day. 'Now there are no patrons and
consequently no poets'--

    ergo ego Vergilius, si munera Maecenatis
      des mihi? Vergilius non ero, Marsus ero.

    Shall I then be a Vergil, if you give me such gifts as
    Maecenas gave? No, I shall not be a Vergil, but a Marsus.

Here, at least, Martial shows that he could complain of his poverty with
decency, and speak of himself and his work with becoming modesty. Or
take a poem of a different type, an indirect plea for the recall of an
exile (viii. 32):

    aera per tacitum delapsa sedentis in ipsos
      fluxit Aratullae blanda columba sinus,
    luserat hoc casus, nisi inobservata maneret
      permissaque sibi nollet abire fuga.
    si meliora piae fas est sperare sorori
      et dominum mundi flectere vota valent,
    haec a Sardois tibi forsitan exulis oris,
      fratre reversuro, nuntia venit avis.

    A gentle dove glided down through the silent air and
    settled even in Aratulla's bosom as she was sitting.
    This might have seemed but the sport of chance had it
    not rested there, though undetained, and refused to part
    even when flight was free. If it is granted to the loving
    sister to hope for better things, and if prayers can move
    the lord of the world, this bird perchance has come to
    thee from Sardinia's shore of exile to announce the speedy
    return of thy brother.

Nothing could be more conventional, nothing more perfect in form, more
full of music, more delicate in expression. The same felicity is shown
in his epigrams on curiosities of art or nature, a fashionable and, it
must be confessed, an easy theme.[680] Fish carved by Phidias' hand, a
lizard cast by Mentor, a fly enclosed in amber, are all given

    artis Phidiacae toreuma clarum
    pisces aspicis: adde aquam, natabunt (iii. 35).

    These fishes Phidias wrought: with life by him
    They are endowed: add water and they swim.
                              PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

    inserta phialae Mentoris manu ducta
    lacerta vivit et timetur argentum (iii. 41).

    That lizard on the goblet makes thee start.
    Fear not: it lives only by Mentor's art.
                              PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

    et latet et lucet Phaethontide condita gutta,
      ut videatur apis nectare clusa suo.
    dignum tantorum pretium tulit illa laborum:
      credibile est ipsam sic voluisse mori (iv. 32).

    Here shines a bee closed in an amber tomb,
    As if interred in her own honey-comb.
    A fit reward fate to her labours gave;
    No other death would she have wished to have.

Always at home in describing the trifling amenities of life, he is at
his best equally successful in dealing with its trifling follies. An
acquaintance has given his cook the absurd name of Mistyllos in allusion
to the Homeric phrase [Greek: mistyllon t' ora talla]. Martial's comment
is inimitable:

    si tibi Mistyllos cocus, Aemiliane, vocatur,
      dicatur quare non Taratalla mihi? (i. 50).

He complains of the wine given him at a dinner-party with a finished

    potavi modo consulare vinum.
    quaeris quam vetus atque liberale?
    Prisco consule conditum: sed ipse
    qui ponebat erat, Severe, consul (vii. 79).

    I have just drunk some consular wine. How old, you ask, and
    how generous? It was bottled in Priscus' consulship: and he
    who set it before me was the consul himself.

Polycharmus has returned Caietanus his IOU's. 'Little good will that do
you, and Caietanus will not even be grateful':

    quod Caietano reddis, Polycharme, tabellas,
      milia te centum num tribuisse putas?
    'debuit haec' inquis. tibi habe, Polycharme, tabellas
      et Caietano milia crede duo (viii. 37).

    In giving back Caietanus his IOU's, Polycharmus, do you think
    you are giving him 100,000 sesterces? 'He owed me that sum,'
    you say. Keep the IOU's and lend him two thousand more!

Chloe, the murderess of her seven husbands, erects monuments to their
memory, and inscribes _fecit Chloe_ on the tombstones:

    inscripsit tumulis septem scelerata virorum
      'se fecisse' Chloe. quid pote simplicius? (ix. 15).

    On her seven husbands' tombs she doth impress
    'This Chloe did.' What more can she confess?

Vacerra admires the old poets only. What shall Martial do?

    miraris veteres, Vacerra, solos
    nec laudas nisi mortuos poetas.
    ignoscas petimus, Vacerra: tanti
    non est, ut placeam tibi, perire (viii. 69).

    Vacerra lauds no living poet's lays,
    But for departed genius keeps his praise.
    I, alas, live, nor deem it worth my while
    To die that I may win Vacerra's smile.
                                    PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

All this is very slight, _merae nugae_; but even if the humour be not of
the first water, it will compare well with the humour of epigrams of any
age. Martial knows he is not a great poet.[681] He knows, too, that his
work is uneven:

    iactat inaequalem Matho me fecisse libellum:
      si verum est, laudat carmina nostra Matho.
    aequales scribit libros Calvinus et Vmber:
      aequalis liber est, Cretice, qui malus est (vii. 90).

    Matho makes game of my unequal verse;
    If it's unequal it might well be worse.
    Calvinus, Umber, write on one dead level,
    The book that's got no up and down's the devil!

If there are thirty good epigrams in a book, he is satisfied (vii. 81).
His defence hardly answers the question, 'Why publish so many?' but
should at least mollify our judgement. Few poets read better in
selections than Martial, and of few poets does selection give so
inadequate an idea. For few poets of his undoubted genius have left such
a large bulk of work which, in spite of its formal perfection, is
morally repulsive or, from the purely literary standpoint,
uninteresting. But he is an important figure in the history of
literature, for he is the father of the modern epigram. Alone of Silver
Latin poets is he a perfect stylist. He has the gift of _felicitas_ to
the full, but it is not _curiosa_. Inferior to Horace in all other
points, he has greater spontaneity. And he is free from the faults of
his age. He is no _virtuoso_, eaten up with self-conscious vanity; he
attempts no impossible feats of language; he is clear, and uses his
mythological and geographical knowledge neatly and picturesquely; but he
makes no display of obscure learning. 'I would please schoolmasters,' he
says, 'but not _qua_ schoolmasters' (x. 21. 5). So, too, he complains of
his own education:

    at me litterulas stulti docuere parentes:
      quid cum grammaticis rhetoribusque mihi? (ix. 73. 7).

    My learning only proves my father fool!
    Why would he send me to a grammar school?

As a result, perhaps, of this lack of sympathy with the education of his
day, we find that, while he knows and admires the great poets of the
past, and can flatter the rich poetasters of the present, his bent is
curiously unliterary. He gives us practically no literary criticism. It
is with the surface qualities of life that he is concerned, with its
pleasures and its follies, guilty or innocent. He has a marvellously
quick and clear power of observation, and of vivid presentation. He is
in this sense above all others the poet of his age. He either does not
see or chooses to ignore many of the best and most interesting features
of his time, but the picture which he presents, for all its
incompleteness, is wider and more varied than any other. We both hate
him and read him for the sake of the world he depicts. 'Ugliness is
always bad art, and Martial often failed as a poet from his choice of
subject.'[682] There are comparatively few of his poems which we read
for their own sake. Remarkable as these few poems are, the main
attraction of Martial is to be found not in his wit or finish, so much
as in the vividness with which he has portrayed the life of the
brilliant yet corrupt society in which his lot was cast. It lives before
us in all its splendour and in all its squalor. The court, with its
atmosphere of grovelling flattery, its gross vices veiled and tricked
out in the garb of respectability; the wealthy official class, with
their villas, their favourites, their circle of dependants, men of
culture, wit, and urbanity, through all which runs, strangely
intermingled, a vein of extreme coarseness, vulgarity, and meanness; the
lounger and the reciter, the diner-out and the legacy-hunter; the
clients struggling to win their patrons' favour and to rise in the
social scale, enduring the hardships and discomfort of a sordid life
unillumined by lofty ideals or strength of will, a life that under cold
northern skies would have been intolerable; the freedman and the slave,
with all the riff-raff that support a parasitic existence on the vices
of the upper classes; the noise and bustle of Rome, its sleepless
nights, its cheerless tenements, its noisy streets, loud with the sound
of traffic or of revelry; the shows in the theatre, the races in the
circus, the interchange of presents at the Saturnalia; the pleasant life
in the country villa, the simplicity of rural Italy, the sights and
sounds of the park and the farm-yard; and dimly seen beyond all, the
provinces, a great ocean which absorbs from time to time the rulers of
Rome and the leaders of society, and from which come faint and confused
echoes of frontier wars; all are there. It is a great pageant lacking
order and coherence, a scene that shifts continually, but never lacks
brilliance of detail and sharply defined presentment. Martial was the
child of the age; it gave him his strength and his weakness. If we hate
him or despise him, it is because he is the faithful representative of
the life of his times; his gifts we cannot question. He practised a form
of poetry that at its best is not exalted, and must, even more than
other branches of art, be conditioned by social circumstance. Within its
limited sphere Martial stands, not faultless, but yet supreme.



Our knowledge of the life of the most famous of Roman satirists is
strangely unsatisfactory. Many so-called lives of Juvenal have come down
to us, but they are confused, contradictory, inadequate, and
unreliable.[683] His own work and allusions in other writers help us but
little in our attempt to reconstruct the story of the poet's life.

Only by investigating the dates within which the satires seem to fall is
it possible to arrive at some idea of the dates within which falls the
life of their author. The satires were published in five books at
different times. The first book (1-5), which is full of allusions to the
tyranny of Domitian, cannot have been published before 100 A.D., since
the first satire contains an allusion to the condemnation of Marius
Priscus,[684] which took place in that year. The fifth book (13-16)
must, from references in the thirteenth and fifteenth[685] satires to
the year 127, have been published not much later than that date. The
publication of the satires falls, therefore, between 100 and 130.

With these data it is possible to approach the question of the dates of
Juvenal's birth and death. The main facts to guide us are the statements
of the best of the biographies that he did not begin to write satire
till on the confines of middle age, that even then he delayed to
publish, and that he died at the age of eighty.[686] The inference is
that he was born between 50 and 60 A. D., and died between 130 and 140
A. D.[687]

As to the facts of his life we are on little firmer ground. But
concerning his name and birthplace there is practical certainty.
Decimus Junius Juvenalis[688] was born at Aquinum,[689] a town of
Latium, and is said to have been the son or adopted son of a rich
freedman. His education was of the usual character, literary and
rhetorical, and was presumably carried out at Rome.[690] He acquired
thus early in youth a taste for rhetoric that never left him. For he is
said to have practised declamation up till middle age, not with a view
to obtaining a position as professor of rhetoric or as advocate, but
from sheer love of the art.[691] It is probable that he combined his
passion for rhetoric with service as an officer in the army. Not only
does he show considerable intimacy in his satires with a soldier's
life,[692] but interesting external evidence is afforded by an
inscription discovered near Aquinum. It runs:

SVA                      PEC.[693]

If this inscription refers, as well it may, to the poet, it will follow
that he served as tribune of the first Dalmatian cohort, probably in
Britain,[694] held high municipal office in his native town, and was
priest of the deified Vespasian. But the _praenomen_ is wanting in the
original, and the inscription may have been erected not by the satirist
but by one of his kinsfolk. That he spent the greater portion of his
life at Rome is evident from his satires. Of his friends we know little.
Umbricius, Persicus, Catullus, and Calvinus[695] are mere names. Of
Quintilian[696] he speaks with great respect, and may perhaps have
studied under him; of Statius he writes with enthusiasm, but there is no
evidence that he had done more than be present at that poet's
recitations.[697] Martial, however, was a personal friend, and writes
affectionately of him and to him in three of his epigrams.[698] Unlike
Martial, whose life was a continual struggle against poverty, Juvenal,
though he had clearly endured some of the discomforts and degradations
involved by a client's attendance on his rich _patronus_, was a man of
some means, possessing an estate at Aquinum,[699] a country house at
Tibur,[700] and a house at Rome.[701] At what date precisely he began to
write is uncertain. We are told that his first effort was a brief poem
attacking the actor Paris, which he afterwards embodied in the seventh
satire. But it was long before he ventured to read his satires even to
his intimate friends.[702] This suggests that portions, at any rate, of
the satires of the first book were composed during the reign of
Domitian.[703] Juvenal had certainly every reason for concealing their
existence till after the tyrant's death. The first satire was probably
written later to form a preface to the other four, and the whole book
may have been published in 101. It is noteworthy, however, that Martial,
writing to him in that year, mentions merely his gifts as a declaimer,
and seems not to know him as a satirist. The second book, containing
only the sixth satire, was probably published about 116, since it
contains allusions to earthquakes in Asia and to a comet boding ill to
Parthia and Armenia (l. 407-12). Such a comet was visible in Rome in
the autumn of 115, on the eve of Trajan's campaign against Parthia,
while in December an earthquake did great damage to the town of Antioch.
The third book (7-9) opens with an elaborate compliment to Hadrian as
the patron of literature at Rome. As Hadrian succeeded to the principate
in 117 and left Rome for a tour of the provinces in 121, this book must
fall somewhere between our dates. The fourth book (10-12) contains no
indication as to its date, but must lie between the publication of the
third book and of the fifth (after 127). Beyond these facts it is hardly
possible to go in our reconstruction of the poet's life. As far as may
be judged it was an uneventful career save for one great calamity. The
ancient biographies assert that Juvenal's denunciation of actors
embodied in the seventh satire offended an actor who was the favourite
of the princeps. They are supported by Apollinaris Sidonius,[704] who
speaks of Juvenal as the 'exile-victim of an actor's anger', and by
Johannes Malala.[705] The latter writer, with certain of the ancient
biographies, identifies the actor with Paris, the favourite of Domitian;
others, again, say that the poet was banished by Nero[706]--a manifestly
absurd statement--others by Trajan,[707] while our best authority
asserts that he was eighty years old when banished, and that he died of
grief and mortification.[708] The place of exile is variously given.
Most of the biographies place it in Egypt, the best of them asserting
that he was given a military command in that province.[709] Others
mention Britain,[710] others the Pentapolis of Libya.[711] Amid such
discrepancies it is impossible to give any certain answer. But it is
certain that the actor who caused Juvenal's banishment was not Paris,
who was put to death by Domitian as early as 83, and almost equally
certain that Domitian is guiltless of the poet's exile. It is, however,
possible that he was banished by Trajan or Hadrian, though it would
surprise us to find Trajan, for all the debauchery of his private life,
so far under the influence of an actor[712] as to sacrifice a Roman
citizen to his displeasure; while as regards Hadrian it is noteworthy
that the very satire said to have offended the _pantomimus_ contains an
eloquent panegyric of that emperor. Further, it is hard to believe the
story that Juvenal was banished to Egypt at the advanced age of eighty
under the pretext of a military command. The problem is insoluble.[713]
The most that can be said is that the persistence of the tradition gives
it some claim to credibility, though the details handed down to us are
wholly untrustworthy, and probably little better than clumsy inferences
from passages in the satires.

The scope of Juvenal's work and the motives that spur him are set forth
in the first satire. He is weary of the deluge of trivial and mechanical
verse poured out by the myriad poetasters of the day:

    Still shall I hear and never quit the score,
    Stunned with hoarse Codrus' Theseid, o'er and o'er?
    Shall this man's elegies and t'other's play
    Unpunished murder a long summer's day?
    ... since the world with writing is possest,
    I'll versify in spite; and do my best
    To make as much waste-paper as the rest.[714]

He will write in a different vein from his rivals. Satire shall be his
theme. In such an age, when virtue is praised and vice practised, the
age of the libertine, the _parvenu_, the forger, the murderer, it is
hard not to write satire. 'Facit indignatio versum!'[715] he cries. 'All
the daily life of Rome shall be my theme':

    quidquid agunt homines votum timor ira voluptas
    gaudia discursus nostri est farrago libelli.[716]

    What human kind desires and what they shun,
    Rage, passion, pleasure, impotence of will,
    Shall this satirical collection fill.

Never was vice so rampant; luxury has become monstrous; the rich lord
lives in pampered and selfish ease, while those poor mortals, his
clients, jostle together to receive the paltry dole of the _sportula_;
that is all the help they will get from their patron:

    No age can go beyond us; future times
    Can add no further to the present crimes.
    Our sons but the same things can wish and do;
    Vice is at stand and at the highest flow.
    Thou, Satire, spread thy sails, take all the winds that blow.[717]

And yet the satirist must be cautious; the days are past when a Lucilius
could lash Rome at his will:

      When Lucilius brandishes his pen
    And flashes in the face of guilty men,
    A cold sweat stands in drops on every part,
    And rage succeeds to tears, revenge to smart.
    Muse, be advised; 'tis past considering time,
    When entered once the dangerous lists of rhyme;
    Since none the living villains dare implead,
    Arraign them in the persons of the dead.[718]

No better preface has ever been written; it gives a perfect summary of
the motives, the objects, and the methods of the poet's work in language
which for vigour and brilliance he never surpassed. The closing lines
show us his literary parentage. It is Lucilius who inspires him; it is
the fierce invective of the father of Roman satire that appeals to him.
Lucilius had scourged Rome, when the inroads of Hellenism and oriental
luxury, the fruits of foreign conquest, were beginning to make
themselves felt. To Juvenal it falls to denounce the triumph of these
corroding influences. He has nothing of the almost pathetic philosophic
detachment of Persius, nor of the easy-going compromise of Horace. He
does not palter with problems of right and wrong, nor hesitate over his
moral judgements; casuistry is wholly alien to his temper. It is
indignation makes the verse, and from this fact, together with his
rhetorical training, his chief merits and his chief failings spring. He
introduces no novelty into satire save the almost unvarying bitterness
and ferocity of his tone. Like Horace and Persius, he employs the
dactylic hexameter to the exclusion of other metres, while, owing in the
main to his taste for declamation, he is far more sparing in the use of
the dialogue-form than either of his predecessors.

Before further discussing his general characteristics, it is necessary
to take a brief survey of the remaining satires. The second and ninth
are savage and, as was almost inevitable, obscene denunciations of
unnatural vice. In the third, the most orderly in arrangement and the
most brilliant in execution of all his satires, he describes all the
dangers and horrors of life at Rome. Umbricius, a friend of the poet, is
leaving the city. It is no place for a man of honour; it has become a
city for Greeks; the worthless and astute _Graeculus_ is everywhere
predominant, and, stained though he be with a thousand vices, has
outwitted the native-born, and, by the arts of the panderer and the
flatterer, has made himself their master. The poor are treated like
slaves. Houses fall, or are burned with fire. Sleep is impossible, so
loud with traffic are the streets. By day it is scarcely safe to walk
abroad for fear of being crushed by one of the great drays that throng
the city; by night there are the lesser perils of slops and broken
crockery cast from the windows, the greater perils of roisterers and
thieves. Rome is no place for Umbricius. He must go.

The fourth satire opens with a violent attack on the _parvenu_
Egyptian Crispinus, so powerful at the court of Domitian, and goes on
by a somewhat clumsy transition to tell the story of the huge turbot
caught near Ancona and presented to the emperor. So large was it that
a cabinet council must needs be called to decide what should be done
with it. This affords excuse for an inimitable picture of Domitian's
servile councillors. At last it is decided that the turbot is to be
served whole and a special dish to be constructed for it. 'Ah! why,'
the poet concludes, 'did not Domitian devote himself entirely to such
trifles as these?'

In the fifth satire Juvenal returns to the subject of the hardships
and insults which the poor client must endure. He pictures the host
sitting in state with the best of everything set before him and served
in the choicest manner, while the unhappy client must be content with
food and drink of the coarsest kind. Virro, the rich man, does this
not because he is parsimonious, but because the humiliation of his
client amuses his perverted mind. But the satirist does not spare the
client, whose servile complaisance leads him to put up with such
treatment. 'Be a man!' he cries, 'and sooner beg on the streets than
degrade yourself thus.'

The sixth satire, the longest of the collection, is a savage
denunciation of the vices of womankind. The various types of female
degradation are revealed to our gaze with merciless and often revolting
portrayal. The unchastity of woman is the main theme, but ranked with
the adulteress and the wanton are the murderess of husband or of child,
the torturer of the slave, the client of the fortune-teller or the
astrologer, and even the more harmless female athlete and blue-stocking.
For vigour and skill the satire ranks among Juvenal's best, but it is
marred by wanton grossness and at times almost absurd exaggeration.

The seventh satire deals with the difficulties besetting a literary
career. It opens with a dexterous compliment to Hadrian; the poet
qualifies his complaints by saying that they apply only to the past.
The accession of Hadrian has swept all the storm-clouds from the
author's sky. But in the unhappy days but lately passed away, the
poet's lot was most miserable. His work brings him no livelihood; his
patron's liberality goes but a little way. The historian is in no less
parlous plight. The advocate makes some show of wealth, but it is, as a
rule, the merest show; only the man already wealthy succeeds at the
bar; many a struggling lawyer goes bankrupt in the struggle to
advertise himself and push his way. The teacher of rhetoric and the
school-master receive but a miserable fee, yet they have all the
drudgery of discipline and all the responsibility of moulding the
characters of the young placed upon their shoulders. They are expected
to be omniscient, and yet they starve.

The eighth satire treats the familiar theme that without virtue birth is
of small account. Many examples of the degeneracy of the aristocracy are
given, some trivial, some grave, but above all the satirist denounces
the cruelty and oppression of nobly-born provincial governors. He
concludes in his noblest vein in praise of the great plebeians of the
past, Cicero, Marius, the Decii, and Servius Tullius. It is in deeds,
not in titles, that true nobility lies. Better be the son of Thersites
and possess the valour of Achilles, than live the life of a Thersites
and boast Achilles for your sire.

The eighth satire may be regarded as the presage of a distinct change of
type. Instead of the vivid pictures of Roman life and the almost
dramatic representation of vice personified, Juvenal seems to turn for
inspiration to the scholastic declamation which had fascinated his
youth. Moral problems are treated in a more abstract way, and the old
fierce onset of indignation, though it has by no means disappeared,
seems to have lost something of its former violence. There are also
traces of declining powers, a greater tendency to digression, a lack of
concentration and vigour, and even of dexterity of language. But the
change is due in all probability not merely to advance in years nor to
the calming and mellowing influence of old age, but also to a change
that was gradually passing over the Roman world. The material for savage
satire was appreciably less. Evil in its worst forms had triumphed under
Domitian. With Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian virtue began slowly and
uncertainly to reclaim part of her lost dominions.

The fourth book opens with the famous tenth satire on the vanity of
human wishes. What should man pray for? The theme is hackneyed and the
treatment shows no special originality. But the thought is elevated, the
rhetoric superb, and the verse has a resounding tread such as is only
found in Persius and Juvenal among the later poets of Rome. 'What shall
man pray for?' Power? Think of Sejanus, Pompey, Demosthenes, Cicero! To
each one greatness brought his doom. Think of Hannibal and Alexander,
how they, and with them all their high schemings, came to die; Long
life? What? Should we pray to outlive our bodily powers, to bewail the
death of our nearest and dearest, to fall from the high place where once
we stood? Beauty? Beauty is beset by a thousand perils in these vile
days, and rarely do beauty and chastity go hand in hand. Rather than
pray for boons like these, 'entrust thy fortune to the gods above,' or,
if pray thou must,

                            stand confined
    To health of body and content of mind;
    A soul that can securely death defy,
    And count it nature's privilege to die;
    Serene and manly, hardened to sustain
    The load of life and exercised in pain:
    Guiltless of hate and proof against desire,
    That all things weighs and nothing can admire;
    That dares prefer the toils of Hercules,
    To dalliance, banquet, and ignoble ease.
    The path to peace is virtue; what I show,
    Thyself may freely on thyself bestow;
    Fortune was never worshipped by the wise,
    But, set aloft by fools, usurps the skies.[719]

In the eleventh satire we drop from these splendid heights of rhetoric;
to a declamatory invitation to dinner, which affords occasion for a
denunciation of the extravagant indulgence in the pleasures of the table
and for the praise of the good old days when Romans clave to the simple
life. The dinner to which Juvenal invites his friend will be of simple
fare simply served--

    You'll have no scandal when you dine.
    But honest talk and wholesome wine.

And instead of lewd dance and song, a slave shall read aloud Homer and
Homer's one rival, Vergil.

The twelfth satire opens with a thanksgiving for the escape of a friend,
Catullus, from a great storm at sea, and ends with a denunciation of
legacy hunters, the connecting link between these somewhat remote themes
being that Juvenal, at any rate, is disinterested in his joy at his
friend's escape.

The thirteenth and fourteenth satires deal with more abstract themes,
the pangs of the guilty conscience and the importance of parental
example. In the first, Juvenal consoles his friend, Calvinus, who has
been defrauded of a sum of money. The loss, he says, is small, and,
after all, honesty is rare nowadays. Men have so little care for the
gods that they shrink from no perjury. Besides, what is such loss
compared with the many worse crimes that darken life. Why thirst for
revenge? It is the doctrine of the common herd. Philosophy teaches
otherwise. The torment of conscience will be a worse penalty than any
you can inflict, and at last justice will claim its own. In the next
satire, to emphasize the value of parental example, the poet illustrates
his point from the vice of avarice, and finally, forgetting his original
theme, lashes the avaricious man in words such as would never suggest
that the question of parental example had been raised at all. It is
noteworthy that throughout these two satires the poet draws his
illustrations from the themes of the schools rather than from the scenes
of contemporary life.

In the fifteenth satire, however, he returns to depict and discuss
actual occurrences, but in how altered and strange a manner. His theme
is a case of cannibalism in Egypt,[720] the result of a collision
between religious fanatics of neighbouring townships. The aged poet
spurs himself into one last fury against the hated Oriental, regardless
of the fact that the denunciation of cannibalism to a civilized audience
must necessarily be insipid. Last comes a fragment expatiating bitterly
on the shameful advantages of a military career. The unhappy civilian
assaulted by a soldier cannot get redress, for the case must be heard in
camp before a bench of soldiers. The soldier, on the other hand, can get
summary settlement of all his disputes, and alone of Romans is exempt
from the _patria potestas_, can control his earnings and bequeath them
to whom he will. At this point the satire breaks off abruptly, and we
have no means of judging the extent of the loss. It is a striking
reversion to his earlier manner. Once more the satire takes the form of
a series of sketches from actual life.

Both of these satires, notably the fifteenth, show a marked falling off
alike in style and matter. Both, in fact, have been branded as spurious,
the latter from times as early as those of the scholia. But there is no
real ground for such a suspicion. Both satires have all the
characteristics of Juvenal, excepting only the vigour and brilliance of
his earlier days. No poet's powers are proof against the advance of old
age, and there is no vein of poetry more exhausting or more easily
exhausted than satire. And, as has already been remarked, there are
signs of a falling away before these satires are reached. Even the
famous tenth satire, for all its indisputable greatness, does not demand
or reveal, such special gifts of style and observation as the first and
third. It is less in touch with actual life: it is a theme from the
schools, and the illustrations, effective as they are, are as trite as
the theme itself. Were it his only work, the tenth satire would give
Juvenal high rank among Roman poets: it will always, thanks to the
brilliance of its rhetoric and the wide applicability of its moral, be
his most popular work: it is not his highest achievement.

It will have been obvious from this brief survey that the themes chosen
by Juvenal are for the most part of a commonplace nature. It could
hardly be otherwise. Satire, to be effective, must choose obvious
themes. But in some respects the treatment of them is surprisingly
commonplace. There is little freshness or originality about Juvenal's
way of thinking. His morality is neither satisfying nor profound. His
ideal is the old narrow Roman republican ideal of a chaste, vigorous,
and unluxurious life, wherein publicity is for man alone, while woman is
confined to the cares of the family and the household; the ideal of a
society wholly Italian and free-born, untainted by the importations of
Greece and Asia; of a state stern and exclusive, though just and
merciful, sparing the subject and beating down the proud. The nobility
of this ideal is not to be denied, but it is inadequate because it is
wholly unpractical. There is no denying that the emancipation of women
had led to gross evils, some of them imperilling the very existence of
the State; nor can it be doubted that much of the Greek influence had
been wholly for the bad, and that in many cases the introduction of the
cults of the East served merely to cloak debauchery. The rich freedman,
also, for whom Juvenal reserves his bitterest shafts, was often of
vicious and degraded character and had risen to power by repulsive
means. But there is another side to the picture, the existence of which
Juvenal sometimes, by his vehemence, seems to deny. The freedman class
supplied some of the most valuable of civil servants, and many must have
been worthy of their emancipation and of their rise to power.[721] There
was a higher Hellenism, which Juvenal ignored. The intellectual
movements of the Empire still found their chief source in Greece, and
the great Sophistic movement was already setting in, as a result of
which Greek literature was to revive and the Greek language to supersede
the Latin as the chief vehicle of literary expression even at Rome
itself. The greater freedom accorded to women had its compensations; in
spite of Juvenal, woman does not become worse or less attractive because
she is cultured and well educated, and if there was much dissipation and
debauchery in the high society of his day, even high society contained
many noble women of fine intellect and pure character. The spread of
Roman citizenship and the breaking down of the old exclusive tradition
were potent factors for good in the history of civilization. It may be
urged in Juvenal's defence that satire must necessarily deal with the
darker side of life, that his silence as to the better and more hopeful
elements in society does not mean that he ignored them, and that it is
absurd to attack a satirist because he is not a scientific social
historian. All this is true; but it is possible to have plenty of
material for the bitterest satire and to indict gross and rampant vice
without leaving the impression that the life of the day has no redeeming
elements, without generalizing extravagantly from the vices of one
section of society, even though that section be large and influential.
The weakness of Juvenal is that he is too retrospective, both in his
praise and in his blame. He dare not satirize the living, but will
attack the dead. But it would be wrong to assume that in the dead he
always attacks types of the living. There is always the impression that
he is in reality attacking the first century rather than the second, the
reigns of Nero and Domitian rather than the society governed by Trajan
and Hadrian. He had lived through a night of terror and would not
recognize the signs of a new dawn. Directing his attention too
exclusively on Rome itself and on the past, he forgets the larger world
and the future hope. It is to the impossible Rome of the past that he
turns his eyes for inspiration. Hence comes his hatred, often merely
racial, for Greek and Asiatic importations,[722] hence his dislike and
contempt for the new woman. Moreover, he had lived on the fringe of high
society and not in it; he had drunk in the bitterness of the client's
life, and had lived in the enveloping atmosphere of scandal that always
surrounds society for those who are excluded from it. A man of an acrid
and jealous temperament, easily angered and not readily appeased, he
yields too lightly and indiscriminately to that indignation, which, he
tells us, is the fountain-head of all he writes. Satire should be
something more than a wild torrent sweeping away obstacles great and
small with one equal violence; it should have its laughing shallows and
its placid deeps. But Juvenal's laughter rings harsh and wild, and
wounds as deeply as his invective; he drives continually before the
fierce gale of his spirit, and there are no calm havens where he may
rest and contemplate the ideal that so much denunciation implies. He
knows no gradations: all failings suffer beneath the same remorseless
lash. The consul Lateranus has a taste for driving: bad taste, perhaps,
yet hardly criminal. But Juvenal thunders at him as though he were
guilty of high treason (viii. 146):

    praeter maiorum cineres atque ossa volucri
    carpento rapitur pinguis Lateranus, et ipse,
    ipse rotam adstringit sufflamine mulio consul,
    nocte quidem, sed Luna videt, sed sidera testes
    intendunt oculos. finitum tempus honoris
    cum fuerit, clara Lateranus luce flagellum
    sumet et occursum numquam trepidabit amici
    iam senis.

    See! by his great progenitor's remains
    Fat Lateranus sweeps, with loosened reins.
    Good Consul! he no pride of office feels,
    But stoops, himself, to clog his headlong wheels.
    'But this is all by night,' the hero cries,
    Yet the moon sees! yet the stars stretch their eyes
    Pull on your shame!--A few short moments wait,
    And Damasippus quits the pomp of state:
    Then, proud the experienced driver to display,
    He mounts the chariot in the face of day,
    Whirls, with bold front, his grave associate by,
    And jerks his whip, to catch the senior's eye.

Elsewhere (i. 55-62) the 'horsy' youth is spoken of as worse than the
husband who connives at his wife's dishonour and pockets the reward of
her shame. Among the monstrous women of the sixth satire we come with a
shock of surprise upon the learned lady (434):

    illa tamen gravior, quae cum discumbere coepit
    laudat Vergilium, periturae ignoscit Elissae,
    committit vates et comparat, inde Maronem
    atque alia parte in trutina suspendit Homerum.

    But of all plagues the greatest is untold;
    The book-learned wife, in Greek and Latin bold;
    The critic dame, who at her table sits,
    Homer and Virgil quotes and weighs their wits,
    And pities Dido's agonizing fits.

She figures strangely among the poisoners and adulteresses. Juvenal is
misogynist by temperament as well as by conviction. Nero is a matricide
like Orestes, but--

          in scaena numquam cantavit Orestes,
    Troica non scripsit. quid enim Verginius armis
    debuit ulcisci magis aut cum Vindice Galba,
    quod Nero tam saeva crudaque tyrannide fecit? (viii. 220).

    Besides, Orestes in his wildest mood
    Sung on no public stage, no Troics wrote.--
    This topped his frantic crimes! This roused mankind!
    For what could Galba, what Virginius find,
    In the dire annals of that bloody reign,
    Which called for vengeance in a louder strain?

It is almost a crime to be a foreigner. The Greek is a liar, a base
flatterer, a monster of lust, a traitor, a murderer.[723] The Jew is the
sordid victim of a narrow and degrading superstition.[724] The Oriental
is the defilement of Rome; worst of all are the Egyptians;[725] they
even eat each other. The freedman, the _nouveau riche_, the
_parvenu_[726] are hated with all a Roman's hatred. The old patriotism
of the city state is not yet merged in the wider imperialism. It is
bitter to hear one of alien blood say 'Civis Romanus sum'.

This strange violence and lack of proportion are due in part to the
poet's rhetorical training, which had warped still further a naturally
biased temperament. He had been taught and loved to use the language of
hyperbole. And he had lived through the principate of Domitian; it was
that above all else which made him cry _difficile est saturam non
scribere_. To this same tendency to exaggeration may be in part
attributed the extreme grossness of so much of his work. It is true that
vices flaunted themselves before his eyes that it would be hard to
satirize without indecency. There is excuse to some extent for the
second, sixth, and ninth satires. But even there Juvenal oversteps the
mark and is often guilty of coarseness for coarseness' sake. It is easy
to plead the custom of the age,[727] but it is doubtful whether such
pleading affords any real palliation for a writer who sets out to be a
moralist. It is easy in an access of admiration to say that Juvenal is
never prurient: but it is hard to be genuinely convinced that such a
statement is true, or that Juvenal's coarseness is never more than mere
plain speaking.[728]

For not a few readers, this tenseness of language, this violence of
judgement, and this occasional unclean handling of the unclean, make
Juvenal an exhausting and a depressing poet to read in any large
quantity at a time. Worse still, they lead the reader at times to
harbour doubts as to the genuineness of Juvenal's indignation. Such
doubts are not in reality justifiable. Juvenal sometimes goads himself
into inappropriate frenzies and sometimes betrays a suspiciously close
acquaintance with the most disgusting details of the worst vices of the
age. But though he had something of the unreality of the rhetorician,
and though his character may, perhaps, not have been free from serious
blemish, he is never a hypocrite; nor, though he paints exclusively the
darkest side of society, is there the least reason to accuse him of
culpable misrepresentation of actual facts. He has selected the
material most suited to his peculiar genius: we may complain of his
principle of selection, and of his tendency to generalize. There our
criticism must end.

These defects are largely the defects of his qualities and may be
readily forgiven. We have Pliny the younger and the inscriptions to
modify his sombre picture. When all is said, Juvenal had a matchless
field for satire and matchless gifts, against which his defects will not
weigh in the balance for a moment. His unrivalled capacity for
declamation, for mordant epigram and scathing wit, more than compensate
for his often ill-balanced ferocity; the extraordinary vividness of his
pictures of the life of Rome makes up for lack of perspective and
proportion, the richness and variety of his imagination for its too
frequent superficiality, the vigour and trenchancy of his blows for the
absence of the rapier thrust, the fervour of his teaching for its lack
of breadth and depth. These qualities make him the greatest of the
satirists of Rome, if not of the world.

It is, perhaps, his vividness that makes the most immediate impression.
It would be hard to find in any literature a writer with such a power to
make the scenes described live before his readers. The salient features
of a scene or character are seized at once.[729] There is no irrelevant
detail; the picture may be crowded, but it is never obscure; if there is
a fault it is that the colouring is sometimes too crude and glaring to
please. But before such word-painting as the description of Domitian's
privy council criticism is dumb:

    nec melior vultu quamvis ignobilis ibat
    Rubrius, offensae veteris reus atque tacendae.
       *       *       *       *       *
    Montani quoque venter adest abdomine tardus,
    et matutino sudans Crispinua amomo
    quantum vix redolent duo funera, saevior illo
    Pompeius tenui iugulos aperire susurro,
    et qui vulturibus servabat viscera Dacis
    Fuscus marmorea meditatus proelia villa,
    et cum mortifero prudens Veiento Catullo,
    qui numquam visae flagrabat amore puellae,
    grande et conspicuum nostro quoque tempore monstrum,
    caecus adulator, dirusque a ponte satelles
    dignus Aricinos qui mendicaret ad axes
    blandaque devexae iactaret basia raedae (iv. 104).

    Rubrius, though not, like these, of noble race,
    Followed with equal terror in his face;
       *       *       *       *       *
    Montanus' belly next, and next appeared
    The legs on which that monstrous pile was reared.
    Crispinus followed, daubed with more perfume,
    Thus early! than two funerals consume.
    Then bloodier Pompey, practised to betray,
    And hesitate the noblest lives away.
    Then Fuscus, who in studious pomp at home,
    Planned future triumphs for the arms of Rome.
    Blind to the event! those arms a different fate,
    Inglorious wounds and Dacian vultures wait.
    Last, sly Veiento with Catullus came,
    Deadly Catullus, who at beauty's name
    Took fire, although unseen: a wretch, whose crimes
    Struck with amaze even those prodigious times.
    A base, blind parasite, a murderous lord,
    From the bridge-end raised to the council-board,
    Yet fitter still to dog the traveller's heels,
    And whine for alms to the descending wheels.

Figure after figure they live before us, till the procession culminates
with the crowning horror of the blind delator, L. Valerius Catullus
Messalinus. Equally vivid is Juvenal's description of places. There is
the rude theatre of the country town with its white-robed audience _en

                                      ipsa dierum
    festorum herboso colitur si quando theatro
    maiestas tandemque redit ad pulpita notum
    exodium, cum personae pallentis hiatum
    in gremio matris formidat rusticus infans,
    aequales habitus illic similesque videbis
    orchestram et populum, clari velamen honoris
    sufficiunt tunicae summis aedilibus albae (iii. 172).

    Some distant parts of Italy are known,
    Where none but only dead men wear a gown,
    On theatres of turf, in homely state,
    Old plays they act, old feasts they celebrate;
       *       *       *       *       *
    The mimic yearly gives the same delights;
    And in the mother's arms the clownish infant frights.
    Their habits (undistinguished by degrees)
    Are plain alike; the same simplicity
    Both on the stage and in the pit you see.
    In his white cloak the magistrate appears;
    The country bumpkin the same livery wears.

There is the poor gentleman's garret high on the topmost story of some
tottering _insula_, close beneath the tiles, where the doves nest:

    lectus erat Codro Procula minor, urceoli sex
    ornamentum abaci nec non et parvulus infra
    cantharus, et recubans sub eodem marmore Chiro
    iamque vetus graecos servabat cista libellos,
    et divina opici rodebant carmina mures (iii. 203).

    Codrus had but one bed, so short to boot,
    That his short wife's short legs go dangling out
    His cupboard's head six earthen pitchers graced,
    Beneath them was his trusty tankard placed;
    And to support this noble plate, there lay
    A bending Chiron cast from honest clay;
    His few Greek books a rotten chest contained,
    Whose covers much of mouldiness complained;
    Where mice and rats devoured poetic bread,
    And on heroic verse luxuriously were fed.

There is the hurrying throng of the streets of Rome with all its dangers
and discomforts:

                         nobis properantibus opstat
    unda prior, magno populus premit agmine lumbos
    qui sequitur; ferit hic cubito, ferit assere duro
    alter, at hic tignum capiti incutit, ille metretam.
    pinguia crura luto, planta mox undique magna
    calcor et in digito clavus mihi militis haeret.
    nonne vides quanto celebretur sportula fumo?
    centum convivae, sequitur sua quemque culina.
    Corbulo vix ferret tot vasa ingentia, tot res
    inpositas capiti, quas recto vertice portat
    servulus infelix et cursu ventilat ignem.
    scinduntur tunicae sartae modo, longa coruscat
    serraco veniente abies, atque altera pinum
    plaustra vehunt, nutant alte populoque minantur (iii. 243).

    The press before him stops the client's pace;
    The crowd that follows crush his panting sides,
    And trip his heels; he walks not but he rides.
    One elbows him, one jostles in the shoal,
    A rafter breaks his head or chairman's pole;
    Stockinged with loads of fat town dirt he goes,
    And some rogue-soldier with his hob-nailed shoes
    Indents his legs behind in bloody rows.
      See, with what smoke our doles we celebrate!
    A hundred guests invited walk in state;
    A hundred hungry slaves with their Dutch-kitchens wait:
    Huge pans the wretches on their heads must bear,
    Which scarce gigantic Corbulo could rear;
    Yet they must walk upright beneath the load,
    Nay run, and running blow the sparkling flames abroad,
    Their coats from botching newly brought are torn.
    Unwieldy timber-trees in waggons borne,
    Stretched at their length, beyond their carriage lie,
    That nod and threaten ruin from on high.

Even in the later satires, where with the advance of age this pictorial
gift begins to fail him and he tends to rely rather on brilliant
rhetorical treatment of philosophical commonplaces, there are still
flashes of the old power. The well-known description of the fall of
Sejanus in the tenth satire is in his best manner, while even the
humbler picture of the rustic family of primitive Rome in the fourteenth
satire shows the same firmness of touch, the same eye for vivid and
direct representation:

                        saturabat glaebula talis
    patrem ipsum turbamque casae, qua feta iacebat
    uxor et infantes ludebant quattuor, unus
    vernula, tres domini, sed magnis fratribus horum
    a scrobe vel sulco redeuntibus altera cena
    amplior et grandes fumabant pultibus ollae (166).

    For then the little glebe, improved with care,
    Largely supplied with vegetable fare,
    The good old man, the wife in childbed laid,
    And four hale boys, that round the cottage played,
    Three free-born, one a slave: while, on the board,
    Huge porringers, with wholesome pottage stored,
    Smoked for their elder brothers, who were now,
    Hungry and tired, expected from the plough.

His handling of the essential weapons of satire, scathing epigram,
and impetuous rhetoric, contribute equally to his success. He has
the capacity of branding a character with eternal shame in a few
terse trenchant lines. Who can forget the Greek adventurer of the
third satire?--

    grammaticus rhetor geometres pictor aliptes
    augur schoenobates medicus magus, omnia novit
    Graeculus esuriens; in caelum miseris, ibit (iii. 76);

    A cook, a conjurer, a rhetorician,
    A painter, pedant, a geometrician,
    A dancer on the ropes and a physician;
    All things the hungry Greek exactly knows,
    And bid him go to heaven, to heaven he goes.

or the summary of Domitian's reign with which he dates the story of the
gigantic turbot?--

    cum iam semianimum laceraret Flavius orbem
    ultimus et calvo serviret Roma Neroni (iv. 37);

    When the last Flavius, drunk with fury, tore
    The prostrate world, which bled at every pore,
    And Rome beheld, in body as in mind,
    A bald-pate Nero rise to curse mankind.

or the curse upon the legacy-hunter Pacuvius?--

    vivat Pacuvius quaeso vel Nestora totum,
    possideat quantum rapuit Nero, montibus aurum
    exaequet, nec amet quemquam nec ametur ab ullo (xii. 128).

    Health to the man! and may he thus get more
    Than Nero plundered! pile his shining store
    High, mountain high: in years a Nestor prove,
    And, loving none, ne'er know another's love!

Not less mordant in a different way is the savage and sceptical
melancholy of the conclusion of the second satire, where he contrasts
the degenerate Roman, tainted by the foulest lusts, with the noble
Romans of the past, and even with the barbarians, newly conquered, on
the confines of empire (149):

      esse aliquos manes et subterranea regna
    et contum et Stygio ranas in gurgite nigras
    atque una transire vadum tot milia cumba
    nec pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum aere lavantur.
    sed tu vera puta: Curius quid sentit et ambo
    Scipiadae, quid Fabricius manesque Camilli,
    quid Cremerae legio et Cannis consumpta iuventus,
    tot bellorum animae, quotiens hinc talis ad illos
    umbra venit? cuperent lustrari, si qua darentur
    sulpura cum taedis et si foret umida laurus.
    illic heu miseri traducimur. arma quidem ultra
    litora Iuvernae promovimus et modo captas
    Orcadas ac minima contentos nocte Britannos,
    sed quae nunc populi fiunt victoris in urbe,
    non faciuut illi quos vicimus.

    That angry Justice formed a dreadful hell,
    That ghosts in subterranean regions dwell,
    That hateful Styx his sable current rolls,
    And Charon ferries o'er unbodied souls,
    Are now as tales or idle fables prized;
    By children questioned and by men despised.
    Yet these, do thou believe. What thoughts, declare,
    Ye Scipios, once the thunderbolts of war!
    Fabricius, Curius, great Camillus' ghost!
    Ye valiant Fabii, in yourselves an host!
    Ye dauntless youths at fatal Cannae slain!
    Spirits of many a brave and bloody plain!
    What thoughts are yours, whene'er with feet unblest,
    An unbelieving shade invades your rest?
    Ye fly, to expiate the blasting view;
    Fling on the pine-tree torch the sulphur blue,
    And from the dripping bay dash round the lustral dew.
    And yet--to these abodes we all must come,
    Believe, or not, these are our final home;
    Though now Ierne tremble at our sway,
    And Britain, boastful of her length of day;
    Though the blue Orcades receive our chain,
    And isles that slumber in the frozen main.
    But why of conquest boast? the conquered climes
    Are free, O Rome, from thy detested crimes.

In the same bitter spirit, Umbricius is made to cry:

    quid Romae faciam? mentiri nescio; librum,
    si malus est, nequeo laudare et poscere; motus
    astrorum ignoro; funus promittere patris
    nec volo nec possum; ranarum viscera numquam
    inspexi; ferre ad nuptam quae mittit adulter,
    quae mandat, norunt alii; me nemo ministro
    fur erit, atque ideo nulli comes exeo tamquam
    mancus et extinctae, corpus non utile, dextrae (iii. 41).

    What's Rome to me, what business have I there?
    I who can neither lie nor falsely swear?
    Nor praise my patron's undeserving rhymes,
    Nor yet comply with him nor with his times?
    Unskilled in schemes by planets to foreshow,
    Like canting rascals, how the wars will go;
    I neither will nor can prognosticate
    To the young gaping heir his father's fate;
    Nor in the entrails of a toad have pried,
    Nor carried bawdy presents to a bride:
    For want of these town-virtues, thus alone
    I go conducted on my way by none;
    Like a dead member from the body rent,
    Maimed and unuseful to the government.

This bitterness Juvenal seasons at times with saturnine jests of a type
that is all his own. Virro gives rancid oil to his poor guests as
dressing to their salad:

           illud enim vestris datur alveolis quod
    canna Micipsarum prora subvexit acuta,
    propter quod Romae cum Boccare nemo lavatur,
    quod tutos etiam facit a serpentibus atris (v. 88).

                      Such oil to you is thrown,
    Such rancid grease, as Afric sends to town;
    So strong that when her factors seek the bath,
    All wind and all avoid the noisome path.

When the blind _delator_, Catullus Messalinus, is summoned to give his
advice concerning the gigantic turbot:

    nemo magis rhombum stupuit; nam plurima dixit
    in laevom conversus, at illi dextra iacebat
    belua. sic pugnas Cilicis laudabat et ictus
    et pegma et pueros inde ad velaria raptos (iv. 119).

    None dwelt so largely on the turbot's size,
    Or raised with such applause his wondering eyes;
    But to the left (O treacherous want of sight)
    He poured his praise;--the fish was on the right.
    Thus would he at the fencer's matches sit,
    And shout with rapture at some fancied hit;
    And thus applaud the stage machinery, where
    The youths were rapt aloft and lost in air.

Grimmest of all is the jest on the mushrooms set before Virro:

    vilibus ancipites fungi ponentur amicis,
    boletus domino, sed quales Claudius edit
    ante illum uxoris, post quem nihil amplius edit (v. 146).

    You champ on spongy toadstools, hateful treat!
    Fearful of poisons in each bit you eat:
    He feasts secure on mushrooms, fine as those
    Which Claudius for his special eating chose,
    Till one more fine, provided by his wife,
    Finished at once his feasting and his life!

But Juvenal is not always bitter, nor always angry. His indignation is
never absent, but takes at times a graver and a nobler tone. At times he
preaches virtue directly, instead of doing so indirectly through the
denunciation of vice. He has no new secret of morality to reveal, no
fresh lights to throw upon problems of conduct; his advice is obvious
and straightforward; neither in form nor matter is there anything
paradoxical. He was no student of philosophy,[730] though naturally
familiar with the more important philosophic creeds and disposed by
temperament to fall in with the views of the stern Stoic school. The
conclusion of the tenth satire quoted above owes much to the Stoics.
'Leave the ordering of your fortunes to the powers above. Man is dearer
to them than to himself. The wise man is free from all desire, all anger
and all fear of death.'[731] 'Revenge is an unworthy and degrading
passion.'[732] 'Fate[733] and the revolution[734] of the stars in heaven
rule all with unchanging law.' All these maxims have their counterpart
in the Stoic creed. But there is no need of the philosophy of the
schools to guide man to the paths of virtue.

    numquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dicit (xiv. 321).

    Nature and wisdom never are at strife.

Philosophy has its value, but the good man is no less good for not being
a philosopher:

    magna quidem, sacris quae dat praecepta libellis,
    victrix fortunae sapientia, ducimus autem
    hos quoque felices, qui ferre incommoda vitae
    nec iactare iugum vita didicere magistra (xiii. 19).

    Wisdom, I know, contains a sovereign charm,
    To vanquish fortune or at least disarm:
    Blest they who walk in her unerring rule!
    Nor those unblest who, tutored in life's school,
    Have learned of old experience to submit,
    And lightly bear the yoke they cannot quit.

He agrees with the Stoics just because their practical teaching
harmonizes so entirely with the old _virtus Romana_, that is his ideal.

No more profound are his religious views: he hates the alien cults that
work as insidious poison in the life of Rome; he rejects the picturesque
legends of the afterworld, bred of the fertile imagination of the
Greeks. But he is no unbeliever:

                            separat hoc nos
    a grege mutorum, atque ideo venerabile soli
    sortiti ingenium divinorumque capaces
    atque exercendis pariendisque artibus apti
    sensum a caelesti demissum traximus arce,
    cuius egent prona et terram spectantia. mundi
    principio indulsit communis conditor illis
    tantum animas, nobis animum quoque, mutuus ut nos
    adfectus petere auxilium et praestare iuberet (xv. 142).

                             This marks our birth
    The great distinction from the beasts of earth!
    And therefore--gifted with superior powers
    And capable of things divine--'tis ours
    To learn and practise every useful art;
    And from high heaven deduce that better part,
    That moral sense, denied to creatures prone
    And downward bent, and found with man alone!--
    For He, who gave this vast machine to roll,
    Breathed life in them, in us a reasoning soul:
    That kindred feelings might our state improve,
    And mutual wants conduct to mutual love.

God is over all and guides and guards the world, and has ordained
torment of conscience and slow retribution for sin.[735] Yet Juvenal
does not definitely reject the gods of his native land; nor do these
exalted beliefs cause him to refuse sacrifice to Jupiter, Juno, Minerva,
and his household gods.[736] It is the creed, not of a theologian, but
of a man with high ideals, a staunch patriotism, and a deep reverence
for the past.

But this lack of profundity and philosophical training does not, as may
be inferred from passages already quoted, prevent him from being
intensely effective as a moral teacher. His platitudes are none the
worse for not having a Stoic label and all the better for their
simplicity and directness of expression. They do not reveal the hunger
and thirst after righteousness that breathe from the lines of Persius,
but they have at least an equal appeal to the plain man, and they are
matchlessly expressed. His pleading against revenging the wrong done, if
not on the very highest moral plane, possesses a grave dignity and
beauty that brings it straight home to the heart:

    at vindicta bonum vita iucundius ipsa.
    nempe hoc indocti, quorum praecordia nullis
    interdum aut levibus videas flagrantia causis.
       *       *       *       *       *
    Chrysippus non dicet idem nec mite Thaletis
    ingenium dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto,
    qui partem acceptae saeva inter vincla cicutae
    accusatori nollet dare. plurima felix
    paulatim vitia atque errores exuit omnes,
    prima docet rectum sapientia. quippe minuti
    semper et infirmi est animi exiguique voluptas
    ultio. continuo sic collige, quod vindicta
    nemo magis gaudet quam femina. cur tamen hos tu
    evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti
    mens habet attonitos et surdo verbere caedit
    occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum?
    poena autem vehemens ac multo saevior illis
    quas et Caedicius gravis invenit et Rhadamanthus,
    nocte dieque suum gestare in pectore testem (xiii. 180).

    'Revenge,' they say, and I believe their words,
    'A pleasure sweeter far than life affords.'
    Who say? The fools, whose passions prone to ire
    At slightest causes or at none take fire.
    ... ... ... Chrysippus said not so;
    Nor Thales, to our frailties clement still;
    Nor that old man, by sweet Hymettus' hill,
    Who drank the poison with unruffled soul,
    And, dying, from his foes withheld the bowl.
    Divine philosophy! by whose pure light
    We first distinguish, then pursue the right,
    Thy power the breast from every error frees
    And weeds out every error by degrees:--
    Illumined by thy beam, revenge we find
    The abject pleasure of an abject mind,
    And hence so dear to poor, weak womankind.
    But why are those, Calvinus, thought to 'scape
    Unpunished, whom in every fearful shape
    Guilt still alarms, and conscience ne'er asleep
    Wounds with incessant strokes 'not loud but deep',
    While the vexed mind, her own tormentor, plies
    A scorpion scourge, unmarked by human eyes?
    Trust me, no tortures which the poets feign,
    Can match the fierce, the unutterable pain
    He feels, who night and day, devoid of rest,
    Carries his own accuser in his breast.

The same characteristics mark his praise of nobility of character as
opposed to nobility of birth:

    tota licet veteres exornent undique cerae
    atria, nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus.
    Paulus vel Cossus vel Drusus moribus esto,
    hos ante effigies maiorum pone tuorum,
    praecedant ipsas illi te consule virgas.
    prima mihi debes anima bona. sanctus haberi
    iustitiaeque tenax factis dictisque mereris?
    adgnosco procerem; salve Gaetulice, seu tu
    Silanus, quocumque alio de sanguine, rarus
    civis et egregius patriae contingis ovanti (viii. 19).

    Fond man, though all the heroes of your line
    Bedeck your halls, and round your galleries shine
    In proud display: yet take this truth from me,
    'Virtue alone is true nobility.'
    Set Cossus, Drusus, Paulus, then, in view,
    The bright example of their lives pursue;
    Let these precede the statues of your race,
    And these, when consul, of your rods take place,
    O give me inborn worth! Dare to be just,
    Firm to your word and faithful to your trust.
    Then praises hear, at least deserve to hear,
    I grant your claim and recognize the peer.
    Hail from whatever stock you draw your birth,
    The son of Cossus or the son of Earth,
    All hail! in you exulting Rome espies
    Her guardian power, her great Palladium rise.

This is rhetoric, but rhetoric of the noblest kind. Of pure poetry
there is naturally but little in Juvenal. Neither his temperament nor
his subject would admit it. He had too keen an eye for the hideous and
the grotesque, too strong a passion for the declamatory style. Hence it
is rather his brilliant sketches of a vicious society, his fiery
outbursts of rhetoric, his striking _sententiae_ that primarily impress
the reader:

    expende Hannibalem: quot libras in duce summo
    invenies? (x. 147).

    Great Hannibal within the balance lay,
    And count how many pounds his ashes weigh.

    finem animae quae res humanas miscuit olim,
    non gladii, non saxa dabunt nec tela, sed ille
    Cannarum vindex et tanti sanguinis ultor
    anulus. i demens et saevas curre per Alpes,
    ut pueris placeas et declamatio fias (x. 163).

    What wondrous sort of death has heaven designed
    For so untamed, so turbulent a mind?
    Nor swords at hand, nor hissing darts afar,
    Are doomed to avenge the tedious bloody war;
    But poison drawn through a ring's hollow plate,
    Must finish him--a sucking infant's fate.
    Go, climb the rugged Alps, ambitious fool,
    To please the boys, and be a theme at school.

    nemo repente fuit turpissimus (ii. 83).

    For none become at once completely vile.

    summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori
    et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas (viii. 83).
    si natura negat, facit indignatio versum (i. 79).

    Think it a crime no tears can e'er efface,
    To purchase safety with compliance base,
    At honour's cost a feverish span extend,
    And sacrifice for life, life's only end!

It is lines such as these that first rise to the mind at the mention of
Juvenal. But he was no mere declaimer. Here and there we may find
phrases of the purest poetry and of the most perfect form. Far above all
others come the wonderful lines of the ninth satire:

                          festinat enim decurrere velox
    flosculus angustae miseraeque brevissima vitae
    portio; dum bibimus, dum serta unguenta puellas
    poscimus, obrepit non intellecta senectus (ix. 126).

    For youth, too transient flower! of life's short day
    The shortest part, but blossoms--to decay.
    Lo! while we give the unregarded hour
    To revelry and joy in Pleasure's bower,
    While now for rosy wreaths our brow to twine,
    While now for nymphs we call, and now for wine,
    The noiseless foot of time steals swiftly by,
    And, ere we dream of manhood, age is nigh!

Of a very different character, but of a beauty that is nothing less
than startling in its sombre surroundings, is the blessing that he
invokes on the good men of old who 'enthroned the teacher in the
revered parent's place'.

    di maiorum umbris tenuem et sine pondere terram
    spirantesque crocos et in urna perpetuum ver,
    qui praeceptorem sancti voluere parentis
    esse loco (vii. 207).

    Shades of our sires! O sacred be your rest,
    And lightly lie the turf upon your breast!
    Flowers round your urns breathe sweets beyond compare,
    And spring eternal shed its influence there!
    You honoured tutors, now a slighted race,
    And gave them all a parent's power and place.

The sensuous appeal of the 'fragrant crocus and the spring that dies not
in the urn of death' is unique in Juvenal. This slender stream of
definitely poetic imagination reveals itself suddenly and unexpectedly
in strange forms and circumstances. At the close of the passage in the
third satire describing the perils of the Roman streets, Juvenal
imagines the death of some householder in a street accident. All is
bustle and business at home in expectation of his return:

                      domus interea secura patellas
    iam lavat et bucca foculum excitat et sonat unctis
    striglibus et pleno componit lintea guto.
    haec inter pueros varie properantur, at ille
    iam sedet in ripa taetrumque novicius horret
    porthmea nec sperat caenosi gurgitis alnum
    infelix nec habet quem porrigat ore trientem (iii. 261).

    Meantime, unknowing of their fellow's fate,
    The servants wash the platter, scour the plate,
    Then blow the fire with puffing cheeks, and lay
    The rubbers and the bathing-sheets display,
    And oil them first, each handy in his way.
    But he for whom this busy care they take,
    Poor ghost! is wandering by the Stygian lake;
    Affrighted by the ferryman's grim face,
    New to the horrors of the fearful place,
    His passage begs, with unregarded prayer,
    And wants two farthings to discharge his fare.

Out of the grotesque there gradually looms the horror of death and the
friendless ghost sitting lost and homeless by the Stygian waters.

That there is small scope in his work for such distinctively poetic
imagination is not Juvenal's fault, nor can we complain of its absence.
But in technical accomplishment he shows himself a writer of the first
rank. His treatment of the hexameter exactly suits his declamatory type
of satire. The conversational verse of Horace, with its easy-going
rambling gait, was unsuitable for the thunders of Juvenal's rhetoric.
Something more massive in structure, more vigorous in movement, was
needed as the vehicle of so much rhetoric and invective. The delicate
tripping hexameter of contemporary epic was equally unsuitable.

Unlike the majority of post-Augustan poets, Juvenal is almost untouched
by the Ovidian influence. As far as his metre has any ancestry, it is
descended from the Vergilian hexameter, though with the licence of
satire it claims greater liberty in its treatment of pauses and of
elision. The post-Augustan poet with whom in this respect Juvenal has
greatest affinity is Persius. For vigour and variety he far surpasses
all other poets of the age; while even Persius, although at his best and
in his more declamatory passages he is at least Juvenal's equal, does
not maintain the same level of excellence, and his more frequent
employment of the traditional dialogue of satire gives him fewer
opportunities for striking metrical effect.

As regards his diction Juvenal is equally remarkable. He has suffered
little from the schools of rhetoric and has gained much. He is pointed
and clear, without being either obscure[737] or mechanical. There is no
vain striving after antithesis and no epigram for epigram's sake.
Grotesque he is not seldom, but the grotesqueness is deliberate and
effective, and no mere affectation.

His one serious weakness is his lack of constructive power and his
incapacity to preserve due proportion between the parts of his satires.
The most glaring instances of this failing are to be found in the
fourth, twelfth, and fourteenth satires, but except the third there is
hardly a satire that can be regarded as wholly successful in point of
construction. This defect, it may be admitted, is less serious in satire
than in almost any other branch of literature. Such discursiveness was
justified by the tradition and by the inherent nature of satire. But
Juvenal offends in this respect beyond due reason, and only his
extraordinary merits in other directions save him from the penalties of
this failing.

Juvenal is the last of the poets of the Silver Age, and the only one of
them to whom the epithet 'great' can reasonably be applied. He is no
faultless writer, but he has genius and power, and has risen superior to
the besetting sins of the age. He is a rhetorician, it is true, but he
chose a form of literature where his rhetoric could have legitimate
play. But he is no plagiarist or imitator; though, as in any other poet,
we may find in him many traces and even echoes of his predecessors, he
is in the best sense original. He is never a mere juggler in words and
phrases, he is a true artist. Form and matter are indissolubly welded
and interfused one with another. And this is because, unlike other
writers of the age, he has something to say. He is poet by inspiration,
not by profession. His excessive pessimism, his tendency to bias and
exaggeration, cannot on the worst estimate obscure his merits either as
artist or moralist. His picture of society has large elements of truth,
and we can no more blame him for his tendency to caricature than we can
blame Hogarth. Satire, especially the satire of declamatory invective,
must be one-sided, and the satirist must select the features of life
which he desires to denounce. And if this leads us at times into
unpleasant places and among unpleasant people unpleasantly described,
that does not justify us in denouncing the satirist. It must be
remembered that the true satirist is not likely to be a man of perfect
character. He must have seen much and experienced much; if his character
has in the process become not merely unduly embittered, but perhaps
somewhat smirched, these failings may be redeemed by other qualities.
And in the case of Juvenal they are so redeemed.

He has not the lucid judgement of Horace nor the pure fervour of
Persius. He is more positive than the former, more negative than the
latter. But he has lived in a sense in which Persius never had, and
possesses the gift of direct and lucid expression; therefore, when he
strikes, he strikes home. He cannot, like Horace, 'play about the hearts
of men,' he will have nothing of compromise, he cannot and will not
adapt himself to his environment. The doctrine of [Greek: m_eden agan],
the _aurea mediocritas_, have no attractions for him. Hence his ideal is
often unpractical; 'the times were out of joint,' and Juvenal was not
precisely the man to 'set them right'. But at least he sets forth an
ideal, that any honest man must admit to be noble. It is precisely
because he is no casuist, because he hits hard and unsparingly, and is
translucently honest, and because his weapon is the most fervid and
trenchant rhetoric, that Juvenal is the most quoted and one of the most
popular of Latin poets. He has contributed little to the thought of the
world, but he has taught men to hate iniquity. He does not rise to the
height of such an immortal saying as

    virtutem videant intabescantque relicta;

he is no philosopher, and his ideals have neither the exaltation nor the
stimulating power of the Stoic ideal. But he unveils vice and folly, so
that men may fly from their utter hideousness, in such burning words as
it has fallen to few poets to utter. He is 'dowered with the hate of
hate, the scorn of scorn'; had he possessed also the 'love of love', he
might have reached greater heights of pure poetry, but he would not have
been Juvenal, and the world would have been the loser.


Abascantus 205 _n_, 299 _n_.
Accius 12, 71, 89.
Aeschylus 207 _n_, 212 _n_, 216 _n_.
Aetna 140-6, 156.
Afranius 12, 25.
Agrippina 25, 74, 76.
Antimachus 207 _n_, 209, 210.
Antistius Sosianus 163 _n_, 164.
Apollonius Rhodius 182 sqq.
Aquilius Regulus 256.
Arria 81, 275.
Arrius Antoninus 173 _n_.
Arulenus Rustieus 168.
Asellius Sabinus 3.
Asinius Pollio 18.
Atedius Melior 205 _n_, 230, 256, 272.
Attalus 32.
Attius Labeo 160.
Ausonius 174, 175.

Bassus, Caesius 80-2, 163-5.
Bassus, Saleius 19, 168, 169.
Bathyllus 27.

Caecilius 12.
Caesar, C. Julius 103 sqq., 263.
Caesennia 163.
Calenus 175.
Caligula 4, 5, 31, 163.
Callimachus 207.
Calpurnius Piso 35, 99, 152, 156-9, 251.
Calpurnius Siculus 137, 150-9, 245.
Calpurnius Statura 80.
Calvinus 289.
Carinas Secundus 4.
Cassius Rufus 256.
Cato 37, 38, 58, 101, 103 sqq., 262.
Catullus, C. Valerius 2, 123 _n_, 176, 260, 261, 263.
Catullus (writer of mimes) 24.
Catullus (friend of Juvenal) 289, 297.
Cicero 58, 172, 238.
Claudia 204.
Claudianus 174.
Claudius 5, 25, 32, 36, 63.
Claudius Agathurnus 80.
Claudius Augustalis 146.
Claudius Etruscus 205 _n_, 231, 256, 299 _n_.
Clutorius Priscus 3.
Codrus 291.
Columella 137, 146-9, 180.
Cornelius Severus 144.
Cornutus 6, 79-82, 94, 95, 97, 267.
Cremutius Cordus 2, 101.
Crispinus (1) 205 _n_.
---- (2) 294.
Curiatius Maternus 30.

Decianus 257, 264.
Demosthenes 128.
Domitianus 19, 21, 25, 168, 176, 181, 203, 204, 228,
  229, 252, 271, 287, 293, 296, 303, 305.

Earinus 229.
Einsiedeln Fragments 151, 156, 157.
Ennius 12, 23.
Epictetus 70, 238.
Erotion 272.
Euphorion 3.
Euripides 45, 46, 74, 127, 207 _n_, 212 _n_, 216 _n_.

Faustus 30.
Flaccilla 251, 272.
Flaccus (father of Persius) 79.
Flaccus of Patavium 180, 281.
Fronto (rhetorician) 35.
Fronto (father of Martial) 251, 272.
Fulgentius 134, 135.
Fulvia Sisennia 79.

Gaetulicus 163, 259, 261.
Galba 25.
Gallio L. Iunius 31.
Glaucias 230, 272.

Hadrianus 290, 291, 294, 296.
Hecato 43 _n_.
Helvidius Priscus 168.
Herennius Senecio 168.
Hesiod 12.
Homer 4, 12, 160, 161, 188, 221, 227.
Horatius 10-12, 71, 83, 84, 89, 91, 92, 123 _n_, 171, 191, 241, 244,
  284, 293, 317, 320.
Hyperides 128.

Ilias Latina 22, 160-3.
Italicus, Babius 163.
Iulius Martialis 257, 264, 265, 270.
Iuvenalis 21, 22, 91, 92,121,168,169, 170, 174, 236, 245, 256, 260,
  261, 263, 275, 278, 279, 287-320.

Labienus 4.
Latro 15 _n_.
Lentulus Sura 256.
Livilla 32, 33.
Livius Andronicus 160.
Livius, T. 4, 239, 242, 245.
Lucanus 7, 8, 20-2, 28, 31, 80, 94, 97-124, 132, 179, 180, 187, 192,
  221 _n_, 226, 229, 233, 235, 238, 239, 243, 244. 251, 260, 275.
Lucian 27.
Lucilius Iunior 144, 163 _n_.
Lucilius (satirist) 10, 83, 89, 293.
Lucinianus Maternus 256.
Lucretius 123 _n_, 140, 143.
Lynceus 207 _n_.

Macrinus 80, 82.
Marcella 255.
Marius Priscus 287.
Marsus, Domitius 259, 261, 281.
Martialis 8 _n_, 134, 139, 163, 167, 169, 173-6,
  180, 204, 238, 243, 250, 251-86, 289.
Matius, Cn. 160.
Maximus Vibius 204, 205.
Mela, M. Annaeus 31, 36, 97.
Meliboeus 152, 156-9.
Memor, Scaevus 30.
Menander 12.
Messala, Vipstanus 16, 126.
Montanus, Curtius 163 _n_.
Mummius 24 _n_.
Musonius Rufus 8.

Naevius 12.
Nero 6-8, 19, 20, 28, 33, 41, 43, 74-6, 89 _n_, 97, 98, 101, 102, 119,
  125-7, 131 _n_, 132, 144, 151, 236, 251, 290, 291, 302.
Nerva 21, 169, 170, 255, 296.
Ninnius Crassus 160.
Norbanus 256.
Novatus, M. Annaeus 31, 30.
Novius Vindex 205 _n_.

Octavia 40, 41, 74-8.
Ovidius 11, 12, 17 _n_, 29, 46, 71, 112, 123 _n_, 143, 144, 161, 192,
  207, 221 _n_, 226, 259, 260, 263.

Paccius 30.
Pacuvius 12, 23, 71, 89.
Paris, 28, 203, 291.
Parthenius 8.
Passennus Paulus Propertius Blaesus 170, 171.
Passienus, Crispus 36.
Patronius Aristocrates 80.
Pedo, Albinovanus 259 _n_, 261.
Persicus 289.
Persius 20-2, 79-96, 160, 164, 191, 236, 267, 293, 318, 319.
Pervigilium Veneris 174.
Petronius Arbiter 16 _n_, 20, 103, 125-39, 239, 259.
Phaedrus 3.
Pindar 127.
Piso, _see_ Calpurnius.
Pisonem, Panegyricus in 156-9.
Plato 127.
Plautus 12, 23.
Plinius (the younger) 20, 25, 163, 170-3, 232, 236, 245, 255, 268, 305.
Plotius Grypus 205 _n_.
Plutarch 94.
Polla, Argentaria 100, 205 _n_.
Pollius 231, 268.
Polybius 4, 32, 161.
Pompeius 37, 101, 102 sqq.
Pomponius Bassulus 25, 170.
Pomponius Secundus 29.
Ponticus 207 _n_.
Probus 79.
Propertius 139, 170, 171.
Pudens (friend of Martial) 257
Pudens L. Valerius (boy-poet) 14 _n_.
Pylades (1) 27.
---- (2) 291.

Quintilianus 12, 16, 20, 25, 29, 35, 116, 164, 167-9, 179, 180, 251,
  252, 256.
Quintus Ovidius 257.

Remmius Palaemon 17 _n_, 79.
Rhianus 3.
Rubrenus Lappa 30.
Rutilius Gallicus 205 _n_.
Rutilius Namatianus 174.

Sappho 176.
Scaurus, Mamercus 2.
Seneca (the elder) 15, 31, 97.
Seneca (the younger) 4, 5, 20, 31-78, 93, 94, 97, 115, 124, 132,
  134, 144, 145, 161, 164, 179, 180, 185-7, 207 _n_, 221 _n_, 236,
  251, 259, 260.
Sentius Augurinus 170, 171.
Serranus 168, 169.
Servilius Nonianus 80.
Severus, Cassius 4.
Silius Italicus 20, 102, 123_n_, 145, 156, 163, 168, 179, 191,
  236-50, 256.
Silvinus 146.
Sophocles 47 _n_, 127, 207 _n_, 216 _n_.
Sotion 32.
Statius (the elder) 169, 202, 203.
Statius (the younger) 8 _n_, 20, 22, 28, 100, 123 _n_, 164, 167-9,
  179, 191, 192, 202-35, 240, 260, 268, 270-2.
Stella, Arruntius 169, 205 _n,_ 256, 280.
Stertinius Avitus 256.
Sulpicia (the elder) 174.
Sulpicia (the younger) 174-8.
Sulpicius Maximus 14 _n._

Tacitus 20, 21, 121, 125, 127, 168, 169, 170, 179, 243, 275.
Terentius 23.
Theocritus 150, 268.
Thrasea 34, 80, 168.
Thucydides 128.
Tiberianus 174.
Tiberius 2-4, 25, 102.
Tibullus 174.
Titus 167, 181, 252.
Traianus 21, 127, 169, 170, 256, 290, 291, 296.
Triarius 15 _n._
Turnus 30, 169.

Umbricius 289, 293, 294.

Vacca 97.
Vagellius 163 _n._
Valerius Flaccus 20, 123 _n,_ 167, 168, 179-201, 212 _n,_ 220, 226,
   235, 236.
Varius 29.
Varro (Atacinus) 183.
Varro (Reatinus) 127.
Varus 257.
Vergilius Maro 4, 11, 12, 17 _n,_ 20, 101, 102, 115, 123 _n,_ 130,
  143, 144, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151, 153, 161, 179, 186, 187, 191,
  193, 194, 198, 207 _n,_ 210, 211, 220 _n,_ 221, 226, 227, 237,
  238-40, 243-5, 281.
Vergilius Romanus 25, 170.
Verginius Flavus 7.
Verginius Rufus 169.
Vespasianus 144, 166, 169, 170, 180.
Vestricius Spurinna 169.
Vopiscus 231.


1. See Teuffel and Schwabe, § 272.

2. Cf. Tac. _Ann_. i. 1. Velleius Paterculus is a good example of
the servile historian. For an example of servile oratory of. Tac.
_Ann_. xvi. 28.

3. Suet, _Tib_. 21.

4. Dion. 1 vii. 22; Tac. _Ann_. vi. 39; iv. 31.

5. Tac. _Ann_. iv. 34.

6. Dion. lviii. 24 [Greek: math_on oun touto ho Tiberios, eph' eaut_oi
tote to epos eir_esthai eph_e, Atreus dia t_en miaiphonian einai
prospoi_esamenos.] Tac. _Ann_. vi. 29.

7. 'Pulsi tum Italia histriones,' Tac. _Ann_. iv. 14.

8. III Prol. 38 sqq., Epil. 29 sqq.

9. Suet. _Tib_. 42.

10. Tac. _Ann_. iii. 49; Dion. lvii. 20.

11. Suet. _Tib_. 70

12. Suet. _Tib_. 71

13. Suet. _Tib_. 61

14. Suidas, s.v. [Greek: Kaisar Tiberios].

15. Suet. _Tib_. 70.

16. Suet. _Tib. 70._

17. Suet. _Cal. 53._

18. Suet. _Cal. 53._

19. Suet. _Cal. 16._

20. Dion. _lix. 20._

21. Suet. _Cal. 27._

22. Dion. _lix. 19._

23. Suet. _Cal._ 34 'nullius ingenii minimaeque doctrinae'.

24. Suet. _Cal. 20._

25. For his writings generally of. Suet. _Claud. 41, 42._

26. Tac. _Ann. xiii. 43._

27. Suet. _Claud. 33._

28. For his writings generally of. Suet. _Claud. 41, 42._

29. Suet _Claud. 11._

30. Suet. _Claud. 41. This is borne out by the fragments of the speech
delivered at Lyons on the Gallic franchise. _C.I. L. 13, 1668._

31. Suet. _Claud. 28._

32. Sc. in the _Apocolocyntosis_.

33. Suet. _Ner. 52._

34. Suet. _Ner. 49_ 'qualis artifex pereo!'

35. Suet. _Ner. 52_; Tac. _Ann. xiii. 3._

36. Tac. _Ann. xiv. 16._

37. Suet. _Domit. 1_; Tac. _Ann. xv. 49_; Suet. _Ner. 24._

38. Mart, ix. 26. 9; Plin. _N. H. xxxvii. 50._

39. Persius is sometimes said to quote from the Bacchae. Cf. Schol.
Pers. _Sat. i. 93-5, 99-102_. But see ch. in, p. 89.

40. Juv. viii. 221; Serv. Verg. _Georg. iii. 36, Aen. v. 370._

41. Dion. lxii. 29.

42. Dion. lxii. 18; Suet. _Ner. 38_; Tac. _Ann. xv. 39_. For fragments
of his work see Baehrens, _Poet. Rom. Fragm., p. 368._

43. Suet, Ner. 10, 21.

44. Philostr. _vit. Apoll_. iv. 39 [Greek: ad_on ta tou Ner_onos mel_e
... ep_ege mel_e ta men ex Oresteias, ta d' ex Antigon_es, ta d'
opothenoun t_on prag_odoumen_on aut_o kai _odas ekampten oposas Ner_on
elugize te kai kak_os estrephen].

45. Suet. _vita Lucani_; see chapter on Lucan, p. 97.

46. See chapter on Lucan, p. 98.

47. Suet. _Luc_.; Tac. _Ann_. xv. 49.

48. Suet. _Ner_. 39.

49. It may be urged that the damage lies not in the loss of poetry
suppressed by the Emperor, but in the generation of a type of court
poetry, examples of which survive in their most repulsive form in the
_Silvae_ of Statius and the epigrams of Martial. The objection has its
element of truth, but only affects a very small and comparatively
unimportant portion of the poetry of the age.

50. See Tacitus, _Dial._ 28 sqq. on the moral training of a young Roman
of his day. Also Juv. xiv.

51. After the death of the great Augustan authors Alexandrian erudition
becomes yet more rampant. It was a great assistance to men of
second-rate poetical talent.

52. Quint, i. 1. 12.

53. Quint, i. 8. 3; Plin. _Ep._ ii. 14.

54. Quint, i. 9. 2; Cic. _Ep. ad Fam._ vi. 18. 5; Quint. i. 8. 6; Stat.
_Silv._ ii. 1. 114; Ov. _Tr._ ii. 369.

55. Cp. Wilkins, _Rom. Education_, p. 60.

56. Op. Juv. vii. 231-6; Suet. _Tib._ 70. The result of this type of
instruction is visible throughout the poets of the age, whereas Vergil
and the best of the Greek Alexandrians had a true appreciation of the
sensuous charm of proper names and legendary allusions, as in our
literature had Marlowe, Milton, Keats, and Tennyson. Cp. Milton,
_Paradise Lost_, Bk. 1:

            What resounds
    In fable or romance of Uther's son
    Begirt with British and Armoric knights;
    And all who since, baptised or infidel,
    Jousted in Aspramont or Montalban,
    Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond,
    Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore,
    When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
    By Fontarabia.

Or compare Tennyson's use of the names of Arthur's battles, 'Agned
Cathregonion' and the 'waste sand-shore of Trath Treroit.'

57. Wilkins, _Roman Education_, p. 72.

58. See Wilkins, op. cit, p. 74.

59. Wilkins, _Roman Education_, p. 75.

60. The most striking instances of this precocity are Q. Sulpicius
Maximus, who at the age of twelve and a half won the prize for Greek
verse at the Agon Capitolinus A.D. 94 (cp. Kaibel, _Epigr_. Gr. 618),
and L. Valerius L. F. Pudens, aged thirteen, who won the prize for Latin
verse in A.D. 106. Cp. _C.I.L._ ix. 286.

61. For the importance attached to imitation sec Quint, x. 2.

62. The Greek rhetoricians of this period lay great stress on the
importance of avoiding declamatory rhetoric. They belong to the Attic
revival. But the Attic revival never really 'caught on' at Rome; by the
time of Quintilian the mischief was done.

63. Sen. _Suas_. 3.

64. Ib. 7.

65. Ib. 2. I subjoin the text of the last. The author is Triarius.' 'Non
pudet Laconas ne pugna quidem hostium, sed fabula vinci? Magnum est
alumnum virtutis nasci et Laconem: ad certam victoriam omnes
remansissent: ad certam mortem tantum Lacones. Non est Sparta lapidibus
circumdata: ibi muros habet ubi viros. Melius revocabimus fugientes
trecenos quam sequemur. Sed montes perforat, maria contegit. Nunquam
solido stetit superba felicitas et ingentium imperiorum magna fastigia
oblivione fragilitatis humanae conlapsa sunt. Scias licet non ad finem
pervenisse quae ad invidiam porducta sunt. Maria terrasque, rerum
naturam statione immutavit sua: moriamur trecenti, ut hic primum
invenerit quod mutare non posset. Si tam demens placiturum consilium
erat, cur non potius in turba fuginius?'

66. Latro is the author of the following treatment of the theme. 'Hoc
exspectastis ut capite demisso verecundia se ipsa antequam impelleretur
deiceret? id enim decrat ut modestior in saxo esset quam in sacrario
fuerat. Constitit et circumlatis in frequentiam oculis sanctissimum
numen, quasi parum violasset inter altaria, coepit in ipso quo
vindicabatur violare supplicio: hoc alterum damnatae incestum fuit,
damnata est quia incesta erat, deiceta est quia damnata erat, repetenda
est quia et incesta et damnata et deiceta est, dubitari potest quin
usque eo deicienda sit, donec efficiatur propter quod deiecta est?
patrocinium suum vocat pereundi infelicitatem. Quid tibi, importuna
mulier, precor nisi ut ne vis quidem deiceta pereas? "Invocavi,"
inquit, "deos", statuta in illo saxo deos nominasti, et miraris si te
iterum deici volunt? si nihil aliud, loco incestarum stetisti.' Sen.
_Cont_. i. 3.

67. e.g. Sen. _Cont_. i. 7 'Liberi parentes alant aut vinciant: quidam
alterum fratrem tyrannum occidit, alterum in adulterio deprehensum
deprecante patre interfecit. A piratis captas scripsit patri de
redemptione. Pater piratis epistolam scripsit, si praecidissent manus,
duplam se daturum. Piratae illum dimiserunt: patrem egentem non alit.'

68. For a brilliant description of the evils of the Roman system of
education see Tac. _Dial_. 30-5. See also p. 127 for the very similar
criticism of Petronius.

69. ce. 28-30. Cp. also Quint, i. 2 1-8.

70. The schoolmaster was not infrequently, it is to be feared, of
doubtful character. Cp. the case of the famous rhetorician Remmius
Palaemon. Cp. also Quint, i. 3. 13.

71. c. 35.

72. Tac. _Dial_. 26.

73. The influence of rhetoric was of course large in the Augustan age.
Vergil and still more Ovid testify to this fact. But the tone of
rhetoric was saner in the days of Vergil. Ovid, himself no
inconsiderable influence on the poetry of the Silver Age, begins to show
the effects of the new and meretricious type of rhetoric that flourished
under the anti-Ciceronian reaction, when the healthy influence of the
great orators of a saner age began to give way before the inroads of the
brilliant but insincere epigrammatic style. This latter style was
fostered largely by the importance assigned to the _controversia_ and
_suasoria_ as opposed to the more realistic methods of oratorical
training during the last century of the republic.

74. See Mayor on Juv. iii. 9.

75. Cp. Juv. i. 1 sqq., iii. 9. For the enormous part played in social
life by recitations cp. Plin. _Ep_. i. 13, ii. 19, iv. 5, 27, v. 12, vi.
2, 17, 21, viii. 21.

76. Cp. especially the speeches of Lucan.

77. For some very just criticism on this head cp. Quint, viii. 5. 25

78. For amusing instances of rudeness on the part of members of the
audience ep. Sen. _Ep._ cxxii. 11; Plin. _Ep._ vi. 15.

79. Petr. 83, 88-91, 115. Mart. iii. 44. 10 'et stanti legis et legis
cacanti. | in thermas fugio: sonas ad aurem. | piscinam peto: non licet
natare. | ad cenam propero: tenes euntem. | ad cenam venio: fugas
sedentem. | lassus dormio: suscitas iacentem.' Cp. also 3, 50 and
passim. Plin. _Ep._ vi. 13; Juv. i. 1-21; iii. 6-9; vii. 39 sqq.

80. Plin. _Ep._ viii. 12.

81. Suet. _Dom._ 4.

82. Tac. _Dial_. 35

83. See ch. v.

84. There had always, it may be noted, existed an archaistic section of
literary society. Seneca (_Ep._ cxiv. 13), Persius (i. 76), and Tacitus
(_Dial._ 23) decide the imitators of the early poets of the republic.
But virtually no trace of pronounced imitation of this kind is to be
observed in the poetry that has survived. Novelty and what passed for
originality were naturally more popular than the resuscitation of the
dead or dying past.

85. Boissier, _L'Opposition sous les Césars_, p. 238.

86. Macrobius (_Sat._ 10. 3) speaks of a revival of the Atellan by a
certain Mummius, but gives no indication of the date.

87. Juv. viii. 185.

888. Suet. _Calig._ 57; Joseph. _Ant._ xix. 1. 13; Juv. viii. 187.

89. Mart. _de Spect._ 7.

90. Plutarch, _de Sollert. Anim._ xix. 9.

91. Suet. _Tib_. 45.

92. ib. _Ner_. 39.

93. Ib. _Galb_. 13.

94. Ib. _Dom_. 10.

95. Ib. _Calig_. 27; _Nero_, I. c.; Tac. _Ann_. iv. 14.

96. _C. I. L_. ix. 1165.

97. _Ep_. vi. 21.

98. Suet. _Ner_. II.

999. Quint, xi. 3. 178.

100. Juv. iii. 93.

101. x. 1, 99.

102. Lucian, _de Salt_. 27.

103. Suet. _Ner_. 24.

104. Lucian, _de Salt_. 79.

105. Suet. _ap. Hieronym_. (Roth, p. 301, 25).

106. Plut. _Qu. Conv_. vii. 8. 3; Sen. _Contr_. 3. praef. 10.

107. Lucian, op. cit., 37-61.

108. Plut, _Qu. Conv_. iv. 15. 17; Libanius (Reiske) iii, p. 381.

109. Lucian, op. cit., 69 sqq.

110. e.g. Pasiphae, Cinyras and Myrrha, Jupiter and Leda. Lucian, 1. c.;
Joseph. _Ant. Iud_. xix. 1. 13; Juv. vi. 63-6.

111. For the effect of such dancing cp. the interesting stories told by
Lucian, op. cit., 63-6. Cp. also Liban., in, p. 373. For the importance
attached to gesture in ancient times see Quint. xi. 3. 87 sqq.

112. Story of Turnus; Suet, _Ner_. 54. Dido; Macrob. Sat. v. 17. 15.

113. See p. 100.

114. Juv. vii. 92.

115. For the general history of the pantomimus see Friedländer,
_Sittengeschicht,_ II. in. 3, and Lucian, _de Saltatione_.

116. Dion. liv. 17; Tac. _Ann_. i. 54 and 77; Dion. lvii. 14.

117. Suet. _Ner_. 46.

118. There is no clear proof of the performance on the Roman stage of
any tragedy in the strict sense of the word during the Silver Age. The
words used e.g. in Dio Chrys. (19, p. 261: 23, p. 396), Lucian
(_Nigrin_. 8), Libanius (iii, p. 265, Reiske) may refer merely to the
performance of isolated scenes. See note on Vespasian's attitude to the
theatre, p. 166.

119. Pliny the elder wrote his life. Plin. _Ep_. iii. 5. Cp. also Tac.
_Ann_. v. 8; xii. 28; Plin. _N.H_. xiii. 83.

120. Ribbeck, _Trag. Rom. Fr_. p. 268, fr. 1; p. 331 (ed. 3).

121. _Ann_. xi. 13.

122. Charis, _Gr. Lat_. i. p. 125, 23; p. 137, 23.

123. Tac. _Dial_. II.

124. Ib. 2, 3.

125. Ib. 3.

126. Ib. 3.

127. Ib. II.

128. Juv. vii. 12.

129. Juv. vii. 12.

130. Ib. vii. 72.

131. He flourished in reign of Domitian. Schol. Vall. luv. i. 20; Mart.
xi. 9 and 10; Donat. _Gramm. Lat_. iv. p. 537, 17; Apollin. Sid. ix. 266.

132. In the fragment preserved by Donatus (Ribbeck, _Trag. Rom. Fr_. p.
269) the chorus address Hecuba under the name Cisseis. 'Fulgentius
expos. serm. antiq. 25 (p. 119, 5, Helm) says _Memos_ (Schopen emends
to _Memor_) _in tragoedia Herculis ait: ferte suppetias optimi

133. xi. 2. 8.

134. Mart. _i._ 61, 7; _Poet. Lat. Min._ iv. p. 62, 19, Bachrens.

135. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 73; xvi. 17.

136. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 73; xvi. 17.

137. Sen. _ad Helv. de Cons._ xix. 2.

138. Sen. _ad Helv._ 1. c.; _Ep._ lxxviii. 1. Dion. Cass. lix. 19.

139. 5 Dion. Cass. 1. c.

140. Suet. _Calig._ 53. See ch. i. p. 4.

141. _Ep._ cviii. 17 sqq.; Hioronym. _ad ann._ 2029. That he knew and
never lost his respect for the teaching of Pythagoras is shown by the
frequency with which he quotes him in the letters.

142. _Ep._ cviii. 3 sqq.

143. Cp. the speech of Suillius, Tac. _Ann._ xiii. 42; Dion.
Cass. lxi. 10.

144. _ad Helv. de Cons._ 6 sqq.

145. _ad Polyb. de Cons._

146. The _Apocolocyntosis_--almost undoubtedly by Seneca--hardly falls
within the scope of this work. Such intrinsic importance as it possesses
is due to the prose portions. In point of form it is an example of the
_Menippean Satire_, that strange medley of prose and verse. The verse
portions form but a small proportion of the whole and are insipid and
lacking in interest.

147. He was forbidden by Agrippina to give definite philosophical
instruction. Cp. Suet. _Nero_, 52.

148. Cp. _ad Ner. de Clem._ ii. 2; Henderson, _Life of Nero_,
Notes, p. 459.

149. For what may be regarded as an academic _apologia pro vita sua_,
cp. _Ep._ 5; 17: 20; _de Ira_, in. 33; _de Const. Sap._ 1-4, 10-13; _de
Vit. Beat._ 17-28, &c.

150. Dion. Cass. lxi. 4. 5.

151. Tac. _Ann_. xvi. 28.

152. This is Dion's view, lxi. 10. For an ingenious view of Seneca's
character see Ball, _Satire of Sen. on apotheosis of Claudius_, p.
34. 'It may be that Seneca cared less for the realization of high
ideals in life than for the formulation of the ideals as such.
Sincerity and hypocrisy are terms much less worth controversy in some
minds than others.'

153. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 61-4.

154. Quint, x. 1. 125-9.

155. Fronto, p. 155, N.

156. Quint, x. 1. 129. Over and above his writings on moral philosophy
we possess seven books _ad Lucilium naturalium quaestionum._

157. _Patruos duos_ more naturally, however, refers to Gallio and Mela,
in which case Marcus is the son of Seneca himself.

158. Cp. _P.L.M._ iv. 15, 8; Plin. _N.H._ xvi. 242.

159. For these cp. _Ep._ xiv. 13; ib. civ. 29.

160. e.g. 7l 'de Atho monte', 57 'de Graeciae ruina', 50 'de bono
quietae vitae', 47, 48 'morte omnes aequari', 25 'de spe'.

161. There is, in fact, direct evidence that he wrote such verses. Plin.
_Ep._ v. 3. 5.

162. Cp. p. 263.

163. Cp. the not dissimilar situation in Sen. _Oed_. (936), where
Oedipus meditates in very similar style, as to how he may expiate his
guilt. The couplet _vivere si poteris_, &c., is nothing if not Senecan.

164. Quint, viii. 3. 31 ('memini iuvenis admodum inter Pomponium ac
Senecam etiam praefationibus esse tractatum, an "gradus eliminet" in
tragoedia dici oportuisset') shows Seneca as critic of dramatic diction;
there is no evidence to show what these _praefationes_ were, but they
_may_ have been prefaces to tragedies. The _Medea_ (453) is cited by
Quintilian ix. 2. 8. For later quotations from the tragedies, cp.
Diomedes, _gr. Lat_. i. p. 511, 23; Terentianus Maurus, ibid. vi. p.
404, 2672; Probus, ibid. iv. p. 229, 22, p. 246, 19; Priscian, ibid. ii.
p. 253, 7 and 9; Tertullian, _de An_. 42, _de Resurr_. 1; Lactantius,
_Schol. Stat. Theb_. iv. 530.

165. Cp. also the iambic translation of Cleanthes, _Ep_. cvii. 11:--

    duc, o parens celsique dominator poli,
    quocunque placuit: nulla parendi mora est.
    adsum impiger. fac nolle, comitabor gemens
    malusque patiar, facere quod licuit bono.
    ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.

166. Some of the more remarkable parallels have been collected by Nisard
(_Études sur les poètes latins de la décadence_, i. 68-91), e.g. _Med_.
163 'qui nil potest sperare, desperet nihil'. _Ep_. v. 7 'desines
timere, si sperare desieris'. _Oed_. 705 'qui sceptra duro saevus
imperio regit, timet timentes: metus in auctorem redit'. _Ep_. cv. 4
'qui timetur, timet: nemo potuit terribilis esse secure'. de Ira_, ii.
11 'quid quod semper in auctores redundat timor, nec quisquam metuitur
ipse securus?'-_Oed_. 980 sqq.; _de Prov_. v. 6 sqq.; _Phoen_. 146, 53;
_Ep_. xii. 10; _de Prov_. vi. 7; _Herc. F_. 463, 464; _Ep_. xcii. 14.

167. The arguments against the Senecan authorship are of little weight.
It has been urged (a) that the MSS. assign the author a _praenomen_
Marcus. No Marcus Seneca is known, though Marcus was the _praenomen_ of
both Gallio and Mela, and of Lucan. Mistakes of this kind are, however,
by no means rare (cp. the 'Sextus Aurelius Propertius Nauta' of many
MSS. of that poet: both 'Aurelius' and 'Nauta' are errors), (b) Sidonius
Apollinaris (ix. 229) mentions three Senecas, philosopher, tragedian,
and epic writer (i.e. Lucan). But Sidonius lived in the fifth century
A.D., and may easily have made a mistake. Such a mistake actually occurs
(S. A. xxiii. 165) where he seems to assert that Argentaria Polla,
Lucan's faithful widow, subsequently married Statius. The mistake as
regards Seneca is probably due to a misinterpretation of Martial i. 61
'duosque Senecas unicumque Lucanum facunda loquitur Corduba'. Not being
acquainted with the works of the elder Seneca the rhetorician, Sidonius
invented a new author, Seneca the tragedian.

168. See ch. on Octavia, p.78.

169. Leo, _Sen. tragoed._ i. 89-134.

170. It is not even necessary to suppose with Leo that these were the
earliest of the plays and that these metrical experiments were youthful
indiscretions which failed and were not repeated. Leo, i. p. 133.

171. For a detailed treatment see Leo, i. p. 48. Melzer, _de H. Oetaeo
Annaeano_, Chemnitz, 1890; _Classical Review_, 1905, p. 40, Summers.

172. See p. 39 on relation of epigrams to dramas.

173. _Ann_. xiv. 52.

174. See also note on p. 42 for Leo's ingenious, but inconclusive theory
for the dates of the _Agamemnon_ and _Oedipus_.

175. There is but one passage that can be held to afford the slightest
evidence for a later date, _Med_. 163 'qui nil potest sperare, desperet
nihil' seems to be an echo of _Ep_. v. 7 'sed ut huius quoque diei
lucellum tecum communicem, apud Hecatonem nostrum inveni ... "desines",
inquit, "timere, si sperare desieris".' This aphorism is quoted as newly
found. The letters were written 62-5 A.D. This passage would therefore
suggest a very late date for the _Medea_. But Seneca had probably been
long familiar with the works of Hecato, and the epigram is not of such
profundity that it might not have occurred to Seneca independently.

176. For comparative analyses of Seneca's tragedies and the
corresponding Greek dramas see Miller's _Translation of the Tragedies of
Seneca_, p. 455.

177. The _Phaedra_ of Seneca is interesting as being modelled on the
lost _Hippolytus Veiled_ of Euripides. Phaedra herself declares her
passion to Hippolytus, with her own lips reveals to Theseus the
pretended outrage to her honour, and slays herself only on hearing of
the death of Hippolytus. Cp. Leo, _Sen. Trag_. i. 173. The _Phoenissae_
presents a curious problem. It is far shorter than any of the other
plays and has no chorus. It falls into two parts with little connexion.
I. (_a_) 1-319. Oedipus and Antigone are on their way to Cithaeron.
Oedipus meditates suicide and is dissuaded by Antigone. (_b_) 320-62. An
embassy from Thebes arrives begging Oedipus to return and stop the
threatened war between his sons. He refuses, and declares the intention
of hiding near the field of battle and listening joyfully to the
conflict between his unnatural sons. II. The remaining portion, on the
other hand, seems to imply that Oedipus is still in Thebes (553, 623),
and represents a scene between Jocasta and her sons. It lacks a
conclusion. These two different scenes can hardly have belonged to one
and the same play. They may be fragments of two separate plays, an
_Oedipus Coloneus_ and a _Phoenissae_, or may equally well be two
isolated scenes written for declamation without ever having been
intended for embodiment in two completed dramas. Cp. Ribbeck, _Gesch.
Röm. Dichtung_, iii. 70.

178. _Sen. Trag._ i. 161.

179. Leo, op. cit., i. 166 sqq.

180. 530-658. The _Oedipus_ is based on the _O. Rex_ of Sophocles, but
is much compressed, and the beautiful proportions of the Greek are lost.
In Seneca out of a total of 1,060 lines 330 are occupied by the lyric
measures of the chorus, 230 by descriptions of omens and necromancy.

181. It is also to be noted that the nurse does not make use of this
device till after Hippolytus has left the stage, although to be really
effective her words should have been uttered while Hippolytus held
Phaedra by the hair. The explanation is, I think, that the play was
written for recitation, not for acting. Had the play been acted, the
nurse's call for help and her accusation of Hippolytus could have been
brought in while Hippolytus was struggling with Phaedra. But being
written for recitation by a single person there was not room for the
speech at the really critical moment, and therefore it was inserted
afterwards--too late. See p. 73.

182. Similarly, Medea, being a sorceress, must be represented engaged in
the practice of her art. Hence lurid descriptions of serpents, dark
invocations, &c. (670-842).

183. Seneca never knows when to stop. Undue length characterizes
declamations and lyrics alike.

184. As a whole the _Troades_ fails, although, the play being
necessarily episodic, the deficiencies of plot are less remarkable. But
compared with the exquisite _Troades_ of Euripides it is at once
exaggerated and insipid.

185. Cp. Apul. _Met_. x. 3, where a step-mother in similar circumstances
defends her passion with the words, 'illius (sc. patris) enim
recognoscens imaginem in tua facie merito te diligo.'

186. This speech is closely imitated by Racine in his _Phèdre_.

187. 2: Cp. esp. 995-1006: the _agnosco fratrem_ of Thyestes is perhaps
the most monstrous stroke of rhetoric in all Seneca. Better, but equally
revolting, are ll. 1096-1112 from the same play.

188. For other examples of dialogue cp. esp. _Medea_, 159-76, 490-529
(perhaps the most effective dialogue in Seneca), _Thyestes_, 205-20; H.
F. 422-38. for which see p. 62.

189. _Pro M_. 61 'Fuit enim quidam summo ingenio vir, Zeno, cuius
inventorum aemuli Stoici nominantur: huius sententia et praecepta
huiusmodi: sapientem gratia nunquam moveri, nunquam cuiusquam delicto
ignoscere; neminem misericordem esse nisi stultum et levem: viri non
esse neque exorari neque placari: solos sapientes esse, si
distortissimi sint, formosos, si mendicissimi, divites, si servitutem
serviant reges.' &c. He goes on to put a number of cases where the
Stoic rules break down.

190. Cp. Eurip. _Andr_. 453 sqq.

191. For still greater exaggeration cp. _Phoen_. 151 sqq,; _Oed_. 1020

192. Cp. Sen. _Contr_. ii. 5; ix. 4.

193. Cp. Sen. _de Proc_. iv. 6 'calamitas virtutis occasio est'.

194. Cp. Sen. _Ep_. xcii. 30, 31 'magnus erat labor ire in caelum'.

195. Cp. Sen. _Ep_. xcii. 16 sqq.

196. _Ep_. cviii. 24.

197. Cp. _Macbeth_ ii. 2. 36, Macbeth does murder sleep, &c. For other
Shakespearian parallels, cp. _Macbeth_, Canst thou not minister to a
mind diseased? _H.F._ 1261 'nemo pollute queat | animo mederi.'
_Macbeth_, I have lived long enough.... And that which should accompany
old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look
to have. _H.F._ 1258 'Cur animam in ista luce detincam amplius |
morerque nihil est; cuncta iam amisi bona, | mentem, arma, famam,
coniugem, natos, manus.' J. Phil. vi. 70. Cunliffe, _Influence of Seneca
on Elizabethan Tragedy_.

198. An exception might be made in favour of the beautiful simile
describing Polyxena about to die, notable as giving one of the very few
allusions to the beauty of sunset to be found in ancient literature
(_Troad_. 1137):

                     ipsa deiectos gerit
    vultus pudore, sed tamen fulgent genae
    magisque solito splendet extremus decor,
    ut esse Phoebi dulcius lumen solet
    iamiam cadentis, astra cum repetunt vices
    premiturque dubius nocte vicina dies.

Fine, too, are the lines describing the blind Oedipus (_Oed_. 971):

                attollit caput
    cavisque lustrans orbibus caeli plagas
    noctem experitur.

199. pp. 52 sqq., 59.

200. Cp. Eur. _H.F._ 438 sqq.

201. For further examples cp. _H.F._ 5-18, _Troades_ 215-19.

202. This terse stabbing rhetoric is characteristic of Stoicism; the
same short, jerky sentences reappear in Epictetus. Seneca is doubtless
influenced by the declamatory rhetoric of schools as well, but his
philosophical training probably did much to form his style.

203. Exceptions are so few as to be negligible. The effect of this rule
is aggravated by the fact that in nine cases out of ten the accent of
the word and the metrical ictus 'clash', this result being obtained 'by
most violent elisions, such as rarely or never occur in the other feet
of the verse'. Munro, J. Phil. 6, 75.

204. The older and more rugged iambic survives in the fables of
Phaedrus, written at no distant date from these plays, if not actually

205. Cp. Leo, op. cit. i. 166, 174.

206. See p. 29.

207. These horrors go beyond the crucifixion scene in the Laureolus (see
p. 24), and the tradition of genuine tragedy was all against such
presentation. As far as the grotesqueness and bombast of the plays go,
the age of Nero might have tolerated them. We must remember that
seventeenth-century England enjoyed the brilliant bombast of Dryden
(e.g. in _Aurungzebe_) and that the eighteenth delighted in the crude
absurdities of such plays as _George Barnwell_.

208. Cp. also _Phaedra_ 707, where Hippolytus' words, 'en impudicum
crine contorto caput | laeva reflexi,' can only be justified as inserted
to explain to the hearers what they could not see. See also p. 48, note.

209. They have been influenced by the pantomimus and the dramatic
recitation so fashionable in their day, inasmuch as they lack connexion,
and, though containing effective episodes, are of far too loose a
texture to be effective drama.

210. See R. Fischer, _Die Kunstentwicklung der englischen Tragödie_; J.
W. Cunliffe, _Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy_; J. E. Manly,
_Introductory Essay_ to Miller's _Translation of the Tragedies of
Seneca_. The Senecan drama finds its best modern development in the
tragedies of Alfieri. Infinitely superior in every respect as are the
plays of the modern dramatist, he yet reveals in a modified form not a
few of Seneca's faults. There is often a tendency to bombast, an
exaggeration of character, a hardness of outline, that irresistibly
recall the Latin poet.

211. The debt is as good as acknowledged, ll. 58 sqq.

212. ll. 310 sqq.

213. l. 915.

214. There is no direct evidence of the sex of the chorus in the
_Octavia_. In Greek drama they would almost certainly have been women.

215. The diction is wholly un-Senecan. There is no straining after
epigram; the dialogue, though not lacking point (e.g. the four lines
185-8, or 451-60), does not bristle with it, and is far less rhetorical
and more natural. The chorus confines itself to anapaests, is simpler
and far more relevant. The all-pervading Stoicism is the one point they
have in common.

216. The imitation of Lucan in 70, 71 'magni resto nominis umbra,' is
also strong evidence against the Senecan authorship.

217. _Probus, vita_. 'A. Persius Flaccus natus est pridie non. Dec.
Fabio Persico, L. Vitellio coss.' Hieronym. ad ann. 2050=34 A.D.
'Persius Flaccus Satiricus Volaterris nascitur.' Where not
otherwise stated the facts of Persius' life are drawn from the
biography of Probus.

218. Quint, vii. 4, 40; Tac. _Ann_. xv. 71.

219. Suet. _de Gramm_. 23.

220. Bassus was many years his senior--addressed as _senex_ in Sat. vi.
6, written late in 61 or early in 62 A.D.--and perished in the eruption
of Vesuvius, 79 A. D. Cp. Schol. _ad Pers_. vi. 1.

221. Lucan was five years his junior. Cp. p. 97.

222. Cp. Tac. _Ann_. xiv. 19; _Dial_. 23; Quint. x. 1. 102.

223. This friendship lasted ten years, presumably the last ten of
Persius' life; cp. _Prob. vit_.

The second satire is addressed to Plotius Macrinus, who, according to
the scholiast, was a learned man, who 'loved Persius as his son, having
studied with him in the house of Servilius Nonianus.'

224. See O. Jahn's ed., p. 240.

225. _Prob. vit_.'decessit VIII Kal. Dec. P. Mario, Afinio Gallio coss.'
Hieronym. ad ann. 2078--62 A.D. 'Persius moritur anno aetatis XXVIII.'

226. _Prob. vit_.

227. Such at least is a plausible inference. Probus tells us that he
used to travel abroad with Thrasea. It is a natural conjecture that
these _hodoeporica_ were in the style of Horace's journey to Brundisium.

228. Cp. Mart. i. 13; Plin. _Ep_. iii. 16. She was the mother of the
wife of Thrasea.

229. This may mean that the last satire was actually incomplete, but
that the omission of a few lines at the end gave it an appearance of
completion; or that a few lines intended for the opening of a seventh
satire were omitted.

230. So Probus. Cp. also Quint. x. 1. 94 'multum et verae gloriae
quamvis uno libro meruit.' Mart. iv. 29. 7.

231. Hieronym. _in apol. contra Rufin._ i. 16 'puto quod puer legeris
... commentarios ... aliorum in alios, Plautum videlicet, Lucretium,
Flaccum, Persium atque Lucanum.' The high moral tone of the work,
coupled perhaps with the smallness of its bulk, is in the main
responsible for its survival. Scholia from different sources have come
down to us under the title of _Cornuti commentum_. Whether such a person
as the commentator Cornutus existed or not is uncertain. The name may
have been attached to the scholia merely to give them a spurious
importance as though possessing the imprimatur of the friend and teacher
of the poet.

232. The choliambi are placed after the satires by two of the three
best MSS., but before them by the scholia and inferior MSS. It is
of little importance which we follow. But it seems probable that
Probus (see below) regarded the choliambi as a prologue. Such at
least is my interpretation of _sibi primo_ (i.e. in the prologue)
_mox omnibus detrectaturus._ The lines have rather more force if read
first and not last.

233. _Prob. vit._ 'sed mox ut a schola magistrisque devertit, lecto
Lucili libro decimo vehementer saturas componere studuit; cuius libri
principium imitatus est, sibi primo, mox omnibus detrectaturus, cum
tanta recentium poetarum et oratorum insectatione,' &c. This can only
refer to the prologue and the first satire, and seems to point to its
having been the first to be composed. According to the scholiast the
opening line is taken from the first satire of Lucilius.

234. Porphyr. _ad Hor. Sat._ i. 10. 53 'facit autem Lucilius hoc cum
alias tum vel maxime in tertio libro, ... et nono et decimo.

235. Cp. Nettleship's note ad loc., and Petron. 4.

236. e.g. Dama, Davus, Natta, Nerius, Craterus, Pedius, Bestius.

237. Instances might be almost indefinitely multiplied. The whole of
Pers. i, but more especially the conclusion, is strongly influenced
by Hor. _Sat._ i. 10. Cp. also Pers. ii. 12, Hor. _Sat._ ii. 5. 45;
Pers. iii. 66, Hor. _Ep._ i. 18. 96; Pers. v. 10, Hor. _Sat._ i. 4.
19, &c., &c.

238. i. 92-102. According to the scholiast the last four lines--

    torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis,
    et raptum vitulo caput ablatura superbo
    Bassaris et lyncem Maenas flexura corymbis
    euhion ingeminat, reparabilis adsonat echo (i. 99)--

are by Nero. But it is incredible that Persius should have had such
audacity as openly to deride the all-powerful emperor. The same remark
applies to other passages where the scholiast and some modern critics
have seen satirical allusions to Nero (e.g. prologue and the whole of
Sat. iv). The only passage in which it is possible that there was a
covert allusion to Nero is i. 121, which, according to the scholiast,
originally ran _auriculas asini Mida rex habet_. Cornutus suppressed the
words _Mida rex_ and substituted _quis non_. For an ingenious defence of
the view that Persius hits directly at Nero see Pretor, _Class. Rev_.,
vol. xxi, p. 72.

239. i. 76 'Est nunc Brisaei quem venosus liber Acci, | sunt quos
Pacuviusque et verrucosa moretur | Antiopa, aerumnis cor
luctificabile fulta.'

240. The description of the self-indulgent man who, feeling ill,
consults his doctor and then fails to follow his advice (iii. 88), is a
possible exception. It is noteworthy that in Sat. iv he addresses a
young aspirant to a political career as though free political action was
still possible at Rome.

241. e.g. iv. 41.

242. But see below, p. 91.

243. Prob. vita Persii.

244. Our chief authorities for Lucan's life are the 'lives' by Suetonius
(fragmentary) and by Vacca (a grammarian of the sixth century).

245. Vacca.

246. Tac. _Ann._ xvi. 17.

247. Vacca.

248. Vacca.

249. The young Lucan is said to have formed a friendship with the
satirist at the school of Cornutus; Persius was some five years his
senior. _Vita Persii_ (p. 58, Bücheler).

250. Suetonius and Vacca. The latter curiously treats this victory as
one of the causes of Nero's jealousy. Considering that the poem was a
panegyric of the emperor, and that it was Lucan's first step in the
imperial favour, the suggestion deserves small credit.

251. Sueton. There is an unfortunate hiatus in the Life by Suetonius,
occurring just before the mention of the visit to Athens. As the text
stands it suggests that the visit to Athens occurred after the victory
at the Neronia. Otherwise it would seem more probable that Lucan went to
Athens somewhat earlier (e.g. 57 A.D.) to complete his education.

252. Sueton., Vacca.

253. Vacca; Tac. _Ann._ xv. 49; Dion. lxii. 29.

254. Vacca.

255. Suetonius.

256. Suetonius.

257. Sueton.; Tac. _Ann._ xv. 56.

258. Vacca; Sueton.; Tac. _Ann._ xv. 70. Various passages in the
_Pharsalia_ have been suggested as suitable for Lucan's recitation at
his last gasp, iii. 638-41, vii. 608-15, ix. 811.

259. Statius, in his _Genethliacon Lucani_ (_Silv._ ii. 7. 54), seems to
indicate the order of the poems:

    ac primum teneris adhuc in annis
    ludes Hectora Thessalosque currus
    et supplex Priami potentis aurum,
    et sedes reserabis inferorum;
    ingratus Nero duleibus theatris
    et noster tibi proferetur Orpheus,
    dices culminibus Remi vagantis
    infandos domini nocentis ignes,
    hinc castae titulum decusque Pollae
    iucunda dabis adlocutione.
    mox coepta generosior iuventa
    albos ossibus Italis Philippos
    et Pharsalica bella detonabis.

Cp. also Vacca, 'extant eius complures et alii, ut Iliacon, Saturnalia,
Catachthonion, Silvarum x, tragoedia Medea imperfecta, salticae fabulae
xiv, et epigrammata (MSS. _appamata_ sive _ippamata_), prosae orationes
in Octavium Sagittam et pro eo, de incendio Urbis, epistularum ex
Campania, non fastidiendi quidem omnes, tales tamen ut belli civili
videantur accessio.'

260. Vacca.

261. See chapter on Statius.

262. See chapter on Drama.

263. Cp. Mart., bks. xiii and xiv.

264. There are two fragments from the _Iliacon_, two from the _Orpheus_,
one from the _Catachthonion_, two from the _Epigrammata_, together with
a few scanty references in ancient commentators and grammarians: see
Postgate, _Corp. Poet. Lat._

265. Vacca, 'ediderat ... tres libros, quales videmus.'

266. Sueton. 'civile bellum ... recitavit ut praefatione quadem aetatem
et initia sua comparans ausus sit dicere, "quantum mihi restat ad
Culicem".' Cp. also Stat, _Silv._ ii. 7. 73:--

    haec (Pharsalia) primo iuvenis canes sub aevo
    ante annos Culicis Maroniani.

Vergil was twenty-six when he composed the _Culex_. Cp. Ribbeck, _App.
Verg._ p. 19.

267. Vacca, 'reliqui septem belli civilis libri locum calumniantibus
tanquam mendosi non darent; qui tametsi sub vero crimine non egent
patrocinio: in iisdem dici, quod in Ovidii libris praescribitur, potest:
emendaturus, si licuisset, erat.'

268. See p. 4.

269. Boissier, _L'Opposition sous les Césars (p. 279), sees some
significance in the fact that the list of Nero's ancestors always stops
at Augustus. But there was no reason why the list should go further than
the founder of the principate. It is noteworthy that Lucan's uncle
Seneca wrote a number of epigrams in praise of the Pompeii and Cato. The
famous lines,

                     quis iustius induit arma
    scire nefas: magno se iudice quisque tuetur,
    victrix causa deis placuit, sed victa Catoni (i. 126),

are supremely diplomatic. Without sacrificing his principles, Lucan
avoids giving a shadow of offence to his emperor.

270. See p. 116.

271. Petron., loc. cit.

272. v. 207, vii. 451, 596, 782, x. 339-42, 431.

273. i. 143-57.

274. ii. 657 nil actum credens cum quid superesset agendum.

275. v. 317 meruitque timeri non metuens.

276. See Shelley, _Prometheus Unbound_, Preface.

277. vii. 45-150.

278. vii. 342.

279. vii. 647-727.

280. Cp. the epigrams attributed to Seneca, _P. L. M._ iv, _Anth.
Lat._ 7, 8, 9.

281. The one exception is Curio, sec iv. 799.

282. i. 185:

          ut ventum est parvi Rubiconis ad undas,
    ingens visa duci patriae trepidantis imago,
    clara per obscuram voltu maestissima noctem
    turrigero canos effundens vertice crines
    caesarie lacera nudisque adstare lacertis
    et gemitu permixta loqui: 'quo tenditis ultra?
    quo fertis mea signa, viri? si iure venitis,
    si cives, huc usque licet.'

283. iii. 1:

    propulit ut classem velis cedentibus Auster
    incumbens mediumque rates movere profundum,
    omnis in Ionios spectabat navita fluctus;
    solus ab Hesperia non flexit lumina terra
    Magnus, dum patrios portus, dum litora numquam
    ad visus reditura suos tectumque cacumen
    nubibus et dubios cernit vanescere montes.

284. v. 722-end.

285. vii. 6-44.

286. iii. 399-425.

287. iii. 399.

288. Cp. Seneca, _Oed._ 530 sqq. The description of a grove was part of
the poetic wardrobe. Cp. Pers. i. 70.

289. See p. 103.

290. iii. 509-762. For a still more grotesque fight, cp. vi. 169-262;
also ii. 211-20; iv. 794, 5.

291. v. 610-53. Cp. also ix. 457-71.

292. Sir E. Ridley's trans.

293. Sir E. Ridley's trans.

294. ix. 619-838.

295. ix. 946, 7.

296. For examples of erudition, cp. ix. loc. cit., where the origin of
serpents of Africa is given, involving the story of Perseus and Medea,
iv. 622 sqq. The arrival of Curio in Africa is signalized by a long
account of the slaying of Antaeus by Hercules.

297. i. 523-end.

298. ii. 67-220.

299. ii. 392-438. Cp. the geography of Thessaly, coupled with a
description of its witches, vi. 333-506.

300. v. 71-236.

301. vi. 507-830. It is noteworthy, also, that incidents not necessarily
irrelevant in themselves are treated with a monstrous lack of
proportion, e.g. the siege of Massilia is not irrelevant; but it is
given 390 lines (iii. 372-762), and Lucan forgets to mention that Caesar
captured it.

302. e.g. iv. 799-end, vii. 385-459, 586-96, 617-46, 847-72, viii.
542-60, 793-end.

303. vii. 385-459.

304. There is nothing in these last seven books that can be regarded as
in any way written to please Nero, save the description of the noble
death of Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero's great-great-grandfather (vii.
597-616). On the contrary there are many passages which Lucan would
hardly have written while he was enjoying court favour: e.g. iv. 821-3,
v. 385-402, vi. 809, vii. 694-6, x. 25-8.

305. See p. 98.

306. e.g. the two speeches of Cato quoted above.

307. He is, moreover, very careless in his repetition of the same word,
cp. i. 25, 27 urbibus, iii. 436, 441, 445 silva, &c.; cp. Haskins, ed.
lxxxi. (Heitland's introd.)

308. He is far less dactylic than Ovid. For the relation between the
various writers of epic in respect of metre, see Drobisch, _Versuch üb.
die Formen des lat. Hex._ 140. The proportion of spondees in the first
four feet of hexameters of Roman writers is there given as follows:
Catullus 65.8%, Silius 60.6%, Ennius 59.5%, Lucretius 57.4%, Vergil 56%,
Horace 55%, Lucan 54.3%, Statius 49.7%, Valerius 46.2%, Ovid 45.2%.

309. Tac. _Ann._ xvi. 18, 19 (Church and Brodribb's trans.).

310. c. 118 sq.

311. cc. 1-5.

312. The first reference in literature to the _Satyricon_ is in
Macrobius, in _Somn. Scip._ i. 2, 8.

313. cc. 1-5.

314. MS. fortuna.

315. MS. dent.

316. c. 83

317. Cp. Juv. _Sat._ 7; Tac. _Dial._ 9.

318. c. 89. It has been suggested that this poem is a parody of Nero's
_Troiae halosis_! But the poem shows _no_ signs of being a parody. It is
obviously written in all seriousness.

319. MS. _minor_, I suggest _minans_ as a possible solution of the

320. c. 93.

321. Cp. also 128 and the spirited epic fragment burlesquely used in

322. See p. 36.

323. Baehrens, _P. L. M._ iv. 74-89.

324. Nos. 76 and 86. Cp. Fulg. _Mythol._ i. I, p. 31; Lactant. _ad Stat.
Theb._ iii. 661; Fulg. _Mythol._ iii. 9, p. 126.

325. Baehrens, _P.L.M._ iv. 90-100.

326. Poitiers, 1579 A.D.

327. Fulg. _Mythol._ i. 12, p. 44.

328. That the attribution to Petronius rests on the authority of the
lost MS. is a clear inference from Binet's words, cp. Baehrens, _P.L.M._
iv. 101-8, 'sequebantur ista, sed sine Petronii titulo, at priores illi
duo Phalaecii vix alius fuerint quam Petronii.'

329. Baehrens, _P.L.M._ iv. 101-8.

330. See note 4.

331. Petr. cc. 14, 83; Baehrens, _P.L.M._ iv. 120, 121.

332. Cp. _Satyr_. 127, 131; _P.L.M._ iv. 75; _S._ 128; _P.L.M._ iv. 121;
_S._ 108; _P.L.M._ iv. 85; _S._ 79, iv. 101.

333. _P.L.M._ iv. 75.

334. _P.L.M._ iv. 81.

335. The MS. is hopelessly corrupt at this point. I suggest _naidas
alterna manu_ as a possible correction of the MS. _Iliadas armatas
s. manus._

336. _P.L.M._ iv. 84.

337. _P.L.M._ iv. 85.

338. Ib. 76.

339. Ib. 82.

340. Ib. 78.

341. _P. L. M._ iv. 99. Cp. also 92 and 107.

342. 569 sqq.

343. 17-22, 43 sqq. He falls into the same error himself (203).

344. 76 sqq.

345. 88 sqq.

346. 220 sqq.

347. 96 sqq.

348. 178 sqq.

349. 400 sqq.

350. 333 sqq.

351. 294.

352. So Ellis (_Corp. Poet. Lat._, vol. ii. pref.); Baehrens, _P. L. M._
ii. pp. 29 sqq.

353. Serv. _ad Verg. Aen._ praef. Donatus, _vita Verg._, p. 58 R
('Scripsit etiam de qua ambigitur Aetnam').

354. Sen. _Nat. Quaest._ iii. 26. 5. He also wrote in verse on
philosophical subjects; cp. Sen. _Ep._ 24, 19-21.

355. So Wernsdorf, von Jacob, Munro (edd.), Wagler _de Aetna quaest.
crit._, Berlin, 1884.

356. Sen. _Nat. Quaest._ iv. 2. 2.

357. Sen. _Ep._ 79. 5.

358. So many Italian scholars of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
among them Scaliger.

359. Cornelius Severus wrote a poem on the Sicilian War of Octavian and
Sext. Pompeius; cp. Quint, x. l. 89.

360. Cp. _Nat. Quaest._ iii. 16. 4, _Aetna_, 302 and 303. But this may
be due to the fact that both Seneca and the author of _Aetna_ get their
information from the same source, perhaps Posidonius; cp. Sudhaus,
introd. to his edition, p. 75.

361. It is not improbable that in 293 sqq. the poet refers to the
mechanical Triton shown at the Naumachia on the Fucine Lake at a
festival given by Claudius in honour of Nero's adoption in 50 A. D.

362. 425-34.

363. Baehrens would put the lower limit at 63 A. D., the year in which
severe earthquakes first indicated the reviving activity of Phlegraean
fields. But earthquakes, though often caused by volcanic action, do not
necessarily produce volcanoes.

364. viii. 16. 9; 10. 185.

365. iii. 3. 3 'his certe temporibus Nomentana regio celeberrima fama
est illustris, et praecipue quam possidet Seneca, vir excellentis
ingenii atque doctrinae'. He is quoted by Pliny, not infrequently.
Columella was an old man when he wrote; cp. 12 ad fin. 'nec tamen canis
natura dedit cunctarum rerum prudentiam'.

366. Cp. _C.I.L._ ix. 235 'L. Iunio L. F. Gal. Moderato Columellae Trib.
mil. leg. VI. Ferratae'. That this refers to the poet is borne out by
two facts. (1) Gades belonged to the Tribus Galeria. (2) At this date
the legio VI. Ferrata was stationed in Syria; cp. Col. ii. 10. 18
'Ciliciae Syriaeque regionibus ipse vidi'.

367. Cp. i. 1. 7. He speaks as a practical farmer; cp. ii. 8. 5; 9. 1;
10. 11; iii. 9. 2; 10. 8, &c. He writes primarily for Italy, not for
Spain; cp. iii. 8. 5.

368. Cp. x. praef.: also ix. 16. 2, which tells us that Gallio, Seneca's
brother, had added his entreaties.

369. xi. praef.

370. He also wrote a treatise against astrologers (cp. xi. 1. 131) and a
treatise on religious ceremonies connected with agriculture (cp. ii. 21.
5). This latter work was perhaps never completed (cp. ii. 21. 6). In any
case both treatises were lost. There survives a book on arboriculture
which is not an isolated monograph, but portion of a larger work, at
least three books long, for it alludes to a 'primum volumen de cultu
agrorum' (ad init.). It probably consisted of four books, since
Cassiodorus (_div. lect_. 28) speaks of the sixteen books of Columella.

371. siderei Maronis, 434.

372. Cp. esp. 196 sqq.

373. Cp. 130 sqq., 320 sqq., 344 sqq.

374. 102 sqq.

375. 45-94.

376. 29-34.

377. 196 sqq.

378. Tac. _Ann._ xii. 58.

379. M. Haupt, _Opusc._ i. 391; Lachm. _Comm. on Lucret._ 1855, p. 326
Schenkl (ed. Calp. Sic., p. ix).

380. Or _de laude Pisonis_. See Baehrens, _Poet. Lat. Min._ iii. 1. For
the question of authorship see p. 159.

381. It was long believed that there were eleven, but the last four
eclogues of the collection are shown by their style to be of later date,
and there can be little doubt that the MSS. which attribute them to
Nemesianus of Carthage are right. We know of a Nemesianus who lived
about 290 A.D. and wrote a _Cynegetica_, a portion of which survives.
Comparison with these four eclogues shows a marked resemblance of style.

382. Verg. _Ecl._ vii. 1:

    forte sub arguta consederat ilice Daphnis,
    compulerantque greges Corydon et Thyrsis in unum,
    Thyrsis oves, Corydon distentas lacte capellas,
    ambo florentes aetatibus, Arcades ambo,
    et cantare pares et respondere parati.

Calp. ii. 1:

    intactam Crocalen puer Astacus et puer Idas,
    Idas lanigeri dominus gregis, Astacus horti,
    dilexere diu, formosus uterque nec impar
    voce sonans.

The conclusion is borrowed from Vergil, _Ecl._ iii. 108:

    non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites.
    et vitula tu dignus et hic et quisquis amores
    aut metuet dulces aut experietur amaros.
    claudite iam rivos, pueri; sat prata biberunt.

Calp. ii. 95-100:

    'iam resonant frondes, iam cantibus obstrepit arbos:
    i procul, o Doryla, rivumque reclude canali
    et sine iam dudum sitientes irriget hortos'
    vix ea finierant, senior cum talia Thyrsis,
    'este pares ...'

383. Cp. also v. 50 sqq.

384. See Baehrens, _Poet. Lat. Min._ vol. iii. p. 60. The first poem is
unfinished, the award of Midas being missing.

385. Bücheler, _Rhein. Mus._ xxvi. p. 235.

386. So Bücheler, loc. cit. _respexit_ is a mere conjecture:
_corrumpit_, the MS. reading, is meaningless, and no satisfactory
alternative has been suggested. The lines may merely refer to Apollo,
but _et me_ suggests strongly that Ladas retorts, 'I, too, have
Caesar's favour.' Cp. _L._ 37, where _hic vester Apollo est!_ clearly
refers to Nero.

387. In a MS. at Lorsch, now lost; but used by Sechard for his edition
of Ovid, Basle, 1527.

388. In Parisinus 7647 (Florileg.). Sec Baehrens, _P. L. M._ i. p. 222.

389. Tac. _Ann._ xv. 48 'facundiam tuendis civibus exercebat,
largitionem adversum amicos et ignotis quoque comi sermone et

390. Schol. Vall, _ad Iuv._ v. 109 'in latrunculorum lusu tam perfectus
et callidus, ut ad cum ludentem concurreretur.'

391. Cp. ll. 190 sqq.

392. Cp. ll. 190 sqq.

393. Baehrens, _Fragm. Poet. Rom._ p. 281.

394. Priscian, _Gr. Lat._ i. 478.

395. Persius derides a certain Labeo (i. 4) and a writer named Attius
(i. 50) for his translation of _Iliad_. On this last passage the
scholiast says, 'Attius Labeo poeta indoctus fuit illorum temporum, qui
Iliadem Homeri foedissime composuit.' The names are found combined in an
inscription from Corinth, Joh. Schmidt, _Mitt. des deutsch. archäol.
Inst. in Athen_, vi (1882), p. 354.

396. Schol. _ad Pers._ i. 4 (p. 248, Jahn).

397. Schol. _ad Pers._ i. 4, ex cod. Io. Tillii Brionensis episc., cited
by El. Vinetus.

398. Sen. _ad Polyb. de Cons._ viii. 2, and xi. 5.

399. Vualtherus Spirensis Vs. 93. X cent. (ed. Harster, Munich, 1878, p.
22). Eberhard Bethunensis, _Labyr. Tract._ iii. 45.

400. This apparent confusion between Homer and Pindar is first found in
Benzo, episc. Albensis (_Monum. Germ._ xi. 599) circa 1087. In Hugo
Trimbergensis (thirteenth century) Pindar is the translator: 'Homero,
quem Pindarus philosophus fertur transtulisse.' Cp. L. Müller, _Philol._
xv, p. 475. So, too, in Cod. Vat. Reg. 1708 (thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries); in Vat. Pal. 1611 (end of fourteenth century), he is styled
Pandarus. See Baehrens, _P. L. M._ iii. 4.

401. Seyffert, in Munk, _Geschichte der Röm. Litt._ ii, p. 242.
Bücheler, _Rhein. Mus._ 35 (1880), p. 391.

402. Baehrens (_P. L. M._ iii) reads (7) _ut primum tulerant_ for _ex
quo pertulerant_. The corruption is unlikely, especially since the
corresponding line in the _Iliad_ (i. 6) begins [Greek: ex ou]. In line
1065, for _quam cernis paucis ... remis_, he reads _remis quam cernis
... paucis_, a distinct improvement. Some of those who retain MSS. in
(7) attempt to explain _Italice_ as a vocative or adverb. But _ex nihilo
nihil fit_. For a summary of these unprofitable and generally absurd
speculations, cp. Schanz, _Gesch. Röm. Lit._ § 394.

403. Vindobon. 3509 (fifteenth or sixteenth centuries).

404. Mart. vii. 63.

405. Vagellius, Sen. _N.Q._ vi. 2. 9. Antistius Sosianus, Tac. _Ann._
xiii. 28. C. Montanus, ib. xvi. 28. 29. Lucilius junior, see p. 144.

406. Tac. _Ann._ iv. 46; _C.I.L._ ii. 2093.

407. Dion. lix. 22; Tac. _Ann._ vi. 30.

408. Dion. loc. cit.; Suet. _Claud._ 9.

409. Plin _Ep._ v. 3. 5; Mart. i. praef.

410. Ap. Sid. _Ep._ ii. 10. 6.

411. v. 16; vi. 190, 331; vii. 71, 244, 245, 275, 354; xi. 409.

412. Baehrens, _Poet. Rom. Fragm._ p. 361.

413. Quint, x. 1.96 'at lyricorum Horatius fere solus legi dignus:... si
quem adicere velis, is erit Caesius Bassus, quem nuper vidimus; sed eum
longe praecedunt ingenia viventium'.

414. e.g. perhaps Martial, Sulpicia, and some of Pliny's poet friends,
see pp. 170 sqq.

415. See p. 80.

416. See Teuffel and Schwabe, _Hist. Röm. Lit._ § 304; Schanz, _Gesch.
Röm. Lit._ 384 a.

417. Schol. _Pers._ vi. 1.

418. Ithyphallicum, Archebulium, Philicium, Paeonicum, Proceleusmaticum,
Molossicum. Baehrens, _Poet. Röm. Fragm._ p. 364.

419. Ioseph. _vita_ 65.

420. Suet. _Vesp._ 17, 18.

421. Ib. 8.

422. Ib. 19 'vetera quoque acroamata revocaverat'.

423. Ib. 18.

424. Dion. lxvi. 13, in 71 A.D. That this act was ineffectual is shown
by Domitian's action in 89-93 A.D.

425. Plin. _N.H._ praef. 5 and 11.

426. Suet. _Dom._ 2; Tac. _Hist._ iv. 86; Quint, x. 1. 91.

427. Suet. _Dom._ 18.

428. Quint. loc. cit.; Val. Fl. i. 12; Mart. v. 5. 7.

429. Suet. _Dom._ 4.

430. 6 Stat. _Silv._ iv. 2. 65, v. 3. 227.

431. Suet. _Dom._ 20. This may have been creditable to him as ruler of
the empire, though Suetonius undoubtedly wishes us to regard Tiberius'
memoirs as a manual of tyranny.

432. Suet. _Dom._ 10.

433. Suet. loc. cit.; Hieronym. ad ann. 89 and 95 A.D. The latter date
is wrong: cp. Mommsen, _Hermes_, iii (1869), p. 84.

434. Tac. _Agr._ 2.

435. Quint. x. 1. 89. There is no clear indication of his date, but he
is coupled with Saleius Bassus by Juvenal (vii. 80), a fact which
suggests that he belonged to the Flavian period.

436. x. 1. 90.

437. Juv. vii. 79.

438. Stat. _Silv._ v. 3.

439. Stat. _Silv._ i. 2. 253; Mart. iv. 6. 4, i. 7, vii. 14.

440. Schol. Vall, _ad Iuv._ i. 20; Mart. xi. 10; Rut. Nam. i. 603;
Schol. _Iuv._ i. 71. For his brother Scaevus Memor see p. 30.

441. Plin. _Ep._ v. 3. 5, vi. 10. 4.

442. Ib. iii. 1. 11, ii. 7. 1

443. Mart. viii. 70. 7.

444. Plin. _Ep._ v. 3. 5.

445. Priscian, _Gr. Lat._ ii, p. 205, 6.

446. Plin. _Paneg._ 47; _Ep._ iii. 18. 5.

447. Dion. lxviii. 16; Gellius xi. 17. 1.

448. See p. 25. Other names are Octavius Rufus, Plin. _Ep._ i. 7;
Titinius Capito, _C. I. L._ 798, Plin. _Ep._ i. 17. 3; viii. 12. 4;
Caninius Rufus, Plin. _Ep._ viii. 4. 1; Calpurnius Piso, Plin.
_Ep._ v. 17. 1.

449. _Ep._ vi. 15.

450. _Ep._ ix. 22.

451. Gaius Passennus Paulus Propertius Blaesus was his full title. He
derives his chief interest from the fact that the inscription at Assisi
which preserves his name is our most conclusive evidence for the
birthplace of Propertius. Haupt, opusc. i. p. 283, Leipz. (1875).

452. _Ep._ iv. 27.

453. viii. 21. 14.

454. vii. 9. 10.

455. iv. 14. 2.

456. iv. 14. 4.

457. He also translated the Greek epigrams of Arrius Antoninus. Cp.
_Ep._ iv. 3. 3, and xviii. 1. One of these translations is preserved.
Baehrens, _P.L.M._ iv. 112.

458. ii. 90. 9.

459. In the sixth Satire.

460. See Schanz, _Gesch. Röm. Lit._ § 284.

461. Apoll. Sid. ix. 261 'quod Sulpiciae iocos Thalia scripsit
blandiloquum suo Caleno'. Auson. _Cento. Nupt._, 4 'meminerint prurire
opusculum Sulpiciae, frontem caperare'. Fulgentius, _Mythol._ 1 (p. 4,
Helm.) 'Sulpicillae procacitas'

462. Schol. Vall, _ad Iuv._ vi. 537,

                     unde ait Sulpicia:
    si me cadurcis dissolutis fasciis
    nudam Caleno concubantem proferat.

463. Mart. x. 38. 9:

    vixisti tribus, o Calene, lustris:
    aetas haec tibi tota computatur
    et solos numeras dies mariti.

The first edition of Martial, Book x, was probably published in 95 A.D.
If Sulpicia married Calenus at the age of 18-25, her birth will
therefore fall between 55 and 62 A. D.

464. Cp. Mart. x. 38. 4-8.

465. Cp. Mart. x. 38. 9-11. It is, of course, possible that _mariti_ is
a euphemism.

466. Mart. x. 35. 1.

467. See Ap. Sid. loc. cit.

468. Sulp. _Sat._, lines 4, 5.

469. _Raph. Volaterr. comment. urban._ (fol. lvi. 1506 A.D.), 'hic (sc.
at Bobbio) anno 1493 huiuscemodi libri reperti sunt. Rutilius
Namatianus. Heroicum Sulpici carmen.' The first edition was published
in 1498, with the title _Sulpitiae carmina quae fuit Domitiani
temporibus: nuper a Georgio Merula Allexandrino, cum aliis opusculis
reperta. queritur de statu reipublicae et temporibus Domitiani_. The
MS. is now lost.

470. Cp. line 62. Domitian's edict seems to have threatened the security
of Calenus. In the lines which follow, Domitian's death and overthrow
are foretold. The poem, therefore, if genuine, must have been published
soon after Domitian's assassination in 96, though it may have been
composed in part during his lifetime.

471. The work is generally rejected as spurious. Bachrens (_P. L. M._ v.
p. 93, and _de Sulpiciae quae vocatur satira_, Jena, 1873) holds that
the work is contemporary with Ausonius. Boot (_de Sulpiciae quae fertur
satira_, Amsterdam, 1868) goes further, and regards the work as a
renaissance forgery. He is followed by Bücheler. But there is no reason
to doubt the existence of the Bobbian MS. The metrical difficulties can
be remedied by emendation _palare_ for _palari_ (43) is a solecism, but
many verbs are found in both active and deponent forms, and _palare_ may
be a slip, or even an invention by analogy. _captiva_ (52) does not =
the Italian _cattiva_ or the French _chétive_. The most that we can say
is that the work shows no resemblance to any extant contemporary
literature. That does not necessarily prove it to be of later date. The
problem cannot be answered with certainty. On the whole, to us the
difficulty of supposing it to be a late forgery seems greater than the
difficulty of supposing it to be by Sulpicia.

472. An exception must be made of the _Silvae_ of Statius.

473. Or Balbus Setinus.

474. Schenkl, _Stud, zu V. F._ 272.

475. Mart. i. 61 and 76.

476. i. 5:

    Phoebe mone, si Cymaeae mihi conscia vatis
    stat casta cortina domo.

In _Cymaeae vatis_ there is an allusion to the custody of the
Sibylline books.

477. x, 1. 90.

478. i. 7-12.

479. i. 13, 14:

              Solymo nigrantem pulvere fratrem
    spargentemque faces et in omni turre furentem.

Domitian pretended to be a poet and connoisseur of poetry. See p. 167.

480. iii. 207:

                          ut mugitor anhelat
    Vesvius, attonitas acer cum suscitat urbes

481. vii. 645; viii. 228. If these allusions be to events of 89 A. D.
they point to the view that the last two books were composed shortly
before the poet's death, and confirm the opinion that the _Argonautica_
was never finished.

482. A few instances will suffice. In iii. 302 Jason asserts that seers
had prophesied his father's death; this is nowhere else mentioned; on
the contrary, at the beginning of the second book, it is specially told
us that Juno concealed from Jason the fact of his father's death, while
in vii. 494 Jason speaks of him as still alive. In vii. 394 Venus is
represented as leaving Medea in terror at the sound of her magic chant,
while five lines later it is implied that she is still holding Medea's
hand. In viii. 24 Jason goes to the grove of Mars to meet Medea and to
steal the fleece of gold; but no arrangement to this effect has been
made between Jason and Medea at their previous meeting (vii. 516).
Instances might be multiplied. See Schenkl, op. cit. 12 sqq.; Summers'
_Study of Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus_, p. 2 sqq. The inconsistency
which makes the _Argo_ to be at once the first ship and to meet many
other ships by the way is perhaps the most glaring, but its
rectification would have involved very radical alterations.

483. Cp. viii. 189:

                                   inde sequemur
    ipsius amnis iter, donec nos flumine certo
    perferat inque aliud reddat mare.

484. Summers, op. cit. 6.

485. e.g. Argous Portus, Cales, the portico of the Argonauts at Rome.

486. i. 7-12.

487. Summers, p. 7.

488. i. 806; ii. 4.

489. Valerius was no slavish imitator of Apollonius. Some of his
incidents are new, such, as the rescue of Hesione (ii. 450 sqq.). Many
of the incidents in Apollonius are omitted (e.g. Stymphalian birds, A.R.
ii. 1033, and the encounter with the sons of Phrixus, A.R. ii. 1093).
Other incidents receive a fresh turn. In both poets the Argonauts see
traces of the doom of Prometheus. But in A. he is still being devoured,
in V. he is being freed by Hercules amid an earthquake. Again V. often
expands or contracts an incident related by A. E.g. Contraction: The
launching of _Argo_, V.F. i. 184-91; A.R. i. 362-93. Expansion: The
story of Lemnos V. ii. 72-427; A. i. 591-884: here there is not much
difference in length, but V. tells us much more. The visit to Cyzicus,
V. iii. 1-361; A. i. 947-1064: note also that in V. the purification of
the Argonauts, 362-459, takes the place of the irrelevant founding of
the temple of Rhea on Dindymus, A. i. 1103 sqq. The debate as to whether
to abandon Hercules, who has gone in search of Hylas, V. iii. 598-714;
in A. the Argonauts sail without noticing the absence of Hercules and
Hylas, and the debate takes place at sea, A. i. 1273-1325. As a rule,
however, V. is longer than A., partly owing to longer descriptions,
partly owing to the greater complication of the plot at Colchis. On the
other hand, there is much imitation of A. Cp. V.F. i. 255; A.R. i. 553;
V.F. iii. 565-97; A. i. 1261-72; V.F. iv. 733; A. ii. 774; V.F. v.
73-100; A. ii. 911-929.

490. In Apollonius the aid of Aphrodite and Eros is requisitioned to
make Medea fall in love with Jason, but there is no further conventional
supernatural interference. In Valerius, Juno (v. 350, vi. 456-660, vii.
153-90) kindles Medea's passion with Venus's aid. In vii, 190 sqq.,
Venus goes in person.

491. As evidence for Apollonius' superiority cp. V.F. v. 329 sqq.; A.R.
iii. 616 sq.; V.F. vii, 1-25; A.R. iii. 771 sq.; V.F v. 82-100; A.R.
ii. 911-21.

492. v. 418. Cp. Apollon. iv. 272; Herod, ii. 103; Strab. xvi. 4. 4;
Plin. _N.H._ xxxiii, 52.

493. vi. 118. Cp. also v. 423:

             Arsinoen illi tepidaeque requirunt
    otia laeta Phari.

494. Cp. vii. 35 sqq.

495. As, for instance, in the _Alcestis_ of Euripides and Callimachus'
Hymn to Artemis.

496. A.R. i. 1167 [Greek: d_e tot anochliz_on tetr_echotos oidmatos
olkous | messothen axen eretmon atar tryphos allo men autos | amph_o
chersin ech_on pese dochmios, allo de pontos | klyze palirrothioisi
pher_on. ana d' hezeto sig_e | paptain_on cheires gar a_etheon

497. Cp. also V.F. iv. 682-5; viii. 453-7.

498. For obscurity cp. also iii. 133-7, 336-7; vii. 55.

499. Valerius is fond of such inversions, especially in the case of
particles, pronouns, &c.; cp. v. 187 _iuxta_; ii. 150 _sed_; vi. 452
_quippe_; vi. 543 _sed_.

500. Cp. i. 436-8; ii. 90; iii. 434; vi. 183, 260-4.

501. See p. 183.

502. The passage may conceivably be only a rough draft, cp p. 197 note.

503. Cp. also i. 130-48, 251-4.

504. There is little evidence that he had any influence on posterity,
though there may be traces of such influence in Hyginus and the Orphic
Argonautica. Of contemporaries Statius and Silius seem to have read him
and at times to imitate him. See Summers, pp. 8, 9. Blass, however (_J.
f. Phil. und Päd._ 109, 471 sqq.), holds that Valerius imitates Statius.

505. Cp. V. F. i. 833 sqq.; _Aen._ vi. 893, 660 sqq., 638 sqq.; V. F. i.
323; A. viii. 560 sqq.; V. F. vi. 331; A. ix. 595 sqq.; V. F. iii. 136;
A. xii. 300 sqq.; V. F. viii. 358; A. x. 305; V. F. vi. 374; A. xi. 803.
See Summers, pp. 30-3. His echoes from Vergil are perhaps more obvious
in some respects than similar echoes in Statius, owing to the fact that
he had a more Vergilian imagination than Statius, and lacked the extreme
dexterity of style to disguise his pilferings. But in his general
treatment of his theme he shows far greater originality; this is perhaps
due to the fact that the Argonaut saga is not capable of being
'Aeneidized' to the same extent as the Theban legend. But let Valerius
have his due. He is in the main unoriginal in diction, Statius in

506. Cp. Summers, p. 49. See also note, p. 123.

507. Cp. beside the passages quoted below iii. 558 sqq., 724, 5; iv.
16-50, 230, 1; v. 10-12; vii. 371-510, 610, 648-53.

508. One is tempted at times to account for the profusion and lack of
spontaneity of similes in poets of this age by the supposition that they
kept commonplace books of similes and inserted them as they thought fit.

509. vi. 260:

    qualem populeae fidentem nexibus umbrae
    siquis avem summi deducat ab aere rami,
    ante manu tacita cui plurima crevit harundo;
    illa dolis viscoque super correpta sequaci
    inplorat ramos atque inrita concitat alas.

510. vii. 124:

    sic adsueta toris et mensae dulcis erili,
    aegra nova iam peste canis rabieque futura,
    ante fugam totos lustrat queribunda penates.

511. iv. 699:

        discussa quales formidine Averni
    Alcides Theseusque comes pallentia iungunt
    oscula vix primas amplexi luminis oras.

512. This simile is a free translation from Apollonius, iii. 966
[Greek: t_o d' aneo kai anaudoi ephestasan all_eloisin, | h_e drusin
h_e makr_esin eeidomenoi elat_esin, | ai te parasson ek_eloi en
ourresin erriz_ontai,| n_enemiae meta d' autis upo mip_es anemoio |
kitumenai omad_esan apeiriton _os ara t_oge | mellon alis
phthenchasthai upo pnoi_esin Er_otos.] Valerius has compressed the last
three lines into _rapidus nondum quas miscuit Auster_. The effective
_miscuit_ conveys nearly as much as the longer and not less beautiful
version in the Greek.

513. This accumulation is probably due to the lack of revision.
_obvius ... pavor_ fits the context ill and is curiously reminiscent
of I. 392 ('iam stabulis gregibusque pavor strepitusque sepulcris
inciderat'), while II. 400-2 would probably have been considerably
altered had the poem undergone its final correction. There are other
indications of the unfinished character of the work to be found in
this passage (p. 181, note).

514. Cp. also viii. 10, where Medea bids farewell to her home. 'O my
father, would thou mightest give me now thy last embrace, as I fly to
exile, and mightest behold these my tears. Believe me, father, I love
not him I follow more than thee: would that the stormy deep might
whelm us both. And mayest thou long hold thy realm, grown old in
peace and safety, and mayest thou find thy children that remain more
dutiful than me.'

515. Ap. Rh. iii. 1105 sqq.; cp. also Murray on Apollonius in his
_History of Greek Literature_, p. 382.

516. _Silv._ v. 3. 116 sqq.

517. Ib. 146 sqq.

518. Ib. 163.

519. Ib. 141.

520. Ib. 195-208. This passage suggests that the elder Statius died soon
after 79 A.D. On the other hand, he probably lived some years longer as
the _Thebais_, inspired and directed by him, was not begun till 80 A.D.
He must, however, have died before 89 A.D., the earliest date assignable
to Statius' victory at the Alban contest.

521. _Silv._ v. 3. 225.

522. Juv. vii. 86. Paris had fallen from imperial favour by 83 A.D. Dio.
lxvii. 3. 1.

523. _Silv._ v. 3. 215.

524. Juv. vii. 82.

525. _Silv._ v. 3. 227. The subject of his prize recitation was the
triumph of Domitian over the Germans and Dacians; i.e. after 89 A.D.

526. Praef. _Silv._ i. 'pro Thebaide quamvis me reliquerit timeo.' The
first book of the _Silvae_ was published in 92 A.D. For the time taken
for its composition and the poet's anticipations of immortality see
_Th._ xii. 811 sqq.

527. See previous note.

528. _Silv._ iii. 5. 28, v. 3. 232. The Agon Capitolinus was instituted
in 86 A.D. The contests falling in Statius' lifetime are those of 86,
90, 94 A.D. As his failure is always mentioned after the Alban victory,
94 A.D. would seem the most probable date.

529. Rutilius Gallicus had just died when the first book was published;
cp. Praef., bk. i. This took place in 92 A.D.; cp. _C.I.L._ v. 6988,
vi. 1984. 8. _Silv._ iv. 1 celebrates Domitian's seventeenth consulate
(95 A.D.).

530. See previous note.

531. Such at least is a legitimate inference from the fact that it is
not mentioned before the fourth and fifth books of the _Silvae_; cp. iv.
4. 94, iv. 7. 23, v. 2. 163.

532. Written probably in 95 A.D. Statius promises such a work in
_Silv._ iv. 4. 95. Four lines are quoted from it in G. Valla's scholia
on Juv. iv. 94:

    lumina: Nestorei mitis prudentia Crispi
    et Fabius Veiento (potentem signat utrumque
    purpura, ter memores implerunt nomine fastos),
    et prope Caesareae confinis Acilius aulae.

533. Praef. _Silv._ iv 'Maximum Vibium et dignitatis et eloquentiae
nomine a nobis diligi satis eram testatus epistula quam ad illum de
editione Thebaidos meae publicavi.'

534. Witness poems such as the Villa Surrentina Pollii. _Silv._
ii. 2. 3, 1.

535. _Silv._ iii. 5. 13.

536. Praef. _Silv._ iii. and iii. 5. He was married soon after beginning
the _Thebais_, i.e. about 82 A.D. (cp. _S._ iii. 5. 35). Claudia had a
daughter by her first husband, iii. 5. 52-4.

537. v. 5. 72-5.

538. iii. 5. 13, iv. 4. 69, v. 2. 158. It is worth noting how late in
life all his best work was done, i.e. 80-95 A.D.

539. The well-known passage of Juvenal, vii. 86 ('cum fregit subsellia
versu, esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendit Agaven'), as has been pointed
out, is only Juvenal's exaggerated way of saying that the _Thebais_
brought Statius no material gain. The family was not, however, rolling
in wealth; cp. v. 3. 116 sqq.

540. His friendships do not throw much light on his life, though they
show that he moved in high circles. Rutilius Gallicus (i. 4) had had a
distinguished career and rose to be _praefectus urbis_; Claudius
Etruscus (i. 5), originally a slave from Smyrna, had risen to the
imperial post _a rationibus_; Abascantus (v. 1) held the office known as
_ab epistulis_; Plotius Grypus (iv. 9) came of senatorial family;
Crispinus (v. 2) was the son of Vettius Bolanus, Governor of Britain and
afterwards of Asia; Vibius Maximus (iv. 7) became praefect of Egypt
under Trajan; Polla Argentaria (ii. 7) was the widow of Lucan; Arruntius
Stella (i. 2) was a poet, and rose to the consulship. Most of these
persons must have been possessed of strong literary tastes. Some are
mentioned by Martial, e.g. Stella, Claudius Etruscus, Polla Argentaria.
Atedius Melior and Novius Vindex were also friends of the two poets.
Both must have moved in the same circles, yet neither ever mentions the
other. They were probably jealous of one another and on bad terms.

541. e.g. ii. 2. Cp. also i. 3. 64-89.

542. Dante regards him also as a Christian. This compliment was paid by
the Middle Ages to not a few of the great classical authors. It was not
even a fatal obstacle to have lived before the birth of Christ. Cicero,
for instance, was believed to have been a Christian. The description of
the Altar of Mercy at Athens (_Th._ xii. 493) has been regarded as a
special reason for the Christianizing of Statius: cp. Verrall, _Oxford
and Cambridge Review_, No. 1; Arturo Graf, _Roma nella memoria del medio
evo_, vol. ii, ch. 17.

543. This statement does not, however, apply to the _Silvae_.

544. Ov. _Am_. i. 15. 14.

545. Merivale, _Rom. Emp_. viii. 80, 1.

546. Merivale, _Rom. Emp_. viii. 80, 1.

547. The sources for his story were the old Cyclic poem, the later epic
of Antimachus, the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, that
draw their plots from the Theban cycle of legend. The material thus
given him he worked over in the Vergilian manner, remoulding incidents
or introducing fresh episodes in such a fashion as to provide precise
parallels to many episodes in the _Aeneid_. He also drew certain hints
from the _Phoenissae_ and _Oedipus_ of Seneca: for details see Legras,
_Étude sur la Thébaide de Stace_, part i, ch. 2, part ii, chh. 1 and 2.
The subject had been treated also by one Ponticus, the friend of
Propertius (Prop. i. 7. 1, Ov. _Tr_. iv. 10. 47) and possibly by Lynceus
(Prop. ii. 34).

548. Legras, _Les Légendes Théb._, ch. iii. 4. The [Greek: Amphiaraou
exelasis] mentioned by Suidas s.v. [Greek: Hom_eros] is sometimes
identified with the _Thebais_; but it is more probably merely the
title of a book of that epic. Still the fact that the [Greek: Amph.
exel.] is given such prominence by Suidas does lend some support to
the view that he was the chief character of the epic. He is certainly
the most tragic figure.

549. Porphyr. ad Hor. _A.P._ 146.

550. Vergil had given six books to the wanderings of Aeneas; Statius
must give six to the preparation and march of the Thebans!

551. See Legras, op. cit., pp. 183 ff.

552. x. 632.

553. xi. 457. Cp. also the strange and stilted description of the cave
of sleep, x. 84, where Quies, Oblivio, Ignavia, Otium, Silentium,
Voluptas, and even Labor and Amor are to be found. But with the
exception of Amor these abstract personages are inventions of Statius.
Virtus and Pietas had temples at Rome.

554. iv. 32-308; vii. 250-358.

555. x. 262-448.

556. vi. 1-921. Two other funerals are to be found, in. 114-217,
xii. 22-104.

557. _Th._ i. 557 sqq.; Verg. _Aen._ viii. 190 sqq.

558. v. 17-498: with this compare the version of the story given by
Valerius Maccus, ii. 78-305; except in point of brevity there is little
to choose between the two versions. But it is not a digression in
Valerius, and it is told at less inordinate length. The versions differ
much in detail, and Statius owes little or nothing to Valerius.

559. Op. Legras, _Les légendes Thébaines_, ch. ii. 4, Welcker, _Ep.
Cycl._ ii. 350. The story was well known. Aeschylus probably treated it
in his [Greek: Nemea,] Euripides certainly in his [Greek: ypsipel_e].
The legend gives the origin of the Nemean games.

560. The speeches in the _Thebais_, though they lack variety, are
almost always exceedingly clever and quite repay reading; see esp. i.
642; iii. 59, 151, 348; iv. 318; vi. 138; vii. 497, 539; ix. 375; xi.
155, 677, 708.

561. iii. 348.

562. v. 660.

563. vii. 538.

564. viii. 751. Tydeus bites the severed head of Melanippus to the
brain, thereby losing the gift of immortality that Pallas was hastening
to bring him. The incident is revolting, but Statius has merely followed
the old legend recorded by Aesch. _Sept._ 587; Soph. _Fr._ 731; Eurip.
_Fr._ 357.

565. Cp. in this context Atalanta's beautiful lament on his departure
for the war, iv. 318.

566. Every book, however, abounds in echoes of Vergil, both in matter
and diction; e.g. _Aen._ vii. 475, Allecto precipitates the war by
making Ascanius kill a tame stag. _Theb._ vii. 562, an Erinnys brings
about the war by causing the death of two pet tigers sacred to Bacchus.
_Aen._ xi. 591, Diana orders one of her nymphs to kill the slayer of
Camilla. _Theb._ ix. 665, she tells Apollo that the slayer of
Parthenopaeus shall perish by her arrows, for which see _Th._ ix. 875.
Cp. also _Th._ ii. 205; _Aen._ iv. 173, 189; _Th._ ii. 162; _Aen._ xi.
581. The passage previously referred to concerning the exploits of Dymas
and Hopleus is especially noteworthy as openly challenging comparison
with Vergil; cp. x. 445. For verbal imitations cp. _Aen._ v. 726, 7;
_Th._ ii. 115; _Aen._ i. 106; _Th._ v. 366; _Aen._ vii. 397; _Th._ iv.
379, &c. It is no defence to urge that the ancients held different views
on plagiarism, that Vergil and Ovid pilfered from their predecessors.
For _they_ made their appropriations their own, and set the stamp of
their genius upon what they borrowed. And, further, the process of
borrowing cannot continue indefinitely. The cumulative effect of
progressive plagiarism is distressing. For Statius' imitation of other
Latin poets, notably Lucan, Seneca, and Ovid, see Legras, op. cit., i.
2. Such imitations, though not very rare, are of comparatively small

567. ix. 315 sqq.

568. Statius is imitating early Greek epic. That might excuse him if
these similes possessed either truth or beauty.

569. See p.123, note.

570. i. 841-85 gives a good idea of the _Achilleis_ at its best. The
passage describes the unmasking of the disguised Achilles.

571. Quint, x. 3. 17.

572. _Silv._ i. 1. 6; iii. 4; iv. 1. 2, 3.

573. ii. 1. 6; iii. 3.

574. v. 1. 3, 5.

575. iii. 5; iv. 4. 5, 7; v. 2.

576. i. 4.

577. iii. 2.

578. i. 3. 5; ii. 2; iii. 1.

579. i. 2.

580. ii. 7.

581. iv. 6.

582. ii. 4. 5.

583. v. 4.

584. Cp. also the extravagant dedication of the _Thebais_.

585. It is hard to select from the _Silvae_. Beside, those poems from
which quotations are given, iii. 5, v. 3 and 5 are best worth reading.
But the average level is high. The Sapphic and Alcaic poems (iv. 5 and
7) and the hexameter poems in praise of Domitian (i. 1, iii. 4, iv. 1
and 2) are the least worth reading.

586. The poem on the death of his father (v. 3) shows genuine depth of
feeling, but its elaborate artificiality is somewhat distressing,
considering the theme. (The same is true to a less degree of v. 5.) V. 3
must be, in portions at any rate, the earliest of the _Silvae_, for (l.
29) the poet states that his father has been dead but three months. But
it records (ll. 219-33) events which took place long after that time
(i.e. victory at Alba and failure at Agon Capitolinus). The poem must
have been rewritten in part, ll. 219-33 at least being later additions.
The inconsistency between these lines and line 29 is probably due to the
poet having died before revising bk. v for publication.

587. viii. 8; ii. 17; v. 6.

588. With Statius, as with Martial, the hendecasyllable always begins
with a spondee. The Alcaics of iv. 5 and Sapphics of iv. 7 call for no
special comment. They are closely modelled on Horace. The two poems fail
because they are prosy and uninteresting, not through any fault of the
metre, but it may be that Statius felt his powers hampered by an
unfamiliar metre.

589. If _iuvenis_ be taken to refer to Statius, the poem must be an
early work or depict an imaginary situation. The alternative is to take
it as a vocative referring to Sleep.

590. _C.I.L._ vi. 1984. 9, in the 'fasti sodalium Augustalium
Claudialium'. In MSS. Pliny and Tacitus, he is Silius Italicus, in
Martial simply Silius or Italicus.

591. Plin. _Ep._ iii. 7. In the description of his life which follows,
Pliny is the authority, where not otherwise stated.

592. Pliny writes in 101 A.D. to record Silius' death. Silius was over
seventy-five when he died.

593. _Italicus_ might suggest that he came from the Spanish town of
_Italica_. But Martial, who addresses him in several epigrams of almost
servile flattery, would surely have claimed him as fellow-countryman had
this been the case.

594. Pliny, loc. cit.; Tac. _Hist._ iii. 65.

595. His poem was already planned in 88; cp. Mart. iv. 14 (published 88
A.D.). Some of it was already written in 92; cp. _legis_, M. vii. 62
(published 92 A.D.). But the allusion to Domitian, iii. 607, must have
been inserted after that date, while xiv. 686 points to the close of
Nerva's principate. Statius, _Silv._ iv. 7. 14 (published 95 A.D.) seems
to imitate Silius:

    Dalmatae montes ubi Dite viso
    pallidus fossor redit erutoque
    concolor auro.

Sil. i. 233 'et redit infelix effosso concolor auro.' The last five
books, compressed and markedly inferior to i-xii, may have been left

596. In 101 A.D. at the age of seventy-five.

597. Epict. _diss._ iii. 8. 7.

598. Mart. xi. 48:

    Silius haec magni celebrat monumenta Maronis,
    iugera facundi qui Ciceronis habet.
    heredem dominumque sui tumulive larisve
    non alium mallet nec Maro nec Cicero.

That it was the Tusculanum and not the Cumanum of Cicero that Silius
possessed is an inference from _C.I.L._ xix. 2653, found at Tusculum:
'D.M. Crescenti Silius Italicus Collegium salutarem.'

599. Enn. _Ann._ vii, viii, ix.

600. Sec p. 103.

601. i. 55.

602. iv. 727.

603. viii. 28.

604. x. 349.

605. ix. 484.

606. xvii. 523.

607. iv. 675.

608. xi. 387.

609. ix. 439.

610. ii. 395.

611. xvi. 288.

612. ii. 36.

613. iii. 222 and viii. 356.

614. xiii. 395.

615. e.g. the Funeral Games, the choice of Scipio (xv. 20), the Nekuia.

616. At Nola.

617. Cp. x. 628 'quod ... Laomedontiadum non desperaverit urbi'. The
tasteless _Laomedontiadum_ as a learned equivalent for _Romanorum_ is
characteristic. Silius has the _Aeneid_ in his mind when he chooses this
word: his literary proclivities lead him astray; where he should be most
strong he is most feeble.

618. _Vide infra_ for his treatment of Paulus' dead body after Cannae.

619. Trebia, iv. 480-703; Trasimene, v. 1-678; Cannae, ix. l78-x. 578.

620. Mart, vii. 90.

621. See p. 123, note.

622. Bk. vi.

623. xii. 212-67, where the death of Cinyps clad in Paulus' armour is
described, are pretty enough, but too frankly an imitation of Vergil to
be worth quoting. The simile 247-50 is, however, new and quite

624. Sights of Naples, xii. 85; Tides at Pillars of Hercules, iii.
46; Legend of Pan, xiii. 313; Sicily, xiv. 1-50; Fabii, vii. 20;
Anna Perenna, viii. 50; Bacchus at Falernum, vii. 102; Trasimenus,
v. ad init.

625. See note on p. 13.

626. Plin. _Ep._ i. 13.

627. Mart. vii. 63.

628. On the modern Cerro de Bambola near the Moorish town of El

629. Cp. ix. 52, x. 24, xii. 60.

630. Cp. v. 34.

631. ix. 73. 7.

632. In x. 103. 7, written in 98 A. D., he tells us that it is
thirty-four years since he left Spain.

633. iv. 40, xii. 36.

634. He is found rendering poetic homage to Polla, the wife of Lucan, as
late as 96 A. D., x. 64, vii. 21-3. For his reverence for the memory of
Lucan, cp. i. 61. 7; vii. 21, 22; xiv. 194.

635. Cp. his regrets for the ease of his earlier clienthood and the
generosity of the Senecas, xii. 36.

636. ii. 30; cp. 1. 5:

    is mihi 'dives eris, si causas egeris' inquit.
      quod peto da, Gai: non peto consilium.

637. Vide his epigrams _passim_.

638. xiii. 42, xiii. 119. Perhaps the gift of Seneca, cp. Friedländer on
Mart. i. 105.

639. ix. 18, ix. 97. 7, x. 58. 9.

640. Such is the most plausible interpretation of iii. 95. 5, ix. 97. 5:

                tribuit quod Caesar uterque
    ius mihi natorum (uterque, i.e. Titus and Domitian).

641. iii. 95, v. 13, ix. 49, xii. 26.

642. iii. 95. 11, vi. 10. 1.

643. xiii. 4 gives Domitian his title of Germanicus, assumed after
war with Chatti in 84; xiv. 34 alludes to peace; no allusion to
subsequent wars.

644. I, II. Perhaps published together. This would account for length of
preface. II. Largely composed of poems referring to reigns of Vespasian
and Titus. Reference to Domitian's censorship shows that I was not
published before 85. There is no hint of outbreak of Dacian War, which
raged in 86.

III. Since bk. IV contains allusion to outbreak of revolt of
Antonius Saturninus towards end of 88 (11) and is published at Rome,
whereas III was published at _Cornelii forum_ (1), III probably
appeared in 87 or 88.

IV. Contains reference to birthday of Domitian, Oct. 24 (1. 7), and
seems then to allude to _ludi saeculares_ (Sept. 88). Reference to
snowfall at Rome (2 and 13) suggests winter. Perhaps therefore published
in _Saturnalia_ of 88.

V. Domitian has returned to Italy (1) from Dacian War, but there is no
reference to his triumph (Oct. 1, 89 A. D.). Book therefore probably
published in early autumn of 89.

VI. Domitian has held his triumph (4. 2 and 10. 7). Julia (13) is dead
(end of 89). Book probably published in 90, perhaps in summer.
Friedländer sees allusion to Agon Capitolinus (Summer, 90) in vi. 77.

VII. 5-8 refer to Domitian's return from Sarmatic War. He has not yet
arrived. These epigrams are among last in book. He returned in January
93. His return was announced as imminent in Dec. 92.

VIII. 21 describes Domitian's arrival; 26, 30, and others deal with
festivities in this connexion. 65 speaks of temple of Fortuna Redux and
triumphal arch built in Domitian's honour. They are mentioned as if
completed. 66 speaks of consulate of Silius Italicus' son beginning
Sept. 1, 93.

IX. 84 is addressed to Appius Norbanus Maximus, who has been six years
absent from Rome. He went to Upper Germany to crush Antonius Saturninus
in 88. 35 refers to Agon Capitolinus in summer of 94.

X. Two editions published. We possess later and larger. Cp. x. 2. 70. 1
suggests a year's interval between IX and X. X, ed. 1 was therefore
perhaps published in Dec. 95. X, ed. 2 has references to accession of
Trajan, Jan. 25, 98 A. D. (6, 7 and 34). Martial's departure for Spain
is imminent.

XI. 1 is addressed to Parthenius, executed in middle of 97 A. D. xii. 5
refers to a selection made from X and XI, perhaps from presentation to
Nerva; cp. xii. 11.

XII. In preface Martial apologizes for three years' silence (1. 9) from
publication of X. ed. 2. xii. 3. 10 refers to Stella's consulship, Oct.
101 or 102. Three years' interval points to 101. It was published late
in the year; cp. 1 and 62. Some epigrams in this book were written at
Rome. But M. says that it was written _paucissimis diebus_. This must
refer only to Spanish epigrams, or the book must have been enlarged
after M.'s death.

For the whole question see Friedländer Introd., pp. 50 sqq.

645. iii. 1 and 4.

646. Cp. xi. 3.

647. xii. 21, xii. 31. There is no reason to suppose with some critics
that she was his wife.

648. xii. praef. 'civitatis aures quibus adsueveram quaero.'

649. Ib. 'accedit his municipalium robigo dentium.'

650. See p. 271. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this silence
was due to dislike or jealousy.

651. Mackail, _Greek Anthol_., Introd., p. 5.

652. Domitius Marsus was famous for his epigrams, as also Calvus,
Gaetulicus, Pedo, and others.

653. See p. 36.

654. See p. 134.

655. The best of his erotic poems is the pretty vi. 34, but it is far
from original; cp. the last couplet:

    nolo quot (sc. basia) arguto dedit exorata Catullo
      Lesbia; pauca cupit qui numerare potest.

656. Cp. Cat. 5 and 7; Mart. vi. 34; Cat. 2 and 3; Mart. i. 7 and 109
(it is noteworthy that this last poem has itself been exquisitely
imitated by du Bellay in his poem on his little dog Peloton).

657. Cp. Ov. _Tr._ ii. 166; Mart. vi. 3. 4; Ov. _F._ iii. 192; Mart, vi.
16. 2; Ov. _A._ i. 1. 20; Mart. vi. 16. 4; Ov. _Tr._ i. 5. 1, iv. 13. 1;
Mart, i. 15. 1. His imitations of other poets are not nearly so marked.
There are a good many trifling echoes of Vergil, but little wholesale
borrowing. A very large proportion of the parallel passages cited by
Friedländer are unjust to Martial. No poet could be original judged by
such a test.

658. There is little of any importance to be said about Martial's metre.
The metres most often employed are elegiac, hendecasyllabic, and the
scazon. In the elegiac he is, on the whole, Ovidian, though he is
naturally freer, especially in the matter of endings both of hexameter
and pentameter. He makes his points as well, but is less sustainedly
pointed. His verse, moreover, has greater variety and less formal
symmetry than that of Ovid. On the other hand his effects are less
sparkling, owing to his more sparing use of rhetoric. In the
hendecasyllabic he is smoother and more polished. It invariably opens
with a spondee.

659. Cp. vii. 72. 12, x. 3.

660. Cp. vii. 12. 9, iii. 99. 3.

661. Catull. xvi. 5; Ov. _Tr._ ii. 354; Apul. _Apol._ 11; Auson. 28,
_cento nup._; Plin. _Ep._ vii. 8.

662. We might also quote the beautiful

    extra fortunam est quidquid donatur amicis:
      quas dederis solas semper habebis opes (v. 42).

    What thou hast given to friends, and that alone,
    Defies misfortune, and is still thine own.
                                    PROFESSOR GOLDWIN SMITH.

But the needy poet may have had some _arrière-pensée_. We do not know to
whom the poem is addressed.

663. Cp. the description of the villa of Faustinus, iii. 58.

664. Their only rival is the famous Sirmio poem of Catullus.

665. Even Tennyson's remarkable poem addressed to F. D. Maurice fails to
reach greater perfection.

666. e.g. Arruntius Stella and Atedius Melior. Cp. p. 205.

667. Cp. the poems on the subject of Earinus, Mart. ix. 11, 12, 13, and
esp. 16; Stat. _Silv._ iii. 4.

668. Mart. vi. 28 and 29.

669. The remaining lines of the poem are tasteless and unworthy of the
portion quoted, and raise a doubt as to the poet's sincerity in the
particular case. But this does not affect his general sympathy for

670. 101 provides an instance of Martial's sympathy for his own slaves.
Cp. 1. 5:--

    ne tamen ad Stygias famulus descenderet umbras,
      ureret implicitum cum scelerata lues,
    cavimus et domini ius omne remisimus aegro;
      munere dignus erat convaluisse meo.
    sensit deficiens mea praemia meque patronum
      dixit ad infernas liber iturus aquas.

671. i. 13.

672. i. 42.

673. i. 21. He is perhaps at his best on the death of Otho (vi. 32):

    cum dubitaret adhuc belli civilis Enyo
      forsitan et posset vincere mollis Otho,
    damnavit multo staturum sanguine Martem
      et fodit certa pectora tota manu.
    sit Cato, dum vivit, sane vel Caesare maior:
      dum moritur, numquid maior Othone fuit?

    When doubtful was the chance of civil war,
    And victory for Otho might declare;
    That no more Roman blood for him might flow,
    He gave his breast the great decisive blow.
    Caesar's superior you may Cato call:
    Was he so great as Otho in his fall?

674. It is to be noted that even in the most worthless of his epigrams
he never loses his sense of style. If childish epigrams are to be given
to the world, they cannot be better written.

675. Cp. Juv. 5; Mart. iii. 60, vi. 11, x. 49; Plin. _Ep_. ii. 6.

676. v. 18. 6.

677. This is doubly offensive if addressed to the poor Cinna of
viii. 19. Cp. the similar vii. 53, or the yet more offensive viii.
33 and v. 36.

678. More excusable are poems such as x. 57, where he attacks one Gaius,
an old friend (cp. ii. 30), for failing to fulfil his promise, or the
exceedingly pointed poem (iv. 40) where he reproaches Postumus, an old
friend, for forgetting him. Cp. also v. 52.

679. See p. 252.

680. Cp. the elaborate and long-winded poem of Statius on a
statuette of Hercules (_Silv._ iv. 6) with Martial on the same
subject, ix. 43 and 44.

681. Cp. viii. 3 and 56.

682. Bridge and Lake, Introd., _Select Epigrams of Martial_.

683. The ancient biographies of the poet all descend from the same
source: their variations spring largely from questionable or absurd
interpretations of passages in the satires themselves. The best of them,
if not their actual source, is the life found at the end of the codex
Pithoeanus, the best of the MSS. of Juvenal. It was in all probability
written by the author of the scholia Pithoeana--to whom Valla, on the
authority of a MS. now lost, gave the name of Probus--and dates from the
fourth or fifth century.

684. L. 41. Cp. Plin. _Ep._ ii. 11.

685. xiii. 17 'sexaginta annos Fonteio consule natus'. xv. 27 'nuper
consule Iunco'.

686. _Vita_ 1 (O. Jahn ed.): 1 a (Dürr, _Das Leben Juvenals_). A life
contained in Cod. Barberin. viii. 18 (fifteenth century), says _Iunius
Iuvenalis Aquinas Iunio Iuvenale patre, matre vero Septumuleia ex
Aquinati municipio, Claudio Nerone et L. Antistio consulibus_ (55 A. D.)
_natus est; sororem habuit Septumuleiam, quae Fuscino nupsit._ This may
be mere invention on the part of a humanist of the fifteenth century.
The life contains many improbabilities and the MS. is of suspiciously
late date. But see Dürr, p. 28.

687. _Vitae_ 2 and 3 'oriundus temporis Neronis Claudii imperatoris'.
_Vit._ 4 'decessit sub Antonino Pio'.

688. So Cod. Paris. 9345; Vossian. 18 and 64; Bodl. (Canon Lat. 41);
Schol. Pith, ad _vit._ 1.

689. So all ancient biographies except 1. In _Sat._ iii, Umbricius,
addressing Juvenal, speaks of _tuum Aquinum_: cp. also the inscription
found near Aquinum and quoted later.

690. This is only conjecture, but the son of a rich citizen of Aquinum
would naturally be sent to Rome for his education. For his rhetorical
education cp. i. 15-17.

691. _Vita_ 1.

692. Cp. especially the whole of xvi; also i. 58, ii. 165, iii. 132,
vii. 92, xiv. 193-7.

693. _C.I.L._ x. 5382.

694. _C.I.L._ vii, p. 85; Hübner, _Rhein. Mus._ xi (1857), p. 30;
_Hermes_, xvi (1881), p. 566.

695. Satt. 3, 11, 12, 13. Trebius in 5 is perhaps an imaginary

696. vi. 75, 280, vii. 186.

697. vii, 82.

698. Mart. vii. 24, 91, xii. 18.

699. vi. 57.

700. xi. 65.

701. xi. 190, xii. 87.

702. _Vita_ 1.

703. There are, however, allusions to Domitian as dead in ii.
29-33, iv. 153.

704. Ap. Sid. ix. 269.

705. Joh. Mal. _Chron._ x, p. 341, _Chilm._

706. _Vita_ 7. Schol. ad vii. 92.

707. _Vita_ 6.

708. _Vitae_ 1, 2, 4, 7. Perhaps an inference from _Sat._ xv. 45.

709. See 708.

710. _Vitae_ 5 and 6. If the inscription (see p. 288) refers to the
poet, this view has further support.

711. Joh. Mal., loc. cit.

712. Trajan had, however, a favourite in the _pantomimus_ Pylades. Dio.
Cass. Ixviii. 10.

713. The simplest suggestion is that Juvenal was at some time banished,
that the reason for his banishment was forgotten and supplied by
conjecture. Cp. Friedländer's ed., p. 44. There is no real evidence to
prove that Juvenal was ever in Egypt or Britain. His topography in
_Sat._ xv is faulty, and allusion to the oysters of Richborough (_ostrea
Rutupina_, iv. 141) would be possible even in a poet who had never
visited Britain.

714. i. 1-3, 17, 18 (Dryden's translation).

715. i. 79.

716. Ib. 85.

717. Ib. 147-50.

718. i. 165-71.

719. x. 356-66 (Dryden's translation).

720. There is nothing in this satire to suggest that Juvenal had or had
not visited Egypt. The legend of his banishment to Egypt may be true,
but it is quite as likely that this satire caused the scholiast to
localize his traditional exile in Egypt. The theme of cannibalism was
sometimes dealt with by the rhetoricians. Cp. Quintilian, _Decl._ 12.

721. e.g. Claudius Etruscus, who held the imperial secretaryship of
finance under Nero and Vespasian, and Abascantus, the secretary _ab
epistulis_ to Domitian. Stat. _Silv._ iii. 3, v. 1.

722. For a fine picture of the exclusive Roman spirit, cp. _Le
procurateur de Judée_, by Anatole France in _L'Étui de nacre_.

723. iii. 60-125.

724. xiv. 96 sqq.

725. i. 130 sqq, and the whole of xv. Above all, he hates the Egyptian
Crispinus, cp. iv. 2.

726. i. 102 sqq.

727. For the tradition of coarseness see chapter on Martial, p. 263.

728. It has been pointed out that the epigrams of Martial addressed to
Juvenal are disfigured by gross obscenities. It is, however, a little
unfair to make Juvenal responsible for his friend's observations.

729. The sixth satire abounds throughout its great length with sketches
of the most appalling clearness and power, though they tend to crudeness
of colour and are few of them suitable for quotation.

730. xiii. 120 sqq.

731. x. 346 sqq.

732. xiii. 180.

733. ix. 32, xii. 63.

734. vii. 194 sqq., ix. 33.

735. xiii. 192-249.

736. xii. 3-6, 89 sqq.

737. Such obscurity as he presents is due almost entirely to the fact
that we have lost the key to his topical allusions. He has a strong
affection for ingenious periphrases (e.g. v. 139, vi. 159, x. 112, xii.
70), but they are as a rule effective and amusing.

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